Startup Saturday Hyderabad Roundup 11th April 09

Before I jump to a quick review of the SS Hyd I’ve decide to replenish my writing skills and try resurrect its ancient glory…

Oh! What fate a job wrath upon a mere mortal! Things have changed quite a bit on my side after my move to a job. My social life and social graph has pretty much come to a standstill and has rotten to a unrecognizable and more worrisome undesireable gob of lifelessness and directionlessness. Anyways, summers have come early to Hyderabad bringing with them the powercuts and buckets of sweat. So has come the early and even a cynical realization and precognition of the shape of things for future – changing and totally unpredictable weather patterns, snowy winters, dry rains, wet summers, no fresh water to urban non-rich and just a ever lasting dry waves of hot arid air.

Yanyways, so back from the doomsday predictions. The day started off in Room 119 of IIIT Hyderabad with our ubiquitous Hyderabad startup circuit person Ramesh giving the keynote and welcome note. What was impressive to me though was the strength of people attending the session atleast about 30 odd people – well balanced set of wannabes, students, entrepreneurs and working professionals.

Moorty, Microsoft, BizSpark Program

The first talk was by Moorty from Microsoft giving a quick overview of the entrepreneurship, the challenges facing the startup and the widespread opportunities. The personal view that the next Google will be from India was a hard to miss point in his talk. My personal opinion is that this has become a moot point by now, beaten to death in the last in the last 3 years by almost every business and every VC who has identified the latent talent, the unmistakable lack of real amenities still out of reach of 80% of the population. But as always, I digress.

He was here also to tell about Microsoft’s BizSpark Program which is for any startup less than 3 years in existence and whose revenues are less than a million US $s. This leaves almost every Indian startup eligible for the BizSpark program. As part of the BizSpark program, the selected startups will have be given Windows software to support their complete development process. They will also have be given free license to the production environments most notably to Azure, MS cloud offering. In addition, the startups will have access to MS partner ecosystem and their MS product dev teams.

In spite of the great help it will do to the startup, its hard to not admire MS’s business minds – almost like seeding the first few years to get a loyal customers for the years to come.

Also as my personal note, I would love to highlight Sun’s Startup Essentials program which mostly would for the FOSS crowd. The qualifier for that is less than 6 years in existence and less than 150 employees.

Kavita Vemuri, CIE, IIIT-H

To sum up this talk in 10 words or less “Is India ready for hi-tech startups?“. Kavita has been manning the Entrepreneurship Cell of IIIT-Hyd working closely with students of IIIT, helping in conceptualizing the ideas, helping out in ideation phase and working on getting the first clients of the startup. Kavita’s talk actually spawned two different points:

  • India looking VCs, angels not even daring to look at high technology startups. Many examples abound of VC rejected startups going on to being successful and acknowledged for the technology superiority most notable of them.. Sloka Telecom. Whats disturbing even is that the VCs dont even believe that India is capable of producing high technology startups. Clearly, its a lot tougher to walk the talk than it is to talk the talk. Just looking at the list of VC investments in the last two years and its pretty clear what technology differentiators do each of them have built into them.
  • Lack of a set of professionals called ‘technology evaluators’. Evidently clearly at least most of the noveau investors are not VCs and more than half of them are even clueless of even the current state of the art technology. The highlight? The governement officials/ scientists are much much more aware of state of art tech and even accepting of high technology startups than any of the VCs, angels.

Saurav Patnaik, Tell A Friend, Pramati

We first heard of this product in Barcamp Hyderabad hosted in Amazon Campus. Tell A Friend is a html widget which helps send the article link to your contacts through email, IM, social graph connects in Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. Very similar to the now ubiquitous link sharing widget: ShareThis. As of now Tell A friend boasts of close to 140000 publishers.

This was a completely market oriented talk where Saurav pointed out their approach in productizing their product to each of their consumer demographic as per the need of their consumer (Thinking by being in the consumer’s shoes):

Approaching the content providers like online news sites by packaging the application as a ‘extra media estate’ instead of as ‘word of mouth application’, the value to the new site is clearly apparent.

Approaching blog service providers by giving them a free channel to virally spread the reach of their bloggers thus earning each of the parties additional revenue.

The highlight: Tell A Friend also has a paid service and their conversions are in the range of 40%. (Wow!). To know more: hop on here

Mamta Banerjee, Founder, Investment Yogi

Mamta is one of the founders of Investment Yogi, a personal financial portal. My first brush with Investment Yogi was during their focus group discussion with their advisor in Taj. Anyways, the portal now boasts of a tax planning module ready to be used for the FY09 – FY10. As has become a ritual at SS Hyd, this talk was about the sharing of the experiences of a startup founder with the attendees.

  • Co Working rocks. Investment Yogi shares its working space with two other Hyderabad based startups which according to Mamta has kept their costs pretty much in control. Added incentives include great working partners, good fun times and people who really understand the journeys of each other.
  • Getting people is easy. Getting good people is close to impossible.
  • Getting employees on equity sharing basis is almost impossible in India. Without enough examples of employees also getting rich along with the startup founders, this deal will more or less remain the same for now.
  • Close deals as quickly as possible. ‘Nuff said.
  • Handling paperwork by startups is work away from work. Its always going to be tough for founders to put equal concentration on paperwork. But any lackadaisical approach in paperwork will be hurting the company in longterm. Can definitely empathize with this. Is this enough of a biz opportunity for a service company?

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