How and when Gram Vaani started?
The company was started in 2009 by Dr. Aaditeshwar Seth who is currently also a professor at IIT Delhi. So, he is the founder and at that point of time he was in the US and Canada trying to get his Doctorate in Information and Technology (IT) and there was a global competition organized by the Nike foundation. They wanted to invest in social products in India. They were in fact interested in Government of India’s policy on community radio that came out in 2008. The central idea as the policy paper indicated was to cater 7000 odd community radio stations in the country. Nike Foundation liked the idea and approved this information technology product – something like a FM radio automation system that is able to help people who do not understand radio stations and how they operate, make it easy for them to broadcast programmes, to talk to people and so on.
So credit goes to Dr Seth for this innovation. How does Gram Vaani work?
Yes, Dr. Seth produced the first product of ‘Gram Vaani’ which is called Gramin Radio Inter Network System (GRINS). We felt that even in India, we can even think of 500 radio stations or 1000 radio stations and connect a very large population to radios. It has happened in America. After four years of our journey, 125 community radios that exist in the country – 35 of them are using our GRINS platform. The product is able to stitch programmes in real time. For example if I give you a collection of songs, you can take that collection and immediately create a programme of Lok Sangeet, light music or the latest songs. You create the programme, copy and paste it and then you create the programme which can be aired. Not only that, GRINS gives you the flexibility that you can open a separate channel where people can be communicating in real time. This is how Gram Vaani functions.
Give us some details about your other platform, like V- Automate?
In V- Automate, we have got very interesting range of products. We have got something called the V- Survey, i.e. the voice base survey. We have also got something like V- Answer. I would like to brief on V Survey. Technically it works on the concept of calculating GRP (Gross Rating Point) for any product. It facilitates deriving a sample size and you can even do your traditional research. Eventually, you can all qualitative data that you are getting in the real time. You can also compile quantitative data. Apart from this, we have launched 36 other products on V- Automate platform.
Are you looking for any government support also for your initiatives?
We have not got any government support till date. We are not profitable at this stage but recently we got half million dollars as our first round of funding.
Can you share some details on your investors?
The funding has come from the ‘India Angel Network.’ They are a group of well connected investors, based in the country. They are actively looking at unique companies doing unique projects in India. On a more specific term, they have invested in our product Mobile Vaani.
What are the other plans you have in future?
We have lots of plans for the future and now we are getting a little bit of support as well. I have been here since last four-five months and in general, we have been receiving positive response. But I still find people trying to invest in traditional methods. People have an aspiration to be like America but in a general sense, they do not have the ability to take risk in new projects. So, right now we are focusing on reaching out to the people here and make them aware about our technological offerings which can create a world of difference in terms of mainstreaming the rural mass via powerful media tools like Gram Vaani.