Rejuvenated with fresh funding from Pramod Haque led Norwest Venture Partners, social media portal Sulekha.com will soon be rolling out its nationwide mass media campaigns in a major brand building exercise.
“Our mass media campaigns will involve television, print and the Internet. But we will be careful to make sure that we are reaching the right audience through the right media and spend whatever expenses it requires. We don’t have a particular number to throw as of now, but we will be spending a good part of the fund that we have recently raised towards building the brand,” said Satya Prabhakar, Founder and CEO, Sulekha.com. Sulekha recently raised Rs 45 crore through the venture funding.
“The campaigns will break in 2-3 months’ time. We are in the process of selecting the agencies and will look to finalise them before the end of this year,” Prabhakar further said.
“A major part of our spending will go into the regular enhancement of our present offering like social media (blogging, groups) and local commerce (Classified, Yellow Pages) and making the services available on the mobile platform,” he added.
Asked about whether Sulekha was interested in launching local language content, Prabhakar said, “We definitely have plans to launch versions of our services in the local language content in a year or so. The key thing is how soon the users who only use local language content migrate to the Internet.”
“There are hardly between 6 million and 8 million regular Internet users in India today, though the numbers thrown are 40-45 million or so. But they are hardly our target audience. Our target audience is somebody who is addicted to the net. So, there is a lot of opportunity among the English speaking audience itself who are likely become frequent users of the net. We first want to focus on that part of the audience and then get ready to launch local versions,” Prabhakar said.
On the success of social networking sites like Orkut, Prabhakar said, “We don’t see ourselves merely as a social networking website but a ‘trust network’ because such social networks in the past have come and gone. We have over quarter of a million classified ads posted on Sulekha and that is interaction among people. We have over 200,000 postings on blogs, etc., and that also leads to user participation. But when you want people to log in to your service everyday, you’ve got to provide not just a way to say ‘Hi’ to each other, you need to deliver tangible value. Sulekha enables transaction and meaningful interaction among its audience.”
When asked about any acquisition plans, Prabhakar said, “We are always looking at acquisitions, but we don’t have anything to announce right now. As we don’t have plans to expand from our core focus on social media and local commerce, any acquisition we do would be in the same areas that we operate in.”
Sulekha is also planning to offer its local commerce services in another eight cities across India. “We will be expanding into the Tier II cities of India and will add another eight more cities to our portfolio to our existing eight major cities.”
Sulekha claims to have 1.5 million registered users and over 2 million unique visitors per month.