Top 5 priorities of online shopper as per Amazon

September 08, 12 by Bharani

For a company that is more than decade old, Amazon is still on a trail-blazing mode. It is one company that is rivalling with Google, Apple, Facebook on pure technical prowess alone! I read on a blog about what Amazon thinks as the top 5 priorities of the online shopper. The top 5 priorities are:

1. Selection: Pretty basic right? If you don’t have the product, customer cannot buy. So, it’s absolutely important the product is made available and found by the customer.

2. Price: Most Customers would love to save money. They hunt for best prices. So, give the customers a best price.

3. Delivery: This one’s interesting. There is actually big difference between having the product right away, by the end of the day, tomorrow, in a week’s time, or in a fortnight and later. Instant gratification always wins hands down. So, the faster the delivery, the happier the customer.

4. Convenience: Make the whole shopping experience seamless and convenient. The process of finding,buying, checking out, payment options, delivery options, return policies everything should be absolutely frictionless. Easier said than done. If the decade old, online retail giant Amazon is still improving, let’s not even discuss about the Indian counter parts now!

5. Information: Well, I am not sure if Amazon intentionally placed this at the bottom of the list. But, a 360 degree information about the product is very important to convince a customer to buy. Any doubts in a customer’s mind, you lose a sale! Provide clear product images, accurate product specifications, unbiased-detailed customer reviews and ratings, pricing information, variations available, etc., should be made available to the customer in a clear way!

Flipkart is pretty close to imbibing these philosophies when it comes to Online shopping in India. But there is a really long way to go..!

A honest speech from Bill Gates that every kid should read!

June 27, 12 by Bharani

There are too many graduation-day speeches and free lectures these days. But none of them address the practical needs of the students. The speech given by bill gates in a high school ceremony stands out and touches the heart directly..check it out yourself!

Bill Gates speech at high school graduation ceremony!

Bill Gates speech at high school graduation ceremony!

Schulich begins work with First International Business School Campus in India

July 20, 11 by Bharani

The canadian based York University’s Schulich School of Business will become the first International Business School to have full-fledged campus in India. Schulich Business School has partnered with GMR Infrastructure to setup the campus in Hyderabad. GMR group will provide the land, build the infrastructure and take care of the logistics. Schulich will provide the academic infrastructure and the learning environment. The Campus is being developed inside GMR’s Aerotropolis on a 15 acres land. The Campus will be operational by 2013 and a group of 110 MBA students will form the first batch. The application procedures remain the same with GMAT, work experience, work references, personal interview and application essays as the evaluation criteria.

Last week, GMR group and Schulich school did the ground-breaking ceremony. The construction work will begin very shortly. Some of the stats shared by the Canadian commissioner and Dean of Schulich business school during this occasion was interesting. According to them:

* Canada produces 8,000 MBAs a year and its a saturated market. On contrary, India produces just 5,000 MBAs a year while the demand is for 110,000 MBAs a year. There’s undoubtedly a huge gap!
* Schulich Business School is already approved by AICTE.
* 35-40% of students who will study in the hyderabad campus will be international students from Germany, Russia, Africa, Canada and America.
* Schulich Plans to offer international placements for the students graduating from Indian campus. That’s the main goal - to be a global school with global outreach.
* Tuition Fee would be same as that charged in toronto campus - $30,000/year - works out to around 13.5 lakhs/year and lets assume 15 lakhs/year if you include additional expenses. Also remember this is a 2 year program so the total cost of education will be 30 lakhs (and upwards)

Predictions from a Futurist 50 years back

March 07, 11 by Bharani

It amazes me how someone can think in such a far-sighted manner. I came across these two videos of Sir Arthur C Clarke - A British inventor and a futurist - who explains way back in 1964 how the science and technology will pan out 50 years from then. Pretty impressive…

Facebook Messaging System

November 16, 10 by Bharani

Facebook announced about their new messaging system at web 2.0 2010 Expo opening day. Though it is difficult to grasp the offering until you see it in play, the following video will help to get some clarity on the offering.

Few Highlights:

1. Every user has preferred mode of communication. You have better chances of conversing with someone if you reach them through text message, some through chat/IM, most through email and few through social networks and some more channels. You cant have a lookup table to figure out the best mode of communication to each of your friend. What if a system can take care of that for you? Facebook messaging system promises to take care of that…!

2. Social Inbox is a feature that allows only the emails from your friends and colleagues to reach you and keeps away every other email from your inbox. Sure, this feature can be achieved through some smart filters and cool plugins that sit on top of existing email systems. But Facebook knows your social connections and it can offer you the ’social inbox’ feature easily. The other nifty feature is the ability to block unwarranted emails. If by chance a false email gets through to your social inbox, you can just block the email. What happens next is interesting. Once blocked, the emails are bounced back..It doesn’t go and sit in your spam box!

