Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Atal Bihari Vajpayee – The Statesman


Modi would have been a top contender to win MTV Roadies Extreme.


A charismatic leader, visionary and statesman. His leadership was usually at display when there was any crisis situation. The Kargil war ,the hijack at Khandhar of Air India plane or the US sanctions imposed post the Pokran nuclear tests. He was completely unwavered, captain cool and led the people with dignity.

For him the nations interest were paramount ahead of any electoral gains.

Vajpayee’s decision making was at fore when it was at sending troops to Afghanistan under the US military command. There was strong opposition from the opposition benches and had to be dropped, but the leadership showed his tact and strong Indian interests in mind ahead of its times.

Also his ability to deal with Mamta Banerjee, Mayawati and Jayalalitha his collision partners earned him respect not only by his colleagues but also by the opposition members.

He commanded respect, was an inspiration and was looked up to by the people of the country.

Two traits worth mentioning was his compassion for mothers and his ability to listen patiently and respect to everyone including the opposition.

This is in stark contrast to today’s leadership. Modi’s leadership is hollow. It lacks courage and content. His words empty, promises hollow. Modi even with a full majority fails to invoke respect within his own party colleagues forget outside.

Modi has failed in all departments whether it is women safety, women security or women empowerment. He actions evoke a terrible response from women. Respect for women comes through compassion for mothers, Modi fails that.

Modi’s response to crises have also been much to be desired whether it the people abducted in Afghanistan, or RSS people being killed in Kerala, Ochi cyclone in Kerala Modi seems to be busy with his electoral conquest.

Modi is good at one think though, his rhetoric towards the Congress, he never forgets to mention it in all the countries he visits and that too without any script.

Modinomics (Modi’s theatrics) does definitely make interesting viewership just like MTV Spiltsvilla or Roadies.

I must add, I may not have 56 inch chest but definitely I have enough love for my mother.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Padmavati Row


Faith its degeneration when alone — bigotry
fanaticism — sectarianism. Narrowing
finite therefore cannot get to the infinite
Sometimes gain in intensity but loses in
extensity — and in bigots & fanatics become
worship of his own pride & vanity                                         
                                                          - Swami Vivekananda

              


A lot has been said and written in the recent past about the film Padmavati.

The Indian Film Industry makes a lot of cinema,thousands of which are absolutely crap,junk movies and mind you they make lots of crores.

In this situation where good stories are hard to come by,where there is a dearth of good content for making films,I believe historical stories,inspirations,influences have become more of a necessity rather than just being welcome.

Being a huge film enthusiast I wait patiently for months and sometimes years to watch a good movie or cinema.

Getting back specifically to Padmavati,there is a lot of talk on getting historical facts right,I believe flimmakers are not in the business of writing history textbooks,they make films and they make it for an audience.

The script or story of the film,is completely the filmmakers story,it is his interpretation, his understanding of the subject and let me add I believe he has the complete freedom to express his understanding of the topic.

There have been various instances in our history were people have given there own interpretations to many historical epics. Eg: MT Vasudevan Nair ‘s Randamoozham is a story of Mahabharata from Bhima’s Point of view. Also there are many interpretations and variations of classic Indian epic Ramayanam by absolutely amazing Indian authors like Valmiki Ramayanam, Adhyatma Ramayanam by Ved Vyasa,Ramacharitmanas by Tulisidas,Thunchaththu Ezuthachan’s Adhyatma Ramayanam – Kilipattu and Kamba Ramayanam to name a few.

I believe the filmmaker also has the right to be wrong.He is not in the business of making a curriculum for school students.People have the complete freedom to disagree with his view of Padmavati.

If Shri Rajput Karni Sena or Maharana Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur or anybody else feel that the filmmaker has got his history wrong on Padmavati,I am sure that Shri Rajput Karni Sena or Maharana Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur can most certainly make a better film with the correct historical facts.

As an audience I am happy watching a better movie.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Reasons For Failure of Startups In the Indian Ecosystem

Entrepreneurs are modern day monks : Doing More With Less 




Internal factors:
  •  Mental attachment of the founders towards the project creates a problem.Research discovered that attributes such as passion, vision and determination more often lead to failure than success.When entrepreneurs invest countless work hours,money and reputation into their project ,passion and determination can easily become dogmatism. Falling in love with one’s product and ignoring honest customer feedback is the reason why most startups fail.There should be a beneficial balance between being confident about what you know and while at the same time distrusting your knowledge enough to stay eager to learn more.

