January 19, 2009

Proto.in : The startup event ...

Proto[derived from Prototype],the startup event will be held on 23rd & 24th January,2009 in Bangalore.There is a very interesting presentation by Pictualize which gives you an insight into Proto & the benefits of being there for the event !!!

You can register for the event here. If you liked the work by Pictualize,you might be interested in checking out the Q&A we had with Pictualize team[here and here].

Like Proto-4,I won't be able to attend Proto-5;hopefully the sixth edition is in Hyderabad

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January 17, 2009

Book Review : Entrepreneur Journeys [Part-II]

In continuation to the review of Entrepreneur Journeys by Sramana Mitra, today we have look at the other Entrepreneurs featured in the book & some useful tips for the Entrepreneurial community.

Philippe Courtot,CEO Qualsys
  • Too many people crack under stress. In venture, you must thrive on bad news. If you don’t thrive on bad news, move over, because every day represents something uncharted and new where you sort of sit down and say, “How do we deal with this?” And you make mistakes every single day too. As soon as you realize you made those mistakes you go back and you fix them.
  • On "not" getting selected for a job in France : In France, we have psychological tests and when they turned you down, they did not tell you why.So when I wrote a letter to them, they wrote me back saying that their policy was not to tell why they had turned down people.But I insisted..insisted and finally they responded saying that my Psychological test showed me that I was far too much of an independent thinker.They were looking for people who were willing to be directed and they said that I would not be happy working with them.
  • It is very important to see yourself, what you do and what you have with the eyes of the customer.
  • American society was based on what you can do.So,it was than I realized that it would be best for me to come to US and work internationally.
  • I went extreme skiing for 9 months.I have done that every time between jobs- take a sabbatical.It allows me to digest what I have learnt.To digest and forget, essentially and than I come back fresh and new.
  • Lessons learnt from skiing : I learnt to push myself from a physical standpoint.The biggest thing I learnt to address was fear.In business it is the same.If you look at your competition, if you are afraid of your competition and you focus on that, and you don't look at where you should go, you get lost.The big trick in business is to transcend your fears and be aware of the obstacles, and then focus not on the problems but on the solutions.
  • Difference between Asian and Western mentality is that Asian people look at life as a complete interaction, while the Western mentality is about the immediate success.
  • A lot of VC(s) micromanage everything and they are on your back constantly, which doesn't work for me.
  • The only piece of technology missing today is ubiquitous broadband wireless access.
Steve Singh,CEO Concur
  • My professional background is very engineering oriented.I happened to have a passion for the business side as well, so I migrated in that direction.
  • The ideation story is quite interesting.During my days of extensive travel[in my job at Contract Software], one of the things the CFO told me was I had a week to get my expense reports in [before the acquisition by Symantec] and if I didn't , I was going to loose out on my expenses.As expected I lost money, but this made me wonder that there was no easier way to do this and this is how the idea of Concur evolved.
  • Our view is that you must confront the issues that exist in your business as soon as humanly possible and solve them.
  • One of the great things about an on-demand business model is you can drive your cost structure down to the point that it is very compelling for companies of any size.
Edward Fields,Co-founder Hotchalk
  • My parents were educators.I launched Hotchalk to actively involve myself in raising the quality of education worldwide.
  • Through the experiences, I realized the tremendous potential of web-based educational technology resources.I was inspired by my own experience as a parent and the frustration that parent teacher conferences always seemed filled with surprises.Since I did not have any continuous visibility into the daily or weekly goings at the school, I discovered all sorts of things at these meetings.
  • We[Hotchalk] know teachers intimately.We speak with them daily through surveys, feedback forms and phone dialogues.These open lines of communication with teachers enable us to offer resources on their sites known to provide value to educators.Schools cannot afford to waste funding on products that do not benefit their teachers, yet it happens all the time.
  • When teachers work together with students and parents, academic achievement follows. We don’t try to work with school administrators. We work with the teachers, and they’re the most crucial element of the education value chain.
  • It can take a long, long time to sell any new product to the schools, by going through the school administrators.
  • We do not accept advertising from fast food companies or anything that is sexually abusive.Hotchalk only presents tasteful advertising to meet the needs of students in a positive way.
  • Leaders work for their followers and it's the leader's job to make sure that the team has the tools, training and resources necessary to carry the day.
  • 2.8 million teachers need to be recruited over the next eight years to meet education demands. These future teachers are students in universities who use Web 2.0 applications daily, so using a web-based application is second nature.Hotchalk's product is simple and easy to use, so even less technology-savvy teachers can get on board.
  • It's time we remove politics from education and support teachers, making sure that they are given the best resources they need.
Harish Hande,Founder SELCO
  • SELCO is my first job and hopefully it is my last.
  • A lot of things get lost in translation.Between Orissa and Bangalore[since my mother is from Karnataka], we chose the latter.Another factor was the lack of money in my pocket, and I had relatives there who could subsidize my cost of living.
  • The focus in the initial period was not looking at where money was, but rather looking at what the success level of the technology was and if people would accept it.When you have no money, you tend to become more innovative.
  • In our company, we have to think of ways to help the poor, not sympathized with them.
  • You can always create a product that matches poor people's needs,it does not matter how poor they are.World bank has always said that solar does not make sense for them because they were not poor, but here you can see if the need is matched, then it is a productive fit.
  • The pressures I see today are when young people want to join the company, and their parents call up and ask how long we are going to be there.Convincing the families of my applicants is a difficult task.
  • Message to Entrepreneurs : There is no short cut to creating good processes.A lot of people try to solve it quick, and that can't happen.Some people do it by numbers, I would never do that.Concentrate more on the processes and the numbers will come.

