Category Archives: Community

Technology product startups, angel and venture market comparisons – US and India

There is a lot of activity and interest in technology product companies in India, as there is in the US. I spent some time reviewing numbers from NVCA, VCCircle and pulled some numbers specifically in the areas of Internet, software, technology products and eliminated services companies. Here is a simple table to keep things in perspective. All sources are at the bottom.

USA

India

Total number of technology (Product & services) companies formed annually (average)

24,169

412

# of companies that secured angel funding

15,233 (1)

65

# of companies that secured seed / early stage from VC

1,682

58

# of companies that secured late stage funding from VC

658

31

I am yet to do any “analysis”. Right now the data validation process is what I am going to embark upon.

What is your analysis.

Relevant Links:

1. Crash Dev – eye of the needle

2. UNH center for angel investment research.

3. NAV Fund John Backus

4. Product Startup Landscape in India from Zinnov . (Thanks Pari!)

5. NVCA National aggregate data for US investments (Excel spreadsheet)

Givers and takers – a post on being a parallel entrepreneur

I often hear from many entrepreneurs about their desire to “give back”. Only after they have “made it”. What’s “making it” I ask? Usually its some form of monetary success or company milestone.

Here’s what I have learned – there’s no right time to start giving back. The right time is always. Right now. Today. This hour.

You may have heard of the term serial entrepreneur. Also the term parallel entrepreneur. I dont particularly like either term, but to me, a parallel entrepreneur is one that gives as much or as as quickly as she takes.

There are lots of takers, everywhere. Enough people seek out mentors, advisors, connectors and investors.

Not enough people are givers. Not enough people are coordinators, organizers, connectors and volunteers.

This has to change. You dont have to get enough to start giving. You can give a lot initially and trust me, the getting part happens extremely quickly.

We need more Avinash Raghava’s to help organize volunteer driven organizations.

We need more Subhendhu’s to help bring together Reverse pitch.

We need more Kiran’s to organize hasgeek forums.

We need more Chidambar’s to help bring Statup weekend’s to us.

I am missing many more. They are the unsung heros. They are really the parallel entrepreneurs.

I think they all deserve more of an applause than we give them. They should be an inspiration for us all to become parallel entrepreneurs.

Above all, be a force of good.

Solve meaningful problems as a startup

Back in the 90’s and better part of last decade, most of the smartest folks from the top colleges would go and work at Wall Street. Lured by high salaries and fat bonus checks, they used their wizardry to create CDO’s, asset backed securities and derivatives to create billions for hedge funds, investment banks and trading desks of large financial organizations.

We all know where that ended up – the subprime mortgage crisis.

We thought there was a turn of events when one of them started to build a meaningful startup.

That prompted Bill Gates to say

“I’d say we’ve moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job”

I get a sense that, “founding an Internet startup” is the new “joining a hedge fund” in the 90’s.

We are getting an amazing number of very smart people who are joining these startups in droves and applying for incubators, accelerators, hackathons and startup weekends.

There is a massive movement of high level IQ points from old-school consulting and “IT services backend for a large Indian outsourcer” to startups. That’s awesome news.

I have attended and judged 3 startup hackathons and prototype creation sessions over the last 1 month. I am absolutely thrilled that there are so many people turning out for these events in India. Over 650 attended the Yahoo Open Hack day. It was amazing to see such a diverse group of young talented developers and programmers solve some very interesting problems.

The part we have to work on is why the brightest minds are solving the most trivial of problems.

Startup IQ
Startup IQ

I think the problem with Indian startups is they think we are in the US.

There are rich people problems (The pictures from my mobile phone dont look good, can we build a “pimp my photo” app”) and there are real world problems (how can I make sure new grads from college learn to develope real apps, so they can get a job and reduce the jobless rate).

My humble request to Indian entrepreneurs is ‘Please dont build any more “I’m bored” apps’.

I am not trivializing the need for “fun” apps.

All I am requesting is that the highest IQ folks should be working on the highest impact problem areas to aid most humankind.

Why I am reducing my face-to-face mentoring & advisory sessions

I have many friends and acquaintances who have been reaching out to get some face time with me for brainstorming and advice. Usually its about their company or their career. I love these sessions and used to keep my 2pm to 3pm slot only for these meetings. It was like an office hours to meet people who reached out and would like to chat and meet.

Lately though, I have been declining those meetings. The issue is time.

I have 4 kids and a patient wife, and I am trying to prioritize family over work or business. This means I have limited time slotted to meet folks outside of the work environment.

Its a lot easier to find time to blog, email, discuss on Hackerstreet or be on the phone. The face-to-face meeting is very time consuming.

It starts out mostly with good intentions. Most emails I get ask for 15 – 30 min, but I feel guilty to give them that little amount of time after they have made the hike all the way from where they work / live to come and meet me. So its invariably a 1 hour meeting.

I also have some great folks working with me as part of our team. I have to prioritize time with them first. So the average 8-9 hours at work goes towards running projects, talking to customers, working on my to-do list and mentoring my direct reports.

I started initially with the intention to make a contribution to startups in India. I would meet and actively participate at many conferences, events and sessions. I am still doing that, but my focus is to spend more time with few people, instead of doing a quick meet-and-greet at those events.

So if you wish to catch up face-to-face, please meet me at one of the conferences / speaking engagements.

I usually meet / speak at 1-2 events each month. I promise to stay later and come early to these so I can devote time to learning from you and giving you my opinions.

I know this is not ideal for most entrepreneurs, but I would prefer to set expectations to not meet at all and make meeting face-to-face the exception than the rule.

I am always available via email (mukund @ thrisha.com) or phone: +91 998 054 2748.

Thanks for understanding.

Unpluggd: a Quick take on Uber Labs

I was the first speaker on the Unpluggd series a few years ago. I have very fond memories of the event, which was held at Honeywell offices. A little over 50-80 people joined us at a fairly small lunch room converted into a hall.

I attended the latest Unplugged on Saturday at MLR convention center. The first thing that came to mind when I walked up the steps to the auditorium was “You’ve come a long way baby“.

First off, kudos to Ashish, Kunal and Pratyush and the many others who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get this to happen.

There were between 500 and 600 people at the event and it was buzzing. The first event had 2 sponsors, and Honeywell sponsored the location. This event had standing (or sitting in the aisles) room only even for the last talk in the day and top notch speakers and sponsors.

I was very impressed with both the quality of the 10 companies that presented (disclosure: Vinita, my wife presented her company GitGrow at the event) and the quality of the speakers.

One company in particular, UberLabs talked about their product gazeMetrix. One word – awesome.

No other words.

I have been to 5 demo days in India and over 11 in the US. This product in any of those demo days would have been among the top 3. The quality of the idea and its execution was crisp.

The entrepreneur in me says – just fund this entrepreneur. The investor in me says – get ready for a tough slog for the next few years. The product is good, but the challenge is going to be distribution. B2B companies targeting India alone struggle even with the best products. Targeting US (the primary market) for this out of India is always a challenge. What they will end up doing I suspect is to go Westward (like InterviewStreet, Orange scape and others).

That’s no necessarily a bad thing, but I just wish we had more early adopters both in the consumer and business side to help companies like Uber Labs thrive in India without having to leave India.

Bangalore Startups Group and the Big data meetup

I attended an awesome mixer and startup meeting late afternoon yesterday put together by Bangalore startups.  Umashankar, Rashmi and Subhendu had organized a technical Big data developer exchange.

First off, just having over 100+ developers in a room (with a VC to boot- Rajesh from Ojas) was great. There were multiple levels of maturity about big data and Hadoop in particular (Zookeeper, Pig scripts, etc.) but this was an awesome start to more technical meetups. I think the format was in beta but it was good to see the energy in the room.

I am a big fan of the unconference in particular, so for developer meetups, this is one of the best formats is my perspective. This one in particular would have been best suited for it.

There were 3 talks – one by Karan from Microsoft, another from Vara & Khadim of Search enabler and 3rd by Vikranth of Data Weave. All three were excellent, hands-on perspective from developers, by developers and for developers.

I personally thought Vara stood out. The most impressive part of the presentation was the confidence that there are folks in India doing excellent work on niche (but growing) and arcane areas, some of it very cutting edge. Vara actually builds his own servers (from cheap components), and has built a suite of tools to automate their imaging, provisioning and maintenance built on open source components. I thought they could offer that as a service to Indian entrepreneurs because even though Amazon is easy, its a tad expensive for Indian startups. Their infrastructure is at least 30% less expensive than Amazon was their perspective and best suited for companies hosting for Indian and neighboring markets.

Their stack had Lucene and Nutch (for crawling and indexing), pig scripts and Zookeeper on top of HDFS. There were over 30 open source tools they have used for the infrastructure management.

My biggest takeaway was that many of these folks are not too far away from contributing back to FOSS community. When I talked to many of the developers to find out why contribution to FOSS was low from India, their personal experience was the lack of confidence that their “code was not up to the mark”.

I think there’s an excellent opportunity for this team or another to build confidence by hosting and running FOSS contribution hackathons. If anyone’s up to it, I’d love to contribute with space, food or some freebies.