Every blogger who actively blogs and makes his/her blog as a part of the daily has a reason to blog.For some it is to express themselves, create awareness, share knowledge, experience and for some it is a new & unique way to network with people.Oops not to forget money , at least it fetches a few $$ for some of them wink On one hand , there are several reasons to blog and on the other side, there are equal of reasons NOT TO BLOG as discussed in one of my previous articles here
In one of my conversations with my friend(and fellow blogger) Ramjee Ganti, we compared blogs with Fire since, you never know when someone has blogged about you or your product and that post could be from a blogger lying in other corner of the world !!! Definitely, Blogs can never replace Mass Media and this thought would also never come in the mind of any blogger(when (s)he starts blogging) biggrin

While reading Rohit Agarwal’s How Innovators Connect, a statement in the book caught my eyes (as a blogger), “In the Silicon Valley, major companies look one additional thing in the resume(apart from the education and experience) , and as per your guess – It is BLOG.

Blogs are already being watched by startup companies in India but now the pendulum has swung 360% and now blogs have also become prospective platform for recruitment by recruiters from big corporates as well.For example , check the image below which is taken from the careers section of a startup company in Bangalore

An article which was recently published in the Times Of India, Ascent , gave a clear indication that Blogs would slowly become a key aspect;not only in judging the candidate’s attitude but his(her) willingness to be more innovative & research oriented. smile Some important excerpts from the TOI Ascent article :

Several HR managers are following “Hiring by the Blog“, a practice that looks to be the newest hiring trend.Though this practice is still in the nascent stage , corporate recruiters are surfing blogs to unearth candidates , expanding their talent pool and gaining insights that they can’t get from resumes and interviews – Sapna Agarwal , Director HR GlobalLogic. Blogs also helps employers probe further into the qualifications of the potential hires. As Sapna mentions : If I am impressed by the points the blogger is making and the way (s)he is making them, the potential hire will jump up a few notches in my opinion.

Recruiters believe that blogs help them to understand the likes and dislikes of the candidate.But IMHO(as a blogger), there are some things that should definitely be considered when employers start hunting for people, who also blog:

  • The theme of the blog [personal , business, technology ….].
  • Frequency of blogging [How any articles are posted per week/month?].
  • Reply to the comments [This would give an impression as to how much the blogger cares for his/her customer(readers)].
  • Research done in writing the posts [This can be considered as the one with the least priority].
  • The difference between in the personality of the person(as a blogger) and as a potential candidate for a job.
Definitely, bloggers are getting more and more visibility and time would soon come, when blogs would also be considered as a vital part of a candidate’s resume wink So, if you are the one looking out for a job, than start blogging since, you never know that an XYZ company’s HR may be following your blog rolleyes

Have your say about “BLOG RECRUITMENT” :

In many events that happen , there is a common question which comes up from few people in the audience : “What brings you to this event XYZ” ? Few of them have the answer : “I just came by because my friend was coming here” some say “I did not have anything better to do so,I came here” and some say “This is a place where I can meet people with a similar set of mindset and also I can learn something from the people out here” !!!!

When this question comes to me , I always have the answer # 3 ; since, there is always something to learn from people around you and we should not loose out on this knowledge exchange game !!! Also, having a network with like minded people will not only help you( as a professional) but as a person as well since, it makes you more confident(when you speak in an open forum).

For some, it turns out to be a place where they get recruited by a Startup and for some it is a place where they find a prospective partner for his/her startup. An article in LiveMint on Venture Funding states that “VCs like to work through networking”.

VCs like to work through networking. Cold calls rarely work. Revive that college alumni network, someone will know a VC. Get a reference and you’ve won half the battle. Serial entrepreneurs, who have been funded by VCs before, are often quite open to doing the first introduction. Attend start-up workshops, mentoring programmes and so on. Social networking, the offline kind, works wonders. Find out where VCs socialize and who socializes with them and get yourself invited to those places—sometimes you might need help from daddy or uncle, but all is fair in entrepreneurship.

So, being in the network is very much important and that is the first step to Entrepreneurship.Taking this further, Suresh Bhagavatula , states three key advantages to having access to good networks is : Access, Timings and Referrals.

