Kevin O'Brien on doing business in India
Ireland's Star Cricketer Kevin O'Brien Recommends India as a Country for Irish Companies to Successfully Do Business
This week in Newstalk's Down to Business Weekly Business in Asia Series Bobby Kerr discusses Business in India. He is joined by Ireland's Star Cricketer Kevin O'Brien who of course if very familiar with India. Bangalore being the place where Kevin hit his magnificent World Cup fastest hundred against England. Kevin has no hesitation in recommending India as a Country where Irish Firms could successfully do business.
Bobby Kerr: Ok its Business in Asia Series time and every week we'll bring somebody in who is going to tell us a special piece about the country in question. This week it's India. India is famous for cricket. Who better to talk about Cricket than Kevin O'Brien. Kevin you're very welcome to Down to Business.
Kevin O'Brien: Thanks a million, cheers.
Bobby Kerr: Before we get into your take on India and that, tell us a little bit about Kevin O'Brien the Cricketer, I suppose?
Kevin O'Brien: I suppose I was born into the game. My Dad played for Ireland fifty two times, and I am the youngest kid of six. So growing up probably a stone's throw from Railway Union Sports Club, it was probably natural that I played the game. So it's a game that was probably for the six of us in the family, you know we were all naturally talented at it, so I suppose from a sports point of view, it's a game that I took a liking to.
Bobby Kerr: Ok and you know it's been, the last couple of years have been a sort of a whirlwind for you. You hit the fastest century in World Cup history, in that famous Ireland v England game, where non-Cricket people like myself were just blown away by that. How special was that moment for you?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah it was magic, you know I think the last two years, since I've been a full time Cricketer here with Cricket Ireland, I think my game has progressed probably further than I thought it would have. So I think a lot of thanks has to go down to Cricket Ireland on that front, and I think last year's World Cup was a great testament to that, you know, I think my innings in Bangalore was down to two years hard work. And I mean hopefully for me personally there's a few more years to come.
Bobby Kerr: Ok great. So tell us then, moving onto India, and to put I suppose India and Cricket in context. How big a game is Cricket in India?
Kevin O'Brien: You actually can't describe it to be honest I think. Before we went out to a training camp last November, so November 2010, my brother Niall said to me that you won't know how big Cricket is until you go out there. And I mean I kind of laughed at him. And to be honest he was right, you know, it's bigger than Religion. I was recently talking with a couple of Indian students and they said that Cricket's number one and Religion is second, so I think until you experience it, you can't really put it into words. But it's an absolute massive game. People live for it. It doesn't matter where they're from in India, you know if there's a TV with Cricket on it, they all huddle around it and they just watch it from the start to the finish. People over there who play Cricket, the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dohni, they're huge names in the Cricketing World, but they're even bigger over in India.
Bobby Kerr: Ok.
Kevin O'Brien: It would be like the David Beckham probably of Football.
Bobby Kerr: So it's like Hurling in Kilkenny multiplied by a million?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah probably, yeah I'd say so.
Bobby Kerr: Ha ha ha ha, sorry I had to get that in, I shouldn't have but I had to. Coming back to the game and the business of Cricket in India, you know, tell me about the IPL League and this Auction that's held every year?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah well it's the IPL, Indian Premier League. It's in its fifth season. It's currently ongoing at the moment, and I was in the Auction in February just gone. So unfortunately for me I didn't get signed.
Bobby Kerr: And how does it work? You're like, there's all these people, if I can maybe explain it in my non-cricket language. There's all these people that own Teams, and all the prospective go to one place, and you're auctioned then, like a piece of meat effectively.
Kevin O'Brien: Exactly yeah, there's Nine Franchises and each Franchise has a salary cap. So obviously it's in its fifth season now. So people have signed contracts for the last three or four years. So there was only about eighteen or twenty overseas slots available in this Auction. And obviously me being Irish I was one of the overseas, so I mean I was up against some world class players like Brendan McCullum from New Zealand. He is a fantastic player, Sangakkara from Sri Lanka, so it was always going to be hard to get into. But I was hoping I was probably just hoping that, I mean, someone would take a chance of what I achieved in the last year, but it wasn't to be.
