Archive for March, 2006

Startup Job Exchange

Alok,

With your experience with Jobs Ahead you would be in the best position to see if this blog could help startups connect with people who want to work in startups. For the IIM-A person I got over 10 startups who were interested. In addition an IIM – C person wanted to investigate working in a startup. Alternatively it may make sense for Naukri or Monster to create a startup section.

I am ending up playing a post office type role.

As you know startups look for all kinds of people not just IIM types and I think it would spur entrepreneurship in India if the friction in finding employment in startups was reduced. It would also make sense to create like a FAQ for startups wanting to hire talent and for talent seeking to join startups.

The people who run this blog may even charge a small fee such that the blog is atleast self sustaining if not profitable.

The D word

What to do promoters in India fear the most. I think it is Dilution or the “D” word. It is obvious that if you can build a billion $ company and own 90% or even 30% of it then it is great. However, if you could build a billion $ company and own only10%. Would that appeal to Indian founders/promoters ?

My view is that founders/promoters should think big and to attract talent/capital be prepared to dilute. This is surely a controversial view and against most of the big successes we hear about in India.

What do people think? How many new billion $ market cap companies will emerge from startups in the next decade in India ? Of these what will be the average holding by founders/promoters when the market cap touches $1 billion ?

Wants to join a Startup

I received a mail from a student who is part of the graduating class of PGP students at IIM – Ahmedabad. He is keen on joining a start up to gain experience to do his own in the future. Startups that may be interested in recruiting him please contact me. He has no sector preferences . Prior to IIM, Ahmedabad he was at IIT Madras and has one year work experience ( steel). I will put the startup directly in touch with the student. I am not sure if he wants his identity revealed on a public blog so I have not posted his name/email directly.

Paypal Mobile

Paypal has launched a mobile payment facility — both p2p and a text to pay facility on qualifying merchants. Check it out.

“Investing in India” conference

Here‘s what sounds like an interesting conference:

Columbia Business School ‘s South Asian Business Association is pleased to present the Annual Columbia India Business Conference. The Conference will be held on April 14, 2006 at Columbia University in New York City .

Sounds like some interesting speakers too: Sam Pitroda, Kanwal Rekhi, and Jagdish Bhagwati, among others. Anybody here going?

VC 2.0

Dave has a great writeup on reforming the VC industry (at least in consumer internet segment). Looks pretty 2.0ish to me — but perhaps the first 2.0 idea that makes sense :)

- disintermediate the LPs and GPs (the overhead and loss of information here is not funny)
- users who invest in this fund (in public markets) are also the customers of potential investee companies, so smarter decisions get made

Could we get a million passionate internet users in India to invest Rs 1000 each to create a Rs 100 crore corpus as a starting point?

ABC News on India

Very positive coverage – Video

Bangalorelive.in

I like this stuff — the concept seems very relevant, not much competition on city specific portals. The key is how local it can become — looks like largely a content driven play, but user participation is important.

Micro Venture Capital Fund

A venture capital fund with a difference. Quite removed from the world of IT start-ups, Aavishkaar India Micro Venture Capital Fund or Aavishkaar India concerns itself with rural enterprises and grassroots innovations that have the potential to improve the quality of life in the interiors of the country.

It hopes to do so by encouraging and supporting the rural entrepreneur who may have a workable idea or invention, but not the funds to turn it into a marketable proposition.

From their website

Aavishkaar believes entrepreneurs can be a powerful force for development. To this end, the firm provides micro-equity funding (Rs. 10 lacs to Rs. 50 lacs, approximately USD $20 thousand to USD $100 thousand) and operational and strategic support to commercially viable companies increasing income in or providing goods and services to rural or semi-urban India.

More at www.aavishkaar.org

Web 2.0 – Profitability?

I was going to discuss some thoughts on Web 2.0 profitability, and I think some readers on this blog will be familiar with my disdain for “get the eyeballs, revenues will come” mindset (have been hurt once on that!). Am beginning to hear more and more of that again… Some entrepreneurs point to Adsense as the default business model, but thats probably not enough — do the math, the numbers are too small.

So what could be the model? One that I am beginning to develop some conviction for is towards experiences so far in monetizing high affinity communities. In an offline model, we already have experience in monetizing a Harley Davidson club, or Rotary, and so on. Some thoughts basis that:

1) The key to these communities is not the size (the key to “enabling technologies”, such as tagging, will be size), but sharpness.
2) Once you have sharpely focussed communities, what you sell on top of them has to be much higher value than adwords. Amazon’s expected “Productsense” model could be one, as also the ability to “click-to-talk” enabled by VoIP providers. Affinity driven products and services would be the key, and relevance will need to move far beyond adsense.
3) Think of this — if you had a community of Harley fans online, what would you sell to them? and how can you now take that example, and generalize the technology? I think seeds of those enabling technologies are beginning to emerge today.
4) Due to high concentration of value, the enabling businesses will not all be automated — especially, the part where “relevance” gets captured (the hosting part may be automated, as a contrast). Tagging is an example.
5) I still think there will be a mix of “interest-centric” and “user-centric” communities, and hence the ability to “follow a user” across interests could be another possibility — this is same as trying to derive user profile from content being browsed. The current intent-based-paradigm will get far sharper, and/or evolve into user-based-paradigm.
6) High affinity should imply lower customer acquisition costs, though that by itself might not be an exit driver.

So the problem to be solved is
a) What creates high affinity communities on the web (I do not think the early experiments in Web 2.0, such as myspace, are the answer)
b) How does one maximize value per member with sharpely focussed communities

I dont know whether I am catching up here, or crystal gazing :) so any comments are welcome!

Alok