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Monday, March 24, 2008

BARCAMP MUMBAI 3: It just got bigger

Barcamp Mumbai 3 is coming on the 29th March,2008 at IITB campus.The good news is that it just got bigger from its previous versions. Here are some highlights:

  • Accomodation (thats not lodging and boarding) for 300-400 participants has been arranged for; this time you might see mattresses on the IITB lawns.

  • BLOG CAMP MUMBAI STYLE is happening for the first time. Although the name and the logo are equally 'dhinchack' (flashy) this is something many would look forward to.

  • FIRETALK : the business idea and team development platform would be another stint that BCM has its tryst with. Although I am skeptical about the idea sharing affair: it has the potential of being an open source idea-snatching/robbing platform (it might just be the opposite,lets see how it is organised).

  • Sponsors: the wiki page shows a set of kewl sponsors , fat chance attendees might get some goodies and a fulfilling lunch :P

  • Over 300 candidates have registered on the wiki, so its going to be one hell of a networking event in mumbai.

  • I like the vada-pav logo (check it out on the BCM main page). Vada pav for mumbai: great(cheesy) branding.
PS: IF you have a question that goes like "WHAT IS BARCAMP?"
Ive written a paragraph from my first experience.
Tarun Chandel has summarised it beautifully (= precise and concise).

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

peek-a-boo: Entrepreneurship and my escapades

This article was written for 'Vishwakarma', the annual magazine of Vivekananda Education Society's institute of Technology
(VESIT). Apart from the editor's request, the article was written to promote the spirit on entrepreneurship in my capacity as co-founder and promoter of The VESIT Entrepreneurship Cell (tVEC) established in Feb,2008.

Since the start of Feb,2008, there has been a lot of ‘buzz’ about entrepreneurship in the lands of VESIT. The launch and inception of The VESIT Entrepreneurship Cell (tVEC) finally took place after nearly four years of float-hood. Does it mean that VESIT has been hit by the entrepreneurial wave that’s spreading the world over? Have VESITians discovered a new career alternative that is poised to aid India becoming the next superpower?

The answer to those questions depends on the attributes of the aforementioned ‘buzz’. I decided to mingle with fellow VESITians to find out what exactly were they thinking about tVEC after the various smses, emails and word of mouth messages that were sent across inviting them to join in for a couple of activities and to apply for tVEC Associate without a formal orientation. Here are a few responses in random order:

“I got a 70% and the highest in my class is 78%.I don’t think I should engage myself into any activity now onwards.”
“I want to join in as an associate for tVEC, can you tell me something about this ‘society’ and what exactly is entrepreneurship?”
“Would I get a job through this organisation?”
“Why should I join in, what’s in it for me?”
“Keep up the Good work!”
“I’d like to interview an entrepreneur; it’ll be like an IV!”
My whole class is suddenly obsessed with flash cards and CAT! Where are the wannabe entrepreneurs of our batch really? Are there any at all here?”
“Aspiring for a better life is an entrepreneurial quality. I guess the whole class is on the right track.”

This experience taught me the importance of having FAQs on the website(, which was achieved immediately. However, this space should be used for a better purpose and so I’d rather focus on the brighter picture: A peek-a-boo on entrepreneurship and my escapades.

Microsoft®Encarta ® defines him to be an individual who sets up and finances new commercial enterprises to make a profit; but I’d like to differ and define him as an individual who creates value and win-win situations by taking risks to optimise his resources. There is more than one way in which the term entrepreneurship has been defined, but each definition caters to the central idea of value creation.

I have an Idea but the bulb wont glow:

Entrepreneurship is often restricted to starting up a venture, so the first obstacle faced has to do with the idea. A student, who got four IIM interview calls, couldn’t see a point in associating himself with an entrepreneurship cell because he doesn’t have an idea. I think this guy represents a fair chunk of the student population who stop because of lack of ideas. The irony popped out when Vishal Prabhukhanolkar (Director,, Quetzal Online) told me about the fact that most students ,making it to a top B School interview, express their desire to be entrepreneurs when asked about their near future plans ( and the others are trained to say so). There is indeed some ‘cool’ associated with entrepreneurship if it is the ideal career alternative, at least for an interview. We’ll look into this at a later point.
A famous adage goes like “When you are thinking of an idea, someone is already implementing it.”

It sounds very smooth on the first read but has loads of experience stored behind it; a few weeks back, I learnt this the hard way. My exasperation was heavily exaggerated when I saw my book trading portal concept (designed for VESIT), being implemented in Georgia Tech University and now graduating into a Facebook Application. I dug out the pamphlet that we had distributed to test the market 2 years back; the promotional contents also resembled each other. The next thing that struck me after this adage is a common piece of advice that every entrepreneur gives: ‘Seize the opportunity, and implement the idea’ i.e. don’t wait for the bulb to glow.

The above example also shows that starting up is not all about having an idea. (Four years of rigorously referring to’ substandard textbooks’ gives us a fair tip about getting ideas.)

Network to Connect and Collaborate:

An intriguing attribute of entrepreneurs is their ability to interact and build relationships on the go. This inherent characteristic differentiates them from those who lack the mindset. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia promoted the culture of collaboration (commercially known as user-generated content) in his recent visit to Mumbai. It is this collaborative effort that led to an avalanche in the accumulation of information that each of us use even for mundane causes. The habit of collaborating and growing is very prominent amongst entrepreneurs, which is contradictory to the bureaucratic introductions. All it takes these days is a couple of clicks on ‘Linked in’ and you get your man. tVEC is experimenting with tVECTribe, an online virtual network to facilitate collaboration amongst students, alumni and faculty ( .

