Category Archives: Horizons

Catch all the happenings at Horizons, the annual management conclave of IIM Kozhikode

Horizons 2016: Marketing ki Paathshala with Marketing Guru Pradeep Kashyap

Pradeep Kashyap, founder and CEO, MART and also known as the father of rural marketing, sits down to have a brief chat about his work and what keeps him going.

Mr. Pradeep Kashyap - The Father of Rural Marketing

Mr. Pradeep Kashyap – The Father of Rural Marketing

You say you do not do charity, but you also say you do not rip poor people off their money, so how do you strike this balance between need and greed?

We charge big organizations like the World Bank our regular consulting fees, but if a small NGO approaches us saying they would like to use our services but are not able to pay our fees, we are willing to negotiate and offer them a fair price; because we believe that just because a few people do not have the ability to pay, it does not mean that they should be deprived of quality consulting.

That is wonderful, however, the big consulting firms are not really known have the same level of social conscience that MART does. Do you think they can also develop a social conscience?

The 2008-09 recession shook up the world economy. Before that, CEOs would be paid 200 times the salary that the lowest rung employee in an organization would be paid. After the meltdown, the salaries of the people in the higher echelons came down a few notches. So one does not say that such big firms will be transformed overnight. It takes time, and events such as the recession will expose them to the realities, and in today’s world a Bill Gates or a Ratan Tata, who give a lot to charity have a lot more respect than people richer than them but without a conscience. Slowly and steadily, we are moving to that point where everyone develops this conscience.

Mr. Pradeep Kashyap during his talk at Horizons 2016

Mr. Pradeep Kashyap during his talk at Horizons 2016

You’ve pioneered the concept of ‘Inclusive Marketing’. Would really like to know a bit about the same.

C K Prahlad had come up with the concept of fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. It really did not make a lot of sense to me, because what he said was that corporates could sell products to the poor; products that they do not even need. What I am saying is, don’t just exploit them by taking their money away, first get them a livelihood, like what ITC is doing with its eChoupal. That is inclusive marketing for everyone’s benefit.

Are there any learnings from Rural Marketing that can be applied in the sector of Urban Marketing or vice-versa?

Oh! Definitely. A lot of products made for rural market have found their way into the urban market, for example Nirma washing powder or Ghadi detergent, ultimately because they deliver value at a lower price.

Among the so many projects that you’ve worked for, what is the one project that you would rate as your favorite (because of either personal or professional reasons)?

I would say the one that I won the maximum visibility for is Project Shakti. It became a Harvard business school case study, every global business chairman of Unilever that came to India was always talking about this project. It was also the one that was the most challenging, because there were a lot of stakeholders in it – there was Unilever, the women groups, the state bureaucracy and NABARD the bank for giving loans.

IIC presenting a token of gratitude to the Pioneer of Inclusive Marketing and Project Shakti - Mr. Pradeep Kashyap

IIC presenting a token of gratitude to the Pioneer of Inclusive Marketing and Project Shakti – Mr. Pradeep Kashyap

You have a workforce of 75 people, what keeps them away from pursuing their career at bigger firms where they could get fatter paychecks?

Well, first thing would definitely be the meaning that they derive from their work here, since they are contributing to their society. Second thing is that the work pressure is not very high. We close office at 5:30 PM and there are a lot of learning opportunities. So the learning curve is very steep. We also do not hire too many people because we do not want to dilute the culture that is already there. So that is the tradeoff that we make, and in return we have a very close-knit family atmosphere amongst our workforce which motivates them to continue working.

Interviewed By: Himalay Reddy

Picture Courtesy: Himalay Reddy

Behind the scenes / Research: Vishaal Pathak

Horizons 2016: Lets go Mad over Marketing!

When IIC’s flagship event Horizons 2016 announced a marketing workshop, most people were probably anticipating more of Kotler and Porter and jargons and what not. Mad Over Marketing Co-founders Siddhant More and Wamika Mimani took the stage by storm instead, right from the word go! With Mad Over Marketing at their quirky best, how can you not go bananas?

MoM in action during Horizons 2016

MoM in action during Horizons 2016

Post all the gyan and all the more fun, we caught them for a little chit chat. Here’s what they had to say:

1.We’ve heard that MOM was born over a college fest and the intention was to generate marketing interest among students. Later on, it was launched in 2012. Tell us something more about how you took off.

