Monday, May 31, 2004

Serial entrepreneurship is easy

Eirepreneur writes about Stelios Haji-Ioannou. This guy is a serial entrepreneur based in the UK like Richard Branson of the Virgin group. In fact this guy is a fan of the original, but he thinks he is better.


easyMobile seems to be the latest addition to the family and you've got to admire the guy's neck in rebuffing Richard Branson, that other serial entrepreneur -

"I have never made a secret of the fact that Richard Branson has been my inspiration on many of my ventures. At the same time, I think one has to recognize that nobody has a monopoly on good ideas and in this day and age business models and best of class practice change within a matter of a few years."


His CV is worth a look.

28 going on £4m

Eirepreneur writes about this young guy who is all of 28.

He writes Matt Stevenson, founder of Reef One, seems to echo my 'Touching the Void' thoughts in today's 'How I made it' article from the Sunday Times -


“Most of my friends thought I was mad because they were all going off to earn decent amounts of money. I got a first-class degree, which meant I could have had a well-paid job straight away, but I didn’t want to do that. I knew that what I had was good and that if I did it properly it could become a substantial business, so I could reap the rewards later on.”

At the age of 28 Matt now oversees a company with 15 full-time employees and projected sales for this year of £4m. You'd have to admire the guy.


I like his thinking. Simple and straight. You need to believe in this idea and go ahead and do it.

EBay

Rajesh Links to some ebay articles and blog posts. Ebay has always fascinated me because it is one of the successful business models on the Internet and it is based on a simple fact that "making ineffcient markets efficient" is money making.


Robert Scoble talkd to an eBay exeuctive on a flight and gathered this info:


# $7 to $8 billion runs through the eBay platform (yes, he called eBay a "platform") every quarter.

# Every hour eBay registers 3000 to 4000 new users.

# This year they are expecting somewhere around $3.5 billion in revenues. That's above expectations.

# Every day about a terabyte of data courses through eBay's data centers (most of the machines running eBay are running Windows, he told me. The back end they use is running on Sun Microsystems computers).

# eBay has a high degree of customer lockin. How? Well, for one, many of their customers are getting rich (he says he knows a few power sellers who have already retired). Second, the more you buy and sell on eBay, the better your ratings, and those aren't transferable to other auction systems.


Bill Miller on Ebay :

What is eBay's business? If it is an auction site where individuals, mostly, sell unwanted items — sort of like an Internet enabled flea market — then it probably is fully priced. That is not how the company describes its business, though. Here is eBay's description of what it does: "We make inefficient markets efficient." For those who can size markets, that is all you need to know, if you believe it.

Friday, May 21, 2004

1Tb from GMail is a Rumour

Dave Winer quotes this Wired article.

Wired: "Rumors that Google is offering users of its Gmail service an unprecedented 1 terabyte of storage space are untrue, the company said Wednesday, blaming a bug in the system for the confusion."


Now we can all sleep tight. Google is not all that foolish.

Social Innovations!

Evelyn Rodriguez quotes Jim Collins.


"Some of the most amazing inventions in history are not technology or products; they're social inventions," says Jim Collins, the management guru and author of the bestsellers "Built to Last" and "Good to Great. "Imagine inventing the idea of the U.S. Constitution..."


My first idea of a invention or a innovation was related to technology. From the automobile,, TV, computer and anything mechanial or electrical. I used to connect invention with technology. Then I started reading Peter Drucker.

Drucker was the first person, whom I read, started talking about the difference between a Innovation and a Invention and the importance of Social Innovation.

Social Innovations, I have come to understand are more important and more useful than technological innovation. The first example of this which I strongly remember is the idea of "instalment credit". This powerful idea made many a technological innovations to be solved.

The ability to understand his brought in another change in me. Since I was not a "engineer" I started to wonder what I can create. Suddenly I saw the possibility of working for and creating a social innovation. This it seemed had a chance for great impact on society and which could be possible for a non-engineer.

As I started thinking of the problems in India and especially in Rural India I started appreciating the fact that Social Innovations are so more important for making a difference.

We all have a chance to Innovate and make a difference.


