If you’ve read Vision India 2020, you may recall a project called Urja. In it, I explored the idea of creating a fusion brand with Italian designers working with Indian artisans and craftsmen specializing in different domains such as Chikkan from Lucknow, Tasar from Bengal, etc. This project, like all the Vision India 2020 projects, was designed to be a very large company, and hence the distribution and financing strategy was accordingly different.
Now I have a different lens on. I am thinking of small-scale ideas that will stimulate a thousand new brands, each focused on a specific craft, a specific style of customer, and sell through channels that are easily accessible and not very expensive.
The entrepreneurship media has a very annoying habit: they tend to only cover funding news and write about funded companies.
This puts all those companies that do not have any funding at a grave disadvantage. In many cases, entrepreneurs will need to work their way to become fundable by climbing the rungs of the credibility radar.
And during that phase, they need to get the word out there that they exist, they offer something of value, and customers ought to look at them.
Very few business writers ask the question: What is your revenue?
Most ask the question: How much funding have you raised? From whom?
Technology makes a lot of things possible that are detrimental to society. One of them is Tinder and other hook up apps.
These days, you can swipe for love.
These days, you can swipe for sex.
And people are doing it.
There’s a problem, though.
As with other Vision India 2020 ideas, Gagori was also originally designed as a billion dollar project. It focused on using Japanese and Italian designers working with Indian potters and ceramicists to create high-end dinner sets, vases, platters, pots, etc. You can read it here.
Once again, there is a comparable opportunity with some of the same ideas, but without the need to scale at exponential pace. You could build a set of e-commerce businesses that specifically focus on high-end ceramics.
I have written several pieces already on my deep concerns about the kind of society we’re moving towards in the next 30-50 years as technology-induced changes sweep through society, rendering hundreds of millions of people unemployable.
Future of Work: Utopia or Dystopia?
Future of Artificial Intelligence: Brexit, Trump and Other Calamities
Artificial Intelligence: Just Because We Can, Does It Mean That We Should?
Future of Artificial Intelligence: All Play, No Work Society
Future of Artificial Intelligence: Demonetization
It seems to me that the end game in this thought experiment is the triumph of communism. Let me explain.
In Vision India 2020, there is a project called Oishi. It’s a gift e-commerce brand that has specialized capabilities for tracking occasions for gift giving, what gift was given to whom for what occasion, etc. It also has excellent merchandising such that consumers can buy unique gifts that are truly differentiated. You can read the chapter here, India’s Stylish Online Gift Retailer.
Positioned as a high-end online gift retailer, Oishi offered a unique portfolio of merchandise catering to busy, professional, but still style- and taste-conscious, women. We served as personal shoppers for this demographic, saving one of their scarcest resources: time.
Apple holds over $180 billion in offshore cash that it has hardly paid any taxes on. If they brought it back to the US, they would owe over $50 billion in taxes. Google has over $40 billion stashed away.
Big numbers. Unfair practices. What’s to be done?
I have a proposal.
Both Apple and Google are heavily invested in the digital content business, especially music and video/film. Apple’s iTunes and Google’s YouTube are excellent content distribution and consumption platforms.
There is a slight problem, however.
Content producers, very talented ones, traditionally have struggled to fund their projects.
As a follow-up to my series of articles on Artificial Intelligence, my friend Som Das sent me an article by Peter Diamandis on demonetization and the “abundance” that will be created with the help of technology.
People are concerned about how AI and robotics are taking jobs and destroying livelihoods… reducing our earning capacity, and subsequently destroying the economy.