Connecting over 25 millions NRIs worldwide
Most trusted Name in the NRI media
NRI sold for $350 million to eBay


Sunny Balijepalli, sold to eBay for $350 million

Millionaire created the best of Amazon, eBay
Uttara Choudhury
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 04:23 IST

Sunny Balijepalli, who sold to eBay for $350 million, is back with a photo-sharing service called

NEW YORK: All it takes to make an Internet fortune these days is one brilliant idea. Like many of the best ideas, it began with a simple question. “Why is it so hard to re-sell a $100 textbook and get good money for it?”

Sunny Balijepalli, who was working in Infonautics Corp. in the US wanted to know. He and a friend Josh Kopelman talked about it and then dreamed up with the limitless ambition of creating something that had the best of Amazon and eBay.

“Josh and I joked that our creation would be eBazon — combine the best of eBay’s prices with Amazon’s one-click shopping easiness,” Balijepalli told DNA.

In June 1999, Balijepalli and Kopelman started, a fixed price online market connecting buyers and sellers of used books, movies and music. The website was snapped up six months later by eBay and even Amazon replicated some of its killer apps.

“For six months we were strapped for cash and worked out of one room which was part of a law office in Philedelphia. We had a tough time getting anyone to work for us as we had no trackrecord. But we worked flat-out; built the company and launched in January 2000. Soon we closed a deal with with eBay for $350 million,” said Balijepalli.

Success at the age of 31 is a funny animal. “You get an incredible adrenaline rush from the entrepreunial effort. Suddenly, you have more money than you dreamed possible. It has been strange coming out of that experience for me. The motivation for work can’t be money anymore. I have struggled to find what excites me.”

Like most US-minted tech millionaires, Balijepalli provides seed money to Silicon Valley start-ups, but he is now hoping to get a second rush of adrenaline with his new venture which targets Indian and Non Resident Indian (NRI) customers.

With multiple offices in the US and India, allows Indian-Americans to send glossy prints overnight to friends and family in Indian cities.

“When I was sending photos to my mother when my daughter was born I felt the need for a service like this. I knew my mother wanted to show pictures of her grand-daughter to her friends. Having pictures stored on the computer is different from prints you can show around.”’s India headquarters is in Mumbai. “Everyone asks me why I set up office in expensive real estate. But Mumbai is my city. I grew up there. If I want to put all my energies behind one company, and one industry — digital photography is a great space to be in. The timing is perfect,” said Balijepalli.

“In the US, photos-delivered-to-home is a $7 billion industry,” said Balijepalli who predicts India will catch up to the US in seven years. “I am very attracted to disruptive models. Business models which break the traditional mould and establish new ideas.

With it was about disrupting the way people bought and sold books. will be a pioneer in the market for online photo services in India with competitive pricing and innovative features.”
----------------------------- is a subsidiary of eBay, in which sellers offer items at fixed prices, usually items that have a UPC, ISBN or other kind of SKU, rather than rare, old or collectible items. The items available on are limited to books, textbooks, music, movies, video games, and video game consoles.

There are no fees to list items on, but rather the company takes a commission of every completed sale. As of June 2005[citation needed], this commission is 15% of the first $50 worth of the fixed selling price, 12.5% of the next $50, 10% of the next $150, 7.5% of the next $250, and 5% of the rest.

The seller is responsible for shipping any item within three days of a sale and paying the actual shipping costs. A reasonable shipping and handling fee is added to the transaction and is (partially) credited to the seller as a reimbursement. The buyer can choose either USPS Media Mail or expedited delivery. Depending on the weight of the item, the reimbursement amount may often be less than the actual shipping costs. For example, the current shipping reimbursement for any DVD sent USPS Media Mail is $2.39. On the other hand, the reimbursement amount may exceed the actual shipping costs. In this case, many sellers will offer a "free upgrade" to first class shipping, which is not much more expensive than media mail for small items such as CDs. was founded in 1999 by American entrepreneur Josh Kopelman (Infonautics, Turntide, Comcast Interactive Capital) and Sunny Balijepalli (more recently founded As an advertising gimmick, the company paid the town of Halfway, Oregon US$100,000 and donated 20 new computers to change its name to, Oregon.

