Category Archives: Pune City

Will foursquare be the next big thing after Twitter in Pune Social Media?

There is absolutely no question that first Facebook, and then Twitter had a huge impact on the Pune Tech community. Thousands of Pune techies use these on a daily (in fact, hourly) basis to stay in touch with each other, and with the world at large. I’m sure you’re all on Facebook. And, if you’re not on twitter, you should join now. See the PuneTech Why Twitter? presentation for reasons. And follow @punetech on twitter

foursquare is a new location-based social networking site.

Now, it appears that location-based social networking site foursquare is generating similar levels of excitement amongst a section of the community.

If you want to feel that enthusiasm first-hand, then you should head over to the Pune foursquare day meeting (or “swarm” in 4sq terminilogy) which is happening today (Friday, 16 April), at “1 – The Lounge”, Koregaon Park, from 7:30pm until 10pm. One Lounge is a little ahead of ABC farms on North Main Road annex. The event is technically free, but there’s a Rs. 300 cover charge (which can be redeemed for food or drinks, and there’s a complimentary shot for foursquare users).

Check out the Pune 2010 foursquare day event page on Facebook. And RSVP there.

So… what is foursquare?

foursquare makes a game out of exploring your city, and while at it helps you make friends with other like-minded, super-cool people! You can use it to find the new interesting places in the city, like restaurants, or museums, or whatever else your friends are interested in; and you can use it to get reviews of any place that you want to know more about.

Doesn’t seem very exciting? Well, that’s the same reaction Twitter used to get from people when it was new, and yet, Twitter has now taken over the world, including Bollywood, Indian politics, and IPL too. So, I’m predicting, foursquare will be similarly big. And this time, you can get in on the ground floor. Join now.

What makes it most intersting, is that foursquare is primarily a technology to be used on your mobile phone. The exploding use of mobile internet in India is another reason to think that foursquare can be big in India.

And… why is today important?

Because it allows Pune another chance to point out to the world that we are always at the cutting edge of anything new.

In consumer marketing circles, it is well established that Pune is one of the first cities where companies try out their new products, or new campaigns, or pilot programs. This is because Pune has a young, hip crowd that is willing to experiment.

Today, 16 April is International foursquare day, and cities all over the world hare having foursquare parties. But the point really is this – this event gives Pune a chance to cement its early adopter reputation by being the first city in India to get a foursquare swarm badge. A swarm badge is given when 50 or more foursquare users are check into the same location at the same time. This is a coveted badge, and signals to the world that this location has a very active and social online/offline community.

Just to make things more interesting, the city of Bellefontaine, in Ohio, USA has challenged Pune to a competition on the number of party attendees on the 16th. As of now, Pune has a lead on the number of attendees, but we’re still short of the 50 mark needed to officially make a swarm.

See for details.

But… isn’t this all silly kidstuff & not for serious people like me?

That’s what they said about Facebook, initially. And that’s what they said about Twitter, initially. But nobody is saying that about either now. Same story with foursquare.

I think you’re maybe confusing this with Orkut. Feel free to stay away from Orkut. But ignore Facebook/Twitter/foursquare at your own risk.

And those of you who are too busy to be on twitter, let me tell you this – if Anand Mahindra has time to be on twitter, you can stop your self-important whining.

Uh… What do I have to do, again?


Start using foursquare.

RSVP at the Pune foursquare day facebook page.

Show up at One Lounge tonight and check-in.

And end up meeting a whole lot of people who are more interesting than your colleagues at work, and in some cases, more intersting than your existing friends.


Pune Corporator uses SMS to stay in touch with constituents

This is an example of effective use of technology in public life in Pune. Sakaal Times reports that first-time corporator Rajendra Gorde, is using SMS to not only stay in touch with his constituents but also to provide them with useful information.


Rajabhau, as he is popularly known, has created a personal data-bank of nearly 80 percent of the electorate in his ward. Not only does he know people by name, where exactly they reside and the number of people in their families, but he also knows their birth dates, anniversaries and other important dates. Most importantly, he has the cellphone numbers of each of these people.

