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Entrepreneurs Today Are Trying To Be The Next Google. Here’s Why It Won’t Work

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By Sambhav Ratnakar:

Just yesterday, a former colleague of mine came up with a rather interesting business plan. Within seconds, he called me up. We then engaged in some intellectual tête-­à-­tête while he explained to me his rather ambitious proposal of competing with Google. Mr. Entrepreneur wanted me to help him create his own email service (he had come up with a ridiculous name too) and he, quite simply, wanted to create his own Google. Unfortunately, I had to spend the next ten minutes explaining to him, why it wouldn’t work and why his plan was complete and utter bullocks.

Entrepreneurs around the world have begun attempting to replicate Google products. A friend of mine one who owns a website development start­up ­ received a rather peculiar request of building a search engine. According to the client, it was a very easy job. A logo on top, a text box at the bottom and the search engine has commenced. Things are much more complicated as the client was informed ­his request was promptly rejected. The occurrence of such incidents have led me to believe that people don’t quite understand Google’s revenue model. Why else would you try and build your own search engine?

Google, as successful a company as it might be, has an extremely complex and intricate revenue model. Ever wondered how Gmail generates revenue? Think: what would you do if you had a website with approximately four hundred million repeating users? Sell advertisements. Now, have you ever noticed ads on the gmail interface? Unlikely. Google wouldn’t risk damage to its brand image by employing large chunks of ad blocks. Yahoo did that and look what they’ve got themselves into.

In the past, Google did use advertisements on the Gmail interface, they were extremely small, generating very little revenue per view (approximately $0.01 in revenue per account per day). Considering that ads no longer appear, total revenue generated is close to insignificant (compared to Google’s total costs).What gmail earns is only a very little percentage of what Google’s total revenue is (20,257.00 million in the three months ending 2016­-03-­31)So gmail, in a sense, is Google’s loss leader. So why is Google not addressing the dog of its Boston Matrix? Turns out the answer is why you can’t replicate Google and build as successful a company.

The primary aim of gmail is to encourage users to use other products. So gmail, in a sense, is a prequel, just like those three Star Wars films. Moreover, gmail also helps consumers recognise the brand that is Google. It’s a method to get consumers to product trial. It helps initiate repeat purchase. Gmail doesn’t work as an isolated product, it generates revenue and leads to profit for Google by working in synergy with other products. When you have a gmail account, you’re more likely to use adsense on your website instead of Chitika. There’s a reason why you don’t have to make a new account when you use adsense, admob, YouTube, drive, calendar, chrome, blogger, hangouts and Google+ and that reason is gmail. Gmail binds all of Google’s products together and provides them with a user base.

In a sense, Gmail collects revenue indirectly. Having a Gmail account, though, is not the only thing that makes you a client. Gmail helps integrate customers and clients to numerous other products such as Admob which allows business and app makers to advertise to their specific target segments. These are the products that bring in the real revenue. When someone like me puts a banner on their app (yes, I know all this because I’m working on my own app Enlit), through admob, Google finds clients who advertise. They then take a percentage of the total input and give developers a small cut.

We’ve established that through Gmail, revenue is generated by encouraging the initiation of product trial of various other Google products, helping Google gain search engine users and sell its tangible products, but now it’s time to connect the dots. Unless you have a user base containing millions of consumers, a few millions to shed on advertising, thousands of clients ready to pay you for advertisements, a well organised product portfolio and an intriguing unique selling point/core competency that differentiates your product from that of Google’s, it’s likely your email service/ search engine won’t be the next big thing. I could probably write a book on why exactly it won’t gain significant market share, but to sum it all up, I’d say: Google is Google and there’s a reason why it is what it is.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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