Monday, May 29, 2006

wii will wii will rock you

[file under: Games People Play]

i heart youtube. and dailymotion. and google video. and revver. and vidilife. and the many video sharing sites that are God's intervention to slow down our growing productivity rate. I don't know if you've spent much time on these sites, but they are an absolute time-sink. as well as a treasure trove. i don't know which of the two was an inspiration, but a fellow student decided to consider youtube as the subject of his group's research paper for a marketing class. yup, the GSB gets it ... well, kinda. his group decided to nix it in favor of studying female viagra. come to think, the GSB does get it :)

bad jokes apart, the growth in video online is just astounding. See this chart at Google Trends for a comparison with the other social media darling, flickr. if this trend continues, the telcos might yet have to start switching on some of that dark fiber. one of the cool things about these services though is just the varied amount of content available, and stuff like tagging and embedding in people's blogs making it possible for dissemination to a much larger audience.

case in point: i came across a video on digg today for a demo from E3, the gaming mega show that was held a couple of weeks ago. for those who missed it, nintendo announced their latest console, the wiierdly named Wii. and you heard it here first - they are going to make some kind of HBS case study on this someday. of how a scrappy almost down-and-out console maker, unable to compete on technological prowess, decides to change the rules of the game. they reinvented the controller, adding motion sensing capability and a 'nunchuck' extension. i haven't seen it in person, but the pictures/videos i have seen have been super cool. like this one, where two players use their Wiimotes to play drums.

And, as I was reading through people's comments (it's the honorable thing to do, no?) I came across a link to this video of a guy hawking a Creative Labs keyboard on which he does a little drum demo. Rock and Roll, actually. it's about 2 minutes long, but wicked cool.

ok, back to work now.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It Happens Only in India

I saw this video on Zaphod's blog of traffic at an intersection in the city of Hyderabad. Kinda cool, methought.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Venturing back toward the Old

Yesterday was the finals of the Chicago New Venture Challenge. I had submitted a not-so-detailed executive summary over winter break, and was fittingly dinged. But, some people I know made the finals and I watched the latter half of the presentations yesterday. And, I have to say, there was some really polished presenting. Interesting ideas, thoroughly researched, and backed up with detailed financial analyses and ROI/valuation projections. There were also some insightful questions from the panel of VC's who were judging it, but tame compared to what I had been led to believe - that the judges tore apart some of the contestants in the past.

The results were announced during a reception for the participants, which I did not go to. I was out later that night with friends when one of them told us about the results, and I have to say that there was a consensus of What? It seems (and this is hearsay, i wasn't there) that Professor Kaplan, before announcing the winners, said that these would not have been his choices! So, what's going on?

Well, it seems that the GSB has decided to get on the Webtrain. We had two dot-coms share the first prize this year, after having an online test prep service, a pharma startup, and dental marketing software ideas win the last three. The two prize-winning plans were for, a restaurant locator service, and Collectica, a community for collectors incorporating tagging, user-generated content and suchlike.

Further details, and lists of winners, can be found at here, which BTW is also a good blog tracking entrepreneurship at the GSB and beyond.

The people's choice seemed to go with either Hybridtronics or BB Catalyst. The former is commercializing technology to retrofit buses and trucks to go hybrid, and they have an arrangment in place with Tata Motors in India. This is a huge deal, especially with the Supreme Court in India, with their verdicts, driving (pardon the pun) a slow, but sure, move towards using alternative fuels such as CNG, LPG etc for public transportation. BB Catalyst is thinking on a truly global scale to solve problems, and has found a great niche. Made up of Japanse and Latin American team members, they have contracted to buy used modem kits at throwaway prices from Japanese telcos and rehab and sell them at significant discount to new products to ISPs in Latin America. Turns out Japanese technology is so advanced that ISP's there replace customers' modems every 8-10 months and they are left with huge disposal costs. And, the cost of equipment in LatAm is prohibitively high impediing broadband adoption. And, they projected some really sweet margins, and contractual agreements with some huge players.

Maybe the winners' plans were better overall, maybe the fact that both of them had either revenues or promises of helped them, or maybe the next wave of internet companies are 'the' thing to invest in right now ... but it was a good experience for me to sit in that room, listen to them present, and challenge my own opinions. While I still think that the web holds some of the best potential for phenomenal growth ventures - and the inevitable burnouts - it was educational to be shown ideas that are solving some 'real' problems, and I suspect, have the better chance to turn into lasting, sustainable companies.

Congratulations to all the finalists.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ah, the Fan Mail.

Talk about finding interesting THINGS to do - I ACTUALLLY READ one of them spam emails today. I guess the 'Greetings Poweryogi!' sucked me in, and the possibility of FINALLY finding my true LOVE kept me going. Excuse the CAPS, they are just in character with the LETTER, reproduced below. Why? 'coz I want to BLOG, and can't find ANY other inspiration right now.

Greetings Poweryogi!.!

at first I should tell you about my appear, so I got E-mail from one DATING AGENCY but really that was VERY STRANGE for me because I closed all my accounts at DATING SITES, because I don't like people who are interested just in non SERIOUS RELATIONS, I have much FRIENDS from that sites but really I did not find someone special for me....

