Ziva's search for people!!

Ziva : Innovative mobile search startup engaged in

  • whats so different about mobile search (interface)
  • what will ppl be looking for (data)
  • where will that come from ? (I cannot give too much away here)

We were incubated at IIM-Bangalore and have graduated out of there recently. We are beginning to go big on Zook (http://zook.in) - our own service, after multiple b2c data deployments for various customers.

Looking for:


1. many ppl with 3-7 years work exp
2. a few with <3 yrs

The number of years above should be taken as indicators of expertise alone. Not set-in-stone.

Skills/Domains for the above:

Common skills (one/more of) -

  • Core Java (server side, middleware, large systems) development
  • Scripting, web services
  • OOPs
  • Distributed computing/scalable systems
  • For leads, experience with a complete product cycle, from conceptualization/prod spec to rollout preferred
    • Lead - Information Retrieval/Text mining
    • Lead for search platform development (java, java, more java)
    • Sr Dev/Lead for our monetization engine - core java, business rules engines, advertising platforms experience will be great to have

1-2 Consulting/Support:

  • Customer engagement for integration, deployments, consulting support for our platforms
  • Requirements collection and analysis, interfacing with Engineering
  • 2-5 years customer facing exp will be very useful

1-2 Senior mktg/sales people with a good exposure to one of :

  • The Indian Mobile Industry
  • The Search/Online industry - someone whos either done mktg for an online/mobile property, or has ad-agrregation/distribution experience.

We are also looking for a senior person to head Engineering - a very strong technical background, especially in the consumer products is desirable.

If you're looking for a challenging yet sane, fun place to work at, send me a mail at getDOTsameer AHT gmail.
If you can refer ppl, there's decent, good candy to be given :) Lets talk.

Bannerghata -> Koramangala

We have moved. Our blissful stay at NSRCEL and all its accompanying serenity has drawn to an end, and we're in the software-commercial heart of the city, upmarket restaurants and it all - Koramangala

Ziva Software Pvt Ltd
817, 2nd Floor, "Girija"
20th Main, near 80 feet Road
(opp Police Station)
Koramangala 8th Block
Bangalore 560095
Ph: +918025704510 +918041618943

Still at http://zook.in for all that really matters, and on 5757LOOK on sms.

Here's an idea of a usual day at work (oh well, our interior guys taking wayyyy longer than we thought he would):

Ad to subtract

Trust you with my money? I don’t think so! | Domain Maximus

Sidin takes a funny look at an ad gone awry. Methinks they had a different storyline/dialogues to start with - where the roguish-looking fella was trying to pull a fast one over the poor lost soul, and ShareKhan's punchline was probably something to the effect "trust us, not his ilk"

Oh well :)

Update. Zook. Phew.

Zook-2 is almost there (yeah yeah not the 'couple-of-weeks' one expected). There will be a long post update, but here's the long and short of it all:

  • Every Qn Answered - Zook is now more community focused than before, and since we do not claim to be know-it-alls - we look forward to letting people help other people. We're, as always, part of the community! Of course, not every answer will be instantaneous, but extremely relevant, it sure will.
  • Shining new numbers
    • Zook on 5757-5665 - thats 5757LOOK!
    • ASK/TELL on +91-984-551-9665 - thats 984-551-zook. This is at regular SMS costs, not premium - so go ahead and build/use/help your community.
  • Dazzling new mobile-web UI (soooon). We got some experts, lots of feedback, and hopefully you'll almost fall in love with the new interface. It sure is more navigable.
So go ahead and Zook. If you're out there somewhere and need to know anything (I've answered someone's qn about why one should go to school!! :) ) - just Zook it on 5757LOOK. You'll get an answer.

Oh, we're also on IdeaFresh now. Lots of Idea users have already found us there.

And we should be starting to maintain, finally, our official blog too !!

Social Networking By Any Other Name

::boast alert:: This post is so full of yours truly....

Is Email The Ultimate Social Environment? « GigaOM

Somehow, gigaom has been espousing some of my closely held beliefs (soc networking in just a tool, and not this) a few months after I've brainstormed on them within the team. Ok I just lost a few modesty-points there but really, I'd love to see people - and especially Yahoo people - respect the fact that they've been sitting on the best social networks forever, irrespective of what they were called or not called then:

  • email
  • yahoogroups

And if you're willing to pay me big $$, have a cool idea that can define how soc nets should've been done in the first place ;)

Have you lived your dream ?

