Sunday, November 30, 2008

Understanding the Economic Crisis

Some of the questions that have been haunting me ever since the economic crisis started are
  • What is this so called economic crisis and how it is caused?
  • What is the meaning of all the terminology that they are using such as inflation, credit crunch, etc?
  • How will the economic crisis effect us?
  • How is money created?
  • Are the governments around the world doing the right things?
  • Is there a relation between the oil prices and the current economic crisis?
  • Can the problem be solved and if it can be solved for how long will it go on?
I have been looking around for these answers and came across The Crash Course by Chris Martenson. It is divided into the following chapters and it goes on for a total of a little more than 3 hours.

  • Chapter 1: Three Beliefs (Time: 1:46)
  • Chapter 2: The Three "E"s (Time: 1:38)
  • Chapter 3: Exponential Growth (Time: 6:20)
  • Chapter 4: Compounding is the Problem (Time: 3:06)
  • Chapter 5: Growth vs. Prosperity (Time: 3:40)
  • Chapter 6: What is Money? (Time: 5:55)
  • Chapter 7: Money Creation (Time: 4:19)
  • Chapter 8: The Fed - Money Creation (Time: 7:13)
  • Chapter 9: A Brief History of US Money (Time: 7:14)
  • Chapter 10: Inflation (Time: 11:48)
  • Chapter 11: How Much Is A Trillion? (Time: 3:28)
  • Chapter 12: Debt (Time: 12:32)
  • Chapter 13: A National Failure To Save (Time: 12:06)
  • Chapter 14: Assets & Demographics (Time: 13:41)
  • Chapter 15: Bubbles (Time: 14:10)
  • Chapter 16: Fuzzy Numbers (Time: 15:52)
  • Chapter 17: PART A: Peak Oil (Time: 17:52)
  • Chapter 17: PART B: Energy Budgeting (Time: 12:15)
  • Chapter 17: PART C: Energy And The Economy (Time: 7:05)
  • Chapter 18: Environmental Data (Time: 16:22)
  • Chapter 19: Future Shock (Time: 8:02)
  • Chapter 20: What Should I Do? (Time: 19:48)
It is totally worth going through because he talks in very basic terminology and he explains things right from the basics assuming you know nothing. A lot of it is scary and unimaginable but it makes logical sense. Take the time to go through all the presentations right from the begining as it is in a very logical order and you will not be able to understand the later presentations without going through the ones in the begining.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What rediff will do for money ?

I came across an article in Rediff about "Deepika's unbelievable stunt!" and I was curious and clicked on it and got to watch the following video which is a combination of 3 images. I apologize for the bad quality of the video.

This video is so fake that I could not believe the editors did not even notice it. If you break up the images that comprise the video it becomes very apparent and I will let the images do the talking.

The text below these images clearly shows no body is reviewing what is being put up or Rediff will just publish anything as long as they get paid.

I took two screen shots - one on Nov 26, 2008 @ 1:05 PM in which there was a link to the above farce and I then took a second screen shot on Nov 26, 2008 @ 2:50 PM and the link was not there. I searched all over for it but no luck it was taken off - but the original link to the post is still there so you can click on top and go see the post.
Can we really trust any of the news sources out there and their opinions?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why don't you Blog ?

I was reading an interesting post today written by Steve Yegge titled - You Should Write Blogs . In this post Steve talks about the common reasons people give when you ask them why they don't blog
  • Reason #1: I'm too busy.
  • Reason #2: I'm afraid to put my true thoughts on public record.
  • Reason #3: Nobody will read my blog.
  • Reason #4: Blogging is narcissistic.
    narcissistic meaning : [adjective] characteristic of those having an inflated idea of their own importance
And when I ask a lot of very intelligent people around me the same question I get the very same reasons that Steve covered in his blog post. All very valid reasons, but let me give you reasons as to why you should blog.

