Friday, April 27, 2007

The case for off-grid power in Tanzania

...more than USD1bn was immediately needed to lessen power transmission losses now estimated at within the range of 27 percent of total electricity generation.

Some long-time readers of this blog will remember my frustrations with the energy infrastructure in Tanzania. The situation does not seem to be improving anytime soon- so much that I am seriously exploring the economics of implementing off-grid power such as solar to complement the diesel generators we use in the family business for real-estate projects... If you haven't noticed- there's currently a Green craze in the US and most definitely at Stanford GSB- I am now tapping into this knowledge from classmates before graduation.

Speaking of Green- I am off to Yosemite this weekend to enjoy the glorious Spring- should be fun.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

India & startups...Never a better time?

One of the most common things you hear as an MBA about making the tradeoff between joining an established company versus a startup is that although the upside risk is substantial for a startup, be prepared for a low salary and forgoing a cushy lifestyle in as well as accept the high possibility of outright failure.

My room-mate challenged this notion when he told me this morning that there has never been a better time for an MBA to returning to Indian to join a startup then now. Apparently salaries are 50% higher than the safe corporate job due to lack of talented managers to grow startups- this is the opposite to the US. You also have the upside of options and equity stake as large as 5% coming in as a non-founder with an MBA. Many accomplished Indian serial entrepreneurs from silicon valley are making their way back to India, with their experience and ability to get VC funding further reducing risks of joining a startup. Combined with even lower risk of transferring an established idea to a new market with potential such as India, it seems that startups might be compelling for Indians wanting to return home. Goodbye to brain drain? You see, people eventually do return home... I'd love this to happen to East Africa in the next 25 years.

UPDATE: A reminder what can happen if luck is on your side:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What kind of company makes me excited?

Companies that utilize technology to provide a social good in Africa tackling fundamental problems and have potential to make a ton of money...
I came across Voxiva, a company that's providing solutions in healthcare from clinical trials to epidemic monitoring for NGOs with people out in the field, combining the reach of cell phones and power of internet.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

C4C is on… International student apathy.

The Challenge 4 Charity (C4C) is taking place in Stanford this weekend; this is an annual fundraiser which brings together business schools along the West coast down to our campus to compete in various fun sports. For Stanford students, requirements to participate in all the events is about 6 hours of volunteer and charity work . The event is well attended, except many international students, like myself, choose to increasingly ignore large events like this. I don't know what it is, but there has always been a international vs domestic student split- for me the reason is clear, spend more time with friends I don't see very often outside the b-school. Many think that you give up your social life to b-school throughout your MBA, this is very true in the first year, but for me and many international students, I decided enough is enough with GSB events- I attend the ones I enjoy and not every single one for the sake of participation. Now I heard C4C is a great party scene, particularly as it involves multiple business schools, I would love to attend- but I did not do my hours- you can't have it all!

Friday, April 20, 2007

CEOs make excellent Business School Professors…

I hardly ever talk about what goes on in class, but I feel the class I had on Monday was a great example of the value of having a CEO as someone to teach and facilitate a class discussion. For my Supply Strategy & Factor markets class, we have the pleasure of having Michael Marks, former CEO of Flextronics and a partner at the private equity firm KKR. On Monday, we tackled Microsoft's entry in the video game console market, with the case being taught from the perspective of the contract manufacturer, Flextronics. Firstly, the energy Michael Marks generated within the class was pretty phenomenal, as well as clearly articulating the tradeoffs and issues involved in the case and constantly putting students on the spot. It was one of those rare moments when I suddenly felt how finance, marketing, accounting, human resources, strategy, organizational behavior as well as other areas such as sales and global management all come alive in an hour and half class.

I am looking forward to covering the X-Box case again in a few weeks, this time from the Microsoft angle to get the other side of this market entry. story.

Monday, April 16, 2007


This blog is corrupted or something- Google seems to have confused my various accounts as well as the migration from an old blogger account- as a result have lost posts from September 2006. Hopefully Google will do something about it and recover my posts- temporary suspension of blogging until resolve the issue. Apologies...

UPDATE: Recovered posts and blog layout- thanks to Google search cached webpages... Will resume blogging.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stanford Cool Products Expo is on! ***100th Post***- commitment to accelerate blogging to 200!

The Stanford cool product Expo is now on- showcasing some companies' new products as well as startups, not to mention some classmates who have been working hard on projects that are on the verge of becoming becoming fully fledged startups. I received questions from a reader asking about startup support at the GSB- well here is a clear example- apart from the Stanford GSB Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, visiting venture capitalist in academics, business plan competitions etc..., the cool products expo allows Stanford students to showcase their products to the world.

This is my 100th blog post, and I can't believe its been this long, I started this blog the day I got accepted into Stanford GSB about 2 years ago, and its now time to think about the direction of this blog...
I will make one commitment to my readers- I will accelerate the pace of blogging and try to add another 100 posts by mid September. What has happened is that I was excited during the lead up to starting my MBA which lead to 1-2 posts a week, then this inevitably slowed down as I got much busier in recruiting, academics during the core of the MBA. Now that I am reflecting on the MBA experience more as well and things start to slow down, I will accelerate the blogs to 3-5 posts a week to reach my goal of an addition 100 posts my mid September. Some posts will inevitably be shorter, but will ensure that I try and provide in-depth analysis/viewpoint often rather then letting this become a ticker news feed of my GSB experience.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Visa woes continue...

It looks like I was right to be if a little worried about my visa status going forward- particularly on the H1-B application front. Apparently 150,000 applications were received with a cap limit of 60,000. So there's a 60% chance of not getting the H1-B status. At least the Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows a Master's student to work for a year following graduation, is going well- got a biometric interview tomorrow at 10am for that, which means missing class- I hate missing class!