September 30, 2007

Spawners September,2007

September 29, 2007

LinkedIn : A short success story !!!

It has been many months since I am on LinkedIn (with an open profile) and finally, it is fetching some results(good always starts with some smile). Some interesting updates from LinkedIn as well as an attempt to use LinkedIn to get some results and to use a small share of my knowledge wink

LinkedIn photo update:
We can now add photos to our LinkedIn profile and it is one of the best updates on LinkedIn.My profile now also has a photograph.This was very much required since, many times your unique face becomes an identity and some people remember the face(and may rather forget the name).

Thanks Technofriends (for this update on the information) & LinkedIn(for implementation of this badly needed update).

LinkedIn answer rated the best:
Nowadays, along with Blogging , my attempt is to answer some of the questions that are featured on LinkedIn. This is a nice platform where you can share knowledge as well as show your expertise in the subjects that you know.A snapshot of the Q&A that fetched me the "Best Answer" spot !!! You can view my complete answer here

Why should you (effectively ) use LinkedIn:
Many of us count LinkedIn as a normal networking website but there is more to it than Networking, check out Ten ways to get LinkedIn to work for you by Ajay Jain. For example: Check out Recruiter on LinkedIn and you would see 500+ results !!!

Phase of IT is continuously changing and so are the recruitment strategies;lot of Placement Consultants as well as HR professionals from IT organizations have an open LinkedIn profile.This would make job search easy for the candidates and also makes LinkedIn an effective platform for networking, business and niche level recruitment biggrin

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September 27, 2007

Blogging & Sensex : ups & downs in the [B-readership] market ...

Incoming Links - A winning experience:
What is one of the great wins of a person who blogs? It is 'an unknown person 'A' linking to an article on your blog'.It was a great experience when I came to know about my very first incoming link on Technorati.Below a snapshot of the email, which I sent to all my friends(with a lot of excitement) biggrin

Blogging: A Mind game and a (365*7) learning process:
But just like every activity in life , blogging is a continuous learning process. When you see that you are getting more traffic and people are linking to your blog, the blogger becomes very cautious in each and every article that (s)he publishes on the blog."Cautious" is an alarming word but that does not mean "Care", but in this case,means "Growing maturity".Remember, in the topsy-turvy world of stock market, you learn only when you loose money smile

"Maturity" does come in terms of thinking, way you communicate , amount of research and many other factors that consume a lot of time of any blogger. When it comes to research, it is bound to have multiple links from other blogs [which provides a level of Authentication to your article], but the question is "What if the readers like the linked blog and don't return to mine? " sad

Blogging, Linking & Sensex:
"Drip in readership" is one of the most hurting thing that can happen to any blogger and that too, if it happens in your early stage of blogging.Recently I was discussing about blogging with a newly stepped blogger and his point was "Why should I make other bloggers famous by giving their links"? An unfair question with a fair answer:
IMHO, linking is very much important and if a reader does not like your blog(for any possible reason) , (s)he would never return to your blog....To make a fair comparison, "Blog Readership" is like Sensex , since sometimes "The Page Views" go up(yeah, booming economy hooray...Sensex goes up) and sometimes it goes down(market slump) wink
What do you feel about "Blogging & Linking"? Does linking to other blogs result in a traffic loss for your own blog? Have your say:

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September 25, 2007

Business Gyan : First step to a successful Business Person

Had a look the latest issue of Business Gyan and came across an interesting article titled "First step to be a successful business person". As the author Shivaji Sengupta says the first step to being successful is: To develop a powerful Elevator Pitch

The article has been taken from Business Gyan and the credit for the it goes to the author.The article has excellent information and hence, has been posted on the blog

Below is the 5 step formula to create a successful Elevator Pitch:

List out what is unique about what you do and why you are special

An Elevator Pitch is an ice-breaker and a marketing pitch-all rolled in one.The elevator pitch must have a hook "I own a flower shop downtown" does not hold up to a "I am a speciality florist who deals in rare, South American tropical flowers that bloom in the winter".

Make it intriguing :
A superior elevator pitch increases your heart rate.It speaks about who you really are and what excites you about your business.It has integrity.What is it about your business that really motivates you?

KISS Concept - Keep It Simple Stupid :
A good elevator pitch doesn't try and be all things to all the people.Rather, it conveys a clear idea in a short amount of time.It might be few sentences, but no more than a paragraph or so.Keep it under 30 seconds.

