Archive for June, 2006

Postepay in Italy

A lot of people hold the view that India needs a cash oriented payment mechanism, and that is a very large opportunity. Businessweek has an article on a prepaid cash card — some of the consumer drivers mentioned have a lot of overlap with India. For example, the card gives consumers control over spends (unlike an ATM card which exposes the full account balance.) Another key aspect is that they seem to have done a brilliant job on distribution side — the card is accepted by Visa electron, and hence has immediate reach into a vast network.

I have a feeling that a similar concept would do very well in India as well.

Canaan’s focus in India

Contentsutra did an audio interview with me last week. It encapsulates how we are viewing the India market from a venture perspective. Sahad has summarized it here and there is a full audio file too (if someone can do background noise cancellation on this, it will be great! — if you are hearing this, try suppressing 1Khz or thereabouts).

I guess it still take a journo in this age of blogs :)

National Agriculture Awards

It is nice to see that agriculture in India is getting organized. More details on these awards can be found here. I received an unsolicited mail from the National Agricultural Magazine.

I thought it is worth putting this on the site as there may be opportunities for startups around agriculture.

Incubators in India

What is their role in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in India ? Can angels/VC firms work with incubators ? It looks like at Nirma Labs they have had three batches so far ( I do not know how many entrepreneurs) and so far none have actually made it to the angel/VC stage where they have repaid the incubation loan. The repayment of the incubation loan from the angel/VC round seems a bit odd. A model where the loan converts to equity seems much better. I am just wondering whether the Nirma Labs model can be made more entrepreneur/angel/VC friendly.

I want incubators to work so this is not intended as a criticism. Kudos to Nirma Labs for making their model transparent. If we can have a productive dialog it could help. I have heard about an IIT – Delhi incubator and an NS Raghavan incubator in Bangalore and some government incubators but I do not know their models.

If any of the incubators want to have a dialogue with me I would be happy to engage. I do not have much expertise with incubator models so if there any others who are reading this and have comments they are more than welcome.

Product Management

I was browsing the web to see if there were any templates available for product roadmaps/product management. The 280 group has some . They cost $99 for the roadmap toolkit and $79 for the product management toolkit. There is a free evaluation version. The site also has book recommendations etc.

I have not used any of these but if a startup that I advise decides to use them then I can comment on whether they found them useful or not.

Looking for Founding Team Members for my Biometric Startup

Hi,

I am in search of young, enthusiastic, talented people who would like to be Founding Team Member in my startup, people who are self motivated….. and want to do something different in life. My project is getting incubated at NirmaLabs, Ahmedabad - A Technology Business Incubator. Contribution is required in core electronics hardware / Pattern Recognition / Biometric related stuff…. so anybody with relevant education/experience can apply. The requirement is immediate…

Details available on – http://www.govindagrawal.com

>> Time Lines: The requirement is immediate, best will be if one can join in June 2006 itself. The product development will be at NirmaLabs, Ahmedabad. We plan to complete prototype development & testing by December 2006. We will launch the company by January 2007 at Mumbai.

>> Growth opportunities in my startup: In case you join me at this stage of my startup, you would be shifting your gear to a role with more responsibilities as we are going to launch this as a company, as a venture of NirmaLabs. Also, you would be playing a lead role while we launch (expected Jan 2007) & grow the company, get more employees, etc….

Our venture gets special touch, and high chances of success because of backing from NirmaLabs and its high profile team.

>> About the Biometric Project:
The project is getting incubated at NirmaLabs, Ahmedabad. I already have got seed fund up to Rs.20 lakhs for this project. I am working on some new innovative biometric technology, which is not generally known, and will use it for multiple applications. More details while in talks.

*********************************************
>>>>>>>>>> Openings are in form of < <<<<<<<<<

1. Founding team members

2. CTO - Chief Technology Officer (must be technologist at heart, must be a stud in technology to contribute to electronics / software / algorithm side of biometric project, self-motivated, and with dreams to make it BIG in technology space)

3. Employees

4. Free Lancers

5. Assignment Based developers

*********************************************
>>>>> Compensation Modes:

1. Salary

2. Salary + some stake in company / ESOPs

3. Stipend + some stake in company / ESOPs

*********************************************
>>>>> Different skills that I am looking for in 2-3 persons (with / without experience):

1. Basic Product Development (Electronic Product Devl.)

2. Electronic Circuitry Design – (Includes selection/working on proper Microcontroller + other external peripherals, Power Supply Design, PCB Layout designing, Debugging the Hardware problems, Standard Compliance / Type Testing, Networking Interface Design, Communication Interface (RS232, RJ11) design, etc…

3. Understanding of Pattern Recognition / Image Processing

4. Embedded Software development (VC++ embedded)

5. Software Development (GUI, network programming)

********************************************

In case, you feel interested, pls forward your resume to me

********************************************
Regards,

Govind Agrawal
Incubatee, NirmaLabs
Nirma University Campus, Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway
Ahmedabad – 382481
Mobile: 09328260602
Email: govind17@gmail.com or govind@nirmalabs.org
Yahoo, GTalk:govind17 ; Skype ID:govindagrawal
Home Page: http://www.govindagrawal.com

Morgan Stanley report on Internet and Mobile

http://morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/pdfs/Trends040106.pdf (Caution: 7MB+ file)

Good report on global state of internet and mobile, challenges and BIG opportunities.

Couple of interesting items:
1. The centre of usage on mobile is shifted way far from US — can this be translated into a shift in value creation?
2. The premium mobile market is as big as internet advertising, but wealth creation is far lesser — does the breaking of walled gardens, and public wifi/wimax services hold the future to wealth creation in mobile,

and tons others that you will find

(thanks for spreading it, Udhay!)

Terra Cycle

You can read the full article on TerraCycle which is billed as one of the coolest startups in USA.

To me it illustrates how lead entrepreneurs manage to create buzz , inspire people and run operations on a shoestring. At Terracycle the lead entrepreneur is 23 and has managed to surround himself with talented individuals where no one is paid more than $30,000 a year but have options. He now has 11% of the company.
At one point he gave away 1% of the company for $2000. Terracycle does not buy furniture/computer equipment etc. and their office is in a dangerous neighbourhood.

I am not sure what exact lessons can be learned from this but it is inspiring to read.

On another note. India could lay claim to being the garbage capital of the world ( lots of garbage available). Worms should not be a problem and soda /mineral water bottles are a lot. Would Terracycle’s model of making vermicompost tea work in India?

A couple of issues could be. Is there enough consumer demand for “Miracle Gro” type products ? The regulatory process of getting approval to sell maybe a nightmare. Maybe there could be interesting variations that would work in India.

Vermicompost tea anyone ?

Startup Culture Report: Delayed due to laptop crash

Folks,

I got a good response of people who want my startup culture comparision report: US vs. Japan vs. India. Apologies for the delay in responding and posting it here/replying to your emails. My laptop crashed and I am dealing with IBM support to fix it. Hope to respond to all of you/post it on the site by the weekend.

Apologies again,

Shiva Venkatraman
shivav@sloan.mit.edu

Naukri IPO filing

Naukri has filed for IPO with Sebi — here’s the filing.

Big congratulations to the team for making it happen. Sanjeev has been a diehard believer in the internet and that is what has brought the company to this stage. What I also like is that wealth has been shared generously with the team — Hitesh and Ambarish, who have had a long innings at naukri, deserve it.

The filing also discloses that Sherpalo/Kleiner had bought out just under $5m of promoters’ shares in their last investment — makes sense since naukri didnt seem to need the money then. long live venture capital :)