Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Experience India! Day 4

Just like the previous day (day 3), the fourth day was packed with non- stop lectures. Something which we are familiar with in NUS, so it’s not a big deal. Our favourite speaker, Prof. Iyer, commenced the day smoothly as he was the first speaker and the topic was “Doing business in India: Opportunities and Challenges”. Prior to this trip, I knew that opportunities in India are abundant and there are plenty of obstacles which we need to overcome in order to be a successful entrepreneur. According to Prof. Iyer, business process in Singapore is easier compared to business process in India. And his lecture was primarily on start- up location and start- up parameters for businesses. I’m going to present the pros and cons of doing business in India in point form as some of the points overlap with the previous day’s points.

- Large domestic market
- Stable economy and political milieu
- Large, young manpower pool
- English- speaking base
- Low cost, low risk

- Heavy on regulatory processes
- Movement of goods and funds not completely free
- Markets are not as diverse/ mature

What an entrepreneur should do? An entrepreneur should make full use of these resources in good form. But before that, he should put in effort to do some research on the start- up location to decide whether it is an ideal spot to carry out business activities. In addition, every market has its own pluses and minuses. Therefore, he should not assume that everything will work out for him the same as it does at home and must be prepared to fight and survive during turbulent situations. For start-up, parameters, they are:

- Regulatory & Compliance
- Finance, Banking & Working capital especially for foreign investors
- Markets
- Technology
- Infrastructure
- People

The subsequent lecture topic was “Spotting the landmines” by Mr. Bringi Dev, his lecture was a short one. He discussed about 1) Information issues, 2) Predictability & Reliability, 3) Productivity issues and 4) Cost issues. I will only elaborate more on the important ones here, in order to be highly productive, there is a need for supervision and monitoring and constant evaluation of people. Now for cost issues, factors like price flexibility and multiple quotes are some of the things to take note of. Then he started focusing on investing in India.

For the introduction part, I learnt that India’s GDP is growing steadily and strongly and there are four sectors which played a big role in the Indian growth story: IT, Auto- components, Pharmaceuticals and Textiles.

He also explicitly stated the Do’s for Foreign Investors in India, this part is really beneficial for entrepreneurs.

- Develop an ‘India’ strategy
- Have long term view
- Choose right joint venture partner
- Choose right regional model
- Use global best practices
- Conceptualize India- specific products
- Optimally blend expatriate management with local talent

Next Prof. K. Kumar gave another relatively short lecture on “Building Entrepreneurs”, again I shall provide the main points from his presentation.

- Entrepreneurship – means of maximum utilization of one’s potential and a process of continuous experimentation and learning

- Entrepreneurship – means of wealth creation and building a sustainable high growth ventures

After lunch, a very knowledgeable and eloquent individual, Mr. Jayesh Chakravarthi from Fidelity, arrived and his lecture really captivated us. His lecture was on Global Recession and India’s response and he described the entire global recession in layman’s terms within the given time slot and we were able digest the information very easily. He mentioned subprime segment and prime segment. Under subprime lending, the banks lend money to borrowers knowing that only some will pay back with interest (for example, 5 out 10 will pay back with the interest). In US, the banks offered loans to purchase properties (houses) and eventually, the costs of houses started to soar when more people started buying more properties. As the number of borrowers continued to swell, the banks with insufficient money borrowed money from other financial institutions and the mortgages were handed over to the other financial institutions from which the banks borrowed. Banks started to borrow from each other and the whole process resorted in a chain reaction. As the demand for houses increased, the property developers built more houses assuming that the people will purchase. Those borrowers who defaulted the loan, declared bankruptcy to escape from prosecution and as a result the economy is affected adversely and there’s a global recession. Finally, he concluded that global economy is interrelated to human behavior. I hope that I got the whole notion right.

The next speaker was Prof. Thomas Binford and his lecture was on “Starting up in Bangalore”, basically he discussed about the decisions which we need to take in setting up a company. I shall skip this part as the points overlap with the earlier ones. Need to thank him for sharing his experiences with us.

Even though we were in a state of squeezing too many information, at the end of the day there was a sense of satisfaction which all of us felt. These guest speakers, without any doubt, instigated me to read up more on current affairs. I would like to express my gratitude to all of them.

After the non-stop lectures, we went out to an area, known as Marathahalli, it was a small area with some branded shops there and here, I didn’t do much shopping due to time constraint. But it’s definitely a nice area to hang around in the night where you get to see the hustle and bustle of the city. Since some of us were craving for burgers and fries, we headed to a nearby Shopping mall in our vehicles to have supper in Macdonald’s restaurant. Not bad after all, it just tasted a little bit different and they even cater to vegetarians also.

In the next post, I’ll be sharing whatever we did during the weekends and the uniqueness of Bangalore city and Mysore.

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