Archive for September, 2007

26
Sep
07

India the Superpower in 2020

I feel ecstatic. Nothing better than watching your country go on a giant-killing rampage. The whole scene here is of abundant joy and celebrations. Cricket really does bind my nation together.

Winning the first TwentyTwenty world cup, just proves the caliber of the whole team. Very modestly, they beat the crap out of every opposing team, including the Australians. Reading Ponting’s column in the Hindu about how jet lag weakened his country’s team and how Sreesanth was lucky, made me so damn proud of the team. Ponting was basically throwing all his excuse cards in 🙂 .

The whole tournament was just a perfect show of the team’s collective brilliance, no stupid mistakes or lucky strikes. And then the rise of the new Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Rahul was a great captain, the values he reflected were of stability, maturity and thoughtfulness. Dhoni reflects something else. Aggressiveness, power and style. Which I also believe represent the current attitude of the nation.

Amazing, just waiting for more in cricket.

20
Sep
07

Still in high school and already earning.

I just had to blog on this.

Yesterday Techcrunch had an article on Playspan, which got funded 6.5million USD series A by four(well known) VCs. The article gained much popularity on the web, because apparently the founder, Arjun Mehta, is in his sixth grade. Yes, sixth grade.

People in the silicon valley are mostly engineered to startup. But, engineered to startup at sixth grade? That’s before you are officially taught, science is physics+chemistry+biology. A comment on the same article gave a link to Paicontent’s article on Playspan getting funded, but this time giving the name of the founder as Karl Mehta, who (thank god) is surely more than 40 years of age, considering his qualifications. This is obviously a more correct perspective of the whole situation, since I doubt VCs would yet-to-launch companies run by 9 year olds.

Anyways, the mangled truth is out there and doing better than the actual truth.

This got me thinking about the other really young entrepreneurs I’ve read about.

1. Ben Casnocha. The more famous among the young entrepreneurs. Did something at 13 years old. Did something again aged 14. I’m not sure anymore, since he’s today more well known as a speaker and author of the book My Startup Life. He’s currently 19.

2. Ashley Qualls. She runs Whateverlife.com. A source of web layouts for girls. Mostly myspace layouts. And also a magazine called whateverlife. She was recently in news, because courts wouldn’t allow her or her parents to touch her multi million dollar fortune, because of her age. She’s 17.

3. The sibling founders of Myyearbook.com. Two are aged 16 and 19.

4. There’s this chap I read about quite recently. An Indian aged 19, who moved to the silicon valley at 14 because the laws here wouldn’t allow him to start a company. I just can’t recollect his name. Somebody help me out with this.

Of course, none of these beat the 9 year old I mentioned earlier. If he’s got some association with founding of the company, hats off to him!

Ah! I feel so old at 19 🙂 . I’m late at starting up already!

Check out the top 30 entrepreneurs under 30 by Inc.com.

And before I forget, notice all of them have started up on the web.

update: I accidentally found this article on Ephren Taylor, who’s done quite a bit of stuff in his past 20 odd years.

20
Sep
07

To startup in India.

I was contemplating today on my priorities and what I wanted out of life. The one thing that I realized is that, I want to make money 🙂 . A ton of money. Money that will blow my brains out kind 😀 .

I see two ways to achieve that end.

1. Gamble.

2. Buy dozens of lottery tickets.

3. Startup.

4. Work and save money for decades and then buy the Bentley and let your kid drive.

The first two are possibly quick, but extraordinarily risky. I personally favor the Startup option. And I’m absolutely not swayed by the glam factor of starting up. I’ve come close to starting up once and in the process of coming closer again. I cannot say I’ve risked it all, but I can say I’ve suffered the pain, trauma and torture. Oh, its tough tough work.

This chap explains the mathematics of it well. I’ll reproduce it here.

 

The spoils go to those that take risks — the ones who work at startups, very early on.
Microsoft is the most successful technology company of all time (though Google is hot on its heels). The first guy at Microsoft made about $50 billion (Bill Gates). The second guy (Paul Allen) made about $25 billion. Steve Ballmer who was one of the early few and joined in a leadership role made about $15 billion. If you were in the first 50 people and got 1/10th of 1% (common for a startup today) you made about $200M. So the first guy made $50B, the 50th guy made $200M. Guess how much the 1,000th employee made, probably about $20M. And the 10,000th employee maybe made $2M. This is in the most successful technology company of all time.

If you want to make some serious money and you join a really good company (where the numbers will be 1% of Microsoft’s) as the 10,000th employee or even the 1,000th employee you are not making the right decision – the math just doesn’t work in your favor. If you want to make some serious money you have to take some risk and join something early, at least among the first 50 employees. I’m not saying that every job you take should be at a startup, but if you never do it, it’s going to be hard to make serious money in the tech industry, unless you work for 20 years and climb to the top of a big company.

