Michigan Diaries: Transition and the First post

You just can’t get enough of the early days of a place you’ve never visited before. Its almost 12 days since I reached US to start a new journey and the excitement is still on. Firstly, Boston for a week at a distant relative’s place and then the anticipated Ann Arbor to attend University of Michigan’s Masters of Entrepreneurship program involving Ross School of Business and College of Engineering. 

It always takes time to setup things in a new place. But, the transition has been really smooth because of distant selfless friends living here. I couldn’t be more grateful to them, for they prevented me from the underlying homesickness that comes in the early few days. Settling down is an important virtue to be productive and get going! Hence, I couldn’t stop myself enrolling in the Ross’s Kresge Library and subscribe to the book The First 90 days by Michael Watkins. A book on accelerating transition and implementing set rules to achieve the maximum in the first 90 days of your career transition. 

The city of Ann Arbor is indeed beautiful and home to the University of Michigan. The university employs the maximum number of people in Ann Arbor, almost 35000. The University is comprised into three campuses: Central, North and South. Few iconic buildings that I have been too are the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, which is the most sustainable green building of a business school and the majestic and Hogwarts lookalike Law Library (the place I am writing this post from). This library is the most quietest place on the campus of more than 20,000 acres spread and I cannot stop writing! 

I will be starting a blog-post series of my experiences and take-backs from the program and keep posting it under a new tab. I will enjoy my weekend till I start my Orientation and Bootcamp tomorrow. See you soon! 

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.

Startup resources and tools: Updated.

Here’s the list of startup resources and tools, which has been updated over months of tolling over the web.

Go through the link: http://buzzeratbiz.com/startup-resources/

I will keep updating these resources every month.


How to Ideate and Go lean!

As Victor Hugo remarked, There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

The Idea: The idea is an iterative process of the mind, which develops over purpose, utility, imagination and design. Each raw idea goes then to the concept of validity and its feasibility in the marketplace. The idea then goes to the design thinking mind mapping process, where the idea is distributed like algorithmic process and enhances connections between the idea stage to the development stage to the product-market fit stage to customer acquisition stage.

Ideation Platform: One of the finest ideation platform is designed by Silicon valley serial Entrepreneur and founder of Lean Startup movement, Steve Blank. Steve Blank has proposed the LeanLaunchPad (www.leanlaunchpad.com) for educators, researchers and entrepreneurs to track down the complete ideation to customer ready prototype process in the Business Model Canvas platform, which questions the effectiveness of the static business plans that ends up as on-paper forecasting mechanism and fails to move ahead to create real business impact.

Customer Development/Pricing Model: As Mark Tyson said, Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, it holds true for startups that meet their customers for the first time. So, a set business model till the end without any tweaks and feedbacks will mostly result into a disastrous and not disruptive business model. The customer development process requires start to end iteration over their product launch and from valuable feedbacks from friends, relatives, suppliers, manufacturers, designers to the end customers. The economics of these feedbacks will then result into a better product and holds up the competition between players in the same industry over innovation and tweak-to-ready business models. As we collectively decide the market forces that affect us, the pricing model should also be the result of these feedback amplification process. A right pricing model determines largely the revenues over year per unit/service sold and the first 48-hour launch sales will introduce how the product is positioned in the market and in the social blogosphere. The pricing models should be varied and ranked with the different features the product provides and the value it creates in the end. The human tendency to react to several products with variable features make the product-market fit more predictable. The distribution channels and more affordable customer acquisition strategies are to be tweaked according the responses and interactions directly with the customer.

Lean Development: The ‘going out in the crowd’ approach will help rebuild and re-enhance the product development process using those customer feedbacks and will help in building the distribution channels and more effective and affordable ways to acquire more customers. According to the Lean Startup, the small tweaks in the product are referred as ‘iterations’ and larger, significant tweaks are referred as ‘pivots’. The value proposition of the startup/project has to be defined keeping in mind the larger impact the product is envisioned to make, like the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of any organization. A scalable, repeatable hypothesis of the business models is the foundation of the Lean Startup movement.

Here’s the Lean Launchpad Methodology proposed by Steve Blank for educators and entrepreneurs.