 

Siddhant: So yeah, we had begun through a college fest. All of us, we were in the same

undergraduate college and were organizing a fest called “Inertia”. We wanted to publicize the fest

and so what we typically do is that we take to FB, put up posters, tag friends and so on and so

forth. We wanted to do something different. Now, this is back in 2012 and we thought why not

create a page where the audience talks about marketing in general and not talk about the fest at

all. Now whether that backfired for the fest or worked for us later on is a separate thing. The

name of the page was Mad over Marketing and after some time, people started asking us the dates

for mad over marketing (and not inertia). So we somehow decided to keep the page even after the

fest and it started gathering great following. Once you have great traffic, a lot of brands reach out

to you.

 

2.Siddhant, you’ve had strong affiliations with finance, you’re a CA and a CFA. Wamika, you too are a strategist now with BCG. Give us some more details as to how you people manage and contribute towards MOM.

MoM setting the stage on fire!

MoM setting the stage on fire!

 

Wamika: So I’ll talk about the first part. MOM was co-founded by five of us, all of whom have

ended up doing different things in life, which have nothing specific to do with marketing. We had

a common interest, even while doing that summit (fest) back then. Marketing as a theme,

specifically advertising, really appealed to us. It all started as a glorified hobby almost and we

were stubborn enough to pursue it, but not necessarily as a profession. So it’s just that we liked

doing it and of course, over time people started liking the content we posted.

Siddhant: In terms of doing things parallely, it’s all about wanting to do it. You just have to set

your priorities and you’ll always end up having time to do what you really want.

 

3.You’ve grown in leaps and bounds without resorting to “pushing” your product through to the customers. The advertisements or spams for MOM have been practically none. Isn’t that a marketing statement in itself?

 

Wamika: It’s actually a very conscious effort to keep it that way. We’ve never gone out saying

that this is Mad over Marketing and so on, neither in a direct nor in an indirect manner. The idea

has always been to just put out good content. The fundamental basis of MOM is sharing and

things going viral if they’re good. And thankfully, it’s worked for us so far.

Siddhant: Yeah, and also because the users don’t like it basically. All of us are consumers of

online content and for me, it isn’t pleasant to get a spam. It’s the same with the audience too.

The audience retorts with their quirkiness to keep the hosts ROFLing !

The audience retorts with their quirkiness to keep the hosts ROFLing !

 

4.Sticking to the niche without being monotonous is key and MOM has a wonderful mix of brains. Take us through all the brainstorming that goes into posting some content.

 

Siddhant: Let me be honest with you, there’s practically no brainstorming! If we like something,

we’ll write about it and put it up. It’s each individual’s call. We trust that if one of us finds it

interesting, there’ll be hundreds outside who’ll find it appealing too. But of course, at the end of

the day, you don’t want to put out bad stuff either.

Wamika: And it’s more of a break from our usual routine!

Siddhant: Yeah, so no domain specific inputs in particular. And at times we digress from

marketing as well. For example, we also spoke about the reactions to the AIB roast. Hence,

there’s no hard limit with respect to sticking to start-ups or branding or advertising. We post

anything we find pertinent and contextual. But we definitely keep tabs on the quality of whatever

is being posted so that it doesn’t turn out to be just another piece.

Wamika: It’s also about keeping it simple and not over-complicating things. You want to be

quick and talk about things that are relevant today. Being quick, in fact, is one of the biggest

challenges we face. You don’t want to put out something after everyone else has covered it.

 

5.MOM today is one of the most successful curators of business content on the web along with being crowd-sourced too. What factors would you attribute this success to?

 

Siddhant: There are primarily two things: the team and the masses; the masses because they keep

sending us a lot of content. Every other day, our mailboxes, websites and FB pages are full of

suggestions. And we are getting around 8-10 ad campaigns every single day which really helps

us. It’s virtually eyes out for us. The team: because everyone’s so different from one another.

Everyone brings in a new perspective. Someone, for instance, is good at coming up with a catchy

title; the other at analyzing an ad and so on.

 

Token of gratitude for winning all the hearts !

Token of gratitude for winning all the hearts !

6.IIM Kozhikode has a lot of aspiring marketers and entrepreneurs. What mantra would you give to them so that they can make it big?

 

Siddhant: Don’t listen to any mantra, that would be it!

Wamika: Pretty much sums it up I guess. But yeah, from an MOM perspective, the only story or

gyan we have is that if you really want to do something, you’ll find time and energy for it. The

way might not be that straightforward, may be slightly here and there, but if you want to do

something you really should. There’s always time for everything, we’re never actually short of it,

just need to manage it well.

MoM with Media Cell members Shakti and Tushar.

MoM with Media Cell members Shakti and Tushar.

