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Showing posts from November, 2006

Think Big! - By Sanjay Anandaram

I remember reading an Akbar and Birbal tale many years ago. In this story, Akbar and Birbal wager on something. Akbar tells Birbal that if he (i.e. Akbar) loses, he could give Birbal as much gold as he wanted since he was the emperor, but what would Birbal give Akbar if he lost? Birbal said that if he lost, the first person who comes to the royal durbar the day after the loss would be asked to name the highest number he could think of. And Birbal would give Akbar as many gold coins as the number mentioned. Sure enough, Akbar wins and asks Birbal to prepare himself for the following day when he’d have to pay Akbar a huge sum in gold. The next morning, a beggar is the first person to come to the royal durbar and upon being asked to name a big number, says “100”. Birbal with a knowing smile promptly hands over a bag of 100 gold coins to Akbar. He later mentions to Akbar that for someone like a beggar who has to struggle for survival, the sum of 100 gold coins was an unimaginable amount a…

Stages in the evolution of a company

Brad Feld provides a framework (created by his friend Barry Culman) to explain the evolution of a company.
Following is a quick summary of the stages according to Barry.

Birth

* Idea created
* Product or service utilized to deliver idea
* All energy on creation
* Leader is the core driver of revenue
* No process or structure
* Project or products – not a business

Teenager

* Add overhead and infrastructure
* Grow revenue base
* Leader comes “in-house”
* Cash is King
* High energy
* All executives involved in all parts of the business
* Everyone feels like “I know what’s going on”

Young Adult

* Add process and structure
* Profitability dips
* Must determine “who we are” / what do I want to be when I grow up
* Leader is an evangelist
* Separation of duties
* External funding
* Loose budget
* People issues being to appear

Adult

* Answer to board / investors
* Tight budget controls
* Consistent processes
* Leader deals…

Brad Feld on demos

VC Brad Feld has a couple of posts on demo-ing here and here. (Read the interesting comments on his post as well.)
I learned - early in my first company – that the first 15 minutes of a meeting will make it or break it. I learned how to do a great demo – even if it was simply my sales pitch on a white board or flip chart. This meeting reminded me how important it is for a young company (and a MatureCo) to be able to nail their demo and do it quickly.

...I much prefer “top down” demos – these are ones that approach the demo from a user / use case perspective. Show me what the software does and why I care, not how it does it. So, rather than start at the top left menu choice and go through each feature (usually starting with “creating a new account” which I never have to see again in my entire life), walk me through a use case that is relevant to me and is populated with a complete and interesting data set. Occasionally, I’ll have a “how” type question, but then it’ll be in the conte…

"Sell! Sell! Sell!" by Sanjay Anandaram

Indipreneur column (No. 6) by Sanjay Anandaram in the Financial Express:
Sell! Sell! Sell!

In the competitive nature of the world we now live in, there's no running away from the sales function. And the chief salesman in a startup is the CEO.

A recent conference brought together entrepreneurs and VCs from various places. What struck me the most was the total lack of a sales culture. Everyone was in their allotted booths or rooms and waited for people to walk in and ask questions about their product.

Imagine the opportunity: about 750-1000 people present. And as CEO of a startup, there could be myriad opportunities for selling, striking alliances, partnerships etc for your company.

Each and every such opportunity should converted into sales events. The CEO and other company executives should be busy meeting people and building relationships.

Indians in general are hesitant to talk about themselves. We are hesitant to say "I created the business" or "I designed the system&q…

Hocus-Focus?! - by Sanjay Anandaram

Indipreneur column (No. 5) by Sanjay Anandaram in the Financial Express:

Hocus-Focus?!

Sometime ago, I sat in on a presentation by a startup venture that had implemented solution involving bluetooth technology. The CEO, in the course of the presentation, also said that his company had a group that developed application software for hotels and hospitals, undertakes hardware design, had a Java-Web services group, apart from claiming expertise in mobile solutions. The company had all of 40 people and revenues of about Rs 15 crores and had been around for a few years.

Then, another company presentation I sat in on: this 100 employee company developed educational CD products, web-sites, and built software applications. They had some customers in the US and Europe. Revenues: Rs 50 million. Their immediate plans? to establish a presence in Japan, UAE, and Germany, some through joint ventures!

A third company I met answered me thus when asked who their customers were: ISPs, ASPs, Corporates, Sys…