Friday, 12 May 2017

About Mentor on Road - USA

Management guru and trade advisor Jagat Shah, after successfully traveling across India as a part of “Mentor on Road” to motivate SMEs and startups, will now carry forward the journey throughout the United States of America. The first leg of “Mentor on Road – USA” will kick start from Boston on June 4th, 2017. He is going to travel to over 32 cities across 24 states to interact with SMEs, Startups, Women Empowerment Institutions, and the Indian Diaspora.

The primary objective of this program is to increase the exchange of knowledge and the best practices of trade between the USA and India.

This is the fifth instalment of the flagship initiative, “Mentor on Road”. It is supported by the US Commercial Services (USCS), US Department of Commerce and US-India Importer’s council (USIIC). The journey will see mentor Jagat Shah travelling over 15,000 kilometers throughout the country for over 78 days in 2 legs.

Mr Shah enjoys long distance driving, is passionate about working closely with startups, small and medium scale enterprises and enjoys guiding them towards competitiveness and professional excellence. In one of his tours abroad with the Honorable Prime Minister, Shree Narendra Modi suggested him to combine both his interests and create history. This turned out to be the vision that conceived the program.

“Mentor on Road – India” was begun in 2015, to embark the nobility of India 3.0--2014, the year when Shree Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. The tour saw him travelling across 35 cities, primarily Tier-II and Tier-III, so as to better understand the problems faced by startups and enterprises of various scales. It was only after formation of partnerships with like-minded organisations, that the vision behind this project was realised. The idea to travel by road to each of these cities symbolised the commitment to reach out to the grassroots and the remotest of villages that came on the way.

The experiences during Mentor on Road – India led to the understanding of the importance of SMEs towards the economy and their effects on job creation. Immediate impacts of the new policies like Digital India, Start-up India, Stand-up India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Smart Cities & Villages, Skill India and Make In India were studied and presented. The presentation talked about how these policies could be used in an optimal manner and to its fullest advantage.

The team that worked behind “Mentor on Road – India” comprised only of ten members. Their continuous and tireless efforts behind this project ensured its success. Furthermore, what makes this phase so inspirational is the fact that, only five members are currently proactively working day and night to organize Mentor on Road – USA. This small yet efficient team has already set up over 70 meetings out of the expected 120. Each member of this team is independent in their way of functioning. All the information is conveyed to the mentor through a mobile war room. This flexibility has led way to much more efficient functioning; also ensuring that personnel loss or absence will not affect the tour in any way.

In each of the cities Mr. Jagat Shah travels to, he will be a part of four gatherings a day. He will meet executives of American startups at universities and innovation centres to connect them with the opportunities in the Indian market. After that, he will proceed to meet small- and medium-scale enterprise owners. Through a presentation on India 3.0, he will throw light upon the galvanised possibilities of trade and investment in India since PM Modi took charge of the government.

Later, he will interact with women entrepreneurs and will connect them to their Indian counterparts and will try to understand practices that lead to better participation by women. Lastly, he will address the Indian Diaspora and will share the concept of Smart Villages and how the former can contribute to the latter. He aims to inform them about Digital India and how it is successfully combating corruption.

A snapshot of the confirmed meetings till date is as follows:

The startup meetings in each city are with following partners (Cities Bold and Underlined):

New York: 1776; Washington DC: 1776; Charlotte: HQ Charlotte at Packard Place; Tampa: Tampa Bay Wave; New Orleans: Launch Pad; Houston: Station Houston; Dallas: NoD Coworking; Phoenix: CO+ HOOTS and Global Chamber; San Diego: Startup Leadership; Portland: Starve Ups; Denver: BoomTown Accelerator; St. Louis: T-REX; Chicago: 1871; Detroit: TechTown Detroit

The SMBs meetings in each city are with following partners(Cities Bold and Underlined):

Boston: WebPort Global; New York: Queens Chamber of Commerce; Washington DC: World Bank and DC Chamber of Commerce and ExportDC; Charlotte: Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; Atlanta: World Trade Center; Jacksonville: Jacksonville, Tallahassee & Pensacola U.S. Export Assistance Center, U.S. Commercial Service (USDOC), JAXUSA Partnership and JAX Chamber; Tampa: Florida Small Business Development Center; Birmingham: Alabama International Trade Center Alabama SBDC; New Orleans: World Trade Center; Dallas: Global Chamber Dallas; Phoenix: Greater Phoenix Economic Council; San Diego: World Trade Center; Missoula: World Trade Center Montana; Bozeman: Montana Manufacturing Extension Center; Denver: Montana Manufacturing Extension Center; Kansas City: USEAC; St. Louis: Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle; Indianapolis: Global Chamber Indianapolis; Pittsburgh: Global Chamber Pittsburgh; Philadelphia: Global Chamber Pittsburgh