Your Job: Have you lived your dream? - Team-BHP

Hmm interesting discussion here. On common refrain amongst the software types is the drudgery of the job. What can fix that ? Perhaps too many jumped into the "current hot thing" and of course, till not long ago - and even today for a large percentage - following your heart was not an option.

Hypothetical question : Won't we all rock if we basically do what we love to do ? I mean there will be little by way of 'just doing my job' ... of course its a naive statement and things are rarely static - but its still a thought worth considering when hiring/creating workplaces.



Some startups are not about scale, but pure passion. They are about something you believe in, and want to grow. They're about doing it, not planning it. There's something to be said for that which transcends biz plans and term sheets.

I wish Nikhil and Rohan success, for that also means more Bangaloreans pedalling to work, or for pleasure. Either way, it'll be a healthier city.

Take a Hike

AFP: Reverse outsourcing takes off as rising costs hit Indian IT firms

Hate to say it but "I told you so"..... is a correction around the corner ? It may not be a bad idea for the Indian IT industry and brand as a whole.

Alternatively its being predicted that as more biggies chip in to improve the supply side, salaries will get sanitized and the spiralling growth in costs will steady, if not reverse.

One way or the other, our Hondas and Hyundais - fine cars in their own right - are beginning to ask for Lexus, Merc and Porsche level premiums. That always comes at the cost of sustainable volumes. For a smaller segment, higher end, niche work and greater levels of productivity can justify increases, but the spiral in last year and a half has not necessarily been accompanied by these factors, but is purely a function of demand. Beyond a certain mark, the cost is high enough such that the pain of managing language issues and even a slightly lesser trained workforce (given the headstart India has now) is worth it.

How can these factors be effected ? And how can a larger pool of industry ready grads be enabled to improve the supply side of things ?

UI quickstart ?

woodstock: Project Woodstock - Preview

Should be useful for folks stitching up UI for their products. I'm hardly even a UI novice, so dunno what the alternatives are, or how good this is.

Zook Podcast on the Kiruba Show

Had spoken with Kiruba while at BarCamp.

Very impressed he did all of this with no "retakes", zero editing and managed a tightly controlled script in hs targetted 10 minutes.

Map the Mind

Have been using Mind42 for "thinking aloud" and collaborating on ideas. It captures thought processes, and aids iterative, in fact an "continuous design cycle". Very useful for ideating, tracking, and having a bird's eye view of whats up. I'm even using this for todos on the home front, and it works as well. The best part is how easy it is to collaborate on or share the evolving ideas/concepts with others contributors.

You can also export the map to a variety of formats - FreeMind, for instance

Really exciting product after a long time.

Now, Ask (thru) Zook and thou shall receive...

All the answers ? Thats a tall claim for anyone. Things change, priorities change, cities change, needs change, points of view change.

"whats that Indian place next to IndiJoe's called?"
"Where can I get dishwasher detergent?"
"What freq is the all western FM on?"
"Is there a good deal on 40" LCD TVs?"
"free concerts this weekend"

Life is so full of questions. "Data" can answer some, but people can answer most. Zook is data, people, and lots of curiosity. And somehow, all this together will work to get you an answer.

From tomorrow 4pm IST - go ahead - ask Zook. If there's no answer in the can, a pal will get back. And Zook's a pal too!

(also "Z ask zook need to repair Canon" to 3030)

[ shouldn't I post all this on the official Zook blog instead ? maybe.....]


With this, as with so many other things in life, there's been slippage :( May take a day or two to fix...

The Future (of the) Mobile Device


"Free Phone" - I like the sense it communicates. Makes a lot of sense to separate the platform from the OS, as has been the case in computing devices otherwise. One change it'll surely bring is an opening up of functionality by the regular phone manufacturers.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Bangalore Uploads!

