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It’s been some fun filled years as a ‘digital’ entrepreneur. With a couple of good hits, some misses and a few big bets, I have chuckled, cried and framed these 11 learnings to carry with me all my life.
1. Just an ‘Idea’ is worth a ‘dropped cricket catch’
An idea by itself, despite its greatness, is worthless. Nada. Zilch. It’s all about massive and backbreaking execution. When I founded Contests2win in 1998 (first ever brand contesting site in the world), I thought that my idea would take the world by storm. Nothing of the sort happened. It took me a good 2 years just to convince people to meet me so that I could explain the idea!
I purposely say ‘dropped cricked catch’ because not executing a great idea can be as painful as dropping a cricket catch – you will not be able to forgive yourself. Example – the Winklevoss twins who had the original ‘facebook’ idea and innocently assigned someone else (hmmm…we know who) to execute it.
2. Don’t be a textbook.
Even God would be confused if she examined the crazy and unpredictable entrepreneurial world carefully. No one understands how some concepts become such global hits and neither can one analyze why the most brilliant ideas and execution failed. For example, I used to ‘check in’ once in 2 months in a hotel room on my travels. So, if you told me to ‘check in’ to my own house on an Internet map twice a day, via my mobile phone in return for virtual ‘ownership’ of my own home, I would have laughed at you like a jackass. Today I check into my home address like a fiend on Foursquare and fight like a marine to preserve my ‘mayorship’.
Don’t go by theories and textbook case methodologies while planning your business. Just take your best shot at your great idea and execute like hell. Then whether it snows or shines, it won’t matter.
3. Be ready to build the Suez Canal
It took 10 years to build the Suez Canal and it takes the same time to build a business from scratch. Even the biggest stars in the Galaxy – Yahoo, Facebook and Google were built painstakingly. Makemytrip.com (a star Indian travel portal) took 12 years to IPO. If you have the misconception that you can build a great idea into a huge business and then hope to exit in a couple of years and buy an island, I suggest you take a boat trip to the island and buy a shack. It will be the faster way of getting there and owning something on it.
Unlike Rambo, trying to beat the world alone would kill you. Find a team that not only compliments you but also is better than you. They will allow you to – get financing; sleep at night and also get acquired. And sure, if you are a brilliant hermit and just can’t stand people, then write haiku poetry. At least that will help you attain nirvana.
5. Go back to the Altar and Marry again – this time your co-founder.
A VC recently shared an interesting joke with me. He mentioned that since a start-up venture takes 7-10 years to build into a Company of significance and given the fact that an average American marriage lasts about 5 years, the co-founder becomes more important than the spouse!
Employees are those whom you hire and can fire.
A co-founder is someone who can hire and fire YOU.
6. VCs are like God Parents
VCs are good godparents. They are rich, experienced, and very well connected. They can get things done. They have ‘seen the world’. VCs have a method of working and sometimes can be rightfully conservative in matters of corporate responsibility and ethics. VCs also demand respect and are selfish for your ‘Company’ (pun intended). So, go to VCs, explain to them your needs and then choose them very carefully (yeah, unlike parents, you can actually choose these godparents).
Be more honest with them than you can be with your spouse or your parents. And be patient with them. Make your ‘Company’ work for them and win along the way.
7. Spend your money like it’s a debt from Don Corleone
Think of all the investments (your own and that borrowed from VCs) in your start-up as debts that need to be paid back to Don Coreleone (of Godfather fame). You know what he does when you don’t pay him back.
I am not suggesting not to spend money – I am saying spend cash with ‘returns’ in mind – calculated on everything you spend on. The returns may be revenue generating or for creating assets that can be valuable later. But don’t spend on vapor coz that is something Don Coreleone will cut your throat for.
8. Enjoy a slice of Cake. And let others eat it too.
Imagine hosting a birthday party, inviting lots of friends over, cutting a large cake and then refusing to share it!
Don’t fight over equity dilutions. Give enough to Investors, partners and especially your employees so that the party becomes meaningful. If you have a meaningful exit after a few years, the slice that you kept for yourself (oops ate) will be worth more than the effort you put in!
9. Be a mechanic. Dirty your hands
When I joined my father’s factory and asked him a technical question, he didn’t know the answer. He had to ask his ‘jobber’. I didn’t like that and I traveled to Italy to become a ‘jobber’ myself. That greasy, dirty, hands-on experience on knitting machines partially made me who I am today.
Learn the nitty gritty of your business before you hire people to run different aspects of the venture for you. That will help you to understand the moving parts of your business and fix things immediately when they break down.
