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Showing posts from July, 2010

"Embracing Technology" - Article by Sanjay Anandaram

A German-Croatian friend narrated this incident earlier this morning. On a recent trip to India and upon checking into his hotel (a grand and most well known Indian hotel around the world), he tweeted “checked in and am now at the restaurant waiting for my chicken biryani.” A few hours later, he got a message from the hotel not only enquiring about his experience with the chicken biryani but also informing him (via a message on Facebook) about the various restaurants at the hotel, the chefs and their particular specialities. Needless to say, he was completely floored. The hotel was tracking the responses and explicit experiences of its guests, almost in real time, and making serious efforts to reach out to its guests making the most of new technologies. And this hotel is part of a century plus old staid corporate group.

Contrast this with another experience. Some years ago, I had a series of horrible experiences (including being let into a room late at night that was already occupi…

"The Early Stage Mindset" - Article by Sanjay Anandaram

Originally published in the WSJ Blog. Reproduced with author's permission.

Early stage venture capital investing in India appears to be the flavour of season. There are funds being set up from $5m to $30m in size. Some are proposed to be set up by angel investors, some by former executives and investment bankers while others by successful entrepreneurs. Some are likely to be supported by government linked institutions, some by international investors and high net worth individuals. I recently had occasion to meet with some fund managers of these proposed funds. Clearly, they had done their homework: on the state of the Indian private equity and VC market, the various participants had been mapped out, the state of the Indian economy, the performance of existing venture backed companies, the valuations, the exit opportunities, the pluses and minuses of existing funds had all been analysed and the inevitable gaps/spaces/blue oceans (choose your favourite jargon!) had been identified. …

Where's The Customer? - Article by Sanjay Anandaram

This article appeared originally in The Financial Express July 2010 Issue. Reproduced with permission from the author.

The long and detailed presentations were going well. The young CEO was passionately outlining the company’s plans to the board. The rest of the management team was also present and there were several interjections and contributions by them on their functional areas and areas of expertise: Process improvements, employee training and retention, product design, engineering, customer support were earnestly discussed. Terms like efficiency, productivity and growth rates were thrown around.Everything seemed to be going as well as possible till someone asked “All this is fine, but where’s the customer in all of this?” None of the presentations talked of how the customer would be better served by the elaborate discussions on processes and systems.
All too often, companies become obsessed with themselves and become inward looking. Are the planned processes, system…

Catalysing Strategic Entrepreneurship - Article by Sanjay Anandaram

This article appeared originally in The Wall Street Journal May 2010 Issue. Reproduced with permission from the author.

A recent news report ( indicates that the Government is keen on allowing 74% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence production to enable technology transfer and the bringing in of funds. Let us take a look at some data. India’s defence budget for 2010-11 is over $30billion; India is currently the 2nd largest arms importer (2005-09) behind China. However, according to the SIPRI report, China is well on its way to becoming self-reliant and saw its imports decline to $0.6billion in 2009 from $3.5billion in 2005. During the same period, India increased its defence imports from $1.04billion to $2.1billion. India’s defence imports are currently estimated to be over $8billion. The role of the Indian entrepreneur, thus far, in catering to this huge market is less than negligible. Isn’t there therefore a terrific case for catalyzing entrepreneurship an…

Entrepreneurial Self-Conviction - Article by Sanjay Anandaram

This article appeared originally in The Wall Street Journal. Reproduced with permission from the author.

There’s an exercise I sometimes ask students, especially those in business school, to do. On a blank piece of paper, the size of a business card, I ask each of them to first write their name and then their “dream title” in their “dream company” that they’d like to see themselves in. Being business school students, it is no surprise that “Chairman,” “Managing Partner” and “CEO” is the typical dream title they’ve ascribed to themselves in their dream companies, usually the globally most well recognized companies from the worlds of consulting, investment banking and investments. This exercise is usually completed in under a minute.

They’re then each asked to turn the paper around and again, write their name on it. This time however, there is no “dream company”. They simply have to give themselves a title, one that describes them to another person. Now this suddenly takes time to complet…