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October 17, 2012 / innovationinitiator

Calling entrepreneurs…

A fresh start after nearly an year of my last post. Lots has changed and lots more will change. This post is a shameless plug for what I do so bear with me!

For those of you who are keeping track, I’ve  become an entrepreneur myself. We’ve launched Colorshots Media earlier this year and we’re going to help you tell your stories (more on this later in the post). I’ve also had the pleasure of travelling across the US and South India recently and met with quite a few interesting people. We’re also launching a new brand from the Bangalore Mobile Spa and a redesigned website for the TBMS.

Starting from next week, we at Colorshots are going to launch a YouTube Channel that brings the stories of Indian innovators and entrepreneurs to the front. This is a free channel that will be supported by your generous clicking of Google ads and therefore make those clicks count. We’ll be hitting the cutting floor next week and you can watch this space for updates.

For now you can catch Rubina’s channel which has been produced and developed by us at Colorshots.

For those of you who’d like to plan out your monetization strategies and leverage videos to teach/learn/train do get in touch with me and we can figure out some connections.

More later next week….

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

February 10, 2012 / innovationinitiator

Back to the drawing board…


drawing-pins-colored-23012-480x360 (Photo credit: Public Domain Photos)

Sometimes, despite all the effort, passion, sweat and money you might have put into a specific initiative/enterprise, it makes sense to go back to the drawing board.

The biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is not to fall too much in love with your idea. You are at risk of walling up your idea and closing your mind to helpful feedback or sometimes honest criticism. Your idea and your business has to grow. It has to take on a life of its own and has to outlive you.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook is big because it attracted the right talent at the startup mode. A non-founder Adam D’Angelo was the key reason that Mark moved  Facebook from Cambridge to Palo Alto.

If you’re in the middle of a big opportunity or your startup is going strong – take a pause, step outside of your skin and listen to your strongest critics. There might be a dink in a corner that needs fixing that you didn’t notice so far.

June 1, 2011 / innovationinitiator

Would you like fries with that?

McDonalds Store in Dortmund, Germany

Image via Wikipedia

McDonalds, with that iconic statement, managed to convert every one of their customer contact points into an opportunity to upsell.

Every time you walked in for an interview, you were trying to up-sell yourself.

Every idea you put in front of your team and organization was a sales opportunity.

As an entrepreneur, you have to love selling.

And chances are you’re getting better at it.

Every time someone shoots down your ideas you go back out there, with new ones.

And that is selling.

May 8, 2011 / innovationinitiator

Chicken or an egg?

What came first? The idea or the need?

If an idea is filling a need (stated or unstated) doesn’t that mean that the seed for the idea already exists? All that did’t exist is the catalyst in the form of a person who connects the two together and comes up with a business proposition?

Think about it.

An idea that has failed to commercialize has failed because it didn’t find the right need. The dot com era was peppered with the souls of many such ideas. People put in billions of dollars to back and idea where the innovators hadn’t even spent the time articulating the need it was trying to solve.

A Need that has evolved can no longer be solved by the old idea. It requires a new one.

Novell Network


The audio cassette greatly increased the distr...

Image via Wikipedia


Sony Betamax

Cassette Tapes

Six Sigma…This being a controversial one. Two of the main proponents of Six Sigma, Motorola and AT&T, have been barely hanging on at the edge of bankruptcy. But Six Sigma consultants are raking in the moolah selling people the “defect free” dream.

The “Idea-Need cycle” is a living cycle and cannibalistic in nature. Each idea feeds of a need and as the need gets fulfilled, has to give birth to a new idea.

If you are sitting on an idea, check its relevance. Was it the same one you came up with when Michael Jackson was still alive? Time to go back to the drawing board.


May 3, 2011 / innovationinitiator

The business of a brand

Getting started is easy. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. The neighborhood chai walah is also an entrepreneur (no offense Shekar).

While the idea that drives the opportunity is definitely key, what will live longer than the idea is the brand.

As an entrepreneur/intrepreneur the brand you create or build has to be bigger than the idea or opportunity.

In the past the idea defined the brand and organizations were built around the core value of the idea.

Let me give you a couple of examples –

Each of these brands personified the solution they wanted to provide or the idea from which they were born.

The problem starts when the world moves ahead and the ideal that you started with is no longer relevant. What do you do then? Do you go out and create a new brand?

The new economy see the brand as the idea. The idea you are proposing is relevant for a user today. How will your brand represent the same values when the need changes? What about when you current customer is no longer your current customer?

In the new economy the brand is the idea. The brand gives birth to multiple ideas that represent the core values of the entrepreneur.

