Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Web

Amazon Junglee!!

About 150 million people in India or around 75 million households are ready for ecommerce in India today. However, less than 10 million are engaged in active ecommerce today. The potential of consumer e-commerce in India by 2024-2025 is likely to touch around 594.8 million individuals or 297.4 million households. You can only guess the market size of the ecommerce industry in the coming decade!!

Amazon India has gone live with the launch of portal, Junglee.com, which Amazon acquired in early 1998 from Indian entrepreneurs Rakesh Mathur and Ashish Gupta. Junglee is an online product comparison and advertising site with several first-of-a-kind features such “real-time customer reviews” from Amazon.com, inline seller store locator for sellers in India and one-stop access to selection from Indian and international sellers. Junglee aggregates detailed product information including customer reviews, price, and shipping speed across multiple sources, including Amazon.com, so customers can research products and evaluate buying options to make an informed purchasing decision. Customers can also write their own reviews, read millions of real-time customer reviews from Amazon.com, “Like” products or sellers, and share products through Facebook, Twitter and email.

Junglee is positioned as a market place which makes buyers and sellers meet, instead of an ecommerce website. It could possibly become a means to drive people to Amazon India in future when they launch the full fledged service in India. The incentive scheme for sellers to post their products on Junglee is very interesting. They can:
1. Drive traffic to your store/website: By advertising products on Junglee.com, one can convert Junglee’s traffic into their own customers
2. List Product Ads for free: No listing fees, no cost per click or subscription fees. On the other side, Ebay.in charges sellers to post ads!
3. Reaching qualified shoppers: Junglee puts products in front of customers who have expressed intent to purchase those exact products
4. Highly targeted placements: Recommended buys when classified in categories means a highly focused sales channel for the sellers

Customers can discover over 1.2 crore products and 14,000 brands, and purchase items directly from hundreds of retailers. Customers can buy products online by following the link to the seller’s website or find a seller’s physical store if they would rather purchase the product in person or call the seller and place an order by phone.
Junglee has an ambitious vision of organizing selection and buying choices. They are relentlessly focused on adding selection and making it convenient for customers to find, discover, and shop anything using the service.

Given that Amazon is launching its ecommerce service in India soon, Flipkart and other ecommerece websites need to ramp up at the earliest and quickly build presence in Tier-II and Tier-III cities of India. Flipkart or Amazon? Do you have a brand loyalty or you will go after the one offering lowest price?

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Entertainment, Marketing

Why this Kolaveri Di?

Why this Kolaveri Di – a Tanglish (Tamil and English) song which is a funny take on heartbreak, is from Dhanush’s upcoming Tamil movie 3. It is a big craze on the internet. So viral, that the song became the first Tamil film song to be premiered on a national music channel, MTV India. The song has attracted all categories of people and has reached to all corners of the country. From children to youngsters to celebrities, everyone is so passionate for this song.

What does the song mean?
Kolaveri, a highly popular slang among Tamil youth normally used to silence a cranky person in a group. It is among several Tamil words which youngsters use between themselves without implying actual meaning. The slang has been used by the makers of 3 to depict the anguish of a person who has just tasted rejection from the hands of a girl whom he liked. Soup in the video implies failure in love.

What makes it so popular?
Simple and Funny Lyrics: The song uses simple english words especially Youth Lingo. The have made an effort to make the song simple. The video includes subtitles in English to help people understand the lyrics. Also it helps people to sing along. Take these lines for example:

lovvu lovvu oh my lovvu, you showed me bouv-u
cow-u cow-u holy cow-u, i want u hear now-u

Catchy Tune: The song is catchy and has superb beats! How many of us have found ourselves humming this tune everytime the song is played?

pa pa paan pa pa paan pa pa paa pa pa paan

Caters to a wide audience: The song is Tanglish, which I think is a very smart move. Even the Tamil words in the song are reasonably easy to figure out. But the song has an emotional connect. It’s a song by a young guy with a broken heart. Heart break is universal, it caters to a large audience. Not just guys, I have seen girls enjoying the song. The audience relates to the lyrics.

