Archive for December, 2008

Why Not A Political Startup

Given the mess that our political system is in, I wonder why professionals have not seriously looked at creating a political startup. Present service providers have been providing low quality services for decades in what really should be a buyers’ market given that we are a democratic country. People have been crying for a better deal but those who can make a difference seem to be indifferent.

The present political parties are beset with the following problems which in turn have resulted in a loss making entity called India.

1. Corruption at the highest levels of governement and the bureaucracy
2. Short sighted decisions based on electoral concerns
3. Putting self (i.e. power) before national interest
4. Nexus with criminals and businessmen
5. Low level of education

These are all surmountable if the political party consists of highly motivated professionals who run the show (and the country) like any well managed company which treats the shareholders (citizens in this case) with respect.

The founders will require a transformational mindset.

The opportunity is huge and so is the required investment. Are there any VCs/Angels willing to invest in a political party startup which will function like any professionally managed company and provide a clean and effective government?

I would love to be part of such a startup. We owe to ourselves if not to the country. If anyone in this community of entrepreneurs is interested do let me know.

Do we need Teams who have delivered before?

In continuation from my last post “do great startups solve a problem”, I’ve got another pressing question, which seems to perplex me, but seems to be required by just about every VC/startup I have ever interacted with.

Having looked at some really good startups (my criteria for a good startup is quite simple…its big, people know its name, and it makes money), rediff, naukri, google, facebook, twitter (not sure on this one), orkut, netscape, aol, skype (exception), ebay, alibaba, lycos, monster I could go on, but you get the point, I cant see many if any that had teams which had delivered before. Of course I have not done a in depth study, but I don’t think the founders etc in many of these companies had delivered similar size companies before, or after. So my question is why do VC’s again insist in experience teams, even if you have a look down the ranks in these teams, especially in the early formative years, there were not many grey hairs on the board/management teams.

Of course I maybe proved wrong here, and I guess that would make me sleep better at night, but surely alot of these companies succeeded because they took what was out there and did it differently, rather than just going with the flow. They broke the mould, they changed the way the company operated.

I will take a personal example here, several times I have come up against “old skool (showing how hip I am here :-) )” teams who say we should
a) market like this — buy TV ad space, do banner ads blah blah blah, i.e the ibibo way, and it does not work
b) we should run HR like a normal hierarchy

etc etc, you get the picture, but the companies who succeeded wrote there own management tools, there own MIS software, and kludged it all the way they wanted and the way it worked, and I believe its because of that they succeeded, rather than following Management 101. Admittedly in some areas grey hairs are good (finance) and as a company grows, more grey hairs are needed, but by then the company is in a operational state (rather than a growing state), where chaos is king.

Again might be wrong, but when facebook was exploding, it was the lack of experience which took them there, when Myspace was hip and cool, and everyone wanted to be on it, it was the chaos, which made it funky.

Again question targetted at VC’s of the companies they have backed, early on, with experienced management/founders how many are household names, i.e how many past CEO’s have done it again?

Iqbal (aka feelin_tired)

P.S On a personal note, guys I have had my Inbox filled with requests for startup help/mentoring etc etc, and although I am once again free (I have moved on from Nivio, since it is no longer a startup but in a operational stage, with sales, and partners all in place…hence job done), I can only do so many pro-bono things, simply because I do not have the resources (time, money, energy). So unless a VC wants to pay me to do this, or someone would like to donate Dominoes pizzas to me, I’m a little stuck, will always help when I can, but please realise it will be “as and when I can”…..currently working/looking for the next big thing, so if you find it before I do, let me know :-)