Project the right information about yourself
In this connected world a lot of information is being put on the internet by a lot of sources. A lot of it is good and a lot more than that is bad. If for some reason someone searched for your information online, you do not want them to find information about you that you have no control over. By blogging you will be able to create a profile of yourself that is completely controlled by you and it will dwarf all the other information that is present out there that is not controlled by you.

Showcase your talents and interests
I always tell software trainees and students that they need to blog. The reason I tell them to do that is because they can showcase their talents to prospective employers in a much better manner through a blog than they can ever do through a resume. If you have a good blog with all the assignments that you have done and with details of how you completed them I am sure it will not be too hard to get a job.

Make it your notebook
Note down everything that you want to refer back to in your blog. That way you do not need to maintain any other notes and the blog makes it very easy for you to search for stuff anytime and anywhere.

Keeping this in mind I hope more and more people start blogging. Blogging is not hard and it does not take time and blog only about the things that you are comfortable with. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Understanding Coffee Drinks

Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and wondered what to order having not been able to understand the different coffee drinks available on the menu? Lokesh Dhakar in this post does an amazing job in explaining the different coffee drinks. Below are the images for the types of coffee drinks that I have seen in the Indian coffee shop menus. Happy coffee drinking.

Caffé Latte
[caf-ay lah-tey]
Caffé Mocha
[caf-ay moh-kuh]

Monday, November 17, 2008

Being Coloured

When I born, I Black.
When I grow up, I Black.
When I go in Sun, I Black.
When I scared, I Black.
And when I die, I still Black.

And you White fellow...
When you born, You Pink.
When you grow up, You White.
When you go in the Sun, You Red.
When you cold, You Blue.
When you are scared, You Yellow.
When you sick, You Green.
And when you die, You Grey.

And you call me Coloured...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Unbiased Google

I came across a very interesting piece of news today that increased my belief in Google to be unbiased. If you search for the term Jew in Google till a while ago there is a sponsored link by Google explaining how their search results work.

The reason Google was forced to do this was because for the search term jew there were anti jewish sites that were coming up as the top most result in their search results. When a lot of high profile people complained about it Google chose to give an explanation of how their search results worked rather than remove the site from the search results.

This is proof that Google is completely unbiased and does not tinker with the results that their search algorithms return. This ensures that the results returned by Google are consistent.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Wrap up

Prof K Ramachandran of ISB gave a wrap up on all that we discussed during the full day session.
  • Eliminate customer dissatisfaction, always.
  • Dynamic business plan.
  • Strategy is easy, execution is tough.
  • Have detached passion.
  • VC money: Be ready to have a bumpy ride.
  • Documentation is huge.
  • Constantly build resources.
  • Resources are behind opportunities.
  • Stretch them.
  • Most critical resource is time.
  • ROTI - return on time invested. Usually a lot more effective than ROI which most people use.
  • Innovativeness is needed everywhere.
  • Working capital is life blood. Working capital should be low.
  • Compress cycle time.
  • People and system key to growth.
  • Share vision, build passion.
  • Develop and maintain networks.
  • Listen to others pick up signals.
Related posts

Friday, November 14, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Amit Kishore Prasad, SatNav Technologies

Amit Kishore Prasad is the founder CEO and MD of SatNav Technologies based in Hyderabad. Amit spoke about Execution - Building a team.
  • Ensure you have bosses that the employees look up to and trust.
  • People need to repose confidence and faith in the entrepreneur.
  • Choose employees that have the willingness to learn and are willing to play multiple roles.
  • Employees who have qualifications/experience and also bring an attitude with it will create a problem. 
  • In an organization it is good to have written communication. It should be clearly outlined what is the carrot and stick when doing tasks.
  • When someone comes with a problem ask them for a solution.
  • Give feedback immediately but not publicly.
  • Weekly action plans work well
  • Retaining people
    - Involve them in the decision making process and keep them in the loop.
    - Defend your team in front of others
  • When going for VC funding be ready to answer tough questions regarding your team such as are they qualified enough, can the deliver, etc.
  • Do not hesitate to fire non-performers.
Related posts

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Sandeep Singhal, Nexus India

Sandeep was Co-Founder and CEO of Medusind Solutions, one of the leading healthcare outsourcing companies in India. Sandeep is also the co-founder and Managing Director of eVentures, a leading Venture Capital firm focused on early stage investments in India since 1999. Sandeep has held senior roles at McKinsey and Company, Digital Equipment and EDA Systems. Click here to read more about Sandeep.

Sandeep spoke about developing differentiation

  • Important to make your product/Service unique
    - This allows you to price better.
    - It is easier to sell.
    - It allows you to figure out where to focus.
    - Helps in prioritizing your resources.
  • Sources of differentiation
    - Technology or patents
    - Processes
    - Business model
    - Marketing
  • How to differentiate?
    - Build the right team.
    - Surround yourself with people brighter than you that will question you.
    - Develop a deep understanding of the target market.
    - Choose the sources of differentiation.
    - Execute flawlessly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Samir Kumar, Inventus

Samir has been an early stage venture investor in India for the past six years.   Prior to co-founding Inventus, Samir built and led the India venture team for Acer Technology Ventures - a $260 million cross-border venture fund investing in early-stage technology and services companies across India, the U.S. and the Asia Pacific. Samir was an early member of two startups in India, and was part of the early team at Wipro. He helped Wipro grow revenues from ~$4M in 1989 to over $200 million in 1998. Click here to read more about Samir.

Samir spoke about Marketing Strategies for a startup.
  • Think big and execute in small steps
  • It is important to have a good team. Very few VCs will invest in a single individual.
  • Product
    Most important thing the entrepreneur needs to focus on.
    It needs to be thought through very carefully and diligently.
    Think from outside in. Look at it from the view of a customer.
    Important to include customers when conceptualizing the product.
    Understand the competition that has similar products.
  • Price 
    Many startups are afraid to price the product right.
    Do not price the product too low.
    Price higher but give sweet heart deals initially.
  • Placement
    How will the customer buy and pay for the product needs to be thought out?
    Identify your partners and your competitors. Sometimes there is a fine line between them. It may be beneficial at times to partner with a possible competitor in order to penetrate the market.
  • Promotion
    It is not always necessary to spend a great deal of money on media. Many popular brands such as orkut, facebook, gmail have done it without big advertising budgets.
  • Positioning
    Understand how the product will be positioned in the customers mind.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Shantanu Surpure, Sand Hill Counsel

Shantanu Surpure is Managing Attorney at Sand Hill Counsel, a law firm with offices in Mumbai and Silicon Valley. He focuses on venture capital and private equity transactions. Shantanu holds a BA from Brown University/London School of Economics, an MA Juris from Oxford University and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School and is admitted to practice law in India, California, New York and England and Wales.

Shantanu spoke about Negotiating with VCs.

  • Be organized and document everything properly.
  • Hire a lawyer when negotiating with a VC because they will have one of their own.
  • VC's will do a valuation and will ask for anything between 25% to 40% of the company in the form of preference shares.
  • When the VCs have an interest in investing they will give you something called a term sheet which will have all the terms and conditions.
  • VCs usually look at a 3-5 year investment horizon.
  • In the term sheet there will be anti dilution terms which means that if the valuation of the company falls they might want more stock.
  • VC's will want one or more people on the company's board and this has to be negotiated.
  • They will want to have rights to veto certain decisions made by the company.
  • They will have clauses on any mergers and acquisitions that the company may plan to make in the future and also the hiring and firing of the CEO.
  • There will be terms on drag along and tag along which is related to what will happen if either the VC or the entrepreneur quits the organization.
  • There can be no shop clauses which means that you cannot talk to other VCs.
Related posts

Monday, November 10, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - DD Ganguly, DimDim

DD Ganguly is co-founder and CEO of Dimdim, Inc. Previously, as Vice President of Product Development at CA (NYSE:CA; $ 3.5B) he built and led an organization of 1000+ members. He joined CA in 2001 upon its acquisition of Boston based AIM, Inc. where he was founder and CEO. Click here to read more about him.

