‘ Career ’ category archive

Marketing Methods – All OUT

April 09, 08 by Bharani

KAPL (Karamchand Appliances Private Limited), the parent company behind the brand “All out”, was the first-mover in the vaporizer mosquito repellant segment. Their initial success was attributed to the technological innovation (as far as India is concerned. Actually, the technology was borrowed from a Japanese firm called EARTH), first-mover-advantage and mainly to their marketing. Some of the marketing techniques employed by them:

* Television ads: They employed two major creative agencies namely Avenues and HTA to created tele ads. But the group wasn’t happy with the results and the message conveyed through the ads. Eventually, they came up with their own versions using animated version of frog slurpping all the mosquitoes. The ad was a huge success. Again, the group borrowed the idea from Japan!

* Advertisement on Video-cassettes: Video-cassettes were the dominant home-movie-watching means during 90’s. Moreover, the group found that every video cassette was duplicated 20 times in the grey market. So, they started advertising in the video cassettes. Needless to say, the move was a big success in spreading the brand awareness. This move was initially criticized by the creative agencies but later the agencies had to eat their own words!

* Advertisement on Radio: Evening programs and Cricket commentaries were the targets as far as the Radio was concerned (AIR).

* Advertisement on Television: The group chose to sponsor the news program rather than sponsoring heavy-weight programs like KBC.

* Sponsoring song/dance sequence: The group experimented with sponsoring every song/dance sequence in movies on television and Satellite channels. Since every movie had atleast 4-5 songs and equal number of fighting scenes, audience ended up watching the ad atleast 5 times. The channel surfing was relatively less prevalent during those days! The result: Brand attained high mind-share among the customers!

Caveat: A survey revealed later that, many audience were not happy with repetitive viewing of same ads. Experts advised that such repeated ads telecast might prove counter-productive if continued. So, such kind of campaigns is useful for short periods…but for longer periods, it’s best to reduce the frequency of ads.

* Exchange scheme: Years later after the launch of the product, the group initiated “Deadly exchange scheme”, where a customer can exchange mat machine of any brand for the vaporizer. This move helped the growth of vaporizer segment.

Winning Mantra from Mahabharata

March 24, 08 by Bharani

Pretty good interpretations 🙂

2007: The Year that was!

January 01, 08 by Bharani

Well, it feels like a short while ago when I re-capped 2006, but another year has passed in a jiffy…

Highs: (In chronological order)
– Starting a new job (Senior Product Manager @ ibibo Web Pvt Ltd) at new location (Gurgaon). First taste of internet industry.
– Being part of the core team that launched (DWAAR), India-focussed search engine.
– Getting Married. Varalakshmi is an extremely understanding and very caring wife. Lucky to have her as a life-partner…
– Learning Driving and getting my licence!!
– Buying my first car. Hyundai Santro Xing (Space Silver).
– Visiting Maldives (Heavenly place in earth).
– Visiting Taj Mahal with my wife. Being an Indian, too late to visit the Indian wonder that is part of the seven wonders. What a structure! What a symbol!
– Visiting quite a few religious places (Shirdi, Mathura, Gokul, Sripuram, Sholingur, Tirupati, Akshardham).
– Taking the entrepreneurial plunge & forming my own company called Antya Web Private Limited. Sunny Saurabh is my partner in this journey.
– Getting the seed funding for Antya. The seed fund has given us more confidence to continue the journey than anything else.
– Launching our own product, Antya. A site to find or discover websites across various topics.
– Featuring in Statesman Delhi for Antya- A full page article comprising 2400 words!
– Featuring in Indian Express, Technology edition for Antya.
– Interviewed for “Tech 4 U” section in Hindustan Times.
– Rise of the Antya in Alexa. Currently it is ranked 1764 in India. When launched the rank was 16905. It took just 20 days to reach under 2000! Antya is improving well in US too. Promising start for a long journey ahead.
– Getting my hands on Apple iMac Desktop (20″) loaded with Mac OS X Leopard edition. Interacting with Apple Mac is a Larger-than-life experience!
– Getting to know Bruno, a Labrodar, an extremely loveable and intelligent pet of my friend sunny. It’s amazing to see how fast he has grown from a small pup in May to a big boy now. Wonder how big he will be in another year 🙂

Lows:
– Death of a close cousin. She died of cancer.

Overall, Year 2007 has been pretty eventful for me. Year 2008 is a critical year for me in many aspects. Entering 2008 with loads of hope, courage, confidence, dreams and determination.

A quote to remember for me this year:
“…It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change…” – Charles Darwin

Break….

