Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Amazing Unpluggd 3 – Review

I wanted to write a big long post about how Awesome Pluggd 3 was but due to time constrains, will stick to only writing few lines. Pluggd 3 turn out to be a great event personally considering I met over 30+ people and it looks like I am going to have some serious long term relationship with most of them. I hope the next unpluggd 4 also happens in 2011 only.

Here is a quick review good vs bad of Unpluggd 3

Good

* Great people, great audience, great hosts.
* Great for networking, this time, plenty of time was given for networking and there was good space to meet people one after one
* This time, I stayed till the end (since I knew half of the startup companies showcasing already so wanted to see their way of giving presentation + met some really good ppl too even when presentations were going on)
* food, though not as good as in unpluggd 1 and unpluggd 2, was good enough.
* Goodies, yay, T-shirt + pen drive was itself over Rs 650. Ashish certainly knows how to Roll!

Bad (not that bad actually…)

There were no Bad’s really, just two minor problems,
* It was not easy to find that place, luckily I left early and found it with relative comfort but there were many who couldn’t found it that easily, specially people coming from outside. But we made that up by starting late.
* I felt the hall was little small (the hall for unpluggd 2 was too big, but the honeywell office for unpluggd 1 was perfect, I hope we again book that for next unpluggd) as many were standing at the end (including me)

Quotes by Narayan Murthy

Found it on the interweb -

  • “Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure that they come back the next morning.”
  • “Performance leads to recognition. Recognition brings respect. Respect enhances power. Humility and grace in one’s moments of power enhances dignity of an organisation,”
  • “The real power of money is the power to give it away.”
  • “In God we trust, everybody else bring data to the table.”
  • “Progress is often equal to the difference between mind and mindset.”
  • “I want Infosys to be a place where people of different genders, nationalities, races and religious beliefs work together in an environment of intense competition but utmost harmony, courtesy and dignity to add more and more value to our customers day after day.”
  • “A clear conscience is the softest pillow in the world.”
  • “A plausible impossibility is better than a convincing possibility.”
  • “When in doubt, disclose.”

and looking at Sudha Murthy’s profile and achievements, I think she certainly don’t get enough credit like NR Murthy and other founders get.

List of Startups in India (with traction)

This is NOT my list and has been copied from an excellent post made by Bhaskar but as many comments of quora are not fully visible to Indian anonymous users, I am putting it here. This is also for my own reference too. Please do note that this list is outdated as it has data/names of june 2010 only.

List of Startups in India with traction

  • multi-lingual : Tachyon technologies / quilpad (amazing lisp, open-source, web hackers, got invested from rediff and supposedly rejected Google M&A)
    Lipikaar (revenue making via tech, recently launched dubzer at DEMO)
  • user generated content : Muziboo (youtube for audio, winner of 2009 facebook connect india challenge)
  • real estate : commonfloor, 99acres (supposedly reaching >40% of indian market in april/may ’10) ,makaan
  • e-commerce : Flipkart,  Infibeam, letsbuy, Martjack (amazing traction/DIY framework for building stores)
  • voice : tringme / voicephp (Indian twilio) , callgraph (skype plugins) , voicetap (talk to an expert on phone) , kirusa
  • maps : routeguru , sadakmap, mapunity
  • facebook : ugenie (weread) , scrabulous guys
  • gaming: hashcube (largest sudoku app at one point, incubated at iaccelerator), games2win (casualgames, comscore top 20 gaming reach , well funded ) , lordsofodds ( prediction/gaming via various channels, nice tv tieups, profitable ), Zapak ( Reliance group ) , indiagames ( acquired by UTV, non-casual games )
  • offline focus:  nextbit cpu ( licensing deals in millions)  , notion ink ( adam tablet ), ideacts ( cybercafe software, 30000+ terminals, funded by seqoia )
  • deals : snapdeals , mydala, taggle
  • food related: tastykhana, hungrybangalore, lunchwalla
  • online printing : myntra, pringoo, printo & many others
  • photo: picsquare ( acuired by infibeam ), zoomin ( co-founded by founder of half/ebay )
  • local / classifieds : burrp ( acuired by network18 )  , quickr ( supposedly fastest growing ) ,  asklaila ( amazing rate of product launches, partnerships ) , buzzintown
  • search engines / aggregators :
    antya ( small team, nice tech + seo juice), avashya
    blogadda, indiblogs (ala technorati / 9rules )
    guruji ( seqoia funded search engine, pivoted to music search, lawsuits, but still decent traction, future uncertain )
  • students / jobs: sutraHR , bixee search ( owned by ibibo group ), bharatstudent, freshersworld, hellointern, pagalguy, minglebox
  • ad networks : vdopia, jivox ( both video) , komli, tyroo, networkplay, tyroo ( all well funded )
  • movies / ticketing / delivery : bookmyshow, kyazoonga, 70mm, Bigflix ( netflix’ish clone, great retail rollout, Reliance group )
  • location yulop
  • project management / collaboration: deskaway, remindo, uhuroo, tenmiles (makers of helpdeskpilot,tezaa,etc)
  • payment : paymate, billdesk, mcheck, ccavenues
  • auto: carwale, carazoo
  • travel: redbus, cleartrip ( well funded, largest pool of lisp developers at one point )
  • finance/risk : crederity ( background checks ) , dhanax ( ala kiva ), paisa ( stock portfolio )
  • sports : cricinfo ( bought by espn )
  • health: lifemojo, healthcaremagic
  • analytics : wingify / visualsiteoptimizer
  • blogging platforms: instablogs (citizen journalism), ibibo, bigadda
  • cloud based : e2e networks, orangescape

PS – I have removed some names suggested by bhaskar as I don’t think justdial or makemytrip is a startup.

Pain of being a Single Founder in Indian Startup

1. So Ronery – No shoulder to cry, talking to yourself way too much!

2. You can not validate ideas and implementations. No one is there to tell you that you are wrong.

3. Have to do all the work which reduces the pace of growth of the startup and increases tension, pressure and worries (many of them are unnecessary)

4. You have to pay all the expenses from your own pocket.

5. You will lose lot of Hair!

/written from my own personal experience

Founders needs to know the core of the business

I was discussing with someone about this that why it is so important that founders needs to know the core of the business meaning if you are starting a product/technology company, the founder(or at least one) has to understand every aspect of the product, development and technology, you just can’t hire some “rockstar” and imagine him doing all the work because the moment that rockstar leaves your company (and it can happen any time), your company will be gone!

The same applies to any other aspect of the business as well, if you are starting a marketing company, services company or even a brick and mortar business, it is alright if you are looking to have 20 people with different skill set, as founder, you need to know all aspect of the business.

If you are going to meet a VC in India, make sure you reach there before Time

Yep, I was so looking forward to meet them, mailed them twice that I will be there at exact at 4 pm. This was an important meet even though I knew we are not going to get funded as such meetings helps a lot to understand investors mind and expectations. Anyway so I reached there 50 minutes late, ran for 2 KMs and when I was asked to talk about the company, I ran out of breadth so had to run to rest room!

It is a long story and I can’t drop names, but here are some TIPS to myself and to anyone of you who is going to meet VCs (in India) for the first time

Make sure you exactly know their office. Like me, don’t rely on google maps, it is not completely accurate for cities like bangalore where there are lot of one ways and auto walas are total “kaminas” (Jerks). I landed up 2 KM from where the office of the VC was.

I had left at 3:20 and as per google maps, was sure to reach the office at 3:45 but because I left the auto at wrong location (thanks to the locals for telling the wrong route which was one way), I had to run all the way back. Not only this, when I asked the lady is this “the building”, she said yes, so I said, great finally, I took the overcrowded lift and reached 8th floor only to realized that this is not that part of the building (what was that lady smoking ? since she spoke fluent hindi and there was no communication problem). So I started waiting for the lift on 8th floor but even after waiting for 15 mins, there were no remains of the lift. So instead of waiting any more, I took the staircase and start running down, feeling something like Lola :D. Mind you, for someone who do no physical exercise and spend unhealthy time in front of his laptop, this was not easy as I have poor lung capacity.

Anyway this doesn’t stop here, so the VC building was 500 meters from this building and I had to run all the way again, had to ask multiple ppl where is the main entrance for the building and where is the lift (there were multiple lifts for various parts of the building)

Oh and one more thing, my Rs 35k mobile also stopped working in the middle (this is another long story) and I had to use phone from a pedestrian (thanks stranger) to call to the VC office that I will be late by 30 minutes.

I easily Ran over 3 KMs and was panting heavily, but I feels I did alright considering most of the things were not in my hand. The reason why it made me so upset was I hate to be late, 4 PM should always means 4 PM and I should had relied on more real world knowledge about the place rather then relying on google maps.

So here are some tips/suggestions from my experience if you are ever gong to meet any angel investor/VC

1. always call the VC office about the location of their office and nearest landmark. Also confirm if the meeting is ON or not and give them your number in case of any changes in plan.

2. Never go late, infact I feels it is better of going 15 minutes earlier, sit in office, may be drink a cup of coffee (for free!)

3. Do take your ppt or any doc in a flash drive (which doesn’t have a virus). I also keep all the business material on my mobile too as well always keep multiple printouts of your presentation.

4. Speak slowly and Clearly (something which I don’t do). By speaking slowly,you also give yourself time to “direct” the conversation.

7 Tips from Dharmesh Shah for startups

It can’t get more accurate then this

* Starting is more important than the idea
* Write a blog, not a business plan
* Stealth mode is for fighter jets, not startups
* A sub-optimal price today beats a perfect price tomorrow
* Sales velocity, acquisition cost, lifetime value – improving one often degrades another (the only thing that improves all three is the customer experience)
* Transparency trump secrecy
* The path of truth and justice is often paved with profit

If you are not following Dharmesh on twitter, do it right now

Recycle Ideas (which didn’t worked 5 or 10 years back)

so I was wondering what’s the appeal of Quora, a social Q/A site or StackOverflow, I am a member of both the sites and have contributed (contribution = asking couple of questions, that’s it!) to the sites. Both sites have raised lot of money and the most amazing and obvious thing about the sites is, the concept for both the sites are as old as Internet, so why these 2 worked and not the other thousands ?

