Happy Birthday PD

Its PD's birthday. Since I have been lazy and I lack serious creativity, this is how I decided to wish her.

Words cant express how important she is to me. May she has a wonderful year ahead and gets all that she aspires for this year.

P.S.: If you are reading this, please save some cake for me :D

Branding 101 for Digital Brands

In this post I shall talk about brands as I understand them and as they are applicable to digital brands. Please note that this list is still in beta and will evolve with time. Your feedback would be really appreciated.

This is required because we need to stop looking at startups as just startups but serious businesses where branding plays a vital role. Often, the way you look at the business makes a lot of difference to way you work.

Coming to the point, I think there are three principles. Utility, Emotional Connect and Relationship that goes beyond just one product.

A: Utility
  • Customers never talk about a brand they are going to use. They talk about the action they will perform. What problem does the brand solves?
    • I need to book and air ticket. I will use Cleartrip.
    • I need to upload slides and show them to friends. Let me use Slideshare.
  • The brands that can make themselves synonymous to utility invariable become the leaders.
    • Can you Google the data on number of Internet users in India?
    • Can you Slideshare your presentation please?
  • The utility could be functional, mechanical, emotional, psychological or any of those –al things.
    • Using Twitter helps me stay in touch with friends on the go.
    • I use FB because the elite Internet users in India are on FB.

B: Emotional Connect
  • A customer will use a brand that he can associate himself with.
    • I like Apple products because they stand for innovation, user interface and simplicity.
    • Google stands for open culture. I am an open source evangelist and hence I will use and promote Google initiatives.
  • If possible, the association with the brand should elevate the status of the user.
    • Google could have invited everyone when they launched Gmail. Limited invite was a way to get traction. All limited launches are like that.
    • Alltop gave away batches like “featured on alltop”. People displayed these batches because it was a way to show off that you belonged to the best of the category (as rated by alltop).

C: Relationship extending beyond single product
  • The relationship should start with one product and when the company launches more products, I should be aspiring to buy them too. This is very important for creating sustainable businesses that go beyond one time relationship.
    • My relationship with Apple started with an Ipod. I have already bought a MacBook and have pre-ordered the iPhone.
    • I started using Google as a search engine. Then I started using groups. Then it was Gmail. And then calendar. The list continues.
Which one of the three things are valid about your brand? If it does only one, how can it do other things?

Please give your feedback to me at saurabh.garg+digitalbrands@gmail.com

Bye Bye Bill Gates

Bill Gates

William Henry Gates 3, better known as Bill Gates is retiring from active duty at Microsoft today. This marks an end of an era. An era where a seemingly new line of business was created by Bill Gates and Microsoft. An era that symbolized new generation entrepreneurs taking over the world of business. An era that gave hope to millions of small time businessesmen, dreamers that its actually right to dream and chase them. An era when two young men can produce something that can rule the world some day. An era that envisioned a computer on every desktop. An era that changed the way we work and think. An era that made sure the world is on a rapid path to development.

For me, a computer is probably the most important invention after light bulb and telephone. It made tedious tasks lot easier, faster and fun. This is where Bill Gates played an important role. Gates made sure that a computer is accessible by even an ordinary man. He was the first person to have created an operating system that makes a computer easy to use as a personal tool. And rest as they say, is history.

From a humble beginning, Microsoft went on to become a huge giant in software space. They have an entire suite of productivity and office products. Its fantastic that a company commands a valuation of more than USD 250 bn and most of their revenues come from something that is non-tangible. Compare this with other businesses where at major chunk of valuation comes from tangible and fixed assets. For me, Microsoft is truly the first company that created an empire just on the pillars of information and productivity.

Obviously Bill Gates couldn’t have worked forever at Microsoft and he had to go at some point in time. What’s good about them is that he is leaving at a time when businesses are doing fairly well, obviously there are lots of challenges. Then they have been planning a succession for almost 2 years.

Now that Bill Gates is gone, what happens to Microsoft? I think they already see the company in uints like software, services, gaming and Internet. If at all I was at Microsoft, I would look it as a company that enables people to be more productive (Windows, Office), enables people to connect (FB, Internet, MSN), enables people to entertain themselves (xBox and gaming division) and enables companies to work better (developer applications, programming languages etc.). Moment you start thinking on these lines, there is so much more than your company can be rather than just another software company. You suddenly are playing on a different level altogether.

For a lot of people Bill Gates stands for control, closed-systems, authority and monopoly. Everyone is free to have opinions and if I could defend Mr. Gates, I will use only one line. That Bill Gates is trying to run a business. Everything that he has done was to make sure that his business grows. For me, Bill Gates stands for Entrepreneurship, Business Acumen, Vision, Execution and a Great Mind. Would love to pick his brain some day.

Bill, you will be missed.

Startups and Youth - 5 Questions and Answers

Vivek posted a very interesting post on Venturewoods and here is my comment on the same.


This post could be true for me I could change the location to Mumbai.

Comments by other people have been really interesting and here are my 2 cents on the same.

