Category Archives: Humor

What startup entrepreneurs can learn from Donald Trump

I am not a fan of Donald Trump and dont agree with many of his positions, but he sure is entertaining to follow. I do actively follow politics, so I am keenly interested in campaign strategies, tactics and political news.

There’s a lot to learn from Donald Trump, in terms of startup strategy. There’s a great piece about him on Business Week, which is a good read.

Trump parapheranalia
Trump paraphernalia
Trump Mar A Lago Club
Trump Mar A Lago Club (ht: Business Week)

Here’s the TLDR version – he inherited a lot of money from his dad, started building and did some real estate development, lost a lot of money, bankrupted his companies and then started fresh again. Instead of risking a lot with loans, he instead, created a “branding and merchandising” entity which lends the Trump name to real estate companies. This licensing is how he makes a lot of money – risk free.

The 3 most important lessons I learned from him so far are:

  1. Disrupt the incumbents and “insiders” by creating a new set of rules to play by. Political campaigns, we are told are about issues, depth of knowledge and having strong positions on those issues. You need to be broad and deep on the issues – know who the president of Syria is, as well as the unemployment rate in rural Iowa and the daily working class problems of a single mom in Florida. Which realistically most candidates don’t have.

Trump, but no means is an expert (for most of the things that you need to be an expert on to be a President). In fact, he is the antitheses of an expert. He has forced all the other “institutional candidates” with pedigree and great backgrounds to make illegal immigration the #1 issue for the election. Which, in itself is surprising, given how little impact it has on the economy or social well being. It does though, have a huge cultural impact.

The incumbents, now have to play by his rules and are falling all over themselves, looking like fools, and giving answers that indicate that the solution to every problem is to build a wall.

2. Make your competitors biggest strength their biggest weakness. Most political campaigns are about fundraising. You have to bring enough via small donations, contributions from rich investors and retail money (think $1000 private dinners). Most of the competitors have been trying to do that, just like the establishment of the Republican party – which is confused as to how they can “checkmate” Trump. Well, their biggest strength (fund raising) is now inconsequential. Trump has spent no money (not really, but much less than his competitors) but has been constantly getting the attention and the coverage to be “in the news” all the time.

The rich Republican donors who want to stop him on his tracks are a loss to figure out how to do so, given that their money (with which I presume they can buy attack ads) is not going to buy them much at all.

3. Being an outsider in an industry helps frame everyone in that industry as “old school” and “dithering” to potential customers. Most customers like new approaches from other industries, even though they understand that 100% of them may not work . Trump’s solutions for building walls, making Iran “pay if they violate the contract”, etc. are unlikely to work in the political arena, which are purely business ideas, but he has framed them well enough for people to think there’s a shot it might work.

I actually am among the few people who think Trump will will the nomination of the Republican party, since the rest of the crowd (save Marco Rubio) are just not that exciting. If, he does that, then he has a great shot at being President.

Imagine that. That’s the startup equivalent of an Unicorn. Very little chance of happening when you started, but going against an existing set of players in a predefined market, making it easy pickings at times.

How the 6 digit Apple passcode requirement wastes $6.551 Billion annually

Apple this week announced that they are going to require 6 digit passcodes instead of 4 digit passcodes for the lock screen.

Newer ipads and iphones will require the 6 digit passcodes. That’s apparently more secure than 4 digit passcodes.

The only reason to go to 6 digits is when your phone gets stolen by someone who can brute force 10,000 codes (with 4 digits). Well, apparently, most people use pretty common passwords, so if you only try 27 known passcodes (such as 1111) then your chances of unlocking the phone are at 67%. That means only a third of the people actually use complicated passcodes that will take more than 15 minutes to crack.

If however, you have 6 digits, then the combinations are a million (versus 10,000+) so, it should take longer and more effort to crack your password.

I doubt that. 90% of people will go with 111111 instead of 1111 is my guess, or 123456 instead of 1234. Now, your stolen phone will take 22 minutes to be unlocked instead of 15. Yay!

Apple has sold 512 Iphones to date and about 200 million iPads. Of those, about 75% or 534 Million devices are still in active use. 83% of them run the latest version of iOS.

I am going to assume that most people will upgrade to the new OS version so about 500 million (534 million to be exact) iOS devices will be upgraded to 6 digit passcodes.

The median salary in the US is about $42,000 and the median iPhone users salary worldwide is higher – $53,000.

90% of the iPhone users move to 6 digit passcodes and each user actually unlocks their phone 50 times a day (given that most users glance or unlock their phone 150 – 500 times a day, it is a reasonable assumption).

