Day 2: TiE ISB Connect 2006 September 24, 2006Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, internet, technology, tieisb connect, venture capital.
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Hitesh Oberoi (COO, Naukri.com) , Sanjay Swami (CEO, mChek), Sandeep Murthy (Sherpalo Ventures), Raghav Kher (Founder, Seventymm.com), Samir Sood (Venture Investments, Google), Probir Roy(Founder Coruscant & Paymate) and Ganesh Rengaswamy (Greylock Partners) joined Ajit Balakrishnan for the panel discussion on Internet technologies, chaired by Krishnan Seshadrinathan of Motive.
Pradeep Gupta (CyberMedia, Band of Angels), Srini Koppulu (VP and MD, Microsoft), Vani Kola (NEA Indo-US), Raj Gollamudi (Bluestream Ventures), Joga Rao (Computer Associates), Ajit Deora (Light Speed Ventures) and Srikanth Sunjararajan (Founder, Persistent) joined Ashok Jhunjunwala for the panel disussion on Technology. The panel discussion was chaired by Sudheer Koneru (Managing Director, SumTotal) and Kalyan Manyam (PhoneLinx).
TePP – Technopreneur Promotion Programme July 3, 2006Posted by rajAT in dsir, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, india, startup, technology, tepp.
The Technopreneur Promotion Programme(TePP) is a novel programme to extend financial support to individual innovators for converting their innovative ideas into working prototypes/models. Jointly operated by the Department of Scientific & Industrial research(DSIR) and Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council(TIFAC) of the Department of Science & Technology(DST), TePP endeavors to tap the vast innovative potential of the citizens of India.
I met Mr. A.S. Rao at ISB today. He told me TePP is very actively seeking for innovative ideas and is very proactive in their approach. The list of projects that have got funded by TePP are here.
Some of the salient points of TePP are -
Who can apply
Any Indian Citizen with an original idea/invention/know-how to develop working prototype/processes can apply for TePP support. Even, the proposal from the owner of a ‘start-up’ company/industry may be considered for TePP support, if the annual turnover of the company / industry doesn’t exceed Rs. 30.00 lakh per annum.
The maximum TePP support would be up to 90% of the project cost . The remainder part of the cost i.e. 10% amount in the project would be invested by the applicant. The upper limit for TePP support for the proposal at present is Rs. 10.00 lakh.
The ownership of IPR generated through the TePP projects rest with the innovator/applicant. No sharing of IPR by the forwarding/sponsoring agency will be permitted. The Ministry of Science & Technology(MOST) does not own any responsibility for disputes arising out of the IPR issues, however, the rules and regulations of NRDC or PFC of TIFAC will apply for those projects supported for patents applied by DSIR and TIFAC respectively.
Is venture investing a gut business ? June 30, 2006Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, startup, technology, vc, venture capital.
Yes, it is.
Paul Kedrosky a venture partner with Ventures West, who also writes a famous blog Infectious Greed, was moderating a VC panel where the same question was being debated – Is venture investing a gut business. And the conclusion is, that it is.
One of the main reasons is that after 4 decades of active investments the VC industry still doesnt have a formula for zeroing down on a winning company.
If you go to any conference where a VC is addressing the crowd. They will all state this statment religiously – We want “A” teams. An “A” team can save a mediocre technology, but a “B” or “C” team could screw up even the best technology. This statement is as hollow as Rakhi Savant kissing claims. In first place how you will conclude that a particular technology is mediocre or killer. In hindsight, one can always make big statments.
When the legendary VC John Doerr came down to Banglore. We asked a question to him when he repeated the same, “A” team – “B” technology statement. The questin was with a twist – Google didn’t have a management team or an “A” team when you guys invested in Google. To hell with management team they didn’t even have a plan how they are going to monetize this whole thing. Then what made you invest. John didnt offer any counter argument – infact he said Google is an outlier so its kind of pointless debating or discussing it. That really helped. Finally, he said we invested because Ram Shriram has invested. Talk about herds.
