Friday, October 8, 2010

Tiny Prints = Big Impact

This post is long overdue, per usual.

This summer during my 'down time' (whatever that means), I came across and amazing place that has what I think will revolutionize the greeting cards market. For those who think Hallmark is still the place, please catchup. For those who think you are hip because you now do "online greetings" please can you be any less personal??

For those who are able to see where this is going... that is right, I am about to introduce you to a whole new type of greeting card: Tiny Prints Greeting Cards.

They are awesome, and their impact is not Tiny. In three easy steps (perhaps more steps the more creative you are) you can 1. choose a card 2. add photos and some personal text 3. ship the card directly to the recipient via US postal service (for only $0.34 or whatever the going rate is).

Voila - you just made your mom cry, your boyfriend smile, or your friend hug you (please note these cards are not limited to stated market segments).

I encourage you to check-out these cards, as I think they are the way to go. In addition, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season -- they also have holiday cards which are also pretty stellar.

Check them out:!

My Sample:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Safety Seriously.

If you fly on planes regularly (choose your own definition), by now you have probably stopped paying attention to the safety demonstrations that come on while you are taxing to the runway... well I do anyways (if you are judging me, stop) until my trip to Bodrum, Turkey.

On my way from Istanbul to Bodrum, I flew Pegasus Airlines. I was about to close my eyes and hopefully fall asleep, when I heard a cute British accent over the intercom. To my surprise I looked up to find the most BRILLIANT (and cute) safety demonstration video. If there is a way to keep my attention (and probably many others) Pegasus found a way to do. Kudos Pegasus!

Check it out:

Btw, the Turkish version is super cute too:

As a side note, Pegasus offers super cheap tickets intra-Turkey, and their flights are great, so I would totally recommend them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

This post is inspired by a purchase I made while visiting Rajasthan, India:
Yes, I bought an Umbrella. Not just any umbrella, an anthropologie-ish umbrella (it was love at first sight). A sunbrella if you will... In anycase, as soon as I bought the umbrella Rihanna's umbrella..ella..ella..a started playing in my head. And I thought, I wonder how many songs in the world revolve around umbrellas... so this post is dedicated to some songs that pay tribute to, well, the umbrella!

Enjoy (contains videos)!

  1. It is only natural to have the first video be for a song that ruled the LA nightclub scene in the summer of 2007:
  2. The second song, recorded by Lee Morse -a famous American Jazz and Blue Singer-was recorded in the late 1920's (the fact that a song about Umbrella's was written in the 1920's got me wondering about the origins of the word 'Umbrella' so here it is - The word umbrella comes from the Latin word umbra, meaning shade or shadow; the term was popularized in the 16th century, but I'm not sure when people switched from using Parasol to the word Umbrella- back to the song, check-it:
  3. Okay this one is not exactly about Umbrellas, but it does highlight another one of my favorites: cartoons! This was directed by Bernard Derriman and he currently directs the PBS series "Big Green Rabbit":
  4. Going Bollywood: This post wouldn't be complete without some international flair, so here is a song about a blue umbrella (Chatri in Hindi) that is from the move "The Blue Umbrella"; in case you want to know more about the film - The Blue Umbrella :

Mashup - FunFacts.

(Contains Videos)

Last week, I helped facilitate a lecture on Global Etiquette at the Ahmedabad Management Association (across from IIM). Instead of giving a lecture that revolved around a list of "DOs and DON'Ts" in other countries, we decided to help 40 MBA students from Mumbai understand that Global Etiquette simply (or not so simply, if you are socially awkward) requires being people savvy, perceptive, and adaptable. Although we attempted to use slideshows/fun-facts/panel discussions to help get the point across, we failed (miserably). These students have apparently been handed a list their entire life of "DO's and DON'Ts" and putting them in an environment which required them to draw their own conclusions and voice their own opinions was well... just
dumb on our part. In any case, I learned a couple of cool things (from Prof Ram Kumar) during this attempt at sparking insight:

  1. Bhutan would be an awesome place to visit, but the country limits the number of tourists to 5,000 per year and requires that you spend a minimum of $200 a day while you are there.
  2. The logo for Chupa Chups (in case you are confused as to what a Chupa Chup is: It Ain't the Butterfly, It's the Chupa Chup) was created by Salvador Dali. It hasn't changed since its inception in 1969.
  3. There are tribes in Africa known as "Cargo Cults" whose ancestors potentially came in contact with planes during WWII, and have mimicked the idea of an airport using straw and other raw materials, in an effort to get planes to return. Their inability to understand modern technology has led them to believe that creating this environment and worshipping/praying to straw planes will help them return.
On an unrelated note... how do you teach creativity and innovation to a group of people who have been spoon fed exactly what to do your their entire lives? Sigh.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cooliris Photo Wall

A cool way to display photos. My photos.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Two-Sided Markets

Check out the original post @


SAATH is a non-governmental organization that utilizes market-based strategies to create inclusive societies by empowering India’s urban and rural poor.


Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, banks and governments in more than 200 countries and territories.

What does that mean? Okay, if you take nothing else away from this please understand this. Visa is not a credit card company. They have absolutely no say over what your credit card limit is, what your interest rates are, or what kind of non-Visa rewards your bank gives you (However use Visa, you’ll be better off all around =)). Therefore, please, please stop asking me or any other former or current Visa employee to fix these issues for you, you will only find our answer frustrating. Instead, go find your friends at CITIBANK, BAC, or ICICI and ask them to deal with your credit card woes.

Visa is first and foremost a technology company. They use technology to support payment transactions between those who want to buy with those who want to sell. Visa gracefully capitalizes on the notion of a two-sided market, allowing it to make more than $6 Billion in revenue in 2008.

By now you are thinking, what does this have to do with SAATH…

Two Sided Markets:

As soon as I walked into the door at Visa, my mentor (Chris Sweetland) handed me a book called “Paying with Plastic.” Although the notion of two-sided markets is all around us, it wasn’t till this book that I internalized the power of the two-sided market - two or more customer groups that receive value only if all sides are actively engaged. It’s the notion of the greater good. If we collaborate we will all be better off. The issuer brings the cardholders, the acquirers bring the merchants, and Visa brings the network to be able to connect any combination of issuing and acquiring institutions.

Let me break this down less technically with the help of “Paying with Plastic” for those of you who are still like: what the heck.

This is a classic example used to explain two-sided markets, I’m just going to put my own spin on it.

Let’s rewind to 2002. You’re waiting in line to enter the “hottest” nightclub in Philly – Transit (Penn, please laugh). When you approach the door, you realize it’s free entry for ladies “AWESOME”, and $20 bucks for the gents. The club is the “network.” Men are one side of the market, and women are the other side of the market. To bring men and women together, the nightclub (network) decided to charge the men, but not the women. Why?

A nightclub is a great destination to meet the opposite sex (assuming that is what you are into). If that is the case, women for some reason are harder to come by in nightclubs, therefore to attract women, and meet the opposite sex’s demands, nightclubs offer their services (a forum for meeting others) free to one side of the market. Genius (and extremely convenient for me =))!

And there you have it: Bring the women and many men will come, and pay to come.

Two-sided SAATH:

SAATH applies the same logic, except to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP). SAATH’s Urban Resource Center (URC) serves as a network hub, physically, instead of electronically. It connects service providers in Ahmedabad, to those who need or want it, specifically those in underprivileged communities. The URC offers more than 130 services from acquiring a ration card, to finding a driving instructor. It charges a membership fee to get users to sign up and then allows them to access all of the URCs different services (again for a fee). It helps service providers like the government, other NGOs, and private companies to access this relatively untapped market who is willing to pay for goods and services, but who currently don’t have exposure, access, trust or the knowledge to use them.

The Gap:

Currently, SAATH runs the URC on an NGO model as opposed to a social enterprise. This is where my skills (expertise?) come into play. How can the URC be revamped into a social business which still meets the needs of the bottom of the pyramid, but become self-sustainable (with a surplus) in the process?

The Solution:

Visa charges both sides of the market, why can’t SAATH? Instead of just charging the customers to be linked to services, SAATH should charge private institutions, NGOs and the government to leverage its network platform. Its ability to connect the customer to the supplier is just as or even more valuable to the service provider as it is to the customer. Therefore this linkage, and capitalizing on it, is what will help the URC be sustainable and more importantly scalable. If a service provider had to build its own center or outlet in each underprivileged community, just as if every bank had to build its own payment network, the service provider would make less progress, and so would the bank. The banks realized this in the early 70’s and formed NBI and IBANCO, the predecessors of what is now VISA Inc. SAATH realized this and formed the URCs, and now needs to capitalize on its value proposition.

The Takeaway:

If you want to reach the bottom of the pyramid, tap the URC. If you want to purchase things GO World, GO Visa.

Fun Fact:

Until Early 2008, Visa was a not-for-profit organization, which then successfully converted into a corporation with a p/e multiple of 38.9. The URC currently runs in a not-for-profit status… think of the possibilities.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March Music Madness

Okay guys, don't worry, I'm alive and well. I have just been super busy.

Sorry for leaving you for so long, but to get back in the spirit of things, I wanted to give you the gift of a new hindi song (Aditi and Moneeza, if you are reading this, please have the corporate strategy team on their feet).