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Portals ain't simple to set up

If you thought it would be easy to launch a portal with just a good B2B idea and enough cash or some typical angel funding, you may be mistaken. At least, this has been the experience of software giant NIIT and four leading tea brokers - J Thomas & Company, Carritt Moran, contemporary Targets and Assam Tea Brokers. Teauction.com, a tea auction portal, promoted by the Ayush Bagla owned Calcutta-based Hanuman Tea, has gone to Calcutta High court (CHC) to stop NIIT and four top tea brokers from launching a similar tea auction site. The Williamson Magor group of the Khaitans, the Apeejay Surrendra Group and Centurion Bank has reportedly picked up about 46 per cent in teauction.com.

Web Development Corporation owned by the Todis of the Shrachi group developed the site. Teauction has alleged that NIIT has hacked into its source code and is also party with the four brokers in developing the new tea auction site. However the companies have denied this. They have unanimously reiterated that they have not accessed any of teauction.com's source code. They have also mentioned that the law does not stop anybody in developing a portal, which replicates its brick and mortar business model. CHC has, for the time being, allowed an injunction in favour of teauction.com. But Justice Pinaki Ghosh will continue to hear the matter hereafter.

B2B portal for S. Indian tea auction

THE Calcutta-based Teauction.com has entered into a tie-up with TTBL Tea and Technologies Ltd to launch auctions for South Indian teas. 

The portal has tied-up for joint ventures to launch on-line auction in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Kenya by the end of November, according to Mr Ayush Bagla, Managing Director, Teauction.com. 

This B2B portal will hold a weekly auction of South Indian teas. The traditional system of auction has many inherent flaws such as delays and high transactional cost. 

Besides the auction floor, the portal also offers a whole spectrum of information - auction news and updates of all auction centres, production, auction and industry news and trends. It is also WAP enabled. 

Centurion Bank will hold a 26 per cent share in Teauction.com and has come up with a corpus fund of Rs 200 crore solely for the portal members. Sellers and buyers can approach the portal and take advantage of this with finance schemes tailored especially for their specific needs. 

The portal had also tied up with an American GPS for live weather feeds six times a day, in all the tea growing areas. This facility would soon be incorporated in South India too, he said. 

Mr Bagla said in West Bengal all teas sold through Teauction.com would have a sales tax parity as a physical auction. Consents from the governments of Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were expected within a month. The West Bengal Government had given its consent. 

Mr Philip John, Managing Director, TTBL, said South Indian teas were going through a bad phase after the Russian market collapsed. A B2B portal would give these teas access to other markets too. The Bought Leaf Factories (factories which buy leaf from small growers) in the Nilgiris were paying a high cost on interest and were finding it difficult to service the loans. The tie-up with Centurion Bank would also benefit these sellers, he said. 

Mr Bagla said the portal would soon be coming out with futures trading in tea. 

Teauction.com set to be a WAP-enabled portal

Teauction.com, the B2B auction portal for tea, will become a full-fledged WAP-enabled portal soon. The virtual exchange is also spreading its wings to the south Indian terrain by tying up with the Chennai-based TTBL Tea and Technologies Ltd for offering auctions in the south India tea, Mr Ayush Bagla, one of the founders and the managing director of the portal told reporters.

In tune with the changes in technology, the promoters of the teauction.com has firmed up plans to convert the business-to-business portal to a completely WAP compliant site in two months time. "With this, buyers and sellers can transact their business on the portal using their mobile hand set", Mr Bagla said.

He said after consolidating its business in north Indian market, the portal is now spreading its wings to the south Indian market by offering its auction services to growers and buyers.

So far teauction.com has been offering B2B services to north Indian tea growers and traders. "With the accumulated experience of of TTBL in tea broking, the partnership will present the marketing solutions for south Indian tea. Interested sellers and buyers in Cochin, Coonoor and Coimbatiore can now log on to teuciton.com or approach TTBL for registration and further details on how to participate in these auctions", he said.

The promoters have also lined a number of value added products to be launched in few months time. The products in the pipeline include a futures product as well as secondary trade of tea, he added.

He said, the virtual exchange has been targeting a turnover of over 40 million kgs by the end of this fiscal. The major advantage of the portal is the doing away of huge transaction cost which has been squeezing the margins of trade in the physical segment, he added.

He said the virtual exchange is in the process of tying up with various organisations in major tea producing and consuming countries. "By next year, teaexchange.com will have presence in 12 countries including the US, UK and Canada. The company has already presence in two producing countries, Srilanka and Indonesia.

Teaexchange.com is promoted by three major tea companies in the country in which the Centurian Bank has a major stake. While Williams and Megar Group and APJ Industries hold 10 per cent each, Centurian Bank holds close to 26 per cent in the venture. The remaining is with the tea major Hanuman Tea Ltd.

Tea auctions now go mobile

IF YOU dig tea and happen to be a WAP-enabled SpiceCell subscriber, the brew couldn’t get richer. Calcutta-based SpiceCell has just answered the prayers of a section of the tea community who wanted to participate in tea auctions while on the move. 

That right folks, tea auctions through mobile phones will soon be a reality. SpiceCell has entered an exclusive one-year agreement with Teauction.com , wherein, Spice customers in Calcutta will be able to access detailed news on the tea industry on their mobile phones; even participate in tea autions on a national scale, starting next month. 