Unassuming: Dhanush’s down-to-earth voice and the casual attitude with which he approaches a song have created a new trend in film music. Even the first cut video is shot in the recording studio. You can see Dhanush enjoying while singing. I think that summarizes the feeling.

Versions: The simple and catchy ‘Kolaveri’, has enthused people to remix and edit the footage to create their own narratives. You can find the female version, milk version, Sharad Pawar version, Hilter version. The songs instilled creativity in people. The nth version of Kolaveri helps in increasing popularity of the original version.

Overall, I feel with Kolaveri, Dhanush has tapped the potential of social networking sites to promote a movie. A marketing tactic which is popular in the West and will surely pick up in Bollywood. Kolaveri is being studies as Case Study in management schools. IIMA has adopted it as an inspiration for future marketing managers. The institute plans to introduce a session on ‘Kolaveri Di’ as a part of its course on Contemporary Film Industry for business perspective. What Kolaveri did to the movie is kind of lasting. The national channels that telecast the uprising of the song on cyberspace are going to carry news about the movie’s release when it’s out. I think the movie 3, has a perfect launchpad with the popularity of Kolaveri.

In terms of Youtube hits, the song has little over 16 Mn hits on youtube (at the time of publishing), which is still miles away from Justin Bieber’s Baby which has 649 Mn views. Damn You JB!

Just in case you have not seen or heard it here it is!

Why this Kolaveri Di?

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Entertainment, Sports

Why is KKR the most popular franchise of IPL?

Kolkata_Knight_Riders_LogoLook around in the world of internet, motion media or print media you will realize that Kolkata Knight Riders is the most popular team in the competition. Never the winners or the best team on paper, KKR is able to create a buzz amongst the fans – there is something about the team which creates a lot of excitement. After winning the first two matches of IPL season 3, KKR has yet created more things to talk about. KKR is not the costliest team, infact they come second last when valued in price but everyone loves to talk about them.

Nielsen Company, which has used its Online BuzzMetrics technology to measure the buzz around IPL on social media sites states “Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has been the most discussed team online, both in 2009 and 2010. Kings XI Punjab is the second most discussed team, followed by Deccan Chargers, in social media in 2010.”
Decoding the reasons of KKR’s popularity, I think the following are the reasons:

1. Shahrukh Khan: King Khan, one of the biggest names in Indian cinema and probably one of the most popular Indians in the world. When Shahrukh Khan decides to do something new, the media follows him like crazy. When a Bollywood star had decided to buy a franchise in IPL, media went berserk and entertainer as he is, Shahrukh released several ad & video campaigns for his team which reserved prime time space on entertainment and music channels.
2. Saurav Ganguly: With the start of IPL, Indian cricket scene was going through a generation change, when the most successful captain in Indian cricket was removed from the team and sidelined by selectors. Saurav Ganguly was the epicenter of discussions for a long time between cricket experts, media and fans. IPL was seen as an opportunity for Ganguly to show his leadership skills and make a comeback to national cricket. Ganguly was followed everywhere and the media was waiting for a
3. Fake IPL Player: Fake IPL Player is a blog that started on April 18, 2009, the same time as the 2009 season Indian Premier League matches. It is written by an anonymous blogger who claims to be a member of the IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). However, the blog has become a cult, a raging phenomenon on the internet with a fan following that is numbered in hundreds and thousands. According to Mumbai-based digital marketing firm, Pinstorm, the fake IPL player blog had at its peak, on 26 April, 150,000 visitors, who each spent 15 minutes on the site, adding up to about 37,000 hours spent on the blog in one day, putting it up there with popular individual led blogs such as Aamir Khan’s blog at its peak with about 170,000 visitors!
4. John Buchanan: Coach John Buchanan had proposed a new concept of “multiple captains”. That concept was not accepted by many leading players and experts. Many people thought that this concept was proposed to sideline the captain Saurav Ganguly. After this was announced the fans of Ganguly protested all over india. This incident was followed by Ganguly’s meeting with team owner Shahrukh khan. In that meeting also nothing was decided. Multiple captain means having more than one captain for one match. When this incident happened many people thought that was spat between Ganguly and coach but after some time the meeting between Shahrukh, Ganguly and John Buchanan happened. After the meeting is over Shahrukh khan the team owner announced that Ganguly will remain as the captain for the first matches and after that based on Ganguly’s performance decision will be made. This incident was the centre of attraction for many people.
5. Brendon Mccullum & Ricky Ponting: The failure of the New Zealand captain to be successful in IPL when he was being projected as the face of KKR was also discussed a lot. Punter (Ricky Ponting) was speculated to be the captain of KKR, even his absence from IPL could not stop people from discussing about him. As is said, either people like Punter or hate Punter but they never ignore him.