So, it is possible for him to send out personalised greetings, good wishes, condolences and other messages to each and every individual in his database. While this kind of SMSes help Rajabhau to establish a personal connect with his voters, what makes him stand out as a corporator are the public service and informational messaging that he sends out to hundreds of people every day.

For instance, he secured the names of all secondary and higher secondary students of municipal schools in the city who had secured 80 percent and above marks. It was a pleasant surprise for 83 such students when their parents received individual SMSes from Rajabhau informing them that they were eligible for grants of Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively, under a PMC scheme for meritorious students.

And apparently, residents are finding this service useful.

The most popular messages are the ones informing people about water cuts and power shutdowns. It enables people to prepare for exigencies and not get caught unawares.

PuneTech readers will note that this is very similar to what SMSOne has been doing in over 500+ villages and urban localities in Maharashtra and a couple of other stages. Unlike Rajendra Gorde, who is using this “SMS newsletter” concept as part of public service, SMSOne has been running this as a for-profit business, and it appears to be doing rather well. SMSOne appears to have shown that this is indeed a sustainable business model.

Given the really low cost and low technology requirements for setting up an SMS Gateway, this idea is something that many others can and should implement. I see few “web-2.0” businesses/services that are using SMS as an add-on to their website/service. And I see fewer still who are fully SMS based ideas. But, considering that India probably has 50 million internet users, and 500 million SMS users, I think more and more people should be looking at SMS as a primary enabling technology.

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How can we improve students and industry collaboration on innovative projects? (Answer & win prizes)

Update: The contest is over (but the discussion can still continue!) Abhay Patil, who judged the contest, had this comment about the contenst:

On behalf of IITB Alumni Association (Pune Chapter) – organizers of Innovations 2010 – let me thank PuneTech and it’s members for this set of insightful, passionate and well articulated responses. You literally made our day and have given us enough high quality stuff to digest before we plan the next edition of Innovations!

I will share the ‘verdict’ of the organizers with Navin shortly. You would agree that this exercise is not just a ‘competition’. We should/ would figure a way to move forward with these inputs. Thanks again!

After looking at the quality of the answers, the IITBAA(Pune) has decided to increase the number of prizes to 5, so we have 5 winners: Manish, Ruchika, Abhishek Nagaraj, and Vijay Patil. Vipul gets a special prize for the best student answer. Congratulations and thanks, your free passes are in your email.

Now for the next steps – actually implementing some of these ideas…

We are giving away two passes for Innovations 2010, worth Rs. 1000 500 each (Update: after this article appeared, Innovations appears to have dropped the ticket price down to Rs. 500), for the best answer to the problem laid out in this post. Read on for details.

Earlier today, we wrote about the Innovations 2010 event happening in Pune next Saturday, and while it is great that we have interesting innovations to showcase in events like this, it is a cause for worry that a country of a billion people cannot come up with more innovation; especially when you consider that we probably have more high IQ people than the entire population of the United States.

One of the problems, as I see it, is the lack of collaboration between our best students and Industry. We have lots of smart students wasting away in a bureaucrat controlled education system. They have time on their hands, and even motivation to work on interesting stuff (if you manage to catch them at the right stage). What they don’t have, is the experience and guidance necessary to work on the right problems. I’ve seen many bright students working on difficult, but ultimately pointless problems/projects, because nobody pointed them in the right direction.

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Click on this icon to see all PuneTech articles related to tech education in Pune

By contrast, there are enough bright people in industry who are full of brilliant ideas, but who are too busy with their delivery schedules, and they just don’t have to time to implement and try out any of their ideas. Connecting the two sets of people is an obvious solution, that many groups of have tried without much success, for many years. There are lots of initiatives, like Peepaal Campus, projects4students , but I don’t see any of them really achieving critical mass. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I feel that one of the issues is the fact that many of these initiatives are focused on B.E. projects of 4th year engineering students – and that, in most cases, is a waste of time. By that time, most of the students have lost any interest/motivation in doing a good job of the project. Most BE projects, which are supposed to represent a year’s work for 3 to 4 people, are worthless, and could be done by a passionate/motivated student in 2 weeks. For a more detailed discussion of the problems with motivating 4th year students with industry projects, see this interesting discussion on

But, let us not give up. Cynicism is over-rated. I think we can still do something. At least in Pune, a few people getting together can make a difference.

