The Very Special People


Monday, November 17, 2014

Why I Decided to Join an eHealth Startup?

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” - Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Well, this is how I interpret my relationship with my blogs and especially with all of you who have been with me since the time I keyed in my very first post in 2007. I have grown with my personal little space on the web, literally!! Fast forward, I am in Berlin now and working for a very interesting startup: Klara whose mission is to make healthcare accessible and affordable to every person in this world using the technology. As a starter, we are tackling the dermatology sector, meaning for any skin problem Klara is your first go to solution. Using the Klara app, you can take a picture of your skin spot and send it to a board certified dermatologist and receive a consultation within hours, yes it's that simple! 

I Was Almost Diagnosed With Tuberculosis (TB)

Before I go in any more details about the app, here is my true little life story- In April 2014, I moved from Dusseldorf to Berlin for my internship. It was all going fine until one day in the last week of May I had a boil on my left shoulder. A boil is usually a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle, so I thought it will go away by itself, but it didn't happen. Surprisingly, after 3-4 days I started to have a bit of swelling on my boil that restricted the movement of my arm. As a result, I found it extremely painful to move my arm. The pain got so bad that on a Saturday evening, I got admitted as an emergency case in a public hospital in Berlin. They quickly gave me pain killers and by next morning, the pain was gone and I could easily move my arm too. This is how it looked when I got admitted-

skin boil
Boil on left shoulder
I was already feeling better, but the boil was still there and the doctors were still trying to find out what's wrong with it. I went through several medical tests, scans and what not, but nothing seemed worrying. Then one mid-night (4-5th night in the hospital), a doctor came to me and asked me if I can see her in her office. As soon as, I entered her room she told me if I can wear a mask around my face. I was really puzzled, but I took the mask from her and placed around my nose and mouth. She told me that I probably have Tuberculosis (TB). I said in shock- what!! She said it's not confirmed but we suspect it and until the final results come we will have to move you into an isolation ward. Please pack your stuff and an ambulance with take you with your bed.

I was too distort that night. I thought to myself that I came to Germany as a student and just when I was about to complete my final internship, I am admitted in a hospital as a suspect case of TB. My family is in India and I didn't want to make them worry so I didn't call anyone. Now, I was spending time in an isolation with doctors and nurses coming in their masks and I kept wondering how bad it can get- I am neither a smoker nor a tobacco person, I usually live a healthy lifestyle and here I am in a hospital. One test result after another, the doctors kept crossing the diseases: Hepatitis, HIV, Heart related and finally, TB!! Yup, I had none, but a bacterial skin infection that had somehow got inside my body. 

Before I Was Treated for Infection I Had Another Surgery 

I was relieved that it's nothing big, but only for a day because next day I had a severe appendicitis pain. At 2 am I had my CT scans and the doctor told me that they would like to operate immediately. They asked my permission and with all that pain I quickly signed the paper. So, I have no TB, the boil still continues to exist and I am on a liquid diet post appendicitis surgery. Wow, what else...right?

On 12th day in the hospital, when my appendicitis had subsided doctors were now checking my body for infections. Next up was Endoscopy, CT Scans, ECG etc....yup more tests! It turned out that I have an infection lung, so the doctors had to take out the bad water out of the lungs, how? By puncturing my lungs, o my god...that was the worst part! I was literally screaming because the anesthesia doesn't work on that part of the muscle. However, I got done with it 130ml of dirty fluid came out of my lungs and the doctor was happily showing it to me. 

1 Month and 67 Infusions

After that I had almost 67 bottles of infusions in next 18 days, until I was discharged with a big beards and a lighter me (7-8kgs lost). The last week at the hospital was certainly not bad, as I was feeling way better and Germany was cruising to the World Cup Football 2014 finals. Nevertheless, the thing that I have still not mentioned is the cost of entire medical treatment. Frankly, I was a lot worried about it, I was covered by a private insurer for foreign students and wondered if they will cover all my costs. The hospital seemed super confident that everything will be covered and kept doing their business as usual. 

