Announcing availability of wide range of products

January 20, 2009 at 12:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Today we are very excited to announce availability of wide range of products on our social marketplace Onista (http://www.onista.com).
Currently the majority of products are listed under Games, Electronics, Computers categories and we are actively working on getting more products in other categories as well.

Most of the listed products are *New* products and are offered at very attractive prices. You can also negotiate price (in real time) for the products that have negotiable prices (Example: Digital Camera)

Please visit http://www.onista.com and take advantage of attractive prices on wide range of products.
If you do not find products that you are looking for, please submit a “Purchase Wish” at http://www.onista.com/buying.php

Remember, Onista is a marketplace and our goal is to connect people to trade products.
Hence we are also working on writing tutorials on how you can also sell products without having to worry about inventory, handling and shipping of the products. Tutorials will explain about how you can find about what products to sell, list those on Onista for free and then allow suppliers to ship those products right to your customers when sold, so you never have to physically handle or ship products.

Onista is an auction-less social marketplace where people can buy and sell products.
Here is quick summary of Onista Features,

  1. Auction-less format
  2. Instant Real-time price negotiation
  3. Request for Quotes and Price Quotes model like Alibaba.com
  4. Free listings for sellers
  5. Sellers get open access to qualified sales leads and targeted product placements
  6. Support for multiple payment systems (Paypal, Amazon etc..)
  7. A Social Network to build trading communities and mitigate the propensity for fraud

Please help us spread the word about Onista, If you find Onista useful, please let your friends know. You can invite your friends from http://www.onista.com/invite.php

And please feel free to contact us at support@onista.com

Regards,

Onista Team,

Onista entering in open alpha

October 2, 2008 at 5:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In the Year 2007, one fine evening I and Sanjib were at starbucks. We were chatting about stuff and conversation turned to the general process of buying and selling products online.
Both of us had our share of issues with the entire online buying and selling process and our issues at top of list were the inefficiency and the need for searching and hunting for the right deal. We spent a lot of time that evening talking about how we disliked the process and yet we used it every now and then.

Over the next couple of days there was an unstoppable exchange of emails on how we can solve these problems for ourselves and for everybody else who may be in the same boat.

We started contacting our friends and folks on forums/marketplaces who were actively involved in online buying and selling of products. We spent the next three to four weeks talking to people to understand their issues. We were looking for the pain points that they passionately talk about.

We not only found that many of them share the same pain points that we were frustrated with but also gave us new set of pain points like, upfront cost of selling, lack of support for different payment systems, competition among buyers, Non-Negotiable prices, lack of collaborative shopping experience, collusion between power sellers, and Limited access to potential buyers. So we started our journey towards solving some of these pain points. We knew that we needed to think outside of auctions and classifieds.

Then we came up with the plan and to get more validation on our plan we showed it to our friend Ram who was pursuing his MBA at SCU at the time. Ram set us up with his contacts at SCU and we received encouraging feedback from everyone we talked to at SCU entrepreneur group. With overwhelming positive feedback, Ram also decided to join the forces and that turned out to be awesome for us. Ram added extremely great value to the team and the product.

Fast-forward today,
We are releasing the Alpha version of our dreams, ideas and execution called Onista. We are extremely excited to release it in open alpha with tons of hard-work behind it.

Onista is an auction-less social marketplace where people can buy and sell products. Onista is an amalgam of eBay, PriceLine, LendingTree, Alibaba.com, and LinkedIn. Onista allows instant price negotiation and enables buying products without searching.

Here is quick summary of Onista Features,

  1. Auction-less format
  2. Instant Real-time price negotiation resulting in Instant Gratification for consumer
  3. Buyers can buy products without searching and hunting for products using Request for Quotes and Price Quotes model like Alibaba.com
  4. Free listings for sellers
  5. Sellers get open access to qualified sales leads and targeted product placements
  6. Support for multiple payment systems (Paypal, Amazon etc..)
  7. A Social Network to build trading communities and mitigate the propensity for fraud

Please visit http://www.onista.com and enjoy the Onista Experience.
To understand more about Onista, please do not forget to watch our Demo Video by clicking icon Demo Video on right-bottom corner of Onista index page. Alternatively you can also watch this video at http://www.vimeo.com/1594866

What we are really looking for now is your feedback as user so we can improve our product and also help to spread the word.

