October 29, 2008

Case Study : Customer Evangelism

There is an interesting e-book "Testify-How remarkable companies are creating customer evangelists" which focuses on how companies are winning customers and effectively making each one their evangelist !!!

It is a very interesting compilation, the companies about which I enjoyed reading the most are:
You can download the ebook from here

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October 27, 2008

The Barber story : How to win & multiply customers

Next day being the auspicious occasion of Diwali,I decided to get a different look wink and the time spent at the saloon shaped up in an excellent learning experience.

The barbers at the shop showed great professionalism[both in terms of work and customer delight] which can be easily co-related to our day to day activities.

Below are the 6 simple learnings from that experience:

1. Always be watchful for customers
I went to the saloon in the afternoon & due to heavy rush there, I returned back home.When I again went in the evening, that same barber recognized me & asked me the reason to do the same i.e whether there was a problem or I was not satisfied with their service during the previous visit or any other reason.
It is very important to take feedback from the customer since, in today's time, customer always has more choices than you can ever think of !!!

2. How to break the communication barrier
As I don't belong to Bangalore,some times it becomes difficult to communicate[especially if the other person does not know Hindi or English].Hence,if I don't hand over the exact requirements, I cannot expect a proper output from that person.Same was the case in the saloon where language became a communication barrier sad.But soon, I remembered about my passport size photo in my wallet and that photo became a single line requirement for the barber.
It is of utmost importance to find alternate as well as smart ways to break the communication barrier else it would have a negative effect on the deliverables.

3. Benchmarking always helps
As mentioned in the previous point,my photograph became a benchmark for the barber and benchmarking always speeds up things.
Always check out if there is a benchmark in what you are doing & that would speed up your entire process of development.

4. Team-work is the mantra
At one point,the barber who was making my shave got confused & could not proceed.Immediately, the other barber came to his rescue[though he was not called for any help] & took over the baton from him.
In a team,it becomes very important to gain as well as share knowledge as at the end of the day, one person failing in a team would lead to the entire team's failure !!!

5. How to kill the Distraction
As you are aware that all saloons at least have a TV & many times, it becomes a source of distraction rather than entertainment.Same was the case with the barber, who concentrated equally watching the TV along with the hair-cut.His co-worker switched off the TV[after a while] when his slow output was creating an irritation to customers.
Every person has at least one source of distraction but when the individual distraction results in a negative effect on the other co-workers, it is time to take strict action !!! As a team, your intent should be to deliver the best and convert your first time customers to repeat customers to loyal customers to customer evangelists [as stated below].

6. How to create Customer Evangelists
As I was paying the barber,I appreciated him for his work and he reciprocated for the same.The other guy[who had got confused as mentioned in point(4)] did not only thank me but also promised me to deliver his best next time [that too without requiring the photo biggrin]
Simple words of gratitude helps develop as well as maintain a good relationship with the customer.Though the barber could not deliver, his promise [to deliver next time] makes me recommend his shop to others and this way his/your loyal customers would become your evangelists !!!

Image Courtesy:
Clipart ETC

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October 22, 2008

FailCamp : Why are FAILURES important for SUCCESS...

One of the most common sayings about Failure is "Failures are stepping stone to success" but, what if we could learn important lessons from someone else's failures.Most of the times,Failure is a exaggerated term which should otherwise be termed as "Failed Attempt" and wouldn't be great to share your life experiences with others under one roof smile.FailCamp is one such wonderful initiative[better to call it as an initiative rather than an unconference] by Kiruba Shankar and his team.

The bottom-line of FailCamp -

We all make mistakes and learn from it to become a better person. Won't it be great to learn from other's mistakes so that we don't make the same ones!

The focus is really not about the failure. It's about why we failed and what lessons we learnt from it. Let's not be ashamed about failing. Let's celebrate failure. Let's look straight into its eyes.

To be very honest,off late;I have taken lot of hasty decisions[which have taught me lot of things] and it would be really nice to share those learnings with the audience.Well,not to forget listening to other's mistakes would be great learning for all of us !!!

So, interested in FailCamp:

Date and Time - 16th November 2008
Venue - Tenth Planet, Chennai. The venue was just finalized few days back and I am quite excited to meet my old unconference buddies wink
Registration - FailCamp Wiki

Before ending this article, I would like to share few lines from Paulo Coelho's book "Manual of the warrior of light"
A warrior of light shares with others what he knows of the path.Anyone who gives help also receives help and needs to teach what he has learnt.That is why he sits by the fire and recounts his day on the battlefield.

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October 19, 2008

BumpTop : Rethink your desktop

With changing times, we have seen PC's and Laptops becoming sleeker and more & more sexier.But though the outer looks or configuration changes, the Desktop still remains the same/boring; this is the thought that gave rise to BumpTop.As the founder Anand Agarawala claims that "He wanted his desktop to be an exact reflection of his office desk and hence, he started BumpTop".

