Author Archive for Nalin

Delhi is the New Hub For Techs

I read this interesting article recently- about how Delhi is the new hub for tech startups– in Wall Street journal.

I am curious- what are the experiences/opinions of other members- who may have worked in multiple Indian metros on the subject.

Below article is a mirror of article in Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204485304576644220533569618.html
Delhi is the New Hub For Techs

MUMBAI — The National Capital Region, as Delhi metro area is known, has upstaged Bangalore as India’s biggest hub for technology start-ups, according to a survey released this week.

At least 220 technology start-ups were launched in the Delhi area over the past three years, compared with 159 in Bangalore, according to the survey conducted by YourStory.in, which tracks start-ups in India.

Of these, 49 start-ups in NCR attracted investors, while only 18 were able to raise funds from investors in Bangalore.

The survey is based on data from 1,057 start-ups across 16 cities. Most of these ventures are less than three years old, and 15% of them are older.

Launching companies is easy in Bangalore because mentors and facilitators provide a mature entrepreneurial ecosystem, but sustaining these ventures is difficult in the absence of financial support, said Shradha Sharma, founder of YourStory.in, which claims to have the biggest database of fledgling firms in India.

“Startups come up crazily in Bangalore and die just as fast,” Ms. Sharma said. “New Delhi and Mumbai companies have more access to capital than Bangalore. Seed- and angel-funding is minimal in Bangalore. Most companies still have to come to Mumbai for funding.

Also, companies in New Delhi’s suburbs of Noida and Gurgaon usually are started by professionals with experience working for multinationals. “The ideas are more mature, therefore the quality is high,” she said.

Startups in Delhi stand out in terms of business focus, said Ashish Sinha, head of Pluggd.in, which also tracks startups.

TiECon Delhi from Sept 18 to Sept 19

TiECon Delhi is about to happen at Taj Palace Hotel, SP Marg, Chanakyapuri, Delhi, Sept 18-19, sessions from 9:00am onwards and networking dinner/cocktails at 7:30 pm on 18th Sept, 2009 (Website: www.tienewdelhi.org ) .

Dont Know what’s TiE ? Never heard of TiECon ? Then read right on…

Continue reading ‘TiECon Delhi from Sept 18 to Sept 19′

Bill Gates in Delhi – Nov 6th, 2008- Opening wallets to Fund Research

I attended Mr.Bill Gates’ talk– heard some very interesting ideas from Mr.Gates about opening wallets for research on the world’s pressing problems.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is practically “giving away” US $100,000 grants to researchers based on 2-page summaries of innovative ideas.

I didnt post the longer article/snaps in venturewoods- because I felt it may be too long OR too controversial– but it’s there at my blog http://delhivoice.blogspot.com.

Posted below is a extract on Mr.Gates’ views on funding medical research on problems affecting the lowest rung of society.
—-
(as before, reproduction or publishing any of the text below without express written permission of the author is forbidden – nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com).

Mr.Gates said while capitalism is the best system developed till now, the way capitalism works, miniscule amounts of money are spent solving problems for those at the bottom of the pyramid.

The amount of money spent annually researching polio and cures for polio till recently was about 10% of the money spent researching cures for baldness.

Until the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation chipped in, researchers could not typically expect rewards for their efforts. In US and even more outside the US, researchers just did not see rewards or money for solving the tough problems that affect the poorest, the most needy and the most deprived people in the world.

Many long, tough-to-understand descriptions are submitted and there’s a tiring and exhausting process for meager funds.

So, the last time they invited ideas to fund; they asked-for and got two-page descriptions. They got 4000 short descriptions from many researchers- and they got 60 people to evaluate the ideas- each evaluator got 150 ideas to evaluate and rate. And they told the judges the following:
(1) Each evaluator selects three ideas he liked best.
(2) Automatic US $100,000 funding to the idea each evaluator liked best- and the Gates’ Foundation would get back in a year to see how much progress was made.
(3) For the idea each evaluator liked second-best:
a. If the idea was from the US, then it would get $100,000 in funding if three evaluators liked it in their top three ideas.
b. If a idea was from outside USA then even one evaluator liking it as second best would get the idea $100,000 funding- because they want to get people all around the world working on ideas- they want researchers to be finding and developing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, rather than worrying about funding.
c. For each idea selected as a third best idea by any researcher, more criteria will be applied- but whatever happens, Mr Gates felt that opening up the purse-strings would really get people digging into and researching ideas.

