LinkLog: If You Can Win in India

From Win in India; Win against the Competition Everywhere

About 4,000 multi-national organizations have operations in India, but only between 30 and 40 do significant business there. The rest equal 1%.

The companies that are the best at globalization are the Korean ones. Korean firms send employees to new countries for ten years. They go native and understand the markets better. Apple vs. Samsung is typical. Apple’s response could be summed up as, “We’ll come back when they look like us.” But Samsung did not wait and now dominates the Indian market.

The Swedes are also good at globalization because their home market is so small. Consumer companies adapt well, but technology firms are arrogant.

GE created global growth organization using India as an example. GE had two years of down revenue between 2000 and 2010.

India forces companies to think outside their comfort zone; to create products and organizational structures that are truly innovative, cost-effective, and attractive to Indian consumers.

There are lots of stories of Indian style innovation aka Jugaad. I recall Vijay Anand telling me when he was giving me a tour of RTBI (IIT Madras Rural Technology Incubator), that if you can build some thing that can be successful in India, you have more than 60% of the world market.

LinkLog: When Do You Ponder a Change?

I really liked this post from Dharmesh – Failure Is Not The Worst Outcome, Mediocrity Is, especially this para.

How do you know whether you’re stuck in a quagmire? Isn’t startup success often about persistence and focus? What if that break-out success is just around the corner. Those are good questions. The simple answer is: There are no simple answers. If it were me, the question I would ponder is this: If 90% of everything started going “right” with your startup, what will it become? (I’ll call this the “wave the magic wand”, best-case scenario). If the answer does not please you, and you’ve been at your current idea for a while, I’d ponder a change.


LinkLog: What Kind of Software Would People Actually Pay For?

A great blog post and a discussion thread on reddit. Some snippets (read the blog for a very insightful discussion):

  • Software that re-defines a category (Google and Amazon come to mind)
  • Software that saves businesses (and individuals) money (figuring out the benefits to your customer)
  • Software that helps business earn more money (making it compelling)
  • Piggyback off where people are already spending tons of money (choosing your marketplace)
  • Become easier to choose and you become harder to leave (by building and managing excellence)
  • shrink a market or disrupt your competitors
  • Get bold initial customers who will take the risk and are willing to share their experiences.
  • You don’t have to be the guru of an industry; you can often make a huge difference by bringing a computational perspective to the domain (think how you can apply technology to solve real problems)
  • Find out what they have to do but hate doing and find a way to simplify or automate it.

This is the kind of blog post that I would book mark and read several times, think about it, find more similar ones. It will also be a nice exercise to keep this list some where and grow it based on actual experiences of successful products. Peter Christensen’s articulates so well some of the things I kind of know but never really reflected a lot about.

I think blogs are the best knowledge sharing network you can think of especially If you are lucky to discover ones like Peter’s.

When You Solve Your Own Problem…

When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.

This and other great ideas in a book called Getting Real. It is a book about smaller, faster, better ways to build web applications. Some great ideas about building software. Here is a list of my favorite ones.
Build Less
Less Features means you can get the product out earlier into the hands of the customers. You get to hear what they really like and what they would like. This can be invaluable.

Fund Yourself
You can focus on doing something good instead of spending time looking for money. Meebo did this and so did lot of others. In fact, this is the norm in many of the Web 2.0 startups.

It Shouldn’t be a Chore
I love this one. If the app does not get you excited, it is not worth building. It should be fun to build. You need to enjoy every bit of the process. And if you built it for your own use, make sure that the experience of using it is fun, as well.

Seek and Celebrate Small Victories
Build incrementally. With each increment, make it more useful.

Check out the following advice.

Hire Less and Hire Later
You Can’t Fake Enthusiasm
The Blank Slate
Context Over Consistency

Open Doors
Ride the Blog Wave
Promote Through Education

Feel The Pain

LinkLog: The Business Edge

One of the best blogs I have read recently talks about the Sports of Business:

In sports, you know who your opponents are. You know when you are going to play a game. You know pretty much how long the game will last. It’s mentally and physically exhausting if you are at the top of the game, but it still pails at the effort required to be successful in business.

The sport of business isn’t divided into games. It’s not defined by practices. It doesn’t have set rules that everyone plays by.

The sport of business is the ultimate competition. It’s 7x24x365xforever.

Mark talks about competing and having an “edge”. My favorite one:

The edge is getting so jazzed about what you do, you just spent 24 hours straight working on a project and you thought it was a couple hours.

Recognizing Cool Vendors

It is nice to see Gartner recognizing innovation and creating a category called cool vendors. Never heard of this before.

Gartner defines a cool vendor as a company that offers technologies or solutions that are: Innovative, enable users to do things they couldn’t do before; Impactful, have, or will have, business impact (not just technology for the sake of technology); Intriguing, have caught Gartner’s interest or curiosity in approximately the past six months.

In this case, it was Raining Data, for their product TigerLogic Clinical Trials Data Services.

Source: Google Alerts on XML

Changing Direction to Save the Company

Here is another pearl of wisdom from Bootstrapping Your Business.

In many cases your first product or service will be partial success at best. Changing tack – moving to a different product sector or completely redesigning your offering – might be essential to save your business. But fear not. Most companies undergo radical transformations, and a great many undertake five or more changes of direction.

This is exactly what happened in my previous startup – Coromandel. We started with a goal to boil the ocean – built a SQL database engine. Licensed to a big time Unix vendor but the sales were lot less than we expected. Since we were bootstrapping, we took a small component from the engine and sold it as an ISAM file manager called C-Trieve. We got some traction. Then we improved it based on some customer requirements and added support for blobs. Called it ObjecTrieve. Luckily for us, this got into the Visual Basic market. VB 1.0 did not have any database functionality. After a couple of evolutions of the product, we came up with Integra VDB. In the first year we had about 2-3 million dollars of revenue from that product alone. While the space we were in was databases and application of databases, moving from an engine market to tools market did it for us. It was an entirely bootstrapped operation.