Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Running Man

I've been out of blogging action for over 2 years now. When I was in an introspection mode during the recent holiday season, I decided to get back to writing and here I am.. Over the past 2 years, I've done 2 main things - Work and Run.

Work has been crazy - our company has been growing fast and I've been busy in restructuring operations, setting up new systems/processes and establishing overseas entities. The more exciting thing I have done is pick up running.

 Sometime in early 2012, I was introduced to Duplays, a venture that promoted Sports in working professionals. I joined the group and started playing basketball/squash with them. In July 2012, I noticed an ad from them about a running group. That drew my attention and I decided to join it - primarily to get fitter.

In Aug 2012, I started training with the running group (about 10 of us with ages ranging from 25 till 45). Long story short, I loved it and became a regular. Started with small distance running and gradually built distance, fitness for half marathon. Ran my first half marathon (ADHM in Delhi) in December 2013 and with the recently concluded SCMM in Mumbai, I have run 4 half marathons till now. I now want to run a full marathon this year but haven't been able to figure out the training plan for that.
Running is a passion now and I will continue continue writing about it regularly. That's it for now. Next blog will be on some of the books I've read recently.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rest in Peace Steve Jobs

Woke up today to the sad news of Steve Jobs demise. There aren't possibly enough words to measure the impact he had on modern technology and world. Leaving his astronomical accomplishments aside, what stands out to me is his humility. He spent the last 7 yrs of life fighting a rare form of cancer and even during those days he continued working and changing the world!! To me, his life is best summed up by his address at Stanford graduation ceremony in 2005: Stay Hungry Stay Foolish:
Rest in Peace Steve! You were one of the all time greats and will be truly missed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Future of Groupon and daily-deals sites (in India)

The past fortnight has seen some not-so-encouraging activity in the daily-deals sites space.  Facebook announced that it is ending its deals "test": Groupon has also postponed its proposed IPO There was also this great post on HBR on Groupon and future of online daily-deals business.

These items add credence to a growing concern on the future of group deals sites. Many industry veterans have questioned the sustainability of this business model citing high customer acquisition (sales & marketing costs) and lack of customer loyalty. I think these are valid concerns but it is early to say that daily-deals as a business is doomed to failure.

My concern with their current business model is their marketing/targeting style - I am subscribed to 3 group deals sites in India (Snapdeal, Sosasta (bought by Groupon), Fashinandyou) and receive their emails daily. However, these emails advertise all their offerings/deals and not the ones I would be interested in. This is a classic case of push v/s pull strategy. They are pushing deals on me without bothering to cater to my interests. Also, when I look for a deal on something specific - say "pizza", it is difficult to find information on their websites (there are no "Search" boxes on any of these sites). Considering that there are dozens of these sites in India (without any significant differences between them) an average shopping enthusiast will get a dozen emails each day and I am not sure if people even open these emails daily. I personally prefer searching for a deal rather than browsing through all emails.

The mushrooming of these deal sites has now led to the growth of deal aggregators (metasearch) industry i.e. sites which search for deals across these sites and put them at one location, similar to what Kayak does for OTA sites. Interestingly, there are over 20 such sites in India !! Now, how does one choose among one of these sites?

Clearly - there are just too many of these sites. With e-Commerce market in India expected to grow exponentially over the next decade, a lot of VC money has flown in India. Companies like Tiger Global, Accel Partners, Helion Venture, SAIF Partners, Norwest have been pretty active in the past two years and have invested in over a dozen startups.

While I am confident of the future of eCommerce in India, I think that daily-deals sites will soon have to change their business model to survive. Anyone interested in exploring this space further should read this great article: The Dirt On Daily-Deals Sites

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The web is what you make of it

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed this Google Chrome ad on several channels:

I love this ad because of its simplicity and message: "the web is what you make of it". This is so true - internet and sharing/networking sites have made it so easy to pursue your passions and even make money of it. I know some people who started blogging on topics of their interest. Slowly, their blogs became popular and they were eventually approached by publishers to write book(s). So, if you have a passion, the web gives you enough opportunities to pursue it. But there is a flip side to the viral nature of internet - if you publish something that people find ridiculous, the results could be catastrophic. A case in point, Rebecca Black, the US teenager whose video became one of the most watched videos on Youtube but not for the right reasons.

So, the next time you publish something on internet, be careful.