Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

So, I finally took to the plunge with setting up my own hosted blog. I guess, it was finally time to do that.

For those of you who are subscribed to feeds from this blog, there are two options.

a) You can visit http://www.vijayanand.name, and subscribe to the feeds there. Also do drop a note about what you think about the new site.

b) If you are one of those folks who never visit blogs but dwell in feed readers, you can update it to the new RSS URL which should help you stay in touch.

Thanks again for your co-operation, patience and continued support.

Vijay

I’ve wanted to move out of wordpress.com for ages now. Never quite got around to it and the time and effort that needed to make the move, flip the DNS settings and ensure that none of the current readers got lost along the way, was a bit too much to undertake.

I’ve slowly been putting effort into parallely setting up a server, in my own host – finally, http://www.vijayanand.name will point to itself, rather than redirect – and if all goes well, starting monday you should be seeing a brand new site.

I will do my best to keep it current. One of the things I am consciously doing is to get out of “blogging” mode and into writing mode. With Twitter being so pervasive, it would be fair to keep the conversations there itself, and to keep the blog to some quality articles – articles worth revisiting someday again. I also want to have a place where all my social and online presence will be aggregated and laid out. Hopefully the new location will do all that.

From being a skeptic on blogging, I’ve come a long way.

I am reading the transcript of the conversations held by the Union Square Ventures, and reading a quote by Sir Ken Robinson (who is now fairly well known in the education circles for his TED Talk). In the talk, he quotes a note from the book “The Empty Space” by Peter Brooke. In a way of not breaking what he said, Let me quote him.

   There was a fantastic booklet a few years ago by a
   guy called Peter Brooke.  He’s a theater director,
   if you ever come across it.  He wrote a book called
   “The Empty Space.”  And he asked himself this
   question.  He was concerned most theater and is –
   loose entertainment — it’s not invigorating.  It’s
   like a passing time.

   His thing is theater as a vibrant,
   social and cultural force.  So, he also analyzed
   what goes wrong with the theater.  So, he asked
   himself this question.  He said, What is the heart
   of the theater?  What is it?  What is this thing we
   are talking about?  And to get to it, he started
   the process of subtraction.  He said, “What can you
   take away from it and still have it?”
  
   And he said, well, you can take away
   the stage.  Take away the script.  You can take
   away the lighting.  See what’s going on, you take
   away the curtains, and you can take away the
   building.  You can take away all the crew, and you
   can certainly take away the director.  All of that
   is very easy.  Take it all out.
  
   The only thing you cannot remove from
   theater is an actor in a space and somebody
   watching.  That’s the heart of it.  And if either
   of those parts is missing, there is no theater.
   You need a performer and an audience.  Theater is
   that relationship.
  
   And he said you should never add
   anything to that relationship unless it improves
   it.  If it gets in the way, if it encumbers it, if
   it makes it more difficult, you shouldn’t have it.
   And that’s his problem with theater.  Everything is
   a distraction from the main business.

More than once, and whenever you do find yourself trying to redefine an industry, change the way a system works, or maybe even build an ecosystem, these words are good to turn to. Define the basics of what makes that system work, and see how it can be re-tuned, rebuilt and made to work better. You have to go back to the basics, if you want to redefine.

Once life starts picking up the biggest problem for me seems to be managing time, and most of all trying to avoid the moments when I end up cross booking the time slot for two people – yep, that isnt an easy situation to get out of.

When I am at home, and during weekends, I manage my Calendar on my Nokia Handset with an hour reminder. When I am in Office, I use Outlook’s calendar to manage schedules. The biggest issue is the first few meetings on Monday mornings – there are times when something comes up and there is no way for me to check my schedule.

So here’s the solution I’ve gone with.

Using Google calendar exclusively to manage my entire data. I found to my pleasant surprise that Google has a small app that can syncronize your outlook calendars with Gcalendar.

Secondly, after trying a host of free, opensource and cant-seem-to-get-it-to-work apps, I found CalSyncS60 which works like a charm with my Nokia Phone to do a two-way sync with my schedule in Google Calendar.

As of now, life seems to be in order. The fine line between, work and personal line is blurred forever, but it should atleast save me from breaking people’s hearts by forgetting scheduled meets and keep me on time. That’s a fair tradeoff.

