Category Archives: Student Series

i5 Summit Day 2

The second day of the i5 Summit opened to a packed audience listening keenly to Mr Sharad Sharma, co-founder and governing council member of iSPIRT, who delivered the keynote address. He started off by reflecting upon his life as a student – how an electrical engineer ended up contributing significantly to the UNIX operating system, which he termed as ‘riding a wave’, something he deemed important for everyone to do in order to outperform others. He went on to talk about the digital revolution taking place in India and the potential India Stack possesses and highlighted the progress being made towards a paperless, cashless society. His final message was about the need to scrap the archaic definitions of leisure and work and redefine them in ways that can benefit society.

Get Funded

The flagship event of the i5 Summit, Get Funded saw around 15 start ups pitching for funds. Investors from various firms participated, like Matrix Partners, Ah! Ventures, Artha Ventures etc. Some great ideas were presented which was followed by an engaging Q&A session with the investors. Ideas ranging from second hand book selling to 3D maps, across various domains impressed the audience and investors alike.

Bollywoo, which delivers official Bollywood accessories and apparel, grasped the attention of the investors for providing a unique shopping experience. Another venture, Shantha Farms is in the business of providing 100% pure and clean milk in Madhya Pradesh. Cutting Edge Medical Devices is another start up that’s working on a device that provides accurate pathology test reports has a projected valuation of ₹500 Cr. Four outstanding startups received special recognition – DronaMaps, Shantha Farms, Dream World and Cutting Edge Medical Devices.

Speaker Series

Manish Advani, Head of Marketing & PR at Mahindra SSG, also a TEDx speaker and award-winning story-teller and song writer, spoke about the 3 important lessons for entrepreneurs. He started with an interaction with students and asked them about how to go beyond I, Me and Mine which was the first golden rule according to him. He emphasized upon the importance of being Baahubali in real life and move towards a team attitude and working towards the well-being of a group eventually leading to personal development in the long-run. The second lesson was regarding learning to share and care. Mr. Advani stressed upon the need of sharing learnings, knowledge, service and eventually a life towards solving problems for your peers and kith and kin. He also demonstrated through a video, the importance of doing small things in a big way. He said, “Figure out not what you are going to do, but who you’re going to be, rest will follow.” The third lesson which was imparted to the audience was, being out of comfort zone at all times.Mr. Advani stressed upon the significance of not being complacent in life and striving effortlessly at all times towards a vibrant future. Finally, at the end of the session, Mr. Advani talked about being grateful in life and having that gratitude towards people who have been the pillars of your life. The talk was appreciated a lot by the audience and it closed with a thunderous applause and a memento presented to Mr. Advani.

Arun Thukral, MD and CEO of Axis Securities Ltd. delivered a powerful talk. He highlighted the importance of catching hold of important opportunities that “Knock softly”. He emphasised that seizing opportunities regularly is what would lead to bigger changes in the world. He then narrated his journey of how he began to adapt to changes and derive results from chances that he got. He substantiated his motivational words with stories that called for an action from the aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience.

Anubhav Modi, the Head of Strategy of Bira91, invigorated students with his inspirational words. He was assertive on the need to take risks and exploring zones that are miles apart from one’s comfort area. He then highlighted that failure has been a part of all the successful journeys. He added that persistence and passion to drive a change in the society is the first step to actually bring about a change and addition of value to the world. Along with risk, innovation is an integral part of any idea that has materialised and is creating value for the people today.

Startup Expo

Startup Expo hosted over 30 startups from all across India, with highly innovative solutions to critical problems or value propositions to cater to changing aspirations. Some of the interesting startups were Jawab Do, DronaMaps, Saralkar, Bookshelf.space and Krishi Help. Jawab Do is an app-based solution to legal problems, which aims to inject transparency into Indian bureaucracy and prevent abuse of law by providing information on legal and administrative procedures, and providing legal assistance when required. DronaMaps recreates physical spaces in 2D maps and 3D models. They aim at simplifying the use of these maps and providing various solutions to rural, urban and industrial stakeholders of real estate. The platform provides solutions to issues concerning data collection practices, central data repositories and visual 3D perspectives. As of August 2017, DronaMaps has recreated the entire city of Ayodhya and 9 villages in Lakhimpur (UP-Nepal Border), among others. Saralkar aims to ease the process of obtaining all legal and regulatory compliances for businesses and individuals by providing consulting solutions online. Ranging from company registration, GST Return filing, ROC filing to Income Tax Returns Filing, they provide a one-stop solution from experienced professionals with a much better turnaround time than going through the conventional route. Bookshelf.space is another venture currently based out of Chennai selling refurbished books at heavily discounted prices. Targeting B2C and B2B collaborations, they deliver across the entire country. Krishi Help is a startup that is unique in the agricultural space. It aims to provide technological solutions in terms of information regarding verified dealers, regular weather information, and expert advice with respect to crop yields and quality.

