Startup India Initiative: Stringent Eligibility Norms

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Akanksha Shrivastava, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Startup India Initiative launched by the government last year which intended to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and Startups in the country leading to sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. Under this initiative, a startup can do self-registration through a mobile app, get exempted from environment and labour laws inspections, get their patents examined fast at 80% reduction in the patent registration fee, also the most attractive benefit is getting income tax exemption for 3 years. Another added advantage of having tax breaks is that it increases the attractiveness of a company for investors.

For a startup to avail these benefits it has to fulfill eligibility criteria such as being a private limited partnership or firm, and should not be more than 5 years of age with turnover not exceeding Rs. 25 Crore. Startups have to qualify as innovative for which they have to furnish letters of recommendation from government-approved startup incubators or furnish patents granted by the Indian Patent and Trademark Office. Therefore a startup with an undifferentiated product or service or one that is not a significant improvement over existing ones in the market will not qualify.

According to research firm Tracxn, only 522 out of about 1425 companies that sought certification under Startup India Initiative have been approved. Most of the rejections were because the companies were unable to secure certifications declaring them to be innovative businesses. Some companies are not able to find the incubator that specialises in the technology they are working in to get the certification. Such issues should be addressed immediately by the government and it should work towards making eligibility criteria more flexible without compromising on the authenticity as the sole motive of this initiative is to help in fostering the growth of startups and allowing them to focus on their core business without worrying about regulatory burden.

 

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Internet of Things

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Somil Rastogi, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

 

Currently, the Internet is mainly operated by humans. Certainly, there are miles of fiber optic cabling and millions of routers around the world directing Internet traffic and hundreds of server farms  that are crunching numbers for optimal service. But in the core of it, the Internet is a person-to-person network and the electronics are merely there to facilitate that network.

The Internet of Things creates a network of multiple devices that communicate with each other without human involvement. This device-to-device connection mostly involves the collection of data and the processing of that data so that said devices can make their own decisions and act accordingly. Therefore the name: Internet (connectivity) of Things (devices).

The Internet of Things is a concept that requires three things in the core:

  • A technique for devices to be interconnected,
  • A technique for devices to gather data,
  • A technique for devices to process that data and make decisions accordingly.

This interconnectivity has huge implications for efficiency and automation. When utilized effectively, this no-human-involved sort of self-device-management frees us up to spend our time elsewhere. In the future, maybe it’ll save us as little as a few minutes per day or as much as several hours per day, but all of it adds up to big gains in the long run.

The Internet of things will touch every corner of our life in future. One of the common scenarios will be the prescriptive medication. A track on our health and daily habits could aid hospitals to predict ills in advance. Other sector of IOT application will be Utility- the smart electricity grid, the smart meters, connected grids and sensors in windmill and solar panels could aid us to track and manage energy usage and help us to build predictive modeling to schedule downtimes and efficient energy usage. IOT can be applied on a large scale as well such as Traffic management. If the city’s infrastructure was expanded to include roadside sensors and satellite imaging, that data could be used to analyze traffic pattern around the city and dynamically adjust the traffic light operations to minimize the choke points and jams.

The most disruptive application of IOT will be it the manufacturing sector, which will transform what things are manufactured but more importantly ‘How things are manufactured’. The future of manufacturing plant will be the Modular factory units which will be flexible manufacturing factories and integrated logistics. IOT will aid in Virtual production which involves Digital plant with Virtual inspection, through this we will be able to control and manage manufacturing facilities from miles away. Collaborative robots will aid in smart manufacturing, the activities which involves precision, personalized tasks and risk in manufacturing will be done easily. The Radio Frequency Identification (RDIF) will aid in finished products tracking as well as in real time location systems and online monitoring process, vendor parts etc.

In such a interconnected environment Data security is extremely important. Device-to-device connection is all good and dandy until a human decides to spoof part of that connection and remotely hijack a device for malpractices. This isn’t a huge problem for something like device-regulated home temperature, but losing control of city-wide traffic could spell disaster. And then there are device malfunctions. We all know how software and hardware can both be buggy, and sometimes those bugs are quite major. With regard to the Internet of Things, buggy hardware (errors in data collection) and buggy software (errors in data processing) can throw massive wrenches into the large systems that future generations may grown to depend on.

