Startup Founders Are Clerk -2- CEO

I have been thinking this ever since I met Kashyap of Inkfruit at the first Startup Saturday I attended in February 2009. Apparently the founders of Inkfruit have titles like ‘Maharaja’ and ‘Nawab’ instead of CEO and that made me think if a Startup founder should really use a CEO tag?

While it most cases it makes no difference to what business one does, but we do have people who would frown at a CEO tag used in a 5 people company. I wouldn’t care much on what a founder labels himself, but if I am to propose a title, Startup CEO’s are ‘C2C’ (Clerk to CEO). That’s what you really do. The day you have a CEO tag, you are probably a mid-sized company, not a startup anymore 🙂

PS: You can always act like a startup. No matter how big you are.

Startup CXO

The 1-10-50 Rule

Over the past few months a very important side of startup life has been discovered by me. For me and a number of folks around me the journey gets a boost from an Inspirational talk, either in person or YouTube. Yes, the billionaires speaking (or say any large entrepreneur) does give us a push, but the rule I want to put forward for a startup is: 1-10-50 (One Ten Fifty…)

If you are a 1 person company, the best advice and help you will get is from a person running a 10 person company. If you are a 10 person company, your best advice would come from a 50 people company. Go talk to them.

That Reality Distortion Field

The Reality Distortion Field

What does it take for an entrepreneur to succeed? That’s a tough question to answer and there sure isn’t any one factor. But off late I am introduced to the reality distortion field and I believe it is an important bit for any ambitious person (say an entrepreneur or a leader).

Walter Issacson in his Steve Jobs biography talked about the reality distortion field of one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our era and that has left me thinking often about this factor living inside every leader / entrepreneur and perhaps every individual. Walter quotes Andy Hertzfeld from the original Macintosh team (1981):

“The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand”

Steve Jobs had unrealistic expectations (his reality distortion field making him believe that it can happen) and he failed many a times. But in retrospect his reality distortion field worked. We cannot take away from him the successes he has had. But is that reality distortion field only restricted to Mr Jobs? Over the past few days, two separate incidents have shaped my belief that a reality distortion field works within every ambitious person.

In one email a friend (& co-worker) emails me “your admiration for xyz over-weighs so much that you are blinded…” He points that I am not seeing the reality, while I kept arguing that I am devoted to the end goal we are here to achieve, it is working. Somewhere in between both our versions, the distortion field breathed its last… we found a common ground, of course that took a few months to happen.

My learning’s from this incident is that the distortion field gives a pace to things, acts as a shot in the arm for actions. Many continued to be blinded with me and still continue, but in this case my friend managed to bring me closer to reality and I spent a few hours fixing a people issue at hand that I otherwise wouldn’t have done.

The second incident is again a Read More

Startup Weekend: Cambridge To Hyderabad, The Experience

Startup Weekend Cambridge

Back in March (2011) I disappeared for a month to UK and while I spent a month there, there are only two significant things I did. The First being a visit to Stone Henge (picture below) and the other being ‘Startup Weekend Cambridge.’

Startup Weekend is this 54 hours madness that brings together business folks, developers, designers and jack of all trades like me to build a startup over a weekend. Ones with an idea pitch it, voting follows and teams are formed organically. These teams have to come back with a product / prototype / demo / whatever by Sunday evening and present to the judging panel. In march, Startup Weekend, which has as of today done over 100 cities and 250 action packed weekends, came to India.

My friend Pankaj Jain was (he still is) passionately spearheading the India leg of SW and I decided to jump in and help organize Delhi and Bangalore. Events were planned, dates final, lots of pre-event work done and then UK happened at the same time as SW Bangalore and Delhi. And right then, Pjain pointed me to Startup Weekend Cambridge and I signed up for it immediately. So as the folks in India were organizing Bangalore, I participated in Cambridge. Left home with a view of seeing startup action in UK, getting a feel of the event, floating around multiple teams and chilling over the weekend.

