In Brief: Shunya One Ep 14

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This week, Shiladitya and Amit are joined by Miten Sampat, who leads Corporate Development for Times Internet. Miten focuses on growth and opportunities in investment, strategic partnerships, and acquisitions. On episode 14 of Shunya One, they discuss corporate development and its intentionally unstructured line of work, data security for various businesses, the next big sector and India's pathway to being the next China. To begin with, Miten explained how corporate development works and its scope. He said:

It’s actually just a very fluffy word. And it is kind of a catch-all when you want someone to do things which are not very well defined. So the idea is, companies when they get to a certain scale, they need to find unconventional ways to grow which may not be core to the current business which may mean doing unique partnerships with other large other companies, other small companies. It may also mean acquiring companies. Sometimes what do you do is you realize and some smart people realize they are not going to be smart about everything. There is a lot of innovation happening outside the building and how do you tap into that. So acquisition is an approach and another approach is investing. Even beyond that, you want to build a special project and get a small team and explore something. And so all of these things put together, you can’t sort of assign a very clear job because depending on the challenge you have or the aspiration you have, you figure out what tactic to apply.

Shiladitya asked Miten about the comparison in the environment offered to startups in India and Silicon Valley and also how the accessibility to large platforms is vital to a startup functioning out of India.

Being physically closer to where a lot of the action is; I know we live in a world of infinitely accessible communication so and so forth but ultimately you are doing business with people and it matters whether the guy or girl on the other side wants to do business with you, likes you or doesn’t like you, philosophically agrees with you on several different things. So as a startup when you are trying to build something, everything has to go right. Every additional bit of friction can kill you; it can be the smallest bit of friction.

Miten also spoke about a sector he feels could bring in a vast opportunity for growth in the country.

I think the sector that I am very excited about and I don’t know how it pans out but I think India could be a large market for adoption of electric cars. It’s the future. We have a good auto-components base.

Catch the full episode here: 

IVM Likes: The recommendations so far

IVM Likes, our staff pop culture recommendation podcast has finally hit episode 30 and people will not stop asking about its marriage plans! 

Here's what's been happening for the past 30 weeks: every Wednesday, me and two others from our office (sometimes by their own free will and sometimes by force) sit around a table and talk about all the books, movies, TV shows, podcasts, web-series, YouTube channels, video games, candy bars we love for about 25 minutes. And then we get to have lunch. 

To celebrate this big 3-oh and our failing memories, we put together a spreadsheet of all the recommendations we've made so far. So next time you can't decide what to watch or listen to or read, just find this sheet and pick something guaranteed to fill that void in your life. 

Note: 

-This sheet does not include some other cool stuff we mentioned in our discussions, so you should listen to all the episodes for that. Just get to it now. 

- This sheet does include Burn Notice. 

Thanks for listening!

- Sharanya

Catch the full episode here:

In Brief Shunya One Ep.13

Pranav Marwah – Co-founder of thinQbate, is an incubator approach for new entrepreneurs and startups offering angel investing, facilitating growth by understanding the basic business challenges and has been striving towards adding value to the various new ventures since 2015.  

He joined hosts Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya  and Amit Doshi on Shunya One to discuss how the discipline behind sports has helped align his business goals and he communicates this with the many founding-teams managed by his incubation company, and his sports-tech venture. He said: 

I’ve been a big believer of sport being intrinsic to everybody’s life, from a very early age.
I think it is a very undervalued source of skill sets, where you can acquire them in a manner that
you possibly don’t even realize. And that could be with individual sport when it comes to discipline and understanding how to keep pushing yourself when you are perhaps alone. Then, coming to a team sport where it is about understanding how to deal with others and understanding the others’ weaknesses and sort of jumping in when it is needed. I think that is something that you see in the world of entrepreneurship and startups. It is extremely important for the foundation of the company to have that camaraderie and interaction. I think that translates very naturally in what an individual can or can’t do.

They discussed how Pranav drew parallels from factors critical to sports games like human development, competition, and team-work and game-playing to his own company:

At thinQbate where we are an incubator with early stage investment, we have actually used sport to get to know an entrepreneur or a founding team much better, a lot more regularly because it is so important. So we have four pillars we like to adhere by or work towards where early stage companies, in industries, we can bring value which are enabled by technology but backed by the most solid founding team. And that last element is perhaps 95% of the entire outlook. Because it is all about people

Having spoken of mentorship and founding team leaders making most of an incubation system, Shiladitya asked Pranav about what he has picked after managing a portfolio of companies, to this date. Pranav said:

One of the greatest learnings we imbibed before even starting out was can we create collaborations through communities.

Catch the full episode here: 

In Brief: Shunya One Ep.12

Sauvik Banerjjee - Vice President Tata Digital Initiatives, and CTO, of Tata CliQ joined Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya and Amit Doshi to discuss the transition with brand technology for e-commerce in India, and the startup-corporate equation. They initially talk about Sauvik’s journey through coding in the mid-90s, his experience with Natural Language Processing (NLP) to getting brick and mortar back in shape with Tata CliQ.  This conversation then focuses on how technology deployment is instrumental in filling the gaps for the retail industry. To make this point clear, Sauvik said:  

Retail technologies across the world have very little foot-print of pure tech-play. This actually opens up the door for true digital enterprise-solving day-to-day problems of tech. I’ll give you an example, if you walk into any of the Lifestyle stores in Mumbai, do you know how they count the number of people who walk into the stores? “The clikr,” said Sheladitya. “The watchman has a clikr, so the cliker is the way he counts footfalls. Can you imagine in a day and time when we are talking NL, NLP, AR, VR; retail stores, the biggest of brands have a clicker in a man who is counting footfalls. What I am trying to say is there is always a gap for technology to solve and retail definitely has the biggest gap and the biggest opportunities.

Shiladitya made a point that while e-commerce is a retail front on the web, it is meant to smoothen the supply chain with efficiency. When asked whether the consumer is drawn towards brands from Indian conglomerates, Sauvik says,

You see the Tata Group is this calm but a big elephant. And whenever the big elephant ran the earth shook; whether it was Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tesla, Tata Communications. To be honest, JRD Tata championed Air India before he gave it away and made it public. And of course, the Reliance Group.

They proceed to talking about the other side of enterprise-tech which is the startup adoption rate and its impact. Sauvik, talks about how big enterprise are running on startup solutions.

The adoption has started. The adoption and mind-space has changed 12 to maybe 15 months back. You will also see in 12 months to 18 to the next 24 months a big success story coming up, post-adoption the impact whether it is a conversion impact or an ROI impact that’s where the bridge between the startup and the enterprise communities will be more spoken about. I think we are in that implementation phase, monitoring observation mode.

Catch the full episode here: 

ReDiscover: Agra beyond the Taj 

 

The city of Agra is rather synonymous to the iconic Taj Mahal and a touristy visit to the mausoleum built for Mumtaz Mahal, usually tends to complete a trip to Agra. 

However, travel geniuses Ambika and Hoshner wander off to the less traveled roads and alleys to understand the stories behind the historical structures and heritage of the city, way beyond the Taj. 

Here is how you can completely crack exploring Agra! 

You can listen to the full episode here: 

In Brief: Shunya One Ep. 11

Kris Nair - tech entrepreneur, investment professional and Partner of BOLD Ventures, a seed stage venture capital firm (investing in early stage companies looking to change how business is done in Asia) - joined Shiladitya and Amit to discuss what drives private investment to sectors such as core tech and core science. While initially discussing the mindset of investors and the popular investments in food tech, Shiladitya brings up the need for valuation of one’s business in (core-tech) and ageism in core tech investment.

From whatever experience I have running a business which was in core tech, talking to other people in the same industry - whether its vendors or whether its consumers - No one really spoke about the value of your company.....when you have to think of funding, you have to think about what’s the value of what your building.

