Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Emerging Market Segments & Trends: Part III

Online Vertical Collaboration
Present The Alternative

After the boom in organic food and beverages market, the next segment which is on the growth curve is the segment for organic cosmetics and health products. In fact, with awareness spreading accross the countries and in most of the cross section of economies worldwide, there is a soar in demand for organic and all natural non-food products also.

The market per se for organic and all natural cosmetics and health products is not new in India. [Refer to my article published in August 2010 - Early Riders: Part I, Master The Knowledge & Unravel The Dogma].  Shehnaz Husein has been the pioneer in presenting the alternative solution to cosmetics and healthcare products via Ayurveda. It is the rate of growth shown by this segment that opens up entrepreneurial opportunities which can be pursued.

As a fundamental of the market economy, niches are created in the market for organic and all natural non-food products. Few niches which i can think of within the segment of organic and all natural cosmetics, helthcare products and other non-food products are:

1. Household cleaning products
2. Cosmetics for men
3. Cosmetics for women
4. Cosmetics for babies and children below 12 years
5. Healthcare and therapeutic products for common ailments like cold & cough, joint pains, muscle strains, acne, mild respiratory allergies, stress & tension etc.

    Fig: Niche Market Segments

    The list above is not exhaustive and if proper categorization is done, then there could be many more fields that can be added. Each of these fields could well start as a niche entrepreneurial opportunity, with the scalability to engulf other fields as well. There can be an increase vertically and horizontally for the products that can be offered.

    The niche for herbal or organic cosmetics is already flooded with brands like Biotique, Shehnaz Husain herbals, Dabur, VLCC to name a few. This segment alone stood at an estimated $2.5 billion in 2008 and is expected to grow at seven per cent, according to an analysis of the sector. Add to the demand and willingness to go for organic cosmetics, the concept of 'total well being', you get to an opportunity to introduce the services for total well being solutions - right from facial, manicure to offering packages which include diet control, destressing activities, such as yoga, spas and jaccuzzi.

    Reflect further and add growing acceptance of online retail concept in India. You shall see a business model evolve, which is a function of all such variables. So we have:

    OrganicAndAllNaturalNonFoodProducts.com = f {Web 2.0/Web 3.0; demand for organic and all natural cosmetics, health care products, other non-food products; demographics; growing importance for fashion & grooming}. You could also include increase in disposable income, as one more variable.

    The above factors can multiply and make this market a potential full of niches to be addressed. I had a chance to get interview of Maura Chari who has nurtured one such business model, and the name of her venture is Wellnessocean.com. Return back in a few days to read her entrepreneurial story.


    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Interview With Poonam Bir Kasturi, DailyDump

    Featuring Women Entrepreneur

    Poonam Bir Kasturi
    Founder, DailyDump

    [Category: Embracing Environment Level Challenges
    Waste Management: When Waste Is Not A Waste]

    Daily Dump was formed to promote household waste management through composting. The most remarkable aspect of Poonam's waste management process is the carefully designed terracotta products, which keep the hygiene in and keep the smell and maggots away! Moreover, Daily Dump is happy to share its know-how. All information, including how to start home composting or a similar business venture is freely available, for free, under a creative common licence.

    Daily Dump has 15 “clones” [as Poonam calls it] around India and abroad — autonomous businesses that are following and sharing the Daily Dump model for waste management. In the four years since Daily Dump started, it now has around 4,500 customers; and over 3,500 kg of organic waste has been composted. But this has not come without the sweat and tears. Unwillingness towards waste management and apathy towards waste seggregation [even with educated class] are just the two out of many other hurdles, which Poonam has thwarted successfully. Read to understand more about her entrepreneurial venture.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Embracing Environment Level Challenges

    Waste Management: When Waste Is Not A Waste

    Today every responsible citizen in any country empathises with the waste that is getting wasted and the harmful effect that it has on our environment and health, when left unattended. Every conscious soul today is aware of the un-managed waste that is heaped away in many landfills. But most often people do not how to manage the waste. Even the educated class finds it difficult to contemplate and reflect on how the waste that they generate can be curbed and what to do with that which is generated - how to avoid landfills? Needless to say the waste lying around is unhygeinic and therefore, a plausible cause for epidemic diseases.

