World Economic Forum 2009 – Davos, Day -1

Before you ask – its “-1” because this is the day before the official summit start!

It’s been an exciting few months, ever since Nivio (www.nivio.com) was selected as a technology pioneer for 2009 the build up of excitement to to Annual General Meeting in the beautiful Davos-Klosters has been difficult to contain.

Yesterday was our first day here and you notice from the arrivals lobby of Zurich airport how big this event actually is. When you actually get to Davos, the small town seems to have become one large (and expensive – more on this later) congress centre with just about every hotel serving to the needs of the summit.

What ultimately this event is about is the people that come here; and the way they interact – and our start right the way from Zurich Airport where we had a WEF Limobus take us up the 2 hr journey is a clear example of it. We met some really interesting guys; two that seemed very interesting were guys from the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Forum – Rodney Hood (Vice Chairman of the National Credit Union in the USA) and Carlton Hoskins (also from NCUA). Very interesting guys, exceptionally smart and as you can imagine – very well linked. The conversation both in the bus and later over some incredibly delicious fondue was riveting and mind blowing… they probably sum up the kind of guys at the summit this year – young, bright, global and with an “edge”.

Next, we met Vikram Akula (SKS Microfinance) in the most random of places, a ski-lift which was taking us up the mountain for a little bit of R&R before the tough week starts (we were going sledging highly recommended). Vikram, is truley an inspirational person, what he has done single-handedly in India through his micro-finance company has empowered millions of people – thats probably why he was voted Time Magazine “100 most influential people in the world” – what was unique, was his interest in our work and how we spoke to us with humility… post this experience we have really started to realise how powerful the WEF Summit is, and how us being here could ultimately shape our future… forever…

More to come…

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Can Developed Market Startups make it in the EM world?

So often is the case that start-ups based in the other hemisphere are trying to have an “emerging markets” play but it opens an interesting point – do markets like India really open themselves properly for web-based traditional B2C direct routes or is the distribution strategy the only way forward?

Take for example, from our experience it seems the best route to customers is via the big distribution mechanisms and you need to run your web business with a bit more brick and mortar to it…

So if you have a web firm the routes as I see it

– bundble with connectivity

– bundle through retail computer sales

– bundle through retail with similar TG

The savings you make on marketing are huge, you get a customer that has some quasi trust relationship with the original provider and more importantly you get a partner interested and aligned.

Then matters of hosting, marketing, nomenclature, legality – everything is different in a country as diverse as India.

The next most interesting – and possibly doing a 180 here, is whether a foreign company with an indian heart can achieve stronger results in India than a domestic play and I think here is where things get a bit grey but sometimes this combo can be a winner overall since they have the “internationalisation” which gives credability but have the “local” knowledge and market schematics to be winners. I think HSBC coined the term “Glocal” and this could be a good adjective for startups looking at an EM Strategy.

More to follow…

13 days to go…World Economic Forum 2009

So it’s been an interesting ride so far – in the run up to the World Economic Fourm (Davos) I was hoping to share with you some of the interesting bits of advice and the comments people have made. I am going to try and post more and more about some of the topics that are up for discussion and see what thoughts people may have – it could be interesting to cover some of them and get the responses for you.

So for those of you new to this – Nivio (my company) has been selected as a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum – a really flattering notion when you think of the other giants who have been recipients in the past (google corel etc). It’s given to companies who they believe are visionary and have the ability to make a global impact – we definately hope that we live up to this expectation!

Over the last couple of months – ever since the news became public – we have had a ton of media coverage and its been interesting to get some of the feedback people have had about the forum and its potential. Some of our “buddies” have given us some great advice – a lot of it really boils down to

  • – meet as many people as you can
  • – get involved and speak up
  • – don’t miss an opportunity to showcase what you are doing
  • – really make sure you sleep before you go !!!

I guess this is interesting – in 5 days you have to meet and mingle with almost 5000 delegates from Bill Gates to the Chinese Premier to the guy that invented ICQ (do you remember the ever so cool instant messenger) – its a bit of a daunting experience and I just know that its the most planned thing we have ever done even more than our beta launch!!

The resonating theme for this year’s summit seems to be the economic slowdown and how it is impacting the world at large; what will 2009 look like and what will be the factors that come into play on a large and small scale..

Personally I think this will be an interesting summit; I had a chat with an interesting Journalist from the BBC today (Peter Day) and he seemed to think that its interesting that they are inviting young guys like Nivio to the summit to mingle and possible bring awareness to how the internet may be a part of the big jigsaw for solving the current status quo… who knows…

more on Davos Later 🙂