Geeky Times: The best of Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem news on your mobile

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I love reading Indian startup news. everything about them — what’s the latest startup getting launched, who’s got funded, who’s trolling who, who’s sharing their learning’s & story etc.  However, I had to wade through more than half a dozen websites & apps to read all these. On top of that, the experience on mobile was not what I would have wanted.

My love for android programming & the need to read startup news in a convenient manner on my mobile got me to create Geeky Times. The app is a feed reader that fetches Indian start-up content on mobile and get’s me to read news at one place without having to go to different sites or open different apps.

Sharing it here so that people can try it out in case they have similar needs. The app is a weekend project/side project of mine and hence could have a few rough edges. There is no rocket-science-big-data-backend or high-funda-technology used in the app. It’s just a plain & simple app that does one and only one thing — help me in my reading of startup news🙂

The download link is: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.startup.news.magazine

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OffRoad Thrills: India’s first mobile app for the 4×4 & off-road enthusiast, available on android playstore

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4×4 off-road is one of the fastest growing adventure motor-sports in the country and there is need for people to learn different aspects of off-road; such as safety, vehicle modifications, and off-road driving styles in a concise and easy to understand manner at one place on a mobile device.

As an avid off-road enthusiast, always wanted to create something for the off-road community in India and created OffRoad Thrills mobile app as part of the Bangalore OffRoad Drivers Association (B.O.D.A) initiative to bring 4×4 off-road closer to everyone.

OffRoad Thrills provides users with quick tips on off-road basics, 4×4 technology, off-road driving, modifications & recovery. There is a section with hand-picked off-road videos to learn about various off-road aspects. Users can view listing of prominent 4×4 clubs across India and join them. A calendar of popular off-road events is provided and the app also features listings of prominent off-road modifiers/garages, accessories & equipment suppliers for off-roaders to modify and prepare their 4×4 vehicles for off-road.

OffRoad Thrills is now available for free download worldwide on the android play store and an iPhone version is planned later.

To download the app: http://bit.ly/offroadthrills

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Mobile app to find toll plaza/toll booth list & toll rates on Indian Roads & Highways

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NHAI TollsDownload the mobile app here

Finally an app, TollPlaza, that gives you ability to:

  • View detailed list of toll plaza/toll booth on Indian National Highways
  • View information about 350+ tolls on Indian roads & highways
  • Find toll charges for single, return & monthly pass on tolls
  • View distance between your current location & the tolls across India
  • Search for tolls by toll name, operator, name of state (for example, all tolls in Karnataka, tolls operated by L&T)
  • Find out number of tolls & the total toll charges between any 2 cities of India

NHAI Tolls ListNHAI Tolls Places1                  Download the mobile app here

Kharcha – The No Frills, Simple Expense Tracker Android App

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I am fasKharcha Expense Trackercinated by mobile apps & the way they have become an integral part of our lives. Not many things in technology has touched our lives like mobile (& mobile apps) — much more than internet or anything before in technology.

As part of my mobile apps usage I wanted to use a simple expense tracker to keep track of where I am spending money. Needless to say, I found 1000’s of expense trackers in playstore and I used quite a few expense trackers but somehow found them to be overly complex. I wanted a no frills expense tracker — something which is plain & simple. No complex goal settings, money sources etc. Just plain simple add expense, expense done on what & paid through. No complex reporting. Just simple reports that you can use.  Few of the expense trackers I tried were good but they wanted too many permissions on phone. I don’t understand why an expense tracker should have access to my contact list, dial numbers, read SMS, or ask me to register with email etc.

Keeping that in mind, I thought of creating one for myself — a simple expense tracker for daily expenses. Bare minimum features & usable in place of writing expenses in a book. My reference was my mother who used to just write the expense, date & amount in a notebook at end of everyday.

Thus Kharcha (Kharcha in hindi means Expenses) was written over few days with the focus on simplicity over complex features. No permissions on your phone, no sending data anywhere or  access to any information on your phone. Kharcha expense tracker will be very good for people who prefer simplicity over complex features. Especially markets like India where for example say housewives & people from tier-II/III cities are starting to use smartphones & mobile apps

Usage — as easy as saying 1 – 2:
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Step #1: Setup your own categories for expense types. (For example: Utilities & Bills, Monthly Provisions, Shopping & Eating Out…)
Step #2: Start adding expenses. That’s it.

You can use the various easy to use simple reports to see your expense history & at any time add more categories.

