Startup Saturday Navi Mumbai maiden event
Yesterday i.e. 10th Feb 2013 saw startup crowd getting together in Navi Mumbai at SIES for its maiden event. It was a stimulating 4 hours’ experience for the entire audience – students, entrepreneurs, professionals like myself as well as the faculty. It started with some great videos – Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech and 2 other motivational speeches. Steve jobs spoke of how he dropped out of college, then dropped into classes, which really excited him. Calligraphy classes, that he took then without any purpose were made to good use many years hence to design Macintosh’ font system and make it beautiful. (Microsoft bashing) Microsoft copied it and hence entire PC stack is now beautiful! Connecting the dots and Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish were 2 great quotes from that speech, which led indelible imprints on many minds. After that Ankur P Aggrawal of PriceBaba gave an introduction of Startup Saturday and Headstart Networks. He described how its idea came from barcamp. In barcamps, there is no distinction between speaker and audience. Similarly, Startup Saturdays encourage intense debates around minimal structure of the event.
It was followed by an introduction by Prof.Parag Amin. He talked about startup eco-system of the city and college’s role in it. He then introduced Dr. A.K. Sengupta, mentor of SIES – a World Bank employee, who returned to SP Jain college, Mumbai, then joined SIES as a mentor. He spoke of how entrepreneurs must not only focus on getting best product out, but also steer clear of stress of executing it in bureaucratic system surrounding here in India. He talked of 1000 hours, entrepreneurs must give to their ideas, like bill Gates doing computers for 19 hrs per day for so many days. Such kind of perseverance lead to breakthrough and success. He also talked about the future plans of SIESCOM like starting an incubation facility to promote entrepreneurship within this year.
Mohit Dubey: 7 things around startup cash
Next talk by @mohitdubey was an extremely honest recall of founder’s journey of raising funding, that I have heard in recent times. He started by giving current metrics of CarWale.Com, like 25% of car buyers from India visit the portal. There are 350 employees in various departments. He has been raising money since 2002 in Bhopal. He recounted how he raised money from friends, relatives, his wife, his father-in-law, not father, as he refused . He went on to arguing with a 88-yr old man in brutal honesty telling him – “There is no use saving money now, as you will not be using it much. So, he should fund Mohit Dubey’s venture”. Mohit jumped with joy in 2005-06, when he heard about a new species called “Venture Capitalists”. Now, he no longer has to informally raise funds. He and team relocated to Navi Mumbai, as that was more affordable compared to rest of Mumbai. He ran around 10 banks with customer’s Rs. 5000 cheque before one would open a bank account. He would withdraw Rs.100 many times, so would become unpopular with the bank. This goes back to what Dr.A.K. Sengupta talked about the difficulty of starting up in India. He recommended reading a book “Bargaining for advantage" by Richard Shell to gain perspective. I am awaiting him or Headstart team to share his presentation on Slideshare rather than put my notes here. During Q&A, he spoke of CarWale’s future plans. CarWale wants to focus on better mobility, rather than just cars. There are 14m cars in India, approx 1 per 100 persons. China has 8, US has 1 and Australia has 1.5. In India, because of space constraint, it is not a good idea to increase number of cars per 100 persons, rather invest in shared cars, public transportation. Initiatives like Khaliseat and SmartMumbaikar are trying in that direction.
Zepo: Shopify for India
@im_nitin showcased Zepo.In, a platform for opening eCommerce store in minutes. They have 300 active customers. They also have a trial offer, for which they receive 500 signup every month. They started in June’11 and launched in Jan’12. So, 300 customers in 12 months is a remarkable achievement. While cold calls worked out well in the initial days, now inward marketing like word-of-mouth and Powered-By-Zepo account for 40% sales now. They provide payment gateway integration and logistics support, both of which are great value-adds. unlike Flipkart and BuyThePrice’s marketplace model, you can host on your own domain name. While basic SEO is taken care of by Zepo, the onus of promoting it is on the store owner.
Hyquee: Tees with user generated quotes
Tushar Shetty described his idea of selling tees with quotes contributed by the Twitter users. He has worked on SOR and display rack inside shops to sell his goods instead of standalone stores.
S Swaminathan (Iris)
A Yale graduate S. Swaminathan floored us next with his entrepreneurial journey of Iris (an XBRL provider) , life lessons, philosophy, stories.
FutureWise: Ronak Hindocha
Ronak took the stage next to publicly unveil, for the first time, the interface of the finance portal FutureWise.
I was mighty impressed with the value proposition and pleasant UI/UX of the portal. He showed profile and recommendations screens, which seemed well-done. He talked about algorithm-powered recommendation against finance agent’s recommendations. He talked about evil ULIP. The service is going to be free for end-users and will be eventually monetized by them becoming broker for buying insurance and mutual funds. That part was transactions portion of the site, which will require human intervention currently. He is aiming at young crowd, which might not have big-enough savings, as HNI’s are already served by bank’s money management divisions. Someone in audience spoke of Intuit’s offering, to which he was quick to point out that Quicken is on its way out. They have even not renewed their tie-up with Moneycontrol. All in all, a promising startup to watch for in next 6-10 months.
The Playce: Gargi Shah, Shekhar Gurav
Gargi Shah showcased their venture, The Playce, a coworking place in Mulund, where one can rent desks, cabins with minimum necessary facilities provided for. They are slowly making a palce for themselves having hosted 15 events in last 3 months’ of their existence and garnering 40 co-workers.
They provide some support like help in registering company, hooking up with say freelance designer etc.
It was followed by refreshments and networking hour. Next Startup Saturday Navi Mumbai will be held on 2nd Saturday of March at the same venue in a bigger hall.