December 29, 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 owned by ESPN), which used to provide live ball-by-ball coverage of cricket matches from around the world.essentially leveraging a volunteer network of cricket fans and with a very lean team of salaried employees.

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.

December 18, 2012

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 Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

December 06, 2012

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 forever. Entrepreneurship is a series of sprints. Create some thing of value; wealth for yourself and other stakeholders and move on to the next thing you are excited about.  - Meena Ganesh, CEO of Edurite Technologies & Co-founder of CustomerAsset

While there can be a few exceptions, large institutions can only be created with a long-term focus. Entrepreneurship is a marathon.
- Murugavel J, Founder, Bharatmatrimony.com

Most entrepreneurs talk about their product; what really matters more is the market and distribution.
- Paul Singh, Partner, 500Startups who also gave out some useful numbers for entrepreneurs: As a rough rule, it's ok to dilute a 15% stake for raising capital that will sustain for about one year. With that money, you should aim to raise the next round of funding at 3 times the previous valuation.

We have learnt what it takes to get our (seed funded) companies to attract the attention of Indian VCs (for providing the first round or "Series A" funding): Rs.2-5 crore revenue run rate + cash breakeven (so you are not desperate for the funding) + very good traction on a key parameter. Focus 
- Karthik Reddy, Managing Partner, Blume Ventures

The money is very much there - whether from accelerators, angels, seed funds or VCs. Our challenge is that we do no find enough entrepreneurs who think big enough and want to change the world.
- Rajesh Sawhney, Founder, GSF Superangels who also pointed out that it's a bad idea for founders to dilute a total of more than 30% stake to early investors like friends & family, accelerators and angels.

Venture Intelligence is the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A transactions in India as well as Financials & Valuations of Private Companies in the country. Click Here to view our products list including the Free Deal Digest Weekly: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.
 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.

December 05, 2012

Naming Your Company

From a post on being practical  

Of simple startup names that work -
  • Single letter words – Path, Square, Fab, Uber
  • Twisted Spellings – Lyft, Digg, Disqus
  • Tongue Twisters – Quora, Twitter, Bitly
  • Double 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.