Interviewed By: Shakti Shivam and Tushar Johri

Picture Courtesy: Vishaal Pathak

Horizons 2016: Fly High with Vijay Gopalan, Ex-CFO Air Asia India

Mr. Vijay Gopalan joined Air Asia India as the CFO in August 2013 and was a part of the team that set up India operations for nearly two years. Prior to AirAsia India, Mr. Gopalan worked as finance controller of Indian operations of Compass Group, as well as manager with consultancy and audit firm Ernst and Young in the United States and the United Kingdom in various industries including oil and gas and hospitality. He is also a chartered accountant with over a decade’s experience and holds an advanced diploma in marketing and sales from the National Institute of Sales.

Hailing from a family of musicians, he is a trained singer and has bagged gold medal at the South Asian Universities music festival in the year 2000. He started off as an emcee in the initial stages of his career and still nurtures his passion for live performances.

We had the chance to explore the lighter side of his personality, and also seek some sound advice while he was on campus for IIC’s flagship event Horizons 2016. Find out what he had to say during his interview :

Mr. Vijay Gopalan at Horizons 2016

Mr. Vijay Gopalan at Horizons 2016

1. You have been at E&Y, have been an academician who’s worked with the ICAI and with IIM Ahmedabad; a freelance consultant and the ex-CFO for Air Asia. Please take us through the journey.

As long as you are confident of your capabilities you don’t need to worry about anything. I started with E&Y and eight years down the line I knew I could take a break. I needed a break, because it’s very easy for a professional to get into a comfort zone after a point of time; you get comfortable with your surroundings, everything is working for you, and you don’t want to push yourself or challenge yourself any more. That’s the first step towards rotting as a professional.

I took up radio jockeying, acting and tried a whole bunch of things. For doing that you do not need to be aware of your skill sets. Each of us have our own instincts, there always are certain things that we want to do. The problem comes when we sit and rationalize things with our mind wondering whether we are suited for something, what can be the possible outcomes of our decision etc. The moment we cut out all the rationalizing and start to believe that there is an inner calling, you will be able to look at the larger perspective. I never knew I could act. I loved watching movies so I thought let me see how I look onscreen, and I was horrible. Similarly for radio jockeying I just went for the audition and it happened, I never knew I could be a finalist there. For academia likewise I decided to give it a try and it worked, that’s all. It’s all a chance.

Mr. Vijay Gopalan during his talk

Mr. Vijay Gopalan during his talk

2. What role has been the most likeable/challenging out of the vast canvas of opportunities you’ve had so far?

Honestly, academia. I am always available to share whatever lessons I have gathered all this while. It’s a passion. We are a small group of people who actually go wherever we can to disseminate our learnings.

3. It’s a famous anecdote that your first paid assignment was that of an Emcee. I also read once that you wanted to be a professional singer and used to practice at the MRF Pace Foundation. How do you feel things have helped in shaping up such an excellent career?

All this never let me settle down with status quo. That has been the biggest learning. I as an individual am restless, I cannot handle status quo. If I am settled somewhere for too long then I know that it’s time for me to leave. I have figured out that a personality is much wider than just your office or your confinement. So the focus was on developing a large persona, hobbies, interests, conversational abilities etc. That was much larger than talking about debits, credits, balance sheets, profit and loss accounts. The Emcee thing was also helpful in shooting me up, in the sense that I figured that there were alternates available. However I wouldn’t say it boosted my confidence, because that would mean that I am seeking validation of my potential from outside. But at a much deeper level, it set the importance of having a well-rounded personality to be able to do anything. You will become a very boring person if you don’t have alternate interests and your interest is only academics. Honestly I think these extra-curricular activities taught team spirit, challenge of taking a big group of people along with you, small anecdotes and how each of those improves you as a leader.

Mr. Vijay Gopalan during the interview with Media Celll

Mr. Vijay Gopalan during the interview with Media Celll

4. You joined Air Asia in 2013 and were a part of the start-up team back then. Please share a few insights regarding the challenges and peculiarities of that environment and also in the context of setting up prudent financial practices.

The biggest challenge in Air Asia was that it had a small core team comprising all the heads of departments working together with completely different domains of expertise. We had a pilot who was a DFO, we had a hardcore engineer, we had a ground operations personnel who used to roll up his sleeves to get his hands dirty and we had Mittu who came from a different background. So to align all our individual capabilities and interests and channelize them towards catering to the common goal was a fun and challenging experience and I think this would hold true for any project team. The biggest learning was that the larger interest is always bigger than the sum of all our individual interests put together. There’s a bigger picture and you always need to make certain sacrifices. Financial practices were rather the easiest to set up. Since there was no precedent you do not have to undo any practice, it is your way and you work on it as you have envisioned it. The challenge will be in keeping it absolutely simple, in a startup mode, otherwise you would become very bureaucratic and hierarchical. Cut the red tape and keep it to the barest minimum as required by the business.

 5. Talking of Air Asia, we’d like to understand this from a strategy point of view. When Air Asia started its operations in India, for a long time it shied away from operating out of Delhi – cost probably being a factor there. Now it is operating though, and it operates out of T3, instead of may be T1, which would probably create a bigger dent in its pockets. Similarly, in Malaysia, they’ve shifted from LCCT to KLIA2. What has been the thought process behind this move?

Well with Malaysia, it was more of a regulatory requirement – the government there asked the airline to move to KLIA2.

You’re absolutely right about Air Asia entering the Delhi sector quite late, but I’d say the decision to move there has been more of a change in the thought process. The idea was to penetrate tier 2 cities, but with Delhi, the connectivity gets better. While operating out of T3 instead of T1 may be a little expensive, there are definite plusses that outweigh whatever little cost disadvantage there is. For e.g., if you’ve been to T3, you know the kind of flight experience there, which is something the airline wants its flyers to experience. Besides, congestion at T3 is less compared to T1, so that helps Air Asia be on time. Most importantly, the idea has always been to position Air Asia as a low-fare airline, but never a cheap airline. In the near future, Air Asia may even be operating out of Mumbai, you never know.

 6. How has your perspective towards life changed from the time you started your career to now?

There have been a few added attributes which have come along the way. One of them being an immense sense of gratitude to everybody with whom I have interacted in life. Along the course of your journey you would also actually like to give back to people, be it your family, and be it your friends or unknown people. Another important realization was that all that happened to me was by a freak chance because I am pretty sure if I have made it then there are tens or hundreds of other cases when people haven’t made it. So that feeling made me absolutely responsible and sensible towards this opportunity and towards the stature that I have reached to. The third lesson was taught by my father. Right after I got the offer with Air Asia he told me, “Fantastic, I am proud of u, learn to be humble.” It has taught me humility. Honestly, there’s    something beyond our own capabilities that justifies why we get these kind of opportunities. I would be lying if I say that hard work alone made me reach here, there was something beyond hard work, which I possibly can never explain which has played a role in making me reach where I am.

Media Cell in conversation with Mr. Vijay Gopalan

Media Cell in conversation with Mr. Vijay Gopalan

7. Any message for the students here?

Just chill. That’s it.

Interviewed By: Noel Roychoudhury and Vishaal Pathak

Behind the scenes / Research: Tushar Johri

Picture Credits : Himalay Reddy & IIC

Horizons 2016: House of Orators with Ms. Deepa Thomas

Deepa M Thomas is a corporate communications professional with 19 years of expertise over external & employee communications. She is leading the communications mandate for Mahindra Group Companies – Mahindra Holidays, Mahindra LifeSpaces & Mahindra Partners.

Media Cell had the opportunity to interact with her while she was on campus for IIC’s flagship event Horizons 2016. Below are excerpts from the interview:

1. With a wide exposure in established conglomerates like Mahindra to relatively new e-commerce companies like eBay, skin clinics like Kaya, channels like MTV, Nickelodeon, what are the major differences that you have noticed across industries when it comes to corporate communication?

Multinationals around the world have this very strong belief in communication, because it’s a proven science. Companies like Kaya and Marico did not have any established communication function before I joined. So there was a lot of work that we had to do to evangelize the role of communication and the benefits that it could bring. Whereas in eBay, let’s say when a communication person is employed for the first time there already was a belief around the world that it made sense. So it was much easier to get a buy in from the leadership that communication would play a major strategic role and we should invest in it.

Ms. Deepa Thomas during her talk at Horizons 2016

Ms. Deepa Thomas during her talk at Horizons 2016

2. Your specialties are as varied as Consumer PR to Pop Culture to ecommerce. How do you keep yourself updated about the latest development in all of these interest areas?

I network with my peers in various forums, I read newsletters and news articles, and I am currently jury for 30 under 30 for PRmoment. So what happens is that when you do all these, you see some of the best practices and some of the good work that is happening and you can keep yourself as informed as you can. I don’t think you can keep yourself informed about everything, since one is only human and you cannot spend your entire time gathering information but the more informed you are and the more thoughtfully you are able to process that information, you can perhaps connect it to what you are doing and bring the best practices to your work or you can share your best practices with somebody else.

3. Since CSR is also one of your interest areas, so what’s your take on companies having mandatory CSR activity, do you think it rightly addresses the issue like it is supposed to?

