Lateral Sparks: The Business Creativity Quiz, Edition 4
This weekly quiz from YourStory tests your domain knowledge, business acumen, and lateral thinking skills (see last week’s quiz here). In this fourth edition of the quiz, we present five issues tackled by real-life entrepreneurs in their startup journeys.
What would you do if you were in their shoes? At the end of the quiz, you will find out what the entrepreneurs themselves actually did. Would you do things differently?
Q1: Educational skills for the future
Much has been said about the need to scale up and improve education via e-learning and ‘digital’ campuses. Many courses teach children how to use digital tools, and a number of entrepreneurs are also offering creative solutions for sports, extra-curricular activities, and hobbies.
Others are focusing on foundational skills such as problem-solving and effective communication. However, there is another core skill that is needed in an increasingly digital world. What is that skill?
Q2: Robots for marketing?
Robots have emerged in a number of spheres, including industrial shopfloors and domestic or even personal services.
As companions to human workers, they can even be configured as ‘cobots.’ Robots can perform tasks like cleaning floors, windows, and pools, and serve as butlers as well.
But can robots be used in the marketing function? How so?
Q3: Farming techniques for the future
Industrial and digital techniques have been applied to agricultural practices in successive waves. In terms of farming practices, approaches like fair trade, organic farming, and sustainable agriculture are taking root as well.
So is hydroponics, where nutrient-rich water is used. What’s another related approach which is innovative as well as sustainable?
Q4: Making animal feed more sustainable
An estimated 85 percent of the world’s soybean crop — a resource-intensive crop — is used as animal fodder. This has a large environmental footprint.
Finding a better substitute would help in a major way. But what alternative can be produced at scale, and still have nutritional value for cattle?
Q5: Beyond the youth dividend
Much has been touted of India’s youth dividend, which will drive sectors like IT services and the digital startup boom. They can help power products and services for not just India but for the rest of the world as well.
But focusing largely on this segment may lead to ignoring another important group. What is the challenge here, and the underlying opportunity?
Congratulations on having come this far! But there’s more to come – answers to these five questions (below), as well as links to articles with more details on the entrepreneurs’ solutions. Happy reading, happy learning – and happy creating!
A1: Educational skills for the future
“Programming is powerful and rapidly growing in today's connected age. On a macro level, in the next 10 years, we believe learning to program would be as important and basic as learning math,” explains Mehul Mohan, Founder of Codedamn.
Founded in New Delhi in 2020, the startup helps learn coding, practice, build projects, and get feedback in real-time. The edtech startup is making industry-level coding skills accessible and solving for interactive learning at scale. Read more here.
A2: Robots for marketing?
In his compelling book Intelligent Marketing: Employing New-Age Technologies, ISB Professor V Kumar explains how robots have contributed in the ‘4 Ps’ of marketing – product (robotic products, eg. Echo, Roomba, Walmart’s autonomous shopping cart Dash), price (shopbots – Nao, BizRate), place (senior care companions), and promotion (store inspection, product ‘pick and place’). He also cites Finnish telco Elisa (Pepper robot for desk service), and Heathrow Airport (robots communicating in multiple languages with passengers).
Trends like 5G and more sophisticated AI/ML will further accelerate the use of robots in marketing. See our book review here.
A3: Farming techniques for the future
A number of entrepreneurs have launched farming practices based on aeroponics, where plants are grown in the air and are nourished via a nutrient-laden mist. This can be adopted at larger scale by established farmers as well. Richard Lobo, Head of Innovation at Tata Chemicals, explains how this could work here. The term ‘aeroponics’ was coined by Dutch biologist Frits Warmolt in 1957. Cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, pumpkins, strawberries, and herbs can be grown via this method.
A4: Making animal feed more sustainable
Narendra Pasuparthy, Founder and CEO of meat retail brand Nandu’s, teamed up with Mitali Poovayya to found Insectifii in 2019. The startup replaces soy protein with insect protein.
Food surplus (eg. from kitchens and food processing units) is used to breed larvae of insects like the Black Soldier Fly. The larvae are rich in protein and fat, and can be added to animal fodder. Read more here.
A5: Beyond the youth dividend
“It appears that our fixation on 'young India' has caused us to ignore the aged segment of the nation largely. Every family needs to prepare for an ageing parent,” cautions Punita Khatter, Founder of senOcare, an elderly care services company.
India has the second largest elderly population in the world after China, she observes. Physical and mental health problems of elders in India were aggravated even more during the pandemic. Assistance is needed not just for health services, but also internet issues, paperwork, and home cleaning. Read more here.
YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).