Showmanship Delhi vs Mumbai

I was just trying to understand city cultures. I have perception that Delhi is very showman savvy city. People believe in big cars, big homes, and luxuries. They want to show it more. That has made the relationships very fragile. Economic boom in property prices has made many of them rich. Rich without experience is bad. They think life is easy and you can get anything without efforts. Every action involves some showmanship for Delhi.

Everyone is interested in everyone’s life. People have enough time to do research and comment on other’s life. Some are more interested in other’s life than self. Marriage in Delhi is a lavish affair. Party goes on whole night. Road gets long jam. All relatives from a to z should be present. Giving expensive gifts are social symbols. If you are a Manager in company, you should have a car mandatorily.

On other hand, Mumbai is city of workers. City just runs to local station in morning and evening. Social life composes mainly official links. Even vice presidents don’t feel bad in local. Local is the main transport medium. Values are more intact. Survival is main thrust in Mumbai. High competitiveness has reduced the social interests.

Marriages in Mumbai are simple affairs except some filmy one. It happens in noon and in few hours you are free. No showmanship involve in cloths, cars, decoration, crackers, or makeups.

I may be biased still these are perceptions.

Are rating agencies reliable for investment decisions?

India has five rating agencies currently. CARE, Crisil, and Fitch are three main contenders in this business. As I understand, before getting loan or debt , one has be get validated by one rating agency. These are third parties and independent parties to give view on investment. They get some percentage from company to get it reviewed at initial stage and years afterwards. Investor makes decisions based on their ratings. It is very hard for investor to go and review all investment options. BBB is supposed to be investment grade decision. There are internal and external reviews of rating after getting final numbers. There are some risks on relying on their decisions

1. Conflict of interest: They get paid by the company who is looking for loans. Both parties look for business.

2. Sudden change of business perception: Recession and good times have two different perceptions about a business. People go by brand name and rely more on owner than business ideas. In recession time, overall risk appetite changes so “A” grade company may get BBB. Mean of risk keeps changing. Satyam got best rating and just after few months they were on verge of default. Similar is case of 3i InfoTech. Crisil confirmed rating as “A” last month and this month they changed it to junk.

3. Highly risky products/Projects: It is very difficult to judge a company on project stage. No one where company can falter. Company can be good in one execution and may be bad in another. Even the finest director can’t guarantee success of a film. It is mix of product, marketing, demand, external environment and execution. A simple default may lead to fall in idea. Even Google is finding hard to face Facebook in social media despite having in-house technical skill and large user base. People were apprehensive in investing in Reliance in earlier days. Now they may find investor easily.

4. Complex products: Companies are so linked together. Stakes are so unclear in today’s market that most of the things lead to insurance. Derivatives have created very risky world. Generally, a big daddy supports small projects and his credibility is used to back small innovation.

5. Sovereign Issues: Credibility of rating agencies have been affected by EU and USA’s debt crisis. Despite having slow and steady growth rates during last 8-9 years, these countries are enjoying AAA or AA rating. India (BBB) and China are giving 9-10% growth year on year and their GDP is also getting stronger. Still rating is poor comparatively. Some perception matching should happen to get credibility back in rating agencies.

IITian Pooja Nath’s homework help site Piazza raises $1.5 mn from Silicon Valley

When Pooja Nath was an undergraduate at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, an elite engineering school in India, she felt isolated. She was one of the few women on campus. While her male classmates collaborated on problem sets, Nath toiled in the computer lab alone.

“Back then, no one owned a laptop, there was no Internet in the dorm rooms. So everyone in my class would be working in the computer lab together,” she said. “But all the guys would be communicating with each other, getting help so fast, and I would be on the sidelines just watching.”

The experience as a young woman in that culture formed the foundation of her startup in Silicon Valley, Piazza. Nath, who was the first woman from her hometown to attend the prestigious engineering school and later escaped an arranged marriage to become an entrepreneur, conceived of the site for homework help in 2009 during her first year at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Students post questions to their course page, which peers and educators can then respond to. Instructors moderate the discussion, endorse the best responses and track the popularity of questions in real time. Responses are also color-coded, so students can easily identify the instructor’s comments.

Although there are rival services, like Blackboard, an education software company , Piazza’s platform is specifically designed to speed response times. The site is supported by a system of notification alerts, and the average question on Piazza will receive an answer in 14 minutes.

“The whole idea of Piazza stems from the dynamics that I observed at IIT. From the sidelines I saw how effective it was to get immediate help, from peers in the same room,” Nath, 30, said.

Piazza, the Italian term for a public square , is part of a growing group of technology startups hoping to disrupt the education market . Its peers include Kno and Inkling, two platforms for interactive, digital textbooks. The trend has also given birth to its own Silicon Valley-based incubator, Imagine K12, which announced its first batch of investments in June.

“Education is a big focus area for us. You’re going to see big fundamental shifts in the way education is performed,” said Aydin Senkut, an investor in Piazza who made his fortune as an early Google employee. “With Piazza, it’s about turning data into actionable intelligence. We want to empower people to ask and answer questions and we’re going to measure every aspect of it.”

Piazza’s own metrics are promising. The average user, according to the company’s data, spends two to three hours a day on the site. The company has just raised $1.5 million in financing from several prominent Silicon Valley backers, including Sequoia Capital, Ron Conway and Senkut, the founder of Felicis Ventures.

