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King Cobra: Karan Bilimoria’s India Strategy PG34

DECEMBER 2012  VOLUME 4  ISSUE 4  `100

www.entrepreneurindia.in

So Long, Mr Tata

The Turnaround Man hands over a formidable legacy to his successor PG44


TABLE OF CONTENTS INSIGHTS

COVER STORY 44 The Ratan Tata Legacy

Richard Branson tells you how you can build trust and stand out amongst your competitors

Heading a 144-year-old company, Ratan Naval Tata took it from being a conservative group into an aggressive global giant. In the last 21 years its revenues grew from $10 billion to $100 billion. We take a close look at his journey and at the legacy he leaves behind at the salt to software conglomerate

20 Just Married!

By Sourav Majumdar and Sulekha Nair

18 How to Build Trust

Alok Kejriwal reveals ways to make the cofounder relationship work for your business using marriage as a metaphor

58 How Ratan Tata Made the Bumblebee Fly Read about how the Tata Group exceeded every expectation under the leadership of Ratan Tata By R. Jagannathan

IN CONVERSATION 21 If Wishes Were Horses

Manish Sabharwal discusses the role the government needs to play to boost entrepreneurship in the country

22 A Bipolar Globe

KP Balaraj, Sandeep Singhal and SK Jain, Advisory Principals, WestBridge Capital talk about the private equity industry at large and their experience as investors

By Shonali Advani

Social business Milaap is providing low-cost outcome-based loans to the working poor through a crowd-funding model

MY STORY

34 ‘We are following a focused India strategy now’ Karan Bilimoria, Founder of Cobra Beer, talks about his entrepreneurial journey, the mistakes he made along the way and his outlook for the company

24 Lead On

Ravi Kiran says an entrepreneur must be a good leader for an organization to function well

26 At Arm’s Length

39 Credit from the Crowd

By Shonali Advani

Bharat Banka discusses how the changing dynamics of global leadership impact the country’s economy

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR

32 ‘Our exit strategy is driven by the entrepreneur’

By Pranbihanga Borpuzari

WOMAN ENTREPRENEUR

Anurag Batra looks into the advantages of letting subsidiaries of big companies operate independently

42 To Square One and Back

28 Killing the Golden Goose?

The Founder of Vishal Retail talks about the rise and fall in his journey as an entrepreneur

Nandini Vaidyanathan asks entrepreneurs to get documents validated before signing on the dotted line

29 Tenets of Enterprise

Ranjeet S. Mudholkar tells you how to make your venture succeed

By Ram Chandra Agarwal

IN FOCUS 62 For Social Scale 37 Sunny Side Up Shubhra Mohanka is erasing darkness in over 300 villages with her venture Solid Solar By Ashna Ambre

6 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

The SELCO Incubation Center, headquartered in Bengaluru, will aid social entrepreneurs in steering their efforts in the right direction By Shonali Advani


THE FUNDING

SPECIAL

SPECIAL FEATURE

WATCH OUT

62

SUCCESS INC OFFBEAT

62 IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN As Co-founder and CEO of Indus League Vamsicharan Mudiam of IBM outlines ways for SMEs Clothing, Rachna Aggarwal has built an to restructure their business better by using cloud umbrella of apparel brands, each with a computing services distinct style and place in the industry. By Shonali Advani 79 ‘Cloud helps in reducing costs’

LEGACY

68 RULING THE REALTY SECTOR

Even after building millions of houses in the country over four decades, there is no stopping Sushil Kumar Ansal when it comes to the expansion of his construction business. By Sunita Mishra 92 Fear Factor

71 HOME IN ON SUCCESS The business world de-

Know more about affordable housing, mands more than just Entrepreneurs an emerging segmentpassion. in the housing need to overcome their sector in India. By Team Entrepreneur apprehensions and fears

64 MBA Smackdown Is MBA a recommended degree for an aspiring entrepreneur? Two outspoken academic leaders offer contrasting views to provide much-needed insight on the quintessential query By Jason Daley

68 Tech-Savvy Consumers Deserve Tech-Savvy Marketers In the third part of the series in partnership with Sequoia Capital, we look at why businesses today can’t afford to run without including technology as a part of its core processes

if they want to be the best in business

80 Trot, Canter and Gallop

Fabio Granato and Vittorio Assaf founded Serafina, a successful chain of Italian restaurants, that they have brought to India, fulfilling a promise they made on a sailing trip. Will they make it big here?

MONEY DEPARTMENT

SUCCESS STRATEGY

SPECIAL REPORT

84 Out of the Ward

Entrepreneurs from the MSME sector are actively contributing towards the economic development of the country. Business Gaurav SME Awards 2012 celebrated their contribution By Our Staff Writer

INNOVATORS INC

81 BETTER BILLING

By Ashna Ambre

By GV Ravishankar

71 Connecting with MSMEs

By Christopher Hann

68

Know the changes you need to make to your invoice to get paid faster. By Gwen Moran

Moolchand Hospital was once financially in a dire state. That was until brothers Shravan and Vibhu Talwar came in and infused a second lease of life

STATE FOCUS 82 WESTSIDE STORY

By Pranbihanga Borpuzari

GO FRANCHISE 95

Gujarat has become the of 99 epicenter Lesson learned economic activity in the country. Besides Classtivity is an online labor harmony, infrastructure development, model which makes it socio-economic reforms andfor anthe investoreasier user to map recreational friendly climate, it is the entrepreneurial activities nature of the people which has according gone a to their choice long way in making the Gujarat story a By Gwen Moran successful one. By Pranbihanga Borpuzari

GETTING THERE 86 CORRIDOR OF GROWTH

In Fullmega Bloom As the country’s most100 ambitious infrastructure projectVikas worthGutgutia’s Rs.4.05 lakh Ferns N Petals is a pioneer in crore—the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor— the organized gathers steam, Entrepreneur does flower and is a ground-level realityretail checkbusiness to know how motivated about his it will help boost trade. next growth plan By Pranbihanga Borpuzari By Avanish Tiwary

72 Farming on Call Vijay Bhaskar Reddy Dinnepu, has built KisanRaja—a GSM-based remote motor controller that lets farmers control their irrigation pumps from a mobile phone By Shonali Advani

92 THE TRICK IS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION Here’s a look at how Gujarat leads the country in ensuring industrial policies are 88 Look No Further executed properly. Franchising in the Indian beauty and By wellness DineshindusAwasthi try is a good option for entrepreneurs, giving them an opportunity to scale quickly By Bindi Shah December 2011  Intelligent Entrepreneur 7 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012 7


TABLE OF CONTENTS

MONEY DEPARTMENT

STARTUPS

HOW TO

102 Manage your Personal Finances

118 Train and Retain Retail Staff

Personal finances play a key role in ensuring a safe financial future. Find effective ways to save up

