iDubba raises angel round from Rajan Anandan, Pallav Nadhani and others

TV guide, iDubba has raised angel money from a bunch of angel investors including Rajan Anandan, Srikant Sastri (Vivaki India head), Abhishek Rungta/Pallav Nadhani (Seeders).

iDubba, a NCR based startup is a social platform that brings social element to TV shows, i.e. let users discover shows based on their profile and taste, and enabling them to make their TV viewing life more social.idubba_guide

The company recently launched the site redesign and have focused on specifics of TV viewing – i.e. alerts. Other updates in the new launch includes:

  • New recommendation engine (uses Mahout recommendation libraries and taste based recommendation algorithm).
  • Pictorial Guide page (http://www.idubba.com/guide/) : which is a good navigation based search experience.
  • Intelligent alerts based on keywords (iAlerts)
  • Rewards for watching TV (free DTH recharge etc).

iDubba started in 2010 and was part of Morpheus’ 6th batch. In terms of traction, the team shares that iDubba has seen total of 70,000+ activities. 25,000+ (15k reminders and 10k Tune Ins) activities happened in last 3 weeks (after beta release). It already has 50+ active players playing the leaderboard and fighting for rewards going to be given this month. More than 1200 people are actively Tuning in to the programs (which is the major feature). iDubba now caters to all of English and Hindi TV channels in India with 150+ channels and 18000+ shows and movies in its database. During this month 90 leaders from leaderboard will be able to get free DTH recharge.

The below infographics pretty much explains how iDubba works

iDubba_Infographic

News Roundup: Airtel launches an online store

Telecom operator Airtel has launched an online store (http://shop.airtel.com), powered by Infibeam’s BuildaBazaar solution (Infibeam also powers online stores of VijaySales, TheMobileStore, VIP, Prestige and Crossword etc).airtel_shop

The online store offers mobile handsets, digital TV, broadband connections and even airtel’s cloud based ERP solution as well as storage on-demand. The delivery of devices is handled by NSI Infinium Global Pvt. Ltd, i.e. Infibeam’s parent company.

Guidelines to be framed for prepaid mobile connections

The Supreme Court on Friday directed that a five-member expert committee be set up to recommend guidelines for verifying those applying for prepaid mobile connections.  Identifying the area of divergence that needed to be examined, the court said that the expert committee would address the issue whether re-verification should be undertaken by the service provider/licensee, the DoT itself or any other central body and if there was any need for enhancing the penalty for violating the instructions/guidelines including sale of pre-activated SIM cards. [source]

TRAI’s spectrum auction proposal can raise tariff by 30 per cent, warn telcos

India’s five mobile phone companies including Bharti Airtel on Friday accused the telecom regulator of issuing a ‘highly retrograde set of recommendations on spectrum auctions’ and demanded that communications minister Kapil Sibal reject all key proposals suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). They also warned that high spectrum costs would lead to a 25-30% hike in call rates. [source]

Report: Ultrabooks to go mainstream in 2012

Ultrabooks were introduced into the Indian PC market by some of the leading vendors last year but they did not see much light of the day owing to high price points and customer acceptance. Ultrabooks are notebook computers that are thinner, lighter and better performing device. Intel introduced Ultrabooks in the last quarter of 2011 and Apple MacBook Air has existed in the market since 2008. Acer was the first company to release an Ultrabook, followed by ASUS, Toshiba, Lenovo, LG and HP. This year as prices rationalize, it is pegged to become the mainstream device by the end of 2012, as per a report by Cybermedia Research Analyst Viewpoint 2012.

Apple may remain the leader but the market will see start change in competition with the release of Windows 8 operating system. Another online report estimates the market to grow at a CAGR of 92 percent till 2017. Globally, the Ultrathin potables market is expected to surpass 12.48 Million shipments by end of 2012.

According to the Cybermedia report the Indian PC market is projected to grow in single digit percentages from 104.7 lakh units last year to 112.8 lakh units in 2012. Where desktop PC sales are estimated to grow at 4 per cent YoY, Notebooks will see growth of roughly 13 per cent annually.

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All-in-One desktop PCs are likely to witness an increase in adoption driven by the demand from the BPO-ITeS due to its form factor that brings-in savings in real-estate cost and lower overall power consumption. Beyond this, aesthetics are expected to drive adoption in front-office and consumer settings.

