Timeframe — 2016 to Oct 2019.
While I was exploring the very new World of the Creative Arts, I was simultaneously trying to make sense of the financial model. I wanted to see not only the quantum of investments I would need after arriving at proof of concept but also the evolving numbers of the key variables over a few years. Essentially e-commerce is a trading model and that is another new arena for me.
For some reason, I was unable to communicate this to the financial person at that time. After a tiring conversation on the phone with him, I muttered under my breath, “I wish I could get in touch with my childhood friend Prem”. I’ve worked with Prem before and I believed he would be able to help but we had lost touch. Even as I said it a friend request arrived on Facebook a few minutes later. I almost deleted the request as I didn’t recognize the name. It was Prem’s wife whom I only knew by her nickname. I saw Prem’s picture and added her. Shortly after I was talking to Prem and asked for a meet.
It took Prem 20 minutes to understand what was needed. Serendipity?
As the numbers arrived I had a deep feeling of uneasiness. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. But eventually, the pennies started to drop.
Give your questions time to breathe.
And the answers will find you.
~ Jeff Foster ~
A brief history of Prem: Prem was the CFO of a private equity firm in the health industry, with 30 Hospitals in Asia. And he was with them right from inception. He was due for retirement… and the plan was for him to join me when Nusantara took off. Prior to that post, he was also the CFO of a trading company that handled soft drink brands like Pepsi, etc etc.
An example of the issues twirling in my mind. Our Artisans have been neglected for decades. It would take time to develop the trade again. But even more than that, they would need to earn decent incomes within a mutually supportive ecosystem for them to even remain in that trade under current circumstances. And I couldn’t quite see how that was going to happen and still provide the investors with a decent return on investment.
It seemed to me I had 2 choices: Sacrifice the original Vision of helping the Artisans and shift my goalpost. OR remain faithful to the original Vision and somehow find a way forward.
Prem and I spent many hours exploring different models. With each meeting on the creative and supply chain side, I would bounce questions off him. How does that model work? If we join the dots does a solution reveal itself? Prem has left us now but the knowledge he shared with me on how financialized business models worked allowed me to continue on the next steps walking the road less traveled.
I miss our many conversations.
To be continued…
In Memory of Prem Abraham
28 June 1955 — 22 October 2019
I Miss Your Counsel…