Please enable JS

BLOG

From the CEO's desk

Long live democracy!

13th MAR 2019

Hello Everyone!

"Oligarchy" is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious, political, or military control. Such states are often controlled by families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.

"The iron law of oligarchy" is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It asserts that rule by an elite, or oligarchy, is inevitable as an "iron law" within any democratic organization as part of the "tactical and technical necessities" of organization.

Michels's theory states that all complex organizations, regardless of how democratic they are when started, eventually develop into oligarchies. Michels observed that since no sufficiently large and complex organization can function purely as a direct democracy, power within an organization will always get delegated to individuals within that group, elected or otherwise.

(The above excerpts are from Wikipedia)

Democracies will remain oligarchies till they are controlled by humans. I believe - unbiased Artificial Intelligence, to some extent, has the potential to solve this problem of democracy. We need to identify and elect that particular human who has vision and courage to apply Artificial Intelligence to the Democracy.

Thank you!

A Good, Bad and Worse DESIGN

14th JAN 2019

Hello Everyone!

Steve Jobs used to say "Design is not just how it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." What he meant is, the user-friendliness and usefulness of the design of a product (a hardware or a software, a brochure or a website, a logo or a building) is also as important as how it looks like. To understand this correctly, one needs to first pass the basic stage of a good looking design. Something that appeals to the eyes and to the senses (and makes sense as well). Most of the times, that's where a potential customer interacts with the product/service/brand for the first time. Good taste matters a lot here. And the good taste develops with relentless exploring, studying and experimenting; fueled by one's natural obsession for the best.

Neurologically humans are attracted towards beauty and smartness. Neuroaesthetics, a sub-discipline of empirical aesthetics, uses neuroscience to explain and understand the aesthetic experiences at the neurological level. Some areas of brain play role in aesthetic responses to artworks or appraisal of objects of evolutionary importance, such as the desirability of foods or the attractiveness of potential mates. Hence it's no surprise that often a good design, be it the design of the product itself or design of its visual communication, helps selling the product much faster; whereas a bad design makes it difficult. Finally the quality of the product/service matters the most. However the first point of sell, in most cases, remains - the visual communication design, which includes identity, collaterals, web presence etc. Most of the customers in this IT age are well aware. They have smartphones - a free visual gateway to the world's best brands and best art. Seeing best content repeatedly makes their brains associate best brands with good design. Therefore, they reject a brand/product/service merely by seeing its visual communication design, as it doesn't fit their idea of an upmarket or trustworthy brand. Hence typically bad design is actually worse than not having any visual communication. And a good design is always something that looks, feels and works well - for majority of the target audience, and in the present era.

Jobs created the world's first trillion dollar company with his hunger and taste for great design. It reflected everywhere - from his computer's motherboard design (which is not even a visible aspect of the product!) to the patented staircase design of Apple stores. He had a rare appetite to pay Paul Rand $100K for creating 1 visual identity design concept (i.e. logo) for his company NeXT, 3 decades ago. Today in a world without Steve, we have a few companies with the taste for (good) design. Rest of them still consider it to be secondary and settle on either having no visual communication design (bad) or having a bad visual communication design (worse). Thanks to the neuroaesthetically evolved and wise decision makers, more and more companies are shifting from worse/bad design to good design!

Thank you!

Reverse engineering the sentiments (& results) through social media

30th MAY 2018

Hello Everyone!

Why is social media so powerful in influencing the masses? Our research and experiments reveal a few key reasons.

Though Facebook's financial ownership is with Zuckerberg & team, its inventional ownership is with the 2 billion (and growing) active users. As a result, companies like FB are forced to take efforts in restricting undesired usage of their platforms. However, winning supporters/ customers through social media doesn't necessarily be via the 'Cambridge Analytica' way.

Beliefs are brain tattooed through social media naturally during the process of defending a posted thought. Therefore a user who initially posts something randomly, is likely to end up becoming a hard core believer in what he posted. Once we understand this fact, the strategies of winning supporters/ customers/ channel partners OR making the existing ones more loyal, become clearer. (Check the interesting results by making a chain smoker regularly share anti smoking posts on his social media page.)

