Praveer Shukla is an advertising and marketing professional with 35 years’ experience in India, Hong Kong, the US, and Oman. His clients have included Dupont, ITC WelcomGroup, ITC Golf, Uncle Chipps’, DCM,Escorts, Star TV, Rajasthan Tourism, Kashmir Tourism, The Oberoi, Milkfood, HM The Sultan of Oman, HH Mahesh Maharishi Yogi, among others.
He is sharing some of his “secrets” here and introducing his company, Onetree Content.
There’s a practical reason why we exist at OneTree Content. But before that, some quick facts from the Canadian Council of Small Business and Entrepreneurship:
85 million businesses start up annually.
64 million small firm deaths in 4 years.
16 million shut down in the very first year.
Sad truth – most entrepreneurs will never get to see their dreams come true.
In fact, in the next 10 minutes, as you read this, 1,522 new businesses will have downed their shutters for the last time. Talk about love’s labour lost.
Here’s my personal take on the business of entrepreneurship, as I’ve seen it over 40 years.
1. Its a winner-takes-all-world – so listen up.
Especially, if you’re a start up, an entrepreneur, or an SME, listen to experienced people, whether it’s professional groups or forums, your investors, mentors, or coaches. That way you won’t have to re-invent the wheel. And, when you fail – make no mistake about that, you will, at different stages – the people you listen to can be the difference between being stuck with failure and moving on to the next level in your enterprise. And, most importantly, you’ll cover the distance between Idea to Revenue in a much shorter time!
2. Money doesn’t buy products or services. People do.
Know your customers. At OneTree Content, we perform due diligence to know your service and your products cold. We get to know your customers like we know our own parents. We also get to know your product’s positioning in relation to your competitors—without repeated explanation from you which burns up your time and budget.
You’re thinking ROI = Return On Investment, right? Our take on this as specialists in market communications, is different. Unlike earlier times, today, a brand is not recognized by its trademark, mission statement, logo or slogan. That kind of branding went out of the window around the time that electricity was discovered.
Our kind of branding is recognized by the kind of conversations or content that our specialists create about your company, its products, its world, the people who use it, and also, the people who do not use it.
These are conversations that enliven, delight, and empower users. They’re created with authenticity, to communicate the uniqueness of a product or service. By participating and engaging in these conversations, customers are created and references are freely provided by them to other potential customers.
At OneTree Content, our version of ROI is this: Return On Imagination.
Talk with us. You’ll enjoy the conversation! That’s why we created the company!
The mBillionth South Asia Award 2011 concluded last Saturday, 23rd July, 2011 at Hotel Eros, Nehru Place, New Delhi, with more than 600 delegates attending the marathon 12-hours long International Summit on the theme “Linking masses with 3G”.
It has been a great privilege to be part of the execution team of the entire mBillionth Award process for the second consecutive year. Six months of intense effort went in reaching out to innovators and implementers in the eight South Asian countries and engaging various stakeholders to ensure successful compilation of nominations, rigorous screening, research about the projects, execution of a high-powered Grand Jury (in Sri Lanka) and finally managing the logistics of inviting 2000+ fraternity to the final event.
The process culminated in a mammoth full day event with 10 sessions, including parallel sessions of Mobile Application Developer’s Community (M@D), with about 100 speakers. A copy of the final agenda is here.
The winners include Babajob.com, which connects workers in the Bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) to potential employers; Intex V.Show – India’s first projector phone – literally a projector in your pocket; Pharmasecure – battling counterfeit medicine with an SMS; mPustak – creating an ecosystem of vernacular language applications and many more exciting winners. See the complete list of winners and finalists at http://mbillionth.in/ and http://mobile.techsparks.com/.
It was an honor to meet and work with all the Jurors in Sri Lanka – see their profiles here. Some inspiring comments by Jurors’ are here.
It was exciting to work with all the Partners and Sponsors -complete list here. Vodafone supported in a big way and Vodafone India Foundation, its CSR arm, took a great leap of faith in the India Mobility ecosystem by constituting the Vodafone Mobiles For Good prize of Rupees ten lakhs each to two winners. NOKIA was generous in supporting five categories of the award, the entire Mobile Innovation Haat and the six parallel sessions of M@D – Mobile Application Developer’s community. OnMobile, One97, IAMAI, Mint and Govt. of India’s DIT continued to provide to their solid and consistent support.