The extra two digits will cause 1 second more to unlock is also a fair assumption to make.

This equates to $6,551,388,888.89 in productivity loss every year.

iPhone 6 digit passcode Migration Wasted Productivity
iPhone 6 digit passcode Migration Wasted Productivity

With no discernible added security. All for a feature going from 4 digit passcodes to 6 digits.

There were 1.6 Million phones stolen in 2014. The average price of the stolen iPhone was $250, equating to a $400 Million market.

End note: I know the value of a stolen iPhone to a user (especially if there is a loss of life tragically in some cases) is much more than $250, but a 6 digit passcode is not going to change that for the better.

Off topic: Totally useless observation on Angelo Mathews

For those folks that dont follow cricket, this wont matter at all.

Angelo Mathews the captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team seems to have a case of “What he said”.

In the last 3 matches he has lost as captain, his post-match comments, have been a “replay” of what the previous captains said after matches they lost a day or two before. Bizarre. Its almost as if he prepares for the post match press interview by reading the newspaper in the morning of what the loser from the previous match said and repeats that.

After losing the semi-final match against India in the Champions trophy preliminary game he said Sri Lanka “Choked” – identical to what Gary Kirsten and South African captain said of their semi final loss to England a day before.

After losing the earlier match against New Zealand he said it was “a bad toss to lose“, an identical statement to what Misbah ul Haq, captain of Pakistan said after that team’s loss to West Indies a mere 2 days earlier.

Again at the Celkon trophy final, his team lost to India. He chose to focus on the fact that his team “showed character“, which were the exact same words said by Virat Kohli the stand-in captain for India a mere 2 days ago.

Now, I dont know Angelo too well, but seems to me he’s got a case of photocopy-itis for post match conferences.

Pickup lines of Indian entrepreneurs #startups #funny

I love to beat a dead horse and a meme to death. Given how much I like to stereotype, I think the fictional entrepreneur from each city in India will possibly use these pickup lines to get attention from the opposite sex.

Bangalore: She will most likely meet you at a traffic jam someplace, riding a Kinetic Honda and you the smarty pants guy she’s trying to woo are on a sports bike. While every car and bus driver is right behind honking like there’s no tomorrow, she pulls out her smart phone – (Android dude, iPhone is for the Mumbai-types) and shows you the traffic sensor app she has built in just 4 weeks, which tells you what the traffic patterns are in M G Road, and while she’s at it, she’ll also tell you to come to the side of the road, and in 10 minutes flat, she’ll root your phone, install Zomato to check out the best places to eat in Indiranagar or Koramangala and then drop the line “Do you want to come and work at my startup”?

Chennai: He’s likely to meet you at the Marina beach, taking the bus from Anna Nagar, where he stays with his 3 other bachelor friends. He’ll notice that you have 3 other friends who you came to just hangout with, and try and get your attention by ordering “sundal” but constantly looking at his smartphone to find the next Rajini saar joke that he can find. He’s hoping his laughter will pique your curiosity, and you’ll ask him what’s so funny. While he’s likely to tell you 2-3 of the Rajnikanth jokes, he’ll also ask you for your “Kulam, Gowthram“, etc. just so he knows that you’ll pass his parents approval. Finally after you expect him to ask you for your phone number, he’ll say “What’s your parents’ number? I want to give it to my parents”.

Hyderabad: She’s extremely rich and decked in 2 tons of gold, and the daughter of a very rich man who’s made a lot of money in real estate, agriculture or owns many wine stores in Andhra. Her startup is her way to “show” her dad that she can do something on her own. While she wont tell you she’s passed from Osmania university and has a MBA from a college in London, she’ll certainly make it a point to ask where you work. When she’s satisfied that you are a “true techie” working at a large company, she’ll drop her line “You want to come to our office for a movie marathon”?

Mumbai: He’s already tired after a 2 hour bus / train commute and is looking for any distraction from his 100 Sq. ft. “Global headquarters” startup office space in Vashi, which seats 10 people. He’ll likely meet you at a coffee shop in Bandra, trying to order an exotic drink that the “Bangalore-types” just dont get. While the drink is being prepared, he’ll order a vada-paav as well, and see that you are standing in the line behind him. He’ll pull out his iPad and show you the pre-release version of a movie that his startup is the online partner for, and try to see if that gets you to think that he can give you a “chance” to be in a Bollywood flick. His line is very well rehearsed, “Do you want to catch a movie next Saturday? I can get us invitations to the first screening”.

