Archive for March, 2012

What’s NXT : Digital Content – Where is Money – 3rd April 2012, New Delhi

Digital Content : What’s NXT – Where is Money

Britannica closing down its print publication after 244 years to focus on online version!  The number of Internet users in India – estimated at around 140 million today – exceeds the number of TV sets in our homes. Facebook, with its 44 million Indian members reaches more of us than any single TV channel, Doordarshan included. While YouTube, with over 31 million Indian viewers a month, is far and away our largest English television channel. Meanwhile Twitter and Google Plus each get to about 14 million of us in a month – a number that is twice the circulation of India’s largest newspaper.  Is Digital Content be next wave in the internet world post e-commerce / mobile vas …

What will work in Digital media and what won’t. With new paradigms of tablets, Apps and micro payment gateway  reshaping the CPM economy , its time to explore and understand new business model which will drive Digital Media in new age !

Meet / interact and understand key issues surrounding digital content at “Digital Content : What’s NXT”  conference and understand these issues from leading Venture Capitalists and digital publishers / editors about the future of Digital content in India.


Key Note address : Mahendra Swarup, President – IVCA

1.  TCM Sundaram , MD & Co founder IDG Ventures

2.  Sanjay Trehan, Head MSN India

3.  R Sukumar , Editor Mint

4. Alok Mittal, Cannan Partners

5.  Sreekant Khandekar , Chairman & CEO – Banyan Netfaqs

6. Mukul Singhal, VP SAIF Partners

7. Shailesh Vickram Singh, Executive Director, SeedFund ( Moderator)


Taj Vivanta ( Taj Ambassdor) Near Khan Market, New Delhi


Tuesday, 3rd April 2012,

Register Now.

Register here at

Missing Link – the HR plan

Having managed HR departments for over 110 companies in last 5 years, I am amazed to see the consistent absence of comprehensive HR plan inside or even alongside the annual business plan. And this remains the top reason why goal alignments, reviews and resource agility remains perpetual challenge. Most managers end up reacting to situations rather than anticipating and large part of workforce has no idea whats happening around. How difficult is it to give one week of think time to top management and put together clearly aligned operating plans that include people plan (numbers, roles, goals, metrics, reports, rythms, huddles, key programs, training runs, content and cheer)?

Problem with not thinking through enough, is that then, doing and thinking goes on together, forcing execution teams to either take random shots or keep running back to top for decisions, both create huge risk to plan achievement.

Incidentally, its been easier to put this together for privately funded companies as the basic discipline of planning and review exists quite rigidly, though ensuring that HR plan isn’t given a miss is still a task. Companies run by professional CEOs come next and family businesses remain a tough one to crack inspite of their sincere intention.

Planning discipline impacts ability to retain talent to a great extent as it simplifies everyone’s job, if HR teams are fully engaged to operating plan and there is clarity on annual HR plan, whole organization achieves amazing operational seamlessness. You still have two weeks to go for another execution run to begin, it might be a bit last minute but you can save the year.

Feel free to comment here or write to me at

A Different VC Model

Having made a number of investments in very young technology companies in India over the years I came to the somewhat obvious conclusion that it is relatively easy for startups  here to become ‘ramen profitable‘, but relatively difficult for them to exit. Making equity based investments in this scenario is problematic for the obvious reason that without an exit, investors don’t get paid. The alternatives I have heard people talk about to address this are dividends & convertible debt. Dividends are difficult to extract as the entrepreneurs would always prefer to reinvest revenue to fuel further growth. Debt is risky as it can lead to a scenario in which founders lose control of their company.

My dad was a software entrepreneur. When I was a kid he was always at work on the computer on the dining room table writing software to help scientists design experiments.  After borrowing as much as he could from his father, he talked to a number of investors around us in Silicon Valley, but ended up taking money from John Wiley & Sons. At that point book publishers saw software as something that got sold in the back of books and they already had a model for providing risk capital to authors. In exchange for an advance of $50,000 and a promise of ongoing royalty payments, my dad signed over the rights to the product he was developing. The package sold reasonably for several years, and after 4 years John Wiley gave my dad another advance so that he could create version 2 of the software.

John Wiley & Sons made money on the venture. My dad made money. Everyone was happy. It is unlikely my dad would have been funded under the traditional VC model. Is experiment design a billion $ business ? Is an IPO possible, aquisition likely ? No.

I believe there are far more tech business opportunities that look like my dad’s business than Facebook. These businesses are largely ignored in Silicon Valley where the cost of living is high and the opportunity cost of not going big makes people shut down marginally profitable businesses.

In India, I feel we should embrace this type of business. Rather than bemoan the lack of an Indian Facebook or Google, we should strive to create thousands of small profitable online businesses that earn their promoters above market salaries and their investors above market returns.

The financing vehicle we use to do this will look more like the publishing industry and less like Venture Capital. Earlier this month I saw this article by Om Malik, Why Apps Need a Different Kind of VC Funding about Vision+ which appears to be a Finish VC making these types of investments in young companies. I think this will work well here.

Indian Microfinance – Infographic from Legatum

Interesting infographic from Legatum on impact of AP ordinance on Indian microfinance industry.

Apart from effective blacklisting of millions of poor women in AP from access to private credit, the ordinance has impacted availability of credit across the country. All in name of protecting the SHG initiative, and backed by suspect claims damages that MFIs were causing.

Export Import Business Online-Business Idea

 Logistics is big business.And freight forwarding (export -import) contributes significantly to logistics business.

Having worked with Air India Ltd at its Cargo SBU, I wonder whether are there any companies in world which facilitates export and import business online.This business can be classified into 2-3 ways.First is via air or sea.Second is big shipments (in tons) v/s small shipments (in kgs).While online model would be useful for small shipments as discounts given by airlines is too good in that.

Hindrance of digitising this business is influence of stakeholders like customs and shipper’s export /import division.

VC’s and entrepreneurs in logistics domain may wish to brainstorm on this idea.Contact .