Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mumbai start-up Wonobo takes on Google, on the street!

Mumbai start-up Wonobo takes on Google, on the street!

Wonobo.com, owned by little-known Genesys International, has captured a 360-degree view of the city roads, including the narrowest bylanes.

Wonobo.com, owned by little-known Genesys International, has captured a 360-degree view of the city roads, including the narrowest bylanes.

In its two-year journey since ideation, a dozen data-collecting vehicles of Wonobo.com have traversed as much as 150,000 km scanning the major cities in the country to launch an indigenous 'street view' service on the lines of Google's offering. 

Wonobo.com, owned by little-knownGenesys International, has captured a 360-degree view of the city roads, including the narrowest bylanes, amid a plethora of regulations and rising concerns over privacy. 

"The defence ministry is the nodal agency that clears the imagery. Due to the obvious concerns, there are some no-go areas but others they are fine with this," says Sajid Malik, head and founder of the city-based Genesys International. 

Malik, who has been in the mapping industry for over two decades, feels that there is a market for offering a 360- degree street views, which is created by sewing up multiple images taken by cameras fitted on vehicles. 

He roped in Zaki Ansari, whose resume includes being part of the launch team of Rediff.com from a small south Mumbai apartment when the Internet was in its infancy, to spin a easy-to-use and consumer-friendly product. 

After putting in about USD 35 million, long trips, mixed experiences and tens of zillion bytes of data, the duo launched Wonobo.com a fortnight back. 

It can be noted that search engine giant Google is yet to launch its street view application in the country and is reportedly yet to get all the regulatory go-aheads. 

Google Street View was launched in May 2007, in several cities in the US, and has since then expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide. 

Ansari, however, dismissed the comparisons with Google. Wonobo possesses a host of features that makes it useful from a city chronicling and also civic administration perspective, apart from empowering a person to indulge in a virtual tour of a place sitting anywhere in the world, he said. 

"Suppose there is a pothole on the road. You can click a picture of it and pin it on the actual location on the website. A civic official sitting anywhere can access the same imagery and take action," he explained.

Source : By PTI 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Yash Raj Films uses Dell's EqualLogic to archive its movie catalogue

Yash Raj Films uses Dell's EqualLogic to archive its movie catalogue

YRF needed a dedicated storage solution that would ensure high availability and reliable data protection of its archived films.

YRF needed a dedicated storage solution that would ensure high availability and reliable data protection of its archived films.

Generations of Indian film lovers have watched movies produced by Yash Raj FilmsPvt. Ltd. (YRF), and relished several unforgettable dialogues. Digitally archiving these movies, which are the lifeblood and core revenue stream of the studio, will allow future generations to watch and enjoy these films in their original format. 

Always a step ahead of the changes taking place in the entertainment industry, YRF has plans to scale up its production output every year and grow its existing catalogue of 55 films. While the advent of digitization has given the studio greater flexibility to expand its film distribution over multiple media platforms, YRF needed a solution to archive its catalogue. Dilip Patil, senior manager, digital and systems, YRF explains, "With the increasing number of digital platforms available through the internet and mobile technology, and growing global interest in the Indian film industry, our films are being distributed and watched more than ever before. To meet this demand we needed a single solution capable of archiving our expanding film catalogue for future audiences." 

YRF needed a dedicated storage solution that would ensure high availability and reliable data protection of its archived films. Following discussions with Dell representatives, the studio reviewed the Dell EqualLogic PS6500E virtualized iSCSI storage array with SATA disk drives, and found that the EqualLogic storage array was the perfect fit for its needs. 

Single storage solution improves responsiveness 

YRF now has the flexibility to access and use its archived catalogue of films for a range of media projects across platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, and iTunes. As more and more film lovers use these platforms, having an easily accessible film catalogue that is searchable down to the level of the single frame is critical to ensure YRF's global distribution. In addition, "With our films now archived within a single location, we have the ability to expand our audience for both current and back catalogue films. We can respond to requests within days now, while previously it used to take weeks, and deliver exactly what our partners and media require," Patil says. 

