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Showing posts from May, 2012

"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 …

Diligencing Investors - The Manish Sabharwal way

Manish Sabharwal, founder of education and staffing services firm Teamlease (who earlier founded and sold India Life) articulates in an article in Mint, how he went about choosing his latest set of PE/VC Investors.
Sabharwal and Reddy decided to raise Rs. 100 crore to start with. But since both labour and education are highly regulated, Sabharwal was cautious about finding the right financier. “We wanted a domestic investor because they understand India. We didn’t want a tourist investor from the US who would give us a high valuation but freak out every time an article appeared in the newspaper,” he says.

Sabharwal spoke to 5-10 investors. “I did my due diligence, about the personalities in the investing firm, talked to people at their investee companies, and other companies that they had dealings with. I tried to get a match of how long we think it’s going to take and how long they are going to give us.”
Venture Intelligence is the leading provider of data and analysis on private equit…

Selling the White House - or Your Business

Ken Marlin, managing partner at an US-based boutique advisory firm has some tips in Inc.com on how to go about putting a price on the White House or your business. 1. Showcase What's Cool."You've got to know what's really cool about the property, or about the business," Marlin said. "And, that's what you have to make sure you highlight and communicate to potential buyers." 2. Create a list of the interested buyers...you might find that potential buyers might want to acquire you for purely financial reasons. Others might want to acquire you strategically as part of a plan to continue building their businesses.3. Get an auction goingValuations are always tough when there is no functioning market, and thus no comparable sales to point to. So a smart entrepreneur, whether he's trying to sell a company or a piece of iconic real estate, tries to create one.Often, that means staging an auction. You don't need hundreds of potential buyers: just two…

"Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: What is it all about?" - By Sanjay Anandaram

In an earlier article, I had talked of the rapidly changing mindset of the Indian entrepreneur and how that augured very well for the Indian startup eco-system.

Eco-system is one of those words that gets bandied about casually, like “entrepreneur”, like “awesome”, like “great!”; an all encompassing god-word that hides more than it reveals. As with all words that tend to become buzzwords, gross trivializations have occured with this word as well.

An ecosystem in biology refers to a living community – plants, animals, humans - that interacts with a non-living environment – water, soil, energy – via a complex set of interactions. There are external factors like climate, time, rainfall that play a role. Internal factors like types of species, decomposition of material, availability of shade also play a role. Internal factors both control the processes within an ecosystem and are also controlled by them.

Now look at the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The living members of the commun…

“It takes a village to raise a child” - Article by Sanjay Anandaram

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in India is changing and for the good. And I’m not referring to the increasing numbers of entrepreneurs from the educated middle classes or to the growing presence of angel funds or even to the opportunities thrown up by a growing economy. Having been part of the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem for close to 15 years now, I can attest to a subtler, less visible and important change. While I don’t have “objective” market research data to support my thesis, I do have anecdotal evidence. And this evidence points to the fact that growing numbers of Indian entrepreneurs are seeking mentorship and advise.
Why is this important?
The act of seeking mentorship and advise follows from a realization – that I, the entrepreneur, don’t have all the answers; that I am willing to step out of my comfort zone, network, meet very many people -  who bring in different perspectives, knowledge, experiences, lessons, skills, and bare my soul – albeit in small doses – to unknown …