The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Business Opportunities Weblog points to a review by Peter Hupalo of “The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Strategies for Continuously Creating Opportunity in an Age of Uncertainty.”

New entrepreneurs can learn much from habitual entrepreneurs. Thats the premise of Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian MacMillan, authors of The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Strategies for Continuously Creating Opportunity in an Age of Uncertainty.

McGrath and MacMillan define habitual entrepreneurs as those who have made a career out of starting new businesses and launching new products. Habitual entrepreneurs find opportunities while others fail to act during times of uncertainty.

In a world of uncertainty, our guiding philosophy is: Take Charge. If nobody knows what the future will hold, your vision of how to navigate it is as good as anyones. The future may as well belong to you, write McGrath and MacMillan.

Successful habitual entrepreneurs experiment intelligently. They dont view every business move as a do-or-die endeavor for their company. Habitual entrepreneurs focus ruthlessly upon priorities and ruthlessly weed out unprofitable endeavors. They balance current, profitable, business operations with an eye to future opportunities.

Speech Technologies

InfoWorld has a special report. “A unique confluence of technological improvements in recent years is allowing a growing number of companies to realize the benefits of speech technologies for customer and employee self-service. Improvement in speech recognition, the advent of VoIP, and the emergence of sophisticated voice portals, in contrast to the inherent limitations of touch-tone menu options, are leading to wholly automated IVR apps with which customers can conduct end-to-end business transactions, such as ordering tickets or making reservations.”

MovieBeam

NYTimes writes about MovieBeam:

MovieBeam is built around a technology that broadcasts movies slowly over unused portions of the television signals to set-top boxes that store them on a hard disk. Users will have a choice of 100 movies mainly those that have been recently released on DVD’s with 10 new titles replacing old ones each week.

Consumers will buy the MovieBeam box for $250 from electronics stores. They can send for a $50 rebate, but must also pay a $30 activation fee, making the effective upfront cost $230. The service does not charge a monthly fee, but movies cost $3.99 each for current titles and $1.99 for older ones. (The company will also offer some movies in a high-definition format for an additional $1.) The customers will be able to watch the movie for a 24-hour period.

Tres Izzard, a former Disney executive who is now the chief executive of MovieBeam, said the service was meant to appeal to the 30 million people who rent at least four movies a month. Four-fifths of those rentals, he said, are releases of the sort that will be in the MovieBeam service.

India vs China in Investment

[via Atanu] Jeremy Siegel writes:

As I explain in my book, The Future for Investors, there are two aspects to every investor decision. First you must size up the prospects for the firm, the sector, or the country. On this score, India scores some high marks.

But you must also evaluate the price that you are paying for these prospects. India’s investment climate looks ripe for growth, but the markets have recognized this and have pushed stock prices upward. The Sensex 30, India’s best-known stock market index and analogous to our Dow-Jones Industrial Index, was only 3300 in December 2002 but on February 6, 2006, the index broke through 10,000 for the first time.

The price-to-earnings ratio on this index has reached 21, while Chinese stocks on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are selling for only 15 times earnings. Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific Strategy recently indicated that it thinks valuation has turned the tide toward China. In a December review of the Asian markets Goldman stated, “We remain bullish long term [on India], but are market weight given the stretched valuations [and other factors].” In contrast Goldman’s Asia team remains overweight in Chinese equities due to the cheaper valuations.

Both India and China have enormous promise and I would certainly own stocks from each of these countries in a long-run portfolio. But India’s edge is no secret and future returns will not match the stellar gains of the last three years. And remember, all the developing markets, no matter how promising, contain considerable risk.

Mobile Device Companies That Get It

Michael Mace writes:

I should explain what I mean by “get it.” I think that a truly effective smart mobile device must be both focused and integrated. By focused, I mean that it must first and foremost solve one particular problem for a particular type of user. Kitchen sink products that try to be everything for everyone sell to enthusiasts but no one else. The companies that get it specialize in leaving out features that aren’t essential to the core product.

By integrated, I mean that the product must combine hardware and software (and in some cases wireless services) seamlessly to produce a product that just works. People usually tend to use mobile devices in short spurts while they are on the go. This makes them very intolerant of even small usability problems that might be overlooked on a PC. If the user must hassle with configuration, or if the user experience isn’t dead simple, you’re back to selling to the enthusiasts.

His picks: Nintendo, Apple, RIM, Palm and Danger.

TECH TALK: India Internet and Mobile: What Others Say (Part 2)

Abrar Hussain (US-based law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, via Venture Intelligence India) on whats holding back Indian venture capital:

1) Innovation Why is it that Indians in the Valley can innovate and create something new and when you put them back in India they cant seem to do the same thing?

2) Visibility It takes a lot of trust to give someone money. Venture capital is all about trust; trust in the entrepreneur, trust in his team and trust in the idea. This goes hand in hand with visibility.

3) Pervasive Understanding of Venture Investment Any serious investor (and many not so serious investors) in Silicon Valley can tell you about the basics of an early round investment in Silicon Valley.

4) Exit Strategy Most Indian technology companies are focused on services. The problem is that it’s hard to create a big exit for a services company.

Vineet Buch (of BlueRun Ventures):

* Consumer Internet: Internet and PC penetration remains low in India, but growth rates are encouraging.
* Mobile Value Added Services: Value-added services (VAS), such as ringtones and ringback tones, are big sources of revenue to Indian wireless carriers.
* Component Manufacturers for ODMs/OEMs: India is (finally!) getting significant high-tech manufacturing investment from big players like Nokia, Foxconn, and AMD.
* Fabless Semiconductor Companies: Big companies like TI and Intel have nurtured a technical talent pool in India in their 15+ years of local operation.
* Clean Technology: India’s growing hunger for energy, its problems with pollution and waste management, and the domestic research base in electrochemistry, photovoltaics and efficient power generation provide fertile soil for clean technology startups.
* Software: The staple of the Indian tech boom. My bet is that as the large number of relatively undifferentiated offshore development companies consolidate, among the survivors will be companies that translate market knowledge gained by working with their customers into software products or services that can form the foundation of a scalable business.

Arvind Sodhani of Intel Capital in an interview with the Financial Express:

Q: You have also exhorted a move beyond services to products. Do you see that happening soon enough?

The challenge for India is that there is not much happening in the product management space. In other words, you may know how to build a product. However, are you building the right product? Here is where a lot of returnees from Silicon Valley could add value in the product management methodology to find out what the consumer really wants.

Q: Mobile telephony is growing rapidly in India. Would this be a major focus area for the fund?

Handheld is a major focus area. Wireless broadband is also a very major focus area with Wi-Max being at the centre of our wireless broadband initiative. So you can expect us to invest aggressively not just in India but throughout the world in Wi-Max deployment over the next couple of years. In India, we have invested in a lot of good technology companies that address the global market like Sasken. But we also see a lot of mobile growth here and companies generating products for the local market. We have met with a few companies but we are not ready to disclose anything yet.

Q: Apart from education, which are the other areas that could grow the local market and that are of interest to Intel?

Broadband is one area where we are definitely looking at. India is now the cheapest cellular telephony market and the fastest growing. We believe there will be similar growth of broadband as a result of Wimax and wireless broadband deployment. E-governance is another area where there is a lot of opportunity.

Tomorrow: What Others Say (continued)

Continue reading