It’s difficult to keep track of government policies. According to a rough estimate, over 15,000 Central and State government policies and schemes exist for beneficiaries, but there’s a huge gap between the number of schemes, and beneficiaries taking advantage of them. The reason: ignorance.
Narayan Singh Rao, a 2005 graduate from IIT-Roorkee, who has completed an Executive MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad, had worked as a member of the National IT Committee of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) during the 2014 elections. He observed that people had a lot of expectations of the Modi government. People wanted to know what this new government was doing. What policies were in place for people?
The media, he realised, was not focussing on disseminating information on the policies.
To address these discrepancies, he decided to highlight the work the government was doing and to make people aware of the benefits they could accrue from such schemes.
In May 2015, he co-founded The Indian Iris, a portal that publishes the policies and schemes of both the Central and State governments. The site offers its content in five languages — English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu – and plans to soon include all major Indian languages.
“There are more than 15,000 schemes and policies from 3,000 ministries of the Central and State governments. These schemes offer benefits for almost every need — from education to health to business loans, and more. But, owing to lack of knowledge, those in need are often not able to avail these benefits,” says Narayan, CEO and Co-founder of The Indian Iris.
He says his purpose is simply to make people aware and benefit from these policies. The site’s main audience is people from semi-urban and rural areas, looking to setup micro, small and medium enterprises.
His four-member team does indepth research into government schemes and keeps a tab on the Twitter handles of various ministries that keep announcing policy developments.
With 45,000 active users, the platform claims to have 1 lakh monthly page views. It has organically amassed over 20,000 fans on Facebook and launched an Android app.
“We aim to build the biggest portal dedicated to government policies in the country. In the past one year, we have covered around 30 per cent. In the next two years, we will surely be able to build a robust portal,” says Narayan.
The co-founders have invested around Rs 15 lakh into the platform. According to Narayan, it is largely bootstrapped with seed money from IIM-A’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship. But they are also in advanced talks with two investors.
When asked about the revenue model, Narayan quips, “Consultation.” He adds that he is not only building a platform that offers information on government policies and schemes, but is also providing consultation to beneficiaries.
“At this stage, the process of monetisation is evolving. It depends largely on the project. It varies depending on the scope of the project and the complexities involved. We levy a certain percentage of commission on the total cost of the project,” says Narayan.
As of now, the firm has 15 clients, all belonging to the agro and dairy sector, to whom it provides policy-related consulting services.
Narayan says that in the future, he will seek monetisation from the SME segment, which always requires the right consultation in terms of government policies. According to the 2011-12 census by the MSME Ministry, there were 44.7 million units employing 101 million people with gross output exceeding Rs 18.3 trillion.
“The kind of queries we receive sheds light on the opportunities available in policy-related consultation. We are quite bullish on development in this direction,” he says.
The portal has plans to tie-up with State governments and to act as a go-between the government and benefactors.
In addition, Narayan is promoting Central government and State governments schemes via an engagement programme with different towns and villages.
During the 2014 general elections, there was a sudden influx of startups offering services for the elections. Knowyourcandidate, DailyScoop, iForIndia, GoIndiaVote, Election Tracker and VoiceTree Technologies, among others, were among these.