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Archive for the ‘Startup’ Category

Quote of the day

Posted by vishalsinghal on December 26, 2009

Hope as faith, is nothing if it’s not courageous,if it’s not ridiculous.

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Startup-tip on on building Board of Directors

Posted by vishalsinghal on March 21, 2009

Today, I read an article on this topic and thought I should definitely share this with my blog readers.

This article talks about what goes into building a team of board of directors and what should be the right mix. You can read it here.

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The 12 Steps to Practical Problem Solving for Start-Ups

Posted by vishalsinghal on November 5, 2008

The 12 Steps by Polak to Practical Problem Solving for Start-Ups:

1. Go where the action is. “Spend significant time with your customers. This is how you learn what they need,” he says. Not hours, days. Polak lived with his farmers for 6 months.
2. Interview at least 100 customers a year. You do it. Not an employee. Listen to what they have to say. “Too many entrepreneurs build the product they want to build — not the one that’s needed.”
3. Context matters. If your solution isn’t right for the context, for example, if it costs too much for the customers you’re trying to serve, you won’t succeed.
4. Think big. Act big.
5. Think like a child.
6. See and do the obvious. Others won’t, which is opportunity for you.
7. Leverage precedents. If somebody has already invented it, don’t do it again.
8. Scale. Your business must have potential to scale. Remember, your market must include at least 1 million customers.
9. Design to specific cost and price targets. Not the other way around. (Celeste: it means — Do not price to your design, design to the price you need to hit to make your product appropriate to your customer.).
10. Follow practical three-year plans. Two years is too short. Ten is too long.
11. Visit your customers again. And again. “Any successful business in this country is based on talking to your customers all the time. A good CEO spends half his time ‘in the field.’”
12. Stay positive. Don’t be distracted by what other people think.

(Source Credit: Pop!Tech)

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Survival Strategies for the Startups in Current Financial turmoil

Posted by vishalsinghal on October 15, 2008

You need to build your business, or your portfolio, based on underlying fundamentals that will carry you through good times — and bad.

Here are a few things Bryan Roberts thinks all entrepreneurs should do now:

1) Reaffirm the value-creating milestones for your business.

2) Focus your capital on hitting them in the most efficient way possible.

3) Ensure that your current cash is safe. Is it invested in stable corporate bonds (like GE)? Or is it sitting in financial institutions, even the finance arms of manufacturing companies (like GMAC)? Are your lenders likely to deliver money they have agreed to lend? Do your investors have reserves for future rounds?

4) Look at your burn rate to make sure current expense rates still make sense. This has more urgency for later-stage companies that are selling a product, but those in R&D mode should always be thrifty.

5) Lead. Reaffirm the viability and vision of your company to the troops. This will counterbalance people’s tendencies to worry about their jobs and dreams, even decrease the time spent watching stock tickers.

However, while funding will be harder to come by, there will continue to be capital available for really great companies and good ideas. Keep in mind that many of our greatest companies were founded during, or toward the end of, recessions, among them IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft

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The First-Timer’s 4 Rules for Networking

Posted by vishalsinghal on September 22, 2008

These rules are given by Andrew Hoag who is founder & CEO of Black Drumm, a stealth-mode startup developing tools and services for specific areas of social commerce. In his spare time, he chairs Founder’s Nest, a private peer group of entrepreneurs & CEOs in San Francisco.

I will share my views on the rules in italics.

1. Never, ever, underestimate anyone. That old adage of the guy who cuts someone off driving to the interview, only to find out in the parking lot it was the hiring manager, is true more often than you’d like. The woman scraping the gum off the floor in the restaurant may be the owner, you don’t really know. I believe that every human being has something positive to give to this world, and those who are open to that premise stand to benefit from it the most. I personally tell this point to many of my friends and to be entrepreneurs.

2. Be genuine. While many people will tolerate a blowhard, most won’t reciprocate without self-interest. But by engaging with people you genuinely enjoy, you’ll quickly see reciprocal engagement and spontaneous acts of generosity. Being genuine is also more efficient. Put on an act, and you’ll end up wasting precious time in business relationships that may be useful to the other person, but which are not in your own interest. By being genuine all the time,  I have recieved lot of praise from most unexpected audience. So I sincerely follow this rule.

