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Archive for May, 2011

Where are all the ladies?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on May 18, 2011

This is not directed at anyone and is just an observation. Accurate or not, you decide. 🙂

Doesn’t it feel that girls these days are increasingly appearing high on ‘testosterone’? It’s cool to swear. It’s cool to take multiple takeela shot. It’s cool to make circles from puff of smoke. Obviously, my observation is skewed as it is based on what I see around and up to a certain extent on the content of tv shows targeted at young audience but, we have definitely come a long way from the days of Indian naari (Indian woman). Arrogance and rudeness is not any guy’s prerogative if that’s how one argues in its’s favour but, it’s definitely not ‘cool’. It’s a big turn off. Thankfully, it’s not the norm. At least, not yet. And no, I am not sexist. 🙂

PS: Swear is slang and means ‘to use abusive words’. E.g. ****, *****, ******** etc’

Disclaimer: Again. This post comes with lots of asterisk and is not directed at anyone in particular or girls from any particular region, company, planet etc’. It is not intended to be provocative but, if you do feel that way, feel free to express yourself in words that you feel appropriate and I promise I won’t delete any comment! And you don’t even have to beep out your favourite words like I have done!

Posted in India, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Speak Asia vs Indian Media

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on May 16, 2011

I didn’t want to write another post related to Speak Asia but, I decided to write one for those who are being redirected here after the news conference held by the company. And then there was my own curiosity ofcourse after my previous post (Is Speak Asia Doomed to fail?).

Didn’t watch the live press conference but, did watch the recorded video at night. Here is what I think:

    1) It was a long press conference! I think it ran for over an hour and you need every bit of patience you are capable of
    2) There are only few sections of substance though
    3) What a bunch of “journalist” they were?! They were arrogant, rude and barely managed to ask a single sensible question. It felt more like a police interrogation room and less of a press conference. I behaved so much better at school!
    4) Journalists did not miss any opportunity to mock the Speak Asia Mgmt. Patted themselves for either asking an insulting question or for insinuating at every possible opportunity.
    5) To their credit, the panelists did manage to stay calm

What did panelists have to say?

    1) They talked about their business model. Explained Rs. 11000 subscription and the per-survey payout

    2) Explained their investment in technology and said their plan to invest more. Showed their new website due to go live in two weeks. Talked about having offices at 5 locations in India by August 1. Plans for new business – telephony, insurance etc’. Volunteered to show balance sheet.

    3) Gave some accounting numbers. Rs 350 crore turnover. Rs 250 cr given to panelists. Rs. 68 cr paid to govt. in service tax.

    4) Talked about the clients. Said that while they had done some research on the brands shown on channels, they were not commissioned by those brands and apologized for any mis-communication. They however confirmed that they do business through distributors and these distributors do remit money through ING and ICICI. Volunteered to show bank statements. Volunteered to show their client list subjected to people signing Non-public disclosure agreement.

    5) Showed their willingness to be investigated by government agencies and answer any questions they might have. They pleaded media to encourage agencies to investigate instead of passing their own judgement.

I barely watch Hindi news channels. I already have expressed my opinion about these channels in one of my earlier posts. Today’s performance was just as despicable. Surprisingly, most sensible questions came from a guy from Aaj Tak. 🙂 Now, I don’t know how much of what these panelists said is true and relevant authorities should definitely do what is required for the peace of mind of those who believe in this company but, media’s curse can prove to be a big blow specially for a year old company.

Lets see which way this pendulum swings!

Posted in Controversy, Journalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Is Speak Asia doomed to fail?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on May 13, 2011

My wife one fine day says, “I need Rs 11,000”. It is customary on our side to donate amounts to the tune of 11, 111, 1100. But, 11000? While my brain was going in 11000 different directions, “Its for Speak Asia.”, she says. “Speak what?” I asked. I knew she was up to something but, to score points with her (11000 big ones), I said, “yes” making sure it sounded as if its not big deal. Salaried people tend to think about, at least at some level, of every money that they spend. So, I decided to do some research. I typed “Speak Asia” in Google and the next word google suggests is “Scam”. Oh boy!.

What is it?

It is paid survey where you get Rs. 500 per survey and can earn up to Rs. 4000 per month if you pay subscription fee of Rs. 11000. You further get paid for direct and indirect referrals. If you are able to build strong enough network, there is potential to make big money.

Why so much skepticism?

You have to pay up front subscription fee of Rs 11000. Incentive model appears flattering and raises questions if it is sustainable. If you have to be successful, you have to get your incentive scheme absolutely right (Freakonomics). There are a few things going against the company (which they promise to fix). They seem to be operating from a black box. Past scams and the depth of corruption in the country make the matter worse.

So, is it sustainable?

Depends. It might not be sustainable in its current form but, will not necessarily fail. Its business is Market research. Do survey and sell the results to interested companies. So, it will be sustainable if it gets simple Math right. Generate enough from survey sales so that it can pay its panelists. Its biggest test will obviously come when the rate of subscriptions go down. In that case the only way it will be able to continue with the payout will be to generate revenues through sales or it will have to evolve/diversify. It cannot and should not rely on new subscriptions to meet payout demand. If thats what they are hoping for, that is fraud (Ponzi Scheme).

Can it evolve? Can it diversify?

It can. Its biggest asset undoubtedly is going to be its network and as a result its brand(ignore negative vibe for now). Network is a big asset. Having a network that you can leverage is quite something. The benefit of Network Marketing is that if you can generate enough momentum, it might carry you through. Its website currently gets about 100 million hits a month and about 1 million unique visitors! What wouldn’t you do to get such a website! 🙂 If you can guarantee this number of visits, which this site can as panelists transact through this, opportunities are numerous. Advertisements being the most obvious. How, about targeted marketing based on the data people fill in surveys? People who are filling the surveys can surely start becoming consumers, right? The fact that they are charging helps you create a demographic. Isn’t it? You have got a set of educated people with some dispensable cash willing to give honest opinion (or else they won’t be paid). What about Facebook? How do you think it makes money? The reason we don’t question, and its a very valid reason, is because we have nothing to lose. But, we don’t question its sustainability, right?

Should you join?

It depends what your take of the company is based on what you have heard, read and experienced. Early subscribers are almost certain to make good money because of the rapid rate of subscriptions. Then it all depends on the view you take of company’s business and its ability to diversify and make money. If you take a positive view, you should invest (buy subscription) or stay away from it. This is true for all companies when you invest in their stocks. The price you are willing to pay for a company’s stock depends on the view you take.

Nobody knows if a company will survive. Wave of speculation can take down the mightiest in a day. That probably is one the biggest thing going against Speak Asia. The thing going in favour of Speak Asia is that the people I know have been paid as promised. So far so good!

Speak Asia vs Indian Media: This is follow up post after press conference.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 22 Comments »

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