Website Personalization for non-FAANG companies

You must have seen several websites especially news requesting a login either voluntarily or making it mandatory. It might be a mobile website that you are visiting after clicking on some link shared on Whatsapp or Facebook. Or a website like Medium or Reddit which you regularly visit which keeps prompting you for logging in. Have you ever wondered why do companies sacrifice good user experience by keeping on nagging you for logging in?

Economic Times asking you to log in

The short answer is higher profitability achieved through user segmentation. The premise is simple – Tracking enables companies to track you across devices – home/office laptop, iPad, app & mobile, when considered at scale, they can better target you and improve their top-line and bottom-line. Google, Facebook &Amazon store massive amount of data tagged to you so they can create a better identity based on what sites you visit, how much time you spent, which device you are on, while the consumer (websites like economic times) benefit from verified email address and name. Which is why every time we visit we get a different set of personalized results

But let us talk about the smaller companies – how do they achieve such personalization for their website ?. E-commerce companies know that only 5% of users are ‘known’, the rest 95% are anonymous users which offers a huge amount of improvements. For example, Fjällräven, the Swedish outdoor gear giant served multiple video-based Homepage hero banners for every type of weather condition, with multiple variations per each weather condition which is continuously being optimized all year round. This single-use case resulted in a 79% uplift in CTR vs. that of a non-weather-based static banner. According to research from Invesp:

  • 53% of online shoppers believe that personalization is valuable
  • 45% of shoppers prefer to shop on sites that provide personalized recommendations
  • 57% of shoppers will give personal info if they benefit from it.
  • Personalized ads convert 10 times better than ordinary ads
Difference between website landing page

Even doing basic optimizations like matching headlines, content, and CTA to the one in advertisement can give surprise gains. The Pardot post-click landing page is a great example of this. Optimizely has around 26 variations of their website for different audiences based upon named accounts, industries, geography, customers and engaged visitors. This is all great, but how does a small company kick-start this? I will start with the easiest option first

  1. Recommended Products (E-commerce websites) – This is the easiest way to start off with personalization utilizing technology powering your e-commerce store. There are hundreds of plugins available for Shopify, Bigcommerce or Woocommerce which let you insert your recommended products right inside your website. You can customize them to a large extent without heavy effort required.
  2. Google Optimize: What better than a free tool that can plug into Google Adwords and Google Ads to tailor your landing pages for you. A part of the Google Marketing platform can offer all the basic and advanced features which you require to get started with website personalizations. You can use various data available from Google Analytics live for personalization
  3. Segment + Hello Bar/Appcues: A quick solution for people looking for notifications/popup (not website content). The solution enables non-technical website owners to create and install custom announcement bar scripts on their websites. I would recommended this solution for everyone if you want to experiment with personalization.
  4. Instapage Page Personalization: A paid service to alter your landing page based upon advertisement, demographics or firmographics. One of the simplest solutions available which justifies it price tag of $150 per month. The only downside to not using it is the tight integration which would be required between your website and Instapage in order to get to work seamlessly
  5. Logic-Hop (WordPress Sites) – If you have a website build on WordPress then you can utilize this $100/year plugin to quickly customize your landing pages based upon various user attributes. Based upon your needs and requirements you can utilize this
  6. Optimizely, VWO and Mutiny– Optimizely and VWO are visual website optimizers which allow you to personalize your website landing page by a huge number of variables as well as allow you to run A/B Tests as well. These are slightly more advanced as they require a larger engineering effort, but the returns are justified as well. MutinyHQ is a purposefully built for personalization of your landing page through dozens of data integrations already available
  7. Custom Coding – Based upon your website back-end you can do basic personalization based upon geo-location, data providers, user session etc. These can provide you with high level of customization but you would require dedicated resources to manage the additional engineering effort. On-page personalization can be achieved through basic javascript as well
  8. Marketo/Salesforce/Oracle Bluekai (Large orgs) – Larger Organizations should consider using Marketo or Salesforce which can offer hundreds of features for personalization and reporting. Its always better to have one marketing platform which can integrate across all the services and Marketo & Salesforce are more suitable candidates for them

Q. Where do we get the personalization data?
Ans. Companies like Clearbit, Zoominfo gave you large amounts of data of any user visiting your website through easily consumable API. You can see the value of the data based upon their pricing, a cool $100 for every 1000 requests where as Zoominfo charges $4.9k for 5000 contacts.

The above reasoning also applies why websites want to implement social logins. Social Logins have been around for a long time. It makes it easier for us to login without remembering the user ID-password combo every time. But companies can utilize the data from Facebook and Google to build a better customer experience around you. I am sure I must have missed hundreds of other small ways you can implement personalization but I hope I have covered the easiest ways. Let me know your thoughts either way.

Analysis of the Online Courses Economy of 2019

Recently, I came across an article on TechCrunch of Knowable, an audio course creator launching $100 for 8 hour audio courses. It was not the concept of an audio course but rather than the rate, $100 is quite steep for an audio course to help you sleep better. But do online courses or specialist podcasts or newsletters sell ? Teachingguide estimates an earning of $4.7M of Jose Portilla for her super-famous course ‘Complete Python Bootcamp’, while the top writer on paid newsletter platform Substack earns $500K a year from reader subscriptions. Masterclass charges $1300 annually for access to courses taught by Penn & Taylor, Natalie Portman, Gordon Ramsey, Hans Zimmer, well-known names in their particular field. Byjus (a $3.6B startup in India) is another big player in India offering courses for children but is mobile first and catering to students heavily.

Everyone must have heard about Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, EdX or dozen other MOOCs as they were something of a range back in 2015, which was declared as an year of MOOC. During its peak, LinkedIn (now part of Microsoft) acquired Lynda to offer renaming it as LinkedIn Learning offering their own courses. Now MOOCs are making a comeback after experimenting with multiple business models to find the right fit – Nano-degrees, university tie-ups, creator courses, job-seeking, certifications, audit fees, all-access monthly fees. Is it working ?

CompanyFY18 Revenue*
Udemy $140M
Khan Academy$44M
Estimate obtained from various sources

$330M by the 3 top players in video course creation fee is quite significant. But MOOCs are not the only way creators have to design and sell online courses, hundreds of smaller players have caught up which offer creators more flexibility in terms of designing the course as well as selling it on their own domain. Teachable, Teachery, Skillshare, Podia, Ruzuku, WizIQ and Thinkific are the niche players which do not target learners but target creators offering them more flexibility, more control, custom domains, custom videos, integrations and more. The business model for them involves charging a fixed monthly fee to creators allowing creators more freedom to set pricing, course structure, certification, quizzes, affiliate management etc.

CompanyAnnual Revenue*
CompanyMonthly charges
WizIQ $                                 25.00
Teachable $                                 29.00 + 5% transaction fees
Podia $                                 39.00
Teachery $                                 49.00
Thinkific $                                 49.00
Ruzuku $                                 75.00
Learnworlds $                                 80.00
Kajabi  $                              150.00
Academy of Mine  $                              500.00

Obviously, in all the companies listed above, I have not mentioned the 800 pound gorilla which commands the lion’s share in e-learning. YouTube. But it has discontinued support for paid subscriptions on it’s channels leaving a huge gap in the market which all the MOOCs and above companies are trying to fill. $50/month (INR 3500/month) is a decent price for the features and the exposure for any experienced out there creator. Depending upon how many learners you are expecting to sign up with amount you are charging, you can either go with Udemy or any of the dozen platforms I have listed.

Patreon is another player which deserves a special mention due to its considerable size and influence. Patreon caters to podcasts, writers, artists, coders, which lets anyone create membership programs as a way of supporting the artists. It’s very customizable targeted towards the creator to create a membership plan who will pay a monthly fee to support the artist and get access to special shows. Who is the highest earner in Patreon ? Chapo Trap House, a political comedy podcast has close to 21,400 patrons paying close to $1.1M annually. CreatorHype has listed the top earners on patreon with the different activities being undertaken.

Self Hosted Solutions: There are various other ways in which creators can deploy their own learning management systems. For example – LearnDash is a plugin based on the popular CMS WordPress which costs only $160 and lets creators deploy LMS on their own website. Open EdX is another option for universities to deploy their own LMS. There are various other open source learning management systems for creators who want more customizations.

Niche Courses: There are even niche offerings like which offers screencasts by web developers to web developers generating revenues close to $3.3M. They have built a complete custom platform to cater to their needs. Treehouse, Pluralsight, Codecademy are all companies with a very niche audience and market but have been very successful so far.

Audio Courses: Knowable is the only platform which I could find spearheading audio-only courses. Its currently invite only and could not find any data on revenue sharing between creators and the platform. But $100 is the average price to register for a course on Knowable. They have an impressive list of courses by recognized leaders in their space

Personalized Online Classes: Juni Learning, Outschool, Classgap, Walden, Codementor and a dozen others offer 1:1 mentorship and private virtual classes. It goes by many names – virtual tutor, personal coach, small group video classes but the premise remains the same. Walden is pretty interesting as it promises 24×7 chat with an expert for anything.

Passion Economy or the Creator Creator Economy as I like to call it has been seen increasing investor funding and interest. It is one of the driving forces behind freelancing and monetizing your unique skills in multiple ways. One of the best ways to capitalize your creativity is through creating courses but as with most online businesses, the top 5% will make celebrity money, rest 20% will make decent while the rest 75% will only have scraps.

