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2014

YouTube has become the most popular place for everything video, be it how-to videos, cats playing the piano or babies laughing, or to promote something or someone. What was earlier the sphere of budding musicians and filmmakers looking for easy and free ways to showcase their latest song or film, has today crossed over to every industry.  YouTube is where company outing videos, annual day shows and such get mass distributed, giving a feel for a company, its "coolness" and employee friendliness. It also ties into a growing realization about the power of visuals. Showing and capturing information in a three dimensional manner is the best way to reach people. After all, most people are visual learners. It's not just fun and flash or directions for do-it-yourself projects. As an SME, you should think of leveraging the power of video to your advantage.

Making the most of the Medium

At a time when attention spans are limited and people tend to skim rather than read through content and are most interested in quick sound bites and nuggets of information, videos can make an impact and demonstrate a product or company in a quick manner. Video can be used to promote visual content about a company, products, services and solutions. Creating a video does not have to be just for the tech savvy organization nor does it have to be intimidating because of the cost. Yes, videos of the kind you'd want to use for a company or product promotion can't be shot on a mobile phone or tablet and a certain minimum standard in terms of production values is a must. Still, rather than focusing on the technology used, when you make it about the messaging, it becomes about how you're saying it. Fancy production values are not a requirement. 

Asking the right Questions

Knowing where to start, and what the different required elements are, is the most important aspect to getting video right. Who is your intended audience, what is the purpose of the video, what length are you looking at (a 2 minute snappy product demo or a 5 minute facility tour or a 10 minute interview with a client showcasing your successful implementation, a 15 minute corporate video that gives a full flavor of your company and its offerings)?

Next up you need to think about what kinds of tools and technology you can get your hands on, and the costs involved. With these questions answered, ideation, storyboard, design and actual shooting choices need to be arrived at. You can go for a straight forward "here's what we do" video, or a more indirect, problem-solution approach. A talk direct, for instance, requires a single, fixed point camera, decent lighting (professional quality or spotlights not required), and of course, a strong spokesperson to get the message across.

Picking the Technique to match your Story

In order to create a compelling video within your budget, you need to understand the types of techniques you can employ, for example: stock images with voiceover, in-house production, animation, whiteboards, etc. For a video using stock images and stock footage, you will additionally use text and a voiceover and/or background score. If you choose to add product/location/factory/client place details, then actual filming is required in addition to the other elements, to capture these different locations and in-action shots. There is great power in a quote or interview with a customer who is using your product or solution and is willing to talk about it on film.

Whiteboard videos are gaining traction, with sites like Amazon Web Services creating multiple, simple, line drawing animation videos. If you choose to have someone create the line drawings, then the cost of the artist needs to be factored into the process. Generally, animation is expensive when custom hand drawn images or even computer generated ones are in play. However, there is a reasonably inexpensive way to create whiteboard animation videos with graphics, using a technology called Videoscribe. Videoscribe allows for fast, impactful and original whiteboard video creation. The software has thousands of royalty free images available to choose from and since it boasts of HD quality output, you can be secure in the knowledge that the video you create will look as good on a full screen projector as on your laptop. 

The Power of Sound

Finally, a word about the power of music - never underestimate the emotions you can elicit with a strong soundtrack. The sounds in your video are as important as the images. If you choose to use a popular song, then remember to budget for buying the rights. Or you could hire a musician to create original music (costs here would depend on the number of instruments and of course, how experienced or well-known the musician is). You can wow your audience with the right music and images - no fancy techniques, high priced lighting or expensive production values required. A strong message and compelling audiovisuals can do the job just fine!

Foradian Technologies was founded in 2009 by eight friends who decided they wanted to work together and took the plunge to start a company - without planning exactly what they would be creating or what market they would be targeting! In a story where passion came first and inspiration struck later, Foradian went from a web development and branding services provider to a school ERP solution provider, after being approached by a local school administrator. This is when Unnikrishnan Koroth, Co-Founder and CEO of Foradian and his partners realized there was an opportunity and need for providing a quality ERP solution that would not cost the earth but at the same time, did not compromise on quality, and their school and campus management information system was born. Fedena handles all school administration tasks right from admission, to attendance and grades, to managing employee payroll.

