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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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Candlelight Vigil held in London for Mumbai attack victims

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on December 1, 2008

Update: Event was also held at Canary Wharf, London on 3rd December. Link to photos below.

More than 350 people put a brave face and defied low temperature, breeze and drizzle late in the evening on Sunday to gather at Indian High Commission in London. While I don’t believe in passive action such as forward-this-email-for-a-cause, this event did bring forward a few people who had pain in their hearts and sadness writ large on their faces. The fact that what was meant to be a small private event organised by two friends generated this kind of response is evidence enough of the profound impact this disaster has had on these people. I will try and post a few photos so that it stays in our hearts for long time to come because it is just as easy to forget.

Photos of candlelight vigil held at High Commission and Canary Wharf are here

News Coverage

As a side note, let us hope that the Mumbai massacre does not turn in to an India-Pakistan issue because it is not. It was an act perpetrated by a minority who have misplaced motivation to cause maximum physical damage. I don’t believe that they represent any country, religion or faith. Of course, India needs to apply maximum pressure on Pakistan to take action against seperatist groups and Pakistan needs to do everything to prove that it was not ISI sponsored. To give free reign to such groups to train in the region will inevitably attract wrath of many countries who are suffering at the hands of these groups. But, we should resist the temptation of being drawn in to a tit-for-tat action because it is a vicious circle which is almost impossible to get out of and almost always the one’s to suffer are those who believe in innocent form of life.

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Mumbai Attacks: United we stand divided we fall

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on November 30, 2008

24 hour round the clock live coverage of devastating Mumbai attacks has made sure that the pain is felt by each and everyone throughout the world. And rightly so. It was attack on anyone who believes in the central theme of life. There can be no motivation good enough for such callous indiscriminate killing. But, let there be no bias in our condemnation of acts of violence. Every Indian has right to feel Indian in each and every part of this country. Raj Thackeray’s of this country should not be allowed to prosper. Incidents like that of Orissa should never be allowed to happen. There should be one true spirit. And that should be Indian spirit. That will prove to be the biggest deterrent for those who believe that they can puncture the social fabric of India by launching such gruesome attacks. Politicians will continue to be politicians and time will take its toll on the intensity or anger that everyone feels right now. Let that not be the case. Violence, any kind of violence, should be condemned in strongest possible terms. There are probably things that shouldn’t be said aloud but, this is the lowest I could keep my voice.

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What the hell, its for a good cause!

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on September 7, 2008

Its always a challenge when we have to go out of our normal course of lives to do something. Most of the time we shrink our head back in to our comfort zones for sight outside is either too horrific or too revealing. But, sometimes we manage to muster enough courage to take the fight to these fears just to see what it feels like to do something “crazy”.

My experience while collecting funds for Bihar floods has been interesting. While people from very unexpected quarters have come forward, most people have decided to shrug their shoulders after making sure that we know how “sorry” they are.

The fact remains that as long as individual’s self interest is protected, in majority of cases people confine their life to “Me, my family, my religion/caste, my state, my country” in that order. While contributing to such disasters might not be as easy as forwarding emails to five friends in order to claim their share of prosperity, it has revealed time and again how superficial life most people live. But, most people will boil when such a suggestion is made. While people continue to moan about things they would like to do but can’t, the fact remains that either you do it or you don’t. Its not necessarily a bad thing because that forms the majority. But still, its important that they learn to live with it for thats who they are and not moan about it.

One needs a far cavalier and positive attitude to come forward to help just in the name of “what the hell, its for a good cause!”. Thanks to all those who have shown this side of theirs and prove what my dad says time and again that “there are enough good people in this world to stop it from going in to hell”.

While it is not intended to offend, it doesn’t hurt to put mirror in front of people’s faces from time to time.

Related post: Bihar Floods – What can you do?

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