Deepak Ravindran, 22
A mobile based search engine to deliver information on any topic
Deepak Ravindran calls it the "instant cup of knowledge". His mobile based service, SMSGyan, promises information on almost any topic to the user on his mobile phone without asking him to click on any link. There are a host of services existing which would give users information on certain topics on their mobile phones but most of these are either limited to a sector, such as railway enquiry, or they send links to the user's mobile phone asking the user to click on them to access desired information. Such services have not become very popular with the vast majority of the people because they don't have GPRS connection on their mobile phones or the connection is weak. Though India has almost 700 million users today, the smart phone penetration still remains very low.
Gyan means "knowledge" in Hindi, and the SMSGyan provides myriad information services which include dictionary, encyclopaedia, job search, health, stock market, and more via text messages. The idea was seeded when one day, Hisam, one of the founders of Innoz Technologies, was in transit and wanted to know the meaning of a word and found that his basic phone was of no use to get the information. Since the phone had no application and no Internet connection to go to a dictionary and enquire, Hisam had to do without knowing the meaning. "This kind of a thing has happened to each one of us and it can be frustrating," says Ravindran. The team then sat down to put together an answer engine which would give users answers to various kinds of queries from anywhere at any time.
The SMSGyan platform can work with any number of databases or resources. It delivers mobile-optimized results. These text results support upto a maximum 500 characters of information across all operators in India. A user would have to type an SMS with the query and send it to 55444. For example, to know the stock price of Infosys, a user would have to type "Stock Infosys" and send it to 55444.
The customer is charged Re. 1 per query. However, for regular users, SMSGyan supports subscription packs for unlimited search facility.
Once the Gyan engine gets a query from a mobile user, the algorithm spiders the World Wide Web or Wikis on the Web for the related information, zeroes in on the most relevant inputs, and then shortens it to be sent to a mobile phone via the text message route. The categories that are currently available are encyclopedia, dictionary, acronym, live cricket scores, movie reviews, book reviews, weather alerts, stock market, gadgets prices, and calorie meter. Other recent additions to premium services include localized searches, job search, and even a health service over the phone. For these services, the platform makes use of its content partners to deliver the required information. For data users, SMSGyan acts as a content delivery platform that supports pictures, videos, and music search. For such requests, it sends WAP links to a user's mobile device in answer to his or her query while SMS is its primary interface.
Having added services for Facebook, Twitter, and email via SMS over the SMSGyan platform, Ravindran now has plans of making information in local languages available for the benefit of the rural masses. Future tweaks to the service would also include translators and video or voice based on-demand results. RC Dutt of Technopark, Trivandrum, where Ravindran's company is incubated and is being mentored, says "Deepak's product is a paradigm shift from standard mobile service offerings as it adopts a user centric learning approach using a low cost, low bandwidth medium as its delivery mechanism."
SMSGyan beta version was launched in January 2009, and commercialized in March 2011. It currently caters to 10 million users, answering almost 100,000 queries daily.