The viral fever

I’m clearly late to the party.

These guys are doing great work. The quality of their shows is great. Their scripts are fresh. Written for a younger audience. Written in a way that makes them work for us. The techies, the nerds, the young folk, the intelligent audience. 

I also love their embrace of tech. Maybe they did not have a choice..  

The best way to get content out today is via YouTube or Vimeo. They are Vimeo quality now. They just need a pay wall. Or.. The confidence to think about a paywall. Start with bonus footage, behind the scenes clips and outtakes that are only available to paid members. I also like that they are a lean operation. I hope that they can continue that way. 

I don’t know their story. I would love to contribute to their success somehow. The “Pitchers” show inspired me to write more. For the first time, I saw a drama that I could relate to. 


Can you build great software products in India?

One of the hardest questions to answer as a product manager in a multinational software company is, treat “Can you build great products in India?”. Most of us will instinctively respond, pharm “of course, yes”. The follow up question is, “Really? How can you build great products in India when you are surrounded by filth, your workspace is not fabulous, your country does not value design, your atmosphere is poisonous and you have years of training in putting up with unfinished shit?”.

Essentially, they are saying, “Unless you have good design around you, you will not notice bad design and thus build products that are not really ready for an affluent user base that values design”. Thus, all new products must be built where there is a better appreciation and presence of design.

All these arguments are true to a certain extent. As a well traveled Indian living in a metropolitan city I can see why foreigners think this way. India is not clean. Functionality trumps design and has for a long long time.  Government project remain unfinished forever or get done to a really low level of quality. Most people are not willing to pay the premium for good design. And, we really do put up with more shit than most.

This perception is an issue because often, important executives think this way and throttle career advancement opportunities for promising folks in India. And, I do think that this is a real problem.

What’s interesting is that these issues are kinda beyond the control of the individuals being penalized. We are trying our best to experience good design and learn and retrain ourselves and our teams.

What’s also interesting is that this intrinsic lack appreciation for design is going away in India. This is largely thanks to the startup boom due to VC investments in India. We are experiencing really good design via mobile apps and responsive web sites. Most software developers have easy access to what is considered good design. We are training a lot of experience designers who are building well designed websites like And today, other that good data scientists, XD is the hardest function to recruit for in software.

We are also beginning use data to improve experiences and drive users through funnels J All this is forcing us to develop world class sensibilities and software right from here. Example: It’s a well design service that’s giving yelp a run for its money. Flipkart is competing head on with and is competing with Flipkart. Similar things can be said for Practo and Bookmyshow. These are well designed apps too.

Uber is forcing taxiforsure and ola and Meru to up their game. Some of these crappy apps have grown to become good copies of Uber even though they had really humble, functionality driven beginnings.

So yes, things are changing. Hope we change this perception by shipping lots of great shit out of India, fast and often!



Tech startups are paying too much in India

Tech startups are paying too much. Clearly this is not an issue for them, hospital yet! Startups like Snapdeal, Ola Cabs, Oyo rooms are flush with funds. Word on the street is that they have too many people. For example, snapdeal has over 200 product managers! Lofty valuations are forcing these companies to explore adjacent or even orthogonal opportunities just so that they can proide a reasonable exit to investors.

In the Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida area are really messing up hiring for incumbents with established businesses and sucking talent away… interesting times!

Could be a great thing for good tech talent… but I do worry about incumbents!


Business owners in India and issues in scaling these businesses

I attended a business coaching workshop with my father and two employees from my father’s company last weekend. This 4 day workshop had about 40 attendees. All business owners or higher level employees in small and medium enterprises.

I was surprised how little all the business owners knew about their business. I guess that is why they were there. No one had answers to the following questions:

  1. How big is your market?
  2. What is your market share?
  3. What is your growth strategy and implementation plan?
  4. What should be in your sales kit
  5. For manufacturers, view what is your process flow
  6. How do you measure quality

Of course, diagnosis my father and I did not have any answers either.

But it was definitely surprising to see how clueless most business owners there were about their business. These were no small business either. The smallest business owner’s revenue was 2 crores or USD $320, sildenafil 000. The largest business owners were at 500crores or $80Million employees hundreds of people. All of us were having difficulty in scaling our business because we lacked processes and clear lines of responsibilities in our company.

Even though I have an MBA from IIM Lucknow, I felt that I learned more about operations in this 4 day courses than I did in my 3 year part time MBA. I also felt that I learnt more about sales and leadership here than I did in my class.

I now hope that I can work with my father and his leadership team to transform our business in the next 6 months.




How Indian businessmen think about income tax

Had a very interesting conversation with an extremely succesful business man from Bangalore yesterday. He’s probably worth 100 crs (USD 20M) and files an annual return of only 1.5crs or USD 250,000 a year.