10. Go to a movie everyday
Going to work should be like going to a movie everyday. And here I am not exaggerating the emotion. Even on the darkest days of all start-ups and businesses, there is a pleasure of having done ‘something’ that felt nice, worth it or just painful pleasure. No matter what the result. If you can’t enjoy your work and it’s become like some crappy job, then you need to press the reset button.
11. Don’t be Marc Zuckerberg. Be your ‘Ownbook’.
Businesses, like people, have a destiny of their own. So many factors working within and out of your control can create successes like you never dreamt of or will just bust you.
Emulating someone and hoping that you can be ‘as’ or ‘more’ successful than him or her is a complete waste of time and emotion. Do your utmost best, be humble to everyone, tackle every challenge that comes your way and respect your circumstances. Then, if it works – wow! If it doesn’t, try again.
You and I, and every entrepreneur will have our own book to write. Who cares what it’s called and how many pages are in it?
[Guest article by Alok Kejriwal, Founder of Games2Win. Reproduced from his blog. All images are actual game art – courtesy Games2win.com.]
[Sorry but we couldn't help rhyming with the World cup fever and here is an article analyzing why India will win the Cricket World Cup 2011].
Yesterday’s match has convinced me that this world cup is ours or let’s say it’s meant for giving the most desired offering to the “God of Cricket” – Tendulkar, something I am sure he will agree matters more to him than getting even the Bharat Ratna.
The semi-final was amazing and had every hint that the two divine umpires “Bhagwan and Allah” mutually decided that India will win and it won’t be a one sided affair; that’s the reason, why Sehwag was stopped from making it a one sided match and they gave the strength and resolve to a rather inexperienced and new born Pakistani team to rise to the occasion and put up a great fight.
So here I am again following up my previous post on the semi-finals “Indo-Pak WC semi-final: the emotional graph” with this one describing why and how India will win this world cup.
The law prevailed and Yuvi went back on a duck on his home ground. Indian team is already performing as per the law and almost all batsmen and bowlers had their good and bad days whereas the Srilankan team has predominantly won all their matches on the performance of their openers or rather the first 4 batsmen and hardly any win came under pressure. So now, in the finals the law will take over and they are not going to do as well, this is what India wants most. On Indian side the not so good performers till now including Dhoni, Virat and Yusuf (he may play, as gautam gambhir got injured in semi-final and may not be fit enough) are going to rise to the occasion and put up a great show.
India has consistently won all their matches under pressure and from a position where it seemed they may lose. It was always due to overall team performance and someone or the other chipping in at the right time to make India win. With the semi-final clash the last remaining gaps in terms of weak/inconsistent bowling, performing badly in batting power plays, and average fielding are all filled and now there is no doubt that this team’s biggest strength is that it plays as a team and knows how to handle pressure in big games and come out victorious from seemingly desperate situations.
Statistics are there to change and Dhoni’s men have proved it that stats don’t matter, what matters is how you play on a given day. That’s why for the first time we are going to have an all Asian final, a final where both captains are wicketkeepers and no host team has ever won the world cup. All of this is going to change with this final, as it is sure that a host team will win, but India’s chances are higher as they are the main hosts of the event.
With now Pakistan and Bangladesh both out of the tournament, naturally maximum fan support will be for India and almost all of them would love to see Tendulkar holding the cup, a sight they will remember forever.
One thing that came out clearly from the indo-pak semi-final is that the master blaster is having all the luck on his side, the 5 lives he got is there to prove that even the almighty is leaving no stone unturned to make sure India wins it.
Srilanka has played all their games at home (except one, Vs NZ @ Mumbai), so now playing at Mumbai and that also the finals may make things difficult for them. Moreover, Indians will be determined to take revenge of the 1996 semi-final loss to them at Calcutta.
Moreover, despite the odds faced by Dhoni and team during the various previous matches due to wrong decisions, selecting wrong player in the team at times, applying wrong strategies etc. luck favoured and they came out victorious. Having said that, it didn’t favour them just like that, they showed an awesome fighting spirit as a team and we all know “Luck favours the brave”, so it will do so in the finals too and will make India win.
Punters have pronounced India as the winners already and it seems it will be so as this team is totally clean and no one player can change the result by doing spot fixing, moreover no Indian player will dare their career by doing any sort of fixing in the finals.
So punters cannot make more money if India wins, they can only make a fortune if Srilanka wins and you cannot fix a win, you can only buy players to intentionally lose. So they have no incentive in spot fixing anything with Srilankans as it will only make India win, a result that is going to make them lose more money.