The women owned businesses’ meetings in each city are with following partners(Cities Bold and Underlined):

Boston: Center for women and enterprise; New York: United Nations Women; Iselin, NJ: Women's Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation; Washington DC: Maryland Women's Business Center; Charlotte: Women in Business Workshop; Tampa: Tampa Bay Business and Professional Women in Tampa; New Orleans: New Orleans Business Alliance (NOBA); El-Paso: Women's Business Border Center; Phoenix: Global Chamber; Los Angeles: Women In Technology International (WITI); Omaha: Metro Omaha Women's Business Center; Detroit: Michigan Women's Foundation.

The Indian Diaspora meetings in each city are with following partners(Cities Bold and Underlined):

Boston: United India Association of New England; New York: Gujarati Samaj of New York; Washington DC: Global Organization Of People Of Indian Origin- Washington; Charlotte: Charlotte Gujarati Samaj; Jacksonville: Indo-US Chamber of Commerce Northeast Florida; Tampa: Indo-US Chamber of Commerce; New Orleans: American Association of Indian Professionals; Houston: Fruition Technology Labs; Dallas: DFW Gujarati Samaj; San Diego: San Diego Indian Society; Los Angeles: Jain Center of S. California-Los Angeles; San Francisco: Silicon Valley Indian Professionals Association; Omaha: India Association of Nebraska; Kansas City: India Association of Kansas city; Indianapolis: Indiana India Business Council & Indianapolis; Chicago: IABC (Indian American Business Council); 

The deeply rooted socially economic bond between India and USA will fruitfully deepen and leave a lasting impact. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

How Mentor on Road, USA was envisioned

Mentor on Road as a program was started under a vision inspired by our Honorable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. The program is literally driven by our Chief Mentor, Jagat Shah who has a passion for long distance driving and has worked as an International Trade Advisor and a certified Cluster Development practitioner and Mentor since over 25 years.

Jagat has a marvellous experience in working with over 45 countries and is a global citizen having travelled to 72+ countries. In one such sojourn when he had accompanied the current Prime Minister of India, Mr. Modi, an idea was seeded to marry the passion for driving long distance along with his tremendous knowledge and networking contact base for mentoring Small and Medium Businesses and Start-ups. 

Consequently in 2015, Jagat kick started the first Mentor on Road journey, where he travelled 35 cities - mainly Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities – to understand the pain points faced by the Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the Start-ups. We did not have such a grand vision since the very first day, but as our team started working with diverse organisations pan-India, we were able to refine the program even further. Hence, as time progressed we were able to amalgamate both business and social sectors, which formed a huge nexus when there is interplay between them, thereby creating a win-win for both.

Meanwhile, we are gaining enough support from a variety of stakeholders all across USA, and it was an honor when the United States Commercial Service which is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce showed confidence in our program and partnered with us for the USA trip. Now we are embarking on a similar mentoring road trip pan-USA starting from June 04 for 78 days in two phases. Mentor on Road – USA covers over 32 cities in about 24 states, with an approximate road journey of 15,452 kilometers (9,602 miles).  

Mentor on Road - USA coffee table book inaugurated by Mr. Thomas Vajda, Consul General of USA in Mumbai and his business team.

Mr. Thomas Vajda, Consul General of USA in India launching the Mentor on Road, USA website.

US Trade Mission team at MoR, USA launch

People have often asked the purpose of going through the pain of driving all around? Having a car served the dual purpose for us. Firstly, as cited earlier, long distance driving has been a passion of our Chief Mentor, Jagat Shah. And secondly, traveling by road was a symbolic representation of the commitment that Mentor on Road displayed towards the grass-roots level approach by reaching out to the remotest villages and towns on the way. 

The grand and ambitious vision for Mentor on Road - USA is to travel to 32 cities pan-USA, attending four events in each city while addressing all the four pre-decided stakeholders. Firstly, in the morning, group meetings have been lined up with American Start-ups at Universities or Innovation Centers. Secondly, meetings have been lined up with Small and Medium Businesses in the afternoon, thereafter meetings have been lined up with Women Business Empowerment Institutions and lastly we have meetings lined up with our own Indian Diaspora in the evenings.

All these stakeholders will be greeted and presented with different and customized objectives practical to their identified needs. Each stakeholder will be presented with a variety of opportunities in New India and will be introduced to the vision of India 3.0.

