Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Business of Drama

The charisma of Mr Sunil Vishnu K kept the audience captivated as he narrated each anecdote and hit the bull’s eye again and again. A native of Bhopal, Sunil is a graduate from Mudra institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA). Mr Vishnu is the co-founder of Evam Entertainment Co. which has been entertaining its audiences for the last 10 years.
He started his talk with a simple thought: ‘Education and learning are not the same. Learning is anywhere and everywhere.’ Here, he very subtly sent the message of knowing each other and working with people.
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be” –Shakespeare
He emphasised the need to be a man of your own respect and the importance of taking matters into one’s own hands.
He connected with his audience at DoMS 101 by explaining the dichotomy of society between which his world lies. His maternal side being the one which had little faith in his career so far while paternal one having an image a tad far-fetched. His initial education years were typical: merit lists, PCM average worries etc. While his interests clearly lay elsewhere like singing, working with people and acting, he settled with a B.Com degree rather than graduating as an engineer, doctor or CA. It was during his time at his CA classes he realised that he was stuck in a place he didn't like. This was when he decided to drop a year.
After researching about and applying to various colleges, he zeroed in on MICA. It was here that he got a feeling of belongingness. Although he faced a cultural shock, it was here that he met Karthik Kumar with whom he planned and executed first play. The subsequent ones followed suit. They got their first sponsor: Eveready from Kolkata for a play in Ahmedabad with Rs 5ooo as seed capital. And so followed four plays in Natrani, the local play theatre.
While learning about brands, marketing, theatre, as part of the course thesis topics that were popularly taken up by the students were the usual ones such as: ‘Will the Internet be the next media storm’ or  ‘Will Salwar-Kameez ever have a brand’. But Sunil wanted to do a thesis on the viability of theatre as a business. The response he got was: ‘You can’t make money in a theatre company’. But Sunil was not ready to give up yet. He wanted to try it. Aged 26 he saw no harm in failing and Karthik and Sunil decided to do a thesis on the viability of a company in theatre. After working for 2 years and saving about Rs 1 lakh each, he packed his bags and shifted to Chennai. Thus started his 10 year long journey, of entrepreneurship in arts in India.
He went on to explain his analysis of the current situation and issues faced by the performing arts in India- the alternatives, information available and perception of performers as well as organisers and finally the challenges for an entrepreneur who wanted to make a mark in the forgotten medium of theatre. He explained how venues proved to be the biggest cost of all and how each segment of the market was catered to. Often this industry is plagued with low funds and high competition which again showed greater need of better management expertise required for a venture which handled mostly amateur talent and where business models are non-existent.
The session settled into deeper insights of theatre such as relationship between different theatre players, international versus Indian plays and how Evam planned to tackle such issues. He takes pride in the fact that currently Evam works on 100% earned income. It comprises of only 7 employees and 2 art directors only. The decision to work for profit versus not-for-profit in situations demanding their presence led to him reveal the 30(breakeven shows)-70 (pre-sold shows) model of business being followed by Evam. He disclosed the number of projects as 30 on which an additional 23 people worked as a second layer. This layer had mostly youngsters who worked for less pay when they could easily get higher paying jobs elsewhere, but they were working for different reasons with Evam as Sunil explained. They were doing what they wanted to pursue and where they saw a future for themselves. Evam mostly recruits first year college students who evolve from ‘try- me-outs’ to full timers. They feel a sense of ownership and believe in leaving a mark.
Sunil’s plan to evolutionize India’s theatre is already in action as he explained. Evam has organised various tours, shows and fests such as the MetroPlus Theatre festival and many more. He has also plans to start an art school which he believes will bring a paradigm shift in perception in the minds of the audiences. ‘A Play is screened only for 1 weekend; a movie for 4 weeks. Which is more exclusive?’ argues Sunil. Some future theatre experiences to look out for are Improv(Second life in play) and 3D versus 4D.
Words of wisdom for the young class of MBA students gathered there were: ‘Be comfortable with the choices you make’ and ‘Be the change’. He encouraged the need to make more interesting life choices. He implored the budding entrepreneurs to involve themselves in the activity of business not for the money or risk, but for the love of doing it. They should keep asking themselves “Am I still in love?”
To sum it up, business as he perceived is about standing there and saying:
"I love doing this!"