In the same post, he also gives his perspective of the Indian mentality of looking for security. Most people around me have a very similar attitude. Everybody is sincerely focussed on making a good resume to get into their dream company or dream university. I am not saying it is wrong, but the major reason for this attitude is because of plush pay and security attached with the job or the possibility of a plush pay after masters in a foreign university. I think few people want to join IBM or Schlumberger to innovate or do a masters because they love research work. They want security and a little money. Do I sound hypocritical because three paragraphs before I said I want a lot of money and now I’m bashing people who want security. I forgot to add, I also want to do something I’m truly passionate about. I do not want to live somebody else’s life, worse a life thrust on me by the society.

The startup scene frustrates me. College startup scene frustrates me even more. VCs in India are closing shop because they do not have quality startups to fund. This makes the job tough for the few good ones too. GigaOM says, there is more money than startups. Its a vicious circle. VCs do not fund, startups do not start.

Reasons for the sad state of startups in India.

#1 In India, where the per-capita income is low, it makes a lot of sense for VCs to focus on seed funding and startups which require low investments. They typically come in from the US and look for similar sized investments, they had back there. In terms of a couple of million USD. And look for a promised ROI of a few hundred million USD in a decade. That is just a lot of money in Indian terms. Why not deal in million INR. Makes so much more sense. Typically startups will require a seed fund of less than 100,000 USD in India, to run for a year.

#2A major factor why people do not startup is also because people just do not want to invest their own money in it, nor are relatives. I can’t expect any investment or commitment from my own parents :). Also people with ideas do not seemingly realize how bad the Indian VC scene is. I’ve met tons of highly experienced people wanting to startup, who think only with an idea, they can expect a VC to just put his money into it. In their naivety, armed with a business plan, off they march to networking dinners to pitch.

Ok, I was one of them. I’ve written a few business plans in the past with the hope of getting funded. I now write them with the hope of winning business plan competitions which will give me seed money for my startup and not to pitch to VCs.

#3People are always assuming, they are not qualified to startup. Yes, I agree most small businesses are as a result of somebody noticing the client being unhappy with his company’s service, so he start ups with a solution. But, there are a lot of businesses which do not require experience which can be gained only by working at another company. You just need an eye for problems. Worst is when they say, they do not have an MBA, so cannot run a business.

#4 Not enough role models. When you have such few entrepreneurs around, it’s difficult to see what success or failure brings. I think stories of people succeeding are more important than failure stories. Though I need to come across more failure stories, because I am way too optimistic for my own good. 🙂

These are some points which are starkly obvious to me. If these points could be changed, lots of things would become easier for budding entrepreneurs here.

James Hong of HotorNot has a great post on startingup.
While writing this post I also read Lightspeed ventures blog on Failure.

19
Sep
07

Absolut realization

Things I learned/realized/overheard in the past few weeks.

1. Priorities automatically fall in their places during adversities.

2. You realize how much you actually wanted something, you’ve taken for granted, only when it’s being taken away.

3.  Achievements and successes determine greatness and not personalities.

4. We(human beings) are here(on earth) as guests of the plants and their cultivators. courtesy M.S. Swaminathan

5. Some of the greatest leaders(for the rest of us) have been the most hated by their followers.

6. Better late, than never.

Oh and my wallpaper for the past few days.

Imagine!

12
Sep
07

Oh God!

I approximate, every 2nd personal blog has about 30% of it’s posts on philosophy, God. The rest of course are just ego gratification, on love or stomach disorders. I dare not disturb the statistics. Here’s my post on god. I’ll dump my ego and stomach stuff sometime soon. On love, certain people know I dump them else where.

My philosophy(ies).

1. God doesn’t exist.

The theists are offended and are covering their ears.

We are just a product of a random element banging into another in a hot soup, with the luck of being at the right distance from sun, on the right sized planet, etc etc. Considering our limited experience with the universe and the telescopes looking deep into galaxies, such a thing hasn’t repeated any where close to us. But considering the size of the universe, it most probably has happened a lottt of times across the place.

What existed before all this happened? And how did all that happen? No theory can really explain all that. Even God theory cannot explain it. Who made her/him/it?

2. God doesn’t care.

The theists think I’m just disappointed with the world.

Two things. One , the universe is huge and we are small. Two, God must have created us and the universe, both.

What huge egos must our tiny bodies have to believe God cares? We are a (super)tiny dot in the whole scene. Somebody who’s made the whole place, really doesn’t care about the speck floating around in the space. I mean she’s/he’s/it’s probably also created millions of other dots like us (and apparently put us all out of sight of each other), why will she/he/it give a damn to us?And that too there are about six and half a billion of us milling the place. In the grand plan of events, our short lives are worth nothing.

