This post is partly meant to be a rant and partly to share what I feel. Feel free to agree/disagree.
In middle of a telephonic conversation with a friend(web entrepreneur) I popped a question,
Did you see Indian e-commerce stores putting up phone numbers on their website/product pages to help people buy (read order) products?
Gladly, as expected he replied with a “NO” which brings me to the question if/why/how do things change in the startup/business world with new things being introduced and then blatantly reused (copied) by others.
When we started Dial-a-Book some 1.5 years back, we were the ONLY ones that took orders on phone and accepted Cash on Delivery(COD). Yes, none of the existing players had anything remotely similar in their way of working.
Come 2011: The two biggest e-commerce players in India have started COD (about 6-8 months back for one and 2-3 months back for another) and now they also have put phone numbers on their portals to take orders. Surprising? Hardly.
Wait for a couple months and you’ll see almost everyone following steps. In fact I remember one of the young and aspiring e-commerce startups went to the extend of launching a service similar to ‘Dial-a-Book‘ and branding it as “X.com’s Dial-a-Book”, Duh.
I don’t mean to say we are the inspiration behind these but definitely the uncanny resemblances are a bit too much for them to be completely independent in thinking and execution. I know it might be really difficult to acknowledge but that’s how it is. The idea of sharing this here was that I felt like putting it done of paper/web for records.
Copying a feature or idea is one thing and doing justice to it is completely different. The most painful part of it being the big guys almost always get the credit for doing new things which aren’t really new.
It will be interesting to see how things change going forward with the e-commerce scene also extending to the phone commerce scene. Stay Tuned !!
Despite being wanting to blog for a long time all I am able to find time for is to share the links/stories of Dial-a-Book. But I sincerely hope to change this, in the mean while here’s another story on a site for techies
Here’s an excerpt
Mayank Dhingra studied to be an electronics engineer and started his career as a software developer. In 2009, he quit the security of a full time job to start Dial-a-Book that lets you order all types of Books over the phone. They accept Cash on Delivery in 27 cities including NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkatta, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Hyd. TG caught up with Mayank
Techgoss (TG): Tell us about your educational and IT Work Background?
Mayank Dhingra (MD): I am an electronics engineer by education and started working as a software developer and eventually turned into a Social Media Consultant. My first job was with Fidelity in which I worked on building and enhancing software (on Microsoft technologies) for their internal use. In my second job at Slideshare I worked on their Slidecast feature, did some work on the back end/server side and some front-end coding for a few features.
TG: How was Dial-a Book business idea born?
MD: I’ve always wanted to start a business around books and after …..
A little while back my younger brother handed over my phone to me and said, there’s a missed call. I looked the number and it wasn’t from someone I knew, curious I called back. Here’s a transcript of what followed
Guy(on phone): Hanji Bhaiya (Hello) Me: Kaun bol raha hai (whose this?)
Guy(on phone): Bhaiya aaj se 10-11 saal pehle Gujrat mein jo bhukamp aaya tha na, wahan mein khudayi karta tha aur wahan mujhe zameen ke 6ft neeche 4 sone ke biscuit mile hain jo mein apne gaun le aaya hun rajasthan mein. Inko bech do, aadhe aadhe paise mein.( While digging the place in Gujarat where there was an earthquake about 10-11 years back I found four gold biscuits. I have brought them along to my village in Rajasthan, sell them for half price) Me(Clueless): aapko mera number kaise mila? (How did you get my number?)
Guy(on phone): Bhaiya Billu naam ka driver hai Dilli mein, usne aapka number diya hai. Mein aapse paise nahi maang raha hai, aap mujhse mil lo aur yeh sona bech do.(I got your number from a driver named “Billu” from Delhi, I am not asking for money, I just want you to meet me and sell this gold) Me: Theek hai main aapse kal baat karta hun(I’ll talk to you tomorrow)
Did I just experience world’s first phone phishing attempt ?