To begin with, entrepreneurs with good networks have greater access to information. More important than access is to have the information before others have it, since such information would have a higher opportunity value. For instance, knowing that a customer is on the lookout for a particular kind of service is much more important than later finding out that the customer had been on the lookout for that service. Finally, good networks enable the individual to use referrals effectively for a job opening or a particular service at important places.

When you take the case of online networking, LinkedIn can be considered as a messiah for startups since, many (wanna be) Entrepreneurs use it as the first step to startup as well as for potential recruitment. biggrin

Most of us don’t find the right set of people with whom you can discuss your idea and it is your network that would help you in starting up as well as scaling up, so get started and get networked !!!

Article Credits :
LiveMint – Zeroing in on the right venture capitalist
Suresh Bhagavatula – How to be in the right network

Whenever we have a product or a service, the key aspect lies on how you make your service available to the customer/consumer.The task should be to build a long term relationship with the consumer so that (s)he would get more people to use your service.Taking a simple example:

How many times do you turn back to a restaurant, which does not give you a good personalized service?

Service is not about selling but it is about relationships which should be long lasting, and this is what matters the most in business.

Just happened to check out Business Gyan, Aug 15- Sept14,07 which has an article by Harry Beckwith , author of the bestseller “Selling the Invisible“. He talks about 4 (simple and basic) key aspects on successfully marketing a service.A small gist of the article, which is worth mentioning here :

Service, what is it? Service is just a promise that at some future date; you will do something for someone;deliver a package, provide advice, deliver money in exchange of money and a million such promises.The key difficulty in marketing a service is to sell something that no one can see !!!

Four (simple) key aspects to marketing a service:

1. Price:
Price is not exactly price but it is a communicator , which communicates about the quality of your service.The higher the price, more better should be your quality.Hence, it is always logical to refer to a Premium Price because the added cost is like a premium.It is an added amount the client pays to insure the quality of the service.
My $0.2 on Price:
When Reliance comes to your mind, you immediately think of low price and lots of free services(from Reliance to Reliance) , but there are many low end phones who are much better than other high end models.So, your price should be balanced with an excellent quality.

2. Packaging:
[ This point provides into what exactly is packaging and was really an eye catcher in the complete article !!! ]
This is an example from National Veterinary Service in America.Exit surveys showed that if a doctor wore a blue lab coat on a particular day, this clients would rate him 7(out of 10) for Medical Skill & Competence.If he wore a white coat, his score was more than half a point higher.If he added a stethoscope , his score went higher.
Hence, the better the package, the greater his perceived skill- from exactly the same person !!!

My $0.2 on Packaging:
In 9 out of 10 instances, the smarter you dress wink; better the chance to date a beautiful girl Final Packaging is really very important

3. Brand:
Quality alone is nothing without a Brand.Branding is vital – especially for a service, that has so few attributes one can assess before buying. Brand becomes a direct quality substitute.

My $0.2 on Branding:
When you go to a shop for a photocopy, how many times , have you refered this word.If Photocopy seems new to you, than remember Xerox. Photocopying is no longer used(very often) but is refered as Xerox , this is the power of a Brand(the service is always associated with your product) !!!

4. Quality of your relationships:
This is the most important out of all of them.When you are markting a service, you are selling a relationship , and the qualiy of your relationships, trumps above all the other influences.

My $0.2 on Relationships:
How many bloggers really thank the users who subscribe to their blog(this can be used when the no is in a manageable range)? This is what is called a “Give & Take relationship”

Closing remarks:
The first three seconds has more influence on client satisfaction than any other.Always recheck whether you using the four mantras of markeing in an effective manner !!!

After a much needed break(of close to 2 days) from blogging, I am with the back with an event update.

The second meet of the Open Coffee Club again took place at the same venue – Brew Ha Ha and as expected, the turnout was not very high this time.As compared to the 50+ in the first meet , the turnout this time was around 30 but the good part was that there were a lot of new faces in the crowd.May be we should say the word always spreads out and you never know when it spreads like a fire biggrin

The agenda this time was “Marketing & Startups“.A universal truth is “A great idea alone is not sufficient to succeed and this is what the meet was all about.We were there to discuss on how to fill the thin gap between Technology and Marketing.As Seth Godin says “Bad marketing cannot be fixed with money” and since, there is always a cash crunch for startups, they cannot afford to be sloppy in their marketing !!! Also, since the main focus was on Marketing, how can we have a discussion on marketing without those crucial set of guys who take our idea to the market wink There were few marketing people in the crowd and few startups shared the problems they are facing wrt marketing , which is given below:
Ranith – Kapston (Building scalable effective websites):
Ranjith began the discussion with his startup Kapston.Kapston is a startup which is built to help startups.So what is it all about? As Ranjith mentioned “Since , most(or almost all) startups start with a part time idea, many entrepreneurs loose focus due to various reasons(like lack of time,work load etc etc) and this leads to an additional delay for the startup to hit the market”. So does he(and his team solve the problem)? Startups have to go to his company with the requirements and they would provide an end to end solution for them.Their service is only applicable to the Web 2.0 space and this is where even I felt that Web 2.0 is definitely a space which is looked up by everyone.

But the million dollar question is : “How does a startup afford to outsource the complete work since every penny is worth a millions for them” ?

Sharman ( 99% of the startups fail due to bad marketing):
Sharman who does not have a startup of this own shared his views on Business Plans and marketing.Though he does not have a startup of his own, he has helped Entrepreneurs to formulate their business plans. This statement caught the crowd’s attention and this is where Balu(wanna be Serial Entrepreneur) pitched in mentioning “Business Plan should be made by the entrepreneur himself since, he is the person who should know all the numbers(which would come out in the Business Plan). This argument went on for some time after which he closed his talk with 2 important things(on why startups fail) :

  1. Most of Entrepreneurs(with whom he has worked), did not succeed in their venture due to the lack of the understanding about their customers and
  2. Some entrepreneurs are so much tied(biased) with their idea that they never know when their idea is approaching the dead-end.So, always be flexible with your idea or should I say “Reformulate your plan(idea) just like you change your underwearwink
Prateek Dayal – Muziboo (Marketing through friends doesn’t work)
Prateek from Muziboo was the one who took the maximum taste from this coffee.He came out with a simple statement “Just like a startup, we don’t want to spend money on marketing”. So , how does he get visitors to his site? He started off by saying that “Friends are good medium when you want to spread the initial word since, you expect the numbers to multiply though your friends but that happens to a very less extent”. He also touched upon Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing which would be useful when there are a considerable no of visitors to his website.There was an open question to an audience as to “How should we do the marketing?” and there were some good suggestions:
  1. Have your own T shirt with your website, so that the word spreads out at a faster rate( This suggestion came from my side and was liked by a quite a few people in the audience)
  2. Reviews( positive or negative) on blogs which help them make their service better as well as let the open community know about your site.And yes, in today’s world , there is no better , faster and easy marketing medium than Blogs…
  3. Create a one to one relationship with the visitors(till the site has limited no of visitors,right now it has crossed around 200+ visitors so that they feel closely associated with the community). This is what Prateek has been doing at a very regular basis so that there is close relationship between them and the visitors of the site.
  4. Tie up with some of the local music schools and this was a very good suggestion from Siva
  5. Have a “Muziboo Badge” which can be put up on Blogs and sites [ which would help the word spread faster ] , this would do the trick what Firefox Badge had done for Firefox !!!
I had just one point wrt reviews : “Even though few bloggers may provide some criticising feedback but sometimes this may turn like a “Blessing in disguise” For example : Guy Kawasaki’s venture Truemors was not well accepted by the blogger community and due to this negative publicity, the site got many page views from the readers of those blogs surprised

So, at the end of the day, bloggers just voice out their opinions and it is upto the startup to authenticate and take the valid inputs(and implement them).

Swaroop – Ion (Poster marketing does work):
Swaroop’s startup Ion is an ideal example how “A pain can be transformed into a startup” and Ion – the iPod charger is the best example to prove this point. He shared his experience on how “A simple poster did the trick for Ion”. After coming out with their invention, they(Swaroop and his co-founders) had to market the product and they followed “Poster marketing”. They stood outside a Nike showroom and asked few people randomly about the liking of the posters and finally , they chose the poster which had a majority no of votes !!! Apart from posters and publicizing their product on few blogs, they never spent a single penny on marketing and still they got good sales for their product !!!

