Wednesday 31 May 2017

Day (-) 5 of Mentor On Road, USA

Take courage and work on. Patience and steady work— this is the only way. 
Swami Vivekananda

After all the preparations perfectly in place, I finally began the journey of exchanging valuable ideas. The first day followed a grueling schedule. Our team had set up six meetings for the day in New Jersey itself.

To kick off the day, I met Harry Panesar, the Chair of US-India Political Action Committee(USINPAC). We discussed the education exchange program between India and USA at length. We also talked about the promising trade opportunities in the automotive sector from a very pragmatic perspective. We are implementing many initiatives right from the first day.

With Harry Panesar

Next up, I met with Pinakin Pathak and Nishil Parikh. We discussed a really interesting project called “Ohmkara”. We are dedicated to working towards a resounding success for the same.

Fruitful meeting with Pinakin Pathak

After meeting Pinakin and Nishil, I met Geetha. She visited us in Ahmedabad last year at Vibrant Ceramics. I was very happy to know that they have started a business with a company that we had introduced to them last year. What pleased me, even more, was that they were extremely satisfied with the service of that company, which, in my view, is more important than the product itself. It is quoted quite correctly, "Customer comes second, service comes first". 

Next up in my schedule was a meeting with Vijayaraghavan, a very fine gentleman. We discussed opportunities in the hospitality industry and consumer goods sector. Subsequently, I will be connecting them with Indian partners for a synergistic relationship.

Meeting with Geeta, Vijayraghavan, and Nishil Parikh

I then went on to meet Piraan and Shyamal. I was delighted to know that they were the first ones to organize a Ganpati Mahotsav in the USA three years ago. This year, they are converting the occasion for Indian companies to take a step forward towards pursuing a business in the USA. I think it is a very interesting opportunity for Indian companies.

With Piraan and Shyamal.

Before I forget, I would love to thank Piraan and Shyamal for this kind message wishing us success for Mentor On Road, USA. 

After five professional meetings, to unwind, I met two close friends of mine Sunil and Rupal. It was a personal visit. We talked about the political situation here in the States. Later, we went to the Woodbridge Indian Square.

Unwinding after a long day with friends, Sunil and Rupal.

After what was a rather long day, I returned to Camp Bordentown and started preparing for my visit to New York, where I will be meeting delegates from UN Women, and attending a fundraiser in the evening.

Today was just a tiny glimpse of the hectic schedule that awaits us for the coming seventy-eight days. 

This is Jagat Shah, signing off! Good night.

Jai Ho to the India-USA dosti!

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Day (-) 6 of Mentor On Road, USA

Arise, awake and stop not until the goal is reached.    Swami Vivekananda
It was a very joyous moment to see my son, Nisarg after six long months. He had come to pick me up from the John F. Kennedy airport in New York after what was a long flight from Abu Dhabi. Thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Etihad Airways, it did not feel that long. It was followed by a two-hour drive from JFK to Bordentown, New Jersey. It was amazing catching up with Nisarg.

Happy Reunion!

The following morning, I woke up at six, enjoyed a brisk walk in fresh air, then, went on to practice yoga, followed by breakfast. After getting ready, I went shopping for some daily need products.

After coming back, I started working on my chariot for this long journey, my car. Setting up the car included applying stickers, setting the mobile phone holder, getting water bottles, electric kettle, and flags, among many other things. The whole exercise took me four hours.

It made me realize that working with stickers was indeed a tough job. In India, I always had someone that did it. After doing it myself, it made me aware of the meticulousness that goes behind getting the perfect look. I tried many different combinations before eventually getting it right. Now would be an ideal time to thank Paresh Bhai, who has always done this for me back home.

I had a quick and light meal and decided to sleep through the afternoon, as I was still struggling with jetlag.

Waking up at 5 in the evening, I then planned four personal meetings for the next day. Everything − time, location, distances, maps, reconfirmations – was worked out to detail. Finally, I looked for accommodation options in Boston.

Towards the end of the day, I thanked all the people from India and USA who have wished me well for Mentor On Road, USA. I will watch TV for a while; get caught up with the happenings in India through online channels and go to sleep in an hour.

All in all, the first day in the USA was a perfect blend of work and relaxation. Until next time!

Jai Ho!

Monday 29 May 2017

Day (-) 7 of Mentor on Road, USA

The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them.  
Swami Vivekananda
Day (-) 7 of Mentor on Road, USA: Reporting from Camp Abu Dhabi en route to New York for the drive across 24 states, 32 cities covering over 15402 KM(9602 Miles) where I will be meeting people from over 3000 American companies.