As BumpTop website states:
BumpTop is a fresh and engaging new way to interact with your computer desktop. You can pile and toss documents like on a real desk. Break free from the rigid and mechanical style of standard point-and-click desktops. Interact by pushing, pulling and piling documents with elegant, self revealing gestures.
You can check out the interesting demonstration of BumpTop below:

As seen from the video,the usage of BumpTop makes the desktop more lively just like your working desk, but it would be very interesting to see the statistics wrt CPU consumption,memory uage etc. for the same.

You can sign up for a Beta invite here and if you are very curious to see BumpTop in action, check it out here.You can also follow BumpTop on Twitter.

The unanswered question:
Apart from making the desktop look real & cool, which real life problem is BumpTop trying to solve[since, no one wants the desktop to be as cluttered like his/her work desk] ?..Any thoughts...

PS: Thanks @ArunRam for the tip on BumpTop smile

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October 14, 2008

SlideShare's Viral Mantras...

There are a lot of SlideShare presentation embeds on this blog so,wouldn't it be great to know it's secrets straight from the horse's mouth wink Below is a video coverage of Amit Ranjan[Co-Founder of SlideShare] sharing his ideas about Viral Marketing[at Proto,which I had missed] and it's corresponding implementation at SlideShare.

Some very interesting points from his presentation:
In simple terms,Amit describes Viral Marketing as a combination of Web Analytics & Psychology and he justifies this very well in his presentation.The other interesting part is a term coined by him called "Shared DJs" [guys who are responsible for indirect marketing of the website by spreading it's content through mediums like Blogs,Twitter,FriendFeed,Delicious etc] who are as important as the content creators & both of them should co-exist for the success of the website.
Related Article:
Proto-IV coverage

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October 13, 2008

Co-founder or Employee ?

We know about the saying : "Grass is green on the other side" but we cannot not always think Green...When there is a small team , there are bound to be some differences but these small differences should make the atmosphere better and bring out the best results out of us smile

However as I mentioned in one of my previous article , many times it is very important to figure out the BAD INTENTIONS, else it would become so late that you can neither continue nor leave the startup!!! And even if you continue, there is every possibility that "You would not get the ROI for your efforts "[What if you are compelled to leave prior to the completion of your vesting period because there are 101 reasons that can be made up for you to leave...]Came across a very interesting question[or should I call a real life scenario] , which was posted on StartupNation titled "I think I'm a co-founder" -

A few years back a friend told me about an idea for a website he had. He said he thought he could make some money from it, but he needed someone to help him and he asked me if I knew anyone who would be interested. I suggested myself, he agreed, and things got started

His plan never worked out, but I continued to blog, at one point so much that I was rarely leaving my house.At one point, he became so disheartened with how things were going that he told me he was considering selling the website. He told me that for my work he'd give me half of what he could sell it for, which he figured would be a pretty large sum. I told him not to, because if we could make it work then it would really be profitable.

The site has slowly grown into a small but fairly successful website. I'm still "holding up that truck", but I'm arguably a little less important now.

Since then he's been getting a lot of media attention and meeting a lot of people who have been very successful at doing the same thing. But now he's calling himself the founder of the website. He refuses to acknowledge that I did anything more than help him as a friend, and that now I'm nothing more than his employee.

Well,before such an unavoidable situation is encountered, check out the eye-openers here, here, here & here

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October 10, 2008

Small feather in ThoughtsPrevail's cap!!

To start with, I started blogging in the start of 2005 and since than, it has been a roller-coaster ride.The blog which started off as MY personal blog [like a diary] became YOUR [the reader's] personal blog!! I met a lot of wonderful entrepreneurs,startups,technologists through this powerful medium [in short,blog has been a CHANGE AGENT] & hence, I have now decided to end my journey of blogging cry Oh Oh wait, I was just kidding;how can I give up my second life !!! Now let me now jump to the crux of the story wink

After few mentions about me & my blog in newspapers, it was the time to take this blog from the print media to the broadcast media.Few days back, there was a short story on blogging on UTVi Business Channel and ThoughtsPrevail [along with myself] got a good coverage on the show [the video footage below]

It was nice to see myself and my blog on TV.On this occasion,I would like to thank each one of you[the readers,visitors & most of all Google wink] for bringing ThoughtsPrevail till this stage & the UTVi media team for finding this blog worthy for their show.

Other past achievements:
ThoughtsPrevail enters Guy Kawasaki's AllTop
Rohit Agarwal's TechTribe recognizes ThoughtsPrevail
Winner of "Art of the Start" contest & my favorite
Can a blog get you your Angel

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October 6, 2008

The "Second Life" of Startups ...

