Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Dilli Darbaar - Journey of Careless Flirt to Responsible Man

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs” goes a standard notion, but soaring against all the odds is what the noted author- Satya Vyas completely believes in. In his latest book, 'DilliDarbaar', the protagonist flows against the waves and attains the success by taking shortcuts. This time, it's not just the story of love, friendship and trust that wins the heart of the Indian audience, its the contemporary language of the book that steals the show. Breaking the stereotype, Satya Vyas has surfaced a new path by publishing a book for teens in Hindi language. 

The beautiful writing comes natural to the author- Satya Vyas. He is a logistics professional working with a public sector Navratna company. When asked to differentiate between his two entirely non-identical personalities i.e a writer and a professional, he said he is 'a professional by day and a writer at night'.

Satya Vyas
1. Seeing the current scenario of Hindi literature in our country, do you think that the population of people reading Hindi literature is decreasing?

Satya Vyas: Despite being official language of the country, Hindi does not have a PAN India influence. So comparing its literature with English will be unfair. But seeing the new trend and taste of readers and from my own experience, I can say that the readers have started taking interest in Hindi literature once again and that too with a sense of pride.

2. Can you give us a brief entail of your latest novel 'Dilli Darbaar' ?

Satya Vyas: The latest one - 'Dilli Darbaar' is a joyful journey of a young, jovial, techno geek ‘Rahul Mishra’ from a careless flirt to a responsible man. The story revolves around the lifestyle, efforts and adaptability of a small town guy who comes to Delhi for better future prospects. A techno geek whose mantra in life is ‘There is always a short cut to Success’ and ironically he proves himself right with his own eccentric ways. The story is also about Paridhi, who is a typical East Delhi girl. The story is the path to find the meaning of love, trust, friendship and 'life'.

3. The most important aspect of any novel is its title. Giving an attractive yet concise title is a must. The title of your first book- “Banaras Talkies” totally comply with the above parameters. How did you come up with the idea of denoting your book with such a fascinating name?

Satya Vyas: I believe that the title of a book should be apt and relatable to the readers. While considering the title- target readers, genre and the content of the book must be kept in mind. Banaras Talkies describes the story of BHU (Banaras Hindu University) in Banaras. Also, because all the chapters of the book are named after a relevant Hindi movie. So, I decided to go for the title 'Banaras Talkies'.

4. Both, 'Banaras Talkies' and 'Dilli Darbar' book basically deals with the youth and its lifestyle. But, majority of the youth today prefer reading books in English over Hindi language. So being a book for teenagers, what made you compile the pages of your book in Hindi Language?

Satya Vyas: Youth today prefer reading books in English because they are left with no other option. Variety, content and price wise English books are available within an arm's reach. Here lies the problem with Hindi. We have not provided them the book of their taste. Hindi writing has always been treated as the matter for matured mind. It never bothers to write for teens or young generation barring a couple of exceptions. This made me think about writing Banaras talkies and now Dilli Darbaar in Hindi. Moreover, ideas come best in my mother tongue.

5. Your first novel is all about the college life of youth. It is filled with humour and suspense. How will you explain the book in short, when someone asks you about it?

Satya Vyas: My first novel is Banaras Talkies. Banaras Talkies can be referred as syllabus of university life. A journal of day to day encounters of hostel life. While narrating the incidents in the most jovial manner, Banaras Talkies tells the story of love, friendship and betrayal. Juiciness and succulence of the content take the readers to a fun filled literature ride. Also, the thrilling climax is the USP of this novel. You'll not be able to crack the suspense until the book itself reveals it.

6. You are both, a diligent professional and a passionate writer. What difference do you find between your two personalities?

Satya Vyas: I have drawn a clear demarcation between 'Satya- The Professional' and 'Satya- The writer'. The demarcation is as thick as day and night. In other words, one may say, that I am a professional by day and a writer at night.

7. You are being addressed as 'The Chetan Bhagat of Hindi Literature'. What would you like to say about it?

Satya Vyas: Chetan is the stalwart of contemporary Indian writing who has created a niche for himself and paved the way for others too. He established the fact that writing can be a career option too. So, the tag of 'The Chetan Bhagat of Hindi Literature' definitely elates me. But, I will be happier when media and Hindi fraternity finds a name from Hindi literature to compare with.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Journey to Give a Humble Mumbaiya Vadapav- A National Identity!

‘Why Vadapav can’t stand tall among Burger and Pizzas of the World?’, this was the question that rose in the mind of a finance professional- Venkatesh Srinivas Iyer. This awakened his foodies soul, the passion fired in him to take the uncharted path of making a simple, humble street food of Mumbai widely popular through his QSR chains- 'Goli Vadapav'. Both, Venkatesh Srinivas Iyer and his co-founder- Shivadas Menon through their venture succeeded in making vadapav- a national brand.