So, here is the challenge:

Suggest a specific, detailed, implementable initiative that a few of us can start in Pune, to get students and industry to work together on innovative projects. To improve your chances of winning, give a proposal that is:

  • Specific (as opposed to general handwaving)
  • Detailed (as opposed to short one or two liners)
  • Implementable right now (as opposed to a 10-year plan)
  • Implementable by us – people like you and me (as opposed to something the Government is supposed to do for us)

Leave your proposal as a comment on this article, or you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere and leave a link (or a trackback/pingback) here. Extra credit if you’re willing to be one of the persons who will implement the suggestion! The best two entries get one Innovations pass each. Of course, you’re encouraged to enter even if you’re not interested in the Innovations pass. (In that case, please indicate that in your entry, so we can give the pass to the next best entry.) The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, 5 January, 2010, midnight, IST.

“Drupalkar” – an initiative to disseminate Drupal Love to Pune colleges

(This post gives an overview of a new initiative by the Pune Drupal Community to increase Drupal awareness amongst Pune college students. It was originally posted on by Dipen Chaudhary and is reposted here for wider dissemination.)


drupal icon, svg version
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In the last pune drupal user meetup ( 26th dec, 09) we all agreed to the need of more drupal awareness as a whole and one of the ways we discussed was to tap the interest early at the student level. To this effect project code named drupalkar (having both hindi and marathi connotations) was planned in which seasoned drupal developers will donate 1 hr to a student gathering in a college to spread drupal joy/way of web development. Approach here is simple, in that 1 hr drupal developer would demo how a website can be made from scratch in 1 hour in form a interactive demo and giving out more ideas and possibilities at the end of the demo. The same would be followed in many colleges with different developers donating time with different demo’s (or maybe same, if one works out to be exceptionally good to catch attention)


Approach to reach out to students is simple, show something they can make in an hour rather than a speech/talk on why drupal, how drupal? as the talks get incoherent ( its upto the drupal developer conducting the demo session to open up for Q/A which I strongly recommend) and over the time ineffective. We would pickup models from internet and show students how to make that site in drupal and how easy web development is with drupal.


To pilot the drupalkar project we decided to pick 5 colleges (list pending and hopefully will be sorted in comments) and 5 drupal volunteers, after which we will map colleges to drupal volunteers and let the individual drupal developer run the show, with some syncing among developers over whats being demo’ed, what was the response etc. As the events would be linear we can adapt and evolve from the feedback of the initial events.

Drupal Volunteers (Drupalkar’s)

  • Dipen Chaudhary
  • Rajeev Karajgikar
  • Parsad Shirgaonkar
  • Nikhil Kale
  • Abhishek Nagar


  • PICT (TBC)
  • COEP (TBC)
  • Wadia College (TBC)
  • Narangkar (not sure of the name; TBC)
  • Symbiosis ( Abhishek to confirm)

College Coordinators

  • Arun Nair
  • Amit Karpe
  • Vipul (PICT contact)


Tentative timeline for the pilot to be executed is 5-6 weeks, which might be adapted and updated on this page for clarification.


Drupalkar currently is only for pune and maybe taken over to new cities in India by drupal evangelists else where. I am cross posting this to India group for feedback on the approach etc.

Any comments, feedback on the approach or volunteering is important for success of drupalkar, most importantly we need students and organizers to patch colleges in for the drupalkar pilot.

(Comments on this post are closed. Please comment at the original website)

Participatory Budgeting in Pune – Propose your additions to your local ward’s budget

(This is a guest post by Sanskriti Menon, who is a Programme Diretor, at the Center for Environment Education, Pune. PMC is now not only allowing citizens to suggest additions to the local budgets, but the form can be filled online (and that is why this item does belong to PuneTech.) The what, why and how are covered below, but if you do decide to submit an entry, please note the following: go to, click on the “Participatory Budget 2010-11” link around the middle of the page, and then on the next page you get a page with instructions in Marathi. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click “Accept”. That will give you the actual form.)

What is Participatory Budgeting?