Panel Discussion

Sunil Goyal, MD, YourNest, Abhijeet Kumar, Co-founder, ah! Ventures, Anurag Sharma, Co-founder, Mumbai Incubator, Siddharth Lulla, Investor and Achint Setia, Head of Strategy at Viacom18, spoke on Expectations and Challenges for Early Stage Investors. They addressed issues such as mismatch between expectations of entrepreneurs and early stage investors, whether or not entrepreneurs are solving real problems, regulatory issues that compound complexity of launching new businesses and other challenges.

Closing Keynote

The closing Keynote was delivered by Aaron Friedland. He is the Founder and Executive Director of The Walking School Bus, an organisation working towards empowering children with access to education, nutrition, and curriculum across the world using highly innovative concepts such as solar-powered classrooms and reading applications. He spoke about empowering access to education through a holistic model that leverages innovative technologies. His anecdotes and experiences of implementing development programmes in Uganda were enlightening, entertaining and heartening, like his “Beans vs. Spinach” story and touching testimonials by those who have benefitted from the use of the reading application SiMBi. Much to the delight of students, he announced the launch of a competition- Searching for Jugaad. The winner will be awarded with $1000 to help implement their innovation for The Walking School Bus.

 

i5 Summit 2017 – Day 1

I5 Summit, Central India’s largest entrepreneurship summit organised by IIM Indore and IIT Indore, sponsored by SIDBI and Calipso, commenced today with a keynote address by Mr. Venktesh Shukla. Mr. Shukla, ex-chairman of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), and currently General Partner at Monta Vista Capital and President of Foundation for Excellence, graced the opening ceremony and talked about entrepreneurship as the way forward in India. He began with a quote by Vinod Khosla, acclaimed billionaire businessman, who is also a TiE member – “An entrepreneur is someone who dares to dream and is foolish enough to try and make those dreams come true”.

Mr. Shukla went on to talk about how the time is ripe to be an entrepreneur in India, due to availability of capital and government push to entrepreneurship. He said that there no real problems left to be solved in Silicon Valley, whereas India is bubbling with ideas and solutions to very real problems. He also appreciated the fact that tier 2 cities in India are taking up the entrepreneurship mantle. For entrepreneurs, he stressed upon finding out the one thing their company is best at, which people will ultimately pay for, and go all guns blazing with it. He ended his talk by saying that start-ups are inherently risky but at the same time, if entrepreneurs get that one ‘big idea’, they should not focus on granular B-plans and spreadsheets, but instead stick with it to bring it to fruition. To help with that, a mentor or coach is essential, especially during the early stages of the start-up. Lastly, his piece of advice to entrepreneurs was  to ‘know your customer’ by interacting with them, understanding their problems, finding out their willingness to pay for its solution and then solving their problems through the products or services on offer. ‘Think Big’ was the mantra he asked budding entrepreneurs to imbibe, and good things will follow.

Social Entrepreneur

The next event to be held was Social Entrepreneur, the flagship event which witnessed social start-ups attempting to bring about a positive change in the society presenting their pitches to Anand Govind Alluri, Founder of Govind Capital, and Professor Subin Sudhir.

The event began with Food Bank ATM (Any Time Meal), an innovative idea to bridge the gap between wastage and hunger and was followed by ‘Janta Choupal’, a ‘Smart App’ for a ‘Smart City’, essentially a political social media platform in order to create effective governance in the city of Indore. This was followed by Team Udaan, an initiative to provide low-cost sanitary napkins and further create a self-sustaining business model for rural women in the Kharsod Village of Madhya Pradesh. Impressed by their pitch, Mr. Alluri decided to give them an on-the-spot offer of Rs. 5 Lakhs. The team following this was Scrap Buzz, which presented an alternative opportunity to recycle scrap automotives in order to create utility products. The final team to present was ‘Gaonmart’, a social venture based in the small district of Jhabura, aiming to create a profitable venture out of the organic produce and bamboo baskets that the residents had to offer. Mr. Alluri expressed his desire to collaborate with them in order to build an app for their marketplace and offered them funding of Rs. 1.5 lakhs.