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January 11, 2009

Book Review : Entrepreneur Journeys [Part-I]

With the new year starting off on a good note, I had the fortune to read Entrepreneur, Blogger & Forbes columnist Sramana Mitra's book Entrepreneur Journeys.Though, I am a voracious reader;this article would be the start of a new innings - my very first book review smile

Anyone who is interested in startups would definitely be a reader of her blog but after reading this book, I feel it is a great boon to the existing as well as aspiring Entrepreneurial community !!! The book touches the various aspects of startups namely Bootstrapping, Venture Funding, Business Models, Ups & Downs in the life of an Entrepreneur etc. using a simple medium of Q&A. She also focuses on how Internet has changed the entire game of Business & why Web 3.0 is the next big thing.

Though these simple words describe the simplicity & depth of the book, I would like to couple it with some of the notable excerpts:

Jerry Rawls, Co-founder - Finisar
  • We did not have any outside investors, so it was clear that we did not have enough money to support both of us. So, I stayed at Raychem and Frank Levinson went off and got started. At the end of the year I left Raychem and joined him fulltime in Finisar.
  • While we were doing product development we supported ourselves, probably for four years doing mostly consulting work.
  • I heard a guy a few years ago give a talk and somehow in the talk, he threw a line "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" & I completely agree with that.
  • We have a culture where we accept nothing, there are no sacred cows.We want to continually improve every part of our operation.We have a culture that says we are going to hire bright people who have good interpersonal skills and can really handle pressure & work well in small groups.
  • Because it is a company policy that everybody travels Economy, I myself also travel economy.
Sridhar Vembu, Founder of Adventnet
  • We at Adventnet hire young professionals whom others disregard.We don't look at colleges,degrees or grades.Not everyone in India comes from a socio-economic background to get the opportunity to go to a top engineering school, but many are really smart.We train them and in nine months, they produce results at the level of college grads.Their resumes are not marketable but these kids can code just as well as the rest, sometimes even better !!!
  • We found we could reach customers directly.Today we have most of the new customers through the internet.It has become much easier to supply companies directly.The internet is allowing us to reach all these customers.
  • I am not ashamed to compete on price, that is our main strategy.
  • Keep the marketing costs low, that is our strategy.If we do the SalesForce economics, 75% of their revenue is spent on acquiring customers.There should be a better way of doing business than charging the customer for acquiring him.Why not give it away for free,if all the money will be spent on acquiring the money elsewhere.
  • Most attrition happens from boredom related issues.We try to keep our team motivated and challenged with interesting work, and as a result, they don't leave.
Steve Hafner, Co-Founder - Kayak
  • On working at Orbitz: I saw a company start from a few PowerPoint pages and grow to the point that when I left it was booking $4 billion a year in tickets and hotel rooms.
  • Kayak helps users find deals from all of the other travel websites.We thought by doing a bit what Google does, which is build a very simple and sleek interface which goes out and searches on behalf of consumers & brings back the results in a comprehensive display, we would give consumers a choice of where to buy.
  • In the first year or two of Kayak, we focussed on building a great product.We felt if we build a great product, consumers would stumble on it, like it and tell their friends.
  • We are of the mentality that for every dollar which could be placed into marketing, we would rather place it into engineering and make the product better.We spend next to nothing on marketing.
  • On the internet, there is always going to be a lot of competition because it is easy to build a website.The hard part is to make the website scale.
  • There are three things you need to do to have a viable Vertical Ad network.You need to get a set of publishers, you need to get an audience and you need to match them with technology.
Gautam Godhwani, Co-Founder - SimplyHired
  • What we saw in the employment space was an incredibly large market.There is a market of $100 billion market in US alone.At the same time,the market had services that we called pain killers versus vitamins.If you needed a job,you really needed a job.If you had to hire someone,you really needed to hire someone.
  • From the beginning, I have believed the value of a vertical player, search engine or otherwise, is able to participate in a greater lifecycle of the user.
I hope you enjoyed reading the review cum insights of the book Entrepreneur Journeys.There are many more exciting lessons from the other Entrepreneurs featured in the book which would be unveiled in the Part-II of the review...till then, keep breathing the fresh air of Startups smile