    There are many kinds of waste classified based on their characteristics. For example we have e-waste coming out of increased usage of digitalised gadgets in our urban lifestyles; medical waste coming from hospitals and clinics; plastics coming out of increased consumption of cold beverages, bottled-water and packed food/groceries and wet organic waste coming from household and restraunts, hotels and small eateries. Each of these type of waste need specific attention for managing them.

    If you talk about just the household waste, studies indicate that, in India, on an average, each person in urban areas produces half a kilogram of garbage each day. Ten percent of Indians live in urban areas. This calculates to more than 20 million tonnes of garbage each year in cities alone! A very natural way of avoiding landfills with our household waste [which is usually biodegradable], is the natural method of composting, vermi-composting and anaerobic digestion. Composting is easy and an environmental friendly solution for the wet, organic, biodegradable household waste. It is economically viable too.

    The Green Revolution left over 11.6 million hectares of low-productivity, nutrient-depleted soils ruined by unbalanced and excessive use of synthetic fertilisers and lack of organic manure or micronutrients. City compost can fill this need and solve both the problems of barren land and organic nutrient shortages estimated at six million tons a year. India’s 35 largest cities alone can provide 5.7 million tonnes a year of organic manure if their biodegradable waste is composted and returned to the soil. Integrated plant nutrient management, using city compost along with synthetic fertilisers, can generate enormous national savings as well as cleaning urban India. There is scarcely any other national programme which can bring such huge benefits to both urban and rural sectors.

    Quite a few entrepreneurs have already started embracing this environmental challenge and have started organizations working towards managing different types of wastes. One such entrepreneur is Poonam Bir Kasturi, founder of DailyDump, who is spreading the awareness of managing your household waste by composting. DailyDump [www.dailydump.org] educates about composting and sells products which are useful for composting in houses and apartments. Poonam has very delligently designed her composting products by integrating factors like convenience, environment friendliness, no electrical or battery operated add-ons and a blend with the Indian ethnicity and culture.

    For developing countries, recycling of waste is the most economically viable option available both in terms of employment generation for the urban poor with no skills and investment. Recycling is really helpful for managing the increasing plastic waste in our cities. Plastic waste is very environment un-friendly and is hazardous for our flora and fauna also. So is the case with e-waste. It is necessary to dispose off the electronic waste properly and scientifically as some of these wastes [like used batteries], have high lead content, which can easily get mixed in soil and water.

    If you mull over the above situation, you shall see that waste management may prove to be a lucrative and viable entrepreneurial opportunity area. Next week, I am going to publish my interview with Poonam Bir Kasturi - a woman of strong character and depth, who is determined to make a mark! Stay tuned.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Interview With Sudha Kumar, Prayag Consulting

    Featuring Women Entrepreneur
    Sudha Kumar
    Founder, Prayag Consulting


    [Category: The Early Riders
    Strike The Niche Segment]

    Sudha Kumar, has to her credit, building-up of the brand none other than Infosys! With a four year stint at A F Ferguson and the calibre endorsed with management degree from IIM Bangalore, Sudha joined Infosys when it had merely about 400 employees. At Infosys, she was actively involved in conceptualizing, planning and implementing a global marketing programme with particular emphasis on building the Infosys brand.

    After eight years of working with Infosys, the entrepreneurial bug bit her and she decided to start her own strategic marketing consulting venture, Prayag Consulting,  specifically targeted at the IT and high-tech industry. Kumar saw a huge opportunity in offering marketing services for high tech companies.

    Set up in 2001, Prayag provides comprehensive marketing solutions for companies in the high technology industry. In addition to IT Services and IT Products, BPO and Engineering services domains, they also focus on Telecom, Online and Green Technology verticals. Recently, Prayag has also diversified into newer segments and verticals like Not for Profit Organizations (NPOs) and Educational Institutions.

