A Ping solution for a website/mobile app to ping from various locations across India – Make money right away,Do this Product Startup

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.

Let’s make it or break it but don’t fake it

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.

My 2013 : Good, Bad & Ugly

  • 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

Startups, Fire the Middleman When They Can’t Lead

This was my guest post published on http://www.nextbigwhat.com/

After 35th hiring and 5+ years of working in Startup to hire best people to work with, I have came to realise a small puzzle which makes hiring work! Let me share few of hiring failures and success with you.

During 2008, while interview for first few engineers, one gentleman walked in to the interview room. He have had already 1.5 yrs  of working experience  using JAVA technology (you know how software engineers love Java as it feels high end and gives lot of bucks :).We had few lines of conversation, we didn’t even have proper chairs in office that time, it was just the 1st week of start.

I asked him, why would you want to work with us?

a. We are not using Java, we use PHP!

b. There are no senior people to work with (as I myself won’t be coding), so you can’t learn much from me.

c. We don’t know where the world will head, as we are going to try one after another

But he was determined to join as he had heard from his friends whom I had trained (for my 2nd startup) remotely being in London on how to code “the best ways”, make module approach and keep things clean, few other such bits. Plus the openness I operate with.

He stayed with us for 3 yrs and was instrumental in building up the ground work in Explara. He is the person whom I can trust and I dint have to check what time he is coming to office & going. He would get things done. (All this while team was operating in Pune and I was living in London)

During 2010-2012, we hired few sales guy, one or two of them have had huge connections in event industry, sharp mind and if they want they could network and get you any customer you want! When they joined, we assumed that this is a perfect match, let’s go ahead. We did our own assessment and found ok to fit.

Result : Several of them failed for  simple reason : They were operating by taking a middleman i.e. you tell me what to do, let me ask customer what (s)he wants, if it matches, job is done. Soon, we realised that this middleman posing is the big flaw in our hiring.

We let such middleman go.

But some middleman grow to become frontman!

During 2008-2009, another gentleman  walked-in to our office one day to ask for donation for a charity he was working! My then partner  spoke to him, liked his personality and called me over Skype to London to say ‘He’ is interesting, has done his computer engg but due to adverse market condition he is doing marketing job. I instantly told ‘lets hire him’. I haven’t even spoken to this fund-raiser..

He started as marketing executive, did so wonderful work that even traditional marketers will struggle. But one fine day, he buzzed me on Skype saying ‘hey Santosh, I want to do coding’. I was like ‘oh my God!!!!; now I have to really think’ 🙂 But as usual, I don’t hesitate to give a chance, so I said ok let’s start. He moved from marketing team to engineering team and he single handedly coded/maintained/built a culture of engineering. When we had a big tragedy of people leaving us in mid 2010 thinking we are going to go down, he was one who took a stand to work with us.

As of today, he is the frontman of Explara.

Moral of the story : As a startup, we have limited resources, less time for micromanagement, therefore the individuals can’t sit down on the middle thinking others are responsible for their fate! If you allow that to happen, you are building one-man company. Let individuals drive equally as team member & build you team. Let other middleman go!

I can be dead any day even if I don’t want to, so I gave up the fear-factor of death in Startup

Only after 18 months post-starting up, I realised that there is a game here, the game is : you as an entrepreneur is watched closely, just like in a cricket game  where as a batsman you score run steadily or you score too fast, you are expected to  loose your wicket soon!
During 2009, I first felt that I can be dead any day even if I don’t want to, so I gave up the fear-factor of death in Startup. We were told, there is  this XYZ[don’t want to name] and you guys are going to be dead.  Were I scared, honestly NOT.
During 2010, I was almost told by my parents to shut down and take that CTO offer I was getting in a Startup in London.
During 2011, some of my best friends and entrepreneurs thought this time sure shot dead. As another renowned XYZ  had just ventured into ticketing.
During 2012, many wannabe investors thought, this time once the  friend-family round money gets over, this chap is dead. Also another XYZ  has raised so much of money, who  can compete with it. But the truth is that,  the market is huge; what they are doing we won’t do, what we are doing, we always welcome others to do! No fear factor, you see!!!
During 2013, hmmm (will tell some other time) as expected we should be dead but why not yet! Btw growth is happening hugely.
All this while the best event ticketing/registration companies in USA were growing at 5x to 10x speed and inching towards billion sale,  my team had to prove that there is a market in India even though our  growth rate was 450% to 600%. 
The moral of the story is:
1. Entrepreneurship is serious life changing game
2. You can compete with anybody, there is a market (Ask, how on the earth, an one time fledgling telecom company could get so much of market share that was once dominated by bellwether!)
3. Entrepreneurship is not theory but complicated practical and any wrong step can take you downhill
4. Forget what your competitor does, do what your customer will like and in a meaningful way
Start and and keep driving. There are ways out there, people have money and if your team can execute well, there is heaven loads of money.

