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March - 2007 - issue > Cover Feature
si Team
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Mohit Srivastava, co-founder and CEO, BlueDot
Founded in October 2004, Blue Dot is a Seattle-based company whose mission is to help people stay connected with their friends. Through a new type of communication described as Social Discovery, Blue Dot’s free Web site allows users to find, save and share interesting online content with friends and family.

We will see the proliferation of Web2.0 technologies in the enterprise. The core features that define Web2.0 – tagging to organize unstructured data, easy publishing via blogs and Wikis, and sharing with your social network – will facilitate knowledge exchange and discovery in the workplace.

We will also see the continuing emergence of “vertically-oriented” social networks. While mainstream social networks allow people to stay in touch and to make friends, they are not optimized for specific interests and are less focused on knowledge sharing. A vertical social network for dog owners, for example, would make it possible to search for all Labrador dog owners in Seattle and get recommendations for nearby Labrador groomers.

Instead of one site dominating the industry, the vertical social networks will connect to each other. As such, one opportunity for entrepreneurs is to identify and build corresponding solutions for specific communities. Focusing on a specific community helps to keep focus, differentiate from existing offerings, and offer targeted advertising.

On the other hand, ‘horizontal’ strategies, or those that focus on new ways of sharing and communication, may make viable business models as well. The benefit of a ‘horizontal’ strategy is that the same tool can be applied across a number of different communities.

Salil Deshpande, Principal, Bay Partners
As a Principal at Bay, Deshpande focuses on investing in online media, communities, software, and internet. He also advises several internet community businesses.

The past success of entrepreneurs in Web 2.0 had been based on their ability to leverage on the low cost of infrastructure to generate a successful business model. Free access to online content, lowered cost of copyright and free distribution has managed to pull users into Web 2.0, however this might not keep them there the whole time.

Web2.0 entrepreneurs currently have too many innovative ideas. Investing in Web 2.0 companies is like choosing from a mixed bag, one would never know what works, until it does. Maintaining a basket model of investing while choosing such companies would ensure a safe bet of ‘hits’ and ‘misses’ in the bag. Why one social networking site works while a similar one fails could derive no concrete answer. In such a scenario, I would advice small investments in several companies, each noteworthy for its uniqueness. That is, several investments of hundred thousand dollars would work better than one five million dollar investment. Even if some of these fail, they do so in early stages and hence they would be cost effective. I believe the premium is going to be on intelligent aggregation and filtering and prioritization the content.

Siva Kumar, cofounder and CEO, Find.com
Using proprietary document recognition, enterprise content management, and search technologies, Find.com enables consumers and enterprises the ability to capture, organize, store and find any type of information in real time.

Web 2.0 is all about collaborating with other sites and users as well as opening up to the eco system of user generated content on the Internet like blogs and social networking sites. One area where Web 2.0 is doing really well is search and online retail.

Going forward, entrepreneurs should find a way to optimize the best of evolving technologies and interlink them on Web 2.0 platform. For instance, online retailers target blogs that revolve around certain activities- like fishing. By combining the power of online retail and search technology, he then provides them with details about where they could find fishing supplies. This is one of the areas utilizing Web 2.0 as a platform to extend the reach of products through blogs, users, or MySpace pages.

Entrepreneurs should also find ways to solve problems that never existed. For instance, create an option that would allow users recognize products they never knew they would like and recommend them to look up ten such different products. It would be similar to the technology Amazon uses today, but based on information from the Web. Everything is about being a visionary but in a practical manner.

Naveen Lakkur, President and CEO, Compassites Software Solutions
Compassites has been instrumental in transforming simple ideas into future enterprises using the web 2.0 as a platform.

Web has to transition from an Age of Information (Web1.0) to an Age of Transformation (may be web 3.0). The current state or trend (Web 2.0) is the Age of Interaction.

The key advancement will be to bring more user participation to enrich the web applications. Such a phenomenon is evident from sites like Wikipedia. It’s about trusting the users and the future lies in building the ‘Trusted Users’.

Opportunity for entrepreneurs and enterprises lies in simplifying life by using web and empowering the users. The mantra for the future is to move from internet to inner-net by coupling intelligence with emotions. It’s just not about shift in technology but also in attitude.

The era of silo applications is bygone; it’s all about web mash ups now. It’s about creation of web applications that will collaborate, connect and communicate with each other to solve cohesive problems.

The technology trend is towards "Convention over Configuration" which means allowing the technology to build the configuration for standard problems. Ruby on Rails is one such pioneering technology that has become really hot by following this principle.

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