Telephone Directory Search Company JustDial Gets Funding From SAIF Partners

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

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