Sunday, November 23, 2008

TwiTrip Day II

After a really long night of drinking, talking, walking around, dancing a bit and all of those things, we woke up pretty hungover.

The idiot me, went off to sleep way before the other g
uys because I was kinda depressed and stuff, high - obviously and was missing my Granma..

Woke up at 6 to walk down to the beach. Salonee was still sleeping and feeling ill, so the four of us walked down to the beach..
Dhempe and I went into the sea to get wet and it was lot of fun. I love diving over the waves and flowing back to the shore. It had started raining and it was getting colder. The water was chilly and the wind was making it worse.

Punkpolkadots wanted to go back to the room, so s4ur4bh, Dhempe and me went walking down to the other side of the beach, over the rocks. The rocks were spikey and good enough for an accupressure treatment for the feet.
Walked back towards the sea and the shore to relieve our feet of all the torture and had some hot maggie and tea at the near by stalls.

The plan for the day was sorted out, we had decided on pushing off to Janjira fort and stay back at Murud for the night. We moved out of the Hotel at around 12 and tuk tuk it was again for till Janjira.. Another 300 bucks, but having one is almost like having your own four wheeler..
One of the very interesting things which happened before leaving was this entire story which I made up on spotting the thing in the pic below..
"I thought it was some sorta wi-fi router in the Hotel and we could probably have access to Wi-Fi even though we don't have any phone connection or GPRS for that matter."
And we decided to call it the Ganesh Wi-Fi ! The Spot of the trip was this new invention.. Dual purpose WiFi Router !

After a lot of soul searching, we finally found a tuk - tuk and in the mean time the duo - and Salonee. Dhempe clicked this image below.. The hotel was decent enough to spend a night.

Had a memorable drive down to Janjira... awesome scenic beauty and the rains had made it even more better, clearer, chilly and dampy.. I totally love that kinda climate.. Wetness, windy and the smell of the wet earth..reached janjira and the five of us were mersmerised with the beauty of this historic location. It was huge, and it is said that this fort was never conquered by anyone. We climbed up to the highest point in the fort and were screaming on top of our lungs :)

And yes, there was Phone Network on the highest point of the fort :)
spent the entire noon at Janjira.. and requested the tuk tuk to wait till we come back from the fort and he agreed :)

Half hour drive to Murud and we were back to the beach.. Oh-So-Beautiful !
We stayed back at a hotel which was on the beach.. all of us bunked into one room..
Drank till the wee hours of the morning and I again dozed off early cus i had drank too much probably.. and the others ended up enjoyin some Russel Peters on my hard drive.. I think they were just trying to make me jealous..
Day II at Murud went off well.. luckily, the bus to Alibaug went from right outside our resort at 6 am and it was so damn convenient. We got up, freshened up, picked our bags and walked outta the room, waiting for the bus to come..

I think all of us slept in the bus, and I don't think I remember how long it took us to reach Alibaug from Murud. Was a convenient ride back and we enjoyed the slight drizzle on the way.

At Alibaug, we had some break fast at a resto and found some hillarious stuff.. Heard of Excited Drinkss... errr.. uttejit pey.. yeah, we did get to see some there.. the list included tea, coffee and some more random stuff, outta which we ordered for some tea and coffee and lots of stuff to eat.

Decided to take a tuk tuk to Mandwa, the guys there were asking for too much moolah.. The bus to Mandwa went from the same place, so decided on waiting for some more time, patiently for it to come..

We had to literally stop the bus to Mandwa mid - way by blockin the road..

But over all it was lot of fun.. look forward to reading about our adventures on the Third Day of the Trip..

Coming up: TwiTrip - Day III

Saturday, November 15, 2008

TwiTrip - Day I

The process started a good 15 days before the trip actually began.. and everything was planned online on a site called twitter. after that minute details were decided over e-mails and this is how the first ever TwiTrip was planned and implemented.

The plan initially was to head to a karaoke bar in Mumbai and sing "That Thing You Do".. i really wanted to do it.. i still want to.. but it ended up becoming an extended vacation to the virgin beaches of Murud and Kashid.. We decided to just book tickets to and from Mumbai and nothing beyond that, unplanned trips are lot more fun than planned trips..

Salonee and Myself wanted to head to a beach place.. Goa was on our mind. But due to the lack of enough modes of travel to Goa from Ahmedabad we decided on Murud Kashid.. and I am happy we didn't go to Goa.. Dhempe was travelling all the way from Bangalore for this trip.

2nd October, Salonee and me parked our asses at Bandra Terminus quite early in the morning.. We took Lokshakti from Ahmedabad as the other trains were not available..

Bandra and then a local from there to Bombay Central, as the bus to Alibaug was from Bombay Central.. We met three other twitter pals there.. Dhempe, s4ur4bh and punkpolkadots joined us here...

Dhempe and s4ur4bh enquired at the State Bus stop, while the three girls chatted over some chai. We figured that the bus takes around 4 - 5 hours to reach Alibaug and then another hour to reach Kashid, which would basically mean losing one entire day...

We decided to take the ferry then and pushed off to Gateway of India. The ferry incidentally takes only 1.5 hr and in another hour we'd be at Kashid.. And nothing like an early morning ferry ride in the Arabian Sea with all the wind and all the nice bright sun..

Reached Mandwa and from there we had a connection bus to Alibaug. At Alibaug, we inquired about the bus to Kashid figured that the bus leaves at 1 in the afternoon. We decided on taking a tuk tuk instead. And it was totally worth the ride, for 300 bucks..

The village is more like Goa, the construction etc is very Portuguese. I am not sure why but. The houses are like duplexes and for one family. I am sure the land is pretty cheap there and hence people can afford living in such spatial duplexes and houses. Each of them had a garden and quite a lot of open space around. The roads were nice, there was no proper mobile network though..