If you find their story really interesting , check out some of the posters here

Hitesh & Vikram Mehta – PinkKatalyst:
These guys were true examples of advent of Entrepreneurship in India and just in their early 20’s , it was a nice after-event conversation with them about their startup PinkKatalyst. Since, it was more of a routine conversation, not much to be updated here.You can find more about the company here

Photos from OCC Bangalore:

Photo courtesy : Harinath Pudipeddi

What other bloggers are saying:
[If you have already blogged about the event , kindly add your URL in the comments section]

Harinath OCC Meet on 2nd Sept,2007

As per the after event discussion, there would be some experienced Entrepreneurs as well as few VC’s ; so hope to catch you all there !!!

Few months back during the process of reading the book “How Innovators Connect by Rohit Agarwal”, I came out with an article Failures , road to success , which showcased two Entrepreneurs – Gururaj Desh Deshpande of Sycamore and Umang Gupta of Keynote Systems.

Just came across an interesting(and motivating) podcast of Umang Gupta, where he speaks about his entrepreneurial journey(from Oracle,where he was the 17th employee to founding Gupta Technologies).He also touches upon some of the key aspects of his work-life balance, when things were not going his way as an Entrepreneur. Lots of learnings for any aspiring Entrepreneur !!!

Podcast Credits :
Podtech,India & Kamla Bhatt.

After a series of tubes like ApnaTube, KonkanTV (which is better of the lot), Nautanki (and many more) ; comes another video sharing website TheBig.Tv. One of the things that always make me think is “Why would the user move from YouTube to any of the other video sharing sites” ? Google Video itself had a big loss in the market share , and this was also one of the key reasons for the acquisition of YouTube. So, convincing the end user to move from an established platform like Google Video & YouTube , would be one of the challenging factors for Big TV.

Talking about the website, the UI looks pretty organized with Videos, Shows , Contests and Editor Picks being displayed on the homepage.However, the turn off was a very high loading time , if the page is not in the cache.I have personally faced this problem with my blog, where I lost quite a no of visitors due to the high loading time of my blog sad

The positive side in BigTv is the addition of “Groups section” so that users sharing a common interest in a particular favor of music , can share music & discuss on the same.Also, along with the user generated content , there is a section named “Big Tv Shows” which showcases some known artists from the hindi TV industry and few of them were quite hilarious.It could be possible that BigTv may have signed a contract with TV channels to broadcast their content officially on the site.

These are some of my initial (mixed) reactions about TheBigTv , we have to wait & watch strategies of TheBigTv to compete with the other local (and established) players in the market !!!

Few days back, I had posted about ThoughtsPrevail being ranked #1 on Technorati surprised Hold on, don’t be surprised since, this was just a minor hiccup from Technorati side….

Now it seems some things come naturally to me and everytime when I start blogging,I find something unusual wink !!! This time around it was Blogger in association with Opera browser that blanked out all my Icons cry

So next time around,you have something to test in an unusual way , do drop me a mail lol Time to switch back to normal & conventional way of blogging !!!

Mentorship is one of the most widely discussed topics in every Unconference but was extensively discussed in Open Coffee Club (OCC). One attendee in the OCC had 5 years of Entrepreneurial experience but none of his ideas really took off.The reason that he indicated was guidance & lack of proper market study.

He had an excellent suggestion that though his ideas did not really do well, he could still lend a helping hand to the other entrepreneurs by being a mentor & advisor for them(so that they don’t commit the same mistakes that he had committed). Also, IMHO even if you have a vague idea of what you wish to do(either part time or full time), the first thing to be done should be to enter the Ecosystem, which helps you network and learn from other Entrepreneurs.These (Ecosystem and Mentorship) were two of most discussed points in an article by Sanjay Anandaram of JumpStartup in “The Financial Times” ; a small excerpt below:

Why we need Mentors ?
Usually, those that do not succeed realise that they have been chasing the wrong opportunity with the wrong business model and wrong team much much later in the game, if at all. What if they had been made aware of the pitfalls and dangers early on and been prepared to deal with them? What if they had had the benefit of experienced counsel from mentors and advisors? While having mentors and advisors is in itself no guarantee of success, having the right mentors can often reduce the agony of late unhappy realisations of the state of the business.

Are Indian entrepreneurs not open ?
Why are Indian entrepreneurs shy about involving advisors? While the entrepreneurial eco-system here is not as mature as in the US and the culture of mentoring is not as widely prevalent, the fact remains that most entrepreneurs are hesitant to have advisors.

Lot of learnings from the article(apart from the small gist given above) so do not miss the complete article here and here