Journey of Justdial: How The “Indian Google” Reached The Pinnacle Of Success


Gone are the days when we have to wait in the long queues to get the information of the services we need. All thanks to the emergence of latest technologies that have made our work so easier and hassle-free. There is no deny in saying that it is the online searching that we generally rely on today. One of the major companies that has completely revolutionised the information search ecosystem in India is Justdial. Formed by a genius-mind, VSS Mani in 1996, Justdial has become a local search services giant in the country.

Let’s delve deeper and find out how the company reached the pinnacle of success.

The origin

Behind the success of every company, there is an inspirational journey which motivates numerous people to break the ceiling and establish a name for themselves. Justdial too has an encouraging origin story which would stimulate you to take up the challenges and carve out your own niche. Justdial, which later rose to the heights of the Indian local search services giant, had a humble beginning.

The idea of launching a service-provider platform came to VSS Mani’s mind when he was working with the yellow pages company – United Database India (UDI) as a sales executive in 1987. During his tenure at the company, Mani came up with a business plan to create a database like UDI which would be available over the telephone.

On the basis of his personal experience at UDI and the knowledge which he gained in his professional career; Mani decided start a venture of his own.

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Failure before success

Executing his idea into reality, VSS Mani, along with his few friends, started a company named “Ask Me” in 1989. However, his happiness was short lived as Mani’s business model got failed as very few people used to have mobile phones in those days. After the failure of “Ask Me”, Mani was disappointed but not hopeless. So, he distributed his shares to his partner friends and left the company. The man then started preparing for his next innings and soon he came up with another idea of starting a wedding planning business.

Mani with his friends yet again launched a new venture, this time with an initial investment of Rs 50,000. Although the business gave them a profit margin of 2-3 lakhs, but Mani was not satisfied with the work model. Hence, he again decided to jump into the local indexing business.

Rise of Justdial

Taking a lesson from his failures, VSS Mani decided to do a fresh start. He revamped his previous business model of Ask Me. This time, he focused more on getting a valuable number rather than to have a unique name for the company. In those days, the Kandivali Exchange in Mumbai was coming out with its 888 series. Hence, Mani decided to begin with the number 888 8888 (7 times 8).

Moreover, in order to attract large number of customers, the company even shifted its focus on the diverse local businesses which people generally search for such as carpenters, plumbers, mobile shops, painters and many such others. The moved worked well for Justdial and with word-of-mouth model; the brand became popular among the masses.

Finally, in 1996 Justdial was launched in Mumbai, with a unique number 888 8888, some borrowed furniture, rented PCs, a small garage, and with the seed capital of Rs 50,000.

Growth of Justdial

Indeed, the beginning of Justdial was full of obstacles and challenges. But anyway, the company made it and now we all know about ‘Justdial’. The VSS Mani-led company has last been recorded to be operating with over 10,000 employees and a database of more than 29.4 million listings. Justdial has now become a giant in the internet search space.



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