Let us see what magic KKR creates now in the popularity charts. I hope they do well in IPL this season and be in the top 3. Also see the posts about Fake IPL player and Unbranding KKR (2009).

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Business, Entertainment, Politics

Battlefield of Economics, Politics & Power

Recently Mumbai witnessed yet another gimmick of exchange of words, high intensity drama and its fall when three of the icons of the field of Bollywood, Maharashtra Politics & National Power confront each other – Shah Rukh Khan, Shiv Sena and Rahul Gandhi. We would be assessing the positives negatives and strengths of each of these confrontations.

On one side heavily criticized for his comments on the recent IPL auction for Pakistani players, Shah Rukh Khan had to moderate his comments and views for his upcoming movie – My Name is Khan. After being type casted as a “Traitor”, Shah Rukh Khan even though being one of the most popular names in Indian cinema had to negotiate for the release of his movie which has a budget of around Rs 38 crores. The movie distribution rights have already been sold for Rs 100 crores to Fox Studio (above the Rs 90 crores for Ghajini). Here was the battlefield for Shah Rukh Khan


  • Popularity throughout India
  • Media Sympathy and PR machinery

  • Release of upcoming movie on 12th Feb
  • Potential to lose grounds in mass Mumbai audience
Positive Outcome:

  • Media hype and publicity for the movie
  • Negotiated release of the movie
Negative Outcome:

  • Befriended Mumbai Politics czars
  • Had to lose views for money

And on another, one of the biggest up comer in Indian politics – Rahul Gandhi who will someday or the other be the Prime Minister of India also had exchange of words with Sena for his support to the Uttar Pradesh and Bihari population in Mumbai & Maharashtra. His comments on the North Indian NSG men were twisted to be an insult to the Marathi Police men who fought to death in the 26/11 terror attacks. On his recent visit to Mumbai, he was welcomed with black flags but the power of being the son of the most powerful lady in the country no one could scare Rahul a bit. Also his post Mumbai visit to Bihar brought interesting twist into Politics. His equation seemed to be like this:


  • Next leader of Indian National Congress
  • Clean Image & immense power

  • Potential to befriend Marathi votes
Positive Outcome:

  • Positive sympathy amongst both Marathi and Non Marathi population
  • Positive vibe for Bihar visit
Negative Outcome:

  • NIL

Coming down to Sena who seemed to have been the biggest loser of both the incidents who played political cards to gain more ground in their vote bank. Now type casted as big mouths, Sena and similar parties are being criticized for all words and no work. With Marathi aam aadmi demanding jobs instead of politics they are in a very tight spot. Their equation was like this:


  • Iconic leaders in Maharashtra Politics
  • Activists spread across Mumbai

  • Over reaction to both incidents
  • All words no work image
Positive Outcome:

  • Political Censors for release of movies
Negative Outcome:

  • Successful sympathy wave by Rahul Gandhi
  • Image of being party crashers

When Rahul Gandhi used public transport to relate closer to the Mumbai residents, he could successfully create a new wave of positivity and compassion. He also created a perfect ground for his visit to Bihar to revive Congress grounds. All in all the game of Politics, Economics & Power seems to have been negotiated in the battlefield by each of the players known to be the best in their fields.

