Monday, October 28, 2013

Shocking Difference Between Poor and Rich in Developing Countries (Dharavi, Mumbai)

I am reading this book called "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" by C K Prahalad. This book discusses about inclusion of poor in strategy of larger private corporations. How they can be made consumers and creators of value and their untapped potential can be utilized for their own development as well as profits for private corporations. One very alarming data I found recently in this book is that the poor live in high-cost ecosystems. It means that they pay premium price for everything. They take credit at unbelievable rates. 

Here is an example of Mumbai. It is taken from the same book. The result was earlier published in a research paper. The poor people live in an area called Dharavi. It is located in the center of the Mumbai city in India. Dharavi is like an area occupied illegally by poor people many years ago and that time, I guess Mumbai wouldn't even have been that big. But now it is the center of Mumbai as the city has expanded with growing population. There have been lots of studies done on Dharavi. It is a total slum area. While if you come out of this area, there is adjacent area called Warden Road which has higher income population and have better facilities. Now the below table shows the difference in the prices these two localities pay for different services. 

It is shocking to see the rate of interest for people in Dharavi. It is 600-1000%. I guess this high rate is because though they can go to the banks in Warden Road area but may be since they live on illegally occupied land, they may not have bank accounts. And there are strong reliable intermediaries who charge such exorbitant rates. The book says that the difference is 5-25 times and it is generally same in all developing countries. There are local monopolies in such areas. The book says that banks can open their facilities for people in this area and can charge even up to 25% interest rate which is highly beneficial for the bank and extremely cheap for the poor people. It is also discussed that there is a lack of proper distribution of goods in such areas which can be done by the expertise of large corporate firms. 

It is also to be noted that since the people in this area do not have legal title to land, they do not invest in real estate. Instead, they have basic equipment for daily life like television set, kitchen setup, and mobile phones. 

This post is not very thorough researched. Feel free to add anything that you know about Dharavi or people at the bottom of the pyramid.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

What Warren Buffet Thinks About Earning Money

I was going through a short biography of one of the richest man on planet, Warren Buffet, and found an interesting quote from him about earning money and happiness. What matters and what now. It makes a deep sense and gives a better meaning to life. Here it goes:

My guess is that if Ted Williams was getting the highest salary in baseball and he was hitting .220, he would be unhappy. And if he was getting the lowest salary in baseball and batting .400, he’d be very happy. That’s the way I feel about doing this job. Money is a by-product of doing something I like doing extremely well.
 As far as I guess by reading his biography, he mean it! Sometimes, what is perceived as the aim is not the aim but the byproduct of fulfilling your aim. In words of Simon Sinek, a company works not to earn profits. Profits are a result. The vision of a company is to do what it is best at doing and what it enjoys most. And this is same as what Warren Buffet says. Well, I will come to post by Simon Sinek later on in another post.


Friday, October 25, 2013

The Inspiring Story Of Virgin Founder - Sir Richard Branson


Born on July 18, 1950, in Surrey, England, Richard Branson struggled in school and dropped out at age 16—a decision that ultimately lead to the creation of Virgin Records. His entrepreneurial projects started in the music industry and expanded into other sectors making Branson a billionaire. His Virgin Group holds more than 200 companies, including the recent Virgin Galactic, a space-tourism company. Branson is also known for his adventurous spirit and sporting achievements,

Early Life

Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was born on July 18, 1950, in Surrey, England. His father, Edward James Branson, worked as a barrister. His mother, Eve Branson, was employed as a flight attendant. Richard, who struggled with dyslexia, had a hard time with educational institutions. He nearly failed out of the all-boys Scaitcliffe School, which he attended until the age of 13. He then transferred to Stowe School, a boarding school in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England.Still struggling, Branson dropped out at the age of 16 to start a youth-culture magazine called Student. The publication, run by students, for students, sold $8,000 worth of advertising in its first edition, which was launched in 1966. The first run of 50,000 copies was disseminated for free, after Branson covered the costs with advertising. By 1969, Branson was living in a London commune, surrounded by the British music and drug scene. It was during this time that Branson had the idea to begin a mail-order record company called Virgin to help fund his magazine efforts. The company performed modestly, but made Branson enough that he was able to expand his business venture, adding a record shop in Oxford Street, London. With the success of the record shop, the high school drop-out was able to build a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire, England.