Hakimuddin Rassiwala
Class of 2014

Photo Courtesy:
Vinod Ellamaraju
Class of 2014

On a Fast lane

The second quarter of MBA brought with it its fair share of surprises, a quiz in the very first week and tons of case studies. A pleasant break from all the academics came in the form of the third MILS lecture of the series. It was a pleasure listening to Mr. Mohit Dubey talk about his entrepreneurial journey. Mr. Mohit Dubey, an alumnus of Sainik School Rewa and a management graduate from Goa University, interacted with us,the students of DoMS IITM, on how to start a start-up. Mohit is a successful entrepreneur who co-founded and is currently working as the CEO of, the leading online auto destination. Taking examples from his own life experiences he walked us through the different emotions and high and lows involved in building a company from scratch. Mohit, ‘an entrepreneur by accident’ started off in the domain of telemedicine. Initially he tried his hands at many things, and his first partnership lasted half a day. After that he worked with a software company, during which he was introduced to a leading used car dealership in Mumbai, again, quite by accident. The dealer wanted to get a used-car inventory management software. Mohit convinced them to give him the opportunity. While developing the software, Mohit tried to understand the used cars business inside out and he,along with his team, developed a customized application which later became a standard pr
oduct and was named ‘Trading Cars’. This experience gave him insights into used cars business and he realized that the process of buying used cars was not a smooth and satisfying experience for consumers. This sparked the beginning of is an inspiring example of how ordinary people, with their combined efforts achieve success. Mohit preached that all that is needed to create a successful venture is a purpose. Everything else just fits if you are willing to go that extra mile or two. He also told that one of the biggest challenges in startups is that of funding. He, from his own experiences, said that getting funding is the most time consuming and difficult task and time invested in raising money is time spent away from real business. Another problem that he faced was that of attracting and retaining the right talent. He advised us to value commitment over competence and always hire people who fit into the culture of the firm. The audience was clinging on to every word of advice he delivered. In all, it was really inspiring to listen to him and I am positive that after this many of us would want to follow his footsteps and start our own startup.

Vaibhav Kapur
Class of 2014

Photo Courtesy:
Vinod Ellamaraju
Class of 2014

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

IITians on the ALERT!!!

Have you ever felt a sense of helplessness during some medical crisis around you, perhaps a road accident
that you happened to witness or a near and dear one suffering some medical emergency? If the answer to
that was yes, then you would agree with me about the necessity of being equipped with the basic knowledge
of emergency care. And if your answer was no, then it becomes all the more important to learn these
medical emergency skills, so that you never have to undergo such a state of helplessness.

IIT Madras boasts of having a one-of-its-kind Disaster Management Committee (DMC) whose mission is to
ensure that our campus is comprehensively disaster resilient and to imbue safety consciousness among
its residents. DoMS plays a very important role within the DMC, as, not only, its student head, Chirag Jain,
belongs to the MBA batch of 2011-13, but also, 4 of the 10 members in the committee are DoMScions.

DMC, IIT Madras, in association with Amenity Lifeline Emergency Response Team, better known as ALERT,
organized the Emergency Medical Care workshop to empower the people associated with IIT Madras
towards handling any medical emergency. ALERT is a NGO that helps aid this cause - to reach out to the
society, by identifying and addressing the issues concerning physical and emotional welfare.

The EMC workshop was hosted in DoMS on 6th October. It witnessed a large participation from students,
faculty and staff alike. The volunteers of ALERT are people from different walks of life, who are doing their
bit to create awareness amongst the people. Most of them have a full time job elsewhere and contribute
towards ALERT's activities in their spare time. Their motto is "Compassion without awareness is merely
a good intention whereas, compassion with awareness leads to action". This was the main idea that they
tried to instill among the participants of this workshop. The emphasis was on the importance of having
compassion and the intention to help those in a medical emergency, and not just the skills to provide medical
care. We were taken through the initial steps to be followed in the wake of any medical emergency, how to
assess the seriousness of the crisis and the medical techniques that need to be applied in each situation.
We were also provided a demo and hands-on training in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and Heimlich
maneuver, which are two very vital techniques useful in resuscitating the victims. The volunteers also gave
the general information on how to treat the victims for fractures, bleeding, choking, etc as well.

Even though people may have an intention to help, one major reason for the lack of responsiveness among
public towards accident victims is due to the legal implications of the same. Many a times, those who help
the victims are interrogated and asked to be witness by the police. Fearing such complications, people do
not come forward to help victims. The ALERT volunteers also educated the attendees about how to tackle
such issues which might occur during such emergencies. Overall, the workshop was highly motivating and I
am sure, the next time when one of us is faced with such dire medical crisis, we would not hesitate to help,
at least to best of our abilities.

The EMC workshop was a real eye opener to the importance of medical aid in those first few minutes which
can mark the difference between life and death.

Roshni Anna John
Class of 2014

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gap in the Market or a Market in the Gap!!