BeleniX | BeleniX

Popularizing Solaris! Well, everyone's got a right to stable desktops/servers :) Very impressed with the effort - especially since its born out of Bangalore.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Tale of 2 Fora : Proto.in, BarCamp Bangalore 4

Last weekend, proto.in at IIT, Madras. Organized in great detail, 22 finalists (Zook amongst them) and a a dozen and some more VCs. Crisp 6 minute presentations, lots of interactions with the investor community and a humid tho not unpleasant by its usual standards Chennai. The meet was more focused towards goals of attracting investors, partners and potential employees, and creating some buzz about one's product or offering. In that order. For me it also turned into a great opportunity to stretch my recently renovated car's legs on an excellent highway - whose primary drawback seems to be the lack of good refuelling stops - for both the car and the occupants - between Krishnagiri and Kancheepuram.

Proto's first day was a little bit of a lost cause from our point of view. We never really got to know (about) the other participants - and the real networking had to be compressed into the few hours after the main presentations on day-2.

And I cannot take Chennai's stuffiness, even though the IIT campus was amazingly pretty; this when the weather very pleasant if the Chennaites protestations are to be believed :)

Yesterday and today : Barcamp Bangalore 4. This was the hugest crowd BCB has ever seen - over 650 registrations on day1 by someone's reckoning. All the usual suspects were around, plus a whole lot of first timers, including non techies. The event was "federated" into collectives, and there were plenty, including an unBand and a cycling collective. The low ratio of rooms:collectives ensured a good amount of confusion, and we missed out on making one of our presentations.

We also "world-premiered" Zook tees at this event :D

Sunday saw better sessions - I loved the enthu of the pakd.net guys, and offered them some advice. The semantics session by the guys from Brainwave was interesting and has many parallels to what we're doing at Ziva - with of course a different dataset and scale focus.

Also met this guy from Swajana.com - this is a video blog capturing India on film. Its a very interesting start - could become a very comprehensive source to "see India". Maybe I could do something while at Jamshedpur - the Durga Puja celebrations will be on in full swing then.

Finally met Kiruba - one of the bigger blogging names in India - and he interviewed Ashwin of Mapunity and then me. Seemed very clear about how to wrap up a podcast in 10 mins flat.

My friend from college, Indus, also did a session on EC2 which a lot many were curious about.

We did our presentation about why Mobile Search needs fresh thinking and a non-incremental effort over "regular" websearch on day 1. However, I was a little dissapointed with the low interest in the mobile collective overall (especially as compared to BCB3) and especially with the level of participation from the audience. Last time around we could hardly stop the questions' flow - and had to nearly "split" the room into two or three parts to engage the 80+ crowd in there. There were less than a third of those this time, and it was mostly a monologue, except for some interesting questions from just 2 guys.
Was it because the session was not about features and usage (we didnt want to plug Zook too much again) but a tech-oriented discussion ?

Anyhow, I'm sure the tees ensured some visibility, and the opportunity to see and understand the numerous new things that are happening in the Indian startup and tech scene was worth a sacrificed weekend. And the lovely weather Bangalore charmed everyone with yet again just highlighted the contrast with the previous Chennai weekend. Proto.in will need to happen in Blore too, soon :)

Growth, Zook, Hiring

There's lots happening at work. Zook's past its infancy, and its new clothes are almost done. Its friendlier, and more useful. Can't say much more :)

But as is wont with the buzz, there's growth. And we're doing 27 exciting things at the same time. So the hunt for like minded souls who're excited by the possibilities of the mobile space, and keen to work on tougher-than-nuts problems. Here's some of what we need with all the buzzwords included :
  • Sr Engineering Manager/Architect (design, dev, processes, gyaan)
  • Marketing, for both Manas as well as Zook (product/mkt/customers related "MBA" work)
  • Account Managers (We have many customers!)
  • Build and Support, Performance Engineer
  • Lead and other Geeks for the Community Platform (scale, distributed, graphs)
  • Search Engineer for, well, the Search Core!
  • IR (not the railways kind) Gurus for extraction stuff
  • Java gurus
  • Data Mining Experts
  • UI/UE/Scripting whizzes. Rber, lotsa new-fangled mobile fundaes. Even on SMS!
Whew. If we crack all of that, we'll be in an awesome place. The market's a little too hot and we just need to get soooo many things out of the door.

See you all at BarCamp over the weekend. Please do drop me a line at get - dot - sameer - AHT - gmail if you think Ziva's interesting enough.

