Saturday, January 31, 2009

Moved to


I've been wanting to do this for a while now. Ankit of Instablogs had influenced Sameer and I to moving our personal blogs onto the Instablogs network. Then, i for some reason (read as: Technophobia) thought this whole migration process very geeky, beyond me.... what if i loose all my data... and another the million reasons - i kept pushing the move. I had also shifted the "monkey" of getting the blog installed and readied onto Sameer :) - so i could blame my delay onto him..LOL

Anyways... bygones are bygones... and finally i have moved in, arranged my stuff, decorated the blog and prepared it for visitors.

Inviting you to visit my new hangout: is dear to me - this is the url of my first venture. Sameer and i will maintain it jointly. We are starting by migrating our respective blogs and eventually will add more things to that will reflect our thoughts, way of life and us :)

I will now be blogging there.

Thanks to blogger, for this was my first blog... i wont delete it, but will be tough to maintain it.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!

My ode to the new year... will some of these questions get answered? (hopeful)

Blowin' In The Wind

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Copyright ©1962; renewed 1990 Special Rider Music

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Startup Madness

(This article is jointly written by Sameer Guglani and Nandini Hirianniah)

In recent days, while working with the MVP portfolio companies and reflecting back on the days of madhouse, we have identified this phenomenon we are calling ’startup madness’.

It’s visible and present from the time when you start thinking of your million dollar/world changing idea to the steady state point (personal satisfaction, acquisition, IPO or maybe shutdown). Things that you do, don’t make any sense to outsiders and they are like ‘This guy is crazy’ and even when you look back at that period you think “what was I thinking when I did this?”

Looking back at the time when we got the idea to start madhouse, we did not know anything about business, we were just two 27 year old kids (later three of us, with Ankur joining us). We had tried a variety of things in our lives and had managed to do reasonably well in whatever we put our hands into, may be that’s what gave us the stupid confidence. Very importantly we were quite ignorant about ‘real business’ and hence came up with our own take on every business problem we faced.

This streak of startup madness showed at various places:

  • We did not hear NO: not from vendors, not from people we were trying to hire, not from investors, customers, no one. A NO just meant we had to come back with new ideas and try again.
  • We would never get tired of talking about madhouse and we could talk to any one about it. Most times the other guy did not give a damn :-(, for him/her it was just a blabber
  • We just worked non-stop for three years , not even a day off (except when forced by illness)
  • Other than work everything else was just plain unimportant : sleeping, eating, meeting friends, attending social functions, family, watching TV, movies, newspaper - all of this had very little place in our lives. We just filled all our day with work with average working day of 16-18 hrs all thru.
  • We worked out of anywhere and everywhere. Our tools were a Fujitsu laptop and a CDMA phone which could be used like a modem. Restaurants, inside a car / train / auto rickshaw / bus, out on the road, in the park, bedroom, living room and the loo, locations stopped to matter, where place was work place.
  • We did not need a lot of money to live and we were happier than ever (no purchases of over 1000 for 3 years, eating at economical places, shamelessly staying with friends / relatives / acquaintances in cities we visited on work )
  • ‘The world impossible was missing” - we just did not believe that there was any problem that we could not solve or anything we could not do. Our minds were one track - focus hard, think hard, work hard and just do whatever it takes.
  • We had access to this inhuman energy that allowed us to just keep going - “never get tired” or “never run out of steam”.
  • Each time we met a new person, we were constantly thinking of how this person can help our venture, . Everywhere we went, we explored if there was something there that could benefit our startup. Frankly we were classical ‘opportunity hounds” and quite shamelessly so :-)
  • We were basically “stuck” in our own world in which we could not fail. While we adapted like crazy, we sort of forced business to work the way we thought it should work, without caring a lot about the outside world.

This madness is the essence of start-ups; it signifies the purity of a startup. It makes the startup tick and makes it successful and enjoyable. The same madness makes you innovate, over perform, challenge your skill set, think out of the box or even out of the world, take 28 hrs out of a 24 hrs a day, it gets you to focus but does not let you blindly focus!

Its also important to figure out how can you keep re-fueling the desire, the madness, so that it lasts forever, not just for days, weeks or months, start ups that click need to be at it for years. For an individual or team to succeed as a startup, having the startup madness is a must.