Now Klara

In hindsight, I was really glad that while all this happened I was in Germany, a country where healthcare reforms are strong and support people, insurance covers all the cost and healthcare is still not as broken or costly as in other parts of the world. Having said that this one month inside the hospital gave me a sneak peek into the medical system. I figured out on several instances that even though the medical devices used are getting better and advanced still there is a big space of building and using technology for hospital operations, patients management, data management and diagnostic efficiency etc. to name a few.

After several thoughts I realized that the two biggest open issues in healthcare are still- accessibility and affordability. Is healthcare easily accessible to all? Is it affordable for all? The truth is- it's still not! We are far from closer and there has to be far more technological developments in healthcare space that will solve those two big problems. Next up, it turned out that I met founders of Klara. I was really impressed with the products. I realized Klara was the answer to both those questions- accessibility and affordability. Using the Klara app you can connect to a world class dermatologist and receive consultation at a cost which is almost 10 times cheaper than a visit to a dermatologist in-person. Plus Klara is building top notch products that are making doctors super efficient. The fundamental idea is making the dermatology practice deliver better and efficient results using technology and reducing cost for the patients. From the very moment, I knew that this is the company I would love to be part of and I did it :) I am working at Klara!

PS. For a limited time Klara is covering for your first bill, meaning you can get your first consultation for free. Try Klara app - USA and International (Non-USA)       

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Is Most Important To You?

I realized today that the most important thing in our lives is not the money, the fame or the success, it's the "people" in our life. The pain of losing them, be it due to a death or due to a failed relationship makes us realize and look back at life with an all new perspective. A perspective that we never took when they were with us. Never before I knew that such things could bring even a mildest of positive effect on us, and today I got convinced that such is the case!

My MBA experience has taken me to a new country and I've met few of the most amazing people who are super confident and raring to take over the world with their business acumen. Yet, there is an amazing transformation that all of us are going through our experiences in such a diverse environment (We are 20 nationalities or so). You think you learn about business at the B-School?......Wrong, it's all about the "People"!!

If I have to sum up my last few days, I've witnessed the joy and zeal of learning from the children of the under served society of India, I've experienced the immense courage of those pure souls who believe in the sharing of not just their joys but also their sorrows and yet, with a smile on their face, they say- "thank you", I've realized why it is important to say what you feel about your loved ones, and for the first time in my life, I gathered the courage to thank my parents, which I always thought was the simplest thing ever, but could never do so. Yes, I never said this to them and it took me 29 years of my life to realize that I've to thank them for what I'm today is just because of them.

As I called my parents, my father picked the phone and strangely enough it was just so difficult to say directly to him that- Papa, I want to thank you. I first started with a usual talk, then while I was gathering the courage to say "Thank You" to him, my heart just poured with so much emotions, and finally, when I said- Papa, I want to thank you because I'm what I'm today, just because of you...that moment changed my entire life....I could feel his joy even before he uttered a word....and when I said- You both have gifted me my life, he said to me- why don't you say this to your mother by yourself. Of course, I wanted to say this even more to my mother...but wait.

My mother has always been a woman of less words, it's always her eyes that told you more than what she would say. She would find it extremely hard to express her deepest emotions in words, but she will do all the things, silently in her own lovingly way...which I never really understood, but the only thing I know is that I always found her on her family's side. When she found me sad, I found her cheering me up, when she found me in frustration, she calmed me down, when she found me in my struggles, she would secretly be praying and talking to God...for so many years I wished that my mother would express herself directly to me, but it never really happened...and now I understand her completely. Now here I'm gathering myself to say a simple thank you and don't know how to express myself..

She comes on the phone, I talk about usual things again and then I say to her- Mummy, I want to thank you because I'm what I'm today, just because of you....then my mom is my mom, she could not say anything, but "acha" and "theek hai" and just after a silence of split seconds she quickly hands over the phone back to my dad. I could already feel her tears, she couldn't stop them so she just moved away from the phone...

