Friday, 30 December 2011
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Ever sent an SMS to 55-444 for a search query? or used SMSgyan?
Meet Deepak Ravindran and Abhinav Sree, founders of SMSGyan- who have serviced 250 Million queries since their start, have an active userbase of 10 Million, and do 0.5 Million queries daily. And they were in college until 2009.
Sounds fascinating? I catch up with them and they describe their product and how they got here from Kasargode near Mangalore. If you want to try their product out, SMS any query to 55-444 on any network, or check them out on smsgyan
Friday, 23 December 2011
In this video I catch up with Sanjay Purohit, SVP @ Infosys who has recently taken charge of the Products, Platforms and Solutions portfolio at Infosys, which is targeted with being a third of the overall revenue in the next 5 years.
Before this Sanjay used to earlier be the Head of Strategy and Planning at Infosys- here we talk about his vision for the technology future and what are the key trends he sees, as well as his personal journey so far. You can also check out an Economic Times article on Sanjay and his portfolio at this link Sanjay Purohit InfosysEdge on Economic Times
Monday, 19 December 2011
My conversation with Anshuman Bapna, who has identified a $ 1 Billion opportunity in the huge travel industry that he is bringing to life through his startup- Mygola (www.mygola.com)
Anshuman co-founded and sold RightHalf.com while in undergrad at IIT Bombay. After his MBA at Stanford, Anshuman spent two years in Google's Strategic Partnerships team negotiating Adsense deals with large travel partners.
Mygola are a travel planning service that lets people reach human guides to do all the online research for your trip. They answer questions about flights and hotels, and also find out esoteric travel information. They have built special technology that mines the unstructured travel information is scattered around the web. They use special tools built on top of the web to find the most relevant and freshest answer to questions.
You can check them out at Mygola.com
Thursday, 15 December 2011
Thursday, 8 December 2011
A very interesting chat with EVS Chakravarthy, the CEO & MD of Youbroadband.in, a high-speed broadband services provider operating in 12 cities in India and servicing 350,000 households.
He speaks about how he believes high-speed broadband will change the customer experience and drive Video, which, he predicts will form 80% of the net in the future. He also talks about how he did the management buyout of the company from British Gas.
Set up in 2001 by British Gas as Iqara Broadband, YOU Broadband & Cable India Limited became a Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI) owned company in 2006.
YOU Broadband is a category 'A' ISP and India's first ISO accredited broadband service provider. YOU offers high speed Internet, voice and video services through cable modem platform to residential, SME and corporate customers in 12 cities. YOU is expanding its presence in other cities across the country.
Sunday, 20 November 2011
Suku is a doyen of Indian media- with extensive experience on all sides of the media industry . He jointly runs AIDEM media, which has extensive properties in the Indian Media Industry.
Here, he talks about what the coming decade means for Indian Media- what are the key trends, and what will that mean. He describes how India is one of the few nations in the Billion dollar club this year, and talks how digital will have to make peace with TV, which will continue to be the dominant media channel for Indians.
He also describes how india will continue to be a huge source of growth for the media industry due to various factors.A great video to watch to get a quick snapshot of the Indian media industry from a Guru.
Karthik is trailblazing a new business model through his Blume Ventures -he is enabling Micro Venturing, and he has already funded a dozen companies to varying extents - $100K (50 Lakhs) to $250K (1.25Cr)
Most capital providers work on larger size funding requirements- so what's Karthik's vision, and how has he structured it so he will be successful?
He talks about the viewpoint, explains a couple of ventures he has funded and describes how everything about his business is different- an extremely fascinating and innovative conversation- a great listen.
Friday, 18 November 2011
I caught up with Mirjam Schöning at the WEF India summit at Mumbai this week. Mirjam heads the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and has been involved in this space for 11 years.
Mirjam was here as a part of the 2011 Indian Social Entrepreneurship Award which was awarded to Neelam Chibber of Industree, Bangalore
Mirjam talks about whats happening in India on Social Entrepreneurship, how that compares to the world. She opines that the entire Social Entrepreneurship movement has evolved over time- one of the Entrepreneurs told her after a recent WEF China summit "I did not have to explain the term social Entrepreneurship even once at the event".
She also talks about her passion for Social Entrepreneurship and why she left her Bain Consulting job to do this.
In this provocative conversation, Reuben Abraham, Professor, ISB Hyderabad and I chat on the sidelines of the recently concluded WEF India summit at Mumbai. We talk about the MBA mindset in the student and in B Schools- and conclude that the B-school does indeed kill Entrepreneurial aspirations
Thursday, 17 November 2011
India loses 18 people every hour to road accidents- the highest number of road accidents in the world. This is the biggest killer in the 25-40 age group, the most productive age and costs the economy 2.7% of its GDP.
Piyush Tewari through Save Life has chosen to change this- and he has given up his promising corporate career to the cause.