Investing in the right talent is crucial as it ensures a higher retention rate in a company By Shonali Advani

By Brijesh Dalmia

120 Set Up a Taxi Booking Company

TECH DEPARTMENT

The taxi booking segment is bound to witness an exponential growth. Here are some crucial inputs before you set to capitalize on this segment By Shonali Advani

122 Start a Successful Financial KPO Unit 106 A Retail Buzz

103 The Challenger Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 800 to contend against the iPad. Read on to find out if it makes the cut By Ankush Chibber

Shimauli Dave Vora’s startup Buzallong Bazaar is looking to take lifestyle products to customers in tier II cities around the country

Building a successful KPO unit can ensure financial success. Keeping these pointers in mind will ensure a smoother flow of business By Priti Parekh

By Shruti Chakraborty

124 Combat Employee Theft 108 Out of the Woodwork Anil Gupta‘s Luxus India is bringing home Europeanstyle wardrobe solutions at an affordable price, challenging the local carpenter

Employee theft can result in substantial losses for entrepreneurs. Read on to find ways to secure your business using digital security By John Patrick Pullen

By Ashna Ambre

110 When Small is Beautiful

REGULARS 10 FEEDBACK 12 RESOURCES 14 ASK ENTREPRENEUR 16 CAPSULE 134 BACKSTAGE

Alphonse Reddy’s FabMart is a retail venture which operates where no e-commerce has ventured before—the tier III and tier IV towns of the country By Shonali Advani

126 Recognize and Act on your Best Business Ideas Identifying your best business ideas and executing it effectively can help you rake in money. Be quick to take action By Scott Belsky

SPEND IT 129 A Tale of Two Eateries di Napoli and Bong Bong in Mumbai are good choices to consider for some scrumptious food to satiate those taste buds By Sriya Ray Chaudhuri

130 Go with the Flow

COVER CREDITS

Ganga Kutir is a world-class resort spread over a large area of land overlooking the river Ganga By Sriya Ray Chaudhuri

131 Exceeding Expectations 112 And Now F Com Twenty-year-old Ashish Agarwal is the brain behind Exprestore, a venture that is helping brands sell their wares on Facebook By Shonali Advani

COVER DESIGN

Arko Provo Mukherjee

COVER IMAGE Getty Images

115 Shop-floor Solutions Two IIT Bombay graduates, Abhijeet Mhatre and Tarun Mishra, have developed software that can provide the country’s manufacturing sector the right drive By Shruti Chakraborty

8 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

The Volvo XC60 is a good looking car that doesn’t compromise on quality and comfort By Pranbihanga Borpuzari


IN SIGHTS

BRANSON SPEAK

How to Build Trust Establishing trust in your company is one of the core essentials necessary to propel your business

[ RICHARD BRANSON ]

THERE ARE FEW THINGS more important in business than trust. If potential customers do not have faith in your product or service, then your business will never get off the ground. From manufacturers to distributors, everyone will need convincing.

Stand out from the crowd It’s vital that you show people from the start that you are different from the competition. I learned this when we were signing acts to Virgin Records and we needed to gain the trust of the musicians. When The Rolling Stones were looking for a label, we needed to convince them that Virgin was the place for them. I knew that we were getting somewhere when Mick Jagger commented that I was more like him than the “suits” from the other labels who had been courting the band. That was, I thought, a fair reflection of my approach to business. I was being honest about who we were and what we could do. That honesty allowed us all to treat the artists more like friends than clients. Our team did not present a buttoned-up, united front when we were working with them; instead, everyone in the team pitched in and did their very best.

Do the unexpected When we were looking to sign Janet Jackson and negotiations weren’t going as smoothly as I had hoped, I used humor to persuade her. So one day I arranged for us to take a trip in one of the Virgin hot air balloons, where we continued our talks. As we returned to the launch site, I decided to play a joke on her, and quite cheekily said that we wouldn’t land until she signed with Virgin! She laughed, and did. As we entered other industries, some of our team members from Virgin Records joined those new businesses, and honesty and humor became part of our company’s DNA. This 18 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

approach became our calling card as we started businesses in sectors that needed shaking up. People who are thinking about investing in Virgin companies need to only look at our track record: We run good businesses and make fair profits. To reach this point, a company first has to do the hard work of laying down the foundations that will enable a business to flourish. At the same time, you must make room for new developments along the way. Keep your customers surprised by occasionally doing the unexpected.

Walk that extra mile When you are trying to persuade partners and suppliers to work with you, throwing yourself wholeheartedly into finding solutions is a great way to demonstrate how serious you are. In 1997 after the British radio host Chris Evans had just quit Radio One, I decided that he would be perfect for Virgin Radio, so I phoned his agent to arrange a meeting. His agent told me that Evans was about to depart for New York on a British Airways Concorde flight, and if I wanted to meet him I would have to get on the plane. Earlier, the idea of getting onto a British Airways plane was almost anathema to me, after they had tried to put Virgin Atlantic out of business, using all sorts of underhanded tactics. When I hotfooted it over to Heathrow and walked onto the plane, Evans knew that I was serious about doing business with him. (Later, he bought Virgin Radio from my team.) Building trust in your brand may take time, but it doesn’t have to come at a high cost. With honesty, ambition, hard work and attention to detail you can instill a level of trust that will enable you to move forward. ©Entrepreneur Inc. All rights reserved. RICHARD BRANSON is the Founder of the Virgin Group


IN SIGHTS

LOOKING BACK

If Wishes Were Horses It is delusional to believe that a vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurship needs zero government

