Netapedia.in: IITians Take a Shot at Creating Wikipedia of Indian Politics

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If the ability to make it through an IIT and a boundless passion for politics settled down and had a child, it would be called Netapedia. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what happened when a team of IIT B students and alumni got together with the the singular focus of creating a unique political information platform. Enter Netapedia: the latest startup to provide coverage and information on India’s affairs of state.Join YourStory on our exploration of these budding social entrepreneurs as they work towards an improved political environment.

How would you briefly describe your venture? 

Netapedia is a social venture which aims to bridge the information gap between electors and their representatives, becoming a one stop platform for information on the nation's political systems and democratic procedures.

What was the idea that led you to establish this venture? How has that been translated to your portal?

In an age of information, knowledge is the key to empowerment. We felt like there is a gap in information flow between electors and their representatives. We recognized an opportunity for a web portal to provide information related to Indian politicians and political events so the electors could make well informed decisions during election and better contribute to the democratic processes. The vision is to provide the electors with easy access to information about the nation's political leaders and political systems.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

The founding team consists of IIT Bombay alumni Premjeet Kumar, Sidharth Mishra and Gaurav Shah along with current students, Hitesh Lalwani, Siddharth Bidwan, Rahul Srivastava, Rituraj Shukla and Ashish Rathi.

Premjeet Kumar graduated in the year 2011, he holds a Dual Degree from the Mechanical Engineering Department. He has worked with a few start ups prior to Netapedia and has a deep interest in politics.Sidharth Mishra also graduated in the year 2011 with a Dual Degree from the Mechanical Engineering Department. He was an events manager at Techfest 2008 - 09 and served as the overall coordinator for Techfest 2009 - 10. Additionally, he served as the head, IITB chapter (2010-11) of Avanti Fellows.

Gaurav Shah graduated in the year 2011 with a BTech Degree from the Chemical Engineering Department. He was the Web and Creatives Manager at Techfest 2009-10.

Hitesh Lalwani is a fifth-year dual degree student in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He was an events manager at Techfest 2009-10.

Siddharth Bidwan is a fourth-year B.Tech student in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He was an events manager at Techfest 2010-11. He has interned with the product development team of ZeeLearn, Essel Group, Mumbai.Rahul Shrivastava is a fourth-year dual degree student in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He was an events manager at Techfest 2010-11.

Rituraj Shukla is a fourth year B.Tech student in the Civil Engineering Department. He was the web and creatives manager at Techfest 2010-11.

Ashish Rathi is a fourth year dual degree student in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He was an events manager at Techfest 2010-11, the annual science and technology festival at IIT Bombay and interned as a Mechanical Designer at Prime Technologies.

When was your venture established? How has your journey been so far?

Premjeet and Sidharth discussed the initial idea decided to create such a portal in November, 2010. The domain name was registered in December, 2010 and over the next 3 months, they steadily developed the idea. Gaurav joined in March, 2011 and that’s when development of the profile page commenced. Data entry testing started in April and we had a profile page ready by the end of the month.

Hitesh and Siddharth joined in July 2011. During this time, work was underway on operations, data base management and the front end along with further conceptualization. Rahul, Rituraj and Ashish joined in September 2011. The portal was launched on October 13, 2011.

Tell us a bit about the target audience that you are trying to capture?

We want to reach every Indian with an internet connection.

How has the journey been so far?

The response so far has been very encouraging. People have found the site useful, structured and very user friendly. Since launch, we have had 5085 unique visitors and 31830 pageviews. Users have taken the effort of mailing us their appreciation and suggestions. We are humbled by their response. But, our monetary resources have been inadequate. We have had to fund this venture on our own.

What are you aiming for in the next few years?

In the next few years we aim to make Netapedia India's best political information, analysis provider and discussion portal. The goal is that anyone who wants to know anything about Indian politics should find everything he/she needs on the website. We also want it to be the most comprehensive and insightful information provider on Indian politicians before the next General Elections. In the long run, we aspire to be an information provider and discussion portal aimed at a greater democracy via a better informed public.

Any additional features that you would soon be adding to the site? How do you plan to scale up your portal?

We will soon release a new UI with advanced searching and a comparison feature on the website. Next up is Netapedia analytics. We have several more ideas in the pipeline. After we implement all of our ideas at the national level we’ll take it down to the state level.

On which technology has the portal been developed?

The site uses XHTML, CSS and JavaScript for the frontend. PHP and MySQL for the back-end

How are your offices and work-force spread out?Are you looking at hiring?

Currently, it is managed by our team of eight members. Three of us are located in Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore respectively. The rest are currently students at IIT Bombay.

We are currently hiring winter interns. At this point, there is no requirement for a full time employee.

What are your biggest challenges?

We foresee two major challenges: getting data at the state level in time and constantly updating the site as per user interests and needs

Any major achievements or breakthroughs so far?

We cherish the positive user feedback that we have received over the last five weeks.

Anything else that you would like to tell your audience and fellow entrepreneurs?

We are extremely thankful to YourStory for covering us. We invite the audience you’ve enabled us to reach to go ahead and have a look at the portal. Do send us your feedback (feedback@netapedia.in). Also, we will soon be inviting volunteers at a PAN India Level to act as Netapedia's Political journalists / contributors to make the site more dynamic and ensure greater spread of the information among the masses.

As for our fellow entrepreneurs, we have a long way to go before we even reach the stage of having advice to share.

For more details, please visit their site - http://netapedia.in/

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