Friday, December 28, 2012

Crime in India

It was bound to happen at some point of time - the tragic rape of the girl and the bungling of the case by the police and the administration with the politicians non-committal and making stupid remarks about women leading to public anger. The problem is not with the law. There is no point in getting the death penalty for rape - the reason being that if the death penalty comes in then there will be more ambiguity added to the law such as "rarest of rare cases" with additional procedures such as getting a presidential assent and so on. Thus never bringing a case to an end.

What we need is a strong police and administration that is fair, thorough and decisive in their action against the culprits. We need the perpetrators of the crime arrested quickly and convicted as quickly so that they are scared that in no time they will pay for their crime. Its the fear of facing the punishment that will reduce crime. Having a punishment which has no way of being implemented because the process is weak will not reduce crime, it will only embolden the criminals for they know they won't be punished.

I am not sure what is the process in India once the sexual offender is freed from prison but there should be curbs and monitoring in place to monitor their activities. I know this is not easy to implement but if thought out i am sure that ways can be worked out with the technology we have these days to put these monitors in place on these offenders.

What we need is an investment in the police to strengthen it and train it to protect the citizens that it exists for. We need investment in more judges and courts that can give out speedy justice. We need investment to be made in good forensics and investigators that can create water tight cases that will stand up in a court of law. We need the police and the administration to be free of political influence. If we do this it will automatically create the deterrents.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

60 seconds on the internet

Ever wondered what happens on the internet every minute? This picture gives that view so clearly. The amount of information that gets created is just incredible. Its also getting easier to find information we are looking for with a lot of specialized sites for curating the data. It is also easy now to reach out and ask people for solutions and its fantastic how random people from around the world are so enthusiastic to help out.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Online Learning



Online learning has never been more exciting than it is now. There are so many wonderful free resources out there for online learning but there are 2 specific resources that I have tried out in the last three months that I would like to talk about which I think are really amazing. The first one is Venture Lab and the other is The Khan Academy.

I spoke about The Khan Academy a long time ago in this post. But a lot has changed since then. They have applied the concepts of gamification to it along with a learning path. This gives a logical path for the student to watch the videos and do the exercises and as you do the exercises and watch the videos you earn leaves and badges that keeps you motivated to continue learning.

I was listening to a podcast where they were talking about how this is changing the teaching paradigms in many schools where what used to be homework is now done in the class and what used to be taught in classes is now being given as homework. How is this accomplished? The students are given the videos to watch at home as homework and all the exercises that used to be done at home is now done in the class where the teachers and the students help each other in doing the exercises, thus making the class more hands-on and engaging where the concepts that are learned in the video are applied.

The Venture Lab consists of courses that are taught in Stanford. It is a gamified learning environment where there are learning videos and exercises. What is more exciting here is that one needs to form teams with other individuals from around the world. I just completed a course on Technology Entrepreneurship and I met some wonderful people from around the world in order to do my assignments. They bring a different perspective to the whole learning environment.

With all the videos on You Tube, the question/answer forums such as Stack Overflow and just the power of Google and Bing Search to filter information to programmers there are very few problems out there that do not have a solution online. Learning and being able to apply concepts is so much easier now than it has ever been in the past and one should only have the perseverance to continue learning and applying those concepts in what they do to really flourish in their careers.

Kids should be introduced to Khan Academy and encouraged to use that as a learning environment and adults should do courses on The Venture Lab and Coursera.

If you know of other sites that offer online courses, share this information in the comments section below. I would also like to connect with others who are taking courses on these sites so let me know if you are taking any of the courses and what was your experience.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mindless Killing : Need for gun control

The debate around gun control has been going on for some time now but I think the US has reached a point where they have to take some hard and tough decisions around gun control. The second amendment gives the person the right to carry arms but it was written more than 200 years ago when weapons were not as lethal and accurate as they are these days. These weapons can discharge 100s of bullets in a matter of seconds with deadly accuracy and cause maximum damage in a very short while which was demonstrated in such a brutal manner in the killing of 20 innocent children. Its time to take serious decisive action against assault weapons that can discharge large number of bullets in a short time.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