Monday, October 4, 1999 gets $2.5M in fundingPhiladelphia Business Journal

Conshohocken Internet start-up said it has received $2.5 million in a second round of venture financing. Venture fund participants include Comcast Interactive Capital Group Inc., which is owned by Comcast Corp., the Philadelphia-based operator of cable TV systems, and New York-based Woodland Partners. Individual participants include Howard Morgan, general partner of idealab!, an Internet incubator located in Old Town Pasadena, Calif., and David Schlessinger, founder of Zany Brainy Inc. is developing a Web site that will allow users to conduct what it calls "the next generation of person-to-person" electronic commerce on the Internet.

“We are committed to fueling the Digital Photography Revolution in India”, averred Sunny Balijepalli, an Indian born American innovator and entrepreneur. Sunny and Phiroze Havaldar, a veteran of the photography industry, have united to launch, the country’s first single source website that enables consumers around the world to store, share and print digital photos.

ZoomIn is the first world-class provider of photographic prints and merchandise to serve the Indian market. Sunny Balijepalli, Chief Executive Officer, ZoomIn, says, “ZoomIn will be primarily aimed at Internet and digital camera users in the country. The growth of the Internet population in India indicates demand for innovative online services, thereby justifying our approach to the market. We are committed to leading the online photo sharing market through innovation, intuitive design, fair prices, spectacular service, and exceptional quality.” According to available industry data, e-commerce in India is set to reach $2.3bn by 2009.

ZoomIn provides top-quality prints delivered to all major cities in India within the next business day, and the kind of sophisticated photo-sharing features users would expect of a social-networking site in the United States. Upon launch, is now the industry’s premiere service catering to Non-Resident Indians in the US to send photos to friends and family in India.

According to comScore, India has the fastest growing Internet population in the world. India’s digital boom is further endorsed by the fact that the country has emerged as one of the fastest growing digital product and mobile phone markets in the world. Industry reports predict that 900,000 digital cameras will be sold in India in 2007, representing 199% CAGR. According to Gartner, the number of mobile users in the country will more than double in the next five years, growing from 185 million to 462 million by 2011.

Phiroze Havaldar, co-founder of ZoomIn, says, “India is on the threshold of a digital revolution and the Internet is playing a growing role in people’s lives around the globe. Digital photo printing is a booming market in India, and with over 30-40 million Internet users and a digital camera market clocking in unprecedented growth, there is tremendous potential for a world class offering like ZoomIn. We are confident that the company will raise the bar of photo sharing and merchandising services in India and become the leader in this space.”

In the Indian market, ZoomIn will adopt a phased approach in acquiring new users and generating revenue. Indian expats living in the U.S. will help expose ZoomIn to the target market in India, and act as early adopters who introduce the service to friends and family.

ZoomIn has a comprehensive back-office and fulfillment set-up in India to print photos locally. This includes multiple, state of the art printing facilities and trained personnel. The company provides professional-grade color correction to photos when required, giving ZoomIn’s customers the highest-quality prints available online. ZoomIn has also partnered with local shipment providers to provide low-cost overnight shipping with tracking. The company’s Customer Service and software development teams will be located in Mumbai to ensure a tight feedback loop between customer needs and site development.

ZoomIn has a diverse management team with a track record of founding and leading successful and innovative startups. The co-founder and CTO of, Sunny Balijepalli, founded ZoomIn with Phiroze Havaldar, one of India’s most renowned photography experts and pioneer of the “1-hour photo” concept in India, representing a new chapter in the Indian-US business collaboration era.

Commenting on the company’s future plans, Sunny adds, “In addition to providing photographic prints, we plan to add a wide range of printed merchandise like photo books, greeting cards, and other innovative gift items to our product portfolio. We expect the first production expansion to be available to our customers before Diwali. Given the concentration of Internet usage, we will target top metros in India in the first phase of customer acquisition. Once we have expanded and established our brand and services in India, we may consider targeting Southeast Asia and Central and South America by 2008. ”

“With millions of mobile users adding up every month, the mobile commerce (m-commerce) market is set to witness a parallel boom. We expect to offer services through this channel too in the near future”, says Sunny. According to IAMAI, the m-commerce market in India is estimated around Rs. 9500 crores in 2007.