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The article has been contributed by guest author. If you would like to share your opinion/insights/write a guest post, please get in touch [ashish at nextbigwhat.com]

Avoid These Gobars When Applying To A Startup

In the past one year, we have seen over 1000 applications to PriceBaba.com via different sources. Here are a few very basic pointers for anyone applying for a job.

A lot of this is from a perspective of a startup and some of it would be more of our personal choice at PriceBaba, but I sincerely hope that putting this out there helps.

Email Screenshot

email 1

Angelist Screenshot

email 2

  1. When emailing your C.V. to someone, always mention what post are you applying for in the subject line. And please do not write ‘resume’ or ‘cv’ as your subject, at least my Gmail merges all emails with the same subject lines often.
  2. Write a good cover letter along with your C.V. Don’t copy paste one of those professionally written cover letters available online. Most companies can understand the difference between the two.
  3. Do not use abbreviations & SMS language in formal emails. That’s a very big annoyance when working with youngsters these days.
  4. Check for grammatical errors in your emails before sending. You may spell fresher as frasher, but we are more annoyed at the fact that you are an engineer and didn’t know how to run a spell check!
  5. Always use the ‘Reply to all’ option in emails so that you keep everyone on the other side in loop. That’s something we have now started to mention explicitly in our first email to candidates. However it is a little difficult for us to coordinate if you do not use Reply-to-all and that may also cause us to accidentally lose track of some applications.
  6. Address the person who’s replying to you with their name and you better spell their name correctly. Seriously!
  7. When applying for a job in any company, don’t apply for two different job posts at the same time. We are indeed humans and see these emails. Your chances of getting a reply goes down if you try and get into the company via applying for different positions.
  8. You may be eager to know the salary offered, but it is downright rude to mention your current CTC and expected CTC in that first email you send. Generally you should wait for the other end to evaluate your profile and get back with details. You can hold off the CTC question until a face to face meeting or subtly during a call.
  9. Don’t forget to attach your Resume when sending an email, and if you miss it, don’t send another email with the attachment and think that we will magically forget the previous email. It is okay to reply on that same thread and say, “oops, I missed my resume, here it is now”. Forgetting attachments is an industry wide accepted problem, but thinking that the folks at the other end are dumb and their only job is to deal with email overload of applicants is a bad idea.
  10. If you are applying via AngeList, do remember that we can see how many startups you are applying to (If you aren’t yet aware, Angelist is indeed a great resource). So if you say, ‘I would like to love work with you’ and I can see that you have emailed 40 other companies via Angel.co, I will appreciate your big heart and click reject.
  11. Do some research on the company, their history, look at what they do, ask questions if you don’t know. It is always good to see someone who knows us applying for a job. It shows a) you have basic intelligence to research and understand an internet entity b) commitment towards the job you are applying for.
  12. Don’t give up. Startups go through phases when they are desperately hiring, looking for specific talent, mass hiring and a lot of times when hiring is frozen. That is the nature of the business in early days. So if you get a reply saying we aren’t hiring, we don’t see a fit or don’t get a reply at all, try emailing a couple of months later. Or ask them when you can contact again. So in case you are looking out a couple of months down the line too, you may get through that startup.

So much for avoiding the wrong things when applying to a startup. Even a tiny startup like PriceBaba can get over 200 applications a month (that too without trying very hard). So you better make the job of the ones hiring easy by not doing a gobar when contacting them :)

I sure have missed a lot of things. Do add in comments below!

Ps: I do understand that the above list would help freshers the most. And the best part is, some of our best performers at PriceBaba are freshers. So we like to invest in your growth! Also: PriceBaba Is Hiring.

[About the author : Ankur is the co-founder of PriceBaba.com, a product research engine that let’s you find best prices for mobile phones. He loves sharing his opinions on Startups & Technology. You can talk to him on twitter @annkur.]

6 Useful Tools to Maximize Your Productivity

Everyone wants to be more productive and efficient in their job. One way to do it is of course to spend more time to finish everything needed to be done. However, what if you started to feel like you’re becoming less productive at work? What are the things that you do to fire up your motivation again?

Productivity

There’s a lot of articles on motivation scattered all over the internet. But sometimes those resources are not enough to get you back on track again. If you’re interested to try a new approach that could boost your motivation to perform well, here’s a selection of effective online tools that can save your time and help you maximize your productivity.

RescueTime
This is a useful time-tracking application that offers notable features. It has the capability to block distracting sites on a desired amount of time, send detailed reports of your activities within the day and measures your working time. Rescue Time can also track the minutes or hours you spent on various sites or applications. In other words, the app monitors all your computer use and the sites you’ve visited while working.

Write or Die
Write or die operates through a penalty system. One of the features of this program is it allows you to select from several levels of punishment. Once the user stop from typing on the page, a visual warning will come out. As you delay working, an annoying and unpleasant sound will continue to play until you get back to work. This free online application aims to keep users on track and combat procrastination.

Rushessay.com
Getting stuck in a creative rut is a huge stumbling block for every writer. When a deadline is looming around and you can’t focus on your content, RushEssay is the writing help site that you need. They provide professional assistance in any type of writing. They also offer quality editing and proofreading services to ensure customer satisfaction.

Instapaper
Instapaper is a full-featured app that is designed for saving long reads for later. This app makes everything a little more pleasant to read by removing distractions like ads and speeding up the page load excellently. It is a perfect tool for readers who want to save web articles for later or offline reading whenever and wherever you are.

Unstuck
Unstuck app helps you get unstuck by leading you through a series of questions. The steps will determine the kind of stuck moment you are experiencing. In this tool, you can get stuck diagnosis quickly. After you completed the process, it will provide you some tips and resources on how to solve your problem and become more productive and motivated.