15 Reasons why attend Startup Weekend

Here are my 15 reasons why every person who wants to be an entrepreneur has to attend startup weekend especially if they are planning to startup in the technology space. 
  1. Get to evaluate and try out your product idea in a risk free manner. If you have an idea and don't know if it will work you can come to the event and pitch it - if you get enough votes probably there is some credibility to your idea.
  2. Connect and network with developers and marketing and business professionals who can possibly work with you in the future. You can evaluate their skills over 54 hours in the toughest circumstances and find the right person who you can work with. 
  3. Get to meet mentors and spend 1 on 1 quality time with them when in real life trying to get even a few minutes of their time is very hard. They will help you fine tune your idea even further.
  4. Ability to brainstorm with experienced professionals and fine tune your idea to something that can be taken to market.
  5. Learn how to pitch and sell your idea in 1 minute. This will force you to practice your pitch.
  6. Ability to present in front of Angels, VCs and Incubators. If you are able to impress them then the world is yours to conquer.
  7. Learn through practice. Try out things and find out things that work.
  8. Learn about different tools and techniques people use and see the effectiveness of those techniques that different teams adopted.
  9. Understand the process of going about in starting up a technology product startup that takes you through the phases of ideation, team formation, market evaluation, product development and roll out all in 54 hours.
  10. Teaches you to never give up. There are times it looks so daunting what needs to be done but with perseverance it is amazing what can be achieved in 54 hours.
  11. Be a part of a global community of startup weekenders who number in the 10s of thousands.
  12. Learn to have fun and achieve great things that you feel very passionate about.
  13. Give you a preview of what the 18 hour days would be like when you are actually doing your startup.
  14. Forces you to learn to make quick decisions.
  15. Finally the awesome food - 7 meals to keep your batteries running.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Startup Funerals

I went for a very interesting event today and its called Startup Funerals. I was surprised at the size of the audience that made it to the event and that stayed all through the event. The event had a very simple format of networking and a few speakers talking about their experiences. The event focused on startups that did not succeed, in other words they failed or they gave up. The idea of the event was to share the learning from these startups with the rest of the community. 

The speakers were a couple of Hyderabad Angels who shared their experiences with the audience but the stand out speaker was K.Ramakrishna who gave a chronological history about his experiences through his entrepreneurial journey and he very openly explained about the reasons why the startups he tried out did not work out. There are not many who are very open like this about their failures. So its wonderful to see people starting to open up and explain what went wrong so that no one else makes the same mistakes.

We all go through ups and downs in startups and its about how you steel your way through these situations and over come them. Its great to see events like this where people come out and explain about these challenges and how they over came them or learnt from them to make bigger and better startups. Unless you try it you will not make a mistake and unless you make a mistake you are not going to learn. We have all made mistakes from when we were toddlers and that is how we have learn.

One question that keeps haunting me is "Why is it that we did not fear to fall down when we tried to first walk as a toddler but fear to try things out as an adult?" Is it because we are more knowledgeable of the risks involved in failing that it restricts us from trying things out?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Galaxy S + Windows 8

Getting my Galaxy S phone connected to Windows 8 laptop has really ruined my weekend. Usually I just connect my Galaxy S phone to my laptop and it all works fine with the device showing up in Windows Explorer but after installing Windows 8 on my laptop I try it and nothing happens. So I turn to my best friend in need "Google". After Googling for a bit I ended up with some interesting solutions

1. Reinstall some drivers - Did not work. Told me all my drivers were upto date.
2. Change some registry values - could not find the values to change.
3. Open the config file of Kies (software used to connect the Samsung phone to the desktop) and make some changes in it. Could not save the changes as some program or the other was using it.
4. Finally found a blogpost on the Samsung asking me to install Kies Mini which is another version of Kies and some operators of Samsung specifically block the phone from connecting to Kies.

Its easy to find content on Google if one is patient enough to search on the right key words. The problem always ends up being which content to trust and which content not to trust. Curated content is the answer. But with a large content base already there and as it explodes daily with new content added how does one constantly update the curated content so that it ends up being useful to people. Stackoverflow.com has kind of done a good job regarding this for programmers. Why I say it has done a good job is because when I see a link with stackoverflow.com for a question that I have asked, I almost always click it because I know the answer that I get from there will be the closest to answering what I am looking for.

Stackoverflow.com is building a series of such sites to provide curated content for users on a platform called stackexchange.com. But there are so many topics around which curated content is needed and this is just the beginning.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Windows 8 and Office 2013

About 3 weeks ago I took the plunge to install Windows 8 and office 2013 on my 4 year old laptop that was crawling. It was a spur of the moment decision due to the frustration of my laptop just not responding to me. Now I don't regret that decision at all. My laptop has got a new lease of life. Its much faster and very responsive, the UI looks modern and sleek and all the software that I had on my Windows 7 OS works like a charm.

I did not do an upgrade, I did a complete rebuild of my laptop with Windows 8. So that kind of cleaned out 4 years of junk that I had accumulated and I started off with a clean machine. The whole transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8 including backup and restore of my data and installing all the applications I needed took me less than half a day. This is my fastest OS build ever since I started using Windows since way back in 1992.

What do I like about Windows 8
1. As mentioned already its fast and responsive. All the applications open so much more faster and work so much more better.
2. Interface to the XBox 360 is nice. You open your video and then just do a share-to and choose the xbox console and it all works.
3. The live tiles on the desktop are nice to look at but I really don't find that much use to them as I rarely work from the desktop. But it really brings your desktop alive.