Just few days left for mBillionth Award 2011! The international summit with the theme ‘Linking Masses with 3G’ is scheduled on July 23rd in New Delhi at Intercontinental Eros. More than 500 delegates, 200 Mobile and App Developers, Telcos like Vodafone, leading mobile phone companies like NOKIA, and VAS leaders like OnMobile and One97, along with hundreds of other stakeholders are converging to see how the mBillionth movement is spearheading the convergence of ideas around mobility to directly impact mass inclusion to development and digitally equitable world.
Delegates will get to see more than 70 live demos of mobile ideas, 50 presentations, and 20 Socially Impactful Mobile initiatives under our “Mobiles for Good” presented by Vodafone India Foundation, where we will also announce a cash prize of INR 20,00,000 and One-Year Mentoring support. See http://mbillionth.in/mobilesforgood/.
Mentor Edge is an initiaitive from CIIE (Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entreprenuership), which was set-up in IIM Ahemdabad and is supported by Government of Gujarat and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
Each participating city has a dedicated“City Coordinator” to link Start-ups with a pre-selected groups of Mentors from a variety of domains and verticals.
So far, successful events have been conducted at Ahemdabad, Bangalore & Mumbai. Upcoming events are listed below:
Earlier this month on May 15th, Aditi Gupta (in photo below) & Vineesh Kumar launched the Delhi Chapter by organizing a meeting of Mentors at IIT Delhi.
Mentors present included:
Amrish Sahgal [First Left in photo below]
Dr. CK Taneja
Suhail Kassim [Centre in photo below]
We had a good discussion on the ‘screening’ process for entrepreneurs: basic policy is “no rejections” but due diligence is taken in terms of helping applicant entrepreneurs to be well-prepared.
There was a longer discussion on ‘criteria & process’ to ‘match’ entrepreneurs & mentors. Ravi Kikan with a ‘backing’ of about 50,000 members in his Linkedin Group ‘Startup Specialists’ was keen to make it more democratic for entrepreneurs. The debate was too long to reproduce here. Suffice it to say that this initiative is from Mentors to empower entrepreneurs and facilitate an access to world class mentoring, long-term partnerships and ‘timely’ funds.
Rahul Anand visited TEDxPilani on March 13, 2010 and got a first-hand taste of an electrifying TEDx event. He shares his experiences:
TedXPilani was the first time I visited a TED event and it was truly a phenomenal experience.
First up was Dr. K.N.Ganeshaiah who demonstrated the relation between mythology and science and how mythology is helping in some spheres to understand the science behind it. He cited the case of ‘Sanjeevani’ herb, which is described in Ramayana as a miracle drug and scientists have now found a similar drug that could possibly have some characteristics of it .
Harish Sivaramakrishnan gave a fresh perspective on the user interface, and how it is an important and integral part of the entire user experience. He had some really innovative examples for it; user interface is actually the most overlooked part in application development. Humanize, Beautify, Personalize, Co-Create, Simplify were the central points of his presentation.
Kartick Satyanarayan gave an account of the situation of bears in our country and how Wildlife SOS freed them from the clutches of the kalandar community and also gave the people a new lease of livelihood, and utilized their love for the animals and natural hunting skills for a good cause. Wildlife SOS also sends 600 children of the community to schools giving the biggest gift that one possible can – education.
Vishal Talreja, co- founder of Dream-a-Dream, gave a fantastic speech on life, connecting the dots and about the great work Dream-a-Dream is doing in transformation the lives of young kids, who are alienated by our society. He laid emphasis on being sensitive to our surroundings: if you see a hungry child near your home or office, feed him, do your bit. If everyone does his/her bit, then this world would be a better place to live. Otherwise, all the talk about development does not really hold ground.
Cleo Paskal talked about the grave environment dangers we are facing – issues like whole islands getting submerged in sea, which we might face in the near future.
Nitin Gokhale oulined the possible dangers the country is facing from Naxalism to Economic Disparity.
Rahul Roushan, in his hilarious manner, outlined the difference between Breaking News and Faking news and how some channels are competing with News Channels when all they show is nothing more than Tabloid Journalism.
And at the end, Nakul Shenoy did his mind reading act which was quite fascinating.
Rahul Anand is a writer and entrepreneur, always looking for new challenges. He co-founded simplypoet.com – world’s first multi lingual poetry portal. Currently, he is an Innovation Associate with Source For Change, a rural BPO in Rajasthan. Also, he is part of TheBetterIndia. com.