Bobby Kerr: And is that something you go back to next year or do you keep going back until somebody buys you?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah next year, well fingers crossed if I can have another good season with Ireland, you know we've got the Twenty20 World Cup in September in Sri Lanka. So if I can get a few good performances there, put my name back in the hat in February for next year's auction, then who knows.
Bobby Kerr: So we're looking at business in India Kevin, and we're going to ask you to help us in terms of what it's like out there, I suppose culturally, what the food is like, what the people are like. Just you've been there a few times now. And tell us just so we can get a sense of what one could expect when one goes there?
Kevin O'Brien: Probably heat I suppose would be the first thing.
Bobby Kerr: Yeah, very hot.
Kevin O'Brien: Very very hot, you know. I think we were playing games where it was forty degrees at time during the day, so I think that would be the first things to compare to the Irish weather here, you know. We're sitting in the studio here and it's lashing rain all day. So it's quite different than over here. The people are quite similar to Irish people, what I have experienced, you know they're obviously very family orientated, I mean and they give a lot towards their family. And I think us as Irish people we do that as well. So I think we have that kind of connection. I think the Indian people and Irish people, you know you see people coming over to study here from India, and I mean they settle in straight away. And I think if Irish people were to go over and start up a business in India, you know I think they could settle into the Indian Culture and the way of life quite easily. Obviously you'd want to be a fan of Cricket or to get used to it fairly quickly to settle in, because it's probably the only real sport they have.
Bobby Kerr: And I take it then, that there's obviously a lot of very big cities, but there must be a big Rural scene as well, you know in terms of it's a vast country?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah its massive, you know, I think you would obviously have the big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and Calcutta and stuff, but even there's probably more of the population living in the rural areas, outside of the big cities. So I was fortunate enough to go around in Calcutta, you know to see outside the city, into the rural areas, the slums etc., and I mean it just took my breath away, people living in not great areas.
Bobby Kerr: Did you see a lot of poverty?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah I mean there's a lot of poverty there, but you know the thing that I noticed was Indian people are never unhappy. I mean no matter what world they're born into, they always have a smile on their faces. I mean they're always happy to see foreign people.
Bobby Kerr: And is poverty very isolated or is it, do you see poverty alongside wealth, you know the way sometimes it's different in different countries?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah I mean I think you have the castles etc., on the streets and then they' would be all walled off, and cordoned off with high walls, and you'd have obviously out on the street you'd have a bit of poverty. But I think the good thing is with the culture over there, you know everyone just gets on. It doesn't matter where they're from, what background they have, they just seem to get on with each other.
Bobby Kerr: Now we all experience Indian food on this side of the world. How different is it out there? Like I know Chinese food is very different than the version of it we have here?
Kevin O'Brien: I'm not really a hot fan, I like my Indian mild. But I think over there a mild for us over there is very very mild. You know I think the difference is over here when we have a hot, I mean that's only mild for them. So I think the guys who like it hot over here, you know might want to try hot over there.
Bobby Kerr: The Vindaloo guys.
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah, they might change their stance on that.
Bobby Kerr: What's the scene around sort of things like Visas and is it easy, say if you want to spend time in India, is there a lot of bureaucracy or is it fairly plain sailing in terms of just getting in and out and getting around?
Kevin O'Brien: Yeah I think it's fairly easy to get a visa, you know. I think I've applied for a visa now I'm off next week, and it only takes five or six days to get it, you know. As long as you fill out the forms correctly and do what you need to do.
Bobby Kerr: Yeah, and is that a working visa?
Kevin O'Brien: I'm going for a business visa.
Bobby Kerr: Is it a market that you'd recommend that one should be there?
Kevin O'Brien: Definitely, you know I think with a population of a billion people, any brand that is looking to set up over there, can target a huge percentage of the population. Whether that be a luxury good or a necessity good, you know, I think because the population is so big, and there is a lot of money in India within the wealthy people. So I think if it's a luxury good or a necessity good, I think you're going to find a huge percentage of the population that you can target.
Bobby Kerr: Ok listen lovely to talk to you, lovely to hear about the Cricket and your experience in India, and thanks a million for coming in.
Kevin O'Brien: Thank you cheers.