Archive for November, 2007

Proto.in January Edition: Nominations Open

Proto Logo
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The finally awaited moment is here – well, atleast the first of it. The nominations are open for companies that do want to submit their products for evaluation, out of which 20 companies will present before an esteemed audience – the creme de la crop, the movers and the shakers of the IT industry from and around India on the dates of January 18th and 19th 2008 in Chennai, India.

If you are a company that wants to make a nomination, head to the website at http://www.proto.in and click on the nominate link, on the right hand side, enter the details and hit submit. A copy of the nomination form will be mailed to you. But should you require a copy, in case, do write to me and someone from the Proto.in team will be sure to respond to you at the earliest.

As always, there is an entry fee attached to this. But you wont have to make a payment till you are confirmed to one of the 20 finalists who will be taking on the stage.That said, we also do request you to kindly make an evaluation of the product yourself, and with your peers and only submit products that are complete and ready for demonstration so as to not take the time of the organizers or have any disappointments. There is nothing that i would hate to see than for your team and company not being able to make an impact because of an unpolished demo or product which isnt able to convey the solution that you have built with such commitment.

If you do have any queries on this regard, do let me know and in the meantime, I strongly encourage you to take a visit to the site, and cruise around so that you get a good understanding of what Proto.in is about and what we are hoping that you will benefit from.

I would also, at this time, like to clarify that entering into Proto, and showcasing your product as one of the 20 might not be the only criteria for funding, as much as that is one of the activities that happens around the stage. Investor firms might decide to sit back and watch as you evolve from that snapshot on the stage to a few months before they decide to make a deal, depending on the growth that you are showing. I wanted to make sure that expectations are set right in terms of those who would be nominating.

Of the crowd that attends Proto.in, there are segments of people from the VC and Angel Investment Community, Heads of Mergers and Acquisitions, Our Friends from the Media (Print and broadcast), Executives from Large corporates and SMEs who are exploring partnerships, Professionals who are looking for prospective companies to be a part of, and pool of bloggers looking to get a glimpse of the next big thing to happen out of this region. We can assure you that it is the liveliest gathering of all your well-wishers from the ecosystem, if you are to be an entrepeneur.

There are a few other invited guests from the Industry who are to visit us this edition, from abroad and the names are yet to be revealed. We will disclose them as the days close in, so that the excitement still remains.

Thanks again for your attention and time, and I look forward to seeing you at the event. Good luck and Be in touch.

Regards,
Vijay Anand
Key Organizer – Proto.in

Headstart: Call For Product Nominations

If you are a product company and looking to demo your product check out Headstart that will take place in Bangalore from Jan 18-20, 2008 at the Indian Institute of Sciences campus.

Here is the criteria for nominating your product:

  • The product or technology elements must be new and should not have been launched before
  • The product or technology should make a significant contribution to the existing state of the art
  • The product or technology should be capable of changing market dynamics and existing rules
  • There are 4 categories for nominating your products: Consumer Services, Mobile, Silicon and Embedded System  and Enterprise Applications and Development tools.

    You can download the nomination form from here.

     

    Event announcement: BarCampDelhi3 on Dec 8th

    barcamp_logo_small.png

    BarCampDelhi3 is happening on the 8th of Dec. The venue for the event is Impetus Technologies at Noida. We’d like to invite readers of this blog to attend the event and contribute in whatever way they can- as a volunteer, speaker, blogger, podcaster, sponsor etc. For other details and for adding your name to the wiki, please visit http://barcamp.org/BarCampDelhi3.

    For Delhi based startups, this is a good opportunity to get some feedback/validation about your work-in-progress product/service.

    Like always, the setting for the barcamp is likely to be informal but highly infectious.

    Look forward to seeing you there….

    P2P Lending – further thoughts

    Couple of days back; I posted about P2P lending and its India Feasibility – got mixed reponse from readers. I thought to bounce some more facts/findings from Deutsche Bank Research Report.

