Monday, April 5, 2010

A new direction?

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We have been off this place since some time - as explained earlier, we were busy servicing our first client and what we did not know was that the second client would come trotting on the heels of the first. Referred by our first client, we had to quickly service our second client too which we are now doing.

Having serviced two clients I have now come up with some questions ....
  1. 1. Are we a focussed web development shop? We do marriage websites - a new concept, but are we any different than the web designer in the corner shop?
  2. 2. We did some work involving masups and some by developing 'modules' coded from scratch - which one is a better approach or as usual is a mix of the two the best?
  3. 3. In both our clients, we 'designed' the looks as the client desired: We did try to create an innovative design for one of the clients but we did not end up using that. So what should be our strategy going forward? Create new designs or completely rely on the client's requirements specs?
  4. 4. Has our business model of getting multiple partners succeeded?

For Questions 1 and 3, I have some thoughts. We are not a pure web-development shop, in fact the promise of our work is to help people be 'innovative' while using the web for their invitations. Rather than just send out an email invite or make a PPT and circulate it on email - we want to allow people to use the web with its full potential!

In this pursuit, I think our job should not be just to cook a design which our client wants - our job should be to provide them a mix of ideas - mashup ideas, small 'modules' (like Invitation Tracker), web designs etc which they can use to create their wedding / event invitations.

What does this mean? I guess we need to have a readymade inventory of designs, image galleries for clients to pick up from; similarly a gallery of 'services'/'modules' like Invitation Trackers, Maps Guide, Discussion forums from which client should choose which services they want to add in their invitation site.

A new client should be presented with an Options Questionnaire to run through before we start our work. Once they answer a basic questionnaire we can build what they want more efficiently - also the questionnaire will give clients more insight into what they themselves want.

Finally coming to point 4: Our business model - I think its early to say anything. We haven't actually approached too many people. I think I will now send out our biz model to other potential groups where we can find designers, sales ppl or simply interested folks and seek a fresh set of partnerships.

On point 2: I am still thinking ...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A short flash animation

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I made a short animation for the blog a couple of days ago. I'm not sure if it's in the right direction or not, but maybe some new ideas can come from it. Unfortunately I couldn't see how to attach .swf files to the blog, so I attached it to an external link for now. (to start the animation click on the link below and then click on the text that says 'I am marrying')

http://www.yolngu.net/forFriends/iAmMarrying02.swf

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to comment.

Cheers,
Hylus

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hassan as a new partner

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Today seems to be a day of expanding relationships. Hassan with whom I had stayed in Doha for a long period of time, and is an IT expert. Without asking him, I am enrolling him as a partner. We have had intense debates in the room on wide ranging subjects like business, economy, cricket, Kareena Kapoor, religion, Indo-Pak relationship. We will now extend our debate to this online forum. Hassan will contribute with his thoughts, and in any other way he deems fit.

Welcome Hassan.

Announcing Technology Guru Basharat as partner

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I am very pleased to have one of the best technical brains I have known to be joining part of I Am Marrying initiative as partner. The role of a partner is to add intellectually into the enterprise via blogposts. We will get a reading of Basharat's mind through this. I think his addition would in a single moment introduce a generational change in ways we operate.

Rohit Tripathy

Aizaz as a new partner

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We are pleased to announce that Aizaz as our new partner in the venture. Aizaz has lots of banking domain knowledge, and is a person who drives innovation. We will benefit from his thoughts and insights into this venture. Currently he will post, and intellectual feeds to us in the venture. Welcome Aizaz.

Rohit Tripathy

Comments from Fadia

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I was showing the tool to Fadia in one of the banks I am working in Qatar. She knows Arabic, Dutch, French, and a little bit of Russian. So an expert on the capabilities of translate tool. She reviewd the arabic translation, and said "A person who knows arabic VERY WELL will get good sense of the text." She is not at all happy with the presentation of the site, and asked us to make it more attractive. We will seek her ideas on that.

She has also offered contacts of her friends whoc ould do manual translation for a fee. We will get back back to her when we have money. She has offered to do it free if she has time. That makes a partner in the enterprise. Welcome Fadia.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The power of Translate tool

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The translate tool which I am previewing on the right is an amazing tool. Now write your content in any language, and the translate tool will deliver it in a language you will understand. Automated translate tools are still with relatively low accuracies, but the sense would definitely be communicated. Very powerful arsenal in the reportaire. Reaching non-English custmors will not be that difficult now.

Rohit Tripathy

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Introduction to Hylus McEwan

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Hylus McEwan, a global traveller, Australian by birth, who is now residing in Bolivia, and currently travelling to Peru is our new consultant in the project. He comes with a taste and love for different cultures and languages. He is going to make our marriage project more culturally oriented, and give us advise on what we are doing right and wrong.