LastPass
If you want to increase your online security with minimal effort, LastPass is a great password management solution for you. This password manager supports multiple devices and desktop software like Windows, Mac and Linux. It also helps you create, store, and manage all your passwords for every site and service you use. You can protect yourself from online data theft by using this tool.

With these powerful tools, you can now stay focused, manage your time better and complete all your tedious tasks. Instead of filling your time with not-so-important stuff, switch your focus on being more productive so that you can do more, see tangible results, and have free time for yourself.

Have you tried any of these tools? What other online tools can you recommend that can increase productivity?

[About the author: Candace Meyer is a blogger, photographer, and traveler. To know more about her catch up with her on twitter and follow her on google+.]

How Can Aadhar Be Used To Improve Safety In Real World

[Editorial notes: There has been a huge debate over security for customers using taxi cabs. And the government wants to promote Aadhar authentication for matrimonial sites). Truly speaking, Aadhar has several use-cases that needs to be thought through. Read up this guest piece by Nilesh Sangoi, Meru CTO.]

The recent incident in Delhi has given a jolt to the entire cab industry and all of us are working on building the necessary safeguards. The most important challenge is how we ensure that such serial offenders and psychos are stopped at the gate and not allowed to enter the system in the first place.

In our country, any documents like driving license, police verification etc can be forged, so the first challenge is how to verify the identity of the person with 100% assurance. The second challenge is how we ensure that only the person authorised by the cab company is actually driving the cab and not any unauthorised driver who is not verified or trained by the company. Third challenge is lack of availability and access to centralised database of criminal records that can be verified.

aadhar-taxi-security

We’ve been thinking hard how to use technological innovation to solve some of these complex problems and help improve overall safety of women passengers for the entire cab industry.

We reached out to Sanjay Jain, who is an independent director on the board of Meru Cabs. He was the Chief Product Manager at UIDAI (better known as Aadhaar) during the initial period of design, implementation, launch and roll out on a massive scale. Aadhaar is the best example of a technology innovation to solve a complex problem for the benefit of masses and today, it is the only solution available that can provide unique identity of any person in the country.

It identifies a person based on fingerprint or iris scan, which is near impossible to forge or duplicate. The authority also collects the address proof and other relevant documents of the person while issuing the number, thus the address verification is also reasonably ensured.

With the help of Sanjay Jain and Khosla Labs, we have been able to deploy a simple app on Android phone integrated to a fingerprint scanner or an iris scanner which connects to the Aadhaar database with an open API to verify if the Aadhaar number belongs to the same person. There has been a large scale enrolment for Aadhaar especially in the SEC segment relevant to drivers and in the cities that we operate in.

As a first step, we have started capturing and verifying the Aadhaar number of all our drivers and also helping the enrolment of drivers who do not have Aadhaar number. This will alleviate the risk of a driver entering the system with a forged driving license to a great extent.

Over next few months we are also exploring the option of online driver identification inside the cab every few hours before a booking is assigned through Aadhaar biometric scan. This will be a foolproof way to ensure that only the authorised person is driving the cab. Currently there are challenges in having a biometric scanner integrated with the driver’s data terminal and its smooth functioning, but we are confident of resolving this issue over next few months.

Now comes the most difficult part of getting online information about the driver’s background check. This we believe can be achieved in following ways:

1. Government can take a lead in creating a centralised database of all persons with criminal background and linking them with Aadhaar number. This database can then be made available through open APIs to check the criminal record of any person by sending the Aadhaar number.

While this project sounds daunting due to involvement of various government agencies, just think of how difficult was Aadhaar project when Nandan Nilekani came up with the idea a few years back – that has become a reality today. There is enough talent available in private sector who is more than willing to help in such eGovernance projects for the greater good of the society.

2. While the above suggestion can take time to implement, we are proposing that all cab operators and aggregator companies come together and implement a centralised driver reputation agency on the lines of various credit agencies.

If any of the company encounters a driver with criminal background or a serious safety complaint from a passenger is received, the information can then be fed into the centralised registry for the benefit of other companies. Companies can also gather information about criminal background of a driver through the informal network of other drivers, who are from the same village and then get the information independently verified.

We think these steps will go a long way in improving the overall safety for the women passengers while traveling in cabs. . Safety is a complex issue which cannot be solved by one company alone but will need a sustained and systematic approach and collaborated working within the entire ecosystem.

[Reproduced from Meru blog.]

The Cash Cow That Changed My Outlook To Products, Services And Customer Support In #Startup

[Guest article by Santosh Panda, founder of Explara. Santosh earlier shared “Of Comfortable Corporate Life, Failures And Being An Entrepreneur” on his startup journey so far.]

One loss gave birth to a cash cow

My father had a day job in a Bank yet he ventured with 2 more partners to start a transport business (a truck goods delivery services to start with) in 1984. With a severe loss & accident; we lost lakh of rupees (a lakh rupee was big deal even now). This had a deep impact on us.

During the same time, we used to keep a cow for our home need. My father then shifted his attention to turn this 1 cow shed to one of Odisha’s district finest small-scale dairy firm! I thought to share this journey.

The Cow !
The Cow !

Scaling Desi Cow

We had a small ‘desi cow’ (Indian cow) which are less costlier than other high breed of cows, need almost no maintenance and at the same time, they produce fairly less milk. They are popular in villages and semi-urban areas as preferred small investment startups!

Now the transport business had gone for a toss, my father thought how about ‘scaling’ this desi cow setup to a mid-sized dairy firm! Initially, he got 1 more cow and we started getting around 7 ltrs of milk in the morning. This got us 2 ltr for our own home needs and 5 ltrs were sold in neighborhood & to some of father’s bank colleagues.

