Startup Saturday: 13/9/2014

Yesterday I attended Startup Saturday after a long time. I actively participated in organizing these events for some time but the enthusiasm waned off, probably due to lack of time or all the gyaan was getting too much digest. The reason I attended this month’s event was because the theme of entire event was around education and I wanted to check out what people are doing in the field. 

Anyhow, coming back to the point: I didn’t see any out of the box offering from any of the players. All that everyone is doing is repackaging content and trying to sell it to students. Everyone understands that there’s massive growth in education sector and want to ride on it, yet not many are doing something that would eventually benefit the sole beneficiary - the student.

One gentleman rightly pointed out that no one in India studies to learn but just to get their degrees. Yet, the solution he had to offered also targeted those students who don’t want to learn but rather score marks with last minute studies.

Overall I feel that there’s a lot to be done in EdTech sector, just that the current lot of entrepreneurs need to figure out on how to focus on learning outcome rather than on scoring marks. 

Education has perception issues

I have been thinking a lot during this weekend on why education system in India is the way it is. At some point, I thought I got an answer in: education should be affordable to everyone irrespective of their status quo. But that is already happening in India. The Government of India already provides free primary education in all states and yet many people either don’t want to attend schools or don’t want to send their kids to study.

After discussing it with couple of people and reading hundreds of smart answers on Quora - it’s clear that the problem that education faces is perception.

For years, education has been a shortcut to get out of poverty quickly and and with guarantee, helping the middle class population to rise. This is where the perception that education will raise your income and your social status in return, comes from.

This worked very well for our parents, while it didn’t change a thing for others. For whom it didn’t change anything, hand down the same learnings to their kids. While our parents handed down the same to use, that go to school then college and earn lots of money. Be secure.

This needs to change. The perception that education is the ticket to make lots of money. Unless it changes, it will be very difficult for India as a country to rise.

And how would this work? The first step is to get everyone to get enrolled in school. India being a cost sensitive country (no doubt it is), education on primary level at least needs to be free or cheap that everyone can afford. Our government is already doing the first step. 

Once everyone at least gets basic level of education, education will no longer be a ticket to getting out of poverty and start becoming about learning. Remember, we are at least 40-60 years behind the countries in the west. 

The only problem is that it will take a lot of time, at least 5-6 generations, to come true and as a country where horrific events take place everyday, that’s too long before the country burns itself. 

Disclaimer: I work for ClassMatrix.com, where we help institutes to focus on learning outcome. 

While browsing Facebook, I came across this post getting ridiculed. The image shows Myntra delivering on Cycles. While most European countries are promoting the usage of cycles, it’s only in India that people would ridicule this. 

The government in Amsterdam has made parking so expensive that people mostly use cycles. It has added benefits:

  1. You get healthy
  2. Saves a tons of money
  3. Reduces the pollution

I find it a bit disheartening that young Indians not only aren’t conscious of all these benefits but would ridicule others. 

Link to the pictures posted on FB

Why Has Kalaari Invested Rs 30 Crore in Swipe Telecom?

Kalaari Capital, an early stage investment firm, has invested Rs 30 crore in an Indian tablet maker Swipe Telecom. The Pune based company plans to utilize the funds raised in expanding sales in the Indian market and invest in research and development.

Swipe lists a total of 23 devices, a combination of tablets and phablets, all based on Google’s Android operating system. According to a report by the Economic Times, it also plans to introduce tablets on Microsoft’s Windows Platform, which is quite ambitious.

Swipe’s tablets are priced between Rs 3,999 to Rs 14,999. Essentially, these are low end tablets, which translates to little margin for the company. Low end tablets are already infamous in the country. When companies like Micromax introduced low end tablets, a lot of people bought them. It turned out to be an horrendous experience because of the cheap components used in them. The next wave of tablet buyers, are either going to upgrade their tablets or won’t be buying it at all. In any case, low end tablets does not seem to be an appealing market to address.

This is one of the reason why Micromax has introduced its Turbo series. It’s trying to move away from low end market where it dominated, to provide a better experience to its users and to gain more margin.

Either Swipe Telecom is soon going to pull a rabbit out of hat or it has already done so by managing raise the fund.

Things businesses can learn from people commuting in Mumbai locals

Thanks to Vodafone India’s shitty 3G network, I hardly get any access to the internet when I am commuting in locals. This has forced me to observe surroundings. And yeah, I’ll be getting an additional Reliance number for 3G network. 

However, there are two important things I have observed that businesses can learn from people commuting in Mumbai locals.

1. Presentation: Since I have started working on ClassMatrix, one thing is damn clear that your ability to get clients depends on how you present your content.

Just the other day I observed a hairclip seller, was working on her clips stand, for the lack of proper word, to make it more presentable. What she was essentially doing is, filling the gaps created from the clips that she sold with clips on the top of her stand. When I looked at her puzzled, she simply said “aisa acha nahi dikhta, kam maal nazar aata hai.”

I was impressed. This lady prolly knows more than I do about sales. It’s another thing that I know ghanta about sales, but that’s a topic of discussion for next time.

2. Creating right environment to sell: 

While I was getting back home from a meeting, like a normal person, I was listening to songs and working on my to-do list, our compartment was invaded by these young girls. Not more than 25 years, they started telling us about a kid who has cancer, how his family is poor and can’t afford to pay for his treatment. After the less than 2 minute pitch, they started asking for donations.

Of course, more than 80% who donated, donated it cause they didn’t want to appear too mean. The trick of creating a social pressure worked wonders. Lets say, everyone in the compartment donated an average of Rs 20, considering that there were at least 100 donations that’s like Rs 2000 collection in mere 5 minutes.

More for next time. Although at some point of time I would like to commute from my own car, until then I’ll try to connect these things to business and sales. Do share your experiences.