DD Ganguly spoke about his Fund Raising Experience for DimDim which is a free web conferencing service where you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with absolutely no download required for attendees.
  • When looking for funding look for people that like you and what you are doing. Angel investors invest in your business because the align with how you think and what you do.
  • Try and get journalists and bloggers to write about your product/service. This will help in popularizing and showcasing your product to potential VC's.
  • You need to click with the VC for them to invest.
Choosing a name
  • The .com webaddress should be available
  • There should be a repetition in the name
  • Easy to spell from the sound and the sound should be easily derived from the spelling.
  • Globally recognized as DimDim was going to be a global brand.
  • Easy to pronounce
Related posts 

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Prof K Ramachandran, ISB

Professor K Ramachandran is the Associate Dean of Academic Programmes at the Indian School of Business. He has been a professor of entrepreneurship, family business, and strategy at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad since its inception in 2001. He is also the Thomas Schmidheiny Fellow of Family Business and Wealth Management at the ISB.

Professor Ramachandran spoke about Entrepreneurial opportunities and Organization Building - A Road Map. He spoke about identifying the type of opportunity, the graph of time against turnover for a startup and elements of a business plan.

Opportunities are identified through a pent up need or customer dissatisfaction in the existing offerings. By mapping the pent up need (Discontentment) on one axis and Criticality (dissatisfaction) on the other different kinds of opportunites can be identified.
Any organization needs to balance Financial Needs, Technology Needs, Marketing Needs and Entrepreneurial Capability. If an entrepreneur can manage the four of these then his organization will be a shining diamond.
By mapping the turnover of the organization over time one can get the graph as shown below
The key to being successful is to reduce the time from the organization is started till it starts to show a profit and many successful organizations reduce this time to be very short. This curve is never smooth and there are bumps as the organization grows especially when work is delegated and decisions are decentralized.

Business plans force dicipline and it is always good to write a business plan oneself and this task should not be delegated. One needs to keep revisiting and updating their business plan. Need to make a 3-5 year business plan. Don't underestimate working capital and it is important to keep working capital low.

Elements of a Business Plan
  1. Executive Summary - Clean, Completing and Concise
  2. Product or Service Description - Explain how it will continously provide value
  3. Management Team - Capability and Company Description. It is important to have a good advisory team. A good board of advisors help in attracting customers and investment.
  4. Market and Competition - Clear understanding of customer needs should be showcased. Good to talk about future competition too.

    FeatureCompetitor 1Competitor 2...You
  5. Marketing and Sales
  6. Technology and Operations
  7. Implementation Schedule
  8. Managing Risks
  9. Financial Planning
  10. Exit and Growth
Related posts

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Sateesh Andra, DFJ

Sateesh Andra is a Venture Partner with DFJ India. Sateesh started his Silicon Valley career in the early nineties and has extensive background in general management, marketing, product strategy, and technology development.

Prior to DFJ, Sateesh was the fo founder and CEO of Euclid Software, a leader in the IT Governance space. He has also served in product marketing and engineering leadership roles at Tsqware (Conexant), LSI Logic, VLSI Technology (Philips), and Wipro. You can read more about Sateesh here.

