Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurs

There was sometime back when was doing a rough math on how many live camera streams there are. There are some that are pointed towards the “habitat” of the Loch Ness Monster, there are enough live traffic camera, and plenty of them pointed towards a birds nest or so. And if you take the example of Justin.tv (which seems to be inspired by The Truman Show), even people are willing to play their part in all this.

Ofcourse all of this is a one way broadcast. Apart from adult sites which are apparently making their niche through two way interaction, there is not much that is happening in this space.

Is there any of that, that can be adapted into the “green” scenario? A couple of light bulbs went on and off and here’s the thought (or Idea):

MMORPG
The forest department today plans thousands of saplings every year on barren lands to convert them into lush green forests, but the biggest problem with it has been the case of watering them. There is not enough manpower to do those menial tasks – at the salary that the govt is providing – and there is also the issue of accountability where all the saplings near the roadside stand straight and well watered, but the ones in the interior die away because laziness kicks in for most of these workers. They are not to be blamed either when the scorching sun is merciless on them and they are poorly prepped for all that.

The idea is to basically plant all the saplings as the forest department does and then have water drums which can be filled periodically with water from trucks (much simpler task). The pipes to the saplings will be set on drip irrigation and there will be a soil moisture sensor in the soil which measures if there is water or not. Set a Camera that overlooks this area, connect it to the Internet and create a frontend to a MMORPG (Massively Multi-user Online Role Playing Game). If that’s too much of an acronym, think Second Life. People can “adopt” grids of these fields and take care of them. All they have to do is, once the soil moisture turns a bit low, hit the buttons that will start the drip irrigation and stop them when the moisture level is optimal.

There are already countless number of such “events” that happen in Second Life, where if one plants a sapling in the virtual world, an organization instead plants one in the real world somewhere. This would just be an extension of that.

Now, technically you can take this to the next level. Think of all the Wild Life Sanctuaries. The biggest problem today is Poachers (I am still worried if I have to show stuffed toys of Tigers as our National Animal to my kids someday), and the forest officers are not nearly paid enough to scout the areas – and they are very ill armed to protect themselves from these animals as well. What if we could setup a range of Wifi cameras, stream the videos and let people monitor them. I’m sure there are enough animal activists around the world that some might even take it up while we sleep. All they would have to do is to hit a button which will alert the officer if a Poacher is spotted. And give the front end the control to click a snap if they want to document something and we might capture poachers and exotic wildlife as souvenirs.

I think finally, and its about time that the conscious of having to go green is kicking in. And we are gonna have to do everything – not just to sustain – but positively influence this planet to make it sustainable and even stay on the existential path. Maybe entrepreneurship, technology and the enthusiasm of the global audience can create a network of Global Watchers, to take care of the assets around us – All this while getting to “play” their roles.

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You could be this crazy economist turned entrepreneur, and can have a gazillion keywords and phrases to explain every phenomenon under the sun, but the funny thing about economics is that they usually explain everything that has happened, and can even explain what is happening, but could never quite explain whats going to happen. You cannot, with a set of symptoms predict what the next step is going to be like – It could be a boom, inflation, a market correction or just another dull boring day, any of which might be just around the corner.

If you want to understand timing, economics is the wrong subject to pick. Intuition, and your own observation of the markets is what will save you. Nothing else usually helps.

After you have laid out your financial planning and operations chart for your company, and God forbid taken investor money (read more accountability), you could cook up a million reasons during the board meeting as to why you did not or were not able to meet the project sales plan. None of them will stick. The only valid reason that you could ever get away with an acceptance, is if the market changes.

When a market flips, its boom time for a startup which is looking to ride that wave, and usually spells death for every company out there which was riding the previous wave – unless you anticipated the second wave and were prepared with your next line of products and surfers to ride that one as well. Or if you were a big enough corporation, you could just with sheer muscle power create a wave (Apple does it all the time).

There’s also the other unfortunate incident where you take your hand-carved board into the waters, and sit on it for days, years and decades and realize that thanks to Global warming, you are no longer in the shore, but in the middle of the ocean and there are no tides there, just still waters.

Timing, is a very crucial issue for Startups. Most of them do ride the waves to gain that momentum and catch that hockey stick growth. There are some who just focus on everyday problems, everyday solutions and don’t care for the tides, the waves nor the water at all, and go on living. Know where you stand, and if you are in the water with your surf board ready, be sure you get your timing right, and better well be sure about it with all the stats. The markets, when they change, are never forgiving and take no prisoners.

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! 🙂


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