[ MANISH SABHARWAL ] AT A RECENT PANEL discussion I attended on Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia are on the what the government could do to encourage move. In fact, Indonesia has experienced the entrepreneurship in India, a successful entrelargest increase in prosperity globally since 2009. preneur said that all the government needs to As the authors wrote: “The path to prosperity is do is “vanish and stay invisible”. His statement not a mathematical formula or an engineering reflects a superstition common amongst justifiproblem. A country’s size, history and culture all ably frustrated entrepreneurs; if the government matter. Nevertheless, the Index confirms what went away, India would have a lot more successexperience tells us. Decent, accountable governful entrepreneurs. But there are two problems ment, rule of law, competition, opportunity and with this superstition. a regulatory environment and First of all, India does culture that promote liberty, The path to prosperity not need more entrepreresponsibility and entrepreis not a mathematical neurs; 50 percent of India’s neurship are drivers of prosformula or an labor force, i.e. 220 million perity everywhere” people, is self-employed. Despite high self-employengineering problem But not all entrepreneurs ment, most Indian companies are equal; some create are dwarfs. I’d like to make companies that are babies (are small but will the case that the under-representation of babies grow) and some create dwarfs (are small and (companies that scale) is not due to a lack of will stay small). While both are useful, society ambition or talent but reflects a flailing Indian values babies more than dwarfs because they state. Reform since 1991 has focused on the sins create more jobs and pay more taxes. Secondly, of commission (what the government did wrong) a non-existent state is hardly an ingredient for a rather than sins of omission (what the governvibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem; Waziristan ment does not do). After 20 years of reform, most in Pakistan and Pashtun Valley in Afghanistan of the remaining sins of commission are thorns have no government but are hardly hotbeds of in the flesh rather than daggers in the heart. But entrepreneurship. the sins of omission are vast; entrepreneurs have to produce their own power, provide their own The drivers of prosperity transport, and skill their own employees. A debate about entrepreneurship is not about big Making India a more fertile habit requires or small government but effective government. the state to focus on hard infrastructure (roads, I found the Legatum Prosperity Index (www. power, ports), soft infrastructure (school and prosperity.com) particularly interesting because vocational learning outcomes and hospitals), it identifies eight “foundations” for national and regulations (GST and labor laws). success that include effective and accountable We need less poetry (strategy) and more government, personal freedom, national secuplumbing (execution). But what we don’t need is rity and personal safety. I believe these are the an absconding state. same variables that will accelerate new business creation. In its 2012 rankings, the rise of MANISH SABHARWAL is the Chairman of TeamLease Services China speaks for itself, but the index shows that

To read more, grab the December 2012Intelligent issue of  December 2012 21 Entrepreneur Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


IN CONVERSATION

‘We are following a focused India strategy now’ Aiming to create a less fizzy lager which is more suitable for drinking with Indian food, Karan Bilimoria founded Cobra Beer in 1989 in the UK. In June 2006, Bilimoria was appointed The Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea but his business suffered a huge setback in 2009. Reeling under a huge debt, Bilimoria had to ink a JV with Molson Coors to bail out Cobra. He talks to Pranbihanga Borpuzari about his entrepreneurial journey, his mistakes and his outlook for Cobra

Q: How did you start operations at Cobra Beer? A: After qualifying as a chartered accountant with what is today Ernst & Young, I graduated in law from Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, in 1988. I came up with the idea of Cobra Beer when I was a student at Cambridge, though I should have become an investment banker with my education. Big ideas sometimes come to you as a consumer where you are dissatisfied with a certain product or service, think you can do better, and have a passion for it. The lagers in Britain were very fizzy and a friend of mine introduced me to ale, which was great but was very difficult to drink with food. Lagers were too fizzy and ale too bitter to drink. I wanted to bring my own beer from India which had the refreshment of a lager but the smoothness of ale. This would be really drinkable, have a globally-appealing taste and go with all cuisine. But the big thing is to take the leap and start the business. 34 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

After I finished my studies I wanted to be the master of my destiny and have my own brewery. Cobra Beer was founded in 1989 when I was 27 and the first shipment of Cobra was imported in the UK in 1990, at the start of a recession. Cobra as a brand started in Bengaluru, we exported beer to the UK for seven years, moved production to that country and Europe and, finally, seven years ago started producing beer for India in India. The journey of building a brand from scratch, raising finance against all odds and putting together a team has been a bumpy one; success has not come easily. Q: How did you arrange your finances? A: Raising finance is a huge challenge when you start from nothing. I had £20,000 of student loan to pay off and nobody thought I had a chance. Financing options such as using bills of exchange, overdrafts and invoice

finance that I had learnt during my accountancy course allowed me to hang on to 72 percent of the company at a time when cash flow was tight. Once your product is proven and you are on a growth path, everyone wants to invest in you. When you raise money, it is always a challenge to hold on to as much equity as possible. The lesson I learnt was that you can raise money through a variety of sources and preserve that balance between debt and equity. Today, there are so many forms of financing available like angel, venture, bank, letters of credit and even the government. On one hand you want the government to stay out of business and let you get on with your job; on the other hand, the government can also play a very vital role. Q: In 2009, you had to almost shut everything. Run us through those tough times. A: In 2006, we were growing at about 40 percent year-on-year and at retail


value Cobra stood at £170 million. We were doing very well and a hedge fund approached us and said we have been all along raising small amounts, like £5-10 million, but we needed something much more. According to the fund, this would allow us to be aggressive in our advertising, go for international expansion, create a new team and I should step aside since I had joined the House of Lords and had a parliamentary career. I would continue to be the majority shareholder and chairman but they wanted me to bring in a professional team. I did all this and the hedge fund invested £33 million in the company, which was a lot of money for us. The mistake I made was that I took money from a hedge fund, and these can be very aggressive. The second mistake was that I had no idea a financial crisis could happen and, thirdly, it turned out I did not hire the best management team I could have. The combination of all the three things meant that when the financial crisis hit us in 2008, the multi-billion hedge fund’s market capitalization dropped to $350 million. They forced us to sell the company through a clause in our contract and we went through a sale process in the worst possible time. Luckily for us, the acquirer was Molson Coors, the last of the big brewers who had not entered India. They wanted to have a joint venture with us and had to make a lot of effort to restructure the business and in the end of May 2009, formed the JV and managed to save the business. They hold 50.1 percent stake and I own 49.9 percent stake. I am the Chairman of the company and the JV is a long-term one where, at the end, I have the option to buy their stake in the company and vice versa. A year ago, we signed a separate joint venture only for India. Q: What are your plans for India? A: For seven years we have been brewing beer here. We made a lot of mistakes by spreading ourselves thin Photos Amit Kumar

To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of December 2012 35 Intelligent Entrepreneur Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


MY STORY

[ MASTER MERCHANT ]

To Square One

and Back

From a small store, he set up a `2,000 crore company—only to shut down not much later. Not one to give up, the founder of Vishal Retail is making a comeback…a little wiser R AM CHANDRA AGARWAL

M

ine was a classic story of a first-generation entrepreneur with little or no money making it big in life. The type you see in movies and TV serials. The year was 2007 and Vishal Retail had reached revenues of about `400 crore on the back of its 49 stores across India. But I wanted more. I was very aggressive in my business and we needed capital to enhance our size. It was then that I decided to take the company public to raise `100 crore and managed to secure a valuation of `2,000 crore for the business. The IPO was the high point of my entrepreneurial journey. Armed with the money, I got into a very aggressive mode and by the end of 2008, when sales were about `1,100 crore, we had four factories producing garments and 150 stores across India.