    Interesting to note:

    1.) Less default rate for borrowers who are member of some group (remember SHG of Indian MFI industry)

    2.) At present; lenders choosing only low risk borrowers with credit rating AA. High risk borrowers still untapped

    3.) Competition among P2P platforms has resulted in lazor thin margins for low risk borrowers.

    So mix reactions. Check out some of the companies and their distributed amount. Would love to hear futher thoughts on the report.

    Regards
    Mukul

    Office space in Delhi

    Hi Everyone,

    We are opening a sales office in Delhi and are looking for a functional set-up in a high quality building that can house 2 people there. We’d like a cabin or 2 cubicles with phones with 24/7 access to broadband, phones, a meeting room etc. in a commercial hub. I’d appreciate any leads to Business Centers that members have had a good experience with and that are reasonable in cost or else offers from other software companies that would be interested in offering the same environment on commercial terms and/or a similar arrangement out of our offices in Bombay. Drop me a line on roshan AT myzus DOT com

    Cheers,

    Roshan

    The Gap in the Indian Innovation Ecosystem.

    “There is a definite lack in the number of fundable ideas in the ecosystem. What we need is more incubation funds.”

    I am not sure if that’s so. Fundable ideas, in most cases denotes a team that is mature enough and has the market valuation and the credibility to be looked seriously by a VC firm, not random thought processes that spew out of high school students.

    I am even more not sure as to how more funds can help. We don’t need more funds. We need a way for most of the already existing funds to engage in a meaningful way in the life cycle of the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

    For some reason, it feels that the stages that an entrepreneur goes through here in India, is in the best form, jerky. There are no proper transitions and the environment is still a little too harsh on young entrepreneurs to foster themselves in the wild. Though there are quite a few incubation centres across the country, very few of them have success stories in their pockets. Most of them are academic institutes, and they run to understand and gain experience – as an insight into the lifecycle of an entrepreneur – and in most cases, a helpless spectator when the startup hits some obvious mistakes along the way. It could have been avoided, if there was an experienced mentor at the helm. In most cases, that term is still so very underrated or a misnomer for a poor substitute of something else. That’s one of the major issues.

    The main gap that i would point out is the transition that a startup makes from putting a team together and having their first prototype ready, and then getting to a point where a VC is ready to fund them. I do have a better perspective on this aspect of companies – about 200 of them, thanks to Proto, and I think there is a definite Gap here.

    The biggest asset right now, in terms of valuation has become the team and the market/product positioning of the team. If both of these are there then the company, is relatively in very good terms. Considering that the market is yet maturing, and there are very few players offering products, most of these companies have yet to decipher the art of market capturing and all, but for now, it is not a much critical skill. Alliances with the media – because of the spurge and growth in that sector – makes getting a slot much easier and joint advertisement campaigns arent that tough as they are in more matured, saturated markets.

    Let me put it this way: If a team and product positioning is what is crucial, and i believe it is, most of the companies that do come to Protohave that. Or they have that within a timeline of about 6 months. What does it take, to take that company from there, to a point where a full-fledged VC firm could sit down and work out their financials? That’s the gap, I am talking about. There is absolutely no one as of now – except for the likes of Mentor Partners, and a few other firms who are looking at such a niche gap.

    I personally think there should be more of those.

    I hear talks of Angel investment funds trying to setup incubation centres and a couple of VC firms wanting to establish incubation centres or linkages with incubation centres to get their creme de la crop. I am not sure if thats the best strategy to go about. Spot potential and nurture it. We cant get into this vicious game of spotting the one in a million anamoly and positioning ourselves to pounce on it at first sight. There is a responsibility for a lot of VC firms, to invest in this gap, and do something about it.

    I do have some thoughts. Actually, quite a few long nights of being awake and scribbling have gone into it. In the true style of a blog, and what the comments section is meant for, we shall discuss it there, as the occasion arises.

    Early Stage Technology Entrepreneurship and Incubators in India

    My first experience of technology entrepreneurship in India was in 1994 while I was still a grad student at MIT. The most vivid memory I have of that experience is that it took me 6 months to get a phone line. It was before wireless. It was, most certainly, before venture capital in India.

