Saturday, December 20, 2014

Interview with Christos Pittis

With degrees in both Management and Economics, entrepreneur Christos Pittis is offering several courses through the online educational site, Udemy. He has experience as a Business Services Consultant in areas like Egypt, Lebanon, Dubai and his native Cyprus and uses his knowledge throughout the courses, which are focused on accounting, marketing, bookkeeping, entrepreneurship in the global market and social media, along with other relevant topics. Information about Christos is available through his profile on Udemy; alternatively, watch his video on YouTube.


What was your motivation to teach on the Udemy site, and how did you hear of it?
During 2013, the organization I ran was teaching live online classes. I decided to check up on my competitors, and I stumbled across a course in marketing offered by Udemy. Intrigued, I paid the enrollment fee and was very impressed by the quality and the platform for the course. The platform was good, one of the best I had ever seen. I decided to get a camera and a microphone, and began making a course using material I had from teaching accounting a few years earlier. I uploaded it to Udemy and it just grew from there.

How did you decide which courses you were going to offer on Udemy? 
I have created six different courses. I am also in the process of publishing the seventh, which is not finalized yet but will probably be something like “StartUp Success Stories: Tips for creating your own startup”. There are two courses covering accounting, one of them for novices and another for intermediate students. One of my classes is centered on owning YouTube channels, while another covers VKontakte, a well-known Russian social media site like Facebook. There is also a course covering building websites using freelancers and a course on entrepreneurship for new entrepreneurs.

Decisions about course offerings were made by taking into account three different factors. The first of these is my own knowledge and personal experience. The second thing I looked at was which courses were trending upward on Udemy. Finally, I looked at information concerning the most popular keywords being searched on Google. With these factors taken into account, I was able to determine which courses might be most needed in Udemy’s offerings.

What is it that distinguishes the courses you offer; is it the quality of their content and your experience in the professional world?
I think what distinguishes my courses from other offerings is my focus on different aspects of course creation, including the value of exploring objectives in a way that makes learning easy, as well as knowing and being able to deliver what the students expect in terms of content, especially concerning accuracy, relevancy and comprehensive information and teaching structure. The instructor must also be credible and responsive, as well as able to deliver information in a comprehensible manner. Comprehension is tested throughout the courses using various assignments, quizzes and other resources. The technical aspects of the courses are also of the highest quality, including balanced, easily understood audio and clear video.

I believe my professional experience, especially my experience as an entrepreneur and as an ERP consultant for a great Microsoft app, does have a big impact on the quality of the content included in my courses. It enables me to break things down into the simplest manner for my students. I am able to give them the material they need to understand the lessons, and can provide detailed instructions and clear guidelines for their work.

What kind of content can students expect when they take your courses and do you provide personal feedback and interaction?
The information students will receive will help them learn to handle various tasks in the proper manner and I always provide support and frequent updates to material. About 80% of the course is on video. The other 20% consists of quizzes, presentations and PDF files. My students may always ask questions and I am available to help students who may be having difficulties with some of the course particulars.

Why is Udemy a good thing for those who would like to become entrepreneurs?
Udemy is a great resource for aspiring entrepreneurs because they offer nearly 20,000 courses in topics covering business and technology, marketing and entrepreneurship and more. Instructors known worldwide for their offerings on the Udemy platform teach Udemy’s courses. Udemy also gives students lifetime access to purchased courses. For my students, they are also typically offered discounts for new courses.

How do prospective students sign up for your next course offering?
The new course will be available in the first few months of 2015 and anyone wishing to get more information about it can do so just by submitting his or her email address. The typical price for a course is $299, but discounts are available for those reading this interview by visiting http://eepurl.com/9SYzX

Monday, December 1, 2014

Interview with Keerthi Kadam


Mr.Keerthi Kadam. Founder and CEO of 100rupis.com, a Myynd Tech website. We have conducted a short interview with him.


Can you please shortly introduce your initiative?
I started my company called Myynd Tech in Dec 2013 and we have built a fantastic website www.100rupis.com, an online market where people can buy and sell anything for just Rs.100. We have added some good features recently. Basically it is 100 rupis (Rupees- Indian Currency)= $2 approx. We have created this platform for people to earn a living working full time or make extra cash working part time.

Besides the price difference, how does 100rupis.com differentiate itself to reach potential service buyers?
We have sellers from different parts of the world who are willing to offer their quality services at an affordable price. Quality is our first priority; we want the buyers to get the bang for their buck. Our mission is to bridge the gap between talent and value- meaning, we want talented people to sell their skills/ talents to several buyers by delivering quality services and making buyers happy with what they receive.

What are the current challenges for Indian people to be sellers?
I think the biggest challenge is an internet connection in remote areas. Urban residents have no problem getting 24/7 internet connection, in fact they have internet on their phones as well these days. In the rural areas although people have phones and can connect to the internet, it’s a distant chance that they would be hooked to internet all the time and know updates or new sites like 100rupis.com. In the rural there are several thousand youth who are unemployed and can take advantage of our site provided they have good internet connection where they live.