Delhi: She’s with 3 other friends, at Ambience Mall using the coupons from a daily deals site, when she notices you. She’s dressed really well, possibly in the high street fashions from Kimaya and that’s really surprising given she’s an entrepreneur. In her attempt to prove that she’s worth your time, she’ll loudly speak on the phone “Just ask him to call my assistant and she will connect him to the information minister’s office”  (with a hint of a humble brag for good measure). Before she can finish the sentence though, the phone will ring and the sheepish grin will reveal that she wasn’t really talking to anyone at all. She’ll offer to buy you coffee and will make it a point to let you know that her startups is both making revenues and is profitable, which should convince you that she’s worth dating. Of course her pickup line is still “I know the Deputy Commissioner of Police, so I’ll be able to get us parking in anyplace in Gurgaon”.

Pune, Kolkata and others, feel free to write your own pick scenarios and I’ll link to them all. Just drop me a note on twitter.

The science of everything – How the arts are being “scienced”

Jay was a languages major at Univ of Michigan. He stated a strong dislike for physics and biology at school and never was a big math fan; claiming to be a free thinker.

Yesterday I was sitting on a mentor session he was having with an entrepreneur who was building an online eCommerce business. The entrepreneur was a engineering graduate from a top college in India.

“Dude, you are winging it”, admonished Jay when Sam, our entrepreneur was telling him about his “customer engagement” plan.

Drip email marketing is a science, not a random set of messages you send to your installed base to see which one sticks”, he continued, “You have to test your subject line, the draw, the frequency, the images, the call to action, the sales copy, everything”.

Imagine that – scientifically measuring your copy – English sentences to see which one gives you the best returns.

Most everything is being measured and managed these days including many things that are pure art. Like the colors on your photo or the hues on your home page background.

I wonder if the more scientific it gets the more you need art and creativity to be different?

A new type of agency will be born – Klout Score Optimization (KSO) agency

<Disclosure: Joe F (Klout cofounder) is a friend I was one of the early beta adopters of the Klout API at BuzzGain. We benefited greatly from his product>.

I dont claim to understand Klout. I mean I do, but I really dont. I dont understand what its trying to measure. Michael has a post on how he changed his mind.

I had a friend who recently told me that he was looking at his Klout score and wanted some help to figure out how to make it go higher. I was shocked. What? Why? Who cares about your Klout score?

Turns out his potential employer did.

Maybe its because deep down I hate these numeric ranking lists, given my own low score.

Maybe its because in India there’s still a VVIP list for *everything*. Even to buy groceries, which really is very irritating.

Maybe it because I believe in a more egalitarian society.

Maybe its just because I dont have influence or “Klout”.

So what Klout really measure?

1. How many followers you have on twitter? Which you can apparently buy at $18/thousand followers?

2. How many people Retweet you? Which I think is more a measure of the content than the fact that you tweeted it?

3. How influential (their Klout score) are your followers? Which can be gamed.

Any many other such inane metrics.

Michael says its like Google’s pagerank, which has many (over 200+) signals and is an indication of “authority” of the page.

Hence my prediction:

In a year from now, there will be multiple KSO (Klout Score Optimization) agencies which will help you grow your Klout score.

They will help authors, politicians, musicians, artists and many other vain folk who will use these agencies to “pump” up their Klout score.

And we will all live happily ever after.

<No really I am not being sarcastic>.

For those who care, my Klout score is 78. Which means you need to bow down before me and genuflect when you see my cape.

Apple to announce iEar – Babel fish earpiece for realtime language translation

Spoiler alert – Title is link bait.

I have 4 kids, one who’s learning French at school, another who’s learning Hindi and 2 others who only speak Kannada. Parents keep asking me if they should be teaching their kids Mandarin or French, or any other “spoken language”.

I dont quite understand why they would do that. I mean, I do but I dont really.

Teach your kids Javascript or some other programming language instead is my answer.

In my lifetime for sure, the Babel fish is going to happen. Imagine a bluetooth like headset that fits into your ear and does a real time translation of every spoken language. Google glass is almost here.

I imagine Apple “iEar” is not far away.

iEar works with Nuance on the cloud and translates every spoken language into a language of your choice. It has a small mic, so you can hear the other person’s spoken words and a ear headset for it to translate it into your language of choice.

So why Javascript? (Or really any other programming language)?

iEar is a piece of hardware no doubt, but its mostly software and on the cloud.

French wont go away, but it dealing with it will become easy thanks to Apple iEar.