Workshop on Effectiveness in Creativity

The workshop on Effectiveness in Creativity held by S Subramanyeswar, Chief Strategy Officer and Vikas Mehta, CMO, Mullenlowe Lintas Group helped the audience answer a question: How to build brands that engage many and reap long term dividends of having a powerful central idea for the brand. Citing examples of iconic brands such as Surf Excel, Bajaj Avenger, Airbnb and Tata Tea, they showed how you can go from “Proposition to Point of View, to Purpose,” and move from an environment of “reactivism” to “preactivism,” i.e. using brands to create a positive social impact. This social impact ranges from celebrating the spirit of Ramzan, to celebrating brotherhood, and inspiring social awakening.

Speaker Series, Panel Discussion, Chai Pe Charcha

The speaker series featured Rajiv Srivatsa, Founder, Urban Ladder, Varun Raina, Marketing Head, Airbnb and Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett speaking on various topics such as “Employee to Entrepreneur: Hurdles and Mindsets Needed for the Shift” and “How not to go wrong with an Indian Consumer.” The panel discussion, which featured Gautam Raj Anand, Founder and CEO, HubHopper, Tushar Chhabra, Founder, CRON Systems, Sandesh C, COO, Chai Point and Vaibhav Agarwal, Founder and CEO Inc42 addressed the question “What does the next decade hold for Indian startups?” This was followed by an informal networking session Chai Pe Charcha, where students get to interact with industry stalwarts over tea and snacks.

This year’s edition of i5 Summit has witnessed tremendous success with a footfall of 1800 on the first day itself, and attendees eagerly await next day’s sessions and events, particularly the flagship event Get Funded, which last year saw funding of INR 23 Million.

Guest Lecture on GST – Prof. Lionel Aranha

The IPM Industry interaction Cell conducted its first guest talk as a part of the Guest Lecture Series on 2nd August 2017 at IIM Indore. The talk focused on one of the most widely discussed topics of today – GST (Goods and Services Tax). The guest speaker was Prof. Lionel Aranha , FCA.

Prof. Lionel Aranha is a Chartered Accountant and an Adjunct Faculty at IIM-K since 1998. He is also Director, Triad Services Private Limited, since May 1994. He is a Solicitor with broad experience in all aspects of Accounting, Auditing, Financial Management and Business Laws which he teaches in various top B schools.

The talk gave the audience a holistic view of the new tax regime that came into force on 1st July 2017, thus replacing the indirect tax system. According to Prof. Aranha, “The GST system is actually good for the citizens of the country but only if the manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers pass on the tax benefit to the consumers.” Prof Aranha explained the difference between the old Indirect Tax regime and the current GST. He explained how the Indian states are trying to circumvent the tax laws in order to cover up for the revenue lost due to the implementation of GST.

If there is hope and optimism on one side, there is dismay on the other. GST will make filing of tax returns a completely computerized mechanism. This would affect crores of small businessmen with no access to computer or internet. “But things will gradually improve. That is what we all hope for”, concluded the professor.

The talk was attended by a hundred and twenty members of the IIM Indore Community and a number of faculty members like Prof. Rahul Nilakantan and Prof. Rajhans Mishra.

The two hour long lecture proved to be very informative and provided a balanced, holistic view of the new tax system. The student community was supplied with much needed information about GST. And thus the first chapter of the Guest Lecture Series of the IPM IIC was successfully completed.

 

i5 Summit 2017 – A Chance to Give Global Recognition to your Venture

The most awaited event of the year, i5 Summit 2017, collaboratively organized by IIM and IIT Indore, is scheduled be held at the campus of IIM Indore on August 19-20, 2017. The Summit provides an opportunity to Ideate, Innovate, Inspire, Induce and Invest, and is organised by the Student Activity Council (SAC) of IIM Indore and the Student Entrepreneurship Support Cell (SESC) of IIT Indore.

Aimed at fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the brightest minds of our country, the Summit this year would not only provide a platform to young managers to interact with various titans of industry, but will also help them to take their venture to another level and get global recognition!

