Tag Archives: startup

10 Lessons of Entrepreneurship

I was recently invited by University School of Management Studies in Delhi to deliver a talk in their ongoing Entrepreneurship development program. It is always motivating to see young students pursue entrepreneurial dreams. Things have changed quite a bit compared to what they were about 5-6 years ago.

Here is the slide-deck from the day’s talk.

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10 Reasons to Work for a Startup [#whyworkforstartup]

Like any typical evening, we’re busy working on our office desks. Suddenly @santoshpanda sparked of a bright initiative that led to exchange of some interesting thoughts. The channel was ‘Twitter’ and to participate you had to answer the reasons for working in a startup. The hashtag was rightly so #whyworkforstartup.

Here are ’10′ tweets captured from the minihashtag stream about this topic.

Want to discover other tweets? You can check the twitter #whyworkforstartup stream and share your bit too :) Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Startup, Web 2.0

Building a People Centric Organization

Workplace Democracy

Workplace democracy is the application of democracy in all its forms (including voting systems, debates, democratic structuring, due process, adversarial process, systems of appeal, and so on) to the workplace. (via wikipedia)

One fine evening  my colleage Polo asked me something:

I also have a question. Why are you asking me about the working environment?? This office belongs to each one of us. So everyones’ comments count. And it should be an open democratic discussion.

The question was definitely good and very valid. Off-course she didn’t know that she wasn’t the only one. But, more than that question which was more of a curiosity, I was keen to find-out  the answer to a question that had triggered in my mind because of that.

How do you gauge the feedback of people in your young startup? What works best to gather the feedback of your PEOPLE in building a healthy work place? What provides a sense of comfort level to them? How do you push them from their normally boundaries of being mere EMPLOYEES to STAKEHOLDERS in a participative environment?

We are constantly advocating the People Centric Model in our work approach. While I understand that proponents claim that the new model of Organization Centric Alignment is far more effective, here is a thought why ‘People Centric’ still work strongly.

Coming back to our ‘People Centric Model’ and its implications in a team environment, this is what I visualized:

Our Feedback Model

Driving Team: The captain/s

Colleague: The team-members

You could follow one-to-one discussions between the members of driving team:

  1. One on one discussion between driving team members. A collection of experience and traits observed by them so far based on what they haved assessed and observed.
  2. Many-to-many discussions between colleagues/team: On several occassions, your colleagues have pep-talks about what could have been better or what could have been improved. These are off-the record conversations but certainly very crucial
  3. Feedback model: One to one (driving team to colleague). [Individual Democracy] The purpose of these discussions is to gauge an individual feedback. It is primarily based on what h/she has experienced as an individual.

    One to many (Driving Team to Colleagues) [Team Democracy]:
    We also conduct periodic open discussions between the entire team to gauge everyone’s feedback. These are cyclic discussions, where each and every individual states what he/she likes and dislikes.

Recapping our ‘Philosophy’. Our mantra is quite simple & straightforward and we don’t have a 40-page mission document :)

  1. Be honest to yourself, your team and to your stakeholders
  2. Respect your stakeholders and mutually build a feeling of trust and integrity for each others
  3. Never treat clients as money-vending machines, treat them as partners
  4. Take full responsibility of your work
  5. Never promise anything which you cannot deliver.
  6. In addition, never hide anything from your team
  7. Use the expertise of your network to create winning solutions
  8. Add the following words to your spam list: ‘Cheating’, ‘Un-ethical’ & ‘Hidden’.
  9. Lastly, treat work as a mashup of fun & seriousness.

Let me end this note with some powerful quotations on People-Centric Leadership by ‘Barry -Wehmiller’.

“We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people.”

We commit to a sustained leadership model that creates a culture where each of us returns home with a sense of fulfillment.

Are you running a democratic people-centric start-up? Would like to hear your thoughts?

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Filed under Iffort, Itemperance, Startup

Startup Life: Diary of a First Generation Entrepreneur

‘Oh shit..’ came the voice from the other room. In a whisker, I stood up and went to the working area in the cabin outside only to find out that the predictable had happened.

The ’2′ desktop computers had re-booted again. Apparently, the electricity had gone off and for some reason our UPS (Un-interrupted Power Supplywas not behaving the way it was supposed to be. Needless to say one of the employees was unhappy as everytime she was in the middle of something important, the ‘desktop’ was ditching her.

Bewildered and bit unhappy with the sequence of events in the day we were looking at the desktops and were wondering what to do. Sunny was scratching his head and so was I !!

