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 :-)

Ideas: FlashDevelop on OSX and GNU/Linux

FlashDevelop is an open-source IDE for Flash Platform development (ActionScript, MXML, HAXE, etc.) on Windows platform. I have extensively used it in past, and still, painfully, use it via windows virtual-machine on OSX host.

Couple of years back, I looked at FlashDevelop code to figure out, if we can port it for other operating-systems, such as Mac OSX and GNU/Linux.

I posted on Flash Develop forum about my experiments:

I have been trying to run FlashDevelop under OSX. In last couple of years, whenever I got sometime, I tried these:-

  1. Run FlashDeveloper with DotGNU: FlashDevelop was running but due to a lot of native (Win32) API calls, lots of components were failing (screenshot: http://pic.im/5Xk)
  2. Run Flash Developer with Mono: I tried to compile FlashDevelop using MonoDevelop and run using Mono for OSX. Most of the problems is one component/library i.e. DockPanelSuite (http://sourceforge.net/projects/dockpanelsuite/), an opensource code that uses a lot of PInvoke calls (Win32 API).

I am really excited about the possibilities, if we can port this one library we can get very closer to run FlashDevelop on OSX using Mono.

Note: pics.im seems to be dead, so I have uploaded new screen-shots
Flash Develop on OSX - ScreenshotFlash Develop on OSX

Some Ideas:

MonoDevelop is good enough and works well on OSX, I guess also GNU/Linux. However, I am yet to look at licensing and possibilities of forking the project (MonoDevelop)?

BTW! I have been lazy to write about such experiments on the blog, but while commenting on Jesse Warden's post, I thought, it makes sense to post it here, so it lives.

Please let me know, if you have any ideas about making this happen? I would be happy to collaborate, contribute and donate in whatever capacity I can.

Adobe Flash Platform Summit 2010

One more day to go for Adobe Flash Platform Summit 2010, I am very excited about this event because of so many good sessions and <a href="http://www.developermarch.com/adobesummit/sessions.htm" title="Adobe Flash Platfrom Summit 2010 - Sessions>speakers</a>.

More importantly, an opportunity for me to reconnect with everyone. Flash Platform community in India has grown many folds during last couple of years, so it would be fun to see new developers/designers.

This is going to be first event I would be attending after mid 2008. I have been busy doing very different things (bootstraping team, hiring, strategy, setting up processes, etc.), hence don't have much to share about Flash Platform related things. I have done bunch of small actionscript/flex projects, where as my team has been busy building some cool stuff using web-standards and lamp-stack.

If you are going to be around, let's catch up.

List of Indian Online Shopping Websites (Stores)

Everyday I come to know about a new online shopping website (store) from/for India. I have been using some sites from following list:

  • Infibeam

    book store, electronic, toys, computers, lcd monitors (benq, acer), mobile phones, music, movies and gifts.</li>

  • FlipKart

    book store, mobile phones, music, movies and gift vouchers.</li>

  • ITDepot

    computers, laptops, electronic, accessories, computer hardware, laptop bags, etc. It also hosts stores for Belkin, Logitech, etc.</li>

  • Gadgets.in

    computer, electronic, laptop, wires, connectors, cables, laptop accessories, etc.</li>

  • Pringoo

    t-shirts, mugs, stickers, custom printing and corporate gifts.</li>

  • InkFruit

    t-shirts and mugs.</li>

  • 20North

    imported consumer items. This site would calculate custom duty and shipping cost. If you want convenience of getting things (electronic, computer and other things) from USA and don't want to deal with custom and shipping.</li>

  • Rediff

    One of the oldest online stores in India, it hosts stores for different brands. You can pretty much get most of things (books, electronics, movies, computer hardware and accessories) here.</li> </ul>

    I would keep updating this post to include more stores, as and when I use or get to know any. BTW! Infibeam accepts Paypal, so that's one of the reasons, it's at top of my list .

    Disclaimer: I have only used Infibeam, FlipKart, Pringoo, Gadgets.in and Rediff (long time back). Please understand things before you use any of these sites and please don't blame me, if something goes wrong :-)

Eclipse Plugins

Some Eclipse plugins, I use (with Eclipse Classic SDK), are:

There are bunch of plugins for network monitoring and debugging, don't remember their names. BTW! I have got two separate installations (32bit Carbon and 64bit Cocoa) of Eclipse. I hope, Adobe would port Flex/Flash Builder to work with 64bit and Cocoa.

