If you thought they were driven by ambitions of emulating Bill Gates or
visions of getting astronomical valuations for their sites, think again.
They were propelled by something far more mundane: boredom in the summer
In the summer of ’99, Vaibhav and Sukrit shifted gears from being
becoming partners. "We’re both computer buffs and have a working
of Java and HTML. So we decided to set up a portal." Goindiago was born.
course, it wasn’t as simple as they make it sound. Domain names weren’t
cheap, and they had no credit cards to pay to register their site. The
had to convince their parents to shell out the moolah. In hindsight, it
money well-spent. Today they are negotiating strategic alliances with
leading sites like Mantra Online, Apna Card and Egurucool.
Siddharth hit upon the idea when he saw serpentine queues outside the UK
Embassy in Delhi. "They were waiting for information on how to get their
visa." His site, a comprehensive guide to getting a visa, complete with
downloadable forms, has already clocked over 1,00,000 hits since its
on June 18, 2000.
Sumeet, a commerce student from Chandigarh, has blown up Rs 25,000 on
three net ventures: Datalook, a launchpad for new sites;
Humhaiindia. The reason: he wants to be
by the media for owning "three interesting Web sites at such a young
But he has his head firmly on his shoulders. "The Internet might be the
playground of the young, but I wouldn’t know whether I want to make it
career as yet." And, in another display of maturity beyond his years,
says that he does not intend emulating Bill Gates or Jerry Yang. "I want
be my own person."
Which he already is. HumHaiIndia, launched in August 2000, receives more
than a 1000-odd visitors a day, and Sumeet is in negotiation with a
firm to provide free email, homepages and an instant messenger service
through his site.
Turning entrepreneurs has been a learning experience for them. "When I
started a year ago by setting up Datalook, it was pure trial and error.
was tough, but then I have progressed with each site moving on from
understanding HTML to CGI scripts, " explains Sumeet.
Agrees Siddharth, who spent over two weeks writing numerous letters,
shooting off emails and even calling to get information. "While the
embassy was the easiest, the Australian and the UK embassy were also
surprisingly quick. The US embassy, however, was wary of sharing
information, since many sites had changed the format of the online
looked at Visaonnet from a user’s perspective. Which is why, he says,
language is very simple and easy to read and the site is uncluttered and
on graphics. Besides, there is interesting content, which brings people
back. How many people know that when you need to go to the Fiji Islands,
need to contact the Australian Embassy. Or that one could make it to
Pakistan and back on a budget of Rs 5,000."
The popularity of his site can be gauged from the fact that it was
for the International Surfers Choice Awards in the travel section ("The
Oscars of the Internet," he claims), besides bagging some other Web
Cyber café owners and travel agents recommend his site to prospective
travellers and make a quick buck with printouts from the site.
Being young, says Sumeet, is not always an advantage. "When the guy is
making out a cheque, he may think, ‘Am I doing the right thing here?’ He
only 16 years old." Yet, he has managed to earn Rs 8, 000 selling banner
space. His secret: Tangible paperwork, a strong understanding of the
Internet and marketing savvy.
"We were taken seriously," say Vaibhav and Sukrit, "but that’s because
showed a streak of responsibility, an in-depth understanding of the
and the fact that we are part of the generation that uses the net." The
have even received a few enticing offers to sell their Web site, which
have promptly turned down. "The experience of running our own net
will be a highlight on our resume when we decide to study abroad."
The accolades and peer respect these teens have earned more than
for all the long hours they have put into their sites.
Sukrit and Vaibhav basked in the attention they got when they judged
presentations from students of 40 schools at a presitigious computer
For Sumeet, praise comes from closer quarters. Friends, family,
relatives...his phone has been ringing non-stop with congratulatory calls.
"It feels great when a 13-year-old writes in to tell me that he admires
work I have done. That he would like me to help him put up a dot com,"
Siddharth, who is working on a revenue model for his site. With two more
Web sites in the pipeline, he is open to offers for his site, "provided
price is right".
Such success does not come without a touch of help. And Siddharth gets
plenty of it from his dad. Puri Senior not only foots the bills, but
quit a cushy job in an MNC to help Siddharth set up Cyberica Solutions
Ltd. "He will take care of it while I am studying and execute my ideas,
that I can later!" says Siddharth.
"Siddharth’s just a very creative and innovative young boy," explains
father, Praveen Kumar Puri. "I do not allow him to enter the office, but
some how sneaks his way inside. He has his set of meetings with the
engineers and he knows his stuff," reveals the proud father. "The five
engineers who work for me cannot fool him."
For this boy who wants to make a future in Internet genetics, his
gift was a server hosted in the US, costing Rs 3,00,000. Next on his
list is a laptop...