Unacademy is the Indian challenger in the race with an educator app for creating courses but it heavily caters to Entrance Exams. There are a dozen smaller startups in India catering to smaller niche segments. But a massive opportunity still exists in India as very few platforms exists uniquely catering here.

The Creator Creator Ecosystem for different types. Sourced from a16z

Interesting time to be creator with so many companies trying to get their attention 🙂


Live Demos of Artificial Intelligence

Live Demos of AI

We have all read that one article which says that AI is going to completely transform the world, these articles are becoming increasingly common now. Most common examples when people interact with AI are while using Google Search, Beautify Faces, Snapchat filters or Gmail autocomplete. Google Trends show a rather different view where it showed high interest in AI from 2004 to 2008 but dipped between 2008 to 2013. Around 2013, everyone started talking about AI.

Artificial Intelligence – Interest over time

But if we start focusing whether its hype or reality, based on the demos of AI which I have seen, AI is already here. Not something in a computer lab from Google but real-world which you can use today. A recent project from Generated Media led to this blog post.

1. AI Generated Faces

1,00,000 faces generated by AI. Where can you use it ? All types of projects -> In your decks, sample websites, presentations, mockups & mobile apps. The global stock photo & video market size is estimated to be $4B. This represents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and everyone. Just looking at a sample face makes it difficult for a normal person whether this is generated by AI or a real person. Don’t believe me ? Browse through their Google Drive .

Forecast – Stock Photo on Demand.
Seeing the rapid speed of development, the day is not far where you will only describe the stock photo you require to generate it.

2. Remove Objects in a Video

Quickly remove any object

Not a new demo you must have seen, as there are plenty of apps available already which remove objects from photos like Touch Retouch or Adobe Photoshop Fix but the github project sure looks interesting as it can remove objects from videos. Just draw a bounding box over the object and it gets magically removed. The entire source code is available on Github.
Forecast – Standard feature in all video editors

3. Deep Style Phototransfer

The examples showcased in the github repo are pure amazing !!

One of my favourite project available right now, you can transform entire tone, style of your photo through this project. The nature photographs taken look breathtaking. It even has a python script to run the transformation for your own images. One of the most popular open-source AI repos with close to 9k stars on github.
Forecast – More Filters available on Instagram & Snapchat

4. Google AutoDraw

Google Autodraw

One of my most used websites – Google Autodraw – Doodle Icon Recognition.
AutoDraw pairs the magic of machine learning with drawings from talented artists to help you draw stuff fast, but it can be used for almost all types of presentations and projects. Not able to find an icon, or forgot the name of what to search for, use Google Draw to quickly doodle something and find the corresponding icon.
Forecast (or Why isn’t this feature there yet) – Available on Photoshop & Powerpoint to quickly get icons from Doodles

5. Deoldify – Color Old Images

A Deep Learning based project for colorizing and restoring old images (and video!) – very useful to transform black and white photos. The project does what is says – color black and white pictures and videos.

6. DeepFakes

DeepFaceLab and Faceswap are the most popular projects available

DeepFakes, although controversial, remains one of the most popular examples available of AI. There are countless videos (some very funny!) available on reddit with some of them looking very real. For those who don’t know about Deepfakes – Replace faces in a video with an actor model or your own choosing. When it was first published it was groundbreaking, machine learning available at the click of a button to all. There are pre-built windows app available now.
One real-world application would be in movies similar to how VFX artists were able to bring Paul Walker back in Furious 7 with the help of his two brothers kept him in 350 scenes.
Forecast: (Might be a reality already) Replacing faces in Hollywood stunt doubles scenes

7. Talk to Transformer

Story generator – Link to website

AI not only operates on photos and videos but also can operate on text. GPT-2 is the largest model trained on 40GB of Internet text just to predict the next word. GPT-2 is a large transformer-based language model with 1.5 billion parameters, trained on a dataset. You might have seen this in action in Gmail where it presents you with options to complete the sentence. Talk to transformer is an online webapp that creates small stories based upon the a given string of words. The following input of text :

I went to a lounge to celebrate my birthday and

gave me a result

I went to a lounge to celebrate my birthday and I came across some girls who were doing all the karaoke of that night. I thought, hey that's weird," he says.

There is another strange thing about the relationship. "I think they're more than friends," he adds, but they still hang out when he visits the hospital for a few days where he works.

"It's a bit of a weird relationship," says Kim. "I think they're just like friends. We're friends with our partners. We like to have fun together."

But not everyone likes it.

"I hate it because I think it's weird. What is a two-hour karaoke session?" asks Alex.

But it has a different effect on each partner.

