Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thought for the Day 

Just the other day, a thought occurred to me: doesn't Ronaldinho look quite a bit like Jar-Jar Binks? It's pretty remarkable really, when you think about it for a second. So, I did a google search for the two and found plenty of links that comment on the resemblance. In fact, if this link can be believed, there is a spanish commentator who calls Ronaldinho Jar-Jar every time Barca plays.

For the record, Ronaldinho is my absolute favourite foortball player, now that Zidane has retired, and I hope those of you who live in the NYC area did go see Barcelona play the friendly game in NJ.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Looking for a Start-Up Idea? 

Business 2.0 has a list of what they consider to be the best business ideas in the world today. Check back everyday to find a new idea. Right now, they have the top 12 ideas up and running and two of them involve India.

1. Build cheap Wi-Fi networks for Brazilian resorts.

2. Become a biodiesel producer in Argentina.

3. Create an ad network for India's mobile content developers.

4. Launch an exclusive social network for Russian millionaires.

5. Open an American-style restaurant in one of China's fast-growing cities.

6. Remodel homes for China's burgeoning middle class.

7 Flip mining claims in Bolivia.

8. Export the planet's next great wines - from Greece.

9. Import fine wines to upscale restaurants - in India.

10. Export gourmet coffee from Rwanda.

11. Become a social entrepreneur in South Africa.

12. Be among the first to invest in the new Libya.

Every single one of these ideas seems to be based in a developing country. I wonder if that is deliberate. While some of the ideas are laughable, some of them seem to be genuinely monetizable ideas.

Back From the Dead 

Hello everyone. It's been a long time since I've posted anything to this blog. I was in the midst of a rather painful transition from the U.S. to India, where I will be spending half the year for the next couple of years. I wanted to update this blog with new developments at my end, but I kept putting it off. Very briefly, I have a joint appointment with the Cornell Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and the Indian Scool of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. I am heading up the process to set up the Center in India as a joint partnership between Cornell and the ISB. Under the umbrella of the center, we are also setting up a Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab and a Sustainable Innovations Lab. The entire project is headed up Stuart Hart at Cornell, who co-authored the famous "Fortune at the Base of the Pyramid" paper with C.K.Prahalad. I will be at the ISB in Hyderabad the next 6 months, where I also have a role as visiting faculty.

The BOP Learning Lab India will have three focus areas:

1. Academic: publishing, conferences, seminars, academic exchange programs etc, to promote the role of the private sector, technology, and capital markets in economic development.

2. Strategy Consulting: to MNCs, foreign companies and Indian Corporations that want to tap lower middle and low-income markets in India.

3. SME Incubation: the incubation component will consist of reducing transactions costs by providing access to finance (through a financing value chain that extends from micro-finance to venture capital and private equity); access to best practices, technologies and knowledge networks; and access to managerial capacity building.

It goes without saying that if any of you have any thoughts about this or would like to participate in this project or have contacts you think might be of use to us, please do let me know.

I cannot end without a word about the ISB. I had heard lots of things about the ISB before I got here, some good and some bad. Having spent a week here, I have to say the ISB is the most impressive B-School I have ever seen and the architecture is very pleasing as well. Spread over a large and beautifully landscaped campus, the buildings are truly a sight to behold, and I haven't even mentioned the peacocks that strut about the campus. The only downside on the infrastructure side is the embarassing bandwidth available: 4 Mbps. I had more bandwidth running into my apartment in New York. This is, however, an India-wide problem. Every ISP claims to provide broadband and then gives you 256 kbps, which is truly ridiculous. So, no more downloading Radiohead concerts for me, I guess. I don't know how this sits with all the claims about being an IT superpower.

Finally, a word about Hyderabad. Funnily enough, Hyd is the one city I know nothing about, among the major Indian cities. I have only been here once before and I know nobody here. However, from what little I have seen, it also seems like the only major city in which there is some semblance of infrastructure and some semblance of planning. The city just announced that it will have 40% of the city with a green cover in the next few years. Given what I have seen so far, that is very, very doable. And finally, the rocks. If you think rocks were just that, you haven't seen the ones in Hyderabad yet, which is really remarkable, especially when they appear on a campus like ISB's (pics to follow).

Well, I've gone on for longer than required with this update. If any of you make it down to Hyderabad, give me a holler and maybe we can have a chai at the ISB or some such.

PS: In the midst of this blogging hiatus, Zoo Station also celebrated its 3rd birthday on June 25th. Here's hoping for another year of blogging without too many breaks.