Since HDD prices were terribly affected due to constrained supplies because of the Thailand floods last year and are expected to rationalise in the first half of 2012, the assembled PC market is expected to remain subdued for the better part of 2012. As a result, branded desktops are likely to maintain an edge over their assembled counterparts in the current year.

The report also focuses on the fact that Dell emerged a winner in 2011, in both personal and professional PC category, on account of its new launches and aggressive promotional activities. On the other hand, HP seems to be smarting away under the impact of the rapid changes in distribution strategy that did not allow the vendor or their partners to settle down to a rhythm. Going forward, it is particularly important that the company effects a smooth transition with respect to the merger of the PSG and IPG divisions as this will be a critical factor for its success in 2012 and beyond.

After Lighting Rural Houses from Rickshaws, Invention by Suprio Das Reaches MIT $100K Semifinals

Zimba doser is a device that automatically treats water from handpumps, enabling governments and organizations to provide safe water to communities at a lower cost as compared to other technologies. Led by Kolkata-based Suprio Das, a self-proclaimed ‘Independent Inventor’, the Zimba team is one of the 30 semi-finalists in Life Science, Product & Emerging Market Tracks in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The final would be held on May 15th.

Zimba DOSER
Zimba Doser

Now in its 22nd year, the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition is a leading-edge forum for students and researchers in the MIT community to act on their talent, ideas and energy to launch tomorrow’s leading firms. A year-long educational experience, the MIT $100K brings together a network of resources (feedback from top VCs and entrepreneurs, media exposure, mentorship, educational guidance, networking and more than $350K in cash and prizes) to help participants through the new venture construction process.

Suprio has been working on this Zimba doser since 2010 and was aided by a team of four international students at Berkley and MIT.

Previous studies indicate that chlorine treatment at community water sources is the most cost-effective water intervention and has high user acceptance. In our initial design interviews, safe water experts told us an automatic chlorine dispenser would be an ‘incredibly useful tool’. Two years later, we have a simple design that succeeded in pilot trials with handpumps in Bangladeshi slums. Currently, there are no other in-line chlorinators on the market that can achieve the same consistency of dosing for handpumps as Zimba for the same price.”, mentions Suprio Das on his submission page for the MIT competition.

Suprio Das, a BIT Mesra alumnus (class of 1981) and former senior manager with the Nicco Corporation Limited, a well-known cable manufacturing group, quit his lucrative job in 2002 to invent low-cost technologies for the poor.

His first innovation was in 2006. Christened Firefly, it was a unique battery that fitted on the wheels of a cycle-rickshaw (called a cycle-van in the video below), that could be charged while the rickshaw puller went about his daily job. At the end of the day, he came back home with light and energy, quite literally, to his household. The charged battery could be attached to an ingenious LED light that would illuminate a room. The invention cut down the recurring cost of kerosene for lamps in the destitute households that had no electricity. “Six hours of light with four hours of pedalling. My invention will reduce capital cost by 50% even when compared to solar power”, Das had told Mumbai Mirror in a 2008 interview.

Here is a video showing Firefly in action:

Firefly won Das an invitation to the International Development Design Summit, 2008 at MIT. The summit focused on inventors around the world who came up with low cost solutions for big problems.

In 2010, he visited MIT for a second time, for a month, as a guest lecturer and Resident Designer at MIT for the Design class at D-lab, a program at MIT that fosters the development of appropriate technologies and sustainable solutions within the framework of international development.

Suprio Das with a handpump fitted with Zimba doser, his water chlorination invention
Suprio Das with a handpump fitted with Zimba doser

Throughout the years, Das also worked on generating electricity from a hand pump, and a hand powered cell phone charger and, a wheel-cum-pulley attached with a mobile battery charger charged the cellphones of Sunderbans residents without any electricity when the cyclone Aila struck in 2009.

In 2011, Zimba was installed in a small village near Gobardanga, Bengal. It was installed in five slums of Dhaka this January. So far, 3,500 slum dwellers of Bangladesh have used it. In May 2012, Das will choose a few villages in North 24 Parganas to install the instrument with the help of a local NGO. Approximately, 6,000 more villagers are expected to be benefitted by the project.

Inspired by Thomas Edison and James Watt, Suprio Das wants to make good use of his engineering knowledge to help fellow rural countrymen. In his own words on his D-Lab page, “I also realized that I would not make myself rich overnight, but the personal satisfaction of working in this field far outweighs the limitations that come with it.”