1. How do you balance the pay packet for a potential employee? Please give two scenarios - (a) You are self funded. (b) You are financially backed by an angel or a VC.
A: If I was self funded I would not have a lot of money to give away. I would be forced to look at things like equity or just share in profits. If it was a VC funded, I would have made adjustments for employee costs in my business plan and hence I would have money. Also my understanding tells me that most VC funded startups HAVE a lot of money.

2. Would you consider the prior experience of a candidate from a different domain, or would you simply consider him/her to be a fresher from your company’s perspective?

A: Tough one. I think depends on what person brings to the table. He could bring his experience, his learnings, his background, his perspective, his contacts, even things as intangible as his enthusiasm. If he brings something that I desire, I will make sure I will recruit him.

Talking about fresher or experienced, in a startup personally I dont think I need to have that kind of categorization for people. I want people for skills, not for showing off. Moment I start talking like that I become a lazy, slow moving company.

3. What kind of commitment would you expect from the new hire? What kind of notice periods/bonds would you look at?
A: No notice period. No bonds. Commitment - believe in the idea and evangelize that.

4. What are the legal aspects which you would look into before hiring someone? Would you do extensive background check on the candidate or rely on references or just hire him/her for what value they can bring in?

A: I would want to hire without checks. For me checks waste a lot of time and for a startup, time to market is really crucial. Once we start working, we can always figure out in due course if the person was appropriate or not. And if at a later stage, he is found inappropriate, we can easily part ways.

5. Would you have an age criteria to hire? In other words would you believe that a 21 year old could be as valuable as a 40 year old?
A: No age criteria. Yes a 21 year old can be very valuable. How? You just asked 5 questions that a 40 year old would have never asked. And when you are 21, you are not scared to ask those questions. And thats a huge things to have. There are more areas like understanding of the market from a teenager's perspective, contacts with more fresh minds and top of everything else enthusiasm and confidence that young people have.

Why I like mountains?

Me @ Yanker Pass

On way to Mumbai, in an Air France flight, flying over mountains.

I have often asked myself if I am a mountain person or a water person. To be honest, I like both the things. There is no better feeling than climbing a mountain, reaching the top and anticipation of the world that lies beyond it. On the other hand, a water body is all I can ask for. I love the concept of swimming, boating, water sports and my idea of fun is actually spending a day with water sports.

If it is not required that I put myself into a category but an introspection on this can be a fruitful exercise. Not that it would help me economically, it would help me frame my thoughts better when I talk about this to someone next time.

So, what is about mountains that I like? I think there are multiple reasons. First would be the sense of achievement that you get when you have climbed to the top of the world. Its like an award for a difficult task done well.

Second could be being at a place where so few people have reached. Not a lot of people think like that. Being able to climb makes you one amongst the few special ones.

Third is obviously the view that you get from the top of the world. There are so many things that you can see from there. The entire world transforms into a giant landscape with miniature objects. All objects are disconnected with each other and yet collectively they are part of something larger at the same time. Suddenly you feel so powerful about the fact that you can see everyone and no one being watched can even imagine that they are being watched. Its like being able to control the destinies of people.

Fourth I think is the curiosity. I want to discover the hidden, create the unthinkable and explore the secret worlds. A mountain is like a symbolic barrier that prevents this movement and exploration. I agree that we now have travel options that are easier and more convenient than sleeping in a luxury bedroom, but still the thought that mountain is a barrier and you can overcome is exciting.

Fifth the sheer size of the mountains makes you feel so insignificant. You can climb on for days and you will still remain as far from the summit as far you were when you started.

Sixth the mountains makes you realize that we the humans are very fragile. We live in our comfort zones and take things for granted. Moment there is a hint of adverse situations, like the ones on mountains; we realize how weak we are. How insignificant are the things that we spend our lives chasing.

Seventh the climb itself could be tiring, taxing and fun at the same time. You invariable come across thousands of species of life including a few human tribes that have been battling the mountains and have survived for ages. These are the people who have fought against and won the evolution battle. If evolution was correct, there people would have migrated to plains, in easier living conditions and would have concentrated on creating better generations. But here they are, living in tough conditions, with old tools, without complaining or leaving their homes. There are times when you wonder how did the very first these men and women reach the mountains and why did they decide to settle there. Still further, how easy or difficult would have lives had been when all they would have had is their courage and few very basic handheld tools. What about the times when they got hurt? When they got sick? And what about the fact that we humans are social animals and anyone devoid of any contacts with other human cant really develop in true sense. Would these people even bother about their development? Before I get on another tangent about existence and meaning of life, need to think of another reasons.

Eight I think climbing a mountain teaches you quite a few things - teamwork, decision-making, crisis management, character development, preparation, adjustability, attitude, fear, courage, strength. I can carry on adding words. Bottom line is that everything starts because of one reason – being in an uncertain and unfamiliar environment. And you develop all these skills because you are trying to be in control of situations. Or should I say trying to cope up.

Ok, now one of my colleagues has wakened up and anyways I am out of my wits on this, better take a break.

Paris: Sunset from top of Eiffel Tower

Title: Beginning of the End
Equipment: Canon A75
Date: 12 Jun 2008
Time: ?
Place: On top of Eiffel Tower, looking at the sunset.