3. By now we are familiar with grouping the emails based on Email subject lines. Another cool way of organizing would be to group the messages based on people. Yes all messages from your friends will be grouped under their name. Though it sounds interesting, I am not sure if can handle tens of thousands of emails grouped under same name!

The other features are “Conversation history” where your entire conversations are backed up! This is nothing new though.

Words of Wisdom from Successful Entrepreneurs #1

September 27, 10 by Bharani

Entrepreneur Magazine India recently came up with an anniversary edition where successful business people and entrepreneurs shared their stories and words of wisdom to other aspiring entrepreneurs. I am summarizing them for my own reference as well as for other’s benefits

Rana Kapoor, CEO and MD of YES Bank.

  1. Test your idea without giving it away
  2. Create a team that is willing to experiment effectively
  3. Thing Big!

 

Saurabh Srivastava, Founder of Indian Angel Network

  1. There may be many in the sector you want to jump into, so it is very important that you ask yourself why you will succeed.
  2. Do not stop at merely having a great idea that will excite everyone.
  3. Do not fear to try over and over again.

 

Sanjeev Bikchandani, Founder and CEO of InfoEdge India Limited

When I quit my job, I was too used to a salaried check. Within six months of quitting, I realized the perceived risks in entrepreneurship were much higher than the real risks. So I would advice entrepreneurs to get rid of their fears and not overstress themselves.

B.V. Jagadeesh, President and CEO of 3Leaf Systems

  1. To build a great company you need a great product, great team and great markets
  2. Opportunities are massive today as compared to even 10 years ago. This means the entrepreneur needs to be even more laser-sharp to focus on areas that he/she understands well.
  3. The toughest decision an entrepreneur and a startup company have to make is to say “no”. Saying yes is very easy and the more you say yes, the more focus your company loses and resources are spread thin. At the same time, you have to know when and for what you should say no, otherwise you might end up saying no to the wrong thing and lose a huge market opportunity.
  4. You, as an entrepreneur, need to be open and broad-minded and at the same time take tough decisions and stand by them.
  5. You should allow debates within the organization rather than follow a dictatorial approach.

 

Pradeep Kar, Founder, Chairman and Managing Directory, Microland Limited

  1. It’s an entrepreneurs job to raise money, and I would urge all entrepreneurs to give it adequate time and energy to raise capital rather than depending on a finance manager.
  2. Always raise capital more than you need.
  3. Spend a lot of your time and energy hiring people. Atleast 25% of an entrepreneurs time should be spent in finding good talent for the organization. Once you find good talent, ensure you don’t come in their way of growth.
  4. Listen to your own gut feelings.
  5. Don’t be afraid of failure or to take a decision.

 

Shah Rukh Khan, Actor and Entrepreneur

You should also strike while the iron’s hot. Don’t sit on your ideas if you feel it’s the right time to start a business around them.

Raghav Bahl, Founder & Editor of Network 18

Just as Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, an entrepreneur in my humble book is 1% capital and 99% persistence, focus and humility.

Captain Gopinath, Chairman and MD, Deccan 360

  1. Don’t be afraid to think big. When we build, let us think that we build forever.
  2. Don’t ever stop learning. The day you stop, your organization dies.
  3. Energize yourself by drawing energy from people and ideas around you.
  4. Don’t get distracted by naysayers. Have faith in your idea and be determined to make it work.
  5. Being an entrepreneur is like being immortal, because you leave a footprint behind. So go for it.

 

Deep Kalra, Founder & CEO, Makemytrip.com

You regret the things you don’t do in life; not the things you do. So, go build the business you want to.

Phaneesh Murthy, CEO, iGate

  1. Start the venture in your area of expertise.
  2. Don’t be greedy.
  3. The first few deals should be done in a missionary manner.
  4. Invest in talent, intellectual capital and physical infrastructure before chasing the first deal.
  5. Have fun – it’s your company after all.

 

Rajeev Karwal, Founder, Milagrow business and knowledge solutions

  1. Be clear about exactly what you want to do.
  2. While starting up, don’t waste too much time searching for outside funds.
  3. Great teamwork can push you far.
  4. Start the business with the right processes and tools so that the system gets established right from the very beginning of your organization.
  5. Never depend on seasonal customers or clients that take up 60-70% of your work. You will have beginner’s luck which will help; don’t let the reverses pull you down and rise every time you fall.

 

 

 

Entrepreneurship as Disease

September 17, 10 by Bharani

A good friend Sankar Nivas, forwarded me this article about Entrepreneurship. This is yet another perspective about Entrepreneurship. The author’s take is that Entrepreneurs are not driven by money, while Businessmen are driven by money and Entrepreneurs have a common personality trait.

