Most of know that a startup is like the birth of a new born baby but there were some basic confusions regarding the definition of a Startup.

These were the two questions that have raised some confusion sad and I hope that someone clears the doubt :

1. What is a startup ?
2. When does the transition happen from Startup to a mid-sized company?

I had posted the same question on LinkedIn here and there were some interesting & diversified answers…worth taking a look at it biggrin Your contribution in the form of comments or on LinkedIn would be highly appreciated !!!

Economic Times , Amity Business School & Knowledge@Wharton are coming up with what is considered as “India’s Leading Business Plan Competition“. The competition is open to all graduate and post-graduate students from universities from all over the country.

About the Competition:
The competition would consist of four member teams and the business plan can be targetted to any industry/sector.

Mentorship through TiE and Amity Innovation Incubator

More details here and here

In one of the talks by Seth Godin , he mentioned about Sun Microsystems where Sun officials mentioned “We will take care of Technology and marketing would be taken care by itself ” and as Seth mentions “Technology just enables you to connect to people but marketing helps you reach that Technology to people“. Most of us are so much addicted to Technology that we always think in a technological sense but when we think of an idea , all the aspects are very important.

Every Business gets a shape with effective marketing and IMHO, every Business is like a DHANDA(in Hindi).My favourite example is “The guys who sell clothes in Fashion Street,Mumbai are the best marketers I have come across with since, they have the capacity to attract customers as well as compete very effectively with the surrounding competition.biggrin

Marketing is one of the pain-points of any startup since, (as a startup) you don’t want to spend a single penny on marketing so, how do you still get your idea to the crowd? Below is a list of some the cost-effective marketing strategies , that might be used with a very high impact and good returns :

This article has been divided in two sections, the next one would follow very soon.

1. Word of Mouth (WOM) Marketing :
This is one of the most effective ways to start your marketing campaign.You tell your friends, relatives & others in your vicinity about your product/service and get their feedback.But only if a person comes back with a feedback than that is the person who is expected to spread the word biggrin Rest others are just observers and they can be termed as the passive users of your service/product.

For example: Initially when you have a new blog, in order to get some traffic on your blog, you inform your friends about your blog.Simple isn’t it? But do you think each one of them would reach your blog? Na…Only people who are interested in the topic on what you write or who love reading/writing etc. would turn back to your blog.Rest of others are all one-time readers.
So ideal part is to identify the correct audience in your circle whom you can approach & after some time, they would surely revert back with their feedback biggrin So, the key is “Identification of the right audience to get the honest feedback“.

2. Blog Marketing :
With the increasing number of people going online and reading blogs , Blogs are one of the simplest,fastest & easiest ways to spread the word.I am sure that as a blogger, each one of us, would be receiving many mails asking for a review, feedback etc and this list will keep on growing as more & more companies/startups start realizing the importance of Blogs biggrin With a better Broadband penetration in India, Podcasting would also be one of the effective tools for do hard-hitting marketing.

3. Video Marketing :
Few months back, I had posted about the Coolest definition of Web 2.0 and you can check the viewer-ship statistics(which is already in millions) of the video here. But Youtube is not only about posting songs , videos but has also become a unique platform for startups to post Demos of their products. Just when I logged into Gmail, the bottom left corner showed the video(given below), which is a collaborative effort by the Gmail community.

So, what is special about the video? Well, Google has used YouTube to the fullest, to demonstrate the power of Gmail !!! If Google can use this medium, than a startup can definitely use the same medium to spread it’s word.In fact, Prof. N. Venkat Venkatraman of Boston University School of Management points out that Google should look to monetize YouTube beyond advertising!!!“. Video of Pakistani startup Scrybe demonstrating it’s Alpha on YouTube [Interesting video]

4. (Un)Conference Marketing :
Unconferences are one of the best places to network with like-minded people as well as spread the word about your idea/startup.Consider the niche of your product and you are sure to get a good percentage of audience from the unconference community.
For example: If you have a new Blogging platform , than the end users would obviously be bloggers
lol Hence, BlogCamp would be an ideal platform for you to launch your new platform since, many of them would ideally turn out to be the end users of your service !!!

