Fourteen Things in 2014

Fourteen things I hope to witness this year.14

  1. Greater Participatory Politics
  2. Younger Politicians
  3. Better Weather
  4. Lesser Aid, Greater Development
  5. More Social Capitalism
  6. Cheaper Organic Food
  7. Longer Phone Battery Life
  8. Faster Internet
  9. Better Enterprise Apps
  10. Fewer Theoretical Developers
  11. Better Javascript Developers
  12. Deeper JVM Understanding
  13. More World Changing Engineers
  14. An Indian Technology Company Scaling by Selling to Indian Companies – I had to write this one, however impossible it seems! :-)

Giving Your Product Release a Name

uniRow SeabiscuitWe recently released the next version of uniRow – which we have named Seabiscuit.

The name was perfect for this release for the following reasons:

  1. This version is a quantum jump in performance, design and experience from the previous version.
  2. We are a small team working hard to deliver top quality results.
  3. We wanted the name to represent passion, endurance and an ability to surprise.
  4. There is competition in our market and that makes us run faster.

Seabiscuit (May 23, 1933 – May 17, 1947) was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse in the United States. A small horse, Seabiscuit had an inauspicious start to his racing career, but became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans during theGreat Depression. Seabiscuit was the subject of a 1949 film, The Story of Seabiscuit; a 2001 book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand; and a 2003 film, Seabiscuit, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Give your product an amazing name, here are some reasons why you should.

  1. You have worked hard on it, show it off – within reasonable limits of course.
  2. Google uses Desserts to name Android versions, Apple names Mac OS versions after the big cats. Give your product a character.
  3. You are building a company along with the product, let the name represent what your company stands for.
  4. Be a trend-setter. There is a fair chance that other companies in your sector are running down numbered versions, do something refreshing.

Your product is your baby, give it a name. Don’t name it with a number. Well, unless you are George Costanza!

Making Digital Education Work In India

Internet is a great enabler. Is has an ability to make quality education accessible. A teacher can share her knowledge with thousands of students. While this sounds grand, like most things, execution and interaction is the key. The hottest thing after e-commerce in the Indian startup ecosystem is education. If VC investment were an indication of the value of a sector, education would definitely be among the top 3. The question is how much of value have we created in this space?

When I started Samuday Technologies, my intent was to build a great product that could enable better collaboration in areas beyond the enterprise – such as education, healthcare and CRM. About 10 months into the company, I understood that problem in Ed-Tech – low (actual) adoption rates among students. We realigned significantly at that point. While you can build the coolest and smartest softwares, usage levels are going to be frustratingly low because students and teachers are swamped with existing problems.

One of the reasons for low adoption is expecting significant change in user behavior. I am a big believer in building products that fit into existing workflows instead of expecting changes in user behavior and workflows. Here are some of my learnings from my experience in the education space.

Continue reading

UnPluggd 5 – July 7, 2012

We are attending UnPluggd 5 in Bangalore. This is a great opportunity for startups and technology enthusiasts in India to huddle together.

More About UnPluggd

Meet India’s promising startups/entrepreneurs at Unpluggd on 7th July at Bangalore.

At the heart of every great business is an idea, a leader, a vision and most importantly – unmatched execution.

At Unpluggd, we bring stories of how entrepreneurs brought new perspectives to problems, industry, employees and community. The executional challenges, roller coaster rides and importantly the jugaad element : all of this + demo of India’s most promising technology startups.

Of course, UnPluggd, as always, would be an awesome opportunity to meet the others in the startup ecosystem – be it investors, geeks, potential hires, CXO or fellow entrepreneurs.

When: 7th July, 2012. Saturday, 9 AM to 6 PM.

Where: MLR Convention Center, Brigade Millennium Campus, 7th Phase J.P.Nagar, Bangalore – 560 078.

URL: http://www.pluggd.in/unpluggd

Time to show love & cheer for Indian Startups. Register at  http://www.pluggd.in/unpluggd/block-your-unpluggd-seat/

 

How many kids in India buy iPad to study?

I am an Indian entrepreneur in more ways than one. I always look around and ask myself – how am I making a change around me? I was in the iStore today morning. An iStore is an Apple retail store chain that is run by Reliance Digital. I saw a woman and her daughter walk in and ask for scratch guards for an iPad and iPod. I asked the girl what does she use the iPad for – browsing or studying. Her answer was prompt (with a look of “is that even a question, who studies with these cool things”) – for general browsing! Ofcourse, this is not a representative sample set and she could just be an outlier.

Now the big question – how many kids in India buy iPads to study? This might be a question that is too early to ask. But what is important is how deep can technology go in making a meaningful impact in learning. I am consciously using the word learning and not education – Education is a mere business, but learning is an experience. The growth of modern technology is a focus on experience. The iPads combined with latest collaboration technologies are bringing in the experience that is critical in delivering a meaningful learning experience.

It is not sufficient to set up a virtual classroom or an expensive enterprise grade software hoping students/learners will “learn”. It is the experience that will make things work – the future is immersive technology that can engage and connect learners and teachers together. Let’s look forward for some innovation in improving the experience.

Infectious Credibility and Idolization

There is a strange problem in India – we idolize. Idolization is not that bad, what makes it worse is a distorted mapping of credibility. Credibility becomes infectious and it seeps into areas which the person might not have any expertise in. We make them our universal idols who will solve all our problems and guide us to Shangri-La, the land of universal excellence.

Very recently Mr. Narayan Murthy, India’s entrepreneurial idol, made a claim that 80% of the IIT students are of poor quality (read here). I am not sure what data Mr. Murthy has, but I am surprised to see a man who has always believed in numbers, state a conjecture that will be difficult (read impossible) to prove. I am not too surprised or offended to hear Mr. Murthy’s comments and I have a simple “I don’t think so” response to it. I don’t care if Infosys is a body shop (read Chetan Bhagat’s response here) or is doing ground breaking R&D. What worries me more is that this statement is taken so seriously that we end up reading about his statement in all the newspapers and discussing it on Twitter and Facebook. Are we generalizing his entrepreneurial credibility into areas that may not be relevant? Continue reading