We have just launched http://www.fatdoor.com/ at Ignite Where 2.0 and we are live in Silicon Valley. If you live in the area, sign-up to “get to know your neighbors”; if you are not in the area, sign-up for an invitation – we are going to open up for different geographic areas soon.
Just like Microsoft, Google is a great company to work for – but – I’m not joining Google. I’m joining a much much smaller (only in size) startup company.
I will be writing more about what I will be doing in near future but for sure we will be embracing Microsoft platforms in a big way (including Microsoft Virtual Earth! 🙂
I have made the difficult decision of leaving Microsoft and today is my last day; will be soon moving to Palo Alto to join my new employer.
Will keep you posted here on my blog as things progress further.
Before you start reading this, I recommend you read Paul Graham’s “Why Startups Condense in America” because I keep referring to it in this post.
So, can we ever have a Silicon Valley in India? As Paul says, to create startups the basic ingredients that you need are nerds and rich people. I’ve been to both Bangalore and Hyderabad – both have great schools (granted Bangalore has IISc and that’s one of a kind on the planet so it has an edge over Hyderabad – but this is not about Hyderabad vs. Bangalore) and both have rich people from the IT boom in India – so is that enough to create a right mix to start startups? No, not quite.
There are a couple of things that going for America: they are not too fussy and they have a huge domestic market. In India to start a company you have to jump through hoops – at least that was my experience back in 1997, I was just out of school and I remember all the hoops that we had to jump through to incorporate a business. And then India has no domestic market, not yet at least. Even if you want to start a company that targets international markets you need exposure to the right problem set in right time – which is impossible to get when you are in school. Even after joining a company as an employee after schooling, mostly we teach how to build a software services company but not a startup or a software products company. So the typical formula that Paul Graham sets for startups, that startups are started by young people that target a domestic market falls apart for India. So how do we create right environment with right nerds that are backed by right investors?
In my mind, to create such an environment, you need keep this following three things in mind:
1. Products not Services: Indian software market is solely made up of services – not products; to create a startup environment, we need to think of more products than services. Knowledge in this area is a must for India to build right products for right markets in the right time. The only way for India to grown in this area is to see an influx of successful NRI’s (preferably from valley) either moving to India or sharing their knowledge in Indian schools by being part of some sort of “visiting staff”. Services business does not scale well if you are into creating value instead of generating $.
2. Wealth not Money: Services business create money (in Rs or $) for each line of code you write – but a great product creates wealth (and money as a return) over a period of time by proving its value in the market. Most of the young engineers in India fall for “making money” game instead of thinking of creating wealth (and value) in the software markets. Nothing wrong in making money, but creating wealth is far more powerful than creating money. Creating wealth reflects on the society and lives of others, where as money only creates better living for individuals.
3. Entrepreneurship not Employment: Indian schools teach us a great deal about how to get a job – but I have rarely seen focus on entrepreneurship (even in business schools). Even in IIMs, to my surprise, the focus is on campus placements rather than bootstrapping companies and building businesses. It almost seems like we have given up the idea of creating employment and look for employment. I think this is where the schools should perhaps revamp their curriculum to coach students to think towards creating wealth instead of making $100K straight out school. The only way you can do this is by creating an environment around schools where rich and nerds can hang-out (like restaurants in Palo-Alto in the Valley).
We have many smart people that are driven and risk taking – but very few of them actually venture into starting their own companies because there is no proper coaching either from schools or from the society to think in that direction. If we cannot parlay our success in software services into building global software products, we simply cannot sustain the growth. To see a better India, I think we need to focus on building value in our software sector that leads to the creation of nerds-rich-startup cycle. Hopefully, we are not too far from it.
Scoble’s foray into video blogging is felt all across the web – and there is a reason for it. Scoble is known for his content. He has done it with his blog before his Microsoft days, he did at Microsoft with Channel 9 and now at PodTech. When I talked about it in my post regarding “what’s next for Scoble” this is exactly what I had in my mind – a TV Show – I even remember asking him about it. There is no doubt that Scoble will be successful in this venture – and it’s great to see that he already talks about the things to improve about his show – but there are a couple of things that are missing from the list and here they are:
1. Site is too slow: I’m pretty sure that the PodTech team is already working on it but they need to scale for the upcoming flood of traffic 🙂 – this is a good problem to have but they need to be quick to solve this.
2. Site’s design: Not sure how PodTech designers plan to scale the design for Scoble’s wide verity of up-coming content but they need to work on basic usability aspects to categorize content (beyond tags) and search (including video search!).
3. Ability to link and host video’s from other’s blogs: If I’m going to link to Scoble’s language war’s video talk, I want to be able to post a snippet or even entire video link from my blog (similar to: YouTube or Google Video). Sure I can’ link using the permalink but it does not work well for rich media content like ScobleShow!
4. Content: Finally, this is about the content itself. I said before Scoble is known for his content in the past and his speciality lies in covering the content that other’s haven’t covered before – and I hope he continues that with his ScobleShow. But when I see the list of people that he wants us to pick from all I see folks that are being covered by tons of other channels, magazines and media – so Scoble should probably continue on his original style of talking to the un-sung heroes behind many successes (like he did at Channel 9 @ Microsoft) and introducing them to the world. That’s how I at least see ScobleShow is different from other 100’s of tech video blogs and channels around.
Having said all that, Scoble is an early indicator of where the the blogging and the media is heading to – way to go Robert, congratulations!
I have decided to move to a new blogging tool and hence changed a bunch of stuff in the back-end; so if you are looking for my old blog content, please look here.