Thought of Idea came when a FB friend said that it was just yesterday that we celebrated new year and its March already. All the resolutions we made have been forgotten though. Made me think of why do people loose focus on the resolutions that they make every year. Can technology and /or social media apps help them keep the focus on? And the answer is potentially yes. Technology can do two things
- Keep reminding the person of the goal, let them not forget it
- Create a public / peer pressure on them by making them commit to the resolution trackable by their friends online ( this has to be optional of course)
Let me take an example of something that I think is the most common resolution: Say a lady has made a resolution to eat healthier and hence loose weight. With a combination of SMS / E-Mail / Tweet / FB update she can be reminded on a weekend morning to go shop for fruits and vegetables for the week. On a daily basis she can be reminded of drinking 8 glasses of water, of eating the fruit at 11:00 AM, go for a walk. There can be some kind of tracking saying that you have not done this or you have done this well that can be shared with the family and friends. If people are inspired that inspires her back. A feature can be built to add sub-resolutions to the main resolution e.g. now that I have started eating fruits, I want to start doing Yoga, now that my Yoga routine is set, I want to do swimming on weekends.
Revenue Model – I think if designed well, people would be willing to buy the App, there may be ad revenue of complimentary products. I have not done the calculations of financial model, so some thinking is required there.
My inspiration for this idea came from the website Ohlife.com , that helped me write a daily diary, something I did not achieve ever in my life inspite of keeping a diary next to my bed. Since the day I signed up with them, I have not missed writing my diary. So, some reminders, some nudging helps till it becomes a routine, a ritual for you.
Most travel economy based countries / regions have one major revenue stream of travel shopping, a lot of which involves picking up souvenirs and mementos by the tourists. In mature travel economies there are players who design travel merchandise and keep coming up with new idea in tune with the times and the tastes of the visitors.
India is yet to catch on to this trend. I see a huge opportunity in developing tourist friendly merchandize that people can take back with them. India, though not dependent on tourism , still has substantial numbers of domestic and foreign tourists. Absolute numbers are not small. On the other hand the variety of local arts and crafts that can be potential candidates for merchandize is huge. Need is to come out with a reliable brand that designs, manufactures, packages and distributes these items through a reliable network with a reliable quality.
Design is the most important aspect of this idea, followed by quality. There are too many crafts that are being sold outside tourist monuments, but they have not changed since I can remember. The same Kashmiri shawls and Kaftans are sold even in the sultry south. Design elements need to blend the modern utility with the ethnic aesthetics and come out with products that will make the visitors pick them up for themselves and for their family and friends.
Where to start, which products to begin with a question that needs debate and discussion as the choices are infinite. Weather you should ‘buy or make’ is another decision that needs a business plan level of research to decide weather you want to pick up a range of products and then manage the end to end supply chain or you want to source products from various other entrepreneurs based on your designs and quality parameters. Where to start geographically is again something you decide based on where you are or where you think the market is best.
This is a Brick & Mortar idea and has to be executed on the ground, as travel merchandize is purchased while traveling and rarely would people buy it online after they have returned home.
If someone wants to pick up and work on this idea, I will share with you the list of potential merchandise that I have created over many years and many travels.
Now this may be the most bizarre and whacky idea from by stable, as I am not a fashion expert nor a garment expert, but then sometimes ideas come to us and we must share them for people who can probably do something about them.
Yesterday, while going through the displays of tribal museum in Hyderabad India, I came across Jackets, Hats and long coats made out of levaes. I was told these are leaves of Adda tree. The leaves were closely packed to make thick fabric and stitched together with straws. There was absolutely no manufactured item here and everything comes from the Jungle.
Idea is to decipher this technique of making garments from tribal communities, and add a design to suit the sensibilities of your clientele and make truly organic and natural fabrics. The leaves were a dull green grey color, the color of dried leaves, but I am sure with a tinge of innovation, colors tones can be brought in. Though tribals make the basic garments for their consumption, I am sure our creative designers can make various things including accessories from leaves.
