Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Reasoning behind the choice of name
Our Vision is to make coconut based products, hence the prefix coco. This gives us enough scope to grow around coconuts and also limits us or helps us focus towards opportunities of just coconuts.
We want to at the sweet part of the value chain in making coconut products. So we just want to position ourselves as experts in the field of coconuts. Not as growers, manufacturers, retailers, consultants etc. In fact we intend to not do any of them and just own the brand. It gives us flexibility to do what we want in the coconut product value chain.
Guru is a name that off course signifies expertise and leadership, also the word is universal. Guru is a valid word in Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit and all Indian Languages. It has also become an accepted word in English. Word guru resonates among Indians as traditional. Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara ... List of English words derived from Sanskrit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_of_Sanskrit_origin
There are several names that start with coco like cocoraj, cococare, cocojal, cococlear, cocovita, cocovida, cocofresh etc. Similarly there are several names that end with guru like travelguru, codeguru, logodesignguru, domainguru, gadgetguru, cellguru etc. This confirms that cocoguru can be an acceptable name.
The name might look a bit long and difficult to pronounce as a whole. But when broken down in coco and guru, they are extremely simple words with same vowels repeating at even letters. When written in Kannada, it doesn’t have any othu akshara.
How I got this name
I enumerated on many names that start with coco like cocomind, cocobay, cocobazaar, cocohub, cocomaster, cocoway etc and showed it to my dad. He liked cocomaster. As a side note, he said cocoguru without much conviction. I immediately liked it. We discussed with a few people, but got varied responses. I thought it is for us to decide about the final name as we are the ones who have the vision for the brand and the ones who are going to live it. I decided on coco guru and said that is final and I don’t need anybody’s approval for it, to avoid getting into infinite loop of name searching.
Criticisms about the name
1. coco and guru are common words and everybody uses and there is nothing unique or catchy about it.
2. coco is used for not only coconuts but also chocolates because of cocoa. So while I say the brand name over phone with out any aid of picture, the receiver may likely take it as a chocolate.
3. Koka shastra in Sanskrit relates to study on sex. And coco sounds similar to that. Dr. Shreesha Kumar pointed this to me ;-) Well, I don’t think even 1 in every 10 sanskrit scholar would know this let alone normal people.
I registered for domains cocoguru.net and cocoguru.in. Twitter id @cocoguru. My official email id would be firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately cocoguru.com is not available. Somebody has acquired it and is not using it.
Useful tools for hunting names
1. Sanskrit Dictionary - spokensanskrit.de
2. Kannada Dictionary - kannadakasturi.com
3. English Thesaurus - thesaurus.reference.com
4. Spreadsheet/scripts for generating names with random characters
5. Blog - businessnamingbasics.com
Sunday, August 30, 2009
1. Low manual labour – This is the biggest reason as lack of labour force is the biggest constraint for everybody (homes, farms and industries) in Dakshina Kannada. Manual packaging requires 8 man hours to pack 200 pouches. Automatic machine completely eliminates them. Still little work is required by somebody to just watch the machine operation and feed the inputs (oil and pouch roll) from time to time.
2. Excellent finishing – The finishing of the packets are so perfect that it gives a premium look for the product. This type of finishing helps in charging a higher price or selling more or lowering selling costs.
3. Less leakage – In manual case, there are a little chance that oil leaks even after good packaging. This leads to obvious loss of oil and presence of oil on surface of other packets. More importantly this leads to strain in trade relationships. We lost relationships with at least 3 retailers because of this and failing to acknowledge it as our problem.
4. Accurate measurement – In manual case, there is a variation in measurement of oil filled into the packet. The quantity filled is generally higher as anything lower would lead to rejection by sensitive customers. This variation can cost us maybe 2-3% of the value. Automatic machine would bring this variation down to less than 1%.
5. High speed – Even for slightly viscous liquids like coconut oil, automatic machines pack at 500 pouches per hour. The corresponding figure is 25 for manual packing. During peak season we had to pack about 2000 pouches a week. 80 man hours or 2 people need to work 5 days @ 8 hrs per day on packing. Automatic machine does it in just 4 hours flat! Because of not being able to pack in time, we had lost a few orders last year.
6. Lesser material cost – Material required for Automatic sealing is Low Density multilayered polyethylene film, that for manual is laminated 3-side sealed pouch. In manual case, because the pouch has to be sealed on 3 sides by material supplier, it costs about 35 paise more per pouch. So, automatic machine saves 35 paise per pouch.
