When Anurag Dod launched the search engine, www.guruji.com, in 2006, he harboured no ambition of making it big in a matter of months. A graduate of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, he had built the first crawler-based search engine in India, designed to make search simple for Indian users. “Our proprietary algorithm automatically identifies content on the web and organises it in such a way that Indian users get search results that are most relevant to them geographically,” explains Dod.
Having worked with web start-ups, Dod was aware that he was building a product with a longer gestation period. “When I worked with web companies in the US, there was a lot of interest around internet and search engine was an experimental medium. Soon, the search engine space was dominated by biggies like Google, MSN and Yahoo. So, I had to do something that others were not doing,” said Dod.
So, while global search engines concentrate on global search findings, Guruji builds its results on local listings.
Dod’s rationale for Guruji’s existence is simple: “In China, Baidu is the number-one search engine, not Google. Again, in Korea, Naver is a more popular search engine, not the global giants.”
Realising that investment had to be made mainly in servers, acquiring talent and speeding up the results, the 36-year-old entrepreneur went for external funding to keep afloat. A $7 million infusion from Sequoia Capital India, the company that has funded some global search engines, helped Dod perfect his search engine.
This was followed by a second round of funds from Sandstone Capital, which pumped in another $8 million.
Guruji.com hopes to break even. On an average, the search engine clocks nearly 1 million searches everyday and users are primarily Indian youth.
What users like the best, says Dod, are Guruji’s music, image search and getting updates on stock quotes.
According to the Comscore report, Guruji.com is ranked the fourth-best search engine, following Google, Yahoo and MSN.
It has also been rated by JuxtConsult report as the most user-friendly search engine for music.
However, Dod knows he has a long way to go and accepts candidly: “Our competitors are established search engines like Google and even local search providers like Justdial.com. We too have a city-specific search but our next move is to build on it,” he concludes.