Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Posts Tagged ‘techcrunch

My mentor oft used to say that everyone had something to teach us. It was all a matter of either what you should do, or what you should never do. If you look back at everyone in your life, that’d probably quite nicely fit the bill.

If you are at all interested in Startups, or are an entrepreneur, its quite hard to not notice whats happening in the Silicon Valley from time to time. And right about this time, it seems to be the humorous series of incidents – or some might call “planned coups” – that are going on in the valley amongst DEMO and Techcrunch, all in the name of “giving startups a platform”. There are 50 techcrunch companies, and close to 70+ DEMO companies going head on today, and amongst all the angry voice of one group accusing, and the other group defending, and then silly bystanders calling all the startups stupid to be sucky, they have all seemed to have forgotten the one reason for their existence – startups. Seems like in an attempt to settle the feuds amongst them, the startups are essentially the ones taking the beating by the supporters of both sides who are trying to discredit the both equally reputed conferences. Both are equally great conferences, which cost equally high amounts of money to pull through and lets not kid ourselves from the fact that both of them have equally made enough money through all this.

I have no interest in all these silly disputes. But it goes to say how even the “valley” can get distracted from whom their customer is. The startups.

We will, and trust me, we will soon come to that point as well – and I doubt that it will be too early when there are going to be a gazillion new startup showcases going on. If its a good thing, people are going to swarm and imitate, and there is absolutely no harm in that – just as long as they remember what the whole ordeal is all for.

I think India is doing amazingly well. Compared to most of the companies that are taking the stage, I am real proud of the kind of companies this country is churning out. We probably still dont have the reach or the spotlight, but there are equally amazing ideas, teams, talents and companies out here – probably better in some cases. I’m lately coming across a host of companies, some in the design space – making of intelligent home appliances, and a company that does design services – and is designing the torch for the commonwealth games (and its said to be quite sophisticated), companies in biotechnology, energy etc etc, that I have no doubts that in a few years, we will be more than what we ever dream, or dreamt to be.

This is also a time when the lack of support for an entrepreneur is probably the least pronounced issue. From capital to mentors, if you are knocking on the right doors, the right support is available and with local support peers such as Open Coffee Clubs and Startup Saturdays, I am really happy at the way we are strengthening this community.

As I am watching the companies at DEMO and TC, there is just one yearning in my soul. If we make better companies, and if we are darn better in hard work, and are more than well aided in terms of talent and capacity, whats it going to take us to the global spotlight. I think its going to take the support of the community as a whole to make that happen. This December as the fifth edition of Proto.in comes together in Bangalore, we’ll definitely take a shot at that – but not without your support. How do we make that happen? Now thats something I want you to help us, nah, ourselves with.

May the startups always win. For a long, long time to come.

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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

Seems like we are not the only set of folks who are wanting to fix the problems we see around us and build a “sustainable” atmosphere around us. There is a post by Ryan who runs FOWA taking a stance against the Web Mission effort that is getting organized by the UK Government and quite a fair list of heavy weights, including Techcrunch. I think this post is important to observe for a couple of reasons.

The striking similarities that we hear from folks around us in:

1. Thinking that the Silicon valley for some reason offers more opportunities.

2. Europe just like India, in most cases, seems to think that you only get funded if you hit the valley. Atleast we aren’t that bad. We have much more easier access to capital.

3. There are folks like FOWA (Future of Web Apps) who are trying to build a vibrant community of users, developers and startups in Europe, very much like how we are working on the same – with arguments that they have “everything that they require right there”

4. There are also people, most of them, who seem to think that the UK companies should be looking into the valley for users and potential exit strategies.

I’ve been working on a post that shows a snapshot of interaction between startups, venture capitals and the markets from across the globe – the valley, Canada, Australia, Europe and India. You’d be surprised how similar most conversations are. Trust me, things are not so hard because we are in India, neither too easy because we are here. We are just facing the same harsh realities as anywhere else. Perhaps the world is flatterning. Huh! who thought I’d agree to that, so easily!

I’ll leave you with this comment by Phil Bradley in that post, which just gets the message home without any explanations:

“The equity gap between seed and series A that plagues the UK will not be resolved if we can’t demonstrate maturity and ability to build profitable businesses.”

Paul Graham has written a recent article where he is wailing and moaning on the same topic. And I think he lives in the heart of where the action lies.

To Quote Paul from his Article, “I used to think of VCs as piratical: bold but unscrupulous. On closer acquaintance they turn out to be more like bureaucrats. They’re more upstanding than I used to think (the good ones, at least), but less bold. Maybe the VC industry has changed. Maybe they used to be bolder. But I suspect it’s the startup world that has changed, not them. The low cost of starting a startup means the average good bet is a riskier one, but most existing VC firms still operate as if they were investing in hardware startups in 1985.”

That just eerily sounds like the issue we face here.

PS: I haven’t thought through this yet, but I believe this only applies to Internet/Media related startups.


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