Monthly Archives: August 2012

My key takeaways from NASSCOM EmergeOut Conclave

When I had followed NASSCOM EmergeOut 2011 last year on Twitter, I had made up my mind that next year I would try and witness the event live. Well, luckily I had an opportunity to attend this amazing event and thankfully my expectations from the event got fulfilled to a large extent. I believe every such event provides an enormous platform for learning and more importantly networking with like-minded people, which was very crucial for entrepreneurs always, but more so these days. The focus of this year’s event was to help entrepreneurs primarily in three areas – capacity building, market access and peer-to-peer knowledge. I was continuously live-tweeting throughout the event. I have compiled below a few of my own tweets which were major takeaways for me from the sessions I attended.

In the welcome address by Mr. Som Mittal, the President NASSCOM highlighted that key need of the hour was to create a platform that would facilitate integration of various incubators and startups. It is really difficult for startups to sustain and grow without the presence of a mutually beneficial ecosystem. Though it might sound like the philosophy of “you scratch my back, I will scratch yours”, we need to realize that we don’t have a Silicon Valley or a Detroit in our country.

The even kick-started with the first keynote address by Aditya Ghosh, President Indigo Airlines, who was earlier practicing corporate law, now runs one of the few profitable low cost airlines in the country. At present it is the only airline in India making profits. According to Aditya, the philosophical aspects that differentiated Indigo from other airlines were:

  • They were constantly in “pursuit of excellence”
  • They differentiated by saying that “low cost is not equal to low quality”
  • They believed in respecting “time”.
  • They believed that spirit of entrepreneurship should be translated to every employee in the organization.
  • Customers are brand ambassadors.
  • It is not enough to be competitive; one has to continuously innovate to have unique structural advantage.

He summarized the success of Indigo in terms of three aspects – low fares, flying on time, courteous hassle free service. However, the punch was towards the end of his talk when he had a message for the budding entrepreneurs –

Leave the ego out while making a business decision

The next keynote speaker was Venky Mysore, CEO & MD of Kolkata Knight Riders. He started with an inspiring story of Cliff Young, an Australian farmer who won a marathon at the age of 61 years! He highlighted the importance of sustaining a team culture and how it helped KKR build a united team, which he believed, to be the key for their success. Some of the inspirational takeaways from his session were that sometime being ignorant in a new field helps one think as wide as possible and in the process a person might end up on an very innovative solution. As Aditya emphasized on the people power, even Venky agreed to the importance that organizations should give to their employees. He ended his address with a very touching video that KKR prepared featuring family members of all their players, who wished their sons good luck for the tournament. He shared that this video was prepared completely without the knowledge of players and when it was shown to all players, few of them were very touched. It was indeed a committed responsibility that KKR showed towards its players and made them realize that they haven’t hired players just for money, but KKR as an organization had an affective feeling towards them.

The first panel discussion was on how big decisions were made by new-age CEOs and what difference it made to their businesses. The key learning from the session were:

  • Organically growing a company is tough but getting money from VCs isn’t easy either. The trick lies in telling and convincing them through a promising repeatable story.
  • As an entrepreneur, one should be able to answer – Which problem is he/she solving and for whom?
  • The moment one is scared of something, chances of failure are high.

The second panel discussion was on opportunities that emerging entrepreneurs could unravel at Africa. The startling facts about Africa and the business environment that eminent panelists shared were:

  • Each country in Africa is very unique and hence one should approach a country one at a time.
  • Speed of business is very slow.
  • It is critical to find the right partner.
  • It is easier to start but difficult to sustain business in Africa
  • Seven of the fastest growing nations in the World are from Africa
  • E-governance is catching up fast in Africa. Also, media industry has lot of scope as people in Africa are media savvy.
  • The other promising sector is cyber security as many African countries have emphasized on strict cyber rules.

The third panel discussion was about Whitespaces in Mobile Applications space. Some of the key takeaways from this session were:

  • Apple has better monetization plan than Google on mobile platforms
  • As number of apps increase substantially, the big question is how to differentiate.
  • Building good product, great distribution and sustainable business model are key to success.
  • Idea should not be to create world’s best mobile app, but to build fairly useful/entertaining app.
  • HTML5 is the third wave. It brings openness of Google world and richness of Apple world. It is going to be the future.
  • Create an app that people are happy to share with their family and friends.