I finally completed my presentations yesterday, eighteen in all. I will be presenting those to American start-ups, Small and Medium Scale Businesses, Women-owned businesses and the Indian diaspora. Along with customized presentations for them, I have also made sector-specific presentations.

My bags are packed, with both personal and professional requirements for the 78 days of a memorable road journey in USA. 

Check List

Now would be the right time to thank the team behind Mentor On Road − Nikhil Sheth, Antariksh Parikh, Anmol Modi, Ansh Shah, Ratik Khanna, Krishna Patel, Hemal Solani, Sunil dada, Dharmendra − without whose tireless efforts for six months, this journey would not have been possible.  You are the real stars, the true backbone of this journey. Also, thank you all so much for the surprise airport send off. You have done your part. Now, I will try my best to do mine!

I am lucky that my wife Rupal and I share the same craze for long-distance driving and a risk-taking appetite. She will be my navigator-in-chief for the journey. It will be fun having my son Nisarg, who is pursuing Masters in USA, with me during the journey. I will surely miss my daughter, Monisha, though, who could not join us in this trip due to her internship and our 5th family member – Theo Shah.

Lastly, I would like to thank the United States Commercial Service – India. I would also like to thank Greg, Jigna, Heidi, Gretchen and the rest of the USA team for their unwavering support. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Start-up India from the Government of India for associating with us. Along with that, I am also grateful to Etihad Airways for being our airline partners and Vibrant Ceramics, our sector partner for their belief in Mentor On Road, USA.

That would be all from my side. Now, I will just relax, listen to some music and watch the debate on CNN. Good night :)

Jai Ho!

Saturday 27 May 2017

Thanks to the Indian and International Media for supporting Mentor On Road USA

We are very grateful to the Indian and International Media for supporting our initiative. Thanks to the media, we have been able to reach out at grass roots and take our message forward.

Friday 12 May 2017

About Mentor on Road - USA

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.

Swami Vivekananda

Management guru and trade advisor Jagat Shah, after successfully traveling across India as a part of “Mentor on Road” to motivate SMBs and startups, will now carry forward the journey throughout the United States of America. The first leg of “Mentor on Road – USA” will kick start from Boston on June 4th, 2017. He is going to travel to over 32 cities across 24 states to interact with SMBs, Startups, Women Empowerment Institutions, and the Indian Diaspora.

The primary objective of this program is to increase the exchange of knowledge and the best practices of trade between the USA and India.

This is the fifth instalment of the flagship initiative, “Mentor on Road”. It is supported by the US Commercial Services (USCS), US Department of Commerce and US-India Importer’s Council (USIIC). The journey will see mentor Jagat Shah travelling over 15,452 kilometers (9342 Miles) throughout the country for over 78 days in 2 legs.

Mr Shah enjoys long distance driving, is passionate about working closely with startups, small and medium scale enterprises and enjoys guiding them towards competitiveness and professional excellence. In one of his tours abroad with the Honorable Prime Minister, Shree Narendra Modi suggested to him that he combine both his interests and create history. This turned out to be the vision that conceived the program.

“Mentor on Road – India” was begun in 2015, to embark the nobility of India 3.0--2014, the year when Shree Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. The tour saw him travelling across 35 cities, primarily Tier-II and Tier-III, so as to better understand the problems faced by startups and enterprises of various scales. It was only after formation of partnerships with like-minded organisations, that the vision behind this project was realised. The idea to travel by road to each of these cities symbolised the commitment to reach out to the grassroots and the remotest of villages that came on the way.

The experiences during Mentor on Road – India led to the understanding of the importance of SMBs towards the economy and their effects on job creation. Immediate impacts of the new policies like Digital India, Start-up India, Stand-up India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Smart Cities & Villages, Skill India and Make In India were studied and presented. The presentation talked about how these policies could be used in an optimal manner and to its fullest advantage.

The team that worked behind “Mentor on Road – India” comprised only of ten members. Their continuous and tireless efforts behind this project ensured its success. Furthermore, what makes this phase so inspirational is the fact that, only five members are currently proactively working day and night to organize Mentor on Road – USA. This small yet efficient team has already set up over 70 meetings out of the expected 120. Each member of this team is independent in their way of functioning. All the information is conveyed to the mentor through a mobile war room. This flexibility has led way to much more efficient functioning; also ensuring that personnel loss or absence will not affect the tour in any way.

