Category Archives: Competition

Flipkart and Ola are proving that copycats lose….

Recently, at a panel discussion, the founders of Flipkart and Ola cried for help from Indian government asking it to “protect” them from their foreign competitors (Amazon and Uber respectively) playing the nationalist card.

In doing so, both the poster boys of Indian startup industry have proved that “Birds of a feather flock together”. I say, mediocrity finds itself.

Here are some points to show how hollow and greedy the demand is.

  1. Both have chosen to forget that they both are poor copies of some foreign firms. Just like any copycat, they have proved right from the beginning that they are second class, inferior, followers of a leader. There was nothing original about them, and it is coming out.
  2. Both the companies are funded by foreign investors. Both have said that they want foreign money, but don’t want foreign companies. How self-serving….!
  3. On its part, Flipkart has chosen to register itself in Singapore. Now what makes it an Indian company, which wants to take advantages from India but does not trust its system…?
  4. They claim that Flipkart and Ola generate employment in India. Ironically, they forget that right from CEOs to almost all employees of Amazon and drivers of Uber are Indians. Where is the difference in employment generation?
  5. The fact is, both have run out of tricks after initially copying the concept from their respective leading competitors. They can’t match the innovation abilities of those firms and hence now they are crying foul.
  6. The major difference between Flipkart-Ola and Amazon-Uber is not their country of origin, but their missions. Amazon-Uber, both lead by visionary founders, are the companies founded to change lives of the people. On the contrary, our copycat Indian founders have founded their companies solely for getting high valuations and selling out to some unsuspecting investors. Greed cannot match right intentions. Excel sheets may succeed in faking valuation, but can’t create real value.
  7. In business, companies which provide better service to the customers, win. Both Flipkart and Ola are finding it difficult to provide good service to their customers or partners and hence they are losing. I have been a customer and a seller on Flipkart and I have a first-hand experience of their poor quality of service. Same is with Ola. I have spoken to at least 50 Ola drivers in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities. Hardly any one of them is happy with Ola. On the other hand, most of the Uber drivers are very happy. Same is the observation with Amazon customers. Both Flipkart and Ola should focus on customers instead of wasting time on competition.
  8. Instead of grumbling to seek narrow minded protectionism, they must innovate and provide solutions what the country needs. Anjana Menon has rightly pointed out in Economic Times (here) that both these companies need to focus on providing solutions what the rural India needs, in order to earn the respect and value that they aspire to.

Flipkart and Ola are behaving like children playing in the compound going to their parents crying for help when they lose a game with the other kids. Both and their ilk need to grow up and put their own house in order first.

In failing to do so, as Anjana writes in the ET article above, “(they) risk writing their own obituary. They shouldn’t expect too many tears at the funeral.” There can’t be a more appropriate reply to the poor demand from the clueless copycats.

Here is how Taxi-Auto-walas can fight against Uber-Ola

Taxi and Auto-walas of Mumbai and adjoining cities are facing heat of competition from Uber, Ola and the like.

The challenge is new. The challengers are also new. The approach to fight back against such a challenge also has to be new.

But, Taxi-Auto-walas are not learning any lessons. Misguided by their politically motivated leaders, they are resorting to their old arm-twisting tactics of pressurizing the government through strikes etc.

They don’t know that they can’t succeed. By strikes, they will give opportunity to many new customers to experience the better services of Uber-Ola for the first time. They must learn that the rules of the game have changed.

Instead, they should resolve to fight Uber-Ola by:
a) Providing better service
b) Not refusing fare
c) Being polite
d) Following traffic rules
e) Being transparent by not cheating

The leaders who are inciting them must help them realize the reality of the time.

But these leaders will.never do so.
Because they don’t want their followers to grow. To learn. To flourish.

Sooner or later, Taxi-Auto-walas will have to mend their ways, or face extinction.
Till then, if they continue such mindless acts, they will repeatedly fail.

Customers, who.have experienced good service will never prefer their inferior treatment. Customers will punish the perpetrators for providing poor service.

Market realities cannot be wished away by political noise.

And politicians will never tell you this.

Some lessons can’t be taught. They have to be learned.

આપણે કમ્પીટીશન (હરીફો) પાસેથી શું શીખી શકીએ?

કોઇ પણ ધંધામાં બે પ્રકારના હરીફો હોઈ શકે. એક, જે આપણાથી વધારે સફળ હોય. બીજા આપણા કરતાં ઓછા સફળ હોય.

આપણાથી વધારે સફળ હરીફો સાબિત કરે છે કે માર્કેટમાં જે કસ્ટમરો છે, તેમની જરુરિયાતોને તેમણે આપણાથી વધારે સારી રીતે સમજી છે, અને તેમણે એ જરુરિયાતોને સંતુષ્ટ પણ કરી છે. આ હરીફો આપણા ધંધામાં કયાં સુધારો કે ફેરફાર કરવાની જરૂર છે, એ આપણને શિખવાડી શકે છે.
બીજી બાજુ, જે હરીફો આપણી સરખામણીમાં પાછળ છે, તેમની પાસેથી આપણને એવા પગલાઓના ઉદાહરણો મળે છે, જે માર્કેટમાં નથી ચાલતા, નિષ્્ફળ જાય છે. આ હરીફો આપણે ધંધામાં શું ન કરવું જોઈએ એ આપણને શિખવાડે છે.
કમ્પીટીશનથી ડરવાને બદલે કે એના પર ગુસ્સો કરવાને બદલે દરેક હરીફ પાસેથી કશુંક શિખવાનું સલાહભર્યું છે. માર્કેટ એક ગતિશીલ જગ્યા છે. ત્યાં સતત ઘણું પરિવર્તન થતું રહે છે. આપણે સતત શીખતા રહીએ, સતત સુધારો કરતા રહીએ, તો અવિરત વિકાસના માર્ગ પર આગળ વધી શકીએ.

What can we learn from competition?

More Successful competition demonstrates to us that there is some customer need that they have identified and satisfied better than us. They teach us what to do, what to improve in our business.

The competition which is less successful than us exemplify the approaches that don’t work. They teach us what not to do, what to avoid in our business.

Don’t shun competition. Learn from it. Market is a dynamic place. We can grow if we keep learning and improving.