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 Proto.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, del.icio.us 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

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BarcampHyderabad5 – The Good, the bad and the ugly.

Finally, we managed to pull of the BarcampHyderabad5 today. Quite a lot of effort put and no small terms thanks to the effort by the Google guys – Sashidhar and Syed. This one holds a special mention especially because the participants to listeners ratio was higher (marginally I guess) and a host of other reasons which I mention below

The Good

  • The numbers and the ratios: 311 registered by the time we decided to close off the registrations. In spite of that by the end of day of 15th we had 350 people registering! Now compare that to the number of sessions [about 20] which boiled down to a participants[200-225] ratio of about 1:10! Not bad for Hyderabad.
  • Google: Amazing (free) food. Amazing place. Free snacks. Free cafeteria. Free Wifi. Great ambiance. Great employees. Great work culture. Loved the T-Shirt. FoosBall table. And the bean bags. And some of the myths about Google are absolutely true. The whole experience… wow! I can roll off many more but I think I will stop singing my paeans for now.
  • Parallel tracks: During our barcamp planning sessions, we had decided upon four tracks in our Wiki – OpenSource, Demos, Startups, Technology. By the morning of barcamp, we decided to just do a sequential set of sessions[considering the thin list of participants, ergo presenters] and add to the list as and when the speakers keep coming. One and a half hour into the Camp and it was clear that we had to have a parallel track. And we decided to go parallel – Startups + Demos, OpenSource + Technology. The big hall was allocated to the former and the small conference room for the latter. It was very clear that many people were here for demos and to listen about/to startups, bloggers than about technology. And in hindsight what a great decision it was do it that way.
  • OpenSource track: Comparing the notes, found out that the opensource track was much more barcampish than the other. Lots of discussions, some really good talks and a pretty small room and a great set of listeners. And a great talk by Saifi.
  • Whiteboard: The whiteboard really sweated it out. The number of sessions that got created, arranging, scheduling… all and on the fly; not much action was seen in Hyderabad BarCamp circuit as had been today.
  • HydBlogs.in: Finally the first solid step towards blogroll creation for the Hyderabad Bloggers has been taken – one of our long unaccomplished motives since Barcamp1. Announcing for the first time here, the creation of the HydBlogs.in – the Hyderabad Blogger Blogroll. To keep track of whats happening in Hyderabad Blog Circuit just jump to www.hydblogs.in. Full credits to Suryakant[base code] and yours truly [design and donation of the domain ;D] and most importantly to SMR for the generous donation of hosting space. If you a blogger from Hyderabad, please jump over to the site and add your blog to the list. This is just version 0.1; hopefully we will be able to donate sometime on the site and make it more usable. Oh and any volunteers?! Design – Code – Maintenance? drop a comment or shoot a mail over to me.
  • ProductBarCamp: March 8th with IIIT & HYSEA bring to you the Product Barcamp which showcases 32 product companies of Hyderabad and each showcasing their product in a 5 min demo and a 2 min Q & A.
  • Organizing Team: Lots of new members that weren’t part of the team of 1,2,3,4 were here in BCH5. Its gratifying to see the interest in the folks to create a thriving tech ecosystem in Hyderabad. Once again, thanks and many cheers to all ye’ folks!

The Bad

  • Bad presentations: Some of the presentations in open source track were downright boring (my opinion) and definitely not barcamp material. Sessions on Rails architecture, 10 best reasons to use Rails, unrelated case studies, deceptively titled presentations are not what a barcamp audience expects to see. Rails would have been great in BarcampHyderabad1 – two years ago – but definitely not now. Its like saying Bush is an idiot now when everyone [almost] admits it is a mistake!
  • Parallel tracks: Because of having to sit in the Open Source sessions running parallel to the Demo & Startup tracks, I missed three particular presentations I was looking forward to – Demos by Brainwave & R-KnowSys and the talk by Kavita Vemuri and which I heard turned out to be really goood. Guys if any of you guys are reading this post, can you forward me your ppts/pdfs/videos?
  • Clueless/Disinterested Audience: The whole point of the barcamp is to have the audience listen-participate-discuss-contribute to the proceeding than just be a pair of idle ears. From what I heard from the Demo track, the audience started loitering around the rooms and having their jolly share of snacks, etc instead of even participating in the event – which kills any enthusiasm of the presenter. Come on guys, behave yourself!