MS Live Shady Search Gains

Technology Review: No dumb clucks: Microsoft boosts search share with chicken game

MS tends to get into such news rather easily. No figures on the chicken-free queries yet.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Google is an Angel

contentSutra.com - India's Digital News Monitor - Google Joins Band Of Angels In India

Does this make things easier or tougher for startups which have functional overlap with big G ? If you're starting out with an idea, you probably don't want G/Y/M to latch on to it early - they may do it later anyhow but you have a fighting chance...

Powered by ScribeFire.

Whose context [ ads ] ?

There's a whole bunch of efforts out there around independent contextual-ads platforms - on the phone, on the web. By definition, these create a context from the content they attach the ad to, and deliver an appropriate one (after ensuring relevance, monetization priority and hopefully some amount of distribution fairness).

Here's a thought to ponder upon : how many clicks happen because of forwarded links, how many uninteresting mails does one receive, and how often have you seen pesky messages SMS'd to you ? Even amongst the "interesting" ones, arent there many which you are curious about, but by no yardstick would they figure in your "interests" list - and definitely not as a consumer!

What else counts ?
  • Your history. The stuff you generally do - over years, and over the last season. Are you a traveller, shopper, movie junkie, gizmo fan ?
  • Your interest patterns. Do you eat out at "big" places about twice a month ? A weekend vacation every 3 ?
  • Your social patterns. {Wraps}
  • Your self image. What you see yourself as! Hmm, this is a real toughie.
Ok, whats the point ?

Well, contextual ads are not from "your" context. They reflect, more or less, a point in time - not who you are and what you do. So the click throughs suck, and the ads irritate.

A major "lifestyle-credit-card" company keeps sending me messages about theatre, wine tours and treks. Truth be told, I've never done any of these seriosuly, but hope to start "next weekend". So the ads work, and keep me keen. They are not irritating at all.

Privacy ?

Oh well, thats a totally orthogonal set of issues to consider. I guess if the data is ONLY used for ensuring you get more "info-mercials" than plain hardsell, actually find it useful, and the data's never given out for any other uses, its a start. At the end of the day, I do buy the TOI because a lot of advertisers on it push stuff relevant to my life cause there's a lot of readers like me who read it! Virtuous/vicious ? Cycle, for sure.

In all, there's more to context than has been done so far. Through zook, we may start scratching the next layer under the surface soon, and there's surely a lot many speedbreakers. But the journey towards "user friendly advertising" is certainly very promising.

Junta sab jaanti hai

Powered by ScribeFire.

Local Is Social By Definition

Well, thanks for the confirmation, SEL. Zook is firmly on its way to power community driven information exchange the way its never happened before. Your social network will finally be at least as useful as in real life, and then some.

Ain't this awessssome ?

contentSutra.com - India's Digital News Monitor - Consumers Want Premium SMS Prices To Be Reduced

This has been a not-so-secret dream for a while now. If it happens, it might actually give pro-consumer services like Zook a real chance. Fingers crossed...

Powered by ScribeFire.

The Power of +ve

The Dilbert Blog: My Compliments to You

The best way to get people to do something is to get them +ve about being able to, I guess. Focusing on what they cannot only reinforces how tough it is, and how unachievable. I had a teacher once who emphasized the latter, and I developed an intense dislike for vectors right then!

Pearls of wisdom, but it must be said they're tough ones to live everyday. Wonderful enough t try tho.

And, in case you haven't noticed yet, I'm one of those smart, intelligent, open-minded Scott Adams readers ;)

Powered by ScribeFire.

My iPhone Post

[ Every blog i'm reading feeds off has an iPhone post! How can I be left behind? ]

Some interesting, most contrarian ones :


The whole blogosphere went into a collective haze for a while.

iDidnt :)

[ There. Done ]

When not to provide everything to the user

from the original post which confirms its not a joke:

There's something to Apple's minimalism that makes so much sense, and what the usual switch has done so well over the years, that the above illustrates by negation.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Community Truths, and Serendipity


A good read about what the oft-abused "web 2.0" might actually be at its heart, how lock-in is changing, and why users own the service more than the corporation enabling it.

Its about money, honey. And I've got got time. User-centricity has a whole new meaning, and all else will follow. Be good, enable, soft-police.

Along the same lines:


Why restaurants don't build caged enclosures for patrons with knives (tho specially designed steak-knives are fine!) and why community services mustn't do so either.

