Monday, 26 December 2016

"I Fell In Love On The Internet, And With The Internet": How Orkut Changed Kannan's Life

When Kannan's grandmother died, his mother received an inheritance of twenty thousand rupees. The first of four siblings, Kannan was one of the few in his family to finish college and had taken the monumental step of enrolling into MBA. So the money was used to buy him a desktop computer.

Kannan's father, a tea shop owner, had always put his children's education first. The only time Kannan saw his father cry helplessly was when Kannan had to help him with a task as simple as filling up a bank challan. Even through several academic stumbles, Kannan was motivated to make something of himself, and in 2009, he entered the magical world of the internet with his first Gmail ID. 

You know what they say about young adults on the internet- they "waste a lot of time". And they are never prepared to face the side effects of social media. Kannan was not very different on that count. When a friend introduced Kannan to Orkut, Kannan sent out a bunch of friend requests to everyone, a whole lot of whom were girls, and one who would turn out to be the love of his life. 

12 July 2009

Kannan remembers this day with such clarity. The girl he had sent a friend request to, did not accept it, but spoke to him over messages. Eventually, they decided to chat over GTalk. They hadn't seen each other, but they were engrossed in their conversation. As they got to know each other, something bloomed beneath the surface. On 12th July, she told him something that he never imagined would hear from her- "I love you." It was a two-way street. Kannan had found his Neethu. 

When Kannan gave his phone number to her, she mulled over it and promised to call him some time. But when she did, both Kannan's internet and his cell phone stopped working temporarily. Trust network connectivity to give up at the wrong time! Imagine having told a man that she loves him, but not being able to reach him right afterwards? It was the beginning of a long list of hiccups that Kannan remembers fondly, only for their high Drama Quotient!

1 January 2010

A minute after midnight, when people still hadn't caught their breath from screaming "Happy New Year!" among themselves, Kannan's inbox rung up an attachment that left him in deafening silence. It was a picture- Neethu had sent him a picture of herself and some of her friends. "Find me," she had teased. And Kannan was left staring at every face in the picture, trying to find the one the voice in his heart belonged to. 

(He did find it... Eventually!)

8 May 2010

A little shy of "Ja Simran, Ja", this day was straight out of a Bollywood romance. Neethu had just finished her exams and was longing to meet Kannan. While she was in Kerala, Kannan was in Chennai. Kannan had said "Maybe you should come visit," which, to everyone's shock, Neethu took seriously. 

Without letting anyone know, she boarded a train to Chennai. And off she went. 

Back at Neethu's place, her entire family turned the world upside down trying to find her. It wasn't until they snooped through her mailbox (and read every single message she had ever sent to Kannan), did they reach out to him and told him that she must be on her way. 

At 5 am on 8th May, Kannan received Neethu at the railway station, and sat with her until her father came to pick her up. When he met her father, he said to him "Your daughter will be 18 in a couple of months, I'll come for her then."

But it took Kannan over a year to convince both families, and then they were engaged in 2011. 

The beginning of the next leg

Kannan was adamant about building a house before he married Neethu. Even though it was early days in his career, he didn't shy away from taking a sizeable bank loan to build the most loving 4 bedroom house in his hometown in Kerala. It meant that he had to wait another year and a half to marry the love of his life, but he pulled through. 

On 26th December 2012, he finally married Neethu. Today, their drama days are done, and they're a full house:

The NowFloats family would like to wish this lovely couple a very Happy Anniversary. They discovered their love online, even though they only wanted to live it offline. It's just the way we do things around here!

And for Kannan, he's not done falling in love yet. He has a life-long tryst with both his wife and the internet. He deliberately chooses to work in the area that he does- enabling everyone with the internet, because he knows how it can change one's life for the better. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

We Just Crossed 100 Alliance Partners And This Story Was Completely Meant To Be!

When Pradeep Singh Thakur was combing through Facebook in search of potential Alliance Partners for NowFloats, he had no idea he was about to score the century for our team. He eventually got in touch with Digital Prologic Services Pvt. Ltd. only to be told that they were trying to get in touch with him, too!

