Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sky high !

I finally have access to a number of TV Channels - Specifically looking forward to watching a lot of sports ( yaaay ) and Discovery & Nat Geo channels. Been almost 7 years since i watched TV on a regular basis. Thanks to some nice and sooper generous pals - I finally have a TATA SKY satellite TV connection at home.

This is a b'day gift from the bunch ! And i was mighty surprised. Thanks a ton guys and girls!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ennem Maa Thozhi..

Sometimes ( very rarely , though ), we end up listening to just one song in a day. Nopes, not just once - One song ALL DAY. With the REPEAT ON, i listened to the folk song by Vedanth Bharadwaj, the whole of yesterday. A bunch of us went for a story telling session on Sunday ( despite the heavy rains) where Vedanth performed. He had us in a trance, to say the least. Was worth wading through the waters... definitely!

This song ( Ennem maa thozhi ) can be found towards the latter part of the You tube video below. Thanks Vedanth for sharing this one.

Video , btw, is made by Vedanth's pal Bindu Malini. Awesome creativity.


Btw, i have the mp3 of "Ennem maa thozhi...". Mail me if you want this one.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A week and a Weekend

One 20 hour work day
two 18 hour work days
Packed work week
My Cricket team chasing 189 in 22 overs and winning, on saturday
Meet passionate entrepreneurs on saturday night over drink and fun
Garba and dancing ( ok ok trying to !!) with pals 11 pm to 3 am on saturday midnight
Head home for more fun at my house party with pals , till 5 am ( sorry i slept at 4 !! )
Head out to play ultimate frisbee at 5:30 am ( dark red eyes!! )
Burn lung at the frisbee game
Work on Sunday afternoon
Watch McLaren lose ( :( ) over dinner
Write this post at 12 midnight, Sunday

Love my work and play ( the orders change but the intensity remains!! )

P.S Missed running with ChennaiRunners :( . Damn...

In or Out ?

Are the In and Out stores found in the petrol pumps - In or Out ?

While filling up diesel at the petrol pump yesterday, the sight of the well stocked "In & Out " store made me think. "In & Out" stores are the retail outlets in most Bharat Petroleum fuel stations.

Am thinking aloud here - Do let me know what you think.

If " In & Out " has to make money, the store has to bring people in. Obviously, the biggest target customers are the people who come to fill fuel. In the western nations, in the absence of a fuel pump attendant, the car drivers / owners fill fuel in their cars on their own and are forced to go into the petrol station office ( in all cases, a retail outlet is a part of the office ).

If we look at the Indian scenario, the petrol pump attendant fills fuel and the car drivers/owners pay cash near the pump and leave away from the station. Also, the space constraints limit the drivers from parking the cars and getting into these retail outlets.

The only time i went into the retail outlet was when a bunch of us were driving around at 2 am and were hunting for a non-alcoholic drink.

Unless customers are drawn into this store, this model may not work.

Would love to hear what you think about this .

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Life and Living

All of us will die. Until then, we can live. Here is a man who has lived fully - Read this , this , this and this.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Beauty & Economics

Fabrice has this funny post on his blog - a question and answer on Craigslist.

My dear gold medalist ( both BA and MA Economics !! ) friend Archu will find the answer part really interesting!!!

What am I doing wrong?

Okay, I’m tired of beating around the bush. I’m a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I’m articulate and classy. I’m not from New York. I’m looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City, so I don’t think I’m overreaching at all.

Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around 200 - 250. But that’s where I seem to hit a roadblock. 250,000 won’t get me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she’s not as pretty as I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right? How do I get to her level?

Here are my questions specifically:

- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars, restaurants, gyms

-What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won’t hurt my feelings

-Is there an age range I should be targeting (I’m 25)?

- Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I’ve seen really ‘plain jane’ boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I’ve seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What’s the story there?

- Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows - lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?

- How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY

Please hold your insults - I’m putting myself out there in an honest way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I’m being up front about it. I wouldn’t be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn’t able to match them - in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.

PostingID: 432279810


Dear Pers-431649184:

I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I’m not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here’s how I see it.

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a cr@ppy business deal. Here’s why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here’s the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity…in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won’tbe getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you’re 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold…hence the rub…marriage. It doesn’t make good business sense to “buy you” (which is what you’re asking) so I’d rather lease. In case you think I’m being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It’s as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as “articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful” as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn’t found you, if not only for a tryout.

By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn’t need to have this difficult conversation.

With all that said, I must say you’re going about it the right way.
Classic “pump and dump.”