Made sense of this statement?? This “enigma wrapped in a mystery within a riddle”, was thrown at us,
students at DoMS, by a man whose name would turn heads in the world of marketing. He is an alumnus
of IITM and IIMC, who after having worked with companies like Rediffusion DY&R, Boots Company and
UDI Yellow Pages, joined DraftFCB Ulka in 1989 and became one of the elite few responsible for its
transformation to India’s 3rd largest marketing communications group. If you still haven’t figured out
whom, let me do the honours.We, at DoMS, had the privilege of being addressed by Mr. Ambi M. G.
Parameswaran, Executive Director and CEO of DraftFCB Ulka group, who was kind enough to offer a special
insight into the realm of “Strategic Brand Management”.

If you still wondering what the title means, go on, let those rusty brain cells work a bit… I’ll be touching
upon that soon…. so till then keep thinking!!!

Mr. Ambi has a magnetic personality because of which, from the moment he took over the stage, the entire
audience was hanging on to every word he spoke. He showed an amazing ability to express his views in
a style that appealed to everyone alike, be they MBA grads or research scholars or the Profs. He gave a
stimulating talk on basics of strategic Brand management, from the etymology of the word “Brand” to the
various stages of Brand building, from the life cycle of a brand to excerpts from his marketing experiences,
and so on. He made sure the lecture was a dialogue and not a monologue. He took in our view points and
generously answered all our queries.

He started off with the enigma – A gap in the market or a market in the gap?? Here goes the answer -
the first thing while selling a brand, is not only to see if it caters to the gap in the market, but also ensure
that there is a market for that brand in that gap. So simple, isn’t it!!! But it is the biggest of challenges in
selling!!! He unravelled the intricacies of the brand building process with apt examples. He took us though
the various stages of brand building - Brand appraisal, definition, articulation, measurement and expansion
and made it all seem so interesting, that there were quite few in the audience resolute to become brand
managers, after the lecture.

He also shared some of the success stories of DraftFCB Ulka, such as Tata Indica, Whirlpool, Santoor,
Hero Honda Pleasure, Tata Docomo,, etc. In each of these stories, what we could get was the
uniqueness in the line of thought and the creative ideas implemented to market each product. They were
able to create success out of risky, but smart decisions, by modifying strategies and going that extra mile
to be different. Overall, Mr. Ambi explained that creating brands and maintaining them is a long lasting
relationship and said “There are never tired brands, only tired brand managers” to reinforce that thought.

After having attended such an informative session, I can only say that the topic “Strategic Brand
management” no longer remains just another chapter in our Marketing 101 textbooks, but it has got
imprinted into our minds along with a desire to know and understand more on the same.

Roshni Anna John
Class of 2014

Photo Courtesy:
Vinod Ellamaraju
Class of 2014

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mergers – Marriage of Organizations

After a hectic academic schedule, a wave of freshness was required and it was the first MILS lecture of the academic year that brought it. Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras was honoured to invite Mr. Ramakanth Desai, Co-CEO, IT Services Business, Happiest Minds on 14th September 2012 for a talk on “Managing new Ventures and Mergers & Acquisitions. Mr. Desai worked as Senior Vice President of Strategic Deals and Global Sales operations at Wipro.
Mr. Desai gave us insights about what actually Mergers and Acquisitions are, what are the driving factors, what are the challenges and how important is it for the stakeholders of both organizations.
He started with an example that was out of the box and clearly communicated what actually are Mergers and Acquisitions. He said that getting into a Merger is like marrying where not only people getting married are happy, but also it has to be ensured that parents of both the sides are happy. Similarly, in a Merger it has to be ensured that the stakeholders are fine with it.
Mr. Desai said that Acquisition Strategies are derived from Strategic Business Plans. Business Strategies is the root for all Mergers and Acquisitions. We learnt that we need to have our Strategic Plan in place first before we can develop an insight into Industry.
Mr. Sethu also pitched in with importance of analytics and how various Mergers and Acquisitions have occurred among many Analytics Organizations.
Mr. Desai gave us a very clear view about the roadblocks which occur during a Merger. Where Sales aspect should be taken special care of, the demographic and cultural aspects should not be forgotten. The HR policies, System Integration and Delivery Integration are also important and if not looked into may lead to failures of Mergers.
Who else could have guided us better on Entrepreneurial basics then the person who himself had experienced it. He said that to start up your own company one needs to have clear Vision and Mission, enough analysis and in-depth knowledge of Market. Mr. Ramakanth said that when you start a company you need to take one step at a time and start moving.
When asked about how do ideas strike he said ‘Walk on the streets of Chennai for six months and you will have 10 ideas to start a business. He wrapped up by saying “You need to have guts to reach the glory”.
All in all, it was an enthralling experience for all of us. The lecture was full of interesting insights and shed light on how to be an entrepreneur.

Siddharth Agarwal 
Class of 2014 

Photo Courtesy:
Vinod Ellamaraju
Class of 2014

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