I am not able to publish photograph here in Doha, Qatar, right now and will try it later.

Rohit Tripathy

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

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Well, with my project ending I am back again, all geared up for I am Marrying. Did a good amount of calling today, however need to refine a lot.
I first contacted Just about any events, Bandra. I started with - Hello mam, I am blah..blah. I am calling u from so and so firm ....and more blah..blah. "Sorry we are not interested" !!! was the immediate reply and the lady cut the call. Reject. Now it was time for Knot Forever, even that lady was not that enthusiastic to listen abt what I was saying. Well though she said me to give a call tomorrow.
I began to realise every time I started, I was just talking abt my firm , what I was offering.
The next call was to a Professional wedding Photographer. The person was out of India for an assignment, the secretary had picked the call. This time I started with saying -"Hello, I am Pratik Divekar and I needed some help of yours " !!! I went on to explain that we have just started a firm to design Marriage websites and would be grateful to learn from them abt how should I be approaching this market. This time the lady, though having no incentive to continue the call went on explaining the various ways on how can I talk to clients , What market do we really have and other stuff. She also promised me to definitely tell the Photographer abt me when he returns back.

That was for today...tomorrow need to contact more people.
Just 2 days before I had called one more person who happened to be my sisters friend. She had prepared a website of her own marriage which happens to be in December.

She echoed the thoughts of many. If it is a marriage website, it has to be attractive, cannot have bland templates and should be dynamic i.e even the viewers of the website shud be able to pour their comments(for e.g commenting on a particular pic of the engagement ceremony)

Lets see what happens tomorrow :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

some design ideas

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Here is my second attempt at posting on the blog :)

For design some concepts you could consider might include an easily customisable range of templates. Some possible ideas for designs would include changing fonts, backgrounds, foreground objects, etc. If there are several options for each design class then you would in theory have several hundred or more unique designs.

Some common themes for marriage include flowers, running writing, pictures of the bride and groom, etc. Some examples of templates used by another site with a marriage theme you can see here: http://www.mydreamshaadi.in/sample.html

Cheers,
Hylus

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Arun Viswanath

1 comments

Arun who I met in Chroma Juhu, and gave me a fascinating introduction to Apple's features is now a consulting partner in this venture. We were having a creative deficit, and Arun is our best bet to fill it up. Arun works for Leo Burnett, and welcome Arun..

Monday, January 11, 2010

Why are the posts slow

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We are servicing our first client. All our time is now being spent on the making him happy. Our posts flow will be slow till we have delivered the product.

Rohit Tripathy

Thursday, January 7, 2010

SMS Groups

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Sounds gr88 to me... Day by day im gettin eager to see the final outcome :-)

XYZ
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I was researching this: way2sms.com lets you post through website only, www.smsgupshup.com permits you to create groups where everything can be managed through SMS itself. The good thing is we can add smsgupshup capacity into the website. Both services are free..

Thanks,

Rohit

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Thanks Rohit, any URL u know...

XYZ

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Dear XYZ,

I think you should also have an SMS group, where posting can be done through SMS, and everyone in the groups can get the SMS. This will help in announcing major events to the group, event co-ordination(you can broadcast common messages, and announce sudden arrangements done), and remind people of schedules on SMS. There are some free services offering the same.

The members could be close family members, and friends who choose to register through SMS. Obviously close friends will join.

Thanks,

Rohit

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Complaint

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From my NITIE best friend, Chirag

Rohit
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Hi Guru,

What up...?
Heard u got married..?
Saale - shaadi me bulaya nahi...?

Chirag

----------------------------------------
Sorry yaar. Abhi bulata hoon.

Please apne charan http://iammarrying.blogspot.com mein padharan, aur ek comment de ke ashirvaad dein.

Aur aapke paas jab bhi time ho, aapke ghar aake bhabhi aur parivar ko personally invite karne ka mauka dein.

Rohit

Requirement Analysis Management

1 comments
There are ways collect and organize all feature requests like Ticketing Systems, Opening a shared google document, using Version Control System like SVN. However we will keep it simple here. We will post all client ideas into the blog http://iammarrying.blogspot.com whenever client gives us an email with tag "Feature Requests". The tag appears in the tag map on the right. Whenever someone click there, you will get all features requested there. Our plans and all the features that we have achieved will be posted in the comments column of those features.

