Month: March 2010

What a Pakistani can learn from an Indian entrepreneur

I was reading an article on Techcrunch and it occurred to me that the article had some very concrete lessons to teach anyone willing to either start, maintain or grow his or her enterprise. The article was about a company from India, but I read it like a lesson in the application of simple yet solid principles. (Maybe the principles are solid because they are simple?) So let me put on a different set of glasses than what the author of the article used, and see this in a *ahem* different light. It is about Learning The ability and the willingness to learn is possibly the most under-rated ‘quality’ of any successful person. But not so with RedBus, an Indian startup ( that sells tickets for – and no, you can’t guess it – buses. Their market share for selling bus tickets is 1% of the total 750,000 or so seats sold in India daily. So what is RedBus ‘really’ doing that got it going and keeps it going? For starters, it serves a very decentralized market. This gives you the opportunity to ‘centralize’ it as it fits you. You become the center in fact, which in most cases, is good. The co-founder and CEO Phanindra Sama met his mentor Sanjay Anandaram, at a ‘networking’ event. Many people I know look down upon such events as being demeaning and too ‘in-your-face’,...

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An Idea Sir Jee! Reduce Poverty Through Livestock

The idea to reduce poverty through self-employment is of course not a new one. You would not be alone to think that a good idea on poverty reduction methods would be a good start. But you’d be wrong. There is no dearth of ideas, and if you can put away your bag of cynicism and sarcasm away for a while, then this availability of ideas is a very good place to start. The problem is the doing bit. There is absence of that ever-illusive political will to really provide sustainable methods of employment, hence poverty reduction. Now, behold, as I present to you an idea that has already been tested in the field by the likes of Malik Hanif, and have so far seen success and nothing but. Are you beholding? Good, let’s begin. As far as entrepreneurial spirit is concerned, one thing must be said that not all ‘projects’ are done for the sake of money alone. A public-private partnership may or may not have at its core a financial incentive. Conversely, presence of ‘more wealth’ as the end goal should also not be written off as an attempt to satisfy one’s greed. But more on this ‘spirit of entrepreneurship’ later… Now, coming back to the idea: there are three factors that come together to present us with this opportunity to improve the quality of life of Pakistanis...

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Let your calendar be your boss

It is about choices, never forget that. So, choose that you will let your calendar be your boss. You will let it tell you what to do. You will listen. Being someone who is ‘unemployable’ (i.e. self-employed), you find it hard enough to cancel important social events like weddings and friend get-togethers because you have to work. “But you do not have an office!” is what you hear, “But you do not have a boss to bring hell upon you!” is what your friends and family seem to ‘complain’ about. So let them know that you do what your calendar tells you to do. Let your calendar be your boss. Integrate Google Calendar with your phone (I have a Blackberry and Google Calendar syncs like a glove!). Set reminders on it like crazy. People will end up thinking you have an army of secretaries who are scheduling your work load. And if you have more than a few things on your plate, keeping a not-so-tight schedule becomes all-the-more important. With the new Google Smart Rescheduler that is available for all users of Google Calendar, I think the bar has been raised. The company that is making billions out of a search algorithm, has written up a small calendaring algorithm that helps you reschedule. The idea is best exaplined in their post here. For all the Google Calendar users, you...

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Force Majeure?

Force Majeure: It is the easiest escape route, you as an individual and as an entrepreneur can take. Blame it on ‘superior’ forces. (Quickly, read the first paragraph on Wikipedia on Force Majeure – it’s alright to not know – now go, quickly, click here :P) When I first started in agriculture, the land I had on lease had only 1 tubewell. Over the course of five years, I have been able to install three more. Why? So I can plant the rice crop with ease and take it ‘to the next level’. What happened? I had four tubewells ready to irrigate the crap out of the land, but I had no electricity. All through the summer of 2009, the electricity situation was not bad because really, there was no electricity to actually have ‘any’ situation. Whatever you went through sitting in your residential homes in the big cities of Lahore, Karachi or Islamabad – the situation where I have leased the land was worse! 8 to 10 to 12 hours straight without electricity. The light would come one for one to two hours, and then gone for the next 8 to 10 to 12.  So what use were the tubewells? It was an expensive lesson, but a lesson nonetheless. That there is a reason this Force Majeure is used in contracts, because when shit hits the fan, no...

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Meeting Malik Hanif, the Unicorn breeder

Feeling big about travelling hundreds of mile in my not-so-comfortable car to just ‘meet’ with someone who has reached the epitome of success as I’d define it, I was already happy that I was in Hafizabad. The person I was to meet has been breeding Unicorns it seems. I have a direct interest in the business of agriculture, and recently been involved in setting up dairy farms. I have visited a few, read about the different techniques, applied them to gauge results and talked to all sorts of people in the business of livestock. Here’s what I have gathered so far, related to the selection of cows vs buffalo: Buffalo suck. Buy cows if you ever want to be profitable in this business That’s pretty much all that I have heard and read about. From SMEDA to PITB to every ‘serious’ businessperson in between, buffalo are the ones that had got to go. You can already see the effect of preferring the imported cows versus our own indigenous buffalo in brands like Prima, that proudly claim to give out 100 percent pure cow milk. The reasons quoted for ditching the Buffalo completely are not many, but are simple enough to understand i.e. the buffalo, on average gives 6 to 8 liters of milk over the 10 month lactation period. The imported cows give anywhere between 20 to 30 liters. The difference in milk...

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