April 10, 2008

Time is now, the idea is to start and not think much : Sumit Jain, CoFounder - CommonFloor

In one of my Open Coffee Club meetup in Bangalore, I interacted with two young guys who knew one word well - ENTREPRENEURSHIP.They are Sumit Jain and Lalit Mangal, ex-Oracle guys and now Co-founders of a company named Max Heap Technologies

Max Heap came out with a concept called Common Floor, which is a local networking site for apartments.Common Floor is currently operational in over 150 apartments in Bangalore and has plans to take this concept to other cities in India.

Below is a small Q&A that I had with Sumit Jain from Common Floor.The Q&A session is divided into 2 parts : Common Floor and Entrepreneurship.

Note : "I" in the conversation refers to Sumit Jain.

Common Floor [How,When, Why etc.]

Q. Can you give a small background of you and your startup and it's founders ?
A. Both of us, Lalit and myself , are from IIT Roorkee and joined Oracle through the campus selection in 2006. We left in June last year. Yeah, in just 1 year. So both of us don't have much experience to talk about. We were the part of Oracle Enterprise Manager team. Lalit holds a patent under his name. Lalit loves reading. I love dancing.

Q.How many apartments in Bangalore are currently using this service ?
A. More than 150 apartment complexes in Bangalore have signed up to use CommonFloor as their interaction platform. We expect the figure to go to 300 in a couple of month.

Q.How do you plan to take your service to other apartments in Bangalore ?
A. Now as we have reached the critical mass, we can expect the word of mouth publicity to actually work. The associations of various apartments are approaching us and we are approaching them to take CommonFloor in their apartment.

Q.CommonFloor is a niche social networking site, what is your take on Social Networking and it's future?
A. I would rather like to call CommonFloor as the "local networking site". With CommonFloor we are solving a bunch of needs; social interaction is just one of them. We intend to be the one stop destination for all kinds of problems an apartment residents face, making their lives simpler. We are leveraging the geographical proximity of our users and giving them enough avenues to know more about each other.

About Social networking, I believe that in Asian communities social networking is not going to work the way as it is happening in US & UK. We are a different breed and have different needs. In India particular, internet has not been able to reach to the masses. So for any social networking site to happen, it has to offer a lot more than just the networking features. The social networking has to be done over a need. It has to offer something which people can relate to their real day to day lives. In short, it has to solve a problem.

Q.There are 3 people who commonly fund startups 3F's Friends, Family or Fools; so who gave you the first set of investment for CommonFloor ?
A. None of these three F's as such. Though our families have been very supportive, we mostly managed to run it by our own. In a startup like ours, you don't have to spend much on basic requirements and we chose to remain basic for some time biggrin. We had some savings and we took a couple of free lance projects in between to keep it going.

Q.What is your revenue model(apart from Ad's)...Do you charge the apartments with which you tie up ?
A. Ad's is always a source of revenue for any dotcom business but surely never a significant one until you manage to get the highly targeted ads. Apart from ad revenue, there are a few other areas where we generate revenue. As far as charging apartments is concerned, there is a basic version of CommonFloor which is free and top of it there are some paid features. So this would be another source of revenue in the future.

Q.What is the USP of CommonFloor over other such groups on SN sites like Orkut ?
A. CommonFloor does not complete with any of the social networking sites in the direct market. As I told you that CommonFloor is a local networking site which harness geographical proximity of its users which is absent in any of the service currently available.

Q.What are your funding options and where can people find more information about CommonFloor ?
A. More info about CommonFloor is available on request. We are in talks with a couple of angel investors and deal would happen latest by the end of this month.

Views on Entrepreneurship

Q.Both of you left your cushy jobs in Oracle to start off MaxHeap, what was the major trigger point?
A. The time is now. The idea is to leave and start and not think much. The journey is so exciting that it is worth taking a break and doing it full time. Rest is identifying yourself and going for it.

Q.You are a regular feature at Open Coffee Club,[Bangalore], how has such kind of events helped fostering Entrepreneurship?
A. It helps a lot. OCC is a great platform. I am very thankful to both of Bangalore OCC's Co-Founders, Ramjee Ganti and Vaibhav Pandey to take this initiative. For a startup, to keep himself updated and finding opportunities for synergy is very important and OCC is one of the right platform for it.

Q.What are the major changes that happened when you moved from an Employee to an Employer [or Entrepreneur] ?
A. There is a drastic change in the responsibilities. Now you are not answerable to anyone but to yourself. You get most of the decision making power and your decisions can actually make it or break it all. You learn self management. Time Management is first and most important thing you learn while starting up. You are risking your valuable time while your peers are busy getting hikes and great salaries, the pressure is immense. Other than hard work and motivation, it requires a lot of patience and persistence.

Q.What are your key advices to people who want to startup ?
A. If you want to do it, don't think that you can't do it. Always see that what you want to do and then how can you do it. Challenge yourself rather than questioning. If you are falling short of the confidence to start or there are other liabilities, join a startup, the journey would still be a lot more exciting.

Q.You are an IIT Roorkie Alumini, how important has IIT been in nurturing your Entrepreneurial talent ?
A. What I personally feel is that the best part of an IIT is its network of students and alumni. Infrastructure and the professors help a lot but you spend most of your time with your friends, seniors and juniors in the college. You get to network with the very hardworking and motivating people with whom you can discuss about things other than getting a good CGPA or a job. Most of the people are looking to go for higher studies and quite a few are exploring the startup world. The number of people who start out of IITs exceeds more than IIMs.