Affordable, Quality Education Support

Foradian today is one of the world's leading enterprise software solutions providers for educational institutions. Their flagship product, Fedena, is an open source student information system built on the Ruby on Rails web development framework, and operates on the cloud - which means that any educational institution, anywhere in the world can make use of it. There are two versions of the product, a free version and an enhanced Pro version, which is customized to suit a particular educational institution's requirements. The free version is available as is, with any plugins being chargeable. With technology having pervaded the classroom, the staffroom and the business offices at every educational institution, but where users are still hesitant and not very tech savvy, an ERP system that simplifies the process and provides one stop access to all administrative functions is a clear winner.

Attracting Attention, Awards and Funding

Fedena is currently in use in over 40,000 schools and universities around the globe, across over 100 countries. Impressive numbers for a company that is still young enough to be counted on the fingers of one hand. The awards and recognition that have followed in the wake of the company's success are testament to the solution's timeliness and usability in an increasingly complex educational landscape. "What sets us apart is the user friendliness and key features we provide", says Koroth, pointing out that there are actually thousands of companies selling education software. 2012 proved to be a banner year for Foradian. They were named EduStar of the Month by YourStory, a platform that recognizes achievements by startups in the educational space. The company was also recognized through Koroth's inclusion in the TR35 list as one of 35 innovators under 35, the annual list published by MIT's Technology Review magazine.  

Foradian was also on the NASSCOM Emerge 50 list that year, winning in the Innovation in product and business model category as well as being named to the Emerge "League of 10" for 2012. Koroth says that the mentoring provided by NASSCOM was very helpful and the connections made due to the association have proved fruitful and given Foradian leverage in deals. "Being a member of NASSCOM is equivalent to being a big software company in India. The advantage we enjoy as a member of NASSCOM is the automatic trust we get when we deal with overseas partners, important when most of our revenues come from outside India," points out Koroth.

A few months ago, came funding to the tune of USD 2 million, from the MD of FabIndia, William Bissell, money Koroth says will go towards expanding their operations and scaling up the product capabilities.

Expanding Horizons

40,000 and counting users is a huge number, but that doesn't necessarily translate into revenues, since only 3000 of those are actual paying customers. The rest are deploying the free version, which gives Foradian its wide customer base. In India, the solution's largest user is the state of Kerala, which has a contract with Fordian and has implemented Fedena across 15,000 schools, providing Foradian a great marketing tool and success story.
Koroth says that 80% of the company's revenues come from outside India, and in emerging markets like Africa and Latin America. The US, in particular is a saturated market, so while Fedena does see some use there, it is the Latin American and African countries where the penetration has been highest. "And we have got a recent project in Nigeria, which has a public education system, where we implemented in about 4000 schools, through our partner there" adds Koroth. With a partner network of 100+ to take the business ahead internationally that Koroth wants to see continue growing in strength, the Foradian team has remained at 30 people over the last 3-4 years.

The company plans to look at the more mature US and European segments aggressively in a year or so, and Koroth underscores the importance of strong partners in these markets, in order for them to succeed. They are also moving into Learning Management with UZITY, an online training and learning management system. This additional focus came about as a result of repeated requests from existing users. After initially saying no, Foradian began a parallel development of the product and it is seeing use by current customers, but Koroth says they aren't pursuing development or marketing aggressively but taking it step by step, wanting to ensure scalability.

Koroth stresses that the most important aspect of Foradian Technologies is attitude and team spirit. He says rather than thinking in terms of one founder or leader, the six friends still involved in the business work in cohesion and together, which attitude is what has brought them from a start-up supported by funding from family, and without a product or solution to their name, to where they are today - leaders and innovators in their field, with over 5 Cr. (1 million USD) in revenues and an ambition of making it into the 100 Cr club.

With the heat of summer making its impact felt, it is a good time to look at technology and energy efficiency. As people suffer from frequent power cuts and deal with water supply shortages in the sweltering heat, the conversation often turns to when India will become more energy efficient and ‘green'. Looking at the global scene, the companies in the green tech space seem to come predominately out of the US, and that too, California. In India there aren't too many players putting the two (technology and green energy) together. While there are some companies involved in energy efficiency and related work, there are very few adding that element of technology to create green tech solutions.

