Archive for November, 2011
In times when technology pervades every aspect of human life, when people are connected all the time, when gadgets, gizmos and applications are a big part of our existence there are some businesses which are excelling as they go back to the basics. I’ve always been one for standing out in the crowd and today let’s talk about standing out in a crowded marketplace with a product that’s simplistic and yet manages to grab attention.
Here’s why good business today is really about going back to the basics, taking a leaf out of the traditional drinks market in India…
Fresh not Tinned or Canned
The scorching summer heat really gets people across India down and very thirsty. No amounts of aerated drinks quench your thirst the way a glass of sugarcane juice does. Considering the fact that most people crave a glass of sugarcane juice but are put off by the sheer lack of hygiene at sugarcane stalls, the gap in the market…a cool place to drink fresh sugarcane juice was discovered by Srinivas Rao and his son Santosh.
Cane-o-la, a chain of air-conditioned kiosks serving fresh, hygienic sugarcane juice, strategically positioned across residential areas and IT parks is the place to find fresh sugarcane juice blended with lime, mint, pepper, chaat masala.
The father-son duo grow their own sugarcane in Mandya, Karnataka, and Kadappa, Andhra Pradesh and serve up fresh juice in clean environments to sell over 1,000 glasses each per day, at Rs 10-12 a glass.
What you can learn from Cane-o-la is that people are always looking for simple things to solve their problems or quench their thirst. Sometimes lack of freshness or hygiene act as deterrents and you can service this gap with a basic product tweaked to meet the need of the times.
A Simple Lifestyle Change
Since this piece was inspired by the traditional drinks market in India its only natural that I give you another example of a business model built on a traditional drink. This time its packaged coconut water.
Savinay Jain and Mayank Sethia, the duo behind Coco Loco, a coconut water brand hit upon the idea as they used to watch corporate executives queuing up at the roadside coconut water-seller in Gurgaon. They hit bulls eye with the coconuts, ‘quality-checked’ and graded, come from Gujarat and West Bengal and a health conscious crowd which is looking for a lifestyle change. Coconut water served up in a sanitized environment.
Probably something that the Jumbo King vada pav brand did too. Adopting the Mac Donald’s model of hygiene, product packaging, extension and delivery it took the Indian burger to a new level. People are looking for lifestyle changes and it’s not necessary that they would want to eliminate a product or service which is traditional or staple. You have to find a way of giving them that.
Capitalizing on Culture
A visit to an Indian home is incomplete without a traditional Indian drink. Apart from tea, coffee people serve buttermilk (sweet and sour), lime juice and the like. Capitalizing on this cultural aspect are some small players and some really big brands.
Amul’s spiced buttermilk, thandai and flavoured lassi, Coca Cola’s lemon drink Minute Maid Nimbu Fresh (“Bilkul ghar jaisa”) and PepsiCo has desi cooler, Nimbooz, with the tagline, “Ekdum Asli Indian”.
If you are thinking of setting up a business, look for simple solutions that make people’s lives better, save time and deliver quality. You don’t have to be too futuristic; a basic product with small changes should do just fine!
Stories and writings on enterprise building and business opportunities abound. There are a number of people who have transformed their lives through business ventures. Trisha Waldron, is one such lady, from being a welfare mom to a jewelry designer her journey has been remarkable.
Here’s a little something about Trisha Waldron. A single mom who had no work experience or education to bank on Trisha went back to school, learnt the ropes of jewelry design, got off welfare by working on designs for a catalogue for an artist friend and went on design a whole jewelry line. She made her first million in her first 5 years as a business owner. A big transition from living on food stamps and working out of a garage!
Here are 6 lessons in entrepreneurship for all those budding business owners…
Know What You Want
As a business owner some clarity of vision with regard to what you want, where you want to go and what your goals for your business are is imperative. You can’t just get out there knowing you want to do something.
Trisha got her inspiration to do business while volunteering at her daughter’s school. The teacher said “You can create your own life” and Trisha found that truly motivating. She realized she needed to get out and do something. Run her life on her terms so she we She applied for a student loan and went back to school.