While experts worldwide are looking for better ways to market, sometimes by cheating the algorithms, a fair, centrally controlled mass-personalized method of campaigning through channel partners/ volunteers/ customers in the organization's own network seems to be far more effective and 90% cheaper. One of our ideas - 'polipics' (a platform to control who in the organization's network says what and when and how, on social media; without special training to anyone) gives an opportunity to any business/ political party/ government to reverse engineer the desired results. Unsure if the EVMs are hacked, hacking (nurturing) brains with the right (correct) technology is easier for sure.

Hope the information is useful.

Thank you!

Flawless cyber crime investigation method for Digital India

12th MAR 2018

Hello Everyone!

All of us have been witnessing the ICT growth in India. Email, Social media, VoIP, IoT... Technology is becoming accessible to more people by the day. However we also know that along with great benefits, this (haphazard) growth brings some natural problems with it. One of them is - increasing cyber crimes.

Many of us have observed that cyber crime doesn't harm only the victim but the lack of instruments to solve cyber crime cases also harm innocent citizens who have absolutely no connection with the crime. There have been incidents in the past in which the IP address based investigation method had led to spoiling lives of innocent citizens.

Current investigation method followed by cyber crime cells often depends on the vague / incomplete / unreliable data provided reluctantly by social media platforms and telephone / internet companies. Experts would know that a new IP address is allotted automatically, dynamically and frequently without any choice to the internet user, almost every-time when a user connects (or reconnects internally during a session) to the internet. In case of poor network (which is common in our country) this IP allocation / reallocation frequency increases drastically. In such a scenario IP address used by a criminal can be randomly allotted to anyone who has no connection with the crime, immediately before or after or for some time during the crime. In other forms of crimes the inquiry would happen of a person who has at-least some connection with the criminal or with the victim. Whereas here virtually every internet user is at the risk of getting trapped as a suspect in a cyber crime case. When police call innocent citizens for inquiry, such inquiry itself becomes not less than punishment for them. It is needless to say that this situation can also further be misused to target someone.

If this continues and when many innocents start suffering, there is a possibility of people fearing to use internet - which can be a setback for the nation. This can be avoided with easy techno provisions and solutions designed in collaboration with telephone / internet companies and social media platforms. It would help in reducing cyber crimes and further in identifying cyber criminals more accurately and in less time by saving resources of investigation agencies.

If you are one of the persons who makes / executes the law or advices the law makers, you might have already thought over this and evaluated better solutions. I just humbly wanted to bring this to your notice once again to help Digital India head in the right direction.

Thank you!

Online grocery in India crashed (?) after the recent take-off

2nd MAY 2016

Hello Everyone!

If you are in touch with Indian eGrocery - you must have heard many talking about failed online grocery start-ups. The recent shutdown of PepperTap (one of the top 3 eGrocery start-ups based on funds raised) instigated these negative discussions. Just one year ago, a couple of big deals in eGrocery (followed by the fascinating number of daily transactions) had made majority of the "experts" confident about the segment.

If you ask the "Vasco da Gamas" of eGrocery, who have given precious years of their youth for this unknown segment with their own unique models (including the founders of failed start-ups) - most of them still talk positive about eGrocery. Then why do they fail so rapidly? The reasons of failure of eGrocery start-ups include - lack of focus & perseverance, often the consequences of early funding!

While offline organized grocers are still struggling to make profit, the eGrocers have no choice but to invest a long time in their model until they find the way to profitability/sustainability. (Unlike VC funds, this doesn't come complimentary with an IIT/IIM degree.) As they move forward with the aim of sustainability, the fancy models start turning realistic. Facebook likes, app downloads, media coverage don't remain the focus anymore; rather they become reciprocations of a useful service, hence more "real".

"Inventory-less or Inventory-led" had always been the subject of debate. Those who back inventory-led and criticise inventory-less, have come across only the wrong inventory-less models. And if they base their judgement on the failing inventory-less models then they should be reminded of Webvan. With the recent clarity on FDI norms by DIPP, 100% inventory-led is absolutely illegal. Though smart founders will find work around, they should not forget that there are smart people with the policy makers as well. In addition to being illegal and capital intensive, there is no innovation in an inventory-led model. It's not difficult to get high fill-rate, accuracy, timely delivery when you have your own dark store. The innovation is in getting the same results with someone else's inventory. The greatest advantage of technology is cost saving, hence eGrocery has to offer products at prices lower than offline stores and still earn profit for their investors (It is too early to convince an average Indian customer to consider cost of his time and efforts saved due to eGrocery). The good news is - this is possible!

