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Is personalized news a mirage?

Having been personally associated with an attempt to create a 'personalized' news reader, it was amusing to read views of Eric Schmidt on the subject. Bang on target – Eric steered clear of what a personalized news reader should be, and just highlighted that the increase in the personalized (also mobile) devices which we use to consume info will automatically lead to need for personalizing the content itself. However, looking at personalized news from someone else's eyes, I for the first time am realizing that for all the good efforts of the geek world – humans may not need personalized news after all ! By personalized news I mean, the news which I as an individual am interested in. For example some ways to determine the classifications for such news are: All News from sources chosen by me Any News related to the topics which I am interested in (Sports / tech etc) News being read by people in my network (colleagues, friends, family) News which relates to any entity

Conclusion
Bloozle – the Startup that never was (Part VI)

Continued from Environmental factors (Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part V) We are confident that we will get customers and we will be able to multiply our customer base fast once we cross the incubation stage. But reaching that stage needs massive amount of research and development effort. And that cannot be sustained by us on our personal savings – and definitely not without quitting our corporate careers. And to do all this we need Seed Funding – it’s a vicious circle which probably every entrepreneur faces. Most entrepreneurs overcome this phase by sheer determination of cutting through the hardship – even borrowing money to run their dreams. We would probably have done the same – if this was a smaller venture which could be incubated on less money, but we don’t think it is like that. And so the wait is on – for the VC who would help in Seed Funding and kick starting. Till then – we reminisce on the mistakes we committed and try to learn from them. May be for this ventu

Environmental factors
Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part V

Continued from Product Development Mistakes (Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part IV) We probably still would have survived, because at the end of the whole charade – we still had a working prototype*, a proof of concept and most of all a revenue model – which hardly any online startup in those days had. But unfortunately for us – recession had to set in just when we were readying our b-plan and reaching out to investors. In the months since October 2008 and today – we have heard responses from umpteen VC’s^ that they are not even considering investing in seed stage startups till the recession goes away. Most of them of course camouflage their response by saying that they would have invested if we had customers (essentially saying no to Seed Stage and asking us to reach beyond that stage). Unfortunately for us, personal lives are at a cornerstone where we could not have risked our personal savings (beyond what we already had) in taking this concept beyond the seed stage. We

Product Development Mistakes
Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part IV

Continued from Product Vision mistakes (Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part III) If the service is not ‘personal data service’ (like email), then one should try providing as many features as possible, without requiring users to log in/register. Registration and Login is a big barrier in enticing new users (especially non-techies) to try the service out. If you cannot provide the service without registration, try to provide screencasts and previews or even better, guest logins (slideshare does that!) for new users. Its important to get at least one section of your site work completely and bug-free than have your complete set of services rolled out but all in a half baked shape. While it is true that beta users are usually tolerant, but they can't be tolerant towards a product that looks full blown, but doesn't work even for some basic requirements. They would rather have fewer sections - but those few work well. Project Management lesson - make sure you get your prior

Product Vision mistakes
Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part III

Continued from - The Concept (Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part II) ‘Identify a need’ – it is said. We did exactly the thing – the need was clear: information overload requires an aggregator (or segregator as we called it); we wanted to build one. But call it limitation of technologies of the times (2004-6) or our inability (ignorance?) to harness them, but the concept of aggregating feeds based completely on automated algorithms did not appeal to us. Instead we decided to develop a Feed Reader for users which would be our means to enabling aggregation. However, once we set out to build an RSS reader – we got too engrossed in it. The means became the end – we got lost in the barrage of features which we needed on the reader to make it more user friendly to our users. Even worse, unfortunately for us, we came up with a RSS reader just when RSS reader usage peaked and was just about to start its decline [ RSS is dead ]. Being at its peak, the major user share was taken by

The Concept
Bloozle – the Startup that never was - Part II

Continued from Bloozle – the Startup that never was Bloozle is an information segregator (our own twist over the rising din of ‘aggregators’ online) which would allow the user to surf through the sea of blogs according to his/her tastes. The idea is simple – also a clever combination of various existing concepts like Social Bookmarking, FriendFeeding, RSS Readers, news rivers, co-ranking (digg/stumbleUpon): Users would subscribe to their favourite blogs in our custom developed feed reader. They would read their regular blogs and would rate and tag blog posts they read Incoming blog posts would also be automatically tagged based on the labels/tags which the authors attach them when posting. Going forward the system will also perform intelligent tagging based on factors like source, number of times a word appears in the post body, words in the title etc. The rating and tagging would be aggregated by our server and then blog posts would be rejigged (segregated) – grouped under tags and

Bloozle – the Startup that never was

This is the story of a startup that never was. It’s a story which I want to document to crystallize learning which I myself have had from this experience and also for several wannabe innovators/entrepreneurs to read and take lesson from. The Story In the heady days of 2004 when me and Hemant were incubating MastishK , our talk sessions lasting into the wee hours of the morning often threw open many revolutionary ideas which we canned and kept at the back of our minds for future use. One such idea was to create a newspaper out of blog content – essentially as we realized later, we wanted to build an intelligent aggregator of user generated content. Fast forward to 2006, when I conceptualized the idea in words and posted a prelude to it on my blog. The idea then developed further on in discussions with Aurko, Shubham and Manish. I developed a very basic prototype of the idea (I learnt Ajax during this development phase) but it was looking very amateurish. About the same time, I got h

Blogging 2.0

I am going to speak on the topic of Blogging 2.0 at barCampMumbai2 today ... With this we also will open the registration for the beta of our web Application bloozler .... you too can check it out here . I have been working on this concept since more than 1.5 year now, since I made this blog post. Hope you all find it an interesting and useful webApp .... Here is the presentation I will make.

Blogosphere ...

Which trend will be credited to have started in the year 2005? Reality Shows – but you had similar (albeit less orchestrated ones like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa) running even earlier; MMS – but again Podcasting or MMS are just improved forms of porn-exchange that has existed since we had earliest Sex sites on the net; Sensex – have you forgotten the dot com boom; Rain Havoc in Metros – no major precedents except the Tsunami; Blogs making news – ah! Any precedents here? I don’t have any. Indeed, blogs have emerged as sure opinion makers this year. Though, blogs usually cannot be counted in isolation – they created opinion while being supported by emails, instant messaging and websites – however, in the past one year Blogs have risen from being support structures to the web to being central themes around which the online world is slowly starting to revolve. Further, Blogs are rising in numbers ; overly optimistic estimates quote the number of Indian bloggers to 12 lakh – even a pessimistic figure