Archives for category: Entrepreneurs

The Dream That Never Died

Haresh Shah


It stands there in the middle of Mexico City, looking wrecked and devastated like the crudely chiseled and ravaged structures in the bombed damaged cities of Europe in the aftermath of the second world war. The walls half built and then left unfinished with their uneven rough edges sticking up, floors smeared with the dried out cement. The bare stairs next to the elevators are exposed with no doors concealing them. The haltingly moving lethargic lifts are pulled up and down by the sinister looking cables behind the barely lit entrance to the building. You need to strain your eyes to see the lone figure of the security guard sitting at his battered desk sprouting a dim desk lamp. The open wires devoid of the fixtures dangle down from the high ceilings like in the Snake Alley of Taipei.

When coming in from the street, you walk the rough dusty grounds of what was probably  intended to be a Plaza to surround the tall structure planned to be the tallest building in the all of the Latin America. You climb the few unplastered scratchy cement steps to the lobby and make your way towards the elevators. You hurry past the guard and barely return his greetings. You wait for the elevator descend ever so slowly and watch the cables that control it in that semi-dark dusk like filtered vision.

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It’s Not Enough To Dream

Haresh Shah

warsaw
There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Oscar Wilde

It’s not unusual for small but ambitious publishers to be bitten by the idea of adding Playboy to their stable of publications. Bitten even harder are the ones who have had no familiarity with the publishing business. But they have dreams and the desire and some money to spare that drive them to near obsession, do everything in their power to buy the Playboy license. Because in their dreams and the desires what they are thinking is: If only I can get to publish Playboy! At this point they are not thinking what it really takes to undertake such a project. Their psychological business plans have no provision for what if it doesn’t quite work out?

The letter came forwarded from Andreas Odenwald – our editor-in-chief in Germany. Guess, this is for you amigo, said his scribble. It’s an inquiry letter from Poland from the company called Elgaz. Attached to it is a recommendation letter from their German partners, a PVC window manufacturers, vouching for the serious intent and the solid financial standing of this Polish company involved in various businesses, among them the international video distribution.

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I Went Home And Cried

Haresh Shah

bea
Sitting across from me in a small windowless meeting room of the Holiday Inn in Warsaw is stunningly beautiful Beata Milewska. She is dressed in a conservative grey dress with the sharp U shaped neckline, trimmed with black satin ribbon. Underneath the geometric U are black brass buttons that run down to and below her breasts. Blonde, she wears fashionably shorter hair, reaching down just a little above her neck. Her eyes are sparking blue and smiles are amused but slight and measured. I guess her to be in her late twenties or the very early thirties.

Sitting next to her is Tomasz Raczek – supposedly to translate from English, but Beata herself is quite proficient in the language, so other than some whispered consulting, Tomasz is there more as an observer who would eventually be the editor-in-chief of the Polish edition. On my left is our Hungarian Publisher Deszo Futasz and on my right is Rolf Dolina, the man who has gotten us together in hopes that I would be positively impressed by Beata and her ability to gather a qualified team of professionals to create the Polish edition of Playboy.

After landing in still the old and the dilapidated Warsaw-Okecie Airport, as we drive into the city, I witness the remnants still of the city heavily bombed first by the German Luftwaffe in 1939, and then by the Russians in 1944 to quell the Warsaw Uprising. Both sides of the road are lined with the communist era’s drab and dark harsh apartment blocks. Making them further sinister is the shroud of the cold and the cloudy month of January. I cringe at the thought of the lives lived and of deaths and destruction and the dismay that still must permeate the day-to-day lives of its citizens. After all, it’s just little over a year since the fall of the Berlin wall.

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Always Ready For A New Business

Haresh Shah

 

chickenbiz2

Must have been early 1990 when landed on my desk is an impressive corporate brochure of Autraco Holdings based in Vienna, Austria. In the cover letter signed by its CEO Rolf Dolina, he expresses his desire to want to publish Playboy magazine in Czechoslovakia. But we are already in negotiations with Vladimír Tichý of the Gennex Corporation, the publishers of magazines, books, films and video that included the Czech language edition of ComputerWorld. That in itself wouldn’t have stopped me from entertaining another option, especially because the Autraco Holdings boasts of its wide reach in the former eastern European countries that include Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The countries where they are sole distributors of Memorex USA, Honda automobiles and Fuji films. Enclosed with the letter are some issues of the Czech language version of Germany’s Burda Moden, widely distributed and hugely popular women’s magazine – similar to the Simplicity patterns in the United States. The magazine he was publishing with Hana Wagenhofer – his Prague based business partner in several joint ventures. And it is mainly for Hanna that he is so keen on doing Playboy. It would give her a stronger presence on the Czech publishing scene.

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