Starting a Company Is Hard But….

Hunter Walk

As a seed stage investor to young companies (and someone who has previously worked at a brand new startup), I know it’s hard. Really hard. The type of hard where you joke that if founders could properly calculate the odds of succeeding, no one would ever start a company!

Two recent blog posts have stuck in my head which focus on the exception focus, skill and luck you need to build a startup. The first was Jason Calacanis’ “You Don’t Have What it Takes,” which, as the title suggests, is a plea to the 99% of founders who Jason doesn’t think have what it takes to start a company. And there’s nothing wrong with making that choice. As Jason writes:

“You see, what I’ve learned after 25 years of doing this startup thing is that 99% of people simply don’t have what it takes to lead a startup —…

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Behne Do – Rekha Bharadwaj

So I came across this beautiful song from the Marathi movie Shala sung by Rekha Bharadwaj about this kid who bunks a class and later finds out that his crush actually notices him bunking the class. He is happy to see his crush noticing his presence. The girl asks him not to bunk the classes further. And that’s the beginning of the song.

Rekha Bharadwaj’s beautiful voice adds depth to the situation. The song describes the boy’s feeling towards this beautiful girl. The video very brilliantly captures the first love of the boy; the stolen glances; those “supposedly” accidental meet ups at places, etc. A soothing music by Aloknanada Dasgupta gives the song a perfect closure.

In case you haven’t watched the movie, please do. It does remind you of your school days. Nostalgic!

Oath Of The Vayuputras Quotes

ImageI have this habit of collecting quotes from nice books. I keep underlining nice lines that I find in each of the books that I read. Then I make notes out of it. (I know, most people find it annoying to read the same book after I’m finished with it.) But I keep losing these notes on a very frequent basis. Today I came across one such note from this incredible book that I read last summer – The Oath Of The Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi.

Here’s a small list of nice lines that I found in the book.

  • A lot of people are capable, Neelkanth. What makes capable person truly dangerous is his conviction – Gopal.
  • Often, our immediate reaction to a sudden crisis helps us save ourselves. Our response to gradual crises that creep up upon us, on the other hand, may be so adaptive as to ultimately lead to self-destruction. (The Frog in the hot water cup story) – Ganesh.
  • “Shreyan sva dharmo vigunaha para dharmat svanushtitat” It’s better to commit mistakes on the path that one’s soul is meant to walk on, than to live a perfect life on a path that is not meant for one’s life – Parvateshwar.
  • Nobody in the world, not even God, can tell us what our duty is. Only our soul can can – Parvateshwar.
  • It is attachment that makes people forget not only their moral duties but even who they really are – Shiva.
  • After all, an enemy’s enemy is a friend.
  • You should respect a man, not his position – Shiva
  • There is nobility in truth, even if it hurts – Sati.
  • People have a tendency to do what they want to do rather than what they should be doing – Gopal.
  • Sometimes, for the sake of the larger good, one has to do things that may not appear right at the time – Karthik.
  • For history is written by victors. They can write it however they want. The losers are always remembered the yway victors portray them – Kali.
  • If there’s a victor’s version of events, then there’s a victim’s narrative that survives equally – Gopal.
  • A man becomes God when his vision moves beyond the bounds of victors and losers – Sati.
  • There is always unity at the end and it brings a new tranquility, But the meeting of two worlds causes a lot of temporary chaos – Ganesh.
  • But an inspiration before its time appears like a rebellion – Mithra.
  • Circumstance is just an excuse for the weak to rationalise their failures – Sati.
  • Delusions create the most compelling of beliefs.
  • Vengeance is a waste of time. Don’t surrender to anger. Surrender only to dharma – Sati.

This is a nice book and it gives an apt ending to the awesome Shiva Trilogy. Fast paced, logical, gripping. Although I found that some parts of the book are a little stretched out, than it was necessary. But overall the content is good and worth reading. Amish keeps amusing you with plot twists and turns. The books also changes your perspective on the mythological things that you’ve been reading/learning from your childhood.

The Internet Filter Bubble

I was reading through some articles when I came across this thing called the Filter Bubble. A Filter Bubble is a state where the business intelligence of the websites decides for you what kind of information will be useful to you and what is not. In the beginning of the era of internet it was a boon as the businesses showed only the things that the user would like to buy based on his previous purchases, clicks, etc. But it should’ve been limited to products only instead of moving on to content.

The Filter Bubble(courtesy: brainpickings.org)

The problem with Filter Bubble being active on content is that now-a-days I only see content that I should be seeing according to the AI programmed systems and not the one that I would like to see. A lot of content that is outside of my filter bubble suddenly becomes invisible to me. If let’s say I searched for Classical Rock songs of 60s and listened to a few of them, the recommendation Engine will only show me other rock songs from 60s and not from the other ones. I’ll be missing out on other information there.

I pondered upon it for a while and I came up with a solution for this. I’ve subscribed to different channels of content on different social networks. There is no secret that the information that we are receiving these days comes directly from some social network or the other. This small hack doesn’t really kill the bubble, but definitely helps inflating it.

I’ve reorganised all my liked-pages, twitter following handles, quora followers etc. to make sure that they are completely independent thereby showing me a different/new set of content on each of the social networks. I’ve been doing this for the past 6 months and I do see that the results are showing up now. I do not miss out on any critical information also at the same time I get to consume a lot of content. After all, in today’s world, content is power.

Excerpts from You Don’t Need A Godfather

As my roommate was going home he handed me over a copy of this book called You Don’t Need A Godfather which he ordered from Flipkart last week. I’d not heard the name of the book, but since it was a small book I thought of reading it up anyways. As I turned a few pages, I realized that this is a handbook for your everyday endeavors – personal as well as professional, but mostly professional. There is nothing new this book offers that has not already been told yet, but the way Elango R. – the author of the book – presented it is novel and worth commending.

The ladder of professional success is not an easy one to climb, but if you know the technique you will climb it up effortlessly. And this book does exactly that. It offers you the tools which make your journey to the top easy and effortless. These tools are not as easy as they look while reading. They need a lot of practice. However, once practiced well, these tools will only enhance your productivity given you have the wisdom to take right decisions.

Having read the entire book in two days, I thought of writing a post on my blog. This post is simply a list of some of the DOs and DONTs manifested in the book.

  • Learn to take responsibilities of your actions instead of playing the blame-game.
  • Never be “a victim of the circumstances”: Create your own opportunities.
  • Focus on weaknesses and not just your strengths – for how else will you know your true potential?
  • Corporate ethics were formed for a reason. Respect them.
  • Personal branding is important – what’s your brand?
  • Social networking is also important, but learn to draw a line which makes sure your brand doesn’t degrade.
  • Tune your networking ability to a natural skill, not an action item.
  • Communicate effectively keeping your audience and objective in mind.
  • If you do what you always did, you will get what you always get. Learn to do things differently but don’t diverge the focus from the objective.
  • If saying NO is important, then say it. DO NOT HESITATE.
  • Set up your own Golden rules and never break them. They are non-negotiable.
  • Learn to laugh with people and at yourself. Don’t get too bothered about your goof-ups.
  • Be the boss you want your boss to be. (Personally, the best line I’ve come across this book) 🙂
  • Whenever things get comfortable and less challenging, it’s time to re-evaluate.
  • Don’t fall into the success trap.
  • Learn to manage the creative tension. 

I liked the way Elango managed to explain the underlying concepts of corporate leadership by drawing a comparison with the real life stories of his son, Agastya.

It is indeed a wonderful book to read. Recommended.

Immortals of Meluha starcast

Recently I’ve dinished reading the first installment of the Shiva trilogy- The immortals of Meluha. It was a good read. The entire book seemed to me like a readymade script. So while I was reading the book I could visualize the film that it was going to be. According to me following are the actors who can do justice to the film:

Shiva – A character that demands swagger, shrewedness could be best portrayed by none other than the bollywood Greek god Hrithik Roshan. Ajay Devgn would be a close second.

Sati – A Beutiful warrior princess. Only Priyanka Chopra could bring life to such a wonderful character.

My first Bungee jump!

How does it feel to have no ground under your feet? I’m sure everyone would have had such kind of an experience in their dreams. But this was not a dream. It was reality.

If you watch the video closely, in the beginning you can see how nervous I was. When I was walking towards that platform, a lot of things were running in my mind viz., Will I survive? Do I have the guts to take that one extra step? Should I back out? What will happen if something goes wrong? My breath calmed down; heartbeat froze. But when I reached the edge of the platform, I asked one thing to myself: What is that one thing worth living for? Trust me, the answer to that question popped up in my mind instantly. It’s moments like these when your life is at stake you realize that the most precious thing in life is your life itself. You, your family, your friends, your memories – they are priceless.

I never thought what I shall be remembered for after my death. But it was that moment when I began to think about it: What I have achieved in my life, what I want to pursue. At that moment, I decided that I will not take things as they come to me., rather I’ll fight and give a shape to these things to fit in my life.

While all these thoughts were running in my mind, the instructor slowly whispered into my ear: “Free your hands, dear. Three.. Two.. One.. Jump”. What happened next can not be described in words. I was in the air. There was no ground under my feet. Everything that I could see was coming closer to me at a great speed. I was shouting my heart out; out of fear, out of anxiety, out of excitement. I was high on life. But before I could comprehend the notion of gravity, I was brought back to conscience by the life saver harness. Everything looked different from that point. I was hanging in between the land and the sky that too inverted. The world looks different from that position. There was a sudden change in my voice. Once I knew that I was alive and safe, I felt that death is the worse thing that could ever happen to anybody. I was really happy to be alive. Now I cried out a huge cry, it was the cry of joy, the cry of happiness. It was a victory over my fear of heights, my fear of death.

There is one thing that I have learnt from this jump: Certain things in life are beyond the comprehension of us, mere mortals. But things like these where you risk your life to overcome your fear will remind you of the celebration that your life has been till now. It will give you the inspiration to do what you have always wanted to do.

I wish to Bungy jump again in my life. And this time, I’ll jump with no fear in mind. 🙂

Once sincere advice: If you have not done it yet, please do. And post about it.

Art of the Start-up!

After a long time, I’ve felt like writing something on this blog. So now I’ve joined a start up and we work on hot shot technologies like developing Android and iPhone apps. There’s something really interesting that I’d like to tell about working in a start-up.

Lately, I’ve noticed that working in a start up is way better than working in an established company. I’d just like to mention a few reasons why is it so:

First of all, you don’t have to follow orders. You don’t have a manager. You have the freedom to make decisions. You have the freedom to make commitments and stand up to them. You have the responsibility of taking a task and carrying it out smoothly without extending the dead line.

Next, you get to meet new challenges everyday. You will learn something new everyday. You will work on hot shot technologies everyday. You will make things happen everyday. You’ll make some end user happy everyday. Now, the previous line is the heart of this post. I’ve started writing this post so that at some point I’d come to this particular line and describe it in detail. Well, prior to working in a start up, I’ve worked in an established company. Let me tell you no matter how much I’d work I was never satisfied because I did not know who is it that I’m working for. The end user always used to be a black box for us. But now we do know who our end user is and so we put our soul in making an application to make him happy.

Yet another great aspect of working in a start-up is you don’t get indulged in some boring meetings where all you do is just update your weekly status. If you have an idea, you just go ahead and make it happen. You don’t need to discuss it with “the wise guys” to know what you are doing is right or not? You’ll learn it anyways sans the unnecessary gyaan.

So that’s all I have to say about working in start ups. If you are looking for something to learn everyday and not for money, then start up is the thing for you. And then who knows, may be someday when your start up becomes a major hit, you might as well be sitting on a pile on currency notes 🙂

That said, the only thing I miss about working in an established company is “sweets at my desk”/”ooo” mails. 😛

PS: Any good books that you have come across lately, junta? If yes, do recommend. 🙂

Yes, We Are The Champions!

There’s a feeling of awesomeness in the air, there’s a smile on every face I greet. This is such a wonderful feeling. I don’t remember of a last time when I came out of my home, hugged a random stranger and congratulated him/her for cheering up the spirits of team India. I feel like I’m on the top of the world. Thank you, Team India for uniting the whole nation. Religion has divided India many a times, but Cricket has united it and proved time and again that it is something beyond the understanding of a religion and Sachin is, undoubtedly, it’s God.

Having seen Sachin lift the cup, I can now die in peace. 🙂