Challenges may involve scaling up the operations that would depend on the availability of leaves and durability of the product.
Eager to hear the responses to this.
I received a Neem powder based tooth powder from a friend and after trying it for couple of days only I felt fresh, gums were happier and there was a sense of not putting chemicals in the mouth first thing in the morning. Traditionally people in India used to chew a twig from Neem tree to clean the teeth and mouth in general in the morning.
Neem tree grows almost across the country and grows pretty fast. Best option would be if people could go to the nearest tree and pick a twig and use it, but given our densely populated urban centers that can not have trees or not enough trees for the population. So I think there can be a business case for packaging these and making them available at retail stores.
This may be a good idea for organic products manufactures, but the idea is so simple that it can be picked up by anyone. As idea exists in my mind today, it does not look like a high investment option, but this needs to be thought through.
Innovation would be required in packaging and them marketing it, getting people back to it to it.
Organic India and Neemfoundation gives more information about this native and medicinal tree.
A few months back Times of India stole a picture from my travel blog and even after repeatedly writing to them they refused to compensate me for the picture. I am still pursuing the case with agencies like PCI and if required will go to the court soon. Last 4 months have been an immense learning in terms of legal processes and the apprehensions that we as common people in India have in approaching the courts. I also came in touch with many individual professionals who are also fighting a similar battle with one or the other media house, and this idea comes from the collective helplessness of common citizens when they fight for their rights against a corporate giant or a government agency.
Idea is to have a law firm that can take up these cases for general public at no or some nominal cost but take a part of the compensation that the individual gets as per the court orders. Now I am not too sure about the legality of this but I know that a lot of people will be willing to share the compensation but are too scared to put in there good money after the money they have already lost in the process.
Given the number of such cases, the market potential of the idea is huge. You can bring in complete transparency by publishing these cases online and report on the progress made on them. Give the agencies an option to settle out of court if they and the client want, and still take your share of the compensation. There may be a risk associated to the extent that cases sometime can take a lot of time and your client may not get compensated at all, but I think the law of averages would work and numbers would work out eventually.
Can some lawyers reading this add to this idea or critique this idea?
Today most service providing consumer organizations are facing a deadlock with lot of consumers who are not happy with their complaints. They have their dedicated customer care units, but all they do is send you an automated e-mail saying ‘Assuring you of best of our servives’ while they do not even understand the problem. Customers keep writing, sometimes they get the calls from various people in the organization who only say ‘I will get back to you’ and your problem remains where it is. Most of these problems are systemic issues in the organizations which they are either not aware of or try to ignore the scale or impact of the complaint.
A case in point is Airtel. You can get a connection with required documentation, but try giving up that connection. Almost impossible. You fill the forms, you write e-mails, you tell them s strict NO on their persuasion calls, but they do not disconnect and keep sending you the bills long after you have moved from the city and have not used their services. Many customers across the country have faced this problem. The key problem is there is no SLA on disconnecting. In their bid to maintain the number of subscribers they do not want you to give up their services. But that does mean they do not have a documented process to do so.
Idea is to create a problem that understands problems from customers and based on the collective problem asks the company to sort it out in a given time frame. This idea has been tried by Govt, but failed miserbaly. they in fact wanted to charge the brands to provide this service, and apparently brands were willing to pay. They could not get the right momentum going on this initiative and hence never took off.
I propose a slightly different version of the same complaints portal – Sign up with few brands – Telecom companies and large private Banks would be a good beginning. Use the social media to get complaints – when consumers are suffering they will hold on to any straw handed to them. And see if you can be the mediator between the consumer and the company. Works well for everyone, consumers do not have to take a legal recourse which is expensive and time taking, companies can sort out their issues peacefully while improving their internal systems.
There are smaller organizations doing it in a small and specialized way, like The Hoot that takes complaints against media misconduct and tries to get them sorted.
