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Showing posts from July, 2007

MBAs who has made the start

The 23rd July edition of Business World has a piece by Rashmi Bansal that showcases the various startups that MBAs of top B-schools of India are promoting. A few excerpts:

....Prakash Mundhra is enjoying giving them a high. His company, Sacred Moments, makes ‘puja kits’ for Diwali, an idea he conceived as a student at Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development (SCMHRD) in Pune. “My marketing professor, Shivram Apte, rejected the idea totally,” says Mundhra. “We had long arguments — he didn’t think there was a market for it.” Prof. Apte was wrong. In its first Diwali season — October 2006 — Sacred Moments sold more than 10,000 puja kits and achieved a turnover of Rs 35 lakh. “I took a risk,” grins Prakash. “But it has worked out.”


Yet, he was in a dilemma. He went through the placement process and accepted an offer from ICICI Prudential. “In the meantime, I entered six business plan contests and won five,” he says. “I became more and more convinced about my ide…

What’s the DNA of your company? - By Sanjay Anandaram

Early last year, I met a startup team that was building the next great mobile application. They had built a system that could offer mobile social networking to end consumers. The team had great technologists including a few successful entrepreneurs among them. They were convinced that their system would be the next great thing for consumers; they were supremely confident (bordering on overconfidence) about the uniqueness of their offering. This company was trying to build a company focused on the end-consumer as their customer. This meant that they had to build a brand, build a system that would be ridiculously easy for consumers to use, have a mechanism that would keep attracting people back to them, and figure out a way to make money. Of course, companies like Google and MySpace were their role models. The team had enormous expertise in building and running systems for businesses, selling and marketing to businesses and supporting business customers. They however had no experience i…

The king of Land titles about being the next Google.

Today's Economic Times profiled Sanjay Kanth, founder & CEO of ESS Solutions. ESS Solutions offers an array of services right from loan processing to loan funding, including legal work to the multi billion dollar US title industry. A few excerpts:

Large players like FirstAmerican Title Insurance, Fidelity Title Insurance have also set up their own captive centres in India. Even banks like HSBC, Citi have started processing some of their uninsured work from their centres in India. But ESS claims to be the first company to offer complete services right from an order request to disbursement and recording of the financial instruments.

Co founded with his brother, Sujay Kanth, who is now the C00 of ESS, Sanjay says about their first break,
"Initially, we had no clue of what was going on and it was very hard to grasp. We took it as a challenge and Sujay got trained in their office for about 40 days after which we started the transition to my India office from 2004,"


IT formulae for the Biotech industry

Thursday's (26th July) Economic Times, under Southern Compass carried a profile of Anuradha Acharya, the CEO of Ocimum Biosolutions. A few excerpts:

.. With support from her husband and some funding from friends and family, she founded a bio-solutions IT company in 2000. In a year's time Ocimum was on a roll, providing some of the best software in the industry for Library Information management Systems(LIMS) and bio-informatics. Its two blockbuster products - Genchek and Biotracker - made Ocimum Bio a landmark company in this segment.

"There is a gradual shift in the market from servicing scientific researchers and academicians to offering solutions to some big-ticket pharma players and we are constantly developing capacity and capability in this direction," Ms Acharya said.

Click here to download the full article.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the Private Equity and Vent…

Eggsploiting the bottom-of-the-pyramid opportunity

The Outlook Business dated 20th July '07 features(not available online)Vinod Kapur, the Chairman of the KeggFarms group. The company has bred a poultry variety, the Kuroiler, that is at par with modern industrial hens in terms of growth and egg laying, but as hardy as the desi chicken and survives on scavenging. It is remarkable to note how it helped tap in on the bottom of the pyramid opportunity, besides providing rural households an income generation opportunity.

More than the fawning and backslapping, it was the sudden turn in perceptions that surprised Kapur. His bankers, who derided him, now bend over backwards to lend. The quaint company that talked about empowering rural women is now a star bank account and some even want to feature him in their annual reports.

KeggFarms' base of the economic pyramid (BOP) business model, that helps pull households out of the spiral of poverty, by supplementing their income from village poultry, took years of tweaking. It has now come i…

Navas Meeran: a tale of a second generation Entrepreneur

Southern Compass of The Economic Times(19th July '07) carried the profile of Navas Meeran who took over at the helm of Eastern Condiments and Spices from his father.
A second generation entrepreneur, he saw how his father built the business to become a prominent distributor of leading brands in Central Kerala besides building the Eastern Curry Powder Brand.