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I have heard far too many answers to this question. Everything from being a risk taker, inventor, a small business owner, to being just plain crazy or lucky. But none of these things have anything to do with entrepreneurialism, and frankly neither does much of what I have read in business books. Even the always insightful Malcolm Gladwell, in a recent New Yorker article on the subject, only got it half right.

Being an entrepreneur is something far different than what most people think. It is not about behavior (whether risk-prone or risk-averse); it is not about business type (you can run a small business, a public company, a division of a company, or be an investor); and it is not about title (you do not have to be a CEO to be an entrepreneur). Instead, I see it as a personality trait. There are plenty of small business owners and start-up founders who do exceptionally well — but are not what I would consider entrepreneurs. Just like in big business, you can be a successful general manager without being an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial.

I liken entrepreneurism to a disease. Having it myself, I am not always sure it is a good thing. That so many people wish to suffer from it just tells me they don’t understand it. Entrepreneurs, as the story goes, embody the American dream. They come from nowhere to build large empires, reap huge rewards, and live a lavish lifestyle. There is Larry Ellison and his yachts; Bill Gates and his 66,000-square foot smart house; Ted Turner and his nearly 2 million acres of land; Larry Page and his 747.

But those are the outliers. Gladwell’s well-received book of the same name estimated it takes nearly 10,000 hours of work to gain true expertise. Entrepreneurs are all in, all the time. Entrepreneurs love what they do and obsess over it. It is a predisposition; a path that has already been laid for you. It is a character trait, a labor of love, a zeal that cannot be trained, a condition that cannot be treated, an illness that cannot be caught. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Here are some questions to see if you have it:

Do you wake up before your alarm goes off, hop out of bed excited to go to work? (good)
Do you race to the car, forgetting breakfast, your morning coffee, and the paper? (better)
Halfway to work, do you look down, realize you forgot to shower, shave, or get dressed? (great)
Do you pause for a second, and then decide–what the hell–and head to work anyways? (diagnosis: entrepreneurialism; cure unknown)
I have done this far too many times, without any hesitation or embarrassment (my team jokingly calls these antics “Stibel-isms” but it’s really just entrepreneurism). Think of it as a very deep focus that is quite difficult to shake out of, especially when juxtaposed against life’s daily activities. Most people use a calendar to remind them of meetings and events; I have on my calendar such mundane things as eating lunch! Many people mistake entrepreneurism for ADD, or obsessiveness, or risk-taking, or hyper-mania or a host of other quirks. But entrepreneurs are really just manic-manic — there is one switch and it is always turned to on.

What drives an entrepreneur is not money. That is what drives businesses and businesspeople. But for an entrepreneur, money is merely a yardstick. Frankly, entrepreneurism is a very difficult and unpredictable way to make a living. It is often binary: either you make more money than your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren will know what to do with; or you go broke. Most entrepreneurs fail miserably. If you want to guarantee a good living — one that will offer you a successful, stable career and a nice inheritance for your kids — listen to your mother and become a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson.

What makes some entrepreneurs successful is the same thing that makes others successful: relying on strengths and avoiding weaknesses. To be sure, entrepreneurs have an upper hand (or at least I like to think so): the energy level is higher, the confidence level is higher, and with time, entrepreneurs have a higher tendency to acquire subject-matter expertise. But success comes not from those things alone, but by leveraging core competencies. What makes me successful (sometimes) is that I combine my entrepreneurism with my strengths in taking calculated risks, decision making, and building teams of people I admire.

If you are an entrepreneur, use it to your advantage. But if not, don’t try to become one. (It won’t work — and why try to contract a disease? You wouldn’t try to get the measles). Instead, figure out what you do best and aim to do it better than anyone else. And if your organization needs an entrepreneur for it to succeed, just hire one.

Written by Jeffrey M. Stibel - Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. He is an entrepreneur, a brain scientist, and the author of Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/09/entrepreneurship_as_disease.html

Life of a Young Entrepreneur

August 31, 10 by Bharani

This article is reproduced from ISB Alumni Affairs News letter and is written by Vivek pahwa. The article lucidly explains the life on an young entrepreneur. I thought this is worth reproducing.

In this article, Pahwa gives a first hand account about being a young entrepreneur. “A combination of passion, risk taking, and a commitment to build something big and different,” he prescribes.

The Purpose, the Pursuit
Being an entrepreneur is a responsibility – a responsibility to produce superior goods and services for people to consume in an efficient manner, and to put capital, intellect and knowledge to productive use. It means giving up personal interests in the interest of building an enduring company. It means to pursue the journey of building value for your employees, shareholders and customers single mindedly. It often consumes your entire ‘brain space’, and therefore becomes the pursuit of life itself for most entrepreneurs.

The most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur is creating a product or service which benefits people. Use feedback on how they have benefited from the use of our product, not only makes us happy but also motivates us to create an even more rewarding experience for the users.
On the other hand, there are many days where effort goes into things with seemingly no benefit. The results take a long time to show and this can get quite frustrating. Being an entrepreneur means a lot of effort in the initial days, without much feedback.