The flagship event of the Summit, GetFunded, enables entrepreneurs to raise capital from Venture Capitalists and other investors. This year, it will also provide an opportunity to startups to win direct entry to Level 4 of the Global 100 Open Startups Programme. This programme, with a total of 5 levels, is a massive global movement, and was created by UC Berkeley in 2007 with 40 corporations including 3M, IBM, Intel, HP, Shell, and Panasonic.

“We at 100 Open Startups are happy to partner with i5 Summit 2017 to create an impact in the Innovation ecosystem and contribute towards a sustainable ecosystem in India. Traditionally, most startups and entrepreneurs approach investors even before they have customers or revenues. We believe that in the ‘Open Startups Model ‘ startups can be funded by future clients and partners instead of Investors”, says Mr. Varadrajan Krish, Director of 100 Open Startups India.

There are 450 Corporations that are part of this programme today. The goal of the 100 Open Startups programme is to rank startups on a scale of 1 to 100. The ranking methodology is based on the following parameters:

  • The type of engagement they build with the large corporations that evaluated them.
  • The level of investment from Angel Investors, VCs and Corporate Venture Funds (which makes it a unique global ecosystem for Startups).

The Level 4 selections will take place at FINIT, Brazil, Latin America, Europe and North America.

Apart from GetFunded, some other flagship events of the Summit include Keynote Speeches and The Social Entrepreneur. Last year, i5 Summit witnessed a footfall of over 1000 members, including students from various colleges, and industrialists who participated in workshops and panel discussions.

The Mystery of Bottom of Pyramid : An interview with Kirti Mishra

Mr. Kirti Mishra, who has more than 22 years of experience in strategizing and implementing Sustainable Business Models (SBM), on day 2 of Colloquium, annual business conclave organized at IIM Indore spoke about the potential of the sanitation sector in stimulating other industries and explained from an economic point of view why it made sense for other industries to be a part of and support the sanitation drive. He discussed how the BoP Sector has immense potential for all the industries.

 

Pradosh: Sir, first of all, thank you very much for coming to IIM Indore for Colloquium.

Kirti: That’s my pleasure.

Pradosh: The presentation was so nice and it was on a quite different topic than the ones we got to listen today.

Kirti: Thanks, and that I agree, it was on a different topic.

Pradosh: So sir, in 20 years of experience you had in Mart, consulting experience with the BoP entrepreneurs; how is it different from the work you do now at Ecociate?

Kirti:  If you look at Mart, primarily it was rural marketing which was the major focus and business models looking at BoP & taking principles of rural marketing into it. And another end was kind of livelihoods, the rural development part. In Ecociate the focus is entirely different. We definitely look at marketing as a core area to offer in the BoP space but over and above we are now focussing on sustainability around everything like a sustainable business model; and not just sustainability from a profiteering point of view but sustainability in its truest from- the environment, the social inclusion and profit. So this whole space of sustainability and BoP is a unique combination we are opting. That’s the way our expertise and offering would be in this space.

Pradosh: The sustainability part in BoP sector, what is the stake of World Bank in this? How do they want to change the condition of India?

Kirti:  For the record, I am not from World Bank, I am just a consultant for World Bank, I am from Ecociate. If you look at them as a development agency, they have a huge focus on sustainability. Now in last 10 years, they have been working on the social inclusion part – be it finance sector or agricultural sector, a huge amount of effort is going on to bring inclusion of poor into the mainstream economy. Of late, 3-5 years, you will notice a lot of climates resilient, climate adaptive project. Within those sectors have started coming energy, agri-business and other related sectors. So the World Bank’s entire agenda is now to create a solution which is climate adaptive, resilient and at the same time bringing inclusion, ensuring that the poor are not left out of this mainstream economy.

Pradosh:  “There is nothing below the bottom of pyramid”- how true is that? Since spending capability of people below the boom of the pyramid is less, how can a business manifest on that?

