Archive for July, 2006

IPv6 and India

I recently read about IPv6 and what China’s plans are in the domain.

http://www.cio.com/archive/071506/china.html

Interested to hear other thoughts and what this means for India & Indian entrepreneurs.

Looking for Ma

China has Jack Ma. India has ____( fill in the blank). According to one of my fellow Band of Angel members quite a few VC’s investing in India are looking for exits by getting say a Net Flix to buy the Indian equivalent just as say Monster bought Jobs Ahead or eBay bought Baazee. They may be right and I never question what big money can do. If this is the easy way out then there is nothing wrong with it.

Atleast the two of us in the Band of Angels believe in the somewhat idealistic notion that the winners in India and then globally will be companies that provide real value to consumers and have awesome and clean user interfaces . These need to be coupled with a human or mobile last mile to achieve critical mass as a lot of people will just not use the Internet till they see a compelling reason to do so.

Customer experience is paramount. Honestly in India there are very few businesses Internet or otherwise that are great on customer experience / service. Jet Airways, PVR’s , a few restaurants in Delhi, Hutch, Airtel . On websites I cannot think of any truly great websites.

I do not for one minute believe that an insane focus on the customer is not good business strategy in India. Way back in 1985 the corporate cash management business which I led for Citibank was used by 275 of the top 300 companies in India ( an insane market share). Indian consumers may be the toughest in the world. If that is true and a business cracks the code it should be a world beater.

Am I being overly critical ? I do not know but this causes me pain. Will someone out of the one billion people stand up and fill in the blank.

Senior One Pager

Opportunity:

Senior Citizens need a variety of services. They have special needs and also control over their time. They can go for morning shows of movies or fill up happy hour slots at restaurants. They are large consumers of pharmaceuticals. They often need assistance and healthcare.

AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) is a pretty successful affinity group in USA. Anyone over 50 can join. Drawing from concepts around the world there seems to be a large opportunity to make lives of senior citizens in India easier.

What the Entrepreneur needs to do?

1. Prepare a business plan to be the #1 services destination for senior citizens in India . (Note a combination on online/offline/mobile may be needed). Business plan should have a 10 slide ( max) pitch and not more than a three page executive summary

2. Membership should exceed 1 million in 3-5 yrs. Revenue should exceed rupees 200 million in 3-5 years or in other words the ARPS ( Average Revenue Per Senior) should be rupees 200 per year or more.

3. Using own or friends and family money the entrepreneur should be able to get a beta site up and running with close to 5000 satisfied members. Service could be free to these members

How the Bhargava family can help entrepreneurs?

1. Mr. Harish Bhargava who is a very active senior citizen in Pune can help them with member acquisition

2. Sanjay & Sunil can become advisors/investors to the entrepreneur if required and can help in scaling the business including accessing angel/VC money. They cannot make the entrepreneur succeed but they can act as mentors and increase odds of success.

Next Steps

1. Send your plans by email to hbhargava@vsnl.com. We will keep plans confidential but will not sign non disclosure agreements etc. If you are not comfortable with this do not submit plans

2. If the three of us feel the plan warrants further discussion we will contact you

Criteria

1. The entrepreneur must have passion and integrity and the ability to execute the plan. The team that the entrepreneur can put together is very important.

MIT Open Courseware

Some of you may find the course material of Global Entrepreneurship Lab Spring 2004/Fall 2005 interesting.

I viewed a one hour plus video of a class session using Real Player. There were three options 56K, 80K, 220K.
With my MTNL Broadband connection ( 256K) only the 56K worked with no interruptions. Three entrepreneurs spoke from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

The Uruguay one Hiddenbed made me smile. Check it out.

A Senior Opportunity

This should be of primary interest to entrepreneurs in Mumbai/Pune who view making lives of seniors in India easier as an attractive business opportunity.

As a family ( my father, brother and me) our interest is in backing entrepreneurs who want to attack this space. We have put together a one pager that details

1. The Opportunity
2. What the Entrepreneur needs to do
3. How we can help
4. Next Steps
5. Criteria

We think Pune could be a good beta site as my father could help get beta customers. He also has deep domain knowledge. The entrepreneur’s would need to use own/friends/family money to bootstrap and do a beta in Pune. In 3-5 years the membership should exceed 1 million seniors across India and the ARPS ( Average Revenue Per Senior) should be Rs 200 or more per year or in other words total revenues should exceed Rs. 200 million. My brother and I could help as advisors/investors and in closing angel/VC rounds if that is required.

Entrepreneurs who want the one pager should contact my father at hbhargava@vsnl.com or I can post the one pager on this site. If comments ask me to I will.

On this post please comment on whether posting opportunities like this is appropriate and useful ? On this particular opportunity do you think it is a real opportunity ? Do you know of startups or large companies attacking this space ? Whats the scoop on Harmony, Tina Ambani’s effort ?

Bridge Online- IIT Club

Poker Online etc. have become big. Bridge is tough as if money is involved cheating is a hard nut to crack. I used to play on the MSN zone site but they had plans to close it so I moved onto BridgeBase. This is an interesting site where the money games are with 2 humans and 2 robots. I have not tried them because my bridge is rusty. Cheating is not possible. Aside from money games there is lots of free stuff which I use.

There is an online bridge club which is featured on the Pan IIT website. They are looking for IIT alums to join. Currently they run one tournament a week but as membership increases they plan to run more.

On another note it seems IIT admin is not all that keen that current IIT students join as playing “taash” is evil and IIT bandwidth should be devoted to nobler pursuits ( whatever that is). I can understand a clamp down for applications that are bandwidth hogs or illegal but this seems to be just plain heavy handed.

It gives current students the ability to get familiar with the online gaming space which could be big and the opportunity to network; all this while having fun so I for one hope a lot of current students who are interested in bridge do join.

Multinational Startups

This article from Business 2.0 is interesting.

Conventional wisdom is that a single location is very important for a startup and I think getting a multinational operation going for a startup is not easy. The advantages are numerous and it is nice to read about people who have made it work.

I recently read about Pramod Bhasin’s ( CEO of GenPact) vision of call center operators being able to work from their homes.

Now if that works it would be awesome. No more Qualis murders.

First time enterpreneurship

This articles page has a set of really good articles and advise for first time enterpreneurs.

The first time I found this I was up all night reading as many articles as I can ( while watching a late night football world cup match)

Enjoy folks!

CDN/ Hosting

Techcrunch has become one of my favorite sights to browse when I have time to kill. From there I found that Limelight Networks has raised $130MM in funding and is one of the leading content delivery networks. CDN for iTunes is Akamai and for You Tube it is Limelight.

For hosting EV1 is a sponsor of Techcrunch and a leading hosting provider.

I am curious to know if CDN/Hosting is available in India with quality comparable or better than EV1/Limelight and who the leading providers are ?

For Indian companies wanting scalable/reliable hosting/bandwidth to serve Indian consumers would they go to people like EV1 or would they go to Indian providers ?

40 turns 50 in 4

A company that my brother cofounded just got acquired for around $50 million in cash. It had 40 employees and found a use for some cool technology that they developed in providing a Zero Touch Fraud detection solution. This year revenues were around $3-$4 million and next year may touch $10 million. I think they started the company in 2003. It took them 3-4 years to get to $50 million.

The reason I posted this was to get Indian product entrepreneurs thinking.

Are there some Indian product examples similar to this ? Are there any barriers that prevent Indian entrepreneurs in doing a 40 turns 50 in 4. ? I am sure there are quite a few barriers but Indian ingenuity is supposed to get past them. Right ?