Most of us just like feeling control is with somebody else. Because really, it’s the toughest thing to accept most things are random and control is with nobody at all.

I just like blaming things on somebody else when things go wrong, so I mostly say the Lord’s name in vain. Like ‘God damn it’, etc.

10
Sep
07

I wish I could rock like…

Led Zeppelin in

  • Whole lotta love
  • Stairway to heaven
  • Battle of Evermore

The Who in

  • Baba O’Riley or Teenage wasteland(awesome start)
  • Who are you
  • My generation
  • Won’t get fooled again

Dire Straits in

  • Walk of life(singing it Mark Knopfler’s style is one of life’s missions, I’m on my way there, but not there yet.)
  • Money for nothing
  • Down to the waterline
  • Telegraph road
  • Romeo and juliet

Pink Floyd in

  • Another brick in the wall
  • Run like hell
  • Lost for words
  • Comfortably numb
  • Coming back to life

(rather pop like)The Beatles in

  • Twist and shout
  • Yellow submarine
  • Strawberry fields for ever
  • Hey Jude
  • I want to hold your hand

The Doors in

  • Light my fire
  • The end
  • People are strange

The Rolling Stones in

  • Start me up
  • Can’t get no satisfaction
  • Brown sugar

Air Supply in

  • Sweet dreams
  • Making love out of nothing at all
  • Without you

Aerosmith in

  • Dream on
  • Jamie got a gun
  • Amazing
  • Living on the edge

Metallica in

  • Unforgiven
  • Astronomy
  • Turn the page
  • Ecstasy of gold

Bob Dylan

  • Rainy women
  • Like a rolling stone

Bruce Sprinsteen in

  • Born in the USA
  • The river
  • Born to run

Elvis Presley in

  • Jailhouse rock
  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • Hound Dog
  • All shook up

AC/DC in

  • Highway to hell
  • Shook me all night long

Bon Jovi in

  • Living on a prayer
  • Blaze of glory
  • Who says you can’t go home

Marlyn Manson in

  • Sweet dreams
  • Beautiful people
  • This is the new shit

System of a down in

  • Chop Suey
  • Toxicity
  • BYOB
  • Sugar

Coldplay in

  • Fix you
  • Scientist
  • Talk

U2 in

  • Sunday bloody sunday
  • Walk on
  • Beautiful day

Red Hot Chilli Peppers in

  • Californication
  • Other side
  • Snow
  • Tell me baby

Just a list from my favorite bands, the list of other singles I wish I could rock at is equally long.

I’ve tried quite hard at playing the guitar, sadly my fingers don’t have a musical sense :(. I can sing most of these songs, but playing them is the dream!

07
Sep
07

The Burning Man project.

The Burning Man Project is one of the most famous art festivals. Its an eight day long adventure in a scorching Nevada desert. Far from civilization, participants view and become part of extraordinary art.

The Project first started in 1986, when three friends met on a beach and set fire to a wooden man and a small wooden dog. Since then the project has multiplied in terms of participants, there were nearly 40,000 people at the Black Rock City this year. In 1990 the project moved from the beach to the current base at Black Rock desert. The whole concept is abstract art and the Burning Man website says describing the Burning Man project is like trying to describe a color to a blind man.

The Burning man effigy.

It is probably only one of its kind in the world, because all the art is displayed in a temporary settlement in the Black Rock desert. Participants live in the Black rock city for eight days and get high on art.

Here are a few photos of my favorite installations this year. The theme of 2007 was- The Green Man.

Called the big rig jig

By Miss_Coleen on Flickr.

By McGeoff

One of the most popular installations.

‘Self portrait with homo ouroboros’

It’s a spinning zoetrope portraying a half-ape, half-man creature (the beast is tailless, though many refer to it as the “spinning monkeys”) swinging form branch to branch of a stylized tree, while being force-fed an apple from a serpentine arm and hand.(Description from Wired.)

The man burns.

Below is my favorite structure. It’s called ‘The temple of forgiveness’. Built by David Best and Tim Dawson. Beautiful architecture.

By SplatWorldwide.

The ‘Molded Man’

By Zachwass2000

Link to the list of all the art structures at the Burning man 2007.

I would absolutely love to attend a Burning Man at least once in my life. It’ll be amazing to camp with some of the most imaginative people of the world.

Attending this one goes on to my list of ‘Things to do before 30’!

More pictures:

Wired.
On Flickr.

Wikipedia on the Burning Man.

—ps: All links open in new tabs/windows.
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Now playing: The Who – [Who’s Next #01] Baba O’ Riley [foobar2000 v0.9.4]
via FoxyTunes




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