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Indian Tech Tour 2006 July 29, 2006

Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, india, tie, tie asia, tie uk, vc, venture capital.
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techtour.PNG The Tech Tour will visit India for the first time and showcase its rich culture of technology and innovation. The Indian Tech Tour is co-organized with TiE UK and TiE Asia. The Indian Tech Tour will highlight this enormous potential and depth during its unique three-day tour across the country.

ETT is a leading non-profit organization of European VCs in the high-technology industry. ETT aims to provide a platform that allows interactions between the entrepreneurial eco-system in Europe with the entrepreneurial eco-system in the visited country eventually leading to facilitating or funding local high technology companies looking to expand internationally.

The delegate profile is top-notch and will comprise of successful entrepreneurs, representatives of national or international research organizations, directors of associations servicing the high-technology industry, partners and senior professionals of leading VC Firms, technology investment managers from development funds, business angels, professional service providers to the technology industry, investment bankers, politicians involved in technology development, global media representatives. Delegates comprising of VCs as well as other business leaders will be evaluating companies not only for investments but also for tie-ups, collaborations, and other strategic business relationships.

Visiting delegates are interested in the following categories.

  • New Materials & Processes
  • Wireless
  • Networking
    • Fixed
    • Management & Services
  • Software Applications
    • Enterprise
    • Consumers
  • Platform & Infrastructure
    • Computer-human interface
    • Search and navigation
    • Content delivery
    • Infrastructure management
    • Middleware
    • OS & Development tools
  • BPO
    • Healthcare
    • Financial Services
    • Content Development
    • Software Development
    • Elearning/Trading
  • Digital Media
  • Consumer Technology and Distribution
  • Energy Related Technologies
  • NANO Technology
  • Retail & Consumer technology
  • Semi-conductor technology/Research/Manufacturing
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Terminals and peripherals

End of Ramrajya @ Sify July 28, 2006

Posted by rajAT in india, internet, ramrajya, sify.
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R Ramaraj quits Sify Limited as its managing director and chief executive in pursuit of other interests.

Indian internet industry watchers would readily agree that Ramaraj is synonymous with Sify. For he is one of Sify’s co-founders and had contributed 10 per cent of the initial capital when it was started in 1995.

“In many ways we laid the path for others to travel. We were the second Indian company to get listed in Nasdaq. The first was Infosys Technologies Limited. After that it was easy for others,” he recalls.

At that time there were no role models for the company to follow. The industry was new and was getting readymade managerial talent to manage the internet business was a challenge.

“We brought in achievers from different fields. They learnt the internet business and built Sify. The work environment was fantastic and the result is the brand you see today,” he adds.

When one looks back the path that Sify has traversed, the IndiaWorld deal in 1999 would be the major milestone. The company acquired 13 websites for a whopping Rs500 crore. With the dotcom industry going bust, the deal didn’t result in any major gains for the company. Till last fiscal, the company’s turnover hadn’t touched the Rs500-crore mark. Besides, many of the IndiaWorld websites do not exist.

In retrospect, was the deal a mistake? Ramaraj says it was not. “If the circumstances are the same, I would do a similar deal again.” According to him, the internet at that time was a new industry and had new metrics that were different from traditional businesses.

People saw what the IndiaWorld promoter,Rajesh Jain got. One should look at what Sify gained.

When we first tapped the market, we raised $75 million by diluting 20 per cent of our equity in 1999. Soon after the deal, we were able to raise $120 million by diluting just 1.5 per cent. The issue proceeds were used to set up infrastructure and expand our business.

The whole interview can be read here.

Barcamp Hyderabad 2 in Times of India July 28, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, barcamphyderabad2, hyderabad, india.
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Article was published in  Education Times supplement of Times of India on 24th July.

India rejects idea of One Laptop per Child July 27, 2006

Posted by rajAT in digital divide, india, literacy, mit media, Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC.
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India has decided against getting involved in Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child scheme.

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit association dedicated to research to develop a $100 laptop—a technology that could revolutionize how we educate the world’s children. This initiative was launched by faculty members at the MIT Media Lab. It was first announced by Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte, now chairman of OLPC, at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland in January 2005.