Timing the Plunge | Should I work for some time?:

The idea looks awesome. You think it is the need of the hour. The team is pepped up. The finance jugaad is not a worry. The picture is rosy, yet there are doubts .It’s absolutely human and normal to feel so. The big question is to worship Nike (‘just do it’) or give a second thought?
How one tackles this dilemma depends on the strength of the entrepreneur’s character. If you keep thinking twice, you might find your idea in a Georgia Tech. On the other hand if you ‘just do it’, then there is a chance of meeting the fate of ‘aTEEtude Inc.’-another escapade!

I floated this venture with two friends: a designer from Sir JJ Institute of Art and a management undergraduate. We provided designing solutions in paper projects and T-shirts and set our eyes to compete with greats like Tantra and design sweatshirts for every college/university. Just out of the 12th grade, starting up was more of a glamorous fad than a well thought of plan; it had more to do with the cool, associated with advertising and branding than the much required supply chain building. We realised our follies and tried to improvise; bagged a few orders (including my class t-shirt) and moved at a slow rate; but it faded away, it had to, as it was just a passing fad that taught us a few tricks.

‘Floating the idea is an essential tool to test it’
I experienced this while working on my ventures and interning at start ups. My most recent intern stint was at MagNet Technologies, a 10 year old start-up, where I was evaluating the techno commercial feasibility of a VOIP based enterprise telephony system- Another shot at float- to- test; but the here I got to learn a set of seasoned tricks for testing the feasibility of the idea.

The underlying idea is to get hands on experience. Practical learning (entrepreneurial or academic) doesn’t happen reading TechMax Publications or Vidyalankar notes, it is via work experience (internships and floating ventures) that one learns the tricks of the trade; moreover they also help you in evaluating your future path. The question is whether to learn driving in your own car or at the training school?

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Virgin Mobile


That would have been an apt headline if most of Indian youth were yet to have their tryst; but nevertheless theyll have their tryst with a VIRGIN now.

Sir Richard Branson, the man known for exhibhitting a brilliant combination of entrepreneurship with a taste for the adrenaline pumping adventures, once again suprises the masses with what seems to be the next big thing in consumer comunication.

Virgin Mobile was launched just a month ago and with what style! I heard that Branson did a bungee jump from aobove the Hilton Towers with a masisve Virgin logo as his backdrop. Thats how you welcome your guest- show them how happy you are to see them; by literally jumping (no sarcasm).

The more intriguing aspect about this uber cool brand targetted at the youth is the schemes it offers. One hplan that caught my eye is 'The Simple Plan'
Cost : Rs 99
Call Rate:
outgoing - Rs 1per min for the 1st 2 mins in a day. Rs 0.50 per min from the 3rd min onwards.
incoming- free + GET PAID to get calls at 10 paisa per minute!!

Now that's what a plan should be like and you call it a simple plan- too kewl!
(Technically if the cost of the plan is to be borne on a monthly basis, then the incoming profits get settled for; but nevertheless the outgoing is quite a bargain)

Surfing over their website I came across the Jobs link and one of the criteria for a prospective job seeker is :
'Drive them Crazy: The competition. We like driving them crazy. Can you do that? Can you play a part in creating offers so unique even we din’t hear of them earlier. We like setting trends and not following them. And that’s what we want - trendsetters."

The attitude, the branding, tv commercials and print ads look in pretty good shape,taste and place. I definitely see Virgin mobile taking over the young Indian market ahead of the other CDMA (and GSM too) operators.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Yesterday I was surfing through almost all the channels listed in the acceptable spectrum for my 20 year old Onida with a desire to get a glimpse of Robocon 2008 on Sahyadri (now you know why I had to surf hard). I happened to pause at three Hindi News Channels : News 24, Aaj Tak and India TV.

News 24 is the same channel that had Shah Rukh Khan spending almost an hour at their studio, trying to understand (read: raising his eyebrow),for a promotional channel-launch gig in its initial days. They were trying hard to show how different they would remain from the other Commercial News channels.

Aaj Tak, (I had an impression) was pretty decent until 'kal tak'
Oh and India TV, lets not get in there; they deserve and entire post.

The basis of classifying these channels into a common bracket is because of the type of news they were broadcasting at the same time (when I needed to locate Sahyadri urgently)

SO what was that intriguing piece of news?
Channel 1:
Irfan Pathan extends his stay in Australia because it seems he has found his soulmate over ther in a 19 year old engineerig student in Cannberra.
Next, they interviewed one of his friends to ask how he feels to know Irfn has found some one in Australia; the friend was a footage lover and he spoke as if he had just released a big budget bollywood flick
The backdrop video was mercilessly looped and made me feel hazy so i flipped the chaneln to land on another hindi news channel.

Channel 2:
BREAKING NEWS!!! Sreesanth has expressed his feelings of love to Priyana Chopra. We've got hold of a tape whose authenticity we are not sure of (but we'd still love to spend some freely available air time to boost our TRPs)
The tape was then played. I heard it for the fun of it; fliped the channel when they began analysing the tape

Channel 3:
Yuvraj Singhs heart has been broken. He has split from the new kid on block-Bollywood, Depika Padukone (her pic with Ranbir Kapur is flashed now). After his split from (another actress) Yuvraj seemed to settle down, his family also had approved of the girl, but now its all over.
In such a situation,Yuvraj would now sing the song "Oye Raju pyaar na kariyoo kariyo,dil toot jaata hai" the song played in the backdrop and I remembered something : I was hunting for Sahyadri!

Immidiately the Auto search option was selected more due to the fear of stumbling across another Desi News channel; lets do them some branding 'Abuse Channel'

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