Archive for December, 2008

Industry-Startup Co-innovation partnerships : What do you think ?

For the past 3-4 months, I and a couple of my colleagues at the HeadStart Foundation have been involved in creating a framework for formal collaboration between corporates and startups for jointly identifying, pursuing and executing business. The HeadStart Foundation is launching that initiative on the 9th at the HeadStart and Compute 2009 event in Bangalore and we have got 5 companies confirming as launch partners (names to disclose on 9th) and 20 more (evenly split between companies in India and abroad) in discussions.

This collaboration initiative takes the form of both online and offline interaction. The online bit is a simple process – corporates identify areas of interest and issue RFIs, startups and SMEs submit proposals that a team from HeadStart initially filter and then route to designated individuals in partner companies. There is also a process for regular offline interaction and doing reviews of the programme from time to time.

Since this is a new initiative, your views would be appreciated

1. Do you think that such initiatives will help innovation and business ?

2. What do you think are important things to make such an initiative a success ?

3. Where would VCs fit in to all this ? How should we engage investors ?

See you on 9th and 10th for those of you who can make it to Bangalore. Even otherwise, the Startup Saturdays are always there. And the online collaboration platform is an open one, so it will be available from the 9th for startups to join.

A Start up for Citizen Led Change in India

I just saw Shashank’s post on a political startup. Prior to doing a startup potential founders often brainstorm. If there are some people seriously interested in brainstorming on this idea in Delhi at my home in RK Puram please contact me.

Avenues for getting ~$1M funding in India

I am not sure if this topic has been discussed before – pls direct me to the post or if people have newer insights, it would be great to discuss.

I am curious about opportunities to get funding in the $1M range for start-ups in India.

1. Most of the VCs in India seem to be interested only in deals over $2M. The average size seems to be $4M-5M. I believe this is a direct consequence of VCs raising funds over $100M. Even if you write $5M checks you still need to manage 20 companies! So cannot afford to make and then manage small investments. Also, with the valuations of many established companies falling to ground levels, with a $5-10M investment, VCs can now get a good stake at low risk. So more VCs seem to be doing PE type deals.
2. $1M is still a big amount in India. It cannot be raised from Friends, family and fools. Angel investors also balk at that number. Are there any professional investors who fund in this range? What are the options available for companies planning to raise in this range? (Of course, if there are no options available, we can always wait till we have greater investment needs)

regards,
Vamsi.

Reposted from http://vamsikv.wordpress.com

Canaan invests in Chakpak.com

Happy to announce our investment in chakpak.com – the largest online community for Indian entertainment. We are excited to partner with Accel in financing the company, largely because:

  • Entertainment is a high usage and engagement category – As per Comscore, 18 million visitors in India already access entertainment content. Add to that the NRI base, and that number should be in 25-30M range.
  • Entertainment is also a high spend category, with over $36B spends on media and entertainment as per PwC FICCI Frames report. Some sections of this are addressable by chakpak over time – for example, movie marketing alone is a $500M market.
  • Efficient execution – over 5 million users access chakpak services every month, and chakpak team has done a great job of generating such levels of usage without spending a dime on marketing. They “get” the internet.

And to top it all, we are already getting our share of brickbats on making the investment, which means we might have just done something right :)

Social Mutual Fund

Interesting company kaChing – of course there are challenges around sustainable returns, building credibility, and marketing. But a very interesting disintermediation effort between capital and investment managers.

Would you use something like this?

Accel Partners raises $1B in new money

Even in this environment, there is lots of money around after all. It’s just that LPs are more cautious, seems to be the takeaway from this NYT blogpost:

Who says that money is tight for venture capitalists? Accel Partners, the Palo Alto, Calif., venture capital firm behind companies like Facebook, Glam Media and MetroPCS, announced Thursday that it had raised two new funds for a total of $1 billion.

Accel began fund-raising in mid-October, raising $1 billion in just two months, an impressive feat during a time when many of the investors in venture funds are unable to come up with the money they have already committed, nonetheless commit to new funds. Many of these limited partners have signaled to venture firms that they will not be ready to commit new money until 2010.

One of the new funds, the $480 million Accel Growth Fund, represesnts the first time the 25-year-old venture firm has raised a fund for late-stage companies. Its previous 10 funds have focused on investing in very young companies, and Accel is still investing its most recent $520 million fund in such start-ups.

Startup Saturdays across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad : Agenda for meetups on 13th December

There are four special Startup Saturdays across the country, ie, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, this coming weekend 13th December. Startup Saturdays are monthly meetups organised by the HeadStart Foundation that promote interaction among entrepreneurs, advisors, investors, corporate adopters and professionals. So far, in 2008, more than 30 meet ups have taken place in India.

The agenda for this weekend across the four cities are
1. Bangalore, venue : Honeywell Technologies, Bannerghatta Road, opposite IIM Bangalore; 10 am – 1 pm, register here
- Announcement by Honeywell on the startup collaboration initiative in partnership with the HeadStart Foundation, speaker is Harsha Angeri, Head, Strategy & Initiatives, HTSL
- Talk on ‘SaaS to Cloud computing’ by Vikram Murdeshwar, Akamai
- Product demo by LifeMojo (www.lifemojo.com)

2. Mumbai, venue : Dome 2, SP Jain Institute of Management, Andheri (West); 3 pm – 6 pm, register here
- Product demo of Librarywala (www.librarywala.com) by Hiten Turakhia
- Product demo of Adoroi (www.adoroi.com) by Mitesh Thakkar
- Panel discussion on ‘The effect of the economic slowdown on startups’ involving Mahesh Murthy, SeedFund and Hemir Doshi, IDG Ventures, Gopal Krishnan, ex-CEO of Mobile2Win, and Rohit Nalwade, ex-CEO of ConsumerVision

3. Delhi, venue : American Center, 24 KG Marg, Near Connaught place; 2 pm – 5 pm, register here
- Product demo by Eko (www.eko.co.in), Anupam Varghese, VP Technology
- Talk on ‘Why Startups should not have a HR department’ by Narendra Nag
- Panel discussion moderated by Nikhil Pahwa of Medianama on ‘The future of consumer services business models in India’ involving Sanjay Sindhwani, VP New Initiatives at IndiaTimes and Harish Bahl, Founder, Smile Technology Interactive Group (promoters of Tyroo and Quasar Media)
NOTE : Registration for American Center closes on 11th December 2008, so hurry up !!

4. Hyderabad, venue : Taj Deccan; 12 noon – 7 pm, register here
- Product demo and Talk
- VC meet up : Ranjith Menon, IDG Ventures
- followed by HYSEA Technology Day : featuring talks on Azure (Microsoft), OpenSocial (Google), GWT (Google), Research and IP creation (IDG Ventures, IIIT-Hyderabad)

These Startup Saturdays are a run up to the HeadStart and Compute 2009 (www.headstart.in) annual conference co-hosted by the HeadStart Foundation and ACM Bangalore on the 9th and 10th January 2009 at the NIMHANS Convention Center, Bangalore.

Enterprise Collaboration tools: Adoption and Benefits?

There’s been a lot of noise about online collaboration tools / Enterprise 2.0 / Knowledge Management, and we have seen a lot of products in the space. There are players ranging from the traditional Enterprise tools vendors like IBM and Microsoft with all encompassing heavy products, to a bunch of start-ups with their wares trying to get a share of the pie by solving a piece of the problem. The following is a list of a few tools in the Enterprise 2.0 space:

Sharepoint by Microsoft
Lotus Connections by IBM
SocialText (A ‘social wiki’ wiki with sharepoint integration)
ConnectBeam (Social Bookmarking that integrates with search)
Atlassian (Enterprise wiki with a lot of social features)
and many others

While Sharepoint is a last generation tool in its AJAX-y avatar, IBM’s product and those by the start-ups are true blue web 2.0 products which supposedly adhere to the web2.0 tenets of openness, sharing and usability and attemp to bring them to how people collaborate at workplaces. Such a tool can, potentially, help an enterprise:

1. Unlock knowledge hidden in day to day interactions
2. Make knowledge available for later use which would otherwise have been lost
3. Discover people with expertise
4. Promote retention, cohesion within the work place

While the potential use cases of these tools are very interesting, enterprise wide adoption and utility is something that I think is still to be proven. I would really like the inputs from the community here about their experience with using these or similar tools. Maybe we can have the discussion around the following points:

1. Which tool have you tried, and what have been the benefits.
2. How has the adoption been? How keen are employees to leave their previous ways of interacting, and shift to these collaboration tools?
3. Do you have a wish-list of features that you would like to see in a collaboration tool for your workplace?

