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:
- 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.
- 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…?”
“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.