Takeaways from the keynote speech at Techsparks 2012...
While Joe Ziegler and Peter Keimps of AWS gave a presentation on how the Cloud has impacted the VCs and entrepreneurs, alumni of TechSparks 2011, Sriram Iyer and Mukund, launched new products on data security and price analytics, respectively, and Mr. Krishnakumar Natarajan, MD and CEO, MindTree provided valuable lessons on building your company, taking a leaf from his experiences of building a company.
Peter Keimps gave a VC perspective on Cloud and its impact on investments. Druvaa, RedBus, and JustDial have benefitted enormously from the Cloud and therefore scaling their business was easy, in addition to cost savings ranging from 15% to 40%. The Public Cloud launched by AWS in 2007 led to an explosion of startups, Peter added. Joe Ziegler concentrated on the Netscape to Pinterest to airbnb trajectory. Netscape’s revenues came from providing servers and not from its browser, revealed Joe. Netscape brought in so much pages on its browser but didn’t do anything about it. It took a lot of effort to set up servers and scale up businesses, which took at least 5 years to build up. Now in a matter of a year and a half, you can reach as much as two million people, as Joe quoted an example of his friend’s business. Standing on the shoulder of giants, he pointed out, referring to AWS, you can now massively scale businesses. Disruption has happened in the sense that server space need not be purchased but the Cloud can provide elasticity in storage, depending upon demand.
Post lunch, Sriram V. Iyer, last year’s TechSpark’s winner, launched Kepplr, a massively improved data storage service that helps you secure your data that resides in your devices, especially mobile. He called his product a combination of Dropbox (in syncing with various devices) + iCloud (in securing data on Cloud). Packing punches with humour, often times self-deprecatingly, he enlivened the crowd, just back from lunch. The highlight of Kepplr is you can use one of its features, Lockr, to protect your sensitive data. Another feature that will be added soon is you can play your song on your laptop at home and hear it in your car at the place you left off, at home. This is a dynamic sync between devices.
Mukund launched Heckyl Find 2.0, a price analytics dashboard aimed at the retail sector.
Building a Company is Like Growing Up from a Toddler to a Teen to an Adult
Krishnakumar Natarajan (KK), MD and CEO of MindTree, delivered a keynote on building your company in which he liberally took his experiences of building a company in strong doses to drive home his point. Drawing the analogy of a toddler growing into a teen and then to an adult, he sought to highlight the challenges startups, early stage businesses and growing companies face. The startup is small and are innovative, felt KK. The startups are customer-centric and understand their requirements well, in his opinion. The social stigma surrounding startup is now absent and compared to 15 years back and now, the ecosystem is enabling and vibrant. Once the founder team has an established vision that takes the company to the next stage, the challenge is to prepare the next line of leadership in tune with the vision. Then motivating employees becomes the primary motive as the company grows big.
Taking MindTree’s example, he said that when services sector was saturated, MindTree sought to establish a consulting-led organization in addition to services. “Differentiate or die,” he pointed out, giving his six golden rules. Divide and conquer is another golden rule. Creating different strong verticals for offering different services is essential. The commonly held myth that niche means not being able to attract a larger customer base can be looked at differently. But loyalty is very strong if you are a niche player. “Make your offering simple and idiot proof” was another golden lesson he wanted to deliver to entrepreneurs.
Creating a great value is a pointer for success. But not knowing your blind spot, having inability to let go, not able to differentiate between ownership and organization building, lack of humility, and not willing to learn are factors inhibiting success. For example, the founder may not have the ability to take responsibilities if the organization grows bigger and suitable executives should be hired then.
KK signed off saying he didn’t mean to preach but to tell entrepreneurs some tips taking a cue from his own experiences.