Who your customer is :
Be specific enough that people see the market, but not so specific that people wonder if there are more than five of these people in the world: "We even have flowers for boardroom romances"

Write it down & practice a lot :
Use the guidelines above and take a stab at it.Write down your pitch, say it out loud, write it, and then re-write it again.The first few times you try it out, your elevator pitch may be a bit uncomfortable. After a while it will become second nature to you.

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September 23, 2007

How to generate business ideas?

Most of us who are thinking that we should have a startup don't know "Which is the area that we should target" for example: If you are a blogger who regularly gets a fair amount of traffic, you may feel that you should jump to full time blogging.Or if you are a person, who has a passion for photography,you may feel that you should join a professional course in photography & turn into a full-time profession idea

The bottom line is "When you check your think tank , you start getting number of ideas" and in such case, the important part is to look at your inner-self & decide that "An Idea X is the one that I would perceive as a business"....The keyword in the discussion is "IDEA" and I would like to share some of my thoughts on generating ideas :
  1. Try to see where your interests lie.
  2. Read books [pertaining to your are of interest] to go a level deeper into your thoughts.You could also be tagged as "BOOK WORM" but that is indirectly a compliment wink
  3. Speak with different people since, it would always be great to get a two-sided opinion.They would see you in a different way that how you see yourself.
  4. Think illogically.Don't reject ideas immediately.Some of them might be the one what people need/want but which no one has provided.
  5. Daydream about what you like doing.Dreaming something with open eyes is very important.This is area where your interest lies the most, so think of capitalizing on that strength.
  6. Brainstorm : Record each & every idea that comes to your mind in a safe place.Do not try to eliminate any of them, even though it may seem absurd.
  7. Think..Think...Think....When you are having a bath or watching TV or doing something in your leisure time.This is the time that can be best utilized as an "Idea Generator".
  8. See the unexpected similarities in the world around you, permit yourself to make unusual associations biggrin
  9. Don't always think in words, also think in pictures.Use all your senses to get useful ideas.
  10. Try to foresee "Solutions related to forthcoming problems" for example: Imagine the condition of India in the year 201X & try to visualize a current solution that might solve that forthcoming problem !!!

    Reader's Contribution:

  11. Open source mind-mapping tool MindMapping, which is useful to organize and represent our ideas with picture.Download the tool from here. [Thanks Manish Panchmatia]
  12. Six Thinking Hats by Dr. Edward De Bono. [Thanks Mahesh Pidshetti]
  13. Think of serving the community back in someway, perhaps the downtrodden or the likes of such people. this only broadens the scope of interaction and perhaps even leads to the higher society people even at these events! [Thanks Srikanth Eswaran]
  14. See things that you like and see if the reasons you like them or the logic can be applied to other things too.In my case, I love Flickr and wanted to see something like that for Music. Muziboo was born ! [Thanks Prateek Dayal]
  15. The importance of doing some things only because they may be important links for one's future business. Actually this was mentioned by Steve Jobs in one of his speeches. He had done some Caligraphy course which became an important tool while designing the GUI for modern OS almost 10 years later.[Thanks Harshad Desai]
This article was also an IDEA and this is the best place where I could have recorded(& shared) this IDEA wink

Point [7] also reminds me of an article "Sleep is a luxury at startups" which had an interesting comment from an Open Coffee Club group member - Venkat Ramana, CEO of OutSmart360
Essentially, we never stop working. We are always multi-tasking, looking for the next opportunity, whatever else we are doing. One part of the brain (the bigger part probably) is constantly thinking of solutions and problems and more solutions for them.
If you have some more ideas to generate ideas, than kindly add them in the comments & I would be glad to add them to the article.

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September 21, 2007

Simple question, Complex answer : What is a STARTUP ?

Most of know that a startup is like the birth of a new born baby but there were some basic confusions regarding the definition of a Startup.

These were the two questions that have raised some confusion sad and I hope that someone clears the doubt :

1. What is a startup ?
2. When does the transition happen from Startup to a mid-sized company?

I had posted the same question on LinkedIn here and there were some interesting & diversified answers...worth taking a look at it biggrin Your contribution in the form of comments or on LinkedIn would be highly appreciated !!!

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September 19, 2007

Seth Godin - Ideas that spread win !!!

