Saturday, August 27, 2011

Code Wars - See if all Traffic signal stop working

Friday, August 26, 2011

Can US Solve these issues?

Barry Ritholtz posted a fantastic piece in his blog The Big picture. As I mentioned in my previous post innovation is highly overrated and just being optimistic(hope and pray) will not be enough. We need to be realistic, accept that we don't have an answer yet and try to solve the big problems


Additional Note: There is a chance that I am overreacing to the problems(some notes here). But as they say,"Only the Paranoid Survive".

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Solving Big Problems

It seems that we know the solution for most of the problems. We know big government is bad, huge national debt is worse. We know banker-politician nexus is ruining the economy - they are privatizing profits and socializing losses. We know we waste a lot of resource when the world is starving. We know we all can use public transport and significantly reduce our carbon footprint. We know we have limited fossil fuels, our alternate energy solutions are nowhere near sustainable model and we should invest significant effort, money and talent in discovering new energy technologies.

But still nothing changes...we continue to print money, waste huge amount of stuff(including food), drive gas-guzzlers, package debts in more complex CDOs and get excited about next about generation iPads (and think that our innovation can solve any problems). Why?

I think we have not really understood the root causes and/or have been able to solve those.  

Let me give some examples to clarify this. Let's start with Game-theory issues. Most of the Americans know that they are one of the biggest per capita greenhouse gas producers. Still most of them are really not interested in improving on this(I am talking about significant efforts(not using hybrids but using Public transports) and only motivated by the thought of 'good karma'(and not for controlling cost in the days rising fuel prices)). Are they bad people who are destroying our world for material comfort. Not really. It's a game theory problem. They are not sure even if they reduce the greenhouse emission their life(or for that matter everyone's life) will be any better. They don't have a guarantee that even if they compromise with their lifestyle billions of people in China and India will also do so. It's a case of prisoner's dilemma. Nobody wants to compromise because they are not sure about the other parties.

Another case - Politician and Business lobby nexus - again a story of short term gain('in the long term we will all die'). Do you think Obama has no idea how to fix the economy or for that matter Ben Bernanke. There may be some amount of analysis-paralysis but know for sure that they have the most informed and knowledgeable advisers available in the world. Above all they have enough amount of intelligence to understand the situation. Then why they cannot take bold action? Why can't they solve the 'Too big to fail' problem? Why can't they solve conflicts of interest problem between business and rating agencies? Because politicians need financial supports from banks and businesses. A too big to fail bank can provide huge campaign support which an average Joe cannnot. 

Last case(most won't agree) - our technological or business process innovation is highly overrated and we have misinvested our talent in low priority problems. We see a lot of changes. But I have a feel that most of our changes are cosmetic and there has been very few epoch-making improvements in recent past(except Internet or few other stuff). Think about it - most of us still drive to office everyday, do 8-5 job, comeback home, see TV/movies and sleep. We still have very low level of control over many diseases(AIDS, Cancer etc.). We still can not control natural forces(flood) or even predict them(earthquake). We still have billions of people in the world who are dying for basic needs - food, drinking water and safety. Millions are people fight against each other and die. If you think Apple will can save the world - think again! Companies concentrate on opportunities which can be monetized quickly(low hanging fruits). Solving big problems such as energy is a high risk high gain play. Most investors do not have capacity or attitude to take that risk. Governments should pitch in but again government is never good in execution(different parties have different views, less focus etc.).All in all no progress.

Bottomline: We need to solve big problems. Our Innovation need to tackle these root causes(game-theory, Information Asymmetry, conflict of interest, pricing etc.) and should not be busy in walkman-> ipod kind of progression. I don't have a answer on how to do it but I have a sample solution how it should look like.You must have heard of 'invisible hand of the market'.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Healthy body No Diet

I love to eat..and eat a lot. Unfortunately all my favorite foods are the worst things to eat for keeping a healthy body - Cold drinks, Cheaps, Frys, Ice Creat, Goat Meat, Salad Dressings etc.(probably foodies can appreciate the fact that most healthy foods taste crap..not sure if we can create genetically modified food which taste great and still have less calorie, sodium or salt). So it's a bad compromise...(healthy slim body+Eat less food(which generally taste bad)) or (Become obese with all related problems+ Eat yummy food as much as you like)...I hate it.

Can we have a TRIZ like solution - have the best of both worlds? Will eat whatever we like but still have BMI within our control? I don't know if it is too complex to make but one solution can be placing an intelligent machine within our digestive system which will control the absorption of nutrients. Once just enough nutrients are absorbed for the time being it will stop the absorbing that specific element. Example once enough fat is absorbed no more fat will be absorbed. At that time Vitamin -A need may not have been fulfilled, so the system will look for any opportunity to extract Vitamin-A from the food we continue to eat - the rest of the food will be bypassed.

Sounds like a science fiction? I am sure you will love it and hope this is available in the market before we die obese :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Customer Loyalty, Acquisition Cost, Promotional offers etal.

In today's marketplace Customer Loyalty is a rare phenomenon. So many companies are trying to get Customer attention and share of Customer's wallet that it is increasingly becoming costlier to acquire Customer's business. Everyday customers are flooded with Daily Deals emails, Coupons in the mailbox, Promotional offers and account opening bonuses. Most of them ignore it(never open the email or throw them in the mailbox garbage bins). Second largest consumer category - exploit the offer and move on. Only the very few accept the offer and become loyal customers. Very inefficient, yet most popular(easy solution?).

There are few rare exceptions who never(or rarely) discount their prices but still can manage to get an extremely loyal customer base. Think about Apple or Disney - Have you seen them giving away deep discounts on a regular basis or sending promotional offers through mail? They do not. Instead they concentrate in creating an amazing product which people love to buy. Delighted customers do the advertisements free of charge(Inbound marketing?).

There is another great way to secure loyal customers - by being human and providing great customer support(zappos was a great example). When a company grows big it introduces lot of processes and procedures and thus become a giant robot loosing the human mind to help customers. 'We are sorry to hear that but as per our process...' instead of ' I am so sorry, let me try something for you...'. No prize for guessing who will win customer's soul.

Both these are tough to do when you are a big organization. Hence they are so rare. But they are worth the try!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beautiful Design and Elevator Pitch - But most startups fail to attack the big problems

I was reviewing the AngelList Startups. Most of them have fantastic website design and great elevator pitch(Can someone tell me how they draft such a beautiful story with multimedia, graphics etc. - there must be some great tool I am not aware of). Unfortunately most of them are either minor modification of familiar websites(leaders can easily implement the extra features and kill these followers, I saw many type sites) or target very small market size to become really successful(I found one website for buying travel plans for russia).

Niche is the theme for startups but I think there are many niche areas which have huge untapped potential and ideal for startups. 

How to guarantee your luggage won't be lost or stolen next time you fly

Interesting idea...this blog is full of interesting ideas:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Junk or Interesting - what do you think?

Read here and discuss :)

People here just vanish..

'There are no nameplates, no flowers and no reminders of their lives. People here just vanish'

Thanks Dr. Gupta for this story

When will we give enough importance to basics - Food, Water, Health and Education(Information)...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thoughts on Statistics

Sometimes statistically negligible items get huge media importance but more critical but boring stats do not. Here is a fantastic TED Talk and a fantastic article.

'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kiva - Best way to Help Entrepreneurs to grow out of poverty

Loans that Change Lives  - Kiva is offerring first $25 loan offer to get started. Believe in the power of multiplication effect, rather than helping a person with one time $25 you can use the same dollar multiple times and help multiple people by providing them Loans.

Give it a shot.