Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lesson learned from CircleDoc project

CircleDoc started as a hobby, born out of frustration with inability to work with others collaboratively when one team member has opened the "file". I was impressed with Google Docs and thought what if such a feature would be available in widely used application such as Microsoft PowerPoint. Using open source technologies such as Openfire Jabber server and IKVM (thank you), product quickly started taking shape. I launched it and LifeHacker picked it up which resulted into decent number of signups.

One lesson I learned from the entire process was that before launching a product, give a serious thought about how you are going to acquire your customers. Technical folks tend to ignore this and go with "build first and they will come" (read Vivek Wadhwa's Entrepreneur: You’re No Steve Jobs, So Look Before You Leap).

Having launched CircleDoc, this is what I am doing, listening to my early adopters and iterating.

Startup idea: Personal Dr.

Real world application I would pay for. Meet Michael, your personal Doctor. Michael knows lot about your lifestyle, your medical history and your goals. If you are about to feel sick or just wanna know about a disease you heard of, pull up Michael and get your questions answered. Frequently Michael comes up in between your TV programs to suggest may you should go for that run.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Designing Business Model

In his talk about Why Accountants Don't Run Startups, Steve Blank highlighted Alex Osterwalder's work on 1 page business model. Its very similar to design patterns in software development. 

Here is my initial take.
Idea is to have many of such business models sketched out. It helps keep all moving parts within context.

Download business model template from
Download 1st chapter of Business Model Generation handbook (Amazon)

Business Models for Startups

I was always confused by the notion of business model/plan as it applies to large companies versus startups.

Steve Blank has an excellent post about it.

A startup is a search for a repeatable and scalable business model.  As a founder you are testing a series of hypotheses about all the pieces of the business model: Who are the customers/users? What’s the distribution channel? How do we price and position the product? How do we create end user demand? Who are our partners? Where/how do we build the product? How do we finance the company, etc.

Also check out this excellent talk about Why Accountants Don't Run Startups he gave at Startup Lessons Learned Conference in San Francisco on April 23, 2010 on Customer Development 2.0.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Too inexperienced to do a startup?

“So, paradoxically, if you’re too inexperienced to start a startup, what you should do is start one. That’s a way more efficient cure for inexperience than a normal job. In fact, getting a normal job may actually make you less able to start a startup, by turning you into a tame animal who thinks he needs an office to work in and a product manager to tell him what software to write.”
Paul Graham

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Recently read Rework and agree with majority of the points made. Here are the best business as compiled by BusinessInsider

  1.  Go: Less mass
  2. Competitors: Who cares what they're doing?
  3. Takedowns: Planning is guessing
  4. Hiring: Resumes are ridiculous
  5. Hiring: Everybody works
  6. Productivity: Long lists don't get done
  7. Productivity: Meetings are toxic
  8. Damage Control: Speed changes everything
  9. Promotion: Marketing is not a department
  10. Promotion: Build an audience
  11. Promotion: Go behind the scenes
  12. Culture: Decisions are temporary
  13. Culture: Sound like you

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mentored by Bruce Dines

Bruce Dines, VP & MD of Technology Investments at Liberty Global Ventures (LinkedIn) was the mentor for week 4 session of Founder's Institute.

Bruce talked about all the questions an entrepreneur should be working on to get the clarity in mind, because if you dont have it, than its going to show up in front of a VC or in the market.

I think pitching an idea to a VC is in best interest of an entrepreneur, especially for a rookie like me. Besides the obvious (walking out the door with a check), VC is the first line of defense. If I can convince a VC to put their money into my venture, I should be able to acquire a paying customer as well.

I ran my pitch after the session with him and he said "so its knowledge management". It helped me understand how VCs have buckets in mind and put ideas into them. Also he gave me a thumbs up for my idea.

Thank you Founder Institute to get Bruce to mentor us. This session was invaluable. And thank you Bruce.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Web app vs Native app

Customer doesnt care what technology functionality is developed upon. Customer wants
  1. Performance
  2. Usability (fluid, intuitive UI)
  3. Offline ability (unreliable networks),
  4. Sense of ownership (my files, my apps - I may be wrong on this but currently this is the perception right now)
Way I see it is following and I am all for Native apps, at least in short term.
  • HTML5 apps - addresses developer's pain
  • Native apps - addresses customer's pain (all of the above)
Couple of relevant quotes from Google IO 2010
"These models are likely to converge in the future. And not the too distant future" - Sergey Brin
"Five years from now this question wouldn’t be a relevant question because it’s going to shift again" - Brad Feld