Last year has been very very hectic. With almost 12 months now without salary and that too have invested a large chunk of my savings into my venture, InstaSafe, the journey has been both mixed. Satisfying and not satisfying, learning a lot new stuffs such as Software Defined Networking, Cloud and many more. Some of them, I have, now, decided to pen down regularly. So, sit back tight and here we go first of its post for this year.
02nd July, 2012 will go into my life as one of the most important day of my life. I resigned from my current company and finally, decided to take the plunge and chase my dream of working for self and be my own boss. I was thinking what would my boss, CEO, would think and how would he act. Surprisingly, he acted very professional and let me go and follow my dream. I learned a lot of things in my current company, which I would definitely pen it down sometime. The good things about today were many. I was relieved of all the speculations of my exit. It was very smooth and I agreed for the complete transition for a month.
Surprisingly, one of other friend and brother, who is also joining and had same kind of perceptions, received very warm welcome from his boss. It was a very good day for us as things started very amicable with our companies and bosses.
Later that day, Mona and I decided to visit Shidhivinayak Temple at Mumbai. It started raining heavily immediately when we sat in the auto and by the time we reached the station, both were almost wet. Till now, little we knew that the worst is yet to be seen. When we reached the Dadar station, the station was flooding with with knee deep water. Let me tell all my readers, flooding water of Mumbai is that of the drain – and wit no shame Mumbai is the dirtiest place I have ever been and lived. It was the first time that we could find any taxi or auto to the temple that evening. We walked to the temple paving our way through heavily water clogged roads.
The moment we reached at the gate of the temple, rain stopped and for the first time in my one year and about 5-6 visits to the temple, this was the first time that we saw GOD so closely and sought his blessings. We also submitted the name of our new company under his feet seeking HIS ALMIGHTY blessings. After coming out, we were casually discussing and we realized probably GOD gave us all his blessings, giving us the direction of our journey from a dream to reality.
We will go through very difficult times just like the severe rains that we encountered today. We have to be patient and remain focus to achieve our dream just like that it was that day only that we wanted to go, visit and seek blessings from GOD at Siddhivinayak temple. Just like we paved our way through those dirty knee deep waters, we have to pave our way through thick and thin times of our startup and dream. Eventually, everything will become clam, serene and beautiful just like the rain stopped when we reached the gate of the temple and finally we will achieve that we wish just like that beautiful awesome darshan at Siddhivinayak temple.
With a dream to chase…with a wish to fulfill…with a journey to remember…with a desire for a fulfilling life, I signed off the day with great enthusiasm and hope.
What is success? Is it money, is it stature or what? Is it power? Is it love? Is it a bird that keeps eluding most of us? Various people has various definitions of life.
For me, living a fruitful life and pursuing something I truly believe in is something would be SUCCESS for me. I am nowhere near to that but I keep inching myself and hence, I thought I would share some tips how to keep inching towards that one mission of life. It is completely a personal view and might not work but I, strongly, feel that having a dream and following it with sincere commitment and passion is the key.
- Have a WILDY IMPORTANT GOAL and work on it daily.
- Spend time with people that will be very successful – they say you’re an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
- Find someone near you who makes it big. Please be cautious while finding that someone.
- Try to find a unique talent, that nobody else has.
- Start practicing a skill, sport, or talent as early as possible (think Tiger Woods).
- Network your way to the top. Go to as many events as you can until you meet a critical mass of people.
- Do a really good job at work and earn the promotions that get you to the top.
- Work on important projects that nobody else wants to take on (due to fear).
- Do a good job at promoting yourself and your work. Get noticed by the people that count.
- Work harder than anyone you know.
- Work on a lot of things at the same time to gain a lot of different but valuable skills.
- Work on one thing and learn to do it REALLY REALLY well- better than anyone else.
- Study and work when everyone else is going out and having fun.
- Go out and have fun and maintain a happy health attitude that attracts a lot of customers and supporters.
- Be lucky!
- Invest in your own venture.
- Jump from company to company, or startup to startup, until you find the right one.
- Stay at your company for many years to gain access to its most important work, like many Fortune 500 CEOs.
- Tell great stories that make people listen to you and your work.
- Give credit to other people, then they will enjoy working with you and giving you more credit.
