Feeling down after hearing sad demise of my friend Satheesh.

I dedicate this post to my friend Satheesh. I will miss him a lot.

——-

You were one of the first few entrepreneurs I had met during 1999-2000 in Bangalore. I saw how you had a ‘startup’ in a house with a small team. You had an impact on me that startups are hard things but its worth trying.

Bubbling with energy & passion, you could be first few Indian entrepreneurs who thought mobile and SMS could change face of India. This is in 2001 when India was starting mobile. You did well but when I look back, you were way ahead of the time and courageous.

When I was struggling on how to transform myself from remotely living in London and having my Startup & team in India, you were the only one who shared practical inputs to do it seamlessly. I can go on writing how much your insights has helped over the years.

When I announced that I am shifting from Pune to Bangalore during 2013, you were the first to call to query which part of Bangalore I will live and even suggested why not Hebbal.

Thank you for all your support.

I will miss you Satheesh. RIP.

Problem : A Ping solution for a website/mobile app that can ping test from various locations across India.

Who needs it?

Here are the Startups who need it

1. Anand Jain – Co-Founder of WizRocket

2. Miten Sampat – GM TimesCity

3. Naman Sarawagi – Founder of FindYogi

4. Santosh Panda – Co-Founder of Explara

5. Hrishikesh Rajpathak – Co-founder of Dishoomit

Is there a solution already?

Yes, there are solution like

1. site24x7.com/ping-test.html by Zoho which can only Ping test from Mumbai, Chennai

2. Akamai – Can do brilliant job but it comes with their CDN/related solutions which has huge XXXX $ cost

3. Pingdom and many such but none covers India as such or various locations across India.

There are not any one out there which could cover various locations across India.

 

Here is a thread of the pain point via Twitter thread discussion : https://twitter.com/santoshpanda/status/493079105370206209

For sure, there are many small to medium startups who either not able to ping test or use some manual way to ensure their site/app is up & running.

There are questions that are so generic, I wonder ‘who could firmly say yes or no for such questions!’ Questions like ‘Can you do it, do you have the ability to become what you want to, has anybody in your family member been there-done that type, can you compete’, and many such generic questions.

No, I am not saying people should be stopped asking such questions but I mean to say ‘what is the point of asking such questions, whose answer is may be’. Unless, one wants to hear the answer as yes or no, what is the point of asking questions, whose purpose is not to let you try but hear ‘yes or no’, before one has even tried!’ None in the creativity process has ever happened by somebody knowing yes its possible or no it is not possible, but only with an inquisitive mind of ‘may be, let’s try’.

During first few days of starting up, many of my friends/ex-colleagues, family members thought ‘I should know the answer firmly a yes/no about whether this endeavor would succeed’. Let me tell you ‘I told I don’t know but if you insist for the answer to be yes or no only, then its yes’.

After some sort of growth, I happen to meet people who are supposed to be analyst, industry experts, number crunch experts and such. I thought at least they wont ask the same question ‘will this work?’ Oh my gosh, even these experts can’t tell but still insist a firm answer of yes/no. My answer to them was same, ‘I told I don’t know but if you insist for the answer to be yes or no only, then its yes’.

I don’t mean to say people asking such questions are stupid! They are what is natural part of curiousness, devil’s advocate, and assessment process to ensure they know where I am coming from. That is perfectly right and I respect that they at least queried.

But what I found slightly common among such questionnaire is to assume that if the best doesn’t know /don’t do what you are suggesting/doing, then the answer to ‘whether this will succeed, it has to be no’. That was an ultimate low to my ‘rebel’ mind! How on earth the best in the field knows what they don’t know yet! Yes, I agree there are more data & analysis for them to guide them to a finest future but with the logic, everything we see in world today should have belonged to some of the finest organizations of last decade/century? If that didn’t happen, then how on earth only what leaders do today will succeed & hence to be followed?

 

I refuse, I try my best, and I rest my case.

Its tough to win all the time, tough to maintain the pace, form and score! This gets amplified when you are in the ‘creative’ business  ‘i.e. artist. I think, entrepreneurs are also one of those creative people. Oh yes!, some make more money creatively creating things and some make it by creatively selling it. For an entrepreneur, even if you are a proven one, it is so easy to be written off. In fact, it is good to be written off!

If you have read about some of the most famous entrepreneurs, they were written off several times in their career. Basically, no body has a inkling of what will happen! Some are blessed with intuition, some with perseverance, some with a nirvana mind, some with hard work and some are lucky ones! But no matter what makes us succeed once or few times will not remain with us (change is the only constant). Therefore, you are bound to be written off as soon as you start doing less than what you are capable of.

Though, this is better way of written off than getting written off even before you started your journey! Written off before you start is commonplace that you have to face during the journey. Its hard but its inevitable.