Most people are just doing trading. Most companies don’t even have core value because they’re not a manufacturer as such - they’re just a layer on top of something else. The people who do actually create intellectual property, core IP (with cool science in it), most people don’t trust them, unless you’re an old dude who’s been with an MNC firm and held enough posts, only then can you be a science-y core tech founder.....How do you earn that trust [of investors] without that pedigree?

After discussing the need for diversity, India’s investment in space research, and the model currently adopted by the Kerala government, Kris explains the fundamental reason investors don’t put money into core tech/science startups.

We don’t have private investors betting on this because most of the private investors are used to paper returns happening in 2 years time [instead] of happening in 8 years time. If you can hold a share for about 8 years then its good, [but] then you’re asking the entire fund industry to change, right? The entire industry is designed to allocate money for about 4-5 years and then make the exits happen and then close everything in a box.

They continue to discuss what is a conducive ecosystem for such businesses

What is a ecosystem? Is it because the economic times is writing about it?...Or, having easy access to resources, team, capital, customers. If things go wrong as a founder in core tech I can talk to another founder in core tech......Capital is there but primarily from govt institutions (grants, etc)......direct customer base [is there], so the only thing missing probably is the biggest one.....basically, private investors betting on it.

Catch the full episode here: 

#PodsWeLike Maltin On Movies

Legendary film critic Leonard Maltin (of Maltin's Movie Guide fame) hosts a wonderful podcast with his daughter Jesse Maltin where they sit and discuss films old and new, and the memories and experiences associated with them.

The episode which features director Edgar Wright as a guest is especially enlightening. It's a joy to hear Wright in full on film geek form as they discuss the difference between listing out 'best films' and 'favourite films', how wonderful it is to discover classics of a bygone era and how it helps appreciate contemporary cinema and the relationship that exists between a critic and an artist.

If you're someone who loves to get movie recommendations I suggest you sit with a pen and paper while listening to this one as some wonderful, lesser known films are name-dropped in their conversation.

You can listen to the episode here: http://nerdist.com/maltin-on-movies-117-edgar-wright/

 

- Abbas Momin

In Brief: Shunya One Ep. 9

Akancha Shrivastav, an entrepreneur, brand strategist, cyber abuse activist  and co-founder of brand management company Azure, joined Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya and Amit Doshi to discuss consulting, brand strategy, work culture and cyber abuse. They initially talk about the various things companies overlook when at comes to brand management, common misconceptions and unconducive work cultures. On the latter point Akancha said: 

I want to give you an example, I was consulting with [an] organisation (they had about 5500 people) and they brought me in and the R&D said, “I want you to change all the recruiting designs urgently. Have this done in the next 2 weeks.” I said, “Why?” and he said,” We seem to have 27% attrition rate.” [I thought], at 5500 people, one third of your organisation is leaving all the time. This has nothing to do with communication design, something [else] is wrong. Something is not working. It took us almost 8-9 months, we did manage to bring down the attrition rate to 3% the following year. But it was a long road to finding out....the entire referral system, the entire recruitment system was completely flawed.

Subsequently, Akancha talked extensively about her campaign to tackle cyber abuse and the serious trauma it can cause women. She also discussed the myriad ways stalkers are able to triangulate the location of their prey by analysing their online activity. Regarding the need for awareness on the subject she said: 

I think, especially [with] the younger teenage crowd, it’s very important to educate them because they are the most aggressive users of digital media. They’re also the most vulnerable and the most reckless....I want the teachers, the principals and the parents to be a part of it. If the parents don’t understand it, the children are not going to talk to them. they’re not going to confide in them.

On this point, Shiladitya added:

The younger generation thinks that they know tech better. That’s always lead to them saying, “Hey! you know don’t know this stuff, I know it better.” That’s why educating the seniors is important, because they need to be having a rational conversation about what are the real threats. Otherwise the kids are not even going to listen.

Catch the full episode here: 

The Rediscovery Podcast is back!

Travel pros Hoshner Reporter and Ambika Vishwanath are back with Season 2 of The reDiscovery Podcast and you should start taking notes now!  