September 26, 07 by Bharani

What I have done to my blog is absolute injustice. A post a week, fortnight or even a month would have been acceptable. Anyways, this time, the lack of posts is not atrributed to busy-schedule, but to lack of ‘ideas’ to ponder and to an extent lack of interest.

I promised to myself at the beginning of the year that I will publish 150 posts…I have hardly published 15 posts. Just 10% of the target! But fortunately the game is not over yet 🙂 Unfortunately the equation is tough with 3 months to go, I have 135 posts to publish..

Few updates from my side…Have decided to take a break from my career after a long-thought. Now that DWAAR is launched, there is no better logical exit. I will spend 2-3 months before choosing and accepting my next responsibility. As of now, I will try to do things that I wanted to do but couldn’t do…Try my hands at new things, Travel, Fitness, Family, …and of course blogging…

Looking forward for the break in a month’s time.

DWAAR Enhanced

August 14, 07 by Bharani

Over the last 2 months, we have worked behind the scenes to significantly enhance DWAAR. The new version of DWAAR will be released online by evening today. Watch out! More later….

More on DWAAR…

June 12, 07 by Bharani

DWAAR.com is available for public view now, but under “Labs”.

I am handling the “cities” vertical and to an extent “Restaurants” vertical also. Both of these verticals have similar requirement as far as product features and data are concerned. Both of these verticals face common problems too! There are two key aspects of this product that should come out very strongly, but doesn’t: The Search quality (Ability to pull up relevant results intelligently based upon query keywords. The efficiency lies in avoiding both false positives and false negatives!) and the Data Quality.

Though the Search quality is at manageable levels and can be solved in the short-term at technology level, the Data quality still remains an unsolved mystery. Following are some of the major problems that we face with the Data:

1. In-accurate Data. Wrong phone numbers, wrong addresses, wrong names etc.,
2. Mis-classification of Data. Business records being classified in to wrong categories.
3. Lack of Depth: The records does not have enriched information. example: What products are services the businesses offer? What are the special features? etc.,
4. Lack of coverage: There aren’t sufficient records for some categories and cities.
5. In-complete Data. The necessary fields are found missing.
6. Duplication of Data.

Our immediate goal is to rectify the above problems and we are doing it earnestly through various approaches.

The problems that are mentioned above are industry-wide, especially in India. That doesn’t justify the problems that we have in the product, but atleast it gives us a chance to be a differentiated product in this space (with high focus of data quality).

I am so desperate to increase the high-quality data corpus for “local” that I am digitizing the visiting cards of mine and my friends during my free time. Now-a-days, when I go shopping, I don’t forget to collect the visiting card. The businesses/vendors/service providers that I come across will definitely be available in DWAAR in few weeks time 🙂 Once this data gets in to Production, I don’t even have to worry about missed visiting cards. I just go to DWAAR and search for the information :)…I definitely take care not to digitize personal visiting cards (of working professionals)! If any of you would like to add good businesses/vendors to the database, please ping me (@ bharani at gmail.com)…I will be very grateful to talk with you and for your help.

I envision that “DWAAR” would be the place to go for finding any business and associated contact details for Indians.

Internal Launch

April 09, 07 by Bharani

The product that we have been working on for past few months, was finally demonstrated to the South African Top management. We call this “Internal Launch”. The reception to the demo was very positive and the team was excited and upbeat.

There are still issues to be sorted out. There are still changes/features to be implemented. But, the product is shaping up well. We will be launching the product shortly as Public Beta. The marketing plans are being charted out. Since this is my first involvement with a commercial internet product, I am excited and looking forward for all the actions.

Commercial-grade Internet Products appear simpler and easier-to-manage from outside. But the amount of Technology involvement is huge! Especially on the Hardware, network, Data centers etc., Excellent Technology Operations team is key to the success of Internet product. Not just that, there are umpteen other issues to be taken care of. Devil is definitely in Details!

Scalability [Ability to accommodate more traffic, more users, more features, more data], Performance [Ability to load pages faster, do transactions faster], Ease of use [Ability to complete the intent with minimal effort and with little learning from end-users], Tolerance to Failure [Fault-tolerance, graceful degradation, Business continuity etc.,] and Discoverability [Ability to be identified by Search Engines (SEO)] are some of the things that should be thought about obligatorily!

The aspect of Business Development in our Product merits scrutiny in-depth. I will dedicate a post for this later.