One might wonder, if we have reached at too much complexity (IOT), but the future generation of kids would think nothing of it. It seems their wonderful plastic human brains could adapt to any acceleration technology and embrace it lovingly. IOT, whatever way we think about it, whatever way we think it will turn out to be- IOT is happening. Every major global government and every major economic block is investing heavily in IOT. There are already hundred of million things connected to internet we are heading to hundred of billion things or possibly trillion trillions. And it will change our life that’s one certainty.

Will IIT Kharagpur become an”Institute of Eminence”?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Shubhangini Rastogi, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur


Finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced in the 2016 budget to enable regulatory architecture to 10 public and 10 private institutions to emerge as world-class teaching and research institutions.

HRD Ministry led by Mr Prakash Javadekar has finalized on the regulations to set up these `world class institutes’ deciding to name them as `Institutes of Eminence’.

There have been changes made to the requirements to be fulfilled to compete for the spot. The corpus amount requirement has been significantly brought down for private institutes from the originally proposed Rs 500 crore to just about Rs 60 crore. They have also pulled down enrollment requirements to 15,000 students from 20,000 and keep Faculty Student ratio at 1:20 from initial 1:10.The regulations also clearly say that UGC regulations will not be applicable in most part to these 20 institutes.

The changes to the Regulations have been made following the feedback the ministry received on them after they were put in the public domain.

It is expected that the HRD ministry will be able to take the proposal to Cabinet in April-May and notify them in June this year. Once Cabinet approval comes through, an Empowered Experts Committee will be appointed to conduct the screening process for the aspiring institutes which will be able to apply within 90 days of notification.

Now the question is : Will IIT Kharagpur make it to the much coveted list of Institutes of Eminence?

The Leadership Summit ’16: ‘How Innovation Drives Leadership’

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Anshuman Mahanty, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
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It is said that true leaders don’t create followers. What they create are more leaders. And on the 6th of February, 2016, Vinod Gupta School of Management had the privilege to welcome an array of industry leaders from across different business domains; leaders who were invited to the campus as speakers for the much-awaited Leadership Summit held under Purvodaya, the institution’s annual B-School fest. By the time the Summit ended, the penchant for leadership amongst everyone in the audience had been invoked to a great extent.

Moderating the discussion panel was Mr. Mehraj Dube, well known for his anchoring of popular news shows and currently the VP of Statesman. Mr. Dube kept the audience engaged and started off the discussion by throwing out a question to the open house about what innovation means to them. ‘How Innovation Drives Leadership’ being the topic for the discussion, the Summit rightly hosted leaders from firms that have, over the years, redefined business in some way or the other.

While Ms. Sharada Rao chose Elon Musk, the inimitable 21st-century entrepreneur as an example while speaking of innovation as path-breaking ideas that leaders need to keep faith in, she also spoke of innovation as effective ground-level day-to-day problem solving. Mr. Anurag Dua- Director, PwC classified innovators as either ‘need seekers’- companies which source ideas from people and the society and implement it, ‘market readers’- firms with an eye for upcoming trends and for whom innovation is entirely commercially-driven, and ‘technology drivers’- those who usher in new technologies that disrupt a certain market.

Mr. Sadashiv Nayak, CEO- Big Bazaar defined innovation as a process of ensuring that a need or want is met in a more effective manner. From a retail perspective, he cited the example of ‘junk exchange’ programs wherein customers could bring any scrap to the store and get a discount coupon on their purchases. Mr. Nayak said that the strategy made eyes roll in the industry but was successful in creating value for all stakeholders. The store stocked up consumption, the customers got a better deal than the ‘raddiwallahs’ and it was the latter that the store sold this accumulated scrap too. Mr. Abhsishek Pandey, CVP- Max Life Insurance was of the view that necessity or sheer stress produces innovation. As a cue from his own industry, he pointed how the privatization of life insurance in India has given stakeholders more options to choose from and hence has necessitated applying innovation to stay competitive. He spoke of the growing Internet seepage in the country as a new tool for accessibility and innovation.

