Sameer Agarwal

His views, thoughts, introspection and rants

Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Social Investing – Try MoneyVidya.com

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Imagine you’re a 30 something who has some money to dabble with and are NOT an i-banker (or the likes). Actually take out the 30 something bit; you could be whatever age but meet the following criteria:

  • Have some money AND want to invest in stocks
  • Internet Savvy

If you meet the above criteria, how do you pick which stock is right for you? Do fundamental analysis? Yeah right! Do you have the skills, the time and/or the patience to do it? Well of course you could access some syndicated research, or read opinions from ‘experts’. But then, so many people are saying so many different things. What else could you do? Umm..

Well, you’ll ask your dad, or your friend who always seems to be making money in stocks, or a random colleague… a someone you trust. Now don’t lie. MOST of us pick stocks like these – do what our ‘circle’ is doing. Right?!

How about this? How about getting opinions from your dad, your mom, your pan-wallah, your friend, an analyst and another analyst, and your friend’s dad and your friend’s dad’s friends and their friends and their sons and their pan-wallahs and their sahabs and their friends? Whoa! More complex than fundamental analysis? Well not really. How about having a community of random stock buyers who share their picks and then leverage that collective opinion? After all, the stock markets (Indian stock markets being no exception) seem to react more on perceptions and emotions than anything else.

Buy that point? Go to moneyvidya.com and check it out for yourself. There are reasons I am advertising/reviewing them:

  • This concept is close to my heart. Read my previous entry in this regard – Honey I’m late again
  • I think the MoneyVidya guys have done it as good as/better than I visualized it
  • This is a useful concept and perhaps readers of this blog could get some leverage for their stock-picking from MoneyVidya

Ok so I said I’m advertising and reviewing MoneyVidya. Let me do the latter now:

Pros:

  • Great UI – easy to use, intuitive
  • The copy on the site is great! Very easy to understand, concise; very professional
  • Registration process is simple; the data-capture forms are pretty neat
  • Navigating the site is pretty simple. I did not have to struggle moving from one section to another

Improvement Areas:

  • Registration/all forms on site.Clicking on Submit gets a “Web page can’t be displayed”. Refreshing/reloading the page solves the issue. But many people may give up there. Don’t know if it was just me? I was using Chrome browser.
  • “My dashboard” could have “what’s this/help” links. For example, I was clueless about how I acquired the “Improver” and “Helper” friends. Same goes for all pages – for example when you’re posting a tip it won’t hurt to explain what “Stop Loss Limit” is.
  • In the search results, it will be great to have ‘mouse-overs’ on the Buy/Sell sentiment percentages. For example, if it is a Reliance Ind 100% sell sentiment then it won’t hurt to know if 100 people think so, or just one. Also, for stocks that don’t have any ‘sentiments’ could perhaps be indicated as such. Overall, I think the search results UI could improve. 
  • It may be technically complex, but it will be great to have search crawl over all ‘searchable areas’. For example, if I searched for ‘Reliance Industries’ I expect to see buy/sell sentiments, discussions, polls; everything about this stock. Again, I think the overall Search/Advanced Search module needs improvement

However having mentioned all the improvement areas that I did, I still think MoneyVidya is your best bet. Kudos to Gautam and team (people behind MoneyVidya).

Written by sameer

March 23rd, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Request you to take this survey

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Sakshi (my wife) is contemplating starting a new venture. The whole idea is about “making your special days even more special”. Currently doing some primary research. Can you guys take this survey please (<5 mins to complete)? Do send the URL to your contacts as well. Thanks in advance!

Link for Survey: http://tinyurl.com/ctq8sb

Written by sameer

March 12th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

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Get on the fast lane

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Well, quite literally so! Get nitrogen for your car tyres and feel the difference for yourself. If you’re in Banaglore, you can get nitrogen for your tyres at the HP petrol pump on (Old) Airport Road. If you’re coming from Marathalli, then look for a Pizza Hut on your left. You’ll find this place immediately after the crossing. (Before Manipal Hosipta; Leela Palace across the road).

The guy charges Rs 30 per tyre for the first fill. The fill apparently lasts 6 months. Subsequent cost is Rs 10 per tyre. Following benefits:

  • Car drives smoother (can vouch for it)
  • You don’t have to worry about air pressure for six months (need to verify)
  • Less likelihood of a tyre burst (need to verify)
  • Better mileage (need to verify)
There may be other places in Bangalore offering this service. If so, please update those locations as comments on this article.

Written by sameer

February 9th, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Marketing Gimmick…. perhaps for a noble cause?

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Khojguru seems to be yet another classifieds/city listing/yellow pages site. I say “seems to be” since my five odd minutes of surfing on this site could not tell me much. Anyway, not so much a review on the site, but a thought on how Anurag Agarwal, perhaps the founder of the site, is trying to promote it.