The Ugly

  • Unruly registrants/Cannibals: From the city of nawabs comes the most disgraceful habit of not having the basic courtesy to listen-follow-comprehend simple instructions. When we said ‘Do not add any more names to the list‘ it was meant to be understood and be followed as is – no where does it mean that it is ok to add the names to the list and keep pushing this instruction down. Or the practice of cannibalizing the early registrants by replacing their names with your own. Sad though, which essentially means that people need more policing – exactly what barcamp was not supposed to be needing.
  • Discourteous Takers: The T-Shirt from Google is great. The water bottle from Progress downright droolworthy. But in no way does that justify folks take two-three-four Tees & bottles per person. Sadly, many participants, presenters and even members of the organizing team had no goodies to take home. And that too, when the goodies were in surplus[25%] of the participants!

Best sessions of the camp

LiveBlogging from BCH5 – 5

Collaboration with SpiceBird – Prasad Sunkari – Synovel

  • definition of collaboration
  • a step ahead to just emails and calendars. tightly bonding the disparate systems – email with blog, date with CMS
  • open source as a perfect strategy for startups – low marketing expenses, minimal brandbuilding effort, reduced dev effort [bugs, feedback, translations]. already being called a competitor to outlook and are indirectly a cause for change in thunderbird’s roadmap ahead.
  • more info on http://www.spicebird.com

Domain Specific Languages in Ruby – Suman Karthik

  • Internal/External

And, we are done!!!

LiveBlogging from BCH5 – 4

NewGenLib – New Generation Library automation – Suneel V – A Case Study in OpenSource

  • Two people – Core functional guy with 18 yrs of library management.
  • Companies involved – Verus Solutions Pvt Ltd and Kesavan Institute of Knowledge Management.
  • VTLS – best library automation software in US
  • 13 lacs – cost of the lib automation back at least a decade ago
  • First breakthrough Goa Library.
  • 150 installations by 2007. Idea took shape in 2002. Development ended in 2004.
  • In Jan 2008, NewGenLib was declared OpenSource. In the period following it, they had more than a couple of thousand downloads. [3500+]
  • Ramesh asked this question “Would they have the same amount of downloads if the software was declared free but not opensource?”

Django Web Framework – Shabd – Ex-Oracle guy

  • Demo session for building a blog/project management solution in Django.
  • Time limit: 20 mins.

LiveBlogging from BCH5 – 3

Hardcore way to do your startup – Nanda – www.atuitu.com.

About AtuItu: Social Network for telugu folks. Built on Ruby on Rails.

  • Describe your product/startup in one single line
  • Breakup your work into very small parts – modules – task for the days – not codes
  • Every problem is a challenge – every achieved challenge gives a sense of achievement
  • Do mistakes. Don’t worry about them.
  • Be in the market and keep changing it based on the feedback.
  • Focus on getting your product out. Let the users give you the response and feedback.
  • Only dependent on yourself.
  • Distractions – money to sustain, depressions. Be very guarded from any distraction.
  • All about persistence.

Relevance of Rails to startups – Sumanth Krishna A

  • One person – one idea – product.
  • And basically the top ten of Rails – the usual drumming that is given for rails – DRY, convention over configuration, ActionModel, CRUD, partials, helpers, etc…
  • Agile Development
  • Huge debate on Rails vs PHP vs Ruby vs Django
    • It quickly moved onto saying PHP is a language and Rails is a framework, blah blah. But then finally it boiled down to whoever already knew the language/framework and whoever was comfortable with the other.

