6.43 P.M, Wednesday, July 17, 2013 (IST)
It was rush hour at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport. Almost all the seats at the lounge and at the Café Coffee Day outlet were occupied, at least, that’s what it seemed like, as 20-something Tara glanced around for a few minutes. She wasn’t disappointed though, because the day’s events kept her in high spirits and standing for a few minutes for her boarding call didn’t seem like such an ordeal. A promotion with a sizeable bonus, an alluring red Burberry handbag gifted by her parents and of course, a sense of achievement, all of which she was planning to carry along, to her much awaited trip to Thailand.
Two hours later
“Do you have any information?” asked Tara frantically, as Airport Authority spoke to a security personnel at the other end of the receiver. She had lost her handbag. Stolen? Maybe.
How often do we come across circumstances where we have lost our wallet, mobile or credit cards during travel, even if it was just travelling a few kilometres? What do we typically do when we are faced with such a circumstance? Call the bank and block the card? Report at a nearby police station about the theft? How about just making one phone call for significant damage control?
That’s right. Just one call, to OneAssist, a company that provides cash assistance and data security in the event of loss or theft of mobile or wallet, when in any part of the world. The company immediately blocks all your bank cards, provides a cash buffer for paying hotel bills, booking travel tickets or buying a new phone, erases data on your mobile and install backup data on new phone (provided you backup your data in their systems), organises for copies of vital documents such as Pan card and Passport et all. Of course, the servicescape depends on which membership plan you register for.
On another note, PickMe eSolutions, a company founded by three young entrepreneurs, offers a doorstep concierge service for servicing gadgets such as mobiles, laptops and watches. When I say doorstep, I literally mean, they knock on your door, pick up your gadget, deliver it at the service centre, share the complaint number with you, and allow you to track the service status online, and have the gadget dropped back home once it is serviced. All this, for an annual membership fee of less than Rs. 200.
What’s peculiar about these business ideas is that they have emerged out of smallest of gaps between two existing services or a product and service that we use every day. And that is the beauty of entrepreneurship. It is born out of simple needs (or should I say wants?).
Let’s take the story of how Ben & Jerry’s came into being. Turns out, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were the slowest and fattest kids in class. Later in life, when Ben failed to crack a med school seat and Jerry’s pottery business went downhill, they decided to turn entrepreneurs, and do what they love most. To start an ice cream joint, given their love for food. Following several hiccups with respect to choice of location, sale fluctuations during winter and size of scoops in their ice cream (yes you read that right!), today, the company (which is a part of the refreshment arm of Unilever) contributes to an overall revenue of $ 9.75 billion. You can read more about their whacky story here.
Meanwhile I would also recommend you to go through this interesting article, which talks about how famous entrepreneurs got started.
After reading all these stories, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a social media evangelist recently and the business idea that emerged out of it. He said, no matter how much we market our products or services, none of us have figured out yet if that hoarding on the busy highway led to a sale, did the witty TV advertisement do the magic or did the one-to-one interaction with customers on Twitter ring the cash register. And that’s precisely what he is working towards; taking companies closer to the sales funnel through social and online media activities and analytics tools. As for me, I’m thinking of writing my next post about how far marketers have gone, to identify where the sale came from. Maybe, as I research for my post, I’ll even ponder further about my business idea.