Kirti:  Absolutely good question. In absolute term the BOP, you may find some argument relevant. Within the BOP, let’s say within $2 income, lots of people are there in that bracket. Imagine if 60-70 crore people are there in that segment, it is not just one segment, there are many segments within that, that constitutes of people who do not have basic amenities to survive- 15-20% maybe, who are extremely poor- that’s where the BoP market may not work in the beginning but other layers which are above this ‘real bottom’ layer- like in a village, people having basic level of income are ready to move aspirational products, ready to go for brands. They have certain income at their disposal at their level which they now have started using it for such products. That’s where we have to look at. Within the BOP there is potential, there is already existing market within the BOP, very limited. There is a potential segment that needs to be catered at there is a very difficult segment. So unless you strategize at that level, you may not find that answer. So just taking a homogenous market segmentation of entire BOP will never find a solution. We have worked last 20 years in this area so I can tell you with a guarantee, if you have a right segmentation and understanding of this then you can position your things and strategize the same into your segment, you have an answer then.

Pradosh: While working at Mart, you have worked with many MNCs which are very large in scale, what is their opinion in this purpose of BoP?

Kirti:  For e.g. I gave the quote of Paul Paulman. After sixteen years he still believes what he has spent or the company has spent at BoP sectors, is giving them enough return not only in the monetary term but in the goodwill and all that. So like the HULs or GEs  or TATAs of this world, wherever we have worked, they are quite happy because they have started penetrating into the market which was otherwise not with them. For e.g. TATA Steel, they have a roof shed as a product. So they used to struggle in the rural marketing and we gave them a strategy and they penetrated into the market in a good way. They found like 30% growth in the rural sales. If you do the designing of the strategy in the right way, you have a market there. So those companies are quite happy and they have been constantly investing in those areas. So Indian companies and Multinationals, both have been there, like Panasonic has been working in this sector for long. Recently, we learnt that Facebook and others are also interested. So the point again is how to design that strategy to get into that rural segment. There is a positive environment of getting into the rural BOP.

Pradosh: So sir, as you had told, in BOP sector there is a lot of opportunity for the social entrepreneurs who may want to go into that sector, so for any particular reason that you thought that this sanitation sector is more important than others?

Kirti:  I have worked in agribusiness, I have worked in water resources, I have worked in energy, so I have experience around everything. But point is, sanitation has become an important subject because Govt. has taken a very important view around it. Not only views, they have started allocating a huge amount of resources for giving subsidies for the rural houses to construct. So that something is very unique and that’s how everything has been triggered to be on fast track. It is not that rural toilets were not getting constructed. They were there, but everything has got into speed and pace because the whole movement started building around the Swatch Bharat Mission. That when a lot of organisations, big or small, they have started using their resources time to innovate new solutions and lots of actions are happening now. That’s where we as a consultant research group would be there. That does not mean we are not working in other sectors, but sanitation is kind of a hot subject now.

Pradosh: Sir, Finally I will want to ask, what will be your message to the soon to MBA graduates- who are much more interested in MNCs?

Kirti:  My message is very simple since I have spent my entire career in rural and BOP, any small good that you do has a very huge impact on the lives of the poor. In today’s context lot of professionals are moving into that space because, in a larger context, catering to the requirements of somebody sitting in a metro has no excitement. If you can solve the problems of a poor person by creating some good strategy, that I think is a huge satisfaction for a person. It’s not true that you will not get money, you might not get the salaries of big MNCs but you will get paid decently. With that decent pay, if you do something that is meaningful, that is something I will suggest young generations look into and start valuing this. Because India needs such bright students to put their mind into these issues more than anybody else. I have seen a lot of IIM graduates in World Bank and in other sectors. They are doing very good work in this space. So I’ll urge rather that more and more people join this rural stem.

Pradosh:  Thank you very much, Sir.

Kirti:  A pleasure.

Managing Disruptions: An interview with Nitin Seth

 

Nitin Seth, (ex-COO, Flipkart) delivered an engaging talk on day 2 of Colloquium, annual business conclave organized at IIM Indore. He discussed about the challenges faced by large as well small organizations in this VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguity). He further elaborated on the importance of disruptions to stay relevant and build value for the organization. Here are his views on disruptions and challenges faced by modern organizations-

Sonali- Since you have been associated with Flipkart in the past, what has been the biggest differentiator for Flipkart in the e-commerce industry?

Nitin- Flipkart has traditionally been able to innovate for the Indian context very well. That I think is the biggest differentiator. If you look at most of the big innovations that have happened in the Indian e- commerce, most of them have come from Flipkart. So, as opposed to really playing out a playbook, they have tried to understand the customer and develop the proposition accordingly. I think that has been the key to their success

Sonali- As a strategy, is it not difficult for firms to choose one out of success and numbers of projects versus innovation and disruption? Does it not affect their entrepreneurial side?

