Archive for March, 2007

Kota Opportunity

Kota has established itself as a center of excellence for IIT coaching. Students after class X spend two years in Kota which costs them around 2.5 lacs.

I met a value investor from the US , yesterday who has done very well and has set up a foundation in India so that students who do not have means can get scholarships from his foundation.

He wants to build a life long relationship with these scholars, attract other donors also and go beyond IIT’s. In short he wants to scale.

The foundation office will be located in Kota and he is looking for a CEO for this foundation. The CEO could have rapid wealth creation based on outcomes. In that his approach is different from other NGO’s where the head of an NGO has few opportunities for wealth creation. In this case there will be the opportunity for reasonable wealth creation and doing good at the same time.

As you can imagine getting the CEO position will be tough but if you think you have the passion and ability please let me know.

Once I have the value investors permission to take actual names I will do that.

I could have put this in Venture Jobs but I felt it deserves to be highlighted a bit more as I thought the model is interesting for others to emulate in different fields .

Points of Inflexion

In the US the point of inflexion with the internet was probably 1998/1999 and a lot of the big money was made in the 1998 – 2002 period. Prior to 1998 there were many attempts that were slow to take off.

China the inflexion point was probably later. Do not know too much about when Baidu, Sina, Shanda, Netease, Alibaba, TaoBao etc. got going

I am not sure whether we are approaching an inflexion point in India. Have we passed one or whether inflexion point thinking is relevant or not.

Delighting Customers

In all the businesses that I have been involved in building delighting customers has been a key priority. In India I have observed based on my experiences as a customer that with a few exceptions ( jet airways, spice jet, PVR,some 5 star hotels) customer delight does not seem important.

I have a large LCD projection TV ( Samsung) bought in 2004 that was out of warranty and developed a major defect that would cost Rs 70000 to fix. After some protracted correspondence Samsung fixed it free of cost. I was ready to go to consumer court/media etc if they did not .Now that they have fixed it my faith in Samsung as a company has gone up.

What do others think? Was Samsung stupid in fixing my TV for free or was it good strategy ?

The reason I posted this here besides recognizing Samsung was to encourage more entrepreneurs to think of customer delight in building their businesses.

Indian VC funds wait on tax bracket decision

I recall a conversation with Alok on this topic, on the day the budget was presented. The Economic Times has an article today that outlines the issue, but presents no clear resolution one way or another. Would some of the knowledgable folks here comment?

The worst isn’t over for venture capital funds (VCFs). The million-dollar question before funds now is the rate at which their earnings will be taxed. Will it be 10% that stock investors pay on “capital gains” or, will the IT assessing officer use his discretion and treat the earnings as “business income” and slap a 30% tax?

There is no straight answer to this: while one may argue that VCFs buy stocks with the clear purpose to invest and hold on for a few years, it is also perceived that trusts are set up for the “business of investment” and hence what they earn is business income.

More so, since VCFs invest in unlisted stocks, where long-term gains are also taxed. A 30% tax could deal a body blow to VCFs, making them significantly less attractive as invesment vehicles. The tricky issue has cropped up even as funds are finding it difficult to come to terms with the new proposal that brings most VCFs under the tax net.

Informal getto in Bangalore

Hi, some of us — mostly entrepreneurs — are getting together in bangalore tomorrow for a beer. Other folks who are interested are invited. No specific agenda, just some chat around beer.

Time: 29th Mar (3.30 – 5.00 pm)
Venue: Pecos — situated at Rest House Road, off Brigade Road, right hand side, Black board, opposite to Pub World.

Red Herring 100 Asia awards

Hi folks

The countdown for the Red Herring annual listing of 100 innovative companies from Asia has begun. Application form is in this link:

Companies must be headquartered in Asia to qualify. Please pass on this information so we get a large bunch of startups to choose from.


Mobile Payment Value Chain and Business Models

A high level analysis of Mobile Payment Services.

Selling commercial rights to work already released under a Creative Commons license

My friend Cory Doctorow (one of the more interesting of the current crop of Science Fiction writers, though he may be more well-known from his work with the EFF and his role with the award-winning blog boing boing) has posted a very interesting piece about how one can commercially exploit CC-licensed content:

Lots of people have asked me whether doing a non-commercial CC release makes it impossible to sell commercial rights to a traditional publisher. Here’s how it can work:

The exclusive rights granted to Licensee hereunder are subject to a pre-existing Creative Commons license which grants members of the public the irrevocable and nonexclusive right to create their own adaptations of the Licensed Property, including comic books. Such Creative Commons-licensed works may not be sold or distributed for profit. Licensee acknowledges that under the terms of this Creative Commons license, members of the public may create comic book version of the Licensed Property for non-commercial distribution. Licensor agrees not to license the rights which are granted to Licensee hereunder to any competitor of Licensee or to any commercial enterprise intending to create adaptations of the Works for commercial distribution.

P2P micropayments – mediated by your cellphone operator!

I think that the best way to kickstart a working micropayment infrastructure may lie with mobile phone operators – the billing and tracking infrastructure is in place, and they don’t have the baggage that the credit card issuers do.

Here’s an interesting piece about such a scheme in Kenya.

The ping of a text message has never sounded so sweet. In what is being touted as a world first, Kenya’s biggest mobile operator is allowing subscribers to send cash to other phone users by SMS.

Known as M-Pesa, or mobile money, the service is expected to revolutionise banking in a country where more than 80% of people are excluded from the formal financial sector.

Apart from transferring cash – a service much in demand among urban Kenyans supporting relatives in rural areas – customers of the Safaricom network will be able to keep up to 50,000 shillings (£370) in a “virtual account” on their handsets.

Career Management

I have tried to develop a social networking cum saas type of application idea for managing careers – check it out