The first talk of the day was by Pallav (@pallavn) of Fusioncharts. Pallav shared his story of how a geek who started out with an articleoncharting to earn pocket money turned into a successful product company from Kolkata. The whole idea was from trying to make stunning charts in flash as excel charts were not to good to view. So putting out a simple product based on the feedback of the article written for helping people build charts was the starting point in his early teenage years. From there to a company that serves the US Government, LinkedIn, Google, they have come a long way. The core differentiating factor for them was that they focused on the the ‘why’ of the customer problem rather than ‘what’ and ‘how’, while most of his competitors were focusing on the features, he focused on why the customer would need a stunning chart. Thereby designing an product that was easy to setup and get going in just 15 minutes. Pallav also shared few great insights on PR , that the message must be able to motivate, entice or take a stand, if not the average joe will not bother and much coverage will not be possible. The other great insight shared was presenting a human face to the customers, by sharing photos how they work, party and celebrate as a team. People like to do business with People.
The next talk was by Saloni of DesiCrew which is a Rural BPO. The story of going from a fringe idea in an IIT Madras incubation center to a company in two rural towns with hundreds of employees was interesting. The challenges of convincing customers, finding talent, training them and building an organization in rural India is quite a feat.
The most awesome talk of the day by Alok (@rodinhood) of Contest2Win. One of the most accomplished Entrepreneur, who gave a no-nonsense talk of what entrepreneurship is all about. Having quit a family business doing crores of business to do an internet based business in 90’s was quite a challenge and he shared how hard it was to convince people of the value in interactively engagingwith customers. Alok also shared how you can get breaks from people in big companies who understand the value of the new offering, and how many time one can get rejected by people who do not understand your offer. The next great insight shared was how he turned the problem of people stealing content from their platform into an opportunity of going from 2 to 12 million unique hits by embedding an ad into the content that becomes active once the content is copies from their servers. He also shared that of the 340 start-ups in their segment only few survived after many years. He also shared that build a team is critical and the path of entrepreneurship is hard and its about riding a train without knowing the destination.
The talk by Manish Sharma founder of Printo was peppered with lots of humor and real world wisdom that only a seasoned entrepreneur can bring. His current company is a chain of quick service retail outlets for customer printing. Before the having started two companies, the first a financial success, the second not so much and a brief period of employment ensued. But gotback to starting a business in a hub and spoke model after raising some capital, was tough to raise the remaining amount, but once the train of the venture started moving lots of people started jumping in. he also shared the issues with doing business with big companies. The next point he raised was the amount of time to build a 50 crore business, most of the audience was around 8 to 10 years. So it does take some time to build a considerable business. The most interesting graph an entrepreneur needs to see was shared. It is a bell curve of expectation of success of an entrepreneur, with the lowest likely hood of failing completely, the middle being a moderately successful business the other edge of the bell curve being the hugely successful entrepreneurs like Dhirubhai Ambani. So for every one outlier success, there need to 100 entrepreneurs that are not and make the outlier possible. The next key point was the VC expectation curve was actually inverse to the entrepreneur’s curve. i.e VC does not mind a few failed entrepreneurs for a big success in his portfolio.
The last and most sought after entrepreneur is Naveen Tewary from InMobi. Shared how he raised 7 million funding and tried couple of ideas before InMobi to grain traction as a platform for mobile advertisers and publishers. He share the different phases of building a company that now delivers over a billion ads, from building a 4 person team to rapidly adding people to support the scale, to the importance of culture in the company and also the strategy to concentrate on South East Asian markets before going to US , where due to recession the number of competition went form 14 to 5. So the strategy of building the technology IP , going global starting from Asia did pay off over the long term. Now planning to server around 5 billion transactions in the coming few years, shows that a huge technology product company can be built out of India in just a few years.