The Haja Sheriff Blog

3 Things Nestle should have done differently in India

Posted by in Business, Leadership, Management, Retail

viewimageThis is fast becoming a key case studies in Business Schools. Not for what they have done (they have done a tremendous amount of market innovation till date), but on what they have NOT done.

Nestle, almost single handedly created this market for Instant Noodles in India, and India today ranks 5th worldwide in this segment. That may all change since the Maggi fiasco has hit the industry as a whole. The sales have dropped by almost 80% for most of the leading brands, according to Economic Times.

But here are some interesting facts –
– Almost 39% of the Nestle Revenues in India comes from the sale of the Maggi 2 Minute Noodle.
– Nestle has a distribution network of around 2M Outlets/ distributors/ Sub distributors, where they sell their products. However, and according to Nielsen’s data, the Maggi Noodle reaches a whopping 47% of the country’s 8.8M Retail outlets – which means an additional 2M outlets sell these products.
– Out of the 450Cr Ad spend that Nestle has, almost 150Cr is spent on Maggi itself.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most critical products in their inventory- and they have achieved a significant reach of an extremely complex Indian market. Through sweat and blood.

And hence this question – Why is Nestle silent?

Here are 3 things, in my opinion, Nestle could have done differently to avoid reaching this rather desperate stage.

1. Reached out to their customers immediately– Possibly there really is an issue with the product. Possibly Nestle was worried about the fallout from this. Possibly they never thought it would snowball into such a big issue. But any way you look at it- Nestle should have reached out to the customers immediately and highlighted the issues that had been raised. They should have given a perspective of their own- and created a dialogue with customers. In a world driven by Social Media, Nestle was not visible. Period. And the customers had access to only one source- the Press.
2. Acted Immediately – Nestle should have taken immediate action and picked up products themselves and done the study immediately. They should have pulled out the products if they felt this was not appropriate. It should have given a refund to customers who had bought the products. It should have signed up all their resellers – and got them to be their agents in their messaging out to the customers. Ideally taken action when the first complaints were received. Nestle missed a great opportunity to do this.
3. Got their leadership team in front of the media – Nestle is a global giant. They know how to leverage the PR engines. They have great leaders. It was, and continues to be, quite surprising at the total lack of any visibility of their leaders at this time. The entire leadership team was missing – and possibly the biggest lesson. The Leadership team needed to take responsibility, and handle the entire fallout from this.

This offers some good lessons on leadership and strategic direction a company should take in times like this. Nestle failed. Now the wave has gone beyond their means -and even if the Government backs down, the loss of trust from the end users, will take a long time to overcome, if at all.

The above points are from my perspective and I would love to hear from you on more insights as to what you think Nestle should have done- differently and better.


The Best Tool For Planning

Posted by in Leadership, Motivation, Personal Brand, Time Management

imageI have tried just about every possible way to keep track of my to-do’s (which are always behind schedule).  I tried reading books. I watched Videos. I downloaded Apps in my laptop, my tablet, my mobile phone.  I also paid (yes) for some apps (Wunderlist)

I did just about anything I could think of – to ensure I could get my life back in order.

Without luck.

After a long and hard search, I have reached a conclusion.

The best way to keep track of your activities is – write it down.

I read it in Brian Tracy’s book – Goals… almost 10 years ago… and it took me such a long time to follow what he advised then! Write the damn thing down! 

That is what I will do from now on.

I have it all written down.. look out for more blog entries Smile


Business Innovation- Amazon Kindle in India

Posted by in Bangalore, Business, India, Innovation




Innovation has several synonyms- Change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis etc.


Great companies constantly keep updating themselves- and discovering new ways of doing things.  Kindle is one of them.  Amazon Kindle has a free run in India as the only eReader company in India. Despite being in a unique position, they continue to innovate, and find new ways of reaching their target audience. It is important for any company to constantly look at ways of differentiating themselves –and find ways of creating new markets and new customers.  


I was having coffee in Cafe Coffee Day and I saw this there. And I was stuck with this amazing idea!  While people drink coffee, and look around, they can ask for a Kindle, and read something in it.  Getting them hooked to reading and experiencing a device like Kindle while relaxing, is a great idea!   Great job, Kindle India Team! 

Of course, to land anything in India, you need to be prepared for the unexpected!  That will be interesting to see.  More on it later.




How Forrest Gump, Don Corleone and James Bond helped our Startup

Posted by in Motivation, StartUp




Note : This article was published on LinkedIn. 

I am hazarding a guess that most people would have watched The GodFather, Forrest Gump, and at least some of the James Bond movies. Either when they were young, or for the younger folks, as classics.

I continue to watch them now and again. But over the years, I have started to view them and see messages that are relevant to us in many walks of life.  And once we were a Startup, I picked some messages from the dialogues in these movies, that made a lot of sense to us. 

Here are 3 famous quotes from these movies that I thought, fit the Startup DNA.