 

But while green technology-led platforms are few and far between at the moment, with greater awareness from consumers and the government as well, there is a growing shift and startups as well as big players are starting to hop on the bandwagon. There are some large companies like Wipro, TCS and Cisco, and a few smaller players too, working with green technology solutions. At present, smart grids, energy conserving and monitoring devices and meters are being adopted in apartment and office buildings and tech parks, and in certain sectors like telecom, albeit in a piecemeal fashion. The government is working seriously on improving the electricity crisis by planning for the implementation of smart grids and e-meters, and projects are underway in different states. The potential is huge, and even though there are very few players in the space at the moment, companies, large and small, are beginning to tune in to the immense potential in the field of green tech, with BI and analytics sure to lead the way.

 

The Power in Tracking Information

 

Infozech is a company out of New Delhi doing work in energy management, having seized the opportunity while working in the telecom space. Infozech offers Cloud based solutions that address ground level challenges for the telecom sector in managing and tracking high fuel consumption and energy mismanagement. Infozech CEO, Ankur Lal, believes that the focus for those in the energy environment is both from a cost prospective and from an environment management perspective. Energy Tracking Services such as those provided by Infozech address both key factors, providing BI and Analytics to help companies reduce the amount of diesel/fuel they are using and losing on a daily basis. Though one of the few companies in the space in India at present, Lal is extremely optimistic for the future: "I think there is a large canvas of opportunity which is waiting to be unfolded and I think this will be as large as the shifts in telecom industry in the last 20 years."

 

SmartrHomes Technologies, a Bangalore-based startup, began with a vision to automate residential, commercial and industrial complexes, homes and other consumers of water, energy and gas. SmartrWater is the first product on the platform, and an energy metering product as well as a smart LPG metering and gas leak detection system with proactive safety measurements will be launched shortly. The devices not only consume very little energy, they also harvest their energy from their ambient environment. "The response so far has been phenomenal and most people we meet are eco warriors," says Vivek Shukla, Co-founder & CEO of SmartrHomes Technologies. "They immediately see the value of the system and potential savings it can bring by being aware of their consumption of natural resources. But at the same time, there are people who have the opinion that they have the money to pay for what they are consuming and won't reduce their respective consumption," adds Shukla, who has had enquiries from international companies wanting to license the technology, speaking to its scalability. While there are other players offering standard metering solutions, Shukla points out that none of them have an integrated platform for measurement, monitoring and control, automation and billing.

 

Smart Grids, Smart Homes

 

One of the big names in IT, Cisco is working with the Indian government on making the power grids smarter in terms of distribution as well as transmission, and automatic metering infrastructure for smart meters, which will allow consumers to have some control over their power usage and conservation. Says Vinay Dua, Business Development Manager for Smart Grids at Cisco, of the planned smart meters: "today the situation is either one of having power, or no power. With smart meters, a ‘brown out' situation is possible, where there is limited power and a customer press a button on the meter and accept the 50% or whatever power they are getting, which will run limited devices." Such a system has use for both commercial and home properties. At a macro, statewide level, Dua points out that power utility companies know the health of the grid and can monitor the usage and get data in real time about the load and track the utilization pattern, and using such analytics can decide whether to buy more power upfront from the feeding station or not.

 

Currently, Cisco is working on smart grid pilots in 14 states, with a few more in the works, and expects to be a part of the plan on a national level, involved in every state. Smart meters installed in every house and commercial establishment will collect real time information and then send it to the central control station, where decisions will be taken based on the data received. The meters are being installed in conjunction with system integrator partners, with Cisco focusing on its strength, which is providing the communication capabilities to get the tech talking and working. Dua thinks there is great growth potential in the space for companies to become involved, not just limited to smart meter production. Data analytics is the space where startups can mushroom, as there will be great demand for making sense of all the data being collected. "The field is wide open for players to create business specific apps that can be embedded onto the network," feels Dua, citing that at present, there is a wide gap between what information the machines give out, and what management wants to see.
Discussions are underway, says Dua, with both state utilities and the power grid corporation, on smart grid infrastructure. Lal too believes that smart grids are of great import. By putting power back into the grid he sees immense applications for the technology, like small power producers being able to optimize power tariffs. Smartrhomes too, works on a giving back model. "Our devices are built to harvest energy for their functioning and so lead on the green path. We look at solving real life problems through our devices", says Shukla proudly.

