Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Graveyard of Dreams

It is that pitch dark time of the night,
Dreams control the hero, sleeping tight
Dreams:::: wet <–> wild <–> blasphemy,
<->Morphed <–> vague< -> originality

But there is always a dream killer,
He lurks everywhere, surreptitious,
Here he comes, terrifying under
The garb of reality, tears ‘em asunder

Addictive =~~ power of the moment,
However, bewarned the churn and ferment,
Dreams can be a crazy scary fuel,
Will the hero die in the eternal duel?

The dream killer sets up his henchmen,
They hunt hard, Oh some do get away,
But hey just another one just fell prey ::(

It is yet another casualty
A dream turned sour and salty
Consigned forever, stifled screams
To the Graveyard of Dreams

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Parachute AfterShower: An Analysis of the Branding Strategy

(This is a post for another site I will be blogging for regularly. (That is the stated intention!) This site called has been started by some of us ad mad guys and we review ads and branding strategies of many of the products we see around us. Fundamentally, good marketing achieves it ends in a very subtle manner. (atleast for me) is an attempt to better understand those processes.)

Oh boy! Times are changing! Gone are the days when the only ads for men’s personal care were those to do with Shaving products. I loved those ads, where the guy with the smooth shave and the rugged looks would look arrogantly in the direction of a female and she would come running to caress his cheeks. Ah! So corny, yet so cool... how I waited for facial hair, so that I too could shave it off with that arrogant style!

Now you have a plethora of ads on men’s products. One of the cooler ads that struck me was the Yuvraj-Sreesanth ad for Parachute Aftershower, Parachute’s new offering. It is a styling cream for men and I quite liked the ad.

As the ad progressed, a thought struck me. Where does Parachute AfterShower fit in for Parachute? This kind of a strategy would be called a Line Extension for Parachute in the Hair Care segment because it is a new brand under the hair care segment aimed at a different segment. The packaging and the ad itself clearly indicate the target segment. The ad shows two young men in an upmarket gym bantering away in a colloquial yet stylish manner. It can be inferred that this product offering is targeted at the high disposable income urban male. In that sense, it is a more high end brand compared to Parachute’s most popular mass coconut oil brand. It is also important to observe that they have taken great pains to indicate allegiance to the mother brand Parachute, cleverly working it into the conversation. However, the basic pack I think comes in around Rs. 30 for a 50 gm. tube. I have a Brylcreem 60 gm. tube which cost me Rs. 60.

This is an interesting point isn’t it? The offering is seems high end but the price is not! Therefore, they appear to have positioned themselves as a High Style/Rs brand. This way they can also target a larger segment.

While I give ParachuteAfteshower 100 marks on the Yuvraj-Sreesanth ad, I give them much lesser on their branding strategy. Let us now put ourselves in the shoes of the marketers and see how it plays out. Clearly, there is a huge opportunity for a company like Marico to come up with an offering for the rapidly expanding market of styling cream for men. From a theoretical viewpoint, there are three branding strategies that can be followed for a product introduction:

  • A new stand alone brand
  • Sub-branding: The new product brand is combined with a more powerful existing brand (Eg: Gillette Mach3, Gillette is the parent brand but mach3 is the specific brand of the razor. When you go to the shop you ask for Mach3, so it has some value on its own, BUT that value is derived from Gillette.)
  • A type of branding where it goes as “Brand X brought to you by Brand Y”.

A new stand alone brand is too costly and does not make sense for Marico given they have Parachute in their stable. They have opted for a sub-branding strategy by choosing Parachute AfterShower. I personally do not agree with this. Let me elaborate.

When I think of Parachute, I think of the following brand associations:

  • The Indian Woman
  • Value for Money
  • Care (the girl who tends to her long, lustrous hair lovingly)
  • Purity – the coconut oil is a fantastic product
  • Last but definitely the most important: Coconut Oil!

