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Making money is good. But at what cost? March 23, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Airtel, Bharti, Brands, Business, Greed, India.

Churumuri carries a story today where Airtel is conducting an SMS poll about Bob Woolmer’s death. They are going to make money our of every reply sent.

Is that what we have come to? Use any excuse to make money even if it means dragging a dead person into the picture?

Looks like the media (TV, Newspapers etc), and Communication companies revel in making money out of sensationalism. How else can you explain the gory pictures you see on TV and in the papers?

Have we really stooped so low?


Bank with the Best March 7, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Bank of India, Banks, Business, Entrepreneurs, India.

One of the things I have realized during my 3+ years of entrepreneurship is that you should not be fooled by glitz and glamour. In most cases (exceptions excluded), the glitz is meant to hide all the flaws underneath.

Nothing highlights this fact than the banking industry today. My best experiences have been with our Nationalized Banks. Granted there could be a few starting problems. But once you establish your credibility, the service levels are unmatched by anyone.

At my company we bank with Bank of India. Three years ago, they were the only Bank willing to give a small BPO company a break by giving us a loan for equipment and working capital facilities. During those three years, they have bailed us out of some tricky financial situations when payments from customers came in late and cash flows were tight.

What really impresses me about them was the human touch to their service right from the Bank Manager upto their Zonal office. Compare the same with some of the more market savvy International Banks and their computerized call centers.

I still remember Infosys CEO Nandan Nilikeni was the chief guest at a function last year to commemorate Bank of India’s 100th year. In his own words, the only people who gave Infy the time of day when they were growing were these very Nationalized Banks.

Give me a Nationalized Bank anytime.

As a small business you stand a better chance of success there.

Cross posted on Startupreneur

NeedGrub – Find your Food February 28, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Business, Entrepreneurs, India, Innovation, Internet, NeedGrub.

A couple of days ago one of the comments by Sash on Bangalore Blues was about a website called NeedGrub that rates and reviews restaurants.

I checked out the site and it is cool. One one side it has restaurant reviews (hopefully more reviews and restaurants will get added as time goes on). The other cool thing I found was the integration with Google Maps to find directions. Looks like currently they have Chennai and Bangalore covered.

Try it out. Join up and contribute.

Oracle’s Bullying Tactics – Enlisting Uncle Sam February 22, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Acquisitions, Business, Happenings, iFlex, India, Issues, Oracle.

Murali Partha forwarded this link from the Economic Times regarding how Oracle has enlisted the help of the U.S Government to ask the Indian Government to “assist them” in their acquisition of iFlex.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Speaking to ET, official sources said the US was keen that the Indian government should make it mandatory for the minority shareholders to sell their shares to Oracle. “The US pointed out that it had a law which allowed the government to make minority shareholders sell their shares to the majority stakeholder. It argued that India should do the same in Oracle’s case,” the official said.

Bharti’s Retail Plans February 20, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Bharti, Business, India, Retail.

Bharti Enterprises announced their much anticipated foray into the retail space. That makes them the latest in a list that includes Walmart, Reliance among others.

This brings me to my favorite subject – The Small Retailer

Will any of these large brands harness the small retailer? Does the entry of these big guns make business sense for the small guy?

Related Posts
The Death of the Small Retailer
Why the Small Retailer will survive

China vs India February 16, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Business, China, India, Trends.

Was reading the newspaper on the flight back last night. Couple of stories caught my eye. One news item talked about India’s ForEx reserves at $180 Billion. That is impressive.

Two pages later there was a news story on China setting up a global investment fund using its ForEx reserves. The numbers stunned me. China’s ForEx reserves are in excess of $1000 Billion (yes a thousand !!) and the global fund they are setting up is in the region of $200 Billion. Looks like they can buy entire countries with that kind of money.

Numbers seem to be in China’s favor for now. I had a previous post on China as well.

HighDesign – Global Brand February 2, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Brands, Business, HiDesign, India, Trends.

If you have walked through any of the duty free areas of some of the major airports of the world, you would have seen a store called HiDesign. They sell up-market leather goods and are stocked at some of the leading stores worldwide.

Their branding, marketing is truly global. They are a nich high-value player AND they are based out of Pondicherry. Here is another writeup about them.

As one of my friends who is a leading brand consultant put it, HiDesign has built more “value per employee” than any IT company.

New Search Engines January 29, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Business, India, Innovation, Internet, Search, Trends.

Check out Guruji. Its a India specific search engine that launched a few months ago. Its still evolving but has come a long way from when it started. However it still hasn’t replaced Google as my search engine of choice.

Microsoft has launched Ms. Dewey based on Live Spaces. Its an interesting interface but totally worthless as a serious search engine. Check it out if you have some time to spare.

For all you developers and coders looking for sample code, the coolest search engine is Krugle. Check it out.

Anyone wan’t to fund an airline? January 22, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Airlines, Business, India, Plans, Trends.

Please enlighten me with the logic here.

Ok so the Indian skies have opened up to private players. As is with any new business in India everyone made a beeline for it. While Jet and Sahara were comparitively older, there was a slew of new players who donned the “low cost” disguise. You have Deccan, Kingfisher, Spicejet, GoAir to name a few. In fact last year Indian companies placed the largest number of orders at the Paris Air Show.

So India is a great market, but can it handle so many players? Can these players really sustain or are we going to have a repeat of what happened in the USA where airlines started going into bankruptcy and had to cut back on everything?

Several Airline CEO’s have estimated this years losses to be between Rs. 2500-3000 Crores (courtesy Businessworld). Duh??? So when are they going to be making the money?

Talking about businesses and business plans, heres a cool cartoon strip. Courtesy of Wulffmorgenthaler. Its about how one would pitch the idea of a circus to the VCs.

Black and White January 12, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Business, India, Issues, Trends.

Are the ways of doing business transactions changing in India? Are the days of the two sided transactions over? Murali writes in his thoughts.

Was talking to a friend who was trying to sell some “land” to a real estate developer. He said that he was very comfortable with Brigade Group and Sobha Builders. Reason: They were upfront in telling him that all the money they pay will only be in “white” and strictly no cash. What a pleasant surprise!!

Is it because corporate India is consciously cleaning up its act? Maybe they now feel it is no longer worth playing dodge with the tax authorities. It could also be, that going public (Sobha is now public and Brigade may be having plans) puts a far greater scrutiny on these companies?

I read somewhere that a similar scenario is emerging in a similar hitherto secretive sector – the diamond merchants (more precisely the site-holders – those who buys diamonds from, say De Beers, cut/finish and then distribute to retailers). These guys are opening up their books and allowing greater transparency into the way they conduct their business.

Must be happening elsewhere too. Hopefully this is the start of a fundamental change in the way business is conducted in India and not one-off situations.

No wonder the Ministry of Finance, expects the Revenue targets for 2006-2007 budget to be exceeded by 32% this year! Which means our fiscal deficit should also be lesser than expected, provided the expenditure does not exceed budgeted numbers.