What I do not like about Windows 8
1. The removal of the start button from the desktop. Since the desktop is the traditional desktop on Windows they should have left the start button in there. There are applications you can install to get similar features. Click here to read more about them.
2. The skype program comes with the metro UI but many of the features that we love in skype are missing such as screen sharing and adding other participants to an existing call and it is really not that easy to have multiple conversations at the same time in the metro UI of skype. Also since it is a metro UI you do not have access to your desktop and if there are other conversations going on in other chat programs such as GTalk you get no notification that there is a chat message waiting for you. The metro UI is really not user friendly on a desktop where a lot of multi tasking goes on.
3. The Metro UI menu options takes a bit of getting used to. Finding things on the Metro UI that one is used to finding in a particular place takes some time and this can lead to a bit of frustration.  So Google becomes your best friend to find out where the option is.

My opinion is move to Windows 8. Its a fun interface that is fresh and its just so responsive when you do something on it.

Office 2013 comes with a very bland flat clean interface that feels odd when you first start it up having got used to the beveled buttons and the 3D interface of previous office products. I found it odd for a while to have the menu and the content area in the same white color thus not having the clear demarcation between the two. But again its fast, responsive and sleek so if you get a chance to move to it you should. In terms of feature set I have not used any of the features that are new in it like its integration into sky drive, syncing across devices (will try it out when I get my Windows phone), PDF Editing (Nice !!! - Didn't know it till I read this article).

In terms of feature set its not really a big upgrade from Office 2010 so you can move to it at your own pace.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Global Startup Battle - 2012

We finally managed to get the Global Startup Battle of Startup Weekend to Hyderabad in 2012. The Global Startup Battle is 138 Startup Weekends happening across the world on two consecutive weekends where the winner from each of the startup weekends gets to upload a video which is open to a global voting. The top 15 teams in the voting get into a semifinal and finally the winner gets a trip to Rio and the Google office in the US along with a lot of other goodies.

Since we were time constrained in organizing the event we had less than a month to plan for it and also it happened to be right in the middle of the holiday season and exam season in Hyderabad tickets were hard to sell. We finally managed to sell about 60 tickets with a lot of enthusiastic and excited participants making it down to the Progress office at Madhapur on Friday evening. The event started off with the surprise visit of the Hyderabad Angels who had an open Q and A session with the participants. After that we had short talks and again Q and A sessions by Santanu Paul from TalentSprint and Abhishek from GharPay.

With that over we started off the event with an exciting Pitch Fire session where participants pitched their ideas to the other participants in one minute. We had about 40 high quality pitches which was followed by dinner and networking. After dinner participants were asked to vote on 3 pitches that they like. On completion of the voting we picked 10 teams who got the top number of votes led by the person who pitched the idea. Over the next one hour teams were formed and they got working on their ideas.

On saturday we had mentors come in to help the teams consisting UX experts, Angels, CEOs and Entrepreneurs. Teams worked on their business plans, development of MVP and doing customer surveys and interactions and final presentations which were to be done in front of a panel of judges on sunday evening.

On sunday evening at 5 the final presentations were done where each team got 5 min to present and 2 min of Q and A with the judges after which the winner was announced and our entry into the Global Startup Battle was LEBTOP - Learn English By Talking on Phone. You can vote for this team by visiting this website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Build your brand and assets

Right from the beginning it is important for every startup to think about how they are going to build up the brands and the assets of the organization. If the organization starts up doing software products then this is a lot easier, but if the organization starts up by doing software services then this might seem very hard but it is important that a framework is put in place to capture and grow every asset the company is building over time.

People come and go in an organization the only thing constant are the brands and the assets the company builds over time. The organization even if it is in the software services space should always think about how they are going to add to these assets because it is these assets that in the long run will build value for the organization.

Building skills in the people working in the organization does not work in the long run, one cannot stop them from leaving the organization and when they leave, the knowledge that they gained which is the asset the organization markets and sells leaves with them in turn making the organization poorer. Physical assets in the form of software products and well documented processes that are maintained never leave the organization. They can be picked up by others and carried forward.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Beginners don’t have baggage

We have been hiring and time and time again I have come to realize that it is a lot easier to hire smart bright freshers and train them rather than hiring experienced developers. The problem with hiring freshers from databases such as Naukri and Monster is that there are a lot of profiles there that are put up by consultants who fill up the profile with fake projects and experience and it wastes a lot of your time filtering this out.


What are the advantages of hiring a fresher
1. They come with no preconceived thoughts of what they want to do. They have an open mind and are willing to take up any kind of tasks.
2. They are open to listening and adopting to the company culture. They fit into the way the company works and functions a lot easier and faster.
3. They enjoy and appreciate everything that is given to them. There are no comparisons made.
4. They stay much longer in the organization and they are much more loyal.
5. They are easier to hire as all you need to judge their technical thought process and their fitment with respect to the organization.
6. They come with no expectations other than to learn and work hard.