Venkatesh Iyer
Soon, Venkatesh Iyer felt the need of penning down their adventurous entrepreneurial journey and thus was born a book- 'My Journey with Vadapav'. According to Venkatesh Iyer, “This book is not only a handbook for entrepreneurs in the food segment but an attempt to inspire entrepreneurs across the board. One could be planning to launch a tech or a B2B or a consumer facing business. The key is to not give up ever and take small failures in your stride because once you put your mind into anything; it will not be able to elude you for long. Your will power and ability to find a way out of any problem will make your business a success in due course and that’s what we set out to achieve and I hope this book will enable many more entrepreneurs in our country.”

1. First of all, there are myriad Indian finger food you could have plunged into. What made you choose Vadapav among all of them?

Venkatesh Iyer- Vadapav is a brand in itself but has always been a street food made in unhygienic conditions. The product has a major pull simply because its ingredients have a national appeal – besan, bread, potatoes and chutneys. On a hot afternoon, after I finished a meeting and reached CST Terminus in Mumbai via a local. I was starving and decided to grab a burger at a newly opened McDonald outside the station. While crossing the road towards the restaurant, I saw a 40 ft tall hoarding of the McDonald burger and under the hoarding, a vadapav vendor was dishing out hot and freshly made vadapavs to 20 odd people. It struck me how similar burger and vadapav are. It was a eureka moment for me and I said to myself, ‘Why Vadapav can’t stand tall among Burger and Pizzas of the World?’ It was at that moment, my co-founder Shivadas Menon and I decided to take a plunge and start a QSR chain selling hygienic vadapavs at competitive prices. 

2. You and your partner were both into finance sector. What inspired both of you to plunge into food sector?

Venkatesh Iyer- In our previous avatar as corporate finance professionals, we helped many businesses raise funds. While my co-founder is a hardcore number guy, I’m more of a storyteller. So, I would sell the story of a brand and he would strengthen the case by presenting the facts and numbers to help banks and institutions make investment decisions. While we enjoyed our stint but both of us wanted to start our own venture in food space. Because we believed it is a largely untapped segment and dominated mostly by unorganized sector. When we zeroed in on the product idea, we dedicated ourselves full time to set up Goli Vadapav. 

3. Food sector is a path of challenges as Indians are loyal to their taste buds. What sorts of challenges did you face?

Venkatesh Iyer- We understand the Indian taste palate. We knew that in order to succeed, we couldn’t go away from the Indian taste and that’s why we chose to open a pan India chain, which would sell vadapavs in many variants. However, our set of challenges were different. When we started, we had a central kitchen from where the product was prepared by number of chefs and dispatched to the neighbouring stores. In no time, we were flooded with calls and franchise inquiries but the challenge was expansion. If we continue to service from a manually run central kitchen then capex would increase with number of stores going up, logistics will be a challenge too. Thus, we needed different partners on board. We also wanted to put in a place a uniform process of preparing the vadapavs so that taste is standardized and pilferage and wastage can be removed from the system. We reached out to a large MNC which was already doing back end product preparation work for an American QSR chain in India. After a few round of meetings and presentations, our proposal was accepted and the MNC came on board to prepare Goli Vadapav in their factory on a separate belt. Next, we signed on a logistics partner to ensure timely delivery to our stores. This helped us expanding fast at pan India level. 

4. What is the reason behind keeping the brand name 'Goli'? Are you planning to establish this brand in International arena?

Venkatesh Iyer- Vadapav is a Mumbai thing and word Goli is a slang word. If you will overhear a friendly banter in this city, you are most likely to hear ‘Kya Goli de raha hai yaar’. Since, we set out to create a Mumbaiya brand for the country, it was only natural that our product, brand, store aesthetics and everything else should represent Mumbai and its spirit. 

5. Which Vadapav from your menu is an all time favourite and sells the most?

Venkatesh Iyer- We sell close to 10 different variants of vadapav. Our all time favourite is classic Vadapav while others like Masala Vadapav and Spinach Corn Vadapav are famous in different regions as per taste palate of the region. 

6. Dominos and McDonals are trying to Indianize their menu that suits Indian taste buds. What is your take on it? Does 'Goli Vadapav' sees them as potential competitors?

Venkatesh Iyer- Every QSR brand is a competition. India is a price sensitive market. However, over the last decade, Goli has carved its niche as an ethnic fast food chain selling authentic spicy Indian vadapav across the country.

Friday, December 16, 2016

You can be Rich - Invest Smartly!

P.V. Subramanyam
“Investment” is a word that challenges the intellect of every investor, followed with the prolonged and topsy-turvy discussions with almost everyone he knows. Suddenly, everyone around him dons the hat of a financial advisor, offers guidance that confounds him totally and this creates even more baffling situation for a naive investor. Contrarily, the answer that he seeks, paves the path for myriad other questions. At the end, he feels himself being trapped in the cobweb of financial planning and investment.