Talking of innovation in the publishing sector was Mr. Asheesh Sabarwal, CMO- Pearson, who highlighted how executives and leaders in publishing companies are currently faced with the challenge of the onslaught from the ever-growing digital printing. Something that cricket followers can connect with, Sri Lanka’s upheaval of the way one-day cricket was played back during the 1996 World Cup was another excellent example of innovation Mr. Sabarwal put forward. When asked as to what impedes innovation in India, he had a little exercise for the audience that emphasized how accustomed we are to our own styles and routines. Thus, he said that the biggest challenge to innovation is accepting change.

As the discussion went on, Mr. Dube shifted on to other pressing questions. With ‘jugaad’ having transcended from its definition of being frugal, quick-fix solutions to becoming an oft-quoted word in management circles, it was debated as to whether ‘jugaad’ deserved to be seen as outright innovation. The panelists were largely of the view that for an innovation to be sustainable, it needs to be structured and well thought out from all perspectives. While ‘jugaad’ is a novel way of solving problems using a minimum possible combination of resources, the panelists believed it was more of an improvisation than innovation. At this point, Mr. Sadashiv Nayak made a very valid point about failed innovations. He said that we only tend to hear and know about the successful examples of innovation but there are many innovations that fail to see the light of the day. This can happen when an idea is implemented too ahead of its time. Mr. Nayak was candid in accepting some of the failed innovation tactics that he has been a part of in the industry. He was of the view that the intuitive reaction of throwing around blame for failures does nothing but hinders your revival.

Mr. Anurag Dua spoke highly of initiatives such as mygov.in, an online portal for citizens to know more about governance and schemes and to participate and voice their opinions. This, he said, is an example of innovation driving leadership. Connecting innovation to leadership, Mr. Mehraj Dube put forward the question of whether innovation should be driven only by a commercial intent. Ms. Sharada Rao stressed on the need for branding innovations better, whether it be for a commercial or a social cause. This, according to her, is one area where some otherwise brilliant Indian innovations have failed to cash in.

To focus on making not just the product but the process easier for the customers is what Mr. Abhishek Pandey stressed upon. Supporting this with an example of how insurance companies these days connect to the customer through the latter’s bank, he said that usually for products like insurance or any other product or service involving expert technicalities, the customers always prefer someone else doing things for them. Focus on the customer and the commercial side will take care of itself, is what Mr. Pandey essentially conveyed.

Mr. Asheesh Sabarwal weighed in his views about the deterrents to innovation and how the aspiring managers in the audience should overcome them. He encouraged the students to get out of their comfort zones and take that slight leap of faith to overcome the risks attached to doing or ideating something new. Ms. Rao chipped in with how our education system should be moulded so as to condition us for facing failures.

As was expected out of a news anchor of national repute, Mr. Mehraj Dube guided the conversation brilliantly and made sure that there was a two-way discussion, with members from the audience chipping in with questions, suggestions and even answers to challenges.

The Summit unfolded with the panelists wishing the students well for their careers ahead. As they all headed for the evening tea session together, the hallowed portals of the Kalidas Auditorium stood testimony to an afternoon of immense knowledge-sharing and constructive deliberation between industry leaders who were all praise for the hospitality that IIT Kharagpur had to offer them.

Windows 10: The Best Ever Windows yet is now on 200 Million Devices!

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Glen Savio Palmer, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Dear Readers, a hearty welcome to 2016, the year of innovation! In the year ahead, we’re bound to see more innovations, better technology, especially on the front of computing technology, where brilliantly coded apps will deliver productivity and entertainment experiences across a wide range of devices.

In the second week of this new year, I would like to write about a technology which has taken the world by storm: Windows 10 and its incredible devices. It is Microsoft’s operating system which can run on virtually any device, be it our laptops, tablets, phones, robotic development boards, or even futuristic holographic computers such as HoloLens. Microsoft has set a goal of seeing Windows 10 active on more than one billion devices, and the fact that it has achieved 20% of that huge number within five months is no mean feat.