But I got your E-mail address and thought "MAYBE THAT IS MY DESTINY" to find someone special?
Really there was written that you wish to know me.
So I don't know where you did get MY E-MAIL ADDRESS but I hope that is NOT JUST MISTAKE.

I hope to hear from you soon....
If you decide to answer me I promise to SEND YOU big LETTER and MY BEST PHOTOS !!! I'd like to learn more about you. PLEASE, WRITE ME some lines about your personality, your hobbies, your way of life. I'm really interested to know!
As for me, I'm an easy-going and open-hearted person. I take life as it comes and have optimistic views. It doesn't mean that nothing makes me sad, but I consider all the difficulties in my life to be useful for me.

I'm very communicative and like to spend time in a good company. I enjoy outdoors activities and sport. What about you? Do you go in for sports?
Hope to hear from you soon, please use to answer me ! I wit your letter with large impatience . Please do it for me .


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Click for Small Change™ supports the Guild for the Blind

[File Under: Sensible AdSense]

It's that time again. Actually, it was some time ago, this post is long overdue.

The Google Adsense revenues on this blog have continued their forward, albeit at a snail on vacation's pace, march. Enough, though, to make the next donation, to add to the first two.

As the next installment, I made a contribution of $15 to the Guild for the Blind. They are a Chicago-based non-profit that serves the visually impaired, mainly by helping them prepare for and obtain professional employment. Usually, the visually impaired are relegated to doing call-center type work. What makes the Guild unique is an emphasis on finding career paths that utilize a person's abilities and education.

There was also a personal motivation behind this choice. I did a consulting project for the Guild during my first quarter at the GSB as part of a student club at the GSB called the Business Solutions Group, and the people who run it are a great bunch of folks. Our team's mandate was to do research and come up with a strategy to better connect their membership to the corporate world. I'm not sure how much of that work was impactful, not unlike this small donation, but as we'd like to think on this blog, even the smallest things matter.

On an unrelated note, I had a conversation with an author of a marketing book last week and he asked me for a Web 2.0 startup that I found interesting. I thought of Squidoo. They are a blogging-based platform that lets one create 'lenses' that are areas of interest or expertise. An added bonus is that these lenses can earn you royalty. What I find interesting is what you can do with it - "A single lens might not earn a lot, but if you imagine hundreds of lenses working to your favor, or fundraising for a charity, it can really start to add up," according to their website.

I get a certain sense of, i don't know, when I read this. I wrote, almost exactly a year ago, when I added Google Ads to my website with the intent to donate all proceeds to charity: "So, here's my pitch to Google: why not create a program around this. So that interested users can sign up to have any revenues from ads on their blogs/sites be pooled in a repository - pennies from each site add up to dollars - and it be administered in a sensible fashion." A few months ago, I made the same pitch to three people from Google who I met as part of internship recruiting. Each of them thought it was a great idea, but I don't think they've really done much with it.

Then again, it's never too late :-)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hello, Mr. Hyde

It's been a while. This quarter, I have finally come to realize what a weight the MBA workload can be. I'm not sure why it took me this long, or why I even got this far actually. I guess it's a mixture of getting more 'into' the curricular aspect of this experience, overloading myself with 5 classes, and a schedule that's so packed in the middle of the week that I spend the weekends going from catching up on lost sleep to getting some extra sleep for the week ahead.

So, how bad is it?

Last tuesday, at around 7 AM, I wake up with a start. Staring at me was the manager of the I-house. 'Is everything OK?', asked Mr. B. It took me a minute, while he looked at me like I was a zombie, to realize that I was actually sleeping on a sofa in the lobby! I was up until 4 AM the previous night/morning working, and discussing Coase, Miller, Nash, and assorted economics with a friend who was studying for a mid-term. After that, I wanted to 'rest' for a bit before finishing up my work - and I guess I had fallen asleep.

Cut to Wednesday at 3 PM. We cut there because that's when I found the time to get some rest, after being up all night Tuesday working on reports for two classes. I get to my room, competely tired from the lack of sleep, and needing a decent power nap before my class at 6 PM. Set the alarm on my phone, pull the shades, and settle in. I wake up soon after, aroused by the ping-ping of someone trying to IM me on my computer. I have no idea why that woke me up. The time: 7:10. I honestly didn't know if it was the morning or evening. That clarified, and an hour late to class, I dressed and was about to run out when I noticed something: There is a Mr. Hyde running around here !

Strewn on my bed was a battery. I didn't recall owning anything of that type, so I looked closer. Turns out it was the battery of my cellphone ! And the back cover was on the floor and the phone itself was under my pillows. Somehow, unbeknownst to me, I had (or I think it was me :-) not only reached across to the table, picked up and turned off the alarm on my phone, but removed the backplate, yanked out the battery, and thrown these guys three different directions ! Weird, I tell you. I have absolutely no recollection of any of this stuff. None what-so-ever !

So, like Opal Mehta in her now-disgraced novel, I need a plan: to Get Kissed, Get Wild, and Get a Life. Maybe I'll start tomorrow. I'm already running late for a meeting.