A 2-page synopsis by a lady in India, suggested a way of controlling AIDS by creating nano-particles which mimic the AIDS-causing HIV virus- and when the virus interacts with those, the virus to gets deactivated.

Mr.Gates added that since this was presented as a 2-page outline only, they don’t know if it’ll be useful or not.
But the evaluator liked the idea- so they gave the lady who proposed this idea $100,000 for her research- and they’ll get back to her in a year to see what progress she’s made- a year later.

Sounded like a interesting approach to to me; what say ?? do comment/write-in… also about the pitfalls/possible negatives of doing stuff like this…

TiE Retail Summit 2008, Aug 1st New Delhi

I had the opportunity to check out the TiE India Retail Summit 2008- not all of it—but a few hours towards the end and I’m using this platform to put down a brief account of the same—all comments, questions, suggestions and queries are welcome, either here or by mailing me on nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com- also, incase you’d like me to add to this article, if you want me to make corrections or if you want me add specific details I may have missed out, please feel free to mail me.

For information on author’s copyright, reprint-permissions and mirrors of this article, please scroll to the notice at the end of this post.

The TiE India Retail Summit 2008 was held at the Sheraton Hotel, Saket, on August 1st 2008 and it had one main conference session, with numerous simultaneous workshops, and focussed on various aspects of organized retail in India.

This is by no means a complete account of the event- but rather a synopsis, followed by some of what I saw and really liked about the event.

I’ve attended a lot of tech events but not many on retail, and I’m blogging this account to benefit people like myself who wonder how’s TiE’s retail event would be- from a human perspective, beyond the networking-value and beyond what a layperson or a journalist would talk about. Also, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m posting here a few snaps I clicked there.

The session kicked off at 9:00 in the morning, and the schedule as per the pre-published program mailer was as below:

Introduction and Opening Remarks
• Arvind Singhal, Chairman, Technopak Advisors
Keynote Session – The India Story
• William Bissell, Managing Director, Fabindia Ltd
• Arvind Singhal, Chairman, Technopak Advisors – Chair
Learnings from Indian & Western Retail Models
• Viney Singh, Managing Director, Max Hyper Market India
• Mark Ashman, CEO, Marks & Spencer
• Andrew Levermore, CEO, HyperCITY Retail
• Himanshu Chakrawarti, COO, Landmark (Trent Ltd). – Chair
Tea

Hot New Retail Stories
• Rajiv Agarwal, CEO & Director, The Mobile Store
• Ashutosh Garg, Chairman & Managing Director, Guardian Life Care
• Kamal Oswal, Cotton County (tbc)
• Anurag Batra, Editor –in Chief & Publisher, exchange4media Group – Chair
LUNCH

Workshops
• TiE – Milagrow: How Small Will Become Bigger
Rajeev Karwal, Founder & CEO, Milagrow
Sanjay Shani, Director, Ritu Wears
• TiE – KPMG: Retail Financing
Narayanan Ramaswamy, Executive Director, KPMG Advisory Services
• TiE – IBM: Retail IT
Rafiq Shafi, Retail Industry Solutions, IBM India
Tea Break

Workshops
• TiE – Technopak: Retail Operations
Krishna Kumar, AVP-Retail Operations Practice, Technopak
• TiE – Cushman & Wakefield: Retail Property & Infrastructure
Rajneesh Mahajan, Director, Retail Services, Cushman & Wakefield
• Guru Session/Mentoring Clinic

Venue: The event was held at the Sheraton Hotel, Saket. A great venue that offers superb ambience. There was a session happening in the Dynasty ballroom with 3 other parallel tracks happening simultaneously.
The Sheraton, Saket was earlier called the Marriot, Saket. In it’s current avatar as the Sheraton- a Starwood Property- this hotel definitely lives up to Starwood’s legendary standards of elegance, ambience and hospitality- which are world-class.

Event: I showed up sometime after the tea break; and after running through the Tea Break, I had the chance to attend the session on “Retail Operations” by Mr.Zahir Abbas, Mr Kostubh Rishi and Mr.Bikram Chatterji of TechnoPak.

Takeaways:

Informative Sponsor driven sessions are often long and theoretical, but this “Retail Operations” session; though 120 slides long, was one of the most informative and thought provoking.

Zahir spoke at length about key factors, choice points, criteria involved in the organized retail industry.
Subsequently, Kostubh, spoke about a consulting assignment in which technopak had helped a major retail chain expand and set-up stores in South Indian cities that involved selling farm produce and groceries among other things to Sec-A and Sec-B households, where-in the retail chain depended to a extent on the local milk-men and newspaper-sellers to fulfil orders.