LiveBlogging from BCH5 – 2

Branching out to the OpenSource/Tech Track

1. SaifiKhan – OpenSource Development Model

  • How to increase contribution to OpenSource in India. Students/Developers.
  • No one owns – Everyone owns – Becomes a heritage – Incorruptible
    • Sanskrit
    • Yoga
    • Idli
  • Development Models – Industrial[TopDown], Community[Gardening/Aggregate],
  • Checkins happen anytime => all the time. Two CVS servers available. Stewards
  • OpenSource Dynamic model in an organization
  • Register an organization -protect the individual – no restraining orders on individual – Helps build your community – Students interested in certificates/affiliation for the project : Better suited for Indian situation
  • Cannibalization happens – as is normal in the biological evolution – 97% OS projects fail
  • Why people do OpenSource
    • EOLD – Most dreaded word for vendors
    • Delivery of truth delayed by normal process – Person to file the bug is the one to fix it
  • How are stewards identified?
    • Grow from within the model
    • Had been a developer
  • In case of issues in closed model – Telescope model [Telescoping into the organization] – Move from support -> developer -> team lead -> director …
  • Looking at OpenSource Model as a cross of people communication + biological evolutions/mutation. Psychology + Biology. Social + Evolution. Centered around Community.
  • Talk | Engage | Involve
  • Small additions – Payloads – Plugins architectures
  • Ruby’s Black Swan: Apple:Cocoa goes out
  • Case Studies: iptable/filter, KDE4, Drupal conf organizer
  • GPL vs LGPL vs Free BSD vs public vs GPLv3 vs dual licensing

Overall, a very very energetic talk. The experience of having worked in a lot of open source projects comes through – many anecdotes, experiences, understanding the people focus comes through.

The track started off with about 20 people and it grew gradually to take all chairs available and now we have the room overflowing and at least 10-20 people standing and many sitting on the ground.

Barcamp Hyderabad2: Postmortem + DeadBlogging

Barcamp happened on the 15th July Saturday in Microsoft Campus. The numbers looked sparse to me initially but then when the final results were out, it came up to 150+ , which is huge, to say simply of it. Live blogging was missing again, but I did capture quite a bit of notes; and so here it goes for you people. So instead of LiveBlogging what you will find here is DeadBlogging interspersed with my postmortem notes and thoughts.

The initial talk was by Ramesh Loganathan, but I could only attend the later half of it, courtesy waiting at the reception desk to sign up people. Any case the last few things I could capture. Basically the talk was about GPS in India and the opportunities available.

* Ericsson has come up with a Standard Mobile Server

* EDR is in the GSM phone but you cannot get the latitude longitude locations. Ramesh’s team had earlier worked on a location based application but since the lat and long were not available, the product had to be scrapped

Atul Chitnis / Geodesic / 11:32 am – 12:10 pm / http://www.atulchitnis.net

Atuls presentation was minimalist zen(mostly seen in steve jobs presentations) type presentation with the typewriter font (lessig style). It was done in Fedora Core 4 PC; which makes it partially politically incorrect.

The main theme of the presentation was about how the PCs are not really mainstream.

* Computers are a misnomer in the present world. A very if not no part of the computer time is used for computing by the users.
* PC Users are a minotity. Most people dont use a PC. They neither have the means, nor the infrastructure, its financially infeasible, and mainly because people DONT WANT TO.
* ‘Form factor’ of the PC
* All mobile devices must be ‘Sized to be carried’. iPod, Walkman, Mobile
* You dont go to them, they do with you.
* We wait for the PC to boot up. And then do what the notebook wants us to do with it, not what we want to.
* The obvious analogy comes to land line phone <-> cell phone.
* Big screens are not exactly a need of the people. When it finally comes to viewing, perspective comes into play. A huge grand father clock 20 feet away is as effective as your wrist watch.
* Look at iPod, its a single function device where all we need is a start, stop, pause, skip next, skip front buttons. All are buttons are expendible.
* But mobile devices are too small to use
* Keyboard is only for PC. Not for all applications. Only 5% of time is used in typing. There needs to be a change in application
* browser on palm – is unusable by users
* the information that needs to appear is the ones that are important to the user and that is visible to them
* ‘Not all’ information. Only ‘design’ information
* Desired information is to be showed
* Goals of Mobile
– stay informed
– to reach and to re reach
– as a phone
– media player
– anytime
– anywhere