There are quite a bit of people that I come across, good and very good people who sometimes have this fear of not being in the ladder. They are great with startups, but are afraid of being left behind in the startup world and constantly keep looking over the shoulder to move up to becoming a corporate and then join the old boys club of retired entrepreneurs.

i have almost come to believe that that is one of the primary reasons why once someone is fairly successful in this country as an entrepreneur, they run off to become a VC, and then become directors in a few companies and are never heard from again in the startup circles. Apparently they “graduate”. And this is somehow seen as the norm.

There is a certain thrill, passion, grit and energy in working with Startups. And if you do fall addicted to it, there is also more than enough means and ways to create wealth in this phase of creativity and corporate development.

But you are going to have to make a decision about staying put, sinking your heels deeper and committing to this space. As someone rightly said “My life never makes sense in the windshield. It only makes sense in the rear view”. Working with Entrepreneurs, working with Startups, and being an entrepreneur is also a lifestyle choice.

Even as the current economic situation hasnt seem to have harmed the Early Stage Investment scene by much, there is some major misunderstanding by First Time Entrepreneurs, starting off in India, who are looking to raise funds. This series hopes to shine some light on some of them

LESSON: MAKE THAT SACRIFICE. GROW WITH THE ORGANIZATION

Scenario: In the last three business plans that I have had the priviledge to look at and to give feedbacks on, it seems that the average entrepreneur wants a salary of around 2 Lakhs a month, seems to be hiring an office attendant or a secretary in the first year, is travelling extensively, starts a marketing budget even before the product is ready, claims a steady income stream, is absolutely immune to market changes, and can solidly break even in 3 years. And oh, they give a 4x return in the fourth year.

You cannot demand a salary that runs in the lakhs. You cant because If I were investing, I wouldn’t know if there is even an incentive for the entrepreneur to slog to make this company succeed anymore. Given the current employment situation, I would even have a slight doubt as to whether the guy lost his job and is getting self-employed with a raise. But I do understand if you would want to live comfortably. This is what I would suggest.

Take a pay cut in the first two years – till your product development is ready. Just so you get a number, You get paid at the same level as your Indian Lead Software Engineer (I have to specific about the indian part, since some folks also have high paid outsourced engineers). That should put you at around 40K a month. Once that is set, and once your product development is done, and your marketing and sales efforts start, align your salary so that a base of 40K and a incentive component from the sales defines what your take home package is. That will assure me as an investor that you are willing to take a paycut to keep costs low and burn things slowly to get through the initial phases and even as the company makes money you arent raising costs, but defining your salary from what is coming in. If you are a company that sells products that sells in the millions, or have several product packages, it would be wise to even define slabs, that define the percentage.

You do that, and all of a sudden I see a real entrepreneur, who could really use with some financial support, and the halo over the head glows and a lot more people just might be willing to seriously consider your financial proposition.

I remember listening to a very wise man once utter the words that … “Every Civilization that ever survived and flourished, all had a culture of Right to Passages”. I am not sure if I heard much of what was said after that. My mind had already raced to a truth that I’d known innately. We must earn our right to passage, if we are to get anymore as a nation, civilization and as a species.

There is a troubling trend though. There is much talk about Entrepreneurship becoming a lifestyle – I still disagree with the notion (You are either built and wired to think like an entrepreneur or not). But there something very slithery scammy about entire groups of people and organizations working to make life for an entrepreneur “easier”. Support is another thing all together.

There was an incident at the Delhi Edition of Proto.in, where Sanjay Anandaram raised the simple question to the audience as to what all they expect from an Investor – and what should be the right metrics. The answers went all the way from “Should help hiring potential partners” to the obvious funding, to getting clients, to providing strategic direction. I must get a clip of that conversation, but when I did jot them all down, they were just about every element of a startup mapped. Nothing left. Sanjay did take the shot and ask the question “So what the hell does the entrepreneur do?” And he was bang on.

In my definition, entrepreneurs are risk-takers. They create wealth faster than anyone else because they are legitimate con-artists who’ve figured out a flaw in the system and they know that they can make money off of it – or by fixing it. They are also people with this innate capability to look at everything they got and can make a rocket out of it and be there before NASA can even fathom a trip. They are the junkyard Gurus, and they are great in survival tactics. They just need to fix things, and without that they’d ruin the world – so its better that they have something to fix. That’s my entrepreneur. And in order to make such elite ones – and rightly so – stand out, we need to go through our rights of passages. Without it, we are just recruiting lazy bums to the army and giving our entire freedom in the hands of those who wouldn’t know what to do with it.

And handing out entrepreneurship in a spoon, ah, such a thing doesn’t exist. Entrepreneurship will never be a lifestyle. It’s who you are.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.