Just summarizing Zahir and Kostubh’s responses to some of the “after-session questions” will give the reader a idea of the sheer depth and hands-on practicality of the session:

When asked by a IT professional for a example of the role of IT Infrastructure in Organized Retail ?

Zahir’s Answer: If you have a pen-and-paper note-book type of accounting and billing mechanism, a item gets sold, and it takes over a month for information about the sales-figures, transaction-times and selling prices to reach head-quarters if at all, while if you have a point-of-sale (POS) system with a centrally accessible database, someone managing operations and sitting in another city can instantly or at the end of the day see, who bought what, at what price and what quantity remains in inventory- which is important because 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the items in stock.

A interesting answer I must say, and refreshingly simple and totally free from all the jargon we hear today about SCM, CRM and ERP- even though the description provided would encompass all these buzzwords.

When asked by a professor of retail marketing from IIM-Lucknow about whether connecting with the consumer through milkmen and newspaper-boys is a good idea- might not it be better not to connect to consumers through government census data and vehicle registration databases ?
Zahir and Kostubh’s Answer: Milkmen and newspaperboys- because they deliver daily and show up with bills each month, typically have better information about the socio-economic status of each household than most surveys and statically collected data- and moreover if a retail chain wishes to distribute a free-sample or introduce itself, then the milk-men and newspaper-boys would have better and freer entry into the house-hold than say a team hired to survey the neighbourhood or a team hired to sell or distribute free-samples which does not already have a existing business relationship with each house-hold.
Technopak incidentally talked to and collected information from over 1000 such milk and newspaper vendors for this particular consulting project.

New Products and Brands:
I saw a product called VFConnect, which lets retailers use Bluetooth wireless networks to connect with consumers- send consumers a image or text about their shop/retailing outlet- which it broadcasts to consumers mobile phones as they walk past a shop or cinema-hall, and the a person can see the picture/advertisement OR text on their mobile which tells them about the shop/brand or about special offers available.

NIIT I had assumed was out of the training for retail space after it sold off NIS (National Institute for Sales) to Reliance, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a new brand called NIIT Imperia- in collaboration with the IIMs, NIIT Imperia tries to provide “advanced higher education” to those who’re already working.

Whenever I surf to shopping.Indiatimes.com or to MagicBrix.com, I assume these companies have in-house developer teams working on their online shops—so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these names, and others actually depend on a company to provide the software backend for their virtual shops- and ANMSoft – a Mumbai based company is the one that provides the e-commerce software backend for these sites.

Presence of Academia: Another thing I found interesting about TiE’s retail conference compared to other similar industry events was the visible and active presence of youngsters and faculty from a cross section of academia, famous-name colleges, but also colleges I haven’t heard much of but which are actively absorbing what’s happening in the world and in the process actively building their brand, and this is one thing I really liked and appreciated.
And active as-in really active, both in asking questions and in trying to go beyond the answers of the speakers to volunteer answers to audience questions.

Some of the colleges present included:
(1) BIMTECH – Birla Institute of Management and Technology- This is primarily a MBA college, which to encourage interaction with industry has a Center for Retail, a Center for International Business and a Center for Insurance and Risk management, and the student attendees from the Center for Retail it seems had been notified about this event by their inhouse mailing-list- interesting. To say the least

(2) Design and Innovation Academy – This college in Sector-58 Noida teaches students design- all the various facets of design which include jewellery design and multimedia, amongst others—definitely sounds like a interesting course atleast to me.

(3) NIFT – yes indeed; the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

(4) IIM Lucknow- that’s right, there was Professor B.S.Nayyar, Professor of Retail Marketting from IIM Lucknow attending and he’s the gentleman who I mentioned earlier in the bit about the question-answer session.

Some Photos from the Event: (a picture says a thousand words- and if you want, you can click on many of these photos to see larger sized high-resolution pictures)

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Here’s one session I would have loved to attend but which I regretfully missed, anyone know of a blog that covers this OR if you have the slides from this, do drop me a mail!!!

Click Here for Photo
VFConnect: This company makes Bluetooth advertising technology- broadcasts to the mobiles of passer-bys information about a retailer’s shop or about special offers

Click Here for Photo
A Upcoming TiE event

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Lounge Conference: As the conference proceeds, the lounge area is filled with folks interacting and networking
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Tea-Time- The rush for food.

