Emerging markets – marketing and business strategy; social entrepreneurship; opportunity identification; frugal innovation.
MBA; marketing management; specialis ed courses such as entrepreneurship and international marketing. Data rich case, but analytical difficulty is only moderate.
Reboot Systems was conceived as a reverse engineering/refurbishing company for used computers when Rahul Chowdhury and Subbarao came in contact with Anand Tater who had started a small business in the used computer market. The team recognised the potential of the refurbished computer market in India, which was largely unorganised with penetration of personal computers pegged at less than 5 per cent. They identified the opportunity to address the digital divide, caused by lack of affordability and accessibility, by providing inexpensive “as good as new” used computers to those who aspired to own a computer. Additionally, in extending the life of used computers on a large-scale through “frugal innovation”, they hoped to reduce the extent of e-waste generated in the economy. This case provides a rich description of an emerging market characterised by market heterogeneity, social-political governance with poor policy measures, unorganised markets, chronic shortage of resources and inadequate infrastructure. Entrepreneurs hoping to address social issues must tackle these problems at the grass-root level and come up with improvised solutions that address the unique needs of the heterogeneous and resource constrained market. Some of Reboot Systems pressing challenges were in building a viable strategic approach to the market and ensuring scalability in a sustainable way.
Expected learning outcomes
An understanding of the characteristics of an emerging market from a macro (environmental) as well as micro (industry specific) perspective, an appreciation of opportunity identification and improvisation in emerging markets as well as differentiating “frugal” innovation from the idea of “Jugaad”, an understanding of the role of strategic vision and mission in accomplishing social and business objectives, an understanding of how to develop sustainability and competitive advantage from a social as well as business perspective.
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