I disagree with Atuls talk per se; but I look at the problem differently. The problem is not as much with computers as it is with their design. The whole interface that is provided to the computer are the monitor, keyboard and mouse. And hence ‘any’ applications UI is centered around this same interfaces available. Of these only the keyboard and mouse are capable of taking feedback. Whats needed primarily is a rethink of this design and interfacing of computers. iPod is a great single function device, but again a single function device is not a solution to the design problem. PC is now a consolidation of many single function devices which can again intercommunicate with each other. The mobile too is not at all a solution to any of my problems. Mobility is a great advantage here; but once the battery runs out; the use is debatable. Again, for recharging i need to carry the device specific charger equipment. On the other hand for a pc, the plug points are available everywhere! Im not yet convinced that my experience is the same on big screen and on a small pocket media player. Having seen a movie in imax and then on a small screen, i disagree. I think its time to look at bettering the human computer interaction experience than that of saying the pcs are themselves obsolete.

Farhan / spokn /12:15pm – 12:50pm / farhan AT spokn DOT com

* All our communication on mobile is bursty in nature
* The mobile comes in the flow of your work
* Taken from a personal example, having a bad interface can literally kill you
* UIs on mobile phones are extremely important
* Have to be extremely robust
* Spokn have create a new LTP (Light Telephone Protocol) which has no dynamic allocations
* Number of PCs are 350 million
* Vodafone had its 500 billion written off in loss
* Compare the PSTN World & IP World where the PSTN world is a walled garden
* Telcos need to open the networks to IPs
* Hutch has invested 60B in picking up 3G licenses and the speed you get is 128 kbps
* 5B in Wifi – 10 Mbps
* Right now the color phone is now a ‘hygiene factor’
* Number series can be neither GSM or Landline network; we can have a LTP number also
* All 36 nets of Hutch are in bad shape
* — From audience, Single point access to GPRS by subscription. Voice Roaming is by Telcos. At this point, the discussion diverted into the fractured network of the WiFi network —
* — Rajan added that the main difference Farhan was pointing was regarding the Open Closed system. This is where Fon, the new company was aiming to remove this fracture and to create a seamless wifi network —
* About Spokn, it provides a platform to create your own subnetworks.
* It is through javascript; own ui using spokn
* Based on the LTP stack. Can go through NATs. Does not need TCP, uses UDP. Entirely OS. Speaks codec. Used GSM
* Does not switch calls
* Uses UDP port punching [?], can work behind NATs, does not have rendezvous, uses relay peers
* VOIP works over GPRS connection
* Calling costs as much as email costs you!!!

Sigbjorn Vik / Opera / 12:50 pm – 1:15 pm / my.opera.com/Sigbjorn/

* Presentation available on http://people.opera.com/sigbjorn/barcamphyderabad2
* Opera on Mobile
* Opera Mini – Java installed on mobile
* Any device supported! Not only a pc, nintendo…
* Design principles – Graceful degradation
* could not down a lot

Dr Vishal Garg / IIIT / 1:20 pm – 1:40pm

The presentation was a demo of their project of using a mobile phone as a remote controller. They were using the power line for transmitting the messages. Using the X10 protocol.