Personality of the founders:
"Nearly every mistake I have made is picking the wrong people, not the wrong idea."-Arthur rock
  •   Therefore,choosing co-founders or hiring employees for a small firm should ideally focus on both work skills and personal traits. In terms of education,a heterogenous team with different backgrounds would be preferred over a team of members with the same background.

Timing of Realization

42% of the failure of startup’s were accorded to time.Ex: Z.com,You Tube.

  • Being the `first mover' can give entrepreneurs a decisive advantage. On the other hand, it is risky and not always favorable to be early in a new market niche (Grant/Sandberg 2016: 26).There is no value in being the first when someone else is a stronger competitor. Sometimes it is even more profitable to be the `last mover', learning from others' mistakes and making the latest great development in one particular market. 
  • While early entrants still have the opportunity to choose their preferred niche. Latecomers may have to leave an overcrowded market. 
  • Big companies as well as small startups ventures large amounts of money in emerging technologies.When deciding on path breaking technologies it is worth looking at the “Hype curve”.
  • The value of understanding how this cycle works, is to sharpen the consciousness regarding the right timing. It is also vital to know, that certain technologies could make a sudden comeback after a phase of low public attention.

External factors and the startup ecosystem
  • Most recent startup companies focus on technology and at the same time neglect the importance of human talent.
  • A large random sample of startup companies in the UK showed the correlation between success and financial capital to be "spurious"; human capital on the other hand is the real determinant for the startup's survival.
  •  “Premature scaling” is a phenomenon among startup businesses ,they seem to do everything right,but they fail because they move into unknown territory.They are expanding long before they know what their customers want and how they can be reached.
  •  The creation of entrepreneurial communities leads to an increased number of founders and individuals engaging in startup companies, universities and other educational institutions organize mentor programs, where real-life entrepreneurs engage as role models and provide helpful insights to students.
  • So-called "clusters of innovation" (COI), such as Silicon Valley, are exceptional in terms of collective capital, talent and expertise, with numerous businesses and experts that support and accelerate innovative development (Engel 2015: 37). This kind of resourceful and success-driven ecosystem consists of many components, which act interdependently and create a prosperous startup landscape when combined.
  • Universities efficiently build a connection between entrepreneurs and corporations through the commercialization of research. One of the leading examples is Stanford Research Park, in which more than 150 companies settled down, including Hewlett-Packard,Ford and Tesla
  • A key component for an ideal COI is easy access to capital. Therefore, the support of Venture Capital firms and investors is a necessity, especially for innovative startups in need for early stage investments. Sometimes financial institutions and Government initiatives or policies can also help to improve the situation.
  • The more startup companies come to life, the more will employees inside the COI adapt to specific demands. Professions such as accountants, lawyers or investment bankers will provide their services and in many cases even offer flexible payments, e.g. a small stake in the company instead of a salary. This in turn increases the involvement of experienced professionals with startups and creates the common goal of the venture's success.
Ways for Funding