My 2 cents on it -
For a second if we look a little closer at the ideas or technology. They fall under two categories -
1) Technologies that change the world.
2) Technologies that make things which are already present better, faster or bigger.
The ideas that fall under second category, for them the business models are already proven the entrepreneurs are trying to improve the user experience. These ventures don’t create new markets but may expand existing markets. For example – the travelling industry was always there but by taking it online, booking tickets become so easy.
The first category is the difficult one. When Apple computer started who had thought that the whole PC industry will get so big. But Steve Jobs and Steve Woz thought differently. When Google came up with their search technology noone thought that online searching will be an annual $10 Billion in revenues business. The ideas that fall under this category lead to the creation of a whole new industry.
Hence the difficult part is that there is no factual data that can prove that this new stuff will work. Anyone who is trying to prove this nothing but a fool. For such things one can only go from year to year or better quarter to quarter but you cannt have a 3 year Capex plan in place. It is just not possible. Who has dreamed that iPod will be such a hit, I doubt even Steve Jobs has dreamt that iPod will be such a killer. (iPod led to the creation of microcontent, MP3 players were always there).
The panel concluded finally that picking such trends is an art and not a science. Either you have it in you or not. No business guru or a professional service can help you in taking the decision. Only your gut can show you the way.
In the end, Spreadsheet jockeys are not needed but Dreamers.
Webaroo @ Barcamp Pune June 18, 2006Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamppune, entrepreneur, india, internet, mobile, technology.
Webaroo is a free software program and service that lets you search and browse real web pages without a connection. It lets you take the web with you. Webaroo stores searchable web content on your laptop, PDA or smart phone.Your content is updated every time you connect to the internet.
Well the idea of carrying a copy of internet on your laptop or pda is mind boggling. Yeah , yeah they don’t put the whole world wide web but the subset you are interested in.
I am not sure how much of a success will it be in developed societies where connectivity is not a problem. But yeah in India it does make sense.
They are trying to moentize by showing the contextual advertisements along with the content you are seeing through webaroo. Some debates have cropped up that how can you monetize by showing someones content and putting you own advertisements. Rahul from Webaroo gave the example that Google is doing the same. Hmm.
It is an interesting start. Lets see how things will go for them in future. All the best guys.
PS: Webaroo is started by IIT B alumni and is incubated at SINE – IIT Bombay.
Mobile Computing @ Barcamp Pune June 18, 2006Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamppune, mobile, technology.
The first talk I attended was of Atul Chitnis. The topic was Mobile Computing – Think beyond the PC. Atul has given an excellent talk on the topic. He used no jargon but lots of examples to explain the idea that in coming times digital accessories will be very much part of our lifes. He defined digital accessories as the small gizmos which are always there with you. You don’t go to them. e.g. To switch on a music system you will go to it and switch it on. I know remote is there but maybe switch the main power. I think you got the idea what I am trying to say. But digital accessories like pda’s are always there with you in your pocket like your wallet.
Normally people complain that these gizmos have got small screens or are clunky and are slow or have less space. The Moore’s law will take care of the latter. Memory is getting cheaper. Technology is improving day by day which will surely improve the mobile digital experience. Coming on to the screen part. Atul has used very interesting examples to explain that size doesn’t matter.
A cinema hall screen when viewed from 30-40 feet away has the same impression on a viewer as compared to small pda screen when viewed from a distance of less than a feet. Interestingly, Mobil Extra is running a campaign where the long distance is crunched between a thumb and an index finger. I think that will give you an idea of the perspective. In short, a small screen if it is in your hand will give you the same if not more experience as compared to a bigger experience kept at a distance.
I agree to all this but I think the renewed interest in mobile computing is not because that users have suddenly found them interesting. Users have always rewared them – case in point Sony Walkman. If there is a compelling use case and there is a gizmo that accomplishes it beautifully, consumers are going to just buy it like crazy.