Nitin- See Venture Capital is ideally the risk capital and they do not ask for profitability. If you are a publically listed company then the equity markets expect predictability from your organization. In such a case, numbers really drive the organization. On the other hand, in startups, this is not that equity capital, but the risk capital. Risk capital is usually tolerant of such numbers. I think a very grave issue is the greed that comes to play. Once you raise the capital, you tend to be caught in this whole race of valuation. So, you are continuously trying to maximize your valuation. Now, the underline business case for which that valuation is based, in reality, it is very difficult to achieve that kind of growth. So, you end up pushing very hard for growth, which is not always sustainable from the point of view of the organization.  So, like in sales, you keep giving discounts which is of course hitting the bottom line but you also want to drive the top end growth since your valuation is not based on the EBITDA number but on GMV number. If you are a listed company and the market expects predictability in results, you go for low risks and that will curb entrepreneurial activity but in this valuation process, in actual, the reverse is happening. You end up taking too much risk and too aggressive positions which may be harmful for building a sustainable business model. So, as a result, you never improve your profitability and you end up burning more and more money. The more money you keep burning, the more capital you will keep raising. It is like a drug addiction.

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Sonali- Taking this discussion on capital providers ahead, what are your views on the conflicts emerging between the founders and the executives or capital providers. This is in reference to the tussle at Infosys and Tata.

Nitin- So, I would not generalize this for each firm. Firstly, the founders find it difficult to let go. The other point of view is that the founders hold on to the culture and values of the company more dearly and it is important. So, it is about the right balance. To my mind, you will inevitably have situations where if a business grows very large, the founders are not in best place to play an executive role in the company and it makes sense for them to move aside and bring in professional management. I think it is inevitable and it has to happen. I think greater challenge today is that may be the founders are not mature enough or they have not found the right balance to step back from the executive management and constructively play a mentor role or guide on the strategy or culture. So, I think the balance is missing. So either it is that I am running it, or I switch off. In case I switch off and if somebody else is running it and I am not happy by the way the person is doing it, then I will come back. So your question is an interesting one, I will not generalize it but clearly it is very ugly and sad like the whole Infosys thing.

Sonali- Is this a global issue or just that Indian corporate space is not that mature yet?

Nitin- See, this tension is inevitable. The tension between the founder who has set something up and the emotions they will feel versus the provider of the capital. I think the more mature ecosystems have figured out how to deal with it.  This question is actually spot on as it is one of the biggest challenges involving the founders and the capital providers.

Nitin Seth has previously served as the COO of Flipkart where he led the strategy and corporate functions. In addition he has held positions at NASSCOM, Mc Kinsey and Fidelity International. He holds a degree in MBA in Finance & Operations from IIM Lucknow and B.Tech from IIT Delhi.

Insights on Making Strategies: In Conversation with Shireesh Joshi

Mr. Shireesh Joshi (ex-COO, Strategic Marketing Group at Godrej) was a guest speaker at Colloquium, the annual business conclave organized at IIM Indore. He shared his experiences in the field of strategy from organizations like Godrej, Airtel, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble. Mr. Shireesh also discussed how to create an appropriate sustainable advantage and position a product in the value chain. After the engaging talk, we caught up with him for a short interview-

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Sonali- You discussed about creating sustainable advantage. How important is it to keep updating that sustainable advantage, keeping in mind companies like Blackberry and Nokia and how to do that?

Shireesh-Your examples prove how important it is to keep it updated. Updating the sustainable advantage is actually a matter of life and death for companies. The point worth noting is that if there is anything you need to update, it has to be in your area of sustainable advantage. This is because, if things get updated in your peripheral areas, they don’t hurt you but if things get updated in your core area and you are not part of that, then you get outdated almost instantly. So, you have to be leading the effort of updating the core area of your strength all the time.

Sonali- Sometimes when the sustainable advantage is lost or is flawed, when should a firm go for rebranding and how should it be done?