Bank Loans:
  • Since banks rather provide money to someone who will securely pay it back in time and with interest, instead of granting loans to those who "really need them" (Prasad 2009: 91), startup companies may only be able to receive capital under tough requirements or with high interest rates.
Family and Friends
  • Family members or friends will usually make the investment decision purely based on their assessment of the entrepreneur they know as a person (Liu 2015: 8). Thus this source of money is often called "family, friends and fools".However, having a personal relationship with an investor can lead to additional challenges and conflicts; accepting capital from family and friends is generally not recommended. 
Crowdfunding
  • Through one of the ca.2,000 online platforms (Ferriss 2016: 295), such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, crowdfunding is an effective alternative to traditional investment sources. 
  • Apart from the monetary benefits, crowdfunding is also an excellent way for the startup to evaluate its business idea at virtually no risk. Through direct customer feedback, companies receive valuable information about necessary product improvements, price points, market validation and marketing efficacy .
Government Funding
  • Initiatives of non-profit organizations and governments often provide grants, loans or other financing plans that support the startup landscape in a given region.Government funding programs can have great effects on small businesses.
Business Angels
  • Business Angels are private investors who invest their own money. They normally receive a percentage of equity in return and hope to make a financial profit by selling their shares at the right time in the future
  • In order to reduce this risk, angel investors often get involved in the business venture to a high extent. In some cases this will happen through leadership, mentoring or coaching. Other times it might be through doing operational tasks, changing the organizational structure of the company, or intensive monitoring
Venture Capital
  • Traditional funding sources are too risk averse to invest in a startup, entrepreneurs often turn to venture capital firms (Gompers/Lerner 2001: 145). These firms, depending on the sum of investment, will have a high involvement in the company and therefore be more likely to provide capital even if the venture seems risky.
  • Since they have limited hard information on the company, they often rely on soft information, Including trust towards the founders (Bottazzi et al. 2016: 2315). By assessing observable characteristics (e.g. social behavior of the founders), they are able to draw conclusions about unobservable characteristics (e.g. performance structure of the startup company) and then come to their investment decision (Hoenig/Henkel 2015: 1050). In contrast to common belief, growth is not among the criteria based on which investors select a startup for investment.
  • A VC investor does not only provide funds, he can also be a valuable source of insights and experiences. Investors with greater involvement in the company achieve higher returns on their investment (Ragozzino/Blevins 2016: 1010), which ultimately leads to the venture being more successful. The empirical study of Gompers/Lerner (2001: 165) reveals that venture capital funding correlates positively with innovation and is on average three to four times more efficient in generating patents than traditional corporate R&D.
  •  Startup businesses with venture capital also tend to replace the company's founder with an external CEO. Some VCs, particularly in Silicon Valley, often ask the company to relocate to their area to have more control.
  • Sramana Mitra, serial entrepreneur at Silicon Valley and founder of the global accelerator program One Million by One Million, came to the conclusion that venture capital funding simply is not for everyone. While businesses with enormous growth rates, huge market opportunities and an available market size of billions of dollars may profit from VC, the majority of startups will not.
According to (Mitra/Euchner 2016: 12), this is also the reason why 99% of startups get rejected by venture capital investors.

Startup Incubators and Accelerators
  • Since first-time entrepreneurs and early-stage founders in most cases are not aware of their resource gaps or lack of business knowledge, they will join an incubator most likely because of financial capital and be hesitant to fully engage in the benefits of the incubation process.
  • Startup accelerators work similar to incubators. The main difference is their strict schedule.In comparison to an incubator program, accelerators often give startups the opportunity to redefine their idea and concept.
Personal Funding
  • When hiring employees or co-founders, the lack of capital will rather attract people who are willing to take a risk and believe in your vision for the company. At the same time, bootstrapping means that founders will own the entire business without having to depend on investors.
"The fact is that the amount of money startups raise in their seed and Series A rounds is
inversely correlated with success." (Fred Wilson)
  • For a typical innovative startup, the ideal way of funding would be to start on no budget and solely live on the company's achievements (e.g. customers who pay in advance). As soon as the business model is proven and supported by high growth rates, the acquisition of capital will help to scale the venture (Hahn 2014: 21 and 30). Collecting money prior to the development of a final product may lead to a loss of focus and to a step in the wrong direction. (Stagars 2015: 120).
  • On a spiritual side: As world renowned spiritual leader Mata Amritanandayi Devi says both Ravana and Kubera were wealthy, one’s wealth led to his destruction other to realization.Be a Kubera guys. As she always states "Only a zero can be a hero".
         Usually there is a lot of discussion on wealth creation and money. Is spirituality against money making? Absolutely not! It is only against wealth creation making man egoistic.
      
