Your startup and market development process


When startups have figured out where they fit in the value chain process of their technology from the build to the consumers, they need to get out the building to talk to the customers. One of the stages is to identify where to fit in the market development process.

An interesting idea has been evaluated by Geoffrey A. Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm on different stages of market development. Quick look through it while you identify where your startup lies in the phase if it’s selling a product or something at all.

Check where you fit in, who your customers are and pivot your way through the complete buyer cycle to be a successful business.

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Why we buy what we buy and sell what we sell?


I have been in a lot of situations with my friends where I have debated about my craze and love for Apple products. And I always tell them it just doesn’t feel right to buy some other competitive products, no matter how good the specification is or value of money it be. I invest into buying the products thinking about the long-term and intrinsic value it creates. I came across this video at the Bootcamp session in the first week of the Master of Entrepreneurship Class and it just iterated and explained exactly how I feel about products I buy and the services I have subscribed to.

The idea of Golden circle: Why, What and How should exactly be the criteria of thinking about growing your business or buying products and services from other businesses. And that makes all the difference!

Sorry for irregular posts, I have never dealt with such a crazy schedule before. And that is my learning curve in gaining the social, developmental, technical and managerial skills all in one go!

And coincidently, one of the missions of Ross School of Business is Action based Leadership! Enjoy this awesome video.

[http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html]

How Physics build the concept of Entrepreneurship: The inside story.


Entrepreneurship, as most of us believe is not a recent phenomena but has a vast history of ideas, inventions and intersections beginning from the early 19th Century world of physics. It all started with a thought when law of classical mechanics and thermodynamics had been already established through various experiments by the likes of Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Bernoulli, Cavendish, Franklin and Lagrange. Just when these ideas of fundamental science of motion flourished, better ideas came through. As the horizontal base of the pyramid was set, vertical growth was imperative and inevitable.

The one idea, which started the era of entrepreneurship, was the invention of electric battery by Alessandro Volta in 1800. This invention led to more discoveries by Ampere and Ohm who further demonstrated the parallel electric currents exerted forces on each other and relationship between voltage, current and resistance respectively, which is the basis of fundamental electrodynamics. Just when Thomas Young demonstrated the wave nature of light, understanding of principle of interference and superposition developed. It all made sense, when Michael Faraday built an electricity powered motor in 1821 and formed the basis of current through magnetism i.e electromagnetic induction. Ideas evolved then on the basis of other ideas. Isn’t that entrepreneurship already in true sense? An idea Faraday proposed regarding electromagnetic forces was rejected by the scientific community, which was later accepted by the rest of the world and still forms the development of electromechanical devices that ruled the 19th Century engineering.

Meanwhile, in the field of thermodynamics Joule and Mayer worked on the connection between heat and mechanical energy. This connection was important for the development of steam engines. Carnot captured these basic ideas to form the dynamics of idealized engines and these ideas hold to formulate the most important idea of First Law of Thermodynamics. This led to the second law of Thermodynamics and so on by Kelvin and Clausius. Just when Maxwell through his ideas carried forward the idea of electricity and magnetism, Hertz experimentally confirmed those theories and discovered the photoelectric effect, which led to the invention of radio and television. These ideas were then carried forward by Nikola Tesla and Jagdishchandra Bose to further develop the ecosystem with different ideas. This is how physics led to application based engineering in the time when technology was not mainstream.

If this culture wasn’t prevailing then, the emergence of the 19th Century’s finest entrepreneurs, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison wouldn’t have been possible. During late 1870’s, Henry Ford started working as a machinist in Detroit, USA dealing with portable steam engines while Edison formed his Edison Electric Light company patenting electric light bulbs. By then, Edison had already invented phonograph and telegraph, which changed the way world communicated. With his creation of the first ever industrial research Lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Edison then quoted “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn the candles”. And this still holds true in our time, where candles are expensive than electricity. Edison also invented the motion picture camera. Thank god, he did!

On the other hand, Henry Ford became an engineer at Edison Illuminating Company where he used to work on his personal automobile experiments and his creation of a self-propelled vehicle called Ford Quadricycle. He was then introduced to Edison through a group meeting, where Edison encouraged him to work on his second vehicle. Soon, after his completion of the second project, Ford left Edison’s company to start Detroit Automobile Company with capital from a baron, William Murphy. Ultimately, that company was dissolved and with the invention of 26 horsepower automobile, the backers formed Henry Ford Company with Ford as the chief engineer. The rest, as they say is history. The inventor-entrepreneur philosophy emerged in the beginning of the 20th Century, when a sizable number of physicists were forming companies in the tune to change the world.

As the culture progressed, with the world facing two disastrous wars, one in 1914-18 and the other in 1939-45, these gave the necessity to nations forming different aerial and ground-breaking technologies, primarily to use against each other. They say, necessity gives rise to inventions. And this necessity lead nations to develop what is going to be constructive and in lives of all in the near future. The Second World War held the genesis of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, when Americans entered WWII in 1941. This war was literally an electronic war, where nations were battling with each other with different bombing and radar based technologies. Each nation, primarily Germany and USA, built different types of radars, to block and pursue efficient communication with their bases regarding the movements of the opposite camp’s defense. This lead to the formation of Harvard Radio Research Lab in US to understand the signals intelligence and develop electronic warfare. This secret lab was headed by Dr. Fredrick Terman, who was the Dean of Department of Engineering at Stanford University.

The Stanford director, due to the pressure from the government and the culture shift, encouraged students to turn to entrepreneurship and start their own companies. The students included William Hewlett and David Packard, who went on to start HP Computers. Since then scientific research and development in the universities across US begun to flourish and became the precursor to the beginning of 20th Century entrepreneurship. The idea of open-source mentality among the physicists led to the widening developments in science and technology entrepreneurship. After the WWII, Terman’s strategy included the setup of Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) to promote basic and unclassified research in building radars, power-tubes and jammers. Soon after the setup of Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL) and the merge of both ERL and AEL became Systems Engineering Laboratory (SRL) at Stanford. It was then, different microwave and systems companies emerged in Silicon Valley to produce equipments for the US defense. And that was the mark of beginning of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.

After the independence in 1947, India was at the forefront of social and political havoc, but the ideology among Indian entrepreneurs despite that did not change and they invested in their own independent nation for a better future. One of those entrepreneurs was Vikram Sarabhai, who after studying natural sciences at Cambridge returned to India to set up a research institution, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. He was the founder of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and pursued the government of India to start a space research program, when Russia just launched Sputnik into the space. Moreover, he was also one of the founding members of one of the premier institutes in India, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. He was a physicist turned entrepreneur. And India is highly indebted to him for what his vision has given to the country. The idea of Entrepreneurship by then had already established by the pioneers G.D Birla and J.R.D Tata. A new wave of entrepreneurship emerged in India as a consequence of the existing business tradition and culture.

As different electronics companies emerged in the Silicon Valley in the mid 1950s, William Shockley, who was the director of anti-submarine warfare operations group at Columbia in 1942-43 and Solid State Physics group leader, co-invented the first point contact transistor with help with Bell Labs. He was then jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956. By then, Shockley has already founded Shockley semiconductor in 1955, which was the first semiconductor company in California. The traitorous eight which included Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Sheldon Roberts who were the youngest employees at the firm demanded to replace Shockley from the management team and eventually left Shockley semiconductor to start Fairchild Semiconductor. Eventually, Moore and Noyce left Fairchild to start Integrated Electronics (Intel) and others started Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Though Shockley maybe a bad manager, but he was a great researcher and someone who laid the foundation of chip companies, which dominated the industry for the next 20 years. The 65 chip companies which were founded came from the first and second generation teams at Shockley Semiconductor. Some entrepreneurs have the tendency to make other entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer and freedom to work on their projects. Knowingly or unknowingly, he made a lot of entrepreneurs under his own belt. In true sense, Shockley was the father of the Silicon Valley, the valley that revolutionized the world of electronics.

Gordon Moore, who was a chemist and physicist and Robert Noyce, who was a physicist and co-inventor of integrated circuits, started Intel after leaving Fairchild Semiconductor with capital investment from Arthur Rock. With Intel breaking the barrier, the world changed with the inbound of microprocessors and micro controllers, the most important components of CPU used in the computers. And we all know what happened after that! (The device on which you are reading this post).

Physicists have been old hands at entrepreneurship. Today, more physicists than ever are involved in different startups all over the world either as founders or employees. Startups are inventing different physics based innovations and products, since Patenting and Intellectual Property law in US are adopted in the culture and has become popular among the early stage startups. One of the Entrepreneur who is considered as the next generation Steve Jobs, is Elon Musk. Elon has studied physics as his second bachelors degree from University of Pennsylvania and is the founder of SpaceX, who’s one of the mission is to find life at Mars by 2020, and is best known as the co-founder of online payment giant, PayPal and electric vehicles manufacturer, Tesla Motors. The interests he developed over rocket technologies and clean technologies were due to his aptitude and love for physics, and he credits the subject for all what he is today.

Today, entrepreneurship is popular among scientists and young PHDs and more people from physics background are starting disruptive technology based startups. Though starting a technology company is a complex operation and takes time to reach the break-even, the success is the idea where solid businesses endure over time, generate steady employment, develop intellectual property and conduct a mix of R&D for game-changing commercial results. To all what we see and experience today is the result of works and theories by thousands of scientists over last two centuries and the ones who implemented those works in building the future. Theories connected with realism of behavior, materials, systems and devices, and technologies erupted like the volcano. The horizontal base of physics and nature of sciences has been creating the way for our vertical future. And Entrepreneurs are the ones adapting it.

Freedom of ideas: Self or Society?


I went to a Tarot Card reader yesterday, just to curiously know what my life has to offer me with those pattern of chosen cards. The reader glanced me and told me “You have the freedom to grow and pursue your dreams, but you are holding back somewhere just because you are dual in your thoughts. If you focus on one thing important, you will grow as a person”. I realized, she was kind of right. It happens with all of us.

Somewhere, in our life’s turns and burns, we all get into a situation where duality creeps upon us. Not that we want it to happen, but forces and situations around make it happen. To know, what exactly we are capable of, we need to get ourselves from the dual nature of self and society. Today, people dream thinking more what is suitable for the society around us and not what we are actually passionate of. These dreams take a shape of an unborn child and the opportunity passes away. To get the right click in the right time, we need to be clear in our thoughts and pursue the least trodden path to achieve what we do in dreams, accurately.

Clarity holds a person and gives direction. I remember an old age adage “A stitch in time saves nine”, which holds true with the true sense of freedom. Freedom is not just pursuing your own life, but creating a balance with the self and the society around. We stop after achieving a certain level of clarity because we feel the society around see us with enough respect. And our dreams are eventually shrinks to what our society thinks it should be, and that is when dreams die and world-denting ideas perish. We need to struggle till the end of our dream, and that is our freedom.

In business/job/startup, we know our freedom is more or less based on our ideas. Some ideas suffocate to die inside us and other make a way to the world and change it, till we execute it. Why is then our ideas don’t initiate and the freedom is not free? Because, like the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, our ideas are uncertain with the linkage of our self and the bond with the society. We get momentum, we lose track of our idea’s position. We get position, we lose track of our freedom’s momentum.

So, taking back from what the Tarot card reader said, the dreams which are fulfilled are in true nature, the reflection of self to the society and they are to be pursued and to be struggled upon despite the limitations to our freedom, and tending to infinity boundaries to our ideas. 

Life and its Power of Compounding.


If you have taken a class of Finance 101, you might be aware of the consequences when we compound a present value to future value over a particular interest rate with the number of periods. That’s when, Finance turns into Magic. Let me give you an example, if someone invested $24 in buying Manhattan Islands in 1626, and over the years the interest rate, lets say is 6%, the value of Manhattan Islands today would be $240 Billion! This is the power of compounding.

We know our life today is the result of our efforts in the past. The interest rates is the result of our collective efforts. High interest rates symbolizes more efforts. More the efforts, better the gain. That’s when we know our life is being compounded each day. Let luck be the inflation! It goes up and down, but never comes in a way to our efforts. So, a lesson that Finance 101 teaches us, our efforts today will have a future value that is much more significant we can ever imagine. And luck is just a part and parcel, in some value more or less in the future.

Coming to what, we call it the Life Mantra. Think, if you can run away from the power of compounding, if you can’t, you need to take a Finance 101 class and discover the philosophical side of your life’s efforts to give and its expensive fruits to eat.

 

Silver lining endings, always?


Today, I saw a finest connect in the movie Silver Linings Playbook, and a quote struck me. Thought of sharing it here, think about it.

The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday, that’s guaranteed. And I can’t begin to explain that, or the craziness inside myself and everybody else, but guess what? Sunday is my favorite day again. I think of everything everyone did for me and I feel like a very lucky guy.

Said by Pat almost at the climax in the movie.

Is there always a sunday to every story? Are there silver linings to all your endeavors? Something we have to think about while we try accomplish something so hard, that everything we could ever wish is to make it positive till the end and finally, after drenching out in sweat, mind and heart, we get there. That’s the feeling no one could ever want to miss in their life.

I have this same feeling today, while I am admitted to Masters in Entrepreneurship program at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Department of Engineering. And somehow, everything I did in the last 5 years connected the dots to achieve this. God’s been kind, and people supportive. All those good quotes I have ever heard makes more sense to me now and with that I am just enjoying my Sunday. A silver lining to a beginning of my journey. And I am sure, you had yours or waiting for it, believe in yourself and you will get a silver lining at the horizon. If not, a golden lining is destined for you. You are the Entrepreneur of your life. 

The Three kinds of Entrepreneurs


I read this most amazing quote today by the founder and CEO of Mu Sigma Mr. Dhiraj Rajaram. Mu Sigma is a billion dollar company in data analytics and is known to manifest entrepreneurial growth through the data scientists it makes out of programmers, analysts and applied Mathematicians.

He draws a relationship between the types of entrepreneurs and the two main kinds of marriages in India. He says, “ There are two kinds of entrepreneurs. One are arranged marriage entrepreneurs and the other are love marriage entrepreneurs.

“The arranged marriage entrepreneurs are the ones who want to be entrepreneurs and they look for the right business. They shop around. They try out different ideas. They sit in Starbucks and meet with people. They talk to VCs, raise money and sometimes even exit. And like many arranged marriages they have beautiful endings.”


“The second kind of entrepreneur is the Love marriage entrepreneur. He is somebody who has found a girl and wants to live with that girl. And as part of that he is ready to get married with that girl. The girl is the idea. I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to work on that idea.”

 

This analogy is indeed very true in the entrepreneurial context in India. There are always two sides of the coin. One side, which will always look for good ideas and create a business out of it. The other side, has already found out the idea and wants to work on it for the rest of his life. What do you think is more transformational? I say, its both. Both kind of entrepreneurs are needed in the startup ecosystem. One fosters competition and other fosters innovation. Both of which are necessary for a healthy startup scene.

I love the fact, that these two kind of entrepreneurs can be anyone. There are no set rules to become an Entrepreneur. Anyone can opt Arranged marriage, Love marriage or In India, Arranged cum Love marriage, which is the best bet and the hybrid third type of an Entrepreneur. To all those people, who never thought of marriage, marry your love and arrange it.