Why Start-ups?

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One of the perks of living in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, is the fact that I encounter a lot of entrepreneurs on a daily basis. Based on my rendezvous with these people, I keep asking them this one question : Why do you want to launch a startup?

Most of my friends who are steadily building careers with startups always give me some interesting answers. Based  on their replies, I have formulated my own logic of understanding their perceptions of working with a startup.

 In this post, I am going to keep my examples limited to the Indian companies only:

 Why build startups in India?

  1. It is supposed to aid in solving problems affecting us.
  2. They are built around the inherent Indian condition.
  3. They aim to work towards fitting in the product market.
  4. It is also intended to grow quickly financially.

Aim To Solve Problems Affecting Citizens:

Most startups aim to assist the public get their work done efficiently. While some are built to improve our everyday living, others are serving as an aid to out of reach citizens to enable them to get their regular work done prudently. In my discussions with many of my friends in the startup business, they unanimously agree that startups are more useful when they improve the state of affairs of the current situations.

For ex: the company,Practo, has connected doctors to patients by using a mobile app and it was the need of the hour & these guys just made it happen. At the same time, if you’re looking for a food joint to dine in town Zomato has that covered. Similarly, to book a bus ticket, redbus is the solution.

Build Around The Inherent Indian Condition:

India is a population of a billion individuals. The start ups may be successful elsewhere but in India you have to adapt to the Indian psyche. I appreciate that a company like Mcdonald’s or KFC is constricted to serving pure veg food minus the beef that is cleverly altered to suit the average Indian consumer. This kind of smart marketing is required to understand the audience.   Another example is Amazon, highly successful in the US but struggling to dominate in India due to stiff competition with FlipKart.  One more is Uber that is struggling in India to defeat OlaCabs, their Indian competitor who is gaining more brownie points with its customers over Uber.

Fit The Start-Up Product In The Market:

I get to hear this all the time, a product to fit the market. Whatsapp became an immediate hit with the audience because of the rapid smartphone adoption & its minimal 2G requirement. I can surely say, it literally killed the SMS business. While Yahoo chat had all those emoji features in 2008-09 but nobody cared about it due to a less internet penetration. It was launched ahead of its time and hence failed. Startups require accurate timing to click and succeed.  With 3G and mobile technology reaching out to most of the masses at a very rapid pace, I am sure life will be easier for any startups launching products in this era.

Growing Financially.

Its a generation that wants to make the big bucks quickly and enjoy an early retirement compared to our forefathers.This is absolutely perfect if you have a success plan. Unfortunately, most of the startup founders end up making very little because of stock dilutions.  I remember watching the YC startup school video where one of the co-founders mentioned that rather than starting your own startup, your chances of making more money is while being part of one of the top 10 employers(like google/facebook). So think about. If money is what is only driving you towards a new startup, maybe  you got it wrong.

So, there you have it. In total disclamation, I have written this post to highlight the essence of startup business in India and to guide you to understand the purpose and difficulty to launch your own. In no way am I certain that this is the fast rule to a successful venture, but atleast through the experiences of others can focus on providing frugal tips to benefit any new launch.

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Shipmaker who traveled across Africa and Gulf #faces

Isa Ismail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Isa Ismail

Place: Mandvi, Gujarat

Occupation: Ship architect [wooden ship]

In my quest to discover how ships are built at the backwater port of Mandavi, I came across this 60 year old stalwart individual.Isa bhai, as I respectfully call him had a flourishing career in building wooden ships, a trait he instinctively inherited from his forefathers. Mandavi is a small township in Gujarat that was once famous for building wooden ships at its serene beach.

Over a cup of chai on a makeshift wooden ship which was currently under maintenance, Isa bhai shared his story with me. He tells me that today the market for wooden ships is bleak and so survives on  maintenance of existing wooden ships that are brought to him for servicing. The maintenance of a single ship can take more than five or six months to deem fit. They only work for 6 months in a year due to the influence of extravagant weather conditions. With a team of 25 odd carpenters and helpers, Isa bhai is currently working on fixing a wooden ship traveled from Oman that is in a sort of pathetic condition.

I was eager to explore the ship, but Isa bhai disapproved my request advising me to do so at my own peril. It was a good forty minutes spent discovering the ship and understanding the craft that goes into making a wooden ship.

Footnote: This post is part of #faces series i am working on.

 

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Thoughts after attending Gophercon India

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At the successful completion of the first-ever Go conference in India, I was proud to be part of the Go programming centric event ‘GopherCon India’ held in my city,Bengaluru. I’m Atul Jha, community manager for The New Stack and I absolutely had a great time participating at the GopherCon  event held last week.

As part of the open source languages, Go also referred to as golang, is a programming language that was developed by Google. The Go language community in India organized the GopherCon India to showcase the importance of this language by inviting esteemed speakers from around the world to share their experiences of using golang.

Organizing any event is no cake walk and I can definitely relate to it after helping organize mukt.in and Open Stack India Day. The stipulation to be successful includes striking a performance balance with sponsors and guests alike. Meeting demands and satisfying audiences is largely challenging, but in the end the results of the event speak for themselves.

At GopherCon India, the event saw an invitee list of about 350 participants from various part of India and abroad. Gophercon mainly showcased developers but free tickets were sponsored to students to participate and they did justice to the invite.I was fortunate to get a chance to interact with some highly skilled set of people from veterans, colleagues and a good set of golang contributors.

Here is my note analysis of the event from my perspective that made me believe in the success of attending GopherCon India. Looking forward to their return soon as the overall event was indeed prosperous and very effective for learners like me.

  1. Look out, Go is turning out to be an interesting language especially due to its attractive feature of concurrency.
  2. At the conference, many speakers highlighted that companies are investing in moving their infrastructure from  Python, Ruby, Nodejs to Go.
  3. Go makes static packaging extremely seem accessible which prevents the need for innate  dependency.
  4. Unlike in some other programming languages, with Go you have to keep an open mind & ignore the idioms of the older programming languages.
  5. Go is still evolving. For the same number of CMS or frameworks in php/python, Go offers a few,namely Revel, Goji, beego among others.
  6. Like any other growing open source project, documentation is one area where Go needs assistance.
  7. Docker is written in Go, incase finding a job is your prime motivation
  8. Go community is very welcoming & inclusive to all. If you find yourself brimming for completion, all you have to do is just ask for help.
  9. Go is already used in various interesting domains like image processing, IoT, electronics and they proclaim that it is just the beginning.
  10. At the event, I made some fine friends and I am hoping to stay in touch with for sure. It was really captivating to be invited to visit Mexico & Romania by some of my companions.  .

Visit https://golang.org/ to start using Go. I am hopeful with regular meetups in India, we will be able to build a greater community of Go in India and start seeing more contributions from India as we are doing with Python, Ruby, OpenStack and many more.

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Interesting Reads #23 #Startups #Technology #Life

Bruce Lee was a programmer
Interesting post providing analogy how Bruce Lee practiced & his process matches greatly to the skill/process apply in programming.

Finding Your Passion 
Fred Wilson in this blog post how he found his passion & made a successful like out of it. I asked him what % of execution in needed with passion for success, i am hoping he answers.

The First Board Meeting
Brad Feld talks about his 1st time experience with board meeting. It is a great post especially for someone who wants to start his venture & has only tech background.

10 REASONS READING MAKES YOUR LIFE BETTER
Another interesting post from James Altucher sharing his experience on how important it is for us to read. It makes us, our life and things around us better.

Internet of Crappy Things
Interesting post from Kaspersky, antivirus, security solution company on IoT(Internet of Things), which is big buzzword these days.

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On Mentors

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Last year, around the same time, I was in pain, kinda suffering, a little frustrated among many things. In simple terms I was totally screwed with my life and I prefer not mentioning those depressing reasons here.

So anyway, 4 things happened to me that kind of put me back on track :

  1. I packed my bags & went to my classmates hometown in Nagaland. During my stay I attended his uncles funeral. He passed away due to heart attack. It was a sad moment for my friend & his family, atleast I was there for him at his time of need.

— I learnt a hard lesson, life is truly about living today not living for tomorrow.

—  When we die neither our twitter followers or our bank account accompanies use. We go alone leaving all our assets behind.

  1. Somebody re-tweeted a post by James AltucherLive Your Life As If Everyone Else Was Going to Die Today”. I liked the post and started reading and listening to his podcast. Here are his beliefs:

— Money is not everything, it will come and go.

— Happiness is key to everything.

— Things don’t happen automatically, you have to work hard for it.

— Failures are part of life, you have to learn from it and move on.

— Its good to be crazy, sometimes!

— Ask for what you want and never be afraid to ask for help.

  1. While reading this  blog post  of James Altucher I got to came across another inspiration Kamal Ravikant and his book called “Love Yourself As If Your Life Depended On It”. I immediately purchased the book and spent a whole day reading it. Here is what I learnt:

— Your life is most important for you.

— You get one life to live.

— Eat healthy and think well.

— Practice yoga and listen to good music.

— Take failures in love and life as learning lessons.Don’t feel bad about it just learn from it.

— Do things which make you happy. Meet people who are happy.

  1. Who Will Cry When You Die?” by  Robin Sharma. I was in the bookstore when I came across this book.If I remember correctly it had about 26-27 chapters in all. Here is what I read :

— Time is now.

— Don`t regret about the past.

— Take failures in stride as important learning lessons.

