Sunday, August 17, 2008

Just a few hours back I wrote that I cant think of a topic to write and here I am..ready with a new blog ! So what changed during the last few hours. Well nothing much, just had a plate of pani puri from my new found favourite joint called Tip-Top located at Thane station. The beauty of eating pani puri there is that he serves it chilled ! Reminds me of the chilled pani puri I used to eat at Julelal (in Mulund) followed by hot gulab jamun...Gosh..that was years back.....

The buzz word today is enterpreneurship.

1) The Indian economy seems to be slowing down but Adi Godrej feels that India would continue to grow because we have a tremendous 'enterpreneurial' spirit.
2) Every B School today has either an elective in 'enterpreneurial' management or have set up 'E'-cells.
3) Everyone wants to quit his/her job and start his own venture. (I want to let my E-spirits flowing!!)
4) They say in the long run India would do better than China..ya you guessed it right, because the 'E' thing is more ingrained in us.

The other day I was wondering how I never came up with a B Plan during my 2 years of schooling. It was then that I realized that I never came up with a plan (on paper), neither didI 'work the numbers', but yes I actually have experience in starting my own venture and running it successfully. Way way back..I was in Class 6 then !

I can't recollect if it was the winter or summer break. But what I distinctly remember is that we used to have excellent soft ball cricket matches during the day, spread over two sessions. We used to play from 10.00 am to around 12.30, then break for lunch and then reassemble at around 5 in the evening for the second session. The interval was used for rest, recuperation and some reading. While our post match discussions where the talks would initially be about some shot that could have been played better or some catch that was spilled it would eventually end with discussing which book we were planning to read during the break. (Predominantly Tinkle, Chandamama, Hardy Boys etc).

It was during one such discussion that we came up with the idea saying 'Why dont we start our own small library?" . We had the most thing required to start a library - BOOKS. If we could lend books to people for an x amount per day and keep it running for the duration of the vaccation we could end up with a decent amount. So the three of us came together to take this idea forward. It was a grand success and I remember we ended up collecting some 200 odd Rs (which was huge)
Trying to reflect on some of the key things that helped us make this venture successful.

a. Complementary product offerings: Two of us had a lot of books and the best part was there was hardly any overlap. My forte was English books (quick reads and a collection of Tell Me Why types) while the other one (lets call him V) had a similar collection of Marathi books. (Which was very important since a lot of students in Thane still preferred reading books in their mother tounge, which was Marathi).

b. Place: The third guy (lets call him 'W') provided the ideal location for the library. His house was in the ground floor and we used his balcony to display all the books. His building was also strategically located, people passing by could get a glimpse of what was on offer. Every morning we used to arrange/rearrange the books to ensure that the display was perfect, before heading out for our cricket match.

c. Promotion: The time interval between the idea striking us and the actual launch was I guess 2 or 3 days. We got together, decided a name for the library, designed a huge banner (all home made, we did not get VC funding !!! ). We called it TimePass Library. One gentleman who was passing by stopped and asked us to play loud music the day we were planning the launch. He said, this would attract a lot of initial attention which was crucial for the success. We were too young to understand the management principles behind these, but did it as we felt it would work! And ya it did.

d. Price: We priced our books beautifully. You could walk in the morning, pick up a copy of the latest Tinkle for Rs 2/- read and return the next day. After the initial few days we knew which were the fast moving ones and based on that readjusted the time for which customers could keep the books with them. There were also some books which were very expensive. We did not allow the customers to take it along with them, but asked them to sit there and read.

Everything mentioned above is 100% true. I can recall the goodwill it generated in the society with everyone chipping in with ideas. We had a notebook where at the end of the day we used to calculate our turnover !

Somehow, somehow in the hustle-bustle, hurry-burry life, I had forgotten this incident. Today I can easily say that it stands out as one of the highlights ! If..if I decide to start a book store of my own, I know I have something to reflect and look back on. !
My last post was 4 months back. Does not mean that I was terrifically busy, but just that never felt like logging in and writing. Infact this is the first time in 4 months that I opened my blog ! The only thing to write about in the last 4 months has been the convocation experience. Before we knew it came and it zoomed by and I was back in office ! Still waiting for something inspiring, could be a thought, an idea, something I see while commuting to workplace..something to strike....Else...struggling to think about something to write .....................