After losing a 16 yr old cousin to a road accident, Piyush set up SaveLife, a social entrepreneurship organisation dedicated to providing assistance to Roadside victims in the "golden hour" after the accident
Hear how his implementations have gone in Thane and Delhi and what he is doing
Ramesh is the CFO or Lupin Pharma, and here he talks about his approach to corporate reporting.
Here, he talks about his viewpoint - he quantifies the qualitative aspects of business when he does reporting- and he goes on to describe how he does it- through a couple of examples
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
In this fascinating conversation, he discusses how Tata's approach to business is different, and why TATA is such a force for good.
In his role in facilitating a council of managing directors of almost 45 major Tata Group Orgs, he evangelises the TATA way and, as a part of this talk, articulates why doing good is not dichotomous from doing business.
He gets into the Neeti, Nyaya and the Neeyat elements of how the TATA group works.
In this conversation with Charles Tilly, CEO, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), I discuss why this is and what can be done to mitigate it- Charles explains what can be done through examples and anecdotes...
Monday, 7 November 2011
Pat Cleverly is with Tomorrows Company, a London based ThinkTank and is responsible for initiatives- here she talks about the 3 initiatives Tomorrows Company has brought out on Talent, Integrated Reporting and Inclusive Growth
She identifies the key findings and the best practices and practitioners in each of the three.
Friday, 14 October 2011
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Monday, 26 September 2011
Ever since the last month’s frenzy over Anna and his fast, things may have changed, at least in the short run, even if its very little- a real-estate developer friend tells me that when he deals with urban planning authorities now-a-days, he senses that the sense of “entitlement” over bribes is lesser (though the bribes still need to be paid!).
But there is also a real danger that nothing much happens and we might be looking back a while from now and see this as a minor hiccup in India’s steady progress towards the top (?) in our ranking ,currently 83rd ,of the world’s most corrupt nations…
Implementing the Lokpal bill seems to be the one point agenda- and whilst focus is great, the question is, Is that enough? I think voices wiser than mine have weighed in on the overall merits of the bill, and don’t want to weigh-in on that, but there seems to be a rising consensus that Lokpal at the street level, will only impact months, if not years after implementation. And it will be dependent on people that staff it, even if they are accountable- the latin phrase “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies” springs to mind.
And yet, crowd power did force everyone in authority to listen to and accept what Anna and his cohort asked for. So to me, the key question is, what more can we do whilst the iron is hot, whilst the society will be listened to, and action will be taken, which might lead to a more sustainable path towards a corruption free India?
So what can be done? What else can we ask for? I think one direction to focus on, is to have a strident call to action for Transparency in specific areas that are very high touch to citizens.
I can hear you go- hey, what’s new here? We have been pushing for transparency forever, haven’t we? Yes, we have, and a huge success of one of these measures, which we perhaps owe all the exposure of the scams- CWG, 2G etc to, the RTI (the Right to Information) act was introduced in 2005 by Dr.Manmohan Singh – Isnt it ironic, that its his government that is bearing the brunt of RTI’s disclosure requirements?
But what I mean is, transparency, in the age of technology and the internet is like RTI on steroids- many people can process and make sense of vast quantities of information and bring that to public attention via 140 characters. If we are able to unleash this transparency on those specific issues that have “high everyday common man touch”, which impacts each of us everyday, we are on a MagLev/Bullet Train heading towards the promised corruption-free land. I have 3 examples to quote from the first world:
- 1- Education and The School League tables in the UK-When Britain decided to force their school education system to make public certain information- statistics how many students passed what grades, and at what levels, it created an entirely new industry on the internet of secondary data and reporting, and today, schools in the uk are entirely focused on their league rankings which determine which parents and students seek them out- an exemplar of how transparency in school performance has improved it
- 2- Policing and the Crime Graphs in cities- multiple cities are following this, but the key example I have to point out is what happened in the uk in February, when the government decided to make crime statistics public, and the website crashed because of the sheer volume of traffic.
- 3- Making accounts and spending at every level public – which means anyone can access howmuch a Panchayat/Ward, Taluk, District, Municipality, State etc has spent the last year, or historically- public scrutiny, coupled with aggressive media would keep the corporators, MLAs and MPs honest. Of course this sounds great but it is complex and requires some understanding of accountancy, and even with that, will be difficult to decipher with countless tables and numbers- but nevertheless, there are tools that can be employed (example, comparative between previous and current year’s spends on particular heads, comparative between different wards etc)
The key idea is if we are able to increase transparency in those areas that are high-touch to the aam admi, and accelerate the spread of that through the internet and mobile technologies, and open it upto other entrepreneurs who can make profitable businesses out of this data (e.g, homes for sale in low-crime neighbourhoods) would create a sustainable ecosystem where the demand for this data from everyday public would help create more need for transparency, and keep people honest. Amen to that!
Sunday, 19 June 2011
Thursday, 9 June 2011
We live in interesting times- Baba Ramdev, is on a hunger-fast against corruption and black money. Anna Hazare, with his bluechip Gandhian credentials, is leading the other flank- with his ability to attract the urban middle class across the nation. Amidst all this, there has been huge energy created around the issue – with demonstrations, fasts, prayers, protests in most cities across India. In the recent elections, Tamil Nadu saw a total rout of the ruling party, DMK, who were in the eye of the 2G storm.
