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Adgully Exclusive | We are focusing on API and penetration across the mobile platform: ApnaCircle's Yogesh Bansal

ApnaCircle.com, India's first business and career networking site, was launched in the year 2007 by Yogesh Bansal, Founder & CEO of ApnaCircle.com. In 2009 ApnaCircle aggressively following the acquisition'merger strategy merged with Viadeo, Tianji and Unyk the leading networking sites of Europe, China and Canada. The development as a result helped in creating a platform for Indian users to interact with more evolved consumers from Europe, China and other parts of the globe.

The professional networking site currently has 3 million users in India and adds about 4-5000 users everyday. Given the steady growth in the network's performance Adgully caught up with Bansal to know more about his plans for the company in 2011.

Talking about ApnaCircle.com, Bansal, says, "People never believed me when I was talking to them about this concept a couple of years back, but now they understand the value proposition that social media has to offer. ApnaCircle enables individuals to "brand' themselves across the digital space and I believe it is a must tool in today's age."

He further adds that the key differentiator between professional networking site and other social media networks is that once someone goes onto a professional networking site like ApnaCircle.com the user's mindset is open to accepting networking connections from strangers too. Moreover he adds in this genre of social media the positioning is such that users often end up having public profiles across various professional networking sites.

The company is targeting any professional and focusing at starting from bottom-top. "We are looking at targeting the youth across India. Since we are big in Europe and China our platform will prove to be very helpful to reach out to these emerging markets," Bansal points out.

Talking about the market position that ApnaCirle.com holds right now, he says, "In this genre 15 million is the user base and it is growing at a 30-50% rate every year. So with the aforementioned statistics we are nearly holding over a 30% of the market share. ApnaCircle.com's performance in 2010 was amazing."

ApnaCircle.com recently announced the launch and opening up of their Application Programming Interface (API) platform which aims to improve the scalability of the website. The API platform will give developers quick and efficient tools to integrate with ApnaCircle and a means for creating independent applications which will further allow users to learn, engage and gain out of the new programs. Innovative developers are shaping up the future of the social web by creating web applications that connect services together. Acknowledging the potential, ApnaCircle is keen to support innovation and believe that business models based on revenue sharing are central to the continued growth of online information services and professional social networking.

Opening up the API's is a strategic and planned move in order to give the user base the latest in form of applications. This will giveApnaCircle a real edge over other networks which are still reluctant to open up their API's.

Bansal says, "We want to offer better value and features to our users, so API will enable developers to come up with various applications that will integrate well with ApnaCircle.com's brand value. Our users will get a more innovative product through this initiative and developers will also get a boost. We are in talks with big names across the internet and we are also in discussion with many well-known developers."

"The bridge between mobile and internet is the next big thing for us. We have already launched an iPhone application and we are exploring opportunity across the Android and Blackberry market," he adds.

As far as the USP of ApnaCircle is concerned, it lies in its GLO-CAL strategy, as ApnaCircle is India's only largest local cum global professional network. This is where ApnaCircle stands apart, unlike other global networks, ApnaCircle is the online global network made for Indian professionals while possessing the customized and invariably consumer friendly features to help consumers leverage the global exposure through their international network, ApnaCircle-Viadeo-Tianji.

Elaborating more on the company's GLO-CAL strategy, Bansal says, "By the name itself our offering has a very local feel to it but at the same time the product has a successful network of professionals across the world. Plus the smaller markets across our country is buzzing with ethnic talent like handloom and handicrafts. So with this insight we want to give an opportunity to people who are professionals in the true sense to reach out to as many as people as they can through our network."

The website is also looking at creating a TVC, to get on with some more buzz for the offering.

Acknowledging some of the challenges to the business, he says, "We have to keep innovating with our offering but that is also the fun part. We are constantly striving at providing user benefits through our offering, hence we have to keep looking at creating a more engaging and better website consistently."

While signing off Bansal share his plans for the company in 2011 and says, "First of all we are focusing completely on API and penetrating across the mobile platform. Next year we are looking at innovating some very new features for the website and create more engagement for our users. The amount of opportunity we have, given the large number of English speaking youth across the country is huge and we are looking at capturing this target group very seriously." | By Prabha Hegde [prabha(at)adgully.com]

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