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A Cross Section of the Attendees at Tea time

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Pradeep Sonthalia (Langham Capital) and Avinash Aggarwal (RouteGuru.com) pose for a photo at Tea-time

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Vishal Singhal of CellStrat looks on as Tea-time proceeds in the background.

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Mr.Ranjit – of the Indian Venture Capital Association takes the stage before Technopak’s 120-slide long (but extremely interesting) presentation on retail operations commences.
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Zahir Abbas of Technopak presents- while Bikram Chatterji and Kostubh Rishi (sitting, also from Technopak) Look on

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A Member of the Audience takes the mike as a very informative and lively QA Session proceeds.

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We are all students- of life!!! but here’s a snap of some students of the Design and Innovation Academy who had come to attend the TiE Retail Summit 2008- was great seeing active student participation at a event like this– see article above.

With most events, I tend to be atleast a bit critical, suggest something for the better, but this is one event which I found perfect; and I’d like to compliment and commend Ms.Geetika Dayal (Executive Director TiE New Delhi, geetika(at)tienewdelhi(dot)org) and Mr.Nitin Aggarwal (Assistant Director TiE New Delhi, nitin(at)tienewdelhi(dot)org) of TiE New Delhi for a job well done.

Also, my special thanks once again to Mr.Nitin Aggarwal of Tie New Delhi.

Author’s Note: This post and accompanying photographs are copyrighted by the author; and any unauthorized replication, storage or publishing of this material without the author’s express written (and signed on paper) permission is prohibited.
The author has been in the High Tech industry for over a decade; and can be reached on nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com or mobile: 9811109407 and is happy to attend and blog about events, product launches and technology news; please feel free to contact him with your questions, comments, opinions and info about tech events.

This post is a mirror of a article I published on my Delhi Voice Blog.

I look forward to seeing your comments about this post, you can post comments here, at Venturewoods.com itself or you can mail me..

Proto.in Delhi – 18-19 July 2008

Author’s Note: This post and accompanying photographs are copyrighted by the author; and any unauthorized replication, storage or publishing of this material without the author’s express written (and signed on paper) permission is prohibited.
The author has been in the High Tech industry for over a decade; and can be reached on nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com or mobile: 9811109407 and is happy to attend and blog about technology events and technology news; please feel free to contact him with your questions, comments, opinions and info about tech events in delhi.

Also, before everything else, my heartiest compliments and thanks for a great job done— to Vijay and team (Sudhir, Divya, Kiruba, many others whose name I wasnt exposed to)– my only complaint :-) )) — u cud do it bigger!!! 10 times bigger next time guys!!! :-) ))

Also, the main reason I’m posting is because I googled around; but couldnt find any articles that did justice to the awesome event that proto.in 2008 at IIT-Del was…

This article will also be posted on my DelhiVoice Blog… http://delhivoice.blogspot.com –> and I encourage you to visit that blog too…

Hi Folks…
I was there at proto.in at IIT Delhi on 18-19 July 2008.

This was my first time at Proto.in- as earlier I wasnt sure if it’d be worth it- since I’m not actually looking for any funding from VCs nor do I have a product idea for which I need to create a buzz- but anyways, some college buddies who’re also ex-Trilogy God programmers were here in Delhi showcasing their startup’s concept and I took the liberty of hanging around them, feasting my eyes and ears on the intense startup and ideation action around me.

It was a amazing, awesome, mind-expanding experience- to understate it and to put it mildly. It was something everyone in the tech industry should check out– even if you’re not even remotely looking to interact with VCs and even if you have no entrepreneurship thoughts even from a distance.

Here’s a bit of what I saw that inspired me to make the above statement.

(1) You heard “Allah ke bande has de” from the Movie Waisa bhi hota hai ?
You seen the Quick Gun Murugan commercials on your fave music channel ?
—> Shashanka Ghosh… the guy who conceived and executed both of the above was there talking about his filmmaking experiences and on the perspectives he got to hear from folks like Ram Gopal Verma when he presented his ideas to them. Furthermore, beyond any book on writing business plans, he shared his thoughts on getting funding; interacting with financiers and why he took some of his ideas only as far as he did– and not as far as they could have gone.

And he did it all in a talk that was peppered with humour and a projector showing rushes from some of the movies/commercials he has done and some which are upcoming…

(2) There was Kiruba Shankar… one of India’s premier podcasters competing with everyone else in the quiz and taking his shot at running the ideation session… a idea jam… where people would grab the mike and spout forth on ideas; as others expanded them and took things forward…. a lively entertaining session; which incidentally was surprisingly fruitful in generating some ideas on changing the shape of Indian society and indian politics… which kept the audience on it’s feet and entertained throughout and which (surprisingly!) gave out prizes to ideas that generated the maximum momentum – and momentum was judged and measured in a surprisingly objective way.

