Archive for Entrepreneurship

Air wars Vs Ground wars

The second company is harder. Most people fail at their second companies because they believe they have the magic formula. They think ‘I will only fix the problems of the first company and the second company will run like it’s on autopilot.’ But the problem is that the environment is always different.

One of the takeaways from my second company is that there’s a clear distinction between what I would call air wars and ground wars. The air wars are talking to analysts going on speaking trips and so on. The ground wars are selling stuff to your customers and solving a real problem. Every company has to do both. The air wars help to build the brand. The ground wars help you win customers. Most failed startups mix those two up.They are selling air wars to their customers, they are selling big hype and big promises and customers are not interested. From a customer’s perspective, you always look at what’s the value? What do I get today and how does it help me run my business?

We have to be strong in the air wars, we have to do PR, we have to have to seek coverage, but at the end of the day it’s a good product, it’s good salespeople, it’s the features and so on that actually win.

Source: Why Most People Fail At Launching Their Second Companies

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Going to Startup Sat @Bangalore

This year  I have decided to attend  as many startup events and meet as many people as possible.  May be this will help me to find fresh ideas for my startup and  give me opportunity to  meet some really smart hackers and geeks  to work with.  I will starting with Startup Saturday which is happening tomorrow.

So what is a Startup Saturday?

Let me quote what organizers have to say  about it :

Startup Saturday is an initiative by Headstart to provide entrepreneurs in each city with a monthly community driven forum that is structured in agenda but open in discussions. A Startup Saturday provides a forum for entrepreneurs to discuss, present, network and learn from peers, prospective customers, adopters, partners and investors.

The fundamental idea is to have all parts of the innovation ecosystem interact with each other with high frequency and through rich conversation. We strongly believe that this would lead to faster evolution of the entire ecosystem.

Very interesting indeed.  So what should one expect at Startup Saturday?

Expect a Startup Saturday once a month on the second Saturday. Spend approx three hours spread across at least two interactive sessions and networking.

The first session is usually a demo. If you are an entrepreneur giving the demo, expect this session to be very interactive. Expect a lot of “whys” and “why nots” – a great way to refine the product and to figure out the areas which need more work and also the areas that are well covered. If you’re a participant, expect a window into another business that can give you ideas about your own business or insights into how to design your product. Expect a lot of debate where your question to the speaker may actually get answered/countered by another participant! In short, look out for a brain tickling discussion.

The second session is usually a talk. This is usually on a skill that is needed by an entrepreneur – sales, marketing, product management, VC pitch, VC management, PR, hiring people etc. It can even be a talk about a product/services that cannot be demoed. This is usually done by someone who has hands on experience and insights. Again expect this to be highly interactive.

Lastly, you’ve an opportunity to meet everyone else over snacks and tea/coffee and network.

Absolutely awesome. Right? So basic ideas is if your are a

a. Startup enthusiast looking for a platform  to meet similar minds

b. Early stage startup  interested in giving demo of your geeky new product

c.  A angel investor looking for new innovative business to fund

d.  Single founder of a startup  hunting for co-founder and team

e.  Successful entrepreneur/VC/Angel interested in  sharing  your experience

Startup Saturday is just the right platform for you.

I attended one meeting of Startup Saturday last year. It was a good experienced overall. Believe me, if you are into startups,  event like this make huge differences to your motivation. When you meet and talk passionate  peoples ready to change the world,  it give a huge  adrenaline rush.  Its like being part of mini revolution.

So whats agenda for tomorrows meeting

From event description it seems they are conducting a panel discussion on product vs services dilemma faced by every India startup.  I had the opportunity to listen one of the panelist, Mr. Sujai Karampuri , founder of Sloka telecom, in my last meeting. He was not only a candid speaker but also a thought leader . He is big evangelist of of product development. you can find his thoughts on this subject here. I don’t know much about other panel members. I think  this is the most beautiful part of  much meet ups. You get to know and meet so many unsung heroes  of the industry.

I think organizers  should have created a FB/Linked  group so we that we could make out who else are coming and their  motivation behind attending  meet up.  Planning for car ppoling could have been a big plus. Small session like  meet the co-founder or startup date post meetup could help startups finding talents. Surprising there is no ‘like’ button on event page . It would help in spread the words about event. Will discuss these points with team there.

In case you are planning to attend and  like to meet and discuss just give me a ping @889236683four

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Unpluggd: Calling all entrepreneurs

Hi all,

It gives me immense pleasure in inviting you to the UNPLUGGD event, a freshly brewed startup event focused on ‘entrepreneurs in the trenches’.

By now, you must have heard statements like:

“Consumer Internet is just not happening in India.”

OR

“You can’t build a global technology company from India without spending a fortune.”

OR

“Building a Global Brand from India is impossible.”

If you are one of those who believe all this is true then get ready for a surprise. It might change the way you think about Indian startups & entrepreneurs. We are proud to present startups and entrepreneurs doing the impossible. They are the ones who have built a profitable business in India.

We, through the Unpluggd event, are providing a platform where these unsung heroes

–    Share their insights on building profitable businesses – The Indian Way.

–    Share their journey thus inspires you, me and every other aspiring entrepreneur.

This event is a invitation to  listen & share  intimate startup stories . Some of the speakers for the event are –

  • Sanjay Swamy, Ex-CEO, mChek
  • Mukund Mohan, Founder, BuzzGain
  • K. Srikrishna, Co-Founder, Impulsesoft
  • Rudrajeet Desai, Co-founder & CEO, Ideacts
  • Yusuf Motiwala, Foudner & CEO, TringMe
  • Dr. Ashwin Naik, Co-Founder, Vaatsalya
  • Sunil Maheshwari, Co-Founder, Mango Technologies

If interested please visit   http://www.unpluggd.org .You can register directly for the event   here.

Feel free to forward this mail to your aspiring entrepreneur friend or FoF.

For any queries call/e-mail:

Ashish Sinha           ashishk.sinha@gmail.com +91 98452 06443

Amarinder Singh   amarinder.singh.76@gmail.com +91 93431 71420

Satpal Parmar       satpalparmar@gmail.com +91   97421 90747

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Sridhar Vembu on building a software product company in India

product companies have another dimension that is usually not a big concern for services companies: marketing. In fact, marketing can be as important in the success of many products as the quality of R&D. The reason is that even the largest services companies do business with a fairly small number of global corporations (typically a few hundred) so that their sales teams can reach them easily. Product companies have to reach a much broader audience, so marketing is crucial. Yet, this is easy to overlook, particularly for people with an engineering background. I certainly have made my share of mistakes in this area, so I can speak from personal experience here.

One of the hardest things about marketing is that it is so hard to measure its effectiveness. Internet traffic is easy enough to measure, but how do you measure brand perception or market credibility, which can be very important in understanding whether a product is successful or not? This lack of measurability trips up a person coming from a typical services project management background, where precise measurability is the gospel.

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Bill Coleman On Failure & Startups

“I’ve had failures, Visicorp was a failure and so was Dest Systems. At BEA Systems, when I was putting together my senior staff I wanted people that were in at least one company that had failed. You learn not just about failure and how to make things work, you learn the psychology of failure and how you react to it. If it’s the first time you are learning it you probably aren’t keeping the momentum going in your company. You are exactly right.”

“When I got out of the air force, and went to VisiCorp and we failed. And then at Dest Systems, great technology but we couldn’t get any money. I was looking at all these people, at the time there were lots of PC companies , and I started to notice that guys that failed started showing up at other companies in more senior positions. Aha, I realized, it doesn’t matter if you have some failures what matters is that you dust yourself off and learn from that failure. I used to say Sun did everything wrong that was possible, but it never did anything wrong for too long. A startup is not a technology company it is a learning machine.”

Source: Silicon Valley Watcher

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Dilemma of a Indian Software Engineer

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I am having 4 years of experience working in a software MNC, had onsite oppurtunity, earning a decent salary and had good learning in initial years of working but now i have started realising that i am not moving anwhere, there is nothing much left to learn as part of product i work upon, my work more or less resembles with the fresher that join the organisation, or its about helping/ mentoring them, I will be gradually moving to project management but there also i dont see much learning , i hardly see my manager working they are just responsible for some project schedule maintainence , people management and so.

Most of the projects don’t require much technical competence, they are mostly legacy products that continue to evolve by copying code from here/there , Job which most of the people do can be done by traning any plain graduate and that is why software companies had people from all sort of colleges doing the same type of work.

There is hardly any recognition of talent because in reality nobody needs it here . All you need is a good luck to be in right project that can fetch you a onsite for a year or two and promotions. I know i am sounding very frustrated but believe me this is the truth and story of various of my friends.

Extracted from Rashmi Bansal’s awesome blog.

My response to query (as in comment on her blog).

 zzzbambam34

Rashmi , I wish guy/gal who raised ‘Whats wrong with being mediocre and happy’ question  few weeks back is reading this post. I am sure he will find few answers in this interesting query.

I am in similar situation from quite a while. I considered many options as suggested by readers of  your blog . After years of thinking  I am still a software engineer.

The Dilemma of SW engineer is whether he should take a low-on-everything ( excitement, motivation, creativity,risk) but high on social quotient (respect + money + status + rewards + lifestyle) or adre himself to take  road less travelled.

Nobody outside industry understand that SWITCH companies are sweatshops, serving bottom of the pyramid in software industry using most abundant & cheap resource available in india : underskilled unemployed young graduates. I am not complaining. If there is some one to blamed its’s our education system and ministry of HRD. Business is about making most of what you have. In a nation with 26 % population living BPL giving a decent standard of life to lakh of janata is commendable job by all measures. And I think nobody had any issue untill last few years.

So what exactly happend in last few years that triggered this ‘ Mujhe change chahiye’ (I  want change) phenomenon ?

A lot. We had two technology boom and busts. Then reality boom. Stock market boom and  bust. With indian economy clocking at 7%  plus rate from past many years we have witnessed rise of many other sectors. There is follow of overseas money in indian market and standard of life in india has improved for many. We have seen rise of indian middle class.

Whats this change ushed for a software engineer ?

Decline in social quotient. Earlier they had class of their own much higher in hierarchy. Now slowly but surely loosing that status. SW industry is maturing and with that benefits enjoyed by sw engineers.For a software engineer  this dilemma is not just about quality of work (creativity, motivation, risk- reward equation)  but its a sort of identity crisis. He want his status back. At higher level  this crisis is a harbinger of  bigger change in society . In coming years a critical mass whose  roti-kapada-makan needs got satisfied will start  seeking for more.  They will demand even better stanadard of life. This will not only create new challenge for individuals but to society and government too. To sustain  high standard of life and make class out of middle class require much more the what SWITCH companies can provide. To meet  this need we need a revolution more powerful then agriculture revolution, white revolution and another YK2  opportunity  put together. 

Talking about MBA and startups.I think both measures  are faddish. I meet many MBAs facing same issues as discussed. Startups need different kind of people. We know most of us do not have right startup DNA and startup environment is very unforgiving . Starup expect a lot. Talent, risk appetite, belief in delayed gratification, I-do-not-give-a-damn-what-society think attitude and lot more. Having  some tags like  MBA/IIT/IIM /ISB can  only make life little easier but will not gurrentee anything.

Do I have any  suggestions?

No. I have none. General  advice serve no purpose. Everybody want different thing from life.You have to decide what you want. Make sure you do not do not compare your inside with somebody’s outside.

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Barcamp Delhi 6th Edition 28 Feb-1Mar

A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yes, barcamp is back. Today I attended Barcamp6  held at MDI Gurgoan. This is my 3rd barcamp and I would like to thank organisers for this well done event. 

Reaching MDI was not a problem (as I tought it might would be) as DTC bus droped me just in  front gate of MDI. Arrangement was good except that we had very few chairs in hall 1. 100 something people turned up for the event. As always we had assorted audience including blogger, hackers, techies, geeks, educationist, lawyers, invetors, bankers and wannbe entrepreneur.

I attended  many sessions. First one was on scaling web application by Directi guys. It was very comprehensive and and useful. Second one was on Open source software development by Mir Azim who is a runing a 8 people startup called iKraft Software  from Srinagar. He shared his experience on how to pitch your open source software company to your client. Very useful session. I do attend other sessions but I had to skip part of them to attend other session runing in parallel. I listen to Depeek Shenoy’s views on recessions. He looked very pessimistic about current financial situation.

I got opporttunty to talk with Amit Gupta product manager at Makaan.com a real state classified portal. We talked on possiblities of innovation and delivering  complete real state management services to end users.

But what impressed me most was this gal Rashmi Gupta. She is 3rd year ECE engineering student She came from Patiala to attend this event and to get inputs for her startup flyingminds. Full of enthusiasm, passion and energy she shared her startup ideas with us and we had a very interactive session on how she may  go about executing her idea.  I was companied by Avinash (mind behind Routeguru) who shared his views on same. As I said earlier in my OCC meet post this is a huge change in attitude of indian youth who no longer looking for safe harbours and fat salary and is ready to take calculated risk and  exploring  his/her own ideas. I wish her good look for her venture.

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