Local Search Engine, Guruji.com, Launched

Two IIT Delhi graduates have returned from the Silicon Valley to launch a home-grown search engine with loads of Indian content.

Two Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi graduates have returned from the Silicon Valley to launch a home-grown search engine with loads of Indian content.

In a bid to offer an alternative search engine and wean away the growing community of Internet buffs from established search engines like Google and Yahoo! Anurag Dod and Gaurav Mishra have co-founded www.guruji.com with a $7-million (Rs.322 million) seed fund from Sequoia Capital India, a venture capital firm.

Touted to be the first of its kind search engine in the subcontinent, Guruji.com aims to provide better search results to Indian users, by leveraging proprietary algorithms and data in the Indian context.

"Our search engine is a technology solution to address the growing search needs of the Indian netizens. Using crawl technology, we focus on providing search products for enhancing the Indian user experience," Guruji.com CEO Dod told reporters at a preview of the search engine here Thursday.

"Built on a distributed architecture that can scale with the growing needs of the users, our complex computing system crawls the web to identify Indian content, indexes the data and provides a simple keyword-based interface to access the information instantly," he added.

According to a study conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), about 65 million people use search engines, with every user spending on an average 20 hours a week browsing the net for data and information, including news. The current market size for search engine advertising is pegged at $50 million (Rs.2.3 billion) annually.

"With an Internet user base of 40 million and growing at about 50 percent annually, the potential for search engine usage is enormous. Though a majority of the netizens still log into the net for e-mails, the study shows about 90 percent of them also use the search engine with queries for local content," Dod said.

Currently available in English, with about 30 million web pages and covering about 20 main cities across the country, the company plans to offer in the next six months a choice to search data in Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali.

"Our game plan is to offer the most comprehensive search for the Indian content. The technology will be enhanced to challenge the global Internet search players in the subcontinent," said Guruji.com COO Mishra.

"The convergence of technologies and access from mobile platform becoming a reality soon, usage of Internet search is set to accelerate in India," he added.

Targeting 100,000 hits a day over the next six months, the company plans to market the 'desi' search engine through branding, event promotions and advertisement blitzkrieg.

Going forward, the company plans to target the strong Indian diaspora worldwide for searching India-specific data, information and publications in English and vernaculars.

"We are aiming to break-even in the next 18-24 months, with a host of additional offerings such as e-mail facility, tools and links to other Indian websites and news portals," Sequoia Capital managing director Sumir Chadha said.

"We also plan to shift the farm of servers (40), which are currently assembled in the US, to India once the infrastructure backbone is built," he added.

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