The brand lives beyond a specific impact that the idea has.

“Thanks for that gyaan session but how does that apply to me?”  – you say.

Well, as an entrepreneur you are building a brand. That brand is not the idea you want to commercialize but YOU! Yes, you are the brand and as you get started you need to focus on the brand that you want to perpetuate. You as a brand can take the form of a catchy brand name for your company/product/service but it has to be you.

And what if you have the entrepreneurial itch but you are working in a company? Well, build a brand for yourself thats bigger than the designation that your company has given you.

Your designation is just a description of the role you perform. Your brand, on the other hand, is what you are known for. Its what you’re intuitively good at and will continue to be good at even if you’re not in a give role. Build on it and seek challenges that further build on it.

A project manager, a visual designer, a business analyst, a information architect are all designations that rely on structured opportunities and defined roles to succeed. That is not who you are but what you’re supposed to do at work.


Innovation Initiator

April 20, 2011 / innovationinitiator

Freeze ray…

Gru has been visiting….

Brain frozen…should be back soon!

April 7, 2011 / innovationinitiator

In or out?

Over the last four installments of the blog we talked about “trigger events” that can set each one of us in an entrepreneurial journey.

A question I ask myself & I’m sure many of you are asking is “Do I have to quit my job to become an entrepreneur?

Credit - The Portland Mercury

In my opinion entrepreneurship is a state of mind rather than a state of being. Let me elucidate.

You are an entrepreneur if you do any of the following –

  1. Set your own goals that are sometimes impossible to achieve
  2. Feel that good enough is never good enough
  3. Always get an opportunity to try out your wild ideas on whatever you are working on
  4. Your biggest supporters are your customers/stakeholders.
  5. Every great deal closed makes you hungry for the next big challenge.
  6. The pace of growth is driven by you

You can be an entrepreneur on your own or even as a part of a larger organization.

The triggers are are still relevant. You can set your own salary, you can chase that dream opportunity & you can live that eureka moment.

If you’ve decided to chase the dream but are unsure if you can build on your own or  within your current organization, try and list out the enablers and the gatekeepers. If the number of gatekeepers is higher than the enablers, start something on your own. If the enabler is senior enough to negate the gatekeepers, you’ve still got a chance.

Before you do anything else, take a step back and list out who really are the enablers and who are the gatekeepers.

March 24, 2011 / innovationinitiator

Opportunity knocks…

and only once.

Quite often we are at the right place at the right time and we come across an opportunity thats too good to miss.

And yet, the fear of the unknown holds us back.

The Serendipity Event is just that. A happy accident that a entrepreneur picks up and creates a business out of.

When CK Ranganathan noticed a rickshaw driver buying one cigarette at a time, while he did consume a packs worth at the end of the day, he didn’t see a product pricing issue or a customer cash flow issue, he saw an opportunity to sell the same product capturing market share in smaller packaging. He seized that opportunity and created Cavin Kare, a Rs. 1500 crore FMCG group that leads the market in sachet shampoos.

I’m sure serendipity strikes all of us.

Let me give you a example – Over last weekend, as we were struggling with water problems at our home, I was desperately searching for a consultant or service who could come over, diagnose our problems (maybe for a small fee) and tell us what are the components we should buy and install to solve it. Believe it or not, besides your neighborhood plumber, there is no competent authority who can give a home owner long term advice that is based on specific technical knowledge. Sure, the big apartments have their captive support staff, the large construction companies have their engineers, what about the 15 lacs independent home owners in Bangalore who rely on the semi technical skills of a “learn by experimenting” engineer.

There, thats a business opportunity!

Want to know more about people who turned serendipity into business opportunities? Here you go –

1. Want a place where you can search for a job, any kind of job, even in the semi skilled areas? – Sanjeev

2. Wondering how to take time out from your tight work schedule to pay your bills, do your shopping, get your car fixed? – Dipali Sikand Les Concierges

3. Don’t want to step out of your house and put up with traffic and still want to get that massage and pedicure? – Rubina GuleriaThe Bangalore Mobile Spa

4. Need cooks, maids, drivers or help staff to help you around your home and wish there was a website that connects you with them? – Sean

Think about whats common about all of these entrepreneurs? They have acted on and created a solution around a problem or opportunity that all of us have engaged with.

They got off their comfort zone and did something about it.

But ultimately its not only about the opportunity but your passion and insight that brings out a differentiated solution to the same opportunity that everyone else is also looking at.

March 13, 2011 / innovationinitiator

I think, therefore I am…

My last post on the economic event generated quite a buzz and I know the intellectuals among you felt insulted that I measured the dreams of an entrepreneur against money.

