The Next Billion Indians – No Formal Education, 4800 Books Make Them Smart

I recently attended a 2 day conference at the Godrej India Culture Lab, Mumbai. The Lab is a place for all kinds of people to meet, share, inspire, amaze, thrill and cause valuable collisions that make this world a better place.

4800 books, first generation English language speakers and a debate on GM crops!

One of the speakers showed a story of a small private school somewhere in Coimbatore (India) where he was invited to judge a debate competition.

He assumed the debate will be another one of those usual topics (because the eldest student was class 10th). To his surprise the students were discussing GM crops and deliberated with strong facts from published reports/ papers in the US.

Ref to speaker: P Sainath from PARI

What’s so special in the paragraph above?

The students were from lesser fortunate background. Most of them couldn’t afford a private education outside their village. None if their families have ever spoken English. They don’t have proper access to Internet. To top it all, all of what they know is thanks to the 4800+ books that are part of their library. Its these books that have shaped their senses, understanding of the world and a deep sense of fact based argument making.

The library, the books

The next billion Indians across Tier 2&3 cities are learning in many different ways. The usual education system that most of us have been through is no longer the only standard that’s driving India forward.

Education and literacy is an incredibly opportunity (for Bharat) if you were to create a billion dollar business while creating valuable impact for your customers.

If you are keen to understand the next layer of connected users across Tier 2&3 cities in India, reach me:

Reach me at: paritosh(at)paritoshsharma.com/ facebook / twitter / Linkedin

Featured Image Credit: Glen Noble

The Next Billion Indians – Excite 2K17 – Hyderabad

I have visited the incredible city of Hyderabad multiple times, though my last visit in June of 2017 was the most memorable.

I witnessed India accelerate into the future with 300 bright students chosen from across colleges to be part of the prestigious Excited 2K17 program.

Of-course its easy writing the words above. The picture below shows a room with open windows. The temperature in the room would have been nothing less than 40 – 42 degrees (Im very sure). Each one of these inspired souls still was full of energy, ideas and dreams.

My association with Excite 2K17

I have had a brief association with the program. I was fortunate enough to visit the space, thanks to my friend Ankur Mehta. I was introduced to Pankaj Diwan at the JNTU campus. This was my first meeting with Pankaj and Im a fan.

A letter to every ignited soul at Excite 2K17

Hi All, thank you for taking this great nation to global leadership. Every step counts and no effort is small. I was deeply moved by seeing you guys hustle in the room.

Since I couldn’t be there for your valedictory day, here’s a letter, I hope will fuel the fire in you!

I spoke about purpose the other day. I will repeat the same today. But how do you find your purpose? Its not that suddenly some halo will appear and you will find your calling. At least it did not happen to me. To understand my strengths and finally my purpose, I have worked hard. I have said ‘yes’ to opportunities of all shapes and kinds.

Every opportunity accelerated me further.

But I was not lucky. Infact I don’t believe in luck. I worked hard on every opportunity and learnt faster. The more I worked the better I got at somethings which today have become my art.

So understand that winning/ losing at Excite 2K17 or for that matter in life is of no meaning. Everything is an opportunity. Your only job is to increase the probability of getting the opportunity that will give you flight.

You get to know the best suited opportunity for you only when you know what ‘is not’ suited for you. And that you know by failing at a few things!

So go Do. Fail. Repeat. In this journey you will find your purpose a lot sooner than later.

I end with one more learning, love your wife, build an incredible future for the next generation (be a phenomenal and practical parent) and dedicate your life to your parents. They are the real Gods.

Stay Healthy. Move Fast. Do Good.

Next Billion Indians – City – Ahmedabad – Visit 1

Meeting the next billion Indians ready to adopt technology, smartphones and Internet.

In my quest to understand the people known to the world as the next billion Indian users adopting technology, smartphones and the Internet, I traveled to Ahmedabad with Sanjay Enishetty of 50K ventures.

