Author Archive for Vijay Anand

Advisors, Mentors or Coach?

We see far too many folks confusing mentors for advisors.

A mentor’s job is to mould you as an entrepreneur and make you successful. For them a business that you do now is just a phase, and are more focused on you as the product. Now, that means, a true mentor will break you, push you and put you back in more ways than one, to sculpt you into something. You need to trust that person absolutely to be able to grant them the time and patience (even if you hate it) to do that.

On the other hand there are business advisors, who are brought in for specific agendas with a specific business. They dont care much for what you as a person are accomplishing, but if the business is doing well. But you have to have specific questions for them – the more specific the better. Then there is such a thing called coach.

It helps to know what you are looking for. Its as different as trying to find a girl to date, vs trying to find a friend 🙂 Remember the success of all these engagements depend on getting expectations right. Know, what you need.

A New Kind of Accelerator Model : The Startup Centre

We’ve always been strong believers that any process, if directly ditto-copied (from the west) will fall flat on its face. The Startup Centre is a model, unique to India, and a pioneer in its own way adapting a very different approach to building kickass startups. We thought it was about time we start explaining what we do and our thought process behind it. Here’s a start.

The Startup Centre in a lot of ways is building a new kind of accelerator model. Not one where you build a startup in a sprint of 90 days, and throw it up in the air and hope it sticks (most of them only freefall from there), but meticulously measuring every step of the way, and building startups that build products that the world needs and is willing to pay for. Building value, means a lot to us. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that building companies riding the hype cycle don’t last and over the next few years, valuations and value will be intertwined more than ever.

Would love to hear your feedback, thoughts and suggestions. We are a startup too, by every measure. We are listening.

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

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.

TSC Resident Grant Awarded to Two Resident Graduates

LightSpeed Ventures (http://www.lightspeedvp.com/) is awarding a Grant of 2.5L Each for two of the graduates of the TSC Resident Programme. Over the past six months two teams have graduated successfully, building teams, building that initial social proof and model, and already eliciting interest in fund raising.Out of the Collaboration between The Startup Centre and Lightspeed Ventures, there is a grant of 2.5L being provided for these two teams.

They are already off on their way. The Grant should help these teams to push forward on making a dent in the universe.

Cost of the Resident Programme for six months for two founding team members : Rs. 60,000

TSC Resident Grant: Rs. 2.5L (Approx $5000)

The Experience, Mentorship and Getting them through the valley of death: Priceless.

More about the TSC Resident Programme at http://www.thestartupcentre.com/resident

Isn’t it about time You Gave your Idea a Chance?


The Third Edition of In50hrs is here. December 9 – 11, 2011

In50Hrs is a Weekend Hackathon where people with Ideas, Developers, and Designers get together to give life to ideas and have working prototypes before the weekend is out, present it to a room full of like-minded folks, and perhaps pave the way for the beginning of a new product.

How often have you pondered on ideas, but are a bit scared to quit your day job to pursue it? Or to find a team and see if the machinery and chemistry between you works well? Or a student with amazing ideas, but scared to sit out of placements? Well, an in50hrs weekend is a risk-free way to figure if there are legs to that idea, and if at all its worth taking a leap over it.

The Third Edition of the event is slated to be on the dates of 9th – 11th December in Chennai.

If you already are aware of What In50hrs is about, Click on Register to save yourself a seat.

If you’d like to know more, then there are a few things you can do:

  • Visit the Site on Getting Started
  • Read the rules of the Event
  • Pitch The Idea. Find one to work on.
  • Videos from in50hrs Past Demo [Youtube]
  • Write to us if you have any specific questions
  • Find a Partner to work with you, People to bunk with (if you are an out of towner) by Tweeting out with the hashtag #in50hrs

Registration URL: http://in50hrs.doattend.com

Continue reading ‘Isn’t it about time You Gave your Idea a Chance?’

The Startup Centre : Call for Residents. Batch 3, Now Open.

