Path to Scale

Every entrepreneur dreams of creating something scalable. Leaving behind a legacy which people look back in wonder and say … how did they achieve this.

What do we mean by Scale?

Scale could mean multiple things for different people. The CFO would look at scale and say more profits, the Head BD would say more clients, the Head Sales would say more revenues, the Founder would say more valuation, the HR would say more people!

At 13 Llama Studio, when we started the firm, it was just three people and we literally started in a garage. For us scale means all those terms combined, and in the past two years we have trebled our team, our sales and our clients.

I would not say that we have scaled up so far. In the past two years, we have faced a fair bit of challenges. I am pretty certain that most start-ups go through this issues, and only the ones who are able to solve these are able to become larger entities.

Focus has to shift from People to Process

When a firm is small and is largely dependent on the founding team, it relies on the heroics of that team to do things. Folks in IT would know this a SEI CMM Level I.

As the firm grows, the number of tasks the founding team gets to spend on actual delivery versus running an organization slowly goes down. For example, when we started 13 Llama, I used to spend 80-90% of my time on implementation … these days its not even 40%.

That also means that somehow the founding team has to shift their capabilities into the organization … the people they hire. It’s expected that this rung of employees would not be as driven as the founding team, but that’s the rule of the game.

Now, the founding team has to focus on setting up processes via which a team reporting to them would be able to deliver on similar lines. A team which may or may not have the same passion as the founding team. Now, we are not looking at individual heroics any more … we are worried about the sanctity of the business process.

Eventually as these processes become well defined, there would also be a need to automate some of them so that the people running these processes could do a lot more.

Along People come People problems

I am a people person. I am, believe me. However, the minute you start hiring folks, the issue you face with this new found pool of talent is to train them, ensure that your organizational culture remains intact and the values that you espouse are transferred to them. Even if you manage to do all of that, you still have to worry about retaining them!

As a growing organization, one of the departments that would be working full time would be the Human Resources (HR); for the need to attract and retain the top folks would never stop. However, if you somehow manage to automate your processes (look at Uber for eg), then a lot of tech can replace a lot of people.

The Uber way

I deliberately gave the Uber example. These days everybody is thinking about the Uber of model. By this I mean that folks are now trying to think through the entire process to automate as opposed to first figuring out which is the best process and then implementing the same.

Uber did not immediately have this process automation. They took their time getting there … then they scaled up across multiple geographies. What Uber really did for folks in India, was to shake up the core beliefs that to grow, one needs to hire more and more people.

The IT Sector

Take the Indian IT Sector for example. I am pretty certain that we at 13 Llama Studio do not identify ourselves as an IT Services providers. However, at times we have to do development and a lot of times people whom we speak to often use the mental model of asking how many employees do we have to measure the scale of the firm.

A recent economic survey by Delloite revealed that the per capita productivity (annual) of the average Indian employee is 4000 USD (2.5 Lakh INR). As compared to China (at 17500 USD) its less, but as compared to Canada (105,000 USD) it’s a pittance.

Technology is meant to increase productivity, can’t we focus purely on increasing this than the number of warm bodies working for an organization? Yes, this is a term that is actually used.

That’s what Scale should be … doing more.

PS – If you would like to find more about this, be sure to take a look at some of the opportunities at 13 Llama Studio.

Internet Marketing and Your Business

If you own a business, you may or may not know a lot about internet marketing. Internet marketing is an extremely important part of growing your business these days, yet too many business owners don’t realise how important. They think that by handing out a few business cards, they can grow their business and make more money. I’m afraid not! Read on to learn more about internet marketing and your business!

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Gartner Magic Quadrant of Cloud Storage Services

I remember my early childhood when the first PC I ever owned was delivered to my house. It was a secondhand XT 8088, a very simple CPU architecture (I studied this during my engineering days later). The machine did not have a hard-disk. It had a 640 kB RAM storage which was used for the OS and any other programs that I wanted to run (mostly games).

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Why to use GOSF Coupons

Great Online Shopping Festival is an exciting event; it is a Mecca for online shopping lovers. The GOSF 2014 is scheduled to start from 10th and better than the previous two edition. If you have been waiting to go on a shopping spree, wait till the festival begins and use the GOSF coupons for shopping. The coupons are a great way to save money. Some of the best uses of these coupons are discussed below:

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Maker’s schedule v/s Manager’s schedule

At 13 Llama Studio, we are a young and energetic team who works on multiple ideas at the same time. We are makers … people who tinker with code, libraries and see if we can put all of them together and create a beautiful kaleidoscope of an experience for our audience.

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Rise of the App Economy

As a technical architect and a start-up enthusiast, part of my work is consulting organizations on how to go about implementing and monetizing their ideas. The past decade’s experience of working in this field, as well as having successfully built the product and development teams of two start-ups (which secured VC fundings) ensures that a lot of people are willing to share their ideas so that I can advise them on the implementation.

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Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

2012 Emerging Technologies

Every technology that is embraced by the world goes through a process of adoption. Gartner instituted this as the hype cycle.

What is the Hype Cycle?

The hype cycle talks about how any technology goes through the process of being talked about, being heralded, being written off and finally being adopted in mainstream businesses.

The graph you see above you shows the x-axis as the different stages of technology adoption, starting from the trigger or the invention of that technology, to the expectations of that technology by the enthusiasts, to the stage where it is discarded by early adopters to being finally understood and put to good use by smart users.

Obviously on the y-axis you have the expectations of the world.

Gartner brings in a third dimension to this graph by indicating a time period on when the technology will be a mainstream one. In this graph for example, the Cloud Computing technology is supposed to go mainstream within the next 2 to 5 years. This was made in 2012, so to interpret it correctly we should say that Cloud Computing will be embraced by all around 2014. People who are following the news of Cloud Computing can relate to the Trough of Disillusionment!

How do you interpret the Hype Cycle?

The hype cycle represents the time when a certain technology gets adopted by businesses. So, it has different implications for different people.

Software Developer

Learn to work with this technology early on, preferably in the Slope of Enlightenment phase. It will open up doors to many career pathways. Learn technology while everyone else is learning and learn it fast!

CTO of a start-up

Basing your product on a certain technology base will help your start-up catch the eyes of an investor. Your organization needs money and making the smart move to get the market talking about your technology adoption can get you that added PR. Keep an eye out for technologies lying in that Trough of Disillusionment phase, see how they can mesh with your product/services. Try a few prototypes, it’s well worth the efforts.

CTO of a mature organization

More often than not, you would be in charge of the operations team as well. In some few cases, you would also be the visionary of the organization (this should actually be your role). Try to find technologies which are about to hit the Plateau of Productivity and see which ones suit your requirements. It will bring efficiencies in your operations.

Keep in mind, that for most of these cases the idea would be to beat the competition in adopting a certain technology, so the focus would be on adopting the technology before it becomes mainstream.

At the end of the day, it is all Hype

Hype is after all extensive publicity. It is used to get the attention of people.

Bear in mind that if you do not want undue attention and if it is not broken, then you do not need to fix it.

However, some times you do get cues on possible disruptive technologies, be on top of those, since they have the potential to change your world. For e.g the way aeroplanes changed the shipping industry.

Sometimes all talk is still action!