Friday, January 25, 2008

Will Sabeer Bhatia's SabSeBolo Succeed?

Sabeer Bhatia, often identified as the guy who sold Hotmail to Microsoft to make his millions, is a serial entrepreneur. Quite a few of his post-Hotmail ventures have not quite been half as successful. Arzoo became a travel agency from what it initially was, and there is nothing to say that it has really been greatly successful either. Live Documents has been a mild ripple in an unproven market of online office productivity suites, which already has Zoho and Google Docs, both getting good reviews, but seeing poor corporate adoption, which is where the money is.

Now Sabeer has launched SabSeBolo, which is a teleconferencing service, where you get a sort of ten party 24X7 permanent bridge(Like MML).And yes, unlike other service providers in India such as Webex and DSNL, it is a simple sign on. Will he succeed? Is it idea, timing, execution or business model, that would make SabSeBolo be a winner?

Idea: Idea is not new, but India is an exploding telecom market and conference calls facilities are still not so competitive. And all existing service providers run after corporate accounts. There is a big vacuum for such facilities such those for educational institutions, small businesses and casual. I forsee its use in organsing alumni activities etc, use by not for profit industry bodies and so on.

Business Model: The conventional way is to pay port charges for the call duration. SabSeBolo liberates you from that. No complicated contracts to start using it. While I did not read and authoritative account of the revenue stream, it is my guess that SabSeBolo could be making money by sharing call termination charges with its telecom service provider, which is Reliance. Another rumoured revenue stream is via short audio ads.

Timing: In the exploding telecom requirements of India, this is certainly an offering that has a great demand.

Execution: The service is in early trial stages and this needs to be watched.

The risk is that this model could be copied by others quite easily, or in the absence of suitable promotional campaigns, this service does not get trails and adoption.


All the best Sabeer!


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