Dear Founders

I see your courage and the risk that you take. I feel it myself, day in and day out. Every time I see you, my eyes lit up in honour of your dreams. Most of us will fail. And all for our own lack of experience, wisdom, ability … <insert reasons here>. But for the foolishness and courage to startup, you have my respect.

I have been blessed myself to have several of you helping me when I need (you know who you are). I can’t imagine making an impact without your support. As I begin typing that email or DM to ask for your support (and that happens often), I think if I would be ever able to pay you back. I fear I don’t have enough value to give in exchange. You are paying it forward and I hope to make up for it the same way.

Every time a young one emails me for any help, I try my best to answer. I try and make a connection that would help them and almost always offer a meeting. It may not always be enough, many a times I would know that this is a path of failure (and I would tell that to you), but I will search for that reason to tell you yesa meaningful yes.

 

Do You Want To Pursue Engineering? Request: Think Again (Students & Parents)

I am kinda tired of no of kids I see getting into engineering just for the degree and then coming out unemployable after 4 years or applying for operations / BD roles. Here is a status update from my friend Navin Kabra on FB that I thought is relevant. Discussion on FB.

Heard of a friend’s son who quit engineering (COEP) after 1 year, to pursue design (DSK). This comes on the heels of someone else I know who quit engineering (PICT) to go for Liberal Arts (SSLA) and is much happier there.

So, note to 12th std students and parents: please do not box yourself into a corner and assume that there is no alternative to engineering. You might regret it an year or two from now.

Thankfully, the situation (in terms of educational options) for this generation is far better than for our generation. If you’re unsure of what to do, then a Liberal Arts program (which gives you flexibility of deciding on what degree you want after 1 or 2 years of study) might be worth considering. See http://www.flame.edu.in/ or http://ashoka.edu.in/ or even http://ssla.edu.in (thanks Dhananjay Nene)

Marketplaces Are Tricky, Flipkart Needs To Learn From eBay

With most e-commerce players in India moving towards a marketplace model, I have been intrigued as to why eBay.in (Baazee) isn’t the talking point when it comes to e-commerce. They are THE marketplace, they have their own payment gateway since ages and I know first hand that they have done a ton of leg work to get good resellers on board, educating the ecosystem, finesse the dispute resolution process and get an huge variety of inventory online. It is very tough for marketplaces to standardize the supply and give the consumers a good experience!

Here are a few recent incidents with Flipkart. Note: I have high hopes from FK, but not at all from Snapdeal, do see this as an optimistic feedback. I am not even bothering writing about Snapdeal, my only purchase from them was a bad experience and I have heard many negative reviews and hence Flipkart gets my attention & criticism. 

Incident 1: I purchased a Age of Mythology game from Flipkart recently and got the product via a reseller in Delhi. The packing was ordinary (I have been spoilt by WS Retail’s shipping) and I had a faint doubt if the game is pirated. It worked, but I wasn’t 100% convinced. I am still not convinced, but I think it is a genuine game. However the distributor / importer & MRP sticker was missing from the pack I received and that makes me skeptical. I asked my friends on twitter and here are the tweets exchanged. For once, I am not 100% convinced on the quality.

Flipkart AOM

 

Incident 2: Read More

Wordcamp Mumbai #WCMumbai 2014

Annkur Wordcamp Mumbai

After missing the first Wordcamp India (Delhi) in 2009, last year I got an opportunity to attend the my first Wordcamp at Pune. I got introduced to a whole new set of like minded junta (yet the ones who would blow me away with their talent, creativity & lightheartedness). I also travelled to Baroda to participate at Wordcamp earlier this year and when WC finally arrived to hometown Mumbai, I couldn’t wait to see how the participants mix here would be.

From what I saw, this was one of the only events in Mumbai with more developers than non techies (success or failure?). Wordcamp by its nature attracts a lot of community folks from across the country and that is something I really love. People traveling from Kolkata, Lucknow, all parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra for an event = wow. The Mumbai organizers surely did great by keeping the ticket pricing at Rs 300 (or pay whatever you like over 300) – cheers to Gounder, Kane and the team!  Read More

Brilliant Read: Siddhartha

Siddhartha Annkur

You may or may not have got a copy of Siddhartha (by Hermann Hesse) from me, but you should definitely go and get one right now. A quick but very powerful read. Sharing two of my favourite paragraphs:

“I have not doubted for a single moment that you are Buddha, that you have reached the goal, the highest goal towards which so many thousands of Brahmans and sons of Brahmans are heading. You have found salvation from death. It has come to you in the course of your own search, on your own path, through thoughts, through meditation, through realisations, through enlightenment. It has not come to you by means of teachings! You will not be able to convey to anybody, O venerable one, in words and through teachings, what has happened to you in the hour of enlightenment!”

