The people over process over the product 

For any goal , determine the timeline and the fundamental unit ( prospects, prototypes, candidates etc ) and the probability of unit to product. then work on the number of units to act on in tranches so that each of these successive tranches will have better actions and thereby increasing your probability to convert into product. 
Example : in product development, you have one year to get the first version out, the probability of iterations ( units ) to market ready version might be 40:1 . So you need to figure out a timeline and a set of actions everyday that will enable you to come out with 40 units within a year and automatically you wil have a market ready version. 
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The hero’s journey

For when a heart insists on its destiny, resisting the general blandishment, then the agony is great; so too the danger. Forces, however, will have been set in motion beyond the reckoning of the senses. Sequences of events from the corners of the world will draw gradually together, and miracles of coincidence bring the inevitable to pass. The talismanic ring from the soul’s encounter with its other portion in the place of recollectedness betokens…a conviction of the waking mind that the reality of the deep is not belied by that of common day. This is the sign of the hero’s requirement, now, to knit together his two worlds.

The remainder…is a history of the slow yet wonderful operation of a destiny that has been summoned into life. Not everyone has a destiny: only the hero who has plunged to touch it, and has come up again — with a ring.”

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How to become an expert?

To have integrity, you must have expertise. True expertise results from the drive to fix yourself – your flaw, and your obsession with it. You become an expert on fixing yourself. The itch drives expertise. The itch drives curiosity. The itch drives learning and doing. This is what makes an expert – not an “expert” in the sense that everyone’s an expert these days. The itch drives mastery.

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The curious case of the 60 GW utility solar, REIT trusts and the arbitrage

Peculiarly, India is on the cusp on creating a demand supply distortion in the value chain of real estate and solar.

While in solar, we have actually shot ourselves in the foot by proposing extra-ordinary amounts of will backed by little to no action and thus lost credibility ; we have also turned around and proposed REITs and trust vehicles.

What’s more? The trust vehicles REITs proposed in the current structure are promoted to be operated by the developers themselves- in this case, it could even be the solar developers if they buy and build on the land, which I doubt they will because that is a distraction.

This infact will create an incentive for the solar developers, executives and officials to buy low cost land ( which becomes increasingly high cost over the course of execution of this 60 GW ) and gather them in a REIT structure , where they shall route their own ‘leasing revenue’ from the power plants and SPVs( which can also be an solar asset yieldco) back into their “REITs”.

If and when, the 60 GW target starts coming to fruition, we can infact see a partnership between two disparate entities – the REITs ( the UNITECH, THe Embassy Group, DLF etc ) and the Solar Yield-cos ( TERRAFORM and the likes )

Interesting times ahead for Indian solar and Real estate sectors for the next two decades.

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What a distributed utility should look like

Too many people look at what we are doing, at Solartown , and assume we are building a solar rooftop EPC company. I am compelled to laugh a little bit at that generalisation.

We have no interest in building a business to make us of a trend in order to just make money. We have every bit of interest , though, to make use of a trend to bring a vision to reality that in turn will benefit mankind enormously.

As I take more and more action in my life, I am compelled to believe that the only cause worth pursuing and therefore by definition, the only action worth pursuing is to help your fellow man.

So performing action with the motive of helping mankind evolve and become better and not be consumed by the consequences of those activities , is our chief motive.

And helping mankind can be done in two or three ways :

a. Help a fellow suffering human’s basic needs – food, water, clothes, energy and shelter  by either

  1. providing him with novel ways of those needs ( creation of new supply )
  2. enabling access to existing sources (increasing efficiency of distribution of existing supply)

b. Help an evolved human (who has the basic needs ) with his higher needs- self esteem , community and self respect ( need for recognition, love and intimacy )

c. solving grave issues or threats that could eliminate humanity as a species ( example : cosmic collision, nuclear war, global warming to such great levels)

d. helping mankind become a much much more powerful and resilient species ( increasing life span, eradicating threats, bio tech, nano tech and cyborgs , AI )

In my philosophy, there is only this fruitful motive to perform actions- to help your fellow man and thereby help mankind become better. Everything else is for pure sensory pleasure which will tire you sooner or later – without that core value or purpose governing your life.

