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SPARK OF THE CORPORATE

JustDial, once started as a phone-based search firm, quickly adjusted itself to the growing popularity of the Internet and now mobile phones...

VSS Mani is the Managing Director and the Chief Executive Officer of Just Dial. Just Dial is an easy option to find out telephone numbers, addresses or e-mail id of leading service providers across the nation. He started off the firm with a seed capital of Rupees 50,000 along with a few broken pieces of furniture, a computer, a telephone and a garage which he had hired just for starting the firm. Today Just Dial is a 300 crore industry.

Mr. Mani hails from a middle class family and thus believes in following the middle class values. He believes that these values always saved him from being complacent. His father passed away when he was still in college and that was when we took up the family responsibilities.

Early days and Education

Mr. Mani discontinued his Bachelor’s Degree of Commerce after 2 years of study. He completed his articleship with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. The young entrepreneur was born and brought up in Delhi.

Career Spark

During the year 1987, he worked for Yellow pages. He was into space selling. And he worked in Yellow pages for almost two years. Yellow Pages was previously called UDI (United Database India, Pvt Ltd.).

In the year 1989, he co-founded ‘Ask me’ Services. This was the first tele information providing unit at Mumbai around that time. Just Dial happened in the year 1994. The first product with Ask Me Services was catering to the wedding segment which was distributed by TOI to the various matrimonial advertisers who were located in Mumbai and Delhi.

A small snippet about Just Dial and how it all started off

Just Dial also known as JD is a company based out of India. The headquarters are located in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is a search service provider catering to all major cities, across India. If you are a new comer to say Bangalore, and you want to have the telephone number of a movie theatre, all you need to do is, just ring up the ‘Just Dial’ toll free number. You would immediately get a service alert or an SMS on your mobile phone with the address, telephone number, e-mail id and the fax number of the nearest theatre plying in the area where you reside in. Not only movies, JD will give you info on any service provider. If you want to scout educational institutions, bus terminals, companies where you have been asked to take up an interview and for lot more, you can take up the services of Just Dial.

During the yester years, while Mr. Mani initially wanted to promote a tele search engine (Telephone based searches), it was so difficult to even get a simple telephone connection. Mr. Mani simply couldn’t afford one as it used to cost a whooping Rupees 15,000 to get a single landline connection.

Today as of March 2013, Just Dial has more than 7,457 employees and 91 lakh listings with unconsolidated assets worth 300 Crores. Just Dial operates in more than 23 major cities all over India with a 24/7 customer support. You have people speaking in 8 languages to answer your queries. JD’s latest move was to go public with the IPO offers and release equity shares as on March 2013.

His journey with Just Dial

While Mr. Mani was working with Yellow pages way back in 1987, an ideal struck him. Why can’t I start a search provider company via the telephone? This was the inception beyond the boom of Just Dial. He knew Mumbai’s Kandivali exchange number which is 88888888. He thus wanted to have an easy to remember telephone number for Just Dial, as well.

As of 2014, the company has more than 9000 employees. They work under different domains within Just Dial. These include Outbound, Sales, Inbound, Technical and QA processes. Quite a lot of regular customers and prospects dial the main number of Just Dial enquiring on a particular service provider. Based on the key words the customer is looking for, the leads are passed on to the local vendors or service providers in that particular area. Just in case a prospect enquiry call is converted into a sale, the service provider lashes out a percentage of commission to Just Dial. In fact JD receives most of its revenue through paid or sponsor advertisers.

Mani’s first wedding collaboration search was pictured in Times Colour City. Mr. Mani was 29 years while he started Just dial. Today at 44, he has expanded the horizons of the business by leaps and bounds. You now have Just Dial food ordering joint, catering to major cities like Coimbatore, Bangalore, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Navi Mumbai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Noida, Thane and Pune. Users can order for their food packets online from the restaurants listed on the site.

Multiple platforms

Just Dial services are now available on the internet, mobile phones, and Android applications, accessible via WAP, apart from the age-old telephone based searches.

It is thus evident that VSS Mani and his entrepreneurial venture Just Dial have become synonymous with local search and listings in India, adapting to changing market conditions, working on the scale of business and most importantly to provide radical services for the economy.

His business intellect is very sharp which helped the veteran who has had 23 years of experience in tele-marketing industry and local searches transform a phone based query centre into a cyber-centric profitable business venture. He now knows that online search is the ultimate future for his business.

Future Prospects

Seeing the success rate of local search domain, now Mani wants to foray into the business of e-commerce. A lot of competitors are there in the market like Snapdeal, Myntra, Flipkart, Amazon India, and India times shopping, etc. Just Dial is not a monopoly even if it steps into the e-commerce market.

A couple of snippets from the business icon, VSS Mani himself

Mani feels that with the growing economy’s diverse needs, one has to stay ahead and keep building on the open source platform. This very thought process inspires the 44 year old business icon to keep upgrading his services, all the time. He has forayed into the IT world with his envision to provide value added services, without a full stop.

A new value addition to Just Dial service is ‘Tagging a friend’. Of course you have this option on the world’s favourite social networking site, Face Book. With the help of ‘Tagging a friend option on Just Dial, a person who has already been to the hang out place, say a theatre, a bowling alley or a pub will view his/her ratings on the hang out spot. And incidentally you can take a call as to whether you want to go to the same place or not. The higher the ratings and reviews, the better equipped the fun-zone is.With the entrepreneur VSS Mani’s dynamic sense of running the business, you can expect more for the offing!

Family

Mr. Mani is happily married and has two kids; a daughter who in class 10 and a son who studies in class 4. His wife is a home maker.

Awards and Accolades
Mr. Mani was awarded with the IDMA Person of the Year which took place at the Indian Digital Media Awards 2013.
Just Dial won the Red Hat Innovation Award in July of 2010.
Professional Affiliations
United Database Indian Pvt Ltd
ASK ME Services
University of Delhi
Institute of Chartered Accounts of India
Just Dial Limited (formerly, A&M Communications Pvt Ltd.)
Quotes
  We don’t do something simply because it’s trendy; we take up only those initiatives that best help us serve the needs of our target.
  We are trying to integrate the various aspects of day-to-day needs, a gamut of social cues, popularity scores, etc. and create a one-stop solution for all your needs. A year from now, we will definitely be closer to achieving that.
  When we started, only a handful of people believed in us, but we had the last laugh.
  Because of our open architecture, we were able to introduce best practices from various fields and add value to our search process.
  We do a lot of regression-oriented data analysis which helps us clean data which in turn makes the entire search process learning-oriented. We don’t try to formulate rules; rules formulate themselves based on usage.
  We are interested and excited about all these emerging technologies but we always believe in being judicious when it comes to their application.

At Just Dial, we do not believe in blindly following trends. We ensure that we understand how it fits into our scheme of things and how it best serves our requirements.

It is not possible to rely on tried-and-tested formulas. We just have to give several factors due weightage and make sure that as a trend evolves we understand it and react to it.

JustDial, once started as a phone-based search firm, quickly adjusted itself to the growing popularity of the Internet and now mobile phones.

Hope viewers caught up the spark…

 

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