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Thursday, August 30, 2012



Cooking up a biz

    For 19-year-old Seema, entering into wedlock seemed only natural after graduating in home science. But she had a flair for designing, and she had always visualized herself as the owner of a boutique store one day. And sometimes, an urge to succeed overrides the need for a secure life and compels one to take the road less taken. That’s exactly what happened with Seema Khosla.
    Today, she runs a successful business in modular kitchens and basic kitchen requirements under the name iDeas, in both retail and wholesale segments, employing about 40 people.
    While Seema joined her family’s plywood business after marriage, she realized it was essential to steer clear of the family comfort zone if she wished to make it big. A short course on designing stirred her interests further and gradually led her to convert the plywood business into that of kitchen designing. This she later segregated into two companies — iDeas and Mars — with products in both priced nearly 50% less than those of its international competitors like Veneta Cucine and Hacker Kitchens.
    iDeas is into designing modular kitchens, while Mars operates in the wholesale segment, providing kitchen fittings to stores all over the country. “I wanted to be a fashion designer, but the male syndrome was always very high in my family. Neither my father, nor my husband approved of the idea of a woman running a business,” she says.
    After one decade, things have changed for the homemaker-cum-entrepreneur. Today, she proudly runs her own business with little interference from the “domineering” male members of her family. “Initially, I was scared to do anything as most people in this field were men. But now, when I walk into any formal work gathering, I feel proud when I see I am the only woman in the room,” she glows.
    By dint of creativity backed by extensive investments, iDeas and Mars currently have two warehouses for assembling imported parts, two retail stores and a manufacturing facility that was established last year in Delhi.
    But the first taste of success did not come easily. With demand for and awareness about fancy kitchens still small in the late 1990s, the business was bleeding money. “There were times when we had just one or two clients in a month. We could not understand what had gone wrong,” she recalls.
    A small newspaper advertisement in 2010 revived her hopes. To train women entrepreneurs to become better at handling businesses, business school ISB was conducting a three-month workshop backed by investment bank Goldman Sachs, under a programme called the ‘Goldman Sachs 10,000 women initiative’. Despite a discouraging response from family members and friends, Seema decided to join the training programme.
    The workshop worked wonders for iDeas and more so for Seema. From marketing strategies to human resource management, the training at ISB led her to bring about significant changes in every department. “I was especially happy as, in three months, I had found a new confidence in me. I was traveling to new places alone and incorporating simple changes which I had never even thought about earlier,” she says.
    She realized how important the logo of the company was for marketing purposes. It had to stand for exactly what the company catered to. She segregated the operations of Mars and iDeas and began operating from different outlets. It brought greater clarity both for the company and customers. She made sure everyone had their task clearly defined so there was no confusion. iDeas saw growth multiply eight fold in a span of two years. From mere retailing, the company came up with its own wholesale store for Mars and revamped the two showrooms that it had. “From just a couple of clients, we were suddenly dealing with at least 18-20 clients per month. We started receiving orders in bulk from housing societies,” she says. The company has also been receiving several franchise offers from across the country.
    Seema now plans to tie up with women designers in small towns to widen her consumer reach. “There is a lack of resources in smaller towns, but no dearth of talent. While we wish to be the support system for these women, client interaction will be done by them. This will help us both,” she says. The success changed things for the better in the family too, who now support her every endeavour. “Whenever women step out or come up with a new idea, it always raises a question mark. There will always be discouragement from others. But the mantra is to just go and do it,” she says.
Dipti Jain TOI120801

MARKETING SPECIAL...Marketing Maven .. Shailendra Katyal

Marketing Maven .. Shailendra Katyal
Winning Switch From Personal Items to PCs
How Shailendra Katyal took Lenovo to No 1 in India