Crash and burn My success was, however, shortlived. In late 2008, I decided to go for a follow-on public offer to reduce the pressure of the short-term loans of about `750 crore that I had taken. But destiny had other plans for me. The markets went into turmoil in 2009 and the economic downturn that followed saw Vishal Retail and me crash. As we could not raise money, everything tumbled down and went haywire. By the end of 2008, we had really started feeling the monetary crunch— inventory had piled up as we could not 42 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

open stores and even paying salaries became a problem. We were now making losses and by 2010-'11, we had to go for corporate debt restructuring (CDR) to regain some control of the company. We cut our expenses, shut the factories, reduced the number of stores and cut down on staff. We shifted our office to a smaller one and started recovering a little bit—one step at a time. In late 2010, I was thrown a lifeline as TPG Capital showed interest in buying the company and I started the process of selling the assets and liabilities of Vishal Retail. By March, the sale to TPG was complete, barring a miniscule amount of assets that I retained and about `75 crore in debt. I received `70 crore from the sale, from which I decided to invest about `10 crore in my new company—V2 Retail.

Looking back on life... I was born in Kolkata in 1965—the year India fought the second of its wars with Pakistan. I was 21 when I got into business in 1986 from a 50 square feet store, as my father’s shop was not doing very well and we were under some financial stress. Initially, my business

V2 EARNINGS (in ` cr)

June ’12 March ’12 FY’11-’12

Revenue

21.52

12.29

40.16

Net profit -1.36

-5.27

-34.78 Source - BSE

was to photocopy documents but that did not do well. I opted to shut it and then decided to sell soft drinks. Even that did not do well and had to be shut down. After six months of such trials, I decided to sell readymade garments from this shop. Even this business did not do well initially, but gradually sales did pick up. This was the beginning of my tryst with garments and the birth of Vishal Retail. I was doing very well in Kolkata as I decided to keep my margins low by keeping prices reasonable. This ensured higher volume of sales. By 1996, I was doing sales of about `1 crore a year from my 50 square feet store. Business grew phenomenally in that period and I opened my first large-format store in the iconic Tiger Cinema and called it the Tiger Store. Such was the success of this store that it did annual revenues of about `22 crore. In 1999, I set up a factory and started producing my own garments. This was a big move for my business and we soon opened four more stores in Kolkata. By 2001, we had opened another four stores in Jaipur and Indore under the aegis of Vishal. In the year 2000, I ventured out to set up a water park which, surprisingly, did well. But by 2001, the good times were coming to an end as labor problems raised their head in the Communist-ruled state of West Bengal. It was a huge loss for me and I had to ultimately shut all my stores in Kolkata


STOREHOUSE OF OPTIONS: Ram Chandra Agarwal

PEER GROUP COMPARISON V2 Pantaloons Store One Results (in ` cr) June ’12 June ’12 June ’12 Sales

21.52

1,149.76

21.9

PAT

-1.36

261.53

0.53 Source - BSE

and relocate to Delhi. While I had four stores outside West Bengal, I had none in Delhi. The first store in that city came up in Rajouri Garden. The Delhi market allowed for better margins and our prices struck a cord with buyers. Our success in Delhi peaked when we set up a hypermarket on the busy NH8—which was a runaway success.

...And business I have never shied away from taking risks. Having said that, I made innumerable mistakes in my business at Vishal Retail. The first mistake I made was that without the management bandwidth, I should have never gone for such aggressive expansion. Secondly, I should have never done such a big business on short-term finances. One should arrange finances first for growth and only then should go for expansion. It was already too late by the time I remembered the old adage of cash being the king. I relied Photos Amit Kumar

too much on debt. After this transition, I have learnt my lessons and have not gone for any debt in my current business. Our business today is funded by internal accruals and from family and friends. Today, I know the importance of cash in a business and live according to our finances. We keep a very close eye every day on our cash flow statements and have come out wiser. Despite my setbacks, I have gone ahead and started V2 Retail. It is a fresh start for me and I am confident. Retail is a subject that I know very well. The main change in strategy is that I will not go in for very big stores. Vishal Retail operated stores as big as 50,000 square feet but with V2, I will limit it to 15,000-20,000 square feet ones. With Vishal Retail, the per square feet expense was high and the revenue was not ideal. Today, we ensure that the stock turnover ratio is much better from the previous 60 days to the current 45 days.

We have also changed our merchandize assortment. We are now catering to only such merchandize which is very near to the customers’ choice. We are ensuring that all stores are within prominent market locations so that customers do not have to travel far to reach us. V2 currently has eight stores operational across the country. Barring three stores in Delhi-NCR, all the other stores are in tier II towns, which provide excellent growth potential and very good business sense. V2 Retail is doing a monthly turnover of `8-9 crore and, at this rate, I plan to close the current fiscal at `100 crore. I am an ambitious person and setbacks happen when you are ambitious. I am happy that I could settle all debts and am confident that within three to five years, I can again be one of the largest retailers in India. (As told to Pranbihanga Borpuzari)

To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of  December 2012 43 Intelligent Entrepreneur Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


COVER STORY

44 Intelligent Entrepreneur ď‚„ December 2012


The Ratan Tata

Legacy The iconic industrialist, who transformed the highly respected but conservative Tata Group into a nimble-footed, aggressive global giant, retires in December 2012. Entrepreneur analyses what Ratan Tata really means to the $100 billion conglomerate Sourav Majumdar & Sulekha Nair

Photo Getty Images

To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of Intelligent Entrepreneur ď‚„ December 2012 45 Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


SPECIAL FEATURE

MBA [ WIN OR LOSE ]

SMACKDOWN

With entrepreneurship on the rise, is a traditional business education still necessary? Two outspoken academic leaders offer opposing views on the continued relevance of that time-honored degree JASON DALEY

Source© VCCEdge Database ON Analysis

64 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012


IT

used to be that top corporations picked up MBA graduates as fast as schools could slap mortarboards on their heads. These young guns drove corporate reorganization, product innovation and marketing and implemented new styles of leadership. They were a symbol of a new culture, and anyone serious about a career in business aspired to earn those three letters. Today, the power of the MBA is not so certain. Many in corporate America and academia say the degree that once defined bright, snappy leadership now symbolizes a discipline that has lost touch with the business world.

THE CASE FOR

They argue that MBA programs have become too focused on research, and that in-house training at large firms has more practical applications. They claim the programs have failed to create the types of leaders who can deal with globalization; some say they don’t develop leaders at all, just functionaries. Other critics think a focus on profit and share value, rather than on ethics and sustainability, fostered the type of narrow-minded thinking that led to the fall of Enron and the last recession. On the other hand, some academics point to an evolving curriculum that has kept pace with and even led the business community. If the MBA

is useless, they argue, why do tens of thousands of people still enroll in the programs every year? When it comes to entrepreneurship, the question of whether to invest in an MBA degree becomes even stickier. Can the necessary skills for successful entrepreneurship be taught? Can those with MBAs operate effectively only within large corporations? Are recent entrepreneurial MBA degrees worth the time and money? We spoke with two authorities on business education about the state of the MBA and whether earning the degree is the right path for aspiring entrepreneurs.

tools a businessperson can have. It not only gives an advantage in the global marketplace, he argues, but it also teaches adaptability in an economy in which career-switching and constant change are the norm.