    Here is what Sudha has to say:

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Importance Of Identifying A Niche Segment For An Entrepreneur

    Strike The Niche Segments

    As an industry grows, it parallelly develops niche pockets which need speific services. It just takes a keen entrepreneurial outlook to identify such niches at an early stage. These niche areas could be lucrative opportunities if identified at the tipping point. A niche market grows into a full-fledged industry, which in turn, generates more pockets or niche segments within itself.

    Niche areas are developed as a result of technological evolution or a change in our socio-economic set-ups. A niche market is a focused, targetable portion of a market. By definition, then, a business that focuses on a niche market is addressing a need for a product or service that is not being addressed by mainstream providers. You can think of a niche market as a narrowly defined group of potential customers. The birth of the IT outsourcing-offshore industry in India, back in late 1980s, is actually an example of a burgeoning niche market.

    When the pressure to improve the bottom line gradually surmounted with the corporate world in the West, the IT outsourcing-offshore industry witnessed the cusp of growth. It promised colossal profits and churned out many highly profitable ventures in the industry. Pressure to improve the bottomline was just one aspect. There were other drivers like upgrading of technology, digitalizing various departments of an organization etc. The niche need was not only restricted to the corporates of the western world, but it was very much imminent from India's perspective also.  As the Indian  IT offshoring industry plateaued on the growth curve, it further paved way for more niches within itself.

    To identify niche markets you should break down the demography of your target customers into as many sub-categories as possible. You should study the pros and cons of serving each of these sub-categories with your product/service, and then arrive at your target niche audience. Validate your product/service offering with this identified niche group. In fact, when starting your own venture, it is very important to know your target audience and focus on selling to the rightly identified niche group.

    Once you have the right niche identified, the probability of the success rate for your marketing and selling efforts, zooms up. Don't get overwhelmed by the idea of selling to a large audience. You shall appreciate this more if you keep in mind the practical hiccups that a start-up has --- lots of stuff to do with very limited resources! So start off by identifying your own niche, and then expand to larger market, introducing more products and/or services. Some of the opportunities [targeted usually at the small to mid-sized companies], which are looking lucrative now,  are presented below.

    After the financial meltdown in the United States of America, the World and India too, has felt the need to go for lean organizations. This has opened up the prospects for the outsourced-CXO business models, giving more entrepreneurial options for outsourcing services in the niche areas.

    It also makes a lot of sense for the corporates to see the advantages of lean corporate structure and concentrate on their core competencies. Hence, outsourcing other business processes and the frill-functions [which are equally important for company's growth], such as Marketing to the vendors specializing in such niche services, makes it a smart business strategy. Marketing Consulting [which includes sub-functions like market research, branding and Internet marketing], is an Industry by itself.  This niche industry has generated further pockets which need entrepreneurial attention, as they are still untapped opportunities. For example, providing marketing consulting to the hi-tech and IT outsourcing-offshore Industry in India. For all the boom that IT/ITES companies have witnessed, they have never quite leveraged the marketing strategies in its true sense. But with the slowdown, a lot of such IT/ITES businesses will need strategies to re-position themselves. Similarly, the hi-technology companies can leverage their market positions better with focussed and specialized marketing startegies.

    On this backdrop, i got the privilege to interview Sudha Kumar, founder of Prayag Consulting (http://www.prayagconsulting.com/). Sudha Kumar has shared her wisdom with me for my reader community. So, keep tuned to read interview with Sudha Kumar, founder Prayag Consulting, soon!

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Mompreneurship - New Dimension To The Ideology of Entrepreneurship [Part II]

    Are All Women Entrepreneurs Mompreneurs Also?

    The answer is an emphatic "No". Mompreneurship is a subset of Women Entrepreneurship [or Womenpreneurship].

    Mompreneurs are the Women Entrepreneurs [or womenpreneurs] whose motivation and idea conceptualization have cropped up from motherhood. Mompreneurs are not born out of the need to do something on their own; not by any perceived opportunity sighted as a result of their work experience or as a lacuna in an industry. Mompreneurs are born out of the devine gift of motherhood.

