Why is Internet in India not taking off?

Why do you think Internet in India has not taken off (as yet) compared to all the hopes and projections?

Take this poll on my blog and share your opinion.


Of Eggs, Chickens and waiting to hatch or lay them

Digital Media Outlook 2009, a report on digital media industry based on a survey of top advertisers in India has the following findings:

  • Traditional media spend has dropped by 10% while digital media spend increased by 44% (base is smaller, but still !)
  • Big advertisers including consumer goods companies are still skeptical about usefulness of digital media, largely due to it’s limited reach … 4.2% penetration level compared to 50% in TV and 20% in print
  • Just 5% of total ad pie is allocated to Internet advertising
  • Of the digital marketing spend, a quarter goes to developing/maintaining a brand specific web site
  • FMCG, Consumer Utilities and Consumer Durables is just 30% of online ad expenditure … though they are 70% of total ad spending
  • Online medium is believed to be most effective for “driving traffic to a website” and adept as other mediums in terms of delivering “awareness” and “consideration”.  It is considered least effective for delivering promotions and driving traffic to stores
  • Rationale for picking Internet as a medium continues to be a “platform for direct marketing” rather than a medium for “mass communication or brand building”

To read the full report visit livemint.com/digitaloutlook.htm


Fascinating to read this. Not that the results are surprising. But, it always puts things in perspective to get a fix on numbers. It is obvious that there are a lots of chicks waiting for the eggs to hatch and a lots of eggs waiting for the chicken to lay them.

I am congenitally wired to ignore current reality and look at what it should be. That’s how good things have always worked out for me in the past.

When people say that it “only works well to generate visitors to a site” … I see an egg waiting for a chicken (read more web sites that sell !!). When businesses say we only spend 5% because penetration is low … that’s another chicken waiting to lay more eggs (read ad budgets). When some one complains that online medium is least effective in “driving store sales” or “delivering promotions” … I see an egg waiting to burst into a chicken (read Discount Coupons, Mobile Coupons).

All this means is … it will take more time to gain scale and traction … but the pace of growth is accelerating. The cliched question is not “What or Whether” but “When”. Nothing wrong that.

So ask yourself for your business (if you bet or are betting on the growth of digital medium in India) … are you prepared to wait it out? 3 Years? 5 Years? Are your assumptions (for growth, revenue etc. etc.) inline with the current pace of growth.

Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here. (Sridhar Turaga’s Blog: An Indian Entrepreuner)

Last man standing ….

I was driving back home a little late last week. It was 10:45 in the night … and all stores on 24th Main, where we live, were closed.

Well, not all !!

Balaji Medical stores our local store here was open. Actually they are the first to open and last to close in our area. I started wondering why the Medi Plus nearby is closed?

Ask any on in HSR Sector 2 and they will say Balaji always has all the medicines you need. If they don’t they will get it for u by end of day. They deliver home, even if it is one syrup ! And, Balaji is always open.

Come to think of it there is a story to tell in this. It is the small entepreneurial stores like Balaji Medical Stores that thrive, while the large chains struggle. In our own area this is true with MK Ahmed, which no one could beat … none of the large chains. Walk into most of the large chains in our area. Their stocks are ready to expire. The store managers are invisible and always busy updating their computers or complaining the computers don’t work. The staff never makes eye contact and is always busily moving around the store hiding in the aisles. Of course, they never recognise you how many ever times u visit.

There is something ironical here. The large chains were supposed to wipe out the “kirana stores” and “one location mom&pop” stores. Their superior inventory management, vast stocks, trained staff and computerized systems were supposed to leave the small ones in the dust. In our own area it’s the proprietary stores that own most of the business still.

I guess running a retail business is one store at a time and needs people who want to sell. It needs an inherent understanding of what people buy, rather than just report reading skills … no system can give u an instinct for what is popular. Needs skin in the game and an entreprenurial spirit to stay in the store engaged and sell. That’s where most of the retail chains struggle. To build the spirit. To build the model where each store manager runs it like it’s his own Balaji Medical Stores. This is even harder when they kept opening new stores hru the boom time … without having a strong core that can be replicated or scaled.

No wonder Balaji Medical Stores is thriving … while two large chains have wound up operations.

Let the last (wo)man standing standing thrive !!

Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here. (Sridhar Turaga’s Blog: An Indian Entrepreuner)

Registering to Vote this time

If you haven’t registered to vote yet … it’s really easy … just go to eci.nic.in

If you have never registered youcan use the Form 6.  Download this form http://eci.nic.in/forms/FORM6.pdf

Fill it and send it to your assembly constituency.

Jaagore.com has the same thing …. but it’s very very slow.

My predictions for 2009 …

Every TV channel now has people predicting the future, so I can’t resist doing that myself !

Here are 5 things that I predict will happen in 2009.

#1. America will shut itself from inside – President Obama will re-institute an inward looking and closed to world politics American foreign policy … like it was before the two great wars. Unless they are needled and dragged into war with another Perl Harbor or 9/11 … one can expect US to go to the other extreme of their current global police role … to disconnecting with international politics and getting into a shell. This will have implications to arms manufacturers, Pakistan, Iraq, N.Korea, Russia etc. and open up a spot for Russia, China, India etc. to have a voice in international politics.

#2. Document Syncronisation to leverage online collaboration – Document syncronisation just like with email with gain acceptance. With documents being available online-and-offline, collaborating and anytime download will be the primary thrust of online document management apps – rather than creation and editing. Online document editing and creating will always be a Plan B. It’s like with Outlook/Exchange email. Google will either implement this for Star Office with Google Docs or Google Sites. Microsoft and Adobe have made a start and will push it too. As ever, break thru will be from a new startup we don’t know about.

#3.  Indian businesses to focus on customers and process – Indian businesses will make a real shift in mindsets due to recessionary times … to focus on current customer management and process management in it’s true spirit … as a way of life. The “We-are-like-this-only” style and seat of your pants expansion plans as “build-it-they-will-come” will give way to a more deliberate and thoughtful style of operations management. Thinking we will turn Japanese is expecting too much … but hoping for isn’t.

#4. Social Networking as a feature – Instead of just being a space of it’s own, Social Networking will become a feature of every major online consumer service/provider. Just like chat, blogs, video, photo upload and tags … started as independent and unique business of it’s own … and are now common place in every news site and consumer service fully integrated as a feature … the same will happen with Social Networking. Once upon a time a lot of people put up their web pages on Geocities … to finally shift to their own sites … having a presence in Facebook or LinkedIn or Orkut is similar in many ways to having pages in Geocities. If you think about it … Social Networking is basically collaborating as a community, having links to friends in a organised manner … every service can benefit from offering that to their users.

#5. Bypass the carrier – Once the operating system and the hand set get de-coupled for mobile phones … (Android is one of those things that signals the beginning of that process) … the next thing will be ways to bypass the carrier for services like SMS and short codes. De-coupling of Software, Harware and the Netware happened with computers … will happen for Mobiles as well. This process will begin in 2009.

Let me know what you think. What would you predict for 2009?

Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here.

(Sridhar Turaga’s Blog: An Indian Entrepreneur)

Thanks, for rejecting me …

After crossing due hurdles, I joined Little Flower College in Hyderabad for my 11th/12th. The principal Brother John was an old mentor from my school days. Religiously met him on the first day. Brother John asked me what my goal in life was. I replied “I hope to join an IIT“. Like his characteristic cane, he whipped back saying “Every fool hopes to join an IIT … don’t hope … do it“. That jolt shook me all the way into an IIT two years later.

Having joined an IIT, it seemed like nirvana was here at last … so I enjoyed the open air theater, the late night canteens, the “gult” gossip clubs and Pink Floyds of that new found heaven. The first two semesters were a wash out … in grades. A visit back home brought me face to face with my mom again … and realized that even Indra reports to her. I proclaimed to my wing mates that I will “hope” to top the class, a congenital “fool” that I am. I over heard on another day one of my friends joking about my claims … and even “doing tapas upside down” won’t help me now. I love him now for that, because I topped (well, almost … except for some GOD like creatures like my friends Basava who can never be touched ever) in my third semester and graduated in the 8.8+ club.