You are Brilliant. You have an Idea. What next?

The TSC Resident Programme, is a six month programme, targetted at entrepreneurs (first time and experienced) with an awesome idea to help them go from idea/concept to a Market validated Product v1.0. You also get to work out of The Startup Centre, and get to work with an amazing set of entrepreneurs, who share a similar journey.

 Application Form 

Here’s What You Can Expect to Get out of the Programme…

Continue reading ‘The Startup Centre : Call for Residents. Batch 3, Now Open.’

The Startup Centre Resident Programme Batch 2. Application Deadline Soon Approaching.

The Intent of the Resident programme is to help transform your vision into a viable product with Product-Market validation, over a 3 to 6 month period. The teams go through a cycle of Prototype Building, Customer Development, Product-Market Fit Process and to the beginnings of the Business Model Cycle

Here’s What You Can Expect to Get out of the Programme

3-6 Months
The Resident programme lasts for upto 6 months—enough time for your team to build the first version of the product and get the market validation done. By the end of the programme, you’ll be ready with a product that people want, and are willing to pay money for.

Cost and Criteria
We take only teams which are very early on with their idea into this Programme. Ideally Founding teams, which are 1-3 member in size is what the focus is on. Teams are expected to pay a nominal sum for the duration of the Programme (Rs.7500 per month for Single Founder, Rs.10,000 for Two founder teams and Rs. 12,000 for Three founder Teams) to show seriousness and commitment towards the building out of their idea/concept.

Note: We do have partners who will be open to sponsoring teams which do not have the financial means to back this requirement.

The Space
We provide the furnished office space and bandwidth (internet and guidance) for the duration of the programme. This is a collaborative space for all Teams in the program, providing a forum for mutual support, idea sharing and tech talks. We expect all the teams to be in Chennai during this time. [ Tour of The Startup Centre, Chennai ]

Skills Training
All the Teams will have access to the Startup Centre Classes. This program covers all business topics relevant to an emerging business, from business model definition to market segmentation and pricing strategies. The sessions will take place on a rolling basis and Teams can participate in all modules or only those areas where they would like to build up more skills specific to the stage of their product development and enterprise.

The Mentor Base
For the duration of the Programme, members of The Startup Centre will be available to interact with on a regular basis to guide you. Teams will have regular access to our extensive network of business and technology experts, many of whom are rather experienced entrepreneurs in the Indian Landscape. Our Mentor Base is extensive, so we are confident that we can connect you with an expert for any coaching needs, be it marketing, finance or product development-related.

The Stack
An Average Product Startup goes through 2.5 iterations before they get their product right. How do we cut down on that iteration as much as possible? The right tools. Through our partnerships we are able to provide the teams in the Resident and Accelerator Programme, the best stack that is out there, to ensure that they are equipped to the best in churning out the first product. Some of the partners mentioned are here (Announcements on some major partners soon)

Visibility
All great stories need a platform for advertising their success. Association with the Startup Centre and resulting awareness at our networking events, blog posts, and press releases will provide Teams with reach to the next level.

Accelerator Programme
The Resident Programme becomes a means for both The Startup Centre and the Teams to engage to try out the support that is provided for High potential Entrepreneurs. The Accelerator Programme that is due to launch in November, and subsequent rounds will have first preference for selected candidates of the Resident Programme, given the experience of having worked together.

The Resident Grant
The Startup Centre has Partnered with Lightspeed Venture Partners to give one of the Outstanding teams, Starting from the Batch of September 2011, a Grant of Rs. 5,00,000 (Approx $10,000). The Criteria for selecting the company will align with the goals of the Resident Programme – a team, which can build out their product and have that initial customer development process done, to move into the next stage of Enterprise building. No Strings attached. Seriously.

Deadline: August 31st. Have you Applied Yet?

