Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Main Entry: Captcha
Function: Verb
Date: Quite recently.

1a. The modern way of torturing a poor netcitizen with the repeated function of eye squinting.

I’m sure all of you know what a captcha image is right? Well, for the uninitiated, its essentially those skewed letters which form letters of strings of numbers, that you have to squint at repeatedly and tilt your head from sideways to leeways, and even might have to invite your dog over and ask him if his black and white vision helps, to figure out what that letter is. It’s supposed to stop “spam bots” from getting to you.

As you can see, I am not very much a fan of that. Well, I say that there definitely better ways to do it.

What you are essentially looking for is a little bit of human intelligence and the ability to come up with a “smart” question, using a “stupid” computer so that the answer could determine whether the person or thing providing the input could be determined for intelligence. That’s pretty much the logic.

So is skewed text, and at times throwing random ink blots into the mix, the way to go about it?

There are already a few options being discussed about, out there at large, but here’s what i am thinking. Have you played the game of “pick the odd one out” ? That game certainly requires a bit of intelligence – atleast that of a five year old – yet doesn’t freckle your brains to come up with an answer. Plus its also a lot of fun. The beauty is that, you could make it as a silly and simple as the jackpot choices (where the choices are obviously different), or can make it a bit trickier with very similar looking options.

A small interactive widget which can randomize four of five images and perhaps ask the user to “pick the rabbit out of the horses”, with three horses and a rabbit lined up… wouldnt that be simpler, and serve the purpose?

For all the fuzz going on a with companies such as disqus, a team who can actually put together an embeddable widget to do an alternative captcha is worth mention of.

PS: Captcha “really” stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart

I usually avoid mixing my personal emotions and sentiments into what is supposed to be an alternative lifestyle. But I realize that I am probably avoiding the one topic that comes much closer to home for most entrepreneurs.

As much we do talk about the fact that India is rising, India is racing, or the India which is stuck on the Marathalli bridge, the brutal and honest truth about the topic of entrepreneurship is that, if you are planning to start out, there are two things you might want to do: One, make sure that you already took a loan out to get that two wheeler or that house that you’ve been meaning to buy cause while you are running your own company you will realize that you wont get calls from credit card lenders or loan providers for a really long time. You simply don’t qualify. The next thing you don’t qualify for, is for a bride or for a groom. So If you are starting out, I hope and pray to God that its either one of the two following cases: Either you are already married and your better half is in total agreement with your madness to go chase a dream, or you are ready to swing it, are not married, have no intentions of marriage and do have the total confidence and the focus of a monk to hit a home run.

The one thing that you miss, being an entrepreneur is the social life. Bootstrapping can be a long and painful process and the only thing that will make it much more worse is the realization of the fact that the journey of an entrepreneur is a lonely one. The lines, being alone even when you are in a crowd resonate to be true than ever.

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The “romantic” move of an average indian male seems to be that of him swinging in the foot board of a moving bus (where he is clearly warned not to travel on) and catch the corner of the eye of a girl he’s been tracking, timing and following for days. I somehow think that this mentality somehow has crept into even the mindsets of entrepreneurs, actually altogether the Indian psyche itself.

Let me explain why, and that too with a splendiferous story:

There was once a networking meet and a couple of entrepreneurs got to meet and greet a VC and exchange cards. Knowing that the VC was a friendly one, and that he was interested to “look” at new opportunities, the team took turns to call the investor up so that they could setup a time to do the demo and have an understanding of what they were about. After a meeting or two, the investor went through the profile, and after discussing with the team realized that this was a company that they could look at.

They were duly filed under “prospect #1” and the principal investor noted down under his review meeting notes to annoy the hell out of this partner in every meeting to ask about what was happening next. Little did the poor VC know about it.

The VC conveyed the news to the startup mentioning that they were one of the interesting startups that the firm was looking at, and thats when it all happened. The tables turned, and all communication henceforth was totally obliterated – from the side of the startups.

The Poor VC is now in a pickle. While on one side his boss is nagging him for updates on what happened to that “Prospective” company, the entrepreneurs are pretending as if their phone with the ringtone of a screaming lady, isnt really screaming and they continue to ignore it. The more number of calls that the Poor VC makes, the higher the valuation and demand of the company, imagine the entrepreneurs! I mean if he is really after them, he really must be desperate to not lose out on a great company, right?