* Mobile phone as universal remote control
* In general for a remote the Media of communication : RF / IR / Power Line / Dedicted wire
* Why mobile as a urc? Widespread, possibility of independent settings, proecessing power, memory, display, ringer, secure ID, portable, has IR, Wifi, Bluetooth, has buttons

— Break for lunch —
My lunch session was the highlight of my day mainly because of the flow of information we had. I dont have any guys name and didnt note any of them down 😦 [Please if any of you guys read this, please send me mail regarding the same]. [update from Puneeth] The discussion group consisted of Anil from Bosch, Damodhar from Dolphine Computers, Puneeth, Jaihind Reddy and Marx. The main idea was if we can make the entrepreneurship a systematic process[Anil’s idea]. It was actually great seeing the amount of thought that went into it. Other than that it was also personal talk where we felt these days its the young guys thats taking the leap into entrepreneurship because the risk goes up as you get older. The discussion was interspersed with a lot of personal anectodes from all in the group and it was interesting to see that each and everyone of is either an entrepreneur or an aspiring one. Thanks guys.

Post Lunch
Post lunch, we had a video screening of Guy Kawasaki’s ‘Art of the Start’ talk. Most of the audience loitering in the lobby immediately sitting in the conference room. That was brilliant idea by Rajat and Rajan to get the barcampers back into the talks.

Sriram Krishnan / Microsoft / 3.00pm – 3:20pm
* Web 2.0, Devices and MS
* On best practises and things to watch out for
* Web 2.0 has brought out a change in website where each website is a service. [SOA]
* Anyone can consume the data
* ProgrammableWeb.com to get a list of all Open APIs existing and the Mashups
* SOAP: NTLM architecture, Federation – NOT lightweight
* Put your own server in the middle. REST based APIs
* As a reply from the audience if it is time to move to binary protocols, the answer was to use Zipped xml protocols, instead of binary protocols
* The main point was also about making the protocol less chatty. Put a server in the middle between the website and your mobile phone 🙂

After this we split up into two parallel sessions, I missed the talks of Rajan 😦 on Mobile 2.0 and the talk about the building the small business apps platform.

Anyways the two talks I attended were by Naresh and Mohit

Naresh / IIIT / 3:20pm – 3:50 pm / pSearch

The talk was basically about the search on mobiles based on location. So if you a hungry coder in Kavuri Hills near HiTech City and you key in ‘hyderabadi biryani’, you will get the most appropriate results based on your location. So mostly you will get the HiTech Biryani Center or Silicon Dhaba as your top results whereas your Bahaar or a Bawarchi or a Paradise would come later 😀

The local city locations database is build by these folks and the location code is extracted from the mobile service operator and the results which are extracted from the serach provider like google/yahoo and the results are provided by combining with our city location database.

You can get more information about this project at http://mobilesearch.nokia.com

Mohit / Entrepreneur / 3:50 pm – 4:00 pm / Bootstrapping your own enterprise

Mohits talk was basically about the bootstrapping the selves and a lot of tips and observations on entrepreneurship having been entrepreneur himself.

* Created a network called bootstrap hyderabad
* TiE is for VC connections. Bootstrap is for entrepreneurs to help bootstrap themselves
* Students have a lots of ideas, but most of the time they are clueless on how to proceed
* The time to market should be really less. Efficiency and good speed are very important
* Explanation on valley of death, ideation.
* There is no rule about which road to take. Its all about your individual choice and individual risk propensity
* Take care about your debt/equity ratio
* Start early. So you can have the time to prove yourself. Even if you fail, time is on your side and you can start again
* If “Be your own boss” is your reason for being an entrepreneur, think again. Your devil boss will appear like a sissy in front of your toughest customers
* Be Nice. Be moral. Be Ethical
* SCRUM approach: Demo. Sell. Build approach
* Liquidity is important. If possible get your clients to pay for the prototype or for a part of the product.
Talks I missed

1. Ramesh’s Talk
2. Rajans’ Talk
3. PDA for Pharma
4. Last final Brainstorming + Panel Discussion

Things I wished I did

1. Gave a presentation. My unfulfilled wish in Barcamp Hyderabad too 😦