Thursday, January 28, 2010

Business, Marketting and Innovation: Things I unlearned

As my friend Nesmel told, I had to write about unlearning things. Unlearning as in what? There are so many things I learned. So I was wondering what did I overlook before coming to IIT and had to completely change my views and opinions about it. One main thing is about Product development and making business out of it. This topic evolved mainly after talking to a guy I met in Bangalore, who liked Physics but working in Biochemistry (or related areas).
He was asking me, what did IIT do to Society? It was a question every IITian would think and answer. I said, well all these telecom revelution I can say is from IIT Madras. Even there was an ATM Machine which costs 1/10 or lesser than normal one and can count even old notes. Then he was asking me, why did it not come to market.

Well that was something similar I overlooked while I was in my teens or in engineering. I thought making a product working, with much efficient way than currently existing one is called innovative business. Now I know, there are million ideas like this ATM. There will be a thousands of them successfully implemented out of which not even a hundred of them will go to market. If you feel this is stupid statement, please rethink. Simplest example. Taking the same ATM machine. Assume that it is functional. And you approach me and I am head, business operations for a multinational bank. The maximum I will do is to give you a job as a technical advisor, but not to take that ATM. It is fairly simple. For me as a head, I need a machine which is not foolproof; but with strong backup from another multinational firm. Will I risk the decision to take this where you fail to prove that you can supply it in bulk to establish throughout the country, give support for faulty machine round the clock and your company will exist for another five years.

Business is not about ideas into reality. It is reality to selling and to customer support. So is that the fate of all research? No. Absolutely not. For example there is another idea. This is a program which made an interface between Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) and a human using an emulator which mimic dialling. All that he had to do is to make the program working in small scale and to sell it. So is the ATM. You sell it to an MNC and do jump to next venture.
Well is that the way to do business? Is there any other way? Well for me, as my understanding is concerned, the best thing to sell is something of the cost of one day's food expense of a middle class person. In India, it could be in range of 100 to 200 INR. If it can be used by common people; your business will grow. That is the place where a beginner in business may try his/her idea.

I left this post here.. some time back... and continuing now. :-). Again Nes inspiring me to write more. He quoted the ""KISS" principle. No !! he did not mean to "kiss" someone to get inspiration. It is "Keep It Simple and Stupid". The idea of KISS is one good way to start.

Before coming to IIT, I did not believe much in "branding". But this is a part of that unlearning process. Here when I write the post, this "business" I am talking is in large scale. In the scale of sales in a populated country like India, where you want to have a "brand name" of your own. The breakthrough research success to have a quality product is merely a beginning. With this you can convince your friends' circle; your city or at the maximum two-three cities. You want to scale to national level, you need
  1. A good bank with strong support with prompt transactions and healthy policies which fits in to your needs
  2. Good finance advisor who understands the fluctuations in the stock better than the financial advisor(s) in competing companies
  3. A clear awareness on competition
  4. A good way to get customer feedbacks
  5. A strong and dedicated core team whom you can trust and who complements each other by understanding the strength and weakness of the team members
  6. God father(s) and media coverage to get grip in the market
  7. ......
List is long as the company grows. As per my current understanding, this is what makes a "brand". Hei am not in to business. This is just my thoughts on this line because I designed simple devices from locally available things, for our labs which I found much better in functionality and it is value for money thing. My friends asked me "are you going to launch it?" If it was the attitude and knowledge which I had, like the friend in bangalore; I might have said "yes, why not". Now what will be my reply, I am leaving it open for you to imagine.


Nesmel said...

Research is one thing but to make it a business is another. Every now and then we hear of great project works by researchers/ students but very few turn out as entrepreneurs or better still mass producers...
Waiting for the second part...

Nesmel said...

"No !! he did not mean to "kiss" someone to get inspiration." ---Funny...!!!
I know the answer-yes you would..
by the way who is this friend in blr?

Gireesh said...

friend- ts just an acquaintance. I do not know much abt him other than what I said. So in that conversation of ours, he was interested in these business aspects..
the same thoughts i had once... i was trying to tell him what I c now in making a product.. it is far from what I thought/ what he is thinking now...