I am looking forward to participating in the First Edition of MVP Founder’s meet. Its a full day event being held at  Fortune Select JP Cosmos, Bengaluru (Off cunnigham road) on 17 December, 2008.

Participants include our portfolio founders from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, a couple of other startup friends of MVP and a few well known folks like:

  • Subrata Mitra from Accel . A very active and succesful early and growth stage VC firm working with startups in India, USA, China and London
  • Sharda balaji from Novojuris – a legal firm with special focus on working with Startups
  • Indus Kaitan, Chief Plumbr of Sezwho. Indus has spent 10+ years in building startups in silicon valley . SezWho is a universal profile service for the social web – a popular startup in Silicom valley.
  • Harish Gandhi Alok Mittal from Cannan. A leading VC Firm working with startups in India, US and Isarael. (Update: Harish came in place of Alok and we had a great session with him)
  • Ananya Majoomdar from Times Private Treaties

Agenda:

  • Internal Sessions with MVP companies
    • Duration: 30-40 minutes each
    • Format : Interactive sessions
    • Goal:
      • Give the presenting company founders LIVE access to brains, thoughts and ideas of 10-15 peers.
      • They can gather a lot of fodder for thoughts and get inputs on some key business problems
    • Part 1 : Presenting company talks about their Business (5-8 minutes)
      • Whats the product
      • Whats the market
      • Whats the team
      • Present status
      • Plans going forward
      • Key Challenges / important business problems they are working on
    • Part 2: Other company founders will provide (25-30 minutes)

      • feedback
      • ideas
      • views
      • potential solution to the mentioned business problems
      • ask questions
      • point out risks etc
  • External Sessions with Investors / Entrepreneurs etc
    • Format: Informal interaction, Q & A, discussions, know each other etc
    • Number: 2-3 Sessions
    • Duration : 60 minutes each

(This article is jointly written by Sameer Guglani and Nandini Hirianniah)

In recent days, while working with the MVP portfolio companies and reflecting back on the days of madhouse, we have identified this phenomenon we are calling ‘startup madness’.

It’s visible and present from the time when you start thinking of your million dollar/world changing idea to the steady state point (personal satisfaction, acquisition, IPO or maybe shutdown). Things that you do, don’t make any sense to outsiders and they are like ‘This guy is crazy’ and even when you look back at that period you think “what was I thinking when I did this?”

Looking back at the time when we got the idea to start madhouse, we did not know anything about business, we were just two 27 year old kids (later three of us, with Ankur joining us). We had tried a variety of things in our lives and had managed to do reasonably well in whatever we put our hands into, may be that’s what gave us the stupid confidence. Very importantly we were quite ignorant about ‘real business’ and hence came up with our own take on every business problem we faced.

This streak of startup madness showed at various places:

  • We did not hear NO:  not from vendors, not from people we were trying to hire, not from investors, customers, no one. A NO just meant we had to come back with new ideas and try again.
  • We would never get tired of talking about madhouse and we could talk to any one about it. Most times the other guy did not give a damn :-(,  for him/her it was just a blabber
  • We just worked non-stop for three years , not even a day off (except when forced by illness)
  • Other than work everything else was just plain unimportant : sleeping, eating, meeting friends, attending social functions, family, watching TV, movies, newspaper – all of this had very little place in our lives. We just filled all our day with work with average working day of 16-18 hrs all thru.
  • We worked out of anywhere and everywhere.  Our tools were a Fujitsu laptop and a CDMA phone which could be used like a modem.  Restaurants, inside a car / train / auto rickshaw / bus, out on the road, in the park, bedroom, living room and the loo, locations stopped to matter, where place was work place.
  • We did not need a lot of money to live and we were happier than ever (no purchases of over 1000 for 3 years, eating at economical places, shamelessly staying with friends / relatives / acquaintances in cities we visited on work )
  • ‘The world impossible was missing” – we just did not believe that there was any problem that we could not solve or anything we could not do. Our minds were one track – focus hard, think hard, work hard and just do whatever it takes.
  • We had access to this inhuman energy that allowed us to just keep going – “never get tired” or “never run out of steam”.
  • Each time we met a new person, we were constantly thinking of how this person can help our venture, . Everywhere we went, we explored if there was something there that could benefit our startup. Frankly we were classical ‘opportunity hounds” and quite shamelessly so 🙂
  • We were basically “stuck” in our own world in which we could not fail. While we adapted like crazy, we sort of forced business to work the way we thought it should work, without caring a lot about the outside world.

This madness is the essence of start-ups; it signifies the purity of a startup. It makes the startup tick and makes it successful and enjoyable. The same madness makes you innovate, over perform, challenge your skill set, think out of the box or even out of the world, take 28 hrs out of a 24 hrs a day, it gets you to focus but does not let you  blindly focus!

Its also important to figure out how can you keep re-fueling the desire, the madness, so that it lasts forever, not just for days, weeks or months, start ups that click need to be at it for years. For an individual or team to succeed as a startup, having the startup madness is a must.

If you are an entrepreneur look inside you and make an honest assessment. Do you have the streak?

  • If yes, great.
  • If no. But you think you can build it – nice, go ahead and do it at the highest priority.
  • If you don’t have it and you can’t build it – I am not sure you should continue being an entrepreneur.

On that other hand, if you are not yet an entrepreneur you should also look inside you and make the same honest assessment. Do I have the mad streak?

  • If yes, you fool, leave your job right now – the world of ‘startup madness’ is calling
  • If no, it would best for you to avoid the path of entrepreneurship, until the ‘madness streak’ gets to you 🙂

Nandini shares some touching experiences following the recent terror attacks

Looking forward to speaking at some conferences/events over next couple of months.  Also looking forward to meeting some interesting people. Drop me a line if you would be around and would like to connect. I am reachable on sameer AT morpheusventure DOT com.

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  • When: 11-13 Dec 2008
  • Where: The Grand Ashok, Bangalore
  • Topic: My Story, Building startups and Entrepreneurship in general

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  • When: 19 Dec 2008
  • Where: All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi
  • Topic:  Nuts and Bolts of starting a company

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10th Annual Business and Entrepreneurship Festival, Megabucks , IITK

  • When: 9th-11th January 2009
  • Where: IIT Kanpur
  • Event: B-Plan competetion

Meeting people (new and already known to us) is  something most of us do regularly.  In this post I want to talk about one aspect of the people interaction and the way our mind unconsciously categorizes people whom we meet:

  1. First category is the people who leave us with fond memories, we would be glad to see them again or hear from them or even make proactive efforts to stay connected with them.
  2. Second category is people who we are neutral about, or not even thinking about. These guys are pretty much invisible. May be they did not interact much, time of interaction was not enough etc
  3. Third category which “hits me hard” are folks who seem to lack basic respect for fellow human beings and leave others with feelings like:

“What does this person think of himself / herself? He or she did not seem happy / open to meet me for some reason.  I am not sure I really care about seeing him/her again or hearing from him/her”

What these guys are doing is basically showing the lack of basic human respect, many times it happens that you meet this guy and start talking to him and he just gives you a cold shoulder,  tries to show you that he has more important things to do or people to talk to and you are just plain “unimportant”. Where as what he is doing is making himself “unimportant as a human being”..

On the other hand you meet people, whom you never met before but they are so warm and nice in the interaction, that even after a very small interaction you go away with fond memories and a feeling of bonding with them; a friendship, which stays for ever. These are the real angels.

In business as well as start-up world networking is one of the most critical elements and its clear that basic human behavior is what will drive the strength of your network, so be kind and fair to people..

Whats your experience…

Just came back home after watching “Oye lucky lucky oye (OLLO)” the new movie by Dibakar Banerjee, the guy who made “khosla ka ghosla”. Overall I think its a mutiplex or a metro film. I personally liked it, but its more of an experimental film and less of a mass film.

ylco1OLLO appealed to me at many levels, the whole Punjabi culture of Delhi,  reflections of childhood – which all folks who grew up in Delhi/Chandigarh/Punjab can relate to, the skill with which lucky does his work and the carefree confidence with which he carries himself.

OLLO is not really a regular bollywood film, its different in many or most ways. The story telling style is different, no real songs, not start/middle/end type of structure, no attempt to tie in all threads. Its just a plain story of a “super thief”, where the human interactions were very natural and had a ‘Delhi Punjabi”flavor. Somewhere it reminded me of “Catch me if you can”

Acting-wise Abhay looks stylish and smooth, the three different characters played by Paresh Rawal are well done, the leading lady is kinda cute and everyone else has done a nice job. Background score is very good, it also has a few songs which play in parts thru the film.

Recommendation: Go ahead and watch it with an open mind. Dont expect it to be a super comedy like “khosla ka ghosla”.