The ability to take snapshots and then restore specific data was a critical requirement for the studio, a feature provided by the fully redundant and hot-swappable STA disk drives. "A big advantage was the snapshot restoration feature of the Dell EqualLogic SAN where we could restore a single frame that may have been corrupted, rather than having to restore the entire film. That saves us a sizeable amount of time and ensures we experience no delays during the film's promotion and distribution," says Patil. 

Continued technical innovation, the increased use of computer-generated and computer-altered imagery and a greater demand for high definition (HD) films, means that YRF's storage requirements will rapidly increase. According to Patil, "We need large volume storage to archive HD films. Being able to scale our current storage solution whenever we need enables us to maintain a unified platform for our film archives. That makes film management easier and means we can deliver a high level of service to our media partners who in turn receive quick access to our catalogue." 

Ease of management has reduced time spent on archiving from days to hours and has allowed YRF's team to focus on new projects. For example, Dell storage solutions based on open standards support continuous innovation, and YRF can integrate the storage array with industry software to add metadata tags to its digital assets to make their film catalogue easily searchable. 

YRF's IT team relies on Dell ProSupport with Mission Critical 4 hourOnsite Response service to support their storage solution and keep the studio on schedule. Despite the expanding archive requirements and increasing demands from media partners, YRF has been able to maintain the size of their IT team. "I have been in this industry for 17 years and worked with almost every leading technology provider. The level of support we receive from Dell is really impressive. They really take care of us through their personalized approach and go out of their way to ensure we have seamless access to our film archive," concludes Patil.

Source : ET

Thyrocare's Velumani: Owns no car, lives in a small quarter, but helms a Rs 1,320-crore company

Thyrocare's Velumani: Owns no car, lives in a small quarter, but helms a Rs 1,320-crore company


​ICICI Bank has just acquired a 5% stake in Thyrocare Technologies from PE fund CX Partners forRs66 crore, three people with direct knowledge of the deal said.

ICICI Bank has just acquired a 5% stake in Thyrocare Technologies from PE fund CX Partners forRs66 crore, three people with direct knowledge of the deal said.

A Velumani doesn’t own a car. He makes do with a small living quarters above his large lab in Navi Mumbai, but still ends up sleeping in the lab most nights. Nothing in his lifestyle will give away the fact that the valuation of Thyrocare Technologies, the chain of diagnostic laboratories he founded in 1996, has doubled to Rs1,320 crore in three years.

ICICI BankBSE 6.00 % has just acquired a 5% stake in Thyrocare Technologies from PE fund CX Partners forRs66 crore, three people with direct knowledge of the deal said. That pegs the company’s valuation at Rs 1,320 crore.

When CX Partners had purchased a 30% stake in the company in 2010, the valuation was Rs627 crore. CX Partners had paid Rs188 crore in that deal. A spokesperson for CX Partners refused to comment on the recent Rs66-crore deal and the ICICI Bank spokesperson did not respond to emailed queries. There is nothing remarkable about Velumani, except perhaps his love for Rajnikant. But his company’s growth will do Velumani’s film idol proud.

It has a network of 700 franchises that conduct more than 20,000 investigations daily. Velumani, son of a landless farmer from Tamil Nadu, hopes his company will notch up revenues ofRs150-160 crore this financial year on the back of aggressive expansion funded by large doses of PE money. Thyrocare has the lowest rates for diagnostics services in the country; a strategy that Velumani claims is by design.

“I may have the lowest revenues in the business and my costs are the lowest too, but our profit is the highest in the industry,” Velumani told ET. Thyrocare’s EBITDA margins, he claims, are about 60%.

“The diagnostics business is a high growth one. Since healthcare costs are borne by the individuals, there is a need for customised and branded pathological and diagnostics labs,” said an investor in the company, requesting anonymity. “That is where businesses like Thyrocare score over others. We expect it to grow manifold.”

