Today’s Featured BizSpark Startup is Elewa Softwares from Bangalore, India.
Imagine a marketing technique that sells products for you by letting the customer happily do all the sales work. Crazy? Not to Mohana Chandran.
Augmented reality is a world like no other. Mohana Chandran, founder and CEO of Elewa Softwares, knows that. He knows, too, that people like to have fun and play games. So when he was frustrated with the way real estate is marketed in India, he looked back on his long experience working with Microsoft products. Suddenly, an idea to base a real estate marketing product on Kinect technology popped into his head.
“I wanted to build something that let the user virtually experience a product before buying it,” he says. “Sales are directly linked to the effectiveness of the sales person, so why not offer a sales product that is consistent and effective every single time?”
He knew he had a saleable product when interested clients came from as far as United Arab Emirates.
Microsoft products are the foundation for his virtual reality creations.
“I have a lot of experience working with Microsoft technologies,” says Chandran. “Kinect compatibility with Microsoft’s technologies really helped us start our venture.”
Microsoft BizSpark, too, was a key attraction for Chandran. Free access to software products like Visual Studio, Kinect SDK and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) helped the bootstrapped startup get a build momentum as it built its products.
“It’s a boon for a small entrepreneur like me,” he says. “The training programs are really good, too.”
For the startup’s flagship product, Chandran chose to concentrate on the Indian real estate market. He lives in Bangalore, a central Indian city of more than 8 million. Reaching a home to view it for potential purchase can be a confusing exchange of car, bus, auto rickshaw, taxi and bicycle – all of which Chandran has used in his travels around the city.
While Bangalore is well-paved and has multiple transportation options, travel in other parts of India can involve dirt paths and lengthy journeys for potential buyers. A few poor real estate marketing experiences of his own spurred that decision. Plus, he says, numerous local dialects can confuse buyers during home showings.
The idea of a home or office being sold through a virtual reality was highly appealing to Chandran. It’s an updated twist, he says, on the standard videos used to market homes around the world. No language is needed to understand how to use the unique sales tool. And no travel is required.
“With our product, a user can virtually experience an entire home or office from a sales office or even a mall kiosk,” says Chandran. “The user selects the item he wants to see and is given a 360-degree view of the location he is interested in. He can walk through the entire place – floor to ceiling and room by room - by using gestures to control where he goes in it.”
Elewa Softwares recently introduced a new virtual application using Windows Azure and social media platforms such as Facebook. Sellers now can choose to post the virtual view of the product and share it with friends using the cloud.
This video shows the product in action. Just like with Kinect games, the user stands back from the screen a few feet and then uses hand movements to get where he wants to go. And, ideally, finds the home of his dreams without ever setting foot in it.