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Showing posts from 2012

"Unpaid Volunteers Better Than Paid Employees"

Interesting take from Derek Flanzraich, Founder and CEO of Greatist, in his Mixergy podcast:
...convincing people to work for very little money, or no money, is very hard, and if you convince them, it means they’re in it for something else. I love that. I love the idea that we were creating an online TV show at my university because people genuinely thought it was important that we do it. The students were learning how to run a camera, something they’d never done before, purely because they thought it was important that we poke and satirize the university. Here it’s no different, except the difference is it’s bigger and more meaningful. We want to help people think of health and wellness in a healthier way. When we interview people for new jobs, if they don’t believe extraordinarily, passionately in this vision of the future and want to have a hand in shaping it regardless of their experience, we don’t hire them. I got reminded about the amazing story of the origins of CricInfo (now …

Buzzword Bandwagon

Ashish of Nextbigwhat has a nice post on why it's dangerous for Indian startups to (ab)use "cloud" as a marketing buzzword when pitching to customers (as against investors). To which I added the following comment:

Just when the logic of SaaS (pay as you go; no installations reqd; upgrades are automatic, etc.) seemed to be getting through to the target market (SME owners/promoters), the vendors have abandoned it (at least the word) to make themselves cloudy.

Having said that, let me join the buzzword bandwagon.

Dear Investor, 

We are a cloud-based big data firm leveraging social networks and are working on a disruptive mobile application (iOS only). Interested?



Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from E…

Know the level (of thy company) before you "let go"

And other vignettes from TiECon Chennai-2012

"I'm going to just stay still like you," said the rabbit to the owl on the tree branch above. And proceeded to stay still. Just then, a fox happened to pass by and got to enjoy a nice (effortless) dinner.- Satguru Jaggi Vasudev to emphasize that entrepreneurs can afford to delegate depending on the level at which their company is. (If the company is operating at a vulnerable level - like the rabbit - then they better be "running around" focusing on even the smallest details. But if the startup has taken off, they can afford to perch themselves and run their companies with an owl's eye view.)

Keep your eyes on the immediate next milestone (say, Series A funding) and focus on what you need to get there. Everything else is a distraction.
- K. Ganesh, Founder of TutorVista & CustomerAsset

You have one life to live. And it is too short to worry about building a legacy and be wedded to one company foreve…

Naming Your Company

From a post on being practical

Of simple startup names that work -
Single letter words – Path, Square, Fab, UberTwisted Spellings – Lyft, Digg, DisqusTongue Twisters – Quora, Twitter, BitlyDouble letter words – Instagram, Foursquare, SendGrid, Facebook, AngelList, TechCrunch, PostMates (Wishberg goes here).Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

Extreme Startup Hiring

I was recently a guest at the Insead "India Business Dialogue" event at Bangalore. The event aimed to provide Insead grads - who are naturally mostly employed at large corporations - on starting up, attracting venture capital and, if the entrepreneurial plunge is too much of a risky leap, getting hired by a startup.

If the grads thought getting hired by a startup sounded safer, they had anothing think coming. The last session (on joining a startup) had one representative each from a VC firm, a HR Services firm and a veteran entrepreneur. And here's a sample of what they had to say about startup hiring techniques:

The Entrepreneur: One of my friends makes sure to pour coffee on the candidate and takes a call based on how the candidate reacts.

The HR Person: We offer to send a cab for picking up the candidate. And we generally don't bother to. We - and out clients - like to see whether the candidate turns up late and cribs about the taxi or figures out an alternative …

Offer Employees Variety of Roles to Stay Fresh

Richard Branson column in Mint
Once your company is well established, keeping your employees engaged in their work can be tough, especially those who took the job because they were intrigued by the excitement and the challenges presented by the launch stage. Most of your best people will always be interested in developing their skills further, but they may find fewer new projects available, along with fewer paths to advancement. Working with employees to find solutions will be the job of every manager on your team.