Sell The Right Milk

We invested in these 2 cows with proper care, good and veterinary healthcare. This improved their heath but their overall contribution to milk production was still fairly less. As our customers tasted milk and shared word of mouth that “Bank Panda’s” dairy firm milk is pure milk, more customers approached us.

My father had an ethics policy number 1: Not to add water in the milk. Though the demand was pouring in, we ensured we follow the ethics. We couldn’t serve the demand and in fact we used to tell these additional customers to go to nearest competitor dairy firm to buy!

Predictable Milk Production vs. Exponential Milk Production : Devise your biz model

During this time, my father used to get good inputs from veterinary doctors & staffs that certain desi cow are fairly stable in their growth, lifespan and contribution to milk production. Hence, we should mix foreign cows like Holstein cows (cows from Holland) with our Indian cows and manage a balanced dairy firm and growth of it. FYI, Holstein cows are highest production dairy animals.

That was a good advice but what happened thereafter almost changed our destiny. We got a Holstein cow, increased the milk production along with our existing cows. But the Holstein cow was very aggressive in nature, also needed different setups. For instance, Holstein cows need much rich processed food, their shelter needs to be open aired and they also need much concrete & proper drainage system.

We had to invest & build another shelter for this Holstein cows. We got a Holstein cow and figured that the cost of this cow was much higher vs. what we planned as milk production. First loss hit us.

Spot The Cash Cows

My father was searching for a cow via various agencies, middleman in various nearby villages & cities. One fine day, he went out and got a Holstein cow. Usually our firm servants bring them by letting the cow walk for miles after miles crossing several villages to my place. But this time my father went with them and while bringing the cow, he realized that the cow is so thin & weak that she had to be brought in a truck with utmost care.

When she arrived in our home, we were amazed to see such a thin Holstein cow papa had got (usually Holstein cows are fat & beautiful). I remember watching this cow struggle to even eat her first lunch in our home. We were not sure but my father was damn sure that he spotted a great cow.

With 3 months of extreme care, food and love, this cow went on to become the best cow in my district (Ganjam, Odisha) for next several years! She won awards after award and every veterinary doctor gave example about her as how a cow should be taken care. She was producing so much milk that we almost ruled the major supply in our customer segment.

But beyond this, we were known for timely milk distribution, pure milk and extreme customer care.

Enjoy The Journey & Be Thankful to Cows

The cows were like a family! We now had achieved a fairly stable set with Indian cows and Holstein cow to manage our growth, mixed their balanced milk production so we can manage supply-demand and unpredictability scenarios. We made some losses too in wrong selections but overall we enjoyed the journey, hard work and the money.

Pay it Forward

This contributed to our overall living, funding my engineering study and also much needed fund for my career shift to computing.

I am sincerely carrying forward some of the philosophies, customer serving learning from my father’s dairy firm to my startup.

Housing – Are They Brokers Or A Real Estate Portal? [A Broker’s Take On New New Thing]

[Editorial Notes : Can Housing.com disrupt brokers? Here is a broker’s take on Housing’s model. As a platform, we belive that it is important for new new startups to engage with existing food chain for a meaningful dialogue.]

I am really not sure where to begin with when it comes to Housing.com. It originally began with an innovative design (at least where the Indian Market is concerned) for a web portal based on real estate. The concept was simple – list your properties to prospective buyers and renters in a brilliantly designed website. They made the website attractive and easy to work with.housing 2

The user interface was attractive, easy to load and came with map search. The property pictures were clicked professionally by their designated staff. This ensured that what you see is what you get. Each listing was verified by their employee.

I heard about how brilliant it was from my own clients especially the young ones. The students and the bachelors who were savvy with their purchase. To attract this crowd, I spent a reasonable amount of money on Housing.com on advertisement. It was the IT thing. The results on advertising not so good. There were way too many bargain hunters looking for something that simply did not exist in the market. They allowed listing directly by owners, which is OK.

However, the owners also gave properties to real estate agents and brokers. These same brokers have paid top dollars to advertise on the same platform as the owners. The policy that Housing.com has apparently is advertise the owners property and keep the brokers in the back end. So the same property is not listed.

Collect money for advertising from the real estate consultants, agents, brokers but display the owner’s listing directly. Now that’s a shady picture.

OK so let’s leave that point aside, and move on to the other point of contention. It is a well known fact in Mumbai’s real estate industry that owners are not loyal to one real estate broker. They prefer to work with several brokers. For some apparent reason, owners believe the Myth that their property will get sold or leased quicker that way. Anyways, lovely Housing.com has a first come first serve basis.

The first person to list their property is the ONLY one who can share the benefit. So the others who have paid subscription fees get diddly squat. No rotational listings, no multiple listings, just ONE. OK acceptable to me but then am I supposed to put only 3-4 properties where the owner has some sort of exclusivity clause with me. Good luck trying to get that in this market.

OK, now let’s leave the disloyalty of owners aside. I accept that this is the world we live in! There was great hullabaloo about how the photographers of Housing.com were trading property information among other brokers for few hundred bucks, a cup of tea or maybe just for tier friends and buddies.

Real estate brokers who trusted the photographers with their information and took them to the apartments and properties. These photographers then started trading this information to other brokers for short change. Apparently this happened in Powai. Now this is just down right ugly. The story is not far fetched. It is quite possibly happened.

OK! By now I have ignored the fact that I pay subscription fees for my property listings to not be listed. I have ignored the fact that I am competing with the actual property owners to lease or sell the property. I have ignored the fact that I am competing with other brokers for getting my listing before anyone else gets it. I also ignore the fact that their photographers are cheats and steal my property data to other scrupulous brokers.

