Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Archive for the ‘The Journey’ Category

Its 10:13pm. I just came back from IITM, after listening to a talk by Nandita Das on “Cinema and Social Change”. I have to admit that until today, I knew that the name had something to do with the Cine world, but I had no other associations of it. This is the first one, and it probably will last that way – thanks to Today.

There is something good about being in a University campus, and working there. You sometimes feel younger beyond your years, and sometimes you just feel out of place. In either case, it provides you an alternate reality – not that I wish for it, but the difference in perspective in opinion and viewpoint is one that I thoroughly enjoy.

I overall liked the talk. It was simple, casual, touched upon personal lives – had a wee bit of self promotion – was optimistic, and the tone was real. But perhaps the message was exaggerated.

See, Gandhi said the words “Be the change that you want to see”. Quite powerful words, and one that finds itself many meanings, depending on what lens you are wearing. Nandita felt free to use those words to stir up a moment, and even an applause from an audience. I dont blame her, but I think its a very common mistake. Let me tell you why. Read the rest of this entry »

I am an Entrepreneur. I know that I am an entrepreneur. I cant stop creating. I cant stop meddling with whats the norm to improve, build, and hopefully influence things in the right direction. I can rarely put up with things that are above and beyond the scope of making things change… change for the better.

Its been close to three years since I exited my last venture and dwelled into my current avatar. The past three ventures have been a bit stressful on life, time and health. A break seemed like the right thing to do to garner some strength, reflect, and iteratively grow., the work that I’ve been doing in the incubation centre, working with various folks from the industry, venture capital firms, etc etc have all been eye openers. In many ways, they are startups themselves.

Lately, I feel and hear that swelling of that energy. That urge to create, build something out of sheer madness, something that will make a difference – to me, if not for everyone else. As my Professor used to say, the sheer and only drive for an engineer to create is Creative laziness. I guess that best summarizes most forms of influential innovation.

I feel its beginning again. All over. Lets see whats gonna change this time.

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There are only a whole total of 14 tasks that need to be done before the event,and given the capable team that we have this time, and the sheer level of enthusiasm flowing, I dont see that to be a problem. The core team from Chennai, Bangalore, and other places are starting to fly in into Delhi starting tomorrow – Our flight leaves in exactly another four hours. The team is busy getting their laptops on datacards so that we can still remain effective, even on the go. We are prepped, geared and all ready for it.

What did didn’t expect is the sheer push of some magical moment that has happened within the community to attend the event. we are nearing 400 attendees for the event, and that’s a “significant” jump from the 250 that we had last time – and trust me when I say that I am genuinely surprised. I always thought that the southern states were more entrepreneur-centric. I suppose it takes a good shot to really prove and debunk theories and myths as well.

In the following two days I am going to be writing to you to prep you to help set some expectations and in terms of some of the activities that we are planning at the event. The Innovation brainjam on the second day is something I am personally looking forward to. The credit goes to Amit Somani of Google, who threw open this open-ended way of brainstorming that they practice at google and as we pondered over the possibility of doing that in a conference. It should be loads of fun.

If you are a blogger by any means are a little rusty, this is the time to sharpen your skills. It’s going to be a liveblogging marathon this time, and we even have a surprise for the best live-blogged summary of the event. If you are the logical, knowledgeable one, well take heed. The quizzes are there to die for. I’m sure you’ve enjoyed the quizzes on the blog, and you’ll see more of it live in action, and as random teams come together to compete.

We are still looking for folks to take up various activities (If you are a good photographer, do let us know). So if you would like to help volunteer, the mailing list for the same is the first place to start, Have fun, keep your heads up high, and as we get together, let the voice that we always echo, echo once more – may the startups win!

PS: We’ll mostly be lurking around the venue starting tommorrow. Feel free to drop by and say hello. We do take encouragement in terms of homemade cookies too 😛 – Just kidding.

Seems like this weekend is far from over. I am wondering at the Irony of the situation, since yesterday was more of a serious, fun and laughable evening – I went to the Laughter Fest with a good friend yesterday. More on that in a little while.

Some of the key observations for the weekend:

Democracy – More critics, and extremely less participants. Atleast thats the way it feels like. We started an initiative called I Fix (which has taken off to other cities) and are planning our next activity. I am really wishing that someday there is going to be a significant turn out in one of the planning meets – given that there are close to a 100 volunteers on the mailing list. So far haven’t achieved that, but is it always this way – that there are few planners and the rest all just fall in place?

Comedy: Went to the Laughter Fest in the evening with a colleague and friend, and must say that yesterday’s play was much better than some of the ones I had seen earlier within the same fest. Theatre is fun I must admit, though the flaws of a poor done script stands out blatantly at your face. Yesterday’s play “Twice around the block” was a stellar performance, except for the bit in the second play (most of the plays were multi-part) the lady who played the wife seemed to have this monologue going on with her at most times, when there was another character on stage (perhaps the quality of a wife she was trying to become?). I heard that Amit Singh who put together this entire idea to bring together so many directors and plays together, is bent on making a living in theatre – and one that is quite nascent here in Chennai, if I may say so. I am sure he knows that better than most others. It certainly is applaudable in that case trying to live as an artist.