...One day you might be a member of a team that is working on the launch of a new mobile phone network in Latin America or the Middle East, and the next week you could find yourself helping to develop one of our Branson centers for young entrepreneurs. I like to encourage all our employees to apply for jobs at other Virgin companies that they find interesting.

...Another way we keep our employees engaged is by inviting them to take part in company events, like th…

You Are Being Watched. Always.

Second time I'm coming across this "being watched issue" this week.

From Srikrishna's post (emphasis mine):
What most of us don’t realize is that we are actively, even if blindly building culture in our companies every waking moment. The trouble is when we do this without being mindful or engaged, we usually end up building a culture that we are surprised about as it invariably bites us in the rear.Starting from the moment you step into the office, people see if you greet the security guard, whether you get your own cup of tea or put it away when done.
Whether you text in meetings or worse yet when you answer the phone during a 1:1 meeting. Even if you answered yes, yes, yes and no & no, they see what you do or say when a senior team member flames another, or a team member screams at a vendor. When you are quiet about a white lie to a customer or don’t question why a payment is being withheld, you are communicating loudly and shaping culture – though not nece…

The Impulsesoft Story

Came across this presentation via pluggdin by one of the company's founders, Srikrishna. Sri Krishna
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

Do it. Or Don't. Never "try to do it".

Krishnan Ganesh, Angel Investor & Founder of Tutorvista in Business Today:
As CEO of Bharti British Telecom, I used to work directly with Sunil Mittal. During meetings on strategy and plans, we used to have stimulating debates and heated arguments. At the end of it, Sunil Mittal used to take a firm commitment - either the senior managers were going to do it, or they had the choice to refuse. Accepting to try an idea was not an option.
Agreeing to "try to do it" is a sure-shot recipe for a half-hearted attempt that will result in failure. This has helped me as I started four companies and built strong teams to get people committed to a cause or task wholeheartedly rather than start with doubts and dissonance. Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reac…

"Attach & Detach"

Anil Gupta, Joint MD of Havells India, in Business Today
You need to attach yourself to certain things to go deeper, develop a passion and get work done. But you need to get detached after achieving certain milestones. If you remain attached to a certain thing, you cannot professionalise and grow it. Detachment makes it easier to professionalise and monitor the work from a distance. ...My father repeated this advice when Havells went through a tough time during the global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009. When we acquired Sylvania (in November 2007) we were very detached from the business for the first one-and-a-half years and we let the existing management team to run the company. But when Sylvania fell deeper into the red, the management team of Havells got fully involved. For one year there was close coordination between Sylvania and Havells. Sylvania became profitable (in 2011/12) and now we again run it from a distance. The advice has helped me balance my work and personal lif…

"Go on a two-month holiday"

Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality MD Riyaaz Amlani on the "best advice he ever received" in a Business Today article: The trouble:
...The same people who bring you from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 in one's story sometimes don't elevate their own game for what is required to get you through to the next chapter. They get comfortable, become fat cats quickly, and don't seem to want to change. It seems that they needed me to ratify everything. I needed to be everywhere and personally supervise everything. I worked 18 hours a day. And couldn't do enough. It was frustrating and heartbreaking. I loved my people but I just couldn't get them to take full ownership. The solution provider: Tariq Ansari of Mid-Day, The solution:
"Go on a two-month holiday." As soon as I began to protest, he explained: "It's a concept called 'benevolent negligence'." Leave. Go away. Take your hands off, and your people will be forced to sin…

FusionCharts Story: The E-Book Version

The founder's bother has written an 90 page e-book on the starting-up of FusionCharts - a $7-M revenue product company created by a teenager - Pallav Nadhani - out of Kolkata. 




