Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship session at IIT Kanpur

Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) team at IIT Kanpur invited me to talk about “idea to business-plan” to some students (budding entrepreneurs). I ended up speaking about different things, hopefully I covered what they were looking for.

I mostly iterated what successful leaders, entrepreneurs and businessman have shared over the years.

A very brief and high level outline of my talk:

  • started session with Derek Sivers‘ Ted talk “How to start a movement
    • an entrepreneur is seen as half-naked guy who is dancing alone, different from crowd, in Indian society.
    • it takes courage to start something while you have choice to work for the best companies
    • there would be skeptics but don’t worry about that.
  • what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
    • get going and get your feet wet, enjoy challenges, trust your instincts, get a good mentor, learn from experiences, learn from others)
    • be prepared for uncertainty, rapid growth, quick and drastic changes, limited resources and resource conservation
    • respect time, short cycles and more results
  • some stories
  • YouTube: first in solving problem but very late in figuring out business-model
  • Flickr: their idea and usefulness
  • Bulkr: how Prakaz came up with a useful product, while he is/was in job. Build something that you would use
  • Directi: about two brothers who have built a great company with little or no funding
  • Allies: why we got started, how we do some things, some pains and gains
  • some books
    • Blink: instinct and intuition. what customers do? how they do? avoiding asking what they want because human preferences are unstable
    • The Tipping Point: why certain ideas tip
    • ReWork: a new way of thinking business
    • Freemium: business model. why freemium works? examples: google-apps, e-books, etc.
  • some of my experiences
    • funding: bootstrap on your own, if you can. or take as less as you can from outside. retain control and ownership. go to someone who can not only give you money but also be your mentor
    • hiring: difficult to attract smart folks. share your ideas/vision. give equity instead of high salaries
    • operations: equally important. be ready to take care of things so that your team can execute your ideas
    • challenges: getting ideas executed, getting customers, getting a good team, getting a good accountant, etc.
    • sales/marketing: various market-places, complicated tender process, social-media, word-of-mouth, freemium
    • retaining customers: commitment, think of them before your own personal gains, good process, good support
  • importance of connections
    • keep in touch with everyone you know or would know
    • go and enjoy parties (twitter, linkedin, facebook)
    • follow gurus and interact with them over social-networks (twitter, facebook, linkedin)
    • go out, help others and get helped

After session, couple of teams discussed their ideas with me and wanted my thoughts. I shared what I knew, hope I could be of some help.

Thanks to entire IITK E-Cell team for inviting and giving me an opportunity to share some of things I know. It feels great to give back.

I already know, I need to get better speaking on stage. With every opportunity and effort, I am getting better. Hopefully, I can engage audience and be entertaining in coming years.

I would hopefully elaborate some these items, when I feel like. I am posted these as a record/note to myself, before I forget what I talked about :-)

Change management

I have been thinking to start sharing my experience as an entrepreneur through blog posts.

As someone wise once said, you can’t make everyone happy or completely happy. It’s so true, we all realize sooner or later in our personal and professional life.

The context of this blog post is, how some of changes in an organisation can upset some people, even though changes were done with good intention and bring good results after some time.

It’s just little more than an year, since I moved back to rejoin this company, where I am also co-founder.

First couple of months, I was just focused on doing some projects (as solo contributor), talking to team, helping them, sharing and observing various things around here. In little over three months time, I figured out, all aspects of this organization needed some sort of change.

Team, culture and process were three top most important things, we wanted to start fixing. When I say “fixing”, it means to make things great when things were just good enough. I wanted to have culture, I have experienced in some of the best companies like Macromedia, Yahoo!, etc.

We made a decision to move into a better facility, which is lot better than earlier one. It was critical to do it for all good reasons we know – comfort, productivity, pride, etc.

While in parallel, we were fixing thing other areas – HR, Accounting, Administration, etc.

We started to spend most of our energy on our team and clients. I wanted to have a team of individuals who are smart and passionate, better than me. I wanted a process, which is simple and solid enough to handle complex projects as well as our future products.

Internally, we were trying to help our team to get more organised and focus on right things i.e. the approach instead of just getting things done in any manner. In long term, our success comes from our learning, experience and a great team. If we don’t focus on doing things in right way, we would never learn, hence never achieve one of our visions – a great team together, a great company.

When I look back, I see we are different company now, but there is a long way to go. It’s all getting better with each passing day, however, while “fixing” – people, operating-systems, tools, development-methodology, philosophy, vision and many other things changed – we couldn’t make some people happy.

Had I bootstrapped a company from scratch last year, I would have spent half of my energy which I did “fixing” things in this company. But I learnt a lot of things, which I could have never learnt in total new company. Managing change is tough job, we did in good way, it would be better next time.

I couldn’t keep this post as short as I wanted to, in fact, I had to delete some paragraphs to keep it to this length. I would keep sharing my experiences, perhaps you can relate to some of those.

Entrepreneurship Resources – India

These are some of the sites from my list, I visit quite often:

I have more sites bookmarked in my delicious, but I want to create a list and put it here just for an exercise. It seems due to productivity tools, I hardly remember website URLs or names. So keep watching this space, you might find more links over the time.