(Views are personal and Strat.in is not responsible for them)

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Business, Strategy

Road Ahead for Maruti Suzuki – a semi-insider’s view

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (or Maruti Udhyog as you may know it) was the first company in India to mass-produce and sell more than a million cars. In India, Maruti Udhyog Limited (MUL) was established in February 1981, and the actual production of cars commenced in 1983. Maruti is largely credited for having brought in an automobile revolution to India.

In the following post, I talk about excerpts of my discussion with a Maruti Suzuki Sales Official over a flight (thanks to Jet for my free business class upgrade). Here, I reveal insights about the Indian automobile industry as seen by a leading industry sales expert.

Maruti 800 - one of the most popular car in India

What’s new planned with Maruti Suzuki?
MS EXECUTIVE: Maruti Suzuki will be selling a new car Kizashi from the next year. Kizashi which has been showcased at the Auto Expo will get production form soon. Maruti Kizashi is expected to be the first all-wheel drive sedan in the luxury D segment. It will be positioned in the Rs-10 lakh-plus price band and will compete with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Sonata, Skoda Octavia, etc.

Does Maruti Suzuki have an early mover’s advantage in the Indian market? Since you launched Maruti 800 in India at a very early stage, you are still reaping the benefit?
MS EXECUTIVE: Yes, absolutely! Maruti Suzuki was the first company to have brought in the technology in India and bring a wave with our Maruti 800. Maruti 800 has been the leader on the sales list for a long-long time in the industry. We have built up on that well and we have a big market share. Over seven lakh Maruti Suzuki cars were bought during the last financial year which adds up to more sales than all competitors put together. We are complementing it now with R&D in India. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. is investing INR10 billion to INR15 billion to build its parent Suzuki Motor Corp.’s first research and development facility outside Japan as it seeks to make the South Asian country a global research hub for small cars. The facility, to be built on 700 acres at Rohtak in the northern state of Haryana, will have an R&D center for cars with a test track, wind tunnel and crash facility.

How do things work at Maruti Suzuki India? What are your strengths?
MS EXECUTIVE: We have a management team which looks over sales, marketing, manufacturing issues, corporate clients & businesses. We manage the production, supply chain and the retail in Indian office. We have been well positioned in the market from the start. We have a very wide dealership network which gives outreach. And our dealers are well positioned in the various states and cities. We have a wide product range in India. You can find models at the band of INR 30000 and we range from small cars to luxury cars. We have customers and more than half market share. We also have the negotiation power with the spare part suppliers and the pricing. In service, maintenance and sales of spare parts, over 70 lakh Maruti Suzuki cars already on the road form a profitable market.
To promote our bottom line growth, we have Maruti Finance. Prior to the start of this service we had started two joint ventures Citicorp Maruti and Maruti Countrywide with Citi Group and GE Countrywide to assist our clients in securing loans. We have entered into a strategic partnership with SBI- the SBI-Maruti Finance. SBI-Maruti Finance is currently available in 166 cities across India.

Would Tata Nano change the equation of the existing small car models you are selling?
MS EXECUTIVE: Personally, I feel that Tata Nano is a wonderful car which will sell a lot in India, but it will be making a new market segment where by people travelling on two-wheelers or buses will be purchasing Nano, instead of the Maruti Alto drivers switching to Tata Nano. Also it can be used as a “helper” car in household. But we don’t feel Nano will change our market share, it will be creating a new segment of its own.

Is Maruti now eyeing the taxi business? Tell us more about the taxi roll planned in Mumbai.
MS EXECUTIVE: Personally, I feel Maruti Omni and Maruti 800 make a perfect taxi car. In Jaipur, Maruti 800 is rolled out as taxi with our corporate client Pink city Radio Taxi Pvt. Ltd. I find it very exciting since the taxis operate at Rs 10 per kilometer, which is almost the rate at which auto-rickshaws operate. We will learn more from the initial experiment in Jaipur and expand to other cities. We are also discussing with Mumbai Taxi drivers to convert the Feat taxis with Omni and provide attractive finance schemes to all. In a few months, you will see the Mumbai roads occupied with Omni taxis much more comfortable, economic to the driver and friendlier to the Mumbai environment.
Mumbai is one of the largest taxi markets in India with about 55,000 taxis plying on the road. We have a significant presence in the Delhi taxi segment with around 1,000 Maruti 800s, Esteems and Omnis. We have been emphasizing on the fact that CNG vehicles with their extremely low emissions are not only environment friendly but also economical. The running cost of Omni taxis with CNG is as low as 80 paise per kilometer.

