Sulekha.com is an Indian Local Search, Classifieds and Ecommerce services, enhanced by member blogs, answers, reviews and ratings in these marketplaces: Property, Cars, Home Needs, Office Needs, Education/Training, Lifestyle, Movies, Gadgets, Travel, Eatouts, Buy/Sell, Deals.
Satya Prabhakar is the founder and CEO of Sulekha.com, an website running entirely on user generated content. Before starting Sulekha,
Prabhakar was working with global telecom giant AT&T. He was working in the United States at that time, and he saw a lot of good writing from many people, a sort of a blog. So he thought of putting this up online. Later on, the thought occurred to him that if this forum can be used by people to exchange opinions, why couldn’t it be used for business too. By 2001, he thought the opportunity was big enough to take the plunge.
He was working at AT&T when he started the website. To leave a well paying job is not so easy. This was especially tough given his family
background, which didn’t consider being in business a very respectable calling. Around that time, he picked up book Alchemist which he read during a flight. The book was about going for what you desire. By the end of the flight, his mind was made up and he decided to quit his job. On the practical side, he figured that if things didn’t work out within an year, he could easily find another job.
The idea of Sulekha originated from an email list, unpretentiously named Dakghar (Hindi for post office), that connected ex-IIM (Indian
Institute of Management, Calcutta) alumni. Dakghar, run by a gifted writer and a skilled mathematician/engineer Arun Kumar, regularly
featured remarkable articles and essays written by its members, professionals from around the world and closet writers. Satya Prabhakar, himself an engineer and a writer wannabe, and his wife, Sangeeta Kshettry created a simple website in early 1998 to publish articles written by amateur writers from around the world with one condition. The logo of Sulekha — the maroon-and-red yin-yang circle — was created by Sangeeta Kshettry, co-founder of Sulekha, in 1999. A site where any Indian or Indophile can write and find an audience. A site not for professional writers who write to get paid but for those who wrote because they simply loved to do so. The two founders developed the site on a shoestring out a spare room for three years before the company raised capital from a private investor group towards the end of 2000. Plus, Sulekha has relationships with scores of community organizations and media around the world to whom it provides comprehensive services.
Arun Kumar, the father of Dakghar, recommended the name Sulekha (su in Hindi meaning ‘good’ and lekha meaning ‘writing or an essay’). That
was the origin of Sulekha.
In its first six months of existence, Sulekha sported a grand sum of 25 pages of text and a few hundred visitors. But soon, thanks to the
built-in network effect, the traffic just exploded as the site addressed a fundamental need of people that was not met by top-down, hierarchical portals. Today Sulekha has over millions pages of content that attracts several hundred thousand people every month. It becomes first Indian website to publish a popular book Sulekha Select featuring content contributed by its authors which was published by Penguin and was one of the most popular South Asian books on Amazon.
Though Sulekha has since transformed from a literary web-zine to a multi-faceted community with scores of new services, the name remains to signify its community-driven ethos.