Read Pluggdin's post on the highlights from the book here.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

Do's & Dont's for Indian Startups

From a great post by Pravin Jadhav of social media startup Wishberg.
Don’t divulge what is not shipped yet. This is a tough one to explain. To put it simply (or wisely) – ‘You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.’ Here the context is different. Everyone is looking for ideas, you don’t give it to them. We met with one angel investor, had a detailed discussion about our product – how we intend to market / acquire consumers. Few days later, one of his invested startup came up with remarkably similar approach. On another instance, one investor met us twice in a span on 10 days, insisted we share our detailed road map ASAP. A week later his firm announced a investment in an over lapping category; he was leading the deal.
Do whats impossible, not what is easy. If you have a brilliant idea and you think its easy to execute, there probably are another 100 startups doing it already. You are operating in a crowded space.
Your health is important. ...Long working hours, erra…

Peak Creation Windows and What Destroys Them

Entrepreneur, Writer and Podcaster Jonathan Fields has a great post on maximizing productivity by focusing on the key activities during the productive time periods during the day and cutting out "email, social media, phone calls and other yadda yadda" during those times. Using peak creation cycles for email stifles innovation, performance and progress. I was inadvertently doing maintenance and production work during the window where I should’ve been in hardcore creation mode. By the time I’d roll into late morning/early afternoon, my organic hyper-creation window was cycling down and I nothing left to do the work that makes me come alive and that people most value. Malaise would set it. I found it harder and harder to come up with ideas, new posts and solutions when structured my day this way. So, I responded by making a simple shift. I still do check my email after I get done meditating or exercising (shhhh, don’t tell). But, it’s a quick scan and, unless there’s a true…

Entrepreneurship is...

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” - Anonymous Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius, Thinker and Philosopher You must fall in love with what you do, because being an entrepreneur is a lot of hard work, and overcoming a lot of adversity. From that love will come the dedication that will get you out of bed at 4 a.m. because of a great idea you just had and get you to work till 11 p.m. and not feel tired.” – Ken Field, Real Estate Magnate Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers.

The Surprising Biggest Problem of Small Businesses: Having Too Much Money

From a post by AnnMaria of The Julia Group.

..sometimes, as Paul Hawken has said, the biggest problem with small businesses is that they have too much money. That may sound crazy, but I have always tried to keep overhead to the bare minimum. Almost everyone who works for us is a contractor, which means we pay them when we have work and when we don’t have work for them to do, we don’t pay them. I’m not too worried about being first to market – I see how well that worked out for VisiCalc and Netscape. I’ve way too much experience to think that you can do a project twice as fast with six programmers as with three. After 27 years, I still have an office in my house. When I meet people, I usually go to lunch...

Interesting and certainly worth thinking about...

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that…

"It's all About the People" - The Truism that Stays True

From a Mixergy podcast interview with Dr.Rajiv Kumar of US-based corporate wellness service ShapeUp. (Emphasis mine)
What’s the one takeaway that you have? One thing that you say, hey you know, I am better because I have this one understanding after having built this business.

Rajiv: Yeah, I think it would probably sound very obvious and maybe somewhat cliché, but at the end of the day, every single thing that a business does, successes and failures, are all about people, and can’t underestimate that. I think we know it, but we forget it sometimes. But it is the people that makes everything happen or makes thing not happen. There’s a huge opportunity cost to having a wrong person in a position, and you don’t realize that opportunity cost until that person leaves, and because either there’s a void and you realize that this person was actually dragging the company down, or someone who comes in that’s much better and you realize how much more quickly you’re accelerating. And when you have …

Why It's Important to Let Go of Non-Performers

From a post on OnStartups titled "Remembering 9/11: Leadership Lessons From Akamai Founder". (Danny Lewin, co-founder of Akamai Technologies, "a commando in the Israeli Special Forces counter-terror group, then a genius mathematics graduate student at MIT, and then a visionary billionaire entrepreneur", "was tragically killed on American Airlines Flight #11")

To Restore Trust When it Weakens: Hold People Accountable and Get Rid of Non-Performers.

Great leaders hold people accountable successfully by honoring an unspoken contract between them. The team members make commitments to each other and to the leader. Then the leader measures each of them fairly and by the same standards - by how well they did what they said they would do. The leader pays each member by how well they performed their part of the deal.