My dad was back on the phone, this time he could not resist his happiness and joy, but what did he say to me? Not about what he is feeling, but cheering me up and saying- I'm always there for you, just let me know if you need anything. I know you are doing the right things, but keep patience....I was again so moved. Parents' joy also comes out in the form of their unconditional support for their children...they could not stop themselves from helping you out..... 

I think, it's most difficult to say the obvious, but it's quite clear what is important to me. Have you felt the same? Have you said a "thank you" to your parents? I want to do it again, more often this time...They deserve it..

PS. It wasn't easy for me to be just write what I felt, but I think I wanted to share this with you...




Saturday, February 15, 2014


It takes a moment that turns your whole world upside down. You are stuck, trying your best, but nothing seem to be working fine. It's that moment when walking on the empty road or being alone at the house gives that feeling of closed-in small spaces, claustrophobia! 

Emotions are hard to explain, because they are driven by judgements. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell if our judgements are right or wrong, but time will tell, for sure! In the end it's all in our mind, what we perceive, we start cocooning our self  under it, thinking that it will protect us...but our decision to cocoon and create a wall between what we perceive brings a shift in us, and this is when we start becoming self centered, do we?

I'm not a psychologist or a doctor, yet as a human being, I've experienced all sorts of emotional turbulence and sometime to steady yourself amidst the zillions of feelings can be really difficult. And at the same time, you will see others, turning into an unmovable rock who turn the direction of the wind head-on..nice, isn't it? But Is it really nice, when the wind you turned over is hitting someone else now? I don't have an answer, this is where our judgement comes into play, but I'm sure no one in the world will have an answer to it, after all we homo sapiens are one hell of suckers! If only there were a simple formula to crack the DNA codes to perfection!
Are you the victim of someone else's judgement? Well, I guess we all are...but the only difference is the extent of impact that we suffer. Sometimes minor, sometimes massive...or sometimes fatal!         

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Marketing Spends Are Quickly Moving To The Developing Economies

The lure of huge online audiences, data-driven metrics, and higher returns on investment has accelerated the migration of marketing dollars from old media to new. The largest global marketers are ramping up spending, drawn by the huge potential opportunities offered by rapidly expanding wealth in the developing world. Yet the benefits of globalized marketing mask enormous hidden costs and risks: marketers are accelerating investments in economies where they typically have only a modest ability to track and assess results or optimize their return on marketing investment (ROMI). As these multinational companies throttle forward, they risk stalling instead, wasting millions of dollars on ineffective marketing initiatives. More crucially, they are jeopardizing their hard-won momentum in gaining competitive advantage in the economies now driving global growth.

There is a better way. Based on our experience in many countries, including Brazil, China, India, Russia, and Vietnam, we have identified five practical steps that marketers can take to jump-start their ability to measure marketing effectiveness in RDEs.

Media spending alone in developing economies increased by up to $60 billion from 2007 through 2012. Total digital-media spending worldwide, meanwhile, rose by about $55 billion. While some of the increased spending in emerging economies includes digital media, much of it is flowing to traditional media, such as television, magazines, newspaper, radio, and outdoor advertising.

Many large companies today spend more on just the advertising portion of their overall marketing budgets than they do on capital investment—often deploying far less analytical rigor in tracking the return on investment. Among a sample of more than 150 Fortune 500 companies that publicly report their advertising expenses, nearly a third devoted as much to advertising as to capital expenditures. Nearly half reported that their advertising expenses rose faster than capital investments over the preceding five years.

