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Page history last edited by /pd 5 years, 4 months ago


MITx: 15.390.2x Entrepreneurship 102:


What can you do for your customer?



I thought that I will post my assignments for review and feedback. 


Please feel free to share and comment below  or send me email <slash.pd@gmail.com >


Your feedback will be very much appreciated and when I travel to your neck of the woods. Beers and snacks are on me :-


Thanks in advance









Pitch Your Startup


The world is changing with technology. So too is the behavior of people, companies and nations. This creates the impetus for sovereigns to adopt and keep up with change.  This change is an imperative to stay in good health. .


The narrative here is that Governments are modernizing their technologies and processes.  In Canada, the  Agency which is responsible for imports/exports is modernizing their legacy platforms and processes.  The Agency has adopted UN/CEFACT Recommendations 33 standards for these new process.  In simple terms, creating a Single Window for all imports and exports.


Currently, Importers and Exporters   (the trade community) of Canada  may have to go to 11 various government agencies and handover hardcopy documentation to facilitate any of the 32  import or export procedures.  The government intends to change this landscape by creating a new platform that fully facilitates electronic interchange between trade partners and ALL the government agencies.


This creates a new markets space for service and software  providers. The Trade community need a new application to enable them to send and receive data from the Agency.

An Entrepreneur now has unique opportunity to craft out a software application that can service the trade community in Canada.


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Take an Entrepreneur to Lunch


When you sit for a chit chat with a former Customs Agent, whose training and expertise is in targeting contrabrands and drugs, - one know’s that they have seen innovations and improvisations which most normal people don’t see.


Key words -”innovations” and “improvisations ”.  Very interesting, don’t you think ? Basically catching the “bad guy” and predicating some “new space” to bring in “stuff” .


This Entrepreneur was a former Executive of a Strategic Business unit  of a Global F50 company with presence Canada.  However, all go getters have their own way of  creating their own pathway and she created her own company to service international trade. The  same space that I have been working within and currently see unique opportunities within.


I always wanted to ask  her three questions ;


  1. How did  you find that  “new space” and what made it an attractive value proposition ?

  2. Once you found that “new space” interesting to enter, how do you quantify the value you will create ?

  3. You have a new tool that was nominated by the market as; “There is no other global compliance tool as flexible and powerful.”- what makes it unique  and why does your customers like it ?


Interesting enough finding  “new space” was created by addressing a customer pain points. By working with the customer, they realized that there is nothing “out there” for such a need. Careful discipline is needed to “listen”  to customers wants and market trends.  That is, its a discipline that an Entrepreneur develops.  My take away was, once your guts feels like something good, figuring it out. Once figured out you will know to go forward or not.


On quantifying the value prop. I had to throw in, on the side- “do you engage in TAM (total addressable market) or SOM ( Share Of Market) you will get?” . Her response was, “if we do all that we waste time. We only focus on the problem and how to solve it with the customer - even if its just one customer - that’s all that matters. We don't have deep pockets like  Google or Apples to  drive New Product line (NPL’s).”


In continuum, she generally answered  my third question.  “We work with customers that want something over and above what is currently in the market space.  Customization does not create new. It makes old enclosed with new wrapping paper. We are not interested in wrapping paper.  We are looking at the core.  At the the core  is where real  value is created.  We create something unique that will exceed expectations of the customer. Its a win win for both, customer and us”


This startup is unique.  its built for niche space.  It is solving issues in global trade. Growth is organic.  The startup will exit  as product/ technology platform  at  buyout with $20M valuation. Please don't  quote me on last statement,  it’s  hearsay :)-


Ref :  http://mkmarin.com/

2014 Award nomination : = >  http://www.iecanada.com/page/2014-catie-awards

2013 Award nomination = >  http://mkmarin.com/returns-nominated-for-2012-catie-award/



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Share Your Passion


This is a hard one.. “What is your passion ?”


Frankly as a person, whatever suits me on that day or for that period.  Some interesting factoids.  I  took classes on  how to play a guitar. Goofed  around with Indian ink and rice paper, doing  calligraphy.Hacking an RFID chip for fun. If you google “Peter Dawson” you will find that I was an early adopter. Blogged in 2005 and as a report indicates “Peter Dawson has been on Twitter longer than 99.955% of all other Twitter users.”. I deep dive into whatever I find interesting.