Can you always "crack" what it takes to build a community ?

  • its value - what does the mostly inactive user get out of it ? There are always more silent members than active ones.
  • Sense of ownership of the forum, and trust implications vis-a-vis the platform ?
  • natural community interactions - even aiding/mimicking real-world ones ?
  • goodies, candies, social currency.
  • outlet for expression and feedback from peers
  • effusive enthusiasm and belief in the community
    • especially on the part of the platform creators
  • presence of like-minded folks - recursive problem
  • advertising/messaging
Finally, the exact same set of circumstances and strategy may not work twice. So create the tools, get involved, advertise, and pray that between your users and your service, there's Ms Serendipity.

Update :

3 very popular, successful and useful communities I belong to:
Team BHP
BajajPulsar yahoogroup
BikeNomads yahoogroup

What lies beneath ?

There's been deathly silence around the Ziva/Zook blogworld. What gives ? Did we spin a coccoon and will we emerge a different being out of it ?

Questions have haunted us. Answers have walked through walls. Users have shone light and (many) souls have been searched. What does it take to be the search engine thats more than a data retriever ?

Stay tuned .....

Have been caught up in a flurry of activity in the last few weeks. Some highlights (in keeping with the spirit of the WC, in which, incidentally, India may have only a couple of games to go)

Well, here goes:

What next ? More data, more cities, more work. And the question of how to get word out beyond the blogosphere (which is the critical first round, for comments, feedback and early usage), where the real market is.

Feeling used

Got Blogged.

Also, got direct feedback about someone using the service as intended - on the move from a mobile phone. This was for looking up where a Malayalam movie was playing, and at what time.

I guess thats how usage will start taking off - when the people who're familiar with Zook start using it when they need it most.

More HP laptop woes

My laptop went on the blink again! Am losing faith in the whole concept of laptops - u trade a lot of performance and relaibility for mobility, not to mention currency.

HP obviously detected the issue and suggested reaplcement of about 40% of the machine - the motherboard! Am not sure what the issue might have been, but it was booting up intermittently and shutting off after a few seconds to a few minutes. From a quick Google search, people with laptops with similar symptoms have had heat sinks come loose, fan issues etc, but rarely a motherboard replacement. Am not saynig that was not warranted (and I'm not paying for it since I bought the extended warranty) but I'd be selling my HP stock if I had any. Either that, or they have such stiff margins that such inefficient diagnostic and correction procedures have little impact.

Of course, another issue is my benig without a laptop for the better part of a week (including the weekend, of course) now despite them having figured out that the motherboard needs replacement on Fri itself!

OTOH, I'm just a lowly Compaq consumer grade laptop buyer with a cheap 60k machine (+ 8k worth of extended warranty)


Update (22nd Feb) :

called me up yesterday - its ready! After 7 laptop-free days this was indeed good news. Ready to forgive them their past sins I rode down - and waited about 20 mins before it was handed over to me for me to check stuff.

Ubuntu boted alright - whoopee - and the login prompt appeared!
Press any kwy and you get more than you bargained for. m -> m7u, etc
Asked to speak to the guy who fixed this. And the centre head. To cut a long story short :

  • They didnt seem too clued in to what exactly had failed ("motherboard needs changing" aint good enuf - why it switched off randomly was not explained. No mention of temp sensors etc)
  • They didnt have a standby I could use my hard-disk with and get some work done
  • They couldnt really run diags cause I had linux!!! "Get a spare disk with windows, plug that in, do your tests!" To his credit the engineering head or whatever had the same thought.
  • They promised to deliver it home, and keep me updated. No call yet tho....
I've been reading about 4/8GB flash drives. Sounds like an ok alternative......

We got funded

While I'm not sure if its ok to announce yet who's funded us - will leave that to the formal announcement etc - we've gotten funded! Its a great step forward, and the validation of thoughts, ideas and dierction it also provides an even bigger encouragement.

Of course, the money's welcome :) I guess in the whole startup journey, this is a pretty big station to reach...

stop lookin. start zook.in!

Zook is live.

Zook is a new mobile search which helps you quickly get answers, not pages upon pages of links. It identifies the really clear answers upfront, or interactively narrows down to what you really meant to look for.

