Day 7: Purchasing Inventory and Computer Work

Today is Saturday, and I am chilling in Bangalore. I spent most of the day on my computer, and then a portion of that time on the phone. Over the past few days I’ve been trying to purchase products for our inventory experiment.Envirofit made this easy for me by putting their stoves on eBay India, which accepts foreign credit cards. But buying d.Light’s solar lanterns was a bit of a pain. I ended up wiring money from my American bank account to the Delhi sales guy’s Indian bank account. And of course, I got charged $35 for the currency conversion. Now I know to use Prashanth’s Indian credit card when doing these transactions.

So far we have four different products for our inventory experiment: 1 improved cook stove and 3 solar lanterns. Hopefully they will all arrive to Prashanth’s place on time. I’ll be looking around for other products to include in the experiment, although I think that this might be enough for now. We’re trying to keep things bootstrapped so that we can fail and fail quickly without blowing through too much money.

A to-do list for Essmart:

  • Edit the survey that the Pollachi university students will be giving to shop owners. We’re paying them enough, so we might as well make sure that we use them to the fullest. We need to add a lot more products to the survey, such as the income-generating agricultural tools and consumer durables like electronics. We also need to find out more about the stores, such as store size, type of store (e.g. general, appliances, durables), and how far it is from the city center. I think we should also ask shop owners how they learn about new products and if they’d be willing to have an Essmart section of their stores.
  • Create a survey for end users. This is a relatively new idea, but I think we need to learn more about the end users from their own mouths (instead of through the mouths of shop owners).
  • Figuring out more precisely the inventory experiment. I have two in mind so far, but I should write it all out.
  • Understand the plusses and minuses of incorporating a certain way. I need to keep track of the different models that are out there. We might want to try a hybrid model of sorts, but I am not so sure at the moment. We definitely need some legal help, though.
  • Write up my application for the Carroll L. Wilson award so that we have some funding for summer. I also need to make sure that one of my recommendation letters gets in on time.

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