6 comments on “Groups

  1. Topic: Business, Finance, ICT

    There is a lot of talk within government and business circles in Kenya on how to exploit ICT to create jobs and grow the economy. There are numerous outfits, projects, initiatives and almost just about each and everything under the sun in terms of resources currently being deployed in new and existing ventures in ICT.

    Many of these are run under the ICT board of Kenya, google search will yield many results including digital villages, digital schools among others

    Here is but one example
    https://sites.google.com/a/ict.go.ke/tandaa/

    First of, I have no obejction to initiatives that create employment and wealth for Kenyans and by all means we should go for it.

    I am however quite puzzled at this national economy model which is fueled by speculation.

    In the real sense of the word, there are no physically tangible products being traded, but in essence virtual products are being traded. There is nothing wrong with that, as products like video games are also virtual products on sale.

    The danger I would like to give heads up on is that we are coming in at the tail end of the digital revolution. Here is what I mean

    The industrialized world, have real world products that they manufacture or process as the backbones of their economies. Their industries have gone through several iterations of improvements and honed their Lean Production capabilities to have efficient industry. These products include natural and basic agricultural products as well as technology devices which they are able to trade. On top of that, they have reliable power generation to drive their industry.

    We, on the other hand, are moving dangerously, away from agricultural and technology production of physical materials and products, and being rushed towards provision of virtual products in the use of IT. Products that depend on or interact with resources such as facebook, twitter, and generally other web technologies. Like I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with creating opportunity and wealth, my concern is that the present leaders are moving into this blindly, not recognizing that this is precisely the same set of events that led to the dot com bubble burst circa 2000. i.e People were trading in virtual products and at some point, the real backbone of the economy (real products) could not sustain the virtual economy.

    Without going into the details, at this stage, but will come back to this later on, my warning is that the government must dedicate resources to develop agriculture, and other real world products alongside digital technology. In fact in my view, digital technologies are best used when they are deployed to assist and revolutionize, automate and make more efficient the production (manufacture, processing, marketing and delivery) of real world products.

    If digital products are applied merely for the amusement, entertainment and other visual eye candy, they may provide some short term gains and pleasures but in the long run will cripple the economy since they are not sustainable in and of themselves. There is a push to setup call centers and regional digital hubs fashioned on the success of Asian countries in outsourcing ICT jobs. Here is the chief problem for me with these models, the Asian countries already had some reliable manufacture industry and therefore only needed to tap into more affordable labour to encourage the multinationals to move some of their production. It therefore was not a big step to move the call and support centers to these countries after all, they were manufacturing many of the products. We on the other hand want to setup call/support centers to support technology that we do not manufacture. We have unreliable power supply, high insecurity which discourages established companies to setup bases in the country. In my opinion the Konza, and other digital schemes are putting the cart before the horse there are some other strategies that will encourage investors faster than these fly traps when other sectors are badly managed

    Just food for thought

  2. Topic: Business/Entrepreneurship

    Should MBAs Start Their Own Businesses?

    BY ROSALIND RESNICK

    There’s an ongoing debate about whether going to business school prepares you to start a business. After all, business schools teach things like corporate case studies, financial modeling and regression analysis while building a company takes guts, passion, luck and endless pleas to your friends and relatives for money.

    But one question that rarely gets asked–or answered–is whether business school graduates (aka MBAs) should start their own companies in the first place. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the average starting salary recruiters plan to offer new MBAs this year is $80,508, nearly twice what newly minted college grads will be taking home. First-year MBA graduates can expect salaries of $100,000 or more if they opt for careers in health care, finance or consulting. By contrast, startup CEOs typically take no salary, investing huge amounts of time and money before their companies can afford to give them even a modest paycheck.

    Last week, I spoke to a group of Wharton grads (Wharton is the University of Pennsylvania’s business school) who had invited me to come and speak to them about “unleashing your inner entrepreneur.” Some of them were business owners already. Others were working for corporate America, debating whether to take the plunge.

    “Why should I leave a six-figure job to start my own company?” one of the MBAs wanted to know. While he had run a couple of small businesses in the past, now that he had his MBA he was making six figures crunching numbers for a big insurance company.

    You probably shouldn’t, I told him. Not only will you take a huge pay cut, but it’s unlikely that your company will become the next Google, Facebook or Twitter or even still be around five years from now. People don’t start businesses because they want to, I explained. They start businesses because they have to–either for economic reasons or because they just can’t bear to work for anybody else.

