Thursday, June 25, 2009
The trouble with great minds
Ritu Beri has started a new line for kids. I was horribly upset when I heard this. Because a baby boutique was my entrepreneurial dream. Or rather one of my entrepreneurial dreams. Over the years I've thought of loads of things that I want to do but have been too bone lazy to do any of them.
First, when I worked in journalism, I noticed that the demand for content spikes around festivals or special occasions (e.g: every paper and magazine worth its ink has a Diwali or Akshya Tritya special supplement). And they don't get quality content. On the other hand, are people with a turn for writing who can't take it up as a full-time job.
So I decided to start a content database online with freelancers submitting their work with a blurb. Prospective customers could read the blurb and a sample paragraph and purchase the rest of the article. Considering that many of the articles are static (History of Christmas, Brighten your home with rangolis this Holi.. you know the type), this seemed a great idea to get connect good writers and content-hungry publishers. Admit it, it's a great idea. But I didn't do it. It's still sitting in the back burner - with the gas switched off :).
Then, inspired by the trouble I had with juggling work and Ken's weird daycare timings, I wanted to start a 24 hour childcare center. I wanted flexible programs where parents could simply extend the hours or drop off the kids when they went for a dinner or a meeting or a nightshift. I planned on an online streaming thingy where parents could log into a secure website and check on their kids during the day. I discussed and thrashed it out with my friends. So many agreed it was a great idea, I was too bone lazy to make a start. Now someone else has started one just like that.
Then I went to Coorg on vacation and had another brilliant idea. Buy some land along with other members of the “less coven”, build 4 small cottages (real cottages, not bungalows that call themselves cottages). Each of us would name and do up our own cottage as we liked and we'd rent it out to people who wanted to stay there for short stays – weekends or a few months types. Especially artist/writer types who wanted to get away to be in peace. We planned a small hall with a kitchenette downstairs and a bedroom upstairs (with a slanting roof like this one, mind you!). Of course, the idea simmered and simmered and I kept putting it off. A few months ago, I read a newspaper article about a group of male software engineers who did exactly the same thing in Munnar or somewhere. It's a huge success. But it's very annoying.
Then, one day as I was shopping at Hyderabad Central, and looking at women coming out of trial rooms in clothes that completely didn't suit them, I decided that I wanted to start a makeover consultancy. And not that these are ugly women. (There are no ugly people :) ) They just pick bad clothes and bad makeup. When you're young, it's almost impossible to be ugly if you dress right. Skin and glow and God knows what else is already on your side. And if you're older, you can look elegant and nice, even if you can't be gorgeous. Very often, elegant and nice is gorgeous. I kept thinking I should meet the people in charge at Hyderabad Central and offer my services because it made sense to start with a store of that sort, initially. Then I thought that maybe I should put in an ad to see if I have any takers. But then, as usual I didn't get started. Now Shoppers Stop in Hyderabad had introduced a personal shopper service. It's just a service that makes sense, it's a natural extension of an apparel store. It wasn't like I was thinking anything specially cutting edge, so I took that in my stride.
Then I wanted to marry the cooking skills of people with time and the demand for home cooked food and start a website where people could order food and interested others could supply on a small scale. Suddenly the whole range of regional home cooked food is thrown open. You want kachiya more and thenga chammandi? You want aloo baingan and wadi-mutter thehri? Just ask and it's delivered. Of course, just thinking about the mechanics of finding deli guys and other cooks who wanted to participate and having a control over quality was scary. Especially in Hyderabad where service sucks and is, as the mate says, “reliably unreliable.” So I sat on it and recently found just such a website in operation in Hyderabad already (Sorry, I forgot the name. It started with “v” though). Anyways, I checked out the menu and it was no different from restaurant stuff, so I didn't see much point in having home cooked food if it's a restaurant type menu. So I'm not overly jealous about that. See! I'm not overly jealous about all my business ideas – just a few.
When I got pregnant, I saw how hard it was to get right sized clothes for newborns and how hideous most newborn pics looked because of the oversized clothes, and I decided that I wanted to start a baby boutique. I mean our babies are not 4 kgs. The average birth weight of Indian babies is 2-3 kgs. And worse, there's nothing out there for preemies. Apart from the fact that when newborns have their first pics taken, they are usually squint eyed, and blotchy and have cradle cap and terrible hair, they also wear clothes that are three sizes too big for them. I am doing everyone a favour here.
And while we're on kids clothes, what is it with Indian babies and special occasion clothes? Baptisms and naming ceremonies? All fancy baby clothes are only available for babies 1 and a ½ years and up (if then). Aren't there folks like me who like their younger babies dressed traditionally for Indian festivals? I remember sewing Kaavya's first Diwali dress (she was 3 days old then) out of an ethnic dupatta I had, because a search across Hyderabad yielded nothing but Western clothes for infants.
I may even expand to a maternity line, since my experiences in getting affordable, decent-looking maternity clothes drove me to sewing. I've sat on that idea for so long and just now as I'm beginning to get serious about learning sewing properly and signing up for a course just to get the hang of buying and marketing, Ritu Beri has the same idea. Argh!! I am insanely jealous about this one. I'm not, in any way, indicating that I'm in the same league as Ritu Beri, but you get the picture.
So, I have concluded that the problem with having a great mind is that you're not alone. Great minds think alike and all that. I can try to downscale to an ordinary mind, but how does one go about doing that? (Not modest at all, as you can see :).) Anyway, the only option that is now open is get my book published before someone else brings out a novel with the exact same story, concept and cast. Now that will definitely have me fuming! Maybe...