7. Long term investment for growth – Benefit of automatic machine only increases with increased volume of packing. For the volume of packing we are currently dealing, it can be managed with a semi-automatic machine. But for the consumer demand for pouches and our growth plans it is better to invest now. It clears of this constraint that of packaging and enables us to tackle other growth constraints.
But the following are the drawbacks
1. High investment – The machine alone would cost 3-4 lakhs. The accessories like Compressor, Stabiliser, Cooler, Storage Tank and Pipeline would cost about 1-2 lakhs. Total investment of about 5 lakhs. Assuming that the machine lasts 10 years, rate of interest is 15% EMI comes to about 8,000 or Annual cash outflow of about 1 lakh. If we pack 50,000 pouches a year, machine cost is 2 Rs per pouch.
2. Risk of failure – This will be the first time we will be installing a machine of this nature. With multiple components involved and lack of experience there is a possibility of failure. If the machine fails there is no manual packaging backup as the material is not suitable for it.
3. Maintenance Cost – Any temporary failure will need a supplier company technician to repair. His charges per day are 1000 and charges for AC train to and fro and lodging.
I have anyway decided to purchase one and posted about 100 enquiries by searching on web and on B2B trade directories. I got about 15 responses within 3 days. I have tough task of now selecting a good machine for less price.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
To talk a bit about my history with cycles,
My first cycle
During my 7th standard, I was pestering my dad to get me a new cycle. My dad relented and said he will buy me one if I score more than 90% in mid-term exam. I normally scored about 85%. For this exam I worked hard and managed to score 89.17%, still 5 marks short of landmark 90%. Anyway my dad considered it only as a motivation for me to do well in exams. And he didn’t deny me a cycle for not crossing the mark. So, I got my own cycle Hercules Town N Trek for Rs. 1500 from Imperial cycle centre, Puttur.
I used to roam around every nook and corner of Puttur with my neighbour friend Sadananda. Used to go to Swimming pool at Parpunja 8 kms away along Mysore Road, go to Balnad (our ancestral home) again a village 8 kms away. I went to Philomena high school and college using this cycle except during rainy season. It was great fun.
During my 3rd semester of Engineering, Avinash and I decided to go to an expensive gym for 3 months. Gym was about 2 kms far, Avinash had a bike and there was no problem. But 15-20 days later Avinash started showing his talent (that is laziness ;-)) and he stopped coming. I was determined, didn’t want to waste the gym fees and continuity. Avinash suggested me, “Look, our super senior Manjunath just completed his course and has thrown his cycle. So, why don’t you repair it and use it?” It was lying just outside my room at ground floor, I took it and the repair cost me 200/-.
I used it well for 3 years, went around beautiful University Campus, Kukkarahalli lake, Mysore city and everywhere. Since it was not the one I bought, I left it at the same place after I left the hostel.
I was on an onsite assignment at Japan for 5 months. My living apartment then was 6 kms from office. Monthly local train pass costs 5000 yens. I had to walk half a kilometre each from apartment to railway station and railway station to office. I didn’t like the routine. Also I wanted to cover as many places as possible over there. I didn’t waste any time and bought a new cycle for 15,000 yens, returned it to the same shop for 5,000 yens. Money was not a problem. People on overseas assignments are paid extremely well. It was that well paid period that changed me from being a thrifty spender to a spend thrift now!
I have been at Bangalore and Mumbai for long periods of time. But I didn't have cycle there as they were dusty and busy cities. It wouldn't be a pleasure there to go on a cycle at all.
I need to go to our office/retail outlet, shops for research, roam around for time pass, to ice-cream shop and so on. A cycle is very handy now again. It was easy to own a cycle during teenage and abroad. But now it isn’t easy considering the social stigma attached. If somebody goes by cycle it means he is not well to do. In our family, even my younger brother has his own car apart from my dad’s car. Society asks many questions, assume things their own way. I still bought one, because I thought, if somebody thinks negatively I should give a damn to him, for others who think positively there is no problem. My dad isn’t happy that I bought but I think he will get used to it over time.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sanskrit – kairava, amala, prayata, vivikta, hamsa, jalaja, shuchi, sputam, sphatika, vajra, anagha, heera, hiya, mrinala, amiya, amoha, hita
Pure in English – crystal, diamond, lucid, limpid, lucent,
Glorify - Vastava, hallow, anoint, vital, vestal, revel, extol, wallow, rever, laksha
Edible - Delish, aliment, victual, comest, savour, nourish, sapid, esculent, khaadya
Different - Madike, kogile, kokila, tuluva, barsa, ananya, peacock, punarvasu, magnet, cocoon, compass, native
I have now sought help from Prof. Shreesha Kumar, a Sanskrit Professor and a wise man. His knowledge and opinion about this world is amazing. He was the man behind the brand name bindu for mineral water.