The reasons given by Sudeep Banerjee of Human Resource Development are –

1. OLPC is a “paedagogically suspect”. He elaborated on it by mentioning that laptop may actually be detrimental to the growth of creative and analytical abilities of the child.

2. The ministry cannot visualize a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools.

3. If the Planning Commission has the kind of money that would be required for this scheme, it would be appropriate to utilize it for ‘Universalisation of Secondary Education’ for which, a concept paper has been lying with the Planning Commission for approval since November 2005.

4. We do not think that the idea of Prof Negroponte is mature enough to be taken seriously at this stage and no major country is presently following this. Even inside America, there is no much enthusiasm about this.

My views on the above stated reasons –

Reason #1 In the west children get exposed to computers from very early early days. It hasn’t been detrimental to the growth of their creative and analystical abilities. Infact most of the western schools always allowed their students to use calculators for mathematical problems. During my school days we used to mug up all the tables like crazy. I still remember when we used to shout 4 fiveZA 20. 4 sixZA 24… Now if someone ask me how much is 17 sixZA. I can only give a blank look. So all that shouting and mugging really didn’t help me. Does that bother me. Nopes, not all. Mugging of tables really doesn’t increase your analytical ability. If we talk about creative abilities I think they will improve if children gets exposed to the digital media for following reasons.

1. Digital media is cheap to produce. That means students can read more by paying less. Books are costly. Libraries in schools are n’t well stalked anyways.

2. Digital media is more expressive. Thanks to multimedia that makes it easy to grasp some of the fundamentals. Human is visual being. 1000 words cann’t teach you what one video of a physics concept can teach you. Very interesting work is going on in the area of Virtual Immersive Reality at Centre of IT in Education at IIIT Hyderabad. It is so much fun learning physics using the software they have developed. I wished I had access to such tools during my schooling.

I am sure one can come up with more positives .

Reason #2
The reason stated if true can be potentially very dangerous for the development of the country. The only thing that has led to the renewed belief in India is its IT capabilities. If going ahead we cann’t produce more IT engineers than that can be catastrophic. For India to maintain its lead in services space IT has to become the part of social fabric. The statment is saying that the project cann’t be taken ahead even in a single state. I think this is not true. Lets forget Bihar, UP for a second. What about vilages of AP, Karnataka or West Bengal. IT has permeated villages big time and some of the examples are e-choupals, e-sagu to name the few.

Reason #3 Now that can be the real reason. Govt. is not having sufficient funds to back the project and wants to fund the projects which it has been doing since eternity. And none of them had given spectacular results. If that is case what is the harm in trying a new approach. I cann’t understand that.

Reason #4 Come on don’t blame the idea. Is it rocket science ? How can one attack the idea by saying it is not mature enough. The idea cann’t be immature or half baked but the govt. agencies are immature as they cann’t see the bigger benefits of OLPC.

OLPC can help in bridging the so called digital divide. But if the govt. seriouly feel that OLPC is not the correct way then it should come with a more proactive approach. Cellphone seems to be the digital platform of choice in India. Can’t we use them innovatively to tame this monster of illiteracy ? But to distribute teaching lessons to the people via Cellphone we need 3G. And when 3G is going to happen in India. Gosh! that will start another debate. 🙂

It is not a progressive step taken by the govt. Btw Nigeria has ordered 1 million machines.

Clayton Christensen @ TiECON EAST 2006 July 27, 2006

Posted by rajAT in Clayton Christensen, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, tie, tiecon east.
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Professor Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School belongs to that breed of management intellectuals which counts amongst its ranks the late Peter Drucker, Tom Peters and Michael Porter.

At a special reception at TiECON East 2006, Prof Christensen spoke about his research and on ‘How to tell if a business idea will succeed or fail’.

In the first part of his talk, Prof Christensen talked of a model he developed as a part of his research, which has two elements; one, any business has a trajectory of improvement and second, that every market has a different trajectory of movement. A company can move up its trajectory with simple year to year improvements and still be of tremendous incremental value to customers. That is, small innovations can bring great satisfaction.