5. T-Shirt Marketing :
So, how does a normal half-sleeve T Shirt cost in India? May be in the range of Rs 100-150 but if you have a logo of your startup on it, it becomes priceless. When your team wears the same T Shirt, it suggests that the team is very well knit and also conveys your brand value. For example: T-Shirts have indirectly turned out to be one of the best tools for marketing unconferences !!! Every time you wear a BarCamp or a BlogCamp T-Shirt , you are sure to attract a million eyeballs !!! Below is the FOSS T-Shirt, which is bang of target wrt the punch line and many have unknowingly complimented me for the design of the T-Shirt wink T-Shirts have a very long reach with very minimal expense !!!

Image Courtesy : Alok Padhi

Listed above was a mix of conventional and unconventional marketing , the other strategies would be continued in the next article.Definitely, the new era of marketing has arrived and it can be used very effectively by startups !!!

While reading the book “Leadership when the Heat’s on” , came across some interesting lessons(at the end of each chapter). After reading the one liners(listed below) , I am sure like me; you would also feel that there is always something in each one of us, that requires change; which would help us in achieving our goals.

Below are some of the lessons(which are listed in the form of one liners) :

1. The ultimate reward for the leader of people is to be able to say, “I saw someone grow today and, I helped.

2. Intensity (Goal, Focus, Action) + Enthusiasm (expectancy of better things to come) = Charisma.

3. High Performance is often the result of a sudden change in direction.

4. Accomplishment is your birthright. Limitations are adopted.

5. To achieve great things, know more than the average person considers necessary.

6. An organization quits improving RIGHT after the manager quits improving.

7. Help a team member grow and you will receive respect in return.

8. Team morale and customer service, on a scale of 1-10 receive the same score.

9. Take a mentor to lunch before somebody else eat yours smile

10. Determination makes failure impossible.

11. Be aware of their weaknesses, but talk to their strengths.

12. An organization will never rise above the quality of it’s leadership.

13. A person out of a place in his/her vocation is only half a person.

14. Deciding not to have a specific goal is a specific goal.

15. If you don’t know what to do on a daily basis to achieve your goal, then it is not a goal- It is a fantasy.

16. Goals are all found upstream.

17. Your team members are no better at planning time than you are. smile

18. Team member’s morale will never be higher than the leader’s morale…..for long

19. Aim for striking originality, it gets attention.

20. A leader never forgets that creativity is contagious and can build enthusiasm.

21. Conflict overcome is strength gained.

22.Embrace Change” , it’s saying “Yes to Tomorrow and “No” to repeated yesterdays.

23. Some of the world’s greatest achievements were made by those who were self-instructed.

24. Fear has strength of its own , only that which you choose to give it.Ironically, that’s the very strength you need to overcome it.

Related Posts:
Good Leader or great leader

Addiction side of Blogging :

Few days back , there was an article on my blog which focussed on concept called “Blue Blodded Blogging” and I am also one of them wink The title of this article reads “Blogging + Addiction –> Evangelism“, so does that mean I am one of the Blog Evangelists? Well IMHO , every blogger is an evangelist by himself/herself since, they are there to send a message & share information with the rest of the world !!!
As per my understanding, someone is really addicted to blogging; when the first thing that (s)he thinks after waking up in the morning is : “What would I post today on my blog?” and most of the people in an ADDICTED blogger community have a similar kind of a feeling.

Below is my score card [ Oops, only 78% sad ] :


My $0.2 on Evangelism side of Blogging :

Let’s divert our attention to the evangelism part of blogging.Though, I am no Blog Evangelist , for me “Addiction is one of the major contributors to blog evangelism“. But as per Jeremiah Owyang there is a fundamental difference between Leader & Evangelist (as given below) :

The difference between leader and evangelist is “Leader has followers, however an Evangelist, may or may not have followers.”