— List out things that will make you happy & start working on it.

Why This Post?

I had a twitter conversation with Deepthi & so I am writing this for her. Hope it turns out useful for others as well.

BTW, how am I doing now? What is my current state?

I would summarise my life to be more meaningful, happier and peaceful. I am living my life every single day. I’ve traveled across  different cities [1], eaten some crazy insects[2], started writing regularly, meeting interesting people and now doing extraordinary stuff [3]. Life is indeed good!

[1] http://atuljha.com/blog/2014/04/16/what-was-i-doing-all-this-while/

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2vVnoJkI50

[3] http://atuljha.com/blog/2015/01/11/faces-ordinary-people-with-extraordinary-efforts/

 

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Notes from Steve Jobs documentary

I’ve always been an advocate of free software which simply gives users the freedom to run the software for any purpose. Gradually, my application of thought towards free software is changing and I would say that it is mainly because you cannot impose software on users. While some find it easy to use, for others it may be more complex than anticipated. In the end, it is all about good choices, what works for somebody may not necessarily work out for you.

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Everyday at lunch, I relish browsing Youtube for inspirational documentaries from software pundits. One such documentary I recently viewed was from the highly successful American entrepreneur, marketer,inventor and cofounder of Apple Inc -the very remarkable Steve Jobs.

Personally, I always kind of believed that Steve Jobs was just a great marketing guy but after watching this video on Youtube, I immediately realized he was much more than that.

Here is my keynote analysis on the man’s marketing & leadership qualities that turned Apple into a multi billion dollar company :

  • A true leader must be a visionary & peoples person, Steve was loved by all his coworkers and peers for these traits.
  • The pillar of a successful enterprise depends on the strength of its team and is not an individual’s ideals.
  • Customer feedback and suggestions are vital for business growth. It is very important to listen/understand/learn from all customer suggestions.
  • We are already living in a complex world which makes our task of producing products that are simple for everyone to use more challenging.
  • Cut down costs on competitive products and instead create a marketing strategy which makes your product stand out in the market.
  • Connect with customers requirements & you have won half the battle in the consumer market.
  • Always believe that you are never to old to learn anything new whether it is a new skill, language or creative assets, experimenting is the best form of practice.
  • When times are tough, it is important to make crucial decisions setting aside the emotions.
  • Your biggest rivals in the industry are also your biggest teachers. They possess different qualities that you can learn from and teach you, so keep them in the loop. Bill Gates & Steve Jobs shared a very cordial relationship.
  • Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, ask for, help and you will find it useful. For instance, who would have thought that Microsoft would once bailout Apple
  • In some ventures, Apple’s ethics were tested, but Steve Jobs effectively invented the first modern computer mouse by taking the concept from Xerox which many questioned.
  • In his quest for inner peace, Steve Jobs visited India & learnt about Buddhism.
  • It is not always about making money.Sometimes it is about doing what you love and having the faith in producing what you dream of.When Steve Jobs made a reentry in Apple,the company saw a whole new level of success.
  • Always have an open mind. Listen and observe around you and learn from what you see and experience.
  • When you pursue a dream, you don’t have to block your life because of demanding society. Life will take its course if you pursue a dream. From college to securing a  job, settling down in marriage with kids and finally a grand retirement is only inevitable for successful dream chasers.
  • Stay hungry, stay foolish.Always aim for more and most importantly, spend every moment being happy.

The question I asked myself after watching this documentary and then writing this post is whether I am not smitten by Apple and their products? I dont think I am.

I see things differently, and learning more about Steve Jobs struggles to success has just open up my mind to believe that not all things are as peachy on the surface as they tend to look.

Someone aptly said that even your bitter foe has something worth learning from.In the process, I am starting to accept everyone’s belief with an open mind.

 

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Brave Young fighter[life] #faces

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Name: Mahesh

Location: Gogamba near kalol Gujarat.

Profession: Male Nurse/ helper to surgeon.

I met Mahesh in Gogamba where he was appointed as my local guide. This 23 year old smart young lad with a thin body frame knows everything about surgery/medicine.His current profession is a surgical nurse, assisting medical surgeons and astutely picked up his skills. He can be described actively independent. At a very young age, Mahesh had to leave his studies after the sudden demise of his father and immediately took charge of his family’s affairs. Being the sole breadwinner, he takes good care of his mother and wife.

At the tender age of 20, he married into an inter caste for the love of his life. At refreshments, I asked him about his love story that left me amazed. He always loved his wife and courageously took care of her expenses when she moved to his village. It was not easy to care for his mother and wife, he had work multiple jobs 16 hrs a day.

On on journey around Gogamba, we visited the nearby dam and also waved at the local singer in town who stopped singing and turned it a bus driver now. Mahesh mentioned that the internet and piracy were responsible for this untimely state who had to make ends meet  by driving a bus to take care of his family.