    Mompreneurs are those women who may not have otherwise decided to be an entrepreneur, but have come across the frustration of not finding a product or a service that is just right for her baby/kid or that can attend to any specific need of mother-child set-up. The focus here is on the source of motivation - motherhood plays an important part in identifying an opportunity while traversing through the stages of motherhood itself. The motivation does not stem out like the way it does in case of the typical women entrepreneurship.

    Though most of the women entrepreneurs would, at some point in time, go through motherhood, but their entrepreneurial drive would have origin in the regular format of entrepreneurial outlook. Put in simple terms, all Mompreneurs are Womenpreneurs, but all Womenpreneurs are not Mompreneurs. When a mom is developing innovative products and unique solutions to common household issues, a mompreneur is born. Motherhood is a great motivator in this case.


    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Interview With Anju Maudgal Kadam, Unitus India

    Featuring Women Entrepreneur
    Anju Maudgal Kadam
    Founder: Unitus India

    [Category: Early Riders
    Deploy Your Skill-set In A New Avatar]

    Unitus began as a software services company in 2001, and soon, with client referrals, they established themselves as a preferred company to work with for US clients wanting to set up offshore development centres (ODCs) in Bangalore. Unitus has consistently built enduring partnerships and customer relationships. They have worked with customers across diverse industries. Strong domain expertise, extensive technology skills, process focus, speed and innovation has enabled Unitus to provide value-added, high quality IT solutions to their customers.

    Their range of service expertise has two more domains: Media Streaming and Video Production. They now make audio visuals and stream live events on the net. Unitus delivers sharp and comprehensive IT & Media services, complementing their technology skills and focus on business solutions.
    Their ability to successfully manage and deliver complex, enterprise-wide services and solutions over the past nine years has enabled them to gain and retain diverse global customers like Authoria, Wipro, BullRun Financial, Apostek and Microsoft.

    In an interview with me, Anju Maudgal Kadam, co-founder/director of Unitus India, has shared her experiences as an entrepreneur. Read on to know more. 

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Mompreneurship - A New Dimension To The Ideology Of Entrepreneurship [Part I]

    Why Do We Need The Term 'Mompreneurship'

    [Category: Mompreneurship]

    What is Mompreneurship? Mompreneurship is a very up-coming classification in the ideology of Entrepreneurship. This nascent concept classification has received attention in the entrepreneur world of the West, but is almost a not-talked-about term in Indian entrepreneurial set-up.

    Clearly Mompreneurship is derived from Mompreneur. In simple terms Mompreneurs = Moms + Entrepreneurs. In most of the cases, a mompreneur is born out of frustration - frustration of not finding a product that is 'perfect' or 'just the right thing' for her baby; frustration of not being able to spend the time with the kids at early age. Mompreneurship usually derives it's motivation from the needs of kids and family; from the priority of maintaining a balance between work and home; from the fact that you can be your own boss; and from the freedom of maintaining flexi work schedules.

    So, mompreneurship is different from the conventional definition of entrepreneurship. The conventional ideology of entrepreneurship has a perception which compels you to get an image of a 'company' model with elaborate business plans and growth strategies, generating many jobs and a model which promises a double-digit growth rate.

    Does this mean that, as entrepreneurship is growing as an industry, the conventional ideology needs evoloution too? Does it create a scope to classify entrepreneurship based on the functions that it depicts? For example, classification such as Social Entrepreneurship and Political Entrepreneurship. The answer is, "Yes, it does."

    Entrepreneurship means to take up a perceived opportunity and turn it into a business generating profit, growth and economic value to the society. Entrepreneurship directly implies growth and contribution towards the GDP of an economy. This gives a clear arguement for mompreneurship to be considered worthy of separate field in the broad gamut of Entrpreneurship. Mompreneurship generates profits, large value to the society and the economy, though more often on a smaller scale. Some make it big too.

    For example, Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of Baby Einstein started from the basement of her house and exited successfully after being bought by the Disney. Mindee and Julie formed Boogie Wipes in 2007 and today they sell across 30,000 retail stores across the United States of America. Another example is that of See Kai Run line of shoes for toddlers and kids, which started in 2008 and now sells to retailers all around the USA.

