Simply Living Hardly Thinking

Not Always
November 26th, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem : एक आह

 

एक आह की ज़िंदगी भी
आख़िर ज़िंदगी क्या होती है
एक ज़ख़्म से उभरती है
एक ज़ख़्म में फ़ना होती है

क्या कहें किस से कहें
ये ज़ुबान गद्दार है
दर्द की इंतेहा तो बस
आँखों से बयान होती है

गुम हो जाएँगे हम भी
आख़िर दस्तूर-ए-खुदाई है
अभी तो रूह मेरी हर दिन
टुकड़ों टुकड़ों में रवाँ होती है

November 9th, 2014 by bkbirla

Now you get it right Amazon – Kindle White Joy of Reading ad

I wrote about Amazon Echo ad which was horribly wrong but now I see another ad from Amazon which I think they get totally right. Almost full marks to them. First of all let us understand the product and the context in which they are trying to market it. It is very similar. They are trying to crate a new market in both geographies. In USA people are not used to a talking Alexa in their households and in India we are not used to reading on electronic devices.

 

When you are trying to create a category, marketing becomes a little bit tricky. You have to educate the audience but then you need to make sure that it is not just a communication about product features. It has to ignite an emotion.

 

Now coming to this ad, the first part shows journey to his roots and how Kindle is a companion in that. I can closely relate to that as that is my usecase also. I use my kindle mostly when I am in flights. And then ad takes a U turn in the end where it transforms from a reading device to a device which can be used to tell stories. Now that is an emotion we can all relate to in India. Most of us have been at both ends of story telling. Look how cleverly all features like, change brightness and long battery life have been conveyed without any fuss, unlike Amazon Echo ad. Then a song pops up towards the end which has a rustic feel to it. Overall well executed.

Few things which could have been done better.

1. How about starting the ad with an invitation to inaugurate a school in his home village.

2. The song could have been extended and started much earlier in the ad. It has a nice line. Let me add few more

Maati teri, kahani teri, mitti se hai judi, zindagani teri

Mitti ke phool, khushboo aur dhool, wo bhi tere

Tere hi hain, sapne aur dhoop

Maati teri, kahani teri, mitti se hai judi, zindagani teri

 

 

 

November 7th, 2014 by bkbirla

Why Amazon Echo ad sucks

 

Let me state the executive summary first. Advertisement is not a user manual.

 

Look at this ad. Doesn’t it look like a user manual. Does it inspire any emotions in you. Does it talk about an inspirational product or just various use cases in which it can be effective. Unfortunately users are not as rational as what sometimes brands assume and what sometimes even users assume. That is precisely the reason why marketers need to focus on inciting the right passions. Here is a suggested story line to this ad which would have changed the communication dynamics. I am just trying to derive from the same ad, not suggest another one. Amazon will have to pay me for a different ad idea.

 

First of all, they should have identified only few use cases. This ad has become too long. How about just focusing on few use cases and specially the ones which bring out human emotions which people could relate to. Even making different for every ad would have been useful.

 

I would suggest the following.

1. Brother and sister fighting

2. Wife turning down approach by husband in bed room.

3. A romantic moment created by the product

 

So in all these cases we create Alexa as a hypothetical character. The device does not come first but situation comes first. The situations have highlighted emotions and then the product is unveiled towards the end with a punch like – Add echo to your family.

 

Makes sense?

 

November 7th, 2014 by bkbirla

Logistics, reverse logistics, circle of life and a girl called Priya

Priya - AdalBdal donor
Flashback: <make it black and white>
1st Nov, 2012 – A usual day in the life on eCommerce entrepreneur. Just one thing he forgot to account for. It is Kannada Rajyotsava day and the staff has vanished without a warning. And on top of that customers keep ordering more and more sitting at home. Chaos was inevitable and calling it chaos is a gross understatement. The day started early and ended very late. There was no time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All that went inside was a veg puff bought from a bakery in Sarjapura road when the delivery boy with me went inside an apartment for delivery. The same was true with delivery boy also. Must have driven my Scorpio over 200 kms all over the town delivering probably over 100 orders. Who says running logistics is easy.
Now: <Switch on the colors>
7th Nov, 2014 – A young lady Priya had posted on AdalBdal that she wanted to give away her Samsung TV. She followed it up  with a message to our Facebook page and we did have a call. She wanted to make sure that her TV brings smiles to kids of Adrane Charitable Trust. And as I picked up the TV from her home today morning, she also offered her gas stove if it could bring smiles to kids. And I happily picked up that also. Who says running reverse logistics is tough.
So this is the circle of life. From running logistics for a margin of 15% on order size to running reverse logistics for a margin of lots of smiles, things couldn’t get better. Hope there will be many more Priyas in this world, hope lot of people will be able to give away their fetish for sticking to stuff they don’t use, hope people will understand life beyond money and ownership.
Amen….