The answer is simple, the market was ready for them now + they got momentum. If StackOverflow had started in 2001, it probably would had just become a geek hangout place with 10% of the activity which it has now. The only reason why Quora and Stackoverflow have got so much traction and coverage even with no uniqueness is because the market is ready now (or the VCs at least as money do wonders for such concepts, with VC money, you can still start ten cheezburger like network as the market will never get saturated)

so the point of the post is – Recycle Ideas, use Ideas which didn’t took off in 2000 or 2005 because the market may be ready now or you are in a better position to execute the old idea.

PS – BTW, Quora is co-founded by Adam D’Angelo, Facebook’s ex CTO, so raising money must be a cakewalk, which to me turns out to be the differentiator in such concepts.

Type of Busness Ideas which will work on Indian web space

Normally I write in a flow and don’t reread the post so my apologies in advance if the post lacks continuity or has spelling mistakes.

In this post, I am going to write down what I feels, types of Ideas which are/will work in India. This is a casually written post with no research done and is based on my 7 years “hardcore” net knowledge :)

In India, we can categories successful web companies into 4 categories and I feels for next few years, all new successful ventures will come only in these 4 categories

1. Aggregators i.e. those sites who are aggregating information
2. Copy ideas from US web space (or from any other country)
3. Get offline to Online
4. Classified content like matrimony, jobs, buy/sale cars, houses etc
5. Solving some real problem (very painful to implement + not much money)

1. It is something which we are all seeing on Indian spaces, specially in travel industry. Aggregation works so well in India because Indian we space is still very immature and content is very fragmented, even the well organized site like nic.in seems to be very fragmented to me, lot of information but scattered, so if you can offer a service which aggregates useful data and information, the company can be huge success. Few ideas are, Government inquiries, PAN Card/passport/ration card, Exam results, Reviews etc

2. People are copying each other from the beginning of Internet, anything which works in USA normally gets copied to UK, Australia, India, South America and other european countries. A business model which is already tested in other country will always be successful in any other part of the world provided it is web based. Here is what I feels, Indians should look into other countries too to copy ideas, specially countries which have similar economy and people, for e.g. Brazil and China can be perfect countries from where Indian entrepreneurs can “take” ideas as the ideas from US normally gets copied very soon. I had explored China market in 2009-10 for brief period though couldn’t find much to implement in India, though I will highly advice people to look into China, Brazil, Korean, Russian and Mexican market for ideas.

3. Coupons, all kind of ticket booking, ecommerce and everything which is happening offline can be bring Online. I strongly feels, “anything which Internet has not touched will be eventually get touched by internet for good” (I read this on cdixon.org’s blog, please please read all his blog posts, its all gold!) so in India, find the pain points, things which people hate to do but are still compelled to do because of lack of online option and implement that.

Personally, I love these kind of ideas most as they are solving some pain which means you never have to spend much on marketing, Indians love to talk and will talk about your service if it is good. Paying online bills is a great idea which I wanted to do but this has alrady been done by ICICI in 2000 though done very poorly.

4. From 2000 onwards, all the classified sections were moved to the web, Matrimony, Vacancy/Jobs, Buy/sale cars/vehicles/houses etc. This was very natural thing and I feels now there is nothing much from classified which can be moved to web, may be very narrow niches like “services” and “Rent”, these are being done by sulekha but still there is a good scope for launching a vertical business, specially on Rent.

5. I love businesses which come in this category, the problem is, there are not too many, due to over complexity and low returns. I wanted (and still do) to solve the problem of waste in India, we all know this is Local municipality’s responsibility but they are too numb towards this, the problem is, I realized that this is a very big thing and I don’t have the resources and will/”balls” to do it. There is not much money in it either so just like every Indian, I too want to see the change but don’t want to do it myself *sigh*. Some great ideas can be giving small loans, education, hospitals, vaccination, houses etc

Is it too late for working in Coupons/Deals market ?

Couple of friends are working on an idea about Coupons/Deals, the idea is not unique as it has already been implemented by a big site of India but friends are excited about it (and we all know it happens with the best of us)

I don’t understand coupon/deals market that well specially the internals of it like how big the market is and how fast it is growing and how many companies can be profitable but I always felt that the market was crowded back in 2010 and with various mergers, the market has matured up which means there is not much scope for new startups, specially those who are reinventing the wheel.

What they can do is, give a spin to existing ideas and try to make their own niche which is too narrow for big players to enter but big enough for them to grow, though still, I do see lot of problems with this Coupons/Deals business model, the first thing being, it is very easy to replicate so there is no entry barrier, secondly with search engines like bing also showing the deals, it can easily crush small players, specially if you have no exclusivity. Big sites like groupon will of course don’t have to worry even if search engines like Bing start showing coupons in their results as they can get exclusivity from the companies to not put their deals in Bing or can have some kind of tie up with bing as they are big enough to have profit sharing.

I feels its too late for deals/coupon like sites as starting them now is like starting a twitter like site in 2009, but then you never know!