Economy India Tech and Culture

Why India will never see anything like Kozmo …

I am sure everyone is aware of Kozmo, the first ever e-tailer of sorts that was actually somewhat successful before closing shop in 2001, three years after its inception. Google Answers has a great thread giving background information about this company. was started by Joseph Park, a Time Magazine nominated Innovator in 1997. There is a movie called e-Dreams that chronicles the growth and demise of this innovative Internet based retailer that actually delivered everything from ice cream to video tapes. The idea was to have inventory for common frequently ordered items, and to forge deals with other vendors for the remaining items.

It was ultimately the pricing and the incorrect and somewhat unclear target customer focus that killed Kozmo. The new CEO had lost focus, and was trying to compete with mail order companies citing quick delivery as the only USP for using Kozmo’s services. I would also say that the idea was pre-mature and ahead of its times. There were still no stringent rules and regulations about Internet privacy, and online advertising was still controversial and somewhat monopolised in the hands of 1-2 key players. All in all, a good time to make short-term money but not to write a sustainable business plan. Only a few companies survived the dot-com crash, and hence, I would not blame Kozmo entirely for its own debacle.

Now, when I say that an enterprise like is never going to be sustainable in a country like India, I base my analysis on the relatively lower importance of the Internet in an average Indian’s daily life. I will stand up against all refutations who claim that it is only a matter of time when the Internet gains as much importance in India.

India differs culturally and socially from the US in more than a thousand ways. Inspite of the Internet and all that buzz, people prefer to carry on their lives using more personal communication means. The Internet is not personal enough to make any difference in an Indian’s life. Sure, it has already replaced newspapers when it comes to classifieds, and postal letters when it comes to time insensitive communication. People still love to go out with their families to shop, and students know better than to order pizza on the Internet. Very busy professionals can often afford manpower to do their chores for them.

Even then, all it takes is a phone call to your neighborhood super-store to get anything you want delivered free to your doorsteps without any minimums or delivery charges. And this has been in place before the rise of the Internet in India. There are companies like P&G India that have actually started telemarketing operations with free delivery. The prices are actually lower than super-stores or discount stores like Big Bazaar. The delivery times are minutes not hours, and you can order anything from the P&G catalog of products.

With all this aready happening, do you still think that there is a market for services like in India? I certainly don’t, and I might be proved wrong in the coming years. All I know is that it would take a lot to have an average Indian consumer pay more to get what he wants in lesser time and without physical effort.

Addendum: I just came across a similar new service in the NYC area, called

Economy India

The Global Face of the Indian IT Industry …

The Indian IT industry isn’t all about doing world class work at rock-bottom prices. That is one of its most regarded facets. There is another side of the coin that everyone so easily neglects. The Indian IT industry is global in the truest sense of the word.

Recently, I have been getting emails from college batchmates about positions in their companies that require the knowledge of a European language. There is an actual need for multi-lingual Indian software professionals at almost every company. For example, Tata Consultancy Services is hiring foreign language experts and multilingual software professionals for overseas projects.

Even in urban India, school and college students are not content with knowing just 2 spoken languages. Almost every school student is learning French, German, or Spanish as a hobby. These same youngsters would later on work for the world!

All I can say on this American Independence Day celebratory evening is that India is numero uno.


I think India is going in the right direction and if India were a stock, I would buy it

These are words from Thomas L. Friedman in an interview that appeared in The Financial Express last week. Normally, I read Friedman’s “lectures” on globalization with a grain of salt as I do not believe that it is possible to make a positive or negative case for it without observing the economies on a micro level. But, this interview, which was published a little while after his column “Bangalore: Hot and Hotter”, made me really ponder about how globalization has actually helped India win a proverbial war against social and political stagnation.

The stock market is at an all time high, and is actually showing a somewhat linear curve at present. Definitely, if India were a stock, it would be really prudent to buy as much of it as possible. The economic growth fuelled by the very pro-liberalization attitude of our politicians (in general) has made India the preferred investment destination of the world. Ofcourse, being rich in natural resources and having a good agricultural economic model helps. The population growth over the past years has actually placed the current generation in perfect position to leverage the advantages of globalization. There is no dearth of educated smart people willing to work a 35 hour day.

One of the biggest changes I noticed in India during my trip last month was how the youth is running the show in every field. Economic liberalization and public sector disinvestment pushed by the center has forced a “renaissance” of sorts in how companies portray themselves. The corporate ethical code is mature and enforced well, and the standard of living is very high thanks to the availability of labor and the extensively variable social stratum.

All this positive growth has motivated the common Indian man to dream big and achieve bigger. Just look at the business section of any website like and what do you see! “Tata Steel is world’s best steel producer”, “India‚Äôs largest FDI deal signed”, “Now, Indians are a confident lot!”, “From tandoori dhaba to Versace”, “Sensex ends at all time high of 7,145”; these are the headlines that are fueling motivation and pride. Something that has eluded us for so long…



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