Teauction.com is a portal-based B2B exchange, licensed by the Tea Board of India to conduct tea auctions through the Net. Its shareholders are Centurion Bank (26 per cent), the Williamson Magor Group (10 per cent), ApeejayGroup (10 per cent) and the Hanuman Tea/Dhunseri group combine, who jointly hold 54 per cent. 

SpiceCell chief operating officer S Venkataraman termed the tie-up with Teauction.com as an extention of promoting Spice WAPower. 

“Calcutta is a major tea auctions hub and our WAP customers will be able to track the latest developments in the tea industry, obtain tea-quotes, weather updates on the 800-odd tea gardens across the country...bidding priveleges will be extended in a fortnight,” he said. 

While the access to teauction.com will be available to Spice customers at standard WAP tariff packages, a possible re-alignment in WAP airtime tariff plans for the tea community might pretty well be on the cards, should market response be enthusiastic. 

Bidding through mobiles will become a reality only after the proposal is cleared by the apex governing council of tea auctions, constituted under the Tea Board. 

The facility will be initially available to Spice’s Calcutta subscribers. Thereafter, it will be launched in the regional circles of Punjab and Karnataka, where the Spice brand is also operational. 

Incidentally, 75 per cent of the tea produced has to be sold through the auctions route to protect the interests of tea growers, in line with the guidelines of the Tea Marketing Control Order.

Tea buyers, sellers go mobile via Spice-teauction.com tieup 

- 27/9/2000
Tea buyers, sellers go mobile via Spice-teauction.com tieup - The Financial Express

Tea buyers and sellers all over India can now strike deals on their mobile telephones via an unique deal between the country's only tea auction portal and one of the two cellular service providers in Calcutta.
Buyers registered with teauction.com, who are also users of Spice Telecom will be able to monitor auction prices, strike deals and browse through a whole lot of useful information provided their handsets are compatible with WAP, or wireless application protocol.

Announcing the strategic tieup, Mr R Mahesh, Spice Telecom's general manager for marketing, said the new service will be niche product but "extremely useful".

Mr Mahesh said Spice expects a good response from the new WAP service, pointing out that there are around 800 tea buyers in Calcutta and 200 sellers. Plus, there are around 3000 to 4000 people interested in the business.

Teauction.com's vice-president, Mr Sanjeev Sinha, said the mobile bidding procedure will be activated after the Durga Puja festival next month. At present, Spice users can get catalogue and quotes, garden-specific weather and tea news.

Spice Telecom, a brand owned by Modicorp subsidiary Spice Cell Ltd, will not charge anything extra for the facility, apart from the WAP rental of Rs 250 per month and call charge of 42 paise per minute for post-paid users and Rs 5 a day and Re 1 per minute respectively for prepaid users.

Customers will have to register at teauction.com, the seventh authorised auction centre in India and the only one that is an online portal. The B2B exchange, has been promoted by tea majors Williamson Magor, Apeejay group and Hanuman Tea among others.

Teauction.com's Mr Sinha said his portal is also the only auction centre that is licensed to conduct deals all over India. The brick and mortar ones at Calcutta, Siliguri, Guwahati, Kochi, Coimbatore and Coonoor are regional bodies.

As for foreign buyers, Indian law does not allow them to operate directly at the auction centres but teauction.com and its Spice tieup will allow them to check out the auction prices by category, garden and other details. "The buyer will get an alert on his phone when the price hits his range, and will be able to bid," Mr Sinha of teauctio.com said.

Teauction.com has also tied up with a US satellite imagery firm to provide detailed weather reports of all north Indian tea gardens. For this, teauction.com gave the US company the geographical coordinates of the 600-odd gardens in Assam and 200 in Dooars.

Spice to roll out intelligent network by year-end
Spice Telecom Ltd is going all out to upgrade to intelligent network or IN service by December this year, according to chief operating officer S Venkatraman.

He said Spice has got an unexpectedly good response to the WAP service since it was launched in August. WAP is third-generation or 3G in mobilespeak.

"Against our expectation of 3-4000 users by the year end, we have snared 3000 users in a month," Mr Venkatraman said. Of these, around 2000 are regular users.

Recently, Spice began providing stock market information via a tieup with stockmarkit.com and has around 18 "content" providers for the WAP service.

He said Spice may consider a closed user group for the tea community, once it gets the volumes via the deal with teauction.com.

Spice Telecom 

- 27/9/2000
Spice Telecom, Calcutta's cellular service provider, today announced a tie-up with Teauction.com, an on-line tea-auction portal. Mr. S Venkatraman of Spice Cell Ltd said, "This tie-up will enable customers to receive catalogue, quotes and all kinds of news on tea through mobile phones,"

Spice pact with teauction.com for WAP service 

- 27/9/2000
Spice Telecom added one more feather to its cap on Tuesday with a tie up with teauction.com.

Spice subscribers will now be able to access catalogues, quotes on tea by region and type, garden-specific weather data and other happenings in the sector on their WAP enabled mobile phones. It may be mentioned here that wireless access protocol (WAP) is a technology that helps view Internet content to mobile phones.

Vice-president of teauction.com Sanjeev Sinha said: "We have data on over 800 tea gardens in Assam and the Dooars. A Spice subscriber will be able to download the latest information on any one of them at any time including its length, breadth, weather and other valuable details. This will help participants in auctions to make decisions, in advance," Spice COO S. Venkatraman said: "The service will be of immense use to foreign buyers."

Spice will charge 40 paise per minute and a monthly rental of Rs.250 for post paid-service for using the WAP data service. For pre-paid service, the charges will be Rs. 5 per day and Rs. 1 per minute. (TOINS)



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