Archive for July, 2012

Not all Technologists and Entrepreneurs are CEOs

Don’t assume anything by default, and force yourself to fit in a role you haven’t grown into.

An Idea is not a Prototype. A Prototype is not a Product. A Product is not a Startup… Likewise,  A technologist is not a product manager. A product manager is not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is not a CEO. Everything demands an evolution – a growing up to see a bigger picture.

If You seem to like building products. You should join a kickass startup. If you can clearly tell that the pressure of an entrepreneur is not for you,  thats awesome. Clarity, in fact, is knowing what you don’t want to do.

Don’t settle, and as a wise man once said, “Life has enough ways of complicating itself. The key is to try to simplify it – if nothing to keep it simpler”

Originally posted here

SAP Startup Focus Program

SAP is organizing a Startup Focus Program, looking to partner with application product companies wherein SAP’s in-memory technology (HANA) can be utilized to create breakthrough performance advantage. They are looking to identify 15 companies in India, with whom SAP can collaboratively work to provide access to technology and expertise, and a potential chance to be exposed to 10,000+ SAP customers in Madrid in November this year.

The SAP Startup Focus program has three driving principles:
1. Make SAP HANA’s breakthrough capabilities easily available to the startup community for their development
2. Offer a simple, inexpensive and effective development accelerator to all eligible participants
3. Work as a one-stop advocacy group to help startups navigate SAP’s offerings

SAP is inviting startups to participate in the first ever SAP Startup Forum in Bangalore (invite–only event). To be part of the SAP Startup Focus Program, startups need to register online latest by July 20, 2012. The SAP Startup Forum team will evaluate the registered entries to determine the shortlisted companies for the event. Shortlisted companies will then receive an e-mail invitation to attend the SAP Startup Forum to be held in Bangalore in the month of August.

Benefits for Startups to engage with SAP’s Startup Forum:

  • Gain competitive advantage with access to big data innovative technologies from SAP
  • Enablement and access to technical resources
  • Getting new leads/ visibility with SAP customers
  • Co-Branding and Co-Marketing Activities
  • Chance to attend and present at SAPPHIRE NOW EMEA, SAP’s largest in-house trade fair with 10,000+ SAP customers, partners and influencers (November 13-16, Madrid)
  • Potential funding investment (via SAP Ventures)
  • No cost required for startups to participate


Criteria for participation.

1. Revenue of the startup should be less than $40m
2. Have a finished product (viable)
3. Have at least one customer or in pipeline
4. Must have a Big Data use case
5. Must have registered online by July 20, 2012

Next Steps: The SAP Startup Forum team will get in touch with startups after receiving their initial response to have a detailed discussion and determine the shortlisted companies.

Any Questions/Clarifications: Please write to SAP_Startup_Forum_India@sap.com

More Info: Please go through the below to gain more information on the program:

In50hrs is Back. Bigger and in a City Near You.

 In50hrs : The Idea to Prototype Event

In50hrs the flagship Idea-to-Prototype event of The Startup Centre, has taken on a new avatar, with its learnings from the past four editions that were conducted in its city of Origin – Chennai, Over the Year.

From the demand that the team has been receiving, we are taking this event Platform to four different cities this year – Chennai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi. The event is getting kickstarted in its home city Chennai, Followed by Pune this Quarter.

So How does this affect an entrepreneur?

We see plenty of entrepreneurs who have amazing Ideas, but are rather reluctant to do anything about it because there is no nudge to get them to take that first step – to convert that idea into something that starts to work, the prototype.

In50hrs is a weekend event that brings together entrepreneurs with audacious ideas, kickass developers, and product designers together to build first version prototypes of the Product idea.

Over the past four events, In50hrs hours has seen more than 200 participants participate in the event, 100 odd prototypes being built and in its last count 20 startups that have emerged out of the same – not so surprisingly, quite a few of them being student startups.

If we can enable a student to become an entrepreneur, experience and learn how to build a startup in the most cost-effective and safe environment, then we have achieved our goal to support any entrepreneur with their crazy idea.

The event also seeks to seed some depth in the kind of ideas that are coming out of India. Opportunities around the mobile and internet, leveraging the mobile subscriber base – with technologies such as NFC, Augmented reality etc are quite under exploited. There are some rather large opportunities that are prevalent in the enterprise segment as well – pain points that we hopefully will see solutions emerge around in these events.