To start zook.in

  • WAP : http://zook.in
  • SMS : "ZOOK " to 3030
    • [ when SMSing, remember to always start with "ZOOK ... " !!!! ]
In its first avatar, Zook can get you
  • Ringtones
  • Restaurants (Bangalore)
  • Movies (Bangalore)
  • Events (Bangalore)
More coming soon - and to more cities too.

If you like what you see, please do include your friends in groups or as friends, and spread the word about Zook. Also, please send your comments/suggestions to feedback --A-T-- zook.in. Or let me know at 984518020 .

A short how-to guide can be found at http://www.zivasoftware.com/faq.php. More details about what Zook can do for you below.

Happy zook.in

Zook FAQts :

Whats Zook ?

Zook is the new way to use your mobile phone. Let it now be your friend which helps you find a place to eat, or catch a movie, or download fun stuff for your mobile.
  • Its on your WAP phone at http://zook.in
  • You can also send an SMS - "ZOOK " to 3030
    • [ BTW, You can also just use "Z" instead of "ZOOK" ]
So, a local search engine on the phone? So?

Zook is not just a search engine. Zook makes sense of the data, and of what you asked. It analyzes the data, your interests and interprets the likely intent of your query.

A few examples [ Remember : on SMS start all queries with "ZOOK" , e.g. "zook chinese" !! ]
you : chinese
zook : 1:Restaurant:Chungs Chinese Corner, Indiranagar
2:Ringtone:Theme Of China Gate, Monotone
7: Restaurant (31+)
8: Ringtone (19+)
9: Locality: Indiranagar (5+)
10: City: Bangalore (31+)

you : 7
zook :1:Magnolia, Koramangala, South Bangalore
2:Aromas Of China, Langford Town
6: Locality: Indiranagar (6+)
7: Locality: Church Street (4+)
8: Locality: Koramangala (7+)
9: Locality: South Bangalore (4+)
10: Locality: Palace Road (2+)
you : 6
zook :1:Wangs Place, Indiranagar
2:Chungs Pavilion, Indiranagar
3:Wan Ley, Indiranagar
4:Gokul Kuteera, Indiranagar
5:Oregano, Indiranagar
6:Vishals, Indiranagar
7:Ramya, Indiranagar
8:Bangalore Mandarin, Double Road, Off Richmond Circle,

you : thai kgla
zook :1.Magnolia, Koramangala
2. Pan Asian Bites, Koramangala
you : 1
zook :Restaurant: Magnolia
Cuisine: SE Asian, Chinese, Thai
Phone: +918041102222
Address: 840, 7th Cross, 15th Main, 3rd Block Koramangala Bangalore - India (Koramangala ) 560095
1. sms "RES 1 for 5" to 3030 to book a table for 5 at Magnolia
2. ORDER to 3030 for a callback

(these are some things you can "do" now after you find something. We're adding lots more soon)


you : guru pvr
zook : Movie: Guru (Hindi)
Theatre: PVR
Timings: 12:00pm, 12:15pm, 3:50pm, 3:30pm, 6:40pm, 6:45pm, 9:50pm, 10:00pm
Address: The Forum, 3rd Floor, Nr. Madiwala Checkpost Koramangala Bangalore 560095
Phone: +918022067511
And Zook is not just local. Its about your leisure, your music, your tastes, your choices, your neighbourhood, your friends....


Yes. Your friends give you the best references, and beyond a point can give you a way better answer than even we can. So if Zook cannot dig out the answer, it helps pass it on to your friends.

You can create groups of people you hang out with for various different things - work, bowling, golf, whatever. Your contacts and each set of people can be your 'expert circle' for answers and advice (and soon we'll enrich the data for the entire community based on stuff you find out and share). You can both ASK these contacts about choices, or information, and TELL them about what you like (whether or not you found it on Zook).
you : korean kgla
zook :No Matches Found
ASK your friends?
send "ASK "
you : ask amit, 9878709878 Is there a good Korean place in Blore ?

amit : Tell nopes theres a couple of good Japanese ones tho

You can ask more than one friend, and we'll summarize their responses too.

Need WAP?

Zook works fully featured on both WAP as well as SMS! SMS is charged at whatever your operator's premium SMS rates are.
[ When SMSing, please dont forget to start with a "ZOOK" or a "Z"... ]

Next time you need to look, Zook it!

TeamZook @ Ziva