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Leading venture capital firm SAIF Partners has picked up an undisclosed stake in JustDial Services, a Mumbai-based “operator-assisted” telep…

Leading venture capital firm SAIF Partners has picked up an undisclosed stake in JustDial Services, a Mumbai-based “operator-assisted” telephonic search engine. JustDial, founded by VSS Mani, employs about 1,500 people, and it receives about 23 million calls a year from over 5 million unique users, in eight cities and nine languages.
Ravi Adusumalli, General Partner, SAIF Partners, confirmed the investment in JustDial. The deal was closed last week. He, however, refused to divulge the quantum of investment or the stake taken in the company. The company will use funding to venture into new media delivery platforms like the internet and SMS, and will also foray into international markets like the US.
Mani started his career with UDI (United Database Indian Pvt Ltd.) in 1987 where he learnt space selling in Yellow Pages. In 1989, he co-founded ASK ME Services, a tele information company. In 1996, Mani founded JustDial Services, which is an ‘operator assisted telephonic search engine’. JustDial is owned by A&M Communications.
How does JustDial work? For instance, if a user is a looking for a hotel telephone number, he can call the JustDial call centre of the city and can instantly retrieve the number with the help of a JustDial operator. It’s free of cost. But in return, the JustDial operator will try to sell you a loan or will help you connect with a set of hotels who have signed up with JustDial directory. JustDial makes money from directory listing fee. Users get the numbers for free. An excellent service in Indian context, since Indians are more likely to pick up a telephone to hunt for a number instead of logging on to website to do a websearch. JustDial also has a web search service, by the way.
In a way, JustDial does on phone what Google (NSDQ: GOOG) does on the web through contextual advertising. Adusumalli says JustDial has the largest database of commercial establishments in India with a market share of over 90%. “With presence across media

  1. I just looked at their website and was trying to find information on their web service. I could not see much about a web service – do you have any other details?

    Also it will be awesome if they can expose their API for interesting local mashups.

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  2. They do provide information by email, even though it isn't as well segmented as one would like. An additional problem is of related spam. For example, I needed some info on hotels in Delhi a couple of months ago. Just Dial sent the info by email, which was then followed up by unsolicited mails from hotels who got my details from Just Dial. I also received a few unsolicited calls…had to call Just Dial and ask them to stop giving out my number. To their credit, once I told them to stop, the calls ceased.

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  3. Just Dial is one of the fastest local search services in this part of the world.I have been using this service for almost a decade.I love Just Dial's instant call back service.It is quite effective getting good deals.

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