Now the most interesting part, people just love predicting, so let me try out too. I’ll share what my intuition says. I think, it will be a perfect setting for Tendulkar to complete his 100 international centuries on his home ground and in a world cup final, but given the jinx that mostly when Tendulkar scores a century, India ends up losing, so the only way it can happen is…India will bat second and chase a target, the master blaster will be able to get the highest resolve to remove this jinx by not just scoring a hundred but a big one (with no extra lives), in which he bats till the end and ensures India wins. So that’s how most likely it will be.
If India bats first, then most likely Tendulkar will be out for a score of between 50-90 and the rest of the disciples of “God of Cricket” the likes of Yuvi, Dhoni and the rest will rise to the occasion and put up a fighting total for Srilanka to chase. In the semi-final a perfect 2 wickets each by all key bowlers is an indication that bowling is no more an issue and our bowlers will be able to defend any total that the batsmen end up putting.
Let’s hope for a dream Saturday, the 2 April 2011, when the whole nation will be praying and waiting to watch the happiest ending ever like in a Bollywood movie (always predictable) of seeing their “God of Cricket” holding the World Cup with a Smile they have never seen before…a sight every cricket fan and especially Indians will take pride of watching live and for cherish for generations to come!
[Guest article by Sumeet of Kreeo. Reproduced from Kreeo site]
After getting 5 interview requests from Newspaper and TV channels but no response from the Twitter team, the editor of this blog has finally decided to let me reveal how to hack twitter trends.
And the secret is – Be very good at Photoshop!
There clearly is no stand from Google on these issues (read: Google India clarifies on Arunachal Pradesh Controversy) and while we hope that Google doesn’t mix business and politics, it’s surprising to see the map of India on Google Analytics product.
That is, Google officially kicks off J&K and Arunachal Pradesh out of India. Hop to Google Maps India and you won’t find this discrepancy (as of writing this/as accessed from an Indian IP).
And that raises an important question on Google’s take on disputed borders. Or is there any stand? Shouldn’t Google follow UN standards? Is Google justified in questioning the territorial integrity of India?
It’s not that these issues are new – there were earlier reports of Google distorting the map, but it’s time Google India defines its stand and implements it across all the products.
What’s your opinion?
PS: Just because this article was published on April 1st doesn’t mean that this is an April fool joke. If you have analytics account, you can verify the same (navigate to Visitors>Map Overlay).
Bihar is on a growth path and has recently been on an early adopter curve – the state earlier announced using ‘Android’ Phones to monitor road construction from district headquarters and now the state plans to create a new cabinet position for an Internet Minister.
While the exact role of Internet Ministry is not yet known, it is expected that the position will be located in Nalanda district, the erstwhile center of higher learning.
In a press conference, a state official suggested that the plans for creating an exclusive ministry is in place and details would be made public after a final approval from the governor of Bihar. He did mention that the ministry’s work would mostly revolve around getting Bihar up on the broadband connectivity map of the world.
Sharing an aspirational target of getting 100% boradband connectivity in all villages of Bihar by end this year, he said that, the state cannot depend on central govt.’s plans which keep getting delayed. The Internet ministry will be also looking at strict regulation of ISPs servicing in the state and would have a centralized mechanism to check any service disruption. He suggested that regulations around possible penalties on breaching SLA would also be put in place with a fine upto 3X of subscription amount.
One other important thing mentioned was that the broadband definition would be chnaged for ISPs in Bihar from 256Kbps to 2Mbps.
Hope this movement from Bihar inspires the other states as well. What’s your opinion?
Happy Fool’s Day!!!
Mumbai police has banned bulk SMSes from today until the World cup final (i.e. April 2nd). While this has been done in the name of security, imagine the business loss bulk SMS companies will face owing to such decision (given that it’s a weekend).
Leaving aside the ‘chalta hai’ attitude, I agree that this has been done keeping national security in mind and we should comply to such policies.
But don’t you think a strong deterrent works much effectively than such policies?
The Indian government has spent more than Rs. 35 Crores (and counting) in keeping Ajmal Kasab safe – i.e. we hardly provide any case study for terrorists (to really take the government seriously); and on the other hand, government ensures that businesses suffer because of police’s inability to handle security (government wants everybody to be at home while the match is on).
So in short, government feeds the terrorists and kills the SMEs – exactly the opposite of what it should be doing.
Worst of it, the government has also approved a request from ICC seeking tax exemption for World cup matches in India – an event where the organization is going to rake in millions of dollars goes tax-free! (why not subsidize other sporting events?).
What’s your opinion? Sadly, most of us probably won’t care, unless it hits our business.