All the companies that are willing to trade with India in terms of both goods/services or knowledge will be provided with the necessary network and resources from our previous Mentor on Road tours.

Post the completion of each event, all the attendees will be handheld for a year under the Mentor on Road - USA program and will be given complimentary mentoring for the same period. We at Mentor on Road - USA understand that all of our partners in each of the 32 cities cannot be so mobile under any circumstances. Hence as a token of our appreciation, all the stakeholders will receive a summarized grass-roots report of our key takeaways from the entire USA tour. This will enable them to explore the opportunities that they might not have been aware of previously. We will also write a daily blog here to share the daily experiences and learning’s. 

MoR USA map
As we write of this program, a group of five young team members is literally working day and night for the Mentor on Road – USA program which is set to happen across 32 US cities for 78 days. Over 82 meetings out of targeted 120, have already been fixed and we are still counting.

As far as overall planning goes, the team has been given full liberty to approach each stakeholder in the way they wish. We have gone beyond the conventional cold calling, mass mailing and have approached partner organisations on the platform they are most likely to be available on. For doing so, we had a very strong hold over market research and over communications.

Initially, a huge data bank of all the prospective partners was developed, which was later on approached on an individual basis. Then there was a common narrative set by Mentor on Road – USA for its communications, which still remains consistent. While working with one of the most innovative countries globally i.e. USA, we were able to adopt new technologies and apply even finer control documents. Everything that has been sent out from the Mentor on Road war room (as we now call it) has been recorded in text. We have a very solid process in place which does not stop in the unlikely absence of any team member. Transitions have become quicker and having a young team has helped in reducing our overall turnaround time as they are quick to receive feedback and differentiate what’s working and what’s not. Accordingly, they make amendments and get ready for another bout and so on and so forth.

The seed which was sown by our Prime Minister has turned into a sapling after the Mentor on Road, India tour, and will hopefully become a full grown deeply rooted tree, post the Mentor on Road – USA tour. And we at Mentor on Road envision creating a forest with more such trees as God knows how many more we need. With plans to do a Mentor on Road in Europe and Africa in 2018, the journey has just begun! Jai ho (Let victory be yours)!

MoR, USA coffee table book

Friday, 7 April 2017

Pioneering the journey of Mentor on Road, USA

A strong-willed and clear motive to eliminate the most troublesome barriers facing the business world and society at large, while striving to bring about an all-inclusive growth through practical knowledge-sharing and problem confrontation is literally what drives Jagat Shah – the Chief Mentor for Mentor on Road.

Mentor on Road has already drove 5800+ miles across India addressing both functional and operational issues in rural enterprises, small, medium and cottage industries, while advising on mobilization  and making optimum use of funds by start-ups. The tour covered 35 cities across 22 states of India spanning 65 days, while directly impacting over 10,000 companies.

Likewise, one such challenging project starts from June 04, 2017 from Boston, Massachusetts. 

Mentor on Road, USA is embarking on a journey traveling to 30 cities across 24 states pan-US for 78 days in 2 legs. Chief Mentor, Jagat Shah will be traveling by road for meeting and offering practical guidance to 100+ institutions such as SMBs (Small and Medium Businesses), start-ups, women empowerment institutions and Indian diaspora across all 30 focus cities of US as seen below.

                        Mentor on Road, USA map

The key objectives for meeting every stakeholder are distinctively mentioned below.

Objectives for meeting Small and Medium Businesses (SMB’s):

1. Providing US businesses with first-hand information on Indian market dynamics.

2. Mapping and identification of best prospect sectors in India for a US exporter.

3. Addressing critical issues faced by US businesses prospecting Indian markets by providing practical approaches to overcome them.

4. Present snapshots of the current trade and investment scenarios in India, with the goal of educating American businesses on reforms being implemented by the India’s government under the new Prime Minister since 2014 i.e. the idea of India 3.0.

Objectives for meeting start-up incubators / accelerators:

1. Guidance on enabling US based start-ups to stay competitive in global markets by following proven methods of market research, positioning and via exploration of markets by digital means.

2. Informing US based start-ups on managing cultural issues in continuously growing emerging markets such as India for smoother market penetration.

3. Providing start-up incubators with practical information on India's market dynamics and focusing on opportunities in India - a market of over 1.3 billion people.

4.  Since we are meeting US based Indian diaspora and women empowerment institutions across US to address multiple issues in India pertaining to:
  • Town planning
  • Building smart villages, towns and cities
  • Agricultural technology
  • Social justice and societal welfare
we will provide US based start-ups with different perspectives for building sustainable businesses through social enterprising.