Relying heavily on word-of-mouth, Piazza has expanded from roughly three colleges to more

than 330 in the last year. At Stanford, the first to start using the service, more than half of the undergraduates are registered users. As in the case of Facebook, the wildly popular social network that sprang from a Harvard dorm room, the close-knit nature of college campuses has helped accelerate the adoption of Piazza.

30 Best Small Business Ideas for 2010

This year will be the year of small and home based businesses and some of the trends behind that are:

The lack of jobs in the market
The focus on cost savings or bootstrapping
The ability to create innovative products by combining knowledge and technology
Work-life balance – people want to strike balance between their personal and professional life and a small home based business can help them do that
Lower start up and technology costs
The aging population of baby boomers that is unable to take up traditional jobs
Here’s a list of the best small business and home based business opportunities and ideas for 2010 that you can consider if you’re thinking about starting your own business.

Everything Senior

The aging baby boomers need help in several areas of their life and it is a big market to be tapped. There are several small business opportunities in the senior market that you can look at:

1. Senior training for upgrading their skills for jobs

2. Technical assistance for electronic products

3. Senior and disabled in-home care

4. Healthcare

5. Food service – preparation and delivery

6. Home automation and renovation to make the lives of seniors easy and safe

Everything Green

“Green” is the buzzword and lot of people and organizations want to make their homes and offices environment friendly. Whether you are an energy efficiency consultant or green energy products manufacturer, you can benefit from this opportunity. Some green business opportunities are:

7. Residential energy audits

8. Training and Products for Do-it-yourself green energy generators – Provide books, videos and personal training for those interested in creating green energy themselves

9. Waste recycling – the environment friendly way

10. Green construction – Construction with environment friendly resources and those that create lesser waste

11. Greening consultant – Advise people about implementing green practices in their homes and offices

Everything Discounted

With less money in wallets, people are looking for discounts on everything which makes it a right time to start:

12. Unique Thrift Store – Sell low priced products made by non-profits.

13. Dollar Store – start your individual store or buy a franchise.

14. Discount Travel Service – Offer people best deals on travel and accommodation.

15. Import consultancy – help companies save money by procuring most economical products available in the International market.

Everything Frugal

Even though people want to save money, they tend to waste a lot; whether it is their own money, energy, water or anything else. This year, help people better utilize their money and resources.

16. Energy efficiency consultancy – Help people save energy and thereby saving money and the environment also.

17. Expense Reduction services – Help businesses and individual save money by looking at their day to day expenses and offering advice on where and how to save money.

Health, Fitness & Nutrition

Focus on overall fitness, aging boomers and healthcare reforms have made health, fitness and nutrition related businesses very lucrative. A big market for small businesses with big competition also; but it is still not late to start.

18. Yoga Instruction and Training Center – Help people stay fit and healthy with Yoga

19. Sell herbal products – For lots of people, herbal means healthy. You can easily start selling herbal products right from your home or online.

20. Nutrition Consulting – Suggest best food items and diet plans for people that suit their lifestyle and health conditions.

21. Pregnancy Fitness Center – Pregnant women need to stay fit and this is a niche market that can be captured.

Everything Social Media

Social media’s increasing popularity, effectiveness and low costs has led businesses to jump into the social media marketing bandwagon. Businesses, however, cannot do everything themselves and that’s where they need assistance from a social media expert.

22. Social Media Marketing – Help companies market their products and services online by effectively using social media channels. Social media is also becoming a tool for cost saving for small businesses and, as a social media expert, you can also help businesses achieve that.

23. Online Reputation Management – While it is easy to gain popularity using social media, it is also a cumbersome task to manage business or individual reputation online. Start offering online reputation management service that will help people track their reputation and suggest and implement corrective actions whenever required.

Everything Creative

Creativity can turn trash into gold. If you have a creative side, you can easily start a small business right from the comfort of your home and with easily and economically available items.

24. Personalized Children’s Books – Kids love to read stories and what can be better than the stories featuring their names. This is a hot market with parents being equally interested in reading out stories for their children in which their own kids are the main characters.

25. Stock Photography – If you have the love for lens, you can turn it into a profitable small business. Stock photography is a growing market and with various options to display and sell your work online, it is really easy to start as well.

Everything Small Business

If small businesses are to grow in 2010, they will also need lots of services. This opens up several opportunities for small businesses that can offer services to their counterparts. With small businesses focusing on reducing their operational costs as much as possible, anyone offering quality services with lowest possible prices is guaranteed to be successful. Some of the services that small businesses need are:

26. Incorporation – Assist small businesses in the incorporation process by taking care of the paperwork and handling other legal issues.

27. Web Development – Create websites for small businesses that help them showcase and sell their products and services online.

28. Copywriting – Writing a persuasive sales letter that generates sales is an art and if you have that why not start offering copywriting services to people looking to sell online. If you have the right skills, you can even offer writing a search engine optimized copy.

29. Accounting & Taxation – It is important to maintain financial records for any business but small businesses often fail to do so because of the lack of knowledge and skills. Offer outsourced accounting services to small businesses and, if possible, include tax filing and other related services also.

30. SEO & PPC Management – Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click Marketing are still jargons for lots of small business owners. Help them benefit by using these economical marketing methods by offering SEO and PPC marketing services.

While all of these have been mentioned as best small business ideas, it is up to an individual’s interest, knowledge and skills to choose the best possible out of these. Hope you have found one from this list of the top small business ideas for 2010.

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