He has a very interesting perspective on income tax. He said that the income tax in India is close to 55% if not more. When asked why he described it this way:

Income: 100 rupees

Tax (33%) = 33 rupees

Your net after tax= 67 rupees

This means that when you make 67 rupees. The government makes 33. This is 49%. Now add to this VAT, Service tax etc that you pay on every purchase you make from your 67 rupees and soon you realise that the net value you get from your 67 is less than 67 rupees. Increasing your tax burden even further.

His takeaway was that there is no way to be rich in India unless you steal on the your taxes. This is why almost 90% of his business income remains undeclared. And, he prefers paying cash when he buys enticing the seller to not report this income either.

How interesting.



How many uber drivers does Delhi need


Saw today that there are 20,000 drivers in the SF bay area on techmeme.

Comparing this to Delhi, where population density is almost 30 times that of SF bay area. But no more that 30% of the population would really be relevant, I’ve come up with the following figures when I  try to keep the same number of drivers/person in both the cities.

Population Relevant population area (sq kms) density (people/sq km) Uber drivers driver per person
SF bay area 7.44E+06 7.44E+06 18102.19 411 20000 2.69E-03
Delhi 16753235 5025971(30% of total) 1482.981 11297 13510.67 0.002688

Seems like Delhi needs a lot less drivers than the SF bay area unless more people can afford taxis here.


Hiring a product manager in India

I got promoted in December 2014 and started building my team post Christmas. This involved hiring two associate product managers and one product manager.

I started hiring for a these roles in the first week of January and got the last person to join on the 27th of April 2015. It look almost 4 months from start to finish when sourcing resumes was not a problem because I work at Adobe in Noida and that other PMs referred almost 90% of all candidates. I looked at about 60 resumes.

The resumes seemed remarkably consistent on the surface. All of the candidates were engineers and had an MBA. Very few of them had any entrepreneurial experience or had a background in design. This is typical.

The candidates were rejected for the following reasons:

  1. Attitude and fitment – this mostly happened in the interview stage
  2. Claiming more than they actually knew – rejected during phone screening by me
  3. Lack of fluency in English – rejected during phone screening by me
  4. Lack of understanding of software analytics – rejected during phone screen

The candidates that were hired had the following characteristics:

  1. Hunger to learn
  2. Excitement about the job
  3. Basic analytical skills or sharpness to converse on various topics in the software industry
  4. Strong communication skills –written and oral
  5. Honest!

What did I learn from this experience:

  1. Do not trust resumes
  2. Talk to every candidate on the phone or skype before bringing them in for an interview
  3. Ask them to present the plans for the product they are interviewing for before interviewing them to ensure they can really build a POV on the product and communicate it well
  4. Ask for a writing sample where the candidate explains why they will be good for this job

I will post a follow up with more details on the demographics and educational qualifications of the candidates soon.

Feeling worthless and helpless living in India

DepressedGosh, capsule its so easy to feel worthless. Sometimes some news makes me feel like a career criminal. Especially, when I’m are not spending enough time with the family or feeling like I’m not helping out enough.

Maybe its just me, but I’ve often wondered if I have been doing enough to help my father out as he works through issues that life presents us in India.


Its every man, woman and family for himself as you try to not have to deal with the institutions of the government like police and judiciary. Seeing how little time people in developed countries spend worrying about safety and fair play and corruption, sometimes I feel living in India is a waste of precious time… as all you have in life.. is time!



Corruption in Indian e-commerce companies

So.. a little bird told me about what’s happening in Indian e-commerce companies.

While they are experiencing significant revenue growth, their corrupt employees are experiencing wind fall gains from corrupt practices.

Purchase managers at Myntra, snapdeal, Be Stylish and Fashion and U are taking kickbacks between 4-10% of the revenue given to each vendor. This is enough money that a lot of these purchase managers have left these companies and created there own entities. So.. a purchase manager responsible for a 10cr /year ($4M) category can take between 40Lacs to 1 crores a year from these kickbacks. This is easily between 5-20 times their yearly wages. So.. no surprises that it works the way it does.

Of course ,this will not surprise any body brought up in India. Bit is does shed light on lack of controls at these companies as they chase between 30-100% growth year on year.  Some ungodly big numbers have been mentioned here. Clearly there is a lot of money to be made on and off the books.

Lets look at the reported revenue growth being experienced by these companies. Please treat these numbers as ballpark estimates made by reading various news articles by me.

Revenues(USD) 2012-13 2013-14 2015 goals
Myntra $83,333,333 $133,333,333 $250,000,000
Snapdeal $100,000,000 $200,000,000

More information on these companies valuations can be found in this economic times article