What happened was crazy. Read More

Lessons In Customer Service

HDFC Twitter

On a day when I find myself defending two companies who have me as a client since years, I find it so obvious to share this simple lesson on customer service. In any industry it isn’t possible to give 100% satisfaction, something ought to go wrong sometime, somewhere. Specially if you are a bank or a hosting service dealing with large no of users. So I find these two gentlemen one after the other, complaining about their experience with HDFC and Hostgator respectively.

Both HDFC and Hostgator are service providers whom I have been very satisfied with (In fact this site is hosted on Hostgator since inception).  When I saw the first tweet from Ashutosh about HDFC asking for a photo identity for a simple work, I replied and defended HDFC. My defense was partly from my experience and largely in good faith. HDFC has been good to me, not perfect, but generally very good. And I jumped to defend them. Pause.

Take 2. Read More

Indulgilicious

Came across this really inspiring post on OpenCoffeeClub. A couple of college (hostel) girls and their tryst with entrepreneurship.

This is the story of two students in University of Delhi. Happy studying Statistics and Literature with bit monotony was their life. ‘A’ was really passionate about cakes and chocolates. She could bump into any bakers at any hour of the day. It was the only thing she cooked with lots of grace while she was at home. And ‘S’, her dearest friend loved experimenting and encouraging ideas. ‘A’ baptized her virtual Bakers store as “Indulgilicious” with the slightest idea of this coming true. Then comes A’s cousin, the enthusiastic, the illumination and an entrepreneur. ‘A’ blabbered her dreams (Indulgilicious) to him, which would have happened sometime in the future she was not sure about. But her cousin, so like himself, became really serious about the whole thing and they had a long discussion on the same issue. ‘A’ was big time inspired and full on motivated. Then what? Read More

Innocent, Little

There are times I wish this was an anonymous blog. There is so much I want to share and yet I fear its too early to share. Today happens to be a day when I decide to unfold a little of past. A little of me. My about page speaks less of who I am and though it’s meant to be so, here is a little something that I feel necessary to share. Read More

Startup Saturdays / HeadStart – What? Why? How?

Many of you would have been receiving mail from me inviting you to something called ‘Startup Saturdays’. Over the past few years I have been associated with a variety of events – from DJ nites (when I was in college) to NGO activities (Nischay). Over the past few months I have come across this amazing group called HeadStart.

So what is HeadStart? What exactly is StartupSaturday? Why is annkur here? How is it relevant to you/me? – I would take this opportunity to answer all these for you today!

Read More

Do what you love? (Want to be good at?)

We live in a very difficult society. The moment a kid passes out of college you will see all aunties, uncles and any other tom dick and harry asking him and his parents  – So what are you doing? What plans? Job? Mba? Marriage :P? What?

hmmm … If you cannot relate to what I am saying, all this creates a sudden environment of pressure. Its a rat race, actually a DOG race. So is it necessary for one to start planning so deeply as soon as he graduates? Not really! IMO

Read More

There are no Failures, Its just Feedback – (Failure IS an option)

I came across this post today by Jeremyliew “Failure IS an Option” –

The great thing about Silicon Valley has been the entrepreneurial culture, and the acceptance that working for a failed startup is not necessarily a judgement on your character or your ability. But recently there seems to have been a change in attitudes at least amongst some people (trolls?) who are taking joy in the misfortune of others. When a startup closes down, founder’s dreams die. Employees find themselves looking for work, and at least for a period, worrying about paying their bills and supporting their families. This should never be a cause for celebration. [Read Full]

As I always say (Yes Ariginals) – Entrepreneurs are the riders of storm, they venture out in troubled waters …! For any entrepreneur who feels insecured about their ventures these words should set the record straight for you. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IN TRYING!! Atleast you are giving it a shot – Follow your heart, do it, and if it doesn’t work, accept it without any shame.