In each of the cities Mr. Jagat Shah travels to, he will be a part of four gatherings a day. He will meet executives of American startups at universities and innovation centres to connect them with the opportunities in the Indian market. After that, he will proceed to meet small- and medium-scale business owners. Through a presentation on India 3.0, he will throw light upon the galvanised possibilities of trade and investment in India since PM Modi took charge of the government.

Later, he will interact with women entrepreneurs and will connect them to their Indian counterparts and will try to understand practices that lead to better participation by women. Lastly, he will address the Indian Diaspora and will share the concept of Smart Villages and how the former can contribute to the latter. He aims to inform them about Digital India and how it is successfully combating corruption.

A snapshot of the confirmed meetings till date is as follows:

The startup meetings in each city are with following partners (Cities Bold and Underlined):

New York: 1776; Washington DC: 1776; Charlotte: HQ Charlotte at Packard Place; Tampa: Tampa Bay Wave; New Orleans: Launch Pad; Houston: Station Houston; Dallas: NoD Coworking; Phoenix: CO+ HOOTS and Global Chamber; San Diego: Startup Leadership; Portland: Starve Ups; Denver: BoomTown Accelerator; St. Louis: T-REX; Chicago: 1871; Detroit: TechTown Detroit

The SMBs meetings in each city are with following partners(Cities Bold and Underlined):

Boston: WebPort Global; New York: Queens Chamber of Commerce; Washington DC: World Bank and DC Chamber of Commerce and ExportDC; Charlotte: Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; Atlanta: World Trade Center; Jacksonville: Jacksonville, Tallahassee & Pensacola U.S. Export Assistance Center, U.S. Commercial Service (USDOC), JAXUSA Partnership and JAX Chamber; Tampa: Florida Small Business Development Center; Birmingham: Alabama International Trade Center Alabama SBDC; New Orleans: World Trade Center; Dallas: Global Chamber Dallas; Phoenix: Greater Phoenix Economic Council; San Diego: World Trade Center; Missoula: World Trade Center Montana; Bozeman: Montana Manufacturing Extension Center; Denver: Montana Manufacturing Extension Center; Kansas City: USEAC; St. Louis: Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle; Indianapolis: Global Chamber Indianapolis; Pittsburgh: Global Chamber Pittsburgh; Philadelphia: Global Chamber Pittsburgh

The women owned businesses’ meetings in each city are with following partners(Cities Bold and Underlined):

Boston: Center for women and enterprise; New York: United Nations Women; Iselin, NJ: Women's Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation; Washington DC: Maryland Women's Business Center; Charlotte: Women in Business Workshop; Tampa: Tampa Bay Business and Professional Women in Tampa; New Orleans: New Orleans Business Alliance (NOBA); El-Paso: Women's Business Border Center; Phoenix: Global Chamber; Los Angeles: Women In Technology International (WITI); Omaha: Metro Omaha Women's Business Center; Detroit: Michigan Women's Foundation.

The Indian Diaspora meetings in each city are with following partners(Cities Bold and Underlined):

Boston: United India Association of New England; New York: Gujarati Samaj of New York; Washington DC: Global Organization Of People Of Indian Origin- Washington; Charlotte: Charlotte Gujarati Samaj; Jacksonville: Indo-US Chamber of Commerce Northeast Florida; Tampa: Indo-US Chamber of Commerce; New Orleans: American Association of Indian Professionals; Houston: Fruition Technology Labs; Dallas: DFW Gujarati Samaj; San Diego: San Diego Indian Society; Los Angeles: Jain Center of S. California-Los Angeles; San Francisco: Silicon Valley Indian Professionals Association; Omaha: India Association of Nebraska; Kansas City: India Association of Kansas city; Indianapolis: Indiana India Business Council & Indianapolis; Chicago: IABC (Indian American Business Council); 

The deeply rooted socially economic bond between India and USA will fruitfully deepen and leave a lasting impact. 

Wednesday 10 May 2017

How Mentor on Road, USA was envisioned

Mentor on Road as a program was started under a vision inspired by our Honorable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. The program is literally driven by our Chief Mentor, Jagat Shah who has a passion for long distance driving and has worked as an International Trade Advisor and a certified Cluster Development practitioner and Mentor since over 25 years.

Jagat has a marvellous experience in working with over 45 countries and is a global citizen having travelled to 72+ countries. In one such sojourn when he had accompanied the current Prime Minister of India, Mr. Modi, an idea was seeded to marry the passion for driving long distance along with his tremendous knowledge and networking contact base for mentoring Small and Medium Businesses and Start-ups. 