Is Maruti Suzuki trying to change its image from a small car seller to also include the upper segments of sedan and luxury cars?
MS Executive: We are the leaders in the Indian automobile industry, and with the inclusion of higher end models from Maruti in the Indian market, we are very excited upon the opportunity. Our recent models of Swift Desire and Sx4 have been received very well in the market. The dynamics of luxury markets are very different from the small car markets, as they depend on branding more than value. The customers in the luxury segment do not mind paying more for an “elite” brand. Hence, we have launched a planned program for brand building and marketing.

Summarizing, Maruti Suzuki has a lot planned up for the future, and with the car sales expected to grow by around 10% in the coming fiscal (as reported by Bloomberg), the road ahead seems smooth. With their structured sustainable approach to business they will grow, but threats from the competitors like Hyundai and Toyota is keeping them on the foot to grow, expand and innovate.

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Public Issues

Teach Lead Transform – Teach for India

In the following article I have mentioned a unique socio-educational movement supported by some of the brightest minds of India – Teach for India. With the motto of “Teach Lead Transform”, Teach for India (referred to as TFI hereafter) aims to narrow the educational gap in India by making ends meet, the needy children and the young teachers. They give the educated minds to enlighten the underprivileged. It is a unique movement that will create ripples in the not-so-equal education scenario in India.

In a way, we the people reading/writing blogs on the internet are lucky because of the opportunities we get, a very important one being quality education while a large section of young India does not even get primary education. I hear a lot from people that India has right for education and the government allocates a lot of funds and schemes for primary education, but somewhere a part of those people will also agree that the uneducated lot is bound – bound by money or social stigma. Here I will not stress on what is wrong with the education system or what should be done to fix it but I will introduce to you the Teach for India movement with which you can help create a big impact on the society by putting together small efforts.

Teach for India is modeled on the lines of Teach for America and Teach for All funded by the Clinton Global Initiative. A known fact of the education system in India is that – Out of every 100 children in India, 15 will never attend school. Of those who attend school, 50% will drop out before Class V. Most of us hear such facts and then ignore them while TFI cites a central reason for this state of educational inequity in India to be the shortage of quality teachers, and a system of rote learning in many schools that impedes critical thinking and other important skills that students should learn in the classroom. To build this movement of future leaders, TFI recruits recent graduates and young professionals to serve as teachers in low income urban and rural schools for two years. These young leaders act as a source of dedicated teachers in government and low-income private schools and TFI provides resources, training, and support to these Fellows so they can employ innovative teaching strategies and maximize their effectiveness in the classroom.

In the past such efforts in the past have been done by individuals and NGO’s but what makes me excited about Teach for India is that it creates a self-sustainable ecosystem in the long run which can support good education of the kids from low income families by providing them a network of highly educated and qualified young teachers who are passionate about India – its future, potential and equal opportunities to all. TFI’s criterion when recruiting teachers ensures that only those who are qualified and have the zeal to do something for education system rather than just raising fingers on what is wrong. TFI offers a platform where individuals can come and teach – what some of us always wanted to do and create meaningful large scale social impact. With TFI, a fresh graduate can engage for a few years and offer services as per preferences.

For the potential TFI fellows, TFI experience offers understanding the basics of leadership, team work, social value creation and most of all the satisfaction of paying back to the society, not just by paying taxes but by uplifting those who are not as fortunate as your were in the primary years. An inspiring example of a brilliant mind creating social impact is Garima Gupta Kapila, undergraduate from IIT Delhi (Computer Science) and McKinsey Alumni who now acts as the Mumbai Director of Teach for India.

For more information about Teach for India campaign – visit TFI website, Times of India’s Teach India Campaign page or the Teach for India Official Facebook page. I wish with TFI in their belief that – One day all children will attain an excellent education.

