Category Archives: Business

Occupy Wall Street – not worth it (at least, not yet)

With Occupy Wall Street protests spreading across the country, it’s hard to ignore it. Although it’s a peaceful expression of anguish & despair against the Wall Street & the White house, I’m not too excited about it. Here’s why: Continue reading

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Disinterest Vs Dislike

“I don’t give it a shit”

“Who cares?”

“Stop reporting non-issues”

These lines sound familiar to people who follow a lot of news stories, tech blogs or analysis aggregations around the web.

Okay. Let me put this straight – if you didn’t care you wouldn’t have landed on the page, you wouldn’t browsed the content neither would you have commented. Continue reading

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Net neutrality- consumer view

Months later it started, today became a major milestone day as the FCC has voted 3-2 to approve proposed rules for net neutrality crafted by Julius Genachowski. As anticipated, there are loads of opinions decrying the rules & or cautioning losses in long term. Few like this & this are a little different, somewhat in favor and then, some completely neutral. Continue reading

One’s loss = other’s gain

American (or say, World) recession has turned out to be a horrific reality – The great American dream is shattered, China’s Manufacturing industry is reeling under pressure, Europe’s playing too safe.

The US is putting in money wherever it sees problems (the traditionally American way of solving the problems), Obama has incentivized hiring but saturation & positivity ballooned have taken their toll.

The Wall Street is full with money without trust!

All said, all read – I would not comment further on current conditions & solutions. However, there are some pointers that have not missed my eye (or my mind).

The American entrepreneurs/capitalists have launched a movement (readers might have heard of it): http://startupvisa.com/

It’s extremely critical to fuel the boost for long terms & create meaningful long-run jobs for us to get out of this mess.

It’s sad to see India once again being a slow starter!

Our sorry story is not just limited to physical infrastructure – the roadblocks in broadband penetration are too discouraging – Indian IT growth is repeatedly failing to solve India’s problems!

India could be hugely benefitted to make moves at this time – India can turn this recession into a boon for economy. We already are a better market than China http://bit.ly/dibrAt & with tighter monetary controls, less risky than USA.

  1. Urban-Rural disconnect hampers India’s comprehensive growth again & again – India probably has the highest delta in the world in this regard
  2. India stands at a stage where it’s gotta balance between migration & globalization – we still are heavily confused
  3. Weak policies & weaker implementations do not help much either – India always starts on defensive
  4. Cultural & social barriers majorly block India’s juggernaut – failures are a still a crime!

However, I’d still say it’s a great place to startup!

Shortcomings cease to look bad the moment those are viewed as opportunities!

Bottoms-up growth model, reasonably strong mobile phones networks, decent emphasis on rural strengths, strong consumerism & above all, the People (a nation with astonishingly high young population) make India a land of opportunities.

We also enjoy substantial NRI Investments & other FDIs.

India has still got huge chunk to offer in philanthropy, healthcare, energy, petroleum & social businesses. Cultures & languages stem a new & one-of-its-kind model of entrepreneurship.

All we need is some support from the top, some aggressive policy making by the government to leverage the growth.

  1. We don’t need a startup Visa program – we need to nurture our own entrepreneurs
  2. Still need to boost high-end education & research facilities to retain talent & stop unnecessary emigration (this doesn’t mean setting up colleges tagged IIT,IIM in villages, quality supervision is paramount)
  3. There is GOT to be a Radical shift in traditional policy making process – India has grown more than it’s leaders ever expected it to
  4. Little more opening up the market wouldn’t hurt either (though, debatable)
  5. For the n’th time: Every type of infrastructure needs an immediate overhaul in India

Too much to hope, waiting for some satisfaction!

When India talks business

Constant unyielding comparisons:

I happen to attend few of the startup events (in person or over the web) recently. Most of them were related to doing business in India or just say business in India. India, one of the biggest markets, probably one of the few of the balanced ones in terms of the range of products and services, stands as one of the largest growing economy of the world. Many other nations and investors would be interested in India. As in any typical Indian business event, I saw lots of promise and pretty active hope with beaming confidence of the investors as well as the entrepreneurs.