You will be first written off by your immediate circle i.e. those who know you for years/worked with you/ even family & close friends. The reality is that they don’t know your inner ambitions, ability to sustain adverse situations and what really drives you! As soon as you start showing little better performance, the market dynamics will change and you will be compared with imaginary competitors, best competitors and some-not-so competitors. This stage of being written off almost kills you! Several experts, industry stalwarts will announce your death in public /private domain.

As an entrepreneur, while building your startup, you will face innumerable such ‘written off’ stages during which it is easy to believe reasoning and give up. That is the stage where you should say ‘I welcome to be ‘written off’ but this work doesn’t stop here no matter what.

Caution: Though you must always take a realistic view of what your creative intuitions are and how will you  cope if being written off actually happens to you.

This random musings is an attempt to share my several years of non-stop pursuing to build startup after startups. The ‘third attempt’ to build the startup Explara.com has also gone several ‘being written off’ stages but has withstood with massive amount of hard work, and frustrations but has grown every day! 

Today, there is an article on Yourstory : http://yourstory.com/2014/01/successful-indian-saas-companies/ Good to see Explara getting compared to Eventbrite.

It feels good to get compared to somebody like Eventbrite whom I respect. However it gives me huge motivation to look back 14 years of career in several countries to imagine for several products and contribute in shaping those products. There are  millions creative people from India who have contributed (& continue to do so) to build awesome products worldwide. Awesome products from India have always been a possible thing, its just that more doing the dream.

But I believe, the world we live today and for future to come, it will remain an awesome flat world for creativity. Therefore competing with own imagination and vision is best way forward.

Hope Explara team will grab the excellent opportunity to impress billions!

Whoever said ‘fake it till you make it’, (s)he must have used fake as a synonyms of imitate/impression.

As a startup, you should be careful on how far you are taking this faking impression. While building startup, there is one constant false-expectation to become ’superman’ instantly, now that means as an entrepreneur you have to either 1. consistently improve and grow or 2. give impression of growth but grow or 3. fake growth and dead! In a real world, when you fake you get Enron, also Satyam!

So called instant success takes several years of failure, trouble, mild success, heavy failure before being declared as success! That’s not easy! Without sounding too critical, as an entrepreneur you will meet several people in the eco-system, some are real fighters, some fake-fighters and some fully fake too. Its so easy to get influenced by those who claim instant success. But only in due course of time, the realization will be

  • “Faking doesn’t build passion & doesn’t give longevity to your endeavor”
  • “Faking may give an impression but doesn’t build credibility in eco-system”
  • “Faking doesn’t make you grounded”
  • “Lot of people knows how to differentiate real doers vs. fakers”

There is also a danger of online vs. real world when it comes to measuring effectiveness of ‘what an entrepreneur is making’. The online world gives chance to show different persona, hide facts, create an aura around personality & achievements. As an entrepreneur, you will hit severe roadblocks, slow growth, bad phases and unless you have maintained & show-cased the ‘real you and real about your startup’, there is likely chance, both of that going to go down.

Faking also take several wannabe real souls go down. Rather than faking, if your endeavor is not working, being the brave and break it and it will save several lives, & aspire you to make things real way!

Breaking things that doesn’t work gives you courage, hope, learning and brings back more chances of success next time.

  • The year started with ‘investors’ trust and money in bank 🙂
  • Continued to live in Pune office building in a tiny room
  • Re-uniting with family was far from over (away from family for last 2 years)
  • Heavy travel across India, mostly NCR, working with team there.
  • Got into Microsoft Accelerator, the product & marketing team shifted from Pune to live and work under one-roof in Bangalore
  • Excellent time to live, eat, drink and work with team!
  • Finally after 2 years of waiting to change Ayojak name, we changed it to Explara.com!
  • Delighted everybody around with a mind-blowing design (humble to say world class but it is!)
  • Finally after 2+ years, got my family to join me in Bangalore
  • Back to Bangalore fully! Thanks to my team agreeing to relocate to Bangalore. We decentralized the team, one team in Bangalore, another team in Pune
  • We got featured in Economic Times, CNBC
  • My son joined in school (for years, my family was worried that I am stuck for not able to get son to start schooling)
  • My younger sister had a terrible time with her family life
  • Struggled a lot to ensure her life is balanced while I was struggling to keep the Explara growing massively
  • Explara grew 632% for number of events (where user came on their own to publish events)
  • As I had no salary for several years as of now, the family (specially parents) continued to struggle for basic wishes.
  • Hugely appreciated by many people for the effort in entrepreneurship, at the same time got puzzled too
  • The year ends with a high note : from INR 2.5 cr sales revenue in 2012 to $ 2.5 million sales revenue run rate in 2013
  • Explara also started operation in Mumbai, that was long wish to operate from there
  • However, being an Indian entrepreneur focusing only in India with little fund – Fight continues
  • Welcome 2014 !!!!!

Wish You a Delightful New Year 2014