Just Dial – one of India’s leading local search engines provides people with immediate access to fast,reliable and comprehensive information on businesses, products and services across India. It is providing local search services over the Phone, Web, Mobile and SMS.
Starting with just Rs 50,000, V.S.S. Mani has built a business with an annual turnover of crores and a valuation in excess of crores. Just Dial is a case of getting it right the second time around. Not giving up after having to wind up Ask Me, V.S.S has taken his phone-based business model to print, online and SMS.
Going back to the early days, Mani was actually doing CA article ship along with Graduation. But some where down the line, he had to drop his CA exams because he had to contribute to the family income. So he took up a sales job with a yellow pages company called United Database India (UDI) in 1987. He worked with the company for about two years. While working there, he thought – why not to have something like this over the phone? In 1989, he got some like-minded people to join him and started a company called Ask Me.
Mani came from a middle class family, where if there is no (other) family income, one could set back to zero and sometimes even minus. He needed more capital. From 1992 to 1996, he worked on different ideas to survive, and to save some money to start Just Dial. This included a concept called Wedding Planner, which was in tie-up with The Times of India. He just used to dream of numbers and millions of people using his services.
In 1996, Mani landed in Mumbai with a princely sum of Rs 50,000 to find a home and an office space. Both weren’t easy to find. What Mani did find were generous relatives, who offered him an empty flat in one of the city’s far-flung suburbs, rent free. Mani soon after succeeded in renting a 25-square feet office in Mumbai’s financial district, Nariman Point, for Rs 5000 a month.
Mani was a part of the trio that started the now all-but-defunct Delhi-based ‘Ask Me’ Service. “We were much ahead of the times. Those were the days when people had to wait years to get phone connections. The idea was good and well-appreciated, but we didn’t see any financial gains from it,” he says.One of the invaluable lessons he was taught during his experience at Ask Me was that the phone number for this service would simply have to be easiest one to remember. Enter 8888888. Today the number is no longer seven eights, but 39999999 – and here’s the best part – irrespective of which city in the country you are calling from, the number remains the same.
Mani could not start Just Dial because he didn’t had enough capital. In those days, a phone line used to cost Rs 15,000 under OYT or else one had to wait for a few years. He did not have Rs 15,000 for a phone. He applied by paying Rs 3k, and actually came a year later! Finally, he started Just Dial, with number 8888 8888, some borrowed furniture, rented Pcs and with a capital of Rs 50,000!
The tele-information provider and now online also, which is present in 42 cities, receives on an average more than three million inquiries per month nationwide. And 11 years after Just Dial was flagged off, more and more callers are beginning to realize the virtues of providing the operator with their own details. Justdial revenues come from sponsored customers, and sponsored customers need to see tangible results. Apart from its core function of just giving numbers and addresses of specific establishments, Just Dial also offers a plethora of services through its vendors; these include offers on electronic products, travel packages, medical services and moving and packing services.
Just Dial took an online avatar, somewhat belatedly; but page views per day are increasing very fast. On 5th June,2013; Just Dial was listed on BSE(Bombay Stock Exchange) and NSE(National Stock Exchange). Apart from Just Dial, infoedge(parent company of Naukri.com) is another internet company that is listed on BSE and NSE.
It is providing local search services over the Phone, Web, Mobile and SMS. Users are required to call a common number and simply tell the human operator what service they are looking for. Text and email alerts are then sent to users listing the best options around them