- Once you have achieved your WILDLY IMPORTANT GOAL, find another one.
- Have a high degree of persistence, live by the motto, “survive and advance” when necessary.
- Live by the motto, Done is better than perfect. Sometimes you just have to get things done.
- Sometimes, things need to be done really WELL. Be thorough. Avoid typos and easy mistakes.
There is no guarantee that things will work out but atleast attempts are worth trying than just dreaming. Go and chase your dreams!!!
Spints are FUN and when startups start breeding, smelling and living on Sprints, they inherit a culture and environment which is very hard to beat. A lot of us praised Facebook when they went into a coding marathon just before its IPO to showcase its proud culture. But what is it so good that programmers around the world have started praising such a culture.
To be very honest, i tried to imbibe such a culture in my current organization but in vain. Sprints is just about a culture- a culture to be the proud crown of many many startups and I am very proud to have seen and been a prt of few of them with my friends in the past.
So, this time I though about taking some time out and giving people a perspective of a sprint.
What is a sprint?
A sprint is getting people together for a set amount of time – usually one to two days – and just working on some aspect of code, design or a task. Ideally, participants will learn from others as they go, and the goal is either to get some specific work done, mentor new contributors, or both. We choose to gather in a sprint format because:
- It’s fun – sometimes it is nice to have some camaraderie while working.
- It’s satisfying – the group can see the progress that was made at the end of the sprint.
- It’s a good way to get a focused task done (though some sprints are more general and some are more focused).
- Participants can get their questions answered immediately instead of waiting for an answer in an issue queue.
- Participants can learn from each other.
There are two types of sprints: in-person sprints, where you get everyone together in one room, and virtual sprints, where you get people together on IRC or another online resource. In-person sprints are the most powerful and if organized and used properly, becomes the most powerful bread and butter of a startup. We try to describe how a in-person sprint can be organized, along with some considerations that are common to both types.
Organizing a sprint in general
This section lists considerations that apply to both in-person and virtual sprints.
Goal, tasks, and participants
The first step in organizing any sprint is to figure out what the goal is, such as “Mentor new contributors through contributing their first Code”, or “Write code for the new feature”. Once you have a goal, that will probably help you determine a list of tasks for the sprint, keeping in mind your intended participants. For instance, if you want the sprint to be open to new contributors, you will need to have some tasks defined for them to do. On the other hand, if your sprint is limited to a few hand-picked participants who have been involved for a while already, they may already know what tasks need to be done.
Many sprints also create an issue tag. The coordinators can tag issues ahead of time with this tag, to help sprint participants find issues to work on. And they can ask participants to tag issues they worked on during the sprint with the same tag.
Coordinators and mentors
It is helpful to have some experienced people participating who can mentor others (unless everyone who will participate in the sprint is experienced already). For a small sprint, one coordinator may be sufficient. For a large sprint, it is helpful to have about one “cat herder” (coordinator) for each 10 people or so, to be there to answer questions (or find answers), get new people who show up going, keep things moving, etc.
Central web page
It is very helpful to create a web page for coordinating the sprint. On this page, you can describe the tasks that need to be done (or link to their descriptions elsewhere), link to an issue search for your sprint issue tag, and have a Resources section with links to repositories, helpful background information, etc.
Announce your sprint by posting an “Event” on groups.
In your announcement, list:
- Location and directions
- Attractions (free food, rock stars in attendance, etc.)
- Focus, if there is one
- Qualifications needed for participating, or who is invited to attend
- Etiquette statement
You may also want to post your sprint on other calendars like facebook, twitter , etc.
It is important to have an appropriate space for an in-person sprint. Features:
- Wi-fi access
- White board and/or projector
- Enough chairs and tables for everyone – preferably tables where about 6-10 people can sit and collaborate
- At least one key participant/mentor
Supplies, food etc.
If you provide on-location lunch at the sprint, people can continue to work, talk, and collaborate during lunch instead of leaving and coming back, which can give you an extra hour or two of productive work time. On the other hand, at dinner time in an all-day sprint, people are likely ready to have a break. Having snacks and coffee on-hand is also helpful.