THE DEAL

“No money is coming into the company (from the recent deal). Since CX Partners holds large stake in the company, it is offloading it bit by bit,” an investment banker with knowledge of the development said.

CX Partners’ founder and managing partner Ajay Relan and partner Vivek Chhachhi are on the board of the unlisted diagnostics provider. “Though the company has seen exponential growth in last 17 years, sustaining it will become difficult with competition increasing manifold,” said a senior executive at a New Delhi-based rival firm.

Thyrocare shares up to 60% of revenues with its franchises, the highest in the industry. Others like Religare-promoted SRL Diagnostics, Dr Lal Pathlabs and Metropolis share up to 30%. But a centralised hub and spoke model has helped the company cut costs tremendously. Blood samples are collected from patients across the country and transported to Mumbai, where the reports are prepared and emailed the next day.

“We innovated on what we call air cargo, where the cost of transporting a sample is below Rs5. We work by the night to prepare the reports and deliver results the next day,” said Velumani. “The big four players have around 10% market share whereas 90% of the market is dominated by unorganised players,” said Dr Rana Mehta, executive director, healthcare for Pricewaterhouse-Coopers India. “Within healthcare, the diagnostics business will grow faster.”

THE RAJNIKANT EFFECT

Velumani believes in his celluloid hero’s words: “All your limitations will become your strengths one day.” That’s what fueled his ambition to start his own diagnostics company when he was a PhD student of thyroid chemistry at Mumbai University.

With a desire to help hapless patients waiting outside Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai he started the company with just Rs1 lakh in 1996. The laboratory business was not capital intensive nor heavily dependent on expensive machines.

Velumani deposited Rs50,000 for his first lab and purchased a gama rays machine for another Rs50,000. Sumathi, his wife, quit her job at the State Bank of India to become his first employee. “Since the business generates cash from day one, you don’t need too much capital.

You can use that cash earned to expand the business further,” said Velumani. Today,Thyrocare Technologies specialises in immunodiagnostics, testing blood samples for thyroid disorders, other pathological testing and radiology with a focus on preventive healthcare.

(Brand Capital, which is part of the Times Group that publishes The Economic Times, is an investor in Thyrocare Technologies.)

Source : By , ET Bureau

Fast-food chain Burger King to enter India with PE firm Everstone Capital

Fast-food chain Burger King to enter India with PE firm Everstone Capital

Fast-food chain Burger King to enter India with PE firm Everstone Capital

Fast-food chain Burger King to enter India with PE firm Everstone Capital

Burger King, one of the world's top fast-food companies, will soon enter India through a franchising partnership with a company that will be headed by the present CEO of its UK operations and majority-owned by private equity firm Everstone Capital, a rare instance of a PE fund partnering with a fast-food chain. 

In a departure from its usual global practice, the US chain will also hold a minority stake in the Indian franchisee, said a person familiar with the development. The India venture will be spearheaded by Rajeev Varman, the chief executive of Burger King in the UK. Varman, who has been associated with the burger chain for more than a decade, recently spent a few weeks with the Everstone brass. 

Franchise Agreement may be Signed Soon 

Varman spent time with Everstone's founderSameer Sain and partner Jaspal Sabharwal in India, studying the local market and meeting potential vendors. 

Two persons with direct knowledge of the development said Burger King and Everstone are expected to sign the franchising agreement shortly. A Mumbai-based real estate developer will also pick up a minority stake in the franchisee company. "Everstone (and its partners) plans to invest $100 million to set up 500 outlets in the country over the next 7-10 years," one of the persons said, asking not to be named. 

Emails sent to both Burger King and Everstone went unanswered. 

Fast-food chain Burger King to enter India with PE firm Everstone Capital
India will be among very few markets where the Miami-headquartered burger chain will also own a stake in the local venture. "Unlike most such deals where only the franchisee invests in the business, Burger King will invest in the venture and hold a minority equity. The deal is more like a partnership, though the operations will be run entirely by Everstone Capital," the second official said. 