That being said, why are we building SolarTown , if not for money? 
Money is an ultra crucial part of a life well lived.
I am not talking about hoarding money. Once it has covered your basic and higher needs – money can be fruitfully deployed to help others achieve a. and b. or help mankind achieve c. and d.

Every bit of SolarTown does is aimed towards achieving a huge part of c. and a substantial part of a.

What we might do in years 1 to 5 – looks like that we are building a solar rooftop EPC company or rather  – a solar rooftop IPP  but if you see what really drives us is a grand vision for the next 50 to 60 years filled with cutting edge innovation.

Imagine a world, where every man-made surface ( roads, bricks, rooftops , buildings)  that looks at the sun generate electricity , transmits it wirelessly to the ground made of storage ( Lithium ion or vanadium flow) , transmits back to the loads wirelessly, uses a wireless smart mini grid to communicate with all that PV in the surrounding blocks and distributes excess energy to the EVs in each of our homes and offices.

( Note: am not talking about Space based solar ( whose economics don’t work yet) or mini nuclear fusion and fission reactors in this post yet – the dynamics of whom will affect the rest of the power industry significantly including storage and rooftop solar and BIPV )

To put this in perspective as to how beautiful this would be, we only need o.5% of India’s surface at current PV efficiencies to pull of the entire demand with storage. This in turn, would make the grid obsolete for all smaller residential and commercial communities.

Just this has the potential to rid the world of the grave energy and global warming threats leading to impact in the direction of a. and c. , mentioned above.

This is what really drives us. To fundamentally change how humanity generates and consumes energy. And all profits are funelled to achieve that end for mankind.

Solar Singularity

How do we get there?

No masterpiece or monumental systemic change was done overnight. We need to chip away at reality decades together in order for such change to happen.

Even though the timelines and milestones are obscure now for such a grand wireless clean energy vision to come to reality, we will go one step at a time and will not stop until it comes to reality , creating the new foundation of how humanity creates, transmits, distributes and consumes energy,

But step 1 is to get to a scale where we are deploying at the least of 10s of GW per year across the globe.

Simultaneous steps would be the pervasive presence of Li-ion, Electric Vehicles and smart grid tech across the world for managing mini grids.

Such scale and Li-ion or vanadium flow strength would help us look at drastically lowering the $/Kwh delivered to loads of a household to less than 10c / Kwh and when you add wireless charging and discharging from PV on the rooftop, the scale and the tech should become viable for most commercial establishments.

From then on, it is a matter of scale driving it down to make it viable for the residential and commercial establishments.

What about large commercial and large industrial power independent of grid power, you ask?  Different post for a different day – my friend.

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A blueprint for conquering a fragment localised market 

Take any sample market .

Any one . Where there are a lot of players but each catering to a local maxima ( in a specific locality ) with varying gross profits and operating as warlords in their own scale.

Comes to mind : grocery shops, barber shops , gyms , service providers of telecom and cable and in some non govt. regulated markets – the utility or the power business.

If you identify such a market , it is ripe for consolidation . Don’t go about creating a marketplace where there is a scope for standardisation. Because standardisation and consolidation yikes a better control over the ultimate downstream demand than a market place would.

Let me illustrate : flipkart started out as a consolidator And leveraged the consolidators brand to create a market place.

Airbnb started out right off the gate with a market place model . It worked.

Amazon started out as the consolidator while later becoming a market place ( ofcourse flipkart emulated this ) while Alibaba went the airbnb or the eBay way .

I believe it is easier to confuse which strategy is the optimum one to go forward with , when faced with a fragmented market . To consolidate or to enable a market place which drives the marginal cost downward ?

A simple rule of thumb : if the accompanying infrastructure already exists and works seamlessly (finance,logistics, payments, etc ) , do the market place . Else the market place won’t work .