It wasn’t an easy task… for the first year, she and her girls lived on welfare, food stamps, and odd jobs, but the second year, an opportunity presented itself when an artist friend offered her a job assembling jewelry for a mail order catalogue in her spare time.
A typical day for het at the time meant, working hard at school through the day, taking care of the kids in the evening, and then working late into the night at her kitchen table.
Help is Out There
As a business owner you are bound to face difficulties all the time. There are times especially when you start out when you will find that you are alone and the amount of work on hand will seem overwhelming. But help is out there, you just need to look for it.
Trisha learn book keeping from a group of retired accountants who volunteered to help people like her get a grip on accounting. When her business was growing her friends chipped in with taking care of her kids. When things got busy on the business front she hired single moms to assemble her designs from home like she used to when she started out.
Be Willing to Learn and Sometimes Unlearn
Trisha was 28, divorced and mom to two little girls when she decided to take a student loan and went back to school. She went to the library with the single minded determination of teaching herself the basics of jewelry design. This was also the time when she began exploring Native American motifs from which she would draw inspiration.
As an entrepreneur there are bound to be times when you would be confronted with things that you know nothing about. A willingness to learn and sometimes unlearn by shedding your inhibitions, believing that “it can be done” and taking steps towards learning new things is what makes a difference to your business.
Cut the Aggression Add Compassion
Most times we as people build up these walls around ourselves. We are so scared of being exploited, cheated and fooled by people that we tend to take an aggressive stand on everything (well almost everything). This distances us from people and isolation is not something we need in order to build a business.
Trisha found that adopting a compassionate approach helped her build valuable alliances with bead stone workers from Africa, India and China. Girlfriends chipped in work, neighbors with the kids and she was able to forge long and loyal associations with people around her.
Build Your Idea Factory
Innovation is a big part of entrepreneurial success. You might need people to give you ideas from time to time. Build an idea factory, a reservoir of sorts for you to dip in to when you need inspiration.
Trisha’s mastermind group was something she kept going for 10 years bouncing ideas off every few weeks.
Go Out on Limb
Step out of your comfort zone and do something that people will sit up and take notice of. When Trisha’s artist friend offered her a job assembling jewelry for a mail order catalogue in her spare time she grabbed the opportunity.
She finally ended up proposing to the owner of the catalogue that she design his entire line of jewelry. From then on there was no looking back. That step boosted her confidence to the point that she set out to incorporate her own company in 1985.
In the end I would say Trisha’s story is peppered with a number of lessons for anyone who wants to do business. I have just given you 6 lessons I felt were most pertinent.
Rina Shah, the spunky lady behind Rinaldi Designs created one of India’s leading fashion accessories brands when she launched Rinaldi Design in 1997. Her repertoire includes everything from seasonal footwear for men and women looking for casual wear and cocktail designs. Matching accessories like belts, handbags and coordinated sets of bags, belts and footwear to suit every occasion.
With new lines of men’s and women’s footwear launching every season, Rinaldi’s products are the perfect accessories that create casual charm or drama whatever the wearer is looking for. Eye catching tapestry, leather trimmings or embellished with 3D embroidery in stones and pearls, Rina’s offerings use Resham-work (silk thread embroidery), Swarovski Crystals to create unique collections that emanate style that is bold and confident.
Stylish, elegant and comfortable, Rinaldi Design products are crafted by the finest artisans, made from the finest leather and in the best manufacturing facilities.
Rinaldi’s USP is the ability to play with color, design and embroidery and marry it with material like brocades, combined with oriental prints to create unparalleled designs. Also known for her elegant bridal collection which is beautiful and functional Rina Shah is a creative designer who continues to deliver customer delight through her creations.
29, Adhyaru Industrial Estate,Ground Floor,Sun Mill Compound,Lower Parel
Mumbai – 400 013 (Maharashtra) India
Phone(s) : +91-22-24934492
Fax : +91-22-24918223