He discovered that the innovation did not have to be groundbreaking but it is enough that there is innovation to ensure that the company stays competitive.

He then went on to describe the theory of what he termed ‘Disruptive Innovation’ This too does not refer to any breakthrough innovation, but simply to innovation which disrupts the trajectory of a firm’s offering to the public. This innovation could even have a negative value for the customer. This is when, he says, companies are caught on the wrong foot and the new comers work fast to muscle in on their territory.

Case Study- Steel Industry

To back this up he delivered an absorbing account of the developments in the Steel industry. The Big Fight between integrated steel companies, and new, quick and compact Mini-mills (operating on electric furnaces.) The small mini-mills kept nipping at the heels of the large, slow integrated steel companies when they first appeared on the scene in the 70s. Now the customer offering trajectory for the Steel industry ranges from re-enforced concrete bars (or ‘Rebars’) at the low end to sheet metal used in auto body manufacture at the high end. Mini-mills automatically gravitated toward the low end product because they could make it easily and cheaper than the integrated steel companies.

Soon, the mini-mills had taken the market from the big, old steel mills (the integrated ones) till they forced the last one out of the Re-bar business in 1979. But oddly enough this did not bother the integrated mills, because re-bars were a low margin product for them and they were glad to have it taken off their plate. But once the mini-mills were the only ones servicing this market now, they no longer had a tangible cost advantage. This happened every decade as the mini-mills moved up the steel product value-chain (they went from re-bar to angle-iron to structural beams to now sheet metal even!) Each time they pushed integrated steel mills out of the next higher-margin category but made life tougher for themselves (each time an integrated mill got out of a product category, the stock of mini-mill companies fell because of heightened competition and loss of competitive advantage).

Today almost all steel behemoths, the integrated steel mills, have shut shop. But the mini-mills are not doing too great either. This is a classic case of ‘Assymetry of Motivation’ as Prof Christensen terms this phenomenon. That is, “A situation where an attacker is keen to get into a market the attackee wants to get out of.” He went on to enumerate other industries where this “small guy gobbling up market share of low value-add product offering” phenomenon held true; the automotive sector (the Japanese ate American share, the Koreans are baffling the Japanese, the Chinese trouble the Koreans and soon the Tatas will offer the world the 100,000-rupee car), the airline sector (long haul routes versus, short/local routes), banks and even countries (like Japan).

The lesson he left us with at the end of the case study was “As a newcomer, you don’t always have to have a better product, you just need to create a situation where the current market leader is motivated to flee the battlefield.” His advice for the incumbent biggies his lesson was “Set up an autonomous subsidiary to compete with the newcomers and allow it to cannibalize the parent-leader” because out of the ashes something new and powerful can be reborn.

He also cited the case of Compaq and Flextronics to give us the next lesson on how to ensure a business succeeds. Flextronics started as a supplier and ended up as a competitor to Compaq because of the modular nature of Compaq’s offering. This was an important lesson in when and how much to forward or backward integrate.

He spoke next of Segmentation. He told all present not to segment only on the basis of the product or the customer category. He suggests instead that, as each product or service is employed by a customer to perform a ‘job’ for him/her, the company should segment based on what ‘job’ a particular product does. Therefore the ‘job’ is the fundamental unit of segmentation.

TYE- TiE Young Entrepreneurs July 27, 2006

Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, tie, tye.
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Ziggy Tek: It seems definitely like a sound that would appeal to any baby but when the winning team of Shane Lampert, Jay Mayur, Neil Mayur and Aashish Sharma, appeared on stage to receive their  check of $10,000 donated by Microsoft from Ramadorai, CEO, TCS and Chairman of Nasscom, there was tremendous applause from the large audience. The event was held at the TiECON East Banquet dinner at the Copley Marriot Hotel on June 16th 2006. Ziggy Tek, a baby monitoring device that helps alert parents to monitor their child’s fever, was the winning business idea for this year TYE (TiE Young Entrepreneurs), initiative launched in late 2005 from TiE Boston.

