People Buy From People

800-CEO-READ Blog has a post by Steve Cone:

People buy from People – not Companies.

You need a personality to be the “face” of your business. Not just a logo, a slogan, or a picture of your product. All those can help – alot! But having a credible spokesperson can really set you apart from your competitors.

Make sure your spokesperson, if not you or another employee, is exclusive for your use only–or don’t hire them. And make sure they love your product or service and are willing to be integrated into all media that you use- brochures, internet, radio, your voice on your phone service, etc.

An effective spokesperson will make consumers notice you and will make that human connection that every company needs to achieve their maximum potential.

Windows Mobile Comeback

Om Malik writes: “Store shelves are crammed with brand new Windows Mobile 5.0 devices. And a lot of it has do with HTC and its amazing designs. Cingular 8125, T-Mobiles latest revs of SDA and MDA and Treo 700. HP just announced a refreshed line-up. The Motorola Q is one of the most eagerly awaited PDA/phones. More are coming. Like the new Samsung i320 which features a full keyboard device, very small and compact. There are 47 device makers churning out Windows Mobile devices. This wasnt supposed to happen ..”

Matt Maeir adds as part of the same post: “Undoubtedly, theres still a long ways to go: Symbian powered nearly 34 million devices last year, more than double what Microsoft was able to ship, but the gap is narrowing. As the price of high-end phones begins to drop, and more people begin to use their phones as extensions of their desktopslooking for email on the go, etcRedmond is ready to reap the gains.”

GSMA Awards

MocoNews writes about the winners at the 3GSM World Congress:

Mobile Innovation Awards Winner: Spinvox – Voicemail-to-Text
Best Made for Mobile Game Winner: I-play – Skipping Stone
Best Made for Mobile Music Service Winner: Hi3G Access AB 3 Music
Best Made for Mobile Video Service Winner: Tapuz people BLOGTV
Best Made for Mobile Sports Infotainment Winner: Alcatel Live Sailing
Best Mobile Enterprise Product or Service Winner: iPass iPass Corporate Access

India’s Labour Shortage

The New York Times writes that India’s outsourcing industry is facing a labour shortage.

Indias $23.4 billion outsourcing industry accounts for most of the countrys software and services industry, which makes up nearly 5 percent of gross domestic product. The industry employs 1.2 million workers, has sparked a consumer revolution in India, and is accelerating at more than 30 percent a year.

On the sidelines of the Nasscom meeting, B. Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Indias fourth- largest outsourcing company, Satyam Computer Services, said that India produced three million college graduates every year, including nearly 400,000 engineers. But most of these are uncut diamonds that have to go through polishing factories, as the trade requires only polished stones, Mr. Raju said.

In a country of 1.1 billion people, raw talent is plentiful, he said, but not all of it is market-ready.

Orascom Telecom

NYTimes writes about the Edgyptian mobile oeprator that’s expanding rapidly (and recently bought a 20% stake in Hutch:

From an office on the 26th floor of his family’s gold-domed twin towers overlooking the Nile, Naguib Sawiris, chief executive of Orascom Telecom, scans the world for opportunities to expand his telecommunications empire. He tends to find them in places others fear to tread…The company has a subscriber base of 30 million people in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, among other countries. Those countries represent a market of 460 million people, but on average only 11.5 percent of them have mobile phones.

Though the strategy of investing in emerging markets is risky, other companies have taken the same path as Orascom. “Those countries have more resources than you read, because of the gray economy and the cash economy,” said Azmi T. Mikati, chief executive of Investcom Holding, a mobile communications provider that operates in countries like Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan. “These countries are not as poor or as dangerous as they are portrayed.”

Mr. Sawiris says that people do not fully understand the needs of his customers. “Whether poor or rich, people still need to communicate,” he said.

TECH TALK: India Internet and Mobile: What Others Say (Part 3)

Anand Sridharan (Bessemer) on the Indian Internet:

At $25-30 million ad revenues and $150-200 million e-commerce revenues (gross), the India internet market is clearly a small market today. There is also no doubt on the direction and that this would eventually become significant. The main question is how soon?

There is no shortage of compelling content/applications (travel, stock-trading, jobs, shopping sites have been around), though regional language content can still be strengthened. In my view, access is the main bottleneck. Drawing lessons from two notable Indian success stories cable TV and cellphones heres what Id like to see over the next 1-2 years in the internet access space:

  • Far higher competition: Currently cable-operators and PSU telcos dominate the last mileI am all for violent competition between cable TV, satellite TV, fixed line incumbents, ISPs and wireless operators.
  • Multiple access technologies: Think of what CDMA did to GSM (ignore the regulatory back-door entry part). I am bullish on Wimax, as that can break the last-mile gridlock.
  • Shift in mindset from PC-price to entry-cost & monthly charges: what we need is a mindset and marketing change, to pay Rs. 1000 unfront, and Rs. 500/month for PC + internet.
  • PCs in education: Middle class parents will buy a PC, if they think their kids life prospects will improve because of thisOnce the PC enters the home (using education as an excuse), both kids and parents will explore and discover new applications (including some not-so-clean ones!).

    Once home-internet-access is fixed, usage should follow.

  • Sumant Mandal of Clearstone Ventures:

    There is approximately $1 billion that’s been raised for investment in private companies in India. I’m not quite sure how much of that is going to go towards IT or services businesses that are IT enabled, but I can say for sure that a vast majority of that money will go into existing and later-stage businesses. There is little or no real VC money available in India. Companies that are receiving money in India are either spin outs from existing large businesses (an example being GECIS, which is a spin out of GE), captive units or second tier outsourcing providers that may lack the size or scale to compete with giants like Wipro and Infosys and want the private equity money to grow through rollup and acquisitions. In the early-stage investing business, there are a few small funds that are local to India but have not done too many deals.

    So there’s a big hole in venture money for start-ups in the way we recognize them here in the U.S. (early stage, pre-product or pre-revenue companies), and a majority of the private equity is going into late stage businesses. There is quite a bit of competition for later-stage businesses as there are very few that have strong management teams and international aspirations. Funds that are active in India for later-stage investments are General Atlantic, Warburg Pincus, TPG, Carlyle and some local players like Chryscapital. We [Clearstone] would fit in the early-stage investing mold. For early-stage investing, there are either companies that are developing IT products that are internationally relevant (technologies that are servicing the North American or European markets but are built using Indian talent) or companies that are creating services targeted at the Indian consumer, where there is potential for hyper growth. Connectivity (mobile and broadband), content and enabling electronic commerce are good areas in India today.

    Sramana Mitra: “some viable Internet businesses are getting built in India, and they are getting attention from the top rung of US VCs. After all, as far as consumer markets go, in the next decade, India will emerge as one of the top ones.”

    Continue reading