The Startup Centre : SAIF Partners announces Sponsoring one Resident. Deadline Fast Approaching…

I quite remember having discussions around Early Stage startups a few years back – not that much has changed since then – but it all came down to essentially realizing that we unfortunately do not have enough great ideas spawning out of our ecosystem. I believe that statement has to end with a “YET”. There is very little support in terms of entities and groups that can garner that momentum that events build up, into something creative and productive, and to aid that early entrepreneur through the stages of building that first prototype and Product.

The resident Programme in a lot of ways, was framed keeping that in mind. A six month programme where you are in the company of 15 such amazing founders, day-in and day out building out your dream. Nothing gets better than that.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the applications we have been receiving. We are infact getting quite a few applications from out of Chennai, that we are trying to put together a list of affordable places to stay in Chennai, around the centre, should these teams get selected. There are definitely signs of an amazing resident programme coming together here.

So we’ve got Four more days to go, and another week or so of hard work for us at TSC to go through all the applications, and schedule interviews, meets and calls with those of you who’ve applied. We are slotting teams early in the calendar, and on the order of submission. So, the earlier you apply, the earlier you get a meeting, and the verdict. Make use of it.

Announcing the Sponsorship Programme:

Remember how I was mentioning how we all have cribbed that there arent enough early stage companies in India? Well, while we are taking the lead, we are quite proud and honored to have folks supporting that cause. SAIF Partners (http://www.sbaif.com/) has committed to sponsor one resident team for the entire duration of the programme (that’s the complete six months). I know not everyone who has wanted to start out, also has had the luxury to save up to cover the costs of the Programme – as much as we’ve kept it to the bare minimum we can afford the infrastructure at. But here’s an excellent opportunity if that was the only thing stopping you. (There is an added section on the Application Form, a few details to be added IF and ONLY if you want to be considered for the programme. Please note that the chances are rather low, given the demand, so in an effort to be helpful, only apply if you really need it)

Make use of it, before its too late. Applications are open at http://rapply.thestartupcentre.com

Look forward to hearing from you soon. We are really rooting for the early stage entrepreneur, and we are looking forward to the day when we no longer have to agree to the obvious with the YET at the end for optimism, but it will be a blatant reality.

On behalf of The Startup Centre,
Vijay Anand

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Kickstarting “The Startup Centre”

I’ve been a raving lunatic about this, for almost the past eight months, talking to various folks in the ecosystem, listening, iterating and evolving and still realizing that there is enough evidence to point to the need of an existence of an entrepreneur-centric early stage hub and accelerator. The Startup Centre is an effort towards that.

The premise is that, today while there are close to 50+ incubation centres in the country, most of them are not fully functional, and the few that do are so because of the folks who drive it – not because of the facilities it offers. Secondly, it has a tendency to attract folks who do require a lot of handholding. And from our experience almost 90% of the kickass startups we bumped into, during our Proto.in days were out there in the wild. The question then was, as to how to support these entrepreneurs – accelerate – in any meaningful way.

Secondly, we also realize that the Indian startup landscape is all about events. We go from one event to another, and the meagre efforts that we do in terms of ecosystem building are all limited to the web, and that hasnt quite taken off.  My thought process goes back to how open source communities are built – with that live IRC channel – where people can drop by anytime to continue the conversation and to get help. TSC is an offline equivalent of that in a way.

We are planning to launch in a few cities. We are kickstarting the effort in Chennai – we’ve gotten a 2500sq ft office out of Alsa Mall, which will be home to most of the startup related events in Chennai, and will also become a hub to access resources etc. There is also a membership model for founding teams (only) to work out of – launching in May.  Entrepreneurship can be a bit lonely quitting that job and starting off and this could be a way to tacke that.

None of this would be possible without the amazing support that the community at large has been showing. We technically go live this weekend – by one of the first initiatives to build prototypes out of ideas folks might be having with our event – in50Hrs – More at http://in50hrs.thestartupcentre.com

Looking forward to what lies ahead.

PS: There is a plan for an accelerator in TSC, scheduled to launch in the June/July timeframe.