Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cisco Telepresence Roundtable with Sramana Mitra!

It was technology at its best! While I was aware of the “telepresence’-it was the first time I was experiencing it! While sitting at India’s first green building, in Hyderabad, the others across the round table were physically in the Silicon Valley, Boston, and London, apart from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai!

The topics discussed were, again, not surprising –technology focused solutions for various pain points that the society at large has been facing. The event had some (aspiring) entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas, and Ms Sramana Mitra – helping us articulate the positioning strategy of the same, while hinting whether the ideas are fundable or need to be in a ‘bootstrapping’ mode!

The enthusiasm was contagious-and a meeting that ought to have lasted 2 hours, went well past- and if it weren’t for us in India-nearing midnight, I think we could have charmed Sramana and the team (experts included a TiE member, Cisco professional and Business café) to go on-sharing their impressions on the viability of the products/services.

We were close to 15 –and each one had a chance to present his/her business idea for 3 minutes-before Sramana, would take over –giving feedback, suggestions, and even change in business model. True, most of the discussions hovered around the case studies mentioned in one of her three books already in the market, the wealth of knowledge, experience, networking and business intelligence was apparent.

TAM analysis, organic search traffic, context specific content, economic buyer vs. technical decision makers…were the buzz words as primary value propositions were debated!

Interestingly, the majority were the youthful entrepreneurs –who were guided into thinking beyond content and advertising. “Consumers on the internet have been a spoilt lot-as they are used to getting everything free so far’!! Ideas hinging on students community and rural markets were challenged to look for monetizing services differently (B2B, using access to Endowments/ foundations…)

By the end of the evening, the concepts had transformed into ‘marketplace of small outsourcers’, ‘emergency video surveillance for security applications’,’field service console for the microfinance industry’, as businesses had to scale beyond the region, and some of the enthusiastic youngsters were chided to get experience ‘ to learn’ before getting into management consulting!

Yours truly shared the unique problem of dwindling bandwidth (read increasing number of unread mails,/reminders, missed calls and IMs…) trying to handle more than a hundred ‘returning Indians’ every month- setting expectations, handholding some thru the changes across the Indian industry-even companies had become more fussy in the recent times !! Sramana didn’t think twice about the solution- ‘charge by the hour’ to those who really want your help. Elsewhere earlier, she had cautioned- that 5% was probably the conversion ratio- as the free services turned to ‘premium (paid) services’!!
( While the revenue model from such a 'counselling service' would only supplement the income from the search /selection revenue from corporates, nevertheless, it is an exhilarating thought that -I can perhaps devote customised effort -for a select few who are committed to putting their skin in the game-and help guide them -a la specialist physician! On my worst days, I must confess I have empathised with the thankless (Indian) railway enquiry person who is bombarded with the permutations and combinations of the journey-of a passenger who may not even buy a ticket !! )

Well, here I am – more enlightened after the ‘out of the world’ experience. Now, the task for me is to find out what are the ‘value added services’ that any serious job seeker, outside of India-be it of Indian origin or expat , expect –to help him/herself know more, and take the guesswork out- for seeking jobs in India.

I sign off-with a request from each of you reading. to send me your suggestions, thoughts, opinions –offline to my personal email id ( [email protected])- listing out all the desirable bits and pieces of information, analysis and trends…and of course –how much would they be willing to part with –in turn –for an hour of personalized consultation.

1 comment:

Khushi said...

have attended many- it is truly wonderful and seems like being in the same room