Even for day-to-day hassles, just call India!

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Updated: Jan 30 2012, 08:33am hrs
The core team at the iYogi office in Gurgaon did not seem like the traditional tech employees of a company serving the US market. The air and the feel at the building was different, just like its format. Though the seats are arranged as if it is a normal call centre, but the creative walls with pink colour posters and an enthusiastic high on life staff exactly know that they are doing something unique. They call it good karma.

Whether you are an old couple whose computer has just crashed or a housewife who is hassled because whenever she switches on her PCporn sites pop up, or a home entrepreneur whose iPad refuses to sync with the iPhonecall iYogi and they will do good karma for you. They refer to it as simplifying technology for US households. The machine is repaired remotely from India by various tech agents that iYogi trains.

Started in 2006, today iYogi employs 6,000 employees across seven centres. It has managed over 2 million service requests since inception; and have hundreds of thousands of customers across geographies. United States is around 85% of its customer base.

And with growth, also come new challenges and areas to focus on. We realise that we are a company that needs to brand itself as an Indian brand among US households and we need to do it the right way, says Vishal Dhar, co-founder and marketing head at the company. iYogi recently hired Prathap Suthan as its chief creative officer. Prior to this, he was the national creative director, Cheil Worldwide, SW Asia and has been associated with advertising campaigns like India Shining and Incredible India.

We are going a step ahead, the focus is a lot on branding ourselves and not just on providing efficient repair services to US households. We realise that international media is expensive and all our advertising happens through digital. We have changed the logo and

redesigned the website since I have joined in, says Suthan. His strategy is simple yet unique. He simplifies technology while designing ad campaigns. We also plan to go above the line (not just online advertising) in the near future, adds Suthan.

Another company with a similar business model started during the same period as iYogi is TutorVista. It gives online tuitions to US students. K Ganesh, chief executive officer and co-founder recalls what motivated him to start the company, Most of the offshoring companies in India then were providers to US corporations and we did not want to be a faceless and nameless service provider. I wanted my organisation to have an original identity. And internet was a great medium to do this.

Ganesh notes that how TutorVista reached out through online digital marketing and search engine optimisation to various homes in the US. We have 2,000 teachers and most of them are in India, apart from the Philippines, South Africa and US. These teachers work from home and teach through a shared online white board. The students for TutorVista are 70% from school and 30% from college.

The economics for US households

Sitting approximately 16,000 miles away in the US, you will call India for repairs or tuitions, only if it is substantially cheaper. And these companies realise this. iYogis business model is such that our subscription fee is $169.99 per year in the United States; and comparable in local currencies in other geographies. For computer repairs at homethat ranges from $159 for diagnosis only and $299.99 for desktop repair, informs Dhar.

A new report published by the company reveals that 63% of US households spend 35% more on technology bills than utility bills. The research also shows that mobile phones top the chart on monthly technology spends. Thus, a service like this would definitely help in bringing down the monthly expenditure in the house.

Similarly, a personalised tutor would take $60-100 per hour, whereas TutorVista charges $60-100 per month. The facility is available 24x7 and can be availed from home. Tuitions should not be the privilege of just the super rich in America. We want to reach out to common households too and want to be apart of the monthly budget of households, says Ganesh.

The road ahead

There is often a debate about the fact whether American families would accept tuitions from India or remote repair services which can access all the data on their PC. Basab Pradhan, head of global sales at Infosys and co-author of recently published Offshore: How India got back on the global business map has done deep study into this topic. Consumer services that are delivered remotely are a large and growing part of the economy in all advanced countries. Retail banking for instance is a consumer service that is today delivered largely remotely. Personal legal advice for certain services like drawing up your will, is now being delivered in the US entirely without any meetings at all, he mentions.

Of these consumer services there are some that are low risk for the customer. These could be potentially done from anywhere, including India. Pradhan feels that retail banking is not a good candidate because of regulatory reasons and because consumers are going to be highly risk averse when it comes to who they trust with their savings. But many other services like tutoring for their school-going kids or technical support for their growing collection of computing devices are good candidates. TutorVista and iYogi have shown that these are good markets to go after, he stresses Though these opportunities are very large, companies need consumer marketing capabilities to grab this space. These companies are marketing a service product directly to the consumer. You might still call this

offshore but it isnt outsourcing, concludes Pradhan.