The Program geared for young students between the ages of 14 to 18 years is designed for aspiring youngsters who from an early age want to become entrepreneurs. Initially called “How to do a business plan “it soon became  TYE (TiE Young Entrepreneurs), a forum of about 30 students trying to understand the nuances of how to formulate a business plan, research industry segments and use methods to approach and analyze business. Spread over a period of 16 weeks, the students were split into 6 teams of 2 to 5 students who met with a mentor and learned skills that would probably be best learnt at a business school. The final result was presented to a panel of 5 judges consisting of two lawyers, two venture capitalists and a charter member who listened and zeroed in on the winner: in this case the Ziggy Tek team who were  mentored by Moshe Shavit.

Overall the business ideas of the participants were varied and interesting ranging from  maximizing airline trips for travelers, to online tutoring and safer windshields. To all those who were watching especially the younger students it was an inspiring and motivational event to witness and hopefully participate in the future.

My Technorati Ranking July 22, 2006

Posted by rajAT in blog, dream on, rajat gupta.
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I have breached the top 100,000 ranking on Technorati in just 2 months
My current ranking is 98,712.
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It is a big feat considering that Technorati tracks 49.1 million blogs.

I am thrilled.

Dream On has made it to the Top 10 WordPress blogs of the day couple of times.

The post on StarDolls has been there in Top 10 posts on wordpress from a week now.

I took a loooong time before I started blogging.
There were number of reasons for not blogging.

But finally I did start blogging. And now I am hooked 🙂

Blogging also landed me some freelancing gigs for US publishing houses.

Now a quick overview of my blog.
I blog about

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Number of posts – 72
Comments – 225

No. of Hits – 14,691 ( As on 22nd July, 10 AM IST)

I get traffic from pretty much all over the world.
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The clustermaps has done a remarkable job for me. Planning to take their premium service.
Some of the highs of blogging.

Jeff Jarvis, blogger extraordinaire, who blogs at BuzzMachine linked couple of my posts.
Desipundit had linked 4 of my posts.

I had a blog conversation with Richard Charkin, Tom Evslin, Alan Moore, Amit Ranjan and Rashmi Bansal.

Quite a few friends put me on their blogrolls. Thanks guys!!

I came in touch with lot of interesting people all around the world through my blog which wont have been possible otherwise.

Well I dont want to get started here with the power of blogs blah blah.
They are indeed very powerful means of communication.

And you got to be blogging to understand that.

Thanks alot for reading, linking and commenting on my posts.

Have you got a girlfriend? July 21, 2006

Posted by rajAT in blog, bloggers, Bloggers Anonymous, fun.
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Prizes worth 15K @ Pune Hack Day July 21, 2006

Posted by rajAT in betterlabs, hack day, pune, ruby on rails, sap.
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SAP and BetterLabs along with PuneRuby are organizing Pune Rails Hackathon.

Pune Rails Hackathon is a no-frills geek meet where passionate Ruby/Rails programmers can get together and build some cool web services and applications on Ruby/Rails, creating the early prototypes. The idea is really to foster a gathering of like minded Ruby & Rails ethusiasts (whether you are an expert or just a starter, it should not matter) to come together and build something cool. Anyone from all India can participate.

Venue and Date

Better Labs
14 Trade Field,
Opposite Sony World Showroon
Sanghavi Nagar, Aundh
Pune 411007
India

July 29-30, 2006
All day and night
Presentations will start Sunday afternoon

There are 3 competitions where if you finish the respective tasks you can pocket 5K for each of them if you are judged as the best.

The tasks are –

1. An application that displays Login, does simple authentication and displays an authorisation based Menu. In addition to the menu, the application should display a data entry form that would allow one-many kind of invoice data entry and a report that would display and would allow editing and deletion of these entries. The application should allow people to register and also change their passwords.

2. A web service that would provide the following:
a. Currency Rates of at least 10 currencies (from a database table) compared to GBP
b. Currency Rate of a particular currency compared to GBP
c. Conversion amount between currency X and currency Y for a particular amount in currency X
For more details, visit http://www.xe.com and see how they do things. There should also be a backend allowing editing the currency rates and a front-end making use of the web-service to display currency rates.

The rule is that the entire development should be done using Ruby and Rails framework only and all the source code should be in working order. It will be displayed on the PuneRuby website.