Just before leaving, I informed Mahesh about sharing this encounter and took his permission to publish this post to which he confidently nodded.

Footnote: This post is part of #faces series i am working on.

 

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Interesting Reads #22 #startups #technology #Life


The Mobile Phone Addiction
@FredWison talks about how our generation is  getting into smart phone obsession & its is turing out to be another kind of drug addiction.

How Twitter will explode revenue: sharing revenue with top users
Another interesting post from @jason  with his thoughts on Twitter & revenue sources. I liked his take on verified account & video feature. I also think Twitter can turn into a payment/e-commerce enabler, imagine ordering pizza via twitter & life feed reaction/response from the store. It will be a big boost especially for small chain of restaurants, cup cake shops & others.

10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned
Reid Hoffman is a VC & co-founder of LinkedIn, he is also an active speaker. This post has collection of his best quotes. I would strongly request everyone to go read the post.

10 THINGS I LEARN FROM RICHARD BRANSON
James Altucher aka my life coach has another interesting post. In this post he mentions about some notable challenges of Richard Branson, Virgin[group of companies] It also has interesting story how Virgin Airlines got started.

An Introduction on How to Make Beautiful Charts With R and ggplot2
Good post for someone who wants to get into R programming with ggplot2 package for data visualization.

dt150216 copy

 

 

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Notes from Crash Course on Startup Boards with Brad Feld

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While grazing my twitter timeline, I stumbled upon this recent post from Brad Feld titled The First Board Meeting and as I was going through the comments I found this video on youtube that you can watch for more detail.. Here Brad is describing efficient ways to participate in a board meeting. Brad has attended over 1000+ board meetings and he asks requests his attendees to review his books on amazon and other platforms to gain assistance and ideas of being part of a board meeting.

I made a simple notes of the entire conversation as I found it really engaging. Here are my pointers on the same discussion :

  • At times you may have members of the Board clueless about products.
  • An over absorbing board member could be painful at the meeting. Founders will have to understand and listen to him/her while at same time focus on the business.
  • Ideally, you should restrict to not more than four board meeting in a year.
  • The function of the board should not be defined as just a governing body, but be inclined to help business grow where Board members should invest in creating goals to elevate company standards and setup necessary objectives.
  • Just like leadership, setting up a board is no different and should lead and be able to extend leadership qualities over a period of time.
  • A board must include trusted mentors, advisors with discrete helpful or supportive roles to play. The dynamics among board members must be cordial and to the betterment of business.
  • Lack of commitment of board members can ruin the company. Identifying the right people at different stages should compliment the skillset and fill in the gaps.
  • The CEO must have clear vision and preferably a rulebook in place that includes building agreement among board to evolve & resolve conflicts.
  • The CEO should have a lead director where they go to for suggestions in case of conflict where in most cases this person is identified as the lead investor.
  • Advisory boards are proxy setups for getting networks & name drops on slides for the investors. If present, they should be given some equity to get into the engagement cycle for commitment.
  • Board meetings are meant for discussions and should not be ruled by opinions.
  • It is ideal to send out the board packages atleast 48 hours in advance or just use Google Docs where everyone can read, collaborate, comment and have the pitch in place before the commencement of the meeting.
  • The CEO should inform the board members and investors what his/her expectations are.This provides a sense of realism which is important for investors.
  • CEO should not invest more than 5%  of the time in managing the overall board
  • An ill formed board can destroy the company. Invest in collecting and forming a board that is definite to take the company to another level.


You can find the list of books by Brad Feld on Amazon. Also, please read this blogpost for details or follow him on Twitter.   

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Meeting a happy farmer #faces

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Name: Deepak Patel

Location: Somewhere outskirts  of kalol, gujarat

Occupation: Farmer/land owner

Deepak Bhai is in his mid 40’s, somewhat short with a well built physique whom I met at a party organised at a farm. He mentioned that during his college days he brazenly asked his parents for a MAC which they flatly denied for obvious reasons and financial constraints was not the primary reason. The main reason being the lack of knowledge of using the same was pretty evident.

After pursuing his graduation, he decided to become a farmer instead of following route like his relatives who pack up and move to the US.Curious,I asked why he did not follow to which he wholeheartedly informed me that he wishes to do something in India, why not bring the good of US to India, if possible? I could see that he has carved a niche for himself and his town. With welling eyes and beaming pride, he tells me he started working at this farm with just a bicycle to transport him and now hard work and God’s good will has generously upgraded him to drive cars/vans/trucks.

I was overwhelmed with his dedication to service and could not hold myself back and left after embracing him with nostalgia and pride of this countrymen.

Footnote: This post is part of #faces series i am working on.

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