If you are an entrepreneur look inside you and make an honest assessment. Do you have the streak?

  • If yes, great.
  • If no. But you think you can build it - nice, go ahead and do it at the highest priority.
  • If you don’t have it and you can’t build it - I am not sure you should continue being an entrepreneur.

On that other hand, if you are not yet an entrepreneur you should also look inside you and make the same honest assessment. Do I have the mad streak?

  • If yes, you fool, leave your job right now - the world of ’startup madness’ is calling
  • If no, it would best for you to avoid the path of entrepreneurship, until the ‘madness streak’ gets to you :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ismail, you are doing a great job!

Eid Mubarak, all of you! I’ve been wanting to write for sometime now, but guess I’ve been overloaded with emotions, questions and just too much confusion in my mind.

But, while I sat to watch television y’day (which is a rare thing for me to do), I saw this news report on how a black Eid was celebrated across the nation. I saw celebrities who follow the Islamic faith criticize the recent Mumbai attacks; I heard repeatedly that the Holy Quran does not promote harmful acts, bloodshed or terrorism. I read messages of solidarity, peace and brotherhood on the television screen.

All this only reinforced my faith, the faith of being Indian. Not that of any cast, creed, community, religion or economic strata of the society, but of simply being Indian!

One word unites us: this was an email Natasha sent me last week

Last week, I was in Delhi meeting up with a group of bright entrepreneurs at a popular café in Connaught Place. The café was bustling with life, with many youngsters, tourists and families. The youngsters keeping tables and processing orders wore a welcoming smile as they went about their tasks.

Among them, I noticed one youngster who stood silently, alone in a corner. Wore a sad face, which screamed out “I don’t want to be here, let me go home”. But, I guess he had no choice, but to professionally go about his duties of keeping tables and processing orders. His colleagues spoke to him casually and he responded mechanically. Each time he had to interact with a customer or a customer looked at him, he got very conscious. He stood there covering his hand not to reveal his name tag!

I kept watching him, as I went about my meeting. I so wanted to walk up to him and ask him if I could help him in any way, what his troubles were and perhaps give him a “Jaadu Ki Jappi”. But, I just could not muster enough courage.

Finally, before I left the café. I happened to visit the restroom and on my way out, I crossed paths with him. I smiled at him, but he looked away. I noticed that his name tag read – Ismail.

As I walked out of the café I had tears in my eyes. I so wanted to tell him that it was not his fault that a certain group of people want to cause harm and destruction in this world! Just because he has a name that is similar to those who caused harm and destruction, he does not become one of them! I just could not go back to doing it. I did not want to hurt him more, if at all.

I’ve read a few events of people blaming the Islamic community in India after that incident. I have read of one instance where an airhostess was yelled and verbally abused at because of her name. I’d like to apologize on behalf of all those who may have reacted in helpless anger, without realizing what they were doing.

I am thankful to all those friends of mine who have made me what I am, among other things - a true proud Indian. And to all my friends who follow the Islamic faith – I love you all as much or more than I did before. You’ll are great human beings, many peace loving, many more creative than the rest! Thank you for being a part of my life!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

World Diabetes Day - Did you check your blood sugar today?

The "age factor" compels you to do a few things, one such in my case is the urge to shed that extra fat and stay fit. So, i've been at it for a couple of months, but have always had a problem measuring my efforts towards that end.

Last week, Namit, Varun, Himanshu - founders of LifeMojo, one of MVP's portfolio sent me a test link to their B2C platform - Here you can not only assess your current body and lifestyle "health", but also plan and track your diet and exercise schedule. These guys are in a pre-release mode and will open to users shortly... i'll update my blog when they release, its a great tool to try out, if you are health conscious, a health freak or just concerned about over-weight. I know that they are also going to add tracking tools for preventive healthcare, such as diabetes and blood pressure.

Anyways, the best thing i liked about these guys is that even if they are in pre-release phase, fixing bugs and all that - When i logged onto this morning - i was totally impressed. I saw a little note on World Diabetes Day on the homepage. When i logged in it also showed me a little reminder about getting my blood sugar tested... So, lo and behold - i promptly got to the hospital near my house in the morning and gave my blood sample to get my sugar levels tested! This, i have been procastinating for a while, though my doctor had suggested i get it tested, considering the family history of blood sugar there exits.

Thankyou LifeMojo!

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