Burger King, which is famous for its signature Whopper sandwich, will be among the last big global food chains to enter India. Its arrival, ironically, will happen at a time its global rival McDonald's is involved in a bitter legal battle with one of its franchise partners in the country. 

The ownership of Burger King has changed several times since it opened its first outlet in 1954, and it is currently owned by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital, which bought it for $3.3 billion in 2010. One of the world's top hamburger chains, along with McDonald's and Wendy's, the company again went public on the New York Stock Exchange last year, but 3G remains the largest shareholder with a 71% stake. 

Since its takeover, 3G Capital has re-franchised stores and raised the percentage of its total franchisee outlets from 90% to almost 99%. At present, 13,000 outlets are franchisee-operated. 

Everstone owns a controlling stake in Pan India Food Solutions, which operates a host of restaurants, including Noodle Bar, Copper Chimney, Spaghetti Kitchen and the local franchisee of US-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Samir Kuckreja, president of the National Restaurant Association of India, says Everstone's experience in earlier food ventures would come handy in its new partnership. "Now, they have to hire the right management, position it well, and get the menu right in India to be successful with Burger King," he says.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pan India Food opens Bombay Blue outlet in Kurla

Pan India Food Solutions, the company behind Spaghetti Kitchen, Copper Chimney, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Gelato Italiano has expanded its network with the opening of the sixth outlet of Bombay Blue in Kurla in mid-town Mumbai.
Bringing in Indian and global tastes, the restaurant has separate non-vegetarian and vegetarian offers.
Enhancing and adding excitement to patrons’ love for cricket, Bombay Blue has a range called the festive ‘Indian Party League' where people can enjoy and cheer for their favourite teams.
Incorporated in September 2000, Pan India Food Solutions (Blue Foods) commenced operations in Mumbai and has since expanded into other major cities. The company’s expansion map has an aggressive strategic roll-out plan. In a span of 10 years, Blue Foods has become operational across 143 outlets across India and serves more than one million customers every month.
K.S. Narayanan, CEO, Pan India Food Solutions, said, “Bombay Blue has become an institution for many Mumbaikars looking for good food, warm service and a fun environment at affordable prices.”'
Source : By Ratna Bhushan & Rasul Bailay, ET Bureau; http://www.thehindubusinessline.com 

Mukesh Ambani forays into chicken business, to take on KFC

Mukesh Ambani forays into chicken business, to take on KFC

The chain, to be called 'Chicken came First' will directly compete with KFC , the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain.

The chain, to be called 'Chicken came First' will directly compete with KFC , the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain.

Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance IndustriesBSE 0.74 % plans to run an exclusive chicken restaurant chain in India in partnership with a UK-based company as he seeks a bite of the quick service restaurant (QSR) pie, which is pegged to grow at 30% per annum. Given that Ambani is a strict vegetarian, it is a clear sign that businessdecisions can be separated from an individual's dietary and lifestyle choices. 

The chain, to be called 'Chicken came First' will directly compete with KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain. 

RILBSE 0.74 % has picked up a 45% equity stake in Two Sisters Foods India (TSFI), which belongs to 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG). 2SFG, the third largest food company in UK, supplies poultry, red meat, fish, and bakery and chilled/frozen products to the retail, food service and food manufacturing sectors. 

RIL has picked up the stake through Reliance Retail for an undisclosed sum. The balance 55% is held by 2SFG, founded by British businessman Ranjit Singh Boparan

Two Sisters Foods India (TSFI), in which RIL has taken a 45% stake, will supply chilled and frozen foods at its food & grocery outlets to begin with. It will later tap the Rs 7,000 crore food services market by setting up its 'Chicken came First' (CCF) chain of restaurants, which plans to differentiate itself by specifically customising its menu to cater to Indian tastebuds. An e-mail to RIL and 2SFG failed to elicit any response. 

Confirming the move, a source close to the development told TOI that the JV is setting up a plant to process chicken, fish and meat products. "Reliance Retail has already invested in a state-of-the-art food innovation lab to support new products," he said. 

