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Startups today have changed the way we look at the world. Where once the idea of being successful or having a good fortune meant counting all your possessions, today the world has moved on over the idea of owning all together. People no longer want to buy things to keep it with them; instead they want to rent it from a pool of options or hire it for a particular period. The whole idea is - what’s mine is yours, but of course, for a fee.
Be it cars, home, hotels, or even clothes, you can rent out basically everything and technology is what made this possible. The transaction costs are much lower now, making sharing assets easier and cheaper than ever. You can own a Swift, but how about renting a Mercedes for a day?
Speaking about this ‘collective consumption’, a trend that has taken over and is definitely here to stay, Chandni Jafri, CEO of Mumbai Angels, recently talked to Entrepreneur India at our Annual Convention 2016 and believes that for this economy to sustain, the consumer and marketer has to go together.
How will the sharing economy fare in India?
There was this insipient trend of the knowledge economy emerging from a sharing economy. So we’ve seen how numerous businesses sprang up, because of this economy, like Uber or Lyft. The minute you move into learning economy, the businesses that spring-up are going to be radically different. It means two things. First, different kinds of businesses are going to emerge because of the way the economy is going to operate, and second, the consumer and the marketer are going to learn with each other and create that experience together. They are going to co-create and co-learn. Hence, you will see different kinds of businesses, which are going to be allowing that proposition, down to emerge in the future.
This is the big difference that is going to happen. This means that companies or even existing marketers have to be dynamic about the way they deal with their customers. So the customer is going to add a lot of learning to your whole product proposition.
How do we reach equilibrium between the consumer and the marketer?
See the balance has to come through the use of technology, so it has to be a two way process. If we were thinking before that we can passively use technology to reach out to the customer and mine data out of them, that’s not the way it’s going to be. It’s going to be a two way process. The consumer is going to give you as much data points. Now, this will allow you to sort of map his/her habits and they also are creating their own firewalls now. So, it’s not that the digital footprint is available to you to do whatever you want to do as marketer; the digital footprint is dynamically controlled by the consumer. The consumer is deciding who they want to be. Every day I wake up and think who I want to be today and I have the flexibility to create my identity because I can create an online identity and that creates my real time identity. So that’s how dynamic the whole process of creation of customer is going to be and the marketer will have to map into the consumer mind and become integrated it into the emotional, value and ethical system of a consumer. Try asking what do I believe in? What is valuable to me? Do I believe that I want to give back to the society? Things have to be mapped to that granularity. Otherwise you will see a consumer shifting identities and you would never know whom you’re talking to.
As investors, what are you plans for this sharing industry?
As angel investors, we have our ears to the ground, because we are constantly speaking to thousands of entrepreneurs who are dreamers, innovators, idea creators, problem solvers and so on. These people are trend-setters and trend is coming from them, and not from my understanding of what I see of that projection. So as angel investor, by default we capture those trends and invest in those trends. So we plan to invest in those businesses which are businesses of the future. We have to invest in businesses which are relevant now and also five or ten years down the line and they have to be sustainable in the next three years. So for us the trends are emerging from the ground and we have to invest in those trends, both through capital and skills. That’s when you have this learning experience nd you get a chance to study the customer.