    But that wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear. His current job made him feel dead inside, he told me, and he longed for the chance to be his own boss and call his own shots. All he needed was an idea–an idea that he could build into the next big thing.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that MBAs shouldn’t start their own businesses. In fact, several of the MBAs sitting around the table already had. There was a real estate developer, a guy with an import/export business and a grad who’d sold his food-delivery company and was now onto his next venture. What I’m saying is that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll cross the finish line no matter what kind of fancy degree you get. But MBA or no MBA, you’ll never win the race unless you’re prepared to take the first step.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/218751

    • 8 Ways to Come Up With a Business Idea

      BY JANE PORTER

      The start of the year is a great time to gear up to start a business. But, of course, you first need to figure out a winning concept. “You have to come up with a lot of ideas to be successful,” says Stephen Key, cofounder of the website inventright.com based in Glenbrook, Nev., and author of One Simple Idea for Startups and Entrepreneurs: Live Your Dreams and Create Your Own Profitable Company, (McGraw-Hill, 2012).

      Key, who has licensed more than 20 products in the last 25 years, says he generates ideas by finding different ways to engage his mind, from walking the aisles of stores to brainstorming about holes in the marketplace.

      Here are eight techniques from Key and other experts that could help get your creative juices flowing:

      Ask yourself, “What’s next?”
      Successful business ideas are often ahead of the curve. Think about trends and technologies on the horizon and how you might move into those areas, says Sergio Monsalve, partner at Norwest Venture Partners, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture capital group. He suggests, for example, thinking about innovations related to the living room and home entertainment systems now that companies like Apple are developing new television technologies. “What can that mean in terms of new ways to live in your house and be entertained?” he says.

      Related: How to Turn a Worthless Business Idea into a Million-Dollar Startup http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225354

      Do something about what bugs you.
      When Colin Barceloux was in college, he thought textbooks cost far too much. In 2007, two years after graduating, he decided to take action and founded Bookrenter.com, a San Mateo, Calif.-based business that offers textbook rentals at about a 60 percent discount. What began as a one-man operation created out of frustration now has 1.5 million users and 200 employees. “You just have to look at what frustrates you,” he says. “There’s your business idea right there.”

      Look for new niches.
      Your business idea doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at what some of the big players in an industry are missing and figure out if you can fill the gaps, Key says. In 2003, for instance, he started the company Hot Picks, now based in San Jose, Calif., after realizing the major brands in the guitar pick industry weren’t offering collectible novelty picks. Key designed a skull-shaped pick that filled an empty niche and was sold in 1,000 stores, including Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven. “The big guys leave a tremendous amount of opportunity on the table,” he says.

      Apply your skills to an entirely new field.
      Think about your skills and whether they might be useful in a new area, suggests Bill Fischer, professor ofinnovation management 
at IMD
, the top-rated Swiss business school, and co-author of The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen (Jossey-Bass, 2011). Consider, for example, JMC Soundboard, a Switzerland-based company that builds high-end loudspeakers. Jeanmichel Capt invented the speaker by applying his experience building guitars as a luthier, using the same resonance spruce to create a loudspeaker that produces a high-quality sound and looks like a sleek wood panel. There’s also Providence, R.I.-based Dear Kate, a company founded by Julie Sygiel, who used her training in chemical engineering to create a stain-resistant, leak-proof underwear material that active women can use without worrying about menstrual leakage during a workout.

      Related: Zipcar Timeline: From Business Idea to IPO to $500 Million Buyout
      http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/225399

      Find a category lacking recent innovations.
      When coming up with ideas, Key likes to identify markets that haven’t had many recent innovations. For example, when he realized there were few new developments in the product information label business, he created Spinformation, a label consisting of two layers—a top layer that rotates with open panels through which you can see, and a bottom label that you can read by spinning the top layer over it. Companies needing to fit more information about a medication, for example, could use the extra label space for the details.

      Make a cheaper version of an existing product.
      Companies often get their start by offering customers an existing product at a lower price. Take Warby Parker, an eyeglasses company launched in 2010 by four business school friends. The New York-based business sells prescription glasses, which are typically priced at $300 or more, for $95. Since its launch, it has grown to 100 employees.

      Related Video: Warby Parker and Inspired Vision
      http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/224826

      Talk to shoppers.
      To come up with an idea that meets people’s needs, there’s no better way than by talking to shoppers. If you are interested in mountain bikes, hang out in the aisles of sports and bike shops and ask customers what they wish they could find in the marketplace. If you’re interested in developing an e-commerce business, consider sending an online survey to potential customers to learn about their needs and interests.

      Play the mix and match game.
      Walk up and down the aisles of a drug, hardware or toy store combining two products across the aisle from each other into one, Key says. That should spark quite a few ideas, but be prepared for most of them to be bad. “You will come up with all these horrible ideas, and every once in a while you will find some brilliant idea out there,” he says.

      http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225513

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