First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Category: Entreprenuership

Ashish Gupta Kamla Bhatt Podcast

Though I am regular listener of Kamla’s podcast show and I have been interviewed by her a few times, it was Rajiv who hat tiped me this podcast interview of Kamla with Ashish Gupta of Helion Ventures and it was an absolute delight to listen to it.

   I strongly recommend this to any entreprenuer, please take your time to listen to this three part podcast. Kamla raises some pertinent question to Ashish about entreprenuers, ecosytem and investment thesis and he answers them in his regular candid and graceful style.  Kamla has done a great job as an interviewer and I think is one of the finest podcast I ever heard.

Open Coffee Club India

            Open Coffee Club  starts in Chennai and in Bangalore. This should result in a regular meetups and creation of informal network/community of entreprenuers and would benefit entreprenuers interacting with each other. But I think the unique thing about Open Coffee Clubthat differentiates  from other meetups & camps  is that this open movement was championed by a VC/investor, Saul Klein who started this a few months ago is a partner at Index Ventures. This to large extent prevents skewed participation from the VC community in many open movements. Aided by its regular meets this provides a possibility for sourcing advisory capital for an entreprenuer which so far has always been bundled with venture money.  It would be great if  SiddhiVaibhav , Ramjee could rope in an investor (angel/VC) who would be simillarly passionate about the cause of creation of an entreprenuerial ecosystem. Last when I checked with few VC’s I knew they were shy to participate but I think they are not to blame because contrary to currently prevalent belief the ratio of VC/entreprenuer is very low,  given this VC participating in things like this knows that they will be barraged worser than what happens in the rapid fire round of Koffee with Karan 🙂

Informal Getto fup

Publishing this post a little late but this is about a meetup of a small group on 29th, it was essentially a few entreprenuers from bangalore and alok from canaan met up for about an one and half hour for an informal chat at Pecos. Amongst us we decide to do no pitching which meant that there was great and lucid conversation about many things. It also helped an entreprenuer understand how vc’s think and vice versa. Some of the things that got discussed included below.

  • What are the hottest startup areas ?
  • Why entreprenuers are focussing on certain areas ?
  • IS many VC’s in India a myth or realtiy.
  • What do VC’s think angel has lot of investment already ?
  • Will Indian VC’s put their moolah in startup from a college kid
  • How should an entreprenuer  understand investor fit etc ?
  • Which VC to approach , one who is previous entreprenuer or coming with an analyst background.

and many more questions like this.
The thought to have something like this was triggered by opencoffeeclub but it was not just to emulate it and infact the meet happened in a pub. Due to the informal nature the conversation was very engaging.  I have to certainly acknowledge alok sportiveness for taking up this without which this would have not happened. Everyone whom I met there said that they had a great time so maybe we should have more of this instead of talks and summits 🙂

TheFunded – Cool resource for entreprenuer

Rating your VC thefunded – whatever took so long for this to happen. As soon as I get an invite I will transfer this list here  and also add much more 😀

Two talks this month

TiE Bangalore organized two excellent talks this month. The first one was from Michael Moritz of Sequia Capital who is doing an India tour currently and the second was from Deep Nishar, head of Google India. I could capture Michael Mortiz’s talk but when I tried to do the same for Deep’s talk my N70 would’nt let me do it. I hate it when devices take a mind of their own and do not do things which you ask them to do. I tried to do the noisy reboot several times but that just helped me gain more embarrassment as the guy who kept making noise. I would have really like to have the second talk recorded as it was an excellent talk where Deep described about the culture of innovation which is a part of the DNA of google that is crucial for Google’s stellar succcess.

Michael’s talk was very good as well, I should say it was rather stories about how founders are very key in building great organizations explained with the examples of Apple, Yahoo, Google and Youtube. He drew parallel among all these companies saying that they were all started by 20 somethings and built a product that they wanted for themselves and all funded by Sequoia in a a very early stage. Quite impressive the way Michael told these stories but I just hope that all the 20 something in the audience don’t let themselves believe that Sequoia in India is going to the very same thing, reality is quite different. Did you say Nazara yeah I know but that is not quite the same as what Micheal talks about.

Michael’s talk here

Is Web 2.0 bubble being burst elsewhere and what can India learn.

