Start-ups and Upstarts

A co-blogger and an expert in start-ups, Sushrut has written an excellent post on reasons why one should join a start-up and what are the pitfalls one should look out for before joining a start-up.

The reason why I am re-iterating this point is simply because many start-ups demand the kind of dedication from their employees that is not needed and certainly not justified … all in the name of it being a start-up. Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe ESOPs dunga seems to be their mantra. While this works out for people who know exactly what are they signing up for, it comes out as a shell shocker for those who join the band wagon expecting a different culture altogether.

It’s the culture that could be a defining moment for the start-up. I am not dishing out gyaan here. It is true … the culture of an organization can go a long way between success and failure.

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So you fcuked up! Move on!

I would like to take a view au contraire to the recent global meltdown. With most of the companies looking at slicing off their costs by targeting their cost centers … they are doing a big mistake. What they should focus on, is how to monetize their cost centers … how to turn their cost centers into revenue centers. Instead, what do we see … job slashing … 1000 sacked! … 50000 sacked!! How is that going to help you? Yes, in the short run, your Quarterly statements might be able to absorb the hit the financial crisis has had on your revenues, but in the longer run, you have just sunk deeper into sinkhole that you are trying to rise from(pardon my french).

The entire reason why companies are seeing the financial crisis is because the finance giants were not cautious enough in making the investments on which they bet their proverbial asses, and are now reeling with the losses. So you screwed up … big time. It takes a great man to admit his mistakes, it takes an even stronger man to move on. In Hindi there is a phrase … agar yeh nahi to wohi sahi.

Organizations are there to do business, and there is business to be done. If the world says that the total amount of business has gone down … well they have to be wrong 🙂 … or they are not just looking in the right places. So what if Lehmann Brothers closed up … what if AIG has gone for a second round of rescue … there are other firms who will step in the shoes of the fallen ones. Global business … the show … must go on. Where to look at business opportunities one might ask – see a problem, fix it … can it be simpler than that?

So lets see the world back on its feet and totter to the trot that we were used to seeing.

The joy of achieving

achievementI have a classmate from school. The fellow was brilliant. Is infact … brilliant. After school, we joined the same junior college, and he promptly started gunning for the IITs. He cracked IITJEE the first time around, he also managed to get a decent percentage with the Maharashtra board. God knows how he managed all that, I had a tough time to mug up all the studies. Engineering was a relief, and so was normal working life … MBA was a blast for me. I lost contact with him as the years gone by. The last I had heard was a brief article in the news about him starting his own company which made RSS readers for the blind. I remember thinking like a business person, how is this going to make money!?!

Recently, out of the blue, I get a call from him. For old times sake, we decide to meet. The guy is happily chatting about his business plans and all that. I naturally assumed that he finally found a way to monetize his RSS readers. After 2 hours or so, I realized that this was something else he was talking. Apparently he had closed down his company and was now working full time as a network marketing professional. For the uninitiated, that means he will sell some company’s products directly for a commission, and the people he sells them to can do the same, whereupon all the middle men in the transaction get a decent commission. Incredulously I agreed to attend one such sales pitch … I will not name this person (you know who you are!!), and I certainly wont name the company.

I have been avoiding him ever since. How can you forego your education, your training, your ambitions, your dreams … for money? Where is the joy of achieving in that … did he not feel that when he got into IIT Bombay, Comp. Sci?? Did he not feel that when he started his own company? How do you let go of that addictive feel of achieving … for the sake of money. What a waste.

Idea – Adapting or Confusing?

abhishek-bachchan-and-idea You must have seen those ads – “What an Idea! Sirji!!” of Abhishek Bachhan and how having a generic phone number ensures that all problems due to differences in caste, sect, religion are removed. Novel way to target and position yourself to the masses indeed.

Come to the streets of Mumbai, there you see a different picture. Idea ads have celebrities declaring proudly, that they have an Idea Mumbai No., and that makes them a Mumbaikar. The niche is well defined and it does have an appeal to it. I consider myself a Mumbaikar, but would I go to the extent of getting an Idea Mumbai No. :-P. But it’s a good ad nonetheless.

So in one case, Idea is seen generalizing their service offering, whereas in the other, the same offering (viz., the phone number that you get) is a way of defining and segregating the masses. Interesting, wouldn’t you say? Kind of like Glocalisation.

Twitter uses

I have posted earlier on Twitter as well, but this time, its for a more practical purpose. It is on how to use this web tool to market your site online, to get those readers/customers to your portal. Social media is a powerful thing, and using it to promote your product/service online at minimal cost is even better 🙂

So here are a few ways you can use twitter to tweet your way to more hits.

  1. Have an RSS Feed on your site, if it is content based, eg. Crazy Engineers, put that RSS in Twitterfeed, and push out regular updates through twitter! Similar updates can then be sent to your twitter of your blog/corporate blog as well.
  2. Once you have your twitter account setup and your tweets are flowing a-go-go, then you can have your social networking accounts like Facebook, to display the same tweet.
  3. Take care not to over do the feeds, since your followers can get bugged with you. I know a few friends who have complained of me tweeting of what songs I am listening to and all that jazz, so keep a filter on those feeds.
  4. It also helps if you are tweeting every once in a while by yourself, so you get a more human face. For eg. Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh is there on twitter, and he actively tweets about his daily routine. How cool is that, direct access to a firms CEO, can you be more customer-centric?
  5. Use twitter for simple market surveys, qualitative and quantitative as well. For eg. You can tweet, “What do you think is going to happen to the Indian economy?”, the answers would be more than enough to put forth a blog post. Later, you can tweet that post url, and there is a likely chance that people who participated in your twitisurvey would also read your post

Try it out, give twitter a twhirl!!

 

Related Links:-

Pipes, Twits and Feeds

Microblogging

We need more products

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With the changes in the US economy, India is feeling the ripple effects pretty early on. Even before the financial giants announced to the world that they are either wrapping up or being taken over, the Indian IT sector knew that times were going to be hard. Layoffs are bound to follow. The dotcom bust 2.0 is here :-). I had earlier written about this on my previous blog. A senior management professional at TechMahindra had predicted this as early as August 2006.

If you see the graph above, the dependence of the Indian economy lies largely with the Service sector, and that dependence has been growing constantly over the past years. We had the green revolution to bolster our agricultural sector, over the past decade, we have seen the IT revolution, that has significantly bolstered our services contribution to the GDP. I know this is obvious to most of you … but did we all see it coming? And if we did see it coming, then how come none of us sat up and took action.

Would we now try to start a belated industrial revolution, giving more priority for a product-based economy instead of a service-based economy? Can we see the contribution of Indian industry to our nation’s GDP increase? Or will our aam aadmi continue giving service to the firangs, depending on derived demand to earn his daily bread.