The list of other coconut oil brands are
Aravind, Ishwara, Jeep, Kalpataru, Karavali, Mahalasa, Mangala,
Navami, P D S, Pooja, Prestige, Quality, Ranga
Soorya, Theertha, Train, Uttam, Vikram
Parachute, Vatika, Penguin, KPL Shudhi, KLF Nirmal, VVD Gold, Safal
Kera, Sahakari, Laxmi, Arun, Krishna, KV Prabhu, Prakash
Cocovida, Tropical Traditions, Nutiva, Kokonut Pacific, Tropicai, Kalau
Photo Album of all the coconut oil brands in Puttur
Also see HUL's Home care portfolio here.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
So, I thought of re-branding as "Sri Rama". It would also give some equity to our corporate name "Sri Rama Industries" and vice-versa. Also remove any confusion in the minds of the consumers about the source of the product. But the name is so generic, a look at our local business directory revealed about 12 business that have name SriRama and spelling variations. A search in the trademark registry showed that the name is already registered even for the business category to which we belong. Since we want to go the branded way, using a brand name that cannot be trademarked or used is not a good idea.
I am looking for a new name to brand our coconut oil product. The name should ideally represent any or combination of the following meanings :-
pure, clear, natural, health, quality, edible, tradition, different, sacred
Important criteria in which the names are evaluated with their weightage are
Trademarkeable - It is a must and there is no compromise on that - 1000
1. Simple - Easy to spell, easy to pronounce - 10
2. Memorable - A familiar name will be easy to remember - 3
3. Appropriate - Represents the meaning of the brand - 5
4. Pleasant Association - It should evoke positive emotions while a person hears it. There should not be any negative meaning in another country, language, culture, religion - 10
5. Appealing - The name should appeal to our target audience i.e. Tulu Nadu - 10
6. Extendable - It should be not be restricted to just coconut oil, but to say food products and other businesses - 10
For each name, for each criteria rating will be given as Bad, Neutral and Good. The multiplying factors being -1, 0 and 1 respectively.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
To spread the benefits of coconut to peoplePeople - Consumers, Suppliers and Society
Consumer Benefits - Health - Coconut Oil extracted by least amount of processing to retain maximum benefits of coconut
Supplier Benefits - Give best price for their yield, make it convenient for them to supply and provide education and inputs to improve their yield
Society Benefits - Health, Wealth, Tradition and Environment
The vision for most companies revolves around the consumer rather than product. But we base it on the product because Coconut is a truly great timeless product and its applications gives us enough scope to grow. Hailing from Coastal Karnataka we have a natural competitive advantage for coconuts.
People of Coastal Karnataka (Tulu Nadu) origin
35-60 year old
Pure, Clear, Transparent, colourless
Natural, Cold pressed, as good as coconut
Healthy, good for everything, edible
Unique Value Proposition
Our coconut oil has crystal clear appearance, this is done by cold pressed method to retain all the natural qualities of coconut to make it ideal for cooking.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
In the strategic triangle or 3C model, Customer and Competition are 2 important vertices (Cs) to the main C Corporation. So, the corporation must base its strategies on the customer in reference to that of the competitor. But too often the company fears competition so often that they loose sight of the customers. Sridhar Vembu has a very interesting take regarding this.
Why I am concerned about this is to decide how much I should disclose about our business. Whether I should open up to Customers or hide from Competitors?
Why companies hide information
1. There is nothing good to show. Showing shows only weakness.
2. It takes effort to identify and display useful information on website and marketing communications.
3. To hide secrets from competitors.
4. To keep its card close to chest while negotiations with partners/customers
It is a major cultural difference between Indian and Silicon Valey businesses.
None of the Indian FMCG companies or its honcho’s blog. This is all the official information available on a 600 crore brand parachute. Some Annual Reports of Indian public companies are so Generic that it is difficult to understand what business they do even after a careful reading of whole report. On the other hand we have a company like Zoho which is very open even when it is a privately held company.
I presently believe that companies must focus on customers and let not competition come in way of serving customers. So, if opening up is good for the customers, companies must do it.
After all letting the competitors know what we are doing doesn't mean they would execute that. If it is good and they can't do anything about it, it will only humble them. Some of the well known things like making quality product, earning customer's trust, building strong brands are the most difficult things to do.
I like competition that is healthy. But mostly it is not. It is price competition where they reduce prices by reducing quality, adulteration, reducing quantity, giving poor service and avoiding taxes. In edible Coconut Oil industry it is time the competitors ally themselves to thwart a bigger threat of refined oil and imported oil substitutes.
