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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

December - 2008 - issue > Entrepreneur 101

Building Consumer Businesses in the Global Downturn

Gunjan Sinha
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Gunjan Sinha
Downturn is here to stay, at least for a while. So, what should the entrepreneurs do? What kind of businesses make sense to pursue as the market’s downward trend continues and consumers hold on to their wallets. I have been thinking about some new ways to look at the opportunities ahead in some active consumer forums in the Internet. First and foremost, in the downturn, consumers are going to be much more value conscious. They are going to expect a lot more for less and will focus on activities that either support their current incomes and jobs or help them save money or reduce expenses. Call it the era of ‘frugality’ or ‘diet economy’, global consumers will start to look for Web services, which drive greater value for them.

Crowdsourcing for value
One of the big potentials of the next generation Web is to effectively bring large number of Internet users together for addressing a specific opportunity or a problem. How can a large population of Internet users come together to help you find a better shopping deal? Or help you find the dream job that you have been looking for? Or help you get into the college of your choice? Or help you raise money for your new startup? The idea here is to bring together people for specific purposes through your consumer Web service in a manner that they can collectively deliver significant value to you as listed below, which otherwise cannot be made possible in the physical world:
* Help you ‘predict’ stock bubbles. Is Google stock overvalued, what is the sentiment around Google? Can the crowd of online Google watchers tell you something that might help you to sell your stock in time?
* A large community to help you with your job search. You are now looking for your next gig; and the Web 2.0 can help you find that job in a way traditional job sites and portals are not capable of. One can bring together the collective intelligence of the crowd of Internet users to find the best opportunities that might fit your profile and interests. Professional networks like LinkedIn or SiliconIndia.com can be extended through such intelligent crowdsourcing services.
* Imagine consumers who are trying to lower their personal spending, shop for best prices, or rent items for short-term use rather than buy them outright. The Web users can help each other to accomplish this through an innovative Web service? Intelligent recommendations from the Web users can help people to lower their overall spending in the tough, down economy. You need to buy a car seat for your baby, would you rather take it on hire for a fraction of its cost through the Web or buy a new one via collective recommendations from your network friends? Innovative websites can help consumers with this type of value optimizations.

Purpose Based Networks
The current generation of horizontal social networks like Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, hi5, etc. are going to give way to more vertical and specialized purpose oriented social and professional communities. These communities will carefully combine proprietary content, community members with strong emotional affiliations, and a strong vertical purpose to differentiate themselves with the first generation of social networks. The opportunities in successfully creating such purpose-based networks are going to be very significant, even more so than what we see with the networks of today.

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