- Whiteboard or easel pad, markers
- Cards or paper for doodles/sketches, pens and pencils (possibly colored)
- Name tags, and perhaps some kind of sticker or special tag for coordinators (for large sprints)
- Sticky notes: you can put issue numbers or tasks on sticky notes on a board, and people can go pick one up to claim it as their task.
Day of the sprint
- Post signs at the building door leading people to the sprint
- Post directions to bathrooms and WiFi on the whiteboard in the sprint room
Probably, the most vital of all the sprints for a startup are the code sprints. So, what is it? A code sprint is getting developers for a set amount of time – usually one to two days – and just writing code. That’s it. You’re not teaching anything. Participants will learn from others as they go, but the focus is not on instruction. The goal is to create working software. Code sprints are also sometimes called hackathons or codeathons.
In person sprints are indisputably the most effective way to tackle difficult code challenges.
You have a strong meetup and you have a strong camp presence and now you want to get some work done. Or you have been coordinating among several leaders in a given area of development and it’s time to get them in the same room working together.
Talk about what is going to be done at the sprint. Defining some goals and communicating them ahead of time helps for focus and preparation. For example, you could have a sprint focused on improving UI for management interface.
Also try to define the minimum bar needed for participation. Unless you’re giving a newbie sprint, you need to communicate that this is not the place for newbies.If you get a lot of people who aren’t up to speed on the code you’re focusing on, you pretty much have the first day of the sprint wasted.
Make sure participants have access beforehand to the same files. If you’re going to be working off a single repository, make sure it’s available.
Roles at code sprints
There are lots of roles that people can take in code sprints. Yes, writing code is the most obvious, but there are also ways that non-coders can help.
Here are some of the typical roles for code sprints, along with tips on how you can get yourself ready to participate.
There’s some preparation that all sprint participants should do:
- Read any documentation posted ahead of the sprint.
- Participate in any discussions ahead of the sprint.
- Contact sprint organizers and let them know you plan to participate.
- Read up on relevant issues in the issue queue.
Before the sprint
While the intensive work will wait for the face to face discussions at the sprint itself, preparation ahead of time will make the in person time much more focused and productive.
Creating a dedicated group is a useful way to organize the sprint and also share ideas and results. Discussion ahead of time can help define the need, existing solutions and initiatives, and some specific aims.
Why is this sprint needed? What specific problems are you addressing to solve? Focus on one key problem area helps a lot.
Existing solutions and initiatives
What existing initiatives are addressing the need you have identified? What are some of their merits and shortcomings?
Specific aims and intended outputs
What do you aim to produce? If the scope seems to large, try to refine it. Select a specific problem that may be representative of a larger problem set.
Draft an agenda
Always draft an agenda for each day of a sprint.
At the sprint:
This could be a sample sprint stages.
- Designate roles: recorder (one per day?) to take detailed notes throughout the day; facilitator, to facilitate as needed
- Lightning talks: Each participant presents a 10 minute prepared talk on a topic relevant to the sprint aims.
- Revise agenda
- Confirm aims
- Summary of current status of work
- Identify main areas needing work, with a focus on components of an overall solution
After session, recorder revises minutes and posts to groups. Typically, this activity should be finished in an hour or two of the day one to focus on coding and implementation of tasks.
- Taking components identified earlier, discuss each in detail, focusing on defining solutions.
- Possibly, break into small groups (two or three per group) and delve into specific issues, reporting back to group.
After session, recorder revises minutes from day, posts to groups.
Plans and tasks
- Define specific tasks
- File issues outlining relevant tasks.
- Potentially, break into small teams (pairs) and draft sample code.
Break the work into concrete tasks with timelines and proposed implementation teams, including leaders and initial proposed membership.
- Review broad solution components as identified earlier. To what extent do the concrete tasks fulfill this vision?
- Assign short term work in documenting the sprint. Who will write up results? How will they be shared?
- Go out for dinner or other social time
- Make sure the work days aren’t too long. 8 hours is probably a good max unless it is a marathon, which generally is for the startups.
After the sprint
- Write up and share results.
- Start in to workplan.
- Look for ways to stay engaged with each other.
I, personally, feel the culture of sprints is essential for a startup. It helps to identify issues and tasks and helps them to solve it quickly. Probably, that is the reason why Sprints form an integral part of an agile product development. I take this platform to urge and imbibe this culture from top to bottom in a startup and I can assure you if followed, one could promote an aggressive and wonderful work environment.
