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Editorial

Special Columns
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
K.K.SRIVASTAVA Guest Column
K.K.SRIVASTAVA
Rajita Chaudhuri
The Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
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Look what a good idea can do!

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This Sunday (April 8), a small company changed its fortunes forever. Instagram was started two years ago, but this Sunday, it became more valuable than even The New York Times. The reason being Facebook acquired it for $1 billion few days back; causing quite a flutter among industry watchers. Why did it invest so much in a company, which hardly made any profits, is a fresh start up, and to top it all, is just an ‘app developer’ and its claim to fame is a ‘photo-sharing’ application that it developed for the iPhone? Add to this the fact that it does not even have a website to call its own, for all its features are designed for the mobile phone.

Well, there is more to it than these obvious facts. Instagram may just be an application for the mobile phone, but it has been downloaded by 50 million users, and that is something worth noticing. Though still much smaller than Facebook, the power of this company lay in its idea. Instagram is about photo sharing, but so is Facebook. However, Instagram is only mobile phone-based and Facebook’s revenues through its mobile application are zilch. Mark Zuckerberg saw this as a huge opportunity to make Facebook’s presence stronger in the mobile sector. When Zuckerberg started, it was all about the web. Today, who cares about the web? It all happens on the mobile phone, and Mark knows it best. So for a company that was valued at $500 million a few weeks back, Zuckerberg did not hesitate to double his offer and as expected, the young founders of Instagram – Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom – found it irresistible and sold it. A simple idea of sharing your sometimes grainy mobile photos and making them works of art by using an application is today worth $1 billion. That’s what a good idea can do, and that’s exactly what it did for Instagram; a 551-day-old profitless tech startup!

Good idea is good business
Good ideas make you rich but not the reverse. As William Cameron said, “Money never starts an idea, it’s the idea that starts the money.” If you have an idea that came out of your passion for something and not for the objective of making money, it’s going to make you a lot of money, for that’s what makes legends. Not just the knack of inventing and creating new ideas but even the ability to identify the potential of new ideas is what makes businesses successful. A genius is someone who can make use of the simplest of ideas. In fact, the simpler an idea, the more profitable it is. Think about ‘Hotmail’, a simple idea of sending mails for free over the internet, which made its founder Sabeer Bhatia richer by $400 million back in 1997. PayPal, a simple idea of making payments online, made its founders richer by $1.5 billion when eBay bought it. Instagram, the most recent company creating waves, is also a simple idea. In fact, it’s not even a new idea, for Flickr does the same; just that it’s for the web while Instagram is for the mobile. Flickr also made money for its founders when it was bought by Yahoo! a few years back.

 
A successful businessman is one who keeps an eye open for ideas with potential. When eBay acquired PayPal, it saw a potential and today, Paypal is contributing in revenues as much as eBay’s core business. Something similar is what Mark Zuckerberg saw in Instagram. Those were not the profits of the company but its potential to grow which attracted him to it; for no one understands the model of establishing an audience before generating sales better than him. When he made Facebook in his Harvard dormitory, he wanted it to become popular, to be liked by youngsters and not make money. Instagram, too, was made with the same philosophy and is loved by its users. They love it so much that they would not move to any other application easily. Love is what makes the world go round; surprisingly, even the business world, and no one knows it better than Apple. It is most loved, has a cult-like following and its consumer base is most loyal. Michael Dell once said that Apple should close down while it still had something to return to its investors. This same company today has passed Exxon-Mobil as the world’s most valuable company and has bigger financial reserves than the US government! For a company that many thought would close down soon, it’s not done too bad. Even though Steve Jobs is no more with us, but the world will not forget him for his iPad. It was a new way of looking at the dying market of tablets. Thanks to the iPad, the tablet market is the most thriving one with new consumers being added every day.

In fact, his iPad has been responsible for infusing fresh life not just into the tablet market but into so many others too. Magazines and newspapers are finding an innovative way to increase the life span of their products. The iPad has made magazines more user friendly, more trendy and more attractive. Schools are finding it easier to teach reluctant kids, making subjects more fun and the teaching style more interactive. It’s Apple and it’s iPad and iPhone that started a whole new business of ‘apps’ and one company for sure (Instagram) is thanking Steve Jobs today for making them billionaires!

A good idea has the power to change a lot of things and inspire so many others too. In fact, one idea can take so many different proportions that could have never been imagined. As Pablo Picasso said, “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.” The iPad was just an idea and today it is the new way of doing business for many companies.

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