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Andy Narayanan
Chicago, IL
Digital Strategy and Technology Executive
Interests: All things technology, travel, golf, venture investing
Recent Activity
2014 has just begun and predictably most discussions are around mobile. Here are some recent headlines... Mobile technology continues its path towards world domination Mobile sales accounted for 17% of all online holiday sales in 2013. Mobile sales of apparel grew 55% over last year and home goods sales grew 38% Mobile Computing Replaces Home Computing As The “Go-to” Platform For Users US Mobile commerce sales will account for 26% of web sales by 2017 ... and many more like this. I get it, and agree with the overall premise. But personally, I am not shopping end-to-end on the mobile.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2014 at Venture Gabble
If you haven't realized already, companies in most industries are operating in ether these days. Take financial services, high-tech, retail, healthcare payors, media, and I could go on, most of these traditional industries have been reduced to bits and bytes and 0s and 1s. Why? Digitization is an undeniable fact that is pervading most industries. Still not convinced, look at the following data points According to the e-marketer, US ecommerce sales is expected to almost double from $225B in 2012 to $435B in 2017; the implication is that product search, discovery, purchase payment processing, customer services and much of the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2013 at Venture Gabble
My wallet has been shrinking over the years for a good reason, and I am happy about it. It used to be stuffed with a lot of paper and cards, and with smart phones taking over the world, the paper trail and loyalty cards started disappearing into the digital world. However, I am still stuck with my credit cards and some cash and not completely able to lose my wallet for good. The last mile has been the most difficult one to cross. The payment industry is at point of crossroads with some fascinating options and it is exciting to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2013 at Venture Gabble
Thanksgiving and Black Fridays have changed - a lot these days! The tradition of waiting in line outside stores, and busting doors are things of the past. Sitting at home with your family and snagging cool online Black Friday deals is the new normal. WSJ reports that online shoppers accounted for nearly 40% of the $52.4 billion shoppers spent during the Black Friday weekend last year, according to the National Retail Federation. While customers have continued to evolve significantly in the buying behavior (as expected), for more than a decade online storefront formats have evolved incrementally with no revoltionary change.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2012 at Venture Gabble
I am here on a plane traveling to New York and reading "Physics of the future: How science will shape human destiny and our daily lives in 2100" by Michio Kaku. Needless to say, it is an awesome some read so far. Kaku's insight into the world of tomorrow includes everything from surfing the web through your contact lenses, pulling up a person's bio you meet for the first time on your glasses, DNA scanner enabled toilets that scan for cancer or other diseases way ahead of the arrival of symtoms, to smart robots and intelligent systems that do a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2012 at Venture Gabble
Earlier this year, I was reading an interesting report about a case where Target, the retailer was able to predict a high school girl's pregnancy before her father did. Meeting with a Target manager while clutching some printed ads that had been delivered to his home, the customer was outraged by their product placement aimed at his young daughter. Like any service oriented company would, the store manager apologized and then followed up with a phone call to him later on, to apologize again. By this time, the man had had a talk with his daughter and the teen girl... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2012 at Venture Gabble
The beauty of startups and new product ventures is in market opportunity. Constant changes in the wants and needs of consumers and businesses drive the need for new products and services. An important characteristic of an entrepreneur or a leader is to sniff these opportunities and make a business out of it. Most startup cofounders and high tech leaders are good with the first part and less than 1% can do the second. It is not that they don't know how to create a business put of it, but they just run out of time. In this age of information... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2012 at Venture Gabble
Last week, I was at the Angel Excelerator Conference organized by Hyde Park Angels in Chicago. There were several key note addresses by some really smart folks - Howard Tullman from Flashpoint Academy, Brad Feld from Foundry Ventures and Tech Stars, David Hornik from August Capital and discussion panels comprising Chicagoland VCs. Image via CrunchBase Obviously, a lot of insightful information to ponder over. One thing however stood out for me. There is significant difference in the investment approach by valley based investors versus others. Valley investors spend much of their focus on sniffing out and cultivating the coolest of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2011 at Venture Gabble