I think this comes down to company’s philosophies: do they see that they must serve the community that they work in, or do they see that they want to make a better impact. If the company sees that than the CSR funds whether mandated by the government or not will be invested in the right way. But there might be some companies who will perhaps not see value in it, therefore they will perhaps do it in lip service, or put money behind established non- profits and not help grass root efforts. So I think the best fit is when the company has identified a few causes like education, environment, old age that they want to stand by, find the connection with the company and locate CSR programs which are long term and make impact but also involve employees, do not just have a separate CSR department run it quietly. See how you can engage employees as mentors, volunteers, awareness creators, and social media advocates. Then they can make reports and pay it back to the community and the various stakeholders associated. That’s when CSR becomes very holistic and the community sees the real impact and the company enhances its goodwill.

But then the benefit received by the mandate is that a lot many companies are having to put their funds for good. So it’s an opportunity for non-profits to find their partners and if companies are not doing the thinking then they need to present themselves in the right way to company and help that company make an impact for a cause.

Ms. Deepa Thomas being interviewed by Media Cell

Ms. Deepa Thomas being interviewed by Media Cell

4. What is your take on women in management when it comes to issues like work life balance, maternity leaves, power politics and improper working conditions for women?

Men and women are both equally good leaders and they bring different facades and perspectives and I think diverse organizations, in terms of gender, age, race, sexual orientation etc. benefit primarily for these. Today our target audience and consumers are very diverse, so whether we can actually reflect the diversity in our board room or our leadership team, becomes a major question.
About maternity leaves, I think the increase of the leave from three months to six months is a welcome move allowing the new mother to return to the workforce once she is fully ready and has been able to develop a right infrastructure to look after her baby. However, the lady should integrate herself as quickly as possible to her company (depending on her and her baby’s health condition) or at least keep herself informed even during the leave so that she is not out of the knowledge loop. Even if she can’t work she should find ways to communicate with her organization using HR functions (who are also taking appropriate measures so that these ladies can make a seamless comeback and add value to the company soon).
Work life balance comes down to settling with the fact that women in society tend to be the caregivers, therefore younger people, senior citizens, sick relatives all need to be attended by the women employee. Today, however there are options that women can explore to set up a good infrastructure at home, but there may be times when they have to work out of home and companies need to be flexible out of it. At the same time, the onus comes down on the ladies, or for any employee for that matter (in a gender neutral company) to show their commitment and delivery and prove that their work is not getting impacted. To manage visibility related issues that might turn up (out of sight, out of mind), the employees need to be connected by emails, phone calls or at times when physical presence is required one needs to prove that he/she is just a phone call away. This will validate the value of that particular employee in his/her organization.

5. All of us here aspire to be leading managers someday, any suggestion that you have for doing well in the corporate life, since we have many preconceived ideas about surviving the corporate rat race.

You need to have passion, integrity, persistence, collaborative attitude to survive the corporate life which according to me is a jungle gym and not a ladder. You also need to find a supportive group of people, the supportive board (comprising of family, friends, significant partner etc.), with whom you can share your moments of frustration and success. And over a period you will have enough people like this who’s make the organization a comfortable workplace for you. A part of how the corporate life is, depends on the company’s performance. If it is going through bankruptcy then the employees will definitely have a tough time because the company itself is in a position where its existence itself is questionable. From the employees’ angle, there can be three groups: one, the energy drainers who choose to play power politics, second, who choose to just do their work without getting their hands dirty and third, the ones who bring positive energy in their workplace. Irrespective of which group you choose to belong, you need to have passions and interests outside of work, along with a support structure comprising of a close group of people and these will help you vent your corporate anxieties and frustrations and de-stress. If you can align yourself and your work with the company’s goals, work will be less stressful. Plus an amount of equanimity and composure will definitely help make life comfortable. Don’t let noise affect you, choose what really matters and prioritize accordingly.

In a conversation with Ms. Deepa Thomas.

In a conversation with Ms. Deepa Thomas.

Interviewed By: Noel Roychoudhury

Picture Credits: Ravi Mohan Bhola

Horizons 2013 : Mr.Arunachalam Muruganathan shares his experiences

Mr Arunachalam MuruganathanMr.Arunachalam Muruganathan , inventor- known for his inexpensive solution to unhygienic and unsanitary practices around menstruation in rural India addressed the students of IIM Kozhikode on the final day of Horizons -2013 , organised by the Industry Interaction Cell of IIM Kozhikode. Mr.Arunachalam Muruganathan has created and patented a machine which could manufacture low-cost sanitary pads for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads. He also received the ‘Best Innovation National Award ’in the year 2009.