This can be a non-profit idea, or you can charge the brands a bit for each complaint that you take to them. This idea requires some knowledge of law, consumer rights, knowledge of focussed organizations working in some niche areas and operating processes of business organizations. This needs to be tested as you are trying to make a business model based on disputes and complaints.
I am happy to announce that entrepreneur Prateek Narang has picked up the experience gifting idea and is working on it.
The concept of gifting and the nature of gifts has changed over time. When we were kids, we wanted games and clothes, when we were teenagers it was all about greeting cards, then came the age of flowers and chocolates, then books and now you have to really think hard to find a gift for most people. The current trend is moving towards gifting experiences as with reasonable levels of affluence people often like to choose their own stuff. Gift vouchers are there, but they are very impersonal and formal, they are like saying take this money and buy yourself whatever you want – works for formal relationships.
Experience gifting can be personal gift, tailor made for the person and the occasion to make the receiver feel special or gift them something that they may not buy for themselves. Let me give you some examples:
- Gift your parents a luxury dinner on their birthdays / anniversary. Have them picked up from home, dinner served and dropped back. Yo should be able to design it sitting anywhere with your favorite restaurant and have it delivered on the given date.
- Gift your better half a spa treatment at the best spa in town
- Gift your amateur photograph friend a photography workshop by best known photographer
- Gift a culinary workshop as a wedding gift to your friends
- Gift a custom designed treasure hunt to all the kids at a family gathering
- Gift a custom made vacation to your friends / family
Ideas are infinite.
Can you setup a website, that will let people gift experiences in collaboration with the service providers of these gifts? If you think it is a good idea, talk to me.
In this time and age, repairs is becoming a vanishing concept. It is difficult to find someone who can repairs your clothes, shoes, household goods specially in the upcoming areas dominated by shopping malls. At the same time repair is something that is needed to keep the green cause moving. If you can setup a center for all kinds of repairs say:
- Tailoring – including repairing broken shoes, bags, curtain rings, changing sofa covers etc
- Appliances repair – maintenance of mixers, iron boxes, TV
- Home needs – Plumbing Services, Carpentry services, painting job
If you can provide this at a single point of contact, you would be a big hit. Trick would be to provide reliable and dependable service. If you can establish a pool of trained or skilled service providers, there would be no dearth of customers. Challenge would be manage such a pool and run them professionally. Customers will be willing to pay and even give you time to serve if the service is dependable.
You can either target it for urban upper middle class, and work on a low volume high margin model or for the large middle and lower middle class with high volume low margins.
Another variation of this could be a working women’s aid, all the help that she needs for running her house.
Tea is a basic India beverage. Most Indian love to have it, as a matter of habit, as a rejuvenator while breaking, as a company when they gossip with friends and sometimes without any reason. In the new India that is being built, Coffee Chains have cropped up in every nook and corner but they do not serve the basic chai, and even if they serve it comes at atrocious prices.
Can someone think of a basic tea stall that is neat and clean and serves the basic tea, may be a bit customized on the spot for the customer like letting them choose their favorite flavor.The cost involved is too much, skill required is available or can be easily acquired and there are no entry barriers as such. There can be two formats that tI can think of at the moment – one a small stall, very similar to the roadside stalls that we all use, but neat and clean with glasses or cups properly washed and dried before every use. Second is a chain like Cafe Coffee Day or Barista, that can be a bit higher end with proper branding, something like Cha Bars at Oxford book stores. This may require some capital, some planning and a long term strategy, but stalls is something that can be done at a very small level too to begin with. I would love to see these stalls in all shopping malls where getting a cup of tea is almost impossible and this is a place you really need when you are tired of shopping, when you have to wait while your other family members shop or when you have to just wait for someone whom you plan to meet there. I think even a small stall serving basic chai in a neat and clean environment can do toms of business in shopping malls and in similar urban areas.
I heard of couple of such experiments in bangalore malls but am yet to see how they are doing. Any ideas?