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Business, Planning

The business of Green Buildings!

This post is a first of its kind at strat.in, here we know more about GREEN BUILDINGS from an expert in the field, Akanksha Sharma. In the following conversations below with me, Akanksha talks about Green Building, their scope in future and STRATEGY from an Indian perspective!


Akanksha Sharma is a M. Architecture Student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a certified LEED® AP. She has worked with leading architects like Ar. Najamuddin, Ar. Shiraz Kidwai and Ar. Tullio Inglese. She is currently researching on energy modeling techniques in architecture at UMass. 


GP: What are Green Buildings? How do they differ from our existing buildings? Are they different from sustainable buildings?

AKS: ‘Sustainability’, ‘energy efficiency’ and ‘green’ are the words on which the present building industry is trying to thrive upon. However, there exists an interwoven matrix between the above terms. Sustainability is a ‘state of being’, energy efficiency is a ‘needed choice’, and a ‘green’ building is product evaluated by the performance of the ‘state of being’ and fulfillment of the needed choices.

Speaking broadly a green building is a product of an integrated design process which takes care of increasing efficiency of the energy, water and materials while making sure to reduce impacts on the environment and human health during the course of its life. Few basic green building design strategies include better site selection, construction material reuse, efficient materials and fixtures, use of non-conventional sources of energy, design decisions responding to climate and area, operations, maintenance etc.


GP: How big is the market for Green Building globally and what are the estimates in India? What is the social impact of green buildings?

AKS: The Green building approach has gained momentum due to rising costs of energy and materials. Also, the setting up of committees and organizations like the Indian Green Building Council has been quite beneficial in terms of spreading awareness and encouraging architects and other people related to building construction to follow sustainable approach towards design and construction. The IGBC also demands that the governing bodies make it mandatory to incorporate green building features into the construction of new buildings above a certain square footage and provide tax incentives and reduced electricity/water tariffs for doing so.

Since the setting up of a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for buildings where buildings can gain points and ratings commensurate to extent of the green building , sustainable and energy conservation features followed, there has been some spurt in the green building industry of India. The green building industry claims an investment of US$ 1000 million annually and the estimated worth of this industry by the end of 2010 is estimated to be US$ 4000 million. Resorting to a green building approach not only helps in improving building performance and environment but also  helps in improving worker productivity, indoor air quality, occupant health etc.


GP: Is there a potential of entrepreneurship in this sector by niche players? What is the scene in India? A lot of buildings in Delhi are built on sustainable lines?

AKS: Looking back into the yester years it can be seen that the majority of growth in this sector due to jobs was due to entrepreneurship and not the government. For instance, Gottfried has been a dynamic entrepreneur who founded the USGBC and the LEED program, and ever since then, the implications of this set up have been quite noticeable. In India, most of the entrepreneurship is concentric upon the IT sector and the BPO’s. But the growth in the green building industry also relates to the growth in entrepreneurship in this sector. Few examples are incorporating newer technologies for PV systems, energy efficient materials, advanced water technologies, renewable energy etc. the government In Delhi has also started working upon these lines like making schemes for providing energy efficient lighting fixtures at subsidized costs , enforcing waste management strategies and adopting Green Buildings Technology in all major constructions like the IGI airport.


GP: Where do you see the market in the future and what should be India’s strategy about Green Buildings  – would an individual care while making home, a corporate while making a building and what is the government’s stance on it?

AKS: In the near future, the green buildings market is certain to take a lead over other sectors and also bolster the present construction industry provided that the green building approach is instilled more even into the smaller construction projects from an individual to a community basis. 

I thank Akanksha for her valued thoughts on the topic. I believe at strat.in, we can engage meaningful discussion on the above Q&A and learn more about the business and strategy in Green Buildings Market!

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Business, Strategy, Web

Microsoft back with a BING?

Is Microsoft back in internet search with the new web search service BING?

The biggest buzz in the search/web/internet domains from the past couple of days has been Microsoft Bing! It has been deemed by some as better than Google, by others as comparable to google and by a few the engine which will dethrone Google. I will give such big claims a rest and in this post I will emphasize on how BING can create a bang in the search market space and bring Microsoft live again in the market!