But when one member fails to execute, other teammates see it immediately. They lose confidence both in the non-performer and in the leader for failing to…

Should an Entrepreneur Bring Home the Baby or the Bacon?

Bring home the bacon
1. To earn a living, especially for a family.
2. To achieve desired results; have success.

In one of his latest posts titled 7 dark secrets of Entrepreneurs - Revealed, Alok Kejriwal (as usual) provides a lot of material for reflection at the same time making it an easy read.
2. Entrepreneurs are lonely.

Honestly, entrepreneurs are their own best friends.

Yes, family comes close and there is almost a reverse dependency on family (I feel I depend on my wife and 2 daughters more than they depend on me), but there is really no one else.

Maybe I speak for myself, but the gigantic tasks of the day leave no room for hanging out with friends or acquaintances. In most cases, it’s going out with the office crowd.

Entrepreneurs speak to themselves in their sleep. They sell proposals to themselves in the shower and negotiate term sheets in their mind while they are eating sev puri. There is little time for other friendships. Here are a couple that particularly struck a chord:

3. Entr…

"Avoid Mind Blocks & Artificial Boundaries" - Pandia Rajan & Latha Rajan of Ma Foi

Cross Posted from the Venture Intelligence Entrevista blog:


Latha Rajan & K. Pandia Rajan of Ma Foi ( Bios)

In conversation with K. Satyanarayan, Co-founder of regional language publishing firm New Horizon Media.
(Recorded on August 15, 2012 in Chennai.)

Highlights:

Takeaways for Other Entrepreneurs: (Click on the links for the video segments)
Don't add artificial constraints when it comes to entrepreneurship

KPR:
Separating home and work, politics & business - we tend to have many boundaries where none need to exist. These are Western notions and mind blocks that we can revisit.

Being a Husband-Wife Entrepreneur Combination was never a major hassle for us. In fact, as Latha says often, we would have probably fallen apart but for Ma Foi!

Latha Rajan: In the early days, he used to travel 25 days a month and I used to travel 10 days a month. But since I was there within the system, I could understand (the pressures and issues). Both of us knew what we were working towards.

Entreprene…

Tips for Technology Start Ups

From Art Reisman's post titled "Nine Tips for Technology Start Ups". (Hat tip: Terry Gold)
5) Product companies must avoid the consulting trap.

If you produce a software product and (or any product for that matter), you will always be inundated for specialty, one-off, requests from customers. These requests are well intentioned, but you can’t let your time and direction of a single customer drive your feature set. The exception to this rule is obviously if you are getting similar requests from multiple customers. If you start building special features for single customers, ultimately you will barely break even, and may go broke trying to please them. At some point (now), you have to say this is our product, and this is our price, and these are the features, and if a customer needs specialty features, you will need to politely decline. If your competition takes up your account on promises of customization, you can be sure they are spreading their resources thin.

6) Validate…

PaaSage from Cuddalore to California: The OrangeScape Story

Rediff.com has an interesting profile of the Chennai-based Platform as a Service (PaaS) software product firm and its founder Suresh Sambandam (who grew up in the small Tamilnadu town of Cuddalore).

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers.

Team & Culture Building @ Gozoop

Rohan Bhansali, Founder of digital marketing firm Gozoop, shares interesting HR practices at his company in an interview/profile at TheRodinhoods.com:

Culture wise: These are the things we do. All may not be unique but they make our culture unique.

1. Every Saturday the team comes together (no matter how busy they are) and we do crazy things – Idli eating competitions, back to school drawing competitions, ragging new recruits, dancing to 90’s Bollywood tunes, Dumb charades, etc. Last week we played passing the parcel.

2. Gozooper of the Week – Every Thursday, an email is sent to the entire team mentioning one odd (or weird) fact of a team member. The team then has to guess who the person is. Great way to get to know each other.

3. Every year we write a hand written letter to the parents of our most dedicated and earnest team mates highlighting their achievements. There is no prouder moment for parents than hearing about their child’s success.