Birmingham-based 2SFG was established by Boparan in 1993 and has grown through acquisition and expanded to 36 manufacturing sites in the UK, eight in the Netherlands, five in Ireland and one in Poland. The group, which clocked annual sales of three billion pounds last year, employs over 24,000 people; it ranks 19th on the 2013 Sunday Times Top Track 100. 

Global brands currently have an aggregate market share of 63% of the domestic QSR – or fast food -- market, estimated at Rs 3,400 crore and expected to grow by 30% on the back of expansion into smaller cities. Annual spends on eating out at QSR chains in non-metros are expected to surge 150% to Rs 3,750 per household over the next three years, according to estimates by CRISIL.

Source : By Piyush Pandey, TNN

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s bullish bets take D-Street by surprise, laps up beaten-down stocks

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s bullish bets take D-Street by surprise, laps up beaten-down stocks

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s bullish bets take D-Street by surprise

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s bullish bets take D-Street by surprise

 Rakesh Jhunjhunwala did not sit idle when the markets went into a tailspin in the quarter ended September. He used the opportunity to buy into some new stockswhile boosting his holding in others. 

Some of his additional purchases would have been to take advantage of the recent plunge in share prices and to lower the average cost of his holdings and have surprised long-time Jhunjhunwala watchers. He has cut his stake in favourite high fliers like Titan IndustriesCrisil and Lupin to buy beaten-down, old-economy laggards likeKesoram and VIP Industries

Many of his stocks including McNally Bharat,Hindustan Oil ExplorationPrime FocusA2Z MaintenanceSterling HolidayViceroy Hotels and Alphageo have reported net losses for FY13. 

It is a strategy that baffles some, but the old fox of Dalal Street may have a trick or two up his sleeve. ET takes a look at six stocks that he is bullish on and why. 

FIRSTSOURCE 

The RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group bought out Firstsource last year and the BPO major’s fortunes have been on an upswing since then. Margins expanded 214 bps to 11.7% versus 9.6% in Q1FY13, while return on equity rose to 9.3% from 2.2% in FY09. 

Revenue grew 6% to Rs 723 crore, while net profit rose 42% to Rs 41 crore. The stock has risen 81% since Rakesh bought the shares in early July to Rs 19.55.

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s bullish bets take D-Street by surprise
ESCORTS
The company’s shares hit a two-year high on August 6 the day Jhunjhunwala bought more than six lakh shares. The shares have risen 41% since then but second quarter results have been disappointing. 

Revenue fell 19% to Rs 940 crore while net profit fell 25% to Rs 44 crore. But the shares ended up 2.44% on Wednesday to Rs 99.10 on hopes that the monsoon will increase demand for tractors and that the third quarter will be better.

DHFL 

Rakesh bought 25 lakh shares in Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL) last week. The stock is available cheap, trading at 2.82 times its FY14 earnings and 2.41 times in FY15 earnings. Currently, the stock is traded at a P/E of 2.82 times FY14E and 2.41 times FY15E earnings as the perception on the stock is governed by the promoter family’s relations with realty major HDIL. 

DHFL’s financial performance, though has been impressive. Operating income for the second quarter rose 43% to Rs 1,163 crore, while net profit climbed 50% to Rs 129 crore.

KESORAM 

The cement and tyre major’s shares have fallen 42% so far this year. The BK Birla Group firm’s net loss increased in the first quarter to Rs 100 crore compared with Rs 96 crore for the yearago period, taking its accumulated loss in the last three years to Rs 900 crore. Its tyre business has turned around in Q4 of FY13 while new capacity in the cement business may increase revenue this year. 

But Kesoram’s financial performance has been appalling and the reason behind Jhunjhunwala’s additional purchase may have more to do with lowering the average cost than fundamental reasons. His stake in Kesoram is now at 6.83%. 

