Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chai guy

Last month Vaibhav Gupta emailed me as follows:

Dear Rashmi,

Let me introduce myself. I did B. Tech in Chem Engg from IIT Bombay and PGDCM from IIM Calcutta. I worked for 3 years in Hinduja Group.

Now I have resigned from the job and started Elbbub ( It is a chain of tea shops across different malls in the country. We offer 30 diferent varieties of tea including Bubble Tea, which we are launching first time in India.

We have started our first shop at Ground Floor, City Centre Mall, Vashi.

Request you to visit our kiosk sometime.

Vaibhav Gupta
Elbbub Tea Shop

So, last evening, when I happened to be at the very same City Centre Mall with the Elbbub kiosk right in my face as I exited Food Bazaar... I had to try it.

The menu was long, for a tea shop. I decided to try 'bubble' tea simply for the novelty value. The boy at the counter said it is 'like a milkshake'.

Now which flavour to choose? Kaafi ajeebogareeb flavours the, like khus, sitafal, lychee. No chocolate, surprisingly.

I opted for 'peach apricot'. Some mixing and stirring started behind the counter.

This is what the concoction looked like.

It did taste like a milkshake, though I am told the drink contains tea syrup. And it has 'bubbles' in the form of rubber-textured balls (kind of like sabudana).

Not bad. Not particularly good either. Maybe, an acquired taste.

A slightly hassled guy in a striped t-shirt arrived at the counter. The thick chashma indicated he might be Vaibhav. It was.

We chatted for a bit. He mentioned HR issues. Yup - welcome to the world of entrepreneurship!

I think Vaibhav has done a brave thing, by going into business. It's not going to be easy. Bubble tea may be doing well in southeast Asia but may not necessarily work in India.

Right now Elbbub's menu is way too long and confusing. Regular tea, designer tea, bubble tea - and all sold right opposite a Cafe Coffee Day.

But I am sure with time Vaibhav - like any other entrepreneur - will figure out what is working, what is not. He will tweak the product, create new products - kill off the rest.

That is how every enterprise finds its feet.

Rahi baat yeh, ki is this the kind of business an IIM graduate should get into? Well, why not? The food business is as good a business as any.

Of course, it involves more manual than cerebral work. Although in time, you will have to use all those management principles to scale it up (refer chapters on Dosa Plaza and Oriental Cuisines in my new book 'Connect the Dots')

And what is so cerebral about working in some hedge fund or telecom company anyways? I bet you use only a small part of your brain, your accumulated knowledge as you slip into a system which already exists.

Try running the tiniest enterprise on your own and you know - chaar paise kamaana kitna mushkil hai. You will see the bhelpuriwallah who stands at your street corner with new respect!

Lage raho, Vaibhav.

The school of hard knocks iw what prepares you, for bigger things in life.

Related story: IIT Bombay student Prabhkiran Singh runs a lassi stall by the name'Khadke Glassi' on campus.

I like the clear, focussed, limited menu. And the way he has represented each drink with pictures... So much of 'marketing' is simple common sense!

P.S. I am inspired to revive my Young Entrepreneur series. I know there are many out there, but the enterprise must catch my fancy.

Do nominate any interesting business you know of! The id is rashmi_b at

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cool summer jobs and internships

If you're a student looking for a summer job or internship, look no further. JAM magazine has a host of listings here.

Some of the jobs I think are most interesting include:

1) Flash games Developer (Mumbai) - Infinity Technologies
Developing interactive Flash games and presentation. Your games would be eventually published on FaceBook.

2) Marketing Intern (Mumbai)- GiveIndia
Reach out to employees in some of India's biggest and best corporates in comfortable workplaces

3) Research intern (Bangalore) - H S Brands International (mystery shopping company)
The candidate review and edit reports to check for authenticity and consistency of information

And here are the two coolest part-time gigs (if you have the skill!):

1) Ghost writing for travel and lifestyle magazine

2) Karaoke hostess at TGI Friday's (Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad)

For the karaoke job you can apply directly to kjsubz at

Happy croaking!

Connect the Dots: FAQs

I've been getting tweets and mails from you guys re: 'Connect the Dots', so let me give an all-for-one and one-for-all answer

1. Where can I buy the book?
Bookstores everywhere.

Yes, I know the distribution has been a bit slow but I'm told you will get 'Connect the Dots' in Crossword and other major chain stores by the end of this week. Do let me know if that's not the case!

2. Can I buy 'Connect the Dots online?
At the following websites:

a) Infibeam: click here

Infibeam will ship the books to locations in India and selected countries including
USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore.

b) Flipkart: click here

c) Indiaplaza: click here

By the way all three websites are selling author-signed copies. Yup, I sat and signed a mountain of books to make that happen...

And that's just the first 500!