In case you need to delete an expense, you can do so from the summary view by long pressing expense detail

You can download the app from google play store here: Kharcha

Screenshot_2014-04-30-19-09-09kharcha summary expense reportkharcha monthy expese report

 

 

 

 

Making Enterprise Gamification Work – Part 2: Get the definition of enterprise gamification correct

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In the previous post, I mentioned the consequences of using the standard definition of gamification within the enterprise. So, this raises the question: If not this definition of gamification then what to use within the enterprise?

Lets understand, at an abstract level,  how organizations work and what they want to achieve?

  • Organizations usually have structured business processes that are core to the day-to-day operations. Each function/department defines it’s own set of business processes and employees are expected to follow these processes as part of their day-to-day work
    • For example: Sales process on how to capture leads, customer conversation records, customer support queries, software development process, project management process, recruitment, procurement etc.
  • These business processes are usually implemented on top of systems which employees use as part of their work
    • For example: project tracking platform. Learning management system, CRM & HR systems etc
  • In an organization, either something (process/system) would be broken & the organization would want to fix it or the organization wants to embark on a new path. This usually takes form of ‘Change Management’ initiatives or initiatives that amplify a given behavior.
    • For example: Sales people not updating the Sales system after they meet prospects. People not taking part in community activities. Organization wanting that all employees get trained in a particular area. etc
  • Organization usually rewards people who demonstrate the behavior that is being promoted in hope of setting the right examples/motivating people.

In light of above, a definition of gamificaton that would work best in organizations is:

Gamification is about driving desired user behavior / change management, in your systems & business processes, through a combination of rewards & recognition with social constructs

Am sure that if you use this definition to explain gamification, most people would not only get it but realize the need for it and get to to the next question of “how do we do it”

Making Enterprise Gamification Work – Part 1: Get the definition of enterprise gamification correct

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You would have looked at the definition of gamification if you are responsible for implementing gamification in your enterprise systems. Chances are, more often than not, you would have come across a definition that reads like the one below:

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.[1][2][3] Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagementreturn on investmentdata qualitytimeliness, and learning.[4]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification

As a person who will be implementing gamification, you will be required to give a 1-2 line pitch of what gamification is to people who may not know what it is. Now, you will have few choices to make:

  • Use the above definition to explain what is gamification and then be prepared for questions & responses like “games”… “what games” “….oh you mean create games” and so on or even looks which convey “.. that went over my head” .. i don’t understand a word of what you just said…”.
  • After your experiences with above definition, you will quickly fall back to using terms like ‘adding badges, levels, awards to systems’ . This will be a sure shot way to trivialize the impact of gamification even before you embark on the journey.

The above definition may work or make sense to people implementing gamification in consumer facing applications, research scholars, academia but there is very little chance of the above getting traction in an enterprise context. The reality is that people either can’t understand the connection between terms like games (or terms like game-mechanics) to serious enterprise work  or they will equate it to something trivial.

In case of enterprise gamification, the envelope containing the message is as important as the message itself. As they say, the first impressions/perceptions of many things can make or break initiatives. Your choice of definition on what gamification means is one of those.

Mr Sunil Bharti: Are You Listening? Your company (Bharti Airtel) is setting benchmarks for Poor, Horrible, Bad Customer Service & Unethical Practices

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Mr Sunil Bharti, Are you listening?

In Late June 2012, I had written about my experience with a potential scam that Bharti Airtel could be running which could runs into millions.

A simple scam where they activate some 1 rupee a day service without asking for consent from the user and deduct money. An investigation & research on google threw pages after pages of such complaints. Just check for yourself using this link  and see what how many horror stories there are about people being cheated by Airtel.

Anyway, I had blogged about it, tweeted the incident & even posted the same on Airtel facebook page. This is their response (or the lack of it) and the story further.

Twitter Exchange:

Airtel Fraud

Their folks on twitter (either their agency or whoever is managing that account) made the right noises but then nothing happened.

Till date, no one has contacted me or reached out to me to address this. This proves that their responses on twitter are just useless facade and they have no intention of addressing the issue.

I gave them enough time and gave all the information but zilch results.!!! It’s been 2 months.

Facebook Exchange:

I had posted the same on facebook and attached is their response. Same  cookie cutter promise of a response & action but nothing has happened.

No effort on Airtel part to reach out or address the issue. Only false promises and no real action.

The  question is why Airtel is indulging in such unethical practices & a potential fraud of charging consumers of services which they have never asked for? Surely, so many people complaining about the same must haven’t got unnoticed by the company.

So, the real question is why is Airtel not doing something about it and addressing the core issue.

So, Mr Sunil Bharti, are you listening?