    These are just a very few examples of those who have made it big, but there are many such mompreneurs who fall in the small and medium sized business category also. They all generate profit, wealth and value for themselves, contribute towards the GDP of the economy and generate jobs. The difference lies in the rate of growth. These models usually have slower rate of growth which in turn may get decided because of the family parameters, like the age of the children.

    With the number of cases of mompreneurship growing, it calls for a better scientific analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of this branch of entrepreneurship. In fact it overlays opportunities to provide a better ecosystem for the Mompreneurship.


    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Interview With Nandini Hirianniah, The Morpheus

    Featuring Women Entrepreneur
    Nandini Hirianniah
    Founder-Partner, The Morpheus
    [Category: Emerging Markets & Trends
    Exploring New Definitions]

    Today India is on an enviable growth trajectory - a truth well discussed across the globe. Entrepreneurship culture is taking on a big way to be one of the contributors to our economic growth. In the next five years the entrepreneurial drive, that India is witnessing now, will make a significant difference in our economy. But the truth is that the Entrepreneurial Revolution happening in India, has little organized support structure.

    This is where The Morpheus has stepped in, providing a 'Mentor Only' formula to the early stage start-ups which need support the most. The Morpheus was formed with the aim of working with early-stage start-ups as a limited co-founder who is experienced and well connected, and also as a mentor with hands on participation across different functions like product design, technology, operations, marketing, sales, fund raising, team building, finance etc. With their passion, love and commitment to early stage startups, The Morpheus engages with such startups in the most crucial phase of their existence, the first 12-18 months. Though The Morpheus started as a "Mentor Only" model. but they fund 5 lakhs INR to each company they work with now.

    Read on my interview with Nandini to understand more about their formula. 

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Interview With Pallavi Singh Keshri, Eyaas.com

    Featuring Women Entrepreneur
    Pallavi Singh Keshri
    Founder, Eyaas.com
    [Category: Emerging Markets & Trends In India
    Tweak The Supply-Side In Your Business Model]

    Pallavi formed Eyaas.com with the aim of providing all things that are hand-made and ‘green’. There are two main areas of focus: 1) Crafts and hand-made goods which are endangered or lost. 2) Provide a platform or channel of consumer access for all those individuals and groups for whom handwork is a form of livelihood.


    Eyaas.com is not only providing the commerce part for the hand-made products, but they are also endeavoring to provide information about how the product was made and who made that particular product.
    Here is what Pallavi has to say about Eyaas.com.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Emerging Market Segments and Trends: Part II

    Tweak The Supply-side in Your Business Model

    Online retail business model is not a new concept. But if you are introducing it in the new market segment with a bit of tweaking with one of the levers, it could be an opportunity worth experimenting!

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Interview With Chandini Harlalka, Artflute.com

    Featuring Women Entrepreneur
    Chandini Harlalka
    Founder: Artflute.com
    [Category: Emerging Market Segments & Trends
    Online Collaboration in Verticals]

    Artflute.com was formed with the fundamental of providing an online platform for the artists and the art enthusiasts. Its philosophy is to build an online community in Contemporary Art. Its endeavor is to allow the budding artists an easy access at the same time allow art collectors to buy at early artists’ prices.

    Artflute is not just about buying and selling artwork, it is about sharing ideas through the blog; its about getting inspired by works from other artists and art schools; it’s about watching videos and owing your own little gallery.
    Here is what Chandini had to say about her entrepreneurial venture in an interview with me.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Emerging Market Segments and Trends: Part I

    Online Collaboration In Verticals


    The Web 2.0 is a passing concept now in the West, paving way to Web 3.0 already. Though the concept of Web 2.0 [practically 2004 onwards], has picked up in India, surprisingly e-commerce which is a phenomenonon of Web 1.0, has not picked up drastically. Online collaboration is yet to penetrate in some segments.

    The concept of portals [horizontal and vertical] is long-standing now. Though horizontal portals in India have splurged into almost every segment, vortals [or vertical portals] are yet to