|By||| Dec 6, 2009 | News|
In the era of the instant web, where people look to Google or Wikipedia for help with any topic under the sun, how hard is it to get credible information on the internet? While being constantly inundated with plethora of information, it’s hard to differentiate noise from signal and Google/Wikipedia approach also lacks the personal touch.
This is what 10-month old startup Voicetap aims to solve. They seek to “come up with innovative technical products which solve day to day issues faced by various segments of society.” Their first product ‘Getafixx’(name inspired from Asterix comics) acts as a connecting engine between the knowledge seekers and the knowledge experts over the medium of chat, VOIP and mobile phones.
Though it’s been only 10 months since their inception, Voicetap have gone ahead to win the Red Herring Asia Top 100 product and the team feels it’s a great validation for their product, business model and strength of their team.
In terms of their product, how exactly do they go about achieving this? Currently users have 3 mediums as options to connect to the experts.
On Gtalk – Add ’ Getafixx (email@example.com) ’ contact on your buddy list, describe your query and the system will then show list of top 5 available experts. Afterwhich, users can choose to chat with one of those top 5 experts based on their profiles.
For the VOIP service, users will have to download the VOIP software and can query their database and connect to relevant experts. Similarly, for their mobile services, they have an IVR system which recognises the voice and the query and get you to connected to the experts which will be launched on Jan 1st week and will be available as VAS service on mobile phone operators such as Idea, Vodafone, Airtel etc.
Since it’s hard, if not impossible to answer all the queries on any subject, Voicetap has sensibly focused on four main verticals namely Career, Health, Education, Finance which they think are central to the Indian market.
While the concept seems ingenious, it’s the execution that matters. After personally trying out the system, there presently seems to be a lack of experts in their system. As my search for three of their main Verticals Health, Education , Finance gave me the following message “We have found 0 experts who are currently available to chat with you. We have noted your request for an expert on “finance”, and we will ping you as soon as an expert on “finance” is online.”
One vertical that I found an expert was ‘careers’, so after I got connected and asked him about technology careers, the “expert” was sadly an expert in the banking area. So we didn’t get as much value as we expected, from that conversation I also found it a little disconcerting that users were required divulge their full names to use the service.
To counter the issue of getting relevant experts, VoiceTap has a rating system which would help to maintain high quality of experts. They have 700 experts and 4000 users in their system currently and have undertaken more initiatives to get experts into their system.
With users not being charged for it’s use, VoiceTap get their fair share of revenue from their “Businesses experts”, i.e. companies that are experts in specific fields based on the fact that they actually do business in that field. They are arguably the best suited to provide knowledge to the seeker which would be a great platform for them to reach out to potential customers.
Voicetap have acquired 1.0million SGD seed funding from an Angel Investor in Singapore and plan to break even in FY 2010.
While the product still has a few rough edges, the innovative method they are using to tackle the problem of gaining information is very interesting and it remains to be seen how other emerging knowledge engines such as Wolfram Alpha and entrenched players such as Google and Yahoo will react.
What is for sure however is that in the end, the user is the winner. With more competition, the user is given more choices and ultimately will gain in getting the elusive answer to that question he has.
Image Courtesy : http://www.engenuitysc.com/