3. Yet another title inspired by Steve Jobs?

Yes, the title 'Connect the Dots' is inspired by the same speech at Stanford where Steve Jobs exhorted graduates to 'Stay Hungry Stay Foolish'. And I have acknowledged that right at the beginning of the book.

Why am I obsessed with Steve Jobs? Well, I just am (and now that I own an iPhone that might get worse :) But seriously, I was inspired by Steve Jobs a long time ago, when I read the book Odyssey: from Pepsi to Apple.

Steve Jobs persuaded John Sculley, the President of Pepsi, to join Apple with these immortal words:"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?"

That line remained in my mind, and served as a guidepost, when I stood at the crossroads in my career.

That said, I can promise you the title of my third book is not inspired by Steve Jobs :)

4) Is 'Connect the Dots' a sequel to 'Stay Hungry Stay Foolish'?

Yes, and no.

Yes, because so many of you asked why does 'Stay Hungry' only feature stories of MBAs - that too from IIMA - I felt compelled to look at the completely opposite kind of profile.

My contention with Stay Hungry was that MBAs can be entrepreneurs and it was the objective (set by CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad) that the book should inspire young bschool graduates to consider such a career option.

Many of the readers however concluded that an MBA is what they should aim for, if they wanted to be successful entrepreneurs.

Anyhow, I thank them for their plaintive emails to me asking "what about us, 'ordinary' graduates". That question set the stage for 'Connect the Dots' and I am happy to say that in terms of sheer variety of people I met, this book was a more interesting experience!

5. So, is 'Connect the Dots' as good as the first book?

Well, I certainly cannot comment on that. In fact I have no idea if the first book was 'good' either :)

But here are some reviews from early readers of 'Connect the Dots':

Have read 5 stories so far, and each one stays, cos it's written so well, and the stories of each of the entrepreneurs are so inspiring. I also like that there's no melodrama and all the interviewees seem to accept things for what they are (for example, Ranjiv Ramchandani when asked if he decided not to cut corners wrt the quality of his t-shirts says, nah it's just that i was ignorant about the quality! Great read...

- Amrithaa on Flipkart

More reviews at Flipkart

Rashmi Bansal’s new book - ‘Connect The Dots‘ is a follow-up to her hugely successful book ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’. The earlier book mentioned the inspiring stories of IIMA graduates. Connect The Dots is about successful entrepreneurs without the typical MBA degree.

The book has classified entrepreneurs in three categories:
1. Jugaad - Ones who have no formal business training and learnt by observation, experimentation and application of mind.
2. Junoon - Ones who are driven by passion and ideas which are ahead of its time.
3. Zubaan - Ones who are creative people with unique talent

The book has a biographical account of the entrepreneur and advice to other entrepreneurs - same style as Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. The selection of the entrepreneurs is interesting indeed which adds diversity to the book and the subject of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs behind success stories like Reva, Dosa Plaza, Su-Kam, Crossword, Tantra T-Shrits, Veta, Fem Care are featured as well as Film Director Paresh Mokashi and Wildlife Photographer Kalyan Verma. Though there are no formulas to success, it is interesting to know the journey of the fellow entrepreneurs.

Rashmi Bansal’s style and language is amazing as always ! She has got another bestseller! Read it !

- Ashok Karania

Reviews on Infibeam

Twitter feedback:

@YouthPad I like the narrative of Connect the Dots.. :)

@ravisagar Read first 3 stories this morning. Truly inspirational stories. Almost finished the book. Why don't you write part 3???

6. When are you having a book launch in Mumbai, Delhi, etc etc?

There will be 'Connect the Dots' launch events in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai in the month of May. Would love to see you there, will keep you posted!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Launch of my second book: 'Connect the Dots'

Dear Readers

I am delighted to invite you to the launch of my second book 'Connect the Dots' on Saturday, April 3, 2010.

Venue: Crossword, Mithakali, Ahmedabad
Time: 6 pm

'Connect the Dots' is a sequel to 'Stay Hungry Stay Foolish'. It features the inspiring stories of 20 entrepreneurs without an MBA who dared to find their own path.

Four of the entrepreneurs featured in the book will be present.
They are:
1) Kunwer Sachdev, Founder, Su-kam
2) R Sriram, Founder, Crossword bookstore
3) Ganesh Ram, Founder, Veta (Vivekananda English Training Academy)
4) Satyajit Singh, Founder, Shakti Sudha Industries

A second event will be held at Crossword, Baroda on 4th April (Sunday) at 11 am

There will be more events in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad over the next month and I look forward to seeing you at some of them!

Thank you all for your love and support.

Book website and 'where you can buy it' (online, offline) will be updated tomorrow.

'Connect the Dots' is published by Eklavya Foundation and will retail for Rs 150.

Disqus for Youth Curry - Insight on Indian Youth