November, 2013
Archive

  • Are you the original you?

    I had an interesting conversation yesterday. I will keep the person’s name anonymous but some of you might figure it out. Nevertheless, I must write this.

    “Hey, you are from Bizmica right?” he asked.

    “Actually, from Pratikar. Bizmica is our product” I replied proudly.

    “We met during Microsoft’s BisSpark startup challenge, remember”

    How couldn’t I? It was July 2013. We were finalists, they were the first prize winners. They had presented a concept of traffic analysis using image capture, let’s call it Z. It was not at all scalable. The camera “sensor” was essentially just a 3.2 megapixel webcam. I still remember their team was sitting in front of us, and the girl with them was analyzing each of the competitor’s website via Builtwith.com.

    But today they were here to present another company with a product which was probably under construction. They had also received incubation for that. In fact, they are also running another design company, as they said in the presentation.

    I asked him, “How come you are working under three different companies? Why don’t you just centralize things?”

    “Ah!” he replied, “Z is just our B-Plan Contests entry. Our real work is X and Y”.

    What the hell.

    I realized two things after that conversation:

    1. Startup contests suck – no one can judge a startup in just ten minutes of presentation. It’s more like an exam viva. No matter how hard you have rubbed your ass, the person with the best observation tables wins, even if he has fabricated the output.
    2. It’s good to be authentic and focus on your original idea. Even though it will not win you a $4000 prize, it will definitely create value on a longer run.

    In the networking lunch at the BisSpark event, I asked one of the panel members: “Why didn’t we win? Is something … missing…?”

    His reply:

    “I can see a 10 year long business coming through your product Bizmica. It is viable and you are addressing a need that is real. But you need to get more customers first”.

    This line was more than a prize to us. It was coming directly from the horse’s mouth, and we were more confident in our idea than ever. Then I and Avinash went to Himalaya mall, planned out the rest of Bizmica and started working. Our product is now 300% larger than what it was.

    No jury can decide whether your business can start or fail – only your customers decide. And our customers love our product. I guess, that’s called a real victory. Be original, because benefits of originality aren’t really seen quickly but they do exist in plenty.

    November 19, 2013 • Uncategorized • Views: 41

  • Error Detection and Correction

    Yesterday on our way home our car wheel got punctured. That was the third puncture in the last few days, and I had been almost an expert at replacing the wheel. However it was late night and we were tired. So we stopped the car by a “Kerala Tyre Service”. Out of 8/10 puncture shops have the same name, mysteriously. Unfortunately they were having their dinner so when I asked them to help us replace the wheel they sent one of their inexperienced “interns” to us.

    This intern asks me if we had a jack screw. I showed him our car toolkit and he was lost among the tools. To save time we ditched him and decided to fix the wheel ourselves. In excitement I removed the bolts and dad pulled up the jack. I swiftly removed the punctured wheel and tried to fit in the spare wheel. But it won’t fit in!

    Turned out that the surface under our car was uneven, hence we needed to raise the car by a few 2-3 more centimeters. The jack screw was at its max capacity and it couldn’t go higher than 2 cm, we still had 1 cm error to correct.

    To me, there was only one option – screw back the old wheel (since it had no air it would fit easily), and move the car to a leveled ground, and then replace the wheel. The puncture guys were watching the show, seeing how helpless we are.

    My dad took out the sharp pointed key from the keyhole and pushed the air valve of the spare wheel to release some air pressure. He kept releasing air pressure until the spare wheel was “depressed” by 1 cm. We fitted the spare wheel, and then got the air pressure checked.

    I was wondering at the sheer intelligence my dad had shown – and the best thing is, he never bragged about it after the incident. But the solution was really quick and easy. It was real old school experience!

    It made me realize how easy it is, to find errors, and to solve them. It doesn’t matter if the error is in code, or in life. What matters is a clear and focused mind. That can help you solve any damn problem! What a way to end a Diwali vacation, and what a lesson to remember for the new year!

     

    November 11, 2013 • Uncategorized • Views: 29