Tag Archives: sms

POCC Meet: WTF is going on with SMS – Panel Discussion & Product Pitches – 7 Jan

The next Pune Open Coffee Club meet (Sat, 7 Jan, 5pm, SICSR) will be on discussing and understanding the mess that is SMS and its impact on startups. If you’re a technologist who is working on, or plans to work on any software offering for the India market, you definitely need to understand this area. If your product has been impacted by the recent TRAI regulations, please come to share your experiences. If you are a startup that is offering SMS based services (either to your customers, or to other startups/businesses), you can actually pitch your products at this meet (see details below).

The importance of SMS for the Indian Technology Market

In the last few years, SMS was emerging as one of the most important “technologies” in the Indian tech and startup space. With 10x the number of users compared to the internet, SMS was the preferred choice for many startups and businesses to communicate with their customers. However, with the recent TRAI anti-spam regulations, things are looking very murky. Most businesses are not allowed to send SMS via gateways. But some businesses (like social networks, travel ticketing services, and financial institutions) are allowed. Others can’t send even to willing customers. But sending via international routes is allowed. And sending via individual SIM cards is allowed, but up to a maximum of 200 per day.

What is allowed? What is not allowed? What is the theory, and what are the ground realities? What is the effect on companies that had built a business with SMS as an important component, and how are they dealing with this? What to expect in the next few years?

These are the questions we hope to tackle in the next Pune Open Coffee Club Meeting, on Sat, 7 Jan, 5pm, 7th floor, SICSR, (Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research, near Om Market, Model Colony).

We will have a panel discussion where these issues will be discussed by people who have expertise in this area. This will be followed by short (5-minute) pitches by Pune startups that are either offering SMS based services, or are doing a business where SMS is an important part of their offering.

Please register to attend

If you are a startup who wants to pitch, please send a mail to navin@reliscore.com, or santosh@tinkeron.com

We already have a few experts lined up for the panel discussion, however, we can accomodate one or two more, so if you can suggest someone with practical experience/expertise in this area, please let us know.

eduVARTA – SMS-based education/jobs info-service for rural college students

eduVARTA is a new

eduVARTA provides informational SMS updates to rural and semi-urban college students with a focus on educational, jobs, and skills information. The idea is to empower students, and increase the opportunities they get, in terms of more education, employment and self-employment opportunities.

eduVARTA hopes to reach 5 lakhs rural and semi-urban college students (11th std. and up). Considering that the people behind this initiative are the same as those behind SMSOne, which is already reaching 5 lakhs rural and semi-urban households with local updates and ads, it should not be difficult for them to achieve their target quickly.

There is a pressing need for a service like. While students of colleges in cities like Pune are very aware of what is going on in the world, and usually end up getting decent jobs, there are millions of students elsewhere who are so devoid of information, basic skills, and confidence that even a little trickle of information can pay huge dividends. And, at this time, there is no better way to reach this population than SMS.

The eduVARTA website points out that provide the students with this kind of information:

  • Notices, announcements, alerts, decisions
  • Courses, admission, fees, due dates
  • Trainings, workshops, seminars, guest lectures, camps, study tours
  • Researches, articles, references, books, publications
  • Competition, Events, youth festivals, programs, gathering
  • Exams, competitive exams, results, forms
  • Sports, magazine, cultural, social committee activities
  • Higher education, job opportunities
  • Facilities, needs, demands
  • Achievements, appointments, success news, sad news
  • Alumni news, guest visits
  • Scholarships, awards, prizes

And the information comes from the following sources:

  • National Innovation Foundation, IIM, Ahmedabad
  • CIET, National Center for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi
  • Stanford Mobile Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Network, USA
  • Youth Employment Summit, USA & New Delhi
  • Youth & Sports Committee of Planning Commission, GoI
  • Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi
  • NASSCOM Foundation, Mumbai
  • Development Communication India, New Delhi
  • Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghathan (NYKS), New Delhi
  • National Service Scheme (NSS), Maharashtra
  • National Youth Awardees Association
  • Universities, Researchers, Career guidance organizations
  • and many individual honorary contributors…

A few days back, at the mbillionth awards 2011, eduVARTA was given the VODAFONE “Mobile for Good” Award by VODAFONE INDIA Foundation & Digital Empowerment Foundation. The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 10L.

