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Hero of the Month


A dream come true!

Every now and then one hears deplorable remarks about the rising corruption levels and lack of opportunities in the country. It’s a prevalent notion that one cannot succeed here unless many a palm is greased or several laws broken. And then, exceptionally once in a while, comes across an individual who treads the path less trodden. Someone, who rises above all myths and achieves the zenith of success, by the sheer power of truth and honesty.

The Starof our Edition this month Mr. VSS Mani is one such extraordinary individual - a young and dynamic entrepreneur whose venture, JustDial like the city of Mumbai never sleeps. Armed with a dream in his eyes, passion in his heart and grit in his spirit Mani turned a simple idea in his mind into a reality.

Today, JustDial is India’s No.1 local search engine, with a presence on Phone (69999999), Web (justdial.com), WAP (wap.justdial.com). Justdial now is also accessible on a single Mobile number 08888888888 i.e. 0 and ten times 8. Uniqueness of this number is you can call or text and get instant response. It caters to over 57 million unique users across 240 cities in the country. In an effort to have a global footprint, JustDial has also set up base in the world’s capitalist heartland – the U.S.A.

As we retrace the early steps of this entrepreneurial venture we realize the power of a belief and the magic of sheer simplicity. VSS Mani started his career in Delhi as a salesman with United Database, a directory service of businesses; and it was here that the idea of JustDial took root. Whenever Mani would see people leafing through heavy books and browsing through tons of fine print, to get that one small; yet important piece of information, it made him wonder if it was possible to offer a similar service over the phone.

Along with a few like-minded individuals VSS Mani launched a company called ‘Ask Me’ in 1989. However, the telecom penetration was not deep and due to lack of capital, ‘Ask Me’ was shut down around 1992. But Mani’s faith was not shattered; set with learning from his failure, he vowed to resurface on his own and set up JustDial in 1996.

From the debacle of ‘Ask Me’, Mani had learnt that he would need a number which people could recall at the drop of a hat. So he presented his business plan to the General Manager of the Kandivali Telephone Exchange who liked his idea and gave him the dream number 888-8888. JustDial was set up with borrowed furniture, rented PCs and a small non-descript office. With ensuing success, the JustDial headquarters shifted to a 35,000 sq. ft office in Malad (West), Mumbai and a 175,000 sq. ft office space across India. With a team of 4,000 associates, 134 crores in revenue and an user strength of 57 million, the numbers are only rising.

A free service, JustDials’ path breaking business and operational model connects the seeker to the sought. In fact, JustDial today has more user reviews and ratings than all other websites put together in India and is rapidly growing.

There are many factors that have helped JustDial achieve tremendous success over the years. The liberalization of the telecom sector and the mobile telephony boom upped the scale to a huge extent. This success drew a series of investors: Hong Kong’s SAIF Partners, US-based Tiger Global and more recently Sequoia Capital. With a vision to create long-term shareholder value by enhancing its position as a leading local search service the company focuses on end user experience through feedback, innovation, teamwork and integrity.

Today, VSS Mani is a role-model to a lot of youngsters across India, however, ask him for his role model and pat comes the reply, Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani and the Tatas’. He drew inspiration from Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani’s philosophy that creating wealth is the best thing to continue the chain of economic activity. Born in the city of Tata Steel, Mani believes he imbibed the welfare and social values of the Tatas.

It’s truly inspiring to know that a common man can achieve the stars if he puts his mind and heart into it. Mr. Mani is a beacon of light to those who have a dream in their eyes and a true determined spirit - the will to walk the path of honesty and sincerity and succeed in the true sense of the word.

"You are what your deep driving desire is;
As your desire is, so is your will;
As your will is, so is your deed and
As is your deed, so is your destiny.”


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