The Participatory Budget of the PMC provides an opportunity for citizens to give suggestions for works to be taken up in the next financial year. Citizens can make suggestions for streetlights, footpaths, public toilets, waste sorting shed/ biogas plant/ bulk compost unit, drainage etc, in spaces where such works are permissible and needed. Participatory Budget has been carried out in Pune over the last three years. It is a mechanism for citizens to give inputs for works to be carried out through the ward offices. The final decision regarding the budget of our city government is of course taken by our elected representatives with inputs from the administration.

What is the process citizens are to follow?

Citizens can make their suggestions online in the E-Budgeting application available on the PMC website from 26th October to 09 November 2009. The form is available at

Suggestions can also be made in the prescribed forms available at ward offices.  All ward offices are also making arrangements for online entry. When submitting the paper form, citizens must ensure that it is duly in-warded at the ward office and the tear-off receipt with inward entry number is given. This number will be needed to the unique id number after computerization. Those submitting suggestions online will directly get the unique ID number on completion of the entry. This number will be needed to track the suggestion and what decision is taken about it.

Of course, citizens have to be clear that submission of suggestions does not necessarily mean that the work will be accepted. The PMC has to check the feasibility and the Prabhag Samiti will be making their decision too.

What is the benefit of Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory Budget is a refinement in the ‘institutional design’ of the democratic process to make it more responsive to citizens’ needs. Our democratic process is that we citizens elect our representatives to take decisions that are well thought out, in keeping with societal and environmental concerns, and responding to our needs. However, a necessary condition for representative democracy to function well is that citizens actively provide inputs to elected representatives. This happens in many ways through RTI, the media, NGOs etc. Draft master plans and new policy drafts are kept open for a specified period for public input. The most direct method is of course discussions with corporators. However, in a city where the ratio of representation is about 15000 citizens to one corporator this may pose some problems.

The participatory budget process helps to deepen our existing democratic framework. It is an evolving mechanism to enable the democratic process to function better. The underlying idea is that citizens get a formal opportunity to deliberate upon the needs of their areas and submit requests to the respective administrative ward offices.

What are the achievements so far?

A few thousand people have participated in the exercise over the years. Last year over 1300 suggestions for works were received. Over 35 crore worth of projects were incorporated into the main budget.  There is recognition that some project ideas are mundane (fix a pavement); but the fact that citizens have to ask for these is a telling comment on how these very aspects may be ignored in conventional budgeting processes. There are the not-so-usual ideas as well – sorting sheds, composting units, benches, hawking zone platforms, etc.

Is PB happening anywhere else?

In many parts of the world! Participatory Budgeting started in Latin American countries struggling to build or rebuild their democratic institutions and to eliminate corruption, improve transparency and accountability of government. The innovation of ‘participatory budgeting’ has been praised internationally as an example of “good” governance.

In Brazil, citizens deliberate on five thematic areas: transport and traffic circulation; education, leisure and culture; health and social welfare; economic development and taxation; city organization and urban development. Meetings are held in each neighbourhood, where residents draw up their list of priorities for investment in infrastructure. These inputs are provided to the municipal budget council who determines the distribution of funds for each priority among districts. The municipal budget council and the district budget fora also monitor spending year-round.

In UK, talking about participatory budgeting, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blear said “councilors must not feel their democratic mandate is bypassed, and instead recognize that it will strengthen their relationship with their local community”.  Also, that, “I think the world has changed. I think voting every four years and basically handing over responsibility and power to other people and then doing nothing again for four years, I think our democracy is not like that any more.”  Ms Blear may well be talking about our city!

Intructions for Participatory Budgeting

PMC’s Citizen Suggestion Form is available online at

(scroll down to ‘What would you like to do’ (above Swine Flu)

