Gautam-ShewakramaniIn the first part of our interaction with Gautam Shewakramani, Founder & CEO, AudioCompass, speaks about their products & services, pricing, and product response, among others. In the second part of the interview, he speaks about the technology being used, their indic language services, partnerships, marketing, competition, international roll-out and scaling.


Medianama: How do you use GPS?
Shewakramani: On some of our app tours, users can make themselves known on a map to plan their visits to different places of interest better. GPS allows them to know where they are in relation to other interests. GPS is not critical to our service but acts as a value add.

Medianama: Why is that you still have IVR based services when you also have apps? What is the purpose?
Shewakramani: As long as, people have a mobile phone, they can just dial the number and get access to our service.

Indic Language Services

Medianama: What are your plans for indic language services? Do you think indic services have a market in India?
Shewakramani: There is a huge market for indic language services. We are planning to launch Cultural Calls targeting local tourists by relying on our operator partners to decide which languages are priority as they have that information. Over the time, I want to make our customer ratio to 80-20 Indian-foreigner ratio. We want to educate Indians on India’s culture & heritage. The question is how do you address it in the short term. It definitely cannot be done through smart phones because not all in India use smart phones and even if they do, not all download apps. So that’s where Cultural Calls comes in. Anybody with a phone can access it.

Revenue, Marketing & Competition

Medianama:  Which are the services that contribute the most to your revenue?

Shewakramani: I cannot give the numbers but most of the revenue comes from onsite rentals.

Medianama: How do you market your products?
Shewakramani: We are a young company so we have hardly done any marketing. We are physically present at some of the monuments in the country and we have had word of mouth publicity along with some press coverage. So marketing has been happening on its own.

Medianama:  Who do you see as competition and how do you see competition affecting you?
Shewakramani: There isn’t much competition in India. There are players who are doing the rental model in India. However, one of the challenges that these players face is that they either have technology or good content but do not have both. Our advantage is that we have both. There are also competitors in the mobile space and of course, there are other tour guides at monuments but I don’t know if they are using mobile phones for their service so I cant really comment on that.


Medianama: Which are the operators that you have partnered with? What is the kind of partnership you have with operators?

Shewakramani: I can’t give the names of the operators but we are partnering with two large mobile operators. We should launch very soon before the next tourist season.

Medianama:  Have you considered partnering with the government? What is the kind of partnership that you have with them?
Shewakramani: All our onsite partnerships are through exclusive partnerships with government departments. They had a formal tender process two or three years ago that we had to go through. We develop the content and do the distribution as well at these monuments and we pay the government a percentage of our collection.

Medianama: Does this partnership extend beyond the monuments listed on your website?
Shewakramani: Presently, it doesn’t but we are working on a partnership with a government department to extend it to other places. Also, the ministry of tourism is trying to enter into partnerships with private players for other monuments as well. We are trying to work with departments other than the tourism department to provide city tours, bus tours, among others. Any curated content to be delivered to users on the move is relevant to us except probably news & weather.


Medianama: What are your plans for scaling? What are the challenges that you face in scaling?
Shewakramani: We can scale in two ways, by adding destinations and content and by adding distribution channels. We have narrowed down on mobile as our distribution channel. Most of our efforts will be focused on mobile technology. In terms of content, we want to go region by region and add content so that we become the one stop shop for tourism content in the country. We will be hiring people on content, technology and management to manage the growth. The biggest challenge we face is changing the behavior of users. 10 years ago, it was natural to call your tour agent to book your tickets. Yatra and MakeMyTrip came and changed this. Now de-facto you book your tickets online. We are in a similar kind of chicken & egg situation because it involves changing large number of people’s behavior.