(3) There were startups too; with loads of great ideas, presenting their concepts… and pushing their buttons and there was a session where all the startups were asked to sit on different tables in the luncheon area and attendees were encouraged to stroll by and talk to whoever they wanted to and see whichever demo they fancied seeing…

I personally had a pleasant surprise learning that one of the hot idea start-ups had as it’s CTO a guy who was once one half of a team whose other half… it’s chief marketting officer & CEO I had interacted extensively with over Ryze and over yahoo messenger… always great to learn it’s a small world… and the world is round too!!!

(4) Food and coffee flowed freely and the ambience of IIT-D added to the atmosphere… but for me atleast, what really brightened up the atmosphere was the pleasure of running into and meeting a whole bunch of hot-shot techie faces I had heard or read about…

There were indeed a whole bunch of interesting people. There were folks who’re agewise kids compared to me but who I respect as upcoming God programmers. And there were people I have heard and read about in techie circles but have never met. And then there were individuals I knew at college years back as God-programmers who are now senior technologists. And many others whose acquaintaince I will cherish… there was everybody… a electric mix but in a very civil garb… and a pleasure to rub shoulders with and interact with…

I’m sure the startups presenting their products must have got their mileage too; for I saw people wearing badges of various incubators and every Seed-stage and mid-stage funding company I could think of and a few I had never heard of and I saw lots of interesting potentially lucrative products being presented… but yeah, I thought I’d share my take on stuff as a attendee– so that folks that wonder abt the value of buying a pass to proto.in and attending– but who are doubtful about showing up or doubtful about spending money see the value and do show up next time.

Some of the startups / attendees / people I met at proto.in 2008 included: (I hope my posting your names is ok- if any comments for additions/deletions, please mail me)

LifeBlob http://www.lifeblob.com
ApnaBill http://www.apnabill.com
SocialWebFactory http://www.socialwebfactory.com
iStrait http://www.istrait.com
Eko – Mobile Financial Azadi http://eko.co.in
WebEx http://www.webex.co.in
Mustseeindia http://www.mustseeindia.com
Inkfruit (a t-shirt publishing company!) www.inkfruit.com
Muziboo http://www.muziboo.com
Lords of the odds http://www.lordsoftheodds.com Correction: Lords of Odds http://www.lordsofodds.com
Pureplay Media
Medianama http://www.medianama.com
2i Capital India Pvt Ltd

… and many more… this was just a sampling from the names I remembered and the visiting cards I collected…

Posted below are some photos I shot at the Proto.in Delhi 18-19 July 2008… I hope ya like them… reach me on nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com or on 9811109407… and I’d be happy to hear your comments…

Also, Lets make a flickr photo-pool of Proto.in snaps or if there is; please do inform me…

Proto.in 2008

Pranav Bhasin

Vikas of MustseeIndia.com and Rohan and Vishal of socialwebfactory.com

Shashanka Ghosh (Bollywood and ad-film director) talking…

Startup FOlks answering to the openhouse

QuizTime @ Proto.in

Also, finally, my thanks to Mr.Bakshish Dutta (dbakshish@hotmail.com), General Manager – Startups and Emerging Markets (Web 2.0) at sun microsystems; who when I phoned him and asked him if proto was worth it and if he had a extra pass for me; strongly advised me to show-up and check out the atmosphere– even if I showed up for a few hours…
A plug for Sun: Guys if your startup needs servers or if your web application uses a database; chances are you will be using MySQL- which while still free; is now owned and supported by Sun– and I strongly advise you to atleast talk Sun Microsystems; enquire about their offerings and their prices– they are doing a lot of interesting work to encourage startups… and a lot of their offerings beat the grey market/nehru place offerings fair and square; and their price includes the extremely valuable advice/information they share about servers, technology and technology options!!!

Part-II : Business is Local: Comparing NCR/Delhi vs Bangalore vs Chennai vs Pune

Ok folks… all who answered/commented and even those who didnt; I’ve added a final comment– that wraps my last post… feel free to check it out if you’re interested.

To skeptics, who’d say “what difference does it make ?”; I’d say it makes a lot of difference:–

- because if a individual who believes in his killer-diller crisis management skills to ultimately save the day is faced with a organization that’s judging people on planning– then there’s a chance that crisis-management and risk taking would be seen as the cause of the problem– and hence punishable– rather than a hallmark for which a person should be rewarded.