The past decade was all about enabling mobility of the device. All tech companies focussed on building devices which were thinner, lighter and faster than their predecessors. However, Windows 10 changes way the tech game is being played. It’s no longer about the device, it is all about the consumer. The device needn’t be mobile, but the consumer’s experience is. Any tech-savvy individual in 2016 uses a variety of devices, such as laptops, tablets, phones, fitness trackers, smart televisions, smart watches…the list just goes on. The idea of having a unified, familiar experience on all of these devices, with the ability to start one’s work on device and effortlessly finish it on another device is what drives the efforts behind Windows 10. This idea was first floated by Microsoft CEO Mr. Satya Nadella 2 years ago in 2014. Quoting his words, “To me, when we say mobile first, it’s not the mobility of the device, it’s actually the mobility of the individual experience”.

Despite its initial success, several apprehensions have been cast on Windows 10’s sustainability and its long-term adoption. In my opinion, Windows 10 is poised not only to be Windows’ most successful version, but the most loved one as well. The reasons why I firmly believe in this are:

  • Statistics: Windows 10 is on the fastest growth path of any version of Windows, outpacing Windows 7 by nearly 140% and Windows 8 by nearly 400%
  • Cortana: Microsoft’s virtual personal assistant is a feather in Windows 10’s cap. It provides the operating system a unique personality of its own and enables the user to connect with the OS on a personal level, driving up customer engagement and retention. In the past five months, 2.5 billion questions have been asked on Cortana.
  • Windows Hello: Gone are the days of the password. Windows 10 introduces the highest realms of security with the Windows Hello feature. This supports unlocking your computer using a fingerprint scanner, your voice, or better still, just by looking at it! This eliminates all security qualms held previously by businesses and enterprises, and gives them the leeway to embrace this new version of Windows. Since businesses are Microsoft’s largest target segment, it is bound to lead to success.
  • Direct X 12: This technology enables PC users to make the full of the capabilities of their graphics hardware. The end results of this are ultra high-definition video editing, high-resolution gaming, and detailed 3D modelling. These capabilities bring many new customers to the table.
Thus, Windows 10 is not only here to stay, but is poised to revolutionize the way we do things. Lets make the best use of the latest advances in technology and achieve more in life!

Amazon Exclusives – Marketplace for New Gadgets & Innovations

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Manchi Vamsi Krishna, MBA 2014-16, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.

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Amazon just launched a new store called Amazon Exclusives that features new innovations from up and coming brands. The store basically showcases products from new innovators which are featured by some of the shows like “Shark Tank”.

According to CNBC, the new marketplace will give the customers a “first look” at the products from up-and-coming brands which have made their mark on crowdfunding campaigns. In a company press release, VP of Amazon Marketplace Mr. Peter Faricy said, “Our mission on behalf of customers is to make Amazon the destination for brands and innovators to launch and sell their products, providing our customers early access to new products.”

The products available on the store cannot be sold through a third party store or website. They are only available through Amazon, or through the product company’s direct website or store. As written in LA Times, this is a win-win situation for everyone as the customers get to about the latest products that they might otherwise have not known and the products get a huge exposure boost.

Michael Hsu, CFO at Peri, which makes an iPhone case which doubles as a speaker said, “From a business perspective, the new store is nirvana for a new brand, and the end result is Amazon’s customers will have access sooner to cooler products.”

One major advantage for the customer is that the orders are Fulfilled by Amazon and not by the seller as is generally the case. Hence, all the orders would be eligible for Free 2-day shipping for Prime members.

This is a new strategy from Amazon and a quite interesting one too. This increases the target customers of Amazon. If nothing else, it  gives customers the belief that Amazon just does not sell major consumer goods and is willing to go out there and find new and innovative products that are grabbing customer attention.

Sources:

CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102495880

LA Times: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102495880

Money Talks News: http://www.moneytalksnews.com/amazon-launches-store-showcasing-new-gadgets-and-inventions/

Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.in/Amazon-launched-a-new-store-to-sell-products-from-Shark-Tank-and-other-exclusive-items/articleshow/46531805.cms