Indian Entrepreneurs' Exclusive Date With Vinod Khosla At NASSCOM Product Conclave
Even in the Silicon Valley, it should be difficult to get a chance to pitch one-on-one with Vinod Khosla, a path-breaking entrepreneur who co-founded Sun Microsystems and and a legendary investor in clean-tech who wants to change the world with renewable energy. But seven Indian entrepreneurs were lucky enough to get a exclusive date with Vinod Khosla with a one-on-one session of 15 to 20 minutes each at the NASSCOM Product Conclave 2011 where he was also the Keynote speaker. The session was hosted by Bala Parthasarathy of AngelPrime in association with YourStory.in. NASSCOM is eager to bring in such legends from the Silicon Valley to take the Indian product software ecosystem to greater heights. Highly successful entrepreneurs and investors in the Silicon Valley advising, mentoring or offering investment in Indian companies would push the envelope of these companies to become great companies.The following startups got to exclusively present their pitches to Vinod Khosla at a closed door session in the NASSCOM Product Conclave 2011 –
Bangalore based Mobstac aims to make it possible for people to consume the Internet on any mobile device on the planet by accelerating the availability of mobile Internet content and delivering it to the widest possible audience. Mobstac’s technology lets you create a mobile site for your blog / website in minutes.
Wifinity Tech leverages wireless technologies to deliver state of art Energy Management, Manufacturing Execution Management, Security Solutions, and Smart Grid Management.
Surewaves is creating a media grid that allows for ad integration, content delivery, network management, media planning and reporting platform for multiple forms of digital media. Recently, they have acquired funding from Indian Innovation Fund.
mDhil provides basic healthcare information to the Indian consumer via text messaging, mobile web browser, and interactive digital content.
HighonTravel is a ‘slow travel’ media company. They unearth holidays that discerning travelers seek, and assist in enabling these experiences. HighonTravel does so through its carefully curated holiday portfolio.
Attano has a suite of tablet based learning products and interactive e-books that bring learning to life by enriching and enabling access to diverse curriculum and course materials.
NewGen Power Company Private Ltd. owns and operates distributed (“Onsite”) renewable energy generation systems ideal for companies and institutions that require a reliable source of energy (power, heat & steam) and that have a desire to reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy. Target clients include Coffee & Tea Plantations, Schools, Factories / Mills, and Office Buildings.
Vinod Khosla carefully listened to these pitches, sipping a black coffee. He advised MobStac that they should concentrate on brand building as another competitor could easily offer the same services, obliterating MobStac. He quoted the example of Storify, which uses Twitter stream to publish news that is picked up byWashington Post, New York Times and other leading dailies. Storify also publishes the story on its website by linking to stories published in all the dailies that have subscribed to its service. This helps Storify build its own brand.
Khosla told Surewaves founders to learn more about Wideopen platform and talk to them to understand what they do. He was very keen on Wifinity’s technology. He asked a range of questions on what technique is used by Wifinity and advised Wifinity to worry about startups who bring in disruptive innovation rather than big corporates who are slow on innovation. With Attano, Khosla referred to CK12, a non-profit venture that his wife pursues to make education free up to K-12 level. All learning has been condensed into 500 concepts and open source is used in CK12 to add content. He also emphasized on the importance of skills education in India, which results in the person landing in a job. ISB was founded to impart skill education, he added. A person enrolling on ISB and spending a few lakhs on education for a year is likely to earn three times as much after ISB and for his lifetime.
Khosla advised High-on-Travel to ask travellers to write their experiential stories to help it get more customers rather than engaging writers to tell someone else’s travel experiences. For Newgen, Khosla had lot of inputs on calorific value and stressed on polycultivation that he emphasizes often. He was eager to know the capex, operating cost and profit of the venture.
Finally, Phanindra Sama, co-founder of RedBus.in, walked in for his five-minute session with Vinod Khosla who was impressed with the idea of selling bus tickets online. He asked for numbers and how many bus operators are using RedBus. His advice to Phanindra was to bet on dynamic pricing, for example, when demand shoots up on a Friday evening or a Sunday night travel.
In many pitches, Khosla kept asking about the number of people working in the venture. I was curious to know why he skipped asking how much money the venture was making. He answered, “I am not worried about financials. If basics are right, everything aggregates up.”
--Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist