Masala Street, Campus Diaries and All Our Power at 126th1M/1MRoundtable for Entrepreneurs


Today’s roundtable started with a reminder of a set of contests on which we are collaborating with corporate partners.A&N Media is offering a series of 1M/1M scholarships to entrepreneurs in Britain to stimulate entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom. With a reach into 130 million consumers, their channel will offer a significant go-to-market opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to bring B-to-C products to market. Please note that while the Scholarships are for UK entrepreneurs only, the channel opportunity is more broadly available to 1M/1M entrepreneurs. More here.

To launch this initiative, A&N Media and TechHub are joining forces to bring you Battle Of The Start-ups on May 22 at 6:30 p.m. in London. During an in-person roundtable session, leading start-ups will have the chance to pitch to a panel of judges including myself. You can find more details here and can register here.

Also, BlueSnap and Elance are offering 12 scholarships to entrepreneurs working on digital commerce and subscription businesses. The deadline for applications is this weekend. More here. Please apply ASAP if you want to be considered. Finals will be on June 4 and 7.

Masala Street

The first presenter, Syed Harris from Chennai, India, pitched Masala Street, which would be best described as OpenTable for India. Syed wants to offer reservation facilities to Chennai restaurants as well as online delivery order management capabilities. In India, incidentally, delivery to the home is much more common because of the availability of affordable labor.

We brainstormed about the business model (SaaS vs. Transactions) and my suggestion is to start with transaction / success fee based models, and once the service gains foothold, SaaS subscription fees can be layered on.

Campus Diaries

Next, Sumit Saurav from Bangalore, India, pitched Campus Diaries, a concept whereby students and alums at various campuses are encouraged to publish context-specific stories related to the campus life. The best stories will later be compiled and turned into books and sold to the same communities. Other media such as eBooks, apps, etc., can also be created from content generated and curated by the community.

Sounds like a fun idea, but as we peeled the onion on the monetization and business model front, I wasn’t convinced how the company would make substantial money. Sumit wants to raise $100,000 in angel money, but I don’t see the investment case and how this concept offers an ROI to investors. It will be very difficult to build a sustainable, high-growth business out of this. In fact, even if you set aside the growth pace requirements of an investor-funded venture, I am not convinced you can bootstrap a sustainable business with this concept.

All Our Power

Then, Joe Kalfa from Maale Adumim, Israel, pitched All Our Power, a group buying concept that aims to bring 10 million consumers together and create a buying club. The business model is well known, Costco being one of its greatest successes. Groupon is also a spin on the group buying model. Joe wants to use a business model whereby he will take 3% of the revenues generated from selling to his audience.

Most of our discussion today was around positioning and customer acquisition strategies, which is currently Joe’s weakest link.

You can listen to the recording of this roundtable here.

I also invite you to join the 1M/1M mailing list for the ease and convenience of getting updates. This way we can stay in touch, and it will help you to decide if 1M/1M is a program for you.