NCC 

The Andhra Pradesh-based construction and power major is in advanced talks to sell its stake in 1,320-MW power plant to Sembcorp, a Singapore-based major. The company is likely to exit the project at a slight premium to book value and could result in a 30% earnings upside. 

NCC’s net profit in April-June 2013 declined by 71% toRs 5.8 crore and its shares have plunged 60% so far this year. Unlike an Escorts, which is a play on agri growth, NCCappears to be a trading bet based on the impending stake sale. 

VIP INDS 

The suitcase and luggage player has very little going for it, but Jhunjhunwala increased his stake to 10% from 6.49%. The unorganised segment continues to grow at a faster rate due to import of baggage from China and Singapore

VIP’s net profit declined by 2% y-o-y to Rs 23 crore for the quarter ended June 2013 while full-year profit fell about 50% to Rs 32 crore. The stock has fallen 32% this year.

Source : By Rajesh Mascarenhas, ET Bureau

Is your financial life heading for a disaster?

Is your financial life heading for a disaster?

There are some broad signs or indicators which will tell you that your financial life is in trouble, and need immediate attention.

There are some broad signs or indicators which will tell you that your financial life is in trouble, and need immediate attention.

The condition of an individual's financial life is not apparent only based on the income he earns. Sometimes, even after earning well, your financial life may not be in the best of colour. Many people are also comfortable living in the assumption that all is well. However, there are some broad signs or indicators which will tell you that your financial life is in trouble. Remember that the more valid these signs are, the more are the chances that you are heading towards financial disaster, and the more critical it is for you to take proactive steps to rectify the problem. Let's look at some indicators which tell you that your financial life is in trouble:

You cannot survive without an income for 3 months: Income is different from wealth. It is seen many a time that people earn pretty well, but if they lose their job suddenly, they are grappling for even the basic expenses. This is because they have not saved up enough to meet contingencies. If you have been working or in a business for a few years, then you should have a good back up in place which will help you survive for atleast for 3 months. When your expenses are very high and you do not have much left even when you are earning, you are stepping in to financial disaster. This is the first indicator to show that your financial position is shaky.

You pay high EMIs on depreciating assets: Having too many liabilities on your books is not good. It is worse if you have debt which does not result in an appreciation of your assets. For instance, having high amount of personal loans, credit card debt or even car loans which result in high EMI outflow from your monthly salary is a very unhealthy practice. As a thumb rule, your total EMI outflow should not exceed 40% of your monthly take home pay. If you have a home loan, the EMI towards this will constitute a sizeable portion. It is therefore better to avoid other kind of debt which does not increase your asset value. When you realise you are paying high EMIs on depreciating assets, this is another indicator of financial trouble.

It is not easy to get a better paying job with the skills you possess: Professionally, you must grow and advance in your career, such that it translates to better income and higher savings. However, if you find that you are not able to move upwards in your career despite repeated attempts, it means that you are going to be stuck with the same salary every year, or be happy with a small hike. This is turn means that your investments will be limited, resulting in limited wealth building opportunities. Take a proactive step in honing your skills and building your career for a better financial life as well.

Spending on social functions: Majority of people in India believe in spending unnecessarily on social functions, either as a status symbol or keeping in line with traditions. Although this may be an important part of your life, spending too much on social functions is a mere waste of money and does not yield anything. If you realise that you have been spending too much on such functions, you can be sure that you are headed for financial trouble. A good way of finding this out is to list out all the expenses you incurred in the past 3-5 years on various social functions and see how much of your income has not been put to good use.

Working for long, but no 'asset': If you have been working for atleast 3 to 5 years, but still have no asset, then it means your financial life is in trouble. You should have some investment in fixed deposits or gold or mutual funds or have a small part of down payment saved for your future house. If you do not have any of this, it means you have been very careless in your financial life and must immediately put your finances in order.

The initial signs of a troubled financial life will not take long to manifest into a bigger problem which can be very difficult to handle. It is important to start at the earliest and rectify your past mistakes.

Source : By BankBazaar
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