Below is an old but a very(very...) worthy video where Seth Godin speaks about "Importance of sharing ideas" taking the example of Slice Bread invention.

[Seth Godin on 'Importance of sharing ideas]

No wonder why "We have so many websites where people can post ideas or pitch online" biggrin

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September 18, 2007

ET Business Plan Competition 2007

Economic Times , Amity Business School & Knowledge@Wharton are coming up with what is considered as "India's Leading Business Plan Competition". The competition is open to all graduate and post-graduate students from universities from all over the country.

About the Competition:
The competition would consist of four member teams and the business plan can be targetted to any industry/sector.

Mentorship through TiE and Amity Innovation Incubator

More details here and here

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September 15, 2007

Startup "marketing strategies" - I

In one of the talks by Seth Godin , he mentioned about Sun Microsystems where Sun officials mentioned "We will take care of Technology and marketing would be taken care by itself " and as Seth mentions "Technology just enables you to connect to people but marketing helps you reach that Technology to people". Most of us are so much addicted to Technology that we always think in a technological sense but when we think of an idea , all the aspects are very important.

Every Business gets a shape with effective marketing and IMHO, every Business is like a DHANDA(in Hindi).My favourite example is "The guys who sell clothes in Fashion Street,Mumbai are the best marketers I have come across with since, they have the capacity to attract customers as well as compete very effectively with the surrounding competition." biggrin

Marketing is one of the pain-points of any startup since, (as a startup) you don't want to spend a single penny on marketing so, how do you still get your idea to the crowd? Below is a list of some the cost-effective marketing strategies , that might be used with a very high impact and good returns :

This article has been divided in two sections, the next one would follow very soon.

1. Word of Mouth (WOM) Marketing :
This is one of the most effective ways to start your marketing campaign.You tell your friends, relatives & others in your vicinity about your product/service and get their feedback.But only if a person comes back with a feedback than that is the person who is expected to spread the word biggrin Rest others are just observers and they can be termed as the passive users of your service/product.

For example: Initially when you have a new blog, in order to get some traffic on your blog, you inform your friends about your blog.Simple isn't it? But do you think each one of them would reach your blog? Na...Only people who are interested in the topic on what you write or who love reading/writing etc. would turn back to your blog.Rest of others are all one-time readers.
So ideal part is to identify the correct audience in your circle whom you can approach & after some time, they would surely revert back with their feedback biggrin So, the key is "Identification of the right audience to get the honest feedback".

2. Blog Marketing :
With the increasing number of people going online and reading blogs , Blogs are one of the simplest,fastest & easiest ways to spread the word.I am sure that as a blogger, each one of us, would be receiving many mails asking for a review, feedback etc and this list will keep on growing as more & more companies/startups start realizing the importance of Blogs biggrin With a better Broadband penetration in India, Podcasting would also be one of the effective tools for do hard-hitting marketing.

3. Video Marketing
Few months back, I had posted about the Coolest definition of Web 2.0 and you can check the viewer-ship statistics(which is already in millions) of the video here. But Youtube is not only about posting songs , videos but has also become a unique platform for startups to post Demos of their products. Just when I logged into Gmail, the bottom left corner showed the video(given below), which is a collaborative effort by the Gmail community.

So, what is special about the video? Well, Google has used YouTube to the fullest, to demonstrate the power of Gmail !!! If Google can use this medium, than a startup can definitely use the same medium to spread it's word.In fact, Prof. N. Venkat Venkatraman of Boston University School of Management points out that Google should look to monetize YouTube beyond advertising!!!". Video of Pakistani startup Scrybe demonstrating it's Alpha on YouTube [Interesting video]

4. (Un)Conference Marketing :
Unconferences are one of the best places to network with like-minded people as well as spread the word about your idea/startup.Consider the niche of your product and you are sure to get a good percentage of audience from the unconference community.
For example: If you have a new Blogging platform , than the end users would obviously be bloggers
lol Hence, BlogCamp would be an ideal platform for you to launch your new platform since, many of them would ideally turn out to be the end users of your service !!!