While profitability is the ultimate goal, most of them fail to basically create an errorless eGrocery service. eGrocery is more complicated than it looks. Displaying the accurate product information (the ever-changing weights, packaging, prices, stock), product picking (toughest job for human biological brain), delivering goods and managing payments (received from customer and paid to supplier(s)) - all are complicated and highly error prone activities. Smallest error at any of these levels is sufficient to kill profitability. Different models involve different degrees of complexity of these activities. While a right model can reduce these complexities, it is not possible to bypass them completely. Technology proves to be the saviour in this situation. The challenge is - there are no readymade affordable technologies available to handle this. One has to develop them as per his customized requirements.

It took 3+ years for MileStores to design the right technologies and processes, though the model had been almost the same from day 1. This simply means, any start-up can create a sustainable eGrocery model + technologies and process, provided the founders have previous experience of developing IT services for the Indian masses and then for next at-least 3 years they devote every hour of their life to this one mission of getting good unit economics. Being a "technology & business model start-up" (and not an eGrocer), all this while MileStores had only been enhancing the unit economics through optimization, and identifying the right opportunities to apply eGrocery. This has made MileStores a readymade solution for wholesale and retail grocers who want to scale-up online without spending years in crash-proofing!

Thank you!

Online grocery in India finally takes off

1st October 2015

Hello Everyone!

Hope you are watching the amazing growth of online grocery in India. If not, then below are few updates -

"The world has changed radically for online grocery startups in India. Three to four years ago the buzz was around grocery sites shutting down. Now, the survivors and new entrants are thriving. The VC backed five online grocery startups in India have collectively raised over $120 million just this year." - reads a 2 days old news article. To understand this better we need to have a look at current figures and targets of well funded startups.

As per various reports - The online grocery startup Bigbasket was clocking approx 4,000 orders/day at this time last year and today they are getting 20,000 orders/day. It took 3 years for them to reach at 4000 orders/day and then just 1 year to reach at 20,000 mark (the run rate of ~Rs 1,000 Cr). They expect $1bn (Rs 6,200 Cr) revenue by the end of FY 2017. Of course they can do it easily with approx $110 Mn funds received so far + $150 Mn fresh funds target for their investment bankers. In terms of valuation 1 year ago it was Rs 1,000 Cr for Bigbasket and in their recent round of funding it was valued at $400 Mn (approx Rs 2,500 Cr).

"Hyperlocal" is the new buzzword in Indian online grocery. The Model (inspired by Instacart - the recent highly valued online grocery startup in the US) in which they procure groceries from local retailers and deliver to households. Hyperlocal startups PepperTap and Grofers have got approx $45 Mn each so far. PepperTap raised $36 Mn a couple of days ago from existing and new investors including Snapdeal, and is about to raise $20 Mn more in next few weeks. After just 9 months of its launch PepperTap claims to have similar number of customers and daily transactions which Bigbasket has after 4 years of operation. The exponentially rising number of smartphone users (apart from the flat 20% off weekend deals!) in India has fueled this growth.

Among different models, inventory-led is the model followed by Bigbasket, which has high setup cost but offers better control over the inventory. Inventory-less model which is followed by all hyperlocal delivery startups and few others including MileStores has less setup cost, but often it is challenging to run on someone else's inventory if there is lack of technology & processes, which is often the result of lack of experience that comes from lack of dedication and patience - in this complex, execution oriented business. While the hyperlocal model of PepperTap and Grofers has some fundamental flaws in it, at present they don't seem to be addressing even the basic operational complexities of online grocery. They might have to change their models drastically in future when they would want to see profits. How customers respond to their changed models in future will be interesting to see.

Though funds are essential to succeed, just getting funded is no guarantee of success. The market and business models are evolving and it is tough for a VC to identify the right model. It is always the situation in hyper-growing markets and that's the process of ultimately discovering the right models - which sustain due to the strong foundation laid during their initial years of operation.

With close observation of the market, daily track of different startups and own operating experiences - MileStores is by the day becoming more confident of disrupting the online grocery market with its strong business model, innovative technologies and processes - which is the result of 3 years of persistent efforts in this segment. The consistent support from our "sourcing partners" has certainly played a great role. With the support of all we have reached at the inflection point and are hopeful to surprise everyone soon with the amazing potential of MileStores!

Thank you!