Category Archives: Other

16 proxy signals that a contrarian uses to tell if the valley is in a “bubble”

I am only posting this half in jest. Someone out to track these metrics to see if the bay area is really in a bubble.

1. Cost per hour you have to pay nannies to baby sit your dog (baby siting kids is such a dot com bubble era style relic). We all know that when there’s a bubble, the first thing folks do is to stop working “from home” and instead go into work. That means you need a dog sitter (Sorry, the hipsters call them nannies).

2. Traffic via cams: You can see real time traffic at 40 locations in the bay area and if you can see a car for more than 3 browser refreshes in 2 minutes, you know there’s a jam (or a bubble, but I am not judging)

3. Restaurant reservations: On average it takes 7 minutes and 4 calls by our admin to get a reservation in the bay area on Wednesdays for table for a team of folks for lunch on Friday. If however it is a bubble, it takes over 21 minutes and 15 text messages, 2 smoke alarms and then a give-up and zerocater.

4. Cost of an SF airbnb rental: This is an easy one, with prices going from $189 to $279 (what,that’s more than the Residence Inn, but hey you are couchsurfing), it is easy to tell when the bubble hits.That’s when prices go from inane to insane.

5. Sales of khaki pants (preferred choice of MBA graduates). the bay area has 43 GAP stores which sell khaki pants. If you visit at least 15 of them and find out that > 60% of them are out of size M pants which have a waist size of 30 – 34, then you have a bubble.

6. Average # of people waiting in line for a Starbucks. Snaking beyond a block is just ridiculous. Enough said. Or give up on Starbucks and head to Contraband coffee.

7. Length of time that new office leases are signed up for. The usual was 2 years during sign up. The dot com bubble took that to 10 years and I think we are near 10 year leases now.

8. % over the listing price that homes get bid in Palo Alto, Los Altos and even the lame homes in Almaden and Burlingame. (No offence to those cities, but really). If the bid is over 25% of the listing price and inching to 30% you have a pop.

9. Average time a local Realtor responds to your email. Most Realtors respond in less than 2 hours. During 2008 the time reduced to minutes. It is now creeping up to 1 hour again.

10. # of times you get rejected by “holiday” party venues because they are “booked” for all days in December until 2025.

11. # of holiday parties you get invited to: Your spouse has a party, you have a party and your friends invite you to their startup party because, well, just because. No, really, its because they can. So the party venues have a field time.

12. # of facebook pictures from friends of friends of holiday party pictures that clearly should not be on facebook.

13. Average amount of time it takes by car to go from 2000’s on Sand Hill road to 3000s. The signals on the cross street from 280 are sensor driven, so more than 3 minutes, means its champagne time!

14. # of notebooks (Macbook Air is now the preferred choice) open at the top restaurants for breakfast

15. # of holiday parties held in January because all the venues for holiday parties are booked in Nov and Dec.

16. Amount of time it takes for the discussion at any party you end up at “I have angel funded this startup” (meaning, they are using my basement or garage).

The only one thing you need to do to lose weight

I lost about 50 pounds over 25 weeks last year (2014). There were 3 things I did – a) Track what I ate with MyFitnessPal, b) Started walking, then running about 13 miles daily, tracking on FitBit and c) Fasting every Thursday.

Since I am data junkie, I kept trying to optimize all these 3 aspects of my weight loss.

If there’s one thing you must do to reduce weight it is this – eat less.

Much, much less, than you even think you need.

I had a nutritionist and my podiatrist who helped me throughout this process. I went from eating about 2200 -2300 calories a day to 1500 calories a day or less.

I found that even if you don’t workout or fast, if you eat less, you will lose weight.

If you want to lose weight and be healthy, then workout daily.

If you want to lose weight and do it quickly (about 2 pounds per week), then add the fasting.

Ever notice that the hockey stick and the long tail are the same data looked inversely?

Most every entrepreneur “wants” to show the growth chart as a “hockey stick”. They also in the initial days show their revenue adoption as a “long tail”.