We can use your help in three ways,

  1. Provide us feedback about how we should improve Onista. Any feedback is welcome.
    To give you an idea on what kind of feedback you can think about, (but again, any feedback will be appreciated)

    • What is your first impression of the home page and also other pages?
    • What was confusing and what was not in entire site
    • What is complicated to understand, and how we can do it better?
    • Would you use this site to buy or sell products? if no, why? what can we improve so it appeals to you? If yes, would you invite your friends to join?
    • We understand that we have lot more functionality for alpha version. Does it help or it confuses you more?
  2. We also need your much appreciated help in spreading the word. If you find Onista useful, PLEASE let your friends know. Also please become member and invite your friends from http://www.onista.com/invite.php
  3. Please list some products for sale. Our initial goal is to get many products listed because unless there are products to sell, the site would not be very useful. If you need any help in listing products, Onista team can also help

If you have any more questions, please refer to our help section at http://www.onista.com/help.php

And please feel free to contact us at,

support@onista.com

Please help us spread the word about Onista,

Regards,

Onista Team,

How do we announce the alpha launch?

August 3, 2008 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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Finally after lot of hard-work, now we are (seriously) 4-6 weeks away from our Alpha launch. Code is ready and we are testing it on our production instance and making sure we have scalable infrastructure setup. Writing help documents and creating helpful screencasts.

Is there a checklist somewhere that entrepreneurs usually follow before launch?

We want to find out about where and how should we announce the launch event so people know about onista

we are thinking of following,
1. Press Release (Using PRweb)
2. Announce on YC news
3. Announce on Reddit
4. Announce on Digg
5. Send emails to important technology blogs like TechCrunch, GigaOM, Venturebeat, and Mashable
6. Send emails to all of our friends and family
7. Send email to auctions, ecommerce blogs like,

8 Create Wikipedia page for Onista
9. Upload our demo video on video sites like youtube, metacafe, vimeo.
10. Update everyone that we know on Orkut and Facebook, Twitter.
11. Update on forums like,

12. Contact Sellers on craigslist to update them about Onista availability
13. Send info to startup and web 2.0 news blogs

Are there any other ways to announce the initial release?

The site will be live at http://www.onista.com within next 4 to 6 weeks.

Please let us know if you know other ways to announce the availability of new website.

You can also get in touch with me at prashant@onista.com

Thanks in advance,

The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time and the last 10% takes the another 200%

February 29, 2008 at 8:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

We have been working on our Social Marketplace “Onista” for quite sometime and every week (and every month) we think we are almost ready for launch “only if we fix these remaining little issues”. To be honest, there is no such thing called “little issues”. There are bugs in product (tons of bugs) and we must fix those before launching.
The major lesson I am learning with this experience is that “The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time and the last 10% takes the another 200%”. For us the last 10% of the project is taking forever and I really hope we finish in next 6-8 weeks so we can FINALLY launch.

Following are some lessons I learned and I am making serious notes to myself about these lessons so I can try to plan better next time

  • Last 10% of the project will suck up maximum energy, patience, time, blood out of you, so be prepared for that. Always think about this fact before promising anyone (especially VC) that you will launch in next 4 weeks
  • Projects can be done “Fast”, “Cheap”, and with “Good Quality” but you can have any of these two and not all three. Seriously this is so true. In our case since we did not have lot of money, we wanted “Cheap” and also we wanted “Good Quality” so we CAN NOT have “Fast”. But this is f****** really really slow
  • You should “Seriously” limit the features that you want to have in your product. When we were planning for building Onista, we wanted to have all. We wanted to be much better than eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, Amazon and hence we kept on adding nice feature list in our PRD. Now we are paying the price during implementation. It is taking long time because its f****** HUGE project that needs team of at least 50 engineers and we are 3 (that too moonlighting)
  • A well-planned project will take twice as long as expected and a badly planned project will take four times longer than expected. We are in later category. Seriously the plan was BAD to have so many feature in first place. What was I thinking when I thought I can build something better than eBay and Facebook in 3 months while moonlighting?
  • Elance and RentACoder is crap (except for testing services). Don’t go that way unless you want someone to write a quick php login script. (I am thinking of putting a project there for developing a new Operating System like “Clone of Windows XP” with budget of $500 to see if someone really bids on my project.)
  • Sometimes it is a good idea to get rid of the problem instead of solving it. I am thinking about taking new approach now (my partners don’t know yet) to resolve these hard bugs quickly. Instead of fixing the bug get rid of the feature itself. cool right?
  • No project has ever finished on time, within budget, to requirement – ours won’t be the first to. So be patient

On serious note, YES We will launch soon. We are confident that we will resolve these last 10% of the issues soon and come out with killer product.

Wait and watch.

Storing media content on the servers

November 16, 2007 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Paying for the hosting services including the bandwidth expenses is a serious issue for all startups, especially the ones like ours where it is purely self funded.