Shailendra Katyal cut his teeth as a marketer at consumer products & services company Marico. After more than a decade of building brands in multiple categories, from Nihar Naturals cosmetics to Hair & Care (a `nonsticky’ hair oil), in March 2011 the 37-year-old IIM-Calcutta alum moved out of his comfort zone and into an industry alien to him: information technology.
It was a leap of faith, but not a reckless one for sure. In the 16 months at the Chinese IT and electronics giant, Katyal has been instrumental in helping the local operation jump to pole position from No 5 two years ago. By more than trebling market share from 5% over this period, Lenovo India has raced ahead of entrenched players such as HP, Dell and Acer. In the January to March quarter of 2012, Lenovo had a 16.7% slice of the PC pie.
Much of those gains have been because of Katyal’s efforts to transform Lenovo’s perception from that of a stodgy enterprise business into a hip youth-centric brand. The stuffy image was a legacy Lenovo inherited when it took over IBM’s personal computer (PC) business globally in the mid-2000s.
Katyal blueprinted a plan to transform Lenovo into a cool electronics firm, targeting young and spendthrift consumers with an aggressive mix of new campaigns and much wider availability of products. Katyal wasted little time in expanding the brand’s presence --both in the real and the virtual world--to make Lenovo products more accessible, across over 1,000 stores, at last count. He also took it within reach of the hyper-networked Gen Y that inhabits social media platforms.
“The past year has been a carefully-chosen balance of building global innovation and technology credentials for the master brand and executing localized campaigns to build youth connect,” says Katyal.
In the era of mobile phones, the PC has become something of a forgotten category. Katyal wants to reverse that. With 800-900 million mobile phone subscribers, he feels that segment may be saturated; PCs, with a penetration of around 10% and over 100 million users, has plenty of scope for growth, reckons Katyal.
Today, assembled PCs account for less than half of the market, compared to three-fourths three or four years ago. Katyal feels this number will further decline. “We have a youth-centric marketing strategy, built around themes such as sports, music and movies, to connect with this audience,” says Katyal.
“Shailendra has played a key role in Lenovo's success. He brings with him a deep understanding of the Indian consumer,” says Amar Babu, managing director, Lenovo India.
In May this year, Lenovo stepped up its marketing blitz by unveiling Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor as its brand ambassador. It followed this up by launching a slew of products to intensify the battle for first place in a tough market.
“There is a tough fight in the PC market,” Katyal says. “The top three players here have around 13-15% each, unlike in China, where we have 30% share and the second best has around 10%.” In India then, growth is less about grabbing share from the top few players, but more about expanding a relatively small market and inducing more players to buy Lenovo's products.
Katyal's success as a marketing chief may be because he built an ecosystem of creative, media and digital partners, refreshed a bland brand image and made products available in many more stores.
“Marketing computers used to be about the technology inside it, but now it has become about evangelizing its utility,' says Katyal.
“Shailendra has brought his experience from FMCG to immense use in the IT sector,” says Rajiiv Rao, national creative director of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. “He is willing to take risks, backs good creative and always challenges the agency to deliver better.”
Sameer Satpathy, marketing head at Marico, has known Katyal for around 12 years and says he has grown quickly from a greenhorn marketer to a manager capable of juggling strategic aspects of marketing with an innate feel of consumer needs. “He has used many of these skills to reinvigorate Lenovo in India,” he says.
It is impossible to write on the hi-tech industry—and brands and marketing in it—without mentioning Apple's breathtaking success in this space and how it has completely turned this sector upside down.
Design, functionality and style have all become buzzwords and the legacy players, Lenovo included, have had to play catch up. Katyal dodges the question artfully. “Success in this market is built on having a fresh product portfolio ... Lenovo globally has a four-screen strategy (smartphones,smart TVs, tablets, PCs) and we're constantly introducing new offerings to stay fresh in the consumer's mind,” he says. India is among Lenovo’s top priority markets globally and should soon have all four screens available, he adds, making the brand an even stronger proposition.
Instead, he is marketing Lenovo as computer maker with products available easily, across a broad price spectrum – from Rs. 20,000 up to Rs. 80,000.

Marketing Head, Lenovo India
March 2011
EARLIER STINT: Category Head, Personal Care, Marico
ACHIEVEMENT: Taken Lenovo to No 1 with a 16.7% share in Jan-March quarter
HOW: By targeting young consumers with a mix of new campaigns, new products, more stores, and a wider price range
RIVALS’ TAKE: Lenovo became No 1 by bagging lowmargin government deals; a lightweight on consumer front

CAREER SPECIAL...Five Ways To Make a Mark During Your Internship

Five Ways To Make a Mark During Your Internship 

YOU NEED TO make the most of the time to impress your organisation during the internship so that rather than merely being a stop-gap arrangement, you can turn your internship into fulltime employment. Some tips and tricks.