4. We have weekly Foosball mash ups where we br…

Saying No to Expensive Startup Awards

The inimitable Alok 'Rodinhood' Kejriwal has an interesting account of an invitation from an international publication to nominate his company for an "hot startup" award.

- The call was pleasant and kinda, "How is the weather" type of talk (read - "Entrepreneurs are this and that", etc) - I participated and humored the caller.

- In the end I was told, "We like to see the entrepreneurs. We want them to come to Hong Kong and present in front of a jury. On that day in September, something will happen at 4pm, then something at 5pm and winners will be announced at 8pm. So please come."

I said NO.

This is the point I made:

- Entrepreneurs don't have time to pitch for awards and mentions. They have time to do business.

- As an award, you have done lots of research on all the companies concerned.


This is the age of the INTERNET!
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equ…

How to Foster the Desired Culture

From an article by Rajeev Peshawaria in The Mint.
I define culture as what your people do when no one is looking.

...The first step is to articulate the desired culture in terms of the specific behaviour expected from all employees. Use full sentences that tell people exactly what to do and what not to do. “Excellence”, “passion” and “collaboration” are large, abstract words which mean different things to different people—a clearer way of articulating the cultural principle or value of excellence is to say, “Find better ways of doing things.” Similarly, instead of just saying “collaboration”, a better bet might be to say, “Proactively help others to succeed”. Most companies have prescribed corporate values, but they usually stay on the hallway posters they’re relegated to—because nothing is done to socialize or reinforce them.

The next step, therefore, is to socialize the desired culture. Repeatedly communicate it at every possible opportunity. This sounds easy but there are two common p…

"E-Commerce Reality Check" - Article by Sanjay Anandaram

A July 2002 Business Week article had this to say about Amazon: “after seven years and more than US $1 billion in losses, Amazon is still a work in progress.” The company posted $5m in profits, it’s first ever, in the last quarter of 2001 on sales of $1.12 billion. Amazon is the poster boy of e-commerce around the world, the incredible survivor of the 2001 dotcom meltdown - when naysayers said that Amazon with over $2 billion in debt (largely used to fund warehouses) would become insolvent - and naturally enough inspires Indian entrepreneurs as well.

There are a great many lessons to be learnt from amazing Amazon. Founded in 1994 as Cadabra, Amazon.com went online in 1995 raising about $300K from friends and family. In June 1996, KPCB invested $8m and it went public in May 1997. It had sales of $15.7m in 1996, did $16m in the quarter ending March 1997 before the IPO, raised $54m in the IPO at a market capitalization of $438m on the first day. The company had gone international, had a w…

Cheat Sheet for Fund Raising on Angel List

Rick Perreault of Unbounce has a nice guest post at OnStartups on the topic.

Tip #1 Use video to tell your story

In hindsight, probably the most effective thing I did was include a link on our profile and in all my email correspondence to a video of me giving our pitch I had the opportunity to pitch at the last GROW Conference here in Vancouver and lucky for us, they recorded it. I included it on our Angel List profile and almost everyone that contacted me commented that they watched it and especially liked the Q&A. Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WcpFqKA7So

You don’t need to spend any money doing this either. Record yourself giving your pitch and providing answers to all the typical questions that you get from outsiders and post it on YouTube. Your passion, conviction and knowledge of the problem you are solving will come across in ways that a deck can never achieve and by presenting your own Q&A, you’ll skip all the typical questions and have a mu…

Have an Unfair Advantage and go for White Spaces

Extract from an article by serial entrepreneur K. Ganesh in The Economic Times.
Startup infant mortality rate is over 95%. You don't want to be among the casualties. And for that, you need all the aces or high-value cards. So be it the right co-founders, adequate capital, unfair access to supply chain or disproportionate advantage over others make sure you have the secret sauce. This will ensure you are part of the 5% that make it alive.

...Almost all entrepreneurs out there are passionate, hardworking and intelligent. At best, you can incrementally and marginally improve operational efficiency. But then you will make other mistakes. So, it's better go for new, uncontested spaces or disruptive business models. You would then have a better chance of success.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products …

"Balance Ambition & Risk"

Manish Sabharwal of Teamlease provides this great contrast in an article for Economic Times.
We are frugal with capital because we know that entrepreneurship is the art of staying alive long enough to get lucky.