—–

“Perhaps that you are searching far too much? That in all the searching, you don’t find the time for finding? … When someone is searching then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, O venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of you.”

- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

ps: if you haven’t subscribed to email alerts from me, do it now :)

 

Being A Good Person

Good article on Medium by Gary Vaynerchuk

I’m just not like that, and that allows me to play through and keep giving. What I love best about this is that it allows me to be extremely happy 99.99% of the time. Lack of expectation and generosity are two very lucky traits I have, and they’re something that I implore more of you to focus on.

 

Miss Universe

I spoke to her in my dreams last night. Calm and curious as always she asked me about life in California, food and people I met. I told her everything I could, even the imaginary cricket match on the beach at half moon bay. Looking for the smile on her face, I wondered if I needed to really ask her anything.

The faint smile on her face hinted something, as if she has completed a race and I am still finding my way. She challenged me with my own philosophies, as if she remembered everything I ever told her. Unusual, yet so polite and honest that I need not feel threatened. I answered nevertheless. Clarified myself for once.

She smiled.

Obamaland, again!

// random personal blog post starts

After the first and rather lonely visit to Ameericaaa in 2010, I didn’t think I would make it back to Obamaland so soon. By some accident I got pulled into a business accelerator in California and ended up spending close to four months there. This time around, I was largely on my own, with no family house to live in and no wonderful cooks to serve me Indian food. Survival was tough.

My age old wish to live on my own could have been a little less challenging though. Finding my way to cheap vegetarian food, looking up accommodation, making breakfast (if time permitted), washing the dishes, laundry and walking down a few kms daily to reach work did take up a good amount of time and energy. Having to spend in USD wasn’t all that easy either. But it wasn’t too bad, weekend getaways to cousins and some very friendly locals made moi life very easy at times.

There are lessons from this travel that I would remember for a lifetime. Some personal, some about the world we live in.

Money Is A Commodity – Before I flew to Americaa, Sampad of Instamojo told me that money in US is a commodity. Unlike the necessity that it is in India. I found that people there are generous, not keen on making an extra buck from you and the life there isn’t as much of a struggle to just meet their daily needs. No working on weekends and party mood as soon as Friday evening arrives. What I also learnt is that money is easy to lose, you need to ask why you are being charged, figure how to save and you will find that the systems / decorated welcomes are built by smart businessmen who want to make extra buck from you.

On Silicon Valley – I am often asked about the Silicon Valley culture vs India. Is it really that magical? Well, Yes and No. You need to work equally hard, in fact harder than India to survive in Silicon Valley. The competition is crazy. To find support for your business, there are enough good people to talk to in India and they are as talented as the ones in Silicon Valley. The only difference is the density. The number of awesome people are just higher in Silicon Valley. But if you network well In India, you won’t miss out on the awesome mentors :)

On People - I continue to be bad at making friends within large groups of people just as I was in school and college :) But start talking work and I click. Bad.

My Meme still holds true - and there are sooo many tall ladies In Americaaaaa! I was constantly fidaaaaaaa.

Cherish friends who understand your silence – I can’t believe that I didn’t call any of my close friends even once when away all these months. And somehow they knew that I am busy and I miss them a lot. And of course there are friends who kept up with me extensively, writing long emails – sharing with me the state of Mumbai rains, asking me about my accent and adjusting to the new circle of colleagues / friends and my challenges in general. Colleagues back in Mumbai had their occasional frustrations with my absence but they kept silent all along and managed without me. I am grateful to the ones who understand my silence and the ones who of course understand the difference between when I say hmm vs hmmmmmmm :)

Nothing beats the beauty of nature – As much as I love to get my hands on a latest gadget or technology, there is nothing that gives me more peace and happiness than going to the peaceful beaches in California or Niagara falls as I did in 2010. Nature’s beauty continues to stun me.

Strangers and blessings - I have often struggled to understand why so many awesome people on this planet are so good to me. I met my share of such amazing ones in obamaland too. Be it the ladies who would call me home and serve me great food or the ones at office who kept encouraging me to keep smiling. And the mentors who would for no reason and no possible gain from me give me hours and hours of their time, pay for my dinner / coffee and even drop me back home when I would have no other transport. I am blessed. I shall do my bit to give back to the world.

I made the mistake of not carrying a camera on my last trip to US, those pictures in my eyes are fresh as ever, but here are a few from 2013:  Read More