One of the world’s 100 largest brands found that the return in its best market was 27 times better than in its worst. Even in well-developed, data-rich markets like Japan, the U.S., and Western Europe, many companies are still frustrated by their inability to measure and optimize marketing performance. Difficulties are often compounded in developing markets, where the challenges can include the following:

  • Lack of accurate sales volumes and point-of-sale transaction data
  • Absence of accurate and consistent media delivery and exposure data, such as gross rating points and circulation
  • Poor-quality sampling and market-research panels that undermine the use of many traditional tools for gaining consumer insight
  • Opaque cost-accounting practices among marketers, their agencies, and media companies, including significant—but invisible—rebates
  • High turnover at thinly staffed commercial organizations that hinders data tracking and analysis

Five Steps for Jump-Starting RDE Marketing Measurement:

  • Build your team
  • Work with what you’ve got
  • Develop a “common currency”
  • Map the road ahead
  • Anchor the roots- anchor the roots of your marketing-effectiveness efforts firmly throughout your organization.
Original link to the post is here

Friday, December 27, 2013

Why Online Reviews Are Important?

I read this awesome post on HBR that prompted me to write this blog post here. Before I start discussing further, most part of this post is from that post.

With the growing availability of opinions from experts and users, the importance of a brand name had diminished. In the past, buyers typically made relative comparisons (“Is Brand A better than Brand B?”) or went by the maxim “You get what you pay for.” They were largely dependent on information provided by manufacturers in the form of marketing. Today, thanks primarily to user-generated reviews and people’s tendency to consult social media friends about purchases, buyers have other options. The wealth of peer-to-peer information and the unprecedented availability of expert opinions give them access to what’s known as absolute value—a rich, specific sense of what it’s like to own or use the goods they’re considering.

Every marketer is aware of the rise of online reviews and other sources of peer-to-peer information, but many neglect this trend and market products much as they did a decade ago. We believe that many companies need to dramatically shift their marketing strategies to account for the rising power exerted on future customers by the opinions of existing customers. The experts at HBR have created two tools to help managers do that: the influence mix and the O continuum.

The Influence Mix

Customers’ purchase decisions are typically affected by a combination of three things: Their prior preferences, beliefs, and experiences (which we refer to as P), information from marketers (M), and input from other people and from information services (O). This is the influence mix.

Think of it as a zero-sum game: The greater the reliance on one source, the lower the need for the others. If the impact of O on a purchase decision about a food processor goes up, the influence of M or P, or both, goes down.

In recent years O has taken on increasing weight in many categories, but plenty of exceptions remain. For example, habitual purchases (such as milk) tend to be dominated by P, while someone shopping for a toothbrush is most likely to be swayed by packaging, brand, pricing, and point-of-purchase messages—all components of M.

Companies need to ask: To what extent do consumers depend on O when making decisions about their products? We present the answers as points along the O continuum. The closer your product is to the O-dependent end, the greater the shift in how consumers gather and evaluate information about it.

Double Click The Picture For Better View

The O Continuum

Once firms understand where a product falls on the O continuum, they can consider the strategic implications in four realms:

Competitive position. In domains where customers depend mainly on O, branding takes on less importance, and newcomers find relatively low barriers to entry as a result. This is also apparent in the restaurant business: Research by Michael Luca, of Harvard Business School, suggests that in cities where large numbers of diners rely on Yelp reviews, independent restaurants tend to benefit, while chains and franchises often see their revenues decline. 

Companies in O-dependent markets can also diversify more easily than others, because new peer-to-peer information can overcome long-held conceptions about what a company is (and isn’t) good at. LG and Samsung have taken full advantage of this capacity, moving beyond their original core products (electronics) into a broad array of tech goods and home appliances.

In general, we see greater market-share volatility in domains where customers depend mainly on O. (Witness the swift declines of Nokia and BlackBerry.) Conversely, brand equity and loyalty can protect established players in O-independent domains; brands such as Clorox and Bud Light, influenced primarily by P and M, enjoy relative stability. O is also not of great concern to the likes of Grey Goose vodka and Herm├Ęs—brands for which prestige and emotional ties play an important role and quality is a given.

