Detect, Observe and Manipulate over Decades : Notes from an interaction with KRS Jamwal

I had the privilege of interacting with Kr. Rameshwar Singh Jamwal at a closed-door dinner organised by TiE Mumbai yesterday. Jamwal is the Executive Director of Tata Industries Ltd who had the opportunity of working with JRD Tata, Ratan Tata and now Cyrus Mistry. He was kind enough to brainstorm and dissect GetEvangelized’s business model, as I attempted at applying some of these learnings to our cause. It’s refreshing to hear and interact with visionary leaders from the the non-startup-fraternity, because it gets you the ‘conglomerate perspective’ that one can yo-yo with the frugality and agility from the early stage startup ecosystem- where I come from.

I’ve listed below my three key takeaways along with some of my own notes relating it with our journey of building GetEvangelized, hoping It’d be good to share and learn back through this blog

Lavin Mirchandani and KRS Jamwal

Think and plan in 10 year cycles

      Most early stage companies and startups have been known to adopt and pivot on to the next hot wave. VCs also follow the same approach very often. Perhaps we are motivated with short term goals- valuation, flips. This room had only one entrepreneur who had IPO-ed, a rare case in current times with startups. Economic cycles, business themes and several businesses have seen their rise and fall in 8-10 year cycles. So it’s ok to lose a race in the next 2 years as long as one is geared up for the long haul.

I applied this to our industry of social networks- we’ve seen Hi Five, Friendster, My Space, Orkut, Facebook and Twitter experience the rise and fall within 8-10 year life cycles. Facebook exists and continues because it has been constantly attempting to reinvent itself to be relevant in the next decade. 13-20 year olds that I meet, consider the original Facebook as an old boy’s club, where their parents hangout. They use Twitter to consume updates from live sporting events when they’re not in front on a video streaming device. Some of them breakup and resign over  text. They use Snapchat to update their friends. This is the next gen of creators and consumers who will posses that quintessential disposable wallet. Are we thinking and planning for them?

It’s important to understand the constraints applicable to the business model and how they scale 10 years ahead. With a two sided marketplace model such as that of GetEvangelized’s, the constraints become open ended and Co-dependent. There is merit in scaling the constraints and the business with patience without using rocket fuel too early.

Be Cognizant of human behavioral patterns

      Humans first develop the ability to detect, then comes the ability to observe/understand and then emerges the ability to manipulate. The products and services that experience manipulation also achueve mass adoption. The same happened with the discovery/ detection of of electromagnetic waves, said Jamwal, look at where we are with the myriad applications of electro magnetic waves.  Blockchain has been detected, we are currently understanding it, so attempts at manipulating it are likely ṭo fail as it’s premature. Same applies to AI and chatbots. However, if we think and plan 10 years ahead aligned with the human behavior, it all falls in place and we may get less anxious with the short term speculation.

Applying this to social networks again, it’s interesting to look at the evolution of networks and their revenue models in the last 2 decades. From the days of AOL/ chat rooms (remember the phrase “ASL please?”) to modern day networks such as Facebook and tinder that give you the age, sex, location, relationship status and work profile upfront without asking. Users were “detecting” this phenomena of connecting with friends and strangers. They started “understanding” it better as a communication channel that gets enriched (in data, intelligence and revenue) as they use it more- a platform that gives them reach. Now some users are manipulating it – creators understand that the network get enriched because she creates and publishes content- so the user aka creator is now demanding monetisation for enriching the network.

Start with early adopters

      At some point in the evening the conversations started tilting towards agriculture,turns out there were a few farmers in the room who are also CXOs of leading companies. It seems every agricultural locality, they are divided into blocks, have 2-3 farmers who proactively adopt and experiment with newer methods. The adoption of newer progressive techniques in agriculture has been a result of these early adopters implementing them in a certain block, which then goṭ perceived as a must have success strategy across the district and then moved on to different parts of the ecosystem.

It was refreshing to observe Geoffrey Moore’s theory from Crossing the Chasm being applied (in retrospection) to non-tech cases.

At GetEvangelized, we have worked with early adopters in the form of large consumer brands such as Cadbury, Fastrack, Flipkart who seem to have use the creator engagement model successfully and repeatedly helping us build success caselets that now attract several progressive mid sized companies. It was important to keep the community gated (invite only) to build and prove the methods with the correct set of early adopters who co-created the best practices for a new method to work and eventually produced case studies to inspire other relevant brands. It was important to politely refuse a lot of business that did not fit the ‘early adopter’ bill for their best interest and ours. You can now request an invite to GetEvangelized.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these themes, as ṭhes ideas are always in beta mode while I’m detecting and observing  😉