Jut Do It

The Nike tagline of Just do It is a powerful idea. The reason Nike's brand is so famous because "Just Do it" is a concept which is dear to a lot of people mainly because we cannot do it.

This is the interesting part. Anita Campbell quotes an idea which is useful to all but definitely to Entrepreneurs.


"What I like about this story, is that I could have given up at any point since there was a large problem ahead of me: a problem I had no answers to. And I see this with many free software developers, students and even in normal social situations: people stop doing things because they see a big problem ahead of them that they can not possibly conceive working around. My advise to every young programmer is to start writing code and delay addressing imaginary problems until they become real. There's a lesson that for folks in lots of areas, not just software development. Even life in general."


Most of the times we just need to start doing it. Starting is the most important thing. Dealing with uncertainity is also related to starting.

So Just Do It

Credit your Voice

Smart Mobs connects to a Nytimes article on a new credit card security feature which works with your voice.


Enclosed in the card is a tiny microphone, a loudspeaker and a chip with voice recognition chip. To use the card, its owner must speak a password, which the chip compares with a sample recorded on the card. If the voices match, the card emits a set of beeps that authorize the transaction over the telephone or through a microphone on the shopper's computer. If the voiceprints don't agree, the card will not beep.


This is the next level of technology security and certainly lowers the RISK.

Five Years from Now

Seth Godin looks into the future and this is what he sees...


Assume that:

Hard drive space is free

Wifi like connections are everywhere

Connections speeds are 10 to 100 times faster

Everyone has a digital camera

Everyone carries a device that is sort of like a laptop, but cheap and tiny

The number of new products introduced every day is five times greater than now

Wal-Mart's sales are three times as big

Any manufactured product that's more than five years old in design sells at commodity pricing

The retirement age will be five years higher than it is now

Your current profession will either be gone or totally different


What then?


We will all have network computers broadbanded to the Internet and the GoogleOS or a similar thing. We will be always-on and will have the ability to reach anybody anywhere. If you combine Laptops and Wifi, mostly in the developed countries then you can be anywhere and connnect to anybody.

This brings up a huge amount of possibilities which are not happenning now. More importantly this will bring in a cultural revolution.

Can I work from home? If so, how will the company policies change. Will I be allowed. Who will be and who cannot be. Will the sales man need to come to office. Can he be online on Wifi with VoIP and can connect and talk and work from everywhere. If this is possible and is required then what are the demands on the companies. How will the managers manage?

technology is bringing in the possibilities of change, but to make these reality we need to make a cultural and social change. Soft changes need to follow hard changes!

The white woman and India

Francois Gautier,writes in Rediff, what he terms has India's love for the white skin. He says this has its origins in the way the British has powered the Aryan Invasion theory.

This paragrah says everything :

Wake up O Indians: you are as great, if not greater than the white man. You can do as well, if not better than the white man. Not only did your forefathers devise some of the basic principles of mathematics, astrology, and surgical medicine, not only are your people among the most brilliant in the world today -- half of Silicon Valley is of Indian origin, 30 percent of the United Kingdom's doctors are Indians -- but you still hold within yourselves a unique spiritual knowledge, which once roamed the world but which has now disappeared, replaced by the intolerant creed of the two major monotheistic religions which say: 'if you don't believe in my true God, I will either kill you or convert you'.



The spectacle on the night of May 18, of all these Congress leaders, many of them intelligent men and women, debasing themselves in front of Sonia Gandhi, pleading with her to lead the country, made me feel sick. If Sonia had any dignity, she would have stopped it, but she just listened, with a slightly bored expression, right till the last Congressman and woman had wallowed in dirt before her.

And again I asked myself the question which has baffled me for 35 years, although I am myself a white man and a born Christian: why do Indians have such an attraction towards the white skin?

After reading the newspapers on Wednesday morning and seeing how newspapers such as The Times of India still root for Sonia Gandhi, with columnists such as Dileep Padgaonkar saying that her becoming prime minister would be in tune 'with the highest Vedantic ideals,' I wonder: does India, one of the most ancient civilizations on the planet, need a white woman to govern her?