However, my passion is supply chain, trade and technology.   This is the space that I find interesting.  The change cycle is rapid,  companies buy and sale in dynamic speed across various channels.  Making , moving, and facilitating physical movement of  goods between international boundaries, companies and adhering always to a o country  laws is a global imperative.  I call this an interesting to play in  “space”.


I love working, discussing,  sharing information and knowledge with like minded people. I manage a linkedin group of over 85k members. I see trends, interesting infobits, players that win, and losers that cry within the trade sphere.  I am in the process of  collaborating with others on a white paper that is called “recommendation 36”, which eventually will get adopted by World Customs Organization and the World Trade Organization. When finalized this will have to be adopted by all countries  worldwide.  But you get the idea,  Top down to grass root level I am seeing the tradesphere. Recommending change, engineering process and systems.  All in All, a good collaborative effort , as it levels the playfield and makes trade easier.


When you engage and complete a project that  ties up customers,  various governments, agencies,  shipping companies, warehouses, courier companies etc. its fulfilling.  Have you ever asked yourself how your cell phone got to the showroom for sale ? How did your toothpaste  tube get to be on the shelf, at the shop down the road ?  Or how did your food get to your kitchen ?  


A  “demand and supply” paradigm is constant change,  innovations,  ever changing channels. Take for example a tsunami hit Pacific and all the cars coming to north america and europe halted. A  volcanic eruption in Iceland.. stopped cargo planes taking off from EU sector. Or a simple snow storm in the north america, than in Canada, the price of lettuce and tomato goes up ! If you are into core development technology , its like being in “agile” -  adopt and deliver :)-


What skills do you to be in this space ? Knowing legislations of countries , understanding  importing processes, know the business of various verticals, (aerospace,  technology, auto, consumer markets etc). Understand technology and being able to change on the fly.


Ok, having said that, what am I doing ? I am in the intersection of change. The Canadian government is modernizing their processes and systems.  Importers/Exporters need to do the same.  Seeing the opportunity, creating a  unique solution  and enable trading is what matter- at least for me :)-


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Describe Your Product(in 10 words)


Making imports & exports easier worldwide, with a single a Business to government technology platform.


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Discuss a Core


Education today  is changing . Gone are the days of the brick and mortar  institutions. Look at all of us,  collaboratively  learning through an MOOC.. I remember a long time ago,  Harvard Extension School announce the offering of "CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion," the first class at Harvard University to be offered in part in Second Life, a 3-D virtual environment”. That  was way back in 2006 !!


Nearly 10 years later that concept is being adopted and now gaining traction.


At the “core” of my platform ( or rather start-up !!), I would say that the architecture is based on a build once, enhance per country. After all, I am creating a “single window” for Import processes. If we  do this for Canada, then the platform should be portable to every other country.  The baselines are tight, but  effort is high, but the anticipated rewards will be great.- Satisfaction  for ourselves and our customer base worldwide. Creating a singularity across the globe. After all,  if  a customs authority  in any country adopts the  WCO/WTO recommendations, then they need to adhere to the  standards outlined.  This makes for a common base. The trick is how to keep the platform simple with  radical ability for change, so as to suit any specific customs regime and their customs brokerage community (Importers & Exporters)   


The core of such a philosophy is to be able to change and build out a platform that is easily accessible with a  crowd-source funding revenue  model.  That is how I would build my university today.  


In the  21st century - singularity is the key to being able to manage and have the ability to reach out to others and impart knowledge. E.g the Core of  EDx is based on knowing English. The video’s and transcripts are in English. Now if you could or create a platform that allows you to expand this platform lets say in Hindi, Russian, Portuguese,  Chinese,  etc with the video and transcript being dubbed over by volunteers, this would make each course content available to a specific geo location or ethnic group.   I would build a technology platform and model of this sort..  Something unique, once started then gains traction and stickiness. Just having something  unique which others can’t offer is not the same as having something  unique which anyone can participant and collaborative on. Bring back fun into learning. Level the learning curve, make the world flat. Bridge the haves and have nots.  One core feature would be to recreate “in person”  sustainable communities across  learning centers, an extension to the  MIT classrooms.


Any core should take into consideration two things (a) what it can solve now and (b) can it solve future issues ?.  Yahoo had the biggest search engine, they lost to Google.  Ford had the market share for cars, Toyota knocked the wind out of them. History has taught us that we can’t t get comfortable  with what works.   

What does not work-  is what matters. That is the core of any innovative solution, including universities !!


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