Shireesh-I think whether you do rebranding or not, it should be led from a consumer’s standpoint. So, if you feel that over a period of time, what your brand is and what it stands for has started to become a little bit distant from your target consumer and it is not possible to do activities to bring it closer, then sometimes, one way of making a significant change, signaling that change and recreating a fresh relationship is rebranding. But, it must first begin with the consumer and for whatever reasons you do rebranding, make sure to define, in what terms is the new consumer different from the earlier one and in what way their aspirations and expectations are different from the earlier ones. Also, make sure that the brand that you now craft is much more suited to these new aspirations than it was for the earlier ones. A loose description can be let’s say my parent’s generation, they bought stuff that they wanted to last their entire lifetime and they did not expect it to be replaced. Then came our generation, who might want to replace stuff. Next, may be your generation would not even own it, everything might be leased. So, there are very different mindset. As those mindsets and preferences change, then brands must evolve. For example, if I want to replace things frequently then I don’t want to pay for something that is going to last 30 years. So if you tell me that this thing will last 10 years and it costs 100 bucks and another one will last 30 years and it costs 250 bucks, I don’t want the second one although I can see it being justified. So then, the brand will have to go for rebranding because the long lasting quality in itself is going out of fashion. So you have to keep looking in what way the consumers are changing, their needs are changing and then create the brand. In addition, make sure that the new avatar that is created, is in conflict with the earlier avatar, then only you should rebrand. It should not be done just to correct the declining sales.

Sonali- So, when we talk about updating and accommodating change, another thing that strikes me is the usual saying of ‘Fast eats big’. It is because new and smaller firms are more flexible than the old and larger ones due to more complex organizational structure. How does a 120 year old company like Godrej manage to stay flexible and relevant?

Shireesh-So, first of all Godrej has been very careful of not having a centralized organizational structure. There are individual divisions and decentralization. So each division of company is managing one kind of business like Godrej Property handles property business, Godrej Appliances is the appliance business and so on. Then, they look at where are the synergy areas, say if there is a synergy in buying, so when they are buying, they will buy for multiple businesses. So it has been purpose built and should not be just for the sake of managing operations of a large business. The good thing with Godrej is the multiple family members involved who are able to cover all ground of operations between them, without really creating a structure. So, each team is competing with its competitors but that does not mean all divisions have been good at doing that. But the reason that such divisions have not faulted is that they are not centrally structured.

Sonali- Coming back to the strategies, why is it that the same strategies work for some firms and not for others in the same industry? This is in reference to the deep discount model that failed for Snapdeal while it seems to be working for Flipkart, to some extent.

Shireesh-Yes the operative word is ‘seems to be working’ because discount is not really a strategy. It is only for a temporary period during which you can use that to lure customers but you can’t keep giving discounts forever. There is a reason why margins are what they are because that is what make them sustainable. For a period, you can dip into those margins in order to attract customers but it cannot be a strategy because strategy requires you to be able to sustain those margins. Now if you have found a way of doing business that is, let us say, take 5 points of operational costs out, in that case you might be able to consistently beat others till somebody finds a new system that beats yours. But if that is not the case and all you are doing is simply taking products and assuming you might have some efficiency in operations. But efficiency in operations cannot explain the kinds of discounts you see in ecommerce market place. So these are unsustainable and that is only taking place because there is VC funding that is available for the purpose of customer acquisition and building a customer base.

Mr. Shireesh Joshi is the CEO and Principal Consultant at Priism Consulting. Previously, he has held position of COO, Strategic Marketing Group at Godrej and other key positions at PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble. He has a diverse experience in various fields across India, China and South East Asia, among others. He completed his MBA in marketing from IIM Bangalore and B.Tech from IIT Kanpur.

Ignatia 2017 Report

The second edition of the annual inter-IIM sports festival, Ignatia, was held this year at IIM Indore from the 21st to the 23rd of July, 2017. It witnessed enthusiastic participation from IIMs Indore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Ranchi, Raipur and Shillong in cricket, football, badminton, table tennis, squash, lawn tennis, volleyball, chess and basketball.

The festival was inaugurated on the 21st of July with matches between IIMs Indore, Calcutta and Lucknow. After 3 days of intense competition and great displays of sportsmanship, Ignatia 2017 was won by IIM Indore, with a total of 83 points, followed by IIM Calcutta at 77 and IIM Lucknow at 41. In terms of individual sports, IIM Calcutta won the largest number of gold medals, emerging as the champion in 5 events, followed closely by IIM Indore with 4 gold medals.