Virgin Records

His first artist on the Virgin Records label, Mike Oldfield, recorded his single "Tubular Bells" in 1973 with the help of Branson's team. The song was an instant smash, staying on the UK charts for 247 weeks. Using the momentum of Oldfield's success, Branson then signed other aspiring musical groups to label, including the Sex Pistols. Artists such as the Culture Club, the Rolling Stones, and Genesis would follow, helping to make Virgin Music one of the top six record companies in the world.

Business Expansion

Branson expanded his entrepreneurialefforts yet again, this time to include the travel company the Voyager Group in 1980, the airline Virgin Atlantic in 1984, and a series of Virgin Megastores. But Branson's success was not always predictable. By 1992, Virgin was suddenly struggling to stay financially afloat. The company was sold later that year to THORN EMI for $1 billion.Branson was crushed by the loss, reportedly crying after the contract was signed, but remained determined to stay in the music business. In 1993, he founded the station Virgin Radio, and several years later he started a second record company, V2. Founded in 1996, V2 now includes artists such as Powder Finger and Tom Jones. 

Branson's Virgin Group now holds more than 200 companies in more than 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe and South Africa. He has expanded his businesses to include a train company, a luxury game preserve, a mobile phone company and a space-tourism company, Virgin Galactic.Branson is also known for his sporting achievements, notably the record-breaking Atlantic crossing in Virgin Atlantic Challenger II in 1986,

He was knighted in 1999 for his contribution to entrepreneurship, and in 2009, he landed at No. 261 on Forbes' "World Billionaires" list with his $2.5 billion in self-made fortune, which includes two private islands.

Virgin Galactic

In recent years, the ever-adventurous Branson has focused much of his attention on his space tourism venture. He partnered with Scaled Composites to form The Spaceship Company, which is currently developing a suborbital spaceplane, and, in April 2013, the project made an impressive leap forward with the test launch ofSpaceShipTwo.Branson was delighted by the success of his spaceship's first test, telling NBC News that "We're absolutely delighted that it broke the sound barrier on its very first flight, and that everything went so smoothly." He expects to be finishing testing the craft by the end of 2013. By April 2013, more than 500 people had bought their tickets for Virgin Galactic's voyages.


How Bitsspark Angel Network of Bits Pilani was Founded

Graduates from the Birla Institute Technology and Sciences (BITS) have spawned their own angel network known as Bitsspark. This alumni association was born out a tragedy. Vamsi Pendalya, a BITS alumnus, was on the flight that crashed into the World Trade Centre in 2001. His collegemates created a memorial fund in his name and five years ago they grouped together to form an angel network.

Taken from Economic Times


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brand Promotions in Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the Bollywood movie which released in November 2012 by Yash Raj Films promoted a number of brands officially and unofficially. It was the last movie of director Yash Chopra. Though the movies have kept promoting brands by some type of collaborations, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a latest example.

The following brands were promoted in the movie:

1. Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel went into an official collaboration with Yash Raj Films. Anushka Sharma played the role of the correspondent from Discovery Channel and she shot a documentary on the soldier Shahrukh Khan. “Being an inherent part of a mainstream film reiterates Discovery Channel’s leadership and credibility in India. It is a marriage of fiction with reality", said Rahul Johri, Senior VP and GM of South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific. The crews of the channel were shown in the movie along with its London sample office building.