Any unconference you attend, you would always come across few guys who would be evangelizing the concept of SecondLife (SL).Though,I am a member of it since a long time,I could not explore much about SL[courtesy of my laptop sad].However today I took some time off to explore SL and it is really quite amazing !!! This great first level experience drove me to write this article smile

Few notable things from Wikipedia about SL
During a 2001 meeting with investors, Philip Rosedale noticed that the participants were particularly responsive to the collaborative, creative potential of Second Life. As a result, the initial objective-driven, gaming focus of Second Life was shifted to a more user-created, community-driven experience.
As stated above, SL always had the collaborative touch since 2001,however SL is much more than that...SL Grid platform provides companies with a virtual experience, which provides the following advantages
  • Increased Productivity
  • Effective Collaboration
  • Improved Communication
  • Enhanced Engagement with your Customers or Audience
  • Reduced Business Costs
You can read more about SL Grid here and here

However, every application has its upside(s) & downside(s) and so does SL.Many feel that SL is more close to the Tech-Savvy Community.Excerpt from BusinessWeek -
Typically, only tech-savvy customers are open to using a virtual world to go through the architectural design process. But Bouchoud says he has attracted some business precisely because he's using Second Life. His Web site contains a section about Second Life, and if someone visiting his site already has an avatar, she can use the site to "teleport," or be redirected to, his "island"—the equivalent of private property—there. Brouchoud uses an island because it can be password-protected, letting him bar access to anyone other than staff and clients, should he wish to do so.
You can find BW's interesting article on "How startups are using SL to build their brand & grow their business" here and here.Not only SMB's but even companies like Wipro have realized SL's growing importance for it's business.

SL's widespread use is not only restrained to technology; aspiring Filmmakers are using this medium to showcase their talent [Thanks to Prashant Singh for the tip on Pluggd.in] and it's benefits can be extended to other areas like arts, education etc.

Check out this very interesting presentation,that focuses on each and every aspect of SL with respect to business....

Though I am still exploring SL , from the way SL has taken off; we can definitely expect more and more startups [as well as big companies] using SL as a medium to build better customer relationships as well as to cut down costs.

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October 4, 2008

WiCamp - The "WIpro Innovation CAMP"

It seems like the unconference styled format is becoming quite popular nowadays and even companies like Wipro have realized it's potential[both in terms of brand building and tentative recruitment].After a series of WiCamps in cities like Bangalore,Pune,Chennai,Hyderabad; WiCamp returns to Wipro's home ground -Bangalore

Pavan Soni ,WiCamp's chief un-organizer mentions :
Practitioners, Entrepreneurs, VCs, Academicians, Faculties, Students, Freelancers and almost everybody want to learn more on innovation and its applications to their lives. We have seen them all visiting these WiCamps over past few months.

WiCamp has been an informal platform which has helped people come together and share their perspectives on innovation.
Rajesh Moorjani, founder of Propel Software is all praise for the Pune edition of WiCamp for it's perfect adoption of the unconference culture[More here]

So,interested in WiCamp?

Date and Time - 10th October 2008 [9 AM onwards]
Venue - Wipro Technologies Campus, Electronic City, Bangalore
Theme - Taking Ideas to Market
[Interesting theme,however this should be complimented with speakers who have themselves taken some idea to the market wink]

You can register for the event here

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October 1, 2008

INDIA has to find it's four STEVE JOBS : Guy Kawasaki

Times Of India had a very interesting interview with Guy Kawasaki when he was on a visit in Mumbai.Though many lines are quoted from his book "Art of the Start" , yet the interview is quite entertaining as well as very informative.I was a bit late to read the article and hence, thought it would be a good idea to share with other lazy people in the crowd [like myself wink] , who might have accidentally missed the article.

"You","him" and other such references are to Guy Kawasaki.

Some interesting excerpts below:
But the crowning glory of his Mumbai trip was a visit to Dhobhi Ghat that set him wondering about the ‘business analytics’ involved. “How can you send a pair of jeans there and get the same one back,” he wondered.

And that too without RFID chips, no barcode scanner,” he said. India still managed to surprise him and it takes a lot to surprise a man who has had pitches made to him about buying out Israel!
Can you trace any commonality between revolutionary companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google?
Yes, the commonality is completely contrary to most people’s idea of venture capital. Which is every one of the mentioned companies had two co-founders who were not proven. They were nerds. So Google was founded by two PHD students in computer science, and Steve was a college dropout.

Bill Gates was also a dropout. It was not like Bill Gates was VP of say Data General and decided to write personal computer software. Looking at these companies, you should invest in unproven teams, in unproven markets, and unproven technologies.

Contrary to what VCs say, which is invest in proven teams, proven markets, and proven technologies. That’s the digital divide.
What stage of the entrepreneurship cycle do you think we in India are?
I haven’t been in India long enough to say. Statistically there should be four Steve Jobs in India because we have 300 million people, and you have 1.2 billion. So there are four Steve Jobs in India. You just have to find them.
What’s your take on Web 2.0?
No one wakes up in the morning and says I need a Web 2.0 application. They may say I need something to balance my cheque-book, I need something to manage my inventory, I need to create a personal profile. I can understand that; but nobody wakes up and says I want a Web 2.0 experience today.
What are the few steps that an entrepreneur should get right?
Prototyping is the first thing. That’s the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth thing. The sixth thing is to write a business plan. And don’t even think of the exit plans, it’s a joke. Statistically, the logical exit plan is bankruptcy.

Entrepreneurs should focus on the prototype because a prototype will tell you whether people will use the product/service or not. It proves to the investor whether you are serious or not. Prototype is the key, not the business plan and definitely not the research either.

You can read the complete interview here, here, here and here

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