This panel discussion is worth a listen to understand e-commerce reality in India - though it is pretty long. I am not sure if there is a compelling value proposition that is being communicated to consumers in India about the adoption of ecommerce. More over, unless there is a true regionalization and multi-lingual commerce strategy, it would be difficult to scale profitably. Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2011 at Venture Gabble
The other day, I was watching my 6 year old use the internet to find information she was looking for. She opened up Google, typed in the search terms, used the auto suggest feature to pick the right words that she wanted, found the right website and navigated effortlessly around the site and printed the stuff that she wanted. Not to outdone, my other kid who is 15 months, uses his finger to swipe to change photos on the iPhone. All this makes me wonder if the kids of the current generation are of different breed altogether. They are so... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2011 at Venture Gabble
Image via Wikipedia Recently Blockbuster (the DVD rental company) was planning to go up for sale months after it filed for bankruptcy. The sticker price was a measly $300M. That is such a steep fall for a company that had over 5000 stores and 60000 + employees, revenues of over $4 Billion and was profitable as late as 2009. Blockbuster’s decline started a few years before with the arrival of Netflix and its disruptive business model. But wait, Netflix was given a run for its money by RedBox which opened self-help DVD rental kiosks at numerous locations and rented new... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2011 at Venture Gabble
It is to the surprise and frustration of many (including me) that in the last ten years, India has not produced a blockbuster online services company. A much celebrated and reasonable success in 2010 was the IPO of – an online travel portal. This is a little bit of a disappointment since India with its 1.15 billion people with its unique culture and diversity would be an ideal canvas to build new companies with large online user base addressing local market requirements. China, a similar market like India has had more success in building locally focused large online communities.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2011 at Venture Gabble
Tech startup valuations have gone up significantly in the last year. One research indicated that stock in leading private tech startups was up 54% in the last six months. This trend is across stages and that is a worrying trend especially for early stage ventures. It is one thing for Facebook, Groupon and Twitter to be overvalued and a completely another for a seed stage company to be overvalued. For the biggies, it just valuation correction, but for the seed stage companies this could mean harakiri! Case in point, a seed stage web services company with zero revenue and product... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Recently we had a discussion in our team about the direction web service startups needed to go to mobile enable their service. The discussion revolved around building a native mobile app (android or iPhone app) versus creating a mobile version of the site using HTML5 and accessing it on a mobile browser. As I looked around the web for my own enrichment, I was pleasantly surprised to see rich user interfaces created with HTML5 that looked very similar to a mobile app. Just check out popular sites like YouTube (, CNN ( on your smartphone and you will understand what... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Business plan presentations and pitches from early stage companies in Web Services, SaaS and Mobile applications have been on the rise (and rightly so). Most pitches seek capital to expand marketing and sales dollars to grow the business. It is always intriguing to see in these presentations, revenue and EBITDA projections along an exponential curve. A common implicit assumption behind those numbers is viral growth (i.e. one signed up user brings in other users/members at no cost to the company), which very few companies can actually accomplish. Most companies typically would have to spend a lot more on marketing and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2010 at Venture Gabble
As you might know, one of the successful ventures in the last few years or so has been GroupOn – a site that negotiates huge discounts on popular local goods, services and cultural events. I blogged about GroupOn earlier this year and the post continues to gets hits every day even now. I have always been interested in new business models that challenge status quo and GroupOn and its innovative marketing machine was a cool idea, in my opinion. I had predicted at that time that there would be a wave of new startups that would be launched in this... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Imagine having cameras placed in the front of your house, in the backyard and in every room of your house, with advertisers and businesses being able to follow anything and everything that you and your family do. And based on that data, they suggest products and deals when you walk into a store the next time. When you leave the store, the business assigns a private investigator to follow you around to collect more information about you and your activities (which other stores you go to and everything else that you do in a typical day). How would you feel... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2010 at Venture Gabble