Digital Prologic Services, being in the business of optimising Digital Marketing methods for businesses, was looking for partners to serve their customers better. What better than a platform like NowFloats who could easily put businesses online and bring them foot traffic to their stores?

When Pradeep Thakur met Bhaskar Saragadam of Digital Prologic, they were discussing the partnership instantly. Needless to say, it didn't take them much time to shake hands on the deal. If the story seemed simple so far, hold your breath, it's only the half of it!

It was the end of the month, by the time we transacted on the partnership. Pradeep was back in Digital Prologic's office. Just when documents were changing hands, he happened to meet their director, Mr Krishna Reddy.

Imagine Pradeep's surprise when he was greeted by Mr Reddy with a big smile and a booming "Pradeep Singh Thakur, is that really you?"

Turns out, Pradeep and Mr Reddy were classmates in college, and after all these years, they discovered each other through work again. It's almost as though it was meant to happen, especially on our 100th Alliance Partnership!
But in the wise words of Nitin Jain, our co-founder, "We have arrived at the Basecamp of our conquest. And there is a steep climb ahead." 

We're ready and super-charged to make our double century really soon!

Monday, 12 December 2016

How To Easily Create A Successful Omni-Channel Strategy For Your Small Business

Image Source 

In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in the consumer behaviour from bricks to clicks. One of the biggest challenges faced by physical stores today is the competition from e-commerce websites. An online presence for a business acts as a powerful marketing and communication tool, an incredibly cost-efficient platform, and a standard requirement today.

A dynamic web presence strengthens your business strategy, but the physical aspects of retail marketing cannot be overlooked. Multichannel marketing uses a variety of touchpoints to interact with customers (the web, social media, physical stores) and focuses on maximising the individual performance of each platform. But, omni-channel retailing involves operating your business across different channels and establishing a perfect sync between both online and offline platforms to provide a seamless shopping experience for the buyers. It ensures that the customers receive the same consistent, interconnected and personalised experience across different platforms .

'Omni-channel' and 'multi-channel'- most of the marketers coin these terms interchangeably,  though there is a distinct difference between the two. If your business delivers solutions  through multiple channels, you need to figure out which approach suits you the best.

I already have a multi-channel plan, what difference will omni-channel make?

Most businesses realise the importance of investing in the multi-channel experience. They have a business website, a company blog, and an active social media presence in addition to their local stores to engage with customers. However, in most cases, the customers still lack a smooth experience across each of these channels.

With the emergence of predictive analytics, organisations are keeping track of consumer preferences and their search history to offer customised results and a consistent brand experience across channels. Insights gained through building a continuous connect on social media, and using customer information and feedback obtained from physical stores contribute to creating the most effective marketing campaigns and collaterals. Omni-channel strategy, if executed efficiently, can prove to be extremely fruitful in improving brand value, enhancing customer base and boosting revenues.

If you have an omni-channel strategy which incorporates local stores, NowFloats is a great option for executing the online part of the strategy through discovery of the local inventory - be it for walk-ins or an online purchase from the local store website.
NowFloats is an award-winning location-based platform that helps brands
▪ Be more visible on search engines
▪ Drive relevant traffic to your local franchisees
▪ Track & analyse online consumer behaviour

Here's what some NowFloats users gained:

Naturals, a pioneer in the Indian beauty & hair salon industry, chose NowFloats for optimising their online presence. We delivered 8.74% of their total web traffic.
Fastrack is India's largest youth fashion brand with a snazzy collection of bags, watches and more. Their belief in NowFloats drove 12,84,023 visitors to their sites.
Bayer Network is a group of India's premium Pest Control Professionals. NowFloats buzzed 11,71,807 visitors to their sites.

Some of the other enterprise customers that have successfully established an online presence as a part of their omnichannel strategy through the NowFloats solution include Samsung, Asian Paints, IndusInd Bank, Canon, ColorPlus, and Ezone.
A successful omnichannel strategy caters to the functional and emotional needs of the customers while simultaneously building a cohesive brand presence for your business.
This post was authored by Nikita Kumari.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

We Put Over 2.5 Lakh Businesses Online. Now Imagine What They Can Do Together!

