Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Posts Tagged ‘proto

Its not a rarity these days to hear talks about turning entrepreneurship into a lifestyle. As a matter of fact, we – everyone of us who are involved in shaping the startup space in India – are quite glad that thats happening, because it just shows that things are changing, very much for the better.

Even as Barcamps, Open Coffee Clubs, Startup Saturdays and several forms of informal support groups are emerging in this country, one of the biggest problem that we seem to be facing is the fact that we are still very urban-centric. All these meets happen in four or five of the major metros in the country – whereas we probably should be a bit more inclusive about it. There are issues such as the lack of experienced entrepreneurs to share from their life’s tale and help out emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs that seem to be stiffling some of the productivity in some of these informal meets.

Well, technology can solve that problem in some aspect, and we are going to give it our best shot.

We are opening up this Chat Application that we’ve had built, and testing in some occassions to see how we can spin this to solve this issue. Every Saturday between 9am and 5pm – and without fail, every week, we are planning to keep the Proto.in Chat [Link here] open and anyone can visit the site, and interact with entrepreneurs from across the country. We understand that Startup Saturdays happen on the same dates, so if possible we will get someone who is attending the sessions to live chat in the sessions so that the wisdom share can be spread to a larger audience if possible.

So, we’ve done and are doing our part to solve this problem. Now the request is that you be a part of this, to be there, spend sometime in the channel, interacting with, and helping out one entrepreneur to another, and in truly making entrepreneurship a lifestyle choice for those who wish for it – even beyond the metros.

Looking forward to seeing you there. And spread the word.

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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.

It’s a darn good time to be an entrepreneur in India – but only if you know whats available to you. I have been coming across a whole lot of resources that are available to an entrepreneur today, that you perhaps are not aware of.

The beauty about growing a startup or an SME is that the right set of tools really can make a whole lot of difference. Here are some tools that are sure to make your day.

Indian SME Toolkit: This is perhaps the holy grail of everything that you ever need. The initiative launched by ICICI, IFC and IBM has a host of templates for everything you need for running a startup or SME. Let me give you an example. There are close to a hundred plus templates on just invoices. Yep, you are going to need that to bill your customer, and when it does happen *fingers crossed* you wouldn’t have to ask around as to what all needs to go into it.

Zoho Apps: This is still the one stop place for most things that you ever need when it comes to tools for CRM, Project management, Collaborative work process, etc etc.

DimDim: I am sure that you notice all those high-flying corporates to be doing videoconferencing, desktop sharing and all those snazzy stuff. DimDim gives it to you at a price you can afford – for free. There were some minor reliability issues when I last tried it, from the revamp of the site and the positioning, I expect that that should be fixed by now.

TeamViewer: If you are collaborating remotely, and want to take over the computer of your counterpart to whiff up a rapid prototype for the UI, or show something, Teamviewer is an option. It pretty much looks like a desktop sharing app, but am hearing good reviews about it. Alternative Option: Citrix GotoMeeting

Weebly: While you are scrambling to put together your team, setup appointments with your auditors, and do those lineup of interviews and run around in unconferences, you probably dont want your website and domain looking dull. Weebly is one quick way to cough up a website which will keep the plate warm, till you have the time to get there.

Basecamp: Project Management, and the first name you ever and only need to utter is Basecamp. ActivCollab is a similar downloadable version which you can host in your own server. FogBugz is another option.

Skype: When it comes to interacting within the team, and at times even with outsiders, Skype wins hands down. Get some of those Skypeout minutes and I am told that the audio quality improves – not sure how much of it is true though.

Google Talk: For times when you dont want to hear the other person’s voice, but just want to touch base on and off, Gtalk is your friend. You dont want to rely on Skype for its messaging – at times the message gets lost in oblivion and comes back.

Financial Planning: I am told that TurboCash – Free Accounting Software (Though all that you need initially are some well done excel workbooks, and Wesabe are good options to look into to setup the financial processes quickly. You might want to run the final list through your local auditor though. Things change so fast in this scene that you dont want to take a chance in being wrong.

Shopify: You need to setup an ecommerce site and the going rate to build one with any freelancing community can be quite high. The even worse part is that you still don’t know whether what you are building will work, and you want to iterate quickly keeping your costs low. Shopify is a step towards that. It seems that most folks there have permanently stuck on to that, since the platform does give you a great commercial feel.

Freshbooks: Do you know the pain of sending invoices to your clients and keeping track of it? Most of all, the time when the lack of professionalism shows is when you are trying to keep that time of your interaction where money is involved as clean as possible. Freshbooks is an awesome tool and service for that. Highly recommended and I’ve gotten a few of my startups on it, and they are loving it. Blinksale is another option.