But we also understand that entrepreneurship is a leap into the unknown so if you are going to jump from the 10th floor you might as well jump from the 50th floor! What is happening in India today is not once in a decade or once in a millennium but once in the lifetime of a country. This offers unique entrepreneurial opportunities.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs reach out effectively to the investing community.

Raising the Bar for Performance Reviews

From the Economic Times article:
Vivek Ranadive, the founder-chairman of TIBCO Software, recently sacked his America sales chief despite the Palo Alto, California-based infrastructure-software provider surpassing market expectations. He had to because he grades his employees in a very contrarian way. "If you do everything you are asked to do and you do it very well, you get a C," he says. "In order to be a superstar (to get an A or Aplus)," he says, "you have to do things that nobody asked you to do."

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs reach out effectively to the investing community.

"If you have the inclination, you will find the time!" - Article By Sanjay Anandaram

During a recent review meeting, I asked the startup CEO the status of certain action items agreed to in the previous meeting. He smiled sheepishly and said that he would need more time as his days were packed and that he would need another 10 days to complete the pending items. This was after 2 weeks had elapsed! Upon digging deeper and on further questioning, it transpired that it wouldn’t have taken more than 4 hours to accomplish the tasks. Yet the CEO was asking for more time and he was indeed very busy!

“Call me tomorrow afternoon”, said another startup CEO. I was trying to set up a phone call with this person to discuss a possible partnership with a startup I’m involved with. Upon calling the next day in the “afternoon”, I was told that the CEO was in another meeting and that he would call back. I asked for a time when I could expect a call – that wasn’t forthcoming. I also couldn’t get a convenient time for me to call back at. I received a call late in the evening that day from …

The Woman Behind the Security Service

The Hindu has a profile of the woman entrepreneur, G. Sree Vidhya, behind Ravindra Services Pvt. Ltd, the company which operates Dgroup Security Force and facilities management firm Dialtone Hotline Services.
Dgroup Security Force was founded by her mentor, friend and business associate Ravindra Padmanabhan in 1992 and she had a hand in the decision. Until then, the duo was running facility management services under the name Dialtone Hotline Services, which continued to exist alongside the new business. Dr. Padmanabhan passed away in 2001 in a road accident and Sree Vidhya bought out the company in 2003 and named it Ravindra Services Pvt. Ltd (RSPL), after the founder. Dgroup Security Force and Dialtone Hotline Services function as the brands of the RSPL Group. The group also provides temporary staffing services. RSPL Group has over 3,000 workers on its rolls and boasts many corporate clients.

...“Avoid false promises” is another must in her book. When Dgroup Security Force was in its …

Harsh Mariwala launches entrepreneur mentoring foundation Ascent

To start with Mumbai- & Pune-based entrepreneursAn entrepreneur’s journey is always an exciting one. But it can often be along a testing and lonely path. Harsh Mariwala has steered Marico to grow in sales from Rs. 40 lac in 1971 to Rs. 4,000 crore today. He understands the challenges one faces while growing an enterprise. And that is why he has launched a new idea- ASCENT- Accelerating the SCaling up of ENTerprises. Ascent seeks to identify entrepreneurs with potential and enable them in their growth journey.Ascent is a non-profit entity expression of Harsh Mariwala's personal social responsibility towards entrepreneurs. Harsh Mariwala bears all expenses for ASCENT personally.ASCENT offers a unique and powerful ‘self-help” platform through the formation of TRUST GROUPS of 10 Entrepreneurs each. Each Trust Group will comprise non-competitive, diverse groups of entrepreneurs. We aim to start with 10 TRUST groups in Mumbai and Pune, and over the next few years scale …

Worm's-Eye View or Bird's-Eye View? Management by "Zooming"

From a HBR article on the need for managers to be able to both Zoom-in (be Detail Oriented) and also Zoom-out (be Big Picture guys).