Yes it is hard work for a while as there needs to be a proper training and mentoring process in place. In a software services space clients expect experienced developers so it is a lot harder to convince and place freshers.

Experienced hires do bring a different dimension into the organization but a careful due diligence needs to be done to ensure that there is a good synergy going between the existing employees in the organization and the new hire. If this is carefully thought out and planned then hiring experienced staff can work wonders by giving more diversity to the culture of the organization.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

6 Challenges Techies have while selling

Techies love building products but then they find there are a lot of challenges in going out into the market and selling them. Being a techie myself and now playing a sales role I completely understand these challenges.
Challenge 1 : Anything can be built
When a sales call is made and the client states a requirement that is not present in the product, the sales person immediately puts on his techie hat trying to figure out how to build that rather than concentrating on selling the product. Very quickly the discussion changes from a sales discussion to a technical implementation discussion.
Challenge 2 : Lead evaluation
Techies find it hard to evaluate the lead. They find it hard to differentiate between a hot lead and a cold lead. For the techie they believe that every customer is a hot lead and they need to satisfy it because that gives them more work to do.
Challenge 3 : Does not accept that the sale is not going to happen
Since techies believe that everything is possible for them every sale is possible and they will keep pursuing it till it happens.
Challenge 4 : Evaluation the business viability of the customer request
Extending the above challenges the techie wants to satisfy every customer and so does not evaluate the request from the customer from a business stand point. For the techie everything should be built and they will go headlong into building it even if it is only for one customer in a SaaS based product.
Challenge 5 : Introvert
Most techies are introverted. They like to sit in a corner put on their headphones and churn out code. They dont like being interrupted and they dont like being tossed around doing different tasks. A sales job requires the person to be just the opposite - they should be extroverted, they should love to talk, they should be confident and they should be convincing.
Challenge 6 : Having intimate knowledge of the product does not make they sound convincing
Due to the fact that the techies have an intimate knowledge of the product sometimes they do not come across convincing in selling the product because they know at the back of their mind that there are some flaws in the feature set the customer is requesting. When the sales person has no knowledge of the underlying product then they just sound super confident about the product.


This does not mean that techies cant be excellent sales staff. There are many wonderful techies who I know that are in sales and they are brilliant at it and they understand these challenges and over come them.

Feel free to share any of your thoughts on challenges that you have faced while selling.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Power of intuition and experiential wisdom

In his autobiography Steve Jobs said "The people in the Indian countryside don't use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That's had a big impact on my work," Jobs later recalled to Walter Issacson, the biographer.

We see this in everyday life - the Indian intuition. If you observe how traffic moves on Indian roads it looks chaotic and crazy. It looks like everyone is going to crash into one another and we are going to have one big crazy pile up. But we defy reality - there is a method in the madness, there is an implicit understanding between the drivers and pedestrians of what each one is going to do next.

Before you drive on Indian roads you have this feeling that its impossible to drive and that you will probably kill a million people if you drive. Hence there is a deep reluctance to start driving. Once you start driving you develop this intuition and connection with everyone else on the road that the reality of killing a million people never happens. This intuition cannot be taught and passed on to others to give them the confidence that they can drive, it has to be gained by driving.

The sad reality is that our education system is killing this power of intuition. I am seeing more and more graduates who pass out are able to very nicely tell me every definition or theorem but they are not able to explain how they will use this knowledge in their work or be able to find holistic solutions that solve a problem using the knowledge they gained in their education. This comes from combining intuition with knowledge and developing a sense of confidence of doing things.

We need to encourage people to use their intuition and not be afraid to experiment. It is only through this will we be able to start solving problems holistically and start providing value which in turn will bring greater success than just outsourcing our intellect. Intellect does not provide all the answers and we have to rely on intuition to take us all the way.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Startup Weekend : From Participant to Organizer

The last one year has been a very exciting year for me in terms of learning and growing. In September 2011 I signed up as a participant for Startup Weekend the first time it was conducted in Hyderabad and since then I have volunteered at Startup Weekend events in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi and have become an organizer at Startup Weekend Hyderabad and we are about to conduct the third event in the city which is going to be part of the Global Startup Battle.

What is it about Startup Weekend?  It all starts off with the event itself - the event is in a format that facilitates one to learn in multiple levels. One learns from the speakers, getting inspired by them from what they have achieved and then from the mentors who guide and advice the participants until their ideas start to make good business sense and finally the participants who come from very diverse backgrounds with whom relationships form that carry on well past the event.

The event itself is very unstructured with a greater focus on execution than on theory. Its all about taking an idea that starts off just as a thought and converting it into something real that can be shown to end customer at the end of 54 hours. The beauty of the event is that one can try out their plans and thoughts with no fear of failure. You get the practice and the confidence to be able to pitch your idea in less than a minute in a manner that is able to grab the attention of the audience. There is a great focus on idea validation, execution and presentation.