This list, at best, is a good start because the awareness about TED is still “poor”, to put it mildly. Many people who registered for TEDxGurgaon (held on Saturday, 27 February 2010 at Epicentre, Gurgaon), did not turn up (without communicating about their absence) and some attendees did not know about TED.
So, the task is cut out for us! Let us do our “two bits” in helping spread TED, a non-profit organization “devoted to giving millions of knowledge-seekers around the globe direct access to the world’s greatest thinkers and teachers”. TED’s mission states:
Our mission: Spreading ideas.
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.
So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.
TEDx is a program that enables local communities to organize, design and host their own independent TED-like events. These events are expected to mirror TED and the local organizers are advised to be “cross-disciplinary, focused on the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world”.
And I discovered that while I’d been busy playing business games, there’d been this incredible revolution in so many areas of interest — cosmology, to psychology, to evolutionary psychology, to anthropology, to — you know, all this stuff had changed. And the way in which you could think about us as a species, and us as a planet had just changed so much, and it was incredibly exciting.
Live speakers are typically allowed 18 minutes. Here is a quick summary on conversations and provocations initiated by Live Speakers.
Kishore Bhargava started off with a talk on Photography (especially, how geeks view/pursue it)- running us through its history from 4 BC to 2009 when Kodak stopped production of its Kodachrome color film. He shared about some latest trends in photography including HDR – High Dynamic Range photography.
Kishore talked about the impact of using multiple frames per second and illustrated the same with two stunning visuals – one that of snake bite and a needle prick on a water balloon. During the QA session, he shared how the bird feeders at his home attract 32 species of birds directly to his home in Gurgaon.
Prayas Abhinav shocked many in the audience with his advice to “Get Lost”. The fastest way to so (in life), he says, is to disconnect : simply stop calling back people and stop responding to emails. He warned us that routine interactions are loaded with ‘directional vehicles’, which subtly compel you towards ‘pre-determined’ directions. There is a “pressure “of always having to “add value” and “be of use” to something or someone.
One of his creations is “Bhatka Bhatka” – a pair of shoes (using GPS, java code, LED and vibrator) which blink RED in a known location and the vibration intensity increases as you get nearer to a known location. This helps in discovering new and unknown places in the city. He recommends “Drifting” in this age of information glut and these shoes help people “get lost” and discover new and unknown places in the city.
Chatting with him during the break revealed deeper implications. If you can ‘Get Lost’ from external noise & expectations, you have a chance to connect to your truest self and the subsequent ‘discoveries’ and ‘creations” are likely be invaluable (especially for you, and, often for society as well!).
Prayas calls it ‘The Liberation Zone’!
Over coffee, he suggested creating a workshop for Idea (re-)formation & shaping- especially for entrepreneurs with long tail product ideas.
Osama Manzar shared his life journey – starting with the ‘confusion’ with his name ‘Osama’, his education in a Madarsa (reading Qur’an multiple times without understanding a word) and his career in journalism (Computerword, Hindustan Times). Next, came the success story with his software company called 4Cplus, which he quit in 2002 (sold his options) to start “Digital Empowerment Foundation” (DEF).
DEF works towards taking ICT to rural areas across all languages. He has some powerful ideas on creating a “Bottom Up” revolution in India. This includes a movement to publish a few hundred thousand portals online for village panchayats, MLAs and MPs.
Atul Chitnis initiated a provocative talk on ‘Online Communities-beyond social networking’ – he observed that Social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and Buzz (Except Twitter) are NOT online communities. Most of the interactions on those sites are superficial and ‘Real’ (read meaningful) conversations are lost. This caused a flutter in the audience and a few attempted to defend the social networking sites as an access tool for the masses.
It seems there are two problems:
The apparent social ‘malaise’ – inane and vacuous ‘social interactions’ (and commercialization – once you are categorized, marketers start hounding you)
A technological challenge – preserving meaningful conversations and a mechanism to easily search them. Despite hashtags and twitter archiving tools, this clearly is a big challenge. [Read this Twitter Nostalgia – “a good business opportunity”]
Mark Parkinson, Director of the “Best day school in India”, talked about revamping the education system in India – a long list of proposals and actions items. In a break, we discussed his attempts to implement his vision in other schools and the bureaucratic/societal hurdles he faced. While answering a question, he observed that Life is play and why can’t all studies be fun! It would be a real revolution to have more and schools adopt this philosophy!