Happy Birthday Divya Mathur

Today is Divya's birthday. She used to be a classmate at Plato Public School in Delhi. Last I met her was sometime in 1997 when I was leaving the school for a bigger and better school elsewhere. Since then have thought about her a lot of times, tried searching for her on Orkuts and Facebooks of the world but could not find.

Wondering if a blog can help me find her. Her full name is Divya Mathur and last I know, she stayed in East Delhi and went to Plato Public School in IP Extension.

Please see if you can help.

Visit to Cannes

A sleepy town along the beaches of south of France,
where every one has a convertible car,
at least one super bike,
and few trophy wives,
where all the "brands" from Gucci to Gabana have their store,
where everything is charged at a super premium or more,
a town called Cannes.

Wah wah ... impromptu poetry. :D

On a serious note, I am currently attending the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival 2008 at Cannes (my rants from the fest can be found here). So far its been awesome fun.

I am here till Saturday and then its back to Mumbai. More updates on the trip once I am back to Mumbai.

Awesome weekend

7th, 8th and 9th June were yet another set of awesome days.

Friday night - Saw Sarkar Raj with Ashima and Parry. The movie was ok. Will rate it at 2 on 5. The ending is awesome. The last 15 mins is very very good. You could go through the ordeal of watching the first half of the movie for just these last 15 mins.

Friday night - After the movie, it was raining like crazy and stood in the baarish at Kandivali crossing for about an hour. Ideally would have wanted some music - romantic and sentimental but its ok.

Saturday evening - Had some work. Met my team and a client for a presentation. They loved it.

Sunday morning - Slept like a log for 12 hours. And

Sunday evening - played pool, countre-strike, sat with friends and they had beer, had awesome dinner and then slept for 10 hours.

Wish every day could be a party like this.

500 and My Blogging Biography

This is my 500th post on this blog. Come to think of it, its been an interesting journey.

I am not a celebrity blogger as yet, and in all probability I would never be one but blogging has been a really important part of my life. I have made very good friends (Megha, Priyadarshini, Ravi, Sandesh, Sanjukta, Shankar), learned so many things, found an avenue to express my thoughts, made public my inner most thoughts, shared with the world things that I am really fond of and a lot of other frivolities.

I think it all started sometime in 2000 when I saw Aakash, a very good friend from MAC update his profile page on yahoo. I did not know that time that Yahoo has this page where you can write your profile. I still remember he was using the only computer with a pathetic dial up network in out computer lab.

I went to a friend's place that very day and created a yahoo email account (I no longer use it - dont remember the password). And that was the beginning. After that I created my own yahoo profile, created a lot of websites for my self and for other people including my college fest, Lucky Ali and Simone Singh. I extensively used Geocities and other yahoo tools. No I knew had heard of blogging, social networking, even Google.com in those days.

Then all of a sudden Y2K happened. Along with it came a lot of new thoughts, opportunities and information. Online activity was limited to emails on yahoo mail, chats on yahoo chat rooms, games on yahoo games, websites on geocities, freeservers and buildtolearn. It's funny how those days life revolved around yahoo and now its around Google. Wondering what would it be tomorrow.

And then somewhere in 2004, I stumbled onto blogging. Yet again because of Aakash. Started this blog and have been writing since. There are times when I post every 5 minutes and there are times when I dont write a single word for weeks. But somehow my interest in blogging never waned. I then thought one blog is not enough. And I started a blog for posting my pics, this, this and this for posting my thoughts on travel, one for stocks, one for my not-so-random thoughts, one for MDI, one for MML and a host of other ones that I dont even remember now.

Then sometime in 2005, I registered SaurabhGarg.com to move all my unofficial pages at one place. I had esaurabh.8m.com (unfortunately I have forgotten the password to this one too) and a lot of pages sprinkled on the Internet.

Then I had this itch to start contributing to more websites and getting a wider audience and discussions, I started looking for more avenues to write and express myself. Sanjukta introduced me to mutiny.in. I found what Ashish was doing at pluggdin and thoughts users at VentureWoods would be able to add a lot to my understanding of the businesses. And then I started writing for these people. It has helped me a lot already and will hopefully meet more interesting people.

And this brings me to a very interesting point now. What should I do with my blog. I have realized that blogging is one of the best initiatives that I have ever taken. And this is probably something that I have not left mid way. I tend to get bored too soon from things and there are times when I thought that I need to move away from blogging but somehow I was always back.

Now as I write this 500th post for this blog, I think I need to create a blogging policy. I need to update my blogs frequently to remain pertinent. I need to write sense. I need to think before I actually write things. Things like one post per week on mutiny.in, one post per week on pluggdin, one post per fortnight on VentureWoods, one post every two days here. Even if I dont have the ideas, I will have to think hard and come up with ideas. I need to bring a discipline in my blogging.

To end it, I can now be found on the Internet at my website, my blogs, and various other places including LinkedIn, Twitter, Tlickr, Friendfeed, Blogger, PBwiki, , Facebook, Orkut etc. Long term goal is to get listed on Wikipedia.

And hopefully reach more milestones with blogging. Signing off.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?