Well aware of the challenges of operating in a commercial area in the vicinity of ‘Noida’, we thought we had the backup system in place and were not sure what was causing these machines to re-boot. Desparate for a solution, we checked the system for overload, moved one of the laptops to direct power, checked the electricity voltage for any fluctuations but everything seemed ok. Offcourse, like any customer would do in this case we called our vendor to check the possible problems with our power backup solution. Like most service providers do, he promised and we waited impatiently for him only for the day to end on a note where we were not sure what the situation would be on the next day.

Journey.. of Life (Credit: Mita Majumdar)

People were giving different advices, somebody said it is time for you to upgrade your power backup solution and someone said there is problem with your power backup solution and the same needs to be fixed by your vendor.

In our mind, we knew that was just one of those days when we as drivers of the startup car were being tested. It was just one of those small roadblocks that had hit us in our journey. One of those days were god was testing us, our spirits, our patience and our courage. It was also an indication of future challenges to come.

As Sunny, put(s) it “World changes upside down when seen from the eyes of an employer”.

Rewind a little bit and coming back from the days when we had quit our jobs to do something different, something has changed and that something is LIFE :)

Happy Team

Here is one word which still looks the same but appears very different. ‘Responsibility’ – Today it is not just about us, it is about the people along with us in this boat, their career, their likes and about their happiness. As we know these will be the jewels who will be the CRUX of this organization. The key elements of our core team who will take the ‘BRAND’ to a new level !!

Allright, this is it for now as I head towards a long drive to the office with questions in my mind !!

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Filed under Itemperance

Success mantra for a thriving startup: Empower your people

My mind told me that I should share a couple of cents which might leave an

8-random-tips-for-making-your-startup-company-happy-and-successful

Image source: Alexander Kjerulf's post on 8 random tips for making your startup company happy and successful

impression on your life as a start-up owner ! These opinions have emerged from  experiential traits of observing, listening, watching, engaging and at times even reading during all these months..

Which success metrics have you defined for your start-up baby? Break-even the costs by next year? May be achieve next round of funding inside three months? Or even double the number of clients in six months?

You wish you could do it all yourself ! May be you could, if you were a superhero but even then 24 hours in a day were not going be enough. How do you achieve all that and much more? Wait a minute

Do not expect me  to talk about that one-in-million magical solution as it never existed. Yeah, I am not talking about out of the world rocket science here. All you need are ‘PEOPLE’ who can make-it-happen! People who have cool heads and are a bundle of energy. May be you could hire them from outside, if you’re a cash-rich start-up.

But in tough times of recession, you’re expected to cut your operating costs. You are expected not to hire people and even fire the ones who are working with you!

Coming down to ground reality, most start-ups cannot afford to loose people as it is difficult to find a single replacement for any guy who quits. Each person thinks multi-dimensionally and is engaged in cross-functional work.

So how do you make them happy? Throw more money at them? May be it will work in some-cases but for the rest?

To begin with, Never promise anything to them that you cannot deliver. For e.g. you make a promise to your senior guy that he is a key member of the strategy group but sideline him

Second- the key to make people a part of your growth is by involving them in the so called decision making process. Provide them the right opportunities at right time/stage. For e.g. If you are caught in a web of problems, feel free to consult them for help. No, it is not a help in-terms of bugfix but instead help at a mental level. That is where you will be able to judge their mindset and take a call about things which you never expected them to do.

Third, never fall into a fixed mindset trap as that is the easiest thing you can do at this stage. for e.g. a marketer can only pitch or a developer can only code. These are all mind-games that you tend to play with yourself. Because of your one-dimensional thoughts, you are sometimes unable to visualize the potential of people in your team.

Fourth – Trust your people. Trust them for their thought, for what they have done, continue to do and what they can do. Make people feel counted as a part of the group.  Listen to them, ask them what they feel/think. Never try to be their boss and impose your decisions on them.

Fifth - Drop your ego. It is a 360 degree cycle of feedback. The so called ego rules which apply to your employees are also valid for you :)

Remember, it takes more than a sweat to build a quality team. If you can do that success comes naturally to you and your start-up! On the flip-side it takes not more than a blink of an eye-lid to get back to the same mode of hiring replacements for the people who have left you. So what do you want do to – take one step forward or two steps backward?

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Barcamp Delhi 5: Spreading the Word out !

Image via Wikipedia

It is that time of the year when some of the brightest minds gather to discuss about technology, business, startups and much more. Yeah we are talking about BarCamp !

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