Few actions in a Start-up

February 11, 07 by Bharani

There is no dearth of action at the place I work. Being in the start-up mode, I am witnessing few aspects of Business. Some of which are:

1. Relationship with External IT vendors. This begins right from the due diligence in vendor selection, Negotiation with Vendors, Authoring and managing SOWs and spans to Tracking of deliverables and resolving on-going issues. By the time I joined, the vendor selection and negotiation phase was completed. But I gathered some knowledge on that later through my colleagues. There are two aspects of IT: Software and Hardware. I will mention about Hardware separately.

2. Hiring. Attracting top-notch talent is not an easy proposition, especially when you are in the start-up mode. Till now, most of the talent has been acquired through referrals. Interview process and selection criteria ensures that only good talent comes through. Coupled with the lack of established brand name, the all-time high salaries and a bullish market make the talent acquisition a costly affair. Only recently our company has placed an advertisement in the newspaper. The response to the ad has been impressive. Right now, many of us are busy in interviewing candidates for various positions.

3. Business Development. The Business development team has a difficult job of identifying right partners, forming alliances, negotiating right prices. They also should formulate right strategies to tackle the business challenges. Many a times, the strategies doesn’t work and the team has to regroup and identify new strategies.

4. Managing Products: There are various product teams working on different ideas. The team comes up with product requirement documents, UI mock-ups and detailed Product specifications. The team also conducts competitor analysis to see how the competitor products perform in the market place and comes up with new ideas to overcome the competition. The Product team will have Product managers, web designers and Graphic designers and few developers.

5. Engineering: Being creative is easy, when you take into account the task of Engineering! They are the one who give a shape to the ideas. The perform tasks such as Feasibility study, Architecture and design, development, testing, internal tool development, statging, deployment and managing operations post launch.

6. Hardware: The Infrastructure team ensures that the unsatiable hardware requirements of all Product teams are satisfied at the right time with right equipment. They manage all the network, hardware, data centers and key operations.

There are many more teams that do the job behind the scenes, such as Legal, Mergers & Acquisitions, Finance, HR and Admin. The Marketing and Sales team will be shortly formed.

I am seeing that my organization is growing day-by-day. Managing growth is a very key factor for success. If not properly managed, Growth can easily bring organizational inefficiencies and integration problems between various teams and products. We are wary of that fact…

As of now, we are still in the start-up environment…and two statements that you can hear from everyone are…”I haven’t slept” and “My bandwidth is clogged”. But there is a sense of excitement, urgency and pride in everyone. Addressing the unsatisfied needs of customers is always a satisfying effort 🙂

MIH

January 17, 07 by Bharani

Over the past few weeks, I have been facing this question: “Why MIH?”, “What is MIH?” etc.,

MIH Web Private Limited is a part of MIH Group. MIH is the digital media arm of Naspers, the South African media conglomerate. [Profile in Yahoo Finance]

MIH created a buzz when they acquired Bixee, the first Indian Job Vertical Search Engine. This was the first acquisition in the Indian web 2.0 space. Bixee is a really useful site, as it searches for jobs across all prominent and non-prominent Job portals in India and provides a consolidated view [Federated search]. Along with Bixee, MIH also acquired Pixrat.com, a social photo bookmarking site. Pixrat was one of the earliest Indian sites to be featured in TechCrunch. I must admit and warn that Pixrat may not be safe to open at workplace sometimes! [The spam and offensive content problems have come down significantly though] But it has a great value for people who want to bookmark photos when they surf randomly.

MIH currently has few internet products in their portfolio, including iBiBo.com, a community platform with strong focus on Blogs and Albums currently. An interesting contest called “Great Indian Blogger Hunt” is currently running…See website for more details.

Our team is currently working on the flagship product of MIH India, which is set to be released in the near future. This will be completely different from all the internet products from MIH india. Watch out this space!…Will be really interesting and USEFUL product for Internet audience.

Coming to the question of Why? Well, it all fits my interests and aspirations. Internet space in India, a start-up, Product management opportunity and a tremendous opportunity to learn about all facets of a business from close quarters. A perfect platform to launch my entrepreneurship journey in a few years time.

Lot of action and progress happening around….Exciting times!

Updates…

January 11, 07 by Bharani

I quit Convergys on January 5th. I moved to MIH Web Private Limited, based in Gurgaon. Last week at Convergys was very memorable mainly due to great bunch of colleagues over there.

Gurgaon is much colder than I expected. Though the place seems to be very advanced with skyscrapers and mega malls, the local transportation sucks. There are hardly any public transporation or auto-rickshaws. Even the shared auto-rickshawas are few in number and carries full-load of passengers. The only option is cycle-rickshaws or cab services (which are very expensive). Should buy my own vehicle soon!

Work is exciting and I am eagerly looking forward for next few months. Lots of action happening at the work place as few product launches are planned in the near future.

More updates later….