You are right. Not everyone is seduced by money. Some of us, through an economic selection/elimination process called “financial independence”, have risen above the polluting effects of money and now thirst for a higher level of gratification.

The Intellectual Event™ –

There is an intrinsic need for all of us to leave our mark on this world. Having been consumers for most of our lives, we do feel the need to be creators once in a while. Unfortunately the only thing we can create naturally are babies, for everything else (there is MasterCard) we can only ideate.

Creation, for those with an entrepreneurial mindset, is about seeding an idea. A idea that lives on to be a legacy. This intellectual pursuit can be the foundation for a commercial venture that has the ability to outlive any of us and impact more people that we could do directly.

Let me give you an example –

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

Mark Zuckerberg created ‘Face Mash’ over a weekend to impress his friends and demonstrate his programing capability. Facebook and it’s commercial success were accidental and not the focus.

Closer home Mohammed Yunus created the Grameen Bank as a way of enabling women to become entrepreneurs. The banks own profitability wasn’t the reason he started it.

When Ravi Ghate, a social entrepreneur, started SMSOne in Pune, his focus was to bring troubled youth into the main-fold and not a commercial business. 10 years, 5 states & 5 global innovation awards later, that idea is now a commercial venture with a social conscience.

What I’m getting too is that you don’t have to dilute your altruistic goals to make money. Chances are that your idea has a greater opportunity of outliving you if it has some commercial value to someone.

Wether we like it or not, wanting more has constantly driven human progress.Human progress Every idea that lived and has grown from the day the first of our kind started communicating, is the one that found a consumer. Someone who was willing to stop their own commercial activity and listen. An idea for an ideas sake has no life. An idea that can multiply, does so because of it’s commercial value.

Religion is one of the most successful ideas that human beings could ever create and it has generated more wealth than any other commercial establishment in history!

So, as an aspiring entrepreneur what should you do?
  • Quantify your idea
  • Separate the person who is impacted by the idea from who would pay for it
  • Write down what’s in it for you
  • Work on it
March 3, 2011 / innovationinitiator

Money, money, money…Its all about the money.

During my brain freeze moment earlier this week I ran a quick poll (but no content) and the intent was to understand how many of my readers are actually sure that they want to start their own business. An amazing 83% of the participants indicated that they will or are planning to become an entrepreneur.

Beyond the idealistic dream of being your own boss, what drives an individual from the relative safety of being an average dude to someone who is willing to be Rambo. Wether you are demonstrating entrepreneurial skills within an established organization or on your own, the fact is that you, my friend, are taking more chances than your other colleagues or friends.

This trigger point that drives us to put our neck out,  for some of us, could be The Economic Event.

The Economic Event™

India is a very conservative society. I’m not talking about being conservative about sexuality, language, culture, knowledge but financially conservative. While this is changing currently, most of us have grown up being told “Don’t live beyond your means“. This is so ingrained into our mindset that we feel guilty even about spending money that we have. We dream, but we dream of things that we can afford. (I’m keeping fantasies out of this).

Compare this with the Americans. An average American is living in debt by the time they are 30 years old. Credit card is a mightier economic tool than the bank note that is issued by the government. They spend more per year than they have earned in that year. And, surprisingly, the World measures itself based on the health of the US economy. Why is that?

Its the economic liberation at the individual level that drives the engine of growth. If John Doe is spending more than he makes, he is consuming more of what is being produced. This leads to the demand of more differentiated products and services to keep Mr. Doe spending all of the time. The banks work with the industry to make sure that Mr. John Doe has more money (that he’s yet to earn) that he can spend on buying things that he doesn’t know that he needs.

You look at it as irrational spending behavior, the American entrepreneur looks at it as an opportunity.  An opportunity to be innovative, an opportunity to create and sell new products and services, and build businesses that grow at phenomenal rates year on year.

Courtesy - MIT Edu

So, how does this connect back to your dream of becoming an entrepreneur?

Don’t be afraid to dream of that Porche in your driveway. Think about taking that vacation with your beautiful wife  (girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/looser friends) to the exotic location you always talked about. Plan that home that you always wanted, then upsize it.

But hang on – don’t go out and spend that money as yet.

Use these economic triggers or needs to drive you to a higher earning level.

The only way your will multiply your earning capacity is if you put your neck on the block and do something radical.

Start that company you always dreamt about. Take that opportunity at work that has the potential of changing your life.

Do it because you love the money!

PS – Make the money. Don’t take it if you don’t want it or if its not yours.