What do you feel? Share your views.
Compensation has always been a big decision maker while choosing a job. How many times have you thought about it while looking out a new opportunity? Numerous calculations, Number crunching and when another company offers a little higher number, we are back at numbers and mathematics.
I have done it myself and I would like to share my 2 cents here. Compensation is definitely important but it is not true. I have always mentioned to everyone, “Money is a by-product of your passion and interest”. And it is true in terms of compensation.
When I passed form my institute, I had 4 offers to choose from. I chose the one that paid the most. It was a good decision in terms of learning but a very bad decision in terms of compensation. A fixed package with no commitment to increment or bonus. One of the hard ways to learn that compensation in terms of CTC is just another number with no benefits. The only thing good that I started doing was buying the company’s shares. Even though I made some money but that was the starting point.
My next jump was not for better compensation but an opportunity and experience of a lifetime. I joined a startup for a friend and till date, I am enjoying the ride. Seeing a business so close was fun and full of learning. Atleast after failing couple of times in Entrepreneurial attempt, this experience came very close to second. When I joined here, I did not ask for any specific figure but definitely asked for stock options. I feel that was the best thing I did. At the same time, I saw people joining startup without any mention of stock options.
So, why compensation must include stock options? Business is not about one or two founders coming together. Neither it is about CEO, MD, CFO and so. Business has always been about people. At the same time, I pity on all those founders who either hesitate to share their options or could not get/hire people without stock options. One of the very common reasons that I have heard is people in India are not aware but those who mention this statement, I have a question that what is the guarantee that people whom you hire/keep in such a way would stay with you for your growth or growth of your organization.
Coming to the conclusion, I would like to recommend everyone the following while choosing to work for an organization and in particular, a startup:
- Most important, get complete clarity on stock options. Never join a startup without commitment to stock options. Don’t worry all founders maintain a cap table and it must not take more than 2 days for a founder to come back with a number. Your timing of joining a company matters a lot. Negotiate based on your capability and time of joining.
- Negotiate on your variable pay structure and it must be linked directly with your performance. Negotiate well on this.
- Get yourself on quarterly review mode. Ask for benefits if the performance meets the expectations.
Never hesitate to ask. Startups demand a lot from an individual in terms of risks, stature, reputation, work-life balance and many more. So, an individual bets on his life and career in a startup. Talk directly and preferably, face-to-face with the founders. Never join without talking to them and in case of confusion and no clarity, dare to walk away. Such founders do not deserve to have good people around.
If you beg to disagree or have any opinion, please feel to share and I would love to hear from you all.
It has been a long time. My sincere apologies for staying out for such a long time. Life has been hectic both on professional and personal front.
On personal front, I got married to a beautiful lady. After knowing her for some time, I felt we understood each other well enough to take that extra step in our lives. We, finally, tied the knot in January. Therefore, January became a landmark month in my life – my month of birth and marriage.
On professional front, it was a very hectic yet a huge learning experience. The transition from Oracle to Nevales was very satisfying yet full of learning. August was full of roller coaster. After a brief introduction to the product, I was thrown into the wild sea with no one to assist and let me know how to sail through. I prepared the Product Functional Specification in a span of 10-15 days. Due to busy schedule of the then CTO, I was thrown into a sea of dangerous tides. I had my first OEM partnership negotiations without anyone in the meeting. Though my initial interaction with my CEO helped me to position myself and Nevales, Honestly speaking, I was sweating before those call. At the end of these calls, I became confident as these meetings and discussions went ahead. These meetings and interactions made me very confident in pitching things. Later in September, the CTO of the company got fired and things fell back on to us. With lot of deliverables and huge responsibility falling back, it was crucial. I hired one of my very close friend from Bangalore and we started working towards making the impossible.
So, lets try to understand the prior scenario. There was only Johan, one of my great friends today, working in the technical team. Two finance persons, 4 support, 4 sales and 1 pre-sales. Customer base was about 40 then. Let us try how Nevales happened. Nevales started by acquiring Syntensia and what I could not understand till date was how can a product company run without technical team.