People can start off as part timers on 100rupis.com and as they go will understand how they can earn more. So with a good internet connection for a few hours they will be able to do miracles. The other problem is awareness, by the time people know how they can make a living with our site they have tough competition. Early adapters get an edge over the late comers; they have more ratings to attract more buyers. So, I guess it’s the timing and proper tools that they need to make their lives better with a site like ours.

For your industry, do you consider the working culture in US different from working in India?
Working in India has always been salary based. Employees work on monthly salary basis, they are supposed to work the whole month before they can see their pay check. It is not an hourly wage like in US. Also US has better labor laws when it comes to minimum wage per hour. In India the salary is basically agreed upon or negotiated between the employer and employee during the interview process. People in India work 6 days, 5 and half technically- Mon- Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturdays 9am to 2pm. On the positive side, there are a lot more number of Government sanctioned holidays that employees enjoy each year. In US people make more money in a week than people in India in a month. Average salary in India per month is about $200 which is changing slowly (moving up in the recent years). Websites like 100rupis.com can serve as an extra income generating ways.

What kind of social issues are you personally concerned about?
Women empowerment is one of things that we want to focus on. We want to contribute by educating women about working from home. India has women literacy going up in the recent years and that is a good sign. We would like women to be computer literate so they can take advantage of sites like ours. Women face financial problems everyday and hence turn to prostitution and other occupations that they don’t like to do. If they only know how to make a living and help their families they are ready to learn skills. This is where our long sighted vision comes in, we want women’s talent/ skills- singing, designing or anything else be brought to market for them to earn their living. The other social issue is rural youth today have no direction and end up failing in life with bad company influence. We want to help them work hard and make a living with their skills/ talents that they may have.

What are your aspirations?
I want 100rupis.com to become one of the biggest employment places where people can earn a living hassle free and that too with what they love to do. My dad has researched for years about unemployment and he found ways to create employment for everyone in India and around the world. I want to make his dream come true. I want everyone to have great employment opportunities and I want everyone to have a great lifestyle. People should not be begging to meet ends; they should be able to provide for their families. Every home should have enough food, good clothing and a roof on top. I want 100rupis.com to change people’s thinking about work and money. I want everyone to do what they love and earn decent money.

How would you like to contribute to alleviate unemployment with your skills and strength as an entrepreneur in India?
As an entrepreneur I want people to think work as fun and not an obligation. I want people to love their lives and that will only come when they will love what they do. I want people to freelance, be an entrepreneur themselves and try things in life before settling for a boring job. Through 100rupis.com I want to encourage entrepreneurship in India. I would like to reach out to the villages and help them understand that they can make a better living. Through my efforts I want to expand people’s markets- what they do today is market their skills and talents locally but what if the world was their market, what if they could sell their skills to people from different countries, what if they could earn more? It would be a great feeling to see people succeed in their lives. I believe 100rupis.com’s future is in people’s future; if they make money we make money, if they grow we grow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Interview with Oliver Palnau

Oliver Palnau is a German-American fashion designer. He gained the respect of the maritime community for his translation of mega yacht design and quality levels to menswear. At age 20 he started attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City’s fashion district. There he discovered the magic of fashion. Fashion could transform an individual. There Oliver Palnau decided to apply the pursuit of perfection he found in mega yachts to clothing. We have conducted a short interview with him.



How has your background in mega yacht design and quality added to your success in the fashion industry?
If we look at the aesthetics, mega yachts are a form of opulent elegance. These massive structures stick to the same base colors because they focus more on a refined elegance versus trying to get attention with flashy colors.

If we look at the quality standards, mega yachts need to be perfect. The gentlemen who purchase them do it maybe a few times in their lives and want all parts of their yacht to be flawless. I applied this same philosophy to the shirts I make.


What kind of menswear do you specialize in?
Menswear for me is how do you make a guy look effortlessly amazing. I'm not into the whole mixing random colors into bold prints and telling guys they'll look good, because they won't. Any of the gentlemen I admire do not want to draw too much attention to their clothes. However, they want to draw enough to command respect and control these variables in their interactions. One of my clients once called it 'billionaire-chic.'

My shirts are my greatest skill. I wanted to create very comfortable, yet durable shirts and based on feedback I think we're almost there. My suiting is still developing but is definitely next on the list.

What inspires you to pursue perfection in clothing and fashion?
Clothing is one of the most important variables in people's lives. It is how they express themselves. I realized a lot of gentlemen I have met act differently when they feel insecure with their appearance.

Fashion pushes people to think differently, to wander in their minds. It also saves people time. Others immediately understand what you are interested in and will approach you if you have something in common. That is why I did not agree with the shift to logo-less clothing of the past few years. Not having a logo on your clothes is like not having an opinion. Who wants to be the same as 98% of the other people in a room?