Then arrived the session, for which I was eagerly awaiting, by Gaurav Mishra. He delivered an insightful talk on the aspects of storytelling that brands need to realize and implement effectively. He shared case study of 37Signals, a web-based collaboration apps company.

The final panel discussion was about CIOs perspective about how digitization would help the operations of an organization. CIOs from prominent organizations like Maruti, Walmart India, IOCL participated in the panel discussion. They key points highlighted during the discussion were: 

  • Maruti had apps for storing customer data, which helped it reduced customer waiting time in morning rush-hours.
  • IOCL focusing on mobile apps for both front-end and back-end operations.
  • Some of the areas that CIOs highlighted as promising for IT SMEs to focus on were- mobility, learning management, business process outsourcing, and analytics.
  • Almost all CIOs had an opinion that in any collaborative project that they would work with a SME partner, the IPR about the knowledge contributed by the organization would rest with the organization.

After back-to-back panel discussions throughout the day, the energy levels of audience was depreciating and then came the star speaker of the day, Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India. He started his talk with a scintillating video about Google Glasses. He highlighted that future computing would be based on eyesight and touch instead of people using keyboards to feed data. The key elements that he thought would set the future trend for SMB (small and medium businesses) would be – mobility, natural user interface, video, products with social element and social analytics. I was hearing him live for the second time in my life. I really like the aggressive yet hilarious tone of his speech. He keeps the audience alive and leaves a point in audience’s mind to ponder upon. Here is another blogpost by Manjunath Gowda, with more details about his speech.

It was a well spent day for me. Apart from the insights that I gathered throughout the day, it was fun to live-tweet during the event.

NASSCOM EmergeOut Conclave: A Potential Event for Entrepreneurs

These days we hear of many startups sprouting around us in various product and service categories. Not only the experienced people who have spent sufficient amount of their career in industry are turning up for entrepreneurial journey, but also many youngsters dare to face this challenge in their early stages of career. I would be biased or thrashed for making the following opinion, but to me these days any product or service seems to be a “commodity” irrespective of how well it is branded. I say this because, given the nature of technological advancements, the information asymmetry which existed couple of years back has been completely ruled out. People are able to find relevant information with much ease, compare them, take opinions from their peers with simple efforts and hence the purchase decision is much informed. Hence, it’s very tough scenario for entrepreneurs to get their product/service out in the market & make people purchase it.

The uphill task that entrepreneurs face in such highly competitive environment are benefited to some extent with the help of digital media, which provide much larger reach and are cost effective compared to traditional media that most entrepreneurs won’t be able to afford. However, the prime challenge of digital media has been to create and share relevant content on various platforms. Hence, I feel it is almost inevitable for entrepreneurs to appreciate the strengths of digital media and should continuously make efforts to remain updated about it. The conclaves like NASSCOM EmergeOut are such ideal opportunities were entrepreneurs could make themselves aware of latest happenings in digital media, get to know about various case studies through eminent speakers and more importantly could network with like minded and relevant people.

I really liked the focus that NASSCOM EmergeOut has brought this year to help entrepreneurs in three key major areas – capacity building, market access and peer-to-peer knowledge access. The event has some interesting panel discussions and workshops on topics like:

  • Importance and future of cloud technology
  • Relevance and importance of social content techniques for SMEs
  • Scaling up products
  • Customer centricity
  • Effective Sales Strategies
  • Effectiveness of Collaboration, Consumerisation and Connectivity

The most valuable session that I predict for entrepreneurs would be the Unconference session on “Entrepreneur’s First 10 Blind Dates”.

The speakers I am looking forward to hear are: Gaurav Mishra, Manav Garg, Troy Malone, Aloke Bajpai, Rajesh Uppal & Rajan Anandan.

If you are an entrepreneur, you just can’t remain away from digital media in this progressively digitized world and I think you won’t get such varied knowledge about this media for such low registration fees.

I have registered for the event. I look forward to meet some interesting people out there. If you would be attending the event, let’s catch up!