Below is how Wikipedia describes Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad (Listeni/ˈɑːmdəbɑːd/; also known as Amdavad Gujarati pronunciation: [ˈəmd̪ɑːʋɑːd̪]) is the largest city and former capital of Gujarat, which is a state in India. It is the administrative headquarters of the Ahmedabad district and the seat of the Gujarat High Court. With a population of more than 6.3 million and an extended population of 7.8 million, it is the sixth largest city and seventh largest metropolitan area of India. Ahmedabad is located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, 30 km (19 mi) from the state capital Gandhinagar, which is its twin city.[8]

Ahmedabad has emerged as an important economic and industrial hub in India. It is the second largest producer of cotton in India, and its stock exchange is the country’s second oldest.

Ahmedabad, Gujarat on the Map 

I landed in Ahmedabad on August 27th, 2015 with Sanjay. We co-hosted the Startup Growth Masterclass at the AMA. I thank the Headstart and Startup Weekend local teams and the ecosystem at Ahmedabad for making it happen.

I was told that young startup founders at Ahmedabad are strict. They would walk out of a session if its not genuinely valuable. It was a challenge I took.

Was the session successful?

In a hall with a capacity of about 150 people, we had over 200. I still feel humbled with the view and fact that people sat on the floor (with no mats), stood throughout the session leaning on walls, shared chair to attend the session. The picture above is from the session.

Airport/ Infrastructure: The moment you land at the Ahmedabad airport, you know this city is ready and raring to grow. Once out, the roads are fast paced and you don’t feel anything less than a metro. I was introduced to the emerging infrastructure by the local cab driver. Neat and pretty impressive.

People: Full of thrill, energy, vision and focus. I met a brilliant set of people, mostly the youth that’s keen to understand the future. The one unique feature was the attitude to risk taking. The only other city I witnessed this was Raipur. One of the reasons that supports higher risk taking is the entrepreneurial history of Ahmedabad. The past generations have been businessmen who have raised multi-million dollar businesses.

Interesting Observations: The pace and patience co-exist. During the day I saw the city in action, though towards the evening the hustle-bustle got lesser. I enquired the reason and locals remarked that most people at Ahmedabad realise the value of spending time with family/ friends. Ahmedabad is a dry state. The startup ecosystem across the city is building and taking solid shape. The CIIE (IIM-Ahmedabad) ecosystem of-course has put the Ahmedabad startup ecosystem on the prominent India map.

Entrepreneurs/ Opportunities: I met several young entrepreneurs and successful traditional businessmen. There is definitely a striking difference. The traditional businessmen have made money in their own ways and do not necessarily find social media or digital tools/ technology the future. There is a shift happening though. At least they recognize the transformation. Ahmedabad has interesting opportunities in the infrastructure space as it grows to support closer and emerging cities like ‘Surat to develop into a Smart city’. There is an increasing space for SaaS software for small businesses. The next generation that’s growing family businesses is adopting the newer ways of working. They see value and possibilities.

If you are keen to understand the next layer of connected users across Tier 2&3 cities in India, reach me:

Reach me at: paritosh(at)paritoshsharma.com/ facebook / twitter / Linkedin

Next Billion Indians – Smart City – Naya Raipur – Visit 1

Raipur (/ˈrpʊər/ About this sound pronunciation ) is a city in the Raipur district of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. It is the capital city of the state of Chhattisgarh and is the administrative headquarters of Raipur district. It is also the largest city in Chhattisgarh. It was formerly a part of Madhya Pradesh before the state of Chhattisgarh was formed on 1 November 2000. Naya Raipur is the upcoming business hub in Chhattisgarh promoted by the state government.

Source: Wikipedia

Raipur on the map

 

I landed in Raipur on Saturday, June 24th to speak at an event hosted by 50K Ventures (Raipur Chapter) and Digital Desh. This was my first visit to the city. This post is my experience in the under 12 hours that I spent at Raipur.

Airport/ Infrastructure: The airport is beautiful. It immediately gives the feel of a new and upcoming city that’s ready to grow. The roads are well laid. As in most emerging Indian cities, I witnessed a Porsche, an Auto, a cart all at the same time.

