Sunday, November 13, 2011

”Focus on your 3Cs: Credibility, Cash Flow and Crew”– Rajeev Mecheri of Mecheri Smart Capital

Lessons from the Startup to Scale-up to Successful Sale of iMetrex Technologies, a building technologies and security venture catering to the Indian enterprise market - The Venture Intelligence Team

Rajeev Mecheri, Managing Director, Mecheri Smart Capital (Bio & LinkedIn)
Interview by Hari Krishnan of Venture Intelligence, followed by interaction with students at the Department of Management Studies IIT-Madras on November 9, 2011.


Please click on the links below to view corresponding video snippets:

Click Here to Download the Audio of the Interview - mp3 format - 52 mins; 24 MB
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Click Here to Download the Audio of the Q&A session - 21 mins; 10 MB
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

"VC is a time bomb"

David Heinemeier Hansson, Partner, 37 Signals (Bio)

A super episode from Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner series. Highlights of the talk:

It's a myth that entrepreneurs need to be workaholics- In knowledge businesses, where ideas matter more, it's key to have a well rested mind to be productive in the 5-10% of your time that matters the most. Overwork introduces mistakes and, in any case, you cannot outwork a Microsoft or a Google. (Episode Minute: 22.00)

"VC is a time bomb" (Minute: 16:30)

- Unless you are building a semiconductor plant (or some other similar capital intensive businesses), accepting VC money upfront is harmful.

- It generally takes longer to build good businesses than VCs' exit time frames. Rocketship startups - which go from scratch-to-IPOs in 4-5 years - are most often the exceptions.

- While an average entrepreneur would be very happy with $1-M a year payout (especially if it goes straight into his bank), the VC business is hits driven. "For a VC, small is inconsequential". By targeting a small but very profitable business, the entrepreneur increases his odds in terms of depending on his skills (versus needing to timing the market right).

- As much as possible, invest your own money - which will ensure that you have a sense of urgency to get profitable, you will hire more carefully, etc. and focus on "profit share" in the market versus "revenue share".

- Some entrepreneurs tend to get "addicted" to VC fund raising and hence don't want to piss of "their dealer".

PR "buzz" is not for companies that are doing great
- in terms of profits, trying to increase their margins, etc. (Minute 56:00)

"Startups Don't Need to Fear Big Cos" (Minute: 40:00)

- The kind of products you develop as a large company that will throw a 30 member team at a project for 2 years with unlimited resources, is very different from a 3 member team with limited resources and need to break-even ASAP

- There's no correlation between structure and scalability. There is no need to add more people every time your revenues are up by $500-K or $5-M. In fact, the venture is scalable if you DON'T need to add people, every time your sales goes up. (Minute: 35:00)

"Do not disconnect decision makers from doers" (Minute: 51:00)

- Avoid "Manager Managers". Everyone must "do stuff". Else they will fill out eight hours each day by creating bullshit policies.

"All Planning (at a startup) is just harmful guessing" (Minute: 10:40)

"All decisions (in a startup) are temporary" - Hence taking any decision is better than not taking any (Minute:10:40)

Why its good to start up during a recession
- During a recession, customers need to desperately lower costs and will give startup companies (that offer a drastically lower cost structure) a chance (vs large, "safer" companies). (Minute: 53:00)

For Wannabe Entrepreneurs among MBA Students
- Conciseness of Communication (Unlike Professors, customers don't appreciate 20 pages)

- Work for someone else before you start your own company. You can be a good boss, if you have not lived in the shoes of an employee.

Listen to the audio from here (mp3) - 59:39 Minutes, 27.3 MB

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The Video

Friday, November 4, 2011

UK Entrepreneur & PE Investor Luke Johnson

LSE has a podcast of an interesting lecture and interaction with Luke Johnson, Founder & Chairman of UK-based private equity firm Risk Capital Partners and a highly successful entrepreneur (with a special focus on the restaurant business)

For six years until 2010 he served as Chairman of Channel 4 Television, a major British broadcaster. He is Chairman/part owner of the restaurant business Giraffe with 40 branches, and Chairman/owner of Patisserie Valerie, Druckers and Baker & Spice, three chains of over 70 retail patisseries. He recently took control of Bread Ltd, Britain's largest artisan baker, including the retail bakery Gail's. As Chairman and majority shareholder of Signature Restaurants he built up the Strada 75 branch restaurant chain and owned various classic London restaurants including The Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheekey. Previously he was Chairman of PizzaExpress PLC. During his involvement the share price rose from 40p to over 800p. In the 1980s he worked as a stockbroking analyst for Kleinworts. He co-founded the largest UK chain of dental surgeries, Integrated Dental Holdings, which was sold for over £100m after ten years of ownership.

The audio can be listened to from here

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The Video:

Eric Ries of The Lean Startup

This Week in Startups show has a super informative & super entertaining interview with Eric Ries, entrepreneur and author of The Lean Startup.

Eric Ries

From Wikipedia:
"Lean startup" is a term coined by Eric Ries, his method advocates the creation of rapid prototypes designed to test market assumptions, and uses customer feedback to evolve them much faster than via more traditional product development practices, such as the Waterfall model. It is not uncommon to see Lean Startups release new code to production multiple times a day, often using a practice known as Continuous Deployment. According to the New York Times, "The term 'lean start-up' was coined by Mr. Ries, 31, an engineer, entrepreneur and blogger. His inspiration, he says, was the lean manufacturing process, fine-tuned in Japanese factories decades ago and focused on eliminating any work or investment that doesn’t produce value for customers."