There had been absolutely no major development activity in the product since the acquisition. I took over and tried to re-architecture the product. I, successfully, convinced the management and re-designed the model. After hardship and late nights, the product was re-launched in its new avataar – Device + Cloud Architecture. For the first time ever, Cloud concept was leveraged to manage and administer UTMs. With the new concept, we were able to launch the product in January.
What was different? In addition to some new features such as HTTPS Blocking, DDNS Support, 3G Dongle Support in the form of Reliance NetConnect and Tata Photon+, the cloud concept was a big differentiation. We were able to remove the redundancy of extra Centralized Management and Reporting like appliances from our competitors by taking the services and manageability to the cloud. The concept was new and was very well appreciated by the SMB. SMEs and SMBs loved the concept when we launched it with the “Pay as You” go model. At the very outset, I have no hesitation to accept that the current technology of UTM product is still that of the early 2000 but the cloud concept makes it a very attractive solution to very naive SMBs. UI took a bog leap in user experience and look and feel.
Even after the launch, the kick-off was not smooth. Sales dipped and pre-sales did not accept the model easily. Post Sales Support team showed heavy opposition. But then I pitched in with the development team. Meanwhile, the technical team grew from 2 to 5 in India and I started taking active role in product marketing and sales and pre-sales activity. Last month, technical team did all the demonstration and PoCs. I, personally, traveled to Chennai, Bangalore and Pune in addition to handling PoCs in Mumbai.
Last month, I, also chased down successfully the biggest order in the history of company with Brand Marketing India. BMI is the premium retail dealer of Calvin Klein and French Connections in India. Thanks to our star Sales person, Ranjit Bhatti, who has become a very dear friend here. Th year ended with a biggest month is the history of our company and I felt very good to be part of this deal from day 1 till the closure. I will describe the Pre-Sales, Sales and Negotiations and People Management in separate posts.
In the meanwhile, I traveled various cities presenting the product and company at Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai. It was wonderful experience interacting with Partners and prospective customers.
I promise to update my blog regularly and keep you all updated with my learnings and experiences.
For past couple of months, the acquisition and legal departments of some major companies were in action. And I am sure this is just a beginning in what we are seeing as a trend now.
Acquisitions are not new to us. They happen for some reasons:
- Bigger companies acquire small companies to keep up the pace of innovation and creativity.
- Bigger companies want to supress competition.
- Smaller companies want to make quick bucks.
- VCs want a lucrative exit and what better than getting acquired by a well known company.
- Founders want to become VPs of big MNC companies in no time and become famous and rich.
Having said what is acquisition? Acquisition does not come alone. It is generally tied to mergers and we generally call it Mergers and Acquisition. Wikipedia defines the term as “The phrase mergers and acquisitions (abbreviated M&A) refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling and combining of different companies that can aid, finance, or help a growing company in a given industry grow rapidly without having to create another business entity”.
In actual terms, although often used synonymously, the terms merger and acquisition mean slightly different things. When one company takes over another and clearly establishes itself as the new owner, the purchase is called an acquisition. From a legal point of view, the target company ceases to exist, the buyer “swallows” the business and the buyer’s stock continues to be traded.
In the pure sense of the term, a merger happens when two firms agree to go forward as a single new company rather than remain separately owned and operated. This kind of action is more precisely referred to as a “merger of equals”. The firms are often of about the same size. Both companies’ stocks are surrendered and new company stock is issued in its place. For example, in the 1999 merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, both firms ceased to exist when they merged, and a new company, GlaxoSmithKline, was created.
I am sure you would agree with me that we don’t see mergers often and most of the times, it is acquisitions. So why acquisitions are gaining steam now?
As I say it to everyone who ask me about the recent acquisitions: This era is going to go into the history as one of the golden periods. People who will dare and innovate will create history and others would just continue to do what they do in their daily life. I am also doing my bit and I am trying and will continue to strive.
Recent acquisitions are examples of what I am saying: Microsoft buying Skype for whooping $8.5 Bn. But why Skype for such a huge amount? As experts have to be believed, the biggest reason behind this acquisition was fear of Google. Lets try to analyze this logic. If Google would have bought Skype, the most closest thing that I think Google would have done with Skype is to find a way to integrate Skype with Google Talk. This would have definitely helped Google a lot as Skype has a huge subscription base. And as far as I know personally, a lot of start-ups use it extensively for their business purposes.