Mum is an artist and also likes to karaoke and hang out. And Dad is an IT worker and sometimes karaoke too, but doesn't really enjoy it because he likes to enjoy his home. They are best friends, but he says they are just friends. If they get into something 

The above sentence, although not very coherent but is still correct in terms of grammar and has some amount of small coherence built in. A reason might be due to the model in talktotransformer is trained on a small dataset of 700MB, but you can see the rapid advance possible if trained on the real model of 40GB.
Forecast: (Reality already?) You might already be reading news & articles written by AI without realizing it

8. Deep Voice Conversion

Text to speech API are already available from Microsoft, Google and AWS which can simulate real human voice. But deep voice conversion takes it a step further where you can covert the tone, modulation and style of your voice to someone else’s voice. They implemented a deep neural networks using more than 2 hours of audio book sentences read by Kate Winslet. You can listen to both the audios above and see for yourself the potential of the technology.
Forecast: Real audio and AI Audio will be indistinguishable

Have I missed out any project ? Do reach out to me over twitter or comment below

Startups disrupting Uber

Cost vs Convenience

The above tweet about Bounce achieving 80,000 daily rides in a day led me to this blog post. You travel everyday whether you love it or not, even if you are working remote. A recent study says that 7% of average work day in India is just spent on travel Depending upon the location, distance and your mode of travel, be it metro, e-scooter, boat, (helicopter for Mukesh bhai), you would love to cut down on travel time. India is notorious for its congestion being out of control as showcased by below

Mumbai, the land of finance and Vadapav still tops the list

Uber, with a market value of $74B has changed travel as we know it. 10 years back, it would have been crazy for someone to even consider getting a cab through a mobile, but now it has become ubiquitous to use daily. Ola, Didi, Gett, BlaBlaCar & Lyft are all part of the same equation where you use an app to get a cab. For this blog post, I would be more focused on Bangalore, considering the innovations in travel happening over here.

Cost vs Convenience

Uber might have started the disruption of the personal transport industry, but a different company is going to disrupt Uber itself

If you think Bird (e-scooter startup) is the peak of transport innovation in Silicon Valley, wait till you hear about India’s Silicon Valley. Every resident of Benguluru can now actually travel through 8 different ways for reaching his office. Why is this important ? Because it is disrupting personal transport as we know it, changing customer habits and preferences, ultimately having huge implications on the trillion dollar automobile market in India.

What are the most important dimensions to personal travel ? Cost, Convenience and Distance, but for practically, I have only chosen cost and convenience and tried to map them on the below scale. It vaguely represents a line with cost increasing as per convenience. (To ensure brevity, these travel options are not mentioned: Waymo’s Self-driving Taxi, Cycling/Jogging/Skating, Waterways, Trams, Local Trains, Bike Taxi)

DriveU: The only thing that can be more expensive that owning a personal car would be having a driver on demand. A friend has used this once while travelling and it is a godsend for people who travel a lot. One of the few services who just does one thing quickly, securely and efficiently. A startup that is bound to disrupt this personal travel space for millions of people in India, especially useful for outstation travels, but can be used inside the city as well
(Another example of this would be Hopp)

Personal Car/Bike: Extremely expensive considering the rising cost of cars in India. Add to it the rising cost of petrol, maintenance, insurance, taxes, parking costs, etc), personal cars are still at one end of the spectrum. But owning a luxury car is still a status symbol for most of us, although still not financially advisable as its a depreciating asset of high expenses

ZoomCar: Zoomcar was one of the first players in India’s self-driven car ecosystem and it does give a pleasant experience. With 32% YoY growth to 158 crore, while losses growing at a robust 10% to Rs 116 crore. (Competitors are Drivezy, Myles, ECO rent a Car … ) Zoomcar is heavily used for weekend / vacation travels in India, although it remains to be seen whether its cars can achieve high utilization to achieve profitability. Zoomcar also has a monthly rental plan

Ola/Uber: Both of these companies are the 600 pound gorilla and are now rhymes with taxi / auto / rickshaw. Its second nature for most millennials to call an Ola/Uber. Ola has approximately 59 lakh users in India and does 15 lakh rides daily. Although both companies are facing driving issues, but it appears it has it under control now.

Autos: They are still huge in India and are not going to away anytime soon. I can’t imagine India with Autowalas, even after proliferation of all the transport apps, you will see them always running on the streets. Most Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities in India have millions of Autos driving daily and solve a very important part of commute.

Rapido: Ola for Bikes, not a new concept but gaining very high popularity in India. A very convenient and affordable option but with Ola & Uber almost in the same space, its sure to get crowded. With so many apps available just for point to point travel, its just a matter of time before there will be a good aggregator who can just give me a quickest option. Although I’ve never travelled by Rapido uptil now, I have heard good things about it.