Getting inspired is very common and sometimes natural in India. We look at others’ examples for learning; which in some carefully limited sense, is good and preferred. However, I at every time during any discussion on business, could not help listen to the US (and sometimes, European or Chinese) examples more than India-centered conversation. Do we compare too much?

Comparison plays a very important part of lifestyle in India which was sadly seen on business stage as well. Do we have to follow the US or China or some other nation on development?

Lack of emphasis on our strengths:

Dependant and comparative attitude has already driven us away from our strengths. Despite having huge cultivated land for agriculture, we could not bring science and technology at the core inside of the agro business. It is not very surprising that farming, agriculture, fruit and flower cultivation techniques, water and land related innovations have emanated from US and European nations (notably, Switzerland, Netherlands and Israel from Asia). Have we forgotten our strengths all together? Despite an amazingly big market for vegetables/dairy/farm products in India, we rarely see green startups.

Agree to high extent that we have been blessed with some of the best Tech brains too, Indians are probably one of the most competently techie personalities. What concerns me is that despite a section in our nation being so strong, technology penetration into ordinary households is poor. The tech creamy layer has failed (Or just say, is not inspired enough) to spread it around India. Secondly, gradient of difference between people ‘attracted’ to tech startups and green startups is alarmingly steep west. On the top of my mind, it seems that this scenario has led India to an imbalance: despite high foreign currency investments, technology advancements and the IT, India’s still way behind the world in infrastructure (poor communication, poor networks and pathetic handling of emergency), pollution control, damage control due to natural hazards or calamities, and resisting the global warming.

Personal point in case: when I talked to investors and VCs about these issues needing to be addressed, few of them turned away blaming it all on Indian government while few just surrendered admitting their failures or impatience to deal with the Indian government.

Media negative propagation, not using media well:

Can media pressurize the government positively? Has the business community failed to focus on pressing (but equally potential) issues and spreading it across? Is the Indian media biased or just lagging behind the era? Has the term ‘constructive medium’ of communication vanished and Media’s now defined as ‘something that reports what happens around’?

Ignoring whichever the reason and whatever that has happened so far, India to become a strong nation needs its Business community and Media to focus constructively on long (or very long) term internal buildup [and not just look at short-term financial and strategic gains]

Not using the Indian Diaspora well:

Before I start on this, I must appreciate all startup incubators to make conscious efforts towards getting the ‘Rich and Investing’ Indian Diaspora around the world attracted to new business setups.

India is nation that commendably utilizes the outside currency earned by its citizens for growth. Reportedly, India has the highest incoming remittances which must be appreciated by even the most ardent critiques of the nation.

However, these incoming funds (except the notable exceptions of FIIs and FDIs and some VCs) are not majorly directed towards India’s growth in a balanced direction; SMBs which form India’s core of business. To attract investors, we must give them Value and nothing else.

Government restrictions:

The Indian government also plays a spoilsport and is most responsible for too many restrictions in every sector related to business. Weak internal security is blamed on technology, speedy growth of Telecom and Internet is always checked with numerous restrictions. India is still not a business friendly nation. What’s worse is that there has been no explicit attempt made to move forward in the direction. Any proposal to start a business is met with thousands of paper licenses which take almost an era.

Indian government, it seems, likes India to remain a nation of Snakes and Sadhus (with weak and poor villages). Not just the internal security (actually, sheer lack of it) but India’s ignorant attitude towards healthcare, education and layered social structure make it difficult for core development issues to be concentrated upon. Every election in India is still ruled by issues on castes and religions.

It is however astounding to see Mumbai as one of the major financial centers of the world and as one of the most optimistic markets at this time. Can’t help but imagine only if the government was a little more supportive!

There’s need to attract outsiders (not related to India) to come and invest and do business in India; many pillars of this structure; majorly infrastructure, security and the society need to change.