Saturday, December 23, 2006

India Internet Growth

Here is a study by IMRB on the Internet growth. To most of us heading Internet businesses this seems an accurate picture. Unfortunately the story shows that growth is linear and not exponential like we would have hoped. But I am not sure that it will be linear, I think some compuding is bound to kick in....

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Juice van

Here is an enterprising guy in Bombay outside Liberty Cinema. He has parked his van in the driveway of a building and serves juice out of the back

Phones going upmarket in India

India has been a notoriously low end market for cell phones, but all that seems to be changing now. More & more guys in my office are roaming around with high end phones (head of tech ofcourse has a Blackberry). Now I see ads all over the place for high end phones. Here are the 1st three pages of this week's business India.

So is the market changing? Yep. Not only can people now afford more pricey phones, but phone themselves are packing in more at a lower cost (I saw a Rs. 2800 camera phone).

What about Internert on the phone? Never say never. So far its mainly email, but I am sure both phone maufacturers and website owners will soon figure out how to get sites working through the slow speeds and the small screen of the phone...I for one would love to see yo4ya and flora2000 on the phone...need to investigate a bit more...

Help my house has been invaded

My house is no longer my house, it's been taken over bymonster....

My house is no longer my house, it's been taken over by 1ft. monster....

Why Microsoft has lost the plot....

Any mail sent from Yo4Ya goes to junk in Hotmail. It's fine in Yahoo, Gmail, etc. But no matter what we do it goes to junk in Hotmail. We have complained to Hotmail customer service, who bounced us to Symantech. Symantech responded after 3 weeks and said all is fine... it still goes to junk. So I spoke to y friend who is a big shot in MSN India..."can't do anything for you, but wait 8 months and we are going to kick Google's ass".......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This personifies everything wrong with MS...they don't know the ABC of what they are doing on the web and they talk big...they are unable to fix day to day issues and they talk big....

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A second opinion

There is a strange conference going on in Iran. Its a conference whose aim is to give the world second opinion on the Holucast. What is strange that this conference is going on in Iran whose govt is obsessed with supressing information and speech.

The other strange thing is that it is being attened by a whole lot of Jewish Rabbis who live in Israel as Palestenians and do not pay Israrel taxes !

Read more here:,7340,L-3338873,00.html,,1970042,00.html

Gmail - Site of the week 50 '07

SPAM the new muti headed hydra that refuses to die....can be fought most effectively through Gmail !!!!!!!!!

Ok so you knew that Gmail was cool with its 3GB storage, speed and all that. But did you know that Gmail is super effective in fighting spam. Almost no spam gets through its spam filter and it all lets all the legitimate messages through...

For the purpose of fighting spam alone Gmail is worth it. That is why it is my site of the week this week.

Here is a neat trick: forward your corporate email account to Gmail. Gmail will clean out the spam. Then use Gmail POP3 to downloand your emails. You will be free of a lot of the usual spammy stuff. Use your corporate SMTP to send emails.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Losing the SPAM war

Is it just me, or has the quantum of spam in the last 15 days gone up. I always received a lot of spam, but after taking reasonable care I was able to contain spam to manageable limits. Suddenly I now find myself drowning in spam. I received 296 spam messages in the last 18 hrs and only 6 genuibe emails.

I checked with a few friends and they say that spam seems to have gone crazy this last month.

Off late I have been missing emails and I also find that emails I am sending out aren't getting replied business associates are saying "oh shit your mail went into my spam box"...

So what is to be done? I have absolutely no idea. I am using Spam Assasin, Outlook Junk filtering and Bit Defender Anti-Spam, all at the same time and the spam is getting through all of those.

Today Google announced that they are allowing Pop3 access via GMAIL. Great, good news, lets hope that I can switch from Outlook to Gmail and Gmail will contain my spam.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Vijay's" calendar

Saturday night the buzz was all about going for "Vijay's brunch" for his annual Kingfisher calendar, aboard his 350ft yatch. Through a random bit of luck an invite landed on my desk and my inviter was insistent that I go (yep in Bombay people other than the host can do the inviting)...

...the yatch looked awesome...too bad I couldn't get o
n board as it takes only 120 people and 800 were invited...anyway, here are the pics

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You know Bollywood has arrived....

...when news of Indian movie star Sanjay Dutt convicted of arms possession makes it to the no. 1 spot on Google News ahead of The Pope, Bush, Iraq, Thanksgiving Sales, Pamela Kid break up...

Monday, November 27, 2006

The strange Indian entreupreuner

A groan escaped my lips yesterday as I read about this guy called Kishore Biyani and how he was adding a chain of hotels to his portfolio of an existing 100+ businesses. This guy is into everything; he has retail shops in every format (I love this meaningless MBA word), trouser stores, kids wear, Indian ethnic wear, grocery stores, discount stores, music stores, stores selling financial products, duty free shops blah blah; then he has random businesses like movie production, real estate development, health care, insurance, contract farming, beauty, gymnasiums, etc etc etc etc hahahahaha...all under the name of Future Group, a stock exchange listed company

When you goto the stores of this company, you get bland, boring and less than optimum quality products. I bought some trousers once and they were awful, though the shirts I bought weren't as bad. But when I returned another time to buy shirts, they were not carrying the same brands anymore. An epitome of Indian chaos.

One of their marketing managers interviewed with me. I asked "What is the brand positioning of your no. 1 brand Pantaloons? Why do you have a campaign that says 'Fresh Fashion' and shows sexy girls when you just mentioned it was a family store?", he answered "We are basically emulating the Zara model of getting clothes from the factory to the store fast, so we say 'Fresh Fashion'" hahahahaha. For those of you who do not know, Zara is a very successful Spanish clothes chain gone international and their brand is to bring runway fashions to the youth at budget prices, a brand position that has nothing to do with the speed of the supply chain; though Zara is renowned for its fast and optimized supply chain, but the customer dosen't care about that.

But Future Group is not alone. Every other group is similar. Tata, the famous & largest Indian business group, is again into everything, from hotels to steel to soaps and software. Bharti group, India's no. 1 cell phone provider also recently started farming (!) and retail stores !!!!!

And there is this guy I know...into everything, Internet websites, mobile downloads, franchisee shops, movies, software development, bookshops and now into compute hardware. He recently raised some cash from VCs...the merchant banker who worked on his project described him as the "finest entrepreneur he ever met"

Ok all this fine. Or appears fine.

But tell me something, please tell me, where is the talent in all this? Is entrepreneurship only about recruiting people, managing capital, undertaking strategic tie-ups and working the legislative environment? I thought entrepreneurship was about innovation, passion, product...

In these Indian entrepreneurs I see size, but I see no innovation...I see nothing of the entrepreneur in the Microsoft I see Bill Gates, in Sony I see Akio Morita, in Skype I see Janus & Niklas, in Oberoi Hotels I see M.S. Oberoi...when I say I see, I mean I see the difference they made to the product, the service, the execution, the company culture...

Maybe the group system worked in non consumer categories like steel, petrochemicals; or it worked in protected and closed India. But will it work today & tomorrow? Are there any Indian electronic brands left? The Indian electronics industry was opened up 7 years back. What happened to BPL, Godrej, Onida, Videocon? Two are bankrupt & extinct and the other two have become discount brands...

So will Indian entrepreneurs survive? What will happen once the Indian economy opens and the real enterprises with domain specialty come in? What happens to Kishore Biyani when Zara comes? What happens to my friend when seed money becomes available in India and real Indian Internet entrepreneurs arrive?

Can companies and new products be built by management students? By smart capital allocation? By non specialty?

Can there be enterprise without entrepreneurs?

Maybe they can in India. When VCs can't spot the difference between innovation talent and capital allocation talent, is when they back the guys who give this diversified my diversified entrepreneurs, make hay while the sun shines...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Shoutcast - cool site 47 '06

Think of a song, any song, then goto and search for it, in minutes you will find an Internet radio station that is playing that song...just click Tune In and instantly you will be able to hear the song through your computer !!!!

Or, having a party, want the latest music from Ibiza, the very latest DJ sets, want to hear them live and ad free? Its all on Shoutcast... unbelievable but true, Shoutcast is one of the lesser known jewels of the Internet.

To make it all work, you'll 1st have to download the music player from ... the best music player for Windows...get a great soundcard and hook up your music system...leave your friends wondering how you have the coolest music in town :)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Prithvi Festival

Those of you from Bombay know all about Prithvi; for others; Prithivi is a famous and innovative theatre in Juhu thats best know for its great plays and even better coffee (yep everything in India is judged on food & drink).

Every year Prithivi organises a 7 - 10 day festival featuring some cool acts. This year they've done one better and organised all around the city. I went for a Hindi-Marathi play at Horniman Circle on the life of mill workers post the mill shut down...outstanding...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fabmall - Cool Site 46 '06 is this week's cool site. Its a kind of a mall which in typical Indian style tries to sell everything. And in typical Indian style, has a really badly designed GUI.

Great for books & CDs

I use Fabmall to buy books, music & DVDs. You get them at Indian prices which is a fraction of the price elsewhere. What I usually do is locate and research the book/CD/DVD on Amazon and then buy it on Fabmall. They ship it within a day or two and it arrives in good condition by overnight courier.

Be careful, the books/CDs/DVDs which show greater than 3 day shipping are NOT made in India and are imported from overseas. You are better ordering those from Amazon as you'll get them faster and cheaper.

Yo4Ya on its way

Yes folks, not only has it launched, but it's in Orbit :) Here's what my home page looks like

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cool site of the week: 45 '06

Here's my stab at being a serious and regular blogger. I am going to introduce a cool site every week...hopefully :)

For those of you who don't get it, a year has 52 weeks and this is week 45 of 2006. AAAHHHH.

The cool site of the week will be random. It may also be connected to an occasion or it may be a software. Please feel free to suggest cool sites.

This is the coolest hotel reservation site on the Internet. I have used many hotel reservation sites and this is by far the best:

1. Easy cancellations. Cancel 24hrs in advance and get all your money back
2. The BEST rates. I'm not kidding...after you add the hidden charges on the others, this is by far the best.
3. The best selection. They have 5 stars, 3 stars, budget hotel, luxury hotels, serviced apartment...
4. Excellent in Asia, Middle East & Europe. So far have used them for India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Germany and Switzerland. Amazing.
5. 5% kickback. Get points worth 5% on each booking
6. No problems so far. The room was always there when I got to the hotel !


Firefox 2.0 rocks for bloggers

Dunno how many of you write a blog; if you do, then you must do so ONLY with the new Firefox.


Because Firefox has a built in spell checker and it automatically identifies your spelling goofs....if you're a blogger, you'll know what I mean.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Indian Airlines: Good & Bad

The best thing about flying Indian Airlines to overseas destinations is that all passengers are Indians, and being Indians they stand up to exit the aircraft a soon as it has touched down on the runway. World's fastest deplane each time.

The second great thing about Indian Airlines is that because its such a C grade carrier, you always get a seat on any sector anytime. Wanna stay extra in Dubai or Bangkok, no problem, Indian Airlines always has seats free.

The third great benefit on Indian Airlines, is that it has some very pretty Air Hostesses. I think largely because it recruits from far flung places in India, not just Delhi & Bombay, so you get to see some interesting faces.

Now to get these three amazing benefits, you needs to sacrifice a few hours each time you fly. On Emirates or Cathay, a flight from Bombay to Dubai takes around 3 hrs, Indian Airlines t takes about 5-6 hrs. Whats a few hours delay each time you fly, after all in a life of 70 - 80 years there are plenty of hours.

The next thing you have to sacrifice is sleep. Indian Airlines' CEO is 5 ft tall and he made sure that all seats are for 5ft people only, so your neck is left hanging in the air.

Just heard Indian Airlines has bought some new planes...good for them, now I don't ever have to worry about gettin seats on any destinations.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rocking You 007

Rocking You is one of the most famous posts on this blog...keeping with the times here's Rocking You 2...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Alternative reaction to Saddam's death sentance

The breaking new of the day is Saddam's death sentance pronounced by an Iraqi quote. Media is mostly carrying shots of US & Iraqi government officials who are applauding the verdict as a "victory for Iraq, humanity, freedom" and that kind of thing.

Interestingly I stumbled upon Amensty International's opinion on the matter. Amenesty International is one the few respectable organisations out there, and one who is focused on the very important issue of personal freedom in a world where increasingly might is right.


"Obviously we deplore the verdict of the death penalty against Saddam and one of his co-accused.

We don't consider it was a fair process. The court was not impartial. There were not adequate steps taken to protect the security of defence lawyers and witnesses...

Every individual has a right to a fair trial, even people accused of the crimes of the magnitude that Saddam Hussein faced, and this has not been a fair trial."

I think the important line there is "Every individual has a right to a fair trial", which really sums up the importance of upholding freedom and personal liberty.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

YO YO Yo4Ya !

Yesterday was a big day at the office, Yo4ya, our chillware product was opened to selected users. I was really looking for something like this, a place to go relax and do stupid nothings with friends. I can tell you I'm loving it...already spent a few hrs playing around with themes, uploading photos, updating my profile, browsing people, sending stupid messages to friends...

Seems others like it too...
...its up 2,259,601 places on day 1 to reach 26,873 --- winning no 1. in Alexa of fastest rising site of the day/week :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Server Side Story

It's finally happening. The promised arrival of server side software is slowly emerging. Downloading software is surely going to become a thing of the past:

Email: Gmail and Zimbra

Spreadsheets: Google Spreadsheets...this is the coolest thing, I've switched as I can share my spreadsheets and work in groups

Wiki: My office has set-up a knowledge management and info sharing system using Mediawiki. It's the best tool we've ever used. No more (or atlest no more important ones) documents lying on people's computers all over the office.This 1st thing we're puttin on are our business process manuals.

Storage: Say hello to online storage guys like XDrive, GoDaddy, where you can store all your files instead of on your PC

Photos: Picasa, Ofoto and the others aren't just photo sharing sites, they are photo storage sites :)

Word Documents: Writely is great, works with each using your Google account. And ofcourse it's got the easy share feature.

Games: Ok, hardcore action games have a huge way to go, but all the other games are already online. Infact there are now games you can only play online.

Music: You can get almost all the music you want via Shoutcast. If you haven't checked this one out do it now.

Chat: This has some way to go, but I think in a year or two most messengers will be online. For customer support we are already using a put online web messenger.

Whats left: besides the browser, odds and ends, like visio, skype, photo editing software, some windows utilities...

Google in the thick of it all

These guys really have their eye firmly on server side. They have smartly intergrated docs and spreadsheets into gmail. And they have really worked hard on making sure the server side stuff works lightining fast.

Another important but low key piece of software by Google is the Firefox browser sync which keeps your FF updated with cookies, passwords, history etc, all the time by storing these at Google, allowing you to use FF anywhere and get the same feel as home. Now I bet Google is planning on extending their deal with FF to include this extension as default with FF...

Movie & Music lovers - goto Bangkok free!

If you love music like I do, you must buy a music album almost every week, or around 50 to 60 albums a year.

The cost of these albums on an average works out to US$12 each, give or take a few dollars. So that's $600 to $700 a year.

Now lets say you also buy a few DVDs a year at $15 - $20 a DVD. I buy around 8 to 12 DVDs a year, so that's about $150 on DVDs.

Lets come to to the Bangkok part: In Bangkok y
ou can pick up CDs for $2 and DVDs for $5 on the grey market. I would say that 99/100 of them work 100% (you can even check them when you buy them). So, you would get your 50 CDs for $100 and your 10 DVDs for $50, a total of $150.

You now have a saving of $600 on your total annual collection. A ticket from Bombay to Bangkok is $450; and from Europe it's around $600...

You also get a whole lot of other great things that you can make your travel money back from:

- Clothes. Dirt cheap in BKK
- Electronics. Goto Pantip Plaza in Bangkok, you'll get deals that'll save you atleast 40% off prices in Bombay and 30% of prices in Europe. Buy cell phones, computer monitors, digital cameras, laptops, web cams...
- Dentist treatment. Those of you in Europe & the US can save tons by just doing your dentist treatment in Bangkok
- Cost of living. If you have a place you can rent out in Europe, the rent alone will pay for your 1 year vacation to Thailand.

I think a lot more of us have figured this out than we realise.I can't help but notice the huge swarm of tourists in Bangkok's airport each time I'm there. I think it's one of the reasons behind the booming 8% - 10% tourist growth to Thailand.

Dubai too

Visiting Dubai from Europe allows you to recuperate your ticket costs just by buying electronics and gold, which are at a 20% - 30% advantage to India and Europe.

And, lately, a lot Indians and Europeans are realising that Dubai is a great place to park your money and many of them are
picking up freehold apartments in Dubai...

Dubai 1991

Dubai 2005

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bombay Stock Ex at all time high again

The market's at a new peak today, 12,700+, and in my opinion, this time it's not overvalued. That's a huge change, considering that just 6 months back I had predicted that it will go in for a 25% correction, which it did.

Why this changed sentiment? Simply because in 6 months India's changed again. The buzz in the air and excitement on the ground has to be experienced to be believed. Airports are twice as busy as 6 months back; property deals are happening at a rate unheard of (more on this below); mobile & internet connections are soaring; salaries are soaring; there are new shops and malls coming up faster than anyone can track; there is new sense of confidence and "can do" with government officers; new nightclubs have sprung up everywhere full of new faces...

I am helping a friend in Toronto buy a 5000sq ft office in Bombay. I have been checking out offices for him last 4 weeks. He wants an office in an A grade building with a 15 foot ceiling. I shortlisted 5 offices. Can you believe it, all are now sold. I was seeing offices and by the time I got back to him and called the agent back within a day or two, they were sold. Its crazy! Now he's told me that as soon as you see a place, just pay a token and lock it in !

Bollywood movies are a great way to experience the changed profile of the market in India. Previous Bollywood movies were made for a large uneducated type of population. The movies released in 2006, which have scored hits are all targetted at educated urban auidences. And 2006 has already given 6/7 big hits and a few more are expected before the year is out (BTW, Khosla ka Ghosla is a must watch).

Not just movies, but live performances are soaring. I have been to more great live performances this year, many by overseas troupes than in the last 15 years! And tickets are at prices people would laugh at previously...and sold out! Nutcracker whose picture is in my previous post ran to full houses for a week plus and then held a few extra show...

So here is to more good times in Bombay.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nutcracker Bombay

Pictures from Cochin

Cochin is a true mixed bacg, beautiful countryside with pockets of splendid resorts and historical areas, but some very bad roads. To top it all, someone in all their wisdom has placed the airport miles out of town so it takes ateast 1.5hrs to get to it, which in Cochin traffic is.....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why do people buy 10 Megapixel Cameras?

Did you know that the latest, most expensive compter monitor can only output 1 Megapixel? So what is the use of buying a 2 Megapixel, 5 Megapixel or 10 Megapixel camera...?????????

How Emirates Airline is changing Asia

Yea so what, this is my airlines week. I was in Cochin last week ( the same time I flew Kingfisher - previous post below), and I met a German couple who said they flew direct from Dusseldorf to Cochin ! Woah! Now I know this is 2006, and I know that there are 100M cellphone users in India, and Germany just hosted the world cup, but this sort of thing dosen't happen...

How did you do it? It was on Emirates Airlines with a 2 hr stop over in Dubai! While stopping over they picked up two bottles of Ciroc Vodka from the Duty Free. Nice.

Gone largely unnoticed is the boon to Asia thanks to Emirates' superb connectivity. Connecting virtually all of Europe to cities and small towns in Asia, thus allowing travellers and businessmen to go on quick short trips anywhere. Take a look at some destination covered:

Cochin - India

Hyderabad - India
Bangalore - India
Trivandarum - India
Calcutta - India
Peshawar - Pakistan

Lahore - Pakistan
Damascus - Syria
Dammam - Saudi Arabia
Casablanca - Morocco
Lagos - Nigeria
Nice - France
Moscow - Russia
Manchester - UK
Birmingham - UK
New York - USA

and there are 100s more.

When the Airbus 380, the double decker superjumbo was announced, Emirates' name was synonoumous with it, because not only had Emirates played an key role in it's development, but was it's 1st customer and it's largest customer with 129 planes ordered! So in addition the the fantastic existing connectivity, when the new fleet starts operating next year, there will be even more connectivity.

For Asia this mean massive growth. It means that exporters or interior designers based in Paris can serve customers in virtually any part of Asia, making a 2 day working trip !It means the tourism industry in remote Kerela (Cochin) will boom, it means a 1001 positive growth things.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Kingfisher Experience

Around a year back India's own flamboyant business tycoon, Vijay Mallya, launched Kingfisher Airlines, promising a new level of luxury and naughtiness in the skies.

For those of you who have not visited India or are tee totalers, Kingfisher is India's no. 1 beer. It's actually a basic beer, so Kingfisher Airlines is a curious brand name. Initially I assumed Kingfisher Airlines to be a budget no frill airline, but the multi-million dollar ad campaign and reports from passengers showed it to be a premium airline...Apparently a whole new experience in cattle class travel.

Getting out of my taxi I am assisted by a well dressed porter in wheeling my luggage to the check-in. I realised in horror that the guy had managed to mangle my suitcase's pull along cord and it was in danger of becoming quite useless...

On board the aircraft was extremely well turned out in Red, proving how exceptional design can create wonderful ambiance. The staff was also decked out in trendy and sexy (if you can call short skirts that) attire, but with a bit too much garish make-up.

Service was excellent. A lot of touches, like a handout kit containing goodies and printed menu, were both smart and labour saving. The inflight personal entertainment system is a great touch on a domestic airline and Vijay Mallya recuperates the costs by running promos of his beer all the way.

I was all set to abandon flying other airlines but the luggage took 45 mins...a lifetime on Monday afternoon. This is where Jet Airways, India's original
modern airline never lets you down: on time & efficient everytime. Then on reflection I realised that Kingfisher lacked the quiet cool professionalism of Jet Airways and that makes all kinds of horrible thoughts about engine maintenance go through your mind...

Well maybe I'll give it another try...hope Vijay tracks blogs...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

HowTo remove Windows Genuine Advantage !

I know many of you naughty people out there are being troubled by Windows with their notification saying "This copy of Windows is Pirated !". Very embarassing especially in meetings...But like a friend of mine once said "Any software that costs more than $25 should be pirated by principle" :)

WikiHow has a step by step procedure on how you can remove the WGA notifications:

Friday, September 08, 2006

Whats up in Sri Lanka

Went to Sri Lanka last week, what a place. Colombo is a cross between Goa & Bombay, really! What a shame about the civil war, hope they get over it soon. They need a Montreal style referendum, but alas Asians are too smart for that, they need to shoot it out...

Must dos
- Barefoot - lunch & great fabrics
- Mount Lavina Hotel - great dinner & views
- Odel - shopping mall
- Gallery Cafe & Bar - Expat type dinner place, super ambience

- Beach Wadiya - best crabs ever
- Elephant Orphanage - on the way to Kandy

- Helga's Folly - the coolest place you'll ever stay
- Buying Cuban cigars in the Duty Free

(click on pictures to open large)

On the way to Kandy


Helga's Folly

Friday, August 18, 2006

No. 1 Failure

This is so funny and many will claim true:


type in failure

hit search

see the 1st result


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

31 Best Business Ideas

Business 2.0 is carrying a great article on 31 best business ideas for today.

Read the full article here

The best business ideas in the world

1. Send your best talent into the field in search of promising new ideas.

2. There's little U.S. consumers won't leave home for if the price is right.

3. Meet very basic customer needs with a radical new design.

4. Look for novel ways to breathe new life into mature categories.

5. Turn your shortcomings into a killer product idea.

6. Services that once required face time can be profitably handled online.

7. Find a desirable Third World niche product and industrialize it.

8. Test tech in markets where adoption is advanced, then bring it back to the States.

9. You don't have to run a global company from a major city; sometimes, in fact, it's better not to.

10. Even the oldest, most entrenched companies must continually evolve.

11. Success really can be a matter of inspiration and perspiration.

12. To catalyze radical change in a large organization, start small.

13. Take aim at new customers by making utilitarian products stylish.

14. Don't underestimate the profit potential of fun.

15. Use cheap guerrilla tactics to launch a company.

16. Create ways to allow more of your workers' personal lives inside company boundaries.

17. Solve a "last mile" problem with cheap hardware.

18. Attack local markets that big companies can't reach.

19. Sell services that piggyback on a booming retail trend.

20. Find yet-to-be-exploited niches in the global commodities boom.

21. Utilize the incentives that reform-minded governments offer to foreign investors.

22. Give customers their own virtual space, and then charge them to decorate and customize it.

23. When importing a product from overseas, be ruthless about cutting features that won't translate well to your domestic market.

24. If you want younger customers, forget advertising: Offer enough cool features that they'll do your marketing for you.

25. When starting a business, listen to your heart, not your bankers.

26. If your domestic market is small, go global in pursuit of investors as well as customers.

27. When economic factors spur demand, look to the past for ideas that were ahead of their time.

28. Striking design can offset objections to large-scale industrial projects.

29. Online businesses can easily - and cheaply - target international markets from anywhere.

30. Build employee loyalty with best-in-class perks and funky frills.

31. Tap into new markets created by today's sky-high oil prices.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

INR slides 13% to the Euro since Feb

Going largely unnoticed in India is the constant and steep slide of the Indian Rupee. This is because the Dollar is the base currency against which the Rupee is watched and that shows a slide of only about 6% in 6 months.

However, the Dollar itself has been slipping, losing as much as 9% to the Euro & the Swiss Franc, so when the Rupee is checked against these currencies the true picture emerges: I'm poorer by 13% in 6 months!

Even when you check the Rupee against a "local" currency like the Thai Bhat, the Rupee has lost 9% in 6 months.

There appears to be no sign of this slide slowing down. The steep downward seems to be driven by India's huge import bill for oil and exports not keeping pace. Liberlisation has also opened up India to large scale imports of both capital goods and consumer goods, but has not had the same effects of exports. Very Dangerours.

On the other hand interest rates have gone through the roof; bankers claim there is no liquidity in the market due to steep government borrowing. Housing interest rates are at 11.5% and rising ever month.

So are we heading for a slow down? Sure looks like. The good news is that it's unlikely to be a crash. There are definite fundamentals like better infrastructure, better administration, more employment, better distribution of wealth and more FDI, so these will keep us above water. But those of you who are making streched investments in India, be careful, you might lose heavily.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bombay & the art of begging $40M a year.

The papers this week have been carrying stories about how a government survey shows that Bombay beggars earn $40 million a year. Totally believable and not at all surprising. Infact goes to show the wealth of Bombay.

Beggar Masters
Many years back I knew a guy called
Sar Zammen Bhai who was a beggar master. He used to collect unwanted children (normally with physical disfigurations) from poor families and put them in his slum colony. He then trained these kids to become beggars. In return he provided them with food, shelter and love.

A beggar kid has two sources of earning money. The obvious is earning through begging. The unknown is beggars also work as spies for businessman and mafia. They hang around their targets on streets, railway stations, office buildings, etc and eavesdrop on their conversations. Some of the beggars are also experts at eavesdropping through walls.

Begging Tribes
The second kind of beggars in Bombay are tribal beggars. These are tribes which solely live by the profession of begging. They have done this for 1000s of years. They are true professional beggars. Some of them perform street stunts and beg; some of the irritate you and extract money from you; others have animals like monkeys, snakes and parrots which they use in their begging arsenal; and some, the best, are experts at make-up and acting to make them appear totally wretched. In these tribes, the entire family moves to cities during certain months and begs while living off the pavements or in slums; and during planting & harvesting time they move to their villages to tend to crops.

The third kind of beggars are
Hijras. These are so called Enuchs or Transvestites. Apparently men who were born gay and this was detected at a very early age, so their penis has been chopped off and they are now a 3rd sex. They look like men and dress like women. They have this special way of clapping to alert others of their presence. They put on a lewd and comical act which people laugh at. They work closely with watchmen in buildings, who alert them of any wedding or new birth in a building, where they immediately show up and start their nuisance creating act. They have also created a myth about themselves that if you don't give money to a begging Hijrah you will have bad luck forever. Another well created structure by them is that every Thursday one must give money to Hijras.

The fourth kind of beggars are scam artistes. These are educated people who are well dressed. They will often approach you in a respectable and unusual location, like a bookshop, and tell you a sad story like how their son is about to graduate and how he needs Rs. 5000 ($110) for some last minute books. That you can even buy the books for him from this very bookshop. Ofcourse after you do, the scamster in league with the shop owner or salesman return the books and splits the money.

Beggar Haunts
The usual hangouts for beggars are: near religious shrines; traffic signals in upmarket localities; airport; railway stations; outside open air eateries: a person begging while you are eating is a very compelling sight!; and in tourist areas.

The Solution
So why is it so hard for us to do anything about beggars? Well what can you do with beggars? Indian is a democracy so we can't beat them or shoot them; the only thing that can be done is fine them. And if they don't pay? Well they are beggars, so they are happy to go into jails and receive free meals. So there appears to be no way out.

Bombay's Problem
Why Bombay, why does it have so many beggars. People tell me there are no beggars in Delhi or Pune or Bangalore or Hyderabad, atleast not as many as Bombay. So whats up? Its because Bombay is a rich city, much richer than the other cities. And the rich always feel guilty and need to give away their money to feel better (Gates & Buffet like)....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Indian govt blocks all blogs in knee jerk reaction

This blog has been off the air in India since Sunday 16 July. And so have all other blogs on blogspot & typepad !

Can't believe this is happening in what is touted as the "world's largest democracy" ? Well it is. Apparently this is a security measure in response to the recent Mumbai blasts. Yea, we have smarter security than the Americans, Brits & Spaniards, who didn't ban blogs after their respective tragedies.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Making MSN talk to Yahoo Messenger

Finally, I don't have to run Yahoo for those few friends who insist on using it. You can chat with Yahoo friends through Windows Live Messenger (fancy name for the new version), by simply adding them as you normally add a contact with their full id, such as or

However to make it confusing, the below message a
ppears on Windows Live Messenger, making you believe that you have the wrong version. Just ignore.

More on MSN Messenger's Blog, click here

Update: 1 day after I tried this it's not working everywhere. Some of my friends in India on the Yahoo side aren't receiving "add" requests. So I guess we'll have to wait a while....wonder if this will cause the idea to bomb?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Re: are you ok?


thanks for asking.

Situation here is that 127 people train commuters have died. Millions were stranded due to stoppage of trains.

It was great to see ordinary citizens come forward and give water shelter food to the stranded.

Now office has reopened and its amazing too see everybody back, considering many got home at 5 & 6 am, and there is no fear in people...


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombay needs a CEO more than ever

The blasts today have elevated the need for a Bombay CEO beyond ideological & argumentative levels. This city just cannot recover from emergencies as there is no-one incharge. No one to coordinate between police, trains, municipality, buses, hospitals, etc. Every agency is doing their own thing, and everyone from the Chief Minister to the Police Commissioner are scrambling to coordinate.

So the political parties have to put their ambitions aside for once, and have to reform the political system to bring one person in charge of Bombay. I don't care what they do, make Bombay a SAR within Maharashtra or any other formula. It just has to be done.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Maturing of the Indian BPO industry

The last 5 years have all been gung ho stories of how companies in the US & Europe and shifting their back office operations to India. Movies have been made on the subject and Westen legislators have even tried to pass bills blocking offshoring to India. All the while Indians have had a glow on their faces about how India has arrived and how they are going to win all the jobs from the West.

Now comes the reality check, with three hi-profile BPOS shutting shop in India: PowerGen UK, Apple Computer, and Belair UK. There have also been stories of how some UK banks have been advertising that they take their calls "at home" and have won customers as a result.

These are all signs that BPO activity in India is maturing. Like every story there are two sides to it and the second side is now emerging. Naturally offshoring to India is not for everyone; and India is a 3rd world country with massive red tape problems and infrastructure shortages. The BPO story that was built on the backs of massive undersea communication cables and India's large English speaking population, is now running into India's legendary red tape and infrastructure shortage reality.

So, its not going to be all gung ho stories from now. Good. Better to have a real picture than a rosy one. It'll stop Western companies from foolishly rushing into India and they'll now take a more serious calculated approach, by doing a better study and deputing better managers.

Will BPO growth stall? Does water ever not find its own level? As long as there are cost efficiencies to be achieved, companies in the West will continue to offshore to India. Then will come a time, when due to sheer practice, like in software, Indian companies will posses competencies ahead of their Western counterparts and will become essential to offshoring.

Further, all parts of the BPO industry are now maturing, from the attitude of workers to the attitude of the government and the infrastructure requirements. BPO outfits too are maturing. Going are the <500>

Blogs tracking VC/Investment activity in India

1. - written by a journalist tracking the India scene

2. - put together by a bunch of Indian VC & Angel types

3. - not India related, but a good insightful blog by a Silicon Valley VC

Good news entrepreneurs: Angels have landed

Agnus my good friend today asked me how she could get a "good investor" to help scale her beauty business. She hadn't been able to reach out to any investors who would invest Rs. 1 crore at this early stage. She was quite frustrated and was further concerned that because shes a woman if anyone would take her seriously.

This has been the story for long in India. There has been no organized way of reaching early stage investors. So the only ones who could grow were those with family money or those who had something to mortgage to raise debt. Or you could start a business like Agnus has, but you couldn't scale it. There are millions of such stories, resulting in massive frustration amongst Indian entrepreneurs.

Some time back TIE came with promise of helping entrepreneurs in this critical phase, but in reality has done precious little in India. I myself was so frustrated that I have been planning to set-up a network of early stage investors. Now I'm glad someone has beaten me to it...

Band of Angels India is an organization of investors who invest anywhere between Rs. 25lacs to Rs. 5 cr (approx $50,000 to $1 million) in your company if they like you, like your team and like your idea. Not only do they invest, they tend to play an important role in guiding you and helping through their contacts and resources.

If you want to win the patronage of an Angel, you need to submit a short note about yourself and your idea. Try and pick an investor who has interest in your sector and is from your city (historically it is found that Angels usually invest in companies founded out of their own city because its convenient for them to keep and eye and play a role).

In the event you receive an investment, make sure you keep everything clean, above board, and report every week to your investor what you are doing.

Why does the Angel invest? Typically, Angel investors are looking to grow their money 10 times in your company within a period of 3 - 4 years. So if they put in $100,000, they would like $1 million back in 3 years. No this is not a loan so you don't have to pay it back by selling off your house. What you need is have a high growth plan that in 3 years time will require a much larger investment by a Venture Capitalist ($3 million upwards), and the VC will buy out the Angel's equity in your company, thus enabling the Angel to get his money out and make a good return on it. Ofcourse this is not always the case and there are many models, but this is generally the model.

I also suggest you do lots of research before you contact the Angels, so that you thoroughly understand the entrepreneur investor relationship; and you understand what investors want. Research through Google and Google Blog Search.

Good luck and here is wishing both you and BOA India tons of success. If you have any questions feel free to ask through the comments section of this post.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bombay's annual holiday

Today is Bombay's forced annual holiday, occurring every July. The city's transport comes to halt with the train system and the roads shutting down. Why? because it rains. Or as the Chief Minister puts it "unprecedented rain".

So every year we receive "unprecedented rain", and every year millions are stranded in their cars, trains and buses. Offices are shut and deadlines are missed. Businesses suffer massive losses. Tourists and outstation business people miss their appointments. Its a mess.

The people of Bombay put on a brave front and call it "the spirit of Bombay". How we brave the rains every year and still put on a smiling face that week at work after being stranded for as much as 6 - 8 hrs on the road without toilets.

The politicians & bureaucrats couldn't care less, about the spirit or the people of Bombay. They are too busy with one upmanship and fighting their daily petty battles with each other.

So it continues......

Levels of Intelligence

Einstien Said:

"The Levels of Intelligence go as follows:

- at the bottom you have Dumb

- next comes Intelligent

- then Smart

- Brilliant

- then Genius

- and above all Simple "

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Send flowers to your fav team! has been running a cool service since the start of the worldcup allowing you to send flowers to your favourite team. The flower delivery happens in Germany straight to the team's hotel and card containing your message to your fav player is attached.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mumbai rudest?

Mumbai Skyline
Originally uploaded by shivampancholi.
A recent survey shows mumbai to be the world's rudest city. Why? because unlike other cities Mumbai is not trained to say pseudo Thank Yous; and not trained to hold doors open.

The survey was carried out by 2000 journalists, who obviously have more book knowledge than a connection with themselves.

Mumbai isn't clean, or slick, or 1st world; but Mumbai is easily one of the most pleasant & safe cities to live in. Ask any woman who lives in Mumbai and she will immediately tell you "I love how safe I feel here". The ultimate test: "feelings", not actions!

Viva Africa

Ghana's advancement to the 2nd stage puts Africa's stamp on the world cup.

Never has the world cup seen more beautiful football than played by the African teams. Their grace, passing, clean play are all superlative, surpassing even the mighty South American teams.

And football is just the sport for the poor nations of Africa. In India we play elitist cricket, an extremely expensive sport that requires lots of equipment and ground maintenance. WORNG CHOICE for a 3rd world country like India.

Go Africa Go.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Believe in Ghosts?

Nither did I. Till i saw this video of a car advertisement filmed in the UK. The advertisement was never released because of the strange phenomena.

In the video as the car moves along something strange can be heard and seen among the trees. Watch the video carefully with sound.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Live: World Cup RSS Feed

For those of you using, view World Cup scores, timings, results, etc as an RSS field.
Click here or on the image above to add this to

After you add it, this is how it appears on Google: