Archive for December, 2007

OM Careers to Host World’s First Online Marketing Careers Conference

OM Careers is a non-profit, online marketing careers community, dedicated to addressing the challenge of lack of skilled resources in the Online/Search marketing industry. OM Careers is playing host to OMCAR 2008, world’s first online marketing careers conference in Delhi on Jan 12, 2008.

The event will be coupled with a unique Job clinic opportunity for people who are interested in building a successful career in the online marketing industry and for organizations that are interested in hiring the right OM talent.

We would love to have you participate in the event. More important, we seek your support in promoting this event and making it a great success! It would be great if you could spread the word about this event to your friends and associates.

The event details can be found at http://conference.omcareers.org. Do add your name in the participants list at http://conference.omcareers.org/participant.asp, if you plan to attend this event.

Looking forward to your participation at the event!

Wish you all a Very Happy & Fulfilling New Year 2008!

2008 India Venture Polls

Happy to kickoff some venture polls for 2008. Given how often VCs get it wrong, I thought I’d stay away from making predictions, and rather get the community view!



If you would like to run another venture poll, please go ahead!

The Startups Are Hiring.

Did you know that the best job for a fresher is in a startup? Well, it is.
Did you know that the best job for a growing professional or someone who loves challenges, is in a startup? Well, it is.

One of the biggest problems that startups have is in hiring people. During the last OpenCoffeeClub meet that we had here in Chennai, this was pretty much the topic, and after all the questions and answers that were debated upon, and the discussion that goes on in the forum, we have been working on it. It is a very solvable problem, just needs the right partners in place to make it happen and Proto.in has just that – all the right partners you need.

There are essentially three elements, to this problem:

1. Students are not even aware that startups are an option.
2. Startups don’t have the medium to gather mass. Most of them require one or two people, compared to the 800 people that TCS requires. End result, no placement office is all that very keen on small numbers.
3. Students need training on development platforms that make sense for startups.

Point #3 is actually a very nice business proposition. Imagine a centre like Aptech or NIIT which trains people on Python, Ruby, AJAX etc, on project (read hands-on) mode. The business can possibly make money by developing projects for smaller clients, and the very projects could also serve as assignments for the students to practice and nurture their programming talents on. As long as the centre delivers quality programmers, the startups will keep pounding to have more human resources from them, and the cycle will go on.

When I spoke about this to someone, the first thing she mentioned was, get me a centre to do this in Chennai and lets work out a franchisee model to spawn this across to various cities. I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t work. It has all the necessary ingredients to make it work. NIIT and centres such as that, should definitely look into such options.

As for #1 and #2, I have been suggesting within the Open coffee club group in Chennai towards forming a group within the startup community so that they can be tackled. There is a large scale solution of this that we are working on, which we will be unveiling during Proto (in January) and will be on fullswing starting february.

Excited? You should be. The Ecosystem is one step closer to being efficient.

I will make a more elaborate post with all the fine details on this regard, as we draw closer to unveiling this. Hold your breathe for a month.

This Post is a re-post from the Author’s Blog.

Event Notification : 5th Meetup of Mobile Monday Delhi

I am Very excited to inform you that we have finalized the schedule for next meeting of Mobile Monday Delhi Chapter. Our Fifth Meetup will be on 5th of JAN 2008. I would like to invite VW community to be a part of this Event and share your thoughts with fellow mobile enthusiasts.

Details of Event is given Below

Mobile Monday Delhi:5th Edition

THEME : Mobile VAS – Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat

When?

Saturday , 5th of January 2008

Where?

Perot Systems,
Plot No.3, Sec 125,
Near Amity University,
Greater Noida Expressway,
Noida.
Phone : 91-120-2432750-64

Want to participate ?? Register yourself at our wiki !!

http://momodelhi.pbwiki.com/momodelhi5

PASSWORD IS “android”

You will get a chance to interact with a focused audience of mobile enthusiast and early adopters so this is a good place for demonstrating your projects ,application ,service and discussing your ideas , We encourage participants to talk about what they are doing ?

There is no fees for participation .Please Forward this information to everybody who you think might be interested in attending this event ,Please help us to spread the word .Looking forward to see you there. in case of any difficulty in registration please feel free to contact me

Designing/Developing a payment gateway

I’m not sure if I’m posting this piece in a correct section or not. Let me know if it happens to land into wrong section.

Recently I looking for some good and cheap payment gateway vendors, for my small e-commerce application. The target client base is all Indian and currency would be all INR. I ran into issues like – If I get services of vendors based out of US, then I save on cost involved, but then I have to deal with only credit cards. And If I want to support internet banking and debit card usage then I have to use the vendor services available in India, which is quite costly.

From here I started thinking of building my own payment gateway and I was stuck up soon with so many hurdles in my way. I don’t know how to develop a payment gateway, the technologies involved, the kind of logistics required, how to get the banks on board for online banking and all. I’m hoping to get some directions from all the experienced people here on VentureWoods.

Thanks,
Suhas

Will Global Entrepreneurship be the Next Trend?

A friend of mine and I, had this elaborate discussion on some of the advantages of actually being in the valley. Well, Thomas Fieldman is proving himself to be right with the globe turning more and more flat as the years pass by and I am quite positively sure that position holds not that much of a relevance and trumph card anymore.

As it is, I understand that most startup projects that are happening in the valley are being outsourced to companies here in India to be developed. The reason being cost and the availability of talent.

The fact that the dollar is dropping, added to the fact that the ruppee is appreciated is really not helping the case. In most cases, apart from the added headache of managing your team remotely, your cost also ends up being the same. What is even more empathetic is that most of these silicon valley companies end up handing their product developments to companies that probably aren’t the best of the breed when it comes to development – the biggest issue when it comes to outsourcing.

I am all for outsourcing service-related work. Management of networks, servers and mindless crunching of data and numbers seems to be a valid point, but would a startup want to outsource its most crucial asset – the product itself? Hmm… I am not sure if thats the right way to go.

So, what does a startup need anyways?

Access to the market, capital, human resources and the depth in a market to build a product that actually makes sense. An entrepreneur from the valley will always have his roots there, and does have the liberty to fly to and forth, along with taking advantage of the evolving business models of the east.

Being a global entrepreneur, might be the trend of the future to match up with the world becoming flat.

I question, Why don’t most of these silicon valley entrepreneurs move to India anyways? It might not be the way to go as the business scales up, but for being on bootstrapping mode and to get a product and team together, I strongly believe that India is the way to go. If you are the next Mark Zuckerburg trying to build the next big thing, India is very much the place to be.

An elaborate post on this, is soon to follow.

Admin – VentureWoods upgrade

All of you might have seen venturewoods in transition over past month or so. Thanks for bearing with us through a relatively slow upgrade effort. The key things we have been able to accomplish are:

  • Transitioning to the latest wordpress system to provide us flexibility going forward
  • Have author names on individual post pages, and split comments onto multiple pages
  • Post ratings
  • Monitoring site uptime and errors

I want to thank Gaurav who continues to support VW. Also, Rehan has chipped in to lend support on the monitoring front. And most of the actual work on functionality was done by Ashish – he had been feeling a bit disappointed at how VW is shaping – luckily we were able to coopt him into helping us!

There is a roadmap going forward – we would like to have an answers facility, structure the job board better, perhaps enable more interactivity on user profiles and so on. Hopefully, we can put some dedicated resources to make this happen soon. Equally important is to maintain the quality of discussions and relevance to our audience – thats what makes a community successful. Thank you all for that!

Go to Market

Subject: Go to Market

Going to Market is always a big event for a startup and I am glad to report that we went live today at our pilot location with real money and a real bank. For about a month we will be controlled and will go into full pilot only after that.

I will let VW readers know when we go into full pilot so that some in Delhi NCR may want to try the service.

I had also promised an update on our inner circle efforts where we would use stock to get advisors and build our team. That has gone exceptionally well as can be seen by visiting our website.

All the best to all of you for the holiday season and best wishes for 2008.

The Creation of a Sustainable Ecosystem.

This is perhaps a wee bit of eerie timing, as there are posts by Sujai* and quite a few others circulating around the blogosphere with some very serious questions about the Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem. Perhaps its of relevance to go through the basics yet again and what it would take to make this ecosystem mature, robust and something that can even remotely come close to being competitive to the valley.

As an entrepreneur very rightly put it, “A VC is part of the ecosystem, not the entire ecosystem”. Knowing that he is a startup entrepreneur, I am of the opinion that the ecosystem is learning its ropes.

I have always maintained that the main objective of a company is not about funding. Well, those with money and those with access to capital are quite readily available in the ecosystem and in public gatherings, but most of them are there to serve other purposes than to pull out their cheque books and start signing them away – that only happens when there is a bubble in the making, and I really hope and pray that these are not such days. I strongly believe that a sign of a healthy ecosystem is when a company can bootstrap and get to a comfortable market valuation without having to raise money from investors. If the ecosystem is rich and is keen on growing startups, then there will be means to grow traction, gain customers and expand your markets without having to blow too much of money for the same. That is the environment that we should aim for.

A Lot of folks ask then as to why VCs attend all these networking events. Most of them are sincerely looking at deals, but not right away. These events, serve as an initial point of contact for most of these investors, and then through time see how the company grows and validates itself – which is a good alternative for a track record deficient ecosystem. And plus, a VC is probably the most influential person when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing as he sits across various boards and manages his portfolio of companies. There will be opportunities that will arise for partnerships, alliances and perhaps even mergers (fingers crossed).

In a recent post in the proto blog, I have started compiling a list of companies that are effectively leveraging other channels and going after the money that truly matters – making revenues out of customers, and using that as a means to enhance their valuation before they go raise money from a Venture capital firm.

All this might sound as if I am against VC firms, but truth be told, I am not. I do sit on the other side of the table with some VC firms in terms of investment analysis and most of the time the thought that is at the back of our mind is that of backing potential winners. And winners are identified when they come knocking on the door, even better when we go knocking on their doors, trying to raise capital to scale up, not when they need money to assure their mere existence. That’s too much of a risk – no matter where you may see it.

We need to stop comparing the west with what prevails in India. In the west, just acquiring capital, mostly assures that since the ecosystem is quite rich – more big corporations are standing with open doors for alliances, there is enough mentorship pool available, and there is more than enough research and technology at your disposal, an entrepreneur who is even half as smart has a chance of success. It’s not the case in India. It takes real guts and courage to survive a year of operations here.

Let me point you towards some numbers, something that has been shown and pointed at many times in meetings, I would gather: 24,000+ companies are angel funded in the US, and the number of VC funded deals are around 1700+. Take a look at the ratio. Though its not a translation figure, as this are both of the same year, within a three year gap (if we hold that as the time it takes for a seed funded company to raise VC money), the ratio is 24:1. In India, 150 companies get seed funded, and around 50+ of them make it to a VC round. The ratio is 3:1 which is enormous. But we do have this high success ratio (or passing rate) because of the struggle it takes to survive till that point. On a positive note, if you make it through the initial stages, there is a much better chance of you succeeding.

Perhaps the point I am making is that, starting a company – most importantly a product company is very tough in India. And entrepreneurship is no easy journey – it is and was never meant for the faint of heart. We do make certain things a wee bit eeasier at Proto and there are certainly a host of other activities that are going on to make things easier for entrepreneurs, but we wont be seeing such ratios as 24:1 in India anytime soon. If you are an entrepreneur, learn and love to embrace it. What we also forget is that, thats the reason why you still haven’t seen competition from abroad yet. That’s the bright side to it.

There is absolutely no way to fast track this entire ecosystem without also layering it with frailty. The only way this can happen, is if it evolves on its own and thats going to take time.

Note: This post was earlier titled as the Proto Impact. Tweaked it finally for a neutral tone for the sake of a wider audience.

Top 5 Usability Challenges

Jared Spool has an interesting article on top user experience challenges. They are:

  • Scalability
  • Visual Design
  • Comprehension
  • Interactivity
  • Change Management

The other gap I see very often is Site Speed. In my experience, speed makes a tremendous difference to how much a site gets used. What is your sense on readiness of India’s skill pool to address the above – are we there or getting there to world class levels on these areas? I personally feel more confident of software issues such as change management, than areas like visual design and interactivity. Any thoughts?