 

November 6th, 2014 by bkbirla

The blue ticks of WhatsApp

_20141106_184046So you have seen this feature already or not. A Blue tick indicates that the other side has read your message or not. Not sure what was their motivation, but this is going to create some interesting circumstances for sure.
Whatsapp enables asynchronous communication and in asynchronous communication it is important that you can respond when you want to instead of real time. Now this indication of that other party has read changes the dynamics of this communication. It is almost as important as let us say if secret.ly made all the profiles public. This kills the essence of asynchronous communication. And since there are no options to control this at a user level, it makes this feature a privacy killer. How many of us love to use read receipts in email anyways.
 And then how about people who are color blind?
Hope Whatsapp guys will figure this out and evolve this feature correctly. What do you say guys?

 

October 7th, 2014 by bkbirla

How to make the damn thing scale

Steel_ruler_closeupSo all of us have been thinking how some of the websites are not able to take on the traffic they get exposed to. We have reached a critical mass in the industry and it is important for large internet companies to take this more seriously and also understand that scaling goes beyond adding hardware. Here are few aspects I would like to point out based on my experience.

Prediction

This is one big issue. Even Flipkart has pointed this out in their apology. The dynamics of marketing have changed. The various mediums have evolved and how the marketing is measured has not made much progress. Traffic estimation has to become more scientific and we also need to measure both online as well as offline mediums.

Testing

Another ignored area by lots of companies. A strong testing organization is need of the hour. Software has become much more complex and distributed. Testing is not just about overall functionality. In most of the scenarios the actual user scenario leads to invocation of multiple components and interactions between those components need to be carefully modeled to handle edge case scenarios. Always remember, you are as strong as your weakest link. Testing strategy needs to take into account for the weakest component also.

Hardware is not magic bullet

We can not solve everything by adding hardware. Sometimes business owners do make an assumption that just adding hardware can help but it can also make your deployments more complex and sometimes that can cause more harm.

Horizontal or Vertical

Old technical debate about the right way to scale things. But at the internet scale of things, you will probably need both.

Chose your open source wisely

Gone are the days when people wrote code from scratch. Nowadays it is common to use components from all over the place. It is important that you test all of them properly for scale before using them. Just because they worked well in some other scenario does not mean that they will work well for you. The way you use them might be different.

Performance

Performance is still relevant and important. In the days of quick development cycles, this is often ignored and pushed to be last priority. But bad performance of a single component can have a cascading effect in the entire cycle so individual components need to be designed and tested to perform under stress.

Do add other things if you think they are important.

 

September 16th, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem : बुलबुला

Girl_blowing_bubbles

बुलबुला हूँ कुछ ही क्षण में
क्षत विक्षत हो जाऊंगा
पर अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा

चाहे सतह पर ही हो मेरे
सात रंगों की चमक
चाहे अंतरमन में उपस्थित
हो एकाकी शून्य तक
एक बच्चे की ख़ुशी बन के मैं
स्वयं ही बिखर जाऊंगा

अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा

किसने समझी है यहाँ पर
नटखट समय की हठाखेलियाँ
एक क्षण में प्राप्त सब है
दूजे में सब खोये यहाँ
कब तलक इन आंकड़ों में
फँस के मैं रह पाऊँगा

अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा

ना तिमिर का भेदी हूँ मैं
ना कोई घर का दिया
एक पल में जी लिया
एक पल में मर लिया
लुप्त होते होते भी
बस यही दोहराऊंगा

अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा

 

August 18th, 2014 by bkbirla

Celebrating my Steve Jobs moment

Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROP
So I know you are confused. What’s the deal about this Steve Jobs moment and why the hell I am celebrating it. I think my story of getting fired from my own company last year on 20th Aug, 2013 is well known. I don’t know who it was but someone named it as my Steve Jobs moment. And now the question that why I am celebrating it. Look, let us get it straight, getting fired from your own company is not a happy moment for anybody. But life has to move on. You have to figure out what to do next and get it done. There is no single failure which can bog you down for life. So I have decided to celebrate it.

So now comes the next question, how to celebrate it. After all we are used to celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, new year etc. Nobody knows how to celebrate this. So let me try to put forward a framework and activities to celebrate it.