3. Be patient. If people think you are expecting something from them, they tend to feel used or taken advantage of. What’s the rush? One contact I made resulted in a very important and marquis advisor being added to my company — three years later. Many of my close friends have done this mistake of asking for something right in first meeting with anybody and thus either have not been able to contact the person again or have been completely ignored. When I suggested them this rule of networking, they gained tremendously.

4. Give before you get. As soon as I meet someone new I’m immediately thinking about whether I can help them, not because I want to trade a favor (I may not need anything from them), but because this is how I would like to be treated by them. Pro-actively giving may seem like a cost, and it may require you to be a little extra patient as well, but in the end, the reciprocal support I receive, simply by offering to help people who aren’t asking for it, is overwhelming. It builds tremendous loyalty and respect. In my view, in sales, it’s called consultative selling which means never try to sell but try to discuss problems of people you meet and try giving them solutions for free. You will definitely see yourself getting image of a solver and expert in your field and may finally end up getting paid.

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Tips for Startups in Business Presentations…Introducing a Speaker

Posted by vishalsinghal on September 11, 2008

What should you say?

Eventually, either for business or personal activities, you will serve as a host of some event where it will fall on you to introduce the speakers. Every speaker deserves a thoughtful and helpful introduction – it helps the speaker, and the audience, establish a common bond.

Short But Sweet
An introduction is a small speech, usually less than a minute. Though short, it still contains all the elements of a full speech:

  • An opening. It grabs the audience’s attention and makes them aware of the importance of the upcoming subject.
  • A body. It explains why the subject was chosen, why the speaker is qualified to address it, why it is appropriate for this audience and why this time is appropriate to discuss it.
  • A conclusion. In this case, it paves the way for the speaker to begin the presentation.

A Public Speaking Ritual
Consider the introduction as a brief ritual or ceremony, accomplishing some important goals. Such a ceremony:

  • Is transitional. It marks a speaker’s transition from being a part of the group to stepping in front of it, leading its thinking.
  • Guides thinking. It sets the tone for the topic at hand, so the group will know what to look for.
  • Adds power. It contributes to the speaker’s authority by establishing that he or she speaks from preparation, knowledge or experience.
  • Sets the mood. For example, if a serious subject was presented by the previous speaker, the introduction can prepare the audience for a more light-hearted speech to follow.

 So, as the introducer, what should you say? Speeches of introduction should be graceful, witty and fun…fun to hear and fun to give! Leave out claims that the speaker is especially brilliant, successful or a “good speaker.” Instead, list his or her experience and expertise as it relates to the subject of the speech. Don’t steal the show – make it brief and all about the speaker. Know the topic of the speech and try to briefly set the mood for the audience. You’ll know you’re doing your job well when you end your introduction just as audience interest is peaking.

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Startup Lunch 3.0 held successfully…

Posted by vishalsinghal on September 7, 2008

CellStrat (mobile technologies and consulting company) as part of Delhi Startup Community is organizing Startup Lunch Edition 3 this time in Amity University on Saturday (Septemebr 6th., 2008).

It came out successfully with total count of 18 registered startups (including some last minuted registrations) and audience (inculding prospective candidates and 10 volunteers)of about 104.

Last time just 24 candidates were short listed but this time number is expected to be about 60. Confirmations of the same will be there in about a weeks time.

Everybody appreciated the event a lot. It was very well organized and all volunteers provded the musch required last minute help to make it a successful event.

Ondamo was technology partner and helped greatly in assisting the organinzing of the hiring part of the event by their custom designed mobile application just for this event.

Some of the other other volunteers worth mentioning are Tarun and Swati from SimplyLearnt who covered the event on Video and pictures (which will be out soon), Shiv from viewspaper, Praval, Vineesh , Abhishek from Zoomtra and Avinash from RouteGuru.

Some supporting organization without support of which this event would not have been successful are Tie-Delhi , Proto and last but not the least Amity University (the lead sponsors of the venue)

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What Startups Can Learn From Michael Dell…

Posted by vishalsinghal on September 4, 2008

It’s not a new idea to make hay by seizing the messy business opportunities no one else wants. Innovating the distribution of a technology, rather than inventing the technology itself, isn’t novel either. This is the model that made founder Michael Dell a billionaire. Now, San Francisco-based Sungevity is taking a page from Michael Dell’s playbook in an effort to do to solar panels what Dell did to personal computers.