Why would I think that? Just have a look at the two ads below. One is a Tamil ad featuring my favourite Tamil actress Asin. The other is an ad featuring Dia Mirza in Parachute Advanced’s “1 Hour Champi” campaign. Both are fresh and contemporary. And nail the message into the viewer’s mind. Simple, effective ads.

However, given the brand associations they evoke, having Parachute sub-brand a product that is in some way a substitute or competition for coconut oil, doesn’t work for me!! It may be one of the Great Indian Brands that is there in every household, but you can’t sell anything under the name!

I strongly believe that they should have gone for Strategy 3. It should have been branded as “AfterShower by Parachute”. This works completely differently. The message now is: Buy AfterShower because it solves your hair problem and oh by the way, it is brought to you by the same people who have been solving your hair problems till now.

In fact, if the branders had thought about strategy 3, they would not have given a lame name like AfterShower. Can anyone tell me how that name reminds you of a styling cream? AfterShower brings to my mind an image of some think like an aftershave, a piece of toiletry.

Therefore, from a branding point of view, I just cannot get their sub-branding strategy. Let us contrast this with Brylcreem. Brylcreem was always top of my mind for hair cream. Their name clearly indicates that their some sort of a cream and they targeted the urban male much earlier than lots of products. Using this they can afford to price their products at a premium to the market and consumers may pay the premium ,inferring a higher quality.

Final Verdict: In all probability, the product will do very well because of its competitive price. But I doubt if they can ever capture the top spot in this market because of the faulty branding strategy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Recent Notings on Tamil Heroines

(Warning: The links are all YouTube videos of movie songs. Nothing objectionable really, but some of them may be classified as Not Suitable For Work - NSFW)

Saw "Billa" in PVR cinemas on Saturday. The movie did not feel like a tamil film at all. I personally enjoyed the film. No thinking. Just ogling. Nayanthara is smashing in the movie! Orey the babehood only, she has attained! (Whattay swimming pool entrance, whattay tattoo...) I think she can write a book. "From Homely Figure to Smashing Babe: 7 Easy Steps" (Why 7? It already has some marketing value you see) I think it has been a gradual change from the Chandramukhi Nayanthara. She tried something in Ghajini which umm... less said the better! Also, I think they should have utilized Namitha better. (Honest. No pun intended!) The whole gangster moll is a very powerfully titillating role and merely portraying Namitha as a jealous doll really loses out on a world of opportunity. The potential!

As for the movie itself, it is entertaining. See, I really get pained by the holier-than-thou pricks who look for logic in a movie. A movie is an experience in sensory gratification and that this movie was. So high marks in my book.

The production values in Tamil cinema are shooting through the sky. I really loved the picturisation in the June Ponaal song. Another song which I see frequently in the music channels is this remix from Polladhavan featuring YogiB. One part of me wants to condemn these remixes while another part really enjoys it! This movie is even more mindless and fundaless than Billa, chronicling a guy's love for his bike. (It is a good subject on the face of it...) Frankly, it reeks of unnatural matrimony if you ask me! Does not help at all that the hero is Dhanush. A request: All those who message on SunMusic with pearls of wisdom like: "Dhanush is the thala" and "Dhanush rocks", kindly explain why you like so. But the saving grace of this movie is this cute li'l number called Ramya. Apparently, she is some star in the Kannada film industry. Her face is typically Kannadiga, I feel. What does that mean? See... this is hard to explain, but I am sure you get my point. Don't you see some people on the road and think this person has to be Tam or Bong? The face structure composed of distinct jaws, smile, nose etc. I have seen similar face structure during my ahem... observations in Bangalore. Ergo the statement. More importantly, she is quite well endowed.

