MojoStreet, a location based services startup from Indyarocks co-founder Kalyan Manyam, has raised $350,000 in funding from former Microsoft India R&D MD Srini Koppolu, and former Nvidia (India) MD J. A Chowdary. Chowdary is also an investor in Indyarocks.
MojoStreet, in stealth mode until it goes into private beta by the first week of May, intends to combine gaming, a “friend finder” service, city guide, social network and rewards, into a single application, allowing users to compete through location specific actions. A few notes from our conversation with Manyam:
– Application based: Mojostreet is going to be made available via a downloadable application, initially for Nokia touchscreen smartphones, and for Blackberry. Within two months it will be made available on Android and the iPhone.
– Gaming and Deals: While Manyam would not comment on the gaming element of the application, he said that they’re going to provide deals. MojoStreet doesn’t intend to surface deals via tie-ups with existing vendors, but will launch their own deals and rewards service. Initially, it plans to partner with national retail outlets, and eventually roll out a self-service model. The partners will help bring in deals, by teaching local vendors how to use the self-serve platform. “That’s important for the long tail to kick in, for it to become hyperlocal,” Manyam says. The partnership model won’t be launched for a couple of months, though.
– Check In & Points Of Interest: Users will earn “Mojo Dollars” when they check into a place. Comparisons with FourSquare are obvious, but Manyam says that the gaming element makes MojoStreet different from FourSquare or any other check-in application. But isn’t the FourSquare of India, well, Foursquare? Manyam says that MojoStreet will have a much larger local database than anybody – they’ve bought “Points of Interest” data for 5.5 million locations in India. But can’t others buy the same point of interest data? According to Manyam, the differentiator will be the gaming element: MojoStreet will launch in the first week of May, and they’ll roll out the gaming elements one after the other. Manyam clarifies that they’re not using maps as their core functionality, merely location data.
– Getting users on board? “The same way as Indyarocks – by trying to be viral, which is the only model for a free application. Even when we launched Indyarocks, we got a lot of support from the blogging community, who helped us iron out the bugs. we want to try the same here.”
– MojoStreet Or Indyarocks? Manyam says he will continue to manage both companies for some time. Manyam and his brother are majority shareholders in IndyaRocks.
P.s.: A conference joke that never gets old – “ever year is the year of Location Based Services”