2. Intel
Intel is manufacturer of electronics processors for computers. It was promoted in the movie mainly with its brand tune which used to rung in Anushka Sharma’s Mobile. It was particularly annoying (at least to me). Secondly, Intel ultrabooks were used in the movie. Anushka Sharma who was an adventurist correspondent and documentary film maker from Discovery Channel used Intel Ultrabook laptop, showing the durability and strength of Intel’s hardware. “Anushka is shown as very sporty. So the kind of laptops she carries are ultra-portable. Hence, Intel has used the product that is not even launched in the country and is planning to launch it with the film” said Ashish Patil, VP of Yash Raj Films.

Intel in Jab Tak Hai Jaan

3. Royal Enfield 
Royal Enfield is motorcycle company which manufactures its motorcycles through its single plant in Chennai, India. The brand was promoted exclusive here and there in the movie throughout. Shahrukh Khan who is a soldier used the Royal Enfield motorcycles to ride in tough terrains of Ladakh mountains. Royal Enfield manufactures heavy duty bikes and the movie shows the use of bike in such Indian army. The same brand motorcycles were used even in London where Shahrukh and even Anushka rode this bike. The latest model from Royal Enfield – Thunderbird 500 was highlighted in London. Shahrukh even said to Anushka that he loves this bike much and would love to borrow from her for a ride. Different colors and models of the Royal Enfield motorcycles were used to show wide range offered by the brand. No other brand motorcycle was used in this movie. Royal Enfield was never that active in its brand promotion but now it is working sincerely to create a youthful image of the brand. Now a days, youth are the main target customers of Royal Enfield.

Royal Enfield in Jab Tak Hai Jaan

The above three were the brands highlighted well enough throughout the movie. There are some more brands which were not highlighted that exclusively in the movie. They are:

4. Wildcraft
Wildcraft is a famous manufacturer of bags, apparels, accessories for tough terrains and sporty uses. Wildcraft bags, camping tents, sleeping bags and many other accessories were used in the movie. Sometimes the name or the brand image was made visible in the movie but it got kind of hidden throughout the movie. Wildcraft is official supplier of Indian Army for accessories like bags, tents, etc. 

Wildcraft in Jab Tak Hai Jaan

5. Puma
Puma is a famous sports wear and accessories brand. It was also shown once or twice in the movie worn by Anushka Sharma at one place when she was going to dive in lake in Ladakh. 

6. Gibson
Gibson is famous guitar brand which provided a special crafted guitar used by Shahrukh Khan in the movie. Though the guitar kept coming again and again in the movie but the brand name Gibson was not highlighted anywhere in the movie. 

Yash Raj Films has gone into official collaboration for brand promotion with Intel, Royal Enfield, Discovery Channel, Wildcraft, Puma, Western Union, Gibson, Pond’s and some more. 

It is quite a good branding exercise to promote brands in the places which have high following of relevant customers. This movie had big star cast like Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. This movie was also from famous director Yash Chopra who has made hit romantic movies like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, and many more. So, it was sure that Jab Tak Hai Jaan will have huge audience. The brands were promoted at appropriate places and were well linked to the story of the movie. The brand promotion in the movies is ethical until it feels annoying to the audience. Brands should take care about not to highlight too much that at one level, it feels it is a trade show where some story is being shown. Only the Intel ringtone in Anushka’s mobile phone was a bit annoying and over-promoted. Other than that, Discovery Channel was shown exclusively at some places. 

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

What is knowledge?

Most of us have been to school. Many of us have been to college. Some of us have been to graduate school. And few of us go on to get a PhD. So what is knowledge?

I throw this question open to everyone. We learn a lot of things when we study in school. But many a time, we learn much more through our experiences than our books. So if you were given a choice, between selling your experience or selling what you learnt in educational institutions (assuming both cost an equal amount of $1,000,000) which one would you choose? Then comes the question of who deserves to know what. A lot of the people who are doing their undergraduate degree in India have a feeling that they are not where they want to be. Many get frsutrated with their stream of study. Sadly very few realize there are no barriers that prevent you from gaining knowledge. True, being an engineering student, you might not get to study finanace in as great a detail as the finance student themselves, but no one will stop you if you wish to acquire that knowledge. No one's going to stop you from reading the same books they read. No one's going to stop you from learning from the same teacher as them (unless the teacher himself doesn't wish to grant you the knowledge you seek). Thats the funny part about life. We complain about being stuck with a choice (sometimes for the next 4 years and sometimes for our whole life), but little do we realize that we have the power to control it.

I don't wish to digress into talking about controlling your destiny because the paragraph above may imply that. What I would like to mention is how we accept what is given to us rather than seek out what will not be given to us. Since I'm from an engineering background, its better if I talk about engineering students. India is probably one of the few countries in the world, where so many intelligent students decide to choose an engineering stream after 12th even before they know what each stream offers. Many of them realize that they did something wrong for 4 years and try to correct that with an MBA. Many do engineering just to do MBA after their bachelor's as they believe it's a good combo. Many like their stream so much they go on to pursue a masters and doctorates and then there's the vast majority which wonders what they are doing studying in a particular branch. So often we wait to find out what we like rather than proactively seek it ourselves. We wait to see what our branch teaches us, rather than see whats in this world that we find interesting. The point I'm trying to make here is, many a time, an engineering student gets entangled in his branch and fails to see the beauty of other fields. Of course, the common problem is 'lack of time' but to be honest, thats not true. The fun part about learning things that are not taught by your branch is that you will never get tested in it. That knowledge is free for you to accumulate and use as you see fit. And you won't be judged on it. Many students fail to capitalise on this thought process. For example there are so many artists amongst engineers who keep their artistic pursuits only as a hobby. Why doesn't the Indian student break free from structure and regulation to do what he likes. Ofcourse, we all know the answer to that one. But I hope and I look forward to the day, where an engineering student becomes an artist and keeps his engineering degree as a backup, as compared to the other way round as many people choose. I look forward to the day, when a student in a particular stream decides to learn things from other fields, because he's tired of learning only what his teachers teach him. I look forward to the day when the Indian student finally decides to break free of academic structure to seek knowledge on his own and completely fullfill his curiosities.

originally by (Aditya Kulkarni on Friday, October 1, 2010 at 12:18pm)


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Search Engine Algorithm: What is it?

In Search Engine Marketing, One of the most elusive things that people are scratching their heads with is the algorithms that actually determine what should be the page rank of a page. These algorithms are proprietary in nature and so only very few people outside a search engine company know how the algorithm is designed and how exactly it works.

These algorithms are so complicated that there is debate whether a single person of the search engine company understands the entire algorithm fully? This explains they are so complicated. Even if an ultimate math genius were given a chance to see the algorithm, then he would take lot of time to understand it. This makes optimizing for the search engines really difficult job. They are just so complicated (perhaps more than a girl, who always say ‘You can never understand me’) that understanding their working is ‘huh… I tried everything’ job.

Various researchers have been chasing their complexity and understanding them with experience. They have found that there is a baseline established by search engine to compare different websites. This baseline is of course different for different search engines. For example, more than 200 factors are considered to establish a baseline in Google’s search algorithm.

Even when people find some baseline components of a search engine with their experience, they are not in ‘I have got it’ situation because major search engines like Google make about half-a-dozen changes in their baseline of the algorithm to reflect the manner people make searches on their search engine. Some changes are major and some are minor but after all, they are secret with Google and you never know them, even if you are an expert.

The main thing which experts say about making a website, as per SEO perspective is to make the website for people and the users, not for the search engines. Providing more and more relevant content makes the search engines happy. If you put advertisements on your website, then see if those ads are relevant to what your website is about. If they are really relevant, then they can help visitors in some services that they might require at that instant. Like if I visit a website for booking for vacations in Goa and if I get to see an ad about hotels in Goa (may with some special attractive offers), then I may click that ad and book for the hotel at the same time.

Search engine like the way the website is designed for customers and how it is updated. If you are really paying attention to your visitor’s needs and requirements, then you can trace your way in top search results. But it’s still a game of cat and mouse to play with search engines.