Bounce: Self-Drive Bike Ride at just Rs3/km. The most simplest idea yet, Pick and Drop anywhere. I was surprised why has it not been launched anywhere yet, extremely convenient, easy and simple. Definitely an app on my phone which is next in line to Ola and Uber. It claims around 8000 scooters on its fleets, with 4000 dockless bikes and 1.3 Million rides in 3 months. I would not be surprised if it can surpass Ola in number of rides one day, its growing faster everyday

Vogo: Almost similar to Bounce, with the only difference of dropping and picking scooters only occurs at dedicated parking lots. Still a very inexpensive way of commuting around. Ola has invested $100M seeing its strategic importance. It has about 12000 vehicles in its fleet

Quick Ride: The biggest player in Carpooling in India right now. Unless you are living under a rock, you must have heard about Quick Ride, which is a big blessing for people who travel long commutes in Bangalore. You can quickly find people from your company travelling the same route everyday. A few people I know travel daily using this app. This app will indeed go a long way in solving the traffic problems in India

Yulu: Micro-mobility solutions or last mile solutions, India’s answer to Bird and JUMP. Very efficient for distances of less than 2km. These blue bicycles and e-scooters are now available across Bangalore. Quick to find and use. Future Potential – very hard to estimate, but considering the initial investment they have made in Bangalore

Shuttl: Very awesome idea where you can get a bus at your service. The app shows you shows Shuttle bus routes and timings which you book instantly. But I am more interested in Shuttle Enterprise which can be used by companies for employee transport. Imagine the improvement in traffic if all enterprise companies in Bangalore use the same platform for employee transport for bus. Watch out for this as it can get huge

Public Transport: This would be very different for Mumbai where it can be scored very high for Convenience but Namma Metro is getting complete only in 2023. Traffic congestion can only be solved through a well connected, fast and budget-friendly mass public transportation system similar to Singapore.

Image: Press-Office City of Müenster, Germany

If public transport is done right, you won’t require most of the apps shown above. Above image captures its importance enormously

I am yet to see an yearly rental from any company where you pay ‘X’ amount for a car or bike per year to use it. One of the crucial reasons behind the auto industry collapse other than economy slowdown (Maruti Suzuki sales down by 70%) is surely this app based personal services

What does the future of travel look like for you ? Have I missed out any startup ?

Failure of Open Salaries


The annual reports published by public companies are a treasure trove of information: financial statements, auditor’s notes, future guidance, major risks, but the thing that will interest many the most is salary disclosures. The current SEBI norms state that Under the new rules, companies will only have to disclose salaries of 10 top paid employees in the director’s report or to the registrar of companies and those earning in excess of 1.02 crore. In 2017, SEBI also made it mandatory to disclose to investors remuneration of employees earning above Rs 1 crore per year.

Is government regulation the only way to obtain salary data ?

No, this is the only mandatory requirement to do so, but there are a couple of different ways – If you know someone working at a similar position in the company, via Glassdoor, social experiments like when techies publish their salary data online or someone collates salary data for techies, you have worked in HR or a higher position or finally open salaries

In this article, I have done my best to analyse whether publishing your company’s financial data – revenues and salaries gives a boost to the business. The usual answer is that it depends, but on what factors ? Buffer (Link to spreadsheet) , Whole Foods, and SumAll are the few companies who have tried open salary data all to a different extent. Lumarow & RethinkDB is one of the few companies which experimented with open salary culture, but quickly reverted back due to its high organizational impact.

There are a number of news articles in Business Line and Business Standard written on open salaries and financials of companies, but very conversely, very few companies have stepped up to implement them

Where has open salaries worked ?

1. Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey introduced the policy in 1986, just six years after he co-founded the company. He explains that his initial goal was to help employees understand why some people were paid more than others. (Don’t know status after Amazon’s acquisition)

2. Buffer: In late 2013, Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne listed staff salaries on the company website – including his own six-figure paycheck and the formula used to calculate those salaries. Buffer has been very successful so far with publishing its revenues, equity, diversity, code, product roadmap right on its website for everyone to see

3. SumAll has published its salary figures internally, and according to their blog posts written by them, it has been very successful so far. The company’s founder Dane Atkinson does admit that this unconventional policy does trip people up sometimes when they are expecting a salary negotiation. (Data only available to internal employees)

4. Netflix: The video streaming giant which we all love implemented an open salary for its top executives and directors. It did raise a lot of furor over social media over the sky high salaries offered to top level executives.

5. Mish Guru: A small startup which helps you create instagram and snapchat stories easily. The New York based startup implemented open salary to address the pay gap in the US by making salaries of every employee known to every employee

6. Logic Supply: A small company (70 employees) makes computer systems for rugged environments like mining rigs, underground coal quarries or industrial environment. They implemented an open salary which has been successful for them, although with some compliants

7. ThreatCare: Cybersecurity startup that published their formula for open salaries inspired by Buffer. I could not find the public list of salaries although they have mentioned in 2017, that they will be publishing it soon

8. Vincit: A Finnish IT Contractor launched in 2007 which implemented the policy. Finnish law prohibits to open employees’ salary without their permission. Every six months Vincit asks employees for the permission. About 80% have already said “yes” and their salary information is available within the company

In conclusion, only Buffer & Whole Foods has been able to implement completely open salary information just available on the net with the formula while the rest only has made salary information available within the company. Out of the tens of thousands of startups and companies, why is the number of companies adopting this policy so low ?Is this failure of open salary ?