Actually, it applies to any company or employee as well.


“Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get”
Mrs Gump/Sally Field in Forrest Gump (1994)


Attitude is everything.

Remember, the things you planned before you set out? The blueprints, the business plans etc.?  Most probably, you will throw them out (or threw them out) once you started running your business. Your plans constantly evolve.  Your customers change. The Segments you are addressing may evolve to include more or go deeper into a niche.  But change will happen.

And change follows challenges. Challenges, that you will invariably face in the early days of your startup. 

Don’t have a closed mind about the purpose of the business. Keep your options open and evolve with the business as you go along. You never know what you get next. Where your next order comes from. What your future holds.

Have a positive attitude. Irrespective of what hits you.

Just remember.

Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get next.



“Bond. James Bond.”
Sean Connery in Dr No (1962)


What is your brand?  Do you have a brand at all? Are you just one more of those startups or companies or employees trying to get by?

Are you working on it? If not, you should.   How you position yourself and carry yourself and your company makes a huge difference.

Everything about you that touches your customers, clients, or other people should carry your brand- and make it stronger.

And it is not just the Logo.

The presentations you do. The communications that go out of your company. The mails. The proposals.  The Website.

How do you carry these off? Are you seen as a “me too”? Do you see anything “different” about it?

Look at every communication as an opportunity put you and your company as being “different”. 

If it does, you are in the right path. If not, it is time to look at it and start the rebranding exercise.  

Bond. James Bond.

You are not just another Agent.

Remember, you are not just another Startup.



I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.
Don Corleone/Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972)


For a Startup, the first chance you get to tell your story and offer a solution to a customer, is the window of opportunity to blow his socks off.  To do that, you need to do your homework. Understand the challenge the customer is facing, get into his boots, and then work on the solution from inside out. You are not bound by any restrictions of having to follow their rule book.   You have the opportunity to show a bigger, broader vision to your client. 

Design a proposal and an offer that makes it compelling for the client. Something by which he transitions from a “do I need this guy” to “how do I get this guy to help me”.

Make an offer he cannot refuse.  Remember he has problems for which he is seeking solutions.  Make the offer compelling. Make it relevant. Make it memorable.

Make it an offer he cannot refuse.

All the best.  The journey is exciting.  The opportunities tremendous.  There is an opportunity behind every desk.   Start somewhere and start making those changes today.


The 1 thing you should do before you quit your job and become a full time entrepreneur

Posted by in StartUp



When the bug bites, you want to quit the job and move on and set up your business immediately.  Every day counts. The road all set out. The world of fortune beckons.

I know the feeling. Been there, done that. 

Before you start, hold on a bit!

Chances are, you have already done a lot of reading, and all those books of how people made their millions is not just making your impatient, but also giving you a sense of urgency of time being wasted doing nothing.

Before you jump in, consider doing this one thing before you jump in.

Invest some money-

– and buy some stakes into one start-ups that is new and struggling for money and guidance. In today’s start-up world, there are a number of companies that need both a little investment and a lot of guidance and advice.  Both are difficult to come by unless they are willing to part with some stakes.  With a little money, you can get a stake (and I am not talking of 50% kind of stakes- but more like a 10-20% of stakes) in return for guidance/ support.    

I say invest money instead of giving time – because by putting your money in, you secure a seat in the table as a stake holder- and enforces your commitment to get a return on your investment (apart from just the learning) while ensuring the company also looks at you as a partner instead of a coach or a guide. Most start-up’s are quite averse to parting with stakes – and it is important they see the value of what you bring so that they are willing to give you some stakes.  In return you help them with your skills that will enable them to grow faster (hopefully). 

This will help you in many ways.

· Gives you an inside view of how a startup actually works (or tries to work).

· Support the Founders in a number of activities that may be your speciality. You will go beyond the scope of your “job description” and discover new skills (we all did). 

· Learn the concepts of cash-flow and how the company works & how they grow.

· Understand the challenges regarding hiring and managing a team.

· Decide on processes you need to put in place to make a company run smoothly.

· Work out various marketing programs that you can design on a bootstrapped model and understand ROI.

· Help the founders in making proposals for investments. This could include making a business plan & a pitch document (significant learnings).

Most importantly, you learn how to manage your money better- and learn while you work.

The list can go on. 

You super-charge your learning of how a startup works and after a period of 6 months to a year, you are better positioned to know how to really start and run a company.   

Also, as a bonus, your stake in this company could help you as a cushion when you start your own company.   

The benefits are numerous. And your learning is significant.

Don’t give up on your dreams of starting off on your own. I am just suggesting you give it a bit of time, and effectively learn what you will anyway have go through when you start a company – while you are still earning a salary.

It could be one of the best decisions you take.  

We learnt this after we started 🙂 Sharing this with you so that you could learn from this – and optimize your investments- and maximize your learnings. 

Get moving Tiger!

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