Campaign Monitor: Most of you guys are on the webspace. Which also mean that you send out a lot of mailers asking people to sign up for stuff. Let me be honest: Most of them look darn ugly that my first impression plummets, never to sign up for that service. Campaign Monitor is one good way to get such snobby customers onboard. Plus, I believe it offers a nice way to track responses.

FaxitNice: For those of you whoever are, or when your customers insist to live in the 90s day and age of faxes.

More to Follow…

Relevant Read: The Absolute Startup Essentials Series.

Credits:
Tools for Bootstrappers – Anjana Vivek
Setting up a Low-cost conference Room – Amit Ranjan

That was the title of a talk that happened at the Fastrack Sessions of Proto.in January Edition. Since we are sitting on three editions of fabulous talks, I thought I’d take the pains to transcribe them one at a time whenever i find the time so that the larger audience – some who didnt and couldn’t make it – could benefit from it.

Imagine a situation where a technologist is trying to showcase the iPhone. He goes through every step of the features of the phone, the gestures, the various user interface nuances of the device and the audience barely reacts. A little frustrated, the technologist tilts the phone to the side, and the picture aligns itself sideways, and the audience goes wild – almost giving him a standing ovation. We’ve seen this demo before, and we know what all an iPhone can do.

Case in point: Technology alone doesn’t fascinate. How it is packaged, and how it resonates with the audience and customer means a lot more. India lacks in that space, most times.

Read the Entire Transcript at the Proto.in Blog here.

There is nothing new under the sun. Nothing Whatsoever. Ideas are just evolved from one form to another to adapt and wear a new dress.

I often used to quote the phrase that “Ideas are worth nothing. Implementation is all that matters”. Its true, but it also frustrates a lot of people who think they have fabulous ideas in their hands. I don’t spell it out as much anymore, but I have figured out much easier ways to get that same point across.

A couple of months ago, I was introduced to a guy named Sian, the brains behind an event named Alpha Summit that used to happen in Europe. It was almost like Proto.in, except that their focus was slightly different. They focused on Tombstone companies. Companies which would have died, if not for that boost that an event brings together. They succeeded a bit in what they did, but turning around a company is no one day matter, it takes months and years to turn some companies around, and hence the Alpha Summit is no more. But the thought has stayed in my mind, that some companies simply are hatching ideas that are way ahead of its time. If the timing is right, and if it is repositioned, there is a chance for a miracle. Heck, if we have already categorized them as a tombstone, why not give it that shot? That’s been a thought in my head, as we are also looking at ways to evolve where Proto.in stands right now. But this thought goes beyond that.

When I first heard from Arun Katiyar, the concept of an Event Web, I was quite amused. It’s true, our life is a sequence of events, and an “event-web” as he put it, makes a lot of sense. SERaja was a company for which the visions came from Rajesh Jain and Ramesh Jain. Ramesh has published a paper on the same concept. They were one of the companies that presented at the first edition of Proto.in. Unfortunately, it seems that they didnt manage to build traction as they hoped to, but then just recently I heard a very similar pitch. It came from Dandelife and Lifeblob. Timelines, events, blogs, friends and how everything is interconnected.

While SEraja had complicated the implementation a bit my mixing multimedia content and such, and also adding the complexity of mobile phones and such, Lifeblog is taking the incremental step of taking blogs, appealing from a point where everyone is comfortable and taking it from there. To be quite honest, I signed up, found a fair bit of friends there and am still trying to figure out how well it works. I haven’t made too many posts there, given that I can barely keep my facebook, blog and twitter updated – let alone a lifeblob. But if you haven’t already succumbed to so many social networks, it does make sense to stick to that.

One of the oldest ideas that makes me remember of the phrase that Ideas are immortal is how Location-based services are coming up. LBS had the imaginations of people lighted up and quite a bit of rave imaginations I must say, were running behind what it could possibly do. Five years ago when I was bootstrapping a venture, we explored around that, lobbied with the canadian govt to give us location data and were shooed away. Fun times. But today companies such as bangalore-based Yulop are digging that old grave up and bringing that dream to life – atleast the hope of such dreams back to life.

Most often timing, and the wrong timing is what kills an idea. VoIP still hasn’t taken off, because people really don’t know what to do with it beyond making phone calls, and the infrastructure cost that goes into it is so darn expensive that it doesn’t justify the phone calls as a function or feature. VoIP will die its death in this timeline, but will come back again. Perhaps when 3G becomes prevalent and demand pushes need and applications and services are born, a revival might come in place.

