Wrap-up

As we celebrate an awesome final presentation delivered with grace to MES, we want to take the opportunity to thank our client and hosts: Hiten, Heena and Nipul for making our stay in India as pleasant as possible, for the opportunity of studying their business model and learning how business is being conducted in this part of the world. We have learned a lot in these three weeks and we couldn’t have had a better client.
Here is a little something Hiten, the CEO has prepared for his “F” Team. “F” as in Fisher!!!!Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.06.44 AM

Selfies

I had to post this because we have found out an amazing thing about Ean. Actually two.
The first is that he is a robot: he does not sweat on a 100 degrees temperature and can make elevators run when nobody can. The second, is that he has an unique talent for selfies: he can take a selfie with a group of 100 people if he so wants and everyone will be in the picture (weather they like it or not). Here are some examples. He has however trouble taking pictures of more… moving subjects such as the cows in the streets. It took many attempts for a lucky few.

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Taj Mahal…meh?!?!

Though our team is based in Mumbai, we could not escape India without visiting the Taj Mahal. Once we land in Delhi, we immediately notice that the traffic in is a bit more organized than in Mumbai (think NYC x2 instead of NYC x4). After making it to the hotel, everyone’s reaction is pretty much the same — Wow! Kingshuk (our fearless leader) booked everything, but we had no idea it would be so fancy. After our car is checked for bombs at the hotel gate (typical) and our bags are scanned for weapons and explosives before we enter the building (it seems standard where we’ve been…even in the grocery stores in Mumbai), we enter “Vivanta by Taj”.

Vivanta by Taj

DAY 1 (aka Election Results Day): First stop, The Lotus Temple, which gave me a moment of peace and quiet (since you can’t talk inside) before our hectic day really began. Next stop, Delhi Gateway and the political center of Delhi. This was a very historic day to be visiting Delhi since, as my colleague, Ria, put it:

“Today is the day that the world’s largest democracy gets ready to vote in a brand new government.”

Everyone was checking the polls regularly that day to see who was winning. Also, as we headed to lunch, we started noticing “Dry Day” signs. When we inquired, the response was, “You don’t want all these people drinking when the results are announced.” Fair enough.

After lunch, I was able to practice my negotiation skills (courtesy of Professor Dumas) to convince the team to go to Akshardham Temple. Best. Decision. Ever. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the complex and by “not allowed” I mean they were serious about keeping the temple sacred. Phones and cameras were not even permitted inside the walls and I received the most thorough pat-down I’ve ever had in my life. Being ‘unplugged’ made the experience better somehow. You’ll have to experience it for yourself to understand how truly grand this place is. I’m already planning a trip back. [Below is an aerial image I found online]

Akshardham Temple

After a couple of hours in the temple (yes, it takes that long), we headed to the markets for some shopping. In typical market style, each negotiation took much longer than I would ever care to wait in the U.S., but it was all part of the experience. The lady below was one of the toughest negotiators. She looks innocent enough, but it was definitely part of her strategy. We all lost a little money that night and were exhausted (even a bit frustrated) by the end, but I can honestly say we are a bit stronger in our negotiations now.

Delhi Market

DAY 2 (aka Taj Day): We had to wake up early Saturday morning for our 5-hour journey to the Taj Mahal. As we neared the city, we picked up a tour guide provided by the hotel. He was a seasoned professional, so I was already a bit skeptical. He asked for Rs. 750 from all the foreigners and Rs. 20 from our Indian friends to enter the Taj. To his chagrin, I told him that I’ll accompany him to get the tickets 😉

The high price tag of our tickets allowed us to skip all the lines in the gates. We were also able to snag this great pic in our Indian clothes. It was great to have access to one of the 7 Wonders of the World and to hear the story of it’s construction from a local, but compared to Akshardham Temple, the Taj Mahal experience seemed…meh.

TajMahal_OHIO

Afterwards, our tour guide took us to some shady location to buy some high-value gift items. We ended up with a few marble plates before hustling out of there!

