Archives for category: Thoughts

Feeling down after hearing sad demise of my friend Satheesh.

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

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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.

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!

Way back in 1997, when I had just landed in Bangalore and was studying post-grad in CDAC Bangalore to transform myself from an Industrial & Production Engineer to Computing; I & my friend Venki met Pradeep of previous batch in CDAC. We got connected instantly, Pradeep extended his support to guide us on fast-forward learning in CDAC and introduced us to Java. Pradeep was so influential on me in getting the basics right that I suddenly felt powerful in computing! Pradeep continued  helping through 97-98 to give us the 1st set of Java SDK from IBM by slicing some 20+ floppy disk that I & Venki carried from IBM to home and installed in computer.

Getting connected with Pradeep was one of the best thing to happen to me in 1st few years of professional life in Bangalore.

While fighting to get a job in 98, I got connected to this gentlemen of my engineering batch ‘Bhabatosh’ (had hardly spoken to him in engg college) & Bhabatosh was instrumental in sending my CV to Sonata HR. Sonata gave the flying start to my career.

Moral of the story: getting connected with people is a crucial element of ‘shaping your destiny and giving it a kickstart’.

However, getting connected is not that powerful if you don’t become the connector. As they say ‘pass on the tradition of supporting & getting supported’ : give & take. Getting connected may give you flying start but unless you are the connector, you will soon loose the charm and find that not many getting connected with you! There may be a thought ‘why should I connect this person, what’s my gain’. If you can overcome this dilema, you will be the gem of a person around whom the dots will get connected. Let me share one more.

I was looking for a freelancer web dev company in 2006 to develop one of my idea and that’s when I got connected to Sagar, he was running a top class digital web dev agency in Mumbai. I got my small piece of work developed through him. We kept in touch. Fast forward to 2010 : Sagar called me from India (I was living in UK that time) to ask if we will be interested in  IPL ticketing. I said, you must be kidding. Sagar connected me to some key member in an IPL team, we tried our best. Sagar as a connector went on connecting lots of dots.

Moral of the story,  be connector and see the beauty of your destiny.

Staying connected is hard, but that is the beautiful part of being social! Priorities change, life changes and most of us struggle to stay connected. The moment we loose the charm of staying connected, you loose the power of ‘getting connected and being a connector’.

Moral of the story : The ‘connected’ cycle must continue.