Herald: What do you specialize on?
Sergio Rebelo: We are a technology start-up with a focus on development of innovative products for web and mobile application. Our recent product, Goa Calendar is a hyper-local events and experiences aggregator offering technology driven solution for event search, discovery, promotions and ticketing. The product has been designed to put users and organisers on a single, easy to use platform, and is available both as a web portal and android app. The iOS app is under development and will be released shortly.
High on local content, it aims to provide a 360-degree coverage of events in Goa currently in 15 different categories. The product offers a variety of search options which makes it easy for users to discover events of their preferences and purchase tickets for ticketed events or register for non-ticketed events. Artificial intelligence capabilities have been built into the system which recommends events to users based on their profile, personal preferences, past searches, views, events attended etc. Users can make sure they never miss an event by creating their own personalised events calendar and set reminders for upcoming events.
Herald: Any innovations?
SR: The product boasts of many innovative features, one being ‘Events-On-The-Go’ which has integrated the events database with Google maps and enables users to track events around their location real time while using direction maps to reach the event venue.
The product is fully integrated with popular social media products like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. Event organisers and users can share events on social media and even invite their Facebook friends to events without having to duplicate this task from different social media platforms.
Herald: Who are your major customers?
SR: Any event organiser is our customer, be it a government, private organisation or even a grandmom having cooking classes at home – the list is exhaustive. We cover events under 15 different categories namely business, entertainment, F&B, sports, hobbies, shopping and exhibitions, health and wellness, nature and wildlife, children, causes and NGO, meetings, seminars and conferences. We are also gearing up to extensively cover local art and culture heritage, religious, campus and start-up events.
Herald: What issues did you have to face when you thought of launching this company?
SR: India, traditionally, has not been a strong IT product nation. Given the nascent stage of product innovation and the traditional lack of a product culture, important areas like product management and product marketing need significant enhancement. Doing enterprise deals also requires strong business development, partnerships, sales and marketing capabilities. Developing good IT products and successfully monetising them is a huge challenge without the right encouragement, technical support, quality manpower, mentorship and funding.
We did receive extensive guidance from CIBA and its officers. We have also received good support by 91springboard and the Google Cloud Startup Program. Both the IT minister, Rohan Khaunte as well as Sidharth Kuncolienker, chairman of EDC, have been very encouraging and we look forward to receiving incentives under various schemes of the Goa IT Start-Up policy.
Herald: What made you work as an entrepreneur in Goa?
SR: Both Remmie (co-founder) and myself have spent most part of our professional careers abroad, we share the common passion of wanting to develop successful IT products from Goa and put Goa on the IT map of the country. This is our home, we could not think of any other place to get started. Definitely we do face challenges such as lack of quality manpower, mentorship support, networking opportunities with potential investors as compared to start-ups that choose Hyderabad or Bengaluru. However, we hope the efforts by the Government in promoting Goa as the IT start-up capital of the country would lead to positive changes in this scenario.
Herald: How do you see the Goa market for your product?
SR: The product emerged out of a need we felt and was validated by market surveys of organisers and end users. We did extensive product testing with major event organisers in Goa to in order to arrive at a final product with features and functionality meets their expectations. Although Goa will remain the primary market for the product we are also looking to include Goan diaspora hotspots such as in the Middle East, UK, US, Canada and Australia to include local Goa related events and experiences.
Herald: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
SR: We want to take the hyper-local events aggregator concept to each and every major city in India. We own the calendar domains in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and we wish to replicate the Goa Calendar in these places. We have been pleasantly surprised by trade enquiries we have received for Bengaluru and Mumbai versions of the product. [H]