After the presentation I and Atul discussed what is going to be the next Mobile Computing device. Atul is all for the Personal Media Device sans Mobile Phone but I think that the next generation Mobile phones or Smart phones will have all the capabilities of Personal Media device. It makes a lot more sense for a person to carry a single device. Otherwise he will carry a mobile phone, iPod, another gizmo with big screen for movies and browsing the web. This seems a bit far fetched to me. It is difficult to maintain 3 devices – one has to check that they are all charged up. Just couple of times if you found that your favourite, next generation, portable, music player is dead ( no charge ), I am sure you will become a convert i.e. get hooked to converged, smart mobile phone.
In the end, how much space does a woman has in her purse anway.
Tips to entrepreneurs from Larry Page June 15, 2006Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, startup, technology.
Larry Page has got some tips (You Tube Video) for the entrepreneurs.
I must say it is a very structured approach for coming up with something innovative.
Two knuggets from his presentation.
1. Understand the world
2. Find things that seem wrong.
A cool advice he gave, in regard to Tesla – find someone who can fund your product if you want to change the world.
Games + Learning + Society June 14, 2006Posted by rajAT in augmented, culture, fun, games, technology, virtual reailty.
Lot of research work has started around the world to understand the influence of gaming on the learning capability of human beings. Moreover, the social implications that a gaming culture has over a society is debated and discussed very enthusiastically.
Games these days do not only reveal fantasy world in the virtual realm but they also inspire new world views in the physical world. For example – My name is Madison is an Augmented Reality Game that allows users to explore and interact with the urban landscape from a range of perspectives. This project approaches the city as a layered environment. Players understand the development of place through the eyes of history, culture and fantasy.
Now how cool will this be. Learning history in such an environment would be so much fun. It is much better than cramming the history books that we all generally do. After the exam the only thing we remember is, "Akbar was a Mughal Emperor". We are not able to appreciate the architecture in that era and we are clueless about the paintings and literature.
But in a simulated environment a student will be able to grasp and retain more. Imagine an overlay comparison of Delhi in British era and present era. Using GPS enabled hand held computer, participants take on the roles of both recipient and creator, performance in context. While walking about the streets, they are provided with information that enhances their understanding of the environment and then gives them the tools to create their own interpretations of place. Amazing!!
The need of hour is more events like these so that issues like learning and social role of games do not get lost in building the gaming industry.
IITians joining startups June 13, 2006Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, india, startup, technology.
[Via Economic Times] – After slogging it out at IITs across the country, graduate engineers are giving up jobs with the bluest of the blue chips to work at start-ups. And as a result, a Silicon Valley type start-up culture is taking roots in India. This is very different from what the earlier batches of IIT graduates did: go to the US or slog another two years at the IIMs to land a plum job.
27 graduates out of the 35-student electrical engineering batch at IIT Mumbai have opted for jobs with start-ups rather than top-tier companies.
Garage start-ups like Innoviti in Bangalore, Generic Systems in Mumbai and Kritikal in Delhi (incubated at IIT Delhi) is where IIT engineers find it more gratifying to work. Such companies could well be India Inc’s shining stars of tomorrow much like Infosys, Wipro, TCS and i-flex are today.
Sample this: 27 graduates out of the 35-student electrical engineering batch at IIT Mumbai have opted for jobs with start-ups rather than top-tier companies. Vinay Salva (IIT Mumbai) landed a job with ST Microelectronics for Rs 4.5 lakh a year through campus placement. Two of his colleagues landed jobs with the Boston Consulting Group and Appian (a software company). However, the three of them had a common interest in ‘mechatronics’ (a combination of electrical and mechanical engineering) and thus they started a company around it called Generic Systems. It has become a trend among IITians to work at such start-ups. The risks are high but then, so are the rewards.
Says Mr Salva, director, Generic Systems, “The jobs are not scarce. It’s just that our interest could not have been satiated at any of the blue-chip companies.”