Infrastructure here maybe : Internet penetration , transportation infra , Financing capability, Payment or credit card penetration.
This requires creating the infra and then spinning or selling it out once the infra and the eco system develops. Hence the consolidator does everything , slowly spinning out the infra and in the end becoming a market place.

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How to win a squash game

First wave of tycoons : Oil and Gas

A mini wave called wave 1a. :  Commodities processing, Steel and Coal , industrial goods processing mainly for Oil and gas and distribution Infrastructure around the Oil and Gas industry ( mainly due to available oil and gas and a demand to cater to those who want the energy )

Second wave: Transportation , Motors, Shipping, Mining and Rail Road ( again fueled and consumed in part by Oil and Gas )

Third wave : Every other wave will again give rise to support industries which are not major trends in themselves ( Example : Tyre giants that rode the Ford wave )

Fourth wave : Real Estate, Retail, Fashion , Luxury, Food and beverages  ( Powered by a stable environment and infra in the country which has created jobs which in turn has just begun consumerism – people buying offices, houses, whatever they could get their hands on with the new found employment basically)

Fifth wave : Finance of all the above – hedge funds, PEs and the like leverage and deleverage the commoditised industries  – in the process creating the Berkshires and Fidelities of the world along with the Insurance giants

Sixth wave : Consumerism takes hold in an enormous wave due to all the above created jobs   – access to healthcare , entertainment ( The vegas boom) and other sensory enjoyments spawn ( Organised Studio entertainment, International media groups ( Murdoch, Disney etc ) come to life  – industries come into their own to cater to the affluent and their leisure time  )

Seventh wave – still goes on : A new wave of consumerism begins , this time hardware driven ( TVs, Radios , then PCs and Servers and this will eventually lead to Smart phones and Tablets  and now smart watches, smart head gear cameras, smart underweares (!??) )

Emboldened by ever-widening access to masses through 7th wave tech, the 6th wave titans become even stronger. Little do they know that their asses are going to be kicked by the 8th wave of disruption which they cant control inspite of all thay might ( Youtube vs TV, FB vs Mysapce ( Murdoch ) )

Eighth Wave – just beginning and will go on well into the future : Software eats the world bringing not only efficiency but also consolidating fragmented and localised markets as a market place on top of the sixth wave infra. ( Amazon , Google, Airbnb, Etsy, Ebay, Uber )

Ninth Wave : hardware efficiency plays (ubiquiti ) follow the software innovations followed by a virtuous cycle of software efficiency plays ( Big data)  supported by the hardware plays again ( Kiva systems)

Tenth wave : Solar PV starts to make sense. cost of Wind power beats cost of coal and Gas. Reinvents the First wave. Li Ion makes sense already in some places for storage and distribution of power. Combine this with the Seventh, Eight and Ninth wave innovations and you have wireless power transmission, data monitoring of micro power plants and remote management of remote power PV plants . Do the permutations of the industry it could open up for you now.  Nuclear fission starts to work on commercial scale and makes sense too!! Just not yet at a micro scale.

Mini Wave 10 a : If you are intelligent you will see the pattern here and what this wave is and would get to it in manufacturing and support all around whatever I mentioned in wave 10.

Wave 11 : okay – so what transports humans or cargoes and rides on the commercialisation of a new cheaper source of energy now made available ?? Hmm. You get the picture right. EV unless ofcourse you build micro nuclear fusion or even fission reactors and put them on large commercial ships . Oh wait that already exists! Just not  commercialised yet. ( Maybe I will detail in another post why Nuclear commercial shipping is the future )

Wave 12 : Its already here . Your newest form of sensory entertainment. Brace yourself. If I were you and wanted to be the 12th wave tycoon and was born in the 2000s, I would be building Virtual reality software platforms ( RIFT ) ,all the smart hardware suits that will be built around RIFT, RIFT apps and hang in there for 10 years. Better yet, build a RIFT competitor! See a doctor, try out a new dress, go visit that new house you want to buy. Everything that can be done by your eyes, and ears can be done remotely with Oculus. How long do you think it will take to manipulate the olfactory and kinesthetic signals and transmit them to your brain like auditory and visual. Not much longer.