- similarly; in a scenario, where the culture of a place emphasises conformity… and no conscious top-level attempt is being made to see that people are not punished for non-conformity; then, there’s a chance that projects will suffer because people wont go the extra mile– if conforming means toeing a middle-manager’s line… and folks who do go the extra mile, might just get badly punished… and there would be no cultural reason to break from hierarchy to raise a voice…

- even more so if even HR in a company believes that someone who goes the extra mile is not being heroic but rather being a simple-ton… and not reading the writing on the wall that toeing a line gets growth… and responsibility which in term brings rewards.
In that situation going the extra mile might just be a thankless job for which a person may end up being thought of a simpleton who can be punished and used and thrown away…

Nightmare scenarios the above may sound like… but they are scenarios I have scene and even experienced… but at the same time, these are not scenarios I’d lecture ex-colleagues or ex-bosses about… and that’s the reason I touch upon some of these…

More comments and shared experiences are welcome… and yeah… I hope I’m making sense….

Also, I am happy to hear from all of you.

I can be reached on:

nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com

Business is Local: Comparing NCR/Delhi vs Bangalore vs Chennai vs Pune

Hi Folks…

Having worked in Delhi and also in Bangalore; I’ve seen many differences between the work cultures in these two great metros; and each city/region has it’s own advantages and disadvantages.

Am curious… and I seek comments… what’re the experiences that you (venture-woods audience) have had, working in different cities.

Good, bad, ugly… feel free write comments and share your perspectives…

Happy 60 years of Independance – and welcome to 250 Square kilometre SEZs…

Firstly Happy 60 Years of Independance…
God Bless those who made sacrifices and even the Supreme Sacrifice for our nation’s Independance…

I recently read a announcement in newspaper some days back about our honorable commerce minister mooting the idea of ultra-large SEZs… 250 sq kms and more.

Some thoughts strike one’s mind, and one feels a impulsion to speak up. This is topic that gets strong responses- and I’d love to know your own thoughts and opinions on this subject…

(1) Talking of 250 sq km SEZs or even 250 acre SEZs- what strikes one is the assumption that big business and big investments are the way forward. Is big business really the future ?
Is this really the way the world is moving ? Not so it seems looking at the Silicon valley- where Johnathan Schwartz’s first mandate as Sun Microsystems CEO was to massively cut costs- and the solution he carried out was to ‘persuade’ 70% of sun’s workforce to work from home…
Sun Microsystems to me is interesting, because it’s a prototypical example of a startup that went on to become a big corporation and dominate it’s segments of the market.. the kind of company we ourselves would like to see rise out of India’s tech landscape…

(2) Historically, have big investments by big-money actually been the engine of growth in a technology driven economy (as ours is shaping up to become and as the US’s economy has been for some decades now) ?

Not so- given that 40 % of US’s GDP growth since 1950 has been because of the tech industry- and many of the ripest ideas in the tech industry came in through Silicon Valley startups- that in timespans of less than a decade- went on to dominate their respective segments of the Industry. (Source: Vinod Khosla, Founder of Sun Microsystems)
Think about it… in 1980, how big was Microsoft ?
In 1980, how big was Sun Microsystems ?
In 1980 had anyone heard of Cisco ? (no, because Cisco was founded much later)
In 1980 had anyone heard of Palm ? of Symbian ? of Nokia ? of Blackberry ? you name it- and the industry was different then…

(3) Is the use of state authority to enforce centralized planning really something that encourages local companies to try to conquer the world ?
Does the use of state authority to forcefully create or kill ecosystems actually give local companies confidence that they can one day compete at a world scale, and that too purely on the merity of their products and market position rather than political support ?

Would love to hear your views on the above… but yeah… where I’m coming from is the situation in India’s capital city of Delhi.

Here in Delhi, there’s been a wave of judicial activism since early/mid 2006– and a lot of shops, commercial offices and other establishments operating out of land designated as non-commercial or residential have been sealed.

There are parts of Delhi whose appearance and local-economy has been totally altered by the government’s sealing drive.

Enforcing a rule of law is good– but what when the cost is at the cost of the entrepreneurial spirit that has characterised our city’s history ?

What when ecosystems– that underly markets- both tech and old-economy- are totally destroyed- and what when a market is trampled upon to the point it loses it’s earlier vibrance ?

When web development and smalltime application companies that could have one day conquered the world close down before they see their hour of glory ?

A purist may say that it is buildings and architecture that define a city… but is that also also what folks that are passionate about business and startups would say ?