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January 5, 2009

ThoughtsPrevail enters the elite list !!!

It has been a long long time since I wrote my last article.Guess time has finally come to break the BLOGGING shackles [one of my new year resolution's] with another great news for ThoughtsPrevail.As per the recently released list by eCairn Marc Dangeard,ThoughtsPrevail is the 91st most influential blog for Entrepreneurs smile...Check the entire list below:
  1. http://www.techcrunch.com
  2. http://www.venturebeat.com
  3. http://blog.guykawasaki.com
  4. http://www.gigaom.com
  5. http://www.alleyinsider.com
  6. http://www.readwriteweb.com
  7. http://www.avc.com/a_vc
  8. http://www.pehub.com
  9. http://paul.kedrosky.com
  10. http://www.entrepreneur.com
  11. http://www.valleywag.com
  12. http://www.scobleizer.com
  13. http://www.thefunded.com
  14. http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com
  15. http://redeye.firstround.com
  16. http://www.buzzmachine.com
  17. http://www.smallbiztrends.com
  18. http://www.venturehacks.com
  19. http://www.socialedge.org
  20. http://upandrunning.entrepreneur.com
  21. http://blogs.openforum.com
  22. http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content
  23. http://www.informationarbitrage.com
  24. http://blog.entrepreneur.com
  25. http://www.instigatorblog.com
  26. http://networking.entrepreneur.com
  27. http://vestpocketconsultant.entrepreneur.com
  28. http://www.gapingvoid.com
  29. http://lsvp.wordpress.com
  30. http://www.howardlindzon.com
  31. http://inspired.entrepreneur.com
  32. http://weekend.entrepreneur.com
  33. http://www.vcconfidential.com
  34. http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting
  35. http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing
  36. http://www.texasstartupblog.com
  37. http://fiveyearstoolate.wordpress.com
  38. http://www.coloradostartups.com
  39. http://www.markpeterdavis.com/getventure
  40. http://www.startupnorth.ca
  41. http://www.business-opportunities.biz
  42. http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com
  43. http://socialentrepreneurship.change.org
  44. http://campusentrepreneurship.wordpress.com
  45. http://www.billionswithzeroknowledge.com
  46. http://www.getentrepreneurial.com
  47. http://www.nextbillion.net
  48. http://philanthropy.blogspot.com
  49. http://www.tacticalphilanthropy.com
  50. http://blogs.wsj.com/independentstreet
  51. http://www.newhampshirestartups.com
  52. http://www.kentuckystartups.com
  53. http://www.techflash.com
  54. http://www.davidcrow.ca
  55. http://www.bootstrapme.com
  56. http://www.northcarolinastartups.com
  57. http://vcmike.wordpress.com
  58. http://joi.ito.com
  59. http://www.ocvcblog.com
  60. http://www.startupprincess.com/wordpress
  61. http://blog.acumenfund.org
  62. http://startup.partnerup.com
  63. http://www.startupmeme.com
  64. http://blog.timberry.com
  65. http://www.thefrankpetersshow.com
  66. http://www.growthology.org/growthology
  67. http://www.montrealtechwatch.com
  68. http://www.innoeco.com
  69. http://founderresearch.blogspot.com
  70. http://canentrepreneur.blogspot.com
  71. http://bizcoach.blogspot.com
  72. http://ben.casnocha.com
  73. http://www.gifthub.org
  74. http://www.askthevc.com/blog
  75. http://www.startupcfo.ca
  76. http://blog.ecairn.com