General instructions for suggesting works

  1. Please fill in all columns
  2. Citizens should note that suggesting a work does not necessarily mean its inclusion in the budget; the projects inclusion/ exclusion will be determined on technical and legal considerations
  3. All suggested works should be specific (location, description, quantity, category etc) (attach maps, photos where needed – fill a physical form in this case)
  4. Only projects that pertain to neighbourhood or locality level works are to be suggested, not city level infrastructure
  5. The cost of suggested works should preferably be below Rs 5 lakh
  6. Projects of the following type are admissible: pavements, water supply, drainage, bus stop (in consultation with PMT), parks and gardens (only repair works), bhawan (only repair works), public toilets, lights (roads and traffic), roads (only resurfacing)
  7. Projects of following type are not admissible: pedestrian bridges, speed breakers (prohibited by Supreme Court), garden (new provision), construction on land not owned by PMC
  8. Non budgetable projects should be avoided – For e.g. appointment of staff, minor repairs, clean up etc
  9. Deadline for submission is 09 Nov 2009
  10. When submitting the paper form, citizens must ensure that it is duly in-warded at the ward office and the tear-off receipt with inward entry number is given. This number will be needed to the unique id number after computerization. Those submitting suggestions online will directly get the unique ID number on completion of the entry. This number will be needed to track the suggestion and what decision is taken about it.
  11. Suggestions can also be made in the prescribed forms available at ward offices.  All ward offices are also making arrangements for online entry.

For more information, visit

About the Author – Sanskriti Menon

Sanskriti Menon is a Programme Director for the CEE Urban Programmes and Central Regional Cell of the Centre for Environment Education. CEE is an organization that works towards improving the awareness of environmental issues in our education system. It is supported by the Ministry of Envirnoment and Forests. Sanskriti also runs, and she is also one of the primary driving forces behind the huge success of the Pune governance wiki.

Analyzing Pune’s top twitter users

Image via Wikipedia

(Twitter has quickly become one of the most important new methods of communication, and Pune’s techies have taken to it quite enthusiastically. As its popularity grows and more and more people find out about its utility as a medium of communication, conversation, networking, as a source of news, or as a source of information about interesting hobbies or people, the number of people on twitter is growing. One of the questions most people have is – “Whom should I follow?” and the related question “Who are the top twitterers of Pune?” That is a difficult question to answer because everybody’s criteria are bound to be different – and existing “objective” mechanisms of measuring this are not really that good. Last week twitter released lists, and Dhananjay Nene argues that lists are a new way of measuring the “follow-worthiness” of twitter accounts. With this in mind, he analyzed who would be Pune’s top twitterers according to a number of different criteria. His he published some results of his investigation on his blog /home/dhananjay, and it is reproduced here with permission for the benefit of PuneTech readers.

This should be interesting to you for a number of different reasons. First, of course, this gives a list of the top twitterers in Pune. It is also an example of how a simple question can get quite complicated when you try to get computers to find the answer – and the approaches taken by different algorithms and their results are interesting to see. Finally, I think this is a sign of things to come – I’m convinced that twitter will be an integral part of the communications of the future, and twitter lists are an important way in which we will separate out the spammers and idiots from the useful content on twitter.

And, oh, by the way, are you following PuneTech on twitter? You should – there is info+links in the PuneTech twitter that will not be found on the PuneTech site. (And if you’re not on twitter at all, then please crawl out of your cave and get with the program.)

Anyway, here’s Dhananjay’s article.)

So twitter launched lists and many believe these will be a new mechanism for computing reputation instead of the current defacto followers. It is not a restricted knowledge that using follower counts as a measure of effectiveness of twitter is a extraordinarily error prone and brave exercise due to the obvious. Given the appearance of twitter lists, I was keen on figuring out if there is a way to reasonably measure effectiveness of a twitter id. This post details the exercise I went through. While there could be discussion around the exact semantics of such a computation and whether the results are consistent with everyone’s expectations, let me assert that I find the result sufficiently superior to anything else I’ve seen or I’ve been able to imagine so far. And that may stem from or despite the fact that two of my twitter handles (@dnene and @d7y) feature in this list.

As an input I took the top 50 handles from pune from Why top 50 ? Only part of the process was automated – the remaining required manual input. I did not want to spend too much time on doing data entry. This also gives you the twitter grader grade. I subsequently looked at the reputation of the handle in Klout, looked at the lists which included the handle and finally also looked at the twitter rank as expressed by yet another site I computed rankings using each of these. I finally created a sum of all the ranks, and create a composite rank based on the sums. The interesting aspect of this computation was not just the end results but also some of the intermediate results.