Skype is a big story but for me, I felt excited and almost jumped out of my seat when I heard that Google acquired TalkBin. I know you might be thinking that who is TalkBin and whats so special about it. The excitement is not because Google acquired yet another start-up but TalkBin was 5-month old start-up when it got acquired. Founded in December 2010 by Qasar Younis, Michael Ma, and Sunny Dhillo, TalkBin offers a platform that lets customers give immediate feedback to local businesses (users submit their opinions and critiques via mobile applications, and it looks like the businesses can read and respond to them from a web app). Now thats what I feel each one of us has to copy back in India. Working for an MNC is okay but ultimately such things are going to define our next generation.
On another note, Yahoo acquire IntoNow. IntoNow is a cool technology with an application that allows users to find, discuss and follow their favorite television programs. IntoNow has indexed more than five years of US based television programming, creating a rich database to build video discovery and programming experiences. IntoNow is able to identify content down to the airing, episode and time within the program as well as provide program information and links associated with it, all within a matter of seconds.
With so many things buzz and positive energy around, I feel the day for me is also going to come soon. It is just a matter of time. I want to be part of some exciting people, working and promoting a cool product and spending time among enthusiastic and aspirational people. I feel it is time for all of us to look beyond sitting inside AC in an MNC. Will we do it? Will I do it? I can’t answer that now. I completely understand that circumstances play a significant role in such initiatives but circumstances change and so do we.
Nevertheless, I re-iterate what I have mentioned in lot of my earlier posts. This era is going to go into the history as one of the amazing period and honestly, I want to be part of it and want to be part of in a big way. I urge all of you to do the same because that is the only way India can truly prosper. You will amazed to know that Small Medium Businesses in India comprises of 99% of all the business houses in India and 99% of these businesses contribute to more than 50% of India’s GDP. I predict that this number is going to go up from hereon and we will see some of us to dare to pursue their dreams out of the closed cubicles. Till then, enjoy
Have you heard about 1M/1M? Budding Entrepreneurs might have but others might have missed the name. 1M/1M is the initiative of Sramana Mitra, a very well known consultant in the Bay Area. Personally, I have never met her but we have interacted quite a few times and I feel she is just terrific.
Recently, she announced internship opportunities at her blog and I thought of giving it a shout at my blog because it is worth an opportunity to explore. Even though the internship will not pay you monetarily but I can definitely ensure you that working under Sramana would be worthwhile experience one would treasure. So, what are you waiting for, Check out the link and email her asap. Just for quick note, the openings are for freelance writers and PR domains only.
Did you hear? Facebook declared its royal entry today with Facebook Deals. What does it mean? At the very outset, it sent warning signals to all heavyweight champion startups like groupon, deals2buy, buy, snapdeals and many more. Lets try to understand why I feel Facebook has a huge potential to grab the market from its competitors. Facebook Deals was not new to me and I was aware of its arrival 2-3 months back when I first received notification from Facebook directly. Somehow, either Facebook likes my blog or has been kind enough to let me know of its deal arrival. I take this opportunity to thank Facebook for it.
Firstly, Facebook today boosts of one of the biggest user base in the world. There is no doubt about it. This is definitely a big advantage for facebook. Personally, I don’t have such a huge network on any other social networking platform that I have ever used. moreover, I can trust my facebook friends because I don’t connect with anyone I don’t know or I did not have proper introduction. So, in terms of deals, it is win-win for both facebook and its users.
Secondly, have you ever noticed the power of facebook? People who have never done so, I would recommend them to put an eye on Facebook Stories. Why? Just a quick glance can give you enough hints of what I am trying to say. These are the personal stories of people how Facebook has assisted them to remain or find close friends and/or relatives. Such stories have give strong personal and emotional attachment to the huge success of Facebook (Don’t foregt after all, we are all humans and we are emotional beings who can think and act).
Thirdly, we have seen how Facebook positioned itself in terms of advertising space. I believe if I am not wrong, Facebook has one of the costly advertisement pricing policy over Internet today but still they manage to make money out of it. Facebook Credits have been extremely successful and I have observed a lot of startups being built on those aspects. Facebook Credits in itself has created ahuge market for advertising in itself.