Aparna Wilder shared about her latest project under globalrickshaw (they make short-films to spread awareness about social issues). Her latest videos follow teenage girls as part of an almost year long program aimed at empowering them with life skills education and sports.
The last talk was by Abhijit Bhaduri, author of two bestselling novels with MBA acronym – Mediocre But Arrogant and Married But Available. His talk was on ‘What makes you happy’. His proposed three ‘different’ elements – Joy, contentment and happiness. His conclusion: True happiness comes from finding meaning and helping others find their ‘personal significance’. He referred to Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” and the famous words from Nietzsche:
“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”
During QA session, he warned against “temporary” joy and contentment – for example, he classified money as a ‘hygiene’ factor’ (taking cue from Frederick Herzberg’s theory).
Event: Samsung India (LED and LCD TV) organized a unique workshop on future technology & aesthetics – Technology@Home. Date: Saturday, Jan 09, 2010. Location: Chocó La in Khan Market, New Delhi.
I remember a German colleague being amused on seeing a lubricant being sold with the byline “superior German technology” at a petrol pump in Delhi! Whenever we see a label like “Made in German” or “Made in China” immediately our mind throws up stereotypes! So, what is YOUR image about the Brand “Korea” and more specifically “Samsung”? Any pre-conceived notions? Do send in your comments!
There has been a pereception about Koreans being clutter-oriented and going for overkill in design.
But, my experience has been different. If fact, there is an interesting 500 year old story on how Koreans designed their own alphabet to carve a unique identity (Branding Strategy?) seperate from Chinese (and later with Japanese).
In 1414, Sejong the Great initiated a project to create the unique Korean Script (till then they were using Chinese characters with special symbols). It took about 2 years to design the script, but the resulting system is a LESSON in simplicty. The script, now known as Hangul (or Hangeul or Hankul), has been variously applauded as “remarkable,” “the most perfect phonetic system devised,” and “brilliant, so deliberately does it fit the language like a glove”.
For example, visually, Hangul scripts starts off with ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ- How simpler can you get! There are other interesting elements like shapes of consonants matching shape of the mouth when you make the sound! (A personal tidbit: I enjoyed learning the Korean alphabet when I was associated with QuarkXpress Korean team in India – but, no comments in Korean language please, that was long ago!).
Fast forward to the last decade when Samsung was a low-end consumer electronics company and they decided to accelerate up the “Value-Chain” and give “Samsung TV” a central role in overall Branding strategy. As Businessweek reported:
Most people carry their mobile phones with them everywhere, while their TV is the center of the family room. “We wanted the brand in users’ presence 24/7,” says Peter Weedfald, head of Samsung’s North American marketing and consumer electronics unit.
Jez Frampton shares how the Samsung mamagement transformed their “attitude, behavior, and business strategy” by making brand value a key performance indicator (KPI) for its top executives:
It (KPI) enabled the team to focus on the activities, messages, and business areas (not to mention a focus on design and experience) – all of which we knew would lead to the greatest increase in brand value. This affects budget-setting, allocation and, of course, provides a simple metric for success: “Did we create brand value?”
History reveals that this was a clever move. Samsung witnessed a significant increase in both brand and shareholder value. They soon outgrew Sony, the original challenge that Samsung’s executives had set for themselves before the KPI program was initiated.
Interbrand, the international Brand Consultancy, has played a role in this process as they have helped Samsung raise its brand value to US $16.8 billion. Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2009 lists Samsung at 19th position (up 2 from 21), but a 1% dip in overall Brand value.
So, what are some of the Branding lessons here? Let us list a few:
First, send a clear and consistent message INTERNALLY across all teams
Second, have a long-term branding building strategy – you cannot keep shuffling on short-term trends
Third, sweat the small stuff – if “innovation” is your brand recall message then you need put in more effort in research than anyone else
Coming to Chocó La event, Technology consultant & Open Source Wizard Kishore Bhargava gave a captivating presentation on how one can create a centralized set-up to integrate all your Audio-Visual needs at home – movies, music, images and games.
Next, Interior Designer and columnist Rekha Nambiar gave a fluent talk on the challenges of the Indian Home (“loose wiring”, et al) with some handy tips on lighting & acoustics.
Later, Abhishek Rajan, Senior Product Executive and Prateek Seal, Senior Manager, Marketing, shared interesting facts and stories about LCD & LED technology (including how salesmen of some brands make you feel the “Liquid” in an LCD to indicate better quality!).