And if the site allows users to upload media (pictures etc) under their profiles and share these across the site, the bandwidth usage and cost becomes a very serious issue. Also the issue of storage starts to creep in.

There are multiple solutions to this issue and each solution solves some issue but doesn’t go the whole nine yards where it is cheaper to store, cheaper to use and easy to deploy and change (from the maintenance point of view).

There are sites that just store the images locally on the file system and store a pointer to that in the database. Then there are some who store this whole binary extract in the database. In both the cases you still have to absorb the storage costs and the bandwidth costs but at least you have the complete control over the content and it is the easiest to deploy and maintain.

Then there is this thinking that you could actually outsource this whole media storing and retrieving issue to a third party solutions provider like Amazon S3 or a Nirvanix. This way you at least save your storage costs but are still stuck with the bandwidth costs.

This makes me wonder what the sites like ofoto, snapfish and flickr etc are doing to make sure that the costs of doing their business is the lowest possible and at the same time keep it working smoothly and more importantly at impressive speeds.

What are the chances of one succeeding with moonlighting?

November 16, 2007 at 7:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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Well it depends on situation. Let me tell you some upsides and downsides so you can judge yourself.

I and two of my friends have been working on this Onista Project for a while now.
All 3 of us have full time jobs and we are working on Onista development mostly during evenings and weekends.
It has been challenging and at the same time very interesting journey. During this period we have learned lots of new things and I feel that we are getting quite good at moonlighting.

Let me explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of moonlighting.

Let’s look at some of the downsides of moonlighting first,

  • There is never enough time to do things. This causes long application development cycle and pretty much delays all of your plans. If you think something will take 4 weeks to launch, I think you can safely multiply that 4 weeks with 3x. That is certainly happening to us.
  • You are always behind the schedule. This is direct effect of the fact that you do not have enough time to spend on your startup. Fortunately you are defining your own schedules and there is no one to kick your arse if you don’t meet the schedule
  • People tend to show less interest in your startup because you are working on it on part-time basis. It is a general perception that “They are doing SOMETHING on the side”. No one really takes interest to understand what that SOMETHING is. In a way it protects your idea if you like to hide it
  • You are overworked and can not spend enough time with family. Yes this is big issue. Imagine working on your day job from 9-7 and then coming home and again working until 3 AM. Weekends are completely taken by startup. Pretty much no time for family. This one is very tricky to handle. God bless you with this one
  • Your social life does not exist. Simply no time for friends and social activities

Now let’s take a look at some of the upsides,

  • You can fund your own startup. Actually this is the major reason I personally prefer moonlighting because we do not need to go and ask for money to someone else. In our case we raised much more money “in one day” than what YC invests by ourselves putting money in company. Heck if you are making good money then might as well use that money for your own startup. There is pretty much never ending pool of funds and I love this fact
  • You tend to utilize your time and energy on important things. Now given that you do not have lot of time, you will get pretty good at focusing on important stuff
  • You will not hop from one idea to another. Again, since you do not have lot of time to hop on ideas you will take one idea seriously and end up devoting yourself to that one until your users reject your app
  • There are less fights among founders. There is just no time to fight. Trust me. In our case, we meet like once or twice a week. We assign tasks (to each other) for coming week and then we work from home on those tasks. We mostly communicate over IM, email or phone and none of those are good mediums to fight anyway
  • If you love coding then you can enjoy it 24/7
  • Since you are always making money, even if your current startup fails you will still have ongoing funding for your next startup
  • You do not need to give any equity to anyone for amount like 20k. I mean come on, that is such a small investment to give any equity away. (I am not talking about YC money here because I know that getting money from YC is much more than just money and I really respect Paul for what he has been doing)
  • You do not actually need any office space or incubator
  • You get very good at defining requirements and getting those done on rentacoder or elance. There are always those small pieces of work (like repetitive testing) that no one in your team enjoys doing can be simply get done on rentacoder or elance
  • No one is going to kick you because your took money from them for your FAILED startup. No one even cares if your startup fails
  • You have freedom to define your rules and game because you did not take money from anyone else

So I think in our situation moonlighting is working pretty well and all of us are adjusted well enough to the situation now. Don’t take me wrong though. We do want to go full-time on this startup as soon as we can, but I think we can manage with moonlighting and we prefer doing it to keep funding our startup ourselves for now. I seriously mean “for now” here because things can change anytime.

I know that there are lots of people out there who have full time jobs and desire to start a startup but can not do so because your family depends on your paycheck. I really suggest moonlighting as an good alternative to those folks who are not fortunate enough to quit jobs and yet have strong passion for startups.

As I listed, there are some disadvantages and yet there are lots of advantages too. So go for it.

Good luck.

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