What has not changed in India’s Payment gateway providers

Disclaimer : This is my personal views written on personal blogs. My product http://www.explara.com uses various gateway and this post is based on our ‘practical’ issues written in the spirit of making things better. If you feel misquoted, you can reach me.

We use services of so called leading payment gateway providers, even the new kids.

Rate of Failures
They compete on who can offer 0% gateway fee rather than 0% failures. Hello Gateways!, your merchants needs food not air i.e. they need 99% successful transaction not 0% processing fee. The rate of failures is an assumed phenomenon in India and they assume they will continue to mint on failed assumptions.

Bad Customer Service
We ‘make’ them crores of transaction, I mean crores and you know what they do to us ? They don’t pick our phone call even during office hours or don’t follow up via support system. Can somebody tell them to use FreshDesk.com/ SupportBee.com, Exotel.com, WebEngage.com kind of services.

Activation Deaths
Even today in the fast forward Startup world, activation is one factor that can ruin you! Try getting service activated.Don’t believe what they say unless you get it.

Lack of forward looking world
Payment gateways thinks Social media is some alien, we hear comments like ‘your website footer has links to Twitter, can you remove that please before we can approve a service’. OMG!

Red tape mindset
Somehow they will try to make you wait and go post to pillar as they know their good and bad payment gateway competitors do same. Wow, what an world they are building.

International cards
Payment gateways are so secretive about why they don’t offer international card processing, you will feel like somebody has cursed you to not think ‘international’. “Anyway, we are big coolies of the world, so how can we build amazing products that world audience will like to take service from”, they seems to think so.

Unwanted Data
Why do they need shipping address shown to user when user is buying an electronic goods. Even if they need the same for physical goods, can they not provide an option, so we could switch off? OMG, this is technology when they make 300 crore gross in a year!!

Partial Data capture
They clear transaction even when the name was not captured. Our merchants blame us and think we are the culprit.

Poor UX
Oh, lets stop here.  What is UX todo with payment gateway?

Where is my songs playlist ? Give me a Songs Index DB

Where is your songs playlist? Are you sure it will remain there forever ? I don’t think so, here is why…

Each of us has a personal songs playlist that we love, we keep discovering great songs from others/via word of mouth/social sharing and several online music sites. I have had a playlist ‘notebook’ given by a friend which had top of the chart and not-so-top-of-the-chart but cute hindi songs collection from 70’s. I lost the notebook during one of my travel from Finland to India/UK to India trip (during 99s). That ended my access to great playlist that was handpicked by this friend of mine and his sister.

YouTube arrived on music discovery scene and we all had access to songs that we could remember and I felt we have a solution to go back to history and dig deep to discover music. I did like many of you created YouTube Playlist. So, we had some list in Music India Online, Smashits, Raaga, iTunes, recent Dhingana, Saavn, Gaana…

Sooner or later, I saw YouTube keeps deleting the songs that I added to playlist as that was uploaded by somebody whose account is frozen or illegal content or original music producer didn’t allow them. Other online music sites as I mentioned above have had their own lifeline (MIO, Smashits, Raaga is slowly getting outdated by Dhingana, Saavn, Gaana). This trend means none of us will have a ‘Master index’ of the songs we like on ‘cloud'( i.e. online music sites) will live for long. That exactly is the problem somebody should solve. How about a Songs Index DB like Amazon’s IMDB? It should

a. index all songs and point to master producer index or

b. allow user to create a Songs Index that list all songs (think excel sheet with each row one song listed), each song further linked to online music sites that user wants to hear from. This means I could index the same song on YouTube, Dhingaan, Saavn.

c. If any of the music sites run out of business, I have my own Songs DB that I could keep nurturing and not at the mercy of the online sites

How difficult is the above?


If you could help me reaching somebody who might have a handpicked note of all great songs (Hindi) from 70’s, please connect. I promise I will give you a Big Big treat 🙂