This led to the increasing demand of trusted and experienced advisors. Hence, with the aim of solving this problem of thousands and saving the amount in millions, the two financial bloggers, P.V.Subramanyam (Author) and M.Pattabiraman (Co-author) teamed up to pen down the most effective and compelling investing essentials and calculators, in their jargon-free book 'You can be Rich with Goal Based Investing', that a novice investor can easily comprehend.

P.V. Subramanyam is a Chartered Accountant by profession and has conducted over 50 training sessions on ‘Finance for Non Finance companies’ for major industries that include mutual funds, life insurance companies, private sector banks and brokerage houses. M. Pattabiraman is an Associate Professor & Researcher at IIT-M and has also won Young Faculty Recognition Award.

1. You are in the finance industry since three decades. Please share with us your experience and the thing about the Indian financial sector that amuses you the most.

P.V. Subramanyam: Been a good ride, God has been kind. I have donned the role of an investor, sub-broker, fund manager, broker-advisor, and now blogger, investor, and financial coach. Each role that I did in the past has been a good step. However when I did CA, got trained as a lawyer, did company secretarial work- I had no clue that each step will add so much value. Like I said God has been kind. I do think, I have a special skill to be lucky.

People happily make mistake of buying inefficient and expensive products for millions, BUT refusing to spend even in '000s for financial education. However, this is true in many fields. People spend Rs. 75000 on a camera but will not spend Rs. 7500 for one day workshop by a good photographer to learn how the camera works.

2. Being deeply involved in physics and quantum research, what inspired you to become a financial blogger?

M. Pattabiraman
M.Pattabiraman: Personal circumstances. I was a head-in-the-clouds academic but was forced to think about money when my later father suddenly fell sick. Low-level of risk perception among both buyers and sellers. Perhaps not an amusing matter!

3. What was the motivating factor and the most challenging thing that you both came across, while writing this book?

P.V. Subramanyam: Motivating factor- The ONLY way to INVEST is being GOAL ORIENTED while investing. The biggest FAILURE of investing is when the investment is UNABLE to meet
the GOALS for which one is investing. So, my co-author Pattu and I were convinced that knowing where a person is, where he wants to grow, what instruments he can use, what route, what kind of risks lie in the path can be made into a small, simple book. Pattu came in as the Calculator king to create www.goalbasedinvesting.in

The challenge was to simplify it to basic English and dejargonise so that a layman would not be intimidated by the content. The feedback so far is that we have reasonably achieved this.

M.Pattabiraman: The book is essentially Subra’s vision: Invest with a goal by asking the right questions and seek simple solutions. The common problem among investing books is the gap between thought and action. There are problems when the reader tries to implement what is written. The calculators associated with the book will reduce this gap since the reader can now create personalised investment solutions.

The only challenge was to convert Excel sheets into online tools. However, the publishing team took this burden off my shoulder and handled this efficiently.

4. When two people write together, there is a lot of learning process that one undergoes. What did you learn from your co-author?

P.V. Subramanyam: My learning from Pattu was actually over long ago- in fact long before we started this project. I could spell out a need and Pattu could use his Excel skills to convert that into a calculator in a jiffy. Once I knew he had that skill, I did not want to learn it. It was much easier to ask him for a calculator instead of trying to learn what he was doing. In a time of specialisation, re-inventing the wheel made no sense.

M.Pattabiraman: I have been learning from Subra for many years now. The seeds for this book were sown when he reviewed my first calculators 4-5 years ago. His investing experience has resulted in an intuitive perception of risk and reward which is quite unique. This is great food for thought to create simple tools that anybody can use to illustrate and understand his ideas.

5. The book basically deals with the investing techniques that one should follow. Do you both also practice these techniques?

P.V.Subramanyam: A lot of it yes. For e.g. I would know which of my investments are earmarked for what- and which asset is the fall back option if the main investment was to fall short.

M.Pattabiraman: Yes, to a tee.

6. It's a typical Indian habit to compare things. So, according to you, how Indian investing pattern differs from the Western culture and what effect it creates on our economy?

P.V.Subramanyam: It takes much longer time to do a due diligence with Indian companies. Overall there is no 'Indian investing pattern', at least I am not able to spot it.

M.Pattabiraman: It is human to compare. In general, I think everyone has similar ideas of risk and reward.

7. There is a common belief among the investors that 'Investing is the easiest way to double up the money' and with this perception many people get attracted towards investing, who later end up making huge losses. What advice would you like to give them about investing?

P.V.Subramanyam: Doubling, Trebling, etc. sound good. However, while investing one needs patience. Investment in good quality companies have given 100 times earnings over say 20 years, why should you be happy with a mere doubling?

M.Pattabiraman: Watch a video on how Bamboo plants grow. Nothing happens for years, followed by spectacular growth. Money grows in a similar way for those who patiently invest.