His talk centered around the transformation of an idea into a product and the product into an organization. He went on to give some lessons on life. He said that happiness, success and business are not connected with money. He added that education and maturity are also not connected. He also gave some lessons on marketing and management in general. According to him, management means flexibility and that calmness and clarity are important in management. He added that marketers should understand all products marketed all around the world and also be proud of their product.

He also spoke about his background and the circumstances and situations that carved his path towards this innovation. He said that for his product he mainly focuses on rural marketing and there are no dealers and distributors for his product.946 machines have been installed in 26 states of India providing a livelihood to around 9500 rural women. He calls this breakthrough as the 2nd White Revolution. His vision is to create a million employments for poor rural women and also make India as 100% sanitary napkin using country from the current level of below 5%.

He concluded by saying that to be an entrepreneur, you need opportunity, luck and a problem. In the end, IIC expressed gratitude by presenting him a memento and thanked him for taking out time from his busy schedule and conducting this guest lecture.

Ravi Subramanian on his journey from a banker to an author at ‘Horizons 2013’

The student fraternity of IIM Kozhikode got the unique opportunity to interact with Mr. Ravi Subramanian, India’s numero uno thriller writer. Mr. Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM-B, is currently head of a leading financial institution and has over 6 best-selling books. He was in the IIM-K campus to deliver a talk to the students during ‘Horizons 2013’ conducted by the Industry Interaction Cell. 1476709_10151997505579356_1597975175_n

Mr. Subramanian spoke to the students about their interests in the literary field and how writing could be a medium of sharing experiences. Through anecdotes of his journey from a banker to an author, he illustrated how he overcame his inhibitions and followed his dream of becoming a writer. He went on to highlight the nuances of the Indian publishing industry and stressed that marketing and promoting your book is as important as the actual act of writing.

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Mr. Subramanian shared some innovative ideas he had used in the past such as comic strips of books during promotions. The students also got first hand exposure to details of the financials of the publishing industry and what it takes to develop a career in the field of writing books.  The session was a truly interesting and a one-of-a-kind experience that was thoroughly enjoyed by the student fraternity.

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Horizons 2012 comes to a succesfull conclusion at IIM Kozhikode

The concluding day of Horizons 2012 at IIM Kozhikode saw speakers from various walks of life coming up and sharing their experiences. The day started with a session by Mr. Akash Gautam, one of the most proficient and effective motivators that the Indian youth has witnessed over the past decade. He talked about the importance of an idea in an entrepreneurial venture and explained how getting a “backdoor entry” becomes vital for a venture to succeed. According to him, the primary target for any new venture should be to reach the No.1 spot in its micro-market. There is no place for mediocrity and people would always approach the best player in the market, however niche that market may be.The next speaker for the day was Mr. Mahesh Murthy, founding partner at Seedfund, India’s leading early-stage venture capital fund which has helped establish the likes of CarWale, EduSports , RedBus, RupeeTalk and Sportskeeda. He has over 26 years of marketing and communications experience, of which 15 years are in online marketing. He talked about the new-age developments in the field of marketing. With social media gaining popularity and other factors contributing to the ever-changing atmosphere, the old conventions for successful marketing has now changed. He remarked that an entrepreneur should be able to spot fast changing trends even before they are out open in the world through any form of media. He concluded by saying that in his journey of life he has realized that there may be no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but walking on the rainbow itself is an enriching experience.It was followed by a session from Deepu Chandran– Director and co-founder at Innomantra. He brings with him extensive experience in innovation, new product management, strategy and marketing. In the past, he has worked on strategic consulting assignments alongside leading consulting firms like PRTM and Arthur D. Little. He began his career at Larsen & Toubro, where he worked in the areas of strategic planning and new product management. Deepu has been a speaker at several conferences including the CII India Innovation Summit, 2011. In 2008, he was awarded the India Innovation Prize by the Government of Karnataka and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). He spoke about the importance of developing empathy and connecting with the target group while embarking on a business venture. According to him, spreadsheets and business models on papers are not implementable however good and viable they may look on paper, unless the prior field work has been done.