We have a curriculum launching in the fall that is a major change. In the last decade, business has become more global, and the need to be international and have a global footprint has become more and more important. It’s important for us to have a diverse class where our students can learn from one another, and an important part of that is having international students. Twenty-five percent of our students will work in international environments right after graduation, and 35 to 45 percent of our students are international.

Q: Why should an entrepreneur consider enrolling in business school? A: It can be somewhat inefficient if you venture forth on your own and have to learn everything as you go. That’s an expensive learning experience. But with an MBA focused on entrepreneurship, you have formal courses that will bring you up to speed in finance, marketing, sources of capital—things you could learn on your own but that might be inefficient to do so. It might be more difficult to raise money without an MBA. It’s easier if you have the imprimatur of a school behind you. That has some real symbolic value and a network for you, which might turn out to be very important. THOMAS ROBERTSON is dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the world’s first collegiate business school and one of the most prestigious. Robertson acknowledges that business schools need to continually strive to stay relevant, and he thinks the MBA is one of the best

Q: How do you respond to criticism that MBA programs don’t address current needs? A: There are over 100,000 graduates per year in MBA programs. MBA programs should change constantly, and as a whole ours changes constantly.

Q: How can business schools stay relevant? A: Business schools have to prove they are a force for good in the world, and that’s even more important with things like Occupy Wall Street and the financial crisis. We create economic welfare by creating knowledge and disseminating it so our graduates can go work in business firms and be more effective and more efficient. We have to be constantly innovative. Entrepreneurship is becoming more and more important in our economy and the world economy. It’s a hot topic in the world, and the whole debate in Europe about austerity vs. growth

To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012 65 Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


INNOVATORS INC

[ PUMPED UP ]

FARMING ON CALL KisanRaja has made irrigation an activity that is a phone call away SHONALI A DVANI

IN

an innovator’s school of thought, less is often more. So, simple innovations have a greater propensity to be successful. Vijay Bhaskar Reddy Dinnepu, 35, who hails from a farming family in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, quit his sixyear stint at Cisco in August 2010 as a technical leader to do just this—use technological interventions to simplify farmers’ lives. Thanks to his brother’s experience, he was familiar with the gaps in agricultural technology. Spotting scarcity of water and electricity in villages, both directly proportionate to productivity levels, he built KisanRaja—a GSMbased remote motor controller that allows farmers to control their irrigation pumps from mobile phones.

The problem “Agriculture has several problems and we looked at areas where technology can help,” says Dinnepu, President and CEO, Vinfinet Technologies, the makers of KisanRaja. Most villages in India receive erratic supply of electricity which farmers have to use effectively. According to Dinnepu, even progressive states like Tamil Nadu get only one to five hours at the maximum, though government books may show eight-10 hours. “Continuous power is usually available only late at night and sometimes at low voltage that’s not fit to run motors,” he says, saying this is a key problem area. As a result, farmers have to travel lengthy distances to manually operate pumps, through difficult terrain, often encountering snakes and other hazards. “If they have more than one motor, they can’t be present everywhere either,” adds Dinnepu. 72 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

The innovation Motor pumps work on three-phase connectivity, the difference in voltage between each phase being 440 watts. Power from here goes to a starter that’s connected to the motor which turns it on. Once the motor is on, it sucks water from the bore-well and brings it out to the fields. So KisanRaja, which weighs 1.25 kg, sits between the power phase and the starter. “Though the functionality of a starter could be built into our device, we wanted our design to fit into their existing system so farmers don’t have to change anything,” explains Dinnepu. Now, KisanRaja triggers the start button on motors through a farmer’s mobile phone which acts as a remote controller. The device can be set on three modes: Manual, automatic or timer. “If power goes off during the time a motor is supposed to be on, the software’s intelligence can calculate the remaining number of hours it needs to pump water once power’s back,” Dinnepu explains. All commands

FARM FRESH Launch: August 2010 Revenue FY11-12: `60 lakh Seed capital: `1.2 crore (self) Units sold: 1,600 Dealers: 100 Distributors: 20 Battery back-up: 40 hours

on mobile phones are given through interactive voice response (IVR) and a farmer simply has to punch in numbers corresponding to an instruction of his choice. KisanRaja can also monitor other aspects like voltage fluctuations, wire cuts, theft or dry runs, in which case a farmer gets a call alerting him of the same. It can also be connected to submerged motors—those placed underground when water levels sink. On the security side, it doesn’t accept calls from numbers that aren’t configured on the device. “In such cases, it will ask for a code,” points out Dinnepu.

Sowing to reap KisanRaja has been sold to farmers for `6,000 each across Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka since December 2011 through dealers selling agriculture-related products. Dealers earn 15 percent from every sale. “We realized we can’t sell it ourselves. Apart from the long travel involved, you need a familiar face to sell in rural areas,” Dinnepu says. KisanRaja today is a result of a nine pilots, which started in March 2011, when he tested the first prototype with farmers. He distributed it to 60 farmers in the same two states it’s sold today. KSU Patil, who plants bananas over 2.5 acres near Mysore, has been using the device for one year and seen benefits. “I live 20 km from my farm and this has helped me manage the water distribution system better since we get power for only three hours post-midnight,” he says. The company has built awareness about KisanRaja through Krishi Melas (farmer fairs) and agricultural universities. It now sells 300 pieces a month.

Changes on cue The earlier variant of KisanRaja weighed eight kilograms, and came with a heavy battery back-up. The new design has an in-built lithium-ion battery, similar to those found in mobile phones to decrease weight and size. “Farmers also wanted the product to be portable so they could attach it to different pumps,” explains Dinnepu. Sambaiah Angirekula, Head of Soil


Conservation Department, College of Agricultural Engineering evaluated the product six months ago. Based on the evaluation, Dinnepu incorporated a new battery. Nonetheless, Angirekula lauds its usefulness for the farmer community and says, “Farmers are an important national resource and we must support them. The device is technologically sound and serves both farming and farmers’ needs.” Further, he had to factor in power fluctuations and so designed KisanRaja for a range of 300-500 watts. Then, the IVR language was text-bookish and incomprehensible to farmers. “It needed to be colloquial,” he mentions as a crucial change. An useful feedback incorporated was the need to keep mostused commands at the beginning. “I get alerts on my phone when the motor cannot be started. However, it doesn’t mention a reason. This would be good information,” says Patil in context to technological improvements.