So without further ado – here’s what I found

Ranked as per twitter grader

  1. shinils
  2. arthut
  3. indianguru
  4. sandeepjain
  5. tmalhar
  6. brajeshwar
  7. rohit_shah
  8. ghoseb
  9. rkartha
  10. prateekgupta
  11. ajinkyaforyou
  12. gauravsaha
  13. inkv
  14. aparanjape
  15. scepticgeek
  16. meetumeetu
  17. nishantmodak
  18. czaveri
  19. phpcamp
  20. ngkabra

The rank based on followers or twitter grader ranks was not well correlated with the other ranks. In my mind there is a sufficient rationale to question the effectiveness of both followers count or twitter grader as an ability to reach or influence or engage with others, even though twitter grader grade is slightly better than a folliower count. Thats why the other ranks turned out sufficiently differently ?

Ranked by Klout

  1. brajeshwar
  2. scepticgeek
  3. gauravsaha
  4. ichaitanya
  5. sahilk
  6. indianguru
  7. irohan
  8. rkartha
  9. phpcamp
  10. dnene
  11. ghoseb
  12. ngkabra
  13. prateekgupta
  14. d7y
  15. trakin
  16. aparanjape
  17. adityab
  18. punetech
  19. inkv
  20. nishantmodak

To my lay reading this had a stronger emphasis on people who engaged with others, were conversational and had a high update count as well.

Ranking by Twitter Lists

  1. sandygautam
  2. indianguru
  3. scepticgeek
  4. dnene
  5. brajeshwar
  6. phpcamp
  7. ghoseb
  8. adityab
  9. inisa
  10. rkartha
  11. aparanjape
  12. gauravsaha
  13. prateekgupta
  14. meetumeetu
  15. punetech
  16. ngkabra
  17. trakin
  18. freemanindia
  19. aaruc
  20. rush_me

To me this reflected not the spread of the following as much as the strength of the following. Notice how @sandygautam who very tightly focuses on psychology and is well respected twitterer in that area moves to the top (in a rather dominating way I might add)

Rank using Twitter Rank computed by Twitter-Friends

  1. scepticgeek
  2. ghoseb
  3. prateekgupta
  4. gauravsaha
  5. aaruc
  6. dnene
  7. rkartha
  8. adityab
  9. aparanjape
  10. sandygautam
  11. trakin
  12. d7y
  13. meetumeetu
  14. irohan
  15. aditto
  16. clickonf5
  17. rush_me
  18. sahilk
  19. punetech
  20. brajeshwar

This is an interesting metric and while I couldn’t help clearly identify what drove this, would be certainly willing to lend a ear if you want to come up with a suggested rationale.

So the final 20 pune power twitterers based on a composite of the 3 metrics, which in my perception is not terribly different than a list that I would come up with using my gut feel (though perhaps with different rankings) is … drumroll … drumroll …

Pune power twitterers

  1. scepticgeek
  2. gauravsaha
  3. ghoseb
  4. dnene
  5. rkartha
  6. brajeshwar
  7. prateekgupta
  8. indianguru
  9. adityab
  10. aparanjape
  11. sandygautam
  12. phpcamp
  13. trakin
  14. sahilk
  15. d7y
  16. irohan
  17. ngkabra
  18. punetech
  19. meetumeetu
  20. ichaitanya

Note : All the computations results are visible in the attached PDF. Also in a few case klout ratings or twitter friends rankings were not available. In such cases I have applied a klout rating of 0 and twitter friend ranking of 999999. Obviously it reduces the probability of such handles appearing in the overall rankings substantially – but there was no other reasonable option I could think of.

Disclaimer : At the end I am certain there can be a number of views on how such an exercise could be conducted. There might even be some complaints. Being aware of that, I list results of what I believe to be a “fair” exercise. Whether it is a “just” exercise is left to the reader. Also be aware that I have two of my twitter handles in the list above. You may choose to believe my assurance that I did not tweak the logic based on a first pass of results – the logic I decided to apply was not changed once the results were visible.

(Comments are closed on this article. Please comment at the original article.)

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Can we use technology to solve some of Pune’s problems?