The evening session started with a very interesting talk delivered by Sidharth Agarwal, Director, Teach for India. He joined Teach For India as a Fellow in its first cohort in 2009 and decided to join the Teach For India staff after graduating from the 2 year Fellowship. Before that he has worked as a senior consultant at Genpact (strategy and operations). He received an MBA from S.P.Jain, Mumbai in 2006 and Bachelors in Economics and Maths from Fergusson College in 2002. He talked about his journey in Teach For India and said by taking the ‘road less traveled’ he has actually been able to experience an internal satisfaction which might not have come had he gone the conventional way.Next in line was a session by Ankit Doshi. Ankit Doshi is the creator of KiRa Education which runs the management education portal insideiim.com Ankit conceptualized InsideIIM.com in the final term of his MBA at IIM Indore inspired by the positive feedback on his writing on ankit9doshi.com. Over the last 12 months, InsideIIM has emerged as a must-visit portal with regards to recruitment and career related information for management education aspirants and students. Ankit worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch for 14 months before plunging full time into his own venture. He has also worked for start-ups like WhatsonIndia.com (no longer a start-up!) and CPLC (acquired by MT Educare) prior to his MBA. He talked about his journey of InsideIIM.com from the inception to the execution stage stating various challenges he had to face in the journey.The day ended with a thank you note from Industry Interaction Cell, IIMK expressing gratitude to all the speakers who graced the occasion during the 3 day conclave.

Mahesh Murthy Horizons 2012

Mahesh Maurthy Horizons 2012Horizons-2012- The Annual Management Conclave of IIM Kozhikode played host to various speakers from a host of domains. The final day of the event saw Mr. Mahesh Murthy, the current Managing Partner at Seedfund- India’s leading early-stage venture capital fund which has helped establish the likes of CarWale, EduSports, RedBus, RupeeTalk and Sportskeeda. Mr. Mahesh Murthy has impressive line of credentials in the field of digital marketing and communications experience with an experience of 26 years in the area. Mr. Murthy worked some of the best known advertising firms in the initial part of his career and eventually donned an entrepreneurial hat starting some of the best known venture capitalist firms in India including Pinstorm-The world’s leading pay-for-performance digital marketing firm and Passionfund-one of the few angel funds in the country. Besides these he has worked in various capacities with firms like Channel V-India’s leading youth and music channel, Ogilvy & Mather-Asia’s largest ad agency, iCat- a Seattle based start-up acquired by Intel, Grey Worldwide- one of India’s leading creative agencies and CKS Partners- one of the first interactive marketing firms ever which helped launch Yahoo, Amazon among others.

 

Mr. Murthy spoke in length about Entrepreneurship and subsequently about the new-age developments in the field of digital marketing. On the topic of Entrepreneurship, he drew upon his rich experience in the field to answer the “Why?-What?-Who?-Where?-How?” that would help every budding entrepreneur before he starts his own venture. The dominant theme in the talk was the importance of a novel business idea in starting and sustaining a successful business venture. Stressing the origins of companies like Philips, Skype and Linux from relatively unknown corners of the world, Mr. Murthy established the fact that a great idea can grow into a successful business from anywhere in the world, what matters is the quality of the idea and the quality of the efforts of the people running the business. On the topic of which industry sector to choose while thinking about starting a business, Mr. Murthy mentioned that the fact that a particular sector is being portrayed as a “hot” sector by the media implies the fact that the best opportunities in that sector have already been taken.  He urged the audience not to be swayed by such reports but to be ready to venture into the new sectors since that’s where the money will come from in the future. While addressing the queries raised by the audience, he spoke in length about the process of attracting funding from the venture capital firms and also shared the perspective of a venture capitalist while evaluating whether or not to invest in a firm.mahesh murthy Horizons 2012

 

In the later part of the day, Mr. Murthy shared his insights on the area of digital marketing, more specifically on the new age developments that have been shaping the area of late. He talked about how the old conventions for a successful marketing are being continuously challenged with factors like social media growing at the speed of light and the ever-increasing importance of internet as a medium for marketing. This has meant that companies today can no longer afford to ignore internet as a medium of marketing and growing consumer awareness has meant that companies need to exercise extra caution while taking to internet as a medium of communication. Through examples of Sunsilk’s “Gang of Girls” campaign and promotion of “Pureit” by the FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), Mr. Murthy demonstrated the importance of and potential pitfalls while companies chose to go for digital marketing. He remarked that an entrepreneur should be able to spot fast changing trends even before they are out open in the world through any form of media. He concluded by saying that in his journey of life he has realized that there may be no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but walking on the rainbow itself is an enriching experience.

A talk on governance – Jai Prakash Narayan

Popularly known as JP, Jai Prakash Narayan is an Indian politician, political reformer and columnist. He is the founder and the President of Lok Satta Party, and currently a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Kukatpally constituency in Andhra Pradesh. He was a topper in the IAS exam. During the 16 years of distinguished public service in various capacities, he acquired a formidable reputation in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Dr Narayan’s experience in government convinced him that faulty governance process was the biggest hurdle to India and Indians achieving greater success. And what India needs today is a fundamental change in the rules of the game and not a periodic change of players.