At this point, many readers may scoff and point out that my blog represents the typical prelidiction of South Indian men to buxom women. First of all this is a doubtful assertion, solely based on the popularity of Khushboo. For example, Shriya is perfect and I have always held Trisha is almost anorexic. Sadha is just right I guess, and may I remind you of Ileana, full of the Goodness of Goa? And even if there is such a prelidiction, so what? In my limited sample space, women with perfect figures are practically Hitlers when it comes to their and their loved ones' personal fitness. The types who point out how unhealthy it is when you are just about to bite into that luscious piece of cake. If you did eat the cake inspite of that, these women do not just spank you (This was never a family blog!) but make you go the gym or some other such horrible place! Not to mention the constant insecurity. Aha... now that hourglass babe does not seem so desirable, does she. The price of perfection. Enjoy and Let Enjoy should be the motto!

As I mentioned earlier, Shriya is perfect figure wise. But I am not a fan of her smile. She has this way of smiling, more like curving her lips, which sometimes looks enigmatic and alluring and at most other times, slutty. Shreya only has lips and since I am not a lip aficianado, I am not her fan. Asin usually rates highest in my book. But I have a crib about her name. (I have to have a crib!) Apparently, her name is derived from appending the Sanskrit a- suffix to the english word 'sin' thus rendering it the opposite - Asin - meaning pure and sinless. Not only that, the name symbolizes the modern Indian who is a combination of West and East it seems! (Source) Kizhinjidhu Po! What kind of a ^%&$# pseud-putting attempt is this!!!

Asin trumps Shriya on the smile criterion. However, Nayanthara is my current Hot Favourite. That reminds me. The structure of our industry is such that women stars come and go as "Flavours of the Month". Jyothika was once at the top and now I haven't seen her in a while. Maybe it is conjugal bliss, maybe she is just waiting for the right script to come along. I have this sneaking suspicion that Nayanthara is approaching hers. I blame it on her overeagerness to play the Babe card. Even Shriya is more than ready to flaunt her assets. While this may lead to a temporary peak, I think it just accelerates the decline. Why? For one, it shows desperation. Then, when you expose so much, only that much can be left for the imagination! The cinema goer is ready to be "stimulated" in this fashion but he gets bored easily also. For example, is Mallika Sherawat even hot cinema property anymore? And how much ever an ice maiden Aishwarya Rai may be, I am sure you would give your right arm to be the Knight if ever she was a damsel in distress. Interestingly, the cribs I have outlines above would qualify as marketing problems for the cinema stars. (Marketing kicks can just keep on spotting marketing applications!)

That way in Tamil movies, in recent past, the Queen would be Simran. I think she went out while still on top of her game. She looked smashing in that vague role in New as well as that meaty role she essayed most competently in Kannathil Muthamittaal.

I thought that this girl called Samiksha was smashing in the movie "Arinthum Ariyamalum". Haven't seen her in too many movies, since then. Ah well... at the end of the day, I hope this performance by Nayanthara leads to a Babe Wars in Tamil movies. Hail competition, Power to the consumer :P

On the Disconnect between Education and Practice

I have been reading Seth Godin’s “Small is the new big and 183 other riffs, rants and remarkable ideas”. (Seth Godin is a prolific blogger and his blog can be found here) The book itself is a collection of his blogs over an eight year period and they provide great food for thought. As the author states upfront, the book aims to provide that “... small prod or a friendly whack”.

A detour. I actually didn’t intend to read this book. I wanted to find his other book “Permission Marketing” in the library. The library database showed the book to be available but I couldn’t find it. This is SUCH a pain. It happened in IITM and it happens here and you cannot really blame anyone for it. I really think an advanced real time book tracking system could serve the purpose. A kind of a system where every book's physical location can be detected using the RFID maybe? Anyway, I took the book by the same author that I could find.

Each of these articles, small nuggets, so to speak, is quite provocative. Some of the articles brilliantly articulated passing thoughts I have had, but did not follow up. I know this sounds a bit... vague. Let me elaborate. One of the recurring problems I face when writing on the big bad world is the trap on making sweeping generalizations. I really have too little experience. Therefore, I am hesitant to make many assertions without data. But lots of things in this world cannot be captured by data. At best, we can derive measures of these, but if you go too much into the mathematics, you would spend all your time on the technique, missing out on the essence. Therefore, it is often reassuring to blog about these things under the borrowed umbrella of a guru or authority.

