Archive for February, 2009

No Criminals Campaign

This is a public interest post – The core idea of the ‘No Criminals’ campaign is to launch a nationwide effort to enable large numbers of citizens to appeal to political parties not to give tickets to people with criminal antecedents in the upcoming elections.

Read and sign the appeal on website. Join the facebook group.

Help us promote the campaign – put the logo and link on your website, and on your email footers.

Should Facebook and Twitter bother to make money? (Iqbal Gandham)

Another late night post after a evening kicking a ball around a five-a-side pitch :-)
Have been thinking for a while about Facebook, Twitter and the likes, i.e all the big networks which are trying to make money. Now we all know on the web there are only two ways of really making money

a) The user pays
b) Someone else does (i.e advertisers)

Lets look at ‘b’ since this is where most of the “large” dotcoms sit/used to sit. If you look at Google, it doesn’t really have a closed network as such, all it does is to take data from elsewhere, do some magic, and then return some results. These results we use, and someone else pays to be viewed alongside the results. Now in the case of Facebook, they use their OWN data, and not created by others, by their own, I mean created within their walled garden, same with Twitter, the data is created using the Twitter platform.

Both Facebook and Twitter differ from Google here, Google uses the roads that others built, and adds value to that, Facebook and Twitter are using their own roads, i.e they are trying to build the railroad, but also the services on top to monetise them.

Again and again we here of how Facebook and Twitterwill make money, I am unsure of whether this is a good idea, not the money making, but the how.Facebook and Twitter need to make the roads better and bigger, allowing people to do different things on them (call this opening the walled garden or whatever), the money will be made with the people who use these roads, Twitter and Facebookshould be partnering with these companies in a new type of funding scenario, i.e we will focus on the road building, you guys come up with ways to use it, and together we both make money. Google did this well, it used existing roads i.e websites that were built, and built a business on top…and now its stuck, because its own search engine is now becoming a road in itself, but they cant keep squeezing money out of it, what they need is to let others build on top of that.

I am sure lots of people are confused between the road analogies, but the way I look at it is , roads, railroads were built centuries ago, but the real money being made from them came much after, by the people using them, the same is true with Facebook, Twitter and even now Google, work out whether you are a layer using the roads, or the road themselves.

As a summary, Facebook and Twitter need to make there platforms better, and partner with companies who use their data in order to make money, for them and also for the partners, if they try to both together, i.e create the platform and enhance it, AND try to use the same platform to make money, I think they will hit a deadend, and user’s will move off. We want new things all the time…..

Iqbal Gandham (aka feelin_tired)

National business plan Competition – Bizconp2009

Business Plan competition (BizComp2009) organized by  Sri Jayachamarajendra college of engineering-Science and Technology entrepreneurs Park (SJCE-STEP), who has pioneered entrepreneurship development and incubation.

BizComp2009 is conducted in association with National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India and Sri Jayachamarajendra college of engineering (SJCE) under TEQIP assistance.

The objective of BizComp2009 is to provide an opportunity to graduate students of engineering and post graduate students of management to compete on a national level and get their business plans validated by experts from industry, academia and venture capitalists and other funding agencies. The competition is open to those who have a primary business idea, fire to succeed as an entrepreneur and showcase an understanding of Economy, Business Potential, Financials, and Technology & Innovations.

Entries are received on- line following a formal registration. The executive summaries are first examined and the top 30 are allowed to upload the business plans in the second stage. Finally top 8 business plans will be evaluated by an elite panel at the presentation defense in the third stage at Mysore. The top 3 teams will receive cash prizes of Rs.1,00,000/-, Rs.60,000/-, Rs.40,000/-respectively. In addition they along with other participants will be offered incubation support at Mysore, sister STEPs at Bangalore & Noida and other STEPs.

You may visit www.bizcomp.in to take a look at the details of the competition

Warm regards,

D.P. Shivakumar
Chief Executive
SJCE-STEP, Mysore
Phone:
+91-821-2548321, 9972534383

NEN EWeek Pledge

On February 7, the third edition of Entrepreneurship Week India was launched across the country with almost 400,000 students and professionals showcasing their entrepreneurial spirit – double the number of participants from last year. Run by the non-profit National Entrepreneurship Network, a Wadhwani Foundation initiative, E Week India is designed to improve the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by educating the youth about entrepreneurship and exposing them to opportunities in today’s India. Held from February 7-14, E Week India is highlighting green business opportunities and sustainable development.

As part of the week long celebrations, E Week Partners and Hosts are organizing more than 3000 entrepreneurship activities across 30 cities and towns. These activities include panel discussions, movie screenings, seminars, workshops, cycle rallies, free emission checks, and even ‘green’ fashion shows. Daily updates and pictures from these activities are available at E Week Yatra. In addition, many E Week celebrants renewed their vow to continue building an entrepreneurial India by taking the “E Week 2009 Pledge”.

Free Strategy Roundtables For Entrepreneurs

I am doing some Free Online Strategy Roundtables for entrepreneurs to discuss your business issues with me.

During this 60-minute session, entrepreneurs are invited to pitch me their ideas in a 3-minute presentation. I will review the material in real-time and provide feedback on each pitch, as well as address specific strategy questions from the entrepreneur. Afterward, I will take questions about strategy from other participants. The session is open to 1000 people but only the first five to sign up have the opportunity to pitch and discuss their business.

To register, click here:

* Feb 18, 11:30 am Pacific
* March 11, 9:00 am Pacific
* March 25, 10:00 am Pacific

The entire series is sponsored by DimDim, the Open Source web conferencing company.