But now I am dealing with a whole new set of EVIL from Housing.com. This one is a brilliant scheme. Buy your Flat directly from Housing.com. Yes folks – You can buy your Tata Home in Pune, Bangalore and Chennai directly on Housing.com. Check it out for yourself – https://housing.com/tatavaluehomes. So now they are real estate brokers themselves. I think I should just shoot myself in the head.

Now I have a whole new level of IT professionals and IIM graduates who want to become real estate brokers.

Here you have it folks – my one year subscription is not even over yet and Housing.com has found innumerable number of ways to cheat me of my subscription. I think I have learnt my lesson. They are bagging money from one investor to another. Getting fresh financing from every venture capital possible. I wonder how this internal scam works for them. Take more money from the latest one and return to the earlier one with additional bonus. This reminds me of Charles Ponzi.

And at that note I will leave you to make your own decision if you would like to put money in their lovely website which reminds me more and more of a lovely blonde girl friend who wants to be friends with you only till you have money to spend on her! The Rest is All …

[Guest article by RK Realtors]

Dark Night Of The Soul: The Star Wars, Mahabharata And A Startup Founder

Mythologies matter, for human brains are wired for stories. One of the most successful modern day mythologies is that of Star Wars. The Star Wars film series, consisting of two trilogies, has spawned an extensive media franchise called the Expanded Universe which includes books, television series, computer and video games, merchandising and comic books.

Star Wars franchise has created billions of dollars in value for its creator, George Lucas and a cult following amongst millions of fans across the world. The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucas Film (owner of Star Wars franchise) in 2012 at a valuation of $4.06 billions. A new Star Wars Episode VII film would be released in 2015 creating another billion plus dollar in value.

starwars mahabharata
For the uninitiated, the Star Wars franchise is based in a galaxy far, far away in the distant past, and portrays Jedi as a representation of good, in eternal conflict with the Sith, their evil counterpart. The franchise’s storylines contain many themes, and has strong influences from the works of Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist who studied almost all great human mythologies, from the Nordic to Indian, from Western to Eastern, from Egyptian to Machu Picchu.

starwars

Campbell realized that all great mythologies are based on a Mono-Myth (that all mythic narratives are only variations of a single great story.) He observed that a common pattern exists beneath the narrative elements of most great myths, regardless of their origin or time of creation. The central pattern most studied by Campbell is often referred to as the hero’s journey and was first described in his book: The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell summarized the mono-myth:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. A hero has an insight, he leaves his people behind to commence an epic journey. He faces a dark night of his soul when he realizes the truth. He returns to his people to share the truth.”

Arjuna, the warrior Prince from the great Indian mythology Mahabharata, encountered this dark night of soul on the battlefield of Kurukshetra:

“My limbs fail, my mouth is parched, my body quivers, my hair stands on end. My Gandiva bow slips from my hand and my skin burns all over; I am not able to stand steady; my brain is reeling,” Says the despondent Arjuna at the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

The ‘battle’ here is not a fight between armies, but a war within his soul. Arjun’s judgement is clouded; this hero of a thousand battles suddenly begins to suffer from self-doubt. His mind is torn by fears and anxieties. Arjuna, like so many of us, is overwhelmed by the choice he has to make. It is only the honest, conscientious people who agonise over such ethical situations. As for unscrupulous men, they are motivated only by their own desires and selfish interests. Neither Duryodhana (in Mahabharata) nor Emperor Palpatine (also known as Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith) are bothered by such worries. Never ever do they reflect upon the injustice of their actions since they do not differentiate between good and evil.

Eventually, Arjuna listens to the advice given by his Saarthi (mentor), Krishna. He confronts the dark night of his soul, understands his dharma, fights the epic battle and emerges a hero. The message of the Gita is the message of heroism, and Inner strength. With inner strength and resolve, one can overcome doubt and anxieties, and progress on the correct path.
Arjuna

Star Wars, a modern day Mahabharata, is the epic story of Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke Skywalker. Originally a Jedi prophesied to bring balance to the Force, Anakin Skywalker, however, falls to lure of the dark side of the Force. Overcome with fears, doubts and anxieties, he chooses to serve the evil Galactic Empire as Darth Vadar. He ignores the advice of his counsel and mentor, Jedi Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi. Dark force taps into his insecurities, and lure him to become the dark lord of sith.

Stories of most startup founders are no different from the script of the universal mono-myth. In an arduous journey of entrepreneurship, there are periods when a founder feels utterly depressed and despondent. He feels that he belongs neither here nor there. Either his team abandons him, or market rejects his product, or the product doesn’t work, or the investors don’t buy into his vision. Everything appears dull, dark, and profoundly dark…He faces what many Indian mystics have called ‘the dark night of his soul.’

When this dark night comes, a founder needs to dig deep within himself. A hero would hold his nerve and make the right choice: this choice is the difference in the way the world would remember him…a victorious and righteous Arjuna or an evil Darth Vadar. So many founders and CEOs become Darth Vadars in the stories of their life. Confronted with the dark nights of their soul, they choose the dark side, which inevitably leads to a slippery slope of destruction. They either succumb to their fears & insecurity, or breed a hubris that eventually leads to their downfall.

So what’s there for a modern day founder to learn from the two epic mythologies: ancient mythology of Mahabharata and modern day cult mythology of Star Wars??

1) There is only a fine line that differentiates the good from the evil. Have the courage to walk away from the evil when faced with the dark night of your soul.

2) Be a hero: Don’t be afraid to go through hell before you realize your potential.

3) Build alliance of truth & enlightenment (mentors) around you who would guide you in the right direction when your dark night of soul comes, which will inevitably come in any epic journey of a hero.

4) An epic journey is worth a lifetime: don’t take short-cuts.

