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|June 1, 2000|
The dakkhana is now open!
Nitish S Rele in Tampa
The dakkhana (post office) is now open. And, of all places, it's available on the Internet!
Teju Srivastav recently launched Dakkhana, a site that creates an interface to allow people to seamlessly integrate services such as e-mail, beepers, chat rooms and conventional letters. And the good news is that it's all free!
Since May 1, when the 44-year-old Srivastav launched the site, nearly 1,500 subscribers have signed up. Among the most popular features offered is 'Net-to-Desh', which allows you to write a letter and address it as you would a regular letter by mail. Then all you do is click on 'send' and your letter is printed and mailed within 24 hours in India. The letters are limited to two a week per subscriber.
"We deliver 135 letters a day except on Sunday," says Srivastav. "We have had subscribers from New Zealand and Denmark. The reaction of the people has surprised me. I am getting 15-20 responses daily from people giving their opinion about the site."
Another feature offered on Dakkhana is Beep Me, through which a subscriber who has a beeper sets up his beeper within user preferences. Users can type in a person's name and send a message that is instantly received on his or her beeper.
The PlaceMe feature allows a subscriber to set up filters to receive e-mails containing job announcements that match their relevant skills.
The e-mail function offers patent-pending technology to make managing e-mail easier. For instance, a calendar feature in the 'New Mail' folder allows users to conveniently choose when to view and answer mail -- today, tomorrow, four days from now or a week later. Until then, it does what mail users would want a lot of mail to do -- it goes away.
Srivastav currently employs four persons in his New Jersey office and two in India. He plans to add some more features in the next few weeks. His Web site will soon offer users the flexibility to choose the language of their choice for e-mails, out of Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil and Telugu. Also planned is a message board.
"My revenue model is based on advertising," explains Srivastav. "If somebody advertises on the Web site, I figure it will be of value to some Indian at some point."
A native of Uttar Pradesh, Srivastav lived most of his life in New Delhi. He came to the United States in 1983 and graduated with an MBA from Cornell University. Then he worked for Price Waterhouse and for McKesson before founding Internet for U, an Internet service provider and Web-hosting firm, in 1994.
"Dakkhana came about because I wanted to start something new," he explains. "When Hotmail came around, everyone was trying to start a portal. I thought I would address one need. We have so many communities among Indians and each has their needs."
Srivastav says that even today, it is very difficult for someone from India to call the US. "I wanted to make their job easier," he says. "I wanted to take one need and address it at a time. So I started with the Beep Me feature and then Net-to-Desh."
For more information, check out Dakkhana.
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