Archive for April, 2008

Project Management tools for SMB IT services firms

Project Management is the life for IT services firms. Without strong project management processes and good enterprise project management tools, delivery will suffer. I have seen that major outsourcing firms such as TCS, Infosys, CTS and others have their internal project management tools to manage delivery. However for smaller IT services firms (75-150 ppl) developing internal tools is quite expensive. Nor can they go with established 3rd party tools (again expensive). Are there any open sources alternatives for this? Are there any enterprise open source project management tools that are conducive for IT/ professional services? (I have seen many tools that are desktop based). It would be great if someone can shed light on this.


Video: Rohit Bhargava on Branding and Personality

Since Alok wrote the previous post on branding I thought as a follow-up I’d post this video interview with Rohit Bhargava, who has a new book out called Personality Not Included.

Rohit is Senior VP of Digital Strategy and Marketing at Ogilvy. He has a very popular blog aptly titled: Influential Marketing

This interview was recorded at the AdTech Conference in San Francisco on April 15, 2008.

Brand advertising on Internet – Position it right!

Kamla Bhatt sent me a link to this post, and it sparked off a few thoughts. What has worked well on the internet so far is performance advertising/ lead generation. Most people who are looking to building a business around enhancing brand presence on the web seem to be taking a PR oriented route to it. Unfortunately, PR budgets are not large. I think there is an opportunity to take another route.

Someone needs to figure out how to dip into the brand advertising pocket of companies for the internet. Few interesting observations:

  • When we talk to using blogs or videos or other social media for enhancing the image, its not just PR – PR often tends to promote people at expense of brands – “Boss’ day out”, “What am I reading” – these are personal profiling tools and seldom help the company/brand. Social media promotions (i promise i will stop using a new term very soon) cuts away from this, and actually helps project the brand
  • Conventional PR is about influencing a medium on which one has very little control, and hence very little promise of delivery. On the internet, the understanding and control of medium is far higher, where agencies can take ownership of deliverables such as reach
  • Given the large spends on brand advertising, metrics obviously play a big role – be it reach/frequency, share of voice, top of mind recall, etc. PR has relatively fewer (column centimeter of coverage!) Internet has the power to support brand-relevant metrics – again, the trick is not to get lost in clicks and impressions, but to have metrics that are relevant to brand salience, positioning, competitiveness, etc.

Most entrepreneurs looking to do the above are taking a PR approach (retainer fee, best effort basis, tap PR budgets). The opportunity is far bigger, and requires an approach to build a system that enables large scale execution and measurement. Bringing brand advertising on the net in significant magnitude can be a big business. Any takers?

India’s Future

I encourage Indian entrepreneurs experienced in the IT outsourcing industry, and alarmed by my Death of Indian Outsourcing piece to read Sudhakar Ram’s Wave 3 of Indian Outsourcing. Other related pieces on the topic are: India’s Labor Arbitrage Strategy, Indian IT: The Next 8 Years, and Silicon Valley’s Unknown Indian.

Also, here are my related Forbes columns on the topic.

And finally, here is my Open Letter to IIT Students written in response to a student’s email from IIT Kharagpur, in which I request students to start looking outside IT for entrepreneurial opportunities. As examples, I would like to cite the story of ERI, a water desalination company that is about to go public soon, and SunPower, a solar energy company that has had a successful run in the public market. I want to also highlight a different style of entrepreneurship that comes from Harish Hande, CEO of SELCO, bringing solar electricity to the poor.

As always, comments and discussions are very welcome.

VentureBuzz section

We are launching another section on VentureWoods – the VentureBuzz section – post any buzz you have heard – might be a rumor, might be a gossip, might be just some juice! Is that hot startup on its way down? Or is it getting bought? Did they announce a deal that never existed? Share something here that news doesnt know! We will try and keep this as free as we can, except wont allow personally disparaging remarks.

If you would like to make the comment anonymous, make sure you are not logged in when posting the comment.

Go, have fun!

Please participate in the Empower Social Media Research Survey

EmPower is a global research & media services company based out of New York & Bangalore. They are conducting a research study about the extent & impact of Internet-based social media (blogs, wikis, podcasts etc) in India. This must rank amongst the earliest research exercises at understanding the consumer behavior in the social media space in India.

As part of the research, EmPower has created an online consumer survey which needs to be filled out by users. This is a short survey and takes app 7-8 minutes (I took it myself). Can I request the readers of this blog to spare a few moments and help them gather some meaningful & actionable data.