    Things have obviously come a long way. Last summer, I did a body of research on the Indian entrepreneurship scene, as I watched huge amounts of capital finding its way to India. Through that work, I also came to the conclusion that there is way too much money, and not enough fundable deals, and that India needs more incubator funds.

    A year has gone by. Not a whole lot has changed.

    So I chose to revisit the topic of Incubators in India in a series of posts, on which I would like to hear from entrepreneurs, investors, incubator managers, and whomever else in the ecosystem with meaningful input.

    Here are the posts:

    I look forward to your comments.

    Some Generic Entrepreneurial Questions

    Hi, i am facing some generic problems and i think many of us out here should be facing the same …. so i thought i might put up a post regarding the same and attract some wise answers.

    My customers are enterprises, so my viewpoint and questions revolve around them. Feel free to give generic answers …

    1. Website management – Whats’ the easiest way to manage and scale a website with more of less static pages. I found wordpress to be an overkill and wiki an over simplification. In wordpress you have to remove/turn-off all the extra features which are blog centric and wiki’s flat URL hierarchy kills a lot of fun.

    2. Online suppor system and Knowledge base (KB)- I found no good (esp. Open Source/Free in code or cost) solutions for managing customer centric issues or knowledge articles. Any suggestions. I can foresee in very near future that, KB and support and licenses if not centralized can become a mess. I just found JIRA and Confluence good, but seems like even they are not very much customer centric and costly. BTW, I use trac for internal development and project management.

    Also how do you handle customer calls. Its easy now giving customers just one mobile number, but don’t see it scaling.

    3. Open Source: Any indian companies here, with good experience of utilizing the Open Source development model, not just PR ?

    As i understand, to utilize the benefits of open source, you should have a community which also gives back in source or opinion. Rest is just PR.

    4. Enterpreneur Meetings : Do you guys meet up some place where VCs are not there ?

    I am not particularly happy the way these conferences by nasscon/Tie are organized. They charge a big sum + travel and usually there are just 1/2 speakers ready to share and interact. VCs and Speakers are praising what they have done “right” in past and attendees are just busy pleasing them. Now it may be just me feeling this way …

    IMO, Good food involves much more than knowledge of “good recipes”. I guess you should know the possible mistakes/gochas as well. I have done atleast 1001 mistakes, and would like to share them and learn from others.

    So, if all those who have done in the past and all those attempting the same can get together dumping there company tags behind, outside a five star hotel … I think it would be great !!
    Opinions ??

    Entrepreneurs Forum on December 15 at Bangalore

    Bangalore Chapter of IIT Delhi Alumni Association is organizing a full day event Entrepreneurs Forum on 15th December, 2007 at Bangalore.

    The event involves highly focused & interactive sessions/workshops on various aspects of entrepreneurship by high-profile entrepreneurs and VCs. The target audience is focused and consists of budding entrepreneurs from IITs, IIMs and beyond.

    Key Highlights of the Event

    • Interactive sessions and workshops on various aspects of entrepreneurship by high profile speakers (entrepreneurs and VCs)
    • Showcasing of select startups
    • Awards & Recognitions for excellence in entrepreneurship

    For more details about the event and participation, visit http://entrepreneurs-forum-bangalore-2007.blogspot.com

    For any queries, write to Rakesh Rajora at rakesh.rajora@gmail.com or Naresh Agarwal at naresh.agarwal@gmail.com

    - Naresh Agarwal

    Google – Android Open Mobile Platform

    PC sales in Japan have been sinking for the past 3 quarters and 40% of Japs are using their mobile to reply emails. (related news)

    I guess while the world is moving away from heavy weight desktops and seems like no one wants vista … I think google’s announcement for Android as Open Mobile platform just came in time. (see news and video)

    And with that opportunities for entrepreneurs to create something new in Google’s Android Developer Challenge with $10M prizes.

    Jaspreet