  77. http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs
  78. http://blog.socaltech.com
  79. http://www.mvmpartners.com/blog
  80. http://www.nivi.com/blog
  81. http://www.allantyoung.com
  82. http://coheda.typepad.com/israel
  83. http://www.christine.net
  84. http://www.vcrants.com
  85. http://www.tjacobi.com
  86. http://blogs.forrester.com/colony
  87. http://www.adeoressi.com
  88. http://commonangels.wordpress.com
  89. http://vcinjerusalem.typepad.com/vcinjerusalem
  90. http://wallen.typepad.com/wallen
  91. http://thoughtsprevail.blogspot.com
  92. http://www.infochachkie.com
  93. http://www.afpr.com
  94. http://www.epicchange.org/blog
  95. http://blog.bootuplabs.com
  96. http://www.skollonline.com/blog
  97. http://www.dorm-room-biz.com
  98. http://www.vccafe.com
  99. http://marktomarket.typepad.com/marktomarket
  100. http://blog.marsdd.com
  101. http://www.altgate.com/blog
  102. http://www.jasonmendelson.com/blog
  103. http://www.wellingtonfund.com/blog
  104. http://english.martinvarsavsky.net
  105. http://www.socialmediaclub.org
  106. http://www.toiletpaperentrepreneur.com/blog
  107. http://www.delbourg-delphis.com
  108. http://vcratings.thedealblogs.com
  109. http://www.unleashingideas.org/blog
  110. http://www.energybyte.com/blog
  111. http://www.venturedig.com
  112. http://www.microcapital.org
  113. http://www.theequitykicker.com
  114. http://www.theclosetentrepreneur.com
  115. http://presspass.entrepreneur.com
  116. http://shiftingcareers.blogs.nytimes.com
  117. http://www.change.gov/newsroom/blog
  118. http://www.startuptweet.com
  119. http://altos.typepad.com/vc
  120. http://blog.bplans.com
  121. http://www.churbuck.com/wordpress
  122. http://www.onthecommons.org
  123. http://www.zviband.com
  124. http://www.businessblogwire.com
  125. http://yallaguy.wordpress.com
  126. http://laurent.pierssens.com
  127. http://babblingvc.typepad.com/pjozefak
  128. http://www.unstructuredventures.com/uv
  129. http://www.floridaventureblog.com
  130. http://www.leveragingideas.com
  131. http://www.allthingscahill.com
  132. http://www.stetoscope-blog.com
  133. http://www.johngannonblog.com
  134. http://everythingstartup.blogspot.com
  135. http://www.thepomoblog.com
  136. http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com
  137. http://www.austinstartup.com
  138. http://bluepointmktg.blogspot.com
  139. http://www.abovethecrowd.com
  140. http://schumpeterscentury.blogspot.com
  141. http://vcwhisperer.blogspot.com
  142. http://www.techflash.com/venture
  143. http://www.appfrica.net/blog
  144. http://onhollywood.goingon.com
  145. http://www.ariwriter.com
  146. http://www.insidevtknowledgeworks.com
  147. http://www.socialcapitalmarkets.net/blog
  148. http://thebostonentrepreneur.wordpress.com
  149. http://www.startupweekend.com
  150. http://microfranchising.blogspot.com
On the personal front, I have relocated to Hyderabad where I am currently working for a startup;more about which would follow soon on my LinkedIn profile.To keep up with the same spirit of blogging, there are a couple of book reviews,interviews with startup founders, personal experiences & few surprises on Thoughtsprevail surprised

Thanks to Invenio group for this wonderful list, guess it is time to relook at my feeds in Google Reader !!!

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