In order to translate his vision into practical reality, he resigned from Service (IAS) in 1996, and worked with like-minded colleagues for the formation of Lok Satta and is currently its National Coordinator. Lok Satta has now emerged as India is leading civil society initiative for governance reforms.

On the 2nd day of Horizons, Dr. Narayan held a very interactive session with the audience, first raising the question “what’s wrong with politics?” The response he got was “entry barriers”, such as wealth, power and influence. Once these entry barriers are removed and entry into the political world become based more on merit, perhaps the quality of politics would improve. India has seen, after all, politicians like Gokhle, Naoroji, etc. The problem now is that votes are being bought and crores are spent on them. Moreover, it is a hard fact that every parliament member below the age of 30 is the son or daughter of a politician, and that 85% of all members are related to politicians.

The next question Dr. Narayan posed to the audience was “How could you get rid of these problems in politics?” Some students responded saying that perhaps a certain level of qualifications could be made compulsory. But this is not always true, since many have qualifications on paper. What are required are meritorious candidates.

He opined that unless we started thinking and analyzing about the problems of politics we won’t be able to find a solution for the problem.

Every generation produces great men and women. The past did as did today’s time. What remains evergreen is idealism and passion. Our country consists of 500 princely states integrated together and no other country can match us in terms of diversity. Hence we should never underestimate what we can achieve. The problem with our country is that citizenship is absent. Those elected to power are accountable to those who elected them. We have a rather hostile system in which one needs to sustain power or turn corrupt to survive. Also, decentralization of power is essential. We need local genius to develop.

He also brought up the importance of education- in which India ranks 73rd– and healthcare. Acording to Dr. Narayan you cannot separate political and economic reforms. Once we start an institutional system and bring in some organization, which we lack, we should be able to address the political issues of our country.

A Battlefield of Ideas during Horizons 2012 at IIM Kozhikode

Day 2 of Horizons 2012 at IIM Kozhikode ended with Battlefield, the management debate themed “It’s all about the money, honey” with Mr. S. Subramanyeshwar, Chandan Ghosh and Ankit Doshi speaking for the motion; and Siddharth Aggarwal, Subrata Bagchi and Paramita Banerjee  arguing against the motion. The debate  brought about a plethora of ideas and was moderated by Professor A.F. Mathew.

Mr. Subramanyeshwar, better known as Subbu presented the opening argument saying that if one wants to do anything good for the world on needs money. Money is the starting point and without it nothing can be done.

The next speaker Siddharth spoke against the topic stating that it can never be all about the money. It is a combination of passion, resources and what one will excel at in the world that are the 3 driving forces. Hence money plays only a part but is not central. What one needs is the right people making the right impact in order to get the money.

Next, Chandan, speaking for the motion, opined that the 2 differences between human beings and animals are that animals cannot speak and that they cannot create and use money. Money is a necessary evil. For a minuscule shortage of funds a business can lose everything. In a corporate world where one gets paid only for a part of their worth money becomes very important.

After that, Subrata explained how want for money becomes a viscious cycle with money. The problem is that it brings out your animal instinct, our vices. Innovation can happen without the money. It is passion, conviction and ethics which truly drives us.

Ankit began his argument by saying that most business students would refuse to join a reputed institute if it erased off its assurance of placements. No one wants risks and want stability in their lives.

Paramita strengthened her argument against the opposition by asking how many of them would want “honey”s who only wanted their “money”. As even her opposing team had said it’s not “all” about the money, what you earn seldom determines your happiness.

Professor Mathew then cross questioned Ankit stating that perhaps if the exorbitant course fees were wavered, more students would opt out of placements and try their own ventures. Ankit answered back that he doubted that would happen since the situation was the same several years ago when the course fees were less.

According to Siddharth, a life of passion is more provoking than a life of money. Some people fear to step into the unknown, but once they do they never want to leave. Ghosh’s argument was that one needs to have a full stomach before pursuing such adventures. Subbu pointed out the fact that one can easily find a list of the top 50 richest men in the world but never the top 100 best intent people of the world. Paromita also added that personally, she much happier in the service of others than leading a rich life teaching in foreign universities.

In conclusion most speakers unanimously agreed that eventually passion is what drives us to happiness and helps us to contribute values exponentially to society. While money does not mean everything, it is still an essential driving force. It can be used to do good, but if it nurtures evil then it should be avoided.