For starters, I am working on my family's coconut oil business at Puttur that my dad started 2 decades ago. My dad will continue running the business as he has been. My brother has been helping him for last 3 years. My role will be to bring in modern best practices to help grow the business. Expecting that my fancy degrees(B.E & MBA), professional exposures and outlooks of having lived outside this town for last 10 years would help bring in fresh perspectives. The coconut oil that comes out of our factory is of very good quality and are well received by our customers. Thanks to the skilled, committed and loyal employees and my dad's hard work, perseverance and perfectionist attitude. It has survived and flourished through tough price competition, uncooperative retailers and major inroads made by cheap refined oils.
I had told few of my friends that I will update them about the business and seek their opinion during decision making. Through this blog I can sort of crowd source. My clarity on issues will improve when I write down that too with the intention of sharing with people.
As regards this blog I have 2 options
- Start a new official blog and link it with business website. It will be read by my Business partners/stakeholders. It should be more in the lines of PR. Here I cannot be so casual and personal. Still it is important to give life to the official website and update both current and potential stakeholders.
- Add posts to current personal blog. This lets me connect with my well wishers, write with more freedom as all opinions are that of the person and not that of its employer. I can classify these posts from other personal posts through labels (my business)
Friday, April 24, 2009
Facts about telivision and advertising in India
1) TV reaches 112 million households which is 60% of total number of households
2) TV still gets 35% of total ad spend of $ 6 billion expected to grow at 15% over next 5 years
3) Advertising Expenditure to GDP ratio of 0.65% has potential to reach 1%
4) Average time spent per viewer is 150 minutes per day
5) Audience are increasingly getting fragmented into niche channels from general channels
Source - GroupM's "This Year, Next Year", India Media Forecasts, April 2008
Tech Industry is quite large, it is not just about IT and ITES which by itself is currently $50 billion expected to be $200 billion by 2020. It includes Consumer electronics, Industrial electronics, Consumer durables, e-commerce, social media and the big one i.e. Telecom. It is not only large but also the fastest growing to make it highly attractive to a media company to dedicate a channel to it. If I had tech brand, such a TV channel would form a significant portion of my media plan/budget. The cost to reach a potential customer is lowest for TV and impact of a video is highest among other formats.
A look at the table above shows clearly the fastest growth in TV ad spends is among tech companies. Doesn't it suggest that they are missing on that perfect media channel?
It is not techies alone, even the political parties are giving are giving a lot of thrust towards technology in their agenda. America for all its economic might is because of its tech companies and other companies using technology heavily. So if India is to get developed, it has to embrace technology and what better than to use TV as a medium to reach everybody in one stroke and educate them.
Critics of this idea can say
1) In these days of youtubes and fast broadband connections, people who like to watch videos already have their means. (But TV is more attractive)
2) There are already business channels that cover any important business news from tech world. (But it is too little)
3) Tech folks mostly work in IT companies throughout the day and TV is an insignificant form of media for them as they mostly spend time on internet. (Who watches business channels then? Certainly not house-wives)
4) As of now 60% of people live on Agriculture, 70% live in rural areas. Revenues from IT companies are just 5% of GDP. (That precisely is the point. It is not going to stay this way. When we know change is going to happen for better, why not initiate change and invest now?)
Friday, March 13, 2009
Users have been complaining about the large number of social networking sites. Every new SNS was remarked by reviewers/critics as yet another or me-too. Friends who have joined those networks keep sending new invites to join. It is annoying as there are too many sites to manage in terms of accounts, privacy, friends, messages, profile, contents, status message etc. This leads to lot of duplication of effort and more importantly inconsistency of information.
1. Monopoly – Internet, World Wide Web is so successful because of its free nature, no body owns it and yet everybody uses it. Merging will create a sort of monopoly and one who controls the core platform will exercise power over others. Monopoly creates imbalance, kills innovation and is good for the business but bad for users and society.
So, clearly consolidation is not a very good idea but opening up the network through APIs is. Instead of somebody coming up with a new sns to just add a new feature he can use the existing network itself. More than facebook, I like the way linkedin has gone about this by partnering with the best in business like amazon, slideshare, simplyhired, wordpress and many others.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Search - This site may harm your computer
It had flagged all the websites that it has indexed as malicious and wouldn’t let anyone open them. They had to come out in public to apologize. Who better to do it than its VP Marissa Mayer. Anybody will pardon if someone that beautiful comes out and says sorry, wouldn’t they? ;-)
Adsense – Exchange rate problem that assumed 1 dollar as 1 Re
Google had sent its content network partners cheques that just assumed a 1:1 exchange rate with dollar. If somebody has earned $500 in a month through adsense for his blog/website, he will get a cheque of 500 Rs instead of 25,000 Rs!
