Fashioning The Future

Media professionals call it the new media. Marketers use the buzzword Web 2.0. Technologists say it’s the scalable network. It’s an entertainment channel, a library of information and a platform for doing business. It could easily be a replacement for a shopping mall, a financial brokerage, a news channel or even a place to meet people. It is the Internet. And, it is changing our lives.

When Tim-Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web (WWW) he probably had no clue it was going to be all this. He was just trying to solve a short-term problem. But, while he was at it, he laid the platform for the future, for other entrepreneurs, researchers, technologists and media strategists to build on top it. In this edition of The Smart CEO, the cover story focuses on the Internet industry in India. What we figured through our research, both primary and secondary, was that though the Internet is a worldwide platform, as in most other business scenarios, the strategies that work in our country are uniquely Indian. While digital advertising and online sales drive the Internet economy in the west, in India it’s services driven. Apart from revenue streams, user traffic and eyeballs play a huge role in valuations of web companies abroad. Indian Internet firms work more conventionally. It’s more about the money you make and less about valuations and on-paper numbers. The point is, though the platform is the same, the business models that work are very different. As part of our cover story we uncover several aspects of India’s Internet industry- consumer Internet, enterprise Internet and web 2.0. We also spoke to eminent Internet entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, including Alok Mittal of Canaan Partners, Sandeep Murthy of Sherpalo Ventures and Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the founder and CEO of naukri.com, to gather a first-hand perspective about what works and what doesn’t.

The ‘Starting up’ section features two very interesting startups- Kreeda Games and Attero Recycling. Attero is India’s first e-cycling company that is building a business out of processing old electronic products. It’s a concept that is still very nascent and unheard of in India. We spoke to both the entrepreneurs and investors who believe they can make it work. The Chennai-based Kreeda Games sells traditional games like ‘Gilli Danda’ to a modern audience. We visited their office, played some of these traditional games and spoke to Vinita Sidhartha, the founder and CEO of Kreeda. This month we were also at TiECon 2009, the flagship event of The Indus Entrepreneurs Chennai and met up with several interesting venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. We are featuring one of the panel discussions on ‘funding opportunities for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs’. The discussion will give our readers an insight into one of the most difficult phases of running a startup- raising money for the first time.

In our story titled ‘Kiosks – A small, efficient marketing tool’ we analyse this new and very interesting retail concept that seems to be taking off in India. We analyse the success of food retail through this format and explore the possibility of extending the concept to other sectors including financial services and hospitality. Our article ‘Rebranding Mantra’ gives our readers a sneak peek into the thought process behind rebranding efforts drawing examples from several large companies in India including Godrej and Larsen & Toubro.

Recently, we created a Facebook page for ‘The Smart CEO’. If you are on Facebook, please join our community and interact with our team and other readers. We’re working on making it an active platform for interaction among young Indian professionals, entrepreneurs and students from across India.
As always, we hope you enjoy reading ‘The Smart CEO’.  Please do send in your feedback to prem@smartmediagroup.in.

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year.