Have you come across other such novel inventors?

[Image credit 1/2]

Freshdesk Raises $5M in Series B Funding from Tiger Global Management and Accel Partners

Freshdesk, the online helpdesk software solution has raised $5 million in financing led by Tiger Global Management. Previous investor, Accel Partners, is also participating in the round.

Freshdesk closed its Series A funding in October last year. Since then, the company has trebled its customer base in just the last quarter (in total, has 700 customers). The company will be using the funds raised in this round to ramp up engineering and also plans to expand its global support team to meet the growing demand, and use the finance to help other growing businesses provide best-in-class support to their customers.

Late or Latest?

Freshdesk earlier demoed at UnPluggd 3rd edition and the founder, Girish Mathrubootham made an interesting statement (a dialogue by actor Rajnikanth) during the demo:

“Event if I come late, I will come with the latest”.

I guess, they are living up to the Rajnikanth dialogue and are disrupting the market which has been declared ‘taken’ by a lot of analysts.

Watch this video from UnPluggd:

Recommended read: What I learnt from my fundraising experience? [The Freshdesk Story]

Also, do check out Freshdesk’s intro video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRNUsbNyFKs

Opera 12 beta version launched, moves plugins into separate processes

Opera Software has launched the beta version of Opera 12, codenamed “Wahoo”,which claims to be faster than its predecessors and introduces new features for both developers and consumers to play.

One of the major changes to Opera 12 is moving plugins into separate processes, ensuring that Opera is stable even when plug-ins are unstable (1/3 of all Opera crashes are caused by third party plug-ins such as    Flash).

opera_12

Other improvements to Opera include:

Camera support : Opera 12 supports getUserMedia, an API that allows web applications to use hardware like your computer’s built-in web cam.

Right-to-left scripts: Opera 12 will support Right-To-Left scripts in the interface and add new languages (Arabic, Farsi, Urdu).

Faster: Speed improvements by further optimizing the network SSL code and used smarter tab loading to accelerate start-up and shut-down times.

Other upgrades include:

  • 64-bit versions for Mac and Windows
  • Support for native pages in the browser (Opera Reader)
  • Support for the Do Not Track header
  • Introduction of a Windows and Tabs APIs that allow extensions to control the windows and tabs in the browser.
  • CSS3 Animations and Transitions
  • HTML5 Drag and Drop
  • Support for CORS, Cross-Origin Resource Sharing
  • Opt-in hardware acceleration and WebGL

Download the beta release from here.

Google launches Google Drive, Increases Gmail Storage Limit to 10GB

Google has launched Google Drive, the much awaited storage service from Google. Drive is built to work seamlessly with your overall Google experience (i.e. across Google docs, G+, Picasa etc). You can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+, and soon you’ll be able to attach stuff from Drive directly to emails in Gmail. google_drive

With Google Drive, you can:

  • Create and collaborate. Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, so you can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Once you choose to share content with others, you can add and reply to comments on anything (PDF, image, video file, etc.) and receive notifications when other people comment on shared items.
  • Store everything safely and access it anywhere (especially while on the go). All your stuff is just… there. You can access your stuff from anywhere—on the web, in your home, at the office, while running errands and from all of your devices. You can install Drive on your Mac or PC and can download the Drive app to your Android phone or tablet. We’re also working hard on a Drive app for your iOS devices. And regardless of platform, blind users can access Drive with a screen reader.
  • Search everything. Search by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more. Drive can even recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Let’s say you upload a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping. You can search for a word from the text of the actual article. We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up. [official blog post]

For now, the default storage is 5GB (free) and you can buy additional storage for a nominal fee ($5 USD/year for 20GB).

Important to note that Google has increased Gmail storage from 7.5GB to 10GB for everybody, post Google Drive launch.

A big threat to Dropbox as Google Drive is about the ecosystem of developers (and not just Google alone) across Google products (and across devices). In fact, the online/offline integration with Google docs makes it a great product and frankly, closes the loop on ‘online office’ suite (earlier Google launched Cloud Connect Plugin, which was a good start but didn’t really make any mark).

With Google Drive, things seems to be falling in line for Google, especially for leading the online office (r)evolution.

Do test ride Google Drive and share your comments.