What do you do when you’ve hardly any differentiation in your product and when you haven’t been able to position it right. “Isko sab pata hai” (meaning this knows everything; that’s the tag line on the site), par isse mujhe kuch nahin pata chalta hai! (but this hardly tells me anything!).

Take a guess. Do you give freebies to everyone who joins? Do you do an ad blitzkrieg? Do you sponsor events? Huh. All that’s old!

Khojguru promises to donate Re 1 for every registration on their site to the National Defence Fund. Given the high voltage patriotism after the recent Mumbai attacks, this sure is going to  persuade a user to spare a minute for registration. Think about it – Re 1 for every registration – I’m sure if they reach a critical mass, they’ll get back at least 10 times for every user. Neat, hmmm!

PS: Don’t ask me if this persuaded me to register ;)

Written by sameer

January 6th, 2009 at 10:33 am

Posted in Thoughts,web

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How to get yourself noticed in the blogosphere?

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I was chatting with an acquaintance who wanted some advice on how to establish their startup (actually the idea) with a target segment of internet users. Not that I’m an expert in this area, but I did give him my two cents, and I thought I’ll put them up here as well.

The assumption is that the company/personal blog will be the primary vehicle to ‘establish’ that connect. So here are some tips on successful blogging:

  1. Write regularly and briefly (heard of Flash Fiction?!). Most blog readers, read regularly but have a very short attention span
  2. Monitor your traffic (including your RSS feed). Analyze what kind of topics are working (getting more traffic, comments) and which are not.
  3. Subscribe to RSS feeds of active bloggers. Keep commenting on their blogs actively – it’s easier to get noticed like that
  4. SEO is not dead. Optimize your blog and try to own some keywords – show up on the first page for keywords that matter. Be diligent about tagging each of your posts
  5. Create groups on Facebook, Orkut and similar community sites. People notice groups because of friend feeds and typically subscribe themselves as well (me too) – so you can get some eyeballs by leveraging the chain effect
  6. Get your blog listed on as many blog aggregator sites as you can

Of course these are basics. More professional help is available at Blogworks run by a person called Rajesh Lalwani. And no, I’m not getting paid to write about them. Just that I discovered them lately and found them interesting!

Written by sameer

August 18th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Factors corelated with blogging

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My blogging patterns are very random (see below). I’ve been blogging since Dec-04 and there have been months when I have posted 20+ entries and there have been several months when I’ve not posted any article at all! I’m not a professional blogger, and I know that a lot of people are not waiting for my update anyway – so probably that is one reason for my random blogging motivation (or lack of it)!

But that’s no big deal. Personal blogging patterns are of no major importance – why the hell analyze it?! But maybe they mean something. Is there any correlation between how much one blogs and their happiness levels? Between blogging and time availability. Between blogging and number of blog views/comments/unique visitors.

Or perhaps, blogging and how much one is spending – too much spending means you’re having lots of fun (mostly) and hence have no time for blogging?! Of course it could be the other way round as well – when you spend more, you are ‘doing’ more things, and hence have more to talk.

Let’s see. Below is a 2-series graph that illustrates my blogging and spend trend over the last 14 months.

See a correlation? Maybe not…

How about now? See the trend lines? While the expense is coming down, the blog entries are increasing.

Logical… Maybe yes, maybe no! More research required :)

Written by sameer

August 12th, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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The face of terror

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Or does it have any? It was a Friday afternoon and I had come out lunch with my colleagues in East Bangalore (RMZ Infinity, Old Madras Road). It must have been around 1:45 PM when a colleague got a phone call from a relative asking if he was safe.

Safe he was, but the call brought anxiety to the table faster than anyone’s imagination. There was a bomb blast in South Bangalore! Even before we could rush to the closest TV screen, in retrospect, 9 bombs exploded in different parts of the city. Of course we didn’t know then – but we did fear that it can’t be an isolated bomb blast and that serial blasts are going to follow. No place was safe. My mother usually goes out in the afternoons for her ‘satsanga’ sessions and the first thing I did was to call her and tell her not to step out of the house. My wife is luckily in Delhi, so thankfully the anxiety was half of what it could have been. Then I went to office, picked up my computer and directly drove home. Not sure if that was a good decision or bad (since hypothetically the office premises were safer than the roads).

Thankfully the bombs were low intensity and not much damage was done – of course two lives were lost and some people injured which IS huge damage. Enough to shake everyone a bit though, and as if that wasn’t enough what followed a day after was Ahemadabad – which was much gorier than Bangalore. Even hospitals were not spared with some explosions in front of the civic hospitals.

Who is India Mujahideen and does it have a face? Will we get to see that face? What is their motive? It’s not as if terrorism is something new to India but I hate it when people like you and me become so casual about it. We say that life must go on. We go out shopping the next day because we think the traffic will be less. How insensitive can we be!

We need to bring a stop to this. Why should innocent people lose their lives like this? Who is it helping and how?

Written by sameer

July 28th, 2008 at 11:30 am

3 reasons why Bangalore-Chennai Shatabadi rocks!