1 Follow Office Decorum
Making a positive first impression means showing up on time, dressing professionally and finishing tasks on time. "Always be positive and show your enthusiasm for your work. Some internships are unpaid but that doesn’t mean you can afford to slack off,” says Praveen Malhotra, who bagged a job at the advertising company he had interned at.

2 Show Keenness
While understanding your role is necessary, so is a keenness to learn. “Ask questions, clarify doubts and take regular feedback,” says Krishna Mohan, CEO - sales, supply chain and human capital at Emami. “Prepare notes of whatever you observe and clarify the relevance of the same with your mentor,” he adds.

3 Give Quality Output
Another critical element is the output. "Be focused on delivery of the output, both in terms of quality and timelines. Take guidance from the mentor to ensure your output stands best in class," advises Mohan.

4 Avoid Office Politics
While getting friendly with as many people as possible is an advantage, don’t get dragged into negative conversations or co-worker-bashing. Stay as neutral and as far away from office politics as possible.

5 Get Feedback
Seek feedback post the internship. “Also understand the opportunities available for pursuing a career with the organisation from the mentor and express your keenness to evaluate the same if given an opportunity,” says Krishna Mohan.

Sreeradha D Basu ET120731

GADGET SPECIAL..The 7 best gadgets of 2012

The 7 best gadgets of 2012
Gadgets have become the new oxygen. We just can’t seem to survive without them. While we are surrounded by these countless pieces of digital wizardry, there are a few products that truly leave a mark and make some people think about trading their kidney for them and somehow also justify that decision... almost. Here is a list of seven such must-have gadgets that have captured people’s imagination this year so far

1Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display
When one talks about notebook computers, it is mostly about the processing power, storage, battery life, portability, so on. While the new MacBook Pro goes a notch or two higher on most of those fronts with the quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, next-gen Nvidia 650M graphics, all flash storage and a 7 hours battery backup, what is truly groundbreaking about this device is its display -- The Retina Display. With a resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels packed into a 15.4-inch screen, it has full-HD displays for breakfast. Statistically speaking, this screen has 3 million more pixels or 2.5 times the number of pixels found in a high-definition TV. In simple terms, the display is so sharp that it may make your eyes bleed (figuratively, of course). No number of adjectives or statistics can do justice to this screen. It is like the Matrix; you have to see it for yourself.

2Canon EOS
5D Mark III
Canon’s legendary full-frame DSLR, the EOS 5D Mark II got its long-awaited successor this year. The EOS 5D Mark III is a 22 MP advanced DSLR that retains most of the good karma of its predecessor and brings a lot more up-to-date features to the table. Other than the 22 MP sensor, you have a sharp 3.2-inch LCD display, along with a large optical viewfinder. But the most notable upgrade is the 1080p full-HD video recording that is almost professional grade. The built-in HDMI port lets you connect the camera to any HDTV and watch the videos directly.
It performs admirably well at high ISO levels – meaning, the camera is excellent for night photography too. Talking of ISO levels, they go as high as a staggering 102400. The operational shutter speed on this DSLR can go up to a maximum of 1/8000th of a second and the continuous shooting mode lets you take six shots per second. There is no built-in flash but has a provision for attaching one. Let’s not forget that this is a professional-grade camera and those who use them don’t bother about tiny built-in flashes, if any. They use their own, along with a wide array of lenses available for such devices. If you are a casual or amateur photographer, the Mark III is not the ideal device for you as it will burn a huge hole in your pocket.

3 The New
Yes, that’s what it is officially called by Apple and not iPad 3 as we all refer to it. The device that “everybody wanted but nobody needed” three years back, has come a long way since its inception. The new iPad boasts features and processing power that can put to shame some of the desktop PCs we use. The new A5X chip with quad-core graphics processing is capable of crunching four times the pixels as compared to iPad 2 and yet retains a
battery life of close to ten hours. The new iPad also has a 5 MP iSight camera for taking some crisp photos and recording 1080p full HD videos. Primary connectivity options are Wifi and 4G (works on 3G too till we have 4G). And did we mention that the new iPad has a Retina Display too? A resolution of 2048 x 1536
pixels on a 9.7-inch screen! Enough said.