I am sure Sonia has great qualities, but are Indians so dumb, stupid and backward, that they cannot find among themselves someone intelligent enough, non-corrupt enough, to lead them? And what about this craze for Mother Teresa? She may have been a saint, but nobody has harmed India's image in the 20th century so much: when you say India in the West, their eyes light up and they answer: 'Mother Teresa/ Kolkata/ poor people/ dumb people/ starving people/ who do not know how to care after their own underprivileged/ who need a white woman to show them how to pick up the dying from the streets/ to look after orphans'!

Is this the image Indians want today? An image that is harming them, which is stopping Western investors from investing in India? Yet, Mother Teresa is worshipped here, from Kolkata to Chennai, from Delhi to Bangalore, and when she will be made a saint by the Vatican, perpetuating this colonial, superior-minded, Christian symbol of white superiority over the brown/black man, all the Indian media will rejoice in its own mental slavery and the Indian government will probably declare a national holiday!

Why don't Indians understand that brown is beautiful? White people spend hours on the beach and put on a hundred creams to get tanned. And in winter they even artificially lie under infrared lamps in beauty parlors to get brown! Why this obsession for the Indian woman to have white skin?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Wisdom for Graduates

Gary @ The Mises Blog has a great post on imparting wisdom to young minds.

Graduation season is in full swing. The famous and generous are giving graduates words of wisdom about what they now face in the "real world." The best provide real insight, but many fail to go beyond platitudes. And having attended many graduations, I have a guess as to why.

It is very difficult to impart universal insights from humanity's accumulated wisdom in a graduation speech because every proverb, aphorism or saying is contradicted by a different one, as if every proverb has an equal and opposite proverb. So what can be expressed by simple rules will often be wrong and therefore must be qualified in many ways to be useful.



  • All things come to him who waits and look before you leap; but he who hesitates is lost.
  • Haste makes waste and fools rush in where angels fear to tread; but time waits for no man, seize the day, and strike while the iron is hot.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained; but its better to be safe than sorry and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and where there's a will, there's a way; but don't keep beating your head against a wall and where there's a will there's a won't.
  • Beware of Greeks bearing gifts; but don't look a gift horse in the mouth.


  • [There are a lot more on the post]

    He is right. Wisdom cannot be provided in a speech and experience is the best way to learn. That does not take away from the fact that there are some guidelines can be provided. He concludes :

    The world graduates are entering is one of clarity and confusion, certainty and contradictions, cooperation and competition, etc. But what each does have is the ability to choose. So the best advice may be to follow that famous instruction to Indiana Jones: "Choose wisely." After all, despite the fact that whatever will be will be, life is what we make it.

    The Great American Leadership Database

    HBS has created this database after working for two years on that.

    From the Intro :

    The Great American Business Leaders database was compiled over a two-year period in an effort to identify and chronicle the lives of individuals whose business leadership in the twentieth century shaped the way people live, work, and interact. The impetus for the creation of the database stemmed from the Leadership Initiative's desire to better understand how business leadership legacies are developed and nurtured over time. Understanding what we can learn from the past will undoubtedly assist us in better preparing leaders for tomorrow.
    [You cannot access the full database. For that you need to fill this form.]

    Wednesday, May 19, 2004

    Financing Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs

    The INC Blog provides insights into funding for the first-time entrepreneurs, which is most of us. ;-)


    The most important thing to understand that most of the time we need to get the money from our savings, friends or family. Banking our ideas on VCs, angel funding etc does not yield results as a very few percentage of all start-ups get this. This may sound as a hard way but this is generally the only way to start the show.


    INC says, "Many business owners who lack a proven track record as business owners are still finding financing hard to come by, notes Lawrence Gennari in his Boston Business Journal column, "New at the game? Financing tips for first-time entrepreneurs."

    Here are a few of his few basic rules emerging businesses should follow when trying to find first-time financing:

    Recognize the odds. Venture financing frequently is not the answer. He cites Inc.'s 2003 Inc. 500 list as an example: of the 500 companies that made the list, approximately 2% cited VC as a source for start-up capital.

    Pursue parallel sources. Tap VCs, angel investors, friends and family, etc., simultaneously.

    Plan to fund to benchmarks. Many entrepreneurs seek more than they really need to start-up. Seek to fund milestones, not the entire lifespan of your business.

    Develop a strategy beyond serendipity. Introductions get your foot in the door, but don't ignore having the right fit with potential investors.

    Surround yourself with experience. Advisers, directors, etc.

    Avoid simple business plan mistakes. Don't forget the basics: size of target market, logic and soundness of revenue model, and experience of management.

    Recognize the value in rejection. Feedback is priceless, regardless of whether you secured the capital.

     
        

    Pitch Tim Draper on Your Billion-Dollar Idea'

    Tim Draper, a managing partner with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, is asking Always-On readers for their Billion Dollar Idea. If they like it they will find it.

    So what are they looking for.


    Here is a reminder of what I'm looking to receive from you:
    -What is your billion-dollar idea?
    -Tell me a bit about yourself (background, education, experience, and so on).
    -What is unique? Why are you excited about it?

    So do you have one?

    This was conducted once before in 2003. Tim says,"At the end of 2003, I invited entrepreneurs from all over the world to post their ideas to my AlwaysOn blog. I then selected 10 entries from over 110 postings, and these winning entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to me face-to-face, using VidiTel's videoconferencing."

    Its worth following the Blog post from time to time as the comments are already coming.

    Scientist President and Economist Prime Minister

    Rajesh's title, which I have taken, says everything about what is happening in India.

    Hopefully this is for good. What India needs now is technological and economic advancement and nothing else matters.

    For a Profile of Manmohan Singh, the new PM check this  and this.



    Update : A Manmohan Singh interview on PBS.

    Google plans Desktop Search

    Rajesh points to a NYtimes article on how Google is entering the desktop space. This is making the whole search business interesting.



    The Google software project, which is code-named Puffin and which will be available as a free download from Google's Web site, has been running internally at the company for about a year.

    The project was started, in part, to prepare Google for competing with Windows Longhorn, which according to industry analysts will dispense with the need for a stand-alone browser.

    The disappearance of the Web browser and the integration of both Web search and PC search into the Windows operating system could potentially marginalize Google's search engine. Google, well aware of this threat, hired a Microsoft product manager last year to oversee the Puffin project as part of its strategy to compete with Microsoft's incursion into its territory.

    Google's strategy is to move quickly while Microsoft is still developing its Longhorn version of Windows, adding programs and services like its recently announced Gmail electronic mail program. The intent, say people who are aware of the company's strategy, is to lower its vulnerability to Microsoft by adding businesses that are "sticky" - in other words, businesses that create strong customer loyalty or are hard to switch away from.


    Interestingly Rafat Ali thinks that this is all pre-IPO hype and nothing else.

    E-Book on Google Ads

    Rich at Start-up Skills is coming out with a book on Google Ads. In this permission-marketing economy Google targetted and relevant ads are becoming an important part of a marketing campaign.

    This should be a good book. What can you find this book?


    * about the four basic types of Google advertising campaigns
    * what questions you need to ask yourself in order to successfully run each type
    * what the "AdWords Grid" is, and how it can help you make or save money in AdWords immediately
    * when to increase your cost per click and when to decrease it
    * how your competitors' actions impact the effectiveness of your campaign
    * how to monitor your competitors actions and adjust your campaigns to keep them working for you over time.


    The book is free, but there is a limit on the first edition. So if you want the book you can e-mail Rich for it.

    A VC Day

    David Hornik in his Venture Blog provides a hilarious commentary of a VCs calender.


    5:45am - Alarm clock. Pick up Blackberry from night-stand, fire off an email to portfolio company CEO to demonstrate "round-the-clock" vigilance. Go back to sleep.

    8:30am - Wake up. Decide whether to have breakfast in the kitchen, dining room, sunroom, veranda, or gazebo. Have "breakfast meeting" with Rex and Fido.

    9:45am - Drop child off at nursery school. Banter with child's teacher. Haha, that teacher doesn't make in a year what I spent in Lanai over New Year's. Wow. I haven't been to Hawaii in three months. Call assistant, re: technology conferences in Hawaii.

    10:30am - Arrive at office, remark loudly that these breakfast meetings are killing you. It's been `go, go, go' all year. The pace is killing you. Makes you wish it was 2002 again.

