Dec 30

Witnesses celebrated the life of Anthony Severo and lamented the loss of his promising future. After Germany’s re unification.

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Dec 30

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Dec 28

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Dec 28

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Dec 28

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Oct 27

Feb 20

I was invited by to participate in their ‘Letters to the Finance Minister’ series as part of the run up to budget 2013.

The letter is here but you can see the original here.

Dear Mr Finance Minister,

I am writing to you as an Internet entrepreneur in India. Like many others, I too returned from the UK to participate in this buzzing entrepreneurship economy. In India, ideas for start-ups are dime a dozen; the real challenge is implementing them. We are in dire need of the government easing the regulatory overhead for start-ups.

Make It Easier

A typical businessman in India has to pay income tax, service tax, value-added tax, excise duty, shops and establishments’ tax, professional tax and also participate in employer provident funds and employee state insurance schemes. Each tax is managed by different departments and involves various compliance activities including monthly payments, quarterly returns and annual returns. Each state has different rules with different forms, which change on a regular basis.

With Software as a Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computing trends, traditional definitions of VAT and Service Tax do not apply. Most IT companies are now charging both goods tax and service tax simply to ensure compliance.

First, I request you to rapidly roll out the unified GST to simplify taxation. Second, I request clarity on taxation for tech companies with respect to VAT versus service tax.

Working capital schemes don’t work

Payment collections are the bane of every small business in India. India’s domestic clients have higher debtor days and higher bad debt ratios. Young companies need support to weather the storms.

The government has great schemes like CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises). Banks are also supposed to provide SME credit of upto Rs 5 lakh without demanding any collateral. But these banks are very hesitant to offer these schemes and they almost never offer them to IT start-ups due to lack of stock/inventory.

My third request, Mr Finance Minister, is to strengthen working capital schemes

Prepare kids for the marketplace

The mainstream higher education curriculum is a complete mismatch for the industry’s requirements. Students have to take up additional corporate training programmes to ensure employment. At the same time, companies have to train fresh graduates for at least three months before they can become economically productive.

My final request, Sir, is that the government revise the syllabus and contemporary education resources for mainstream colleges and professional courses, keeping this in mind.

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Jan 14

I had the opportunity to attend a CMO event for Octane’s 2012 eMarketing report launch. Other than a good networking opportunity, it was a source of great insight. Annurag Batra of exchange4media fame was part of the panel and one of his insights stood out strong in my mind.

” The CMO and CTO are not spending enough time together. Instead, the CMO’s are spending too much time with the media fraternity”

You can also catch his views on trends for 2013 at India Marketing Review.

In a separate conversation with digital manager for a fast moving healthcare company, she said,

“With people getting used to Tata Sky +, the ads are not working as before. So there’s no choice but for brands to move towards digital”

This is the genesis of Digital Digital. In our work with Fortune 500 companies and with startups, we have realised that the ability of a brand to differentiate in marketing is becoming heavily tech dependent.

Tech here means data and granular analytics. It means mobile and the possibilites of augmented reality that comes with it. It means responsive design to adapt to multiple browsers, devices and environments. It means email vs. SMS. It means video and viral and viral videos. It means content. Lots of it. And understanding how the search engines get through to that content. It’s about gesture recognition a la minority report. It means user experience testing

Digital Digital is an attempt to provide that bridge between the CMO and CTO. It’s a resource platform for tech trends for marketing. It’s a platform to showcase demo’s and prototypes.

Thanks for the articulation Annurag. As always, you were pithy and prescient

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Jul 31

I had a great July with the team in Bangalore … here are some pics

(Please excuse the pink shirt.)










A birthday, team lunch, cricket Saturday, two interns were offered permanent positions, movie night, a farewell 🙁 and of course training exercises combined with quarterly strategy discussions.

Looking forward to the next 90 days. We have 5 new interns joining us straight from the NITs as part of the FTP (Fresher’s Training Programme)

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May 28

Ok – maybe Oliver Twist had it tougher than me. But telcos are sure making it tough for the digital citizens to give them their money. With the Mercury touching 44 Degrees Celcius… my modem (+ inbuilt wifi router) konked off after a decent 3-4 year service (never once turned it off).

I gave a call to our service provider, airtel, but they weren’t that friendly. I was faced with a bill for a new modem+router, so I thought this is an incentive for me to explore new providers. Chalo – they have bigger battles to fight out with the moving target telecom policy and the associated scams


So, I googled for keyphrases such as Broadband Delhi, broadband delhi plans, cheap broadband plans etc. Like most googlers, I didn’t bother looking beyond top 6-7 results.

– MTNL seemed to have the best organic results.

– Airtel, reliance, tata photon, aircel, hughes (for business) seem to be front runners in Google adwords

– I felt the need for a price comparison site – which is fairly common in western markets. I found a couple

Price India – What kind of price comparison site doesn’t give you links to the product page if you want to buy it. They should also put in dates because price information is going to change frequently.

Broadband Plan – Terrific comparison interface with some nice interactions – you can filter on the plans using a slider for cost, speed or data usage limits. Or you can do any combination of the three. It’s a pity that they haven’t mentioned dates either and once you’ve decided  which plan you like – the contact details are corporate addresses and generic URLs.

The real switching cost – trying to choose a broadband plan

So from top of my mind, I could think of airtel, tata, reliance, tikona and MTNL. So I decided to look at their broadband plans or order a new connection online (HA!)

– Each provider has atleast 10 plans based on permutations and combinations data usage, speed and cost.

– Choosing the plan is a tough proposition – but the telcos certainly don’t help.

– Let’s break into two parts:

  1. How do you help people find you and
  2. Once, they’ve found you, how do you help them buy one of your products.


I’m always confused between Tata Communications, Tata Docomo and Tata Indicom. I suspect Tata Communications is for corporates (Gaboli has a lease line from Tata Communications) but it’s strange that the URL shows Tata Communications.

It’s also strange that they don’t have any plan for less than Rs. 1000 per month. Perhaps they are not interested in retail customers. However, the user interface was simple, clean and didn’t throw any bugs. Full marks to them there.


I reached two different pages on two different site – both seem to be official MTNL sites. Which one is correct? this or this

Needless to say the design seemed two decades old.


This is a case of ‘coolness’ over ‘usable’ or ‘form’ before ‘function’. The code doesn’t work on chrome. Half the page is blank while the other is cluttered and needs a scroll. There are redundant steps and questions which are bound to turn customers away.


I’m still surprise by the hesitance towards paying for user experience (design and management) services. The internet is not a place for just reproducing print material. It’s a place for interactions and transactions.

Here are 3 things which I often mention in our presentations to clients:

– Search: The Google SERPs page is now as important as the front of your corporate building. If I search for broadband and you are not in the top few organic results, then 80-90% of the people will not be able to reach you. Think about how much you invest in the front of your building.

– Navigation: In a shop, would you build an obstacle course between the counters? Every click brings a threat of ‘customer dropping out’. Make it quicker and easier for folks to buy your products.

– You’re mistaken when you say aam janta is not online. Railway bookings (IRCTC) for individuals and online tax transactions (VAT, service tax etc.) for small businesses have changed the scenario.

After all, nobody wants to step out when it’s 44 degrees. Please sir … let us buy online!

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