4Nokia 808
Once a runaway market leader, Nokia hasn’t had the greatest of runs in the past couple of years, thanks to some stiff competition from Apple and Android smartphones. More than the hardware, it is in the mobile operating system (OS) space where Nokia has conceded some serious ground. But if there is one area where they still hold sway, it is the mobile phone camera. The Nokia 808 PureView takes the Megapixel game to unprecedented heights.
While the most recent digital cameras and smartphones in the market sport at best a 24MP and 12MP sensor, respectively, Nokia has managed to put a 41MP sensor on its latest smartphone. It is not just the number of pixels that matters but what you do with them and Nokia has taken a smart route here. While 41MP remains the marketing pitch, they have incorporated an 8MP mode and all those extra pixels translate into a lossless 4X Digital zoom, which in this case functions like an optical zoom on digital cameras -- without the bulge, of course. The picture quality is better than anything one has seen on mobile phone cameras and also rivals some of the popular aim-and-shoot cameras in the market. Add to that the capability to record 1080p full-HD videos. The Nokia 808 PureView may not be the smartest of smartphones out there, but if you are looking for the best camera-phone money can buy today, it is second to none.

5 Samsung
i9300 Galaxy S III
While the Nokia 808 may have the best camera among phones, the Samsung Galaxy S III is arguably the most powerful and the best all-round phone of 2012 so far. Far from being a one-trick-pony, it has too many features to brag about. If a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor and a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels weren’t enough, there is a plethora of connectivity options, great audio quality and a brilliant 8MP camera capable of simultaneous HD video and image recording. Face and smile detection, image stabilisation and touch focus are additional perks along with a 1.9MP front camera that is also capable of recording 720p videos. The phone runs on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS and brings to the table several enhancements to the OS that make the ICS experience significantly better than other devices running on the same OS.
Samsung is one of those rare companies that have displayed the aptitude to take on the innovative might of Apple and keep it on its toes. Talking of Apple, this is the quarter for the sixth coming of the iPhone. Speculating about what wonders it will bring forth is a futile exercise. If one could guess that correctly, Apple wouldn’t be half the company it is today, would it?

Given the success of smartphones, every device is looking to get smart and so is our Idiot Box. We have seen a major influx of SmartTVs over the past 12 months or so, but the price remains a deterrent. Also, most of us have bought our LCD/LED/Plasma TV not too long ago and replacing it so soon is not a smart idea. But if you can’t resist the internet connectivity and other features that a SmartTV brings to the table, Amkette EvoTV is just the device for you. It simply converts your not-so-smart TV into a smart one for a fraction of the upgrade cost.
Other than providing Internet connectivity, it turns your TV into a gaming station and a media centre capable of playing several audio and video formats, including full-HD content. Connectivity options include Wifi, 4 USB ports, LAN port, HDMI out and audio ports. The EvoTV is powered by an Arm Cortex A9 processor and Mali 400 GPU, 512 MB RAM and has 4 GB of storage which can be expanded further using the SD/MMC memory card slot on the device. It runs Android 2.3.4 OS thus opening doors for thousands of apps. The bundled wireless touch- and motion-sensing remote is fun too and a great addition. Lastly, if you want to use it as a PC, just plug in any wireless keyboard and you are good to go. And the best part: all this for under

7Sony PS
Can a gadget-list ever be complete without a gaming console? The PS Vita is for the purists, the true gaming aficionados. Yes, smartphones and tablets do bring a lot to the table but gaming using real physical controls and not just a touch-screen is a different experience altogether. Also, the PS Vita gives you access to several gaming titles that may never be released on your phone. Add to that superior graphics, cross platform compatibility with the PlayStation 3, Six axis motion sensor, rear touchpad, front and rear cameras to create augmented reality experiences in your games and a lot more that actually accentuate your gaming experience. However, these are still early days for the PS Vita and there are very few titles that make use of most of the features above. So unless you are the trendsetter, we would advise you to wait a little longer before investing in this device. There you go. So take your pick as to which of the above device would you like to flaunt.

DNA  120728