Same happened with a businessman Mir Aijaz from Gudsathoo Budgam while he was travelling. He searched on Google for local restaurants but the information provided was improper. Though he didn’t get the food, his hunger drove him to come up with a local search engine - Tracegov.
Tracegov is a search engine for people of Kashmir to search for everyday needs from grocery to gadgets. Besides, it provides a platform for small and medium business establishments to create their digital visibility. It can be accessed via a mobile app or website and aims to help people to easily find the bookstores, restaurants, cafes etc.
Aijaz said, “It gets really difficult for the people to find the local restaurants or small business units. A large population comprising businessmen, entrepreneurs despite doing good work are not known to anyone. They remain unrecognized because they have no presence on Google. The idea struck my mind that there should be something that gives visibility to local businesses.”
He further said that the digital market, Tracegov, is directly connecting buyers with the sellers. “The customers can find every store or shop at their fingertips. They can choose from wide options available to them and pick the best,” he added.
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based startup has hit the market a few months back and has got more than 100 listings.
He said, “You will usually find that contact numbers of local business units are not working or sometimes, it doesn’t show us the exact location. The business establishments don’t update their correct information on Google. Outside Kashmir, people are more involved in technology and keep their information updated on search engines.”
He further said that Kashmir is lagging behind the other states of India in terms of making use of technology.
The most important thing where Aijaz doesn’t want to compromise is the promotion of local business units and to get them recognized. “Everyone wants to grow. There are lots of things trending in the world of business so we have to keep up with the trends,” he said.
Tracegov caters to all the districts of Kashmir and gives an option to sellers to attract the customers from other districts too. “Earlier a shop at Shopian would cater to the locality only, now some interested customer from Srinagar can also buy from him. It has widened the options for the sellers as well as buyers,” he said.
The public convenience website has two types of customers associated: The business units, who are listed in the website to create their digital presence and the end user- the one who uses the website or the app to find any business, restaurant etc.
“We are looking for more contacts and hoping that everybody should be listed on the website. We are in phase one where we are collecting more and more data,” he said.
Aijaz keeps on sharing his ideas with his team who are further looking for more improvements. “Our team is working so that everyone gets to know about Tracegov and how we can make it better. We are always open to suggestions,” he said.
While business establishments get listed on the very nominal charge, various features are provided to them. Directions to the shop or store, contact display, photos, videos, connectivity on social media handles, FAQs, time slots, announcements regarding the sale, discounts offered etc.
“One of the best features is to hide Google ads which doesn’t allow the interference of third parties when the app or website is being checked by the user. The website has advanced features and is very dynamic which has authentic information according to the needs of the customers,” he said.
In the future, the team is also trying to list out some hospitals, NGO free of cost. “At another level, we will give more opportunities to the clients. When we have more data we will try to explore more,” he said.
Talking about the spamming and providing irrelevant information given by the website, he said that there will be no spamming on the website like it happens on other platforms and also there is no break on supply chain management.
“The future belongs to ICT. You can’t dismiss the potential of ICT innovations. Digital innovations are important to boost up the business units. We have a good team. This startup is in its initial stage but it will go a long way,” he said.
In future, the platform will also offer home services to users who can call directly on the toll free numbers. “The third-party service will be provided as well who will have an agreement with us. The idea works in the US and other parts so we will add this feature to our start up,” he said.
In the website or app, there are categories to search for a user. The categories include businesses, food, hotels and many more. A user needs to provide his location and choose his preference from the category.
Also, it provides information about courses and training centers to get the attention of students who are interested in pursuing skill development courses.
A part of the website and app gives you a list of all the districts where a user can directly click on and opt for the categories provided. One can also book the appointments and consultation online.
The goal of Tracegov is to search out each and every business or at least 70-80% of business units who are functioning in the market.
Aijaz said, “The number of people having access to internet connectivity is growing. People can shop from the brands like Puma and Adidas so why not from the local brand which their own people are making and help the local industry to grow.”
While concluding, he said that the rich local industries of Kashmir need to be boasted. He believes digital innovations can act as a springboard for bigger breakthroughs.