New crop

GREEN TOUCH: Vijay Bhaskar Reddy Dinnepu

Photos Bmaximage

Dinnepu hasn’t lost the urge to innovate. He’s already working on three more variations of KisanRaja which will be ready by the time this issue of Entrepreneur is out: An ultra-light version for `3,500, weighing 800 grams with minimal features; a basic version for `5,000; and one at `7,500 which will be a multi-motor controller. “The product needs to be priced low to make it affordable to many farmers,” he affirms. The newer versions will be water-proof and made from plastic, as opposed to the present metal exterior. Variations apart, Dinnepu is brimming with new ideas and is developing a valve controller to manage water flow. Though KisanRaja has gained decent traction, Dinnepu is aware he will need to spend time, energy and money to create more awareness. “We need to make the product available in the reach of 10-15 km to the farmers. This needs a huge distribution network and service centers for aftersales service,” he concedes. But for now, Dinnepu’s KisanRaja is bringing in a new paradigm to irrigation.

To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of December 2012 73 Intelligent Entrepreneur Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


LEGACY

[ BINGE & BITE ]

TROT, CANTER AND GALLOP Serafina, the well-known chain of Italian restaurants, have now brought their business to India. But will we take to their business? A SHNA A MBRE

SPREAD THE CHEER: Fabio Granato (left) and Vittorio Assaf 80 Intelligent Entrepreneur ď‚„ December 2012


“W

e went out sailing to Southampton, a village in Suffolk County, New York in 1994 and the cast of the boat broke due to the violent winds. We were shivering in the biting cold and all we could think about were delicious piping hot cheese pizzas. And we promised ourselves we'd start a restaurant if we came out alive,” says Vittorio Assaf, one half of the founding team behind Serafina, a global chain of Italian restaurants. Assaf came to New York in 1986 for a 21-day trip and ended up spending more than 21 years in the city. He first started the Portofino Sun Center, a tanning salon, in the city in 1985 that has now grown to service a clientele of over 90,000. Fabio Granato has a similar New York story. He too came for a college trip to New York, fell in love with a girl and decided to stay back for good. He took up small part-time jobs to know more about the city and the language. In 1987, Granato began a marble company in partnership with his brother. Assaf and Granato realized that with time and effort, the tanning salon and the marble company had evolved into organized structures with a reliable management, and this offered them time to invest elsewhere. In 1995, they gave concrete shape to the promise made that day on the boat by starting Serafina with $4.5 million in combined personal savings as seed capital.

First-mover advantage The 90s were not the boom era of Italian restaurants—the food was extremely expensive and was predominantly a quality trailing from southern Italy. Assaf and Granato decided to redesign and reinvent the norms of the game by taking a slightly different course. For one, the choice of cuisine— northern Italian is the specialty cuisine served at Serafina. Unlike southern Italian food, this cuisine is much lighter and contains one-fifth the amount of calories, which appealed to their Photo Joshua Navalkar

To read more, grab the December 2012 Intelligentissue Entrepreneurof  December 2012 81 Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


GO FRANCHISE

[ SALONS & SPAS ]

LOOK NO

(Projects and Franchising), The Four Fountains Spa, reiterates Habib’s view. In context of the current global slowdown, he says, “Often, it is seen that during slowdowns, healthcare and wellness services tend to do better. We strongly believe that our growth or the lack of it would be because of our internal efforts and external factors would play a limited role in it.”

Starting a franchise in the business of beauty is a good bet

The first steps

FURTHER

BINDI SHAH

S

aurabh Garg, Anurag Kedia and Sunil Rao were like any other youngsters from today’s corporate world. Armed with a good education, they got into high-paying jobs and the accompanying lifestyle. When these young professionals traveled frequently for work, they noticed a common thread in their experiences— they would have all liked to go in for a good, relaxing massage after a hard day’s work. However, the hotel spas where they were staying were more often than not too exorbitantly priced. This prompted the trio to think about an affordable spa chain. Capitalizing on this opportunity, they launched The Four Fountains Spa in Pune in 2007. There are clearly two sides to this story: There is huge growth potential in the Indian wellness industry, as rightly spotted by Kedia and his co-founders, thus offering entrepreneurs a chance to scale effectively and quickly with the right business model. But there is also a huge and burgeoning middleclass in the country with rising disposable incomes that will fuel the demand for wellness and beauty products and services in the years ahead.

A growing industry According to a FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report of September 2011 titled Wellness: Riding the Growth Wave, wellness today is a `49,000 crore industry 88 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

in India. The report mentions that increasing emphasis on a healthy and wholesome lifestyle has been the springboard for the wellness industry in India. Wellness today is not just a ‘metro’ phenomenon. Young consumers across tier II and tier III cities and towns and even pockets of rural India are actively seeking wellness solutions to meet their lifestyle challenges. With increasing global and media exposure, for many youngsters today looking

WELLNESS TODAY IS A `49,000 CRORE INDUSTRY IN INDIA (SOURCE: PwC & FICCI)

good equals feeling good. The report also stresses how adjacent industries such as retail, healthcare and hospitality are assimilating wellness as a part of their value proposition, opening up huge opportunities going forward. Jawed Habib, Hair Expert and Founder, Jawed Habib Hair and Beauty Ltd, says, “Today’s fast-paced life gives no time to properly groom oneself. Peer pressure compels one to seek professional help for grooming. The hair & beauty industry is a recessionproof one. Hence, any time you start a business in this space, it is bound to grow.” Kedia, Co-Founder and Director

The Four Fountains Spa started with two trial spas in Pune and, today, the company boasts of a presence in 10 cities across India where it operates 19 spas. Habib runs a chain of two salon formats, HairXpreso, where dry haircuts are given at `99 and the Jawed Habib Hair and Beauty salons, which offer a wider range of services. The company has also backwardintegrated to offer quality education in the cosmetology and hairdressing space and runs the Jawed Habib training academies through both companyowned and franchise models. Habib operates 335 outlets across 21 Indian states today. Another player in the salon space, Naturals, was launched in Chennai in 2000 by Veena and Chinnikrishnan Kumaravel, to make Veena self-employed and earn `60,000 per month. The couple soon realized the potential of the business and went on a rapid expansion spree. Today, Naturals operates 167 salons of which 60 are in Chennai itself while the rest are spread all over India, with a large presence in Tamil Nadu. Kumaravel, CEO and Co-Founder, Naturals, says, “No other salon brand has dotted any city like Naturals has done in Chennai. This is even more significant because we have done it with a franchise model, as the first question any franchisee will ask is ‘What is my territory?’” Kumaravel makes an important point here. The growth route adopted by many of the players in the beauty and wellness space is often franchising as it offers a feasible option to grow and offers manifold benefits. As Habib says, “Franchising is the best way to


BEAUTY BASICS (Clockwise from top left) Anurag Kedia of Four Fountains Spa; CK Ranganathan, CMD of CavinKare; Jawed Habib; and Veena and Chinnikrishnan Kumaravel of Naturals

Photo S Kumar, Bmaximage and Neha Mithbawkar

To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of Intelligent Entrepreneur ď‚„ December 2012 89 Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


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SHOP EASY FabMart’s Alphonse Reddy is using a different e-commerce strategy to tap India’s smallest towns  PG 110

Photo Bmaximage


START UPS

B

eing a college dropout in the West is commonplace. In India, decisions out of the ordinary don’t always go down well with oldschool thinking. However, some dare to rewrite the rules. Meet Ashish Agarwal, 20, who dropped out of Center of Management Studies (CMS) in 2010 to launch AdsKaro, a digital marketing firm with his brother. Two years later, he’s gone solo with his venture in a rather unique space.