As a volunteer and an organizer I want to give this experience to as many participants as I can since this is a wonderful way to learn and explore about entrepreneurship in a risk free manner. In order to become an entrepreneur there are a few fundamental activities such as how to validate the idea, build the business model, ability to market convincingly and clearly, working with a team and presenting the idea in a compelling manner to investors and customers. All of these activities can be done on the weekend.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Engineering education in Andhra Pradesh

Way back in 1993 when I wrote EAMCET, the common entrance test for engineering one was considered brilliant if they managed to get a seat. In that year there were less than 9000 engineering seats and it was easier to get a seat in Karnataka than it was to get one in AP, but the colleges in AP were much more popular and better and everyone wanted a seat here.

Fast forward to 2012, there are 340000 engineering seats and the funny part is that not more than 220000 write the entrance exams for these seats thus making the entrance exam just a farce as anyone who wants to get a seat will get one irrespective of the marks they get in the exam.

Let us look how the increase of seats has been through the years

Year  No. of colleges No. of seats Vacant Seats
1994 – 1995 32 9335 0
1995 – 1996 37 10155 0
1996 – 1997 37 10455 0
1997 – 1998 57 14155 0
1998 – 1999 89 19773 0
1999 – 2000 102 25064 0
2000 – 2001 107 30896 0
2001 – 2002 174 46090 0
2002 – 2003 217 62710 0
2003 – 2004 225 65960 0
2004 – 2005 238 82225 0
2005 – 2006 262 92600 0
2006 – 2007 282 98793 0
2007 – 2008 337 118993 0
2008 – 2009 530 174742 17577
2009 – 2010 656 226000 48795
2010 – 2011 705 252000 74972
2011 - 2012  721 340000 120000
2012 - 2013  721
(approx)
340000 (approx) 200000 (approx)

Every year since 2008-09 there has been a steady increase of surplus seats but that did not stop more colleges from being opened and more seats being added to existing engineering colleges. Why did this happen? As part of the AP Governments fee reimbursement scheme any family that had an income of less than Rs. 100000 per year as stated by the local government authority was eligible to have the complete fees waived for the engineering course. Given this situation, joining an engineering course had an incentive and in society it was considered prestigious to be holding an engineering degree. Given this increased demand for engineering seats the number steadily grew until there was a glut in the number of seats.

This growth has come at a price - even students who did not have a liking or aptitude for the sciences were doing engineering and at the same time due to the increased number of colleges so suddenly there was a dearth of quality faculty to be able to cater to the demands of the increased number of colleges. This caused the quality of the education to drop drastically, thus making not more than 10% of the engineering students who pass out each year employable.

This is a very dangerous situation. What happens to 90% of these students (approx 200000 students who joined in 2009-10) who have spent 4 years of their lives studying for a degree that is not able to get them a job. Yes, some of them can be re-skilled and trained but for a majority of them they go many years (I have seen students who have spent 3 years) just searching for an appropriate job. This can lead to frustration and anger which is not good for the future of our country.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Programmers are getting younger and younger

I came across this TED talk today by Thomas Suarez, a 12-year-old app developer that develops apps for the ipod, ipad and iphone.


In Startup Weekend Delhi I met with Evan Luthra who describes himself as a Student, President, CEO, Founder, Director, Keynote Speaker, Blogger & More. Evan is just 17 years old and he has his own company that designs and sells apps.

We are seeing more and more students starting to challenge the status quo. They are challenging the tried and tested way of the 10+2+4 or the 10+2+3+3 education system. There is a lot of encouragement that they get to pursue their passions. There is so much information out there to help them learn quickly.

I was born and brought up in a small town in the coastal area of Andhra Pradesh and had my first taste of computers when I was 14 years old, courtesy my school. The school, bought 2 computers to teach Computer Science as part of the ICSE syllabus that had just introduced the subject as an optional subject for the very first time. We got 30 min of time each on the computer to program small BASIC programs once a week. We did not have a teacher to teach us programming but luckily for us our Chemistry teacher took an interest in programming went to Chennai learned programming to come back and teach us. We did not have the internet to learn.

What we had was the hardware but we did not have the software, the knowledge and the ability to connect with the rest of the world so easily and effortlessly as it is now. The age we live in now makes this all so possible that it is such an exciting era to be in as a student where the world is your oyster.

But the problem is how much of India is like this during this exciting era - I just read this article on the WSJ that says 81% of U.S. engineering grads are immediately "employable," vs. 25% of India's, 10% of China's. We need to encourage more Evan Luthra's in India to buck this trend.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Small victories > Big encouragement

As an entrepreneur one always goes through ups and downs and there are times you second guess yourself and wonder if you are really doing the right thing. There are little things that happen that boost your confidence and give you big time encouragement to forge ahead.