Check out the eduVARTA About Us Page to find out more about them.

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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Pune’s SMSONE gets techcrunched: Mirco-local news to make Silicon Valley Jealous

Pune-based company SMSONE (see previous PuneTech coverage) has just been covered by TechCrunch, one of the most influential and widely read tech blogs in the world (as a result of an introduction by PuneTech).

Sarah Lacy, editor-at-large at TechCrunch was in India for about a month in November, and she was in Pune for a day, hosted by Abinash Tripathy. During her Pune visit, PuneTech introduced her to a bunch of local companies, and SMSONE was one of them.

Excerpts from her article:

But every once in a while I find a company that hits the trifecta: It’s addressing a big problem locally, it’s something I don’t think is offered in the US, and…. I want it. And when a product in undeveloped, chaotic, messy India can make someone in Silicon Valley feel jealous, you know that entrepreneur has come up with something good.

I’m talking about SMSONE Media, a company I met in Pune about a week ago. Like most of the impressive companies I saw in India, it’s aimed squarely at the base of the pyramid and is using basic SMS to deliver services to people some of India’s most unconnected areas. It was started by Ravi Ghate, who proudly points out that none of his core team graduated from high school, much less attended an IIT or IIM. (Typically not something you brag about in India.)

Later, the article quotes Ravi Ghate, CEO of SMSONE, on their future plans:

Right now Ghate’s operation is in 400 communities, reaching roughly 400,000 readers. He just got an investment from the government of Bangalore to boost that reach to five million readers in the next four months.

Ghate is clear that the money will be used strictly to reach more people. The company already breaks even and Ghate makes enough to pay his basic living expenses. He doesn’t care about fancy cars or clothes. It wasn’t too long ago that he was one of those disadvantaged kids, selling flags and berries on the side of the road and being told to go away. He still regularly travels between villages by bus and stays in $5/a night hotels

FYI: There’s one detail that her article gets wrong. The article says:

The economics work out like this: Out of a 1000 rupee ad sale, 300 of it goes to the reporter, and Ghate pays him an additional 50 rupees for each news story. That adds up to a nice income for a village kid

Actually, of the Rs. 1000 that an ad earns, Rs. 300 is kept by SMSONE and the rest goes to the reporter. But other than this inaccuracy, the article does a great job of capturing the essence of SMSONE.

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The PuneTech SMS Reminder Service – Get event reminders on your mobile

PuneTech logoHave you ever forgotten about an interesting tech event in Pune, and then regretted the fact that you did not attend it?

PuneTech is pleased to announce the Free PuneTech Event Reminder SMS service that will send you reminders about tech events in Pune one day before. Basically, this is a Google SMS channel, where we post the basic information about events: title, date, venue. In most cases, this will be posted twice – once when the event is announced (or when we find out about it) and once one day before the event. In case of events with submission/registration/nomination deadlines, we’ll also post a reminder a day before the deadline. Every reminder will be contained in a single SMS. For details, you’ll be expected to use a web browser to check out the PuneTech calendar (or ideally, you’ll already know all the details of the event because you are already subscribed to the PuneTech daily email updates (which is also free)).

This service is totally free. To subscribe, SMS “REGISTER” to +91 9870807070 to register with Google SMS channels, and when you receive confirmation, reply to that message with “ON PUNETECH”. Remember the second part – your PuneTech reminders will not start until you’ve sent the “ON PUNETECH” message. You can also subscribe via a web browser by going to the PuneTech SMS Channel page, sign in with your google account (i.e. if you use GMail, enter your GMail username and password, if you don’t have a google account, create one), and then follow the instructions there. For more details about the Google SMS service, see their homepage and FAQs.

Pune-based SMSONE runs SMS news service for rural communities

Ravi Ghate talking about SMSONE. Click here if you cannot see this video.