Recordings of previous entrepreneurship webinars and roundtables are available here:

* January, 2009 – Entrepreneurship Webinar
* October, 2008 – Web 3.0 Product Strategy Roundtable

Feedback for Forbes Column

Friends, I am doing a series on Entrepreneurship in India for Forbes, and would like to hear your thoughts. Would you please comment at my site and leave your name/affiliation on the site, so that I can use some of your comments in the articles, and duly attribute them? The first of these pieces is for this Friday, and I have to write it on Wednesday morning Pacific time. So if you want your thoughts to be incorporated, make sure you comment ASAP. Thanks!

Business Plan Competition @ IT-BHU

Date – 19th -22nd February, 2009

Website – http://magnumopus.org.in 

IT-BHU is holding a B plan competition as part of the annual Techno Management Festival Magnus Opus. It provides a platform for all entrepreneurs to showcase their talent and be appraised. This year the event will be judged by a special team from NSTEDB (National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board) and renowned venture capitalist Mr Ganesh Rengaswamy (Co-founder of Travelguru.com and an exponent of Harvard Business School). The organizers are looking at generating a seed fund up to INR 50 lacs for the best B-Plan. 

The event will also feature “The Entrepreneurship Conclave” aimed at liberating students trapped between perception and reality. Distinguished guests and delegates will be engaged in talks and discussions. Speakers at the events include Mr. Ganesh Rengaswamy (Co.founder of Travelguru), Michael O Brien (Pixar Animation Studios), Manish Tripathi (Dabbawala foundation), David Wittenberg (CEO of Innovation Workgroup), Rashmi Bansal, Chetan Bhagat among many others.

Some Nuggets on Starting up, and Scaling Out

These are links to some presentations that were part of Startonomics, a conference for Startups. There are some very good nuggets that most of our companies could benefit from:

1. Moving out of the Garage:

2. Product Development 101 (Fast Track Product Development)
Continue reading ‘Some Nuggets on Starting up, and Scaling Out’

How we got Nivio to Davos (WEF)…and won

Alot of emails later, with the same question being asked again and again, I have decided to write a blog post, making my life easier and hopefully yours.

In short you need to partner with a PR company who have done it before (we used Chameleon in the UK). Once this is done you have yourself a team, which is crucial with any type of assault. So what next:

Step 1: Build a Calendar for next year, write down all the events which are global/local/ and hard code the events which are relevant to you.

Step 2: Fine tune this target audience in terms of reach, i.e WEF will be covered globally, whereas an awards ceremony in Delhi, will be local

Step 3: Once you have your targets in place, you need to know the sweet spot for each target. You need to understand what “angle” they are coming from, i.e is everyone talking about “green” or “CO2″, or is it about something else like “broadband speeds”, its like selling, you need to know what the requirements of the buyer are. BUT please note do not lie, this will come out, and you will look really really dumb, its better not to target that event. For example if your product/service is about cars, and you went to a ceremony which was all about mobile phones, I am sure a few creative people could build a link between the two, but is it worth it, I think not.

Step 4: So now you have your target, and their sweet spot, you need to start to put together a piece of paper which hits this sweet spot, what makes your “key” fit into that “lock”, why are you the perfect fit, put together a “cheat sheet” of all the points that fit

Step 5: Okay that’s what you can provide, BUT we need support from outside the circle, we need third party support, we need other people, other reports which enhance your claim, do other people agree, that what you are doing will help?

Step 6: Writing your story – this is the hard part, since they all have a word count, the best thing is to write the full story and IGNORE the word count, and then start to strip bits out, eventually you will have a really tight story, get someone to read it again and again….and then again.

Step 7: Once all this is done, assume that you will get nominated, and no this is not arrogance, but you need a plan of what to do if you do get nominated, since getting nominated can carry just as much PR as winning, so milk it. Have a plan of action to push out the nomination story to a wide audience, push it out to friends and family, make sure everyone reads it.

Step 8: Pray, yes folks there is nothing else you can do, there is no hidden formula, no bribing of judges, all you can do is make sure is that you do your best to beat the competition, the rest is down to the panel, but if your “key” fits the “lock” better than others, and you have supporting evidence you will get there…and if you don’t at least you tried

Aside from the 8 steps above, you need to ensure that this task is not given to a office junior, the company from the top needs to be involved in this, it will take time, and its needs effort, but its worth it…..Oh all of the above does not apply, if your product/service sucks

Will Davos make you famous? possibly not, will it makes thousands use your product? doubt it, the only thing that will achieve those two is a great product/service that people want, PR of course will make the journey smoother and quicker.

And that my friends is “how the west was won” :-)

Iqbal Gandham

Online vouchers – SaaS approach

Recently I was approached by some people who were interested in developing a software for the administration of their daily office work. They wanted it really cheap. Now these are the poeple who started using computers at their workplace recently. Now they have realized that a software can give them some advantage in the competition. In the coming years, many such small businesses would be willing to have such small and cheap software for their businesses. Most of these businesses would essentially be needing a software which can manage their bills/vouchers and provide a facility to all the accounting/end-of-day-settlement for their cash collection. Given the evolving nature of SaaS model and that avaialability of cheap softwares that SaaS model leads to, online voucher management system should be an attractive venture of near future.

After doing some research I could find that their are very few players in this line of bisiness. I’m not very sure of the size of the marketwe can see in future for such a busines but it would definitely be huge.

Has anyone here done any market research in this particular segment? Anyone on this forum has even a wild guess on what would be the size of such a market?