Long leave of absence – the past six months

Unfortunately, there has been no activity on the blog for the past six months. Though that was not something which was planned, it could certainly not be helped. I have been trying to finish the book that I started writing in November, and it has proven to be a more difficult task than I would have imagined. And no, I’m not trying to write yet another love story; the bookshelves at Landmark and Crossword are full of them as it is. The book is about e-commerce, and considering the nature of the subject, it did get out of hand. Thankfully I’m close to completing it now, and expect to put it out in front of you all in another 1 month. Stay tuned.

SaaS – is it already over?

SaaS or Software as a Service gained popularity due to the fact that you did not need to pay a one time hefty fees for a software about which you are not yet sure if it adds value to your business. The model allows you to pay a small monthly fees in return for the services, and the moment you feel you no longer need it or the product is not something your company needs right now, you can simply go ahead and cancel the services. (Granted some of the vendors may ask you for a minimum period contract, but (a) that is extremely rare, and (b) it still beats hands down the cost of deployment associated with a related software and setting up the infrastructure to sustain it). You end up saving a lot of money, plain and simple. A simple, highly efficient and a most lucrative value proposition [...]

Start Lean – Minimize Complexity, Go mobile.

The one word you will find a lot associated with “Startup” is “Lean”. Google throws up some 20.7 million results when you search for “Lean Startup”, and ever since the business approach of Lean Startup was coined by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author Eric Ries, the term is being used even more and more. But even after using the term more and more, it appears the number of people actually following this methodology is diminishing with every passing day.   Startups and startup founders tend to go for the perfect product – one that exactly caters to the needs of the market, and fills in the gaping void that exists. What they fail to realize is that this perfect product is what they feel it would be, and not what their market actually needs or is looking for. A perfect product for this very reason just doesn’t exist, the best you [...]

Find yourself an Angel!

Lately, more than the VCs, its Seed Funds and incubators startup-founders are on a lookout for. The reason is very simple, with an increasing number of startups in the internet space, the amount of funding they individually require to get off the ground is relatively less. So, they have gained popularity since they help startups in building that initial product, and gain some initial validating traction before going ahead to raise a larger Venture round. It works well both ways, the startups see a better conversion ratio in case of Seed Funds, and the VCs don’t need to break their heads over whether or not they should invest in a startup without any validation – no matter how much they are in favor of the concept or the team (given the fact that the size of their involvement is significantly higher monetarily). And its not just companies who are acting [...]

“Lets change the retail landscape” – Mobile Commerce

Your traditional brick-and-mortar or mom-and-pop stores are freaking out. Though mobile commerce is not even close to the acceleration it is witnessing in the US, it will catch up soon. So, let’s talk about the changing landscape in US today first. One of the major pain-points of the Walmarts, the Targets, and the Best Buys is turning out to be Showrooming – a phenomenon where consumers do visit the physical stores, but only to shortlist the items that they want to purchase, which actually happens on online stores like Amazon. So, in essence, for the consumers, the presence of the brick-and-mortar stores is being toned down to a three-dimensional catalog alternative for the virtual catalog they see on Amazon. And the number of consumers following this is substantial, with as much as 35% confessing to Showrooming in a study/survey conducted by comScore for Q2-2012. So, is it good or bad? [...]

Online Travel Business – the change it has gone through, and the mobile-change it needs to adopt

The past was simpler when travel meant walking up to the nearest railway reservation counter, or calling up your ticket agent to tell him the dates of your travel and he would ceremoniously deliver the train or flight tickets to your doorstep. Then came the era of online ticketing, and searching for various travel avenues before deciding your dates and/or mode of travel. It was still simple enough. Now everything is tech! Online travel is no longer solely about search or booking your tickets. Everything has become social and mobile, and even the travel industry could not remain untouched by this change; but developments at their end is still happening at a pace much slower than required. One look at the smart-phones and tablets market around you gives you an overwhelming idea of the rate at which the number of tech-savvy consumers is rising. Consumers are acting pricey by the [...]

Airtel bans incoming texts from rivals – is it hurting them or itself?

Telecom in India is a nasty business, one that is more cut-throat than many others. Companies have been known to offer free SIM cards to have more and new activations, mobile number porting with amazing talk-time or balance offers to have more subscribers from other operators switch to their network, and n number of other offers. But now, the largest Indian telecom operator – Bharti Airtel, has just made a move that may very well change the game. If you are a subscriber of Aircel or Reliance, you will not be able to send out text messages to your friends on Airtel; since Bharti has decided to block incoming text messages from these rival operators. Operatives of Bharti Airtel are trying to justify the move citing “a step to provide better customer service” as the reason behind the decision. As per them, since these two operators are offering a number [...]

Rocket Internet cashing in on Amazon’s slow move; raises $40-mill for Lazada

Amazon is taking its own sweet time to get to various regional markets, and this has been presenting a new window of opportunity for smaller localized players looking to get acquired when Amazon finally makes its move in a geography they are operating in. And if we talk about operating with the sole view of getting acquired by a larger player, who does it better than the Samwer brothers. Oliver and his brothers are known to move at an amazingly aggressive pace to position them at a position of strength in local markets, and then pass on the baton when a larger player makes the move. Nascent Asian markets like Vietnam and Malaysia are yet to see any move from the biggie – Amazon, and Samwers’ backed Rocket Internet is set on making it worth their time till that happens. Lazada, the “online shopping mall” focussed on Asia is moving quick, and [...]

Free Trial? Great!…wait, what?

Doesn’t matter whether you are a Social Media Marketing Guru, a Product Manager, a first-gen entrepreneur, a freelancer or anybody else – all of us, at one time or the other, have encountered a “Free 30-day trial” website offering an amazing service. One of the oldest marketing techniques – give them a taste of what you are offering. Unfortunately for the lack of a better example, I would give you the example of a drug dealer – a dealer always offers the first sample to a new customer (if the customer is not an actual customer of the drug yet, but nevertheless a potential one) free of cost, may be then one more. It is just later that the charges start flowing in. A most efficient technique. As humans, we all love Free Stuff – without any geographical restrictions, we are all alike that way. So it’s all good, right? [...]

Find a fit with the market – not in product but yourself

Ideas do not make great startups, the founders do. More often than not, VCs and angel investors invest not in the idea itself, but the team showing promise to efficiently execute the idea. So, more than the idea, it is you who needs to have a fit with the market you are trying to cater to. You need to be passionate about the space, and you should be able to speak with conviction in favor of the need that you think exists. If you are not convinced yourself, there is a little chance of you convincing anyone else. And there is a humongous difference between actually believing in the idea, and just wishing that it would work. You need to be standing on the side of the former.   When you actually believe in the idea, you try to kink out all the creases, and make it better every single [...]