SaaS software for building social communities within neighbourhoods

Missing Communal Groups

I’ve been living in a Delhi Development Authority (DDA) neighbourhood for nearly 20 years now. Yet, apart from small groups there is hardly any “community” feeling among most residents. One of the key issue is that people do no know each other. There are few communal platforms for them to gather under. Such platforms are often restricted to a few festivals, which are also often limited to different religious or regional communities.

Politicizing of the Resident Welfare Associations

As with most of the country, the dirty politics has even vitiated the welfare associations. And voting is limited to a very small margin of members, and just like at the national level, inept and incompetent people get elected. And most often they have little / no community agenda but rather their own one-up-man-ship.

Decisions are often taken by suppose elected members of these RWAs which are often not aligned with the priorities of the community. Several such agenda is decided by the narrow viewpoints of the elected repsresentatives themselves.

Unlike the large number of populations at the national level, there is no reason why in communities of 500-5000 houses, in cities like Delhi, an online hosted software platform cannot be used for further community voices through direct suggestion and voting of the agenda that people wish to follow.

This software platform is inspired by this motive.

Features

Here are some features that this platform should have:

  1. Allow  members / elected representatives to raise “issues”
  2. Allow members to vote on issues raised by members / elected representatives
  3. Enable discussions around each “issue” under the same thread
  4. Log of expenditure under various heads for increasing transparency
  5. Issues being “worked upon” – conversion of up-for-voting issues to be converted to “Issues Undertaken”
  6. A profile of each resident, if they choose to disclose – for community development and engagement
  7. Allow residents to login using their Social Profiles such as LinkedIn or Facebook; and create their community profiles with specific talents or/and interests they feel they could offer their community members

Consulting Business for “Online Media Publishing Solutions”

I’m looking for a partner to help incubate a Consulting Business for Online Media Publishing Solutions. This may be a business covered under the Srijan brand, which would ensure that the business has a high chance of finding success within a short period of time, given the ecosystem and brand equity Srijan has already built.

Online Publish consulting business model
Online Publish consulting business model

An alternate products portal

Inspiration
The central inspiration is to make available “alternate wellness products” to a large section of society. Mostly these products are manufactured in small women-self-help-groups, or my mom-pop shops, or small non-profits; even small companies; and some really large companies (such as Dabur, FabIndia, Patanjali Yog Peeth).

Giving access to markets in large cities in India to these small groups (and often with fantastic products) is the inspiration behind this portal. Ofcourse, we do not want to exclude larger brands, as they only help further the cause of large scale adoption and consumption of alternate products.

Nature of products
Ayurveda products by different brands; perishable and non-perishable organic foods; Bio-manures; Compost utilities; “difficult to find” books in various vernacular languages of India; “difficult to find” music from small and rural musicians and music companies; spiritual music and books;

Business Model
Either one can “source” and become the “supplier” of such products and run the portal; OR, one can enable suppliers to have their own shops setup in a common marketplace under one brand.

It is the latter that is the proposed business model for this portal.

We want to enable such organizations to use this portal to setup:

  1. their own online shops (www.alternateproducts.com/naturally-pahadi :: all products with categories under which “Naturally Pahadi” has products should get listed here)
  2. consolidate all products under categories in the larger portal brand (www.alternateproducts.com/drinks/rhododendron/naturally-pahadi/ :: this is a category based view, leading the buyer to click on the detail page of Rhododendron drink sold by “Naturally Pahadi”)

Promotion of the brand/portal would be the goal of this business; while the suppliers’ business will be to sell their products using this brand.

Writing articles around each of these products – collaboratively (by the community) – would be a central goal of this portal. The more organizations write, the more their products are found on Google, and the more they sell.

The portal will charge a commission on each sale; and assist buyers in ensuring that the Sellers have shipped the goods and completed the order.

Technology
Magento (commercial version) – seems to have this. If it is affordable – then buy and implement it. If it is too expensive, or features are unavailable, then there could be two routes. Build and enhance Drupal; OR build and enhance in Magento.

I imagine “SOLR generated product views” being used with Drupal 7, to “zip” the portal browsing experience, as has now been implemented at http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in by Vivek Puri). This ofcourse, if Drupal 7 is to be used; if Magento – then am not sure if this zipping is possible or no.

Extensive “Reporting” would be made available for “seller”, for their own-orders. Different set of Reporting would be available for “portal admins” to ensure that the Sellers are shipping their orders in time, etc.

Initially, we’ll use PayPal/CCAvenue for Merchant Banking.

Payments would have to be routed to Seller and a commission routed to Portal owners. As far as i know, this can be done only using AmazonFP. For this a company has to be registered in the US, to utilize this service. If so, a company can be registered easily in the US for this sole purpose.

Sales and Marketing
The biggest challenge will be to bring Sellers onto the portal. We will have online demos available, and bring non-profits to help setup shop on behalf of local suppliers. They would be the only ones who could have capacity to organize packaging and shipping of products.

Funding
If a prototype can be created and the concept demonstrated, this is a business aptly suited for funding by Aavishkar or Ennovent, and such similar “social  venture funds”. Rajneesh would be a great candidate for leading this portal as CEO, if we can get funding; and a great resource for helping acquire funding from these sources. Infact, with the sudden frenzy of E-Commerce companies suddenly getting funding the time for launching this product is ripe.