[Guest contribution by Rajesh Sawhney, founder of GSF accelerator.]

Image credit : shutterstock

Attracting Talent To Your Startup ? Define Roles Clearly [Startup Hiring Survey Results]

Attracting talent to startups has been a long-standing challenge, but understanding the fears and motivation can benefit startups to overcome this hurdle.The team at MyNoticePeriod conducted a survey (1,500 sample size) to understand the interest of job seekers in joining startups and more importantly,what excites them and what their concerns were.

Image Courtesy: Sampad Swain's Blog
Money Is NOT the biggest motivator anymore?

The survey findings will help startups make the right pitch to attract top talent.

The three questions asked as part of the survey include:

Q1: Are you willing to join a startup?

Insights: Response to this question was a big surprise as more than 85% job seekers said they would like to join startups. This is clearly reflective of the phenomenal success of some of the startups in the recent past. Until a few years ago, joining a startup meant that an individual has not found better job at large MNC. But now startups have become a preferred place to be.

Q2: Why would you join a startup?

Insights: Responses to this question was very different from what we would hear from mature startup nations like USA and Israel. For instance, salary and equity are NOT the top two priorities to work in a startup. Working across functional domains and opportunity to work on latest technology takes higher precedence.

Q3: What are you worse fears in joining a startup?

Insights: As expected, lack of stability is the biggest fear in joining startups. But what is added information is that startups fail to clearly articulate roles and responsibilities to teams and team members, leading to lack of prioritization.

Myths Busted

Myth 1: Job seekers are hesitant to join a startup.
Fact: Almost everyone (85%) is willing to work at a startup. Given the recent success of many of the startups, there is lot of interest in joining them.

Why Join A Startup
Why Join A Startup

Myth 2: Money is greatest motivator.
Fact: Opportunity to work across domains/functions is thegreatest motivator. BTW, salary is at number three.

Myth 3: Job seekers do not join startups due to fear of working long-hours.
Fact: Less than 20% of job seekers are worried about working long hours at a startup.

Why Not Join A Startup? Worst Fears?
Why Not Join A Startup? Worst Fears?

Myth 4: Startups have poor work infrastructure.
Fact: Incubators and accelerators provide world class operating spaces for startups.

TAKEAWAYS

Startups Breed Startups: 25% of job seekers willing to join startups; plan to do their own startup eventually!

Equity Not Priority: Equity is 5th among the listed reasons for joining a startup.

Define Roles Clearly: Startups need to articulate roles more clearly. Even if there are many roles, define each one upfront and clearly.

More Incubators Needed: Being at an Incubator or accelerator could make it easier for startups to attract talent. The incubators and accelerators need to support startups for longer duration and let them scale.

What are your thoughts? What has been your experience as a jobseeker or as a founder talking to candidates?

Decoding Google Analytics for Mobile App Publishers

Google Analytics is the most widely used analytics tool and its popularity & familiarity has led many App publishers to use it for mobile analytics as well. Google Analytics for Mobile offers a comprehensive list of features that fulfills all the needs of marketers, product managers & app developers equally.

Get more insights about your Mobile Apps with six powerful features listed below:

1. Experiments

This is one of the most powerful yet least used feature in GA for Mobile. Simply put, this feature can be used as an A/B testing tool for your Apps.

Google Analytics : A/B Testing
Google Analytics : A/B Testing

However, there are some perquisites before you can use this. You need to have Google Tag Manager for Mobile SDK installed and its container linked to GA property that will be used to handle your experiments.

Once your above setup is complete, you need to follow this process:

  1. Setting up Goals in GA – you can define custom goals or select from pre-defined ones including Revenue, Screen Views, Session Time etc
  2. Setup a macro in GTM for Value Collection to set the configuration values for your application.
  3. Start setting content experiments in your Macro. Select an Experiment Objective from the Experiment Objective menu. Select your predefined or custom goals.
  4. Save & publish in GTM

Now navigate to GA > Reporting > Behavior > Experiments to start tracking all the variations you had setup.

Example Usage: If you are introducing a new color, button styles or visuals and want to select the best performing variation then use experiments to auto enable the most preferred variation. You can easily customize (without updating the app) on how to distribute traffic among various variations setup.

2. App Speed

While you can easily find %exit from any of your screens but that on a standalone basis does not give much insights about the reasons for such exits. One possible reason could be that your app events or backend calls or screens might be loading slowly. This section can guide you better.

Navigate to GA > Reporting > Behavior > App Speed

App Speed
App Speed

With “App Speed” see how long different requests take to load in your app. You can use this feature to optimize the loading behavior of different screens, events or API calls.

However this feature is not readily available in regular GA setup. You will have to setup User Timing for Android & iOS, once done then define which actions’s load times you want to track.

Once you enable this, you can track the following:

  1. Average length time to load an action
  2. Sum total of time length taken to load all tracked action
  3. Region wise speed under Map overlay

3. App Demographics & Interests

This feature was recently made available in GA for Mobile. Unlike desktop websites where GA uses GDN’s cookies to determine demographics, Android Advertising ID is used here to check which apps the user has used. Google then link this identifier (Advertising ID) with the app activities on a mobile device to ascertain demographics & user interests.

Navigate to GA > Reporting > Audience > Demographics > Overview

App Demographics
App Demographics

Demographics reporting includes Age, Gender & Interest categories. It helps you get some more insights about your App users. It also saves you from capturing these details from end users directly.

Most interesting use of this feature is to use this to segment your other reports. For example you can find if female users have better conversions. Another aspect of knowing these details is to empower marketers to target new users accordingly.

How to enable this: You need to make some changes to your GA SDK in your Android or iOS App to allow the support for Display Advertising. It’s a simple one line change. Once you publish these changes then head to Audience > Demographics to validate the tracking code and enable this feature.