The "friendly whack" that I liked has to do with this article on Competence. (Would encourage you to go through it) The author defines what we call competence as the ability to solve problems in a predictable and reliable manner. By hiring/working with competent people you know what you will get and that provides security. However, the same desire to be competent, reliable and right can render the very same people ineffective in the highly fluid environment that business today is currently slipping into. (Remember all those “What are your strength and weaknesses?” questions and you write “Perfectionism is my strength blah blah ... But the same perfectionism is my enemy blah blah... This is exactly like that!)

It is fascinating to speculate on the psychological process at play here. By definition, disruptive thinking is that which upsets existing thinking by (i) Identifying changing market assumptions (ii) Tweaking existing ones (iii) Proving them wrong. However, when the idea first floats around, the typical response of the competent is to be plagued by doubts of “Was I wrong all along?” or "I could not have been wrong all along!" Now, clearly a person who has been deemed competent by society could not have been wrong all along. Therefore, in their minds this disruptive thinking is some fancy piece of jugglery and they oppose it. Before you cluck your tongue and condemn people for their short-sighted behaviour we must realize that this phenomenon is as old as the hills. Our grandfathers thought they were cooler than their fathers and our fathers would have thought the same and I am sure we think the same. We just have a phrase for it viz. ‘disruptive thinking’ but it has been there for generations. To me, this is a complex problem in organizational behaviour simply because it is so subtle and most of the times you cannot even prove that market assumptions are changing/wrong.

When there is a development that is changing the industry, it will rarely announce itself. (The Nano is a ready exception that comes to the mind) Also, organizations will always prefer hiring competent people as their output is more reliable. And we saw earlier, there is simply too much cost of being wrong for competent people.

If competent people are a problem in the face of disruptive thinking, then what is the way out? Hire incompetent people? This is where one must understand the term incompetent as defined by the author. Seth Godin defines incompetence here to mean people “... who have the option to be competent but choose to be different.” Incompetence does NOT mean incapable. He further argues that Bob Dylan would be an incompetent musician by his definition simply because his output is unreliable. “From year to year, from concert to concert, there’s just no way to be sure that he’ll deliver exactly what you’re expecting”.

This is a very crucial assertion that one has to bear in mind. The problem is that educational systems reward competence, while rarely recognizing incompetence, and sometimes being harsh on it. I am sure all of us have taken the easy way out in many things simply because there is no reward for being different in normal coursework. The system rewards you to read the professor’s notes and look at old papers and try to work out the psychology of the examiner. Then you pass out with a seal that says you are more competent than the guy in the next seat. This system also creates a value system that perpetuates itself. Let us look into that in detail.

In the title I have used the phrase “Increasing” because the more you think and read about real life problems and real life successes, you are struck by the irrelevance of much of what you learn. Most of that which is taught is highly idealized, involves learning some content and getting it right after practice. However, we seem to be moving to a fast environment in which you may not have time to get stuff right by practice. By the time a technology has been perfected, it could become obsolete. This kind of training emphasizes the importance of hard work. However, I believe that we will soon move to another era when hard work will no longer be a differentiating factor. Nowadays people are willing to work hard if you dangle the right carrots. You can work for 12 hours, big deal; I can find thousand others in India who will work longer and so on and so forth. In the face of disruptive thinking, all the hard work and all the competence are of little use. I believe that working hard for its sake because you get a kick out of boasting about it, can hamper your creativity. To quote Seth, “Give me five serially incompetent nine-to-five executives with a focus on velocity, and I can change the world – over and over again.”