[ EXPRESS MOVES ]

AND NOW

F

Express eureka At AdsKaro, Agarwal was responsible for client servicing and business development as COO. AdsKaro soon grew to a 75-people strong organization. From SMS and online marketing, they started developing websites for customers and managing Facebook pages too. That’s when he had his Eureka moment—he saw a huge disconnect between the two. “People had Facebook pages ready before they started business but no commerce took place on it,” recalls Agarwal. In June 2012, he decided to make this happen and launched Exprestore, a startup that builds Facebook stores.

COM

Facebook commerce is the brainchild of a 20-year-old who is giving you a new outlet to sell

Connected commerce

SHONALI A DVANI

SUNNY SIDE UP: Ashish Agarwal 112 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

Agarwal sold 5 percent of his stake at AdsKaro and started his new venture. It has already secured an impressive line-up of clients which proves that his observation holds value for many. The opportunity was clear to him. “Small retailers and designers cannot afford websites nor do they know how to make a platform for their merchandise,” says Agarwal, Founder and CEO, Exprestore. Potential angel investor and mentor Vikram Chachra believes that majority of small and medium consumer businesses in India will reach their online audiences via a Facebook page rather than own websites or e-commerce portals. “Out of the 10 million small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India, barely 5 percent have websites and a tiny fraction of them are e-commerce enabled,” says Chachra, Managing Partner at private equity fund Eight Capital. Making a payment gateway is Photo Bmaximage


a problem in India for online busiFACEBOOK STATS nesses too. Agarwal spotted that though options like Amazon or AN AVERAGE USER ON FB Shopo.in exist, the greater chalt has 130 friends lenge for retailers was the element of distraction. “Buyers have a lot of choices t spends 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on these sites and can get disconnected from the initial intended t visits the site 40 times a month purchase,” he notes. Given the time people spend on Facebook, it made t spends 1 min of every 10 minutes on Facebook complete sense to bring commerce here. Even though some small businesses have Facebook stores, EBS’s sub-merchants,” he explains. the user is taken to the company’s own Exprestore charges merchants an addiwebsite on checkout. “F-commerce will tional commission per sale, and they be the next frontier of social networkend up paying an average of 4 percent ing,” points out Chachra. of total order value, in entirety. On the Gateway challenges highest side, the startup’s cut per transFor commerce to happen, Agarwal action is 3 percent. Mayuri Amarnath, had to convince payment gateways to Founder of Retro Chic, a six-month old work with him. His experience with women’s western wear brand, signed clients at AdsKaro made him confident up with Exprestore in November 2012 enough to strike a deal. He turned the and has been generating five-10 orders unique selling proposition around and a day, up from the same number per approached Hyderabad-based payment week. “Setting up a website would have gateway firm, E-Billing Solutions (EBS). cost `35,000 including payment gate“We told them they would be the only way charges and an additional 3-5 perpayment gateway to work on Facebook, cent as transaction fee,” she cites. She which also worked as a sales strategy to would, however, like to see more social secure new clients,” says Agarwal. elements in the store features. He also got EBS to convince banks on the uniqueness of his model. “The concept of F-stores is a first of its kind in NET CASH India. EBS partnering with Exprestore Stores built: 157 will help us in presenting this model to our merchants which will enable Initial investment: `1.5 lakh (self) them to harness the benefits of social selling,” confirms Priti Shah, PresidentECommerce, E-Billing Solutions. Revenues in September 2012: `6.2 lakh

Store story Agarwal secured 16 clients in June 2012 alone. How? By offering a free two-day demonstration to get a feel of the system, but without the payment gateway. “We wanted to get them at any price,” he says. Today, Exprestore charges `15,000 to set up a single store per client, up from its initial price of `4,000. It also earns revenue from transaction commission. EBS takes a percentage cut on every sale. “We wanted our cut on this transaction and so became

Calling customers Agarwal needed to show business to get business. To kickstart things, he made a dummy brand, displayed fake merchandise, and got about 200-300 Facebook likes from friends. Alongside, he approached former AdsKaro client, BookMyShow, to sign up, making them the first ticketing company to sell through Facebook. “We wanted them at any cost, for the name. Their presence brought us more

clients,” Agarwal mentions. Its present market consists of three types of customers—those who have an e-commerce website, those with websites but not for e-commerce and lastly those selling on other sites. Many customer leads have been sourced from other platforms and three of its six-member team back then took the cold-calling route, speaking to 10 potential clients daily. The others focused on getting big brands in. “We thought getting people selling on other platforms would be easy, but it was a bad assumption. They didn’t understand technology,” he says. At the same time, its first set of clients became a marketing channel for Exprestore, starting a chain reaction of enquiries from interested parties.

New moves Agarwal’s plan is to stick to a client’s whole online business on a day-to-day basis. Currently, its stores don’t provide cash-on-delivery and here’s where Exprestore wants to come in; a decision taken from client feedback too. The plan is to tie up with courier companies and offer delivery service. “This can be another revenue stream for us,” Agarwal points out. They also plan to switch to a subscription model where clients pay `4,000 annually as a hosting charge instead of the current one-time fee. “This will ensure steady revenue over many years,” he explains. Chachra’s advice to grow the business is simple. “He should take an 'Intel approach'—use every online marketing agency as his channel to sign up as many Facebook shops and become the de-facto e-commerce enabler here,” he states. For Chachra, the only foreseeable risk is if Facebook adds a shopping cart feature. “But it’s unlikely because Facebook views itself as a platform and not an e-commerce application,” he opines. What Agarwal is going to cash in on immediately is getting these stores on mobiles. “Facebook has just rolled out the mobile application option and we will launch this by December 1, 2012,” he says.