5. T-Shirt Marketing :
So, how does a normal half-sleeve T Shirt cost in India? May be in the range of Rs 100-150 but if you have a logo of your startup on it, it becomes priceless. When your team wears the same T Shirt, it suggests that the team is very well knit and also conveys your brand value. For example: T-Shirts have indirectly turned out to be one of the best tools for marketing unconferences !!! Every time you wear a BarCamp or a BlogCamp T-Shirt , you are sure to attract a million eyeballs !!! Below is the FOSS T-Shirt, which is bang of target wrt the punch line and many have unknowingly complimented me for the design of the T-Shirt wink T-Shirts have a very long reach with very minimal expense !!!

Image Courtesy : Alok Padhi

Listed above was a mix of conventional and unconventional marketing , the other strategies would be continued in the next article.Definitely, the new era of marketing has arrived and it can be used very effectively by startups !!!

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September 12, 2007

Sex & the Investor, a deadly combination !!!

What is the relation between an Investor & Sex wink ....Came across an interesting presentation from BarCamp London , which unravels this mystery.

John Wilson

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September 11, 2007

Interesting One liners on "LEAD"ership

While reading the book "Leadership when the Heat's on" , came across some interesting lessons(at the end of each chapter). After reading the one liners(listed below) , I am sure like me; you would also feel that there is always something in each one of us, that requires change; which would help us in achieving our goals.

Below are some of the lessons(which are listed in the form of one liners) :

1. The ultimate reward for the leader of people is to be able to say, "I saw someone grow today and, I helped".

2. Intensity (Goal, Focus, Action) + Enthusiasm (expectancy of better things to come) = Charisma.

3. High Performance is often the result of a sudden change in direction.

4. Accomplishment is your birthright. Limitations are adopted.

5. To achieve great things, know more than the average person considers necessary.

6. An organization quits improving RIGHT after the manager quits improving.

7. Help a team member grow and you will receive respect in return.

8. Team morale and customer service, on a scale of 1-10 receive the same score.

9. Take a mentor to lunch before somebody else eat yours smile

10. Determination makes failure impossible.

11. Be aware of their weaknesses, but talk to their strengths.

12. An organization will never rise above the quality of it's leadership.

13. A person out of a place in his/her vocation is only half a person.

14. Deciding not to have a specific goal is a specific goal.

15. If you don't know what to do on a daily basis to achieve your goal, then it is not a goal- It is a fantasy.

16. Goals are all found upstream.

17. Your team members are no better at planning time than you are. smile

18. Team member's morale will never be higher than the leader's morale.....for long

19. Aim for striking originality, it gets attention.

20. A leader never forgets that creativity is contagious and can build enthusiasm.

21. Conflict overcome is strength gained.

22. "Embrace Change" , it's saying "Yes" to Tomorrow and "No" to repeated yesterdays.

23. Some of the world's greatest achievements were made by those who were self-instructed.

24. Fear has strength of its own , only that which you choose to give it.Ironically, that's the very strength you need to overcome it.

Related Posts:
Good Leader or great leader

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September 10, 2007

Blogging + Addiction --> Evangelism

Addiction side of Blogging :
Few days back , there was an article on my blog which focussed on concept called "Blue Blodded Blogging" and I am also one of them wink The title of this article reads "Blogging + Addiction --> Evangelism", so does that mean I am one of the Blog Evangelists? Well IMHO , every blogger is an evangelist by himself/herself since, they are there to send a message & share information with the rest of the world !!!

As per my understanding, someone is really addicted to blogging; when the first thing that (s)he thinks after waking up in the morning is : "What would I post today on my blog?" and most of the people in an ADDICTED blogger community have a similar kind of a feeling.If you have a similar kind of a passion for blogging , than go ahead and give "The Blog Addiction Test" here

Below is my score card [ Oops, only 78% sad ] :

My $0.2 on Evangelism side of Blogging

Let's divert our attention to the evangelism part of blogging.Though, I am no Blog Evangelist , for me "Addiction is one of the major contributors to blog evangelism". But as per Jeremiah Owyang there is a fundamental difference between Leader & Evangelist (as given below) :
The difference between leader and evangelist is "Leader has followers, however an Evangelist, may or may not have followers."
In fact, selecting blogs of your flavor(for reading) is the very first indication of your interest in blogging.Below are some of my SIMPLE mantras of being a blog evangelist :
  1. Reading and commenting on Blogs(most of the times this becomes the first thing that you would do after reaching the office).This means that sometimes , you cannot even start your work before completing this daily BLOG routine.
  2. Having your own blog(which includes deciding the central theme of your blog and frequency to update the blog).
  3. Creating an ecosystem of bloggers(to share experience and knowledge) and
  4. Spreading Blog awareness (Motivating more people to create blogs and lending your help during this process).
Now lets see what are Jeremiah Owyang's tips on "Being a corporate Blog evangelist" :
  1. Read Blogs
  2. Start Blogging
  3. Learn from the best
  4. Don’t accept blog advice from people that are not bloggers
  5. Get more focused in business blogging
  6. Be able to articulate your vision
  7. Define the purpose for your blog
  8. Plan to measure these purposes, before you start blogging
  9. Have a vision, Stay the course, don’t give up.
  10. Find a champion if your voice is not loud
Read Jeremiah Owyang's mantras on "Corporate Blog Evangelism" here. And guess what, if you read the complete article, than for me you are already a Blog Evangelist wink

Image Courtesy:
Gaping Void

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September 8, 2007

Expert's preview : Product ecosystem in India

Products v/s Services is one of the most talked about topics everywhere , be it a Conference, Unconference, companies or any other space that even has a slightest relation with IT. With a handful of experience in a product based company, one thing is quite evident : "Be whatever is the complication of the product, there is a fundamental difference between a service and product , the consumer. Consumer decides the fate of any product , which is very different than developing a software solution for a customer. A simple example is Microsoft Zune , the IPod clone which failed miserably and speaks out all the story sad

In a conversation with a founder of one of the product startups in Bangalore, he mentioned that "Working in Startups is like a marriage(since products always have a bigger life cycle than services) and entering/working in a product startup is always riskier than a services startup hence,many people tend to stay away from the same. So , recruitment always becomes a problem for product startups"

IMHO, for anyone to speak/write on "Why there is no product ecosystem in India", there would be many points that we can note down, but my decision was to focus on 'What the industry experts are saying about the subject - Why there are not much product startups in India' , let's look into the same.

Tejas Networks (Optical Networking) :
In one of the interviews by Sanjay Nayak, CEO of Tejas Networks; following are key factors that he mentioned to build a product ecosystem in India:
  1. Close proximity to a vibrant market that acts as the breeding ground of new product ideas. It is very difficult for companies to be in India and develop products that are initially targeted for customers in the US & Europe.
  2. Availability of critical pool of domain specific talent, both technical as well as managerial .
  3. Access to adequate funding — both early as well as late-stage venture capital.
  4. As a new product company, it is crucial to stay focused on a specific domain and try to be the best in it, rather than diluting the limited resources in multiple areas.
  5. Success stories (especially in capital markets ) for product companies that entrepreneurs can look up to as role models.
Read the complete article here

Yahoo, India (Internet) :
Below are a list of 5 recommendations made by Sharad Sharma, (CEO of Yahoo,R&D) to make better product ecosystem in India.
  1. NASSCOM to take leadership to separate out the kaizen ecosystem from the Silicon Valley ecosystem, so that each may develop and thrive in its own right.
  2. NASSCOM and TiE to join in a project to grow the number of product managers, product architects and product release managers, by getting universities involved in the process and by nurturing special communities for practitioners.
  3. NASSCOM can launch a mission to multiply TeNeT type partnerships across the country.
  4. Industry collaborates with academic institutions, regulatory bodies and government agencies to create standards for emerging local markets
  5. NASSCOM lobbies to open up defense related technology work for local companies
Read the complete article here

These were some of the thoughts from the industry experts from established companies(but from diversified fields).But IMHO, with more & more unconferences , things are looking bright at the grass root level biggrin . When I had passed out from college, things were much different but now lots of fresh passouts(non IIT) are also looking at opportunities in startups, which in itself is an indication of "Shining side of Indian IT"!!! Hopefully, very soon we should be able to see another Google or Microsoft being born out of India exclaim

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September 6, 2007

If you have a BLOG , than you have the JOB !!!

Every blogger who actively blogs and makes his/her blog as a part of the daily has a reason to blog.For some it is to express themselves, create awareness, share knowledge, experience and for some it is a new & unique way to network with people.Oops not to forget money , at least it fetches a few $$ for some of them wink On one hand , there are several reasons to blog and on the other side, there are equal of reasons NOT TO BLOG as discussed in one of my previous articles here

In one of my conversations with my friend(and fellow blogger) Ramjee Ganti, we compared blogs with Fire since, you never know when someone has blogged about you or your product and that post could be from a blogger lying in other corner of the world !!! Definitely, Blogs can never replace Mass Media and this thought would also never come in the mind of any blogger(when (s)he starts blogging) biggrin

While reading Rohit Agarwal's How Innovators Connect, a statement in the book caught my eyes (as a blogger), "In the Silicon Valley, major companies look one additional thing in the resume(apart from the education and experience) , and as per your guess - It is BLOG.

Blogs are already being watched by startup companies in India but now the pendulum has swung 360% and now blogs have also become prospective platform for recruitment by recruiters from big corporates as well.For example , check the image below which is taken from the careers section of a startup company in Bangalore

An article which was recently published in the Times Of India, Ascent , gave a clear indication that Blogs would slowly become a key aspect;not only in judging the candidate's attitude but his(her) willingness to be more innovative & research oriented. smile Some important excerpts from the TOI Ascent article :
Several HR managers are following "Hiring by the Blog", a practice that looks to be the newest hiring trend.Though this practice is still in the nascent stage , corporate recruiters are surfing blogs to unearth candidates , expanding their talent pool and gaining insights that they can't get from resumes and interviews - Sapna Agarwal , Director HR GlobalLogic. Blogs also helps employers probe further into the qualifications of the potential hires. As Sapna mentions : If I am impressed by the points the blogger is making and the way (s)he is making them, the potential hire will jump up a few notches in my opinion.
Recruiters believe that blogs help them to understand the likes and dislikes of the candidate.But IMHO(as a blogger), there are some things that should definitely be considered when employers start hunting for people, who also blog:
  • The theme of the blog [personal , business, technology ....].
  • Frequency of blogging [How any articles are posted per week/month?].
  • Reply to the comments [This would give an impression as to how much the blogger cares for his/her customer(readers)].
  • Research done in writing the posts [This can be considered as the one with the least priority].
  • The difference between in the personality of the person(as a blogger) and as a potential candidate for a job.
Definitely, bloggers are getting more and more visibility and time would soon come, when blogs would also be considered as a vital part of a candidate's resume wink So, if you are the one looking out for a job, than start blogging since, you never know that an XYZ company's HR may be following your blog rolleyes

Have your say about "BLOG RECRUITMENT" :

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September 5, 2007

Networking - First step to starting up

In many events that happen , there is a common question which comes up from few people in the audience : "What brings you to this event XYZ" ? Few of them have the answer : "I just came by because my friend was coming here" some say "I did not have anything better to do so,I came here" and some say "This is a place where I can meet people with a similar set of mindset and also I can learn something from the people out here" !!!!

When this question comes to me , I always have the answer # 3 ; since, there is always something to learn from people around you and we should not loose out on this knowledge exchange game !!! Also, having a network with like minded people will not only help you( as a professional) but as a person as well since, it makes you more confident(when you speak in an open forum).

For some, it turns out to be a place where they get recruited by a Startup and for some it is a place where they find a prospective partner for his/her startup. An article in LiveMint on Venture Funding states that "VCs like to work through networking".
VCs like to work through networking. Cold calls rarely work. Revive that college alumni network, someone will know a VC. Get a reference and you’ve won half the battle. Serial entrepreneurs, who have been funded by VCs before, are often quite open to doing the first introduction. Attend start-up workshops, mentoring programmes and so on. Social networking, the offline kind, works wonders. Find out where VCs socialize and who socializes with them and get yourself invited to those places—sometimes you might need help from daddy or uncle, but all is fair in entrepreneurship.
So, being in the network is very much important and that is the first step to Entrepreneurship.Taking this further, Suresh Bhagavatula , states three key advantages to having access to good networks is : Access, Timings and Referrals.
To begin with, entrepreneurs with good networks have greater access to information. More important than access is to have the information before others have it, since such information would have a higher opportunity value. For instance, knowing that a customer is on the lookout for a particular kind of service is much more important than later finding out that the customer had been on the lookout for that service. Finally, good networks enable the individual to use referrals effectively for a job opening or a particular service at important places.
When you take the case of online networking, LinkedIn can be considered as a messiah for startups since, many (wanna be) Entrepreneurs use it as the first step to startup as well as for potential recruitment. biggrin

Most of us don't find the right set of people with whom you can discuss your idea and it is your network that would help you in starting up as well as scaling up, so get started and get networked !!!