Search, as you know, is a big upsurging industry (yes, even today it is) and the giants like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been fighting to improve their share in the market. Microsoft has been eyeing opportunities to improve the user percentage since more than a year now. It started with huge investments in the MS Live search engine. Lets us step back and see what Google has done to the definition of information retrival over the internet! Google created a path breaking search engine which fractured the market space completely and turned it around to its favor. If we divide according to user space, roughly 70% people use Google, 20% people use Yahoo and around 10% use the Live Search. Google changed the whole scene, much to the jitters of Yahoo and Microsoft. Let us now see what Microsoft Bing can do?

Bing has received positive response from critics and a lot of attention from experts. Coveted to be a “decision engine”, Bing is no less than Google infact some would go ahead and suggest that it better than Google. Such claims are subjective to people. But I would like to point that even if Bing is better than Google it will need a lot of visibility, campaign and effort to beat the giant Google. It will be a long time for Bing to beat Google.

If you think so Microsoft has launched Bing to beat Google, you are WRONG! Bing is a harbinger of change for Microsoft and the search market will shake & shuffle but for now, Bing is contesting for the second spot (Yahoo) and not the first (Google). Let me remind you, in the March of 2008, Microsoft flexed its muscles to buy Yahoo and merge it with Live search in a bid to compete with Google. It failed miserably much to respite of Google! But now, what I see is at the end of an year, Microsoft has developed a fantastic service which will surely eat up share from both Google and Yahoo. I feel Bing will quickly be the second player in the search market, and a tough competition to beat.

Search Engine experts state that Yahoo has always been the “alternative” to queries for which Google did not produce relevant/satisfying results. Rarely, do people use Yahoo as their first choice of search engine. Bing, can easily be the next Yahoo, i.e. the next “alternative”. But I doubt it can beat Google so easily. Why? It has nothing to do with what Google/Bing can or cannot do. Its about behavioural psychology; its just that, Google is now a habit. It will be difficult for so many people to migrate from Google to Bing which although is great but not path breakingly different from Google!

Nonetheless, it is a win-win situation for Microsoft as they gain market space. I think counterparts at Google and Yahoo can feel the BING even now. Who knows BING might get Microsoft a bargain from Yahoo for a buyout in the coming time!! Personally I feel, Bing will surely BANG. Please post you comments below.

Disclaimer: All the views presented are personal (I hope I have been rational as well) and Microsoft does not endorse views presented above. (I am an employee of Microsoft you see!)

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Business, Strategy, Web

Let’s understand Grooveshark!

Grooveshark is a new exciting P2P legal music streaming engine from which one can listen to, share and buy most of the popular music available on earth. Grooveshark also allows artists and record labels to promote themselves through the application with both advertisement and paying for listens from Grooveshark users. All data and analytics relating to an artist (or group of artists) are freely available to promoters, such as the number of times their content has been listened to, along with demographic and geographic information about the listeners.

Ever since I have been using Grooveshark’s web streaming engine, I have become a fan of it. It is light, it has a beautiful interface and I am hooked to it. Grooveshark outstands on the three points:

  • Happiness – Find any song in the world and listen to it instantly.
  • Discovery – Get introduced to new music and new friends.
  • Freedom – Add your tunes to Grooveshark and access them from anywhere.


A look at the unique business model of Grooveshark rings a lot of bells in my mind. Grooveshark has a bit of everything and makes a great blend.

  • It recommends you music! Last.fm does that, but Grooveshark does it better. They profile users and recommend you not just the music but also other users similar to you!
  • Grooveshark is a P2P application based on internet. User can upload music for everyone to listen on streaming via Grooveshark Lite!
  • Grooveshark lets you pay and download music. iTunes does that, I feel iTunes does it in a better way.
  • Grooveshark Lite – I am loving it! It is the differentiating factor for me between Grooveshark and all the other similar services. It provides streaming of brilliant quality music; lets you upload new music, and lets you buy music. It is a wrap of all the features above mention. Fantastic!