In Season 1, they took us on a journey from the coast of Tamil Nadu to the gulf of Kutch, from celebrating Holi in Uttar Pradesh to spotting fireflies in Bhandardara. This Season, they have another epic journey planned for you with from travel recommendations, tips to how to make the most of a tight budget and still enjoy every nook and corner of the country. 

On the first episode of this season, they are answering that big question; how do you travel on a budget? It can be quite tricky but not impossible and so, the travel couple bring their tried and tested hacks about wandering around India on just Rs 2500 a day. You heard that right!

New episodes are out every Monday and you can listen to the first episode here: 

  

In Brief: Shunya One Ep. 8

Lee Keshav, a tech entrepreneur, racing driver and co-founder of IT startup Hello World Labs, joined Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya and Amit Doshi to discuss Hike messenger and automotive tech. Having been involved as the Design team lead for Hike Messenger from 2011-2015, Lee discusses what the experience was like being a part of that company. They talk about its founder - Kavin Bharti Mittal, Hike’s new wallet feature as well as its future prospects. Here is what Lee had to say:

Hike will eventually turn into a platform very similar to Wechat. From day one we never said we were competing with Whatsapp……[but] a lot of the privacy features you see today on whatsapp are a direct copy of Hike, because when we started building hike we were acquiring a lot of feedback, and the first thing, girls [would say was] I want to hide my profile photo from some people, maybe I don’t want to show I’m online to some people, or I don’t want some people to see my ‘last-seen’. These things weren’t there on whatsapp back then. So we built them first, and eventually whatsapp noticed because people started going on their reviews and saying ‘you don’t have this feature, I’m going to Hike!’. People felt secure on Hike….we added [wifi] encryption much earlier than anyone else.

Over the course of their discussion they talk about Lee’s racing career, what he has learned from it and how tech has transformed automobiles. Regarding how data some times forces one to do things that seem counter-intuitive, lee said: 

I still remember, I was taking one corner and I would be coming in at around 200kmph and I would brake, down shift and then take the corner at 150kmph…..and my car [ended up] skidding a lot, sliding everywhere and so I came in [and thought] it’s not possble to go any faster. [the engineers said], you’re going too slow. I’m like what do you mean by too slow! He [said] you have to go above 200kmph to make the corner....look at the data. This [driver] is taking it at 210kmph....when you go above 200kmph, there will be enough down force for you to be stable. So, imagine your coming into this corner at say 240kmph and all you do is just lift and you take the corner.....and the car was so stable. I couldn’t believe it! It was like it was on rails!

Catch the full episode here:  

In Brief: Shunya One Ep. 7

On Episode 7 of Shunya One, Mayur Aggarwal, a tech entrepreneur and founder of ShipEasy, joined Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya and Amit Doshi to discuss logistics.

While discussing bootstrapping and all the pitfalls and penalties one encounters while initially setting up a business, Shiladitya comments on the need for entrepreneurs to be aware of the basic aspects (accounts, HR, etc.) of their business - 

[Entrepreneurs] should know “what will mess with me”, “what will screw up my business and my life” vs “what’s my safe playing ground”. I think that clarity we don’t have, or (because it’s so complicated) we don’t bother. That’s when people start saying, “Let me just find a trusted advisor who’ll say ‘don’t worry about a thing’, and I’ll not even look at the intricacies of it’ and [then] choose to focus on whatever I like to focus on. And that piles up, as an entrepreneur.....and that’s a bad attitude....the fact that most people don’t want to go deep because the deep is so deep

Over the course of their discussion they briefly comment on the workings and importance of Chartered Accountants in India, the Ken article “Why a lack of judicial reforms could kill India’s startup story” and Uber, and then get down to brass tacks of logistics. Mayur illuminates the political influence on logistics in India - 

A lot of unskilled labour generally tends to move into logistics. So, as population has grown, a lot more people have been accommodated into logistics and warehousing. now if you traditionally look at warehousing or logistics they are usually [run by] people who are politically connected, people who are either patrons of political parties or themselves in that whole spectrum. One of the biggest things they can get access to is cheap labour. Cheap unskilled labour. So that builds the building block of that multi-level broker facet. The more people I have in the value stream, I too get ignored for my big margins. [if] there’s somebody else across the state at your end, who’s also running a very bad show but you’re paying him 6%, why not pay me 6% as well. Probably both of them could be eliminated by one guy whose running it at a more efficient manner at 3% but then that’s how the political connection comes in.