Quite a lot of folks ask me whats a good idea worth exploring. It is quite interesting to note that the “ideas to toss” section of this blog is one of the most popular ones, apart from the controversial ones that come up from time to time. People are looking for ideas, and thats a statement. Sometimes, in order to look into the future, you just have to look at the past and see what has died before its time, and perhaps give those tombstones a new leash on life.

If you want a hint and a springboard, go right ahead to the deadpool section of Techcrunch and see, what you can dig up, and where you can play the part of a necromancer (Oh the Diablo playing days!)

More Links to Click:
Startup North
Startups that came back from the Dead
Michael Arrington Seeds Dead Startups.
Y Combinator List, with Lots of Dead Startups

Hello Everyone,

We’ve been barely vocal about it, but it seems the nominations are coming in hard and fast from all sides this time. We wont be extending the deadline past the 1st of June, since we want to finalize on the finalists and start the mentorship and refining of the pitch, the business plan and link them up with a local mentor who can guide that company from a long term perspective even after Proto.in is long over. That’s the kind of long term partnership, and association we want to be linked with. I am still involved with some of the companies that came to the first ever edition of Proto.in, and looking back, I’ve enjoyed every bit of interaction and there is a joy in being part of a company’s journey, than a moment.

So, just as a reminder, the deadline for Nominations are June 1st. Anyday past that, and I doubt we could accommodate you for this edition. You are gonna have to wait for the next. one. For those of you who had nominated, you will hear of some response from us before June 10th. If you haven’t heard from us by the 15th, feel free to call me at my number 9894101373, and we can figure out if by some dreary mistake your nomination form got misplaced or mislodged somewhere.

Also as a note, I do want to remind you folks that companies that did submit in previous editions of Proto.in and did not get selected can reapply. I am not sure how many folks are aware of this, but there are quite a few companies that had presented in the second and third editions of Proto.in that got rejected in the first edition. We worked with them over time, and once their business and intentions were much more clearer, it makes for a much stronger case. The only thing that I’d like to ensure for the company is that they take the stage at the right time, when they have a strong case for them. So just a reminder, that previously nominated companies can most certainly reapply and we will take a look at it. Infact, we strongly encourage that evolution. But that said, do ensure that compared to the last time, you have progressed and you can count a few good things going for you, so that we wont be wasting time and building frustration rather than glee moments of going places.

The registrations for Attendees are already up and the seats are filling up fast. We’ve priced the entry fees quite appropriately this time so that we can invest into students and those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to make it to startup events. So do make a reservation for your seats fast. You can register here.

The upcoming week would be quite interesting as we announce the topics for the Fastrack Sessions, The lineup of companies, investors, bankers and prominent figures who would be coming for the event this time, the sponsors, the supporting organizations etc etc. There is quite a bit of excitement this time, and it clearly shows. There is a brand new spanking site which is coming up, which should also be up next week. Interesting week ahead. Do stay tuned.

Posted from: The Proto.in Blog

I hate to discriminate, but if you really inject me with truth serum and ask me which was my favorite edition of Proto.in, there is a chance that I’d say it was the second edition. It was memorable cause we tried out a whole lot of stuff and all of them just clicked and became runaway successes. Proto.in, July edition, is an inspiration of that. It promises to spin your world into a realm of possibilities that you never thought were possible in the Indian Startup Community.

Nope, this is certainly not the mail where I disclose what all is happening. This is the email where I give you a headstart to register.

So just to recap, the dates are finalized on the 18th and 19th, and the venue is tentatively fixed at IIT Delhi. We still haven’t had a confirmation from them yet, and it seems to be going on as long as the middle east peace process, but It should get solidified in a day or two and I shall update you on that. In the meantime, the information holds true.

Whether you are a VC, a student, an entrepreneur or a blogger, we aren’t discriminating this time. We’ve brought down the entry fees to Rs. 500 so that everyone could afford. There are a few entrepreneurship related blogs and sites which will be soon announcing some contest to give away entries, so do keep a close eye here to watch out for those.

As of today, and Now, you could logon to the website and register to reserve a seat for you. As usual we do have limited seats and the sheer number of partners and supporters have gone up significantly, so to ensure that I don’t get a call from you at the last minute asking for a seat to spare, I do urge you to go register as soon as possible. You can register here.

Once registered, you should be getting a confirmation mail, which will tell you all that you need to do. It’s quite straight forward.

For those of you who don’t have a credit card handy, and would not be able to make a payment online, we have identified means of disbursing Entry tickets (Same Price) in the cities of Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. I will announce the list by the 30th of this month.

With that, Wishing you the best, go ahead register and hope to see you at the event. I am dying to see you all again!


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