One small click for your business, a giant leap for our economy!

The Oxford English Dictionary didn't include Bazaar in its pages without a good reason. Take a moment to think of the buzz, the sights and smells, and the sound of delight when you find exactly what you were looking for. There are so many such bazaars in India, and everyday, hazaars of cash changes hands. Right there is the pulse of our economy, in the stores of millions of small business owners. But it's unfair to say that all of them are in a marketplace. 

Some of them have beautiful little shops, some have shops in different places in the city, some have workshops that make products to put in our houses and vehicles. You might not buy a toolkit as often as you buy milk, but you definitely wish you knew where to buy spanners when the kitchen tap starts leaking. 

This is why NowFloats aims to put every small business online, no matter what they do, because they deserve to be discovered easily in their location, amongst their customers. And in the past four years, we have put over 2.5 lakh such small and medium businesses online! 

As we see our growing community of small business owners, we see the immense potential of all that they can achieve if they join hands. These yellow dots on the map are more than just data points- these are real people with real businesses, who are growing bigger everyday. 

That is why, we're introducing NowFloats CONNECT- an event exclusively for NowFloats customers, so that they can meet each other and our team to strengthen our relationship and help us serve you better. This time around, we're hosting this event in Delhi at our office in Connaught Place!

We're eager to see you on the 3rd of December, at 6.30 pm in AWFIS Coworking. To register for the event, click here. Together, let's make small businesses even bigger! 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Salutations From NowFloats, Not!

We always had this unwritten constitution for the culture at NowFloats- chill, be a geek, and own your work. We have no hierarchy whatsoever, and there are shouting matches with a man known as the 'CEO' that end in beers and happy tears. We're also a company that Tweets more than hitting 'Reply All' on e-mail chains.

Just last night, two of our co-founders had a sly conversation on Twitter that went something like this:

We recently had Vivek Naithani join us as the Head of HR, and he's been our favourite man since Day Zero. Vivek being Vivek, sent us all this e-mail first thing this morning:

Oh man, there it was. Whenever someone did call another person 'Sir' or 'Ma'am', it was mostly sarcastic/ironic. But what to do, jee? We've been growing so big, so soon that we're now a company of 500 people (that's 350 more than what we were this time last year!). Now people are actually taking this 'Sir/Jee/Boss' business seriously. 

It's become important for us to articulate everything in order to be the NowFloats that we are. Our Employee Handbook is a 40+ page delight that I enjoyed reading more than Confessions of a Shopaholic. I love a company that can tell me in writing that if I don't have fun, I have no business being at work. 

The percentage of young people at NowFloats is higher than the percentage of young people in our country. That is fact. And we'd look like a British Sitcom if we start Yes Sir-ing each other around. 

I can count the number of old(er) people in the company on my fingertips. They're lovable mentor figures whom we hold in very high esteem. It would be so easy for them to become parent-like in their positions and take a little liberty with us while having conversations. But no. 

The minute Vivek sent out the 'No Sir' e-mail this morning, Nitin, our other co-founder shot back a reply that went something like this:

It's one thing for employees to love their company, and a completely different thing for employees to feel loved in the company. I know we constantly behave like cool people who are probably fist-bumping each other at work, but secretly, we also want to eat ice-cream together and be a family. 

Work is fun, not just because it's intellectually stimulating or personally gratifying. Work is fun because the workplace is also fun. We're dropping the charade of formality and kicking ass as usual. 

No sir. No jee. Here's a high-five from NowFloats. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Demonetization Woes? Not For This Indelible Ink Manufacturer Who's Winning The Internet!

Yesterday, a Citi Bank manager who had procured Indelible Ink markers took a closer look at them before running a Google search on the manufacturer. When the manager found Alpha Chemika online, he was shocked to learn that he had paid twice the amount of money for the Indelible Ink markers by buying them through a middle man. 

Mr. Tanmay Mahajan is the CEO of Alpha Chemika, a manufacturer of Silver Nitrate among many other chemicals. The demand for Silver Nitrate has gone through the roof since the government demonetized currency, and banks are being asked to mark customers with indelible ink to keep a check on repeat withdrawals. Indelible Ink markers contain Silver Nitrate, a chemical that cannot be removed even by the toughest of acids.