Continuing on logistics, they discuss the implications the new GST bill will have on it. Amit comments on the need for overhaul in logistics in India - 

Logistics is the single biggest area where india can improve its efficiency and productivity by so much, it’s not even funny. Right now the amount of time it takes for goods to get from a factory to a distributor is insane! It is insane, when I hear these numbers! And somebody [tells me], “we just sent our shipment out because we’re going to run out of stock in 20 days and we need to make sure it gets there on time.” I’m like 20 days! 20 days is 2%! If you’re running a manufacturing business, 20 days is 2%. that means that basically in a year your looking at 25% productivity that can happen by being able to cut that number.

Catch the full episode here:  

In Brief: Shunya One Ep. 6

On episode 6 of Shunya One, Kuldeep, Head of Business and Customer Success at CleverTap joined Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya and Amit Doshi to discuss some of the latest issues in tech and business.

After reminiscing over the days of Nokia N9 and E71, they discuss the importance of sales. Kuldeep talks about how start-ups don’t give it its due: 

Indian businesses have always reacted in a way [that] they need to organise, and one way they’ve found to organise (in my opinion at least) is they cluster around each other, you go to Tirupur where almost half of cotton hosiery is done or you go to Bhilwara (which is close to Chitod-Udaipur) where almost half of India’s polyester is done. Right outside Bhiwandi, there are literally looms and looms...Bombay is a big cloth centre. Lot of these businesses are clustered together, they face the same business challenges so on and so forth, so [what’s] fundamental to running a business in India is if you don’t know how to sell, you will lose your identity because you’ll be lost among a crowd. Nobody will see you fail. You’ll just disappear in the background, which is why (when you mentioned startups) there are some start-ups who clearly cannot sell. There are start-ups who are all about the product, they’re all about the softer disciplines (and I don’t mean soft in a bad way) - you can have a great product, you can have a great package, you can have a great vision, you can be executing brilliantly. but in the end someone has to translate it into money, someone has to translate into a partnership.

Over the course of their discussion they briefly cover the sales strategy of Windows, the current state of the mobile markets and whether the Iphone is the winner that has taken all in the market. On the last point, Amit had this to say:

I absolutely understand that apple makes a lot more money than [HTC, Xioami, 1+], but these people are also rational actors. They’re not going to continue staying in this business if they don’t see a path to money making. And people are not going to fund them if they don’t see a path to money making at some point, right? The sheer number of people using android, as opposed to iphone, is 4 times that number. to me that says that there is something over there. Point being, that it’s not winner takes all.

Catch the full episode here: 

#PodsWeLike West Wing Weekly

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One of my favourite shows of all time, what could be better than doing an episode by episode recap with insiders. Hosted by Josh Malina (who played Will Bailey on the show) and Hrishikesh Hirway (who hosts the Sound Exploder podcast), they have a bunch of stars from the show and people who work in similar roles in real life as guests to discuss each episode. 

Check out their episode with Aaron Sorkin here:  http://thewestwingweekly.com/episodes/200

The podcast that saved my comedy career

1am, some Tuesday, 2014

I return home dejected after another open mic where my material crashed and burned. The usual. It’s been four months since I started doing comedy and open mics are the only public forums where I can take my pitiful jokes and hope to evoke a reaction. But it doesn’t seem to be working.

My mom keeps some dinner for me which I don’t bother heating up. I just want to get it over with. The embarrassment of bombing on stage isn’t half as bad as coming home after work and a gig to a quiet room with no one to talk to. I can’t watch TV or I’ll wake everyone up and I can’t cry into my food because it is salty enough as it is.