Take the same data and pivot the table to show they are both really the same visualization. Flip the long tail on its X axis and you get the hockey stick.


hockey stick

Why the #flipkart battle with #Amazon is less about money and more about customer delight

Over the last week the amount of press on Flipkart’s $1 Billion raise and Amazon’s $2 Billion investments in India have been significant.

I have been a big personal fan of Flipkart, but I notice that they dont have the sense of customer joy and delight that Amazon does. Even though that’s a stated goal and they religiously preach it, they rarely follow it.

I have had personal experiences as well shopping with both companies, and Flipkart is the “reliable grocer” and Amazon is the “delightful marketplace”.

That means the game is not about the amount of money raised or invested by either company, but more the extent they go to make customers happy.

I had an extremely poor experience with Flipkart last week, and it was clearly their mistake. An apparent policy of not allowing a customer id to order 2 phones, was to blame, but nowhere was that policy apparent until after they nearly shipped the product home.

And when asked why they messed the order up, they claimed policy was to blame as opposed to their internal issues. Largely, the experience makes me not want to shop again at Flipkart. Not that it matters to them, since there’s enough demand. But in the 10+ years of shopping at Amazon, I have never had a poor experience, even when it was my fault.

When Amazon messed up my order, last week, I got a full refund and a thank you gift as well for the inconvenience.

With Flipkart all I got was lousy emails explaining their policies.

How to be lucky, a skill to learn #entrepreneurs

Those who think they’re unlucky should change their outlook and discover how to generate good fortune, says Richard Wiseman

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

There is still a lot of #opportunity in #India for accelerators & early investors #startups

Yesterday, 12 shortlisted companies from a very large list of applicants, presented to our Jury panel of entrepreneurs & investors for Batch 5 at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator. This time we exceeded the total # of applicants by a significant number given how mature the program is and how well we have gained acceptance in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Of the 12 companies, 4 were very early stage, (think 2 founders and a dog, back of a napkin), 4-5 of them were at product / prototype and the remainder were at revenue.

Except 3, all the others were still bootstrapped. Meaning they had no funding or support from any accelerator, investor or corporate fund. The funded companies, had just (fairly recently, less than 3 months ago) raised money.

If we were to expand the pool to the final “top 50”, we saw fewer than 15% of companies were supported in some way by an institution meant to support them.

I keep hearing from the press, other entrepreneurs and investors that India is “saturated” with accelerators, investors and angels and we are in an “accelerator bubble”.

That cannot be farther away from the truth.

While not every company that pitched yesterday necessarily will yield a large outcome for institutional investors and 2 or 3 are not even angel investment ready, the remaining 50%-60% are. And, the ecosystem is not yet supporting them.

Some of these companies will go on to become fairly large. Will any of them become “Unicorns” – I cant say for sure. There will be a few (2-3) winners though.

The next time someone says we have too many accelerators or angel investors, you should point them to the fact that there are over 1200 product companies looking for funding in India, which have over $10K in revenue. Over 50 of them are doing more than $500K in revenue and still happily bootstrapped either because no one knows them or the founders dont want to accept money the investors gave them with the terms they offered.

We are still in the land of opportunity.

The surprising stats on funding in India #500Strong shows up high

CB Insights has a blog post on funding in India. Here are the 3 most surprising facts that I gathered from the post.

1. Education and training was the #1 funded industry by category. Business intelligence was in the middle of the pack. I am very surprised. I would have put them in reverse. In fact if you consider travel, apparel, etc. as eCommerce, then it would be the #1.

2. Bangalore companies have 39% of the share of funding, while Delhi has 23%. If you combine Gurgaon and Delhi, then they would be at 29%.I would have put NCR much lower. In fact Mumbai is #3 at 16%, which is even more surprising. I would have put Bangalore at 45%, NCR at 20% and Mumbai at 7%.

Bangalore city technology funding

3. 500 startups is the #1 investor by # of deals. Nexus is #5. In my mind that should have been reverse. In about 1 year, Pankaj and Dave have gone from being on the outside, to #1. #500Strong is beating everyone else by a wide margin.