Touch down in Delhi and drove straight to Jaipur. They are renovating the airport.
I am so glad that NH8 is finally finishes and even have tolls along the way. These are good signs and bring me to the subject of oversea business development......
You may wonder when do people start investing oversea and where do they go. The when is not too difficult to answer, the difficulty is the the where. The world is a big place and for small business starting to built business oversea is not cheap. A scouting trip to India will cost at least USD 5000 per person for one week and this is even before you get any business just exploratory.
Now where do we start. I always feel that the stakeholder of the company should just take a holiday (have fun and also business). With the purpose to understand the market you want to enter into. You can read all you like about the country but the real understanding comes from observations and appreciating the environment. You may argue that going on holiday is very different from going on business trip. True but al least in the exploratory trip for the stakeholder there is some fun and pleasure which comes out of the trip. If he decide not to come to invest, at least he experience some pleasure out of it.
There are several tell tale signs in a the country you should look for in a country. Taking the example of India. For the businessperson, you must look beyond the child beggars tugging your sleeve on the street, the dirt and mud pile on the street, men pissing on the road side, the many bumps on the road and the shanty housing you see on the hillside.
For the intelligent investor they look at (this is my personal perspective)
1.Plane trains and people transport
The first impression of India is the airport. On this trip I have the good fortune of seeing three airports. The Delhi IGI Airport is a renovated version with new coat of paint and shining cladding on the facade. The Jaipur airport on a verge of a new building and Bangaluru airport, a brand new airport with its individual chute, sparking marble flooring and more important the impressive and extensive duty free shops (something that India Capital's airport is lacking).
Delhi is building its Metro, Bangalore is starting the process and Jaipur is starting to talk about it. There is a need for people's mobility to be address, meaning that there are enough economic activity and will to do something for the economy. Like Beijing, Shanghai and its second tier cities like Tianjin, Qingtao, Chengdu and even their third tier cities, which already have their mass rapid transportation. This is for within the city and not about the inter cities people transportation.
For the budding investor, these two signs tell you to enter that market - not before and maybe the after is a bit late.
2. The youth in a hangout
I believe the youth of the country is the country's future and as such look at the youth population and what they do. Go to the shopping centers, the clubs, the playing field and witness their activities. The youth of Singapore is no different from the youth of any other countries. They do hangout somewhere. Meet with them, talk to them and feel their enthusiasm or their frustration. This is the best form of market survey. Talking to businessman never always get a good impression :)
3. The magazine in the bookshop
A magazine stand in any country is a good sign of the information flow of the country. Many people feel that information are from the internet. First of all the people that wrote on the internet are a certain breed of people and secondly internet accessibility has not penetrated to the lower income and older generation. Magazine and newsstand on the other hand caters to the masses. Just try standing in front of the newsstand at CP in Delhi or the newsstand near Victoria station in Mumbai. Just the scope of topics is mind bogging. You do not see this in Vietnam or Myanmar. It is the wealth of information make available to the masses. Just the number of newspaper available in India is beyond comprehension.
4. The LV factor
LV stands for Louis Vitton and where LV goes, there must be people who can afford them. So is the Gucci, the Mont Blanc and the Ferragamo. These brand only enter the market legally in the last five years. I remember the first Mont Blanc shop opening in the Delhi Taj with full fanfare and now they are everywhere. The LV factor is the sign of wealth and the number of wealthy people who wants to buy them. The LV factor has three stages. Stage 1 is when they are only available in hotel, Stage 2 is when they are appearing in shopping centers and Stage 3 is when the fakes and imitation start appearing in the market. This tell you that even the lower and some middle income can afford it - the wanna-to-be market....... :-)
5. Preservation of its heritage
The Forbidden City started it renovation work about ten years ago. When a country starts to look after its heritage, this is a time to go in. To draw a parallel, its it like the family starting to renovate their house, the parents must have money to renovate, making their house looks better. Likewise the government of the country not only have the money but also the will to preserve their heritage, it can only be a good sign.There are many world heritage sites where the country where it is based are not and cannot do the preservation. That country is either not ready for investor or not willing (maybe too corrupted) to even preserve their heritage. Look at the country that are doing well like Japan, Paris et al. I am just waiting for the Red Fort to be brought to their excellence some day.
This is a long email....... we will talk about the art of conversation next ..... to be continued.