Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fight the Good Fight Startups!

2014 is coming to a close.

It has been a very interesting time for Startups. A Government change, with it expectations, a rising economy - which in turn will benefit startups.

Billions of VC money flowing into the ecosystem. Traditional investors become Angels.

Here is my wishlist for Startups - new and old for 2015 - to Fight the Good Fight.

Gain Customers, not Facebook Likes

No Short Cuts please. Gaining traction, gaining customers is not easy. This is the most important metric for any Startup. Not the Facebook likes, Alexa ranking, Twitter Followers - these will come automatically once customers start signing up.

To gain customers - you need to have a kickass product. Not a 80% almost there product, but a 200% going beyond the wildest customer expectation product.

To reach there, it takes lot of hard work, lot of iterations - there is no short cut. 

Do not start a clone 

There are so many problems waiting to be solved. If you have 2 ideas - one which is never tried before ( like a Music Lyrics Translation site - for Indian Movie Songs across all languages ) against doing the same thing a Startup X is doing ( an E-Commerce, Grocery Delivery etc.) - do the one that has never been done before.

There is no guarantee either of the ideas will succeed - but with the never been tried before - you get the first mover advantage, there is a good chance you will get noticed, you can get Media to notice you, a team will form around you and will dream the dream you have.

Go the Distance

The biggest differentiation I see between US and Indian Startups - is not in the area of Technology. We are as technically advanced as US Startups.

The area where US Startups shine is they go the distance. They give an end-to-end solution - always. They do not stop short of solving the entire problem.

I see many startups who have reached 80%, and do not complete the entire 100% or go beyond 100%.

For eg. Dropbox - they did not stop with just Windows and Mac - but created installers for Linux - how much ever small the marker share for Linux was. Or Uber - the end to end seamless workflow they have built - something which our Ola, or Meru has not been able to do yet.

Customers - Trust Us, Refer Us 

This message is for Customers - start trusting us. Do not view Startups with suspicion. Transact Online, Pay Online, Give a chance to an idea, try that carpool, download that app, provide feedback - if the Startups succeed - so will you.

And please - please - pay for the value you receive. Just because FlipKart gives huge discounts do not arm twist Startups to give discounts. Not all startups are Flipkarts. Most are broke eking out a living and every Rupee you pay us is valuable - and we will give you 100X Value in return. 

And last request - you love our product - tell your friends, share it in Facebook, Tweet it, email your colleagues. Most of the startups do not have the budget to put a hoarding on a Billboard or play an Ad on TV - but your kind referral will take us a long way.

Big IT Company Employees

This message is for the Brilliant Techies sitting in the Big IT Companies, reading Rashmi Bansal  and attending Startup Events - put in your resignation papers and Start Up - or join a Start Up. We need you more than the Big IT Companies.

We have a huge pool of Technocrats in India - locked up in the Big IT Companies - and this base is larger than Silicon Valley.

Imagine if we all start hacking and forging new ideas - imagine what we will create!

Here is looking forward to a happening 2015 - a Bigger, Better, Beautiful StartUp World.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Switched from Nike Free Run 3 to Puma Mobium

After the Vibram law suit, I got disillusioned with Bare foot running. Also running on Mumbai Roads, bare foot is not practical - it is dangerous.

I ran barefoot for about 6 months ( on Sports Authority of India's track in Kandivali), then switched to Bata shoe... which got worn out pretty quickly.

Then I switched to Nike Free Run 3, and for the last 2 years this has been my running shoe. I have clocked close to 930Kms on this and the soles have worn off pretty well.

I enquired about Nike Run 5, and it was close to 9k. I literally stopped on my tracks - this is crazy.

Couple of weeks back, San pointed to a Sale in the Puma shop next to our office. I looked around, and found this interesting shoe - the Puma Mobium.

The sales guy knew about running and said this is not a heels strikers shoe, but more of a front to mid foot runner's. This is the ideal way to run from what I have researched.

This was also 9k, but they had 40% off. Did a few trial runs in the store and liked it.

I have been running 5ks the last few runs, and today went for 8.6Kms ( wanted to do a 10k, but stop signal came to brain and I couldn't over come it ). It is quite good. I find I did not do heel strikes anymore, and I was landing more on the mid foot. With Nike, if I do not focus, I will invariably do a few heel strikes before I realize and remind myself to land more on the mid foot.

The pace is slightly better.. don't know if it is a placebo kind of thing, or the new shoe did really help a bit.

Also, this shoe breathes well - on windy stretches I felt the wind inside my feet. Will know once the summer arrives - if this will prevent blisters.

The shoe is a bit flashy - a few years back I would have said ewww.. but I am getting younger you see - got appreciation from Prithvi's school friends while we were waiting for the School Bus.