Till the early 1990s, almost 90% of the IIT graduates went to the US. In the mid-1990s, marketing and finance MBAs from the IIMs were the fad. Says Rajeev Agrawal, CEO, Innoviti, (IIT-1990 batch), “In the past couple of years there has been a move back to engineering. We are able to attract recent IIT graduates. The starting salary at start-ups can be more than double of that offered in any of the top tier IT services companies.”
Vibhu Manya, batch of ’05, IIT Mumbai works at Innoviti as a system design engineer. Says Mr Manya, “As an engineer, I wanted to create something. With a big company like Intel or ST Microelectronics, I would have been just a small cog in the wheel. Here, I can suggest and see my changes take shape.” Another recent IIT graduate Gaurav Kaurang never went for campus placement interviews and instead started his own company.
Adds Ankur Lal (IIT Delhi, 1990 batch), CEO, Infozech, “IIT engineers are encouraged to be entrepreneurial. The incubation centres at the campus have helped a lot in boosting the start-up trend. Lot of the recent graduates have seen their seniors return to India from the US. They are asking why should they go abroad when opportunities are in the neighbourhood?”
Getting a funding of around $100,000 for a start-up is not too difficult for graduates with a sound business model. Says Kamal Aggarwal, vice-president, marketing and strategy with SoftJin (an electronic design automation company), “The generic software companies cannot match the compensation that some of the start-ups can offer. The incubation centres at IITs have accelerated the garage start-up trend. This is also helping to create a Silicon Valley-type entrepreneurial culture in India.”
Clueless Publishers June 7, 2006Posted by rajAT in blog, book, books, google, media, media2.0, publishing, technology, web2.0.
The business of publishing books is going to get disintermediated. Even if publishers start publishing books online they cannot save their empires. It is like arranging the deck chairs on Titanic.
An author goes to a famous publishing house because a publisher has got a network already that is necessary for a mega success of the book. A publisher
2) Provide a platform for getting into international markets.
3) And most importantly prints the book.
But things on internet work a bit differently, isn't it.
So why in future an author will go to a publisher to get his book published. That is the question to be answered?
An author should ask I am the one who is creating the content. I am one who is advertising the book through blogs so why I need this guy called publisher. Note that royalties are not that big.
Publishers have lost half of their battle when Amazon started reviews on its website. Over the years book lovers all round the world have contributed significant amout of data on its website. And now Amazon has got that valuable data and not the publishers.
Authors will prefer their own blog sites. But amazon still have a fighting chance over the publishers as an internet book publishing platfrom. Simple reason is Amazon has built network goods.
How to make money by publishing books online will be figured out by someone who is more enteprising. Scott has got some ideas though.
Publishers are just unnecessarily fretting with Google; they should be spending their time thinking the next platform, if there is one.
Surely, very interesting times lie ahead of us.
Web Browsing or Interstellar Expedition June 5, 2006Posted by rajAT in fun, internet, technology.
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[Via Overstated] Yahoo! provides a service called Site Explorer that allows webmasters to do research on how their site is being linked from the rest of the web. As Jeongeun Lee of Y! Korea put it, "we wanted to make this experience more fun." They took the metaphor of exploration quite literally, imagining the web to be a universe, putting the user on an interstellar expedition. The result is a service called Webzari, essentially a different interface on the same data. It looks something like this:
Essentially, it goes something like this: web sites are planets whose size is determined by the number of links they have. Planets are attracted to each other based on the links between them, and you are a little space ship that flies around the universe. Check out Webzari in action:
Yellow planets denote websites in Korean while purple ones are "foreign" (and you'll notice that the flag next to your spaceship changes depending on the planet you're next to). If you click on a planet you'll get details about the local flora and fauna and the ability to navigate to this part of the solar system. It may not be as useful for research as Site Explorer, but I have to hand it to them, it is definitely more fun.