From Mid-Day:

A Pune-based company has been running a SMS newsletter service for mobile phone owners in rural Maharashtra dedicated to local news for the last two years. This service reaches out to nearly 300 communities spread across 25 districts in the state.

And most importantly it has become a source of income for the rural youth, who call themselves ‘mobile’ journalists. They are paid Rs Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 per month.

“I had no job before I started this SMS newsletter in Parbhani. This venture has given me name, fame and a steady income,” said Ahmed Siddique, editorial coordinator for Parbhani district, who joined SMSONE Media Services Pvt Ltd last year.

“The concept was awarded the social innovation award by the The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) on February 11,” said said Ravi Ghate of SMSONE, who began the newsletter by training 300 unemployed youth in mobile journalism.

See the full article. The video embedded above has the founder Ravi Ghate giving a good overview of how the whole thing works.

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121 Tech unveils easyTXT signage solutions | Televisionpoint.com News

From  Televisionpoint.com:

121 Technologies has unveiled its Bluetooth/SMS enabled easyTXT smart signage solutions. easyTXT is a digitally enhanced media format for deployment at OOH locations such as retail spaces, airports, malls/multiplexes, exhibitions, events. The technology allows potential customers’ mobile phones to be registered in an intuitive manner to receive offers and notifications.


The technology is location specific. For instance, a pizza outlet in a food court in a mall can send out specific SMS’s about its meal deals. For this, the outlet has to install a light box with the easyTXT hardware unit mounted inside it. The unit has bright flashing LEDs that ensure maximum eyeballs see the signage.

Once near the signage, users need to turn on the Bluetooth feature on their mobile handsets, accept the incoming connection and enter the pairing code written on the signage to start receiving the offers/notifications from that brand. The pairing code ensures that only those people interested in receiving the offers get them.

Related articles:
InfoBeanz: Free web-based platform for “digital signage”

Remote Data Exchange – SMS and GPS based products

Remote Data Exchange (RDX) is an interesting Pune-based company that builds a number of products based either on GPS devices, or based on idea of using SMS for achieving things remotely. They have recently released a product called Jai Kisan which is essentially a setup that allows farmers to remotely manage their motor pump sets.

Jai Kisan hardware photoThe Jai Kisan Hardware

Jai Kisan schematic diagramHow the Jai Kisan system works

This system has the following features:

  • Allows you to start or stop the motor pump set from anywhere
  • Works with any kind of GSM/CDMA Mobile handset
  • Gives you feedback about whether the motor actually started or not
  • Tells you if power is present on the field or not
  • Automatic charging of mobile handset
  • Ultra low cost, INR 1250/- only

This is just one of the products they have up their sleeve. There are a number of other little products based on these technologies. For example, there is the sms-based car security system which:

  • Allows you to figure out the the location of your car from your mobile at any time by giving your car a missed call
  • Turn ON or OFF Car Engine from your Mobile. (I wonder whether I can use it to remotely turn on the AC!)
  • Car immobilization via SMS message
  • Intrusion SMS message alert – if the door is opened in your absense.
  • ARM/DISARM the security system via SMS message
  • Lowest recurring cost per month: based mainly on simple sms messages (and in some cases missed calls!)

There is a similar sms-based system for home security too. And a Bike security system (which doesn’t appear to be sms-based.) And a vehicle tracking system (which is integrated with Google/Yahoo/MSN/NASA maps. Useful for car fleets (think BPO pick-up / drop-off.)

Then they get into “Big Brother” management techniques. The person tracking system which is a small GPS device that can be given to an employee, and will then send detailed reports about the whereabouts of the employee to the supervisor. A similar thing can also be achieved by simply giving the employee a GSM mobile phone. Apparently to be given to employees who have a tendency to lie about whether they actually visited a customer or not.

See the full punetech profile for more such mini-products from RDX. Like the sms-updatable LED displays. And GPS based clocks (always exact time.) And GPS based Passenger Information System. This is installed, for example, in some AC coaches in Indian Railways and gives the passengers video clips with local information (i.e. about the station they are going to soon reach) based on where the train currently is.