These are small triumphs that give you this new energy to forge ahead. What I find important is to be able to break down things so that one can achieve these small victories that provide validation for what one is doing that gives you the motivation to keep going.

A task not broken down keeps going on for a long time and looks so intimidating that it becomes very hard to keep one motivated right through the entire task.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Product Definition


Many of us are mostly developers for most of our careers and then move into project delivery roles. But very rarely do we have the opportunity to come up with a product idea, build it, market it, sell it and make money. But as an entrepreneur that is what one needs to do and if you can't define products and services and make money consistently it becomes impossible to sustain.  How do we come up with a product or service that a customer is willing to use and pay for it?

The key I feel is to have a very clearly defined product or service in "bite sized" portions that are easily consumable by the end customer and provide a satisfaction to the customer that he does not think twice to pay for it and is willing to talk to his friends and family about it. This product or service should be given to the customer in bite sized portions so that he can easily understand and value.

It is kind of like a restaurant - I have found that restaurants that have a very simple menu, the few things that they have on their menu they make it amazingly well and I do not mind paying them for it as they satisfy my yearning for that kind of food. Also I would recommend the place to my family and friends and also keep going back for more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thoughts from Startup Weekend Delhi

I went back to Delhi after almost 6 years for Startup Weekend Mobile Delhi and it was really a wonderful experience.

Delhi as a city has changed quite a bit for the better - for starters I am super impressed with the metro, it is very convenient, nominally priced and well connected. It was very easy to go around the city on the metro. The broad roads and the flyovers around the city was a very welcome change from Bangalore and Hyderabad where there are so many traffic bottle necks.

The event by itself was very exciting in Delhi. There is a stark contrast between the same event in Hyderabad and Bangalore and some of those differences are
  1. We had only one round of pitches for ideas in Delhi and got close to 70 ideas. In Hyderabad and Bangalore we got through at least 3 rounds of pitches to get the same number of ideas. The participants in all the 3 cities was just about the same.
  2. The number of actual demoable products presented on the 3rd day was a lot more with almost every team having a product to demo. In Hyderabad and Bangalore you get a lot of  presentations without actual product demos.
  3. There was a lot of use of white boards and charts in SW Delhi as against a lot of coding in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
My experience has been that the participants in Delhi were more business minded on how to actually take a product to market where as in Hyderabad and Bangalore the focus was more on hacking together something with the business coming secondary. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ramoji Film City

An aerial view of the property
After more than 12 years I went back to Ramoji Film City. It has not changed too much over the last decade or so but it has surely maintained what was there on my last visit. One is not allowed to take their cars into the premises unless you are staying there. There are two hotels inside - Tara and Sitara. I stayed in Tara 12 years ago and it is a pricey basic hotel.

Tickets

The tickets are one fixed price for entry and for all the shows inside - Rs. 500 for children and Rs. 600 for the adults. The ticket is valid for the full day. The ticket includes entry,  a tour of Ramoji Film City, 3 shows - a variety show at the dome theater, spirit of Ramoji show and the cow boy stunt show, a few rides are complimentary and then the children's park which has things like a play area and rain dance.

The shows

Set where the action cowboy scene happens
The shows are at fixed timings and each show is about 15 minutes long. So plan your day accordingly so that you space it accordingly so that you can get to watch the shows. The Spirit of Ramoji is a variety entertainment show which includes some dance sequences and a couple of acrobatic sequences. The wild wild west stunt show is a fight scene with gunshots (crackers) and hand grenades (bombs), zip lining and a lot of kicking and somersaults. Its an entertaining show but if one does not like crackers get a seat at the back of the auditorium. The show at the dome theater is like a mini circus show which is entertaining.

Food

You are not allowed to carry any food inside. There are a lot of push carts that are available selling biscuits, ice cream, chocolates and water around and at almost each of the attractions there is one. At the main place called Eureka there are 3 restaurants - hyderabadi, multi cuisine and canteen style but during lunch time they just become crazy places with all the crowd descending there at the same time. Since one is not allowed to carry food in and also the madness at the restaurants forced us to live off chocolates and biscuits for the rest of the day. For such a large entertainment center it is surprising not to find any fast food kind of places. Also the restaurants did not look like they were equipped to handle the large number of people that came on the weekend.

The tour

Bus that takes you around
The tour is a 1 hour ride around by bus where they show you all the locations available within the film city identifying the various movies that were shot there. There are a few points where they allow you to get off the bus and take a walk around - these places include the indoor set, the fake airport, cave location, butterfly park and the gardens. The tour gives you information about the make believe world that movies are made in and its amazing how movie makers make all that fake stuff look so real in the movies. There is nothing fascinating about the tour so do not expect to be wowed.