Here is the survey link (you can also click the image below to access it)

Survey Logo.JPG

Angels fund 57,000 companies for $26b

Don Dodge covers the Angel Capital report from Center for Venture Research for the US Angel space. Some quick stats:

  • 258,200 active angels invested $26b in 57,120 companies in 2007. VCs invested $29.4b in 3,813 companies. The ratios are revealing in the kind of pipeline it takes for a vibrant ecosystem, and proportionate amount of dollars invested by each constituent.
  • Average angel group invests $2M per year in 8 companies ($250K per investment). One thing I have always maintained is that there are too few angel groups in India – some of them being Indian Angel Network, Mumbai Angels and TiE Chennai Fund. At IAN, our average deal size has been similar, though intuitively it might seem that seed stage in India might take lesser money.
  • Annual returns for angel exits are 27.7% – that number is low! For the risk and time investment that angels make, I would reckon the expectations are higher, especially since 2007 was a reasonably good year from exits perspective

I believe that angel investment is not just a function of putting money, but about deep understanding of specific sectors, and hence the ability to value-add in those kinds of investments. The formation of angel groups is another enabler, as it provides diversification, with the same money and time commitment. I would love to get the group’s views on what can be done to encourage and facilitate more angel investments in India.

Part-II : Business is Local: Comparing NCR/Delhi vs Bangalore vs Chennai vs Pune

Ok folks… all who answered/commented and even those who didnt; I’ve added a final comment– that wraps my last post… feel free to check it out if you’re interested.

To skeptics, who’d say “what difference does it make ?”; I’d say it makes a lot of difference:–

– because if a individual who believes in his killer-diller crisis management skills to ultimately save the day is faced with a organization that’s judging people on planning– then there’s a chance that crisis-management and risk taking would be seen as the cause of the problem– and hence punishable– rather than a hallmark for which a person should be rewarded.

– similarly; in a scenario, where the culture of a place emphasises conformity… and no conscious top-level attempt is being made to see that people are not punished for non-conformity; then, there’s a chance that projects will suffer because people wont go the extra mile– if conforming means toeing a middle-manager’s line… and folks who do go the extra mile, might just get badly punished… and there would be no cultural reason to break from hierarchy to raise a voice…

– even more so if even HR in a company believes that someone who goes the extra mile is not being heroic but rather being a simple-ton… and not reading the writing on the wall that toeing a line gets growth… and responsibility which in term brings rewards.
In that situation going the extra mile might just be a thankless job for which a person may end up being thought of a simpleton who can be punished and used and thrown away…

Nightmare scenarios the above may sound like… but they are scenarios I have scene and even experienced… but at the same time, these are not scenarios I’d lecture ex-colleagues or ex-bosses about… and that’s the reason I touch upon some of these…

More comments and shared experiences are welcome… and yeah… I hope I’m making sense….

Also, I am happy to hear from all of you.

I can be reached on:


2008: Is the UMPC a wave to ride?

UMPC, the Ultra Mobile Personal Computer. The design initially came out of Microsoft roughly about an year or so ago, and there were quite a few skeptics who raced to make claims that this would die the same death that the tablet PC had. Though the Tablet PC is quite an interesting form factor, it hasnt taken mass adoption. The UMPC very much seems like its going to beat all the odds and catch up on that adoption curve.

I am usually blamed for not giving enough numbers, so let me start with statistics. The number of laptops that were sold last year saw a massive jump of 85.6% from the year before compared to what is happening with other forms of PCs. For example the PC saw a growth of close to 12-16%. With that backdrop, 85% is quite a significant jump and one that has never happened for a technology so late in the life cycle.

So what does it all mean? Its a given that desktops are gonna head out and more and more laptops are taking up their space. Considering that you can get a laptop for Rs. 30,000, almost at the same price at what a decent desktop costs, I am not surprised at the adoption rate jump. But there might be more to it.

Type UMPC in google image search and hit enter. I am currently getting close to 1.5 million images and all different variations of the same specification. It’s certainly quite interesting to see how many companies are betting behind the adoption of this device.

There are a couple of reasons why I think this would work. For one, the Sony Vaio (the Miniature version) has been providing one with a similar form factor and it is quite well received. It comes at a hefty price tag and there are a lot of up-and-coming executives who are willing to pay something a bit less to join that ivy league. Pride and desire is very well served.

Continue reading ‘2008: Is the UMPC a wave to ride?’

Business is Local: Comparing NCR/Delhi vs Bangalore vs Chennai vs Pune

Hi Folks…

Having worked in Delhi and also in Bangalore; I’ve seen many differences between the work cultures in these two great metros; and each city/region has it’s own advantages and disadvantages.

Am curious… and I seek comments… what’re the experiences that you (venture-woods audience) have had, working in different cities.

Good, bad, ugly… feel free write comments and share your perspectives…