Yes, definitely.

Why – Salary Data is private information of the individual and not the company (although its a stakeholder) and being transparent can usually open up a huge can of worms. Its detrimental to both the stakeholders: for individuals, it creates a lack of privacy and can lead to jealously & resentment, for companies, as it leads uncomfortable discussions and higher chances of employees getting poached.

The same companies keep coming up always in – Buffer and Whole Foods since the past 6 years. No other significant company has implemented the same open policy. Not startups or large companies or any company outside US have gone ahead with it

You only need to see the discomfort apparent when salary topic comes up in a societal situation .

Important Reasons for Failure of Open Salaries:

  1. Hard to break free from tradition norms which involves salary negotiations behind closed doors.
  2. Products, Brands and companies succeed because of teamwork, be it within the department or between different departments
  3. Reduced job satisfaction among lower paid workers – pretty obvious but a depending upon the type & size of company it can have a huge effect
  4. A huge unknown dependent variable – performance (including past performance), which makes it difficult to compare income levels of individuals
  5. Past Credentials – A major factor if your current compensation depends on your past compensation and your past college, which would be very difficult to standardize across the industry
  6. Confidentiality – Any employee now has access to what every other employee makes, which is a big cause of concern whenever the employee leaves.
  7. Legal Hurdles – Finland currently prohibits the publication of employee’s salary without their explicit permission. Not sure about other regulations on this

A Better Approach than Open Salaries

One Phrase – Open-Book management. Open Book management is about empowering every single employee in your business with the tools, education and data they need to act (and take responsibility) like owners. In simple words, sharing all financial information with everyone who works within the organization. Zingerman is the best known examples which employs open-book management.

According to an article written in Forbes, companies register 30% increase in profitability and productivity in first year alone, if they implement the approach properly

How is Open Book Management effective ?

  • Bigger Picture – Front-line employees feel confident as to why a particular change was made and how it affects the company’s bottomline. A huge shift in ownership takes place for the particular employee as he also starts to think of the bigger picture
  • Decision-Making – An interesting case study on how a dishwasher give a recommendation that completely turned the fortunes of a company. He suggested to cut quantity in French Fries to half with free refills as French Fries are the biggest thrown items due to their large portion. Simple to implement, saved thousands of dollars in any store, plus the additional value for the customer to get free refills.
  • Higher Engagement – Open book management does leads to more commitment among employees, which is the primary factor now on what makes or breaks companies
  • Faster and more agile – All employees can keep an eye out for bigger level changes happening across their own company. Based upon solid data, they can course correct or stop bad investments or invent entirely new ideas to tackle existing problems

Besides, it introduces a fundamental transparency in the company where every decision is based on financial data.

GlassDoor (&PayScale) collect company reviews and real salaries of large companies and displays them anonymously for everyone to see. It has grown massively in size, which shows 41 million unique users and 5800 paying companies. Recruit Holdings which owns announced its intention to buy GlassDoor for $1.2B. (Note: LinkedIn has also moved in the space and can be more successful due to their wide reach)


Do you agree with what you have read over here, do let me know in the comments.
Shoutout to my good friend Shreyas Kulkarni for reviewing

Note 1 – Republished on Medium

A typical day at a top B-School

B-School typical day

MBA for my parents and relatives translates to ‘Manu Badhu Aavdacha’ which means ‘I can do everything’. The hype and fame around that coveted seat at a top B-School in India has dramatically increased in the recent years, CAT 2016 registrations reached a record peak at 2.32 lakh candidates fighting for 4000 seats. XAT 2017, the entrance exam conducted by XLRI for the prestigious seat also recorded one of the highest participants yet. I, too, managed to score an admission into XLRI with dreams in my eyes and caution to the wind, but I was in for a huge shock. The amount of work that you need to put in on a typical day will scare the bejeezus out of you. To put this in a better perspective, what does your typical day at an Institute looks like, some things might be exaggerated here and there but I believe many management graduates will nod their head along and feel nostalgic.