Article Credits :
LiveMint - Zeroing in on the right venture capitalist
Suresh Bhagavatula - How to be in the right network

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September 3, 2007

Harry Beckwith on "Selling something that no one can see"

Whenever we have a product or a service, the key aspect lies on how you make your service available to the customer/consumer.The task should be to build a long term relationship with the consumer so that (s)he would get more people to use your service.Taking a simple example:

"How many times do you turn back to a restaurant, which does not give you a good personalized service?"

Service is not about selling but it is about relationships which should be long lasting, and this is what matters the most in business.

Just happened to check out Business Gyan, Aug 15- Sept14,07 which has an article by Harry Beckwith , author of the bestseller "Selling the Invisible". He talks about 4 (simple and basic) key aspects on successfully marketing a service.A small gist of the article, which is worth mentioning here :

Service, what is it? Service is just a promise that at some future date; you will do something for someone;deliver a package, provide advice, deliver money in exchange of money and a million such promises.The key difficulty in marketing a service is to sell something that no one can see !!!

Four (simple) key aspects to marketing a service:

1. Price:
Price is not exactly price but it is a communicator , which communicates about the quality of your service.The higher the price, more better should be your quality.Hence, it is always logical to refer to a Premium Price because the added cost is like a premium.It is an added amount the client pays to insure the quality of the service.
My $0.2 on Price:
When Reliance comes to your mind, you immediately think of low price and lots of free services(from Reliance to Reliance) , but there are many low end phones who are much better than other high end models.So, your price should be balanced with an excellent quality.

2. Packaging:
[ This point provides into what exactly is packaging and was really an eye catcher in the complete article !!! ]
This is an example from National Veterinary Service in America.Exit surveys showed that if a doctor wore a blue lab coat on a particular day, this clients would rate him 7(out of 10) for Medical Skill & Competence.If he wore a white coat, his score was more than half a point higher.If he added a stethoscope , his score went higher.
Hence, the better the package, the greater his perceived skill- from exactly the same person !!!

My $0.2 on Packaging:
In 9 out of 10 instances, the smarter you dress wink; better the chance to date a beautiful girl Final Packaging is really very important

3. Brand:
Quality alone is nothing without a Brand.Branding is vital - especially for a service, that has so few attributes one can assess before buying. Brand becomes a direct quality substitute.

My $0.2 on Branding:
When you go to a shop for a photocopy, how many times , have you refered this word.If Photocopy seems new to you, than remember Xerox. Photocopying is no longer used(very often) but is refered as Xerox , this is the power of a Brand(the service is always associated with your product) !!!

4. Quality of your relationships:
This is the most important out of all of them.When you are markting a service, you are selling a relationship , and the qualiy of your relationships, trumps above all the other influences.

My $0.2 on Relationships:
How many bloggers really thank the users who subscribe to their blog(this can be used when the no is in a manageable range)? This is what is called a "Give & Take relationship"

Closing remarks:
The first three seconds has more influence on client satisfaction than any other.Always recheck whether you using the four mantras of markeing in an effective manner !!!

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September 2, 2007

Open Coffee Club - September 2,2007

After a much needed break(of close to 2 days) from blogging, I am with the back with an event update.

The second meet of the Open Coffee Club again took place at the same venue - Brew Ha Ha and as expected, the turnout was not very high this time.As compared to the 50+ in the first meet , the turnout this time was around 30 but the good part was that there were a lot of new faces in the crowd.May be we should say the word always spreads out and you never know when it spreads like a fire biggrin

The agenda this time was "Marketing & Startups".A universal truth is "A great idea alone is not sufficient to succeed and this is what the meet was all about.We were there to discuss on how to fill the thin gap between Technology and Marketing.As Seth Godin says "Bad marketing cannot be fixed with money" and since, there is always a cash crunch for startups, they cannot afford to be sloppy in their marketing !!! Also, since the main focus was on Marketing, how can we have a discussion on marketing without those crucial set of guys who take our idea to the market wink There were few marketing people in the crowd and few startups shared the problems they are facing wrt marketing , which is given below:

Ranith - Kapston (Building scalable effective websites):
Ranjith began the discussion with his startup Kapston.Kapston is a startup which is built to help startups.So what is it all about? As Ranjith mentioned "Since , most(or almost all) startups start with a part time idea, many entrepreneurs loose focus due to various reasons(like lack of time,work load etc etc) and this leads to an additional delay for the startup to hit the market". So does he(and his team solve the problem)? Startups have to go to his company with the requirements and they would provide an end to end solution for them.Their service is only applicable to the Web 2.0 space and this is where even I felt that Web 2.0 is definitely a space which is looked up by everyone.

