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

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

Innovation, European VCs, India…

Jay Marathe interviewed me some months ago for his new blog….

Here are the three YouTube video links:

June 29th, 2006 Posted by | Europe and Asia, India, Interviews, Tech & Innovation in Asia | no comments

INSEAD on “Tech Innovation in Asia”

INSEAD was one of the first business schools to pick on this theme. All credit to Phil Anderson.

June 29th, 2006 Posted by | Conferences and Panels, Tech & Innovation in Asia | no comments