Educational Institutions
  • Universities are able to provide tremendous networking and can further synergy opportunities, can establish partnerships to connect science and research with real-life businesses. However, the majority of universities makes no use of their resource potential; they instead try to educate the entrepreneurial community by offering business plan competitions or workshops (Stagars 2015: 6-9). A possible reason for this lacking sense of bringing business and research together might be that universities are too distanced from the market.
  • Universities keep focusing more on the employability of their students than on supporting them in developing business ideas.
  •  One interesting type of partnership between universities and startups is a spin-off, where university research develops a technological innovation and ultimately sets up a company to bring their idea to the market. While being a separate entity, the USO connects business and research resources.
  • Although the attention for university spin-offs has recently increased, financial funding for high-technology business ventures remains an issue.
Complexity of Bureaucracy and Regulations
  • For many potential startup founders, one of the first barriers of entry to the market is bureaucracy hurdles. Regulatory factors can either stimulate or obstruct entrepreneurs to start a new venture.
  • Lack of transparency and overregulation are considered hindering blocks for the entrepreneurs.Therefore, levels of efficiency for bureaucratic procedures can differ by large margins, even within the same country
Potential Customers
  •  One of the very first decisions a startup company has to make is about who to sell their product or service
  •  Customer value propositions have proven themselves to be a useful tool; taking the customer's perspective can offer great insight (Wouters/Kirchberger 2015: 64). Only by truly connecting to customers and creating an interdependency, vendors are able to assess customer problems and needs, which allows them to gain a competitive advantage
  •  Apart from that, it is crucial for startup ventures to possess profound knowledge of their market. For instance, there is a relatively high number of early adopters in the US, which makes it easier for innovative companies to sell a new technology. In a country such as Germany, with most potential customers being risk averse, it is undoubtedly more difficult to bring new ideas to the market.
Productive Infrastructure
  • An investment in infrastructure improves people's connectivity and therefore benefits the startup community.An enhanced connectivity facilitates interaction among entrepreneurs and triggers the flow of ideas and knowledge
  • The rather new but rapidly growing (Muñoz/Cohen 2016: 72) urban entrepreneurship is highly dependent on a developed infrastructure and a sign for a viable startup community.Urban entrepreneurs offer solutions for insufficient provision of governmental services or goods to private citizens or the public. Two of the most famous examples are Uber (providing taxi services) and Airbnb (providing accommodation), both of which aim to improve civic life and the sharing of available resources within a city.
Quality of Life
  • Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, is one of many business owners from the state of Oregon who decided against moving his company because of the "love of place" factor.
  •  Settling down outside of typical startup hotspots usually means missing out on entrepreneurial community, lifestyle (Baldwin 2014: 5) and opportunities to acquire venture capital (Himmelspach 2009: 17). In exchange, startups in smaller cities have less competition,the cost of doing business is low and they might even be able to receive government funding for the creation of new jobs (Tozzi 2009: 19).
  • As for various entrepreneurs who claim this to be of high importance for their business as well as for themselves, the value of a certain lifestyle or sentimentality towards a specific region has to be considered subjective and therefore depends solely on the founder's character and attitude.
Testimonials from various Startups
Brickspaces

Founders should be honest with themselves and not too stubborn.As for Brickspaces, there has not been a month where processes or responsibilities have not changed because they are in a constant process of learning.

Calumia

When Calumia was founded, the small budget did not allow them to make hasty decisions,
which can also be an advantage.Furthermore, it is a good choice to bring your product to the market early on, see whether people like it or not, and then customize it to one's customers' needs.

Goedle
For someone interested in building a business around artificial intelligence, he would suggest to take a realistic approach. The media often communicates a misconception of the true capabilities of AI. If a problem cannot be solved manually, checking for small parts of the process to automatize and then going step-by-step would be the best way to find a potentially good business idea.

Even the best team could not produce something successful that customers liked.


Barion

Translating terms and conditions from Hungarian to English is quite expensive, whereas originally drafting them in English would have been enough for them to be valid in other European countries.

Miscellaneous Learnings
  • Implementing clear rules and hierarchies can be invaluable in case founders have arguments.Founders have to take legal work and papers seriously and rely on attorneys to codify it.
  • Wishful thinking,is another reason for failure.
  • If a team is not functioning well together,building the product and keep pushing is not going to fix it.
  • It is important to know when to shut down the business.Instead of continuously pushing forward or making more changes,sometimes the better solution is to start over with a new team. When there is to much infighting inside the company ,there is not enough energy left for executing the project.
  • Hiring employees in key positions early on would have been a smart choice for long term planning.At that time the organization was not confident and hired short-term interns.Bringing people on and off the team takes a lot of energy and at the same time causes the business to lose knowledge.Investing time and effort in recruitment can be of high long term value for the company.
  •  Finding a balance between sheer passion and questioning one’s own knowledge seems to be the most promising method.
  •  It is recommended that businesses with multiple potential revenue streams be developed, as it was found that initial reliance on a single major revenue stream could be catastrophic.
  •  In order to shift this perspective, the Indian education system needs to foster imaginative thinking, liberal arts exploration, experiential learning, and empathetic design that brings students closer to societal problems.

References and Citations

1. Which Factors Determine the Success or Failure of Startup Companies? A Startup Ecosystem Analysis of Hungary, Germany and the US

Monday, 24 July 2017

Mithali Raj Rewrites History

10 years later 
Journalist to Kohli: “Who is your favourite female cricketer?”
Kohli retorts back: “How often do you ask this to a female cricketer?”