And of course, anything else that you might want to add.

Top 6 Tips to Expand Your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn - Professional NetworkingGiven the proliferation of Social Media, your profile on Social and Professional networking sites deserves a significant attention. Globally, people are harnessing the power of social media for varied purposes – to attract customers, partners and talent are some of common objectives achieved through professional networking.

But, not everyone is equally successful in meeting their business objectives through professional networking. Your success in the Professional Networking game is a function of many parameters – the quality (who are you connected with) and the quantity (how many people are you connected with) are two of them. How can you build an ever growing, credible network? Here are the top 6 techniques you can use to constantly fuel your professional (and also social) networking success:

  1. People You Meet Daily – Everyday, as part of your professional life, you are meeting new people you would like to stay in touch with. This includes face to face meetings (e.g. conference participation, potential customer or partner), email exchanges, telephone calls and more. The chances are many of them are already present on LinkedIn. It takes couple of minutes to request invitation to your network. For e.g., what do you do with the business cards your collect at various meetings. Don’t just stock them, directly connect with those card owners on LinkedIn.
  2. LinkedIn Answers – As I wrote earlier, LinkedIn Answers is a great tool for networking in addition to getting highly valuable advice for free. The people who respond to your questions or the ones to whom you response, are likely the ones you would want to be connected with.
  3. Network of Network – Just browse through the connections of people in your network and you will be surprised to see the large number of known people, whom you would like to be part of your direct network. So, leverage your own network.
  4. LinkedIn Groups – Throughout your life, you get to be associated with various groups – alumni networks, ex employers, conference groups, technology groups etc. Many of them already exist on LinkedIn in the form of ‘Company’ or ‘Groups’. Browse through them and be prepared to be surprised by the list of people whom you know but didn’t remember. You can join (and participate) in new groups relevant to your areas of interest and again leverage them to expand your own network.
  5. Use Your Webmail Contacts – LinkedIn allows you to check who all in your webmail (e.g. gmail, hotmail, yahoo etc) contacts are present on LinkedIn. Choose the ones you want to network with and send them an invitation.
  6. Promote Your Profile – Finally, promote your LinkedIn profile through as many avenues as possible. Some of common places to have your LinkedIn profile – your email signature, your profile at other places, your articles, your business card etc. Make sure your profile is public, provide your email id in your contact settings and allow others to contact you. For example, linking your LinkedIn profile from your website page. Also, like me you can also blog to promote your profile :) .

I am sure if you follow the above ways, you will have a HUGE pool of professionals, who can be part of your network. I’ve used all of the above techniques to constantly expand my own LinkedIn profile. But, of all the invitations you send, how many will accept your request is not a constant. I recommend that you follow these guidelines in order to successfully build a credible network on any professional networking community:

  • Customize & personalize your invitation based on the person you are inviting. Don’t use the standard invitations.
  • Don’t spam by sending invitations to professionals – just for the sake of increasing the number.
  • Build credible profile – The chance of other professionals accepting your invitation is also based on the credibility of your profile. Completeness of your profile, having recommendations, quality of your profile summary and having your photo are some of the important credibility facts. Also, give personal touch to your profile.

I hope these tips and guidelines help you expand your professional network. Please do give your feedback including suggesting more tips and guidelines to the above list.

Happy Professional Networking!

Canaan Entrepreneur Pitch Workbook

Here is a short presentation that outlines the information that we, at Canaan, like to see in business plans. It is also a useful tool to think about what questions one should try and answer, besides just ensuring that a certain format is used. Personally, I don’t fancy paper copies much, especially when all of the audience is in one location, but other than that, this is a good starting point for discussions.

Canaan Entrepreneur Pitchbook
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: small management)