Time is 8:50 AM, you can barely open your eyes after just sleeping the previous night at 4 completing the assignment on Accounting where each question takes you at least 3 hours to solve. When you finally send your completed assignment with a sigh of joy, you look at the next day’s schedule and wonder how on earth you are going to survive the next day. Back to reality, you realize you have a class at 9, adding to it there a pre-read on a case that you completely forgot. These 10 minutes, you will put any superhero to shame. The speed with which you get ready, simultaneously eat breakfast and pack your bag while putting on clothes. You reach just in the nick of time for mandatory attendance with a sigh of relief. As the professor asks someone to give a summary of the previous class, you dive in the case, marveling at your own reading speed. You forget your lost sleep as soon as the class discussion turns exciting when two students start arguing about which is the best strategy. Class participation as it’s commonly known as starts to get ugly as 60 people try to voice their opinion with only 2 clear winners. ‘Ping! Ping! Ping!’ Your phone is can’t handle the deluge of messages getting received on the dozen WhatsApp groups, your committee has suddenly decided to hold an urgent meeting at a common room. You can hear the din outside the room and reality strikes that you have to conduct an event in the next days and work is yet to get started. The number of tasks always remain never-ending with Sponsorships, Room-bookings, Emails, Quiz-masters, online promotions, and so on. Committees form an integral part of the B-School campus with events happening round the year and round the clock. These are the places where you really learn management outside the classroom. Our discussion on optimum Marketing Mix for the event was cut short another lecture. The Classes are 90 minutes long, averages 4 each day and thank god for the breaks in between. Some of them get over in the blink of an eye or it drags itself for eternity.

Surprise Class Quiz!

The dreaded look in the eyes of students should be put in posters for a horror movie. You wish that you had listened to the last lecture but realize that you only have 5 minutes for the quiz. You accurately describe a startup founders share gets diluted after 2 rounds of financing and explain why debt-based financing will make more sense rather than equity based financing. ‘Finance’, a gruesome subject for many engineers requires your blood, sweat and tears, and sometimes even that is not enough. Thank God for the commerce graduates in your class, who will decipher and break down the concepts for you. Mindlessly, you look at the day’s timetable and the ever increasing volume of messages when you receive a rude knock on your shoulder. “We have two hours left to read the case, meet the professor and make a presentation and deliver in class”. Just when you thought you will manage to catch some sleep. We leaf through the Harvard Case which are getting longer & tougher every year and try to make some sense of the exhibits. Time for food which is becoming more a luxury rather than a necessity nowadays makes way for PowerPoint presentation. If it not were for the snacks sent by your mother, you might have died of hunger. Group presentations are the places where you learn to divide and conquer and reach utmost levels of efficiency during the last 30 minutes. It always takes longer than you anticipated but via the magic of PowerPoint SmartArt and templates you pat yourself on the back with the amazing ppt that you just created. The group splits up and prepares their own part while you decide to snatch a nap for some time.
“Jay, Wake up fast, you are late!” Your neighbour wakes you up at the last moment and you land up in class just as the professor is asking your group to present. While the other members give their part you read up the notes, dive into your memory and remember the case and manage to engage the class for 2 minutes. “Marketing” which the common man associates with the mindless advertisement on TV and Newspaper is a lot more. It’s intense, exhaustive, all-consuming but refreshing and quenches your thirst for knowledge at the same time. The professor, an eminent personality, well-revered in marketing circles, has written the course book and can quickly correlate any abstract term (You have dozens of them) with a real life example. Just when you thought you are thrilled for your presentation, an email announces itself which sent shudders down my spine. “Quiz 2 marks for MGE | 4:15” screamed the subject line. You are guaranteed to remember the marks of your batch-mates more than you remember yours when you open up the spreadsheet. It’s the usual, you will have to review the answer paper yourself, compare it and fight for marks. A silver lining you visit the famous Dadus on the way and munch snacks to your heart’s content while gossiping about the latest controversy in the college.

With only 15 minutes left for the next lecture, you hurriedly have snacks with your batch where a bunch of work-ex guys are pulling legs of the fresher’s about how the industry functions. You marvel at the differences in the experiences, cultural, personalities of your fellow batch-mates but they are all the same. Some had their own startup, some had dropped out, and some had worked in a bank for 4 years while some had already done an MBA but wanted more. “Organization Behavior”, one of the most important subjects which is commonly thrown away by graduates. In plain English, it deciphers the inner functioning of a corporation & how you can tweak it to your advantage, group activities are prevalent in these classes. The group (which are always different across classes) has to reach a consensus on the order in which to save 10 people. The animated arguments and the compromises that people make in order to get their way can still astonish you sometime. These discussions which can reach levels of World Wars extends to after class as well.

