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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.

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22 Responses to “Is Speak Asia doomed to fail?”

  1. saurabhgoswami said

    Speak Asia is FRAUD | Multi Level Marketing MLM is FRAUD.

    Find Out the Real Truth HERE

    • It probably is. It probably isn’t. But, the confidence with which you have declared the company fraud is disturbing. Have you lost money with the company? Or have you been fired by the company? It almost feels too-good-to-be-true that you are doing this as part of the social service out of concern for people just like the returns given by the company appears too-good-to-be-true to you. Too much of ‘zoom’ can make things look blurry. Balance is required. One of the biggest fraud committed is by Indian Hindi news channels who almost on daily basis play with the minds and sentiments of the people by sensationalising everything. Fraud need not always involve money. If you are concerned for people, go ahead and file a PIL. If you do manage to uncover the scam, you would have done great service to the people.

      Regards.

      • ASHISH PANDIT said

        I want to laugh at you Mr. Goswami,
        For you Amway who charges 300 INR for 15 INR worth toothpaste and circulates 285 is not a fraud and the company which is not compelling u to do any MLM is a fraud? Please do some research. My sincere request to you.

  2. rishi said

    Neeraj, as a person from market research industry, I can most certainly and definitely tell you that NO client can afford paying panelists Rs. 400 per survey taken. That would make market research prohibitively expensive for even companies with largest of budgets. In truth, REAL research companies pay anywhere from Rs 10 to Rs 60 for a survey. Also, Speak Asia calls Samsung as their client. I work with Samsung and can assure you that Samsung does NOT work with Speak Asia. If that does not hint at a fraud, I don’t know what will.

    • Point taken. Thats what I call a red flag and I have raised a few myself in the post. If there are enough red flags, designated authorities should do their investigation. They are in far more privileged position to question company’s motives as against everyone adding fuel to the fire. If things are so black and white as people are making it to be, people behind Speak Asia should have already been behind bars. Heard about IIPM? There was a comprensive news coverage in a leading magazine on how everything they say is a lie. Has that gone anywhere? Either magazine had its hidden agenda or our legal establishment is toothless.

      PS: Having said that, there are enough people who I know have been paid every penny the company has promised to pay. It might well turn out to be Ponzi as I have suggested but, we got to give the company chance and the authorities/regulators time to do their job.

    • Just to add to my previous comment: Panelist being paid $10 per survey by Speak Asia is not outrageously high as it is being made out to be. It is quite common for companies to pay $20-$40 per survey overseas and for specialised surveys you can get paid up to $100 per survey. We will find out (hopefully soon) if the company has got its number right though. Also, heard that they will be holding some press conference on Tuesday. Hopefully, some real answers will come out of it. 🙂

  3. rishi said

    well to tell you the truth, there are clients who might pay $50-100 per panelist, but the panelists in question are rare, extraordinarily qualified people who would otherwise be difficult to catch. Examples include, neuro surgeons, first-class footballers or cricketers, IIT/IIM grads.. Typical surveys, for which people like you and me would qualify, are never paid that much. To know more, please visit www-market-xcel.com or http://www.absolutdata.com

    • Yep. Thats what I meant by specialised survey. You obviously are more qualified on this subject of market research but, all I am saying is that while people should exercise caution based on their gut feeling, to jump the bandwagon and paint it black just for fun is something that one should avoid. We seem to suffer from herd mentality where we tend to throw stones because everyone was doing so before trying to know the reason. Lets find out if they are fools, genius or criminals.

  4. Rishi said

    Just one more point Neeraj. NO, absolutely NO genuine market research company charges money from panelists to enroll. Panelists are their strength area to be showcased to their clients (to get genuine business), and to me the biggest RED FLAG with Speak Asia is that it CHARGES money to enroll to take surveys!!

    • Agreed. May be thats the reason they are willing to pay so much for their survey! I am almost sounding like Devil’s advocate here. 🙂 Incentive model can be very conter-intuitive which is brilliantly demonstrated in the excellent book ‘Freakonomcs’ which I have also mentioned in the post.

  5. […] Posts Is Speak Asia doomed to fail?About MeThe day I agreed to get married – Part2 […]

  6. GREAT REVIEW! I pretty much agree with pretty much all you said in your post, especially at the end of your article. Thank you, this info is very useful as always. Keep up the good work! You’ve got +1 more reader of your great blog:) Isabella S.

  7. NoSpeakAsia said

    Dear Neeraj / Rishi,

    Here I would also want to point out two things:
    – Sheer No of Panelists
    – Multiple Panels to each Panelist

    Speak Asia claims to have 18 lac Panelists / approx with 3 panels each (I know some who have upto 21 panels). The sheer size of Panelists will make it impossible for the company to sustain, as 54 Lac Panels would demand Rs 540 Crore to be paid out every week, which is an impossible turnover for any Survey company to achieve, globally, leave alone India.

    Moreover, companies willingness to keep enrolling more members would render it unsustainable.

    • I absolutely agree. Model in it’s current form is not sustainable. I get the feeling that they might have bitten more than they can chew. I don’t see geniuses behind this company either to elicit benefit of doubt.

      PS: Any other company’s first reaction to its CMO’s (Vivek Gautam) blunder would have been to sack him and then ask questions.

