Barcamp Hyderabad 6 – Postmortem

This one was definitely was the most underblogged and under publicized barcamps of Hyderabad – and also the only camp where the demos and the talks are placed really wide apart! [think 2-3 weeks] ;D

The event which happened on Friday was a real eyeopener – we really came to know about solid IT product companies from Hyderabad which have been existing since the 90s and still going strong – SDG technologies, Pramati, In10s and many others.

My initial apprehensions that the Barcamp theme/tag was being hijacked by HYSEA were indeed proven true – but in a very pleasant way – the talks were much superior, the structure absent and content really praiseworthy. All in all an event that HYSEA needs to be praised for.

About the event

It was nice coming back to the class room that has been part of 3 years of my student life in IIIT, my alma mater. The event started off with Brigadier Hari Kumar initiating the proceedings. Then Anil Jampala, President HYSEA gave a brief introduction and a few good words about the ‘Business for Non-Business Professionals [BNBP]’ course that he taught in IIIT few years ago, one of the best courses I took at IIIT and to which I would rightly attribute quite some of my entrepreneurial bearings. Hopefully HYSEA can reintroduce the superb course at IIIT as part of the curriculum.
And then we had the talks by co-founders/entrepreneurs/very senior folks of the product companies of Hyderabad

  • Ramanathan from Cordys – their journeys, the things to look out for and the dos and donts
  • Ramesh from Progress tracing the rich IT product company legacy in Hyderabad, some known-and-really-doing-good-work companies, and some really-not-well-known-but-doing-good-work companies. And of course the punch at the end of the talk was the map visualizing the Cyber Valley – the map of product companies – establised, public, startups – all charted on the map of Hyderabad – lovely idea.
  • Suheim Sheikh from SDG Software having a very humorous and blow by blow account of how they developed their software as a project and then product – and how they did not think globally and overestimating their competitors – how they almost got killed in the crossfire of the Indian Stock Exchange crash of the 90s. How they started from a single room, then to rooms, to a floor and the building… And the point they were a product company in Hyderabad since 1993!
  • Sandeep, an MBA and founder of Fineng, [prolly the only MBA in the evening that day] whose take was more analytical and the structured decision making process that goes into making the decision of taking the leap – the factors to consider, 7-8 years long journey, and the point that once you are able to stay as long as that you are bound to be successful. Much focus was also there on the location of the company in Bombay as compared to say Hyderabad or Bangalore – which I can very well say aye to. Though Hyderabad/Bangalore/Chennai are the tech centers of India, the real pockets of cash are in Delhi and Bombay. Of course, the low rates of attrition are an added advantage.

A quick mini question hour led to most asked questions haunting a entpreneur wannabe? When is it a good time to start? And if MBA added any value to you being an entrepreneur? Mahesh Murthy from pinstorm had the answers ‘Now’ and ‘MBA teaches you how to be an employee for an entrepreneur but not being an entrepeneur’ respectively. I’ll leave you to ponder over the anwers 😀

  • Jay Pullur, founder of Pramati took over the dias. His speech was mainly about what, how and when an entrepreneur ‘becomes’. His take was that it was a personal choice and there are no simple answers there – but what was important was the point that an entrepreneur is a self starter, one who takes intiatives and then its about preparing yourself for the opportunity that will present itself in the future whenever it does appear. Its never too late. The talk ended with – Being at the right place and the right time is important, but its more important to being the right person. Or as Einstein says – Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Or that more universal – Luck favors the prepared mind.
  • Sastry from In10s [intense] technologies – started with two other friends – had a timeframe of 1-2 years with the expectation that he would quit at the end of his predecided time and the other two would stick with the company. As time would have it, he is still persevering after the company after 10 years. This talk was built around the many mistakes they did during their journey – going IPO really early for just 7.2 crores at the peaking of the IPO season before the bust (without thinking about the consequences – loss of control, regulation), buying realty with the money, moving to a new office. Ended with the 4Ps – Passion, Purpose, People, Perseverance.
  • Mahesh Murthy from PinStorm. I first heard him in his talk in, the first season and so his background was nothing new. Some of the best words in the talk – ‘Stop comparing yourself with your friends who are doing jobs – higher salary, new car, new house – thats a rat race  then you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur‘,  ‘If during the 10 years your friend is earning more than you, in the 11th year you will be his boss!‘, ‘Create a brand for your company/product‘, ‘Pricing is a very important strategy for marketing – there is no way a lower pricing will help cut your competition. Only higher prices implies a better quality product than your bigger, richer competitors‘.
  • Hemir Doshi, IDG Ventures. Mostly VC-styled talk, common pitfalls that startups have, what they look for, the interesting companies they’ve invested in.
  • Sateesh Andra, Partner DFJ ventures. An entrepreneur turned VC – he talked about his journey – how at one point they exited a company at the right time by resisting the temptation to exit early, and how the next time, they rejected an offer and then had to sell the company later for peanuts.
  • Ashar Farhan, serial entrepreneur. Quickly running through the web2.0 poster boys of start-small, build early, release often philosophy companies – wikipedia that has 1 and a half fulltime employees, that ran off the laptop of the founder when yahoo had come to make the buy. His were a great set of tips for founders of this generation.

I had to leave early so missed the announcement about the IIIT Innovation Lab. Sun donated four servers for the lab with no strings attached. Progress would be working closely to help the students build the ideas through and MoU. Great to see the initiatives rapidly building the tempo for a great set of companies in the future.  How sometimes I wish that we were here a few years later 😀

All in all, a great event, thanks in no small part to IIIT, HYSEA and most importantly Ramesh for tying this all up together.

Ramesh has a much more detailed and a blow by blow account of this event. His blog post served as the memory aid for my blog post ;D