In fact, selecting blogs of your flavor(for reading) is the very first indication of your interest in blogging.Below are some of my SIMPLE mantras of being a blog evangelist :

  1. Reading and commenting on Blogs(most of the times this becomes the first thing that you would do after reaching the office).This means that sometimes , you cannot even start your work before completing this daily BLOG routine.
  2. Having your own blog(which includes deciding the central theme of your blog and frequency to update the blog).
  3. Creating an ecosystem of bloggers(to share experience and knowledge) and
  4. Spreading Blog awareness (Motivating more people to create blogs and lending your help during this process).

Now lets see what are Jeremiah Owyang’s tips on “Being a corporate Blog evangelist” :

  1. Read Blogs
  2. Start Blogging
  3. Learn from the best
  4. Don’t accept blog advice from people that are not bloggers
  5. Get more focused in business blogging
  6. Be able to articulate your vision
  7. Define the purpose for your blog
  8. Plan to measure these purposes, before you start blogging
  9. Have a vision, Stay the course, don’t give up.
  10. Find a champion if your voice is not loud

Read Jeremiah Owyang’s mantras on “Corporate Blog Evangelism” here. And guess what, if you read the complete article, than for me you are already a Blog Evangelist wink

Image Courtesy:
Gaping Void

Products v/s Services is one of the most talked about topics everywhere , be it a Conference, Unconference, companies or any other space that even has a slightest relation with IT. With a handful of experience in a product based company, one thing is quite evident : “Be whatever is the complication of the product, there is a fundamental difference between a service and product , the consumer. Consumer decides the fate of any product , which is very different than developing a software solution for a customer. A simple example is Microsoft Zune , the IPod clone which failed miserably and speaks out all the story sad

In a conversation with a founder of one of the product startups in Bangalore, he mentioned that “Working in Startups is like a marriage(since products always have a bigger life cycle than services) and entering/working in a product startup is always riskier than a services startup hence,many people tend to stay away from the same. So , recruitment always becomes a problem for product startups

IMHO, for anyone to speak/write on “Why there is no product ecosystem in India”, there would be many points that we can note down, but my decision was to focus on ‘What the industry experts are saying about the subject – Why there are not much product startups in India’ , let’s look into the same.

Tejas Networks (Optical Networking) :
In one of the interviews by Sanjay Nayak, CEO of Tejas Networks; following are key factors that he mentioned to build a product ecosystem in India:

  1. Close proximity to a vibrant market that acts as the breeding ground of new product ideas. It is very difficult for companies to be in India and develop products that are initially targeted for customers in the US & Europe.
  2. Availability of critical pool of domain specific talent, both technical as well as managerial .
  3. Access to adequate funding — both early as well as late-stage venture capital.
  4. As a new product company, it is crucial to stay focused on a specific domain and try to be the best in it, rather than diluting the limited resources in multiple areas.
  5. Success stories (especially in capital markets ) for product companies that entrepreneurs can look up to as role models.

Read the complete article here

Yahoo, India (Internet) :
Below are a list of 5 recommendations made by Sharad Sharma, (CEO of Yahoo,R&D) to make better product ecosystem in India.

  1. NASSCOM to take leadership to separate out the kaizen ecosystem from the Silicon Valley ecosystem, so that each may develop and thrive in its own right.
  2. NASSCOM and TiE to join in a project to grow the number of product managers, product architects and product release managers, by getting universities involved in the process and by nurturing special communities for practitioners.
  3. NASSCOM can launch a mission to multiply TeNeT type partnerships across the country.
  4. Industry collaborates with academic institutions, regulatory bodies and government agencies to create standards for emerging local markets
  5. NASSCOM lobbies to open up defense related technology work for local companies

Read the complete article here

These were some of the thoughts from the industry experts from established companies(but from diversified fields).But IMHO, with more & more unconferences , things are looking bright at the grass root level biggrin . When I had passed out from college, things were much different but now lots of fresh passouts(non IIT) are also looking at opportunities in startups, which in itself is an indication of “Shining side of Indian IT”!!! Hopefully, very soon we should be able to see another Google or Microsoft being born out of India exclaim