Sateesh spoke about the Spirit of Entrepreneurship - My Journey. Here are my notes from that session.
  1. Have passion in your idea for a period of time.
  2. Dream big.
  3. Study your idea.
    • Understand the stated value proposition vs the implemented value proposition of your idea. 
    • Is your idea a pain killer or a vitamin. In times of hardship people stop using vitamins but the do not stop using pain killers
  4. Raise money from the right people. Do not just take money from any source that offers it to you.
  5. Perform market research
  6. Start local and analyse the market before going into other geographic regions
  7. It is not a bad idea to bootstrap an idea initially. It helps one get clarity and will be in a better position to negotiate with VCs later.
  8. Look at different ways of doing sales such as direct sales, partner sales and tele sales.
  9. If a fast growing market place you will need money to grow fast. For example the current online travel market.
  10. Look for strategic partners and customers who will fund the business initially.
  11. When rolling out the product or service one needs to understand the customer requirement and how the customer is approached.
  12. Ensuring that internal capabilities can meet customer requirements when performing rollouts is important.
  13. It is good to have beta customers as it helps to be in touch with the customer when developing the product/service.
  14. Reason for investing in mginger was the team behind the idea, the market opportunity that exists in that space and the number of customers that they had already. Their cost of acquiring every new customer was very low.
  15. VC's look for documentation and precesses before investing in a company.
Related posts

Friday, November 07, 2008

Notes from Tie-ISBConnect - Sashi Reddi, Applabs

Sashi Reddi is the CEO of Applabs which he founded in the year 1998 and today Applabs is the world's largest independent software testing company. Click here to read more about Sashi Reddi.

Sashi Reddi spoke about the Spirit of Entrepreneurship - My Journey. Here are my notes from that session.

  1. Being a part time entrepreneur does not work. If you want to be an entrepreneur then you must be full time into it.
  2. There is no right time to start. The right time is when you are passionate about your idea.
  3. Jump in and then refine your plan. Jump in and sort the problems. There is no perfect business plan and if you wait for the perfect business plan then your venture will never get off the ground.
  4. Be an entrepreneur to make money. Do not start a venture where it is not clear how you will make money.
  5. Take a shot in a fast growing big market. The reason is because it is easier to capture the market when there are more customers.
  6. When starting think small on how to make money with few customers and then think big with Venture Capital funding.
  7. Be rich, have rich friends or marry someone rich. It is very hard to raise money initially when you are starting off as an entrepreneur. The first funds are very difficult since professional investors won’t look at you.
  8. Meeting and making your first customer happy is important.
  9. Entrepreneur is not a team effort, at the end, the entrepreneur is to make it happen. He should provide the vision and direction.
  10. As the CEO of a startup be ready to be the sales guy.
  11. Don’t get caught up into what is sexy. Look at what will make money. Do not do something that sounds exciting or wonderful to do but has no way of making money. He gave the example of Applabs which was not into software development but was into testing which is the least sexiest thing to do in software services but someone had to do it and there was a lot of money out there to be made.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

TiE-ISB Connect conference

I am going for the TiE-ISB Connect conference to be held here in Hyderabad from the 5th to the 7th of this month.

Quoting from the website this is what it is all about

"India’s most exciting annual networking event for entrepreneurs and investors, the TiE-ISB Connect '08 will be held on November 5th, 6th and 7th, 2008 at the ISB campus in Hyderabad. Organized by the TiE, Hyderabad Chapter and the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (WCED), ISB, TiE-ISB Connect enables interaction of aspiring entrepreneurs, early-stage ventures, and growth-stage ventures with potential investors, successful entrepreneurs and mentors. "

The conference is of two parts - one is the Jumpstart event that is a day long learning event. It is a day meant for young entrepreneurs to get a head start. The day is broken up into several workshop type sessions with each topic focussing on a specific area of entrepreneurial learning. From this session I am hoping to learn how to convert some of my ideas detailed on this page Coceptualize, Build, Market, Sell and also a few others that I am currently working on into something that will actually make some money.

The remaining two days do not sound very exciting in terms of content that is related to my line of work but I am hoping to make some contacts and also to try and understand what are the needs of the industry. I will try and give a daily synopsis about my experiences and my thoughts so keep checking back for details or subscribe to my RSS feed.

You do what you are

In the 2001 movie Along came a spider, there is an interesting quote by Morgan Freeman where he says "You do what you are" and the...