Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sharad Sharma's talk in Bangalore OCC - Mar 21

Today I attended the Bangalore Open Coffee Club's meeting in an interesting venue called Jaaga. Before I  jump into Mr.Sharad Sharma's speech / adrenaline shot - will talk a little about Jaaga. It is spear headed by Freeman Murray and Archana Prasad. They have identified an unused piece of land - and has built this structure with minimal and eco-friendly materials. This space can be used by NGOs or communities who want a place to get together, startups can come and plug in etc.  They call it the Urban Community Art Architecutre Experiment - http://jaaga.wikidot.com/start. Brilliant concept and I am sure you will be visiting this place sometime in future - it is going to take off well. 

Now to the Orbit Change Catalyst's lecture ( thats his twitter bio  http://twitter.com/sharads ) 

Mr.Sharad Sharma took us through his entrepreneurial journey and kept giving his insights and his learning peppered with lot of interesting anecdotes.

1. Innovation Blow back

Innovations are happening right now in India; a few being cataract surgeries, cardiac operations at low cost and better success rates, bio technology startups, products on cloud computing, and so on. These technologies / businesses will now start out of the emerging markets like India and will become global. This is the innovation blow back.

He also asked the crowd to look out for the "Inflexion points" - Oil crisis is one, Systems biology is one ( where probability / mathematics is needed to take Biology to the next level ), Cloud computing being another. He advised to identify the inflexion point that excites you - "pick the one that tickles you to death".

Some interesting anecdotes:

* CDMA technology - first showed up in Korea ( because they could not penetrate US, Europe market where GSM was entrenched ) - and now it is percolating to the other regions.

* Airtel is having a return of 38% ARPU - Additional Revenue Per User. Whereas Verizon's return is only 12%. IBM, who consulted Airtel,  is now taking this business model outside India.

* AT&T approached Infosys in 1993 for a buy out. Mr.Narayanan Murthy politely declined - and today Infosys has 3 times market cap than AT&T.

*It took $89 Million to launch Chandrayaan. Ning has so far obtained $140 Million as investment.

He also touched upon Early Adopters Vs Pragmatic Adopters and how today with the recession - the market is left with only Pragmatic Adopters ( who make the purchase decision only after they are convinced of the ROI and expect a whole product unlike the early adopter who makes quick decision after a view of the part product itself) - and Indian market always had only Pragmatic Adopters. He hit it right on the head; if you have sold to Indian customers you will know this first hand. 

He credited Guy Kawasaki for starting this "Bootstrap movement" - where the startup has to think of making money from day 1 - unlike the startups during the dot com boom.

2. Essence of Entrepreneurship

It's a state of mind and there are a few important things

Be comfortable to be the underdog
Hold a contrarian point of view
Ability to influence without control
Ability to tell stories.

3. Rules for personal conduct

He said 7, but I missed one of them :)

Give more than what you take
Set up people for success
Say what you mean. Do what you say
Share good news and bad news
Cultivate a learning mindset.
Cultivate internal drive for excellence 

Some books he suggested during his lecture that I will be adding to my reading list.

1. Getting to Plan B by Randy Komisar and John Mullins 
2. Crossing the Chasm - Geoffrey A Moore
3. Whole new mind - Daniel Pink

Towards the end he conducted a role play of how VC money, Investor (LP) and Startup funding works and why it is essential to pitch for only the amount a Startup really needs. 

This post is definitely not a complete record of the speech. Please add more if you were also at the event.

Finally it was great networking with lot of enthusiastic people - the next google / apple is brewing somewhere in them! Thanks to Amarinder, Ramjee, Vaibav and other organizers of the OCC for this event.