You can accuse me of crying wolf. Do I think the current situation in India is that disruptive? No way. Do I have a personal interest in saying this? Absolutely. I don’t like this mindless completion and in fact, hope that Seth Godin’s quote on the 9-5 company is true. To be fair, this blog borrows from a blog that is entirely derived on American experience. However, my personal bet/belief is that within a couple of decades the Indian context will get there. So what is the way out? You don’t have to do anything actually. Since educational systems do not explicitly appear to reward such thinking, the only option is for the individuals to realize that such a thing exists. A warning: One must also not take this as an excuse for failure. It reflects my own belief that in the real world, the best attitude is: Once you have achieved a certain standard, the best thing is to do something that you enjoy/have fun and in the process you may win some and lose some, but that is okay. I think one can call it the “Richard Branson Approach to Management”. :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Prisoner of Dilemmas - The Poem

(Should have ideally written this poem with this post)

It is the start of a new term
Despite all the resolutions firm
I know how it is gonna go
It is the same ol’ story, same bore

The new term always dawns bright,
‘Cos first month doesn’t require fight.
Then the tests and submissions start
The enthu drops by a quite a lot.

Why the bother, why the care,
Why all this hoopla on being fair.
Just give me a random number please,
Hey, I just want to lead a life of peace.

Oh yes, they have done it cleverly,
Just so you don’t give up easily,
Just in case, you don’t give a damn for CG,
You are caught by the balls because of RG.

In the Background a voice whispers

He is a Prisoner of Dilemma, Stuck in the rat race
Could have opted out but chose to save face

I don’t mind working hard, thinking deep,
Just do not spoil my beauty sleep.
It is like getting hammered again and again,
After a point, must learn to enjoy the pain.

Welcome to the Machine, Step This Way,
You should have thought hard, now pay.
Look at that sedative, the old textbook,
Haha sucker - you are never off the hook.

He is a Prisoner of Dilemma, Stuck in the rat race
Could have opted out but chose to save face

I know, I know. I have been cribbing too much in the past few posts. But they were mostly "Staying in" posts. It is like I suddenly lost my enthusiasm to blog. So just made a few posts to stay in the game. But seriously, feeling stuck in a rut. The rut of being in highly competitive systems that measure intelligence through examinations. (Are there any other?) Please God, I have done that enough! I still like the adulation of "winning something" and I don't mind working in projects and actually enjoy those that I choose to do. But I think I would like a different kind of challenge. What is it? How will it come? No idea. Guess I need to create my own challenge. Until then, Boredom and Restlessness. Boring: "Having been there, done that. Played the game till now by the rules and it is so boring. Now What." Restlessness: I feel I can be doing better things, painting a broader canvas than going through this mindless monotony. Whatever... I feel strangely divorced from my environment. It is like... watching people act out a play. Interesting in spurts.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


For ahem... health reasons, I had a very dry New Year this year. Just as well, given the risks associated with celebrating. While listening to my booze collection (which I will come to shortly), I was thinking why I like to worship Lord Bacchus so much? (Yes...I am a sissy and that final shred of muddled middle class morality prevents me from referring directly and instead I resort to the use of "clever" literary allusions. Peace.)

It was one of those thoughts that just tend to visit you, a passing thought that intrudes and finally takes up all your thought process. You see the fact is, I enjoy the "boozing up" process tremendously. For me it goes in three stages:

Stage 1: The happy feeling where you are not actually drunk, but the inhibition is lowered. Quite interesting when you think that inhibition is such an abstract quality. How does a physical stimulus like alcohol affect this abstract quality? I know I know, you are going to give the drivel on everything being a nerve impulse but seriously... doesn't it seem awesome and cool beyond logic?

Stage 2: Then you get to the stage where you can see consciousness slipping away from you. You feel light in the head. Then comes an almost bird-like feeling. Wish I could fly!

