Building Global Brands

In my last month’s post, I have articulated some of the challenges for India in building global brands. Let us visit some of the root causes of these challenges.
Trading Mindset: Most of our top brands contunue to be trading-driven. This trading mindset exists not only for brands in commodities like oil, cement and steel, but also for brands in manufactured products. As an emerging economy, India is continually going through massive infrastructure projects. Yet, there isn’t a single cement company that is built on innovative technology. Nor has India produced global cement brands such as Cemex and  Holcem. We have seen this in automobile industry too. They had been buying the outdated technology from other countries but never developed on their own.
Indian big brands never focused on developing better technologies. Instead of investing in innovation and R&D, these brands continue to either buy outside technologies or collaborate with them. This mindset has to be changed and the entrepreneurs of trading India have to ask themselves “I am not better off building my own technology in the long run than importing from outside?”
Contractor Mindset: Infrastructure, manufacturing, software and professional services contribute significantly to our GDP. Majority of these industries are outsourced contracting companies. Their business model depends on winning the project bids or manufacturing in bulk. Even countries of global brands must have started their journey with this contracting mindset. But they eventually  have evolved and developed their own technologies and brands. We remained as contractors, suppliers or toll manufacturers.
Our top infra companies don’t have technology to build 100+ floor buildings. Our top software companies are basically services companies without  any proprietary technologies or even methodologies. Indian talent is proven and recognised globally for employment but the Indian entrepreneurs are not known for innovation.
We need new crop of entrepreneurs who can build companies on true innovativation. Startup India is in right direction. Cultural shift must start from within universities. We need change of guards at out esteemed universities. and make our professors known for original research and publications.
Ownership Mindset: with the proprietary mindset of owning and managing it all, majoriy of family businesses In India are not able to work in teams or share wealth with others. Though majority of global companies are family-owned, they are professionally managed. Majority of Indian big brands remain family-managed even after they scaled up.
Promoters want to hand over not only the ownership but also the management to the family members. They are not able to separate the management with ownership. Companies cannot be built by individuals and the best teams cannot be formed from the family members alone. Only a few groups like Tata, Godrej and Mahindra have done a good job of separating the ownership from the management. Hope the rest of the family-managed big brands learn from them.
There are a few more inherent weaknesses in the Indian society which i would like to describe in the future.

Meetings, Meetings and Meetings

Someone told me recently that meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost. Americans spend on an average 60 hours per month in meetings. That is 35% of their working hours. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a startup founder, a corporate manager or a non-profit leader from any corner of the world, you probably spend 10-12 hours every week in meetings. The higher you move up the management ladder, the more hours you spend in meetings. When was the last time you felt very good about the productivity of a meeting? How happen have you felt that way? If such “feel good” moments are farther apart from one another, you have come to the right place.

A meeting is defined as an assembly of people for a particular purpose, especially for formal discussion. Every meeting must have a purpose with pre-defined agenda. There are typically four kinds of meetings. Agenda-first, yes-man first, socialize-first and put-the-monkey-on-others-back first.

Participants of agenda-first meetings know and acknowledge that agenda is God. “In agenda, we trust” is their caption. Agenda-first meetings achieve their purpose. Since agenda drives the meeting, it brings in focus, self-discipline and alignment among the participants. Agenda-first meetings won’t let an influencer or a single participant hijack the meeting. They won’t let organisational hierarchy hinder the progress. Presenter of agenda-first meeting will park all the non-agenda items aside for a revisit at a later time. 

Yes-man meetings lead to group-think, resulting in irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. This is called anti-synergy. These meetings are also about boss-first. They shun active contributors and critical thinkers and create a sense of high insecurity. These meetings make people sound aligned but feel misaligned. Seeing yes-men get brownie points, the rest will eventually yield to the pressure. This turns the outcomes of those meetings into colossal disasters in the end.  

Socialize-first meetings help the participants chill out at the cost of not being productive in the end. They start late, run late and end with half-baked outcomes as decision are never made or decisions are made in haste. With due respect to the merit, influence, position or power of the influencing individual, participants of socialize-first meetings let themselves hijacked by him or her. Unless these influencers consciously make the choice to let others speak first, they may inadvertently refrain others from expressing their thoughts freely. 

Put-the-monkey-on-others-back meetings are the worst. They make participants defensive, judgmental and divided. Participants put their defense hats and make small mistakes look bigger. Lack of ownership will eventually sink the ship while more and more abandon it. Since they play judge-first game, they keep punishing each other. This piles up frustrations, arguments and emotional roller-coasters that make the participants feel sick from within. 

In reality, we can’t absolutely label most of the meetings as one or the other. Even put-the-monkey-on-others-back meetings have some socializing participants. Even socialize-first meetings have few yes men. Even yes-men meetings have some put-the-monkey-on-others-back participants. It is the duty of the presenter to constantly and relentlessly drive the meeting to make it “agenda-first”. Out of all of the participants, the onus squarely lies on the presenter itself as he is the one to choose the participants, define the agenda with purpose and drive the meeting as per the agenda. The sooner the presenter acts and steps in to put the agenda back on top with every slight deviation, the better disciplined participants will be. In the end, every participant would prefer to walk-out of a meeting with a sense of productivity by fulfilling the purpose of the agenda. Isn’t it. 

Mr. Srikanth Thirumala spoke about building frugal startups. He shed light on how we always ask this question under duress and crisis. Through this topic he dwelled into moments in his personal journey where he felt frugality indeed helped achieve meaningful outcomes.

He explained the nuances regarding the word ‘Frugal’ and stressed that it does not mean cheap or miser and even if one manages to raise a multimillion dollar investment from a venture round, the need to be frugal is a smart decision. He spoke about a lot of companies that raised millions of dollars and choose not to be sensible and frugal and ended up closing shop.

White board Theory
Always invest in simple things that give excellent value
Somethings bring excellent value at minimal or literally no investment. A white board is one such investment. It can be your idea pad, reminder, wish list, dashboard, design studio, architecture and quick contacts. If your budget is less you should always own a large white board. It is good place to project your views and ideas to your team, customers and investors.

Age Vs Budget
Start young if you are budget conscious, your cost grows with age
Frugality is easy to pull off when you are younger rather than when you are older. You have smaller egos, lesser responsibility, smaller needs, bigger drive and a very big dream. It costs less to build an amazing yet frugal product when in college than after your graduate. Once you graduate you are in a pressure to prove, achieve.

Planning and Budgeting
Frugality needs a plan, Frugal does not mean being cheap or a miser
If you want to be frugal, you need to plan and budget. All plans are up for a change, but most startups end of spending money beyond their capacities only because they don’t plan well. A good executed frugal financial plan can help in answering lot of questions like ‘Where is money leaking?’, ‘How can you avoid surprises?’ etc.

Winning competitions consume time. Time is customer and customer is value and money.
In a frugal setting the focus is more on going after customers rather than establishing a brand that everyone is aware. Participating and winning in competitions may seem exciting but competitions suck too much time out of business away from product, customers and meaningful relationships. Recognition may seem wonderful but may not quantify in reality compared to focusing on your customers.

 Trade Shows
Don’t get locked down to a booth. You don’t have to be star of the show.
Trade shows are very deceiving. Having a booth and locking yourself to a location in a trade show might seem exciting but most of your visitors are staff from other booths visiting to collect goodies. Attend a trade show as a visitor, talk to other booths and their senior management for partnership and show your demo in the lobby rather than getting stuck in a booth. Trade shows are for an established brand to meet new people in the city but definitely not to gain leads and prospect clients.

Channels and Partners
When frugal, don’t build a sales challenge, leverage existing channels.
When you are tight on budget, building a sales team is a very big challenge. Creating channel partners for your products is a better way to create a revenue model. It is a win-win for both parties. Channel partners such as system integrators, resellers, aggregators and distributors are trusted partners for clients. They provide recommendations, advise and consultancy to solve their client’s problems. Using this channel to extend your sales reach is a much easier way during frugal times.

OEM Partners
Small startups provide inorganic growth to large companies, if you have compelling value focus on their last 10% sales target.
Sales teams of public companies must grow every quarter, they need partners to assist their growth. Other product vendors and other solution providers are a good bet to increase your customer reach. If your solution has a synergy and can co-work with other products in the market with a joint solution offering, it is a much frugal way to reach out to the clients. These models take relatively longer time, but they are definitely worth exploring. Synergies on the field between products is a much better and easier approach than going for a deeper integration especially in the early phases of the engagement. Try bundling your solution with large public companies and you get a greater mileage.

Top Sales executives of all publicly traded companies must reach quarterly goals higher than their previous quarter. These executives can achieve their first 90% with relative ease but joint solutions with other meaningful products and companies helps them achieve the last 10% faster.

Early Protection of IP
Protection is not progressive, it is not the natural DNA of an entrepreneur.
In an extremely frugal environment unless your solution is a unique algorithm which is revolutionary, it is not recommended that startups spend too much by investing time and money in protecting their IP. If that time is well spent on customer acquisition and partner engagements it is time and money well earned. Lot of new entrepreneurs believe their idea is unique/ one of a kind and spend too much time protecting it rather than proliferating it.

Stock Vs Money
Stock is only a piece of paper that can be a leverage until you build a lot of value.
Stock or Stock options is a piece of paper until the company gathers mass. Money is good leverage for the growth of a business and for spending on essentials. Stock should be used to leverage expensive talent only. In a frugal startup if talent is joining only for the money, you have already lost a portion of the war. Your team should believe in the vision of the company and willing to invest their skin in the game either in additional time or money and be willing to hedge on success by accepting stocks. It is the responsibility of the founders to share the vision and inspire their team to partially work for stocks by helping in running a frugal company in critical times.

Core competencies
You cannot outsource your core competencies. It is not a frugal approach.
Several intelligent and talented founders with background in core technologies choose not to work on those technologies. In an early and frugal company, a founder cannot offload their core competency and core competency fully to an employee, a team of consultants and just ideate. It is necessary that founders have the core competency in their target markets. They should strategically invest their personal time on those core competencies rather than just hiring people to do it. This results in lack of control on the overall destiny of the company, especially in the initial stages.

Branding and Websites
Popularity does not directly turn to revenue and it is expensive to maintain it.
Unless you are B2C company where significant amount of your customer acquisition is through digital media and websites, companies need to invest enough to have a decent website. Websites and brands are good tools only to attract good talent.

If you are a B2C company with cash constraints willing to establish a brand, then create a local brand and value by starting in limited areas and grow. Don’t try a larger brand with frugal budget. It is not a sustainable model. Lot of e-commerce and delivery companies wish to create global brand without capturing a good share of a regional market.

Be where your customer flocks
Birds of similar feathers flock together. You be there.
Try to use every possible method to be present in those areas where your key, critical customers flock. Go to their natural, comfortable neighborhood where they flock rather than inviting them to places where you establish a booth. For. example. if your customers are apartment residents, try to pitch yourself before or after their general body meeting. if your customers are banks then try to have a presence in a banking conference.

Let your customer speak on your behalf rather than you yourself. Customers connect more with other customers but the provider.

Create a helpline and advisor panel
People like to help and advice. This is almost free. This is human tendency. Take advantage.
Everyone is encouraged to have a set of published or unpublished set to advisors during frugal times. Seniors and experts who have learnt through experience or their own set of mistakes are willing to help. You just need to ask. Either in regard to pricing, reviewing a small contract or dos and don’ts for raising investments etc. There are several individuals willing to help if you are willing to ask and hear. They act like a good sounding board and will help you find your answer. Most of it is free or you may have to give them some stocks in the company. Use them and succeed the frugal way.

Mr. Suman Eadunuri sponsored the board meeting at Pega Systems’ Hyderabad Office. We thanks for the support you extended, and the warmth!!!

16th March, 2018

Samvad Partners won India Business Law Journal’s Indian Law Firm Awards in the PRIVATE EQUITY & VENTURE CAPITAL category.
The winners are selected based on votes, references and qualitative information received from in-house counsel and other legal professionals in India and around the world. Samvad Partners has built up a reputation as a go-to firm on private equity and venture capital transactions. The firm has 64 lawyers, including 12 partners. Its clients have included Arpwood Partners, which it advised on its limited partners agreement when it acquired the small business portfolio of non-banking finance company Karvy; and online insurance seller PolicyBazaar, and its owner Etechaces Marketing and Consulting, when it raised US$79 million in a fresh round of investing.

March 15th, 2018

Scientific publisher Omics scripts major expansion; plans 1,000-cr investment
Serial entrepreneur Srinubabu Gedela, founder of Omics International, In the next three years plans to have two large projects. The first will be a health informatics publishing facility in a special economic zone in Hyderabad on a 20-acre campus with an investment close to ₹1,000 crore. The second will be a Lifesciences Skill Development Centre in Visakhapatnam entailing a ₹100-crore investment. It will be set up on 10 acres at Rishikonda and become operational in two years

His immediate plans are to build Pulsus, the 30-year-old Canadian Health Informatics Company that he acquired in 2016, into a go-to destination for premium scientific content and drug safety studies. The Pulsus Group, with revenues of $9 million and 50 journals, has offices in London, Ontario and now in Hyderabad.

March 15th, 2018

Transforming Customer Experience by leveraging Digital Transformation

Safir Adeni, President, Feuji Inc presented on “Transforming Customer Experience by leveraging Digital Transformation” at IT Hub Connect, which took place on 26th and 27th March in Sofia, Bulgaria, along with speakers from Google, Microsoft, IBM and more. The session was both engaging and insightful.

26th & 27th March, 2018

An MoU was signed and exchanged between Mr. Harish Chandra Prasad, Founder and Chief Mentor of Malaxmi Group and Ms. Chetana Siddappa, Regional Manager for Asia DEULA-Nienberg, on Tuesday, the 27th of March 2018 at the Madhu Malaxmi Chambers, Vijayawada.
MARRC, the Malaxmi Agri & Rural Research Centre – the brainchild of Malaxmi Foundation, offers innovative, sustainable and affordable farming mechanisms that benefit the farmers in India predominantly from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. MARRC has now entered into an MoU with Germany based DEULA-Nienberg, a well-known agricultural academy that offers wide range of professional trainings and qualification programs in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, forestry concentrated on farm machinery, crafts and industry.  DEULA – Nienberg’s strategic collaboration with MARRC will prove to be a welcome sign for the farmers. DEULA-Nienberg will provide technical support towards skill development to MARRC, empowering the farmers in the region with more modern and latest farming techniques.

27th March, 2018

eSahai has been selected as one of the 3 companies across India by Accenture and Better India as part of their ‘Tech for Good’ initiative and professional team came to Hyd and shot a documentary about eSahai and met our customers and employees. Later the video was released on Facebook page of ‘Better India’ which has reached more than 3.5million people and had 1.2 million views so far.

March, 2018

Leadership Series – Mr. Ravi Narayan, Global Director, Microsoft

An influential speaker, Mr Ravi Narayan – a pioneer in the Venture Catalyst/Startup Accelerator space also the Global Director at Microsoft, shared anecdotal insights on Mentoring, to room full of seasoned entrepreneurs, our CMs, Angels along with heads of incubators & accelerators. This program was well received, and our attendees thoroughly enjoyed the knowledge session.

Some of our charter members who were already actively engaged mentoring startups asked many questions to draw into the speakers global experience, this helped others dive deep into the realms of startup acceleration, followed by a networking high tea where everybody found a way to network with the speaker to follow up on the session.

March 15th, 2018

Mentorshop – Frugal Startup – Managing with pennies in early days

Mr. Srikanth Thirumala spoke about building frugal startups. He shed light on how we always ask this question under duress and crisis. Through this topic he dwelled into moments in his personal journey where he felt frugality indeed helped achieve meaningful outcomes. He explained the nuances regarding the word ‘Frugal’ and stressed that it does not mean cheap or being miserly. Even if one manages to raise a multimillion dollar investment from a venture round, the need to be frugal is a smart decision. He spoke about many startups that raised millions of dollars, end up splurging excessively resulting in closing shop.

He stressed on why there is a good need to be wise not just during times of fiscal crisis alone, but also an inherent quality of every entrepreneur and a startup. The act of investing in simple things gives excellent value at a minimal or literally no investment. He stressed on how a white board can supplement for an idea pad, reminder, wish list, dashboard and a design studio. On a shoe string budget, one can always own a large white board as it’s good place to project views and ideas to your team, customers and investors…

He encouraged everyone to have a set of published or unpublished advisors during such times. Seniors and experts who have learnt through experience on their own are willing to help you about pricing, reviewing a small contract or dos and don’ts for raising investments etc. There are several individuals willing to help if you are willing to ask and willing to hear. They act like a good sounding board and help you find your answer. Most of it is free or you may have to give them some stocks in the company. Use them and succeed the frugal way.

March 16th, 2018

Leadership Summit – Led by women at Park Hyatt, Hyderabad.

Mr Kali Prasad Gadiraju was invited to speak at the ‘Leadership Summit – Led by women’, a summit hosted by Nalsar University, TiE & CII were joint partners. The Summit focused on shared learning, by providing a forum to recognize, inform, and celebrate the contribution of women leaders from various walks of lives.

March 17th, 2018

My Story – Ms. Priyanka Singh Dubey and Mr. Mohit Dubey

My Story’ is a very personal session where the Successful start-up entrepreneurs talk about and share their experiences that shaped their life. How a few moments that took place lead on to define one’s journey. This time we had not one but two amazing speakers together willing to throw light on their life to encourage their peers. Ms Priyanka Singh Dubey and Mr Mohit Dubey, the couple behind the scintillating success of Carwale. This session revolved around a very interesting story of how Pyaarwale became carwale.

Both Mr and Mrs Dubey spoke about how their love transformed their lives into starting carwale, a different take on an entrepreneurial journey indeed. The session was fun and interactive as the couple gave out incidents and anecdotes from their own experiences to tell their tale of resilience. They shed light on how being patient helped them gain fruitful results and how being barefaced let them seek the investments they required.

March 24th, 2018

TiE Social – Something’s cooking competition.

Using the core principals of gamification to make our networking Social very interactive. To embark the beginning of a tiring summer we organized a fun filled cooking competition called ‘Something’s Cooking’. 4 team participated in the competition with 5-7 contestants in each group, the battle was one to see.

The cook-off was judged by our very own Hyderabad filma maker, Sekhar Kammula and celebrity chefs Mr. Deepak Edla of Dhabha fame and Mr. Senthil Kumar an immigration attorney on the three themes, Pakka local – how earthy, simple and, epicurean and plating. Panel of judges constituted of  Neuro Doctor couple from Nizamabad Mr. Sateesh Andra and Mr. Harish Chandra Prasad Yarlagadda assessed the various dishes/preparations through a detailed scoring pattern.

The team consisting of Mr. Murali Bukkapatnam, Mr. Bhanu Cherukuri, Mr. Kali Prasad Gadiraju, Mr. Kotapalle Venkata Reddy, Mr. Viiveck Verma, Mr. Suresh Raju and Mr. Manohar Reddy stole the show. Mr. Murali Bukkapatnam was actively encouraged all the teams by having engaging conversations everyone enjoyed the lively evening.

March 24th, 2018

Why Women can be more Successful? – By Kali Prasad Gadiraju

Women’s minds are better wired towards achieving the pinnacle of success in any field. A considerable number of women are top political leaders in India, displaying extreme resilience and showing their mettle in the tough field of Politics. Yet, the dismal number of women reaching the top in the fields of Science, Medicine, Law and leading entrepreneurial ventures, is a reflection on our societal culture rather than any glass ceilings imposed on them at work.

Sharing his thoughts on the topic of “Becoming a Person of Influence,” at the Women Leadership Summit in Hyderabad on International Women’s Day on March 8th, Mr Kali Prasad Gadiraju, President of TiE Hyderabad, said that women were actually better wired toward career success than men. Drawing a comparison between women and men, Mr Prasad listed six top qualities that ensure a successful career.

1) Clarity of Purpose
A fundamental quality of a successful person, there is a greater clarity of purpose and life goals in women than men, especially, at the beginning of their careers. Girls coming straight out of college display better clarity of their aspirations than boys. It is not surprising then, that while discussing project implementation plans with a team, if the manager is unclear in explaining the steps, milestones, responsibilities and the end objectives, boys tend to nod their heads in assumption that they can somehow figure it out later. However, girls ask questions and seek clarity, a key quality to have since clarity at the beginning reduces the risk of failure of any project.

2) Focus on the Task
A project can be successful only if there is relentless focus on the task by the team. Women aren’t easily distracted, and success rates improve significantly if the teams are led by women.

3) Reliability of Performance
Without a reliable team, it’s impossible to achieve anything great. Women do not accept any responsibility unless they are absolutely clear that they can deliver the project or achieve the targets, whereas men tend to be over confident and over promising. When there are deviations from plans, women are more prone to keeping the leadership updated and take advice in time for course correction, but men tend to keep trying and keep you in the dark till the situation goes out of control.

4) Ability to Coach
Women can be better mentors to their teams because of higher levels of patience. Women leaders are much better at grooming talent.

5) Structured Thinking
Complex projects are easier to handle in a structured manner and women do far better here too.

6) Emotional Intelligence
It is no secret that great leaders achieved success more because of Emotional Intelligence than IQ. Women have more EQ than men, and have a higher ability to connect with people. They tend to command better loyalty, making them better leaders.

It is not because of the relative capabilities of women, but the culture and societal structure that is responsible for the dismal number of women at the top echelons of the corporate world, Mr Kali said.

According to him, men and women begin their careers on equal footing, and there are no glass ceilings for women, not special advantages for men. However, when it’s time to get into serious career planning, the idea or the need for family sets back women.

For men family is a natural progression alongside a career, but for women it is usually a choice they have to make. A career choice entails a significant social challenge. Besides, even after giving prominence to career, women have to down the way focus more on family. It is during this transition that their competitive spirit slows down.

Women have a unique ability to be happy with the success of their family at the cost of a successful career. Therefore, women are more successful in politics because it is assumed that family is secondary to her career right from the time she enters politics, a highly competitive field that demands 100% commitment. Women fight and succeed in this cut-throat world because the expectations of them are just political, rather than familial focus.

Despite organizations globally trying to make working conditions inductive for women to work and succeed, by balancing life and work, the real change needed is of an archaic societal mindset that pits career versus family for women, Mr Kali said.