In the Zone

I had a talk at IIT Hyderabad recently about entrepreneurship and what it takes to take the plunge finally. None of the entrepreneurs have a concrete answer to this question. The reasons are different for each entrepreneur and so are the aspirations. For me it was about solving problems that seemed undoable to most of the people around.  It bothers me when there is a more efficient, almost disruptively innovative, way of solving a problem but people prefer to remain within the comfort of the more traditional methods. There’s a related illustration, rather popular in the digital domain, which explains this best:

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In my previous jobs, I was always driven by the very thought of getting things done, of completing jobs and implementing the most challenging projects. There are three key reasons that told me that I was facing a sizeable challenge, and eventually proved to be the deal-maker for my leap of faith decision.

First, I always thought that technology could not only organize and simplify processes in enterprises but also empower the end user in a way that they feel connected to the larger ecosystem. I am a firm believer in technology and I strongly believe that if the end user is trained to use technology in the right manner, she/ he can use it to earn a livelihood while solving a bigger pain point for the company.  Lets face it, the end user of technology for a big/small FMCG company is a semi-literate Shakti Amma / driver/salesman. If you do not equip the end user with the right kind of training and tools, there is hardly going to be any impact of the multi-million dollar innovations projects that the companies undertake. This realisation hit me at different points in my career while I was working on my various stints. At Gray Routes, I am working on innovative mobile-based solutions that not only make business sense for the enterprise but also for the end user. What Gray Routes has been pioneering is the creation of specific end to end solutions that seamlessly and sustainably connect the business enterprise to the end user, while always answering the eternal question for every stakeholder – “What’s in it for me?”.

Second, organizations in recession-proof industries are comparatively risk-averse and prolong projects with significant innovation risk involved. There are so many touch points during an innovation project that a company almost certainly spends months of their valuable time looking for different vendors/ support professionals who would be required to handle the project at different points, in a bid to assess and reduce innovation risk inherent in these projects. Then there is the extra hassle of co-ordination, co-operation and communication that delay the project further. While I was working with India’s biggest FMCG giant and was launching India’s biggest mobility innovation project, I kept looking for a company which had plethora of solutions that could customize the technology solutions to my needs, ensure maximum adoption, give the required support and provide me intelligent business insights that could help me take the right decisions. Needless to say, there is an abject scarcity of people who understand aspects of frontline sales process and technology together, let alone, run a solutions company on it.

That brings me to my final point. If you do not provide an end-to-end solution especially in the distribution space, you might be inadvertently adding to the woes of the company. All that I really came across were either technical vendors that could code an application for me, or sole analytics vendors who charged a bomb for doing something as simple as a market basket analysis. And as I said before, unless you are providing end to end solutions, you are not doing justice to a customer and his spends. Gray Routes is a dedicated distribution solutions provider and I now very well understand why I wanted to be a solutions provider rather than just a technology company.

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