Ignatia was concluded with a prize distribution and felicitation ceremony organised on 27th July, 2017 at the campus of IIM Indore. A panel of three distinguished professors of the institute were invited to be the dignitaries for the ceremony and prizes were awarded to all the individual champions and to the victor institute.

The mantra of digital marketing and e-commerce – an interview with Hitesh Malhotra, CMO, Nykaa

A UC-Berkeley Alumnus, Mr. Hitesh Malhotra (Chief marketing officer, Nykaa) visited IIM-Indore on 29-July-2017 for Colloquium, the Annual Business Conclave of IIM Indore. The theme of this year was “The Strategy Spectrum” and Mr. Hitesh spoke about India’s premier beauty and wellness portal – Nykaa.com and what differentiates it from other e-commerce players. We caught up with him after the talk, for a small interview. Here is what he had to say about e commerce, Nykaa and digital marketing:-

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Nishant: How did you get into digital marketing and what interested you in digital marketing?

Hitesh: I was in brand marketing first and digital wasn’t big enough in 2005 when I finished my engineering, and I was focusing mainly on the retail marketing, but then something very weird happened. I was in a mobile company and then suddenly we realized that the return on ads that we are getting just out of one simple Google ad were 10 times cheaper and stronger than what we were getting in the retail. So we thought that if one small Google ad can make such a big difference in terms of return on ads spent then how big it will be if we scale all of this together, so then I got interested into the science and got deeper into it and realized that in next 10 years digital marketing will lead the race of marketing.

Nishant: According to you, what will be the impact of GST implementation on Nykaa’s Sales?

Hitesh: There could be a little period, till the time, people are used to pay certain taxes, on certain line of products, some products will be benefited, some will stay where they are in terms of pricing, some product pricing will increase, but eventually people will understand that they are getting benefited some way or the other. They might be paying more for a beauty product but they are also paying less for eating out in restaurants. Once they get their expenses balanced, it will be neutralized.

Nishant: Do you plan to acquire more number of male customers or go into the male segment too?

Hitesh: That’s not my business model. I am focusing on women customers at a larger scale and I want to stick to the core only.

Nishant: Are there any advantages of conventional marketing over digital marketing?

Hitesh: Both have their own strengths, conventional marketing has a very good ability, you can talk good stories about a brand, and you can build brands very strongly on offline marketing. The benefit of digital marketing is that the results are measurable whereas in conventional marketing, you have to work through different methods to arrive to a result and that too could have a high level of inaccuracy.

Nishant: What are your favorite tools related to digital marketing?

Hitesh: I think the best are analytics tools; either you work on Google analytics or Omniture Adobe. After that I would say, the typical marketing efficiency tools or the typical digital marketing outreach tools like Facebook marketing, Google AdWords are my favorites.

Nishant: How do you see the future of digital marketing? What trends do you foresee?

Hitesh: The trends are already here, every day the future is shaping for digital marketing. A lot of platforms are coming, and every platform has a new science around it. Earlier TV was the main media, then it moved to Youtube and now it has moved to OTT platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Sony liv or Voot. I think new platforms will keep on emerging and with every new platform, there will be more consumption digitally.

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About Hitesh Malhotra: He is a UC-Berkeley Alumnus, and has held roles in strategy formation and all level analytics at Levi Strauss, USA and best in class engagement practices with MakeMyTrip.com. He excels in performance marketing, integrated communication and engagement strategy for brands. As Chief Marketing Officer at Nykaa.com, he spearheads digital, main line and customer relationship marketing -controlling 20% P&L at organization level.

Lok Sabha passes IIM Bill

Lok Sabha,New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on friday passed the Indian Institutes of Management Bill 2017 that provides administrative, academic and financial powers to IIMs and allow them to grant degrees. The bill grants powers to IIMs for appointment of directors, faculty members and removes the tremendous government interference that these B School faced earlier.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadkar said, “We are giving real freedom to our institutions, there would not be any government control. We have to trust the best brains, the best institutions.”

India has 20 IIMs now. The bill which was approved by the union Cabinet in January will grant greater autonomy to IIMs. The management of IIMs will now be board driven, the bill will ensure that the chairperson and the director are selected by the board. This means that there will be no interference from the HRD ministry or the President of India.

Rajya sabha is expected to take up the bill next week, where it will be discussed and evaluated further.