In the last year, I’ve seen atleast a dozen small tech companies– owned by or managed by or employing friends and acquaintainces either downsize and shrink OR just fold-up– or atleast pull their capital out of the market— and try something else.

Each time a corporation lands inside a neighbourhood or a office park that was hitherto removed from IT- and IT folks start walking in and out of environs that had hitherto not smelt IT workers– it starts a trend of neighbouring landlords looking for IT industry tenants and over time, IT money- and the 24×7 IT lifestyle sparks a ecosystem– of tea-shops, snack joints, coffee-shops and watering holes frequented by IT industry folks- with their tendency to have long discussions; pop-in at odd hours- and search for third-place hangout joints that are homes away from homes…

I saw that in Bangalore– wherein a open air South-Indian restaurant next to our office was the work-hours and even after-hours hangout for folks from Hughes, Oracle, iFlex, Phillips, HP and more… and how over a cuppa of coffee one could actually run into interesting tech discussions– and even get exposed to market trends, problem solving methodologies and ideas far removed from one’s current reality… which would expand one’s mind.

And one could see that happen in Delhi too… in Adhchini, where the presence of EHPT (Ericsson Hewlett Packard Telecom) gave a fillip to the neighbourhood– with Turqoise Cottage (a restaurant and pub) sprouting up and really growing next door– and neighbouring buildings and offices– even the village next door also seeing buildings getting rented out to IT and related activities– including in a village 150 metres away- where low-end web development outfits, placement consultants and cyber-cafes sprouted up– apart from Dhabas which served good non-veg food.

And one could stand by hand-cart vendors selling greasy street-food and listen to a discussion on how to implement a certain kind of parser- including thoughts on why a lexer built a deterministic finite automata could not parse certain types of constructs… which would make the heart of any tech minded professional swell with pride…

That same office was later used by a string of companies- as the ownership of EHPT changed hands… and subsequently, by a company called MakeMyTrip.com which went on to in it’s own way to command a sizeable chunk of the online travel market….

Today though… the story is different… and as the Delhi government ran through it’s sealing drive, first the offices were served notices and the companies moved out… and then Turqoise Cottage (restaurant and bar) was sealed….

The same story repeated itself in various parts of Delhi– in south extension; in malviya nagar; in the areas opposite-to and adjoining IIT-delhi… and the areas adjoining JNU and others…..

Personally while someone might out-shout me OR not agree with my points… I wonder… what would have it been like if these IT hubs had been allowed to develop and grow at their own pace ?

What if small startups had been allowed to mushroom in cheap rented accomodations around these bigger corporations- at a stone’s throw from IIT delhi and JNU ?

What if the tech ecosystem of Delhi had been allowed to shape itself; to a point where this informal tech ecosystem threw up companies and products that stood-out and put India on the world map ?

Frankly… we’ll never know the answer to that particular what-if… but ok; a lot of the tech-industry is about trust networks; about ecosystems; and about informal hangouts where the people who actually work on the ground building tech rub shoulders- and crunch up new ideas… and if India continues to move this way, then there’s a good chance that these tech-ecosystems never will shape-up well enough to give birth to another Adobe or another Microsoft or another Cisco from Delhi itself!!!

nb:
…atleast some of these thoughts were inspired by the inability of me and 2 colleagues who had gone on a business visit to a associate company in the Greater Noida SEZ… and after entering the SEZ(that SEZ is secure… with armed guards at the check-post manning it’s entrance) and we discovered there was no decent eating joint or coffee shop within 2-3 kilometres… just a 2-3 dhabas next to a stinking drainage ditch opposite the SEZ’s gate and frequented by drivers.
And that set me remembering the comment of a bhai-sahib whose shop had been broken and whose basement had been sealed, wherein shedding tears and screaming even 6 months later he had cried “jahan karobar nahin hota… sir woh jagah baazar nahin shamashan ghat hoti hai… ”

Comments welcomed… and apart from comments in this blog; I can be reached thru email on nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com

Mobile Monday Delhi May 26, 2007

Mobile Monday Delhi May 26, 2007

Hey Folks… attended a mobile monday, Delhi– my first mobile monday.

My tone of writing this is informal– and I’m not sure if this article will fit in with VentureWoods… but having noticed lots of pre-event buzz but a total lack of post-event coverage of previous Mobile-Mondays/Bar-Camps- I strongly felt someone should write this event and hence I’m writing in– comments, rants, requests for more info may be addressed to nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com .

