Guest Column: Making Lifestreaming Click in India

Social Networking continues to attract entrepreneurs and investors alike, despite growing concerns about the long-term business viability of the segment. And a bunch of local entrepreneurs have already latched on to so-called next generation social networking models, termed ‘lifestreaming’. Indian startups such as Lifeblob (received $1 million from Seedfund this month) and LifeinLines, which follow global precedents, fall within this category. What is the future of such me-too startups? Is ‘lifestreaming’ as a model really the next generation of social networking? Norwest Venture Partners India managing director Niren Shah, who was part of the original Baazee management team and served as senior director of strategy and ventures at eBay in the US prior to Norwest, shares his thoughts on the space.

By Niren Shah

There have been several startups in the space of Digital Lifestyle Aggregation (DLA) which have come up globally in the past 18 months. DLAs let users create and organize memorable digital assets (using emails, photos, videos, documents, SMS, blogs, social apps, etc.) and help them share these with family and friends. Users use it to build personal diaries, family tree histories (genealogy) for social casting, etc.

I think it is an interesting space especially for ‘Gen Y’ whose life revolves around the online world and I believe it will continue to grown in the long term. Globally, the early adopters have been the Internet savvy ‘digerati’ who want to preserve their digital memories for the future.

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Startup Review: LifeinLines

Gattani (from left), Nir Bannerjee and Gulati are based in Mumbai

On Wednesday, IIT Bombay’s E-Cell launched a new social networking startup — LifeinLines — as part of its third Ideaz workshop. For the uninitiated, Ideaz is a Pan-IIT Business Idea Challenge. Lifeinlines calls itself a ‘lifestreaming’ startup and was founded last June by IIT Bombay alumni Ankur Gattani and Maninder Gulati. I spoke to Gattani a day after the launch and he says that LifeinLines offers a far more intimate interaction experience than a Facebook or Orkut. Incidentally, Rediff’s Ajit Balakrishnan is an informal advisor to the company and “We (Rediff and LifeinLines) are  both interested in exploring a more formal relationship, but will wait for some time,” says Gattani. Remember the Vakow! deal? Anyway, LifeinLines is self-funded (seed money was Rs 1 lakh from Gattani’s mother) but is in the market to raise venture money.

I put together a panel of venture capitalists for an investors’ first take on LifeinLines and also on competitor Lifeblob. Their names are being kept confidential. However, you can read Norwest Venture Partners’ Niren Shah’s thoughts on ‘lifestreaming’ as a business model in the next post. But first, the panel’s review:

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