We have timeless times witnessed the chants of “Sachin…Sachin…Sachin” or “Dhoni...Dhoni…Dhoni”.

This time again there were chants at Lords, the Mecca of cricket, however they were different .It was “Mithali…Mithali…Mithali” all the way.

Mithali Raj, the captain of Indian women’s cricket team lead from the front throughout the world cup,being the highest rungetter.Her captaincy was spot on,making the right bowling changes bringing on Jhulan Goswami when Taylor and Sciver were stitching a threatening partnership for England in the finals.She did show leadership of backing her players when they were out of form unlike some other captain’s in recent times. 


Yes India did lose,and it was heartbreaking,but Mithali Raj’s Team had done their job. They have changed the course of Women’s cricket in India.Women’s cricket will never be the same again.

Mithali Raj,the Arjuna Ranatunga,of Indian cricket may not play in another world cup but she has definitely rewritten history.

I think women’s IPL would add a great proposition to take women’s cricket forward.

And yes the chants like “Mithali…Mithali…Mithali” will grow in the days to come.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Women Empowerment: Myth vs Reality

सत्यम् ब्रूयात् प्रियम् ब्रूयात् न ब्रूयात् सत्यमप्रियम् | 
प्रियम् नानृतं ब्रूयात् एष धर्मः सनातनः ||

satyam bruyat priyam bruyat na bruyat satyam apriyam
priyam ca nanrutam bruyat esha dharmah sanatanah

Speak truth in such a way that it should be pleasing to others. Never speak truth, which is unpleasant to others. Never speak untruth, which might be pleasant. This is the path of eternal morality, sanatana dharma.


Real empowerment happens only by two ways

1.Devotion
2.Sense of Service

It is a well considered myth that only working women are more empowered than housewife’s.

A women who takes care of her husband and children with devotion are really more empowered to make correct decisions than a women who may be a chairperson of any organization but works without any devotion.

Real power does not come through authority,it comes through service.
Empowerment as per Hindu religious texts is not gained by holding any authorized position,it happens by sense of service that one offers.

In ancient India, even now in some places,it is the man who occupies the head of the family position and the  women is used to listening to him,this has often been misconstructed as slavery by the western historians who did come to India.Even in this so called bondage of the wife,it was received by her with an unsaid , untold joy and love,though the so called intellectuals of today have called it patriarchical, antiwomen and antisocial.

India has never been antiwomen since ancient ages.
It always respected women.Mathrudevobhava -  Treat your mother as god.This has been well reflected in the religious preaching’s of great saints like Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Sankaracharya.  Though the western culture taught otherwise.

Women need to be treated as children and protected” – this is what the Manusmriti, an ancient Hindu text states.

Today this is often misrepresented as lack of freedom,bondage,slavery by the so called intellectual,modern,westernized,liberal women activists.


P.S.- I am not a Hindu extremist.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Is Artificial Intelligence going to make humans redundant?

Don’t let the noise knock you off course.Don’t get caught up in the trivial aspects of life.Don’t listen to trolls and don’t become one.Measure impact in humanity not in the likes,but the lives you touch and people you serve”-Tim Cook to MIT graduates.


There is a growing thought that AI is going to do things much better, much quicker and more efficient than human beings. This they say would make humans redundant and automation would lead to job losses.

I believe we are losing the big picture and getting lost in the noise or herd mentality. Let’s not worry about job losses, let’s use technology (AI) for solving problems that humans have been unsuccessfully trying to solve.

Remedy for cancer, alzheimer’s, how to eliminate poverty, skill-mapping (skills that would be relevant and useful in 2040).

How to use technology to solve problems facing agriculture,how to prevent farmer suicides,irrigation vows,crop pattern and weather forecasting.

Cost effective solutions to portable water, purify saline water and make clean drinking water available to all. Automation for housing vows.Is 3D printing the answer?

Solving day to day problems like traffic vows, parking issues, and maybe even obesity.

Let’s not get lost in the noise that how many jobs are going to get lost by automation or technology.
Let’s not worry about how technology will make humans redundant
Let’s not worry about news channels and the media speaking of job losses, they speak stupidity, but then that's their job.

Let’s use it to create useful solutions where humans have not found a solution yet.