It is common knowledge that the success or failure for a new venture is primarily dependent on three factors – market, product and team. Entrepreneurs are traditionally good at identifying a market need and hence the two potential areas of fatal failure that one should watch out for are team and product. In this post, I would like to discuss the importance of getting the product roadmap right. Many of us would have heard of or had experience with ventures that collapsed because they ran out of funding before they could complete product development or released an over-complicated product that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2010 at Venture Gabble
After a brief hiatus, I am back blogging. Though I want to give an excuse that blogging and vacationing in the Florida Keys don’t mix well, I know it doesn't cut it and so I made a self discipline note to myself to blog more regularly irrespective of the constraints. Let’s get started. Over the last few weeks, I have been tracking news about how consumer confidence has dropped, retail sales has fallen again (the first time in eight months) and doomsday scenarios of how the US might be in for a double dip recession. With a caveat that I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Recently BusinessWeek and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) completed a global survey of senior industry executives and, unsurprisingly Innovation as a strategic tool is back in focus. 72% of executives consider innovation to be as a top-three agenda item for 2010 and are increasing their outlay on innovation related initiatives. But will it yield results? If past performance is any indicator, then the answer is no because results from innovation initiatives by corporations haven’t been that great. In the same BCG report, only 55% of execs indicated that they are satisfied with the previous results from these efforts and only 36%... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Image via CrunchBase In December 2009, mobile data traffic (surfing the net, checking email, exploring social networks etc.) officially exceeded the volume of voice calls across the world’s wireless networks for the first time. Global data traffic has nearly tripled in each of the last few years with some 400 million mobile broadband subscribers generating more traffic than 4.6 billion voice subscribers. Mobile data usage has been primarily fueled through the increased market penetration of smartphones which increased its market share from 11% in 2008 to 17% in 2009, and the rise in social media access via mobile phones. 3G... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Most companies and executives invest significant time, effort and resources in an annual ritual called Strategic Planning. By definition, strategic planning involves developing/refining a longer term plan for the company focusing on major strategic choices – in the areas of scope of business, markets, positioning, technology, capabilities and financials. As much as this sounds like such an important activity in the company calendar, one would be surprised to know how least effective this is in many organizations. Executives in many companies see little benefit from investing so much on strategic planning. In the many planning sessions I have participated in,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Last week, I had some good discussions with a GP of leading VC firm in India and we were brainstorming about how to increase early stage funding available for that market. As I continued these discussions, the difference in venture investing scene between the two markets was just too stark, which I thought would be an interesting read for this blog. Let’s begin with some facts on the venture investing industry in the two countries up for discussion – US and India. In the US, venture firms invested $17.7 billion in 2009 (down 32%) with seed and early stage accounting... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2010 at Venture Gabble
Apple’s iPad tablet computer hits the shelves (in US) on Saturday and the internet is buzzing with reviews about the device with some liking it and some not so much. It is estimated that two weeks after Apple began accepting online orders — an estimated 240,000 iPads had been pre-ordered for delivery. The iPad tablet computer is Apple’s entry into a category of devices that sits between a smart phone and a laptop (of course, a direct competition to netbooks). In this post, I discuss Apple’s product strategy in entering the tablet computer market, and what in my opinion would... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2010 at Venture Gabble
According to a survey conducted by the Duke University, CMOs in North America expect marketing budgets to increase, on average 5.9% in the next year. Not surprisingly, social media is a central component of Internet marketing strategies and is expected to be about 10% of marketing budgets next year and is expected to grow to about 18% in the next five years. For those interested, you can read through the survey findings at the end of this post. I think this is a good development because social media and online communities like facebook, MySpace, Orkut etc. provide a perfect forum... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2010 at Venture Gabble