  1. You can call or drop in to my office and say “Happy Steve Jobs Day to you”. Add the music and tune if you wish. I have chocos for everyone who drops in to my office and the coffee is on me.
  2. You can wish me on my social media accounts. Here are the links – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  3. You can send me books like How (Not) to Get Fired from Your Job
  4. You can send me chocos, flowers, gifts etc. I am accepting it from everyone. Even ZhaapNow is welcome to send it across.
  5. You can share your Steve Jobs moment with me and feel lighter about it. I will give you a jadoo ki jhappi to make you feel better ( 2 jhappies for women entrepreneurs ) and you can remember the magical lines by Gulzar – Dil bahal to jaayega, iss khayal se, haal mil gaya tumhara, apne haal se.
  6. Enough yaar, think of few things yourself also

And here is a report card of good, bad ugly part of my life after Steve Jobs moment. I had stated following agenda last year and I seem to doing OK on some fronts – Entrepreneur, Interrupted and then Resurrected

Good
  1. BBG ( Bhoole Bisre Geet ) work has continued to give me happiness beyond I could ever imagine. In last one year we have done shows for Airforce, Cancer patients, Mental patients, kids with genetic disorder, Mumbai police etc. All these events have brought happiness to me and made me feel that there is no happiness like spreading happiness.
  2. Launching AdalBdal with some dear friends has been awesome experience. It is not just about how this product has expanded to other geographies, but also the process of building it. I have enjoyed spending the time together, debating on various features and spending our weekends building this. And yes, eating together on weekends also.
  3. I have been on a mentoring sprint in past one year. I must have easily mentored over 100 entrepreneurs over past one year. I meet atleast 3-4 companies every week. This has been one of the most satisfying aspect of my professional life. Working with such a diverse set of individuals and business scenarios has helped me understand the startup eco-system much better. The best part of all this is that it has happened over a friendly cup of coffee, not any complex mentoring/accelerator/VC setups.
  4. I have been able to take care of my health much better in past few months. I have been doing regular exercise and also trying to inspire few friends. My sincere thanks goes out to my friends who inspired and  bigger thanks to friends who blackmailed me to ensure I take care of my health.
  5. I finished a poetry book titled Besabab Likhta hoon Main
Bad
  1. I was planning to work on suicide issues in IIT Kanpur. I have not been able to make significant progress on that front. This has been due to some lack of effort on my side as well as bureaucracy in IIT. Hoping to make some progress on this in this year.
  2. I am also falling behind on launching another product company. Hoping to get that out in few months.
  3. I have been planning to launch a music album titled Kaash but I have not been able to finish it yet.

Ugly

  1. It is sad to see a company you built with your blood and sweat going down in a year. I still get lots customer complaints and unfortunately I can’t do anything to fix them. Where peers have grown by leaps and bounds, lack of Zhaapnow growth hurts me and pinches me.
  2. I thought getting fired from my own company was a shocker enough but the real shock was after that. What the company did to me and rest of the employees is what I call “assholeness of legendary proportions”. They fired almost all the employees who were good performers just because they knew me. Come on Bhukhri/Bhukesh, you could have cooked up better reasons dude. IITK CS ka itna bhi izzat nahin utaro.
  3. They just refuse to grant me even an ex-employee status. No responses to mail reminders on settling things and they don’t even have the basic courtesy of returning my sister’s fridge which I had brought to office, let aside money and stocks. So much for professionalism of a company funded by respected names in the industry. Holy be thy name.
And here is a song to end the post which sums up lots of philosophies of life…

 

August 4th, 2014 by bkbirla

Ten gems from Kishore Kumar

So here is my top ten in no particular order

Amazingly romantic song. The way he puts emotions in every word is awesome. The way of conveying love is so indirect and beautiful.

 

Deeply philosophical and a song which conveys various emotions tangled with each other. His voice brings out the confusion of emotions in a very elegant way.

 

 

The song that mixes melancholy and hope in exactly the right proportions.

 

 

And this song when hope is gone and sadness engulfs you from all sides. The texture of his voice is awesome in this song.

 

 

The feel of this song is amazing. Takes you to a word far far away.

 

 

This voice could melt mountains any day. Looks almost like a conversation but his awesome voice quality comes out.

 

 

Full of life and every word unfolds like a dawn. Full of life and shining.

 

 

Sorrow drips from each and every word which just pierces the heart.

 

 

The humming before song is one of the best you can ever hear.

 

 

And how can I forget this which made Kishore Kumar. All time favorite romantic song.

July 13th, 2014 by bkbirla

Lucknow Matar Tikki Recepie

10291122_10154314097205162_219069742307608073_n
This is Lucknow special. I haven’t come across this anywhere else. Making this is simple. Boil white/yellow matar after soaking it overnight. You might need 6-7 whistles. Spread it on a non-stick. Keep disturbing it with a spatula at regular intervals. When it gets stuck to tawa, peel it and mix it back. This is what makes it crispy within. Keep pouring some ghee/oil also when it has become a bit dry. When it becomes relatively solid, make tikkis from them and shallow fry. One easy way to make tikki is that stuff it hard in a small katori and then bang it upside down on tawa. This does drink good amount of oil so plan it based on your tolerance levels. I made this with olive oil.
I haven’t done much garnishing in this pic except lime juice and red chilli powder. You can always add chopped ginger and corriander leaves. Broken gol gappas on top of this make it even more crunchy.