When after his studies, Mr. Navas Meeran joined the business in 1994, the turnover of the company was in the range of Rs. 10 crore. It did not take long for Navas Meeran to rework the business model and prepare for long-term growth. And, at heart of his business model, was the core competency they had built up - an efficient distribution system. Eastern Curry Powder did not remain in the league of the 'small player' for long.

The company touched a turnover of Rs. 208 crore by 2006-07, and his dream is to touch a turnover of Rs. 2500 crores for the Eastern group, which also is into readymade garments, tread rubber and pa…

Podcast with Subroto Bagchi

Knowledge Wharton has an interesting audio interview with Subroto Bagchi, Co-founder & COO of Bangalore-based IT services firm MindTree Consulting. and author of the book The High Performance Entrepreneur.

Bagchi makes several interesting points including that:

* Start-up companies should "pretend to be big" by putting in place proper processes (which he compares to plumbing/infrastructure for a large building) and governance right from the beginning.

* How MindTree's large founding team was a source of strength ("blessed with bandwidth" versus "too much overhead") since whenever one founder has some domestic issues to deal with there was someone else to take the slack. This helped the company become resilient.

* Not focusing overly on the idea versus the need to enjoy building a long-term business.

* Focusing on the "emotional infrastructure" in addition to the physical and intellectual infrastructures. The need to build all three is an o…

Knowing when - and how - to grow - by Sanjay Anandaram

“I don’t think if we’ll be able to attract him to our company as he has to take a pay-cut” is what I heard the founder and CEO of a startup say last week. He was referring to a candidate’s resume that had been sent across by a friend. The profile was terrific and seemed like the startup could certainly benefit enormously from having the candidate on board. The CEO though was troubled by the apprehension that the candidate would be unaffordable. Being cost conscious and frugal was a practiced way with this CEO and his founding team. So what is the CEO to do when he now needs experienced and specialized talent to help the organization grow?

In the period from the late 90s to the early 2000s, excess seemed to be the name of the game at startups. Fancy offices resembling space age fashion show venues, sky high salaries, perks like on-site cappuccino machines were quite common place as investors poured money into next generation internet businesses. Then the bottom fell out and everyone sta…

Update: IT Services & BPO Connect; July 12, Bangalore

Highly successful entrepreneurs and angel investors including N. S. Raghavan of Nadathur Holdings (and co-founder of Infosys), Dr. Prakash Mutalik of RelQ (which was acquired recently by EDS), Rajiv Mody of Sasken (a successful publicly-listed company) and K. Ganesh of TutorVista (who earlier co-founded BPO firm CustomerAsset and angel invested in KPO firm Marketics) share their Entrepreneurial Experiences and their Perspectives on the Future of the IT Services and BPO sectors

Other speakers include top executives from Applabs, Aspire Systems, Canaan Partners, Ernst & Young, IDG Ventures India, KPIT Cummins, KPMG, Langham Capital, Microland, MindTree, Nipuna, PharmARC, QuEST, Scope eKnowledge and Veda Corporate Advisors.

Network with successful entrepreneurs and top investors at this unique conference and get answers to key questions like:

Is scale all important?
How can SMEs survive and thrive in these sectors?
Can KPOs ever IPO?
Where are the new opportunities in IT Services?

Profile of Career Forum founder

The Starship Enterprise column in The Economic Times (not available online), featured Sujata Khanna of entrance exam training institute, Career Forum. The company, which started with just seven students in Pune, now covers over 39 cities reaching over 15,000 students.

...The most important milestone I think was in 1995 when we decided to incorporate Career Forum into a Company. This brought in a lot of professionalism and we also went for expansion.

...Strong technical network is our unique selling proposition. We have a strong ERP system running across all centres in all areas of business from distribution to logistics...

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the Private Equity and Venture Capital ecosystem in India. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.

Translating VC Speak - by Sanjay Anandaram

All too often hopeful entrepreneurs approach venture capitalists (VCs) and then keep approaching them with the same set of slides. After a while, disappointment sets in. ‘VCs in India are risk averse’, ‘They do not understand my business plan’, ‘None of them have operating backgrounds so they cannot appreciate the position’ are some of the common refrains. It is, therefore, worth understanding the language used by VCs during the meetings.

“Interesting but…..”

The word ‘interesting’ has many meanings but almost certainly never means that the VC is excited. The meaning of the word varies from ‘OK, nice’ to ‘intriguing’. It is also used as a place-holder or a punctuation mark. The ‘but’ that follows is dangerous. Means the VC is not positively inclined.

“Who else have you talked to?”

This is not a general innocent question. This is a way for the VC to know who else is looking at the deal and therefore, how he or she should pace the decision-making process. If a lot of VCs have been approache…