Overall

The indoor permanent set
On the whole its a nice days outing if one has not seen Ramoji Film City. Its not a trip I would take again and again given that nothing much has changed over the last 12 years. Its a decent place to hang around do a few activities and just have fun. You really dont get into the world of movie making or how movies are shot. You get a peek of it during the tour but that is all. The other let down is the food and when one is hungry on a full day trip it just becomes a irritating experience. The shows are are really not top of the line stuff. Lets just say that they are entertaining but will not really wow you out of your seat.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

SWHYD - 2 : 54 hours of blended productivity

From winner at the last Startup Weekend at Hyderabad, to volunteer at Startup Weekend at Mumbai to Organizer at Startup Weekend at Hyderabad in the second edition - I have in the sense been through the process of moving from the front to the back of Startup Weekend over the last 1 year and what an amazing journey it has been. The experience as a participant is of complete focus on achieving the goal of building something over the weekend, molded into shape by talking to the mentors and having it validated through market surveys and interviews. As a volunteer there is so much to learn in organizing an event and understanding all the nuts and bolts that go into putting together this weekend of learning an fun.

Being an organizer makes it all so worthwhile to have so many different individuals come together over a weekend and build bonds that last a lifetime and probably even create products that may go on to become the next big company. The quality of the learning through action over a weekend is unsurpassed so far for me.

Startup Weekend is such a melting pot of talent enriched with a lot of mentorship and guidance which never fails to bring out the best in people to create an amazing amount of productivity over 54 hours. The energy is focused, the goals are set and everyone is at their imaginative best all through the weekend.

This video very beautifully illustrates the awesomeness of the weekend at Hyderabad


Thank you judges, mentors, speakers, volunteers, participants and finally my fellow organizers for the awesome event and can't wait for the next Startup Weekend Hyderabad event. Stay tuned we will be coming out with the dates soon and I hope to see you all there building a startup over a weekend.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why attend Startup Weekend Hyderabad?

Startup Weekend Hyderabad is back - bigger and better this time at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad from the 13-15 of July. For those that are not familiar with Startup Weekend - read my post when I attended the last event as a participant.

Watch this video preview of what happened in the last event


Why attend Startup Weekend? 

Startup Weekend is an event where ideas that have been nagging you for a long long time can be tried out and evaluated. Come to the event pitch your idea, if you get enough votes for it - the idea is immediately validated. For people who have a clear idea on what they want to do but dont have the team to execute it - Startup Weekend is the perfect place to seed this team. You get to work with your team for a full 54 hours in a very exciting and focused manner - giving you a great insight into your future team. The event is the perfect place to help fine tune the idea with many experts who have started and exited many startups successfully. And finally if your team is able to impress the judging panel you might be considered for incubation or event funding - which will truly set you on your way to Starting Up.

Whats different this year ? 

There are more number of participants from very diverse fields which means there will be more excitement and more number of people to network with. Secondly we have a great speaker list, mentor list and judging panel that have agreed to spend time at the event to coach, mentor and evaluate all the ideas that will be showcased at the event.

The icing on the cake is that we have the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (WCED) and Hydcubator agreeing to consider evaluating ideas presented at the event to incubate. Now this is a golden opportunity for anyone wanting to startup.

Book your tickets to Startup Weekend Hyderabad by visiting http://hyderabad.startupweekend.org. You can get more information by calling our IVR system at 040-30512888.