Clearly, the above three strong reasons makes Facebook one of the strongest brand of the world today. So, why groupon like companies will struggle?
Before we try to throw a light on the above question, I must say that I feel the timing of Groupon IPO has been perfect. If it would have been delayed further, it would have lost a lot due to this step of Facebook. So, Groupon’s entry and its decision to go for IPO could not have been better. Companies like Groupon, snap deals will struggle now. I believe that with such a huge user space, more companies will trust Facebook blindly and it will depend on little bot of effort from facebook to get the things going and if it could trigger the deal sales, it will grow like a wild fire.
So, where are we heading up to? I see the competition to get more fierce in coming times. I would not be surprised if Amazon, Google, InMobi like players join the war. I, also, see a lot of acquisitions happening in this space. What does it mean to the customers or people like us? Shop in Group or with friends and get the maximum value of each penny spent. A Big Win-Win for billions of people around the world. The World is really going flatter, as predicted.
The one space that I feel needs that real can be explored is the location and real-time price comparison of products in a certain area. Foursquare is closely following on this road but there is still of work to be done there. But the pace that we are seeing today, it won’t be too late before we see this voidness also vanish in no time.
Today, as I was reading through the article about InMobi, an Indian startup that has been consistently getting rave reviews in the market. I have been always been a huge fan of Young Turks and that is one thing which has always inspired and motivated me through thick and thin lines of my career and I am sure it will continue to do so. I take this opportunity to thank CNBC TV18 for such an amazing program. But this article is not about CNBC TV18, it is about InMobi.
Till early this year, I don’t know why but I never heard about this startup at all. But with this article, I was refreshed about my memory of InMobi when I first heard about it in January. As I browsed through their website today, it was a great feeling. Time is changing and so does the tides have started to flow from the reverse direction. Gone were those days when the market was driven from developed countries like USA. I was not fortunate to be in the Silicon Valley because I still pity on those people who go for monotonous jobs in the Silicon Valley but I can definitely fortunate to be at a place where markets are being driven today and I see that happening more often from hereon. This whole thing is exciting and being an aspiring Entrepreneur, I do look forward to jumping into this sea sometime soon. InMobi is a classic example of what I am talking about, Naveen Tiwari – an IIT graduate going for his MBA at Harvard Business School and then returning back after a brief stint to drive a business from India.
Let us take a look at the Mobile Advertising industry and InMobi today in this post.
- InMobi started as Mkhoj. I remember using it occasionally earlier but I rarely used Internet on mobile phones those days. What amazed me with InMobi was not only they were smart to tap into an opportunity but also re-built their whole business from scratch even after Mkhoj. I have always believed that Entrepreneurs should always be smart to tap opportunities in the market and should not resist change and that is what defines leadership. Leaders don’t talk about existing systems and processes but they talk about how the system can be challenged for the good. Resisting change is not the sign of growth and prosperity. In my view, InMobi led this aspect by a perfect example.
- The 60:40 revenue model is very exciting. Basically, InMobi connects the advertisers and publisher. Naveen mentioned in his interview that if $100 comes from the advertiser, InMobi gives $60 to the publisher, keeping $40 within itself. According to me, before hearing to this numbers, I never believed that a high share as much as 40% could be made this way. There are lot of players who are into advertising domains and the most common of them are the ones who divert traffic to certain blogs. But honestly speaking, I never heard of anyone mentioning as high percentage of share as 40% earlier. Kudos to the InMobi team for pulling this through.
- The Management team of InMobi comes from varied backgrounds like MBAs, BTechs from top class schools like IITs, ISB, XLRI, HBS and XLRI to name a few. This makes the team very strong. I am not surprised why such a team should not get funded and especialy when they are doing so good.
- InMobi has given companies like Google run for its money. InMobi is in over 140 countries in the world today serving ads to over 200 million users uniquely every month across the globe. In Japan and Europe, it is number 2. In United States where we have entered about 7-8 months ago, it is number 3 or number 4 in the market. Isn’t it really interesting? Yes it is.