Baby Store Tour

Mon and Pop stores are very popular in India. Compared to chains, those small stores seem like more flexible and friendly. Today, we went to two baby stores, one cooperated with our competitor and an individual owner. There is one interesting situation that all the clerks in stores are male. We thought customers would more like to talk to female clerks, since female clerks probably can understand their needs more.

MeeMee is the biggest local brand in India. It is very successful to repackage and market with the MeeMee brand. Wide product category and beautiful package earn lots of customers’ trust. In the MeeMee store, we found that for some products they only sell MeeMee products but they also introduce some international brands in some categories. We wonder how they decide to launch sole or multiple brands in the categories.

In the individual store, we found that the food and products for baby almost are made in America, Europe or Japan with higher price, and the toys or clothes are made in China. It seems like people are more willing to pay more and seek higher quality of products for baby.

In the hot and humid day, the best thing is to have coconut water~~

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Curiosity killed the Indian!

stop asking questions!!!!!

stop asking questions!!!!!

Having lived in this country for more than thirty years, I always thought of myself as a “been there done that” kind of Indian.
But touring India with three Americans, a Romanian and a Taiwanese has led me to question how well do I know my country. As we travel across the streets in air conditioned cars while people look at my GAP teammates as if they were from Mars, I struggle to find answers to the volley of million questions my tourist friends have for me.
It all started with the ‘what’s’. What is that guy doing? What is that building? What is this place called? What is water called in Hindi? What’s this food called? Easy-peasy I would think as I would respond back with one word answers. If this is what I expect to be asked, it’s going to be a walk in the park for me for the rest of my stay in Mumbai.
But my Fisher friends have high hopes from me as I found out with more and more questions starting with “why”. Why is the traffic light not working? Why do they have cows roaming the streets? Why do Indians move their heads sideways when they say yes? Why do people dye their hair with henna? Why do they not sell meat at this restaurant? Why is there a red dot on the forehead of Indian women? What do the toe rings mean?…. Why is the sky blue? The old grey cells in my brain have trouble coping with the increasing amount of work demanded of them. Sometimes I mumble out answers that I am not sure of hoping and hoping with crossed fingers that they will believe what I say. Eventually they do, but because they do not have another source to verify the erroneous information. But I think they understand that there is too much to remember for an easily distractible mind like mine.
Sometimes they see through my cheap attempts to stereotype people we see on the roads, especially when that leads to an easy explanation for the niche questions. When I do, I try to make up answers with a straight face but damn! too much class participation in the past year leads everyone to cross question. I let out a sigh and answer back with a sheepish “I don’t know”.
But between curious questions and hapless answers, we have had a good run so far. Riding elephants. Getting washed by them. Driving scooters in Goa without crashing them into anything. Swimming to the base of a waterfall to do a floating O-H-I-O. Meeting with suppliers and talking to store owners. Riding autorickshaws. Having a lot of Indian food without significant signs of diarrhea.
Half way through our trip, I still dread that having set high standards for my expertise as a guide I would soon be bombarded with questions starting with “What-ifs”. But I know I’d manage it somehow. Am I the best guide for India? No. Am I the best guide the GAP India team can get for free? Yeah!!

 

 

Amazon India

Located in Bhiwandi on the outskirts of Mumbai sits a large warehouse baking in the 100°F+ heat of India with more than 320 employees busy sorting and shipping thousands of packages per day as Indian music vibrates throughout the complex keeping the beat of the pace.

Amazon opened its first Indian warehouse in 2013 (the one we toured) and has recently opened another fulfillment center in Bangalore that is 4 times the size of the one in Mumbai.  Their security is tighter than most airports so unfortunately we could not take any photos but they were very open to answering any questions we asked.

Amazon India pic

As in most warehouses, Amazon is set up with a receiving, sorting, packing and shipping area.  The efficiency is outstanding within each sector and their detailed software system makes it all possible.  The system is easy to follow creating low-cost employee training and is programmed to catch human errors.

CubiScan

Picture of the CubiScan used in Amazon’s fulfillment center in Mumbai

One item we found interesting was their use of CubiScan, a device utilized to measure the length, width, height and weight of any incoming item.  These measurements are then updated on the website and used as a tool for calculating the weight of packages as they move through the shipment line.