4. Google Play Referral Flow

This is one unpretentious feature not used effectively by many. It shows how a user flow from your various campaigns to Play Store leading to installs. Two main purpose served by this feature are:

  1. Effectiveness of your various campaigns leading to App Installs
  2. New users out of total installs

Navigate to GA > Acquisition > Google Play Referral Flow

Google Play Referral Flow
Google Play Referral Flow

While most marketers are interested in calculating CPIs from various campaigns and might also pay for actual installs hence they might ignore a very important metric here i.e. Play Store Views. Hidden inside this data is your ASO capability. Anyone who lands on your Play Store page but does not install talks a lot about the effectiveness of your App name, descriptions, visuals and other little details. If your conversion from views to install is lower than 20% then you need re-look at your ASO.

Low conversion from Play Store views to install also throws a light on your campaign’s creatives ability to not being able to convey what your App has to offer. So do not forget to share this report with your campaign designers regularly.

Important Note: You need to link your GA account with Google Play Developer console to see this data [Click here for instructions]

5. Custom Dashboard

Your Google Analytics account offers a default dashboard covering all the key metrics. However, you can make use of Custom Dashboard to give you a snapshot of metric most relevant to you. You can customize the widgets you want to see upfront without navigating through numerous links. You can create multiple dashboards and here are some ideas to evoke your creativity:

  1. Adwords Dashboard
  2. Ecommerce Dashboard
  3. Social Referral Traffic Dashboard
  4. Devices & OS Dashboard
  5. Loyalty & Engagement Dashboard

Dashboard

Navigate to GA > Dashboard > + New Dashboard

Super Tip: Finding it difficult to create one suited to your needs? Google Analytics offers a crowd sourced gallery featuring tonnes of custom dashboards. Just click import and you have a new dashboard ready in a matter of seconds. Point your browser to https://www.google.com/analytics/gallery/ to get one for your GA account.

6. iTunes Conversion Tracking

Google Analytics till date only offered tracking of downloads from Play Store and left you blind on campaign sources delivering iOS downloads. This is potentially a very big move by Google as its slowly moving towards making 3rd party attribution tools redundant.

Now if GA also starts offering App Install tracking through Facebook, it would be the death knell for many paid attribution tools.

iTunes Conversion Tracking
iTunes Conversion Tracking

To enable this, you must turn iTunes conversions to ON from GA > Admin > Account > Property Settings

You need to upgrade your iOS SDK to v3.08 or higher and add a library to your Xcode project to collect IDFA (Apple’s unique identifier)

After you publish your app with updated SDK, start creating campaigns using UTM parameters with your App store URL. Use the URL builder tool to create links easily

Now navigate to GA > Acquisition > Sources > iTunes and start tracking your iOS App install campaigns

Hope you find this post useful. Idea of this post was to point you towards these features. Google Analytics’ help section provides detailed guide on all the above features. I hope you will get all your queries answered from there.

[About the author : Guest article written by Deepak Abbot. For anything specific, feel free to write to him at dabbot@gmail.com or @deepakabbot]

Of Comfortable Corporate Life, Failures And Being An Entrepreneur.

[Guest article by Santosh Panda, Explara founder. Santosh talks about some of the struggles that he had to go through and why  he ditched his comfortable corporate life for a ‘road-not-taken’ adventure. NextBigWhat invites entrepreneurs to share their journey/lessons learned. ]

During childhood, my father had setup a dairy firm so he can earn a bit more money for giving better education and life to me and my sisters. He had a day job in a bank.

When needed, I had also distributed milk by going on a cycle to various customers, including some of my classmate and friends house.

I was born & brought up in a Ruban (Rural Urban) city in Odisha; always heard stories from my father on how people in my small town built successful businesses with little loan from bank.

After an initial attempt to get into medical and being unsuccessful, I did an engineering in Industrial & Production.

Why Startup? Santosh of Explara
Why Startup? Santosh of Explara

Fast Forward

Early in career, between 1998 to 2001, I travelled some 17 countries in Europe, USA, and South East Asia. I saw the world and it further influenced my passion towards entrepreneurship.

Gave up a hugely double-paid salary ($ in Finland and Rs in India) and life in Helsinki, Finland to come back to Bangalore to work for a small startup.

This is during the year 1999/2000 when most IT professional in India were moving to west i.e. USA.

From Bangalore, we built some amazing products for USA market from India. I tasted my creative mind and was ready to start. But I needed some money. This time I relocated myself to London & then to work with a small startup there.

Started a company in 2005 while living in London, went with a solution concept paper to University of Wales, Manchester University to solve their ‘higher education /study abroad’ programs to acquire students for various studies.

Fail & Fail Again

Tasted first failure! Me & My co-founder couldn’t agree on investment and specifically my co-founder thought it is full of risk. We closed & we are still friends.

Started another company in 2006, with 2 other co-founders, one in Bangalore, other one in USA. We struggled on selecting services vs. products and more specifically which product. We also took several months to establish a bare minimum team.

We called off the startup after 5 months of starting up and no substantial progress.

Started another startup in 2007, this time outsourced my product development to a team based in India. I had trained the team remotely from London using Skype and webcam. The company which was developing my product decided to let go several of team members. I was about to taste 3rd failure.

I approached the founder, conveyed that I intend to take over the team (or few members) if he has no issues. Started the company in 2008, while I lived in London and remotely collaborated with my team.

Explara-growth 

Adversaries

Bootstrapped from 2008 to 2011 by having a contracting job. Within 14 months of starting up, I ran out of money in 2009 Feb. My uncle gave a personal loan so I can pay salary to my associates/employees for a month.