Identity: I still don’t understand why folks don’t adapt scripts for India, or take some of the work of an Indian writer (Anyone noticed the spurge of indian writers lately?) and would adapt it into a play – it would make much more sense than trying to make vague jokes about Iowa and Idaho which no one here seems to be able to place. That’s a much longer topic that I’d like to discuss someday.

Death: It’s sunday morning and I just heard that someone close, and someone who was very wise passed away two days ago and the funeral was yesterday. I have been bothered by something for the past two days, and I am wondering if this event had something or anything to do with it. Immanuel, was a man who stood for nothing of ice-glacing, told the truth as it is, never got too emotional to lose perspective, was a loving father, a great man and husband, and one who met his end in his sleep. They say the end of a man’s life depicts his entire life, and knowing the way he finished his journey, it feels as if his ability to plan stands out till the end.

ABCD – American Born Confused Desi. That’s what they’d call an individual whose parents are originally from India, but probably gave birth to, and raised a son or daughter in the American Soil. The kid probably grew up with nothing more than strong dose of american culture, idealism and the values which grow with interaction of the location population, but the skin color just gives it away. No matter how american you are on the inside, you always end up having to live up to the expectations that rise because of what is visible from the outside.

I remember some of my friends growing up in other countries, that whenever they met people who had lived their entire lives in India, they’d ask them something about the hometown of their parents and some remote village, or some news which was a headlines for a while, and they’d draw a blank. I knew that they always whispered under their breathe that this kid was pretentious, when he or she really wasnt.

That’s not where the issue ended. The issue really began there. The issue really got worse when it came to social engagements. Now Whom would an ABCD marry? An indian girl – in which case the girl would beat him with a worn out pair of slippers cause he’d be clueless about any of the local customs, or a foreigner of the land who’d possibly adjust well with him, but his parents and family would have a hard time reconciling?
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About a year back, when I was going around trying to pick a phone, I decided that eventually I’d head the PDA way, so it was time to get a smartphone. It happened, and as much as i was very uncomfortable about the “lets poke into the screen to type” mechanism at first, slowly started getting used to it, and now it has essentially become part of the way that I interact with mobile phones. I am serious! I pick up my friend’s Nokia N Series and do touch the screen to activate it, and do go blank for a second wondering why it doesnt respond. Yep, I am unrepairable and damaged.

So lately I am on a spree of trying out some UMPCs and HCL was nice enough to send the Mileap Y series to the office the other day. That machine, given that its an indian product is quite stunning. The looks are okay – there seem to be much nicer looking ones out there – but the functionality quite measures up. I got to hang on to it for a few days, and had to return it back – not without a teary eye and all.

There were a couple of ASUS EEE PC that were lying around in the office and I’ve picked up one of them, to use them for emails and such, and essentially move all my “communications” out of the desktop PC, and get it into this small, mean, machine.

For one, I am absolutely adapting and loving it. To a point where my normal Vaio is starting to feel heavy, bulky and hmm… inconvenient. Well, I know i couldn’t type this much without a full-fledged laptop, so it aint going anywhere – if at all you were even daring to think about sending me a msg asking if my laptop was for giveaway.

The Point is this. I still think that the Mileap ones, for its touch capabilities, is a better bargain. its slightly more expensive, but the fact that I could use it as a tablet PC is just uber cool. Most times you are taking notes, and this puny keyboard could stand in the way of all that. Plus, with a tablet, you could start drawing things – which could come quite in handy for some of the things I try to explain in this blog, me thinks.

So, the overall consensus is that once touch screens become ubiquitous, there is a whole new world waiting to be awakened.

So, I need a new phone. That’s a given. Which one, is the issue.

As Always I’ve tried going through the list of things I’d like on the phone, and here they are:
1. I do check mail on the go, and do very much need it.
2. Ability to hop to a wireless lan when available would be great.
3. Should be type friendly.

Now My options are to go with an Apple Iphone, a Blackberry Curve, or a Sony Xperia.

I love the Apple Iphone, because its an Iphone – does anyone need any other reason than that? It obviously has a slick interface, and gmail on an Iphone is a dream come true. It is not quite push email, but I guess do whatever I am doing currently, and logon whenever I do find the time and catch up with emails. And the fact that it can hop to a wireless lan, and has an awesome screen space, is tempting enough.

The Cons:
1. Given as to how many text messages I shoot out – its much simpler to co-ordinate, remind and respond – the iphone’s interface seems very hard to do that. I have been practicing on the interface of the Ipod Touch, but its still very irky. Do things get better? Is there a way to calibrate the touch? Would like to know.
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