And all of a sudden, Mr. Tanmay Mahajan's orders skyrocketed.

Without wasting any time, his first response was to update all his online channels to publicize that he sold Indelible Ink markers. Mr. Mahajan had always ensured that Alpha Chemika has a strong online presence, including having a NowFloats site. He left no stone unturned in making sure that he was discoverable as the seller of Indelible Ink markers on all platforms across the internet.

Less than a day ago, he received an order for TEN THOUSAND units for a requirement from the Reserve Bank of India itself! However, that order was being catered to by a third party supplier that RBI was no doubt paying a premium for.

In the meanwhile, Alpha Chemika was receiving direct orders from individual banks and post office branches for smaller order sizes. While a typical bank orders 30-50 units and a post office orders around 50-100 units, one small branch of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur in Kolkata ordered only ten markers at the same time when the huge order of ten thousand markers arrived- Alpha Chemika will be shipping both overnight, at the same price per unit.

Each marker can ink over 500 people, and Mr. Mahajan believes that he should make them as easily available as possible, because the smaller branches should not have to pay twice the amount of money it costs by trying to procure them via offline channels.

Alpha Chemika is prepared to ship any order size, at the same flat price.

Big players like PayTM make have benefited from the demonetization move overnight, but the future of our economy was always going to be on the internet. Alpha Chemika proves that by making a timely use of the opportunity and stepping up online, instead of letting their customers succumb to the steep prices charged by middlemen.

Write this down in Indelible Ink: Every business is going to become bigger online. Our duty to this country is to innovate until it becomes easy for every entrepreneur, small or big, to have a meaningful online presence. And if you want that Indelible Ink marker, you know what to Google :)

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Changing UX Of India

Jugaad- this nation's greatest flaw. We built this skill from scratch, polishing tired apples with wax so they would sell better, putting on a helmet only at traffic signals so that CCTV cameras wouldn't catch you, pushing money under the table to get a greedily designed housing plan approved. And then we took this DNA and applied it to all the other things that came our way. We bought dual SIM phones to recharge only the best plan available, we Quikr'd our profits, and cash-backed every rupee we spent online.

WhatsApp was never meant to be used to sell your fish before your fishing boat reached the shore. Neither was Google Translate meant to help a 14 year-old learn Spanish just so he could communicate with his tourist customers. But this is what we did as the Digital Desh- we took our tendency to jugaad and turned it into beautiful innovation. The animal of ingenuity seared its way right through the heart of India. Long before the world realized that emoji had to come in every skin colour, Indians claimed technology however it suited them. And these were not just the perfectly pouting selfie taking urban girls, these were everyone from Soya bean farmers in Madhya Pradesh to carpet weavers in Rajasthan.

This is Digital Desh, and you're free to pick an Instagram filter to see it the way you want. 

Inside the Internet of India, one is promised a treasure chest of surprises and guaranteed goosebumps. When adapting to technology is coded in our genes, the least we can do is write good code for India. We're on our Nth wave of innovation, but we finally have a name for it- Digital Desh. And the UX of India is a canvas that is pliable to our imaginations. India can be whatever you want it to be. This is the true historic moment of our future, and you're part of it. Abhi, isi waqt. 

Right now, you can download an app and make your own website and float online meaningfully. You can benefit from a foxy piece of technology to appear your best to every visitor on your webspace. You can be an internet participant in every language. Even as we speak, the intellectual troops are rallying to make finance, healthcare, and education products for Bharat. We have never been so extroverted with our Geek Quotient. Newton on steroids couldn't beat us at this. 

It's more important now, than ever, to both consume and innovate technology and play by our own rules. But a conscious decision has to be made on our part to be proactive in the Internet Premier League, because if you don't pad up now, India Won't Wait. 


Jasminder Singh Gulati, CEO NowFloats will be speaking at HostingCon on 17th November, 2016 at 4.40 pm. Dive into the Internet of India with Digital Desh by NowFloats and Kitsune. Register for HostingCon here.