Although each one of us was dripping in sweat and begging for water at the end of the tour, the employees didn’t seem to miss a beat and could handle the heat.  Even after touring the facility and answering all of our questions we are all still wondering how Amazon can offer same day delivery in Mumbai… the city that has the worst traffic any of us has ever seen.

Monday Blue

Monday is always blue…especially after Goa trip. However, today is a productive day. After the discussions with Wonderkids team, we had a deeper understanding of the situation. Therefore, we tried to generate the marketing strategy for Wonderkids. Thanks for Professor Jay Dial. We used five forces and VRIO to evaluate Wonderkids and competitors’ situations. We did apply the knowledge learned in school to real case.

 

Strategy Discussion

 

Elephants and more

Elephants

On Saturday we rode elephants!!! Alina and Ashley were washed by an elephant! I think they thought they were going to be ones doing the washing, but boy did they get surprised. We ended by giving the elephants a snack immediately prior to pictures of O-H-I-O elephant style!

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Spice plantation

After riding elephants we headed for a very interesting tour of the spice plantation where we leaned how spices are harvested, which are the most expensive on the market and that Coca-Cola buys 30% of the world production of vanilla. Who new there is something non-chemical in there?  We chew cloves, bought Indian hand made cigarettes (bidi), drank lemongrass tea and a couple of shots of caju moonshine (feni). We also took pictures of the monkey man picking up fruit off tall palm trees.

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Waterfall

With 3 hours in the SUV and 2 hours in the Jeep going and back, we finally arrived at the water fall. The beautiful scene made everyone forget the tiredness. Everyone was looking forward to jump into the water.  While we swam, Ean put his feet in the water and said he felt something moving under his feet. After everyone got back to the land, Bliss saw a snake in the water near us. “Time to go”,  Ean  said withdrawing  his feet in a beat from the water and we all fled the site. On our way back we had the pleasure of encountering a family of monkeys.

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Birthdays!

It’s late Friday night in india and most importantly the Friday of kingshuk’s birthday. We were able to spend it in Goa having booked travel several weeks earlier with plans to visit a Wonderkids warehouse. The warehouse tour didn’t happen as plans changed but we were already able to visit the largest of the warehouses, amazon, and several leading stores this week. More on our great findings to come but for now a bit about kingshuk’s birthday.

Following me screaming I don’t want to die on a scooter in India, my team graciously let me join the most experienced driver in the front of the pack instead of having nightmares of a loud honking horn prior to my demise being hit by a bus from the back. Scooters, horns, cows, and every type of vehicle crowding the street is the norm here, but a bit hectic for my normal driving style. Water sports was the theme of the evening: parasailing, jet skis, banana boats, and bumper cars followed by a pool volleyball game. A wonderful evening at the beach which also included traditional temporary tattoos. Did I mention Kingshuk shared the cake? An amazing day celebrating our team member who keeps us out of trouble.

The Wonderkids family continues to be amazing to us and always there to help us at work and with cultural experiences. It continues to be an excellent experience working with the core team to meet our project goals. I was lucky enough to share a birthday with the general manager earlier in the week and my birthday wish is hopefully coming true tomorrow as I ride with the elephants…

 

Culinary experiences part 1

In India people are divided into vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and being in the last category kinda…. Sucks! Not only the restaurants are vegetarian but people would not eat vegetarian food in a restaurant that cooks meat. You never know, a sausage might have exploded in the kitchen at one point in time.

Our task of finding food is even harder with Amanda’s 1001 allergies.

Looking for meat we found this nice restaurant where a pre-monsoon torrential rain caught us and eventually left us in the dark, dining under iPhone flashlight. Internet worked though!

I was so excited at the thought of having an Indian hamburger (vada pav) only to discover that it’s …. vegetarian.

the next treat was a typical sweet (peda). Good by vegetarian or non-vegetarian standards.

Last but not least, worth mentioning, the awesome Kingfisher beer and a weird non-alcoholic blue sparkly drink.

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