Ah, the elevator pitch. We have talked and read about this for long. The Entrepreneur says, “An elevator pitch is a conversation, or an ice breaker, that will (hopefully) lead into a deeper dialogue about the functionality, and specialty, of what you and your company can offer.” Often it is said that these 60 seconds are the ones that matter the most.
Congratulations to one of India’s more dynamic entrepreneurs, Anand Mahindra. Ealier this month, Mahindra, the 53 year old Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award, one of the highest honors to come out of the Harvard Business School. Other distinguished winners of the Alumni Achievement Award have included GE’s Chairman & CEO, Jeff Immelt and John Doerr, Partner of the venture capital firm:Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers.
Just finished an absorbing book about Google by David A. Vise. It is an interesting story of the faith in their abilities and passion for what they believed in on the part of two young men- Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both came from families steeped in academic excellence.They quit their graduate school studies at Stanford to pursue their dream to “change the world” through a search engine that would organise every bit of information on the Web for free.
For many of us, Google has become a part of our lives. What would we do without it, you well might ask. We use it extensively to search for information on the web. Over time “Google” has become a verb in everyday speech. But here’s something exciting and cool. Former Googlers have launched Cuil Inc (pronounced “cool” ) which is a new web search service.
In the recent decade, India’s has stories of entrepreneurs who have made it big in the tech sector, in manufacturing and in real estate. It was a welcome change for me to read recently ( and I was very impressed, I must add) in Business Today about two entrepreneurs from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu who have succeeded in the field of poultry. It is clear that B. Soundararajan and G.B. Sundararajan who have formally studied upto Class 11 and Class 12 respectively have what it takes to be effective entrepreneurs. Continue reading
We often say that we are creatures of our environment. The organisational culture we are exposed to goes a long way in crafting the way we think and behave. Here are a few examples to make the point. Over time, I have seen the most unassertive people become more demanding fashioned by an equally demanding environment.
Business Standard carries an article called “Mid Life Madness” which speaks of successful corporate executives leaving the comfort of their well paying jobs to venture on their own in uncharted territory.
The key drivers vary from person to person. For some it is the lack of further opportunities for growth, for some one else it is the need to be different and prove to him/herself what they are capable of, for others it means wanting to be their own boss – as the old cliche goes, masters of their own destiny.
Irrespective of the reasons, such a decision does call for a certain amount of courage, self-belief and preparation. It sounds nice to hear that some one you know has started on their own and are doing well. Do remember this has not happened by chance. Planning and preparation is crucial for success. Very seldom does someone hit the jackpot without any planning.
Ultimately, it is a state of mind.
“If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t! If you want to win, but think you can’t, It’s almost a cinch you won’t. If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost; For out in the world we find Success begins with a fellow’s will; It’s all in the state of the mind. Life’s battles don’t always go To the stronger and faster man, But sooner or later the man who wins Is the man who thinks he can.” – Walter D. Wintle.
A recent issue of “Business Today” carries an article on Vikram Akula, CEO & Founder of SKS Microfinance. The 39 year old US returned Akula started SKS in 1997 with the dream to offer microcredit to millions of poor families.
Although born in India, Akula spent many years in the US where he got his BA from Tufts University, MA from Yale and PhD from the University of Chicago. He was a consultant with McKinsey & Co before he launched SKS.
His dream is to scale SKS to 5 million clients by 2010. So far, his firm has provided $ 400 million in unsecured loans to over 1.4 million poor women and their families in more than 20,000 villages. SKS was first set up as an NGO . The first foundation to support SKS was a small, volunteer Indian Amercian organization called The India Development Services which gave him $ 10,000. Later Akula has attracted private equity from foriegn investors like Sequoia Capital and Vinod Khosla to grow into a NBFC.
SKS has been a success story. He has been able to maintain a 99 % repayment rate. As of December 2007, SKS has 1.4 million clients with 595 branches and a staff of 6100 to service their requirements. He was selected to be one of TIME magazines’ 100 Most Influential People in the world for 2006.
It is reported that SKS is adding over 50 new branches and 130,000 new customers each month and growing at an annual rate of 200 %.
SKS currently only targets women both because they are the most marginalized and because they tend to use resources more productively than men. Social science research has shown that women tend to undertake small, manageable activities rather than risky ventures and they invest the majority of their income into the household and for their children.
A very creditable success story of an entrepreneur who followed his dreams and made them a reality.
Reliance Entertainment plans to invest US $100 million on its own social networking website BigAdda.com.
The blog post lists some facts why Indian Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists bet on social networking business models :
- 44% of the total number of Indians who logon to the internet use the social networking websites
- Out of that, Orkut which is owned by Google owns 64% of the social networking market share. It is estimated that Orkut has approximately 69 million users as per August 2007 estimates. Out of which, at least 16.9% Orkut users are from India.
- Nasscom in its 2007 report has estimated that the number of broadband subscribers, currently 1 Million, will hit 20 million users in the next 3 years and the number of internet users in India which is currently 40 million will rise to 100 million users by 2010
- According to our source, 54% of India’s population is under the age of 20 years which is nearly 540 Million people under 20 years of age
- India is known as the IT hub of the world
- India signs up more than 7 Million new telecom users each month. Indian telecom service providers such as Bharti, Vodafone, Essar, and Tata Teleservices are considering the proposition of adding social networking services to their user base
- According to a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Report, the number of Indians using their mobiles to login to the internet has almost doubled last year from 16 million to 38 million just last year
- With a population of more than a billion people, India has become the golden pot for investors worldwide.
These are impressive numbers indeed and speak volumes of the potential business opportunities ahead for entrepreneurs in this space.
Just completed ” It Happened in India” written by Kishore Biyani (the man who revolutionised retailing in India) with Dipayan Baishya, a business writer. A very well-written story which gives tremendous insights into what makes an entrepreneur successful.
Kishore Biyani re-wrote the retail script in India. From a position when he was almost looked down upon as a trader who wouldn’t amount to much to his current position as the Group CEO of the rapidly growing Futures Group, he and his companies have come a long way.
“It Happened in India” is interspersed with comments made by various people associated with Biyani from both within and outside his organisation. The book is written in a simple yet effective style and grips the reader. It is described as “the story of Pantaloon, Big Bazaar, Central and the great Indian consumer”.
Right from the time he first started, Biyani showed amazingly accurate perception of the Indian consumer -especially in the retail space. He perhaps understands the psyche of his typical customers more than anybody else. Therein lies the secret of his success.
The Pantaloon chain , headquartered in Mumbai, has grown to operate over 5 million square feet of retail space. It has over 450 stores across 40 cities in India and employs over 18,000 people.
At the heart of the organisation is what Biyani calls the Pantaloon Genes. These precepts are :
- We like being simple
- Speed is the essence of everything
- We like to learn while we execute
- We like thrift
- We believe that customers are always right
- We like to think in terms of the majority of people
- We take pride in our core value of Indian-ness
- We believe in ourselves
- We do not like to blame others or external factors
- We like to think positively in every situation
- We like building and nurturing relationships
- We love to rewirte rules even as we retain our values
As is said in the book, what we become is a result of the way we think. “Sometimes we a nation of billion people, think like a nation of million people” said former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Kishore Biyani dared to think big. His story is worthwhile reading not only for entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs but also for those who want to understand the Indian consumer.