Rohit Tripathy

How was first client acquired

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Email Chain for the first client. The client has not authorized us to disclose his name, so we will mask his name till he gives such permission.
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Hi Rohit,

Following are my tentative requirements. Do let me know if you have any other ideas apart from the below ones:

1> There should different sections for various activities like Home Page, Event Listing, Discussion Forums, Invitation and acceptance tracker, Our Story, Photos/Videos, Guest List and Guest comments
2> Once the website is through, we should be able to post the URL to all the guest addresses (email ids) and they should be able to accept invitations online.
3> There should be an easy to download/track mechanism to keep a tab on the number of attendees (its desirable if they can additionally mention their probability of attending each of the event like Definite/Probably/Not Sure/Not attending etc)
4> Its desirable to have a seperate page which should be an online invitation card
5> In totality, there should be a theme for the whole of this activity which will make it bit more interesting, rather than just filling up pages with pictures and text. The Google theme by Nikhil was good. If you can provide options of themes which you can suggest, it will be great
6> All the pages should be easy to access (without heavily loaded) and catchy
7> There should be background music being played while the guests browse through the site. I should be able to select the preferred background song .
8> Its prefereble to have a gift registry kind of page where we can list down items which can be brought in a gifts or the guests to choose items from the list on gift.
9> Option to send invitation to friends from various social sites like orkut, facebook etc
10> Mechanism to track how many guests have actually accessed the website (URL)
11> Mechanism to send second reminded for guests to re-confirm their attendance for the event
12> Page for guests to show them the events with items on the food menu

I have already registered in one of the sites available on net which is pretty good. I shall be sending you list of other requirements soon...

Thanks,
XYZ

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Dear XYZ,

This looks good, and achievable. If you are OK, can I put the contents on the blog. Also, would you like your name to appear there (emails and contact don't appear to protect privacy).

Some observations:

1, I think the area where creativity would be needed is the theme universe?
2. Do you have any internet link for marriage traditions and ethnic subtleties for your community
3. A lot of features including Items 1,4, 12 are standard HTML components and should not be difficult
4. Invitation/Confirmation/Reconfirmation and downloads can be managed through Google Documents, and we have worked the mechanism
5. Background music is also not a big deal. Mashup is a powerful technology, and we will use it to find a good range of background music.
6. I am assuming Gifts are the ones that the Guest will receive from your side if they select rather than guests giving to you(I guess that would be impolite if put on your marriage site)
7. Facebook provides Facebook Connect, and Orkut provided Friends Connect so that users can directly login into your website without registering separately. A similar facility is available with LinkedIn as well. I think sending a common and I guess customised message to friends should also be possible.

Some features I think you should put up:
1. Marriage Vendor List for quick reference, and contact information
2. Marriage Financial Accounting (Expenses incurred since start)
3. A page to show Google Maps to exact venue of various events
4. A twitter interface for your marriage so that both of marrying partners can tweet amongst themselves though cellphones, and tweeted messages appear on the website.
5. Interactive Capabilities: Your friends and family should be able to suggest honeymoon locations.
6. Weather Gadget at the location where marriage is supposed to happen
7. Accomodation Management: If you have some kind of accomodation allocation done, you guests should know before they come down.

I will also think more, and get back with more ideas...

Thanks for your mail,

Rohit Tripathy

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Thanks for the inputs Rohit, all your additional comments were really helpful. Typically how much time and cost will it incur to get these things done ?

Regards,
XYZ

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Pricing is uniform: Rs 5000/- About Rs 2000 in that is marketing distribution share(details of all shares is present in http://iammarrying.blogspot.com. Sumeet has suggested to pass it back to you as you have come directly which we will pass to you as a gift or some kind which can ease your marriage preparation.

Standard features should be available in no time. We are a believer of mashup (linking with those internet sites that provide features like accounting/music etc). If a internet site is available, it should be available in no time. If it is not available, then we will have to build it.

Our idea is to use this as a case to build a beater product :) So we are interested in all valuable features that we can put..

Rohit Tripathy

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Sounds good to me ! When are we starting...
XYZ

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Right away. I will start building these. I think you should tell us some theme suggestions in a day. Now that you are first customer on board, everything stops, and building your site becomes the only priority.

Nikhil is coming out of his marriage on 8th, and he will get a shock to see work straight away :)

I think we should spend some more time on more features as well. We are still not there.