Objectives for meeting women empowerment institutions:

1.  Connecting US based women empowerment institutions to Indian women business institutions for increasing participation of India's women across India's economic activities, which today stands at a low of 9%, compared to 62% in the US.

2. Providing a platform for women entrepreneurs in the US to connect them to Indian businesses for a bigger and faster growing market.

Objectives for meeting Indian diaspora in the USA:

1. Encouraging US based Indian diaspora to engage in Personal Social Responsibility (PSR) in India by contributing their time, experience, network and ideas to programs like Clean India (Swachh Bharat), Stand-up India for women entrepreneurs, Skill India, Digital India, Smart cities / villages / towns and Start-up India.

2. Motivating US based Indian diaspora to adopt their native home village / town in India, so as to convert into a smart village / town where Mentor on Road - USA will help Indian diaspora with pain point diagnostics combined with financial inputs. Thus US based Indian diaspora do not need to make any investments; they only need to manage the project.

Friday, 25 December 2015

An excellent day at Rajkot, center of the Saurashtra region in Gujarat

Who makes us ignorant? We ourselves. We put our hands over our eyes and weep that it is dark. 
Swami Vivekananda

Mentor on Road had an animated discussion with the businessmen of Bohra Samaj at their Masjid in Rajkot and motivated them to move on to newer models of businesses such as online sales and warehousing abroad. They are participating in large numbers in Vibrant Saurashtra Expo and Summit (VSES) 2016 – an exclusive platform for the development of the Saurashtra region. à The focus of this summit is Trade, Investment, Tourism, Education and Culture.  The theme of this event, being held at Rajkot from 8th to 11th January, 2016 is MAKE IN INDIA, SKILLED INDIA, DIGITAL INDIA, CLEAN (Swachh) INDIA and SMART (Cities) INDIA.   

Vibrant Saurashtra will be an ideal convergence for Saurashtra Industries and people to showcase their strengths, highlight business opportunities, facilitate knowledge dissemination etc. It will also provide a smart opportunity to its participants to understand the potential of Saurashtra in various sectors. For more details visit this link

Moving on, Mentor on Road was engaged in a fantastic discussion with the members of GloCal CoWorking Space for start ups in Rajkot and motivated them to participate in the "Invented India" pavilion of Vibrant Saurashtra 2016 in Rajkot. à This ‘Invented India’ pavilion at Vibrant Saurtashtra is a dedicated pavilion for talented students and young entrepreneurs to not only display, their own created innovation, technology, ideas and thoughts towards our Indian PM Shri Narendra modi’s vision for Make In India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities and Skill Development concepts but also an actual opportunity and ideal platform for youth to showcase their inner abilities and creativity directly to business people, policy makers, exhibitors, industrialists, political leaders, foreign delegates and visitors. For more details visit this link

'Invented India' pavilion at Vibrant Saurashtra 2016

'Invented India' pavilion at Vibrant Saurashtra 2016
GloCal CoWorking Space (GCS) is an innovative space redefining the way start-ups work by offering a plug and play shared working environment and other additional facilities. GCS offers a setup of 2000 sq. ft. to entrepreneurs and small team professionals who can move from their home and small offices to a co-working space.

From GCS, 18 companies registered. These young people are participating for the growth of India, are you participating? à Clusters from all over Saurashtra will be participating through an exhibition and a knowledge summit at Vibrant Saurashtra. Diverse products and services of Saurashtra region will be on display at the exhibition. At the same time, the summit will deliver much needed knowledge capital on best practices from around the world for the Saurashtra cluster of industries.

Later on, Mentor on Road showcased newer ways of doing business, particularly online business, to the members of the imitation jewelry association in Rajkot. With over 250,000 people connected with making imitation jewelry in Rajkot and its surroundings, Saurashtra is one of the leading hubs of imitation jewelry in India. The annual turnover of the industry is about Rs. 500 crores (US$ 75.64 million) in Rajkot. According to industry sources, turnover could touch Rs 800 crores (US$ 121.03 million) in the next two to three years, as a result of the Gujarat government’s reduction in VAT in March 2015. The demand for imitation jewelry has increased by 50-60% over the past three years across India, with television serials influencing buyer sentiment. Currently, exporters, most of whom belong to Mumbai, and big brands purchase imitation jewelry from Rajkot, as the city is famous for hand-made jewelry.

Over 80% of imitation jewelry of India is made in Saurashtra, however 80% of exports are done by traders across India, who are located outside Saurashtra. If traders across India can export imitation jewelry, then why not the manufacturers of Saurashtra?

