A journey back in time – Zatang.com, 15to25.com, GandMasti.com and FreshLimeSoda.com

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.

 GandMasti.com

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.

 FreshLimeSoda.com

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.

12 Responses to “A journey back in time – Zatang.com, 15to25.com, GandMasti.com and FreshLimeSoda.com”

  1. john
    July 12, 2007 at 3:06 am #

    who is the writer reveal the name plz.

  2. Ekalavya
    July 12, 2007 at 3:29 am #

    @ John: Who is the writer of what?

    This posts written by me

  3. Anand
    July 12, 2007 at 5:11 am #

    GandMasti! lol..never heard of it…

  4. Hardik T,
    July 15, 2007 at 3:44 am #

    Those were they days.. I remm FLS clearly..
    btw, did u know that before tehelka broke all those imp stories, it had an erotica section too? and it was quite hot :) did u happen to come upon it at the time?

  5. Ekalavya
    July 16, 2007 at 2:12 am #

    @ Hardik: Miss those days a bit. The only site which i regularly visited and is still up is c2w and of course rediff!

    Wasn't aware of the tehelka porno stuff!!

  6. indwiz
    September 3, 2007 at 7:27 am #

    gandmasti i think got sued for potraying too many sikh jokes…

    I think it was the coolest site in those days

  7. Top Gand
    December 12, 2007 at 10:03 pm #

    Oh Man. Searching for “Gandmasti.com” got me here. I spent countless hours on it back in 1999-2000 putting up lots of paki jokes. It was a rage, and super addictive! No other site has matched it since.

    User: Top Gand from Gandmasti.com

  8. December 13, 2007 at 12:47 pm #

    Most of these sites are relevant today as well…

    The important question is…Why didn’t they survive? Didn’t they have any cashflow? We always read about success stories…but learning about these failure stories is very critical…may be more useful…

  9. Sharad Pawar (yelgaokar)
    January 30, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    Firstly iwent to the Gandmasti. and realy feel that no one have Gandmasti.

  10. Tapan Garg
    March 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    Thanks Eklavya… Nice trip down memory lane. Those exciting, crazy, Zatang days. :)

  11. Ekalavya
    March 23, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Hope you are doing well at your current venture tapan.

  12. April 4, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    most of the members of gandmasti/geohumor are still active on http://www.fundoozone.com , give it a look, you will be pleased to find some old pals from gandmasti

Leave a Comment


5 − one =