I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Girls, Running in Marina and Men

Running on the Marina sands is one of the best running experiences. It feels like you are lugging some 20 kg weight strapped to your legs. It feels even better when you do a 200 metre sprint on a hard road, at the end of the workout - gravity doesn't seem to affect you at all and you can really TAKE OFF!

Ok, that is not the point of this post.

Whenever i've run at Marina ( on the inner tar road ) with a girl, i've a great time (it is because of the company, obviously :P ) !! . It is also really interesting to observe the men ( who form the majority of the morning walkers / joggers and most are in the 30's , 40's and 50's ). Some points..

  • I stare at men ( ok ok I am quite straight .. ) for like... ages and not one has noticed that ( for he is staring as well )
  • The velocity of the man in front relative to us decreases considerably from the spotting time till we pass him / them after which it picks up again
  • When i spot an interesting girl in front of us and coming towards us, then my velocity with respect to her decreseas as well ( oh yes, am not a hypocrite!! )
  • And if the girl in front has a man in tow, their relative velocity has little change on spotting us ( poor guy.. he doesnt have an option !! )
And yeah, it kind of hit me hard when i saw men staring at my pals - It really makes them uncomfortable with the attention and most times, it interferes a great conversation happening during the run. Sometimes, its hard to be a girl . ( I am not a saint and i sure do have spent times looking at the women ). Having had the opportunity to be almost in the shoes of the girl, i can get the discomfort men sometimes cause ( harmless intent , if i have to defend the men and me)

Friday, October 05, 2007

I Can't Believe...

+ I can't believe that we are world champions in T20 ( still it hasn't sunk in )

- I can't believe that Joginder Sharma is in the same league as Shane Warne, Glen McGrath , Wasim Akram , Joel Garner, Kapil Dev , Muttiah Muralitharan and a few others ( all are bowlers in cricket world cup winning teams !! ). Wish he proves me wrong, given his domestic cricket credentials.

+ I can't believe that Chennairunners has grown to 280 members and makes a real impact on people's lives every day ( if you don't get what am talking about, join the club )

+ I can't believe the rate at which India and importantly the smaller cities are growing . Clearly, a new India is emerging and suddenly, middle/lower class is seeing and taking advantage of the opportunties to grow big (Real estate prices in Coimbatore has grown some 600-1000% in the suburbs in the last 2-3 years )

+ I can't believe that Frisbee can be a gripping , lung burning , addictive team game ( if you want to experience this, land at Besant Nagar beach at 5:15 am on weekends )

( + positive wonder and - ( you know what i mean !! ) )

Update : Thanks Absdoobs. I believe i got the spelling right now!!

17 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

Since the last 6-7 months, i've focussed my reading mainly on anything related to entrepreneurship, startups , success stories , lessons learnt and trends in the market among others. The article i found here exactly fit into what i was looking for. Thanks Karthik

Here it is...

John Osher has developed hundreds of consumer products, including an electric toothbrush that became America’s best-selling toothbrush in just 15 months. He also started several successful companies, including Cap Toys. He built sales to $125 million per year and then sold the company to Hasbro Inc. in 1997. But his most lasting contribution to the business world just may be a list of screw-ups he jotted on the back of a piece of paper.

“After I sold my business to Hasbro, I decided I’d make a list of everything I’d done wrong and [had] seen other entrepreneurs do wrong,” explains the 57-year-old Jupiter, Florida, serial entrepreneur. “I wanted to make a company that didn’t make any of these mistakes. I wanted to see if I could come up with the perfect company.”

He came up with an informal list of “16 Mistakes Start-Ups Make”-since expanded to 17-that has been used in a Harvard Business School case study, has been cited in many publications, and has become a part of what he teaches budding entrepreneurs in his frequent university lectures. He also used the list in 1999 when he started Dr. John’s SpinBrush to sell a $5 electric toothbrush that quickly became America’s best-selling toothbrush. In 2001, Procter & Gamble purchased the company from him for $475 million.

“I didn’t expect it to actually work like that, but it did,” Osher says. “It’ll probably never happen again. But we made a perfect business, from the beginning to selling it to another company.” Since then, however, Osher has created another product, an electric dish scrubber that he also sold to Procter & Gamble. And he has yet another health-and-beauty product-development effort underway-although he’s keeping the details close to the vest-in which he’ll try again to create the perfect business.

To home in on what lies behind the 17 mistakes, Osher told Entrepreneur what they are and how you can learn from them to achieve your own level of perfection.

Mistake 1: Failing to spend enough time researching the business idea to see if it’s viable. “This is really the most important mistake of all. They say 9 [out] of 10 entrepreneurs fail because they’re undercapitalized or have the wrong people. I say 9 [out] of 10 people fail because their original concept is not viable. They want to be in business so much that they often don’t do the work they need to do ahead of time, so everything they do is doomed. They can be very talented, do everything else right, and fail because they have ideas that are flawed.”