 

Analytics will allow one to control the demand response system, for example, says Lal. He says the technology to take this next step has come to pass, it's now just a question of putting it to use, and cites the emergence of companies which are starting to work on hardware like the sensors for tracking and information gathering. Infozech is already utilizing remote statistics and collecting data harnessing mobile tech and the Cloud in its Energy Tracking service. The Internet of Things is also a definite factor in the growth of green tech. Lal, Shukla and Dua all point to widespread adoption and as yet untested applications potential, with the IoT. The time is right, and the technology is making its presence felt - the day when every home has a smart device that analyzes and optimizes utility usage is certainly no longer a utopian concept, and it only remains to be seen how many more players emerge to join the green tech evolution.

The world is undergoing a fundamental shift due to expansion of mobile technology. Almost everything can be managed by using smart devices like smartphones, tablets, iPads etc. With over a billion users, the internet is unarguably the most successful human invention ever created. In today's environment, who needs a dictionary, a calculator, a textbook, a brick and mortar retail shop, a visit to bank etc.? With ever changing global internet trends, smart devices ensure that we can now abandoning earlier lifestyles we used to follow. Whatever we want to do, is just a click away due to seismic shifts in internet proliferation.

Internet has allowed consumers to shop virtually almost everything at their convenience; at the same time, it offers huge opportunity to providers with direct access to a wide range of markets. Companies are using mobile, social and other native advertising to manage competition and attract consumers on a variety of online platforms. Globally, mobile advertising is gaining increased importance with 47 per cent growth over last year.

 Emerging internet trends around unbundling of apps that cater to the specific needs with a clear shift from multi-purpose web apps to single purpose mobile apps - easily accessible through smart devices anytime, anywhere. Technology has taken a big leap from enterprise software to SMAC and artificial intelligence and has clearly become an integral part of every industry in an increasingly multi-device connected world. Smart machines, cognitive computing and internet of things are narrowing the divide between humans and machines, and creating exciting applications where technology will take decisions for humans based on their preferences.

New age technology is leading the way towards a smarter planet. Globally emerging trends like mobile internet, smart cities, automation, Internet of things etc. are redefining the future of technology. Internet of Things (IOT) or Internet of Everything (IOE) - brings a new concept where devices perform more intelligently when connected online, and hence become more useful.

The growing pace of internet connectivity enables wireless communication between multiple devices to offer solutions like smart homes, connected cars, smart meters, smart vehicles etc. This smart connected products ecosystem can create new business applications and become new sources of competitive advantage. Hiring a cab, finding local businesses, booking a hotel room, navigating traffic, listening to music, booking a dinner table, controlling television and other devices - it's all technology enabled, mobile now.

IOT, in future, will offer endless technology opportunities that are only limited to our imagination. This connected network will only develop smarter solutions by embedding sensors in almost every day-to-day object and complement our lives in an untraditional way.

      Stay tuned for part II of the blog which will talk about Indian Internet Trends and impact on technology. 

By Amitabh Verma

SMEs are the engine of growth for any economy. They are the first to run - up when the going is good and often amongst the first to feel the stress when the markets turn the heat on them. While SMEs have several challenges to deal with (management skills, bandwidth, talent, dependency on buyers / suppliers etc), the key challenge often is access to "funding" which can insulate them from these.

SMEs typically do not have "deep" pockets. This makes them more vulnerable to shocks from the market. As liquidity gets tighter in the current economic scenario, the cost of funding (even when it is available) also tends to go up, adding to the strain. However, adequate and timely funding is the life blood for SMEs and is often the key differentiator which can take these SMEs to the big league.

The key challenges for an institution or a bank is to find the "right" SMEs who can manage the stresses of the current tough environment. There is appetite for financing the good SMEs but selection becomes a deterrent. There is a need to bring in Risk Management tools which study the entire eco - system of the SME and not merely its financials. So, the fundamental question which comes back to the table is what are the key risks and how do we mitigate them?

Some key aspects of assessment which could provide a holistic view would include:

• Getting to understand the Promoter - SMEs are typically promoter driven. Understanding the knowledge, experience and integrity of the promoter is key to understanding how the company is likely to behave.