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Before I boarded the Shatabadi on Thursday I was quite skeptical since I was traveling in a train after a really long time. But I was to be proved wrong!

It was 5:30 AM in the morning when I entered the Bangalore City Railway Station and saw a Bangalore-Chennai train parked on Platform 1. It couldn’t have been better, right? Wrong! That was not my train – the Shatabadi – and I like a jerk kept looking for my coach without realizing that it was some other train. When I did figure that, I had difficulty locating where the Shatabadi was parked, since the display unit showed the wrong platform number! I had to almost run for a couple of hundred meters to be on time. Of course I was cursing, and yeah panting as well!

But as soon as I entered Shatabadi (Executive Class), I knew all the reasons for cursing were over. The seats looked pretty decent – upholstery was quite OK and the leg room – as good/better than business class!  The servers carried a warm  smile on their face accompanied by several rounds of goodies – water, candies, tea/coffee, corn flakes, veg/non-veg breakfast and tea/coffee, and I promise the cutlery was definitely very decent as well!

Cutting a long story short, below are the 3 reasons why Banaglore-Chennai Shatabadi rocks (over a flight):

  1. Save Money. An executive class ticket on Shatabadi comes for around Rs 1000. An air ticket will not cost anything less than Rs 4000 one way for economy class. That makes it a cool saving of Rs 6,000 on a round trip without compromising on the total travel time or comfort.
  2. Spend more time traveling to Chennai rather than traveling IN Bangalore. Shatabadi takes 5 hours, from station to station. Add an hour max for travel to railway station, locating your platform etc. That mkes it 6 hours (>85% time traveling TO Chennai). Here’s the typical time you’ll take if you fly:
    • Travel to the Bangalore airport: 90 mins
    • Check-in and Boarding:60 mins
    • Flying Time: 40 mins
    • Congestion Time (since it happens almost always): 20 mins
    • Baggage Claim at Chennai: 20 mins
    • Total Time: ~4hrs (>80% of time spent traveling IN Bangalore).
  3. Get better service (compared to economy air). Have you even heard of leg room in economy airfare?

You need more reasons, huh?!

Written by sameer

July 20th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

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Bachelored!

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Yeah that’s how it feels. Sakshi is away on a one month sabbatical and no matter how exciting bachelorhood may sound to a married man, I’m not sure what I’ll make of it (too early to comment – while I write this she is still flying!).

Written by sameer

July 20th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

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Do you really need Knowledge Managers anymore?

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The trigger for this post is an interesting article from Atul Rai here. Atul articulates that from a ‘tacit knowledge sharing’ perspective (call it Web 2.0 or social networking if you have to) communication is probably not that relevant. He cites the SMS and twitter phenomenon has changed the way we communicate as people. Fair point – SMS hs chnged rules qt a bit & its nrml fr cnvrstns 2b lk ths.

But is communication all about the way we write, or speak. Isn’t their more to it? Bloody well yes, communication is about effectively transmitting a message from a sender to a receiver. While articulation (for traditional, ‘explict’ kind of KM) requires good writing skills, and for Web 2.0 kind of KM it does not, the realm of communication is much beyond articulation alone!

‘Communication skills’ is about an understanding of what mediums work best to be able to most effectively ‘transmit’ information. As Knowledge Management, or Knowledge Sharing professionals isn’t our job to create an environment conducive for effective collaboration? How people collaborate, what appeals to them and what doesn’t – including the medium (say Web 2.0) and language (say twitter/SMS kind) – is something that will fall in the communication realm for sure.

Of course you can argue that it really is about understanding human behavior, but ‘communicating’ with humans effectively to get the desired behavior is key, and ‘that’ definitely is the task of a master communicator.

In a corporate setup you’re trying to reach out to employees for a whole lot of reasons. Employee engagement,  knowledge management, information dissemination and a whole lot of other things. Poor employee! There are too many voices, too much clutter, too much confusion. Why can’t we have one voice, why can’t we align the communicators and the knowledge managers?  Is it because the knowledge managers think more in terms of processes and systems while communicators more in terms of info bytes? But isn’t knowledge management just a name now – is it not about knowledge sharing – sharing of knowledge bytes. Isn’t Web 2.0 breaking the structures and the processes out of KM? If yes, then aren’t communicators and knowledge managers inadvertently converging at “employee engagement”? Both trying to make sure employees know what they need to, and tell what they ought to…

Think about it. And if you agree, then well do you really need knowledge managers anymore? Isn’t it better to have a bunch of people who understand human behavior and the mechanics of bringing people together (broadly in the realm of employee engagement) run the show? Isn’t that very close to what communicators typically are anyway expected to do?

Footnote 1: Of course some technology may be involved in setting the mechanics up – but that can always be outsourced.

Footnote 2: I do a dedicated “KM” job as well, and am at an equal risk of losing my job if people buy in to what I said!

Written by sameer

July 15th, 2008 at 4:10 pm