Let’s take a step back to the internet history of youth centric websites in India. It’s pretty gloomy in Mumbai these days – mainly cos’ of the monsoons…so yesterday while sipping some garam chai near office, we got a little nostalgic. So thought of digging up some old stuff.
I was an active member in 3 of these 4 sites, if any of you reading this were members too – please share your views, thoughts, comments etc…
Let’s start off with Zatang.com:
Zatang was launched mid-2000 and did manage to get a lot of ‘traction. The name was whacky and non-sensical. It was a cool place to hang out. They even did a fare bit of marketing.
What was the site about?
It was a youth commune and it had everything – Discussions, horoscopes, chat, critic section, graffiti section (which I loved!), gaming, e-cards….you name it and it was there.
Zatang gave you a platform to be yourself – it was driven by the Zzars!
Zzars?!? – These were like section ambassadors. The guys who drove the content and shared their gyaan with others.
Find more info about Zzars here.
Perhaps they tried to offer too much to the end user? Perhaps it was way before it’s time…when internet penetration was miniscule. I mean 3% net penetration in our nation is still miniscule…but back in those days it was less than 1%.
I managed to track down the then CEO of Zatang – Tapan Garg, whose a founder at Kushal and I think is currently working at IBM. Haven’t been able to get a word in with him though.
Well what happened to Zatang?
In 2003 Zatang thought of shifting to Zatang 2.0.
This is what they had to say:
“Well, things have changed quite a bit, as you must have already noticed; new look, new topics, and most important of all, new approach. Zatang is now the voice of the YOUth of today. The place that gives YOU the chance to come up with no qualms and say exactly what you have to say, just the way you want to.”
They were ahead of their time – UGC was un-heard of in India back then and as you can imagine, things just didn’t kick off.
Zatang finally withered off the scene around end-2005.
Read some reviews of Zatang here.
15to25.com looked at dominating the serious-youth scene. They wanted to revolve a community around education, college life etc. I have a soft corner for them because I actually won an ‘Achiever of the month’ award back in 2001 at the site. The prize was 50 hours of dial-up internet connection – and I was thrilled! Dial-up wasn’t cheap back then. Broadband was almost non-existant!
Other features on their site included – hobby zone, contests, chatting etc. Promoted UGC in poetries They had stuff like ifriends and e-buddy (Social Networking!)…
15to25.com was run by a co. called – Harbinger Knowledge group – E-learning solution providers.
15to25.com took its last breath in April 2006 – almost exactly 6 years after it started.
Another site which was pretty popular back in school days was eGuruCool.com – the existant community was destroyed after NIIT bought these guys and completely shifted to providing e-learning solutions.
Wow! What a name! If ever there was a case-study on viral marketing primary caused by the name of the brand, it has to be done on GandMasti.com. They also ran ChutiyaGiri.com for a year or 2.
It was the ultimate hang-out zone for whiling away time. Littered with funny, useless stuff…GandMasti had cult following amongst collegians (Alas! Only the net-savvy few).
They offered users 20Mb of webspace for their own personal websites back in 2000! That was pretty decent in those days.
So what was the USP of GandMasti?
It was perhaps the first real Indian site which thrived on User Generated Content. One stop destination to share and find jokes. The Humour forum was the most popular. They also allowed you to review stuff and share cool / lame sites.
GandMasti.com shifted to only being a Message Board around 2003. They moved the humour section to GeoHumor.com. Both GandMasti.com and GeoHumor.com will now lead you to GeoBlogs.com – A free blog hosting platform.
Not sure if many of you would have heard about this.
FreshLimeSoda was a website for youth expression. They wanted to provide a platform where you could speak your mind on any topic.
Started way back in 1999, it was way too ahead in terms of the concept of publishing thoughts. Group blogging on a common platform and citizen journalism is yet to pick up in India.
FLS shut down in early 2004. It was run by Parmesh Shahani and Kanika Nagpal. Parmesh is now a VC @ Mahindra.
FLS had a very cool method of reaching out to new guys. They would sponsor college events and at the venue they would throw lemons at the junta! Lemons which had FreshLimeSoda.com written on it!
Feel free to share stuff about any other sites which you were hooked on to back in 2000-01.