The online petition that started almost two months back by an organization working for gender equality, Girls Count, has resulted in a fruitful outcome. The petition was filed against the listing of books that promoted sex selection on India’s biggest online marketplace, Flipkart. It garnered close to 12,000 signatures by various gender right activists and organizations. After the alleged petition the homegrown marketplace has removed all such listings from its website.
Though the petition gained success but the other side of the story cannot be neglected. Apar Gupta, a lawyer from New Delhi commented on the issue saying “Censorship is not the answer. Books should not and cannot be prohibited. Filtering of books based on search terms and not their content could be counter productive.”
Lets have a look at the important developments of the week:
Amazon Launches B2B Marrkeplace AmazonBusiness
With an aim to dominate the $300 Bn Indian business-to-business (B2B) market, US-based giant ecommerce firm, Amazon has announced the launch of AmazonSupply for small business owners and traders in India. It’ll be called AmazonBusiness and is available at Amazonbusiness.in. As of now, the platform is accessible to users in Bangalore on an invite only basis and will be soon expanded to other cities. The platform will allow businesses to purchase their frequently used business supplies and products for retail in bulk quantities at wholesale prices.
Zomato Rolls Out Uber Integration Globally, Now Diners Can Book Uber Cab From Zomato App
Zomato has joined hands with Uber to allow its users to book cabs to visit restaurants of their choice using the Zomato app. Diners will be instantly able to see the estimated pickup time, fare and travel time to the restaurant they are looking up, from their current location. The feature is live for users in 27 cities across 13 countries, with more cities to come in the future.The cities in which users will be able to book rides include US, India, Australia, Canada, the UK, South Africa, UAE, New Zealand among others. The feature was launched in London and South Africa last week.
Zomato To Launch Zomato Book For Table Reservations In July
Zomato has acquired the US-based online table reservation platform NexTable. NexTable will soon be renamed to Zomato Book. With the acquisition, Zomato has also announced that it will be launching Table Booking service in July this year, starting with India, UAE and Australia.
Matrix Partners Opens Up Coworking Space For Startups In Powai
Mumbai-based venture capital firm Matrix Partners has partnered with real estate developer K Raheja to start a coworking space for startups, in Powai. The VC firm plans to develop an infrastructure to accommodate eight startups with a team size of 3-6 people each, for three months. The startups are said to be selected by a panel of investors from the Mumbai startup ecosystem. The firm plans to start with a batch of first set of companies in second week of June. However, Matrix clarifies that creating a co-working space does not account for an incubation or acceleration programme and will be run independent of its investment process.
Paytm Kickstarts Its Journey To Capture The Grocery Market, Launches “Paytm Zip” App
Alibaba backed, One97′s flagship brand, Paytm has launched a new app called Paytm Zip to connect users to both local offline as well as online grocers. The online grocery vertical will be headquartered in Bangalore. Paytm Zip is an on demand local commerce application that helps you order groceries from your favorite stores. The app also allows you to add/change the order on the fly. Currently, the service is available in selected areas of Bangalore (Bellandur, Iblur, Sarjapur Road, Kadubeesanahalli, Marathahalli, Kundalahalli). The new grocery business will operate as a separate entity handled by Paytm.
Primarily, the company is focused to start the operations with a small team of 20 people handling about 10,000 transactions in the first few months.
Zomato Introduces Online Food Ordering Services In Delhi
Gurgaon-based restaurant listing site, Zomato.com has started with online food ordering service in Delhi, with Mumbai and Bangalore to follow. The company has also enabled Zomato Cashless. Zomato will take 7.5% – 15% commission from the restaurant for each order being placed. Interestingly, Zomato has made rating by customers mandatory and in case a user who hasn’t given rating post delivery he/she will be redirected to rate before the next order is been placed, this is similar to Ola and other cab services. Well, this has a reason behind, according to the source, in case user gives less rating, Zomato will charge 15% commission and for better rating it will charge 7.5% commission.
Flipkart To Bid Farewell To Desktop Site, Plans To Go For App Only Format Within A Year
After Myntra, Flipkart has disclosed its plans to shut the desktop version of its website within a year. It should be noted that Flipkart has already closed its mobile website, and now it directs the consumers to install the app and shop when they open Flipkart website through mobile. As reported, Flipkart’s sale accounts to 70% of the total traffic through mobile.Flipkart presently has more than 40 Mn registered users and about 30,000 merchants selling over 20 Mn products on its platform. With the exponential rise in the smartphones market and its availability, it is expected that number of app users will be larger than the mobile version of a website or the website itself.
Flipkart claims to do about 8 Mn of shipments in a month of which two-thirds of its online traffic coming from tier II and III cities. This leads to the fact that most consumers are prone to mobile which will lead to app-based selling incurring higher ROI.
