June 24, 2009

Interview with quiz master Pickbrain 'Giri Balasubramanyam'

Few months back, I mailed Giri to report a issue, which I observed at one of his quizzes. To my surprise Giri called on my mobile immediately and promised to escalate the issue(as it was organizers responsibility to fix it). I was surprised by the gesture,come on why will a ace quiz master call back and explain his point of view.

I requested Giri to reply to a small email interview to understand quizzing, and how it all began and his experience as quiz master. Giri was kind enough to spare some time and replied back, So presenting you all ace quiz master Pickbrain 'Giri balasubramanyam'

Q: Now, let me began this interview with a question, that's been in my mind from quite a long time, whats the story behind your name "pickbrain"

Giri: It’s a long story like any quiz answer! I was employed with the Times of India and we decided to introduce a quiz column for a kids supplement and being an in house resource I was asked to contribute. The catch was I was part of the Brand Team and not editorial so technically my name could not appear as a byline, hence a fictional name was coined. Overtime the name became a character and the character a personality so I just lived on.

From my point of view, I get to live two lives 

Q: I guess you been into quizzing from mid 1990's, have you seen any significant changes?

Giri: Oh quizzing has changed more in the last 10 years than it has in the last 50! Fundamentally quizzing is today a sport and not just a hobby over wine and cheese. It is also about big budgets, big prize monies and far far tougher than the fun days. In short it is serious business powered by corporates and technology

Q: Why did you choose to become a quizmaster?

Giri: Quizzing in our college days (early 90’s) was an activity that attracted probably 20 to 50 people. Winning was directly proportional to your ability to read and ransack libraries. During my Disney days in corporate life it dawned on me that anything could be made fun oriented and we tried to make quizzing more fun oriented with interesting facts rather than unknown facts and that made us popular. This translated into a viable business model and we started this company.

Q: Giri's quiz generally surprises participants with formats (pyramid quizzing, nano quizzing). How do you approach a quiz? What kind of efforts generally go in making a quiz successful

Information in this google era that we live in is no longer a great differentiator. Its how you manage your knowledge that matters. Hence, we have modeled our shows around the ability the work answers out of clues or posers rather than mere recall. The effort for this is huge because our starting point is where research ended few years back – that is with identifying a fact. For us once a fact is found we work on how to present it etc.

Perhaps I am like the curator of a cricket ground who is testing players with different wickets.

Q: How tough was it to quit a corporate job and do a startup, in a rather unknown industry?

Giri: It was a tough call to be honest. It is a decision that took more than a year to take especially because I was with a giant like Walt Disney and there were many telling me I was a fool to chuck such a job.

In retrospect, it seems a wise call and my advise to youngsters on this front is simple. If you have a strong, economically viable idea, define a clear time frame and practical goals and tell yourself if I don’t reach there I get back to the corporate world.

Q: You took Tata crucible from an India level quiz to international quiz, how is quizzing culture in places like Singapore. London

Giri: It is very very different from what we see in India. They do not have a quizzing culture or system like ours. They quiz for fun and not necessarily to win, so the intensity and pressure levels are not as much. Having said that, I think the scenario is fast changing and at Singapore the second year was a lot bigger and tougher than year one.

London is an interesting location for a business quiz. Given the quality of the B-schools there you get contestants who join these schools after 3-5 years of work experience. Hence, the quality of contestants seems to be very good.

Q: Tata Crucible grew tremendously in last couple of years, participation keeps growing year on year, is it putting you a extra pressure on you??

Giri: Yes the growth of a quiz especially the way Tata Crucible has grown puts a lot of moral pressure on you as a research team. Its as simple as this. There are two types of audience that I get. Regular Teams who prepare from a few wks to a few months for your quiz and you don’t want to disappoint them, so you do your best to ensure everything is tested over and over again. The other is the first time entrant who comes with huge expectations from you because he/she has heard a lot about the quiz

Q: 1000 + quizzes, Could you share some of your interesting experiences while conducting quiz contests?

Giri: Oh the numbers don’t matter. Every show is like the first of our lives – if you don’t view it that way you can take things for granted and errors can creep in. We do encounter a lot of interesting experiences given the extent of travel we undertake but the one that I never forget is when I was at Muscat for a quiz and a man started shouting in Arabic and I thought I had done something wrong. It took a few people to gather to explain to me that he had recognized me.

Q: What advice would you like to give to young quizzers

Giri: Use quizzing as a tool to help yourself know more. Never read to win shows, read to gain knowledge. Once you start enjoying the process of knowing things you start doing well in life and in quiz shows as well.

Q: And finally what advice would you like to give to young aspirant quiz masters?

Giri: Three important things

1. Don’t try to become a quizmaster because of the glamor you see. It is one of the toughest public personality domains because you need to prepare for atleast 10 days for 1 hour show.

2. Accept the fact that as a quizmaster you role is get answers out of the teams and not use the forum to display how intelligent you are.

3. A good quizmaster is one who understands the pulse of his audience and can get his teams to answer atleast 75% of the questions and have his teams and audience understand all 100% of the questions.

June 19, 2009

IPL is the 6th most valued brand according to SportsPro magazine

Wow I am really surprised that IPL became sixth most valued sports brand according to a study conducted by Sports Pro magazine. IPL is valued at 1.6 billion $

The list includes:

1. NFL $4.5bn
2. MLB $3.936bn
3. NBA $2.344bn
4. Nascar $1.9bn
5. Fifa World Cup $1.7bn
6. Indian Premier League $1.6bn
7. Ferrari $1.55bn
8. Manutd $1.495bn :)

BCCI/lali Modi must really thank ZEE groups Subhash Chandra for giving them a innovative idea. I guess these rankings are more or less driven by TV rights + marketing hypes, more on it later

June 12, 2009

Facebook vanity URL policies

Facebook vanity URL craziness has struck netizens across the world. A record(if it exists)200,000 usernames have been registered in 3 minutes.FB vanity URL's bring Facebook one more step closer to beat twitter and this is one of the smartest moves in social network space of late.

So keeping in mind of the mad rush Facebook has set up few rules and regulations in claiming vanity URL's. The basic idea is to prevent people from creating new accounts just to take advantage of reserving a username.

For usernames eligibility is limited to anyone who joined Facebook before username availability was publicly announced at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, June 9, 2009.

And for, Fan Pages (Which FB started treating as profiles) they must meet two requirements: it must have been live on Facebook prior to the May 31, 2009 cut-off date and have had a minimum 1,000 fans at that time.

Fair enough, but I am surprised how Intel created a vanity URL to one of there fan page with just 103 fans?

Facebook is under fire very often these days for screwing up there policies and terms and I hope they don't messup on vanity URL's policies, as this dictates online identity of many users and brands

June 09, 2009


1. Why was Roger Federer nicknamed "Fedex"

2. "In an era of specialists - you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist... or you're Roger Federer". Famous statement on Federer made by whom?

3. “I AM TOMORROW’S FUTURE” a statement made by Nolonwabo Batini, a girl aged fifteen from, South Africa was adopted as vision and slogan of which organization


On what occasion Roger Federer dressed as King Arthur

5. Federer is the only player in history to win which two grand slams consecutively for three straight years.

6. One of federer's nickname is TMF. what does it stand for

7. Connect Federer, Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors and Mats Wilander.

8. Federer won a Golden Bagel award for what?

9. In July 2003, he launched his own fragrance called "RF-RogerFederer. True or False?

10. What was presented to Fedex as a homecoming gift after his 2003 Wimbledon triumph

11. what does those Swiss flag marks on Roger Federer shoes represent? (OK this may sound bit odd, but quite interesting)

Check out the answers in comments

June 05, 2009

Brand Equity Quiz India finals questions

Few questions from Brand Equity Quiz India finals:

Round 1: Teams need to frame questions from the clues given by QM:

1. The municipality of Belgium, which lies in Walloon Region and Province of Li├Ęge

What is Spa

2. According to legend, all earnings from here is payed to kubera to repay his loan

What do u do with Tirumala Tirupathi Devesthanam donations


Patent owned by Garry Kasparov

4. This edible variety from india, got its name from a goan...

How did Alphanso Mangoes got its name

5. From 1919-2004, what was performed twice at the offices of Rothschild’s in London

Setting up gold prices

Round 2,3:

Pareto principle(80:20 principle) was first studied on whom - Pareto first found 20% of people in Europe owned 80% of wealth

Audio clip of Ramalinga raju

Aditya birla group ad audio clip

Which US company operates highest number of private playgrounds - McDonald's

What is client golf- playing with a prospective customer and losing it intentionally and then subsequently clinch a deal

Budget presented by T.T. Krishnamachari first introduced measures to restict black money

According to mexican laws Tequila can be produced only from the state of Jelisco

Frooti is made with only thootapuri mangoes

P.S: based on memory

For 2008 Questions click here, For 2007 BEQ questions click here