Stage 3: The third and final stage, the holy stage, the pinnacle is my quest. At this stage, the enjoyment is definitely psychological. You see I have a confession to make. I have a love-hate relationship with Mr. Rationality. You see, I don't particularly like Mr. Rationality. I don't like him, what with his orders, his insistence on method, system and protocol. I don't like being self conscious and following rules set by someone else, but I do it because Mr. Rationality tells me to. Frankly, Mr.Rationality is a prick I would love to live without. But the other undeniable truth is that I am afraid, nay mortally, morbidly scared of living without Mr.Rationality. For all my bluster, I wouldn't know what to do without his tyranny. Therefore, every time I go to stage 3, (which is just before Stage 4 aka vomitting), I get this fleeting momentary victory over Mr. Rationality. It is like, "I have dodged you, ya prick. I am at the very Cliff of Logic. Now I shall peer into the depths of the Sea of Irrationality. I have the Anchor of Alcohol to save me, so what's the worst that can happen..."

What I have laid out in the previous paragraph is another of life's dualities that irritates me to no end. Often the most enjoyable thought processes are those that are unstructured and uncontrolled. Yet, these very same are often the most unproductive.

Unfortunately. getting to Stage 3 is not easy for me. Some thing about capacity. Blah! It is commonly and quite mistakenly believed that having a high alcohol threshold is good or its manly or something. Blah again! As it is rightly said in some Holy Book, "Blesseth is he who hath to just drink one or two beers to getteth high. The rest useth their MasterCard".

Anyway, here is a list of my favourite booze songs, in no particular order. I love 'em all equally. :P You can see these songs on YouTube. (Was this information helpful? - MSOffice style)


1. Whiskey Song
This one song does stuff to my head always. The way it has been sung gives the impression that Jim Morrison was singing it while he was at the Cliff of Logic. With him you can never say actually. Just show me the way...

2. Roadhouse Blues
3. Riders on the Storm
4. Break On Through
5. Light My Fire


1. Hotel California
Need I say anything?

2. Witchy Woman
3. Bitter Creek
4. Doolin' Dalton
5. Take the Devil


1. Californication
Has to be in there somewhere I guess.

2. Can't Stop
3. Dani California
4. The Otherside

Other bands

1. Rock You Like a Hurricane by Scorpions

2. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
(I actually know nothing about this band. Just googled this song after hearing it at some place. But strongly recommended.)

3. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple

4. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf

5. Chopsuey by System of a Down

6. In the End by Linkin Park

7. This is How You Remind Me by NickelBack

8. Lemon Tree by Fool's Garden

9. We Will Rock You by Queens
Hmm... that is two "rock you" songs. Not good.

10. Du Hast by Rammstein

11. Engel by Rammstein
Engel is way higher than Du Hast for me.

12. Sex Bomb by Tom Jones
Tom Jones has a very different voice. Worth a dekko, if you haven't seen it before.

Disclaimers are long due I guess. This is just my list. As you would have figured out by now, I don't have a great knowledge of music. Just a collection of stuff I have heard from many places that seemed to strike a chord. I am sure Pink Floyd is conspicuous with its absence. I really like the videos but don't know, I have never required Pink Floyd in my playlist. Though there was this one time when I heard "Live at Pompeii" at a bar and it was totally mind blowing, what with the high wattage stereo and stuff.

Also have not talked about my tam booze songs. When I thought about them, a lot of those songs are proper melodies. Nowhere close to the metal of the songs above. I think I will skip that because most readers will not be able to identify with a lot of the songs as booze songs.
(For example, "Azhagiya Theeyey" from Minnale and "Kadhal Sadugudu" from Alaipayuthey figure very high. I am sure you don't want to know more :))

Do comment with your favourites :)

On Entrepreneurship

I was doing some vetti surfing and stumbled on to The website is filled with slideshows featuring rankings of all kinds and ranking are always a good way to spend time! One talked about the ten biggest disruptors in the last ten years written by the Guru of Disruptive Thinking, Clayton Christenson. Another interesting feature was on the “Most Popular Virtual Worlds”. One of the more interesting slide shows featured the hottest billionaire heiresses! Smokin', is all I say!!!! (Trivia: Did you know that Julia Louis-Dreyfus who plays 'Plain Jane' Elaine on Seinfeld is a billionaire heiress?)

