Karthik Subramanian

IIT-Delhi incubated company wins Red Herring accolade

CHENNAI: The mobile phone is the next computer — as the ad-line for a popular handset says. Which is why mobile applications are the hottest happenings in the infotech industry today.

An Indian start-up — OnYoMo — incubated in the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, has been breaking grounds in the burgeoning field of mobile search. Its most recent triumph was a place in “Red Herring Asia 100 Award 2007,” an exclusive event honouring 100 cutting-edge private technology companies from across the Asia-Pacific region. It was one of 13 Indian firms selected from among over 500 applicants based in 16 countries including China, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia and Vietnam.

The Red Herring magazine unveiled the winners at a Hong Kong event between August 29 and 31.

The genesis

Shailesh Mehta, chief executive of OnYoMo, in a telephonic interview with The Hindu, explained the genesis of his work in mobile search: “When I came back after my MBA programme in Insead Institute in France in end 2005, I started the venture mainly because of the difficulties I faced along with my friends in finding information about places. Where European countries had taken strides, we had not even begun.”

The biggest challenge, he said, was not just collating the data for the mobile search engine but localising and presenting it in a user-friendly fashion.

For example, users can search for cinema halls on and around M.G. Road in Bangalore and if possible even provide information about ticket availability. OnYoMo has succeeded in doing that for multiplexes with online ticketing. Mr. Mehta says the future is most exciting with almost all theatre chains corporatising their operations.

GPRS site

The company launched its service in May through the GPRS site www.owap.in. It listed information on categories such as movies, restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and ATMs interactively.

The service was launched in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune. An SMS-based query feature is also available through the short code “58558”.

Did his venture feel pressure from bigger companies such as mobile service providers which were entering the mobile search domain? Mr. Mehta said the world over it was the smaller players who emerged victorious in the race. “Mobile search is a specialised area and requires expertise. As early movers, we have the advantage.” The technology the company used was scalable to include as many parameters and keywords as required.