Friday, May 04, 2007

Indian Trip Day 5: Hope and courage

Last day of BBI. Time for conclusions.

1. It takes a lot of courage to come to India, for non-Indians: despite all the real economic opportunities, life is not that easy. Even super cool Bombay is not for the faint-hearted (front-page of recent news: local government is offering 5 Rupees per rat killed -you need to show evidence with the body, but if too smashed, just the rat tail will do...)

2. Opportunities are enormous though, in all sectors, and in unimaginable scales. At 1% billionaires and 25% middle-class, you get in raw numbers 12 million super rich and 300 million bourgeois... The entrepreneurs met, all spoke about expansion plans of "11 cinema multiplexes from 4 next year", "50 Schools built next year"...

3. The space is there, for MBAs with adequate skills. It's less competitive in terms of "brightness" compared to the West, but just as much in terms of "go-getterness".

4. The hit-and-run strategy sort of recalls the 90s bubble, but Indian economics is pretty sound.

5. The Indian businessmen are very diverse, but 2 categories emerge: the ones educated abroad, who typically are MBA types (so similar to us), and the ones educated in India, who are very different and need to be understood deeper than from their face-value.

BBI was absolute fun. It's just incredible how powerful it is in getting a very clear sneak preview of the opportunities and challenges, in introducing us to super top people -as a networking base in India, in giving us new ideas and insight in entrepreneurship, and finally in helping us to know better some INSEAD students.

Michael Lawless and Aparna Dogra just made a fantastic job. As Michael concluded, BBI exists thanks to the Singapore campus, and INSEAD's commitment in Asia (as the only World's top 10 permanent campus B-School).

Today, in brief, we met 3 internet entrepreneurs (with the usual mix of Indian from US and Indian Indian), and the Indian Indian came across very well. We also visited the Number One Call Center in India, with the CEO and the CIO...
I can still perceive some biases for the Communicators in the BBI group. It's fine to me. My bias is too long-term maybe, in the legacy of a business, as opposed to a quick hit-and-run strategy.

Tonight to celebrate we went to Privé, which is supposed to be the top club in Bombay. It gives me the occasion to finish on what was not so cool over here. Customer service is very limited -and too often the number of people is taken as a proxy of quality of service. It's just so wrong, but since the trend is leaning to fast improvement, there's hope. Misery is still very visible, but apparently the Indian Nation is improving as a whole. Finally, though food is excellent, I've had my quota of Indian cuisine for the next couple of years. Your own physical abilities to bear the Indian regime could be a non negligible barrier.

BBI: an unforgettable trip, with India's premier business people, and some of INSEAD's top students...

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At 6:12 AM , Anonymous Pradeep said...

Hi Domo,
I found your description of India quite funny. I'd like to tell you though, that travelling across and understanding India requires a lot more than 5 days. Nice to know that you had a good time.
Hope you enjoyed some fish curry as well. :)
Chennai, India.

At 8:55 AM , Blogger aparna said...

Domo- please identify yourself, maybe by email:))
I'm trying to figure who you are but am all confused!!!!
Good luck for P5!

At 5:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Stop being a white supremacist making comments about a society much richer, business-wise and culutre-wise, than any place you have lived in based on 5 days of "enlightenment". You guys (the whites) have screwed this country over for 150 years and expect the difficulties that you indebted us with to disappear in 5 years of IT revolution?


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