Other articles related to Lean Startup: 

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.


The Startup Genome


Entrepreneurship (Photo credit: Michael Lewkowitz)

We have been hearing a lot in the Startup Space, how the world is turning towards Entrepreneurship and how is Silicon Valley turning silicon into gold. From now, I will write about Startups in General and provide useful links and resources from an Entrepreneur’s perspective. I have been interested in this domain since almost 4 years and have been reading stuffs around the internet globe over quite some time. The time is now to share and collaborate over different ideas.

There are people who generally ask when is the right time to start? If you ask me the answer would be right now. Though over time constraints and other priorities I haven’t been able to startup my own venture. But I am on the learning curve. The DNA of a startup guy is profound, undesirable and uncanny. And I believe anyone can be that ‘Startup Guy’. If you believe you have an idea which can make a difference than its time to go for it. Need not wait for things to happen automatically or you may find someone else working on your idea and doing it for you. And trust me that is one thing which you don’t want in your DNA. The acceptance that your idea has already been worked on. That is one thing you might regret by the end of your life.

The urge of creating new is on everyone’s list, but time loses its grip and we tend to satisfy ourselves with financial stability, family needs and that sweet juice of comfort. One thing I have learned over time that Starting up is never comfortable and many lose out in the process. The only gene of that Startup Guy that he will find that uncomfortable moments the road to creating products and services which will change the world in bit, byte or terra-bytes.

Its time to be uncomfortable and find that startup gene in you. Else you will master the art of not creating something and adjusting everything. I am too young to say this, but I am sure the experienced ones won’t beg to differ.

And just when I think I will lead that uncomfortable life,  I will read this post to remind myself what I just said.

The Entrepreneurial India

Entrepreneurship is an intuition game. 

India is a blessing in disguise for its youth (below 35) in the population of 1.2 Billion. It’s not only creating a generation of those young entrepreneurs but also creating a rampant behavior in expanding the workforce from the current 435 million. These entrepreneurs are not just adding to the employment statistics in India but also exploring into different sectors like Social entrepreneurship, Rural management, Supply Chain, Logistics, Consultancy , Product based services, Web-based services, ICTs, Social media, Green Energy and much more. The concept of Entrepreneurship is reciprocating and collaborative over innovation. Its storming like a wave in the thunder.

Today, the youth in India is much more likely to take a risk of getting into a start-up rather than working for a 9 to 6 job. It not just involves risk but also patience and self-realization to understand the dynamics of the particular market before tapping into it. The world has become more entrepreneurial friendly place like never before with globalization’s raising curve and its different sectoral, regional and national perspectives as mentioned by Thomas L Friedmann, in his book The World is Flat. Its more in the sense of satisfaction in working towards something and accomplishing the task no matter how big or small difference it make, but  definitely striking an efficient change in the society. As remarked by Subroto Bagchi from MindTree in The High Performance Entrepreneur, “ that sense of accomplishment is next only to having and raising your baby”.  Moreover, the government and big companies are more subjective to the sense of entrepreneurship and are rationally developing solutions that can facilitate the consumer experience with a much more diverging and intriguing approach. These entrepreneurs have made India more open to ideas and have motivated young people in the process of constructive nation building.

There are top-ranked management institutes in the nation like IIMs and IITs, which are more focusing on entrepreneurship and product development skills. Organizations like TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), NEN, CIIE ( Center for Incubation for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) at IIM-A etc are fostering the idea of entrepreneurship and empowering the youth through their network and mentorship. Not just this, there are online websites like Dare, Pluggd, Yourstory.in and many more which are engaging the entrepreneurs online with their latest research and news.

With more youngsters joining their family owned business, there is a glut in idea of entrepreneurship in their core propositional competency. Post which, the India in 2025, will be number one leader in the emerging markets, as we are always known as culture in diversity, now with a multitude of entrepreneurial insights and approaches. More done than said, India is becoming highly entrepreneurial in diversified sectors, and will soon has its differentiation from the approach in the west. And this India will see itself barring away from the clutches of poverty and unemployment, and heading towards a more sustainable society.

As we all know, it’s all about staying hungry, foolish and starting it up.