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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At Sep 3, 2007, 8:43:00 AM , Blogger alok said...

I really liked the way the entire discussion went on, certainly looking forward to catch up with you guys in the future edition.

OCC, things like this, provides a mean to explore the possibilities within/inside you to gradual to an entrepreneur.

Cheers !!

At Sep 3, 2007, 9:17:00 AM , Blogger Harinath Pudipeddi said...

Himanshu, do you really need to take my permission...not at all :)
See you next week...

At Sep 3, 2007, 9:33:00 AM , Anonymous Srikanth Eswaran said...

himanshu, you sure got lotsa time on your hand buddy. well that aside, entrepreneurship is all about self intuition too :)

its a nice place to exchange views though. i also read an article about your association with mahalakshmi viswanathan on arranging adventure series for the differently abled people. way to go!

At Sep 3, 2007, 10:24:00 AM , Anonymous Himanshu Sheth said...

@Alok : The problem is to get more people in the ecosystem and you have now entered that ecosystem.I am sure with more and more unconferences, your journey would be more wonderful.I also hope to team up with you for an interesting venture.

@Harinath : What do do,I guess genuine bloggers always make the mistake of taking the permission else we would also be counted in the list of so called "COPY-CATS" ... See you next week

@Srikanth : I strongly disagree about the first point.It is not about time..Time is always a constraint and there are always two ways of looking at things.My idea is see the brighter side first and than the other side of the coin.People who come to these places are not the ones who have ample time or are unmarried but as per my previous comment, they are here to build an innovative ecosystem.

Each one of us shared their views and I am sure it was helpful to everyone of us.This is what I call as "Knowledge Sharing"

Time is never a constraint for guys who come to unconferences.They would land up anywhere there is such an event.

May be you can join in sometime and check the buzz in such events.Hope I have answered your controversial statement.

Last thing, Time is money for all of us(but these are the people who really value time since they know that coming to such places has a great ROI)

Thanks for the compliment(given for Mahalakshmi's event)

-Himanshu Sheth

At Sep 3, 2007, 10:31:00 AM , Anonymous Himanshu Sheth said...

Also Srikanth,something more to add;Blogging is one form of Entrepreneurship since it helps you to be more competitive and open and patient.

If you check my posts,there are many that I post at around 3:00 or 4:00 in the night,which requires dedicated effort and also research.

-Himanshu Sheth

At Sep 3, 2007, 11:25:00 AM , Anonymous Sridhar said...

Hey buddy,

I missed it :(

But, after reading this post, I dont really feel I missed it :)

C u@ Next meet


At Sep 3, 2007, 12:32:00 PM , Anonymous Himanshu Sheth said...

@Sridhar : I hope you did not miss much and my post was useful for you :)

Hope to at least meet you at the blogger's meet this Saturday.

-Himanshu Sheth

At Sep 3, 2007, 9:02:00 PM , Anonymous Vaibhav said...

Excellent post. This is one of the most precise, clear and well articulated post about OCC's 2nd meet.

Have added your link to the blog.

At Sep 4, 2007, 2:47:00 AM , Blogger Ranjith said...

Super Minutes Of Meeting Himanshu. I am really glad to meet you there.

I would like to answer your question
Q. "How does a startup afford to outsource the complete work since every penny is worth a millions for them" ?

A. Kapston dont charge like ad agencies. We have different plans to suit any kind of business. It will not cost you a fortune. And with some companies we work as partners too.


At Sep 4, 2007, 3:07:00 AM , Anonymous Himanshu Sheth said...

@Vaibhav: Thanks for the compliment and also for the link back :)

@Ranjith : May be I missed that point during your discussion (: have one more doubt: "How do you ensure that the idea does not get leaked out; since after meeting the entrepreneur, you may feel that it is not worth " So, how do you guys handle such a situation.

-Himanshu Sheth

At Sep 6, 2007, 1:40:00 AM , Blogger Ranjith said...

Sorry Himanshu for the delay. Got really busy.

We are here for long term :-). And dont you feel we have enough opportunities for everyone here now to succeed without backstabbing?

On a serious note

We do sign NDA (Non Disclosure agreement) with our clients.

At Sep 6, 2007, 2:35:00 AM , Anonymous Himanshu Sheth said...

We are here for long term :-). And dont you feel we have enough opportunities for everyone here now to succeed without backstabbing?
>> Definitely there is no chance of backstabbing and definitely there should be a two way trust which leads to good business :)

On a serious note

We do sign NDA (Non Disclosure agreement) with our clients.
>> Always true

-Himanshu Sheth


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