Is Recession Real?

26 02 2009

Well, many people asked this question and many people responded with what they thought. I am not a financial expert nor an Economist who can answer this question. But, I have been in the Industry for close to 10 Years now and have friends who have been in the Industry for longer than me and also many of my close friends have their own startup’s. This post comes with my interactions with them and also what I have been seeing in the Industry I work. 

During 2001-2003, we saw the Internet bubble burst. There were many people who sacrificed their lives, given up their line of work and moved to the IT field to make their name and fame. There were many organizations born, but eventually, most of them faded away. Let us also not forget, that organizations which had their fundamentals correct, grew up to be giants in their own fields. 

So, are we seeing the same phenomenon here today? The only similarity I see from my eyes in the two recessions is that they are man made. We have been hungry for more in a shorter span of time and this has really effected us. If this is human’s thought process, we should never forget that the nature also has its own ways of sustaining itself. This is a natural cycle and if the 2001-2003 recession helped in streamlining the speed at which we travelled in making a new world, this recession is setting expectations for us to ensure we have our fundamentals correct for a better future. 

Fortunately, most of my very good friends organizations have not been disastrously hit by this current situation and also quite a few of reputed organizations are also not hit. Organizations which have been disturbed are the one’s which missed out one or two of the key elements of ensuring the life of the organization works the way it should. 

What are the fundamentals which I am talking about? 

The fundamentals I am speaking apply to both individual and also the organization. The fundamentals which each of us should be aware of. The precautions we take to ensure we have a healthy living (not money, but health). Eat good food, have healthy habits, keep your mind calm and peaceful and ensure that you perform your responsibilities well. The same applies to even organizations. They have life too. 

I once received a forwarded email about Recession and it made a lot of sense to me. I just wanted to summarize the story here as an illustration of the concept. 

There was a poor man, who made eateries on the roadside. He worked very hard, to ensure he maintained cleanliness around the place he ran his business, he had few chairs for his customers to sit, clean drinking water and his USP was that he always ensured that he was presentable and welcomed his customers with a big smile. He did this for all the last 15 years since he started his small outlet. He was contended with his earning, and ensured that his customers left with a smile.  

This businessman had a son and ensured he provided the best of the education to him, with what he could earn. His son went on to study well and acquired a very decent and dignified job for himself.  One day, his son stopped over at their eatery and was explaining the current situation to his father. How people are loosing jobs, how banks are going bankrupt and how access to money was getting difficult day-by-day. With this, the poor father began to think. Over the period of time, he reduced his expenses. He was getting the place cleaned once in two days instead of every day. He stopped buying fresh water every time, but instead managed by mixing tap water to the water he bought. With various thoughts and tensions in his mind, his smile went away, he cared less about his presentability.

Over the period of time, his customers stopped coming and his business went gloomy. He told his son that he was absolutely correct and the economy is really very bad. Their business has come down heavily and tomorrow does not look bright. 

What is the morale of the story? It is actually not a story, but REALITY. The reality is that we are more worried and hence our productivity is reducing. What would have happened if his son never studied and helped his father? I am sure their business would be the same and their lives would have definitely been the same. At times, too much of thought also hits our overall productivity. 

Let us stop worrying about recession and concentrate on our work. Organizations should do what they need to do and individuals need to do what they need to do. I am sure, our tomorrow is more bright.

In my next post, I would share about my experiences with the industry and entrepreneur friends who are definitely working at the same pace and ensuring they get their business 🙂

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Power of Cooperatives

1 01 2009

Last Friday, I was at a book shop and the first book I stumbled upon was I too had a dream. I was looking for any books by/on Dr. Kurian for a long time and finally found it. I just picked up the book and began reading. Today, I completed it.I have to rate this a 5 Star. An amazing narration and very well written and compiled.

I didn’t know what to name this post. First, I wanted to name it as “Malayalee.Milk & Movie” (Read the book and I am sure that you would agree with me on the title).

Well for those of you who are wondering what this book is all about, it is the amazing story of Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL) and journey of Dr. Verghese Kurian as India’s Milk Man.If there was anything which is a box-office and smashing hit in the Indian Cooperative Movement, it is the story of AMUL. I am definitely not going into the details of the book, but would want to highlight the key aspects of the Operation Flood.

What made me read the book non-stop is how bureaucratic our country has been in accepting the Cooperative methodology. India is a country with more than 70% of the population living in the villages. Since the independence, we have had many Government’s which came and went and also we saw a lot of development in many areas of life. In fact, I would not hesitate to say that no other country has come this far in the first 60 Years of Independence (comparing to countries which have been ruled by some other nation). However, there is a long way to go.

During the course of this book, Dr. Kurian emphasizes the importance of making farmers responsible for their produce, marketing and returns. What this simply means is giving the ownership and the Government playing the role of ensuring appropriate avenues are available. Well, to be very honest, this is the most difficult thing which any country can achieve. But, Dr. Kurian proved that with commitment and dedication we can definitely achieve this. What you need is the Will and the Belief in your dream.

I personally understood one aspect – The Primer Minister’s are people with a dream, and believe me, only people with that commitment get to the position (there are definitely exceptions too). In this book, Dr. Kurian writes about his personal interaction with almost all Prime Ministers since Jawaharlal Nehru to P V Narasimha Rao (after which Dr. Kurian retired). The key aspect is the team which surrounds this super power of our Country.

If you are an aspiring Entrepreneur/Social Entrepreneur, I highly recommend you reading this book.

Also, in this book, Dr. Kurian jumps deep into how Operation Flood, one of India’s most successful cooperative project came into existance and how long it took for them to succeed.





HeadStart – Compute 2009

14 12 2008

HeadStart has been our annual event for showcasing Startup Talents in the country. We started organizing the annual event since 2008, along with ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Bangalore Chapter.

Why HeadStart and ACM?

HeadStart is a community of Entrepreneurs, Investors, Industry Professionals and Evangelists. We came together to contribute back to the community which has brought us to this level and given us lives.

ACM is a focused group which concentrates on future of technology and how it fits into today’s world.

As an Entrepreneur, it is very important for us to understand the Business Model, writing the Business Plan, speaking to Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors, bringing the product/service to the end user, legalities in building your organization, employee management and last but not the least – the future of your innovation.

You have a cutting edge idea and you are excited about it. You speak to various stakeholders and lo! you idea has hit everyone. What next? You are starting up your baby. That’s great news. One important and key aspect you need to consider is what is the future? Today, we see many Insurance companies advertising –For your retirement solutions and your child educational / child future plans, do contact us. In the same way, you need to understand the future of technology to ensure safety and security to your baby (your enterprise) and yourself. We feel safe when we have life insurance and few plans for our children, but we ignore our tomorrow.

Yesterday, I met an aspiring entrepreneur and he invited me to be his Devil’s advocate (I am not going into details of his idea or our conversation with due respects to him). He shared his idea with me and I honestly did not see a tomorrow in that. I did not see a strong bonding of the idea with the stakeholders. But he is passionate. Passionate about the idea and his tomorrow. I am sure he would succeed in what he is doing, but definitely few of my questions have kept his bells ringing.

During HeadStart – Compute 2008, we had two eminent personalities from GE to speak on the future of Database. The two scientists shared their research information on how the future of Database would change. This is what is needed for an Entrepreneur.

A classic example of not looking into the future is the Y2K. Many organizations realized and started working on this issue a bit late in the 90’s. What if these organizations had the guidance to think about this earlier during their startup stage? Things would have been different. If everyone took the necessary precaution, I am sure there would not have been many people who would have got job’s in the west during late 90’s.

HeadStart and Compute are dedicated to create the perfect ecosystem for Entrepreneurs. If you recollect the Project Triangle, then it is very easy to relate to what we do. We do exactly the same – Ensuring for a healthy startup focusing on the key parameters – Technology, Capital and Eco-System.

HS Model

Be there on the January 09-10, 2009 and participate to help create the ecosystem for Startup’s.





Innovation Series #1

26 01 2008

Going forward, I would like to write on my learnings on Innovation, Strategy, interesting information on Entrepreneurship and introduce you to books and sites which can provide you with loads of information regarding these topics. I name this series as “Innovation Series #<No>” and you can filter all posts on this topic using tags – Innovation, Strategy.
Let me begin this week with some interesting information and links: Fidelity Ventures PresentationsVery interesting presentations available. Especially I like the presentation on “Positioning Technology Companies for Success” in which there is a very practical depiction of “Magic Quadrant” which is very important for any organization to showcase itself.
Building Teams is another good one where the speaker is concentrating on how do you build, recognize and manage teams which produce results.
The Joy of fund raising is a good point to start before you make your first investor pitch.
When you write your business plan, one key aspect which you cannot miss to pen down is “Exit Strategy”. You will need to have this section which brings clarity to yourself and your investors.
Managing Successful Exit gives you an insight into this.

State of Indian EntrepreneurshipSanjeev Bikchandani, on his blog wrote about State of Indian Entrepreneurship.
A nice read and this is what i have to say -” That was very thoughtful Sanjeev. Yes, as you mentioned there are various organizations who are promoting entrepreneurship. I just wanted to throw light on BarCamps which are fast becoming forums for like minded people which deserve a noble mentioning keeping the returns in mind. Likewise, we just concluded HeadStart yesterday which focused on showcasing entrepreneurial spirit and also brought investors, academicians, entrepreneurs together.Coming to the “slow down”, yes, we need to be worried, but IMHO a person who believes in his/her ideology and passion need not bother about it. However, one needs to assess risks and ensure there is always a risk mitigation plan in place. When you write your business plan, always has answer to the other side of your proposal – this would be a lot of help.”
Buy and Sell IdeasDid you know that there is a market for buying and selling ideas? Yes, there is. Visit Idea Pages and you will know. Idea Pages provides you a platform to list your idea and will link you and the party interested in your idea so that you can either sell/partnership with the prospect to bring your idea to life 🙂
Angel Group Financing has an interesting e-book on Venture Capital information for Entrepreneurs.
You will need to visit The Institute of Innovation and Information Productivity web site to get some interesting information on these topics. Read the IIIP Innovation confidence Index for 2007 which says Asia shows most enthusiasm for Innovation. Interesting data.
Blogs on EntrepreneurshipSramana Mitra, Paul Graham have interesting writings on Entrepreneurship.
Forbes Midas list has the list of worlds top 25 Venture Capitalist’s and there are 3 Indian names with Ram Shriram at number 3.
Refresh yourself and smile, after you see this comic strip on Web 2.0.