By the end of next year I expect that they'll probably have replicated the entire Spore game system, wherein when you start a blog your posts are little organisms fighting for control of the site. After for a while your links start to appear and suddenly you zoom out to this interface. Eventually your blog will take over the universe and Yahoo! Search will become artificially intelligent, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
Webserver on Nokia Cellphone June 5, 2006Posted by rajAT in mobile, nokia, technology.
Nokia has ported the Apache webserver to Symbian, in order to enable mobile phones to serve content on the World Wide Web. Many mobile phones today have more processing power than early Internet servers, suggesting that "there really is no reason anymore why webservers could not reside on mobile phones," according to the company.There are some companies in Hyderabad who are trying to port a J2EE server on the mobile phone. So there is lots of activity in this area.
But only thing is there are no good use cases where they can be used.
Nokia has listed few use cases here -
Nokia notes that websites hosted on mobile phones enable phone owners to inter-actively participate in content generation. For example, Nokia has written an application that prompts the phone owner to take a picture, which is then relayed to the requester as a JPEG.
Another touted advantage is that the amount of personal information stored on mobile phones makes it easy to "semi-automatically generate a personal home page."
So far, Nokia's "concept demonstration applications" include:
* Interactive, contextual, and location-dependent content
o Use the phone as a webcam
o Find other mobile web sites in the proximity
o Find out the location of a mobile website (cellid)
* Enabling new communication means without operator involvement
o Send instant message
o Leave instant message in the inbox
o Leave a note on a mobile weblog
* Access core data
o Access favorites, contacts, calendar, logs, and messages
o Download images
o Mount a read-write view of the root webserver directory and edit pages directly using WebDAV
But these all I would say are Vitamins and not Pain killers. No technology for that matter gets widely adopted untill an unless it solves one customer pain point beautifully.
Though a webserver or J2EE server on a mobile phone can be big thing but we have to think a big customer pain point.
So lets put on our thinking hats.
Swarm the Dot June 4, 2006Posted by rajAT in fun, swarm, technology.
Swarm shows you what websites people are visiting, right now.
Swarm is a graphical map of hundreds of websites, all connecting to each other. It updates itself every second with where people are going and coming from. As sites become more popular, they move towards the center of the swarm and grow larger. Conversely, sites that lose traffic move away from the center and grow smaller.
Website traffic is symbolized with thin lines. Each time you see a line appear, it means someone has moved from one site to the other. You can gauge how many people are swarming around based on the number of lines.
It is pretty interesting. Check it out here.
Peer Production: Boon or Bane June 3, 2006Posted by rajAT in blog, citizen journalism, collectivism, digg, media2.0, peer production, technology, web2.0, wikipedia, youtube.
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Nick Carr and Jaron Lanier say that rise of digital collectivism is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise. They argue that this is different from meritocracy where the best gets awarded. Nick is of the opinion that the peer produced goods will be mediocre. But as these average goods are available for free that undermines the economic incentives for creating something that is better than mediocre.
Nick points out that markets are good at setting prices for commodities as markets filter out individual biases. There are things where markets are not good like writing books, encyclopedia entries or editing newspapers or magazines. Let me try to expain Nick’s argument by an example – It says that Wikipedia is a mediocre product as compared to Britannica encyclopedia or any other encyclopedia. Now that there is a free mediocre product i.e. Wikipedia in the market people will not buy Britannica anymore. The sales of Britannica will drop and Britannica will take its encyclopedia product off from the market. So, how Britannica should survive in the wake of wikepedia? If Wikipedia is mediocre then I think there is an opportunity for Britannica to tap in. People are always ready to pay premium for the best knowledge. I really don’t think that this behavior will change in future also. The knowledge worker viz consultant, lawyer, doctor faces this competition daily but does he feel threatened from a consultant who is providing his services free of cost. No. Because the costly consultant knows that the cost is not the differentiator but the specialized knowledge that he is having. And that is going to attract the client.
