Global Themes

On Globalization & Venture Capital

Summary notes from Digital Business India

Earlier this week, I chaired a panel discussion in London at Digital Business India.

Some key points that emerged from the various discussions were:

  • Huge opportunity emerging in digital media/ digital business (probably the fastest growing market globally)
  • Specific sectors of interest include education, animation, production, advertising & branding services
  • Doing business is not easy and challenges remain
  • Very attractive opportunity to leverage the large (and rapidly growing) mobile user base*

I hope to add more flavour to these notes later on…

* India added about 15million new mobile subscribers in Jan ’09.

March 7th, 2009 Posted by | Conferences and Panels, Entrepreneurship, India, Tech & Innovation in Asia | no comments

Low cost innovation – The “Indian” Way

From last month’s IBEF newsletter:

Manoj Mondal is the inventor of the crank pedal – he successfully tweaked the pedal of a bicycle to an extent that it generates almost double the torque (force multiplied by the distance from the centre) than in normal circumstances. In other words, the speed of the bicycle increases from, say, 20 km/hr to 40 km/hr.

His feat has already made him the toast of incubators, the green lobby and a host of companies which are coming forward to adapt Mondal’s technology commercially.

Besides, Mondal’s invention is slated to benefit rickshaw-pullers as the Centre for Rural Development has shown keenness to convert 10,000 rickshaws into the crank pedal mode this year…Dr Pradip K Sarmah, executive director of the Centre for Rural Development is banking on the crank pedal “to reduce the drudgery of the 10 million rickshaw-puller of India” . The centre runs a Rickshaw Bank to cater to the urban poor, and already has an improvised rickshaw by IIT-Guwahati, which costs Rs 12,000 a pop with insurance, licence, uniform and the works thrown in. “Mondal’s invention will add speed to the existing force and cost Rs 100 extra,” contends Sarmah.

…Next, he’s working on a prototype where pedalling on a stationary cycle has the potential to dig a bore deep enough to make a drain, and construction major Escorts seems to have shown interest in the new technology, says Mondal…

While this is probably not something that a VC would fund (or that needs VC funding either), it is nevertheless a fine example of low-cost innovation that will make a material difference to the lives of millions (literally)…

Related Posts:

What counts as innovation?

September 18th, 2008 Posted by | Tech & Innovation in Asia, Technology & Innovation | no comments

Quick notes from ATRE, Mumbai

Quick notes from a Web 3.0 panel discussion that I participated in [ at the Red Herring ATRE Conference in Mumbai y’day ]

1. Satya Prabhakar (Founder and CEO, mentioned: “Scarcest commodity in the world is human attention”
2. Seth of talked about meebo and the challenges of monetising web 2.0 startups/ user traffic
3. Gerard Rego (MSC Software) spoke about the bottom of the pyramid markets
4. Gurudatt mentioned how the might transform the current Internet architecture

I was on the panel that discussed Web 3.0.

I mentioned how:

1. Non-US users of internet (86% of total) growing at 30% vs. 3% growth of US
2. Epicentre decisively moving to Asia (driven primarily by large user base in India and China (e.g. Japan’s lead in mobile payments/ S Korea in broadband

and shared my thoughts on Web 3.0/ and how it is marked by three main features:
1. Internet Unplugged (i.e. going wireless and accessible not just through your PC/mobile but also through your game console, e-book, TV, fridge)
2. Internet 3.0 = Its all about the consumer (Consumers #1 users of semiconductors in the world (vs. IT + Government) AND  Consumer IP traffic expected to surpass enterprise in 2008
(ARM has shipped more than 6bn microprocessors to date, mainly due to mobile and the microprocessor in consumer goods )
3. NOT just about the consumer BUT its all about *me* – personalised everything (search, contetnt incl news)

The Challenge is to “How to make it pay?”

November 6th, 2007 Posted by | Conferences and Panels, Technology & Innovation, Venture Capital | no comments

Content: Now “officially” free

I have long believed that it would become increasingly difficult to charge for content and there was only direction in which this was headed: all content (well, almost) becoming “officially” free.

Two recent developments look like nails being driven into the coffin of paid-for content:

1. Beta testing begins for Hulu and

2. How Radiohead killed the record labels 

Many of you must have also read about Prince’s giveaway and FT’s about-turn 

…and at least some of you would find this interesting:  Why Newspapers Are Screwed

Thoughts & comments welcome…as always.

P.S. The alert amongst you must have noticed that I have switched AdSense off – more on that later.

October 31st, 2007 Posted by | Media, Technology & Innovation | 2 comments

What counts as innovation?

A few days ago I met Matthew Scott for lunch.  Matthew told me the story of “Mighty Light“.

MightyLight aims to bring “light” (literally) into the lives of millions who live in remote parts of the world and don’t stand a chance to get grid connectivity. It aims to do so by a clever product that is solar-charged and uses energy efficient white LED for lighting.

It got me thinking on how innovation in distribution channels is probably as critical as innovative product design in the context of domestic consumers in emerging markets (and particularly so in the case of BOP consumers…)

Now, if you are a purist – this may not count as true innovation.

Distribution channels (or even innovation in distribution channels) is not something that you can patent…and yet there is no doubt that products like these are capable of transforming the lives of millions through clever combination of technology and distribution which hitherto was not possible. 

In other words, they fit the criteria of high-impact and definition of a “breakthrough product” – and possibly innovation.

What do you think?

On a related note, I also spoke with Alok Singh, CEO of Novatium a few days ago – they too are doing something that is fairly unusual and exploting a business model around services that has not been tried in the PC industry before . Will it work? We dont know yet.

Is it an innovative approach? I certainly think it is.

Related Post: Has the $100 PC finally arrived?

October 1st, 2007 Posted by | Development Issues, Entrepreneurship, India, Tech & Innovation in Asia, Technology & Innovation | 6 comments

If any more evidence was needed re. “Globalization”

…here it is.

From “Who Captures Value in a Global Innovation System?” – The case of Apple’s iPod, this table that details “the geography of $190 of the captured value in a single $299 video iPod” (Thanks, Jason).

Apple iPOD Innovation 


and from “Dreamliner 101: All About the Boeing 787“, this picture showing where the parts for 787 come from.

Boeing 787 Parts

September 19th, 2007 Posted by | Global Competition, Globalization, Technology & Innovation, USA and Asia | 3 comments

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