A solid month later, they are ready to talk the deal. The entrepreneurs would like to settle at nothing less than a two digit million dollar figure for a minority stake in the company. Actually, the VC is atleast happy that finally this file can be closed under “unreasonable demands” and life could move on.

This was an actual story quoted by a friend who is an investor for a firm. While he was telling me this story, the parallel running in my head was that of a guy trying to woo a pretty girl, and the minute the girl turned around and started showing interest, the guy was nowhere to be found because he is just rethinking the entire strategy and decision all over again. Just so that I don’t get slapped with a gender bias suit, I mean to say that the case could go either way.

But on a more serious note, one has to wonder. This is not the first time that I do hear of issues with “indians and relationship management”. I am told that once we do learn the ropes, we are all subversions of casanovas, but until such time, we are quite horrible at it. And really really horrible at it. Perhaps our culture and society is to be blamed for not allowing social dating to be much more common as it should be – then we’d know exactly what to say, when to act pricey, and when to drop the act and get hitched. Wouldn’t we?

Disclaimer: Meant in a spirit of humor. Read it, laugh it off, and let’s move on! 🙂

“Build the traction and let’s think about the revenue stream later”, they say. Another variant of the same thought is the often heard “Get as many eyeballs as possible and then you can figure out the business model”.

How, I ask?

Most of the folks who do know me personally will tell you that I shudder everytime I hear “Web 2.0”. It might as well be pronounced as the “thing that sinks in money and gives back nothing” as far as I am concerned. I am not totally going against everything in that category. Some are just great businesses which are cursed under that category, but the usual trend seems to be that, if you can whip up some snazzy thing, you can float it up as a venture. Not too sure about that one.

So why am I writing this post, when I’ve said this countless times before? I got an email which goes something like this in the part where it describes the company and what it does:

“The xyz software and the xyz IM and Text Message Service are completely free. PC calls from xyz are also free. Mobile calls from xyz, however, are charged at local fixed line calling rates (or deducted as part of your monthly local minutes package). This will change soon, when we release our Mobile VOIP solution – and all calls will also be free.”

I read a Free, another Free, another one and yet another Free. There was this minute little scope for revenue which was also washed out by the following Free. So, if I were an investor, when would I see my money back?

PS: I’m going to categorize this under “humor” 🙂

I think this blog needs a spruce of humor waiting to be laced into it. Dontcha agree? Well, I do. And that’s all what matters 🙂

I have a couple of very interesting characters in my life. Some I can decide to stay away from, but there are some others who are around just like the air, and arsenic that one just has to live with. Life is full of those, aren’t they? I was recalling enough moments of bizarreness and strange conversations with these wonderful folks in my life that I decided to share the joy with the entire world – it being Christmas season and all *halo over head*

So here it goes:

Just so you can brush up and bring to life those creative and imaginative senses of yours, the definitive coder is a male, about 23 years of age and give him the shabby look of a programmer with intenseness in his finger tips – always. Has a heart of gold, but a little on the lazy side.

The definitive coder is many things, but punctual he is not. Here is how one such incident goes.

I send out an email on Thursday with a reminder for the weekly meeting in two days. I get a call back:

DC: “Hey, where is the meeting happening?”
Me: “hmm… did you check your mail?”
DC: “Of course”
Me: “Can you check the subject of the mail?”
DC: “Hmm.. okay…”
DC: “Oh.. Saturday at 7pm.” *nervous laughter*
Me: “Yep. So you’ll be there?”
DC: “Let me see.”

Note to self: Nobody checks the subject message. The days of sending short messages in subject headers are gone.

On Saturday:

DC messages me repeatedly asking what time is the meeting.
Me responds back via SMS.

ME: “Why does this bring about a deja vu moment? Didn’t we have this conversation before? and that too quite recently?”
DC: *nervous laughter* “Yeah, but tell me when is the meeting”
ME: *sigh* at 7pm.
DC: “Oh, but I have something around that time. Can I come at 7:30?”
ME: “Sure”

The meeting ended at 9pm without any signs of DC.

At 9:30, I get a message saying “Sorry, came home and dozed off. Will make it for the next meeting”

PS: I also have a “Definitive Entrepreneur” in my life.