Author Archive for Balaji Sowmyanarayanan Ideas that will shape the Startup ecosystem

I attended at Chennai.
Here is my pick of Startups to watch in terms of their ‘Inspiration Value’: Their evolution and success will shape up the startup culture( in my opinion, of course!)

DesiCrew( Taking technology mediated work to rural areas )

Spinaxys( Mpathy: User profiling based ‘Relevant’ SMS ads; Quickly build the user base, please; Only way to survive)
Novatium( Home computing delivered through TV/Cable. This as a software platform will be amazing:A Wintel like market domination is possible!)
Sloka( Low power, small form factor WiMax devices; Hmmm… Hardware innovation in India?…)
Taazza ( Shifting the focus from Content to Context automagically(algo based ); Money making is equally fun: focus on it! )

All these startups are stacked up against heavy odds. Way they evolve, way they succeed, and way they ensure the longivity of their name is worth watching, learning and be inspired.

Bonus Links:
Proto coverage at Webyantra.
Insightful comment by Jothirmayee
Constructive criticism on proto organization etc.

stop worrying about technology

VC1.0, Stagflation and VC2.0 Preambe

Peter Rip of Leapfrog Ventures has a humorous piece on On Everything 2.0 and takes a dig the 2.0 trend with Arithmetic 2.0. Then he gets serious with Venture Capital 2.0 a series on paridgm shift in the (IT) VC space. First in the series, Venture 2.0 – Preamble traces the

The sequential evolution of the IT “food chain” from semiconductor (Intel, National) to systems (Apple, Sun, Dell) to software (Microsoft, Oracle) to services (Yahoo, Google) has been the underlying order.

and goes on to say

And some firms are already responding. The move to Cleantech is a move to exit IT (or diversify) to find alternative industries. The move to build Indian and Chinese outposts are brand extensions.

Some highlights:

Success in IT venture capital investing has been a form of capital and information arbitrage for much of the period up to the late 1990s. The scarcity of risk capital and the scarcity of insight about evolution of technologies and technology markets made it possible for astute venture capital firms to transform access to capital and superior technological insight into superior returns. For example, as Moore’s Law was driving the electronics industry to the mantra of smaller, cheaper, faster, Sequoia Capital built a franchise reputation in semiconductor venture investments, based on the experience of its two founders, Don Valentine and Pierre Lamond, both early veterans of National Semiconductor.

Success begat success in the venture business. Since venture investments have had payoff characteristics like options, i.e. limited downside and infinite upside, the key to the business has been “deal flow.” Deal flow is about seeing as much of the total distribution of deals, to generate a larger set of ‘long tail outcome’ candidates. Success made IT venture capital business a first-order Markov process, where the probability of the getting the next hit was enhanced by having a previous hit, precisely because of the desire of all entrepreneurs to affiliate with “known winners.” The two masters of this phenomenon have been Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.

Worth checking out and worth staying tuned for more.

Of Capital, Fear and Diet

Michael Sikorsky of Cambrian House a Crowd Sourced software play has written an interesting post,
Raising capital: Six tips on Eating Fear.

Interesting observations include:
Most investors invest emotionally and then justify their decisions rationally.

You could have the most amateur answers in the world for how your business is going to operate and people will still invest in you if they believe in you. It’s just true.

And finally ends with:
When entrepreneurs sincerely believe, project a genuine aura of confidence, and act as if they are destined to raise the money, they often do.

Kathy Sierra’s Take on Techies

It is humorous, and educative. Check it out. Other posts are also worth a read. I love the tactful useage black and white images from yore.

VC Quiz at Forbes

I came across a VC quiz at Frobes that was very interesting. The quizes describe a venture situation and ask you to vote if the Venture thrive or die.
I found the Quiz 4 Interesting:

NEW YORK – Think you can sniff out a promising young company? Read the following preliminary analysis of an unnamed yet real startup and vote on whether you think the company thrived or died. Later, we’ll reveal the results of your picks–and explain what happened to the company and why. The answers might surprise you.

Concept: Pain management is big business for pharmaceutical makers such as Pfizer (nyse: PFE – news – people ), Merck (nyse: MRK – news – people ), Bayer (nyse: BAY – news – people ) and Johnson & Johnson (nyse: JNJ – news – people ). Now alternative treatments that don’t involve drugs–such as acupuncture, magnet therapy and electrical stimulation–are getting some attention, thanks to companies like Boston Scientific (nyse: BSX – news – people ), Cyberonics (nasdaq: CYBX – news – people ) and Advanced Neuromodulation Systems (nasdaq: ANSI – news – people ).

Formed in 2002, our candidate for Quiz No. 4 developed a device–a flexible harness lined with electrodes–that ameliorates pain by delivering precisely controlled electrical impulses to the sore area. The theory: Manage the frequency and wavelengths just so, and at the right shock level, and you can disrupt the way nerves transmit pain messages. Treatments last for ten to 15 minutes apiece, two or three times a week, and have no known side effects. The company claims that its device can battle many types of pain ….

And Quiz 4 Results even more interesting and educative!
It discusses the venture using “TVA Radar Graph” that maps 12 parameters like Market Opportunity to IP to evaluate the venture.

I suggest you vote before you look at the results.

-Balaji S.
Idea, Execution, Profit!

Startup Failures: Blue Screen of Death – By Jawwad Farid

Here is an interesting and humourus book on startup failures and success:

Ideas for a new venture arrive with a moment of blinding insight. Some start as accidents; otheres take us years of wandering effort to gel the real concept into shape. Regardless of the cause, for most new ventures, the flash of inspiration is followed by a downhill journey that fades into insignificance. It is a rar venture whose original vision and potential are fully realized.
Why is that? Unlike parenthood, there is no parental instinct that guides us in nurturing the grwoing yound businesses. Beyond the missing paternal instinct, there is an observable pattern of repeated fatalistic behavior tat indicates failure is neither well documented nor well understood.
My facination with failure has now spanned 15 years – spent with new ventures in some shape or from, …

Here is a bit of humour from Jawwad’s own promotion e-mail:

At the business school orientation for new arrivals, a fellow student asked me why I was at Columbia. My response drew a look of confusion – “I always wanted to write a book, run the New York Marathon and do a play on Broadway, the MBA is just for cheap subsidized housing.”

This of course was January 1999. As of 22 April 2006, I am proud to report that I am too fat to run and that though there were multiple attempts to produce Harvey, a Mary Allen Chase Play about a six foot tall invisible rabbit, all were sabotaged by a six foot tall invisible rabbit.

It is worth a read for the lessons, inspiration and the humour. Everyone will be able to relate to it in some way. Be it choices we make, or the arrogance that comes to one embarked on a startup adventure or the humbling effect of startups on onself. It is pricey at $15.77 available as digital download from amazon. Here is a lesson for success I guess :)

Book: Blue Screen of Death by Jawwad Farid
The book website:
Reviews so far: