Startup Saturday Delhi – Request for Knowledge Experts

If you would like to present at Startup Saturday, please fill out the form below and we will contact you regarding which session we have an opening for.

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Startup Saturday Delhi – Request for Demos

To help the Indian Startup Ecosystem in some small way, we’re going to be involved in setting up the Delhi chapter of Startup Saturday which is a part of HeadStart. We’d like to use this forum to help startups in the Delhi/NCR region showcase their products to a community of peers, media, and investors.

If you or your company is interested in demoing, please complete the form below.

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Saul Klein’s Thoughts on the European Venture Scene

I came across this presentation by Saul Klein from Index Ventures. What I found most interesting was slide 33 which is a table listing the top locations for deals in 2007. Bangalore was number 17 with $335 million in 35 funding rounds and New Delhi was 18 with $316 million in 23 funding rounds. It’s the bottom of the list but it was interesting to see New Delhi even on the list in 2007. I’m not sure how dramatically this will change in 2009 and beyond but it’s interesting to note that after Bangalore, New Delhi was the place where the majority of VC funds in India were deployed.

Thoughts on European Start Ups

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: startups vc)

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The Indian Tech Startup Ecosystem

I’ve been in New Delhi for almost a year and a half now. Though it’s been difficult getting things going, I’ve been fortunate to meet some really interesting entrepreneurs, all at various stages of the business life cycle. A few of us have even formed a group where we meet every two weeks to discuss various issues that we’re facing in each of our businesses. Though this is a small, private group, many other groups and events are beginning to take place in cities like New Delhi that can help foster the startup mindset.

Ecosystem

Building an ecosystem, for anything, is never easy. Building a tech startup ecosystem in India, is twice as difficult as it might be as compared to a city like NYC.

What goes into building a startup ecosystem?

  1. Drive and Passion
  2. Mentorship and Guidance
  3. Free Sharing of Ideas and Community Guidance

Drive and Passion

The first thing and, in my opinion, the most important thing is the drive and will to take a chance and bring about a major change.

There’s a great deal of energy building in India around the idea of starting a company. Folks right out of college are beginning to consider working for a startup or even having a go at their own startup. Unfortunately, these folks are still the exception to the rule. They are a very very small minority of graduates, but it’s nice to see that students are even considering startups as an option.

These recent graduates provide an energy, drive and risk taking capacity that is missing in those that have been institutionalized (been at cushy jobs longer than they should). However, they lack the experience in building and running a business that’s necessary.

Mentorship and Guidance

The second thing that is critical to an ecosystem is mentorship.

In places like Silicon Valley, there are hundreds, if not thousands of experienced entrepreneurs who are willing and able to provide guidance to the next generation of budding entrepreneurs.

In India, the land of small business, it’s much harder to find effective mentors that have the experience building and running a startup – especially tech startups. In all of India, there are probably a few dozen entrepreneurs that have built, run, and in some cases, sucessfully exited the startups they founded or began their careers at. Fortunately, these 1st generation tech startup junkies have began “giving back” by advising/mentoring, and in some cases, providing seed capital to the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.

Many 1st generation entrepreneurs have formed angel groups, venture capital funds, Y-Combinator style incubators, and most importantly, these 1st gen tech entrepreneurs are active in local events such as BarCamps (though not in all cases approachable). Organizations like TiE are also heavily involved in providing mentors to budding entrepreneurs. However, from what I’ve heard, the results of the mentorship have been mixed. Nonetheless, this component of building an entrpreneurial ecosystem is gaining momentum and it’s growing.

Free Sharing of Ideas and Community Guidance

The third item that I feel is critical to an entrepreneurial ecosystem is the free sharing of knowledge and ideas which helps to bring about community-based mentorship.

I have found people in India to be very open to sharing knowledge and ideas. Events like BarCamps, OSSCamps, OCC (Open Coffee Club), etc. are all examples of people taking the initiative to meet with other like minded individuals to discuss their businesses, talk about technology, legal affairs, share resources, etc. Newcomers and strangers are welcome with typical Indian hospitality. Most of the people I have met through some of these events were quite open and friendly about their businesses. They have also been invaluable advisors and full of resources.

Many times, talking to a mentor about hiring issues could be helpful but other times, the mentor could be out of touch with issues like compensation packages, finding office space, finding the right recruiter, working with the right vendors or knowing what technical skill set would be required for a specific job. In cases like this, sharing your needs with the community can be extremely beneficial. People in the community have, most likely, gone through and dealt with similar issues or dealing with them at the same time you are. They can easily share how they overcame the hurdle in front of them and give you an angle of attack that you may have overlooked or put you in touch with a great resource to help you move forward. Couple this with advice from your mentor and you could have a resource equivalent to an informal board of advisors.

There’s still a long way before India can come anywhere close to Silicon Valley in terms of it’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, changes are happening at a rapid pace. The economic boom of the last four years in India is fueling more ambition and passion than ever before. I believe the next five years will be an exciting time in the Indian technology industry with true innovation beginning to take place here, in India.

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Proto.in July 2008 Reflections

Proto.in is an event very similar to DEMO held in the US. The basic premise is to help startups gain visibility by being able to showcase their prototypes or products in front of other startups and potential investors.

Proto.in has been held in Chennai since its inception in January 2007, however, this summer, they decided to hold the two day event at IIT’s campus in New Delhi.

It was my first time attending Proto.in and the first thing I have to say is that the event was well organized. The first few speakers on Friday were pretty good. Unfortunately, though, as time went on, it was evident that many of the people giving talks weren’t able to engage the audience. It seemed that many attendees were finding more value mingling in the hallways as compared to what they were getting in the auditorium, myself included.

Day 2 was the day for fifteen startups to showcase what they’re doing in six minutes, like DEMO. Six minutes isn’t a lot of time to talk about your company, demo your product, and pitch the value proposition. However, this time limit is really meant to instill discipline in entrepreneurs’ pitch to customers and investors.

Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with the various ideas/businesses or business models that were being pitched. I’m going to touch upon the four companies that left some sort of impression on me. The other eleven companies left more questions about their viability and business models than anything else. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to get in front of the founders of all these companies and get any sort of clarification.

Soliton was an interesting company. Good presentation, good delivery and interesting to see a company building hardware focused on the manufacturing industry. The idea behind the product isn’t new but Soliton is trying to deliver a simpler and more effective camera to monitor manufacturing defects in a smaller package at a palatable price point.

The HiringTool is a web based B2B platform for recruiting. It allows companies to use multiple recruiters, consultants and agents. Their UI looks very easy to use and provides some interesting methods of working with recruiters ahnd determining what candidates are acceptable or not. The HiringTool hasn’t officially launched but they are taking registrations. Too bad they didn’t build this using Open Source technologies 🙁

Blink Magic showcased a nice little LCD display connected to a physical shopping cart. The idea is to enhance the shopping experience at a grocery store, Walmart, K-Mart, or anywhere shopping carts are found. Cool little product with a nice simple interface. I’m not sure how viable this is in India, though. I see HUGE potential for this type of product at places like Walmart, Sears, K-Mart, Target, etc. Reliance Fresh, Sub ka Bazaar, or other Indian retail outlets, not so much, yet. The problem in the Indian context, once again comes down to basic infrastructure – mainly electricity and connectivity in the retail stores. Go West, young man, Go West!

Eko, for the purposes of full disclosure, is owned by a friend of mine so I’ve been exposed to their business model for a while. I won’t say much other than they have the potential to do for micro-banking what Grameen Bank did for micro-lending.

I am hoping that the next Proto attracts really innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs rather than business models that are, for lack of a better description, mind-numbing.

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