Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bridging digital divide in emerging economies

This post details about how things went till now, in our attempt at creating a solution to solve digital divide among members of Indian families.

Brief about our solution :

In emerging economics like India, not all members of a family are equal in their capability to access technology, due to language barrier to access them, demanding tech skills to manage them. Since, members of a family live & work at different places/cities/geographies, there is friction in sharing & consuming digital content.

Our solution is mix of hardware + software.

How things went till now :

1) Go to market on our own : Since our solution involves hardware, we were in need of good  capital investment. Approached few VCs & had few rounds of discussion with them, but things didn't workout. Below is the feedback from one of the VCs (Other VCs feedback were also in similar lines)

"In general, any hardware based models have a lot of complications due to inventory management, support infrastructure, maintenance and so on. That is the reason, you don't see much o single hardware product companies any more (Apple, HP, Dell, Samsung, LG, MicroMax, Sony, etc. etc.). They all reuse their distribution, manufacturing, procurement, and maintenance network very well. If I were you, once you have a product, think through whether you can sell the product through Micromax or some one like that and you getting a royalty.

The question is not about the demand, but, how you satisfy the demand without reinventing the whole wheel. My 2 cents."

2) Attempt at approaching an India based hardware vendor : Through friends, got an introduction to board member (who is also one of their VCs) of an India based hardware manufacturer. Pitched our solution to them, but didn't get any response from him.

3) Approaching Intel : Again through friends, go an introduction to Intel capital. Intel is trying to market their atom processor and working with other hardware manufacturers. Demoed our solution to them. They were also working closely with same India based hardware manufacturer, that I approached early. Not much progress here too.

4) Approaching Reliance : Reliance jio infocomm (Owned by Mukesh ambanis's RIL. RIL pumped $5 billion in this project) is launching 4G based tablet tailored for Indian audience. Initiated discussion with connections I knew at RIL. Again here is too not much progress after few rounds of discussion.