Communication. Let’s consider what happens in this arena for products suited to O-dependent purchase decisions. In recent years many camera buyers have turned to ratings and user reviews as their main source of information. This means that celebrity endorsements are less effective than they once were. Banner ads intended to create or reinforce brand awareness are not very successful either, because when it comes time to buy, the weight of trusted reviews usually overrides any residual effect of fleeting exposure to an ad. Instead, companies such as Nikon and Canon should focus on generating user interest in particular products and promoting an ongoing flow of authentic (and positive) content from O on internet retail sites.
Consumers are less likely to consult O about purchases that are not very important to them—most people don’t go on Facebook or Twitter to ask “What kind of paper towels should I buy?” or “What brand of detergent do you like best?” So marketers trying to reach O-independent consumers can be guided by some of the old rules, including many traditional M activities. P&G, for instance, can still benefit from persuasive advertising and eye-catching store displays for Bounty and Tide.
Market research. Companies in domains that are not susceptible to O can continue to draw on conventional market-research approaches, but those in O-dependent areas need to think differently. Market research usually aims to measure P—it tries to predict the kinds of products consumers will like by assessing their preferences in the past. But as purchase decisions become more reliant on O, rooting around in consumers’ psyches to understand P yields lower returns. For example, a market research study conducted in early 2007—before the release of the first iPhone—concluded that U.S. consumers would not be interested in a “convergent” device that combined the functionality of a cell phone, an MP3 player, and a camera. (Whoops.) What went wrong? The study had measured P, but as soon as the iPhone hit the market and early adopters began gushing over it, people became influenced by O. Instead of measuring individual consumers’ preferences, satisfaction, and loyalty, marketers should redirect resources to the systematic tracking, coding, and quantifying of information from review sites, user forums, and other social media. 

Product segmentation. A product’s location on the O continuum often varies across customer segments and from country to country. One group of consumers might rely primarily on O, while another might be more attuned to M. And some distribution channels are less conducive than others to O. (Shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores are often more susceptible to M than online shoppers are, for instance.) Companies should analyze different consumer segments and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly. When communicating with segments that rely on M, a company can use advertising to build top-of-mind awareness, persuade customers, and position its offerings—but those strategies probably won’t work for segments that rely on O. Marketers should also bear in mind that the degree to which a particular customer relies on O might vary with situational factors. For example, some of the people who take full advantage of O while shopping for electronics online may come under M’s influence on Black Friday, when ads touting deep one-day-only discounts abound. With not much time to decide or to consult reviews, they may pick up products impulsively, in the belief that “if it’s on sale on Black Friday, it must be a good deal.”

Biggest Challenge In Online Reviews

When we talk with companies about shifting their marketing mix in recognition of the rising power of O, we hear one consistent objection: Growing suspicion (and in some cases, proof) that online reviews are subject to manipulation and fraud. Some marketers believe that consumer reliance on O will decline as more shoppers become wary of deceptive reviews. We disagree. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others are becoming increasingly sophisticated at weeding out fake reviews, and consumers are developing a better sense of which sites (and which individual reviewers) they can trust.

Consumers used to the richness of online reviews will ever return to relying on traditional M. Consider two data points. First, 30% of U.S. consumers say they begin their online purchase research by going to Amazon for product information and reviews; second, studies commissioned by Google have found that shoppers consult 10.4 sources of information, on average, before making a purchase. Voracious information-seeking has become deeply ingrained in many consumers, and we can envision no scenario in which they will see traditional marketing as a better provider of product information. 

The sources of O change rapidly. New review sites and game-changing technologies can suddenly appear. For instance, consumers who use smartphone apps such as ShopSavvy to compare prices can minimize the weight of M on their decisions even on Black Friday. The idea that a new website or app can undercut years of careful messaging may be deeply frustrating to marketers—but it is a reality they must face. As the influence mix evolves, success will come to companies that can closely track the sources of information their customers turn to and find the combination of marketing channels and tools best suited to the ways those consumers decide.

This awesome post can be found on this link.