Real Life Learning
When I graduated from business school, I thought I had the necessary skills, tools and experiences required to become a successful entrepreneur. However, I have learned a great deal more outside the classroom. Practical skills of identifying, attracting and motivating talent and people in your organisation, working and building performance oriented teams, learning how to deal with failure or disappointments, and the ability to overcome challenges to achieve success – these are some of the “real life” management skills that are essential for success.

I believe that there are a few essential traits to become a successful entrepreneur. First, the determination to succeed is very important. It helps in overcoming all the obstacles and challenges that come in the way. Second, enthusiasm and energy are essential to building a successful business. Finally, having a business sense – some people naturally have a keen sense of profiting by doing business, and these people tend to be street-smart, fast and hard negotiators, and tend to get the best out of their employees. This is a very important differentiator.

Driving Forces
To be a successful entrepreneur, it is important to be committed to it - be prepared to spend the rest of your life in building the business. Do it because you are passionate about the idea and want to create a change in the world. Have an incessant need to create, build value, and grow the business.
It is beneficial for a young entrepreneur to have a mentor. It can cut down the mistakes you make into half. A mentor can help you choose the right track, make the right ‘big’ decisions and support you when you are discouraged, since he/she probably has been through the same path successfully.

Vivek Pahwa, Class of ‘06 was named Asia’s Best Entrepreneur according to a 2008 poll conducted by Business Week. Post ISB, Pahwa started a social networking site in India called DesiMartini.com., which he later sold. Pahwa then founded the company Accentium Web Pvt. Ltd., which created a niche matrimony site, SecondShaadi.com. The site on date records 150,000 registered users. Accentiums second site, Gaadi.com, an auto research site, is already the number one automobile web site in India. Accentium also runs StudyNation, Taaza.com.com and SitaGita.com.

Byemobile.com - A Stolen, copy-paste website

August 30, 10 by Bharani

I am grappling with a strange issue. Some guy from Spain called Javier Castilla has stolen the site design of our website 91mobiles.com and apparently populating the site with clear-cut site-scraping again from our site (without adding any value whatsoever).

It’s been 9 months since we launched 91mobiles and we took the services of a professional freelance designer to design the site from scratch. Anyone who have checked out 91mobiles.com can vouch for that.

Look at the screenshot of byemobile.com. Though he has done a shabby work of copy-pasting, it will be obvious in the first look that the site is a copy-paste of 91mobiles.com.

The domain has been created on 3rd August 2010! Just 23 days old Whoa! Check out the proof yourself. http://whois.domaintools.com/byemobile.com. No denying there!

Obviously I am not happy that a spanish guy is copying from Indian website. I am pissed off with him. I have written a warning mail to him and asked him to change the design. No response yet. There is only one way left now. Filing a DMCA Complaint with google and the web hosting provider. It’s a long procedure. But filing a DMCA complaint will definitely yield results even it happens little late.

Any other suggestions on how to tackle this issue? Is this worth chasing this guy?

Update: He has changed the design now.

Electronic Voting Machine Security Issue

August 23, 10 by Bharani

A very disturbing security concern over Indian Electronic Voting Machines has emerged recently. VeTA has performed a kind-of sting operation on Indian EVMs and has published a white paper briefing the security flaws in the Voting machines. VeTA is an independant National level citizen’s forum for promoting Verifiability, Transparency and Accountability in Indian Elections. Some of the well known computer experts, political scientists, public activists, legal professionals, academicians have come together to analyze the state of Indian Elections. On Saturday, August 21 2010, Hari Prasad, Chief Technical Coordinator of VeTA was arrested for the possession of Electronic Voting Machine, which apparently was acquired through anonymous insider source! The Anonymity is still not revealed.

VeTA did a very thorough analysis on the EVM Hardware and software and proved in various ways that the EVM can be hacked and the results be easily manipulated. VeTA not just content with the findings went on to publish a white paper based on the findings. Now the whole world knows that Indian EVMs are not tamper-proof and the findings are completely contrary to the claim from Indian Election Commission “totally tamper proof, perfect, fail safe and requiring no improvement”.

I am surprised why Indian government and Election commission would have disallowed any independant security evaluation! This raises a serious integrity concern about ECI. While the cyber-hackers are growing powerful and while the cyber security is always playing a catch up game with cyber attacks, this lack of concern and total underestimation of EVM Hacking from ECI needs to be addressed immediately. I think ’sting’ operations are the only way to reform the Indian government and remove the inefficiency and corruption from it.

You can watch the video below to understand the technical flaws of the voting machines and how naive the security mechanisms are.

References:
http://www.indianevm.com/blogs/?p=402
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/jhalderm/electronic-voting-researcher-arrested-over-anonymous-source