- Naveen already talked about acquisitions and according to him, InMobi will be acquiring its first company in 3-4 months. Amazing work and my prediction is that they might either buy someone in the US or China/Korea. Why US? Because by buying in US, InMobi can give the open war with Google and Apple in the market. With Google buying AdMob and Apple buying Quattro Wireless, it will be a very good competition to watch for when an Indian company declaring big on the US shores. Why China/Korea? Because InMobi has expansion plans in these areas because of obvious big user space. Acquiring a company in China/Korea can give InMobi quick access to its vast market.
- For people interested in this space, I would strongly recommend to go through some of the case studies of InMobi. Some of the case studies are quite appealing. I have a personal experience of their presence with Reebok T-Shirt ad during IPL and I quite enjoyed it. Going through the other case studies could give very nice perspectives.
Lets now come to the Mobile Advertising space, in general. I know that there is a lot of buzz in the air for mobile startups. With official launch of 3G in India, the whole VC industry and Entrepreneurs are going ga-ga over it. Even one of my own initiatives, might go that way in future but as of now, I am closely watching this space. One more addition to this space, would be tablets. Android and Apple are going to have an awesome time of their life. The curiosity to explore this space has made me to buy a 3G phone and have also, recently ordered iPad 2 for my own person experiments. More on the personal front, sometime later but lets try to put some interesting facts that I collected while reading through the consumer and market trend reports of InMobi. Kindly remember these facts are directly taken from the reports of InMobi website and I hold no guarantee of correctness of data.
- Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that the global mobile data services market , including mobile advertising, was worth
U.S. $224 billion in 2010. Over the next four years the market will increase to U.S. $340 billion in 2014.
- 15 emerging countries – China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Poland and Ukraine – offer substantial investment opportunities for the telecom and advertising industries due to the sheer volume of mobile subscriptions in these markets, and continuing mobile penetration. It is not surprising to note that 30% of mobile data services revenues were generated by these 15 countries in 2010. So, what do you feel is driving these revenues in these countries? Obviously, the low cost feature-rich mobile phones. Visit India and watch any person, to day there might be more mobile phones in India than the toilets.
- According to Informa, the mobile phone subscriber market of India and China alone will be around 734 million in 2014 from 334 million in 2010.
- Informa also quotes that the global mobile advertising revenues will rise from $3.5 Bn in 2010 to $24 Bn by 2015, with Asia Pacific contributing to 31% of the share, led by India and China.
- InMobi research gives very impressive signals on usage of mobile advertisements by consumers when they get free apps or 10% discount on their phone bill. A significant number of consumers might also be attracted to personalized ads. At the same time, consumers have been found to have less attention to free and useful ads.
- Comfort level of consumers with the mobile advertisements is one of the biggest strong findings in the InMobi research. People seem to be very comfortable rather being apprehensive.
- InMobi grew by 21% from December, 2010 to March, 2011 giving strong signals of global rise in mobile advertising industry.
- The Key driver of markets now is the smartphones, which in itself grew by 34%.
- Android took over as the most used OS over iPone OS. Nokia OS still continues to lead the market share but Android and iPhone are closing on it. The recent Nokia-Microsoft Partnership is a clear example of worries of Nokia losing its mobile platform share rapidly.
- Android and Apple are clear favorites in the OS platform in both Europe and US while Apple is the largest manufacturer of mobile phones in both US and Europe. The market of US is primarily driven by smartphones where the growth is as high as 50% in the 90 days with Apple growing the most due to its tie-up with Verizon.
Personally, overall, I feel mobile advertising space is going to be a very interesting space to look forward to. I feel more and more Indian companies are going to give US companies a run for its money in future. Its the time for India and we are stepping into a golden era. More companies like InMobi are going to start from emerging markets to penetrate later into developed markets of US, Japan and Europe. I see a brand new Silicon Valley being built but this time, we will be in the driver seat. I would love to see the next “Black Swan” of this world happening from India and I hope to be part of this amazing event.
- CNBC TV18 Naveen’s Interview on Young Turks – http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/check-out-who-is-giving-googlerun-for-its-money_537155.html
- InMobi Company – http://www.inmobi.com/
- InMobi Research – http://www.inmobi.com/research/
- InMobi Company – http://www.inmobi.com/company/
- InMobi Blog – http://www.inmobi.com/inmobiblog/