Again ran out of money in May 2010. A childhood friend and an engg classmate offered me money so that I could pay salary to my associates/employees for a month.

My wife and my first son had come to India for my son’s birthday in 2011 and their return VISA was rejected as I had no money in my bank account in UK.

As per UK law, I cannot maintain a family basic need.

Relocated to India in Sept 2011, pitched to my childhood friend and got his first few lakhs investment.

But couldn’t take salary as company needed money badly. My wife, & son lived in Odisha; whereas I lived in Pune for 2 more years.

Not much appreciation in family relative circle for giving up a great life, salary & career in UK.

Culture

The remoteness in starting up shaped up excellent culture and collaboration.

We hired people who had an attitude and desire to do good work. We never hired anybody just because of their great educational qualification.

We had 100% open information sharing : We used Skype group conversation to share info/ chat, work & discuss, celebrate success/ express sadness, pretty much every communication was an open expression on Skype.

We never worked in weekends for the sake of it. We encouraged team to write beautiful software that works in nights & we sleep peacefully.

We encouraged team to stay ethical and not win any customer with false promises. If we miss, we own & rectify it.

Collaboration

We used simple online tools & easy to follow process to enable remote collaboration.

We used Skype group conversation to share info/ chat, work & discuss, celebrate success/ express sadness, pretty much every communication was an open expression on Skype.

Collaboration tools for project management, document management, communications helped to bridge the gap among team and also among team and customers.

We even encouraged/influenced team members to access Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, almost open access to any social communities. This helped us to source feedback/learn insights and we could even connect to Customer on this channels.

For instance, we could win 100s of customer (between 2008 to 2011) just via Twitter.

Failures

We have an open understanding in the company: Try, if you fail, there is no penalty. Rather, if you don’t try, you will loose lot of opportunity.

Don’t have to have the mindset that things will always go wrong, but let’s celebrate it when it does go wrong.

We started the company to solve ‘venue sourcing’ for events. We failed & pivoted to ‘Event Ticketing & registration’.

We failed several times during the product development, many customer had to suffer with changes/issues. We ensured we win them back with better products.

We grew to 600% but product name (it was called Ayojak earlier) couldn’t work globally. We pivoted to a new brand “Explara”.

We are now working to lead several markets in various countries.

We may fail.

Customer First

As I operated remotely, and we had established a culture of ‘kill the distance’ among myself & team. We extended the same to our customers.

The tone across the company was (& is) that we are passionate about reaching to our customers and delivering to their issue. So let’s kill the distance between us and the customer.

When there are issues (support, product, communication), its not about who is right, the customer has to be heard.

How will we expect if we were the customer? Make sure that we’re down to earth and tuned to life.

Keeping ethical and customer focused. If customer calls, we call them back within few minutes.

If you look at any part of the world it’s customer support that matters. The more customer focused you are the better world you’re building.

That’s my Startup Explara for YOU!

JRD Tata
JRD Tata

What You Can Learn From Interstellar : We Need A Partner, Even If Its AI Or A BOT

So after waiting for 2 long years, Interstellar was finally released and here is what I learned from Interstellar.

  1. Thank god that we have Space missions going on, as you know Dinosaurs are gone!Interstellar_film_poster
  2. Technology beyond pleasure is what will keep us alive.
  3. We are meant to live, not die.
  4. Time is relative. So spend it wisely.
  5. We must work to save ourselves before we face death.
  6. A moment in time is worth a lifetime somewhere, don’t waste it.
  7. Success & failure both has a price to pay.
  8. We need a partner, even if its AI or a BOT
  9. There is nothing like family.
  10. Gravity has its gravity.

I understand the fact the this piece of art, this film has a lot more to teach us, and its something that our near future may face, but these are the top 10 things that i personally learned from it and will treasure these lessons throughout my journey in this universe.

Take Care.

[Guest article by Veer Mishra. Veer is the founder of SellMouse.]
Image credit : wikipedia

Coffee With Two Friends : UX And UI [#Talk]

Hi! I am a User and today is the world’s most user friendly day. Today is so special that I can see a silver lining around me. Wanna know why?

Today I am about to take an interview of User Interface (UI) & her brother User Experience (UX) at their home. Yeah! You are welcome :)

I am sure this will be good. They invited me because they want to share intuitive tips to help those guys who really want to make their mark in this field. In this almost career oriented interview; You will know what UI & UX really stand for & how you can shine your way with some basic foundations that will lead you to the magical world of UI & UX. Also you will know why they have such great chemistry when working together!

So, right now I am siting between some wire-frames, colors, sketches & stuff and waiting for UI and UX. Oh! There is UI!

Me:  Hello UI! You look lovely & where is UX?

UI: Hello User! UX will be join us in a couple of minutes. By the way, thanks for doing this interview. I appreciate it.

Me: My pleasure UI! You look just like a perfect combination of simplicity and beauty. I think this is the one of your most striking quality, right?

UI: Thanks User! & yes it is. I would say that a simple version of me should be able to relate people more effectively & more accurately. It has always worked.

Me: Okay! Let’s get started with this one, we really want to know what you really stand for? Why people need you? Please describe yourself clearly because there are lots of interpretations around us about you. You know…people talk!

UI: Well! There’s no need to web yourself about my interpretations. I am telling you what I really stand for,

I provide a system for a user to interact with the product / service. The design of this system is a mixture of needs, experience and assumptions.

If I talk about the purpose of creating me then it is true that my designs vary according to the idea of creating me but the goal of these designs is not to provide eye-candy to the user, it is all about generating a nice experience by using it and make a right impact of the brand in the user’s mind and heart.

