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

This was a really surprising news that the iPhone was hacked by a 17 year old George Hotz.Few people said that they felt that only Microsoft was buggy but now even Apple product comes with bugs however,this is a hack and not a bug !!!

As reported by the Mercury News,

Hotz seems an unlikely candidate to have hacked the world’s most hyped product. The recent high-school graduate had little experience hacking cell phones, and by his own admission he feels more comfortable with a soldering iron than a piece of computer code.

Hotz’s effort speaks to more than simply what a teenager can accomplish with ingenuity, determination and Internet access, analysts say. They say it echoes some of the frustrations among consumers with the closed system that AT&T and Apple have created.

The video below shows how George Hotz managed to hack the iPhone:

Read the complete story here

There are a couple of events that are scheduled in Bangalore as well as Chennai.Some of them are seasonal events – Open Coffee Club and Blogger’s meet , happening on the 1st & 2nd September,2007 respectively.Some of the other unconferences & conferences are listed below:

a. SearchCamp , Chennai:

After a series of unconferences – BlogCamp , BarCamp , Podworks , WiKi Camp , Proto ; the Knowledge Foundation has another feather in their cap – SearchCamp. As the name suggests, the crux behind the two day unconference is a single word – SEARCH.

What is SearchCamp:
SearchCamp is a two day event aimed to bring together the best minds from the Search Engine Marketing(SEM) space to talk about search engine advertising, including optimization and marketing issues. This event is the first of its kind in India and will feature workshops, debates and keynotes on the present state and evolution of Search Engine Marketing.

When & where is it held ?
6th and 7th October,2007 in Tidel Park, Chennai. The charges for the event is Rs 500/- sad

It would also be good learning for people like me who are not so much versed with the SEO fundamentals …..

Interested in SearchCamp ?
If you feel interested than follow the link to register for SearchCamp

b. Oota 2.0 (Let’s talk Technology over lunch) :

If you feel there is a typing mistake than think again biggrin Oota means food in Kannada language.Oota is an unconference loosely based on Lunch 2.0 in the Silicon Valley.

What exactly is Oota 2.0?
Oota 2.0 in simple terms is discussing technology over Oota(aka Lunch).So,along with the tasty lunch you also get to meet new and interesting set of people.In a nutshell, Oota 2.0 can be termed as Lunch 2.0 LAN(Lunch Area Network) smile

When & where is it held?
Friday, September 7th, 12:00PM – 2:00PM in Indiranagar (Venue yet to be finalized) … No charges apart from the your Oota bill wink

Interested in Oota 2.0 ?
If you feel interested than follow the link or send a mail to oota 2.0 to register for this Grand & Technological Oota

c. Silicon India leadership Summit (Conference) :

As the name suggests Leader Summit would showcase some of the industry leaders speaking on topics ranging from leadership to outsourcing.

The agenda of the summit can be found here

When & where is it held ?
August 31, 2007 at Taj Residency,Bangalore

Interested in the Leadership Summit?
If you feel interested than follow the link to register for the summit. Registration charges is Rs 1000, for more details refer the following

This ends a short round up of some of the Unconferences & conferences happening in Chennai & Bangalore.

Picked up the latest copy of Business Gyan (August,15 – September,14) .The issue has good insights into social entrepreneurship apart from the other business related stuff.There are some interesting quotes(in the magazine) which are worth taking a look:

1. No success in material terms is worth , if it achieved by unfair means : JRD Tata
2. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal: Henry Ford
3. Education is when you read the fine print.Experience is what you get when you don’t : Pete Seeger