Instinctively, I open Soundcloud and instead of listening to remixed ‘90s anthems (my real source of power), I check out Comedy Central’s podcast. There, in a sequential order are international comedians performing some of their new material. Curiosity took over and I start eating my meal while listening to these episodes. I listened to the episodes, back to back, each featuring just about 10 minutes of comedy from comedians who were now, somehow hanging out with me in that room that night.

With no visual to these bits and just the audio, that podcast made me appreciate every single line. I understood what joke delivery was, how to set something up, and then deliver it. It made me realise what I wasn’t doing right on stage; speaking too fast and with fear. I realised that the audience is always listening and it’s my job to communicate better. It’s a learning I cherish to this day.

I have been doing stand-up comedy and improv professionally for two years now and I also get to host my own podcast now,  so I’d say everything kind of worked out. I still eat food at 1am though; some routines are hard to break.

------ 

Check out Comedy Central’s podcast channel: https://soundcloud.com/comedycentral

Check out my podcast Keeping it Queer, in which I talk to members of India’s LGBTQ community and bring their stories to you: https://audioboom.com/channel/keepin-it-queer

 

- Navin Noronha

#PodsWeLike Making Oprah

30 years ago, Oprah Winfrey made her big debut on television. While it may not seem like that to us now, considering her status as a part-book Midas, part-therapist and part-lady who gave people free cars, it wasn't always easy. 

In this mini podcast series by WBEZ, Making Oprah, host Jenn White traces the show's awkward beginnings, Oprah's rise on daytime television and what the show meant to people who worked on it. 

In just 3 episodes (plus 3 bonus ones), Making Oprah talks to producers, competitors, publicists and even Oprah herself. Check it out: https://goo.gl/OJqdT3

 

The IVM Podcasts app is here!

Introducing *a procession of drummers walk buy slowly building up to a heart-thumping drum roll* the IVM Podcasts App! 

An application exclusively for all of our wonderful podcasts, the IVM Podcasts app is available on both Android and iOS (that’s right!) and you can find the latest episodes of all our shows.

Go ahead, download it, rate and review the app, listen to something, learn, sing, laugh, startle your uber driver! 

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Introducing Sex Vex

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What's something you shouldn't say on a first date? What happens if you're attracted to your best friend? What kind of lube should I buy? And if the spirit moves me, can I kiss my boyfriend on Bandstand without getting arrested? 

We are so excited to announce a brand new show, X&Y that attempts to answer or at least debate all of these questions. Hosted by Siddhant Mehta and Dilnaz Irani, Sex Vex is all about real, casual conversations about dating and sex in urban India, without judgement.

This is a weekly podcast and will be available every Wednesday on our website, YouTube, Audioboom or any other podcasting app you like. Of course, the content is meant for adults, so if you're trying to find the show on iTunes India, just switch to the global store instead. 

The first episode tackles first dates and you can listen to it below: 

Footnotes: 

We mention not discussing movies on your first dates, here's an article about that, here's one that attributes the research to a book and this is the book itself.    

 

#PodsWeLike The Hilarious World of Depression.

Comedians are known to be notoriously sad people in real life. This podcast hosted by John Moe (who's fought his own battles with depression) tries to understand why that is and the different coping mechanisms that the comedians found in comedy. What's fascinating in each episode is how every comedian went through or is going through a different type of depression from bipolar disorders to a messy divorce to suicidal tendencies. It's not all doom and gloom though, every episode has a bunch of laugh out loud moments. Some stand out episodes are the ones featuring Maria Bamford, Peter Sagal and Andy Richter.

You can find it here: https://www.apmpodcasts.org/thwod/

#PodsWeLike 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

Tim Harford - the undercover economist talks about some of the critical "inventions, ideas and innovations" that make the modern work function.

There are episodes on the light bulb, the shipping container, the compiler where he narrates the story of how the subject became a crucial building block of modern life. The latest episode is about paper and is a great way to get started.

You can find it here: http://bbc.in/2jeZe2T