Some of the sixth wave firms and seventh wave giants have merged to become a hybrid monster and will buy out more of the 10th, 11th and 12th wave ( Apple – Tesla, Softbank – SB Energy, FB – Oculus RIFT, Google – Nest )  but the barrier to entry in these later waves are so subtle that disruption is always much much faster than disrupting a deeply entrenched  First to Seventh wave industry conglomerate ( Example : Apple can’t and won’t touch a venture in construction or satellite transmission as it would in AI or EVs or Solar as for that matter ) . But then they fail to learn from history that no firm in any wave has ever managed to remain dominant for more than two waves. Its a DNA problem than its a money problem. You see – SolarCity would probably buy Bloom Energy but they wouldn’t touch Areva unless Areva makes commercial Nuclear fusion viable in the distant future .  Its DNA problem not a money problem.

Wave 13 : Analagous to retail as in Wave 4 eh?In retail,  Amazon better watch out ( Uber, 3 D printing , Hyperloop + Uber, Jet etc. are very credible threats).

Fashion is already gone. Luxottica owns all the ‘ cool brands’ until they turned around and found that the very concept that made them evergreen business -‘ fashion can never fade only morphed into something else ‘ has doomed their business now because the cool brands aren’t ‘bulgari’ and  ‘boss’ anymore. Its APPLE and BEATS  and TESLA. As wearables become the ‘cool brands’ you will see more of the older brands in Watches, Glasses, Clothes, Apparel and even underwears become ‘Smart’ enough that monopolies like luxottica shall at best be OEMs like what FoxCon has become. Although this might be in the second half of this century, definitely not anytime soon, you might even see brand new fashion startups that come up with smart clothing labels that change colours controlled by an app on your phone. These companies might be the next wave of Zaras and Yves Saint Laurents.

What this means is , print your smart 3D shirt , whose raw material just got delivered to you half an hour ago by Uber, change the design with an app and match it to your cargo pants. Say bye bye Amazon and fuck you Zara and be on your way to the party.

Wave 14 : Money + Software = you guessed it. 22nd century will see interplanetary digital commerce ( Thanks, Elon ). Do you really want to waste all that precious nuclear fuel transporting gold bars across planets. How stupid are you?   This in turn gives rise to financial instruments you might not have even hear of till now like – Securitising cash-flow generated from space ships, used for interplanetary transport and companies operating them like MAERSK  . People might even build a transco instrument and take it public on the digital exchanges which trades in bitcoins by then.

Okay enough hallucination but back to the core points now.

Notice how :

1. One wave of boom usually rides on the back of one or a combination of a few previous ones. This has gigantic consequence as the sheer amount of permutations and combinations could give rise to tech that is unforeseen till now- like Cybernetic systems,  terraforming seas oceans and deserts, atmosphere creation  , synthetic foods , robotics and space transport are created parallely making the possibilities endless and giving rise to brand new offshoot waves that go on to to have their technological ripples . Technology USED to happen serially /  linearly ( waves 1 to 4 maybe ) but the pace has been accelerating and the gaps between waves have become intersections . Its COMPOUNDING PARALLELY aka known as EXPONENTIALLY.  Which is why AI is a very very real threat and is inevitable. Humans will try to re create consciousness and no one can predict the repercussions- good or bad.

2. As we speak , the ninth wave is reinventing the first wave ( Solar, Fission and Wind vs Oil and Gas ). Study the 1st and 2nd wave billionaires and see What does that tell you about the tenth wave or the eleventh wave billionaires and where will they come from ? If you chart out the Forbes 400 you can classify all the billionaires in one of the waves I have mentioned and they have a corresponing (1 wave = 10 years ) age gap between them approximately. Not accidentally.  Thats a pattern right there.

If I were playing the game in the 21st century, would you sit and watch from a 3rd wave industry? Hell no! The game is in waves 8, 9 , 10, 11 and 12 for the 21st century.

if you want to win a squash game, you need to already be where the ball is eventually going to make its  bounce on the floor , not where it is now hitting the wall

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