We have a pavilion for imitation jewelry at Vibrant Saurashtra 2016. Come and participate to meet the importers who are coming from many countries.  For more details visit this link

Whenever we attain a higher vision, the lower vision disappears of itself. 
Swami Vivekananda

Mentor on Road in Thane, Mumbai

If the mind is intensely eager, everything can be accomplished, mountains can be crumbled into atoms. 
Swami Vivekananda

Mentor On Road shared new and innovative approaches of Make In India for international business with 200+ entrepreneurs in Thane today at the Start-ups and MSME Confex (Conference and Exhibition) organized by Tangent Concepts Solutions LLP. I highlighted on the fact that businesses will survive only if they efficiently produce goods and services that:
1.       Meet global market demands.
2.       Lead to rising living standards of the society and
3.       Are sustainable in the future.

Mr. K G Alai, CGM of SIDBI presented the variety of financing schemes which are available from the bank to support start ups and MSME’s (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises).

Several interesting start-ups presented their businesses to the investors. It was an amazing event organised by Mr. Heramb Sahasrabuddhe combined with a high standard of professional compering by Mrs. Ami Sheth. In addition, Mr. Pradeep Mokal, Mr. Milind Tare and team are a highly committed and passionate group of professionals who also greatly contributed to this event.

It is the cheerful mind that is persevering. It is the strong mind that shapes its way through a thousand difficulties. 
Swami Vivekananda

Monday, 21 December 2015

Day 20: Visit to Belur Math, "A Symphony in Architecture" and Mayapur, the Kirtan Capital of the World

All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind. 
Swami Vivekananda

At the end of this exceptional journey, Mentor on Road reached Belur Math in Kolkata for our program there. 

Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It is located on the west bank of Hooghly River, Belur, West Bengal, India and is one of the significant institutions of Kolkata. This temple is the heart of the Ramakrishna Movement. The temple is notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions.

Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are twin organizations which form the core of a worldwide spiritual movement (known as Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement), which aims at the harmony of religions, harmony of the East and the West, harmony of the ancient and the modern, spiritual fulfillment, all-round development of human faculties, social equality, and peace for all humanity, without any distinctions of creed, caste, race or nationality.

Ramakrishna Math is a monastic organization for men brought into existence by Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), the great 19th century saint of Bengal who is regarded as the Prophet of the Modern Age.

Ramakrishna Mission is a registered society in which monks of Ramakrishna Math and lay devotees cooperate in conducting various types of social service mainly in India. It was founded by Sri Ramakrishna's chief apostle, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), one of the foremost thinkers and religious leaders of the present age, who is regarded as 'one of the core architects  of the modern world', in the words of the eminent Western scholar A. L. Basham.

Although Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are legally and financially separate, they are closely inter-related in several other ways, and are to be regarded as twin organizations.

We next visited the headquarters of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) situated in Mayapur, considered a holy place by a number of other traditions within Hinduism, but of special significance to followers of Vaishnavism as the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, regarded as a special incarnation of Krishna in the mood of Radha. It is visited by over a million pilgrims annually.

ISKCON belongs to Gaudiya (refers to Bengal) Vaishnavism, a devotional tradition based on the teachings of Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Mentor on Road attended prayers, had prasadam, management lessons and stayed overnight at the temple, which made one feel pure and happy with the religious music, sounds and environment.

Mentor on Road then crossed the river Hooghly by boat in the early morning next day from Mayapur in West Bengal, while fascinatingly observing the water transportation on the river via boats.

The Bhāgirathi-Hooghly river system is an essential lifeline for the people of West Bengal. It is through this river that the East India Company sailed into Bengal and established their trade settlement - Calcutta, which later grew up to be one of the major cities of the world and capital of the former British India. People from other countries like French, Dutch, Portuguese, etc. all had their trade settlement by the banks of this river. The modern container port of Haldia, on the intersection of lower Hooghly and Haldi River, now carries much of the region's maritime trade.

We later on passed through the streets of Mayapur in West Bengal during the morning hours. Hard to imagine that 128 years ago, this almost forgotten town was discovered by a leading Vaisnava reformer Bhaktivinoda Thakur who conducted a thorough, painstaking investigation of the site, by consulting old geographical maps matched against scriptural and verbal accounts. I am sharing a few sights of the morning life with the hustle bustle of Mayapur’s market place.

Even the greatest fool can accomplish a task if it were after his or her heart. But the intelligent ones are those who can convert every work into one that suits their taste. 
Swami Vivekananda