People: I met the most incredible people at Raipur. Extremely friendly and gracious. Anshul, Brijesh, Gaurav, Manish, Rishabh and a host of people that hosted the event are successful entrepreneurs at Raipur. They are extremely humble and focused. Not for a single moment did I feel that this was my first meeting.

Youth: A little laid back, though questioning. In the session I had 

Interesting Observations: It was a brilliant sight to see young boys and girls riding cycles on their way to schools. The independent thought and self drive will set a forward looking culture for future generations.

I took an Ola Auto with Sanjay Enishetty of 50K Ventures from the Airport. The intent was to see how auto drivers in the city see the cashless experience and the future. The driver was courteous and spoke well of the shift to the new age tools of doing business.

Entrepreneurs/ Opportunities: The most incredible thing I experienced was, some of the most successful entrepreneurs I met were people who were born/ have families at Raipur. Some of them went out for further studies/ start businesses etc. but now they are back for good and are building the local economy. Manish of Techment is one such example along with Anshul, Brijesh, Gaurav and Rishabh.

Raipur has incredible set of opportunities in almost every sphere. Naya Raipur is part of the first set of ‘Smart Cities’ to be developed in India.

I will soon be back at Raipur for a Digital Desh Drive focused on how the city is being developed into a Smart City. The same will be published and launched as a book, a paper and a video at a large event at Naya Raipur.

Featured Image: Source Credit

The Proximity Principle At Events

What’s the proximity degree at your event?

This is the first question that I ask the core teams responsible for designing events. The usual answer is ’round table seating’/ ‘theatre style seating’. Many describe the design of registration table, stall area, food area etc.

Why are people coming to your event?

Networking is one of the top factors that pulls people towards attending a certain professional gathering. The primary consideration hence for any event design team must be to accelerate/ enable networking.

I will come to the design and layout in another post, first networking!

Have you ever wondered, how many steps away from a certain person can I get to know him and hence approach him? At most events people use the card dangling from the lanyard. Most times one needs to look up the card to know the person and his/ her company.

I compare this to increasing at least 3 clicks on the web/ mobile site for your customer to make purchase. Would you do it?

The most impactful design for a networking card is: a square card with white background, the brand name on top and persons name right below. Use the Roboto Medium font OR Raleway. A font size ranging between 14 – 20 is best depending upon the card paper quality and the size.

Give each ‘registered attendee’ 100 introduction cards: Green/ Yellow proximity cards

This is one of the most incredible techniques that works always. To all ‘registered attendees’ offer 100 introduction cards. Each card is designated ‘green’ and ‘yellow’.

Green designates that an attendee wants to do business with your company and has an opportunity/ offer to discuss. Yellow designates that I am yet unclear of a structured opportunity to explore with you.

Each card has the name, designation, company name, URL of the company.

Design winning events

Email: paritosh@paritoshsharma.com

Events Drive Curious Email Sign-Ups

How can events drive Email Sign-ups?

An important and unique part of the human nature is curiosity. Its the human curiosity that drives exploration and often the hustle to find/ build new solutions. Events raise curiosity. They open the road to possibilities.

Events raise curiosity!

Events are an incredible way to capture someone’s curiosity. When a person moves from his/ her comfort zone to visit your event, its a strong signal that he/ she imagined an opportunity being fulfilled. 

Events drive Email sign-ups!

Events are an incredible way to drive curious and loyal Email sign-ups. The probability of someone giving the permission to send him/ her information via Emails after he/ she visits a valuable event is very high.

While there’s no factual research, a Google search shows various sites stating the sign-ups probability increasing by a whopping 50%+. Its incredible.

Build a branded property

Whatever be the size of your business, building a branded property is one of the smartest moves you’d ever make. Google I/O, Facebook F8, Apple’s WWDC are amongst the several examples. Overtime they have grown to be massive communities of loyalists and early adopters.