Every night gives you multiple opportunities where you can choose just one, this choice reflects more about you than any psychometric test that you have given. Should you go for a party? Should you study for the quiz day after tomorrow? Should you attempt a quiz from a rival college? Should you spruce up your resume for the coming placements? Should you take part in a competition floated by a top FMCG? Most of us choose the last option which required creating a video for the brand. You get together with your friends, attempt the quiz anyways, share some light-hearted humor, blast on some music and wonder what little you have done even after 2 hours. A call shatters the peace with a senior summoning you for sports practice for an upcoming tournament. Sports are encouraged across all B-school campuses with several tournaments and cups to occupy your already strenuous calendar. In between you hear an alarm on your phone announcing the birthday of a batchmate. Poor soul! A class birthday celebration is in order with the batchmate  getting beaten up with sticks, belts, bamboos, shoes and a mixture of detergent, oil, mud, thick juices, eggs is being thrown upon him. You run in your shorts and just manage to kick him once, wish him and eat the amazing cake to your heart’s content. Just when you thought you are done for the day, a deluge of emails come barging in your inbox. They are the reminders to a consulting company presentation scheduled late at night for 2 hours that you had completely forgotten about. Half drowsy, half-angry, you push yourself to attend the presentation all the while thinking about the next day.  Most companies as part of their policies visit B-Schools round the year and have conduct competitions, pre-placement talks in order to gauge interest.

Back to your room! Messy since the past 7 days, you open up the huge marketing textbook, wondering you can do biceps with these, and start reading through a 60 page chapter for the next day’s quiz. You don’t realize at what time you finally feel into a dreamless slumber, was it 3? Was it 4? But still manage to message your neighbor to wake you up and your family back home that you have survived for one more day.

Business School Competitions 2016

  1. Festival Name: Ensemble

    Organized By: XLRI

    Website Link:

    Facebook Link:

    Festival Dates: November 2017

    Festival Details:
    XLRI’s flagship management festival – Ensemble, goes beyond what a traditional B-school management festival is by being the celebration of spirit and character that defines the standard of excellence set by XLRI. Ensemble represents the pinnacle of the values espoused by XLRI and its legacy has been established over the years by people who have ushered in a new era of management around the world.

    Next-gen Leader –
    Circus Maximus
    Strike or Yield
    War of Wits

    Last Registration Date: Yet to be declared

  2. Festival Name: Confluence

    Organized By: IIM A

    Website Link:

    Facebook Link:

    Festival Dates: Yet to be declared

    Festival Details:
    Confluence, the largest B-school meet in Asia Pacific, is an amalgamation of five fairs – Finance, Marketing, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and IT and Operations. It is the only B-school meet in India to draw participants from all over the world. It provides a platform for budding managers of tomorrow to apply their skills in various games and case contests designed to challenge the brightest minds in the world.

    Apart from contests, lectures and workshops by eminent personalities from various fields, Confluence features:

    Bizquizitive – the Mega Business Quiz
    Casually Speaking – The Informals
    Livestock – The Online Trading Game
    Viewpoint – The Online Polling Game
    The event offers students across institutes and countries a chance to interact with each other, exchange ideas and appreciate the various perspectives that can be possible while looking at the same thing.

    Last Registration Date: Yet to be declared

  3. Festival Name: Unmaad

    Organized By: IIM B

    Website Link:

    Facebook Link:

    Festival Dates: Yet to be declared

    Festival Details: Unmaad is the annual cultural festival of IIM Bangalore. It is conducted every year in Jan/Feb by the Cultural Committee of the Institute.
    The fest is attended by thousands from colleges and corporates all over India. Anyone, and everyone can be a part of Unmaad

    Last Registration Date: Yet to be declared

  4. Festival Name: Vista

    Organized By: IIM B

    Website Link:

    Facebook Link:

    Festival Dates: Yet to be declared

    Festival Details: Vista, the premier business festival of IIM Bangalore, is amongst the biggest mega-events organized in the country.

    Last Registration Date: Yet to be declared

  5. Festival Name: Carpe Diem

    Organized By: IIM C

    Website Link:

    Facebook Link:

    Festival Dates: Yet to be declared

    Festival Details: Come January, IIM Calcutta will embark upon the latest version of its most happening and irreverent cultural festival celebrating the art of life – Carpe Diem. A 72-hour carnival that hosts everything from rhythmic and jaw dropping dance moves to exhilarating dramatic plays; from contemporary fashion shows to vivacious music shows. Come, Live the Dream. Seize the day.

    Last Registration Date: Yet to be declared

  6. Festival Name: Intaglio

    Organized By: IIM C

    Website Link:

    Facebook Link:

    Festival Dates: Yet to be declared

    Festival Details: Intaglio, IIM Calcutta’s annual International Business School Summit, is one of the largest B-school summits in Asia. With over INR 2 million to be won as prize money, Intaglio witnesses the best minds in the country and abroad coming together to battle it out every year in January, attracting participation from world-renowned institutions.

    Last Registration Date: Yet to be declared

  7. Festival Name: Fiesta

    Organized By: FMS

    Website Link:

    Facebook Link:

    Festival Dates: Yet to be declared

    Festival Details: The flagship event of Faculy of Management Studies.

    Last Registration Date: Yet to be declared