apps

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.

Each year has its set of trends. These trends become apparent when people read about them in TechCrunch / Mashable and then integrate them somehow in their plans. In 2014, Kleiner Perkins’ analyst, Mary Meeker announced that the Education and Healthcare industries are the ones to watch out for. A lot of individuals started thinking and re-shaping their ideas along those lines. Similarly, since 2013, the famous analyst has been saying that mobile Apps are going to dominate the way consumers are going to engage with the brand.

I am seeing more start-ups gravitate towards this concept every year. Everybody who has a product, wants to also have their apps in the app stores (both Apple’s and Google’s). Back in 2000, when the DotCom Boom was apparent, everybody wanted to have their own site. Currently, we are definitely seeing the App Boom, where not only do entrepreneurs want to have their apps, but also individual celebrities are launching their own apps.

App Development can be a costly affair, with native apps costing as high as 2000 to 3000 USD to develop for the most basic apps. Add multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Win8) to the mix and the development costs surge.

This is where app template marketplaces like this website help tremendously. The core functionality is already in place, what has to be created is the creatives and voila, a custom app is read! Not only is this approach a faster method, but also it is extremely profitable. With the app economy maturing, we are seeing retail consumers using their handheld devices more than television sets!

This means that the media consumption is changing, thus an app is slowly eating away at TV’s timeshare. With tablets growing at 80% Year on Year, I’d say that both mobiles and tablets are here to stay, and with them a horde of enterpreneurs, developers and investors who would be happily launching multiple apps!

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Entrepreneurs in 2012

With the year 2012 coming to an end, I have been thinking for quite some time about entrepreneurship now. In fact, currently I am thinking about bootstrapping my own setup with a friend. Having said that, it is interesting to note how entrepreneurship has changed its face in the society.

There used to be a time when having a government job would automatically include you in the elite of the society. Every family would aspire to raise their son to have a government job. To know that you are going to be having your own business would mean years of hardship and minimal chances of making it big ahead.

However, as the License Raj has come to an end and the government has slowly liberalized over the past decades, entrepreneurship has changed over a new leaf. It has started becoming synonymous with capitalism and everyone who goes to the IITs or IIMs dreams of starting their own firm and making it big one day. I share that dream – a dream which I hope to make real some day.

The infographic below shows how entrepreneurship was in the year 2012. Almost half of the entrepreneurs who had managed to survive and scale into becoming SMEs are optimistic about the year ahead. Yes, 2013 is going to be a good year.

DNA-infographic

But being optimistic does not mean taking inadvertent risks. It means being prepared … being prepared for the good, and being prepared for the bad as well. Yes, it means insuring against the bad, and thinking along the lines of business insurance.

The thing about start-ups is that many firms do not realize the sheer amount of business risks they face day-in day-out. All these risks are called as operational risks. The risk we face in day to day operations. It could be a simple thing such as forgetting to file the taxes, or neglecting to buy the software license of some critical software that you require. In India, start-ups do tend to cut corners … not to make the quick buck, but to avoid the load of paperwork that comes with it. I am sure that would be the case in other countries as well.

Take a look at this infographic I found through Hiscox Business Insurance. It was here that I learnt about the myriad of business risks. Now the question is, why entrepreneurship is the road to success? Well, take a look at the top internet billionaires list. Almost all of them have touched their first million in the past to years, and their first billion in the past 5. That clearly displays the power of a good idea can launch a start-up to stardom.

These things cannot happen without proper preparations. Take a look at the top 4 billionaires on that list, 3 of them work for Google, one is the CEO (the man with the plan), the two others are the founders. A good idea will attract funds, yes … but a good idea requires excellent execution skills and proper risk mitigation tactics to avert calamities. So entrepreneurs, dream big and prepare for the worst!!

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Start-up? Head to Bangalore

If you are forming a start-up or planning to start one, then Bangalore is one of the best places where you can set this up. A simple search for jobs in bangalore will give you a huge listing of career opportunities in this city. Bangalore is definitely a contender for being the Silicon Valley of India.

What makes this city such an attractive spot for start-ups?

  • Perfectly located: Bangalore is easily reachable by air, road, rail and water. So cargo freight companies have their major offices in this city. The recent upgrade of the airport also has scaled up the air traffic capacity of the city. Visitors of the city who have been travelling in Bangalore for the past decade would know what I am talking about.
  • IT Hub: Bangalore is one of the first IT mega cities in the country. What this means is better infrastructure as compared to the other cities, a tolerant government and a nurturing ecosystem of good quality labour. Even today, it is still known that to setup a tech-based startup, you need to be in Bangalore
  • Follow the Money: A lot (and I mean A LOT) of Venture capital Firms are based in Bangalore. Firms such as Accel, Sequoia, Argonaut, DFJ are all based out of Bangalore and generally try to see whether the organization they are investing in can shift their bases to this city.
  • Awesome Weather: Throughout the year there’s only one cool temperature in this city. It amazes me as to how this can be, but there you have it.

