Thursday, February 25, 2010

What do you do ?

Old Grandpa decided to take little Yajur to a field trip on Yajur's 5th birthday. Grandpa choose a factory which makes awesome mousetraps for the field trip. On the day, they walked into the factory, Grandpa instructed Yajur to ask as many questions as he wishes.

The field guide decided to take them to the manufacturing department first. Yajur asked the chief engineer what they are doing ? The Chief engineer said they are building the most awesome mousetrap to catch a mouse. He explained that his team is responsible to make the trap so efficient that the trap closes in super-duper-speed as soon as the mouse enters the trap.

They went to the R&D department next, Yajur asked the same question. What do you guys do ? The Head of R&D explained, you see, we are inventing the yummiest cheese to attract the mouse to the trap so that we can catch the mouse. Our research says that it is not the mouse trap but the Cheese which matters the most.

Next, they went to the marketing department. What do you guys do ? The Marketing Chief said that his job is to put the mouse trap in the most colorful boxes so that people can like the package and buy the mouse trap to catch the mouse. He also said he conducts market research on 'positioning' the mouse trap in the right place so that people can improve their chances of catching the mouse.

Next they went into a big awesome room with a nice view. The field guide explained that this is the 'Thinking' room where the CEO, the advisors and experts discuss and innovate. Yajur walked up to a expert/advisor and asked him what does he do. The expert said, see little boy, we invent new ways to catch mice. Mousetrap is only one way to catch the mice. We provide solutions to come up with newer, better, cooler devices to catch the mice.

Grandpa and Yajur were driving back home. Yajur was all along looking confused, so grandpa asked Yajur whats' bothering him. Yajur questioned back hastily, "But, grandpa why do people catch mouse?", Grandpa said, to get rid of it as its' a pest in the house. More confused, Yajur quizzed again, but, do we need to catch the mouse to get rid of it? Grandpa smiled and knew that the day's wisdom has been delivered.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quantama Hiring Call - In Retrospect

In retrospect, this call for action on Venture Woods brought in the highest calls and reactions for job application to Quantama on March 2009.

The Job posting excerpt:
I am looking for people with entrepreneurial bent of mind to join the founding team of a mobile proximity company. I have the business case validated and have one of the largest retailers in India showing Intent to implement when the product is ready… Angel rounds are being vetted and talks in process… Have product case and prototypes in development…

The markets we are addressing are emergent and pervasive… A distant fortune is heard of…

I promise you that your experience shall be cast with risks, hardship, pain, sweat and blood. The journey will be turbulent given the economic times.

If you see providence where others see peril, do get in touch with me for more detail and I shall be glad to consider a sitting…

Friday, February 19, 2010

Serendipity is the Key.

Most of the established businesses get into a pattern of finding out what is working and doing 'more of it'. This is good for bottom line, margins, and retention of your existing customers. But, is it good for breaking new grounds ? Making the pie bigger ? Your Top-line?

Business-as-Usual is to work hard consistently, trying to cash out on the idea that made the business successful. They work hard at establishing Cliches. Cliches are good. They are 'time immemorial'. They express ideas in simple words, but they lack the freshness and eloquence of a magical orator. If you have read the blogs of Seth Godin or heard president Obama speak or have followed the marketing of Apple, they do not rely on Cliches. They break the mold, create new meaning, speak different truth, change the worldview, present their stories in a more innate yet excitingly new package. They are Contrarians. They are Serendipitous. Here is what Seth Godin has to say about Cliches

Imagine that you are a T-Shirt vendor with a inventory of T-Shirts made of several attributes. Lets say you have 4 sizes (S, M, L, XL) and 4 Colors (Red, Blue, Green, White). When you first set shop, you do not know how many of each T-Shirt variant to carry (how many of Blue-XL will sell?). So you start with 10 shirts per variant combination and open business. Now, the first month you sold all the Green-L shirts, some Blue-XL and none of the others. What do we do? We decided that Green-L sells more in this catchment and order a bigger inventory of Green-L and lesser of others (Finding out what is working and doing more of it). If for the next few months, the trend continues, then, going by the pace, you may land up being a Green-L T-Shirt vendor. Its obvious that the more Green-Ls you have, the more your sales-report shows that you have sold the same. You already know whats wrong in this analogy. Yes, its a simple example, its so easy to see. Its a no-brainer.

But then, how come you do not see this analogy in the business strategies you follow ? How come you are not trying to find out what else your consumers are willing to try ? Why do we intellectualize for ages on why something "may not" work because "your" past data provides facts to your beliefs. Is it Fear ?

Start-ups on the other hand does not fear to be serendipitous (In a way, they have nothing to loose). An entrepreneur identifies an opportunity to make meaning. A passion-fruit colored T-Shirt, A Vanilla-Sky colored Tshirt. Try something afresh yet innate. Change the fabric, the texture, the weaving, the grain count, whatever... But be eager to explore, break the Cliche, turn it upside down. This is why it works and new tribes are formed. This why the most successful ones are Genre-Bending.

Every time you support your views on past-data, think again. Question yourself. Give Serendipity a chance. Believe in the art of possible.