First there was kiko which was bought by Tucows a few days ago for 250,000$ and now another a so called web 2.0 company (HuckABuck) is listed on eBay with its current highest bid is about 9300$. Now Is this a burst of a bubble or the end of the web 2.0 era. Moreover Is there some lessons that India can take from this which is now entering the web 2.0 fray.


My opinion on these companies is fairly straightforward, these companies can’t be called 2.0 in truest sense. No I am not arguing semantics here, my point is that these are merely features and none of them have fundamentally created new value which is required to be called a 2.0. Features don’t create big business but rather they naturally chart their course to get attached the product that they are a feature of (or should’nt it be the other way round). Now kiko is a feature which fitted naturally into tucows and they have had a more than fair return. Bubbles are condition when there is a market failure due to multitude of reasons. So this is certainly not a bubble but market at its work and hence HuckABuck would find the right buyer for the right price too.

Coming to India and web 2.0 my general observation has been that India is typically about 36 months behind the valley in any of the trends (Europe is generally 18 months behind valley). This happened during the dotcom days and now the same with web 2.0. With the recent business world article on web 2.0 entrepreneurs we could say that web 2.0 has entered Indian mainstream. The web 2.0 trend had started in US around 2003 and it got fancy name coined by Tim O Reilly in 2004.

Now what is that we can learn from web 2.0 that has happened in Valley and Europe so far. One thing that is certainly undeniable is that there are some fundamental changes that are happening. (See my opinion on web 2.0 & mobile 2.0 on top right side bar) During this tumultuous times we could either choose to build features (call it web 2.0 or not) for becoming a part bigger platforms or build some innovative platforms and unlock great value. To be very frank I am not way too impressed by the list in the BW article, though I have not tried any of the service listed there but one look at most of them will tell you that they are like what Bazee was a few years ago. No doubt that they may walk their way to riches but then they have quickly look out for their Ebay (or GYM). Kanwal Rekhi when I met him once had an interesting name for such Bazee kind of companies, he called them YAFO(yet another fad opportunity) companies. But then India does not have ( & may not have for a while) any incentive to fundamentally innovate. As one of my VC friend sums up very nicely why would anyone risk his neck when he can make huge money by just sitting on a couch and tapping a few buttons.

The reporter from BW did not seem to do thorough research on web 2.0 and hence did not cover couple of other significant players in India, two of my top picks would be the Ashish & Gaurav from tekritisoftware ( that they built a while ago is more 2.0 than you could know) & ( I just can’t stop gushing about these guys, infact they should add a caption to themselves – ‘Clear the pain from booking a Trip’)

Thinking about Business Models

In most simplistic terms a business is about value creation and a business model refers to value capture function of the person/organization coordinating the value creation. Peter Rip (who writes interesting posts about entrepreneurship and I always find good takeaways from him) has a very detailed diagram which captures his thought process when he thinks about business models. The diagram is a little complex but it is definitely worth spending time and understanding it.


Spinning the new axis

I remember a few posts by Om posted a while ago where he used to say that the axis of technology might be slowly shifting towards the somewhere in the centre of asia. Few of my friends from my alma mater are set out to spinning this axis based from Hyderabad. Check out spinaxys which is a garage startup right now and holds great promise.

TiE ISB connect

TiE ISB Connect this year is happening on september 20 – 22. The dates for the event was announced last year itself but their site has come up now.It is good that they launched their seperate website now. I will be covering this event this year as well.

It is just a journey not a destination

There are some things in life that we learn by listening to others who tell you and some other we learn by finding it out by yourself. Even though it is easier to learn from what others tell there is joy in learning it by actually doing/experiencing it.

Building a technology product startup in India is difficult is just a bland statement said by many is what I used to think but I have learnt that it is quite actually difficult J

My efforts along with Rajat to create a high technology startup Advetta and build a mobile visual search platform has not been able to see much of light through the day over the past 9 months. Couple of reasons for it could be that our envisioned product is too early for the market(he he that is what every entreprenuer says :)), lack of financial infrastructure to fund high tech startup(that is what every indian entreprenuers says :)) , difficulty in building a team or executing a grand vision to name a few.

Some of our assumptions that we made (we hoped to get a client for this project or external funding by this point of time 🙂 ) got totally blown away. Thus with mutual consent we have decided to pull the plug on this project and dissolve Advetta.

I will reboot in a few days as there is many more things to still learn in life or to just learn the lessons well 🙂 I think that is fun/peril of living on the edge.

Rajesh Jain

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