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At Apr 11, 2008, 1:12:00 AM , Anonymous Nithya Dayal said...

All the best guys. I have registered my apartment too with common Floor and lets see how the others in the apartment respond!

At Apr 11, 2008, 9:28:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that you guys will do it. All the best.

At Apr 11, 2008, 9:43:00 AM , Anonymous Meenal said...

Fantastic Idea, these days hardly people recognize there neighbours so a great idea to connect people!
Also a Source of inspiration to people who just cant dare to....

At Apr 11, 2008, 9:44:00 AM , Blogger raghu said...

As they say its not the destination but the journey that is important and with commonfloor Lalit has again proved to me that if the you believe in your journey you will certainly achieve your destination.

The way commonfloor is spreading out i am pretty sure that these guys will achieve the heights they deserve....

Good luck guys
commonfloor rcok....

At Apr 11, 2008, 10:11:00 AM , Anonymous Sumit said...

Thanks All (Nithya, Anonymous, Meenal, and Raghu) for your wishes :).

@Nithya. Looking forward to see CommonFloor turning up hot in your apartment.

At Apr 11, 2008, 10:33:00 AM , Blogger Jdlee said...

Well done guys, good going. For the reader's info i would like to tell that they are my juniors from IIT and from oracle. I felt they had the spirit and mind to do something of their own since i met them and now they are going all guns blazing, Keep it up guys !!
IITR 2004

At Apr 11, 2008, 12:01:00 PM , Anonymous Vijay Anand said...

There was a similar product by Tekriti software (delhi based) on apartment complexes and in enabling networking.

http://www.condenza.com/ is another.

At Apr 12, 2008, 11:29:00 AM , Blogger Himanshu Sheth said...

@Vijay: I am sure there would be competition since the league time in Web space is less but marketing is the key...These guys have gained lot of traction and that would be the key for others as well.

http://www.condenza.com/ is a nice example.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

-Himanshu Sheth

At Apr 12, 2008, 11:30:00 AM , Blogger Himanshu Sheth said...

@All: Thanks for all your comments and wishing Sumit , Lalit and his entire team at Common Floor , all the very best !!!

-Himanshu Sheth

At Apr 12, 2008, 3:27:00 PM , Anonymous Sumit said...

Thanks a lot Himanshu. And Bigger thanks to Vijay for the pointers :).

At Apr 12, 2008, 10:51:00 PM , Blogger Mohit Lohia said...

Commonfloor is sure to rock ....2 years and it will be a must have application in every neighbourhood.Commonfloor has a long way to go

At Apr 13, 2008, 12:33:00 AM , Blogger Himanshu Sheth said...

@Mohit:Thanks for visiting my blog.Let us hope that CommonFloor really becomes a "Common-Floor" for all the apartments across India.

-Himanshu Sheth

At Apr 13, 2008, 11:38:00 AM , Blogger Alok said...

That’s an interesting post.

All the best guys :)

At Apr 13, 2008, 7:23:00 PM , Anonymous Himanshu Sheth said...

@Alok: I am sure we would see you soon in such a role.....Lessons from Oracl'ites.

-Himanshu Sheth

At Apr 13, 2008, 9:52:00 PM , Anonymous Vaibhav said...

Definitely Commonfloor is a great model. Met Lalit again at the OCC meet today. Wishing them all the best for future.

At Apr 14, 2008, 2:16:00 AM , Anonymous Himanshu Sheth said...

@Vaibhav: Cheers to you guys for starting OCC....I am sure it would boost other guys as well...Great work and I am surely missing Bangalore with your statement :(

-Himanshu Sheth

At Apr 14, 2008, 12:08:00 PM , Blogger Alok said...

Yeah, I wish so :) BTW how things are at your end (blog sphere) ? Your posts always have some reality behind it, I find it the best way to in touch with the 'E' skills :)

Keep it up !!!

At Apr 14, 2008, 2:48:00 PM , Blogger Sumit Jain said...

@Alok. Thanks for your wishes. Figured out from Himanshu that you are also an Oracl'ite. Plz let me know more.

@Vaibhav. Thanks for taking up the initiative for OCC and providing us the platform to meet other like minded people. Cheers once again.

At Apr 14, 2008, 9:51:00 PM , Blogger Himanshu Sheth said...

My Comments inline:

Yeah, I wish so :)
>> I am sure , you would !!!

BTW how things are at your end (blog sphere) ? Your posts always have some reality behind it, I find it the best way to in touch with the 'E' skills :)
>>Things are fine on my side and I hope that they would remain the same, or would try my level best to be the same :)

Keep it up !!!
>>Thanks for all the compliments.

-Himanshu Sheth

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At Jul 8, 2008, 1:25:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Team Buying , Group Buying

In iBuyInGroup you buy items in group ( Simple Right ?) .Yes the more you buy ,the more you "all" get discounts and better deal .The deal goes better and better as number of buyers increases.

Sellers Post offers and Buyers can join those offers .As the number of interested buyers increases the price drops. When the offer is closed , Sellers will reach to all buyers over phone or email . All buyers are requested to go at sellers shop/store and the deal is executed.

It is very simple . Try it now and enjoy the benefits.

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