Srini Koppolu sure has a nose for news. Koppolu, who set up Microsoft India Development Center in India and developed it into a major hub before leaving the company, has just announced a start up. Called Veooz Labs, it offers an app "Veooz", which, Koppolu says, "brings news in the most easiest way onto your device. It uses the most advanced technology and provides news in 10 languages (nine Indian languages and English)."
Speaking to Business Today from the US, he says: "The product also has the unique feature-360-which enables the user to not only get the brief of a news but also related videos/pictures. This helps a user get multiple perspectives. It's the only product which also offers the user all that's being talked on social media on the particular news." The key, he says, is "the way we select and short list the stories to present picking up signals from the news media and signals from the social media."
There is a 15-member team, based out of Hyderabad that has been working on the free App available at Google Play Store and Apple Store.
Koppolu, the former managing director of Microsoft India Development centre, has founded this venture along with Professor Vasudeva Varma, Dean R&D IIIT-Hyderabad and Prasad Pingali. Both experts in search, machine learning and natural language processing.
Although there are others also in this space, especially in the US and a couple of them in India, Koppolu says what sets Veooz apart is its range of offerings: "Supporting in 10 languages along with English versions for 40 countries, bringing in 360-degree features, making it incredibly easy to use and supporting personalisation; no one has offered all these things together in a single app."
This explains, he says, why it took almost two years for them to reach this stage. With more than 100,000 topics to choose from, users can follow general topics such as technology, business, sports, entertainment, fashion, travel or follow specific celebrities, companies, products, cities, hashtags and more. Veooz personalisation engine will also be able to create custom real-time news feed with important stories on topics that the user follows.
Why this space? "This is a very hot space because if you look at the news consumption today I believe close to a billion people world over consume news online in some form or the other on either computer, tablet or a mobile phone. I am not talking to print and this could be political news to light entertainment news and this number is only expected to grow," says Koppolu.
On the revenue model, he says, "multiple potential scenarios exist but right now we are focused on getting the adoption and engagement." Once that is in place, he says, "there will be many opportunities and one standard example of revenue would be advertisements as people begin to spend more time with the app." Koppolu is however not yet willing to discuss investments made so far.