Tag Archives: Onward

The Onward Journey

Here’s one blog post that I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life…

Let’s get to the bottomline first. The bottomline is that — Onward Research + Innovation is now closing operations! Yup, I am winding up the business!!

Why?
I have found an opportunity to do the same kind of work on a larger platform. Professionally, this is an opportunity for me to up the level of the game that I initiated at Onward, and to learn a lot more about how to run a business (and probably a million other things). And at a personal level, (obviously) this made sense for me from a financial stability point of view as well.

So, what’s this new opportunity?
I am moving to Mindscape, the strategic consumer insights division of Technopak. Technopak, as you maybe aware, is a management consulting company started up by Arvind Singhal in 1991. Mindscape was formed couple of years ago (approximately) and has been doing a lot of interesting work in the area of consumer insights & innovation.

I saw huge synergies in thinking & vision, in their approach to consumer insights & innovation consulting by adopting non-traditional ways – using ethnography, design research, observational studies, participatory design, etc. Given my background and passion (for this kind of work) and their approach, it didn’t take too long before I felt the right kind of chemistry with the Mindscape & Technopak management team.

So, what will I be doing at Mindscape?
My official title will be ‘Associate Vice President’ and my charter is to lead one of Mindscape’s new offerings, “Innovation & Design Insights”. While the actual work on the ground will not be very different from what we were doing at Onward, but being part of a larger outfit like Mindscape will allow us to take on larger assignments, work with better access to resources, and of course bring lots of other obvious advantages of working in a larger establishment.

What happens to my team?
My team (of 2 wonderful, hardworking & highly committed professionals) – Samrat Nawle and Ranjit Singh are moving with me and will be part of my team at Mindscape. They tell me they are quite happy & excited about this big change as well (though Ranjit did take a little longer to initially digest the news considering all this happened just 2 months after he joined Onward & started his non-academic career!!)! 😉

Where are we going to be based out of?
Bangalore, as always. The Mindscape office in in the heart of Bangalore city, 11th floor in UB City on Vittal Mallya Road (yes, overlooking Vijay Mallya’s plush mansion next door)!

How was the journey for me? Did I learn & grow in the process?
Oh YES, BIG TIME! The journey was a roller coaster ride (that’s the best analogy I can think of right now). Like an entrepreneur once told me, “The Highs are High, the Lows are Low”. 🙂 It has been THE most challenging, confronting, exciting, crazy, weird, intense 2 years of my life.

Needless to say, a decision like this isn’t made overnight (heck, it took around 4 months with several sleepless nights!) and isn’t an easy decision for an entrepreneur! I consulted and took feedback from my Advisors/Mentors and several other entrepreneur-friends. And at the end of all that, what matters is that I feel good about this choice. I feel complete about what I have accomplished AND even what I did not accomplish, as an entrepreneur in these last 2 years. 🙂

So, what did I learn in the process?
I actually feel overwhelmed when I think about all those million little and big things I’ve learned in this time. Will definitely write up a separate blog post to do justice to those million things. Stay tuned.

Ok, now that I’m done with answering all these questions…

I have several dozen folks who I need to thank (yes, acceptance speech coming up). Again, stay tuned for a separate detailed post on that one. And finally, this blog will continue. The Fly On The Wall lives on, though probably on a different domain name (need to figure that one).

Thanks for reading, sharing and being (directly/indrectly a part of) the most exciting 2 years of my life. Cheers…

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Resurrection and some (badly overdue) updates

Well, what can I say…the last 4 months have been a blur!

Apart from completing one full year since we officially started Onward (we still haven’t celebrated that yet!), we’ve been neck deep in projects, deadlines, fieldwork, analysis, business development…you name it. Of course, all good problems to have, for a young organization (or, so they say!)! 🙂

Here are some of the significant developments…

Firstly, 2 recent additions to the Onward team…

  1. Samrat Nawle (Senior Researcher)
    Samrat joined us in early June this year. With a degree in Industrial Design from National Institute of Design, Samrat has over 7 years’ experience in User Research, Contextual Studies & Innovation, and Product Design (specifically automobile design). Prior to joining Onward, he worked with Human Factors International (Contextual Innovation team) and Reva Automobiles. Aside from his really weird (?!) sense of humour, Samrat brings with him an undying sense of commitment and passion for user centered innovation, and has already started making a huge difference to the work we’ve been doing.
  2. Ranjit Singh:(Research Associate)
    Our most recent team member (joined barely 2 weeks ago), Ranjit has a B.Tech degree in ICT (interesting, eh?) from Dirubhai Ambani Institute of Information & Communication Technology (DA-IICT), Ahmedabad. He’s been working on academic projects for the last year in a variety of areas including – Information visualization of a Tribal healthcare initiative, developing a model for understanding indigenous innovation systems in India (Worked as Research Assistant on case studies of grass-root innovation in India encompassing the notion of coping, Jugaad – the bricoleur’s approach – and the middleman as a fixer) — and also worked as a freelance journalist for DNA, Ahmedabad (extensive statistical research on trend stories, feature stories on the city of Ahmedabad, technology reporting). Unsurprisingly (for those who know him), he chose to stay away from the typical “software engineering” jobs, to pursue his passion for Innovation, Information Design and User Research.

More updates coming soon (really)!

Research preview: Business related usage of mobiles by Bottom of the Pyramid users

At last, here’s a research preview (.PPS file | 2MB) of something we’ve been working on lately. In the spirit of ‘open source’, we are keen on sharing some of the work we do (with commissioned research, we don’t have that luxury of course). The idea is to create a dialogue, share ideas, thoughts among fellow practitioners in the research space, and with non-researchers from any discipline/background.

Here’s a brief introduction…

In addition to commissioned research projects, we, at Onward, also conduct on-going research across a variety of topics that may impact Technology, Mobile and Retail industries in emerging markets like India.

This presentation is a preview of a study that we are currently engaged in. The study is aimed at identifying the usage of mobile phones among the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ (BoP) users, especially those who use mobile phones as a way to sustain/grow their livelihood. We intend to document the users’ key behaviour patterns, trends and needs with respect to communication devices.

We would love to hear your thoughts/feedback/questions/comments. Your inputs will be really useful as we continue to dive deeper into this topic.