PuneRuby and SFBL are also offering a prize of Rs.5000 to the best entry other than the two above. Again, the source code of that should be in working order and will be displayed on PuneRuby website.

Rules for the above competition are –

1. All entries should be created from scratch.
2. Members of SFBL, BetterLabs and the organisers do not qualify.
3. Entrants should be members of PuneRuby.
4. Judges’ decision will be final. If there is any fowl play, prize will go to the next contestant.

5. Prizes are for finished entries only.
6. Presentation and Coding standards are of utmost importance.

Microsoft’s Latest Acquisition July 19, 2006

Posted by rajAT in blog, fun, microsoft.
2 comments

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Indiagoes – It just got better July 18, 2006

Posted by rajAT in aggregator, betterlabs, blog, india, indiagoes, media2.0, web2.0.
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Indiagoes.com is a new generation news service that aggregates and delivers Indian news flawlessly.

Team at Indiagoes has been working hard to make our life simpler. They have added some really nifty features on their website. On of them is the auto tagging of the news item. Auto-tagging really helps in browsing the content by context. Auto-tagging also ensure standardized tags which otherwise are left to whims-fancies of the tagger.

The personalization feature is really the one which has blown me. Normaly you are asked by sites to submit your choices explicitly but Indiagoes learn it automatically. So the more you read, the more it gets tuned to your tastes. Now that is really kewl. 🙂

They have added flickr feeds of Indian content. It is also the best place to find the podcasts and videos of the Indians by the Indians.

Something that has really been missing from the blogosphere i.e. Indian blog Aggregator. Indiagoes has done that too. Kudos to the team.

So have a look at the website here – http://beta.indiagoes.com. Sneak in using the passcode – barcamphyd.

Do let me know your views on it ?

Goodness Gracious Me !!! July 17, 2006

Posted by rajAT in goodness gracious me, youtube.
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TidBITS of Barcamp Hyderabad 2 July 16, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, barcamphyderabad2.
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WiFi was not working thats too bad. Thought of doing some live blogging.

Gulab jamuns that were served during lunch were so yummy :).

Couldn’t attend presentations of my friend Mohit and Rajan.

Saw a gal wearing geek t-shirt. Ahem ! Ahem !! Things surely are changing :).

Crowd at barcamp this time was totally different from the one we got last time.

Met lot of interesting people and came to know lot of new things.

Can’t wait for the next camp. 😀 😀

Mobile as Universal Remote Control @ Barcamp Hyderabad 2 July 16, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, barcamphyderabad2, IIIT, intelligent buildings, mobile.
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Prof. Vishal from  Centre of IT in Building Science, IIIT-H gave a very interesting talk. It added a whole new dimension to the things that can be done with the mobile phone.

The idea of Mobile as a Universal Remote is not new but the thought that your mobile will talk to the buildings is definitely interesting.

The best part of using mobile as a remote control is that you doesnt have to learn new interfaces. I personally have found it very irritating whenever I am at a new place and I have to get my way through a new remote control.

And remote control clutter is surely increasing, there should be a way to get rid of them.

A demo was also given by Prof Vishal and was appreciated by the audience.

Web 2.0 and Mobile devices @ Barcamp Hyderabad 2 July 16, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, barcamphyderabad2, web2.0.
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Sriram Krishnan gave an interesting talk on Web 2.0 and mobile devices. He was stressing that the mobile applications should be less chatty. So if I am seeing pics on flickr. A bad user experience would be – to see each pic I have to press next and a good one would be if all the pics gets downloaded as some kind of stream.

Well yes this could enhance the user experience for the 2nd or 3rd photograph. But what about the first one. As it will take more time to download the data initially, a user might get pissed.

Instead of that google used AJAX. Well the idea was similar that the subsequent loading should be fast giving a desktop like experience. So the data which a user is most likey to see next is already downloaded by the AJAX engine. The loading time of the first pic is also not more as we are not trying to download the whole thing initially.
Well Sriram was having lots of interesting things to share but as I was busy organizing the discussion, I couldnt sit through the whole presentation.

Waiting for the slides :).