Rohit Tripathy

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First Client Requirements 1

2 comments
These are feature requests by the first client
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1> There should different sections for various activities like Home Page, Event Listing, Discussion Forums, Invitation and acceptance tracker, Our Story, Photos/Videos, Guest List and Guest comments
2> Once the website is through, we should be able to post the URL to all the guest addresses (email ids) and they should be able to accept invitations online.
3> There should be an easy to download/track mechanism to keep a tab on the number of attendees (its desirable if they can additionally mention their probability of attending each of the event like Definite/Probably/Not Sure/Not attending etc)
4> Its desirable to have a seperate page which should be an online invitation card
5> In totality, there should be a theme for the whole of this activity which will make it bit more interesting, rather than just filling up pages with pictures and text. The Google theme by Nikhil was good. If you can provide options of themes which you can suggest, it will be great
6> All the pages should be easy to access (without heavily loaded) and catchy
7> There should be background music being played while the guests browse through the site. I should be able to select the preferred background song .
8> Its prefereble to have a gift registry kind of page where we can list down items which can be brought in a gifts or the guests to choose items from the list on gift.
9> Option to send invitation to friends from various social sites like orkut, facebook etc
10> Mechanism to track how many guests have actually accessed the website (URL)
11> Mechanism to send second reminded for guests to re-confirm their attendance for the event
12> Page for guests to show them the events with items on the food menu

1. Marriage Vendor List for quick reference, and contact information
2. Marriage Financial Accounting (Expenses incurred since start)
3. A page to show Google Maps to exact venue of various events
4. A twitter interface for your marriage so that both of marrying partners can tweet amongst themselves though cellphones, and tweeted messages appear on the website.
5. Interactive Capabilities: Your friends and family should be able to suggest honeymoon locations.
6. Weather Gadget at the location where marriage is supposed to happen
7. Accomodation Management: If you have some kind of accomodation allocation done, you guests should know before they come down.

There should be a feature to enable/disable the site to the Guests as and when I need it. For ex: Firstly, I want the site to be upto my satisfaction. In case if I need any editing, I shall perform it in terms of its look and feel, text, photos, decoration etc. Independently, I should have an option as to when I want this to be exposed to the guests.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Celebration Time: First Client Converted

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The first client lead has been converted. I am going to party. Watch a movie in theatre. Is significant because till now we have not spent a penny not counting our times in this venture, and have won this client who happens to be informed over and above free alternatives. Mineral water has won over tap water. More details later.

Rohit Tripathy

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Client Prospect

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I just had discussion with the first client prospect. He is going to marry in May. He is going to give his needs to me in an email tomorrow, and we will try to figure out if we can solve his problems. Discussion with first client lead is very exciting, and I am feeling a high.

Rohit Tripathy

Guest Invitation Feature

0 comments
Using Mashup with Google forms we have been able to create a guest invitation, and acceptance features which Sumeet Jindal requested. A set of questions can be created in Google Forms, linked to a google spreadsheet, and emailed to all the invitees. The invitees can see the content and fill it up as well inside their emails. All the response will come back to Google Spreadsheet. This accomplishes acceptable level of guest invitation feature.

There are 2 problems which we will solve when we are not cash constaints.
a. Google Forms does not have god validation features. So junk responses get in the spreadsheet. A custom form with needed validations can be created to sort this out
b. Google Spreadsheet loads slow: Google docs provides API to directly access spreadsheet data without loading spreadsheet itself. An application with those APIs can be created. This will be done later

Rohit Tripathy

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mashup: An underused concept

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Mashup is a very powerful concept. I was looking at features of a competitor
, and figured out that mashup can achieve almost all of it, in a very simple way, with very small efforts. Mashup offers a low-cost feature upgradation scalabilities.

Our website creation concept based on mashup is highly underestimated. We need to focus much more on this.

I will research later on capabilities of Mashup.

Rohit Tripathy

p.s. Features I was talking about is listed below

Wedding Planning Features:

* 24 / 7 Access: make changes to your website from anywhere in the world, at anytime via an internet connection.
* 24 / 7 FREE Support: if the FAQ doesn't resolve your query you can use the support ticket system to register a query and receive an immediate response.
* Advertisement Free: you won't be bombarded with 3rd party adverts
* Privacy Guaranteed: Marriage Site will never share your private details with 3rd parties.
* Budget Planning Tool: add budget entries for each vendor involved with each event and see if you're staying within budget.
* Email Shots: a powerful array of email shot tools provide you with an easy and fun way to announce your engagement, wedding details, website or anything else.
* Events: You can add any number of events to your wedding plans, such as bachelorette / hen parties, bachelor / stag parties, showers, engagement parties, rehearsal dinner, rehearsal ceremony, ceremony and reception. You can invite different contacts to each event, or have every contact automatically invited to an event.
* Exclusive Special Offers: a range of wedding-related products and services (e.g. wedding dresses, jewelry, stationery, perfume, photography, table planning software and much more) to take the stress out of planning your wedding...and staying within your budget.
* Export Data: if you don't want to send out invitations via e-mail you don't have to - simply export your contacts list (open the file in something like MS Excel) and print it out. You can also export a list of your invited guests for a calligrapher to work with.
* Facebook Application: lets you monitor your Marriage Site account from within Facebook. You can also import your Facebook friends into your Marriage Site contacts to speed up the creation of your invitation guest list.
* Gifts: lets you keep track of who gifted what and whether you have sent them thank you notes.
* Guest List: lets you include the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of your prospective guests.
* Import Data: if you've already compiled a guest list, or want to add contacts from your Outlook address book, you can easily get this data into Marriage Site through their "import data" feature.
* Invitations: group your contacts into families, couples, etc. Let Marriage Site automatically set up each invitation with a mailing address (outer and inner envelope) to help you build invitation lists.
* Music Suggestions (iTunes): snippets of hundreds of popular tunes, via iTunes.
* Plan With Family & Friends: give key family and friends access to certain parts of your Marriage Site account so that they can e.g. help you gather contact details, organize seating arrangement, etc.
* Reminders: get automatic email reminders about upcoming tasks
* RSVP Status: instantly see who will be attending, who will not be attending, who has yet to reply. Keep track of which contacts plan to bring the additional guest(s) allowed for in their invitation.
* Same sex marriage support: A feature that's surprisingly absent from most other websites is same sex marriage support, allowing you to choose "groom and groom", and "bride and bride", as well as the traditional "bride and groom" options when signing up! Support for same sex marriages is included throughout Marriage Site.
* Statistics: Access useful statistics on your account like task completion, total contacts (+ guests), total groups, contacts grouped %, RSVP'd contacts, estimated attendance, total attending, total not-attending, budgetary figures, gift thank you note % ...and lots more!
* Table Planning: Marriage Site supports different table shapes and will even create the table list automatically for you. You can then use third party software to create accurate representations.
* Tasks: Marriage Site can add tasks automatically for you (very helpful if you have no idea where to begin) and will even schedule them according to the amount of time you have left until your wedding day.
* Time Zones: localize every task or event to your local time zone.
* Vendors: keep a list of your vendors' contact details so you can quickly access those details when you need them.

Milestone Indicators

0 comments
What are the Milestone Indicators for start-ups

1. Time to first client
2. Time to first revenue shared employee
3. Time to first revenue
4. Capacity to support full time employees in numbers(for I Am Marrying, it is zero right now)
5. Startup Resistance: Its known that getting the first client is difficult. As more clients are acquired, its becomes progressively simpler to acquire new clients. Some metric that could measure this fact is desperately needed.
6. Gestation Costs: Every startup has to go through a gestation period. A measure to measure its costs would help measure its growth efficiency.

I have been able to think of above till now. The metrics have to be minimalistic, which mean non-essential metrics should go away..We will do the optimization after we have discovered most of them.

Rohit Tripathy

Saturday, January 2, 2010

OpenID and Facebook Connect

0 comments
Today I have learnt of a powerful web mechanism. I can now let any user having an account with Google authenticate to my site using OpenID, and permit any user with a Facebook account connect to my site using Facebook Connect. Any new site can now access millions of users with Facebook and Orkut almost instantly with these federated identity management schemes.

WoW!!!!

Rohit Tripathy

Suggestions

0 comments
Courtesy Nishanth Chandran, Director EBS, www.ebs.in
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B2C and B2B are like North and South pole. There are multiple opportunities around this Wedding business trust me when i was looking at PG business for india, people were laughing at me, Now all agree its a great business. There always critics around all the time. I have never seen or heard about successful people NOT being criticized, infact more you get criticized more you becomes successful

Use the critics to improve, I personally feel you can make a premium website for wedding and the price tag of INR 5,000 and then you could probably talk to them and look at value adding, may be u can sell a newborn package and sell a 10 years package with their own domain name and probably an email service something like nish@xxxxx.com than the boring @gmail, I am using google apps which exactly is Gmail interface with my own domain, check mail.xxxxxx.com to get an idea, google charges nothing but you can do. see http://www.google.com/a

Wedding is one of the expensive events in ones life, hence spending 5k will not be a big deal, you could even package deals like 5k for 2 years,10k for 10 years etc

Just my thoughts!

Nishanth Chandran

Payment System Creation

2 comments
One of the questions that comes up what management systems and processes do we create. What is the best time to create them? I think systems should be created on minimalistic basis, and whenever the need arises. The full focus should remain on core product improvisation, and its marketing. For now the most important system that we need to create is payment distribution system. I want some innovation in this. Since our target market, and target employees are all individuals, we have to create an efficient payment system. The client should be able to pay very efficiently, and the money should get distributed efficiently as well.

Rohit Tripathy