The organizers… were Prashant Singh & Amit Ranjan (thx guys) … and space;coffee; lunch was courtesy Adobe Systems India (thx Adobe!!!).

Here’s a photo and a short write-up– if you were there or if you want to be there next time or if you just generally have a opinion; feel free to comment… or mail me and ask you to inform of the next mobile monday…

Affle's presentation at MoMo Delhi-3, May 3, 2006 (Photo Taken with Nokia 6630 Smartphone!)
Mobile Monday-3 at Delhi Was held at Adobe Systems’ Noida Office on May 26, 2007- pic by Nalin nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com

There were about 40 or 50 people and there were some interesting presentations.

Though yeah; as mobile monday history & culture internationally goes, here’s a history snippet:-
begin history snippet — source: http://www.mobilemonday.net/about
The remarkable MobileMonday phenomenon began almost by accident in Helsinki, Finland during the autumn of 2000. A couple of well-known Finnish visionaries, invited the who’s who of the Finnish mobile industry to a pub for an informal get-together and perhaps a warming drink. The only suitable time? Monday evening.

After meeting many new faces and discussing the latest in mobility, the group decided to continue meeting on the first Monday of each month — and thus, MobileMonday was born. Towards the end of 2004, the movement started to spread to other areas of the world and new MoMo chapters were started in Tokyo, Japan, Silicon Valley, UsA as well as Rome and Milan, Italy. Since then, the number of MobileMonday chapters and members has dramatically increased making MobileMonday the world’s leading mobile community.
end-history-snippet—

Since the culture of a ‘after hours drink’ is for most part absent in delhi/north india- mobile mondays here tend to be day long events and held on saturdays.

turn-ons:– it was very generous of adobe to offer cold-drinks/coffee & lunch & thanks organizing team for organizing a great event.

turn-offs:–
1) not enough demos; not enough folks with memory cards out to copy their demos/products for folks to try out [lol!!! does that really happen ? or is that just part of international un-conference folk-lore ?]
2) not enough face-time with others.
3) harsh cut-offs in question-answer sessions including one where the organizers insisted on switching off all the lights to cut a question-answer session short– that was a slap in the face of the idea of a un-conference… need I say more ?

Interesting Talks

(1) Aditya Dev Sood – www.cks.in — design ideas applicable to the Indian context- including interesting research that helped shape some features of the current crop of Nokia Phones– India-style charger wall-socket plugs; multiple phone-books for situations where a mobile is shared by multiple family members.

(2) Asif Ali www.mobile-worx.com — ZestADZ (www.zestadz.com) ad serving platform on mobiles…

(3) Shekhar C–> lots of interesting post talk discussion & philosphical exchange– and Meghdoot a Indian language SMS text input engine for j2me enabled mobiles.
Also; t9 mobile search…

(4) SMS 2.0 –> (can you believe this?) this will actually ‘upgrade’ (and hence replace) your Symbian Phone’s built in SMS app– show targetted and paid-for adverts with SMSes… by Affle (link: affle.co.uk)

(6) Tyroo www.tyroo.com –> Online media buying house for the mobile internet

(7) Nikhil Pahwa of ContentSutra (www.contentsutra.com ) was there to moderate the after-hours discussion…

(8) Raj Singh ActiveMedia http://www.activemediatech.com

(9) Avinash Agrawal from RouteGuru http://www.routeguru.com
– A interesting product routeguru has… and lots of interesting discussion happening about RouteGuru’s product on the mobile monday delhi (momodelhi) Mailing list on yahoogroups… and no, this list has no archives; subscribe to get the messages….

(10) Buzzcity was represented at Mobile Monday Delhi by Milind Naik Buzzcity’s Country Manager (India)… BuzzCity: www.buzzcity.com.sg

(11) Other faces I ran into at momodelhi-3 included Aditya Misra (TCS), Saurabh Jain (skjworld), Asmita Sinha (saita www.saitaconsulting.com), Rajesh Lalwani (www.blogworks.in), Saiphul (ESPN), Prashant Arya (agilent), Sunand (Aricent)… !

(no this is not a exhaustive list… mail me if you’d like to see this article edited… or mail me even otherwise if you have any comments/suggestions or requests for info my mail ID is: nsnsns(at)gmail(dot)com )

You can visit http://www.slideshare.net and search for ‘momo delhi may 26 2007′ and find online viewable and also downloadable PPT versions of several of the presentations made at Mobile Monday Delhi.

What you’d like the next momo delhi to be ?
Were you there ?
Do you have a opinion ?

Feel free to comment…