Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Spotlight On India
For this week’s One Million by One Million roundtable, we teamed up with the Indian Angel Network (IAN).
First up, Nimesh Khiara from Mumbai, India, discussed StopWaitin, a restaurant reservation system that includes managing waiting lists and is similar in concept to OpenTable. Nimesh has a couple of corporations that are interested in beta testing his solution to offer corporate discounts to their workforces, and a few restaurants are also interested.
One of Nimesh’s questions was that he is discovering that the BPO/call center industry does not give Internet access to employees; hence, the solution would not be accessible to them. Well, this is a clear indicator that he should avoid the BPO/call center industry and focus on industry segments where corporations not only provide Internet access to their employees, but the employees themselves are tech savvy. Fortunately, there are numerous such companies in India.
I advised Nimesh to focus on getting a couple of large corporations in Mumbai and a dozen restaurants in the beta program, and get the business going. As he grows, he can simply focus on increasing the restaurant portfolio and getting more corporate clients. I also advised him to avoid consumer marketing and market his service through the HR departments of the corporations as an employee benefit. It would be much cheaper to acquire customers this way.
Manivel Karuppasamy from Bangalore, India, presented FEED (Funding Entrepreneurs, Encouraging Dreams), a crowdsourced funding marketplace for India. I did not get the sense that Manivel knows anything about raising money for businesses, and he wants to cover not only entrepreneurial fund-raising but also funding for musicians trying to produce an album, and so on. That’s a broad charter, with huge scope, and I asked Manivel how he proposes to establish trust in the exchange and prevent fraud?
It turns out that Manivel has experience raising money from philanthropic projects from his alumni association, which gave me the idea that he could create and manage whitelabel exchanges on behalf of various alumni associations; this approach would have built-in trust and validation mechanisms to prevent fraud.
I advised Manivel to reposition his company to cater to institutes that want to develop private funding exchanges and conduct a thorough customer validation process based on that assumption.
Subscription Carpool Service
Next, Gurdip Singh from Gurgaon, India, discussed a subscription-based managed carpool service that would create groups of four people, each responsible for driving the others to work one week a month. The ROI is straightforward and compelling; however, how do you prevent people from finding their buddies to drive with and stopping the subscription?
Well, it turns out that Gurdip wants to do reconfiguration of alternatives if one day there is a no-show after 30 minutes, so that all his subscribers have rides without any disruption to their schedules. Now, this is a hard problem to solve, but I can see that if Gurdip can solve it, it would mean that the service is worth subscribing to on an ongoing basis. I advised Gurdip to figure out how he would do the reconfiguration because his business depends on cracking that nut.
Edward Varghese from New Delhi, India, pitched i-Globify, an outsourcing service catering to the niche travel vertical, focusing on building Web 3.0 back ends for medical, religious, sports, and other kinds of tourism solutions.
Edward has a medical tourism portal customer for whom he is building such a solution. I liked his approach to building an outsourcing solution: focusing on a niche and building in-depth skills and credibility within that vertical. I think that Edward can not only build a successful outsourcing services company based on this premise, he can also build an IP portfolio and potentially a platform product that would make it more compelling, specialized, and higher-margin business than any old labor arbitrage shop.
Next week, we are focusing on entrepreneurs in Latin and Central America. You can register for the next roundtable here.
You can also listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here and select the business you like best through a poll on the 1M/1M Facebook page. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here.
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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