App Developers, Make Hay While the Sun Shines

27th Aug 2010
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Nasscom

My Day at the NASSCOM EMERGEOUT ConclaveView from the Sidelines by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy

The NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave at New Delhi on August 25 was overflowing with emerging companies, techies, entrepreneurs, and curiosity-filled professionals. Braving the downpour that blinded drivers as they drove through smashing rains, the hall was full for the keynote speeches in the morning. A few things stuck me as I stayed through the day with the proceedings.

Google for travel and seamless shift to cloud

As I entered the League of Ten showcase among the EMERGE 50 companies, I made a pitstop at the iXiGo.com stall to have a small chat with its CEO Aloke Bajpai. Interestingly they had displayed the t-shirt with their logo on the back for branding the booth. iXiGo is the Google for travel. You get the best prices for airlines, bus travel, and accommodation. iXiGo uses the original airlines sites and partners with hotels for accommodation searches.

Suresh of 8K miles facilitates startups to seamlessly move to the cloud without affecting their existing infrastructure. This seems to be a good idea as more startups are likely to adopt cloud to park their data in the future both for cost effectiveness and possibility of scaling. The League of Ten had good companies but as the keynote was in the offing, I abandoned the stall visits.

Hero of Internet in India

It is rather cliche to call Deep Kalra the hero. But his journey could resemble a Bollywood flick. The hero confronts many obstacles before he finally succeeds. If you consider the time MakeMyTrip was born, you could hardly have believed that one could survive in an Internet business after a crash of the dotcom businesses. But Deep Kalra was not the one who would easily give up. He said that it was his first appearance in a meeting after roadshows for MakeMyTrip.com's listing on the Nasdaq. When he introduced Vinay Goel of Google India, he said, "This is the best time for emerging companies in India." He also was happy to hear that the Indian story is catching in other parts of the world. During his roadshows, he was able to find a keen interest about India in the rest of the world.

Disruption through Technology and App Developers are the future

After Vinay Goel finished giving his predictions about Internet in India, I asked him as I met him after the meeting what he thinks will Internet do and what businesses are likely to vanish with the advent of Internet? He said that is hard to predict but mobile TV will catch up and perhaps make the TV irrelevant. At Rs. 20 an hour for usage, you can watch the TV on the mobile whereas a TV set may cost something like Rs. 20,000.

App developers are the next blue-eyed boys of the industry with Intel encouraging them through its Atom program and also BlackBerry offering a slew of incentives for app developers. The possibilities are far too many for app developers who can take advantage of the present enabling scenario to benefit. Entrepreneurs can derive huge benefits from customer-focused apps. Christos Georgiopoulos, Intel's general manager, who delivered a keynote on apps in the compute continuum was able to throw light on a continuum that is developing due to convergence of Internet, mobile, and the handsets (mobiles becoming mini computing devices) and how app developers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this continuum.

Funding for SMEs

In the panel on funding for SMEs, moderated by Anupama Arya, Mobera Systems, Divyank Turakhia was the star. A pioneer, hardly aged 20 (only my guess), is worth $300 million. Forget that! The amazing clarity that he brings to the table is something that confronts you as he dwelt upon in length about bootstrapping vs. funding. He said: "VCs would love to invest in businesses that scale." True. Then he added: "If you believe your business can scale, why do you need VCs?" completely taking the audience by surprise. He then went on to provide a perspective on when to approach a VC and when not to. The clarity of thought is so obvious. I am resisting my temptation to call him a kid. He doesn't seem to be one. He can challenge the conventional wisdom through his incisive thinking.

I just briefly caught up with Anupama Arya, the product software techie and founder of Mobera Systems. What stuck me was how can a woman techie be so passionate about a space that is not obviously the blue chip sector in the services-dominant IT economy. She rather jocularly said something should be wrong in the way she thinks. But she has real guts to persist in a tier-II city Chandigarh. I also asked her how she managed to find talent. She said initially she couldn't and she had to prepare talent through training. I was simply dumbfounded.

Groping in the dark to find the number of buses

In the panel discussion moderated by Sanjeev Bikchandani on Web 2.0 entrepreneurs, Phanindra Sama gave a rather unconventional insight into how redbus went about figuring out the number of buses. They checked the bus stands, approached Ashok Leyland for production figures, and did a lot of other things. It was a hard nut to crack. Then they arrived at a figure of 7.5 lakh seats being available. In the last four years, redbus has sold 20 million seats. So when you are creating an online market for a truly unorganized and scattered sector, the challenges are too big to overcome. But Phani made it finally.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry's Asia Pacific Alliances Director Barnes Lam narrated a story of a man in Korea having six BlackBerrys. The man, who was brought to Lam, was asked why he had so many BBs. He replies one for me, one for my family, one for my wife, one for my mistress... BB has a cult following and I asked Barnes Lam about the latest issues BB is facing with the Indian government. He politely refused to comment and asked to check the BB site for official statements. But he said the issue is very complex and BB is doing all it can to resolve it as early as possible when I told him about a few BB fanatics refusing to live without a BB.

Study on Indian Software Companies

Nidhi Chaudhary is a PhD researcher at the University of Cambridge. She is engaged in the study of Indian software companies and tracking their growth. I think such studies are very important for people to understand how we evolved and the trend of writing being so low in India, Nidhi's research is obviously a great step to educate us on history of software in India.

Trust, the deficit

Suresh Sambandam (OrangeScape founder) and Kishore Mandyam (PK4 Software founder) hosted an unconference as the day wore off to a close. There was an interesting discussion among the trust being in deficit when it comes to hammering out a partnership between a small company and a big company. This session evoked a good response and eager emerging entrepreneurs listed their partnership requests and opportunities.

AppFAME

AppFAME, the top 10 apps showcase, was interesting. SMS Blocker that filters all the spam to notify you about unwanted content in SMS, ImpelCARE that connects remote parts with a doctor through an app, and Camera pro plus, a photo app, that offers a complete photo management suite for mobiles won a netbook each from Intel as they were spotted as the top 3 apps by the jury. Bollywood app for songs (mobile anthakshari), ergonomic keypad, HR mantra mobile app are only a few among the other apps that were showcased.

The buzz was obvious and the crowd, despite the trains, was a testimony to the good work EMERGE Forum is doing to help startups. Avinash Raghava, regional director-north, NASSCOM, comes across as the enthusiast who wants to really see the EMERGE Forum shaping up well. His focus and interest in the endeavor is so obvious and I can see it and I hear it from many tech entrepreneurs.

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