Beautiful Plogger

Plogger is an open-source photo gallery system built using PHP. It successfully maintains the simplicity while providing so many features, it's just beautiful piece of work.

Withing five minutes, I got Plogger running on my machine. In another hour, I created a new theme with different visualization (CoverFlow) to display thumbnails.

Having worked many different photo gallery management software/scripts, I find, Plogger is the most beautiful. I might be ignorant about other better systems, please share if you know.

I bet, web designers would find it very handy because they can easily customize and deliver solutions without dealing with complex programming required behind file upload/management.

Where is Adobe Store for India?

Adobe is yet to launch online store for India. More than four years back, I wrote about this issue..

I have changed my work-flow to introduce more and more open-source tools. However, sometimes I have to use Adobe Flash Authoring tool and Flash Builder for some projects.

I hope, Adobe would soon figure out a way to launch an online store in India. I am yet to understand what has been holding Adobe from doing that, I am assuming something with taxes or government policies, if not Adobe's intentions?

BTW! Some face problems in USA also, check out what Tariq has gone through today, while buying something from Adobe Store.

Flex 4 In Action - Early Access Available

Last year, I posted about Flex 3 In Action, a book by Tariq Ahmed,  Jon Hirschi and Faisal Abid. Not many people know, I was also among authors but couldn't contribute beyond one chapter due to personal priorities, hence opted out. Thanks to Tariq for trusting me and providing an opportunity.

Tariq has again teamed up with different some smart guys (Dan Orlando, John C. Bland II, and Joel Hooks) this time, and all of them are working on Flex 4 In Action.

All authors have a lot of experience and are great at what they do. I always prefer to read a book written by someone who has done the stuff, instead of someone who has just theoretical knowledge.

I am yet to start reading draft version of the book, however, I am sure this book is going to be one of the best. To believe me, you need to check out authors' profiles/websites and you would realize it yourself.

Sign up with Manning's early access program (MEAP) and start reading chapters (completed as well as drafts).

Reliable and Fast VPS Hosting in India

Web Hosting in India (with VSNL, Tata, etc) has not been affordable for most of us (startups, bloggers, small-medium-enterprises).  Hence, for years, we have been hosting our data and application on shared and dedicated servers outside of India for different reasons (cost, availability, uptime, etc), but at the cost of higher latency (slow speed/performance).

Fortunately, E2E Networks, a startup by Tarun Dua provides very reliable, fast and less expensive hosting (VPS and Dedicated Servers) services in India. All your data/applications is hosted securely in India and you get unbelievable low latency.

Check out some of the sites, which are running on E2ENetworks:

Check out various plans/packages and you would be impressed with the pricing, it's really affordable.

Disclaimer: Tarun Dua is a friend of mine and ex-colleague (Mixercast and Yahoo!). He is known for his knowledge and experience in data-centre, bandwidth, performance, scalability and servers. Whatever, I have written above is completely my own view based on my experience with E2E Networks. My company is planning to use E2E Networks' services for our Indian customers.

Going Paperless - Document Management System

I have been looking d<a href=\"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Document_management_system\">ocument management system (DMS)</a> so that we can go paperless, as much as we can. We have to use paper, considering our goverment and various other complainces require us to maintain document in paper form. I am currently evaluating following DMS:

These are opensource and stable products. However, it takes little effort to install and customize both of these for following reasons:-

  • both of these are based on java
  • both of these are made for large enterprises?

Once I implement one of these successfully, I would post details. Meanwhile, we have done following to reduce paper usage:

  • HRM system - employees' and their employment data is maintained and managed using HRM system (OrangeHRM - another opensource product). We scan paper documents and put it on HRM, so next time we don't have to make copies of original paper and carry around. One can directly see scanned documents.
  • Google Docs - we have started it, a lot lately, to maintain and share documents (which are not very sensitive - I am little skeptical about data on cloud)
  • MediaWiki - Our intranet/wiki is based on wiki, we use it extensively. Everyone can see and contribute, so no need to carry printed paper around.

With these small changes, we are already seeing benefits. With DMS, I can imagine life would be lot easier when it comes to maintaing, reviewing and sharing the documents. Please share your experiences, perhaps there is a better system I can implement easily.