Mistake 2: Miscalculating market size, timing, ease of entry and potential market share. “Most new entrepreneurs get very excited over an idea and don’t look for the truth about how many people will want to buy it. They put together financial projections as part of a presentation to pump up their investors. They say, ‘The market size is 50 million people that could use this product, and if I could only sell to 2 percent of them, I’d be selling a million pieces.’ But 2 percent of a market is a lot. Most products sell way less than 1 percent.”

Mistake 3: Underestimating financial requirements and timing. “They set their financial requirements based on Mistake 1, and they go ahead and make a commitment to this much office space and this many computers, and hire a vice president of sales, and so on. Before they know it, based on sales projections that were wrong to start with, they have created costs that require those projections to be met. So they run out of money.”

Mistake 4: Overprojecting sales volume and timing. “They have already miscalculated the size of the market. Now they overproject their portion of it. They often say ‘There are 200 million homes, and I need to sell [to] x number of them.’ When you break it down, though, a much smaller number of those are really sales prospects. That makes it impossible to make their sales projections.”

Mistake 5: Making cost projections that are too low. “Their cost projections are always too low. Part of the reason is that they project much higher sales. There are also unknown reasons that always come out that usually make costs higher than planned. So on top of everything, their margins are now lower.”

Mistake 6: Hiring too many people and spending too much on offices and facilities. “Now you have lower sales, higher costs and too much overhead. These are the things that you see every day in companies that fail. And they all grow out of that first mistake: failing to research the size and viability of the opportunity.”

Mistake 7: Lacking a contingency plan for a shortfall in expectations. “Even if you’re realistic in your estimates to start, there are things that happen when you start a new business. Your sales ideas may be no good; bank rates may go up; there may be a shipping strike. These aren’t the result of poor planning, but they happen. More often than not, entrepreneurs just feel that something will come along when they need it. They don’t have contingency plans for it not working out at the size and time they want.”

Mistake 8: Bringing in unnecessary partners. “There are certain partners you need. For instance, you often need money, so you’re going to need money partners. But too many times, the guy with the idea takes on all his friends as partners. Many people don’t provide strategic advantages and don’t warrant ownership. But they’re all going to get 25 percent of the company. It’s totally unnecessary, and it’s a mistake. Before people are made partners, they have to earn it.”

Mistake 9: Hiring for convenience rather than skill requirements. “In my first business or two, I hired relatives. It was easy to do, but in many cases, they were the wrong people [for the job]. And it’s hard to fire people, especially if they’re relatives or friends. More time needs to be spent handpicking people based on skill requirements. You really need super-skilled people who can wear more than one hat. It just bogs you down when you hire people who can’t do the job.”

Mistake 10: Neglecting to manage the entire company as a whole. “You see this happen all the time. They’ll spend half their time doing something that represents 5 percent of their business. You have to have a view of your whole company. But too often, the person running it loses that view. They get involved in a part, and they don’t manage the whole. Whether I do this product or that product, whether I hire somebody, [I consider] how they [will] fit long term and short term in the big picture. Constantly try to see your big picture.”

Mistake 11: Accepting that it’s “not possible” too easily rather than finding a way. “I had an engineer who was a very good engineer, but with every toy we developed, he would say, ‘You can’t do it that way.’ I had to be careful not to accept this too easily. I had to look further. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to break new ground. A lot of people are going to say it’s not possible. You can’t accept that too easily. A good entrepreneur is going to find a way.”

Mistake 12: Focusing too much on sales volume and company size rather than profit. “Too much of your management is often based on volume and size. So many entrepreneurs want to say ‘I have a company that’s this big, with this many people, this many square feet of space, and this much sales.’ It’s too much [emphasis] on how fast and big you can build a business rather than how much profit it can make. Bankers and investors don’t like this. Entrepreneurs are so into creating and building, but they also have to learn to become good [businesspeople].”

Mistake 13: Seeking confirmation of your actions rather than seeking the truth. “This often happens: You want to do something, so you talk about it with people who work for you. You talk to [your] family and friends. But you’re only looking for confirmation; you’re not looking for the truth. You’re looking for somebody to tell you you’re right. But the truth always comes out. So we [test] our products, and we listen to what [the testers] say. We give much more value to the truth than to people saying what we’re doing is great.”