• Succession Plan - Once the lender knows the promoter and is comfortable, they need to be sure that the best laid plans would be executed, should there be any disruption in business. A well articulated succession plan helps the SME remain a "going concern" even in turbulent times.

• Market feedback - Does the market think the company as trustworthy? It makes sense to do as many buyer/ suppliers /stakeholders checks and feedback as possible because it gives a 360 degree view on the client.

• Business Model - The lender also now needs to understand what exactly is the SME doing? Is the business model viable and sustainable? Can the SMEs USP help them grow?

• Dependency - Is the SME dependent on the large industry players? Are there any likely implications? Can these be mitigated?

• Competitive and Market scan - How is competition reacting? Are bigger players likely to crowd out the SME OR would the SME be able to carve out a place for themselves?

Once the lender has gone beyond the financials to look at the SME holistically, the decision on picking the "winners" become a lot simpler.  SMEs need funds and    so do the financial institutions/banks need to lend and a win-win synergy can be created.

Amitabh Verma with an experience of over 15 years in the banking space heads the SME Banking business of DBS Bank India. He can be contacted at - amitabhverma@dbs.com

Hi All,

we are startup Website Development Company.our are of expertise are Dot Net (Asp.net,c#,Webservice) applications .

we want some outsource work from usa or uk clients.so what are the procedure to get the projects.

     How can we promote ourselves to sell our services.

                              Thanks in Advance

mishra anshuman

Outsourcing

Posted by mishra anshuman Jun 9, 2014

Hi All,

 we are startup Website Development Company.our are of expertise are Dot Net (Asp.net,c#,Webservice) applications .

 we want some outsource work from usa or uk clients.so what are the procedure to get the projects.

     How can we promote ourselves to sell our services.

                              Thanks in Advance

Start-up ecosystem is often described as Young,Innovative, Aspirant and Futuristic. India is home to a new breed of young start-ups; these innovative mind-sets are creating new markets and driving innovation rapidly. This agile, opportunistic segment has impacted the Industry in a unique way.

While till now, most of the Start-ups are focused around high growth areas such as eCommerce, SMAC, and vertical-specific solutions; more recently, we have seen emergence of newer opportunities around Embedded systems, PaaS/ IaaS and variable technology etc.

While Embedded Systems have been ubiquitous, pervasive and touching virtually all aspects of daily life in some way or the other, the availability of newer means of technology has elevated the contribution of Embedded systems by ushering the age of hyper communication / collaboration. From mobile telephones to automobiles, Industrial equipment to high end medical devices, remote monitoring and diagnostics to smart computing, embedded systems now form part of a wide range of devices.

The NASSCOM 10K start-up program has also seen some evidences of innovative offerings in the Embedded space based on the applications received till now. While still at the nascent stage, growing access to advanced systems/ solutions in this space highlights a huge potential in this segment going forward. My latest blog is an attempt to highlight innovation in the Embedded space, with a brief profiling of three such Start-ups:

Yuvera: The physical products we see, touch & interact with, often have their digital alter-ego eg. a webpage, a Youtube video, an API etc. Today the physical to digital transition isn't easy & often controlled by different intermediaries. Yuvera's product offering LINQS has made an attempt to an effortless way that allows physical products to reveal their digital identity. It employs Near Field Communication (NFC) chips & QR Codes embedded/affixed to physical products to add digital experiences in them.

Euclideus: People often use a bunch of applications for various processes. To integrate data and processes across these applications is extremely time consuming. The Embedded offering allows one to integrate and automate any number of applications without writing a single line of code.

Uncanny Vision: It is trying to accelerate computer vision algorithms on embedded. The solution is a computer vision library accelerated for Cortex-A ARM processor (present on practically every smart-phone and embedded SOC- System on Chip). It uses algorithm optimizations and ARM SIMD instruction set, Neon, to get performance improvements ranging from 2x to 20x(100% to 1900%).

Domonyi Karoly

Business in Hungary

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Modern day marketing is storytelling at its best, so in essence, marketers need to start thinking like publishers and authors and figure out how to write the best sellers. But, this is all easier said than done. Content and marketing managers have day jobs, and often they lack skills and experience needed to create engaging content (that is what authors do!). Therefore, what they need are intelligent tools, powered by superior technology, that can take their business documents and turn them into engaging blogs, web pages, product listings, press releases or social media posts.

Read on..