For More details, visit www.in50hrs.com. Registrations are open for Chennai and Pune. Early bird registrations for Chennai close on 6th July – This Friday. So Hurry.

Mobile Payments – where is the use case?

Techcrunch has an interesting article questioning the value proposition of mobile payments, especifically NFC in this case. Read here…

Even in the Indian context, there have been multiple companies trying to push mobile payments over time, and a clear use case has been missing. Cash or swipe cards function fairly well for physical merchants. Some of the more recent attempts are aiming to reduce the cost of POS roll out – a form in which the mobile device may be used as acceptance terminal, rather than as a replacement of swipe card. That seems slightly more interesting – however, the savings on the acquisition terminal is perhaps only a small fraction of the overall cost of acquiring and managing the merchant base. So its not clear if this technology innovation solves the critical path issue.

Other views?

Thoughts on book publishing industry

Note: Posted this on my blog the other day. Wanted to get opinion of a wider audience and hence posting it here.

There has been a recent spurt in the number of writers. 4 out of 10 people I know are either writers or are aspiring to be one. And similarly, the spurt in homw grown publishing companies. After all, all you need to be a publishing company is a couple of certificates and you are ready to issue ISBN numbers.

For a first time writer, the traditional way to go about getting a book published is to finish the manuscript, cold call all the publishers he can and hope to hear back from one or more.

Then, came the middle man – the literary agents. Now the writers wrote their manuscripts, went to a literary agent and slept in peace. The agent would identify the publishing houses that may be interested in the manuscript and approach these publishers. Ofcourse the agent would ask or a cut. A typical number, if I am not wrong is 10%. Could bi higher for a new writer.

So the game is heavily stacked in the favour of agents and the publishers. Publishers take a call on what they want to publish. The kind of books published and thus advertised on the mainstream are thus limited to the understanding of the publisher. Ofcourse publishers are learned men and know what they are doing. They run huge businesses after all. But then, if there was a way the audience, the junta, the aam aadmi could decide the kind of books they want to read, it would be awesome.

So here are the ideas. Three actually.

One. Discovery platform.

What if every first time writer gets to create an account on a portal. They upload the first three chapters (or 10% of the book online) and the platform is open for the audience to read these excerpts. If readers like what they see, they can indicate that they want to read the rest of the book. The books that get “likes” above a minimum threshold (say 5000 likes) are put in print and every one who has liked is notified about the print run. If the “likes” are below the threshold, everyone who indicated a like would have an option of buying the digital copy of the rest of the book.

So essentially, the process of identifying the “winners” is taken away from the publishers and literary agents and is given in the hands of the readers. If such could be the case, I am assuming that there would be lot more writers that would get published and a lot of books that have been published would be sent to raddiwalla.

Classic freemium model at work.

Two. Marketplace for writers and publishers.

What if there could be a service that got writers and publishers together on a platform. So all new authors login, see what kinda things do publishers want to publish and then accordingly submit their manuscripts. On the other hand, publishers see what kind of scripts are being uploaded and see if publishing those would make sense for their business.

Platform does one level of sanity and hygiene check and then lists the manuscripts to publishers. Publishers now decide if they want to publish or not.

This kills the literary agent but at the same time saves so much of headache for writer and publishers.

Three. Self publish on the digital medium

Alternatively (or may be concurrently), the platform that I spoke about in idea # 2 could enable and guide the new writers to publish themselves digitally. The platform could take care of logistics like issuing an ISBN number etc. Since digital reading devices are in vogue, there must be enough people interested in buying these digital books (at least numbers from Amazon tend to indicate this). And suddenly a new writer is no longer at the mercy of the whims of a publisher!

And if a book does well on the digital platform, they can be released in the traditional print run, and get sold on brick and mortar stores and flipkarts of the world!

Pothi.com looks like a good place for such an idea but IMHO the execution leaves much to be desired.

Thats it. Its a pity that the business is stacked against the content creators. My estimates and interviews tell me that a new writer gets anywhere between 4% and 12% (if lucky) of the selling price of the book. The major chunk goes to the reatailer (flipkarts and Strands of the world) and the publisher. Isnt it unfair that the content creator actually gets the smallest piece of the pie? Something worth fixing!

Posted originally on sgSandbox.