Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Posts Tagged ‘Y+combinator

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

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For those who had asked about how incubation centres work, I believe the comments in the previous post would have helped.

To summarize, an incubation centre supports an entrepreneur with an active advisory panel, infrastructure and with some financial assistance to help them jumpstart the process. That’s pretty much the gist of the matter.

As a commentor in the previous post mentioned, the system has a flaw.

For one, the entrepreneurs in an incubation cell are quite shielded from any immediate danger. The protection and support, sometimes even turns a great potential company into a mediocre one. Without being hungry, and being foolish, entrepreneurship seems to die out from its essence of radical pathbreaking.

The second aspect is that the value proposition that an incubation centre brings into an entrepreneurs life is that, they have a panel of advisors to help groom these entrepreneurs. These advisors are quite some experts in very specialized verticals – say marketing, HR, Scaling, Technology, Investment etc, and provide their inputs to mold the company into a solid one.

I believe a company that comes from an incubation centre is very much limited by its mentors. Most of the time, the mentors are chosen not to experiment with radically new and different business models, but to execute a well-trodden one in the life-cycle of a new company. What usually ends up is a newer and smaller version of their own company that they might have built or have been part of.

This always seems to be the case, with most incubation centres.

The issues seem to be a few:

1. Limited by Mentors
2. Over-Protected from the necessary tribulations that an entrepreneur and team require to harden and survive
3. Isolated Infrastructure
4. Highly biased focus: Either too much technology focus, or too business oriented, since all incubation centres are academic centric
5. Lack of being grounded in the reality of what the customer wants (some Incubation centres deal with this quite well)

These are the basic ones to start with.

I do like what the Y Combinator and CRV Quickstart guys are doing. Also with the recent addition of Obvious, (the guys behind twitter) to the list, its possible that the next successful incubation model will follow suit along these lines. With Yahoo! hiring seasoned entrepreneurs to run their internal incubation centre, there is a pattern that we are starting to see emerge here.

More on that in the upcoming post…


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