  8. ASHISH PANDIT said

    Hi Neeraj,
    I read your observations and comments and to the certain extent I would like to deny all negatives observed.
    Its a business model which is getting proven.
    Its business model on which philiosophy we flown into the euphoria of Kar Lo Duniya Mutthi Me and a telephony revolution happened in India that time also these so called sansani type journalists spread the meaning of CDMA as Cash Deposit to Mukesh Ambani. Despite Ambanis never goes in confrontation with media infact they take care of media very well with the same measures of Chandi aur Sone Ka juta.
    What happened? Today its biggest network.
    Moreover to say this half baked half matured indian media has never cared for masses, there is no instance of it not even a single instance. Rathere there are instance when media have used masses for their jam and chicken while still they were getting their bread and butter.
    To substantiate this I would like to quote references of Peepli Live which has shown us the true character of Media and after seeing that movie PM MMS has asked his ministers to see it and decide. Thats the true character of media. After that Neera Radia’s Tapes shown us how media strip teases infront of Politicians and Corporates.
    And today media is fully naked with true character by consistantly toruturing 2.7 millions of Indian Minds out of which are boys girls men women able disable heart patients and pregnants.
    Speak Asia Model is a good model it has potential to create wonders and if it fails then entire media is to be blamed and if succeeds some media houses will see their true net worth soon.
    Thanks and Regards
    Ashish Pandit
    ashish.b.pandit@gmail.com

    • Mr. Ashish,

      Your committment to the company and belief in it’s business model is commendable. I do wish the company well and hope that it does not let down 2 million people who have shown their trust. To conclude, “People who can maintain their balance at the time of extreme criticism and extreme praise are destined for great heights.”

      All the best.

      • ASHISH PANDIT said

        Neeraj,
        I will appreciate your comments for the 2.7 Millions already involved in it. Since 14 months it has become bread and butter for many unemployed youths. There are many who are in shock. There are many who made it as a dream come true for showing their leadership skills.
        The scheddule of inception of STAR PANEL surveys and SpeakAsia shows the hidden agenda malaciously carried out for torturing 2.7 millions minds while all the corruption and all the black money owners moving scot free in this country.
        There is some turning point coming in this country for fighting back and this time it will be from learned, internet savvy youngsters not from the tribals.
        Thanks and Regards

    • BN Gupta said

      Mr Pandit comparing Speakasia with Reliance shows your immaturity. I believe you are one of the speakasians. Media has a role to play, to make people aware. Whether it is Radia, 2G or any other scam media en-lighted us well. SO why point to media for exposing Speakasia. Reliance or any other company you mentioned has a product or service to sell. Whether Speakasia doesn’t have one, the so called survey has no clients. To whom are they selling these surveys, there is no takers. The E-zine magazine is worthless and not even worth of rs. 100/-. This is pure circulation of money game where downline pays for upper segment. And game would continue till new joiners comes as downline. In past also there are several companies like speakasia came to India and made money only to runaway overnight.I simply can’t understand after big exposure of Home Trade of Sanjay Agarwal how can educated people like you endorse such fraud.

      • ASHISH PANDIT said

        Mr. BN Gupta,
        If you read it carefully and without any bias you will find that there is no comparison between Reliance and Speakasia. There is mention of euphoric moments and judgement of media there of. Please read it again and give a thought.
        I am fully aware about Reliance, its CDMA revolution and I am also aware of The Great Indian Robbery.
        Medias duty is to report not investigate and not at all do any trial and use filthy language like Gurughantal. This is the language of our graceful media.
        Whereas who is Gurughantal is shown by Neera Radias Tapes. Have you heard those tapes Mr. Gupta?
        Speak asia giving you e.zines and its intellectual property you are not authorized to prove its worth.
        And who uses the surveys and how those are presented to client you need to ask to end users not to speakasia.
        I am sure you will not be able to ask this to Virgin Mobile why they decided start services in india and how they come to this deicision on paying money to made up calls and why their calls are so cheap in all?
        Do you have some Idea how you will ask this to DOCOMO ?
        Do you have some idea how you will ask Reliance how could they handover the cellfone sets for just INR 500? I hope you remember this.
        Do you have any answer to the media campaign that time also about meaning of CDMA?
        Have you seen the operations of Speakasia entirely?
        Have you seen the worth of the allegations made by media?
        And Last but not least whats the exact purpose of media to repeat the telecast as and when possible when its declared that relevant departments will take the decision?
        And height is why media people need to twit about speakasia? Their duty is only infront of camera and on paper isnt it?
        Our media is so prompt that they want to remain awake and keep on twitting about it?
        Answer to all is a big NO.
        Right answer is its an agenda not the journalism.
        Lastly I want to ask you Mr. Gupta what you want to say about those 2.7 million young indians who are getting tortured by media?
        Give a thought.
        Answers will be there for you soon.
        Thanks and Regards
        Ashish Pandit

  9. robin said

    I completely agree with you. It will be too early to declare company a scam and especially by those media untill it is being proven by the law. In our country this is not the first time where media has crossed its boundaries and declared someone as victim before actually the law decides it. The business model of SAOL might seem like a ponzi scheme but then again it could be new model itself. With 20 lakh penalist the company has great vision and that is the reason why SAOL is being trying to venture out in new business. I especially dont like the contradicting reports in different media channels as none of them really find out the real truth. Like some channel said it doesnt have its office and other it has office in very posh area. It seem to me it is all about TRP. As a penalist I can personally only wish that the SAOL is going to exist and create an example.But then again the whole business model will collide fast if the joining wont come or company dont come up with some new way of source of income to sustain itself. Its already been more than 2 weeks and I wonder if the company is fraud then why doesnt the govt has issued any words or taken any action against it. That is realy big question in the mind of all the saol members. Either declare it scam or just approve it.

  10. ASHISH PANDIT said

    http://www.speakindiaonline.com/forum/topics/mujhe-dar-lag-raha-hai forward this spirit to media who is torturning us.
    Salute the Spirit of these 2.7 million indians do not ampute it.
    Media has tortured this spirit for twenty days now and they will have to apologise soonest.

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