Obviously, with such great pros there have to be a few cons (the traffic being amongst the main ones there!). Hey, its not Valhalla that we are talking about right? A lot of great tech-based startups are here … Flipkart, Myntra to name a few.

So, forget other places such as Mumbai (too expensive), or Hyderabad (no good programmers). Head on to Bangalore and setup a base there!

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Why VC funding is important to SaaS industry

imageIf you have worked in a start-up and have been a part of the core team in any start-up, you would be familiar with and know the importance of venture capital; and their steep terms and targets :-)

If you want a higher funding in the next round, give me more revenues.

How many of us have heard this line? In fact, it’s interesting to note that VC’s are not looking at higher bottomline, they are looking at increasing the topline. I am not complaining, it is a good perspective to hold if you want to keep an eye on the big picture.

This stand is also helping the slew of applications which are being launched as Softwares-as-a-Service (SaaS). Why? Read on.

As a business owner, one of the major targets dictated by a VC would be revenue targets. Not profitability. So I, as a business owner, will be willing to try out different new services in order to increase my offering. If a service exists which otherwise will take me ages to build or acquire, I am now more than willing to try it out on a month-on-month basis.

The overall cost of a SaaS pricing would be more, but the brunt of it on a monthly basis would be less. This impacts my profitability, but these days I am not looking at profits as much as I am looking at revenues. If I able to increase the reach or richness of my service offering using SaaS, then so be it. I will go ahead for the same at the cost of profitability.

Your thoughts?

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Batch of 2005

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The world of business talks fondly of the batch of 1989 from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. This is due to the fact that a lot of participants in this class turned towards entrepreneurship and launched successful ventures of their own. The likes of Sanjeev Bhikchandani of Naukri.com, Rashesh Shah of Edelweiss Capital and many more.

Yesterday I was talking to some of my seniors, and suddenly there has been a tipping point in almost 30% of their careers. These 30% have left their well paying cushy jobs and started on the road to entrepreneurship. Some of them have already made a name for themselves, some of them are in the making.

I wish them all the best and hope that the batch of 2005, IIM-I is someday as famous (if not more) as the batch of 1989, IIM-A!

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Social Entrepreneurs

imageWhen it comes to work, ours is a curious lot. Always willing to check new things (as long as it takes us away from our work ;-)).

So it was no surprise when on our way to lunch we noticed a simple sign at a hall … it said “Youth Venture Workshops”. Since we are in the career space and passionate about entrepreneurship, off we went. The workshop was having their lunch break and we took that opportunity to talk to some of the organizers. Their idea was simple, they talk to individuals who have a burning desire to change something in the society, and help them achieve it through guidance, team building, and funding. They identify potential social entrepreneurs who have the drive to change the society and help them.

The organizers were kind enough to invite us to stick around and watch some of their sessions. The teaming sessions were simple, and involved a lot of play … just the right thing needed to build a team of young and energetic people.

The workshop turned out to be a subscription based program, for which one has to enroll in the month of June. So we gathered took information about their site and went back to work. After coming home, I decided to check up on their site, and read about the youth venture. Turns out that Ashoka Partnership is one of the largest association of social entrepreneurs!!

At the program, we talked to some of the participants who were volunteering, and it was a good experience to see people take charge of the desire to change something in society and act upon it. The next time you blame society for something, remember it can be fixed :-)

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Job is War!!

At a friend’s wedding, I heard about this new approach to one’s job. The man was talking that his employee’s are peace time soldiers, “eh?!?” I went. The idea is that many employees approach their job in a fashion like peace time soldiers … they assemble in formations, they do their drills, they salute to their seniors and when no one is looking, they relax and goof around. Having done this myself, I could not disagree … so what does one do to get out of this rut? The answer is simple … go to war!!

During war, soldiers are willing to give their lives (in this case their jobs) for a particular purpose. Employees should identify the purpose for which they will strive hard and achieve or else give their jobs. That gives them the true drive at work, an achievable goal and also a reality check. If an employee cannot come up with any such purpose, then you can be rest assured that he/she is already looking out for different opportunities and is not really pulling his/her weight around.

I tried this tactic with myself at my office, with wonderful results. Not only am I making goals clearer for myself, but also I am sending out a message to everyone else whom I am working with as to what drives me and what is my top priority.

So what are you willing to die for?

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