Close-in managers look for immediate benefits and make ad hoc decisions. They often favor one-on-one conversations over group meetings. They want to address details by doing whatever occurs to them. Faced with a problem, they look for quick fixes rather than stand back to seek underlying causes, alternatives, or long-term solutions. They prefer to contact someone they know rather than search more widely for expertise. These tendencies are exacerbated in organizations that restrict information flow, reward quick hits, and confine people to their roles.

...The former CEO of Garanti Bank, Akin Ongor, led it from a middle-of-the-road bank in Turkey to global prominence by setting up processes that replaced poor performers and upgraded talent. When his announcement of layoffs provoked union protests and even death threats, Ongor refused to take the attacks pers…

Managing like a Duck and other Startup CEO Traits

From a guest post on OnStartups by Paul DeJoe, founder at Ecquire.
...You start to respect the Duck. Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you. You learn the hard way that if you lose your cool you lose.

...You begin to see how valuable creativity is and that you must think differently not only to win, but to see the biggest opportunities. You recognize you get your best ideas when you're not staring at a screen. You see immediate returns on healthy distractions.

...Your job is to create a vision, a culture, to get the right people on the bus and to inspire. When you look around at a team that believes in the vision as much as you do and trusts you will do the right thing all the time, it's a feeling that can't be explained. The exponential productivity from great people will always amaze you. It's why finding the right team is the most difficult thing you will do but the most important. This learning will affect your life s…

"An Indian Facebook: A Distant Dream" - By Sanjay Anandaram

The recent Facebook IPO, which valued the 8 year old company with a 28 year old CEO at over $100billion, provided yet another opportunity for many to again ask: “When will India have a Facebook?” or some variation like “When will India build global products?”

While this makes for good discussion, some important points got missed. Namely that Facebook has been applying for a set of new patents in the past few weeks of which the top four published by the US Patent office include new ways of collecting messages from different devices and collating it with socially relevant conversations. And for the record, Facebook has over 800 patents.

While the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem is changing for the better (pls refer http://startupjourney.blogspot.in/2012/05/it-takes-village-to-raise-child-article.html and http://startupjourney.blogspot.in/2012/05/entrepreneurial-ecosystem-what-is-it.html) with various elements coming together, it is instructive to keep in mind one very important gap…

Starting Up Tips from Fmr GE, Wipro exec Vivek Paul

The Corporate Exec-turned PE Investor-turned Startup founder has some insightful tips in an article appearing in Economic Times.

Keep your own counsel
Before I joined Wipro, I used to run GE's global CT scanner business. I made a big bet on a breakthrough technology while at that job. Everybody I asked for advice told me not to venture into it. I listened to their reasons. I then gave a solution to every reason that was raised. By doing this, I became confident. What I learnt most through this was that you can seek suggestions from everybody, but keep your own counsel.

Envision the future
My stint at Wipro taught me to envision the future. This is not because you want to live in a fantasy land. You can actually work backwards to figure out what you need to do today to build that future. You also need to inspire others. It is not enough that only you have this belief. Everybody else needs to have that belief. It is not just empty words. You need to translate this into action.

Pl…

B-Plan or B-School?

Manish Sabharwal again - this time in Inc IndiaSoon after, I incorporated my company, India Life, and went off to Wharton to study management. I got professors from there involved in my business. Most people want to make it to a business school to get a lucrative job. They have the math all wrong. A business school is like intellectual wine-tasting. These places are the best incubators in the world; the alumni, the professors and the resources for developing abusiness plan are just amazing. I think people should go to a business school, write their business plan, find an investor and come out ready to execute. That’s what I did. I found the View Group at Wharton, and got USD$2 million to start a health insurance company. That morphed to pension fund management, and then, finally to pension fund administration, before becoming an outsourcing company that was bought out by Hewitt in 2002. Aah, the MNC LifeAs the clauses with Hewitt would have it, I spent the next two years in Singapore …