Apps email – Your account is locked for 24 hours
Rehan Yar Khan, CEO of flora2000.com (where I interned) had this frustrating experience. He had been locked for 24 hours for supposedly performing an illegal activity.
Orkut – The 3 photos that isn’t there
When I open my orkut account, I get a screen like this.
People who visit my profile would see that I have 3 photos but would be disappointed when they open to see that there aren’t any. Would they really? ;-) It is not really a serious bug but it is serious enough to a perfectionist.
Chrome – Is it the fastest web browser? Is it out of beta now?
It is the fastest browser in the market by a long margin, but not to me. For last 2 days, I had to open my gmail in html mode to negotiate slow internet connection. To make matters worse hostelites around me were browsing normally. At one point yesterday my friend and I exchanged laptops because he wanted to watch a movie while I wanted to browse internet. He casually opened firefox to check out how bad the internet speed was. To my delight/horror it was working fine. Verified with Chrome for the speed, it was bad. I couldn’t find the reason but it is true with the version (184.108.40.206) that has come out of its beta. As we do with any software problem, I uninstalled and reinstalled but the situation has not improved.
Reader – The reader that unread my posts
I have subscribed to around 60 blogs on my RSS reader. I subscribe to only those blogs that post less than 5 posts in a day, for the rest it is better to read them from browser directly. I get around 20 new posts everyday and finish reading them the same day. Reading all the posts take an hour generally. I get intimidated when I see too many unread posts. A few days back when I opened the reader I found 11 unread posts for Amit Aggarwal’s sub-blog India Inc. But 10 of them were the ones I had already read. This has happened with Zoho blog and Rajesh Jain’s blog also.
These mistakes are not complete or are the most serious. But what is important is the way they handle them. By accepting them, taking responsibility, apologizing, correcting and making sure that such mistakes doesn’t happen in future.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The reason I am studying MBA is not to get out of the world of software into something mundane like selling soaps, but to understand the software from business perspective or a more holistic one. Not to say that I want to become a programmer again. But to be a businessman who has a much bigger say in what software needs to be developed and how it has to be monetised. Technology I now realise is there not to show off the scientific greatness but to meet business and human needs.
By thinking from a Businessman's shoes, I wondered whether it makes any economic sense to give “software for free” and more importantly the source code and hence freedom. I couldn't think of the answer myself. So, I searched the web for "economics of open source software" and explored further by reading fully the following materials. This really was an eye-opener, I feel I have gained a lot more knowledge now than before.
“Wikinomics : How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” - http://www.wikinomics.com/book/
“Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman” - http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/fsfs/rms-essays.pdf
“After the Software Wars” by Keith Curtis (Former employee of Microsoft) - http://www.lulu.com/content/4964815
“The Cathedral and the Bazaar" by Eric Steven Raymond - http://catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/
“Some simple economics of open source” by Josh Lerner and Jean Tirole - http://www.nber.org/papers/w7600.pdf
“The economic motivation of Open Source Software: Stakeholder perspectives” - http://www.riehle.org/computer-science/research/2007/computer-2007-article.html
"An Analysis of Open Source Business Models" by Sandeep Krishnamurthy - http://www.linpro.no/no/content/download/646/4790/version/1/file/Analysis%20of%20Open%20Source%20Business%20Models.pdf
Basically, free software is about giving the users the freedom to use, read/understand, modify and distribute the software. It doesn't specify that the software should be given for free (at 0 price). "Free as in free speech, not as in free beer" - Richard M Stallman. Money is made through sale of things auxilary to the product/software like service, hardware, training, customization, donations etc. It is a sustainable model and benefits the developers, businesses, users and most importantly society as a whole.
Wikipedia, Firefox, GNU/Linux, Apache etc are few of the most successful open source products. We generally think that only those companies that sell software (for a price) make money e.g. Microsoft and Apple but there are a whole lot of equally big companies making money by distributing software for free e.g. IBM, HP, DELL and SUN.
The model can be replicated to all industries not just software. But it works best in software because there is no cost in copying software once produced and writing software is a work of art and programmers enjoy doing it. Internet is the key enabler of collaboration.
After reading all these literatures, I am so convinced of the open source model that I now wonder whether there is any sense in proprietary model. Whether Microsoft will survive for long if it doesn't open up? My answer is that Microsoft wouldn't survive, we have seen a dip in the market shares in its own bastion i.e. Operating Systems, Web Browser and Office productivity space. I will now head out to explore its version of the whole story.