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The Customer-Funded Business: Start, Finance, or Grow Your Company with Your Customers' Cash by John Mullins

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1Craving Crowdfunding? Pandering to VCs? Groveling to Your CFO?: The Magic of Traction and the Customer-Funded Revolution

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Imagine this. It was 1995, and the Coca-Cola Company had just reentered India after an aborted earlier effort, this time by acquiring the maker of Thums Up, India's leading cola. Along with the deal came a thick book describing each of the Thums Up bottlers' territories in plenty of legal jargon, but without a single map. Coke needed a way to find and understand its newly acquired territories.

Alas, no one had maps that could show Coke where its bottlers were located. Until the mid-1960s, maps had been largely unavailable in India, at least for anyone not in the military. Even 30 years later, a mapping culture and map-reading ethos simply did not exist, perhaps in part because there were very few accurate Indian maps.

Into the breach stepped Rakesh and Rashmi Verma, who had started a small IT training business in India, CE Info Systems, serving blue-chip clients like IBM. Their company also licensed American digital mapping software to aid India's nascent mapmaking industry.1 Saying to Coke, “We can give you the maps you need” (even though they had not actually ever produced a single map!), the Vermas began to build a digital mapping business. First, they bought an ordinary office scanner and took out the kitchen scissors. Next, using their native Indian ...

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