Snapdeal To Consolidate Offices & Relocate To A New Campus Style 450k Sq.Ft. Office By June
Delhi-based online marketplace Snapdeal has planned to relocate to a new 450k Sq. ft. campus-style office space in Gurgaon by this June. The new 450,000 sq. ft (rent INR 58 – 83 per sq. ft) campus in Gurgaon will house Snapdeal’s technology, category, finance and HR teams, while the sales and customer services team will continue to work out of the Delhi offices. The Gurgaon campus will be able to boast over 4,500 employees. However, the company, which currently has eight offices in South Delhi’s Okhla region, plans to retain some of the existing offices. The new office space will also have amenities such as a medical centre and a food court, and few other facilities including library, gym, spa and a creche for working parents.
Let’s have a look at other developments of the week.
Chalogekya Launches App For Auto Booking
After Ola,Uber and Taxiforsure, another startup ChalogeKya has launched its mobile application using which a passenger with a smartphone can locate and call the closest auto rickshaw for pick-up. Jaipur based, ChalogeKya is backed by the Rajasthan Angel Investment Network (RAIN). The company differentiates themselves from these players stating that it works with a combination of GPS and cell tower triangulation to enable direct contact between the passenger and auto, without the involvement of ChalogeKya.The company currently has signed up close to 300 auto rickshaws and almost all of them are active as on date. It only charges a small monthly subscription fee from Autos which enables makes them to be visible to the passenger on the ChalogeKya application. Autos can sign up using a regular phone with the SIM provided by the startup.
Amazon halts warehouse investments till VAT issue resolution
Amazon has put on hold the future investments for its new warehouse after the queries were being raised by the commercial taxes department. Now, the Karnataka government is trying to arrive at a solution on the value added tax (VAT) dispute with Amazon’s operations and the decision is expected to be declared out this month. Presently, it is a situation of status quo on the issue which began last year when Karnataka’s commercial taxes department asked Amazon to pay VAT on behalf of sellers as it was acting as a commission agent, an interpretation the ecommerce company has disputed.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor To Launch Mobile-First Food Startup
With an aim to tap online food market that has recently been privy to frantic fund infusion by investors, the celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor has decided to launch his own mobile-first food startup, which will definitely give competition to food startups like Zomato and Foodpanda. Earlier in February this year, the Khana Khazana fame had also launched his app titled Sanjeev Kapoor’s app, which he claims to be a complete cookery manual. The food startup will focus on predicting people’s tastes and push name of restaurants and food varieties accordingly.Speaking on the plans, Kapoor said, “We have been collecting data till now and will launch the company in Mumbai in the next six months. All I can say is that it will be a very integrated approach and will also include transactions.”
Junglee is selling unboxed and refurbished electronic products from Overcart & GreenDust
Amazon’s ecommerce & price comparison portal Junglee has initiated the sale of unboxed, factory seconds, refurbished and surplus electronic products. Junglee has also added ecommerce marketplace for unboxed and refurbished products Overcart.com and Lightbox-backed GreenDust.com as Sellers on the platform. Also, the refurbished products come with a seller or a manufacturer warranty, giving them an edge in a country like India.
LIMETRAY EXPANDS TO 5 CITIES
LimeTray works with restaurants and cafes to help them get more business online. The company has over 800 paying merchant partners including established names like Yo-China, Mast Kalandar, Cocoberry, Bercos and LiteBite Foods. LimeTray was founded by Akhilesh Bali and Piyush Jain. The company started operations New Delhi in Nov 2013 and is now present in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. Matrix Partners India did a seed investment in the company in August 2014 when the company had a little over 200 paying customers. The company is now in talks with investors to raise $10Mn to fuel further growth and expansion.
AngelPrime’s managing partner Bala Parthasarathy Quits
“It’s time I went back to what I did in the first place. I am an entrepreneur first,” said Bala Parthasarathy, managing partner at seed-stage fund AngelPrime, who has decided to quit by the end of the year to start his own startup. He is a two-decade-old serial entrepreneur, who founded companies such as Snapfish, a web-based photo-sharing and printing company and US-based Wyatt River Software. Parthasarathy’s decision to quit comes just a few months after Twitter acquired AngelPrime’s portfolio company ZipDial. Parthasarathy will continue to be an acting member on the boards of the firms where AngelPrime had invested from its $10 Mn fund, but will not hold permanent position in the new fund of $25 Mn that the fund looks to raise in the latter half of 2015.
Supreme Court of India gets WiFi service enabled by FireFlies Network
Airtel and Vodafone’s joint venture FireFly Networks has installed WiFi in the premises of Supreme Court of India. The SSID with VFWiFiVoucher is the WiFi service that FireFly networks will be offering. Users opting for the complimentary free service will be provided 20 minutes access with a data limit of 100 Mb. After consuming the Complimentary Wi-Fi pack, subscriber can purchase other WiFi packs i.e. INR 20 for 30 minutes, INR 30 for 60 minutes and INR 50 for 120 minutes. As assured by service provider, subscribers will shortly be provided with more options for daily, weekly and monthly pack services. Users will have to enter their mobile number while trying to access the free WiFi and will receive a one-time password which they have to enter and will be redirected to a payment gateway where they can pay via credit and debit cards, net banking and digital wallets.