Let me summarize my strategy if I Grooveshark was my brainchild, I would:

  1. Not SELL it in the next 5 years or so! Grooveshark seems to have a lot of potential and market according to me. The way broadband connections are spouting all over the world, the users on Grooveshark would increase dramatically.
  2. Expand to the emerging markets! Let’s face it, the billions of China and India cannot be ignored. Grooveshark can provide quality regional music fast than most of the mediums. I would target them!
  3. Make Grooveshark Viral! Grooveshark can be brand in itself, just as YouTube is now. Although YouTube seems to be lacking a significant cash inflow, Grooveshark has it and should keep it a part of the model.
  4. Kill the Radio! Imagine a world, few decades from now, where you have a (hypothetical) Grooveshark device (iPod like) and you can stream music wirelessly, the one which you like. You don’t have to bother picking songs, as Grooveshark recommends music of your taste. Simply awesome, won’t it be?

A couple of other web-services operate in this space, Tinysong, Amie Street, Last.fm, etc but I have not discussed them in this blog!

Though this blog has mostly been praises for Grooveshark (a bit of fiction too), it will have to work simultaneously on many fronts and against some big media players. But I see them placed in a very exciting position from where they can make it bigger and better! I suggest you to use Grooveshark and find what you like and more importantly dislike about it. Till then, enjoy the music. 🙂

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Entrepreneurship, Public Issues

Billions of Entrepreneurs in India?

China and India have always been compared; being the two most populous nations with diverse cultures and being neighbors on the map, they are expected to be similar, but in reality they are starkly different – be it economically, socially or politically. In this blog, I will share and extend some of the ideas of Prof Tarun Khanna, Harvard Business School, in his book Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours. In the book, Prof Khanna compares the millions of budding entrepreneurs in India and China; and how the economic, social, political situations in India and China affect its growth, culture and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Well, this blog talks about the setting of our nation – the largest democracy and how an entrepreneur in India differs to its counterpart in America (or for that matter in most developed nations).

  1. In developed countries, most resources are already in or near their highest value use. Any increase in the value of a product/service is due to new and improved technologies. While in India, where technology is much behind compared to the developed nations, a simple import of the technology from the US works best in most cases. Obviously, big business houses compete better in this than a start –up. For example, did Reliance do break through research in mobile technology? Did they spend an equal amount in research as their US counterparts? Or was it economies of scale and import of technology which they exploited! Therefore, one of the important roles that entrepreneurs play in the US, namely, their role in early-stage innovation, has relatively little value in India.
  2. An interesting observation amongst early stage entrepreneurs (within 5 years of startup) in India is that they look forward to diversify rather than to expand. In US, normally early stage entrepreneurs look forward to expand in the customer base and compete with already established market players or sell to players who can use economies of scale or scope for better market positioning.
  3. Another interesting observation is that most early startups in India, have a starting capital of around Rs 5,00,000 which is about 10 times the per capital income in India; while a typical US startup capital is about ½ of US per capita incomes. Naturally, this should mean that Indian entrepreneurs should create greater jobs as compared to the US. This is quite not the case, because a typical US startup has revenues approximately 10 times of an Indian startup and hence they create more job opportunities.

Following from this blog, quite a many of us are deemed to think that Entrepreneurs are lagging a lot behind their US counterparts. This would be wrong to say, because the US markets and Indian markets are two different settings. This blog realizes the differences in the optimal roles that the US and Indian Entrepreneurs can play. The reasons for the differences in the optimum role are open ended and not discussed in the blog.

I myself am the founder of a campus sustainability campaign, Delta Climate. And from what I hear from all corners – academia, industry and investors, it surely is a good time to be an entrepreneur in India.

(Gaurav is an undergraduate student at the IIT Bombay in Computer Science. His interests include entrepreneurship, climate change mitigation, finance and  information technology. He is a member of the winning team at business plan competitions Eureka! 2008 and finalist in the McGinnis Venture Competition 2009. He is currently interning at Microsoft Research India and also blogs with Forbes columnist Sramana Mitra as an intern.)

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