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Author | Gopal Sathe | Friday, Feb 11,2011 7:18 AM

A- – Mixing social media, e-commerce, conversations

Two ex-Googlers, Kiran Kumar and Prem Pillai, started their own company Adepto Solutions a year ago, and in these 12 months have launched, a product which they hope will serve as a platform to enable merchants to successfully leverage the influence of Facebook, without having to invest in a long term social media strategy. They recently announced that Alok Kejriwal, who heads the 2Win Group, has joined the Board of Adepto as an advisor to guide them through growth and funding plans. Kejriwal said, “This is the a very innovative company, which is for the first time leveraging social media, e-commerce and consumer conversations in a scalable online engine, and the potential for it is great.”

Kiran Kumar talked to exchange4media about the company’s vision and how they are progressing. He said, “Our focus today is on adoption by merchants. Our vision for is to promote commerce through virality and it only follows that we will be reaching out to consumers in the same way. But for that to happen, we need to be able to give them value and options, which will come by adding as many merchants as possible.”

At this stage, is just a few months old, but already has tie-ups with Eureka Forbes, BuythePrice and Playground Online., which is an app for Facebook, works around a game mechanic – people try and guess the price of a product that they are shown, and if the guess is good enough, they win points, which lead to deals and discounts. The social element is built in through Facebook, as a user’s friends can see that he bought a product from a merchant using, and then go to the app and try and win points and make purchases themselves.

The goal is to put together a system where marketers can present not just a single product but their entire inventory in the form of a game so as to maintain quality engagement, while the points would lead to a call to action as the players would eventually redeem them. This, Kumar felt, was a more comprehensive strategy than just creating a company Facebook page, and collecting fans and likes.

He said, “For any company to enter into social marketing, there is a lot more than just gathering fans. It is a process which requires a lot of planning and investment, and not one which suits every company, particularly for smaller organisations. With, we reach out to people using Facebook’s social graph, optimise the process for both brand engagement, and e-commerce, and offer a readymade community for the merchant, which they did not have to gather, so it saves both time and money and the game format means that there is a strong engagement from the customers.”

“While selling on Facebook is still not well understood, I believe that there is a lot of opportunity, and we already know that quizzes and games generate a lot of engagement on Facebook. One more thing that we are clear on, which will draw more users and so make more useful to the merchants as well, is to offer better deals than they would anywhere else,” he added.

The company will focus on bringing in more merchants and looks to expand into media, entertainment and travel services to offer a more attractive portfolio to users, and to make their quizzes and games more accessible for people who stumble across the app, instead of those who are directed to it by their friends or by participating companies.

Talking about the association with Kejriwal, Kumar said, “We were looking at the market for a long time and we saw a need that had not been addressed, but we are first generation entrepreneurs. I’d known Alok for a few years through Google, and he’s a guy who’s done it all. He’s not a theorist, he has huge experience and understands how to raise money and succeed in the market, so we are very glad that he’s on board to help us out.”

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