 

Solar installs are typically custom jobs — labor intensive and therefore costly. While there are rebates and tax incentives to cut the costs, the paperwork is dizzyingly complex, so consumers (and even developers) often don’t bite. Since most solar startups are focused on making the sexiest technology, Kennedy figured it was a no-brainer that Sungevity could effect more change, and make more money, by addressing the logistically painful process of selling, installing, and handling the paperwork associated with everyone else’s gear.

 

Michael Dell innovated the economy for PC-manufacturing by taking commodity computing components, then custom-assembling them to each buyer’s order in what we now commonly call a “just-in-time” supply chain. Similarly, Sungevity uses off-the-shelf web tools, commodity solar modules and drop-shipping to streamline a sales process for the retail solar industry that once took weeks or months. (Read more at Earth2Tech). Below, Kennedy offers a few tips for How to Spy Startup Opportunities in the Sales Cycle:

 

1) Identify a technology/product that has experienced enough innovation to be approaching commodity status, but which is still not widely distributed. “A solar module is a solar module, like a motherboard was a motherboard when Dell started out,” Kennedy says. Dell simply delivered them farther, wider, and faster.

 

2) Are operators in your industry warehousing their products? Begin with a geographically small scope and use a drop-shipping partner to compress delivery. Sungevity serves California, but plans to expand into up to seven states next year.

 

3) Are you looking at an industry where the sales cycle is slow, say, longer than 30 days? Can you compress the sales cycle simply by digitizing the paperwork? With CRM systems no sales cycle needs to be this long.

 

4) Does the channel you’re considering involve government bureaucracy or rebate programs? You can make a business out of offloading these processes all alone. One of Sungevity’s strongest selling points is that it handles the paperwork for tax rebates.

 

5) Can you apply standard technology to create a new, value-added process? Sungevity’s “big invention,” says Kennedy, is an innovative software application it wrote to use pre-fab satellite images to remotely determine the right solar panel configuration for a roof.

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Tips for Startups in Business Presentations…Technical Briefings

Posted by vishalsinghal on September 3, 2008

Steps for success!

The technical briefing is a no-nonsense speech that conveys technical information to a critical audience. The briefing is the most common kind of speech presented in today’s workplace.

There are various formats for briefings, but most are speeches to inform. Briefings provide and explain important facts in a way that allows the audience to quickly grasp and understand how to apply those facts. Examples include: An engineer briefs a group of managers on a current project. A research scientist reports on recent findings. A marketing executive presents a briefing on a product test. A line manager briefs a division chief on production progress. A supervisor explains a new company policy to subordinates. A lobbyist briefs lawmakers on the expected impact of proposed legislation.

Follow these steps to succeed with your technical briefing:

  • Know your audience in advance so that you use appropriate levels of technical material and jargon. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time by being too difficult to understand or too boring.
  • State the purpose of your presentation in a single sentence. This sentence will serve as the focal point for your entire presentation, and should recur throughout your talk. For most technical briefings, assembling enough support material is far less of a problem than whittling down a vast amount of material to a manageable amount. Try to select only three or four primary points that support your main message, and state each one in a single sentence. To finish your briefing, summarize the main points you’ve presented, and include any conclusions you have made clear in relation to them.
  • Arrange your material into an outline containing an introduction, body and conclusion. State your main message early in the speech, reinforce it throughout the briefing, then restate it in your conclusion.

Whether you’re selling cookware in a department store or explaining research results to a group of geneticists, these basic steps remain the same. Your audiences – whoever they are – will appreciate the clarity and focus of your excellent technical briefing.

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Tips for Startups in Business Presentations…Proposals and Pitches

Posted by vishalsinghal on September 2, 2008

Stimulate action!

When you present a proposal or a pitch, you are trying to do more than simply inform – you are trying to persuade.

A proposal seeks to stimulate action or acceptance of an idea. Here are some examples: A company’s research and development chief proposes that top management authorize additional funding for a key project. An architect presents designs for a condominium complex. An advertising agency director proposes a new ad campaign to a prospective client. An insurance sales representative pitches the idea of a company-sponsored bowling team to the owner of a bowling alley.