But the million dollar question is : "How does a startup afford to outsource the complete work since every penny is worth a millions for them" ?

Sharman ( 99% of the startups fail due to bad marketing):
Sharman who does not have a startup of this own shared his views on Business Plans and marketing.Though he does not have a startup of his own, he has helped Entrepreneurs to formulate their business plans. This statement caught the crowd's attention and this is where Balu(wanna be Serial Entrepreneur) pitched in mentioning "Business Plan should be made by the entrepreneur himself since, he is the person who should know all the numbers(which would come out in the Business Plan). This argument went on for some time after which he closed his talk with 2 important things(on why startups fail) :
  1. Most of Entrepreneurs(with whom he has worked), did not succeed in their venture due to the lack of the understanding about their customers and
  2. Some entrepreneurs are so much tied(biased) with their idea that they never know when their idea is approaching the dead-end.So, always be flexible with your idea or should I say "Reformulate your plan(idea) just like you change your underwear" wink
Prateek Dayal - Muziboo (Marketing through friends doesn't work)
Prateek from Muziboo was the one who took the maximum taste from this coffee.He came out with a simple statement "Just like a startup, we don't want to spend money on marketing". So , how does he get visitors to his site? He started off by saying that "Friends are good medium when you want to spread the initial word since, you expect the numbers to multiply though your friends but that happens to a very less extent". He also touched upon Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing which would be useful when there are a considerable no of visitors to his website.There was an open question to an audience as to "How should we do the marketing?" and there were some good suggestions:
  1. Have your own T shirt with your website, so that the word spreads out at a faster rate( This suggestion came from my side and was liked by a quite a few people in the audience)
  2. Reviews( positive or negative) on blogs which help them make their service better as well as let the open community know about your site.And yes, in today's world , there is no better , faster and easy marketing medium than Blogs...
  3. Create a one to one relationship with the visitors(till the site has limited no of visitors,right now it has crossed around 200+ visitors so that they feel closely associated with the community). This is what Prateek has been doing at a very regular basis so that there is close relationship between them and the visitors of the site.
  4. Tie up with some of the local music schools and this was a very good suggestion from Siva
  5. Have a "Muziboo Badge" which can be put up on Blogs and sites [ which would help the word spread faster ] , this would do the trick what Firefox Badge had done for Firefox !!!
I had just one point wrt reviews : "Even though few bloggers may provide some criticising feedback but sometimes this may turn like a "Blessing in disguise" For example : Guy Kawasaki's venture Truemors was not well accepted by the blogger community and due to this negative publicity, the site got many page views from the readers of those blogs surprised

So, at the end of the day, bloggers just voice out their opinions and it is upto the startup to authenticate and take the valid inputs(and implement them).

Swaroop - Ion (Poster marketing does work):
Swaroop's startup Ion is an ideal example how "A pain can be transformed into a startup" and Ion - the iPod charger is the best example to prove this point. He shared his experience on how "A simple poster did the trick for Ion". After coming out with their invention, they(Swaroop and his co-founders) had to market the product and they followed "Poster marketing". They stood outside a Nike showroom and asked few people randomly about the liking of the posters and finally , they chose the poster which had a majority no of votes !!! Apart from posters and publicizing their product on few blogs, they never spent a single penny on marketing and still they got good sales for their product !!!

If you find their story really interesting , check out some of the posters here

Hitesh & Vikram Mehta - PinkKatalyst:
These guys were true examples of advent of Entrepreneurship in India and just in their early 20's , it was a nice after-event conversation with them about their startup PinkKatalyst. Since, it was more of a routine conversation, not much to be updated here.You can find more about the company here

Photos from OCC Bangalore:

Photo courtesy : Harinath Pudipeddi

What other bloggers are saying:
[If you have already blogged about the event , kindly add your URL in the comments section]

Harinath OCC Meet on 2nd Sept,2007

As per the after event discussion, there would be some experienced Entrepreneurs as well as few VC's ; so hope to catch you all there !!!

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