Monday, January 30, 2012

50 Programs for software engineers looking for jobs

Loops and Variables
  1. Write a program to swap two numbers without using an additional variable.
    Solution : vb.net
  2. Write a program to find the biggest number in n numbers without using arrays.
    Solution : vb.net
  3. Write a program to find the second biggest number in n numbers without using arrays.
  4. Write a program to find the smallest number in n numbers without using arrays.
  5. Write a program to find out m * n without using the * operator.
  6. Write a program to find out m / n without using the / operator.
  7. Write a program to find out m ^ n without using the ^ operator.
  8. Write a program to find out m % n without using the % operator.
  9. Write a program to find out the average of n numbers.
  10. Convert a number in String format to integer - Number entered as "1234" should come as 1234 and "1234a" should come as an error.
  11. Write a program to find the factorial of a number.
  12. Write a program to find out 1+2+3+4+...+n
  13. Write a program that sums up the digits of a number until it is a single number
    Eg: 2748303 = 2+7+4+8+3+0+3 = 27 = 2+7 = 9
  14. Write a program that accepts a base ten integer number and outputs the binary, octal and hexadecimal representations of that number.
  15. Write a program that accepts a hexadecimal representation of a number and outputs the decimal representation of that number.
  16. Write a program to print all the prime numbers between m and n where m is less than n.
  17. Write a program to find all the prime factors of a number.
  18. Write a program which reverses the numerals in an integer, that is 326 becomes 623
Patterns
  1. Write a program to print the pascal's triangle. The way to compute any given position's value is to add up the numbers to the position's right and left in the preceding row. For instance, to compute the middle number in the third row, you add 1 and 1; the sides of the triangle are always 1 because you only add the number to the upper left or the upper right (there being no second number on the other side).
                                                        1
                                                   1        1
                                               1        2        1
                                           1       3        3        1
                                      1       4        6        4        1
                                 1        5      10      10       5        1
  2. Write a program that prints
                                *
                           *        *
                       *       *        *
                  *       *        *        *
             *        *        *        *       *  
  3. Write a program that prints
                                *
                           *        *
                       *                 *
                  *                           *  
             *        *        *        *       *  
  4. Write a program that prints
    *   *  *  *  *  *  *   *
    *                            *
    *                            *
    *                            *
    *                            *
    *                            *
    *   *  *  *  *  *  *   *
Arrays
  1. Write a program to find out the median of n numbers.
  2. Write a program to find out the mode of n numbers.
  3. Write a program to sort numbers using bubble sort.
  4. Write a program to sort numbers using quick sort.
  5. Write a program to find the sum of two m x n matrices.
  6. Write a program to find the product of two matrices.
  7. Write a program to find the transpose of a matrix.
Fibanocci Series
  1. Write a program to print the first n numbers of the fibanocci series.
  2. Write a program to print only the first 10 odd numbers in a fibanocci series.
  3. Write a program to print the list of numbers in a fibanocci series that adds up to n.
Strings
  1. Write a program to reverse a string
    - "My name is sudeep" should become "peedus si eman yM"
  2. Write a program to find the length of a string.
  3. Write a program to reverse the words in a string
    -"My name is sudeep" should become "sudeep is name My"
  4. Write a program to display all possible permutations of a given input string
    - if the string contains duplicate characters, you may have multiple repeated results.
    Input should be of the form
    permute string
    and output should be all the combinations of the letters. Here is a sample for the input
    cat cat cta act atc tac tca 
  5. Write a program that takes an integer and displays the English name of that value. You should support both positive and negative numbers.
    Examples:
    10 -> ten 121 -> one hundred twenty one
    1032 -> one thousand thirty two
    11043 -> eleven thousand forty three
    1200000 -> one million two hundred thousand 
  6. Write a program that takes two arguments at the command line, both strings. The program checks to see whether or not the second string is a substring of the first (without using the substr -- or any other library -- function). One caveat: any * in the second string can match zero or more characters in the first string, so if the input were abcd and the substring were a*c, then it would count as a substring. Also, include functionality to allow an asterisk to be taken literally if preceded by a \, and a \ is taken literally except when preceding an asterisk.
  7. Given a pair of words (the first is the correct spelling and the second is the contestant’s spelling of the word) determine if the word is spelled correctly. The degree of correctness is as follows:
    CORRECT if it is an exact match
    ALMOST CORRECT if no more than 2 letters are wrong
    WRONG if 3 or more letters are wrong
  8. Write a program to read a sentence and calculate the average word value for that sentence. Word value is calculated by finding the average of the ASCII values of all of the letters in a word. Average word value is the average of the word values of all of the words in the sentence rounded to the nearest integer. All letters are upper case. Any non-letter characters are not part of the word in which they are located.
    Eg: MY NAME IS SUDEEP
    = (77+89)/2 + (78+65+77+69)/4 + (73+83)/2 + (83+85+68+69+69+80)/6
    = 83 + 72.25 + 78 + 75.67 = 83 + 72 + 78 + 76
    = 309 / 4
    = 77.25
    = 77
  9. To convert a word to Pig Latin, the first letter of the word was moved to the end (after the last letter of the word) and the letters “AY” were added. For example, PIG becomes IGPAY. Write a program to convert a given sentence to pig latin.
    Eg. MY NAME IS SUDEEP.
    In Pig latin : YMAY AMENAY SIAY UDEEPSAY
 Files
  1. Write a program to find the number of lines in a file new line defined as "\n" and the number of words in a file. A word is defined as two patterns of characters separated by one or more spaces.
  2. Count the number of times a word occurs in a file - the word and the location of the file are inputs to the program.
  3. Write a program that will merge two files and give an output of 1 file.
Linked Lists
Note : The format for the node should be a struct containing an integer value, val, and a next pointer to the following node.
  1. Write a program to find out the length of a linked list.
  2. Write a program to find out if the linked list has a loop.
  3. Write a program to print a singly linked list in reverse.
  4. Write a program to reverse the entire linked list in place. By in-place, I mean that no memory can be allocated. The resulting code should be function that takes the head of a list and returns a the new head of the reversed list. 
  5. Write a program to implement push and pop functions in a linked list.
  6. Write a program which can insert a new node at any index within a list. The program may specify any index in the range [0..length], and the new node should be inserted so as to be at that index. The index is calculated as the position from the beginning of the linked list.