Years later, I started a BPO company in India (iSeva) with a few friends. Among other things I ran technology. Just two years into the venture we got lucky to be short listed by a large credit card company in US looking to outsource. In the early days of the BPO boom if you had an office and already invested in a real telecom switch it was competitive advantage. Anyways, a team of 10-12 experts landed in our small offices. They split into 6-7 sub teams to probe each function of the company. Three of us posted ourselves strategically across various teams. We didn’t even have so many conference rooms … so we put them in offices for the torture sessions that followed. Within 15 minutes it was apparent that our experience ended there … yet they persisted out of decency for 2-3 hours. My colleagues and I braved their questions with all our creative genius. “Why do you have a Nokia Firewall in US and a CheckPoint in India?” one of them asked. We couldn’t say because two different people ordered those, so we said that is part of our “vendor risk mitigation strategy“. “Tell us how you expect to learn about the credit card business in the US?“, another quipped. Pat came our reply, “We trust our clients to teach us their business best“. One of my co-founders said “I feel like crying” in a bio-break. Of course we lost the deal miserably. But, we got a list of 150 questions that we needed to answer to learn in this business. We went on to re-design our networks & processes using those questions … to be of the most well designed and impressive ones to win us deals in future RFP sessions. We also bonded as a team and earned respect from our teams for being brave in leading the carnage from the front. I guess a larger deal that we won a year later, that is now 25-30% of the company’s revenues now would have gone this way if not for that miserable afternoon.

A couple of years later, I was running sales in the US. Having never sold anything, I applied myself to know it all. We got short listed by a large bank for an outsourcing RFP. I personally handled this lead from the first contact they made with us. A list of 30 came down to 15 after killing 2 trees and printing 300 pages of our proposals – we were on it. That came down to 5 after endless calls and meetings – we were on it. I was thinking of how Kapil brought us our only world cup. They now flew to India to meet the team for the proverbial site visit. I promptly reached there and prepped the teams. I was all over this one. Every slide, every sip of coffee and ever other sentence included my words of wisdom. We were still on when the list got cut down to three. This was a dream run, because the other two on the list were the classic 1,000 pound Gorillas of the business. More proposals, more meetings and more brilliance followed. We lost a close second. As I pieced this together over the next 9 months, including feedback from the client and some of my colleagues in the leadership team … I learned that my brilliance blew it. Being a large company looking to outsource, they were scared away by the dominance of one person’s performance in the whole show … casting shadows of doubt on rest of the team … who they felt will really be key to long term success. We needed that deal and I learned one of the harshest lessons of my life … it’s not always about me. Next time in a similar situation I stepped out to let the team on the ground present them selves best … it worked. (Being in the meeting and keeping quiet is something I haven’t learned as yet … so my friend Dave taught me the disappearing to get a cup of tea trick :))

So I thank all the clients, investors, potential employees, employees, colleagues, partners … who rejected me … you make me a better person.

Are you getting rejected enough as an entrepreneur? … if not, you are probably not trying hard enough.

Are you getting dejected by the rejections? … if yes, you are probably not learning enough.

… as some one said it best

“Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment”

Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here. (Sridhar Turaga’s Blog: An Indian Entrepreuner)

Here’s a tip …

I recently moved back to India after a few years in the US (this is the second and hopefully the last time !) … and needed to build our life ground up in Bangalore.

So we got a phone, a gas connection, furniture, a broad band connection, a TV, cable and so on.

A my mother taught me years ago … we always kept a ward of 10 Rs. notes at home (I think 1 Re. in those days !!) so we handle the “uncomfortable silence” in the end by giving tips to the people who come and do their job.

I have very distinct memories of my US returned uncles complaint about how Indians don’t do anything without being “tipped” with “baksheesh” or “chai pani” … only to be viewed as corruption … unlike in the US where everything is so process driven and just happens.

(Ofcourse, I realised after living in the US that not only is tipping very common but, there is a process for it there with the 15% rule 🙂)

Any ways, I got my phone and broad band set up by this guy who explained to me in not so great english how DSL unlike dial-up works even when the phone is being used. So, I promptly gave him 30 Rs. at the end of everything … becaues Chai-Pani in CoffeeDay costs that much now. He smiled back.

He said “No thank you. I don’t accept tips. Please let me know if you have any problems and I will take care of those for you. If you are happy with our service please refer your friends to our company“.

I then got my satellite TV connection. Set in my old ways, instructed my wife not to pay more than 30 Rs. when they come to set it up. Firstly it was a lady who came to set up the connection. Then she refused, saying it is “against company policy to accept tips from customers“.

I recollect now that the guy at an Indian airline (not Indian Airlines … not yet) which offers free baggage check-in service politely turned my 10 Rs. down.

In all instances I was first ashamed to “uncomfortable silence“, then was astounded and then I felt proud.

This the new India where focus on the customer (and the sales savvy of asking for a referral) is part of the “process” … without tips.


Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here. (Author: Sridhar Turaga)