In your opinion, how does a great design contribute in transforming an individual?
Clothing is the first impression you give the world. I want to help people feel at ease and be fully confident in themselves. The fit and style of the shirts we offer is somewhat a coefficient of modern business dress. When someone looks good and they know they look good they are free to conquer their day.

What is your dream and in the near future, what fantasy do you see in this business?
Near future we are going to develop the Palnau Alliance with partner companies to provide our clients as much value as possible. We are in talks with a German car manufacturer and a resort chain so far.

Ultimately the feedback has been so good that it propels me to forge ahead and expand our product offering. My clients like the time they save by letting me deal with the trends, fit, and fabrics to make them look extraordinary.

My clients are very ambitious gentlemen. Oliver Palnau shirts serve as a great tool for them to build their empires. We will be a presence in people's lives for the next 30 years.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When She Smiled

Ritoban Chakrabarti is an author, entrepreneur, online marketer, and avid traveller. He has finished writing his first fiction novel, titled "When She Smiled" and we have conducted a short interview with him.



What inspired you to write your first fiction novel ''When She Smiled''? Who is 'she’?
About eight months ago, I picked up JD Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and read it in a few hours. It was a very simple story driven around one teenage guy and how a few days changed his perception about life.

We have all had such moments. I’ve had mine for sure. There was a story that needed to be written. After reading that book, I had an epiphany.

I reflected on the choices I made as a teenager and how they influenced my future. My novel is about a fifteen year old guy who had no clue how falling in love would forever change his life. ‘She’ is the girl he falls in love with. Her name is Akanksha. The entire story is set in Shimla, which is a beautiful hill station in India.



What is your favourite quote? What does it mean to you?
There’s this quote I read in a Reader’s Digest edition over a decade ago that stayed with me all these years.

"Look towards the sun, and your shadows will fall behind you."

I have always believed in leading an ambitious life, because a life of purpose is a life worth living. I have a dream-board with images representing all the things I want to achieve in this life. From getting married to the love of my life, to publishing a novel, to owning a beach house. When you have high goals to look forward to every day, it gives meaning to your actions and you strive little by little every day to achieve those goals.

We all go through hardships and make the best of whatever little time we have on this planet. I believe this quote means that if you work towards achieving big things, then all the negativity and the noise fades away. The unfortunate truth is that the world is full of people who are jealous of you and pass on their frustrations and negative energies onto you. All of that renders meaningless when you set yourself big goals to work on.


What is the one ingredient that was very critical in part of your entrepreneurial journey?
Happiness. I always approach my staff and company as a close knit family. The people I hire are the ones who I know will gel with the company culture.

The work we do is fun and driven around helping others achieve success. It has been an amazing five year journey. I still remember working late nights during college while my friends were out partying. I guess it helped shape me and the way I do business.

I’ve always maintained a sync between my personal passions and the work I do. I love the work I do because it’s also my passion. While others simply consider work as ‘work’. I consider my work ‘happiness’.

How do you contain excitement? Which strategies works best to keep your focus?
Its really difficult to keep focus especially when your mind is a nest of ideas. Ideas keep propping in my head on a daily basis and sometimes it gets difficult to focus on the tasks at hand, because the new shiny idea tingling in my brain overtakes the responsibilities of my ongoing projects. The way I deal with the excitement of a new idea, is by noting down every single idea I ever have. I keep looking at the idea diary for inspiration whenever I’m feeling down or demotivated. I let my ideas speak to me. If an idea keeps coming to me again and again, and IF I notice I have free time to work on that idea, only then do I begin to pursue it.

There’s no point pursuing every single idea you have because if you do, you’ll get nothing done properly. Focusing on your strengths is very important, not only in business, but also in your personal life.

Writing the novel has been on my mind for a while now, but only after I finished some of my projects, did I get some free time to contemplate and start work on the first draft.

What is more challenging? Writing a novel or starting a new business?
In a way, writing a novel is very similar to starting a new business. In my company, we have launched several products. Every single one of them is like a new business in its own right because you have to dedicate resources, personnel, time, and effort into each product. Not only these two things, but I believe EVERYTHING you do in your life follows the same basic principles.
If you have a new baby in the family. If you shift to a new city. If you fall in love and get married. If you want to lose weight.

To write the novel:
I had to leave all the distractions and outside chatter.
I had to focus on the task at hand.
It felt extremely difficult at times and I almost gave up on many occasions.
It took a lot of time and patience.

On some days, after a nice long writing session, I felt a sense of achievement.
Finishing the first draft was just the beginning. That’s when the drama of editors, publishers, marketing, and media begins.

If you think about it, everything you do in life is very similar to writing a book.
If you’re interested in getting a copy, you may sign up on www.whenshesmiled.com
Its releasing in digital and print on February 2015.
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