    10:45am - Call CEO of semi-conductor portfolio company. Ask if he's considered building a Services component to his business.

    11:45am - Damn. Late for lunch. Sometimes they run out of the olive bread at Il Fornaio. Gotta run. Thank god for the Carrera. That damn 545 didn't have any giddy-up.

    1:15pm -- Call CRM portfolio company CEO, remind him that blogging is hot. Has he ever thought about Customer Support blogs? That'd be cool.

    1:30pm - Oops. Late for meeting with entrepreneur looking for funding. Hee. Finish game of "Minesweeper".

    1:45pm - Apologize for being late. It's been `go, go, go' lately. The pace is killing me. Our firm is a little different... all of our partners were operators, so we know what it's like to run a company. We're pretty conservative investors here - we only put money to work where we can really make a difference and add some strategic value. We try to be respectful of your time, so we'll give you a "quick no" if this isn't something that interests us...

    2:30pm - Wow. 15 voicemails from entrepreneurs. "What's the next step?" Why does everyone need to know what the "next" step is? I'll tell you what my next step is... out my office door to the lunchroom. Ooo. Blackberry Odwalla. I love Blackberry Odwalla. Note to self: have wife buy See's candy for the Office Manager who buys the juice next Christmas. Odwalla, Odwalla, Odwalla. I love Odwalla.

    2:45pm - Shit. Sequoia has a term sheet out to Acme Intangibles. Find Associate. Why the hell didn't we look at Acme? That fucking company is hot. Instead, you bring me this piece of shit company in storage management? Christ. Goddamn Associates never see the big picture. Oooooo... The TED conference. When is TED? Gotta get into the Monterey Plaza. Margaret stuck me at the Marriott last year. How much did that suck?

    3:15pm - Fax term sheet to Acme. Wonder what the hell they do? No worries. Those guys at Sequoia diligence the hell out of deals.

    3:45pm - Isn't there any political candidate who still needs a fundraiser? How the hell did Gorenberg get Kerry? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Should've snagged Kerry back in December. What about the Senate? There must be a senator who needs electing.

    4:15pm - Sharon Heights. Networking. Bob said the monthly dues are deductible, right? Bob rocks. Best accountant ever.

    8:15pm - Sorry I'm late honey. It's been `go, go, go' all year. Can't do this too much longer. Can Isabel stay late tonight to make some dinner?


    Chat Room Live

    Anita Campbell continues with her popular Power Blog series. This week she has review Chris Separ's Chat Room Live, a popular technology blog.


    The Power: The Power of the Chat Room LIVE weblog is in its coverage of technology from a business perspective, and the wide range of topics the blog format allows it to cover -- well beyond a formal column.


    Anita pointed out Chris's new experiment on the Gmail service. The one thing I liked was how he is trying to use the Gmail popularity to increase his readership.

    He says I’m using Gmail so you don’t have to. Visit my Weblog regularly to get an idea of Google’s new Gmail service. Help me with my experiment by e-mailing me at chrisseper@gmail.com

    That's a cool idea.

    Seth's New Book

    Seth Godin has launched his new book, Free Prize Inside, which seems like an extension to his concepts on Purple Cow. Here he shows that providing a Free Prize inside is one of the ways to make the product remarkable.

    As always he applies his concepts to his work. The book comes in a Cereal Box which is expected to start the conversation about the book easily and convert the idea into a virus and spread.

    The important thing is how the blogging world is contributing to the entire thing. He is blogging on the business blog tour and that is increasing the popularity of the book.

    Now, there is also a Free Prize inside contest blog.


    eWeek reports that Dave Winer is opening up his blogging technology, Frontier, which is behind the popular Radio and Manila platforms for open source.

    And his reason "I want to make sure it lives forever," Winer said, in an interview with eWEEK.com. "It's not the kind of thing that a company does a good job with. … What people pay for are products, services and support. It wasn't clear people would pay for it, and it's not easy to fund development for it."

    This is good for the blogging community as Movable Type is costly now with its new licensing norms.

    Dave Winer posts that GMail is now providing 1 Terabyte of space. What will anybody do with all this space? He even has a screenshot of it.