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Free photocopies, don't mind the adverts

Last updated: 01 March, 2010
Shruba Mukherjee, New Delhi, Feb 28, DH News Service 1:17 IST
From the next academic session, students in Bangalore may get photocopies of their lessons for free.

Harsh Narang, a fifth year student of Masters in Technology Program at IIT Delhi, has devised “phokatcopy,” a unique pro-student initiative providing photocopies to students “free of cost.”

“Phokatcopy is free in the sense that whatever money the student is spending for copying his or her lessons, he will get back exactly the same amount in some other form like free talktime or a chocolate fudge depending on his points,” Narang told Deccan Herald.

Describing his scheme, Narang said as the first step templates are obtained from the advertiser and printed on the back of A4 sheets. These sheets are repacked and distributed among photocopy shops.

For every 20 sheets they photocopy, students get a scratch card which will accumulate points corresponding to the amount spent for this purpose. These points can be redeemed online through a variety of gift vouchers like free talktime once the student registers with www.phokatcopy.com .

Not only advertising rates are cheap –– Rs 1.25 per page –– advertisers like Pepsi or Vodafone could get a captive audience for long, he said.

“We are travelling to Bangalore and have already tied up with Manipal University. We will explore prestigious institutions like the IIM as well as regular colleges,” Narang said.
Now, more than three lakh students in more than 200 colleges and universities in Delhi are availing of this service.

Leading advertisers who are part of this initiative include Fastrack, Café Coffee Day, Apple, Vodafone and Career Launcher. “I’ve always photocopied a lot of notes, and this used to be a pretty expensive exercise every semester. ‘Phokatcopy’ was born out of this dilemma,” Narang said.

But challenges were many –– convincing corporate advertisers was one among them. Being a new medium, it was hard to convince people it could hold its own against traditional advertising and marketing avenues. It was also difficult to establish a strong core team to manage their website, Narang said.

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