Mistake 14: Lacking simplicity in your vision. “Many entrepreneurs go in too many directions at once and do not execute anything well. Rather than focusing on doing everything right to sell to their biggest markets, they divide the attention of their people and their time, trying to do too many things at [one time]. Then their main product isn’t done properly because they’re doing so many different things. They have an idea and say they’re going to sell it to Wal-Mart. Then they say they’re going to sell to [the] Home Shopping Network. And then the gift market looks good. And so on.”

Mistake 15: Lacking clarity of your long-term aim and business purpose. “You should have an idea of what your long-term aim is. It doesn’t mean that won’t change, but when you aim an arrow, you have to be aiming at a target. This [concept will] often come up when people ask ‘How do I pick a product?’ The answer depends on what you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to [create] a billion-dollar company with this product, it may not have a chance. But if you’re trying to make a $5 million company, it can work. Or if you’re trying to create a company [in which] family members can be employed, it can work. Clarity of your business purpose is very important [but] is often not really part of the thought process.”

Mistake 16: Lacking focus and identity. “This was written from the viewpoint of building the company as a valuable entity. The company itself is also a product. Too many companies try to go after too many targets at once and end up with a potpourri rather than a focused business entity with an identity. When you try to make a business, it’s very important to maintain a focus and an identity. Don’t let it become a potpourri, or it loses its power. For instance, you say, ‘We’re already selling to Kmart, so we might as well make a toy because Kmart buys toys.’ If you do that, the company becomes weaker. A company needs to be focused on what it is. Then its power builds from that.”

Mistake 17: Lacking an exit strategy. “Have an exit plan, and create your business to satisfy that plan. For instance, I am thinking I might run my new business for two years and then get out of it. I think it’s an opportunity to make a tremendous amount of money for two years, but I’m not sure [whether] it’s proprietary enough to stop the competition from getting in. So I’m in with an exit strategy of doing it for two years and then winding down. I won’t commit to long-term leases, and after the first year, we’ll start watching the marketplace very closely and start watching inventories.

Simultaneously, I will keep the option open to sell it in case I can’t get something more proprietary. That means I won’t sign international agreements that would kill any opportunity to sell it to a multinational. I will make sure that the patent work is done properly. And I’ll try to make sure manufacturing is up to the standards of any multinational company that I might try to sell it to.

Another exit strategy can be to hand the company to [your] kids someday. The most important thing to do is to build a company with value and profits so you have all the options: Keep the company, sell the company, go public, raise private money [and so on]. A business can be a product, too.”

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Phenomenal - Randy Pausch

When this man and this man talk, we better listen. When they recommend you to do something, we better do ( Will be too silly, if someone asks me why.. ). I did just that . After a long day ( but fun day ) at work, the best thing i could've done is listen to Randy Pausch speak.

He is just PHENOMENAL. The lecture is about an hour and 25 mins long - please do watch/listen all of it. I stayed awake all through the lecture after a 16 hour day and really wished i could watch the man one more time. The talk is on "Really Achieving your Childhood Dreams "

Some notes from the last trip to Coimbatore...

  • Had to reach Coimbatore at 8 pm on friday, last. Had a ticket in the 6:50 PM Paramount airways flight from Chennai to Coimbatore. Started from my home at 5:15 PM, in the pouring rain to catch the flight ( thought the rains would keep the roads free and i could reach the airport on time ). I was almost right, till the auto crossed the first km, when we faced a massive traffic jam. Then the interesting bit - the smart auto driver got off the "main road", drove through the narrow lanes ( sometimes just the width of the auto) even though it costed him more to ferry me, once almost did a 90* spin trying to avoid a careless driver , went out of his way to keep me and my bags shielded from the pouring rain , asked for just Rs.100 from my house to the Airport ( the usual price i pay, without any bargaining from my side and despite the rain) and ensured i caught my flight on time. All this because i mentioned that i might be running late to catch a flight. I gave him an extra 30 bucks ( only because i just had a 500 on me . He deserved atleast a 50 )
  • Have flown by Paramount Airways flight twice so far. I'm IMPRESSED. At the cost of the economy flight ticket fare charged by other airlines, Paramount offers amazing service. The airline is miles ahead of the others operating in the country, currently. Jet Airways in its early days ( it is still going strong ) is the closest match to Paramount's service. Surely, if Paramount comes out with an IPO, i will fight to be the first in the queue ( if i have money, i.e )
  • Bro, another cousin R and I were talking about the profits of some industries located in Coimbatore. Another cousin S ( who has no access to the business world, no financial reports, no one talking serious business stuff around him ) was listening in to our conversation, butts in and tells a figure. We asked him how he got this number, since it was so close to the actual profits of the company. His answer " Probably about 2000 people are working in that company, each of them will contribute about 20,000 Rs in profits , so the total profit might be about 4 crore ". I was stunned. He is only in class 9.