Then I stumbled on to Forbes’ ranking of the 10 best small companies in US. Interestingly, lots of these companies were based on offbeat "techie” ideas. Frankly, a lot of the business ideas left me with the feeling "This is big?!!" (Rolls eyes) This set me thinking on entrepreneurship.

After almost six months into Management education, I get this nagging thought that all business decisions reduce to a random gamble whatever you do. To elaborate, say you are facing a business decision of some significance. Now, how much ever analysis you do, qualitative or quantitative or both, you will come to a situation where you will be confronted with a probability distribution of outcomes. At this stage, the decision maker is left with no choice but to choose one of the alternatives randomly. It is literally no better than gambling on a throw of dice.

Given this belief, how does one factor in entrepreneurship? To put it differently, the above argument seems to imply that entrepreneurs are pledging their lives on a random gamble? That cannot be right. For example, 7 of the top 10 richest individuals are self made men who built their fortunes in their own lifetime. That couldn’t have come by making random choices! However, in this case, the successful entrepreneurs may have tackled the uncertainty in their environment by simply controlling and manipulating it. That is one way of working around the problem. But in this blog, I am interested in that stage when the entrepreneur is actually gauging whether to stake his future and go on his own.

The mentality at this stage is very different from the mindset of writing a business plan. Business plans require believable projections and models with convincing assumptions. These formal approaches just lend a measure of discipline to your efforts and in my opinion, all the sophisticated business analytics in the world helps to better approximate the probability distribution confronting the decision maker. However, when one actually sits down and contemplates the costs of becoming an entrepreneur, then the probabilistic nature of the decision making process hits you on the face.

How does this impact decision making? Given that there is an element of probability in any significant decision, I believe that the second most important determinant of entrepreneurial success, besides the idea itself, is the ability of the entrepreneur to muster up liquidity.

Therefore, it is more important to have money to fund your mistakes, if they may occur, rather than being perfectly “right” in your business decisions. This is because, beyond a point, being “right” in business is outside your control. Here, I have assumed the individual would have done all the analysis possible.

This point is rarely ever mentioned. In today’s context, I guess one can take it as a given that if you have a good idea, you will get funding. However, in times of trouble, access to funding will become difficult and that is why I have used the word liquidity.

Extending this idea, we arrive at the following conclusions. If you are a first generation entrepreneur, besides just having an idea, you need to think deeply on how to get access to cash, especially in times of trouble.

This in turn, is a function of Institutional and Social norms. The attitude of financial institutions towards an entrepreneur is reflected in institutional norms. For example, in pre-liberalized India, financial institutions took a rather suffocating view of debt and we found that entrepreneurship suffered. However, even in those times, there were entrepreneurs. How did they manage? Most of these entrepreneurs could be classified into two types: Those who inherited money or those who belonged to certain communities. This is not a perfectly exclusive classification and there are overlaps between these two. The community ties helped to muster liquidity in times of trouble and I suspect that such social norms, when they do exist, are more effective than institutional norms. (Of course, I have ignored the presence of small time money lenders and unorganized financial sector in India because I don’t know anything about it. However, I am sure it can be added as one more factor in our analysis when the information is obtained.)

I admit, that at first glance, this appears to be a rather defeatist assertion. How many of the big guys thought of all this? Weren’t they driven by passion? But when I listen to all the hoopla on “that one great idea”, I become cautious and skeptical. There are thousands of ideas and there are even greater numbers of failed entrepreneurs. I would think the factor that separates the men from the boys is the ability to access liquidity.

Therefore, can people without an advantage in this respect not become entrepreneurs? Not at all!

  • You can make your money in ventures that require low capital first, and once you reach a critical size, you will have all the money to gamble to scale up.
  • To reach that critical size, it would help to start with an idea, where the profit is high and source of uncertainty is low. How does one do that? I don’t know… maybe an idea that alters the environment itself!

(P.S: Happy New Year!
My New Year Resolution: Blog more regularly!)