Archive for September, 2008

Start-up Fair at IIM Kozhikode on October 4 and 5, 2008

Greetings from Entrepreneurship Cell of IIM Kozhikode!

ECell at IIM Kozhikode fosters entrepreneurship and encourages students to build on their original ideas and business-plans. In the same spirit, IIMK Ecell organizes its first ever ‘Startup Fair’ scheduled to be held at the picturesque IIM Kozhikode campus on October 4 and 5, 2008. The basic premise of this fair is to provide students with a platform to interact with successful entrepreneurs. Both students and startups stand to gain from healthy interactions and can also explore summer internships for first-year PGP students interested in Entrepreneurship.This fair would also help startups enhance their brand visibility and will also give them an opportunity to mentor budding entrepreneurs from IIM Kozhikode.

For details, please visit
or write to

Naresh Agarwal (On Behalf of E-cell,  IIM Kozhikode)

India’s Hottest Startups

Some people may find it annoying, but I think I must write about this.

Almost a month back, I received an Email from NEN for participating in the  hottest startup contest. I looked at the website and was impressed by the participation. What was annoying was the classification of a “startup”. I could see companies founded in 2003 with 70+ employees nominated by NEN with expert rating 8+ ??

Today I was planing to fill the form sent by NEN and suddenly I see an email from an unknown “startup” –

 I, on behalf of my company, request you to find few minutes out of your busy schedule and vote us for Tata NEN Hottest Startups 2008 contest. Your vote matters!

The TATA NEN Startups Awards are the first ever people’s choice Awards to recognize the highest-potential startups in India: young companies with great potential to grow; with the ability to change their industries;  companies that will create jobs and drive economic growth.

You can vote a***.com online at**

…. More SPAM <snip>

CEO and Chairman …

And I swear to God, I hate spams. Specially from a CEO and on a Sunday morning …

IMO, this raises some questions –

  1. What distinguishes a “startup” from a “businesses”. Can a new Kirana shop call itself a startup ?
  2. Is “People’s Choice” genuinely a good thing or just means of involving people and promoting spam ?
  3. Shouldn’t mentorship be an important part and motivation factor for such competitions ?
  4. Is cash rewards a good thing to offer. I can see Eureka has it, But I also feel that it again leads the BPlan makers to project arbitrary stuff on paper ?
  5. Shouldn’t entrepreneurs be judged by entrepreneurs and not “respected jury” from some college or MNC ?


SSIR Article -Rediscovering Social Innovation


Social entrepreneurship and social enterprise have become popular rallying points for those trying to improve the world. These two notions are positive ones, but neither is adequate when it comes to understanding and creating social change in all of its manifestations. The authors make the case that social innovation is a better vehicle for doing this. They also explain why most of today’s innovative social solutions cut across the traditional boundaries separating nonprofits, government, and for-profit businesses.

The PDF is available here

(I regard first web-based e-mail Hotmail, though a for-profit business, was a social innovation for the users. So are Yahoo Directory and Search, Google Search, even Jobsahead/Naukri. I think it is time to find “new ones” as Internet and mobile are somewhat mature now. Where are the billion$ ideas that change the society?)

Angelsoft – salesforce for seed stage investors?

Fascinating article in Wired about the resurgence of angel investing in the US, as well as a new software platform for angel investors that seems to be a category killer for now. Alok, would you know more about this?

Okay, so what? Well, the classic V.C.’s simply have too much money under management, and too expensive a talent pool, to waste time looking at investing anything less than $10 million in a project. Meantime, no entrepreneur wants to give up equity by taking in more money than he absolutely needs. So, when it only costs a few million to get a serious new company off the ground, how can the V.C.’s really play? They have to find places to make gigantic gambles, usually overpaying because the other big V.C.’s are also trying to invest in the few really big-dollar opportunities out there. It has become a system doomed to failure.

The flip side of the story is the rise of angel investor groups. These investment consortiums have always been ideally positioned to provide $500,000 to $5 million equity injections; but until recently, that wasn’t enough to get a serious effort off the ground. More fundamentally, however, they have historically not been terribly investor-friendly, largely because the individual members have other occupations.

The individual members didn’t work in the same place or even at the same times, so angels were terribly inefficient at evaluating transactions, sharing information, and negotiating and documenting deals.

Those days are over, thanks to software developed by David Rose, founder of the New York Angels (yes, I belong). Angelsoft is a wonderful collaboration platform that manages deal flow, helps match talent and expertise to projects, provides easy-to-use data rooms for potential investors, and generally drives the investment process. It combines project management and social networking in a way that, for the first time, makes the angel process efficient for both the company seeking capital and the potential investors.

The big news now is that, in a period of just a couple of years, over 400 angel groups around the globe have standardized on the platform. That means, of course, that they will also be able to share deals between themselves, vastly expanding the capital and expertise available for any given project.

Mobile as media for rural India

Today someone has sent me a mail with the following question.

What are your thoughts on the role mobile can play in rural india? Are there significant revenue opportunities in either mobile advertising or messaging?

First of all, what is the media that through which you can reach rural consumers? Currently it is TV or Radio or Movies (for the sake of simplicity in our discussion, I am not considering audio or video players or even gaming devices although these can be considered as media). Fundamentally they lack the following elements when you look at urban and rural as separate markets.

  1. Customization: You find that TV/Radio programs or movies are also meant for urban as well. This means they cannot customize their content specifically to rural consumers. There is an another way, they may run specific TV/radio programs at a particular timings customized for rural folks. But then, India is culturally so much diverse that you can’t take all those rural people into a single bucket.
  2. Interactivity: Our traditional media is not interactive. You can’t get any inputs from the consumers. It is always pushing to them.
  3. Mobility: Mobility is missing in all existing channels. However, radio is an exception. But then due to lack of interactivity & personalization, this media loosing out the numbers.
  4. On-demand services: There is no on-demand concept in any of the existing media. However, this is the mantra today.

There are many more issues such as ‘reachability’ etc. All of the above issues can be addressed when you consider mobile as the media. That shows the potential of the market considering the fact that the large number of people reside in rural areas.

Usually because of too much content being supplied in urban markets, urban consumers are started to believe that information is free. And it is the end-to-end service that is to be paid in their case. However, for the next few years, information scarcity will be prevalent across rural India. This means, rural Indians are ready to pay for information provided if that is worthy enough for them. Of course, we have a challenge of understanding, what exactly is worthy for them. Second challenge is that how do you reach them through low cost models.

10 ways to save during startup

During the time when venture valuations are down,
10 ways to save during startup
1-Live cheaply
2-Use creative financing
3-Start small
4-Put money toward revenue-producing elements
5-Market through media and word-of-mouth
6-Staff smart
7-Negotiate the best deals
8-Look for inexpensive technical tools
9-Use credit cards wisely
10-Offer fractional ownership as payment
More at

How you (startup entrepreneurs) are doing ?