Addition in Service Tax Leads To Hike in Uber Fares
The change in service tax requires Uber – as an aggregator, on behalf of driver-partners – to collect and remit service tax on fares for all rides on the platform. As per the notification from Uber, all rates showcased in their app or website would be all-inclusive of this increase in service tax, and the invoice would also showcase all-inclusive charges. Last year, when Mumbai Tax Department sent a notice to Uber for not paying the tax, there was a debate about whether Uber needs to pay the service tax or not. But after the Union Budget, it is clear that all aggregators need to submit tax.
BlaBlaCar in partnership with Ixigo Offers Ridesharing for travellers, as an Alternative to Bus & Train
Ridesharing app BlaBlaCar has partnered with the travel marketplace ixigo, opening ridesharing option to the users of Ixigo’s website and app. When users search for city-to-city travel solutions on ixigo, they will now be shown information about available car ridesharing options on BlaBlaCar. The move will give users of Ixigo yet another travel option, apart from trains, buses and flights. BlaBlaCar’s service will remain the same where users travel together and share the cost.
MTR To Foray Into Ecommerce
MTR Foods is all set to make a foray into ecommerce. Company CEO Sanjay Sharma said that an investment of around INR 50 lakh is being made in the initiative. The store is expected to open by the third quarter of this year. The company’s ‘Namma MTR’ stores will be used as stocking locations from which the online orders will be serviced. Third-party vendor has been roped in to build the ecommerce portal. The online initiative will be tested out in Bengaluru first and then expanded to other metros and tier-II cities. Company aims to generate 10% of its revenue from sales online.
Freelancer.com is now providing Local Professionals Apart from Online Work
Freelancer.com will now provide its users a chance to hire professionals from their local area. As of now, it is providing the local services in Australia which will be progressively rolled out in Q2 2015. Later on, it will be released globally. At present freelancer.com has 850 categories to work from home and according to the official blog. The firm is expecting to increase its Total Addressable Market (TAM) from $75 Mn in GPV to hundreds of billions per annum after the announcement of local job listings.
Cleartrip unveils app to run on Apple’s smartwatch
Online travel services firm Cleartrip has launched an app for Apple Watch which can be used through the Watch app on the iPhone. The app will show travellers a list of all their upcoming flights, next upcoming trip up until 24 hours before departure. And when the user approaches 24 hours to the flight’s departure, the glance changes to show the flight number, current flight status and updated departure time.The app also notifies users if a flight is delayed, rescheduled or cancelled by the airline. Although it’s expected that Apple will officially launch its much awaited smartwatch later this week and will only be available in India later this year.
Ola plans to double the number of cities it operates to 200
Ola, the mobile app for personal transportation, plans to double the number of cities it operates to 200 in the current fiscal. After launching the Ola service in Kerala for the first time in Kochi the company grew ten times in 2014-15 to 1 lakh cars in 100 cities. They are now adding around 1000 cars a day to their fleet.
Zopper.com, aggregator for offline retailers, expands base
Zopper.com is working with offline stores to attract shoppers who typically check out online deals first. It is is planning to expand its merchant base from half a million to 1 Mn in 2015, Zopper, follows a hyper local marketplace model. It deals in consumer durables and electronics. A consumer looking to buy one of these products can search it on the app that will display details of all the retailers who have that product in the neighbourhood, along with price comparisons. The three-year-old startup 5,000 retailers on its platform, which it wants to increase that fivefold in 2015. Plans are afoot to expand the service, currently available in Delhi and its neighbourhoods, Mumbai, and Bengaluru to 20 more cities.
InMobi chief revenue officer Atul Satija quits, to float non-profit social impact startup
Atul Satija, chief revenue officer (CRO) at mobile ad network InMobi, has put in his papers and is now floating a non-profit social impact startup. He will continue to be associated with InMobi as a business advisor. Abhay Singhal, co-founder of the firm, will take up the role of CRO. Singhal is responsible for sales development as well as developing global revenue strategies. Satija said his venture will focus on sustainable poverty alleviation. Previously, he served as the president of the board of a non-profit organisation called End Poverty which is engaged in poverty alleviation programmes in India.
Ola, is the‘Official Cab Partner’ for five Indian Premier League 2015
Ola, in partnership with Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab, is offering fans in Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam, a chance to win free tickets to watch IPL matches in their cities. The IPL icon in the Ola app appears on match days between 11am and 2pm. Customers can hit the icon, and get free tickets to go and watch their favorite teams. Fans also stand a chance to win hospitality tickets by participating in contests on Twitter using #OlaMatchDay by tweeting to @Olacabs.