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 product...in 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 vision...so 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 www.Shoutcast.com 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 www.winamp.com ... 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

Fabmall.com 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 !

Visit www.PrecisionReservations.com

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.