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A few weeks ago, we had asked our readers, “How to increase community participation in the Pune tech scene?”, and we received a huge number of very interesting suggestions. Please read the comments on that article for the full list of suggestions. We have decided that over the next few weeks, we will put up individual posts highlighting some of those suggestions, and asking for feedback on how best to take this forward.

Unmesh Mayekar, of SadakMap, made this suggestion:

Start a series on PuneTech where everyday problems (plaguing Pune) are taken and an attempt is made to address them using technology.

Essentially, someone poses a problem (e.g. uncoordinated traffic lights) and puts forward an attempt at solving this problem. PuneTech community debates the feasibility and if it stands the test interested folks come together to take it further. A sponsor willing to put their name (and some moolah) behind the approved initiatives would round this off well.

We are techies. Technology is our strength. So it makes sense that we try to find ways in which we can use technology to solve issues. Granted that technology isn’t always a solution to problems, but it can be a part of the solution, especially if we team up with others (non-techies) who are domain experts. Often, domain experts who are working on a problem at the grassroots are not technologically savvy, and hence are not able to leverage technology well, and a little technology boost can significantly improve the impact of their efforts. This is where we can help.

What is the best method of taking this idea forward? As Unmesh indicated, we can start a series on PuneTech itself where the problems and proposed tech solutions are posed and voted upon. Or we could create a separate, more specialized package that is better at keeping track of votes (if you have good experiences with any such open source package, then let us know in the comments).

What other things do we need to take care of to ensure that this is successful? One thing I strongly feel is that every idea needs an “owner” who is willing to give non-trivial amounts of time for that idea for the first few months. I believe that the number of people intersted in an idea looks like this:

After the initial hype, where a number of people show interest, there comes “the dip” when people back out for various reasons (or just stop responding), and then only a few people are left (in some cases, just the “owner”). It is necessary that the idea owner continues working on the idea and making progress during this time, so that they can come out of the dip towards success. For that, you need to be passionate about the idea, and you should be clear that there will be a chunk of time when you are working on the idea alone. Basically, what I am saying is that you cannot depend upon “community participation”, especially in the early months.

So, every project needs a passionate “owner”.

What else?

Please give all your ideas, suggestions, feedback in the comments below.

200 CS graduates want to help you with your pet project

Hundreds of B.E. (Computer Science) students who graduated in 2009 are now idle for a few months because their job offers have been deferred by their future employers. What is a potentially nasty psychological and social problem can easily be converted into a win-win situation for everybody concerned if people in the industry come forward and provide projects for these graduates to work on in the intervening period. If you are an experienced industry person, by providing a few hours of guidance, you can get some useful work done, and and the same time help the graduates improve their skills, and become more employable.

Anand Deshpande, CEO of Persistent, who is the driving force behind this effort, points out that there are over 200 students in this situation right now, and the industry could help itself while at the same time helping the students by coming up with, say, 3-month projects that small teams of students could complete. He points to web-2.0, e-Governance, and the cloud as potential technologies that might be rather well suited for this purpose. As an example of something like this working well, and producing useful, real-world output, he points to the Stanford class where 80 students created 50+ facebook applications, with over 20 million installs, and 5 of them had 1 million+ installs. There is no reason something like that cannot work with our crop of students.

It must be pointed out that many of these students are the star students who got recruited straight from campus, but now find themselves in this situation because their job offers got defered of revoked.

So what should you do?

We have created a mailing list called that will be used to co-ordinate this effort.

  • If you can guide small student teams, and if you can commit to giving at least a couple of hours per week for the next three months, then join the mailing list, and post a small mail introducing yourself.
  • In a few days, we will specify how and where to post information about your project and/or how to find the appropriate students for your project. This information will be posted on the mailing list.
  • If you don’t have any specific project in mind, but would generally like to help out with this effort, please join the mailing list and give a brief background of yourself. We can use all the help you can provide
  • If you can think of any other ideas that can help out in this situation, please suggest those on the mailing list. All proposals are welcome.
  • This program is only going to work if we are able to collect at least 30 to 50 mentors who can guide the students. We will start work seriously on this only after a reasonable number of people have shown an interest on the mailing list. If there’s not enough interest shown on the list in the next few days, this program will die. So if you’re interested, please send a mail on If you know somebody else who might be interested, please forward this mail to them.


This is really a win-win situation

  • You get good CS graduates from good colleges working for you
  • If things work out and the team does a good job, you get a great, tested employee
  • The student learns valuable industry skills, gets guidance, and becomes more employable
  • There is no necessity to pay the students for this work. (However, you could give a stipend if you are possibly interested holding on to the student for a long-term job.)

Logistics and other details

Here are some details that I glossed over in the write-up above:

  • This program is targeted towards Computer Science graduates of the class of 2009.
  • Anand Despande has already contacted the colleges and they have all indicated a willingness to help out with this effort. Persistent is also willing to help with some resources. Other companies are expected to follow suit. So rooms, facilities, and other logistics help will be available if required.
  • If you can conduct 3-month Stanford-style course for one batch of students building a bunch of facebook apps, or Microsoft Azure apps, or Google android apps, or anything else, please come forward. As long as you’re willing to drive, appropriate resources can be made available to you.
  • If you have any other ideas, please suggest them on the mailing list.


This is a great opportunity to do something socially useful and get something in return. So join. And make others join. Right now, all you need to do is indicate your availability and willingness. More details will become available soon.

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Branding and Marketing for your startup: PoCC meet, 18 April

What: POCC meeting on “Branding your IP: A mantra to global success” and “Hi-Technology Marketing”
When: Saturday, 18th April (today!), 4pm
Where: Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research, Atur Centre, Model Colony. Map.
Registration and Fees: This event is free for all. No registration required

Pune OpenCoffee Club - POCC Logo

Branding your IP: Your mantra for global success – Prantik Mazumdar

Prantik Mazumdar, Consultant and Country Manager for StrategiCom, has kindly agreed to take a branding session. StrategiCom mainly deals for brand evaluation and positioning for SME’s around the globe.

He shall be accompanied by Prof Kaustubh, Associate Prof and Faculty for Corporate Training at SIBM, Lavale. The 2 together operate the free weekly brand health clinic at SIBM for SME’s

Abstract of the talk

The brand's social penetration
Social penetration of your brand. Image by activeside via Flickr

They say “Necessity is the mother of all inventions” and it is some of these inventions that empower and transform our world. Some of the grandest inventions that have had a significant impact on our lives today include the wheel, electricity, the light bulb, the automobile, telephones, mobile phones, the internet, etc. But was just inventing these ideas, concepts and processes enough for them to succeed and transform our world?

Just google “why startups fail” and there would be a host of sites proclaiming that about 9 out of 10 startups fail within the first two to three years of business! Is there something that can help increase and insure your chances of success? Something that can ensure and protect your growth? – The answer lies in commercializing, protecting and most importantly branding your intellectual property right from day one!

The session would focus on 7 key steps that entrepreneurs must take to build strong brands out of their inventions and innovations

Hi-Technology Marketing – Abhijit Athavale

Abhijit Athavale shall be talking on identity, positioning, sementation and market analysis, value proposition, messaging, campaigning and measurement.

See the PuneTech calendar for information about other tech events happening in this weekend.

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Pune’s Tech Mahindra wins Satyam bid

According to news reports today, Pune based Tech Mahindra has won the Satyam bid. Here is the coverage in The Economic Times “Tech Mahindra wins bid for Satyam Computers

Satyam Computer Services Ltd.
Image via Wikipedia

The other rivals in the race were L&T InfoTech and the American billionaire Wilbur Ross. This news is already being covered in great detail in all the national business media and I doubt if I can add anything new.

My thought would be from a Pune angle. Pune has been amongst the leading IT cities in India for a while now. Infosys and Wipro have plans underway to expand their Pune centers into their single biggest facilities. Yet, a ‘Pune-based company’ has never been in the big league!

It’s worth noting how Infosys started in Pune in the early 1980s and then moved on to Bangalore. In some sense this void can be filled today! Tech Mahindra has its roots in Pune for many years. Here are a couple of links that provide more information about the company profile:

Tech Mahindra Wikipedia Link

Tech Mahindra Official Website (About Us Link)

(This article is cross-posted from Amit Paranjape’s Blog.)

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