Lean startup is sometimes described as Lean Thinking applied to the entrepreneurial process. A central tenet of Lean Thinking is to reduce waste. Lean startup processes reduce waste by increasing the frequency of contact with real customers, therefore testing and avoiding incorrect market assumptions as early as possible[5]. This approach attempts to improve on historical entrepreneurial tactics by reducing the work required to assess assumptions about the market, and to decrease the time it takes a business to find market traction. This is referred to as Minimum Viable Product.

In The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development, Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits add a fourth element, and that is the use of powerful, low-cost and easy-to-use analytics. While some characteristics of lean startups have been practiced for years, the confluence of these trends is a recent phenomenon that increases the speed of iteration or "number of learning cycles per dollar", as a business hones in on a product-market fit.

Click here for the audio version of this episode.
(Use Right Click & Save As to download to your desktop)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Entrepreneurship is all about getting the job done" - Raju Venkatraman of MEDALL

No-nonsense lessons from a serial entrepreneur and a pioneer of the Indian BPO industry. - The Venture Intelligence Team

Raju Venkatraman, Founder & CEO, MEDALL Diagnostics (Bio)

Interview by Chandu Nair, Founder of Scope eKnowledge, followed by interaction with students and other entrepreneurs at the Department of Management Studies IIT-Madras on October 24, 2011.


The ability to "zoom in and zoom out"

- As an entrepreneur, whenever the situation warrants it, you should be able to work in a hands on fashion and get involved in the details. Similarly, you should also be able to step back and focus on the bigger picture (and leave the details to others).

Please click on the links below to view corresponding video snippets

The motivation as an entrepreneur is not in "being the boss"

- It's more about "getting to scale" (and hence the impact you can make)

"There is no such thing as a right decision. You should make a decision and then make it right."

The Essence of Business is to "Sell, Deliver and Collect"

- Early lesson learnt while helping out with father's business.

"The First Paying Customer is Key"

- If you have this validation, plunge ahead.

"Entrepreneurship is about getting the job done"

- As a student, you should grab opportunities to take part in organizing Extra Curricular activities which will provide you early experience in this aspect. Also, the focus in the early part of a career should be on "creating an impact" wherever you work - the salary, position, etc. are secondary.

Advisors make the journey less lonely- But entrepreneurs can’t expect to delegate accountability to advisors

Why Rural Markets need more High Tech

- And why "Appropriate Technology" is not the answer (at least in diagnostics)

Click Here to Download The Full Interview Podcast - mp3 format - 47.5 minutes, 28 MB
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Click Here to Download the Q&A session
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Keep your mind free for the next big thing" - Dr. Nandan Khokar

Lecture by Sweden-based inventor-entrepreneur of Indian origin.

Textile Inventor-Entrepreneur Dr. Nandan Khokar

Speech and interaction with the students and faculty at the Department of Management Studies IIT-Madras on July 29, 2011.

The Full Length Podcast
- Unedited (mp3) - 64 minutes, 25 MB
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Segment from the Q&A session

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Speaker Bio

Dr. Nandan Khokar, alumnus of the AC College of Technology, Chennai, is a Professor of Textile Technology at the School of Textiles, University of BorĂ¥s, Sweden. He is internationally recognized as the pioneer of the 3D-weaving process and discoverer of the non-woven noobing process. He has developed a variety of patented textile technologies, including the tape-weaving process. Dr. Khokar’s entrepreneurial spirit, flair for and skills in designing and constructing machines, together with expertise in weaving technologies, form the basis of Biteam and Oxeon, two exciting hi-tech companies promoted by him. He is mainly involved with research activities in the fields of 3D fabric architectures, smart textiles and related technologies. He has published numerous articles in reputed international journals and made presentations in prestigious international conferences. For his contribution to the field of textiles, through the pioneering development of 3D-weaving, noobing and tape-weaving processes, Dr. Nandan Khokar was appointed Fellow of The Textile Institute, UK, in 2009.

Biteam is an internationally recognized 3D-weaving pioneer and specialist manufacturer of woven profiled materials. All 3D woven profiled products are designed and manufactured employing its patented 3D-weaving technologies in close co-operation with the customers. Having developed unique competence and the world’s only 3D-weaving equipment, Biteam directly weaves a variety of profiled products in cross-sections of up to 60 x 60 mm and 3m lengths using carbon and other fibres. These special pre-forms are used in load-bearing and other composite material applications. Biteam is also involved in academic and industrial R&D projects. One of these projects, relating to tape-weaving technology which was invented by Dr. Nandan Khokar, has now grown into an independent company Oxeon. Biteam and Oxeon are now among the fastest growing companies in Sweden and Europe, having experienced significantly higher growth rates even compared to the fabled Ikea.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Take up work that others run away from" - R. Sarabeswar of CCCL

Interesting account of a construction services entrepreneur who, along with his co-founders quit EPC giant Larsent & Tubro 14 years ago, to create what is today a highly respected, Rs.2,000 crore publicly listed entity. The company had raised capital from leading Private Equity investor Ascent Capital in Mar-06 and completed a successful IPO in Sep-07

- The Venture Intelligence Team

R. Sarabeswar, Co-founder, Chairman & CEO of Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited (CCCL) (Bio)

Speech and interaction with students at the Department of Management Studies IIT-Madras on April 15, 2011.

"We take up assignments that others run away from. When it comes to very complex and difficult structural engineering jobs, we ensure that the architects would think of us first."

Other Highlights (click on the links below to view corresponding video snippets):