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September 23, 1999
Loud music and a magician jazz up the jamboreePriya Ganapati at Pragati Maidan
A TV crew zooms in suddenly with a snappy question. Answer it correctly and you could win prizes ranging from free Internet connections to music CDs.
Fill little forms with your email addresses and if you are lucky you could win a Philips Nino handheld device.
Bored with all this? Try your hand at the mini golf course.
Loud. Jazzy. Catchy. The MTV attitude has finally caught up with the staid world of IT in India.
The India Internet World '99 exhibition flaunts every trick in the book to keep the visitors hooked.
At the IIW exhibition this year over 90 companies want to be seen and heard. Establishing brand recognition is the primary reason why most companies want a space at India's largest Internet jamboree.
Sanjay Jain, chief operating officer, Netacross says: "This is the only focussed platform that we can look to for establishing our products. We are focused on e-business and an exhibition dedicated to the Internet is where we want to be."
Netacross has pulled out all the stops and made sure you can't miss its presence at the fair.
With a huge stall spread over 500 square feet and an army of nearly 20 employees catering to visitors, Netacross has established a high visibility at the exhibition.
The company has even designed a blue shirt with a Netacross logo just for the event. Just to be doubly sure that you can't miss a Netacross employee when you see one.
Mantra Online, the ISP service of Bharti-BT, is another high-profile exhibitor with an army dressed in canary yellow t-shirts. The company gives out prizes through the day.
A special Mantra Online TV crew pounces at unsuspecting visitors with the question: "What is your Mantra?" The wackiest answers win free t-shirts, music CDs and even free Internet connections.
A Mantra Online executive explains: "We are targeting the youth and college students and even school students. They are the ones who are going to be the decision makers when it comes to Internet subscriptions."
Mantra Online has wacky contests, giggly hostesses and freebies to keep the crowd riveted. Business has been good for them with nearly 90 people signing up for their Internet services at the venue itself.
Booth # 202 has Plexus Technologies with its stall. Plexus Technologies provides solutions that focus on building content publishing, Web design solutions and even banking solutions.
The stall has been quite a crowd-puller because of its mini golf course where visitors can putt a single hole.
Karnvir Mundrey, e-strategist, Plexus Technologies, also doubles up as the host and has turned into a celebrity there.
With his highly enthusiastic pitch and loud easygoing manner Mundrey has quite a crowd gaping at this booth for some time.
"We are here to established brand recognition and that's why we are making a lot of noise. It is getting us noticed," an executive at the stall grins.
The exhibition had its fair share of problems yesterday.
Most exhibitors complained that the Internet lines were down for the better part of the day. Microland has set up the Internet backbone network. However, Microland employees blame VSNL for the poor Net connectivity.
But by the second day of the exhibition today, the connection seemed to have stabilised though complaints persist that it is extremely slow.
The exhibition has had an enthusiastic response with over 10,000 visitors a day. Students in school uniforms are escorted by grandparents, fascinated with giant screens and sleek monitors that cover the place.
There are also companies like Matrix Information Services Limited that are ready to clinch some serious deals.
Matrix has rented a stall but does not have any product displayed there. The stall is being used to hold meetings with clients that are interested in the company's services and all the meetings are by prior appointment only.
Amidst all this you could see a shady man selling Coke cans inside the exhibition venue. When Rediff asked him about it, he said, "Kya karen pet ka sawaal hai. Yeh to allowed nahin hai par hamen karna padta hai." You could buy Coke cans for Rs 25 from him; cans that otherwise cost Rs 18. He was, however, quick to assure Rediff that the cans were genuine Coca-Cola products that he had bought from the canteen at Pragati Maidan.
Mahadev.com, a company providing e-commerce solutions, has an in "infotainer" flown in from the US for the exhibition.
Joel Bauer, who has been retained by Mahadev.com for three days, is quite a crowd-puller. With his charming ways and a bag of magic treats, Baver keeps the crowed entertained while also giving out information about the company.
A Mahadev.com executive reveals: "Joel is one of the highest paid infotainers it he US. He works with companies like IBM and Compaq to promote their products."
123india.com is a Web site that offers content and a navigational guide to users. It has organised an online treasure hunt. Winners get a free three-day all expenses paid trip to Kathmandu.
Hungama.com also gives out free t-shirts, CDs and other goodies in exchange for e-mail addresses.
On a more serious note, Aditi Technologies' Talisma, an email and Web-front management software, had generated a lot of interest among the delegates.
With quick customer service becoming more important for Internet companies it is small wonder that Talisma's demonstration at the Aditi stall is quite popular with the delegates.
The huge cyber café sponsored by The Hindustan Times is packed and overflowing with visitors wanting to check their email.
However, some big names like Compaq, IBM and Microsoft are missing this year.
IIW '99 has the Internet Services Providers Association of India making its presence visible.
The tiny booth of ISPAI is filled with ISPs complaining about the delays in getting infrastructure from MTNL and VSNL, which as a result has upset their project plans.
Satyam Online too has its presence at the jamboree. It is promoting itself as the first national private ISP. Satyam is trying hard to fight the aggressive Mantra Online employees.
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