We enjoyed the tuk tuk trip over all.. twitter junkies that we are, lack of twitter made us sad time and again.

Reached Kashid at around 2 pm or so.. We saved around 3 hours of time by not taking a bus from Mumbai to Alibaug.

Dhempe had already booked Picnic Park in Kashid which he'd found through some research on the internet.. I think had rated this resort pretty high and the ratings were true.
5 mins walk thru the jungle to the beach and awesome food and hospitality. The rooms were nice and the staff was good too.. Dogs included :D

We went to the beach for a long evening walk. Salonee and s4ur4bh went missing and the three of us kept waiting all thru evening for them..

The beach was awesome.. totally virgin, not many people around and lovely breeze, sunset, food and chai. Not to forget sutta.. :)

Started talking about LyF, families, work, boyfriends/girlfriends, ghosts, spirits, auras.. and lot more things till the sun sunk into the sea.

Decided to pick up cold-drinks and wafers for the night.. it was Gandhiji's budday.. and we had to celebrate and get drunk.. :)

Walked back to the hotel.. Nokia 1100 turned out be a very handy, the torch light I mean.. the roads were pitch dark with traffic moving from both ends and at high speeds..

What followed was opening of bottles and the rest is history....

Coming up: TwiTrip - Day II

the Girl Effect

Its called The Girl Effect.

Happened to look through a tweet from Abhilash and fell in awe with the concept.

the Basic Idea is to Educate a Girl child and be assured that the world will change and become a much better place.

and I truly believe in this simple concept. wondering Why there isn't enough being done on this issue yet.. the Issue of Educating the Girl Child !

Watch the Video... of The Girl Effect.. the Concept, the Revolution, the Change, the New World...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why your start up needs Brand Consulting

I sent this guest post on Startupcentral and thought it would be a good idea to cross post on this blog as well...

So here it is...

Happy reading.. Do give me your feedback on this..

- Aditi

Startup Brand Consulting
- Aditi Gupta

It is a little confusing and complex to explain the concept that I have in my mind. Hence, I will try and explain through examples and reasons that I chose to start a brand consultancy for startups. I am still working towards forming a company around it.

I started my career with an incubation centre in Ahmedabad - NirmaLabs - immediately after my graduation from St. Xaviers’ Ahmedabad in English Literature in 2006. There were many technology companies being incubated at the centre and it was a lot of fun understanding the processes and the way that an entrepreneur’s mind works. In a couple of weeks I realized that techies are not generally very good with brand related stuff.

Branding is an art and most people think they know it all. But once they start implementing their strategies they realize that they are going the wrong way and a year down the line they hire a ‘good’ brand consultancy to help them out. As a result, they end up spending a lot of money and also changing the entire branding of their product/company/service. This affects the company in two ways. One, the company faces re-branding issues. Two, it becomes too expensive to do the entire branding exercise all over again. I am not talking about brand equity and brand positioning and so on. Branding here refers to the initial level of brand building which involves marketing, public relations, corporate identity design and the works.

After working with NirmaLabs for a couple of months, I moved to Mumbai to work for AC Nielsen, where I realized that a typical corporate job was not for me. I needed to start something on my own which would fuel my passion for marketing, design, social entrepreneurship and the like. So in 2007, I moved to a startup production house in Mumbai — Apricot Media — as a marketing consultant which helped me pick up and at the same time try out things related to online marketing and the way startups actually function. It was a nice learning experience and helped me polish my skills for brand consulting.

At Apricot, where I was primarily responsible for marketing their online television called, we started out with figuring out the direction for this company and how much the entrepreneur was willing to spend. Since the target audience was a young crowd and was more involved in content creation over the Internet, we started positioning the company in cultural festivals and made it popular on blogs and other social media. We initiated Facebook Groups for viral videos, Bollywood and started populating them. Blogs and other social channels were targeted for publicity. Online press releases, hiring people for organic marketing and making the website SEO-friendly were some of the strategies used to market the website. However, did not sustain for long because the content was too heavy for available Internet bandwidth and Apricot had to scrap the project, which also left me jobless.

The job made me realize that while startups look for cheaper methods of marketing themselves but also expect higher returns on the effort and money spent. And this brand building business is very much inter-related to the other aspects of a startup, such as technology, back-end, human resources and finance. This makes my job as a brand consultant even more difficult. It is a process that will take some time to show results and we need startups to understand exactly this!

So that’s my story. Tried and tested a lot of things learnt from experience, talked to people and I am convinced that this concept can work, provided someone has the patience and energy to run with it. The discussion at BarCampMumbai 4 was more to understand how this eco-system can work in our country, considering that startups here are pretty choosy about the kind of associations they build and the way that they handle the finances of the company. One critical input from the discussion was that there is a need for such consultancy, which has a flexible financial model — a mix of equity and cash or payment for services in easy instalments — and is willing to contribute to a critical extent to make the startup market and build its brand in less time and build one that sustains for at least three years.

Finally, here are ‘Five Don’ts for Startups in Brand Building’

  1. Don’t try to get into branding yourself. At the least, consult friends who are in a similar business and work profile.
  2. Don’t hire designers and marketers in the initial years because it is going to be expensive.
  3. Don’t lose focus on what your startup is all about. Stability in focus in important.
  4. Don’t lose patience :-)
  5. Don’t believe that you don’t need us :-)

Author: Aditi Gupta is a startup brand consultant and currently works at the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship. She introduced her concept of startup brand consultancy at BarCamp Mumbai 4 held on October 4th and 5th. She plans to start her own company in a year.