In all of these cases, your speech must include sections designed to inform. It often involves a discussion on dollars spent versus gains made. And the gains may be high-tech in nature, such as an improved insulin pump for diabetics. For such situations, some technical information must be included. Yet, the objective of the presentation is to sell a product, a concept or a set of recommendations. By combining your technical expertise with the ability to present proposals that get positive results, you’ll generate many opportunities for visibility and career advancement.

Follow these four steps to prepare:

  • Determine your purpose.
  • Analyze your audience and determine its needs.
  • State your main message and support it.
  • Urge the audience to take definite action.

You must determine the effect you want your presentation to have on the audience. Are you selling a product or service? Recommending a course of action? Striving for agreement or approval? Be specific about what you want your proposal to accomplish.

Analyze your audience, and then create your main message to address their wants and needs. Be sure to translate the features of your product, service, idea or recommendation into audience benefits – and target the benefit to fit that audience. For example, if a company’s need is for a quality product with excellent durability, these are the qualities you would highlight as opposed to emphasizing cost savings.

 

Organizing your proposal
To organize your ideas into an effective proposal, use an approach developed in the field of journalism – the “inverted pyramid.” In the “inverted pyramid” format, the most important information is given in the first few paragraphs. As you present the pitch, the information becomes less and less crucial. This way, your presentation can be cut short, yet remain effective. This approach has other important benefits.

To make the most of these benefits, begin with your main message, followed by the supporting points and detailed data. If your listeners agree with your main message, the supporting material that follows it will reinforce their agreement. If they disagree, they will be focused on your viewpoint from the beginning, and your logic may win them over to your side. If you are allowed your fully-allotted time, make the most of it by ending with a call to action. Telling the audience what you want them to do may seem too aggressive, but it actually helps the audience to select a course of action.

 

Use visual aids
Effective visuals can illustrate and clarify your verbal message. On the other hand, poor or poorly presented visual aids can seriously damage your proposal and create a negative impression with the audience.

So, keep your visual aids clearly visible to each person in the audience. They must be simple, with each page or slide illustrating a single point.

 

Handling questions and answers
A question-and-answer period following your proposal or pitch benefits both you and your audience. It provides you with feedback indicating to what extent your listeners accept and agree with your proposal. It also lets you reinforce your message by addressing areas that concern the audience. And it benefits your listeners by giving them an opportunity to get clarification of ideas and data in your proposal.

Here are some tips for effectively dealing with audience questions:

  • Plan for them. Announce at the outset of your speech that you will entertain questions. Plan a smooth transition between the conclusion of your proposal and the question-and-answer portion of the presentation.
  • Anticipate questions. Try to anticipate the questions your audience will ask. One way is to rehearse your proposal before colleagues or friends and see what questions they have. This has an added benefit: It can indicate elements you’ve neglected to include in your proposal.
  • Clarify the question. Before attempting to answer a question, be sure you understand what the questioner wants. If necessary, rephrase it, asking if your interpretation is correct. If you don’t know the answer, admit it, but tell the questioner you will find out the answer later and contact him or her.
  • Don’t be defensive. Give your listeners the impression you welcome their questions and appreciate the opportunity to answer them. Your positive attitude can be the “icing on the cake” for a successful proposal.
  • Align your answer with your main message. Rather than blurting out the first response that comes to mind, mentally evaluate how you can answer the question in a way that supports what you’ve said in your proposal.
  • Disarm loaded questions. Occasionally a questioner may try to trip you with a loaded question—one based on false premises or irrelevant assumptions. Be polite, but don’t back down from your position. You can disarm the questioner by asking him or her to explain the question and share information.
  • Divert irrelevant questions. Don’t waste time on questions that are out of place, even if you know the answers. Politely ask the person how the question bears on the proposal.
  • Divide complex questions. If a questioner hits you with a multifaceted question, split it into components before answering it. This helps you, as well as other listeners.
  • Summarize. Watch your allotted time. Before it expires, conclude by briefly summarizing your proposal. This way, you can control (and prepare for) the way your presentation ends. This is the final impression you leave on your audience, so make it positive and upbeat.

 

Source: Toastmasters

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