To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012 113 Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


HOW TO

Recognize and Act on your Best Business Ideas If identified well, your business idea could help you reap rewards SCOTT BELSKY

“I

deas,” John Steinbeck once said, “are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” Ideas for business—good and bad—tend to proliferate at a dizzying speed. But how exactly do you handle them? When inspiration strikes, there are tools and lessons you can apply to ensure you get the best results. We have talked to experts and gone through the annals of business history to find the best ways to help you turn your ideas into solid gold. So don’t let the big one get away. Because it’s those who manage to convert abstraction into concrete solutions who can truly call themselves entrepreneurs.

Most ideas don’t stand a chance And it is all our fault. We put them off to deal with the constant flow of life’s seemingly urgent little things. Or, burdened by the doldrums of project management and the effort it takes to move ideas forward, we abandon them in favor of something easier, newer or more immediately satisfying. Welcome to the project plateau, the point at which creative excitement wanes and the pain of deadlines takes over. This process can easily repeat itself ad infinitum, preventing you from ever reaching your most potentially meaningful goals. Until ideas are pushed forward, until they’re made to happen, they’re little more than air. Ideas become solid things only when we apply other forces to them: organization, community and leadership. Entrepreneurs must develop the capacity to drive ideas forward, against all odds. That means taking a new approach to projects, tweaking the ways in which you manage your energy and short-circuiting the old-school 126 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

reward system. (New ideas are fun; old ideas are too much work.) For my book, Making Ideas Happen, I talked to an incredible group of creative people who consistently turn concepts into reality. Are you ready to do the same?

Take the time out to think Without realizing it, most of us are living a life of reactionary work flow. We are constantly bombarded with communications—e-mails, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, phone calls, instant messages—and instead of using our energy in a proactive way, we spend it reacting, living at the mercy of the latest bit of incoming information. Some of the most productive people I have met schedule the windows of non-stimulation into their days. Quite simply, they minimize e-mail and other incoming communications for two- or threehour slots. But they don’t use the time for their daily to-dos. Instead, they use it to focus on long-term projects that require research and deep thought.

Implement your ideas The implementation process for most ideas will have three components: action steps, backburner items and references. Action steps are succinct tasks—the ones on your list that start with verbs. File them separately from your notes and sketches. Back-burner items are ideas that come up during a brainstorm or on the run that you can’t (or shouldn’t) act on immediately, but could be useful later. Collect them in a central location and review them regularly. One leader whom I know prints out his backburner list—which he keeps on a running Word Illustration Chaitanya Dinesh Surpur


document—on the first Sunday of every month. He crosses out items that have become irrelevant, moves others to his list of action steps and leaves some alone for the future. References are the articles, notes and other stuff you collect for the idea. You don’t really need to devote much time to organizing your notes. Instead, you should keep a chronological file and rely on your software’s search function to find what you need.

Measure meetings with action steps If you consider what your time is worth, regularly scheduled status meetings can be costly interruptions. Any meeting that closes without the

proposal of new action steps would have been more efficient as a voice mail or e-mail. End meetings by having each colleague or client share the next specific tasks they will complete as you work toward your common goal. The exercise will make it immediately clear what’s missing, what’s misunderstood and whether there are redundancies. Stating action steps out loud also breeds a sense of accountability, which is also helpful in the long run. Don’t let inertia kill your ideas. Plod ahead. There’s no better way to show your ideas (and yourself) some respect. ©Entrepreneur Inc. All rights reserved.

Intelligent Entrepreneur To read more, grab the December 2012 issue of December 2012 127 Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in


BACK STAGE

A

lmost every article ever written about entrepreneurship suggests that it’s not for everyone. And yet the articles go on to list attributes that many successful people possess as the traits commonly associated with great entrepreneurs, such as a strong work ethic, persistence, persuasiveness and discipline. For 25 years, I have studied entrepreneurs and discovered that what contributed to their incredible success was not what society typically considers assets. People like John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford and Oprah Winfrey didn’t achieve greatness by possessing the traits and following the narrow path recommended by management gurus. So, don’t believe everything others say about you or how they label you. Maybe your supposed liabilities are really your assets. Here are 12 signs many people might consider a liability, but which can actually be indications that you are meant to be an entrepreneur. 1

Hate the status quo

It doesn’t make sense to you that something has been done the time-honored way with no explanation why. You are not someone who wants to just go through the motions or sit by idly. Nor do you like following the pack. 2

Easily bored

You find yourself easily bored, and others start viewing you as a problem. But nothing is wrong with you except that you are bored with activities that 134 Intelligent Entrepreneur  December 2012

12 SURPRISING SIGNS YOU COULD BE AN ENTREPRENEUR Check for these signs. You could have that entrepreneurial streak and never known it GRANT C ARDONE

aren’t up to your abilities and aren’t challenging. That’s why you hated most of the classes you ever attended. Think Bill Gates who dropped out of college to become one of the richest men in the world. 3

Fired from jobs

You are too creative for your own good when it comes to working for others, and you may have some history, as I do, of losing jobs. Being just a cog in wheel is very difficult for you because you want to create something others can be inspired by and contribute to. 4

Labeled a rebel

You know that greatness resides outside the lines of conformity and don’t think that policies, laws and regulations apply to you. You have been described as a rebel and would defy gravity if you could. 5

Resist authority

You have a lifelong record of resisting authority from your parents and bosses. You don’t go along with the agreed upon norms of the

group or community you work and live in. 6 Ready to improve everything

You always see how you could do things better. In addition, you are opinionated and freely give your two-cents about your better way of doing things—even when you’re not asked. 7 Bad at making small talk

You have difficulty making the kind of small talk that so many people get comfort from. This social pattern of relationship and rapport building seems like a waste of time to you and makes you uncomfortable. 8

Bullied in your youth

You may have been heavily criticized and even bullied as a child or teenager. This has caused you to be driven to excel and to prove to the world that you are indeed a force to be reckoned with. 9

Obsessive

You may have been labeled obsessive/compulsive because when you get

started on something you have difficulty letting go. Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a disease or deficiency. All of the great entrepreneurs become completely immersed in their vision. Howard Schultz stuck with Starbucks even when his family tried to persuade him not to. 10

Scared to go solo

The entrepreneur in you is scared of going out on your own—and also terrified of not doing so. This fear is so common in our society because we’ve been conditioned to think that entrepreneurship is much riskier than getting a “good job.” The reality is there is instability in both. 11

Unable to unwind

You can’t go to sleep at night because you can’t turn your thoughts off. An idea may even manifest itself in your dreams. The next morning you find yourself still consumed with that idea, distracting you from the job you’re supposed to be doing. 12

Don’t fit the norm

You have always been a bit uncomfortable in your own skin. Until you get used to the idea that you are in fact different from most people, it could prove to be a problem — or exactly the motivation you need to acknowledge the entrepreneur screaming to get out. ©Entrepreneur Inc. All rights reserved. GRANT CARDONE is the author of The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure

Entrepreneur December 2012  

Issue on The Ratan Tata Legacy

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