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Exploring Bangalore, a mouse click away

By K.Satyamurty

BANGALORE, NOV. 21. Want to hire a Polish interpreter or know which restaurant offers Egyptian food in Bangalore? Or the best of pubs in the eastern part of the City and the cinemas in the cantonment area ?

The one source for all such information is just the click of a mouse away on The Bangalore website is one of the six City-centred sites under the same name, promoted by Pvt. Ltd. of Bangalore. It is the brainchild of Mr. Ramjee Chandran, who started the hugely successful Bangalore This Fortnight (BTF) in 1989, the first such publication focussed on the events and people in a City.

Mr. Chandran also started the Bangalore Monthly and the onlione The former is now the Bangalore Weekly found on every supermarket check-out counter and newsstands and gives exclusives in every issue. Thus, on the Web is the culmination of 12 years of experience in building City-based publications.

Mr. Chandran told The Hindu that the concept of a City-based guide/journal was no accident. Even in the Eighties, he realised that Bangalore would explode in growth and emerge as an important desitnation for business visitors and tourists. What was missing was a City-specific magazine, which typified its feel and flavour and also served as a resource guide. BTF was launched with these needs in mind. He had to literally walk around to hundreds of shops in the City asking for classified advertisements to sustain the publication, he recalled. There was also the question of finding the right outlets for what was a free publication. Perseverance paid and between 1989 and 1997, the company's turnover grew by 50 times.

At no time was the enterprise ever financed externally, either with equity or loans or working capital, Mr. Chandran pointed out. All growth was organic and self-funded and surviving in a competitive market was all the more challenging. All this was to change in December 1999 when ICF Ventures funded the enterprise. The vist of the NewsCorp Chairman. Mr. Rupert Murdoch, to Bangalore in March this year brought more good news. Mr. Murdoch agreed for equity participation in the venture and the website soon took off.

`` combines the immediacy of TV with the depth of the print media to bring news literally as it happens,'' said Mr. Chandran. An example was the breaking of the news on the day Mr. Rajkumar was kidnapped. By 4 p.m., the website had 42 stories on what was happening around Bangalore, including the areas prone to violence and the decision to close schools and colleges.

Today has two distinct channels, covering city news and information. The news section covers all happenings of interest, events and the weather and an ``Explomag'' with contributions by writers all over the country.

The information section covers a wide range of topics. It has astrology, business pages, City shops, civic Bangalore (a list of all official organisations and elected representatives), culture and entertainment, education, fashion and beauty, fine living, food and drink, health and fitness, and travel and tourism.

The shopping section will be the revenue earner for the website and online shopping is to be introduced soon. As of now, has relationships with several other e-commerce sites and this is expected to grow.

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