Innovation Series #2

9 02 2008

Well Well, the week has been pretty hectic for me. In this issue I have few interesting links to share with you and before that, let me share you interesting information on 1.6 Lakh ($3500) Tractor which is making rounds in news. Bhanjibhai Mathukiya, a small time innovator from Junagadh, has created a mini tractor of 10 HP (Horse Power), after being moved by the plight of the small groundnut and orchard farmers in Saurashtra. This is the power of thinking minds. We definitely need 1 Lakh car and a Rs.10,000 2-wheeler, but we also need innovation at the grass root level to sustain our living. Just imagine having huge building, good houses, affordable and comfortable transport systems etc provide quality of life, however, what if we dont have any thing to eat? Does it make sense? In the last 10 Years, the price of rice which we buy from the dealer has not gone up by more than 5% at the farmers end. But, we have been seeing huge price raise in the rice we buy at regular intervals. This simply means that the more money you are paying the shop is actually going to the trader who is selling rice and almost negligible amount is going to the farmer. There is another similar innovation to the poor farmer – “Bullet Sathi” where there is a lost cost equipment which is fitted to an Bullet (2 wheeler brand in India) which can help the farmer in various activities during farming.The above two are classic examples of innovation at the roots and affordable solutions to the bottom of the pyramid farmers.Found an interesting link on Pluggd.In by Sharada on choosing your firms Legal Avatar

Power of Idea

31 01 2008

This is one of the most sort of terminologies we hear. All of us have ideas – ideas in our daily life, work, home etc. Then what is “Power of an Idea?” When you read an interview of any successful businessman or when you talk to people who run companies (entrepreneurs), one thing which you commonly hear is the power of an idea. Many aspiring entrepreneurs ask this question in forums – What do VC’s look for? and again, the common answer is “The idea”.

Let us examine this term with few known examples which created history.

We all know that the first attempt to fly was made by Wright Brothers in 1903, and also, most of us think that an airplane was invented at that time. But actually, the first draft of an airplane was made by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15 Century. This was the time an idea was born. After that, after close to 400 years, Wright Brothers dreamed big and brought out the idea of flying and today, we just cannot live without an airplane.

To quote a more recent example, Ratan Tata dreamed of having a common man’s car. He noticed the family of four going on a 2 wheeler without any space to anyone. He wanted to transform the way we travel and today, we know what the answer is.  When compared to GE, HM, Honda, Hyundai etc etc, Tata Motors is a small automobile company. But, how could they change an idea of car?

The above two examples make us think. An ‘idea’ is the way you look at things. All of us have ideas, to change the way we live or to create something which can help solve an existing problem. However, the result of the idea is left to the individual who thinks through it. At times, an idea or thought process becomes bigger than the thinker himself.

Another example we can think of is of Mohammad Yunus of Grameen Bank. He started small around 25 years back to provide support to “Bottom of Pyramid” group to enable them to live for themselves. What we see today is a transformation in life-style. Today, many countries in the world would want to replicate the same model to improve living conditions in their region.

Idea is powerful and it can really create history. However, the main ingredient of the idea is the committment of the thinker. In our airplane example, probably Leonardo did not have access to all the information and material required to fly in his time, but when the time came, the idea was re-born. This is the power of an idea.

What VC’s look for in entrepreneurs is their committment to their idea. The idea might not create history, but will it solve a particular problem is what is evaluated.

The first thing you do when you have an idea, is to live it up!

Destructive Innovation

11 01 2008

We have been hearing about innovation and creation for a long time now (ever since there has been human presence on this mother earth). There are many books available for reading and there are many eminent personalities to explain the same too. However, for a common human being, this term is still on the higher end. End of the day, every time we hear this term, we have one question in our minds – How does it matter to me? That’s a very correct point. I doubt if all of us understood the metal steel as well, until we heard the SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) punch line – There is little bit of steel in everyone’s life (Now it is rephrased to There is little bit of SAIL in everyone’s life). How true?

Innovation is all together a different process and all of us innovate in our own way to make lives simpler and happier. Consider an example of getting the newspaper from the gate to your sofa? We have seen in films and also in real life many people execute this – train the pet dog to fetch things. Remember the last time you did something destructive at home and you had an innovative lie to your parents. Do you remember the time when you had a better way to memorize those formulae? Everyday, you figure out a new way to home from work to avoid traffic and reach home soon. If I go with the list, we have many. But, how many times have we really innovated destructively? Yes…something to think about.

This is what exactly happened to Automobile industry on the 10th January 2008, with the Tata’s creating the Rupees One Lakh Car.

My co-blogger and friend Thejesh has consolidated most of the important comments by various personalities on his blog. None from the automobile industry provided a good citation of this innovation. Well, they are not able to digest. Deep in their hearts, they are happy, but the position they are in, does not allow them to comment more than that.

In their book Innovative India, Radhika Chadha and Parmit Chadha write about Auto, the most popular and amazing public transport vehicle which is well lauded by everyone (keeping the nosiness and pollution apart). When was the auto last re-invented after it has been invented? Almost never. There have been only 2/3 players in the Indian market and Bajaj is the leader in this. Why has there not been any change in the design or technology to make it better and safer? Interestingly, the authors have taken pains to speak to owners about how they feel and most of them felt that the auto needs more innovation and they are ready to pay more price as long as it is making sense. Why the manufacturers have’s not thought about doing something? Is it because they feel that they have the monopoly? Probably Yes.

Today, why am I writing about all these things is because I sincerely feel that Tata have Destructively Innovated something which no one has ever dreamt of. They have created the People’s Car and millions are waiting to own one.

Innovation is in thought process, commitment and the dare to dream big. Before Maruti 800 came on to road’s 20 years back, we thought that a car is only for the upper class and always have had a picture of the big RR or Ford’s which were with only limited in number. Maruti revolutionized the aspect of a car for family to travel. Now, Tata has again revolutionized the aspect of mobility.

In his article Decoding the Rs 1 lakh message, Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan in Business Standard today, mentions how confusing and tough make the west understand the terminology of “Lakh” in relation to the ‘millions’ which they have. Now, the whole world will understand what a Lakh means.

I am going to my hometown tonight and when I called my dad yesterday, he said “Can you please pick that 1 Lakh car and drive home?” I was really amazed. He was following the news channels and he wants to own one immediately. Mr. Tata, thank you for realizing my dad’s dream to own his own car with his own money (he retired as Principal for Government High School 12 years back and lives on his pension) instead of us, his children wanting to buy him one (He never allowed us to buy a car, because he wanted to own his own car).

There are many testimonials good and bad. However, I look at things optimistically. Let us wait and see what it is actually when it is on the road.

The 1 Lakh car is Destructive Innovation demystified.

Being more Creative

3 12 2007

Just got these points in an email chain and I found them very interesting read. Hope you enjoy too 🙂

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to change the world.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about “Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time.

24. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

31. Remain frugal.