Consequently in 2015, Jagat kick started the first Mentor on Road journey, where he travelled 35 cities - mainly Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities – to understand the pain points faced by the Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the Start-ups. We did not have such a grand vision since the very first day, but as our team started working with diverse organisations pan-India, we were able to refine the program even further. Hence, as time progressed we were able to amalgamate both business and social sectors, which formed a huge nexus when there is interplay between them, thereby creating a win-win for both.

Meanwhile, we are gaining enough support from a variety of stakeholders all across USA, and it was an honor when the United States Commercial Service which is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce showed confidence in our program and partnered with us for the USA trip. Now we are embarking on a similar mentoring road trip pan-USA starting from June 04 for 78 days in two phases. Mentor on Road – USA covers over 32 cities in about 24 states, with an approximate road journey of 15,452 kilometers (9,602 miles).  

Mentor on Road - USA coffee table book inaugurated by Mr. Thomas Vajda, Consul General of USA in Mumbai and his business team.

Mr. Thomas Vajda, Consul General of USA in India launching the Mentor on Road, USA website.

US Trade Mission team at MoR, USA launch

People have often asked the purpose of going through the pain of driving all around? Having a car served the dual purpose for us. Firstly, as cited earlier, long distance driving has been a passion of our Chief Mentor, Jagat Shah. And secondly, traveling by road was a symbolic representation of the commitment that Mentor on Road displayed towards the grass-roots level approach by reaching out to the remotest villages and towns on the way. 

The grand and ambitious vision for Mentor on Road - USA is to travel to 32 cities pan-USA, attending four events in each city while addressing all the four pre-decided stakeholders. Firstly, in the morning, group meetings have been lined up with American Start-ups at Universities or Innovation Centers. Secondly, meetings have been lined up with Small and Medium Businesses in the afternoon, thereafter meetings have been lined up with Women Business Empowerment Institutions and lastly we have meetings lined up with our own Indian Diaspora in the evenings.

All these stakeholders will be greeted and presented with different and customized objectives practical to their identified needs. Each stakeholder will be presented with a variety of opportunities in New India and will be introduced to the vision of India 3.0.

All the companies that are willing to trade with India in terms of both goods/services or knowledge will be provided with the necessary network and resources from our previous Mentor on Road tours.

Post the completion of each event, all the attendees will be handheld for a year under the Mentor on Road - USA program and will be given complimentary mentoring for the same period. We at Mentor on Road - USA understand that all of our partners in each of the 32 cities cannot be so mobile under any circumstances. Hence as a token of our appreciation, all the stakeholders will receive a summarized grass-roots report of our key takeaways from the entire USA tour. This will enable them to explore the opportunities that they might not have been aware of previously. We will also write a daily blog here to share the daily experiences and learning’s. 

MoR USA map
As we write of this program, a group of five young team members is literally working day and night for the Mentor on Road – USA program which is set to happen across 32 US cities for 78 days. Over 82 meetings out of targeted 120, have already been fixed and we are still counting.

As far as overall planning goes, the team has been given full liberty to approach each stakeholder in the way they wish. We have gone beyond the conventional cold calling, mass mailing and have approached partner organisations on the platform they are most likely to be available on. For doing so, we had a very strong hold over market research and over communications.

Initially, a huge data bank of all the prospective partners was developed, which was later on approached on an individual basis. Then there was a common narrative set by Mentor on Road – USA for its communications, which still remains consistent. While working with one of the most innovative countries globally i.e. USA, we were able to adopt new technologies and apply even finer control documents. Everything that has been sent out from the Mentor on Road war room (as we now call it) has been recorded in text. We have a very solid process in place which does not stop in the unlikely absence of any team member. Transitions have become quicker and having a young team has helped in reducing our overall turnaround time as they are quick to receive feedback and differentiate what’s working and what’s not. Accordingly, they make amendments and get ready for another bout and so on and so forth.

The seed which was sown by our Prime Minister has turned into a sapling after the Mentor on Road, India tour, and will hopefully become a full grown deeply rooted tree, post the Mentor on Road – USA tour. And we at Mentor on Road envision creating a forest with more such trees as God knows how many more we need. With plans to do a Mentor on Road in Europe and Africa in 2018, the journey has just begun! Jai ho (Let victory be yours)!

MoR, USA coffee table book