If Britannica thinks that they have a superior product than Wikipedia, they shouldn’t fret. In fact they should see wikipedia as its free version. Let me give you some real life example. Couple of my friends got hooked to wikipedia. They were spending tones of time reading articles on it and they ended up buying Britannica and Microsoft Encarta. I asked them why they have bought two encyclopedias – They said Encarta got lots of multimedia content and Britannica got lots of wonderful long articles. And now they have best of both the worlds. Now if they want to check on a particular thing they first saw it on Wikipedia and then on the regular encyclopedia. Society overall has benefited by having a wikipedia. It gives people a choice and people are smart enough to figure out what is good for them.
Let us have a look at newspapers and magazines. Will Ohmynews or NowPublic will replace NYT or BBC well I don’t think so. Citizen journalism will perform an important role in our society and they give a refreshing new choice to the people. The established media houses because of certain restrictions, generally don’t report things in full. This could be because they are related to one political party or because of the nationalist agenda. Citizen journalists don’t have any such prejudices and give unbiased view of the situation. And it is great to have this alternative available. Similar reasons can be given for consumer generated videos and pictures. We cannot compare the pictures present in Flickr by the ones that get published in National Geographic. But people would like to see both. No video on YouTube can be compared to any oscar winning movie.
Jaron Lanier argues that American Idol can’t give you a John Lennon. I am not sure of American Idol but the singers who won in Indian Idol are signed by big music houses. In fact some of the singers who won in other popular singing competitions got nominated as best playback singers in Filmfare awards (Indian Oscars). Shows like Indian idols give such a great platform to the budding stars and motivates millions of other people too. And this also puts pressure on the existing established singers to give their best. As a result, the society gets benefited.
In the end, I will say that connected production or peer production or whatever you want to call it is a great boon to the society. It challenges the authority of the existing established players who have to come with more innovative ways to survive and sustain. People are going to buy / favor / consume the product which is the best.
Peer production has just raised the bar.
Microsoft: Startup zone June 2, 2006Posted by rajAT in apple, bill gates, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, google, microsoft, startup, technology.
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Microsoft has marked the categories in which they will like to partnership with the startups .
- Business Intelligence
- Line of Business Applications
They have quite an array of companies working for them. I can only recognize – Newsgator, Akimbo, Sling Media, MobiTV.
Don Dodge heads the Collaboration portfolio. The Collaboration portfolio covers applications that work with Outlook, Office, Sharepoint, Messenger, Live Communications Server, and Exchange. Applications in this space include email add-on tools, document management, content management, file sharing, and other collaboration tools.
He gives reasons for why Microsoft is interested in working with startups -
- Partner products that compliment existing Microsoft products by adding features, filling holes, and leveraging the Microsoft platforms.
- Innovative partner products that take advantage of the latest Microsoft technology encourage our customers to upgrade to the latest release.
- Successful start-ups draw attention to the benefits of building on the Microsoft platform, and the value of partnering with Microsoft.
- Small start-ups often grow into big companies that need lots of software.
- Working with start-ups keeps us close to the cutting edge of technology. A good barometer for what is coming in the next 5 years.
- Start-ups are the best source for new partners, and sometimes lead to acquisitions.
WOW. Microsoft is treating startup as SME where they want to sell them their software or it is like catch them young. They can not attract true startups with this approach. By true startups I mean where a bunch of students are thinking to do the next big thing. They don't have a business plan or ivy league management team but just few ideas.
Now how can they catch such young entrepreneurs. Well for that first and foremost they have to come up with bigger goals and not short ones where they want to push their software to them.
They should sit with student entreprenuers and try to help them in arranging things for them. Any such venture lacks three things – Capital, Advice, Network. Help them in sorting these things out.
Microsoft has missed lots of things in technology, if they don't want to miss the next google they will think on these lines.
After all microsoft was also started by students and so was google, apple. And the next Katrina will also come from there.