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September 23, 1999
Ram Shriram on angel investment and his new ventureRam Shriram is a co-founder of Junglee.com. When the company was acquired by Amazon.com, he moved there as vice-president, business development.
He recently quit Amazon.com to start another venture called e-lance.com. e-lance.com is a soon to be launched auction site for providing services on the Net.
Shriram's friends call him a visionary. Young wannabes are inspired by his charisma. Shriram too encourages young entrepreneurs with ideas, motivation and, most importantly, money.
Shriram delivered the keynote on the second day of India Internet World at Pragati Maidan. Later, he caught a few words withNeena Haridas:
You have started an angel investment fund in the United States for promoting young entrepreneurs. What kind of projects do you really fund?
We fund any kind of innovative projects. It can be anything from auction sites to search sites. You see, youngsters have lots of ideas but do not have the money to implement them. And no. Venture capital is not available to them. That is where we come in. We provide them the initial risk capital and give them a direction. We are with them through the incubation process, after that the venture capital guys can take over.
Where does your role end and that of the venture capital company come in?
We only provide the initial risk capital that a big company like Draper would not give these young guys. But beyond the money, I get personally involved in these projects and give guidance and ideas. So, our involvement is not just monetary, it goes beyond that.
Don't you think India too needs angel investors?
Yes. India needs it very badly. But before that a lot of infrastructure hassles needs to taken care of. Cyber laws too should be put in place. We should follow the Israel model. They first got the basics in place and then introduced funds for smaller chaps. Then on, the big guys take on.
Tell us more about e-lance?
Yeah, that is my new pet project. I called e-lance on the lines of freelance. This is a site where anybody can come and ask for a service and anyone can come and offer his/her service.
The best bidder bags the project.
Unlike our yoodle.com and google.com which mostly business-to-customer service, e-lance is an open forum.
What are your views on monetising chats? Isn't the content the real value?
Yes, the content is important. But how will you sell to someone unless you create awareness. This is where chats come into play. This is an area that should be exploited because that is how you create value for your content.
You learn about your target audience through the chats and address them directly. This way you don't end up wasting effort on everyone.
A lot of speakers at IIW have been talking about ISPs moving towards providing free accessibility. How will they make their money?
Yeah, that is the way the Internet economy is evolving. Even though ISPs are uncomfortable with the idea now, they will have to do that.
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