However, Indians, and I dare say, most emerging market populations, have lived in an environment where this has been a part of everyday life for a very long time. So, the question is, why this spontaneous outburst of energy across the nation now, and, perhaps more relevant, what will emerge from all of this?
To understand this, we should perhaps examine this a bit. I am sure all of us have had some kind of a brush with “bribes”. When I was a child, and some electrical connection went wrong at our home, which happened frequently, I remember our calls to the “government lineman” who would land up reasonably promptly, fix the issue, and accept a token amount as a tip (Rs 10) for “chai-pani”. As I graduated from college, this system had evolved- a very pot-bellied policeman who came to verify my residence for passport issuance expected the “token” amount to be much larger, and it was no longer a “tip”, it was a “wage”, if you want it done, pay up. As time progressed, the wage has become a “demand”, and has gotten into really large sums of money.
So what used to be a small tip for a service, tolerated even if it was frowned upon, became a larger wage, and has crossed the line into extortionate territory- with the numbers now boggling the mind. That has started to rankle enormously. Also, Corruption is seen to be blocking the way of the promised “good life” which all of India wants, and wants very badly- witness the national shame of a shoddy job on Commonwealth Games by Kalmadi. Both of these perceptions have led to a smouldering anger, which has been fanned to flames by the likes of Annasaheb and the Good Guruji.
The issue is now so centre-stage that politicians of every hue and colour have jumped into the fray. Which means something will happen- Kalmadi can expect to cool his heels in jail for a while, with Kanimozhi and Raja keeping him company. The government will come out with some action / legislation, or it will face annihilation in the next elections- and corruption will, one hopes, be pushed back to “more tolerable” levels.
However, what remains to be seen is if we can get to a “low corruption” society, like it is in the first world. Unfortunately, in a scarcity led economy, where there will always be more demand than supply for anything good, the urge to “tip” for convenience/ or privilege will always be there, and hence the temptation to take the tip. Our big hope lies in reducing this scarcity, and becoming as prosperous as the first world is, and hopefully, with +8% growth, we are headed there soon.
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Sunday, 5 June 2011
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
This post sets out to explore the hypothesis- “selling skills are always important to a business in a competitive industry”- the question is- is it?
The reason this question is important is because sales and marketing are always expensive efforts, and hit the p&l strongly, and reduce margins. And if there is an option to minimise that effort, that option ought to be examined real hard, because it means better business margins.
Owing to a tech product i am building , I found myself in Taiwan recently, working through hardware suppliers, and got into a quaint situation- yes there is a language problem-very difficult to do business there if you don’t speak and understand Mandarin, but, on top of the language problem, i found little display of selling/consultative skills, and very little flexibility in terms- so basically, i was confronted multiple times with- these are my terms, take it or leave it- large order or small...and this was despite having someone fluent in English and Mandarin with me to discuss terms.
This set me thinking- obviously, Taiwan is a very successful nation when it comes to this particular market- most electronic components are made in Taiwan, and its home to the largest manufacturers of anything you care to name- memory, chips, motherboards, lcds, etc etc... So how did they become so successful without the selling/customer interface front end that i had assumed was a necessity of doing business?
The answer- in this particular instance- selling is absolutely NOT important. Why? To answer this, i would try and answer the critical question- how is my business configured- or put differently, how do i make money in my business?
Let me put this idea a different way. I am sure all of you have gone shopping for veggies in a market sometime ... Has the owner of Stall A ever tried to sell you the benefits of one vegetable over the other? Say carrots over potatoes? Just imagine the conversation- “potatoes are brilliant because they give you all the carbs you need blah blah“- and that results in a 1 kg purchase- in the meanwhile, the stall opposite has sold 4 kilos of potato, 6 kilos of carrots and 10 kilos of tomatoes and laughed away with 20X profits. Clearly we can see stall A going out of business very soon, right?
So the insight is- If i am in a low margin, high volume business, or work with buyers know what they want, and configure it properly, i can make the business work with little or zero sales effort.
You would be surprised at how many situations this applies to in businesses. Research indicates that 4 out of 5 consumer purchases happen because the buyer finds the seller, which, if you think about it, is counter intuitive, considering the effort any business puts into sales and marketing.
A quick and easy way to get out of the need to sell is to position yourself right- and i mean both conceptual positioning as well as the location. This is the logic that leads people/shops that sell the same things to group together- a marketplace for something- the veggie market with lots of stalls, or, for instance Tottenham Court Road for electronics in London, or Mumbai’s wholesale market, the Masjid Bunder, whose 40 shops were responsible for 10% of my revenue (from 10,000 shops) as the Sales Head in Mumbai- I am sure you can think of multiple examples...
But a caveat- this works for products or services that have a reasonably established demand. If your business is in a new product or service, and there is a need to create demand , i am afraid you don’t have an alternative but to look for sales and marketing help...