Long story short; let me show you some examples to clear this out and they can also help you to understand my bonding with UX:

product ux brown table

puu

 And people need me because actually they care about their needs and they care about others needs too. They always try to figure out solutions to their problems and needs & when they get it, there comes UI. Me!

They start to build, give a shape to this solution & I am the ingredient of this whole solution. People keep changing me though until they find the best, simple & easy way to operate this solution. After all! Who doesn’t likes easy.

And you know what the best part is? During this whole process, they are actually helping those who are facing that similar problem but not getting success to find cure of it. So, Actually I exist for help.

Well, here is a thing I want to say! If you are expecting some hot-shot fancy words for this little biography, then you will be disappointed. Sorry about that. Trust me, I am simple as a pie, sweet pie :)

Me: Great! Well, I am not expecting any of that; even I am a fan of a blank white paper. :D just kidding. Okay! So, my next question is related to those fellows who are really interested to begin a career in designing User Interfaces but they really are confused where to start? What are the basics?

Actually, even some Graphic Designers ask me this question often, so…What do you suggest?

UI: Graphic Designers? Okay! I got it. They’ll definitely think that UI design is a very serious, hard and kind of boring stuff. That is so not true. Trust me guys, it’s really fun and you are the best folks to get full leverage of it because you have the recommended foundation of Graphic Designing. All you need to do is get yourself in. Let me tell you how.

First of all, you have to be clear that UI design isn’t limited to only website design, the range is huge. You can find me anywhere; in websites, apps, ATMs, vehicles, even chair, cooker, knife etc. So, all I am saying please don’t cage me in websites. But for the love of Internet & you guys, here are some basics to start your UI journey:

In the Name of You

To take something from good to great, better you start to live it, and I know You are good. Let’s get started to Live!

  1. Not a much of an web surfer? Be it.

Take a plunge in the ocean of internet & you will find valuable gems every day. If you want to make your own style in UI designing, then bring your keen eye on styles of others first. Search interesting topics, themes & conceptual websites besides your favorite ones. I am sure you are aware of ‘Discovery Science Channel’s slogan. What was that? Exactly, ‘Question everything.’ You better start applying it.

Have you ever think that what concept or what feature you like most in your favorite website which brings you there again & again, what do you think about the design, does it look good to you, is it comfortable to use, what do you think about other similar websites, are they better or worse & based on what? Tease your curiosity & note down everything which you find useful.

Here I am giving you two nice online mobile recharge websites links, use them & compare them as per their design, usability & features.

https://paytm.com/

https://www.freecharge.in/

  1. Start with your own Idea instead of waiting for an opportunity 

Time is precious and waiting is not the way to respect it. So stop waiting to get noticed by some fancy pants project & start exploring with your favorite idea, here is how:

  • Take an idea and think how you can see it in a shape of website. For example let’s think about a ‘Kids Watch’
  • Yeah! Now your mind will start googling. Nice, that’s what I am talking about. Now, first thing you need to do is get some inspiration. Search some online Watch websites (doesn’t matter they are for kids or not), use them and try to understand them as per usability, design & color themes, positioning of the products, proper showcasing of the products, buying experience etc. I am sure after this your mind will start doing some rough sketches in your head. Don’t worry! It’ll be better soon.
  • Now, get back to real life. Set an age criteria for your target kids, this will make you more focused. Now, look at your surroundings. There are definitely some kids who will fits in your targeted age criteria and they are your real customers. Ask them questions which create value for your website like:

How much time they spend on internet?

Are they likely to shop online?

Problems they faced during online shopping?

Which website they find very cool?

Which color they like most to wear?

Which kind of watch they prefer sporty, designer, colorful or simple?

What about their Dad/Mom/friend’s watch? Do they like/dislike it and why?

Try to clear every doubt you have & get crucial information which will help you to design a nice and attractive Watch website for them.

  • Well! It’s time to get things together. Your own project is now ready to shape-up. Take pencil & paper & start wire-framing until you are satisfied. This process includes every single part of your project website; every click, action, positioning, work-flow of every single task etc. After that you have to get your hands dirty with software like Photoshop & Illustrator & they will help you to make cool user interfaces based on your wireframes.

This may be looks a lot but once you get inside this, your learning, your mind will guide you step by step. Automatically.

  1. Let your real life experience help you 

User interface is a way to communicate with product or service & you experience it in your real life every day. Some experiences makes you feel good & easy & some are just feel terrible and complicated.

So, how about picking up those good ones and using it in designs. Here, take a look:

coffee shop wo menu

Definitely Menu Card invention was a huge relief. As you can see how a wise organized work-flow can save your time and gives you a cheerful experience. Now think where you implement this kind of experience in your design? This could be used in a Select & Order module but a proper product description is indispensable. If you have noticed then there is tons of real life conversations you have every day that can possibly change your way of thinking designs. So, keep noticing & start implementing.

  1. Yes! Less is good

Avoid unnecessary details in your design and serve only what matters. Talking about what matters, look what  William Strunk Jr. said:

“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

From “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. 

Provide only the information your user need and stop flooding the screen with unnecessary additions.

calculator

error code

Your user doesn’t have time to appreciate your welcome page or taking a tour of your website. Give him what he is actually looking for & what you actually stand for. You should read ‘Getting Real’ by 37 signals, creators of basecamp.

“Getting Real starts with the interface, the real screens that people are going to use. It begins with what the customer actually experiences and builds backwards from there. This lets you get the interface right before you get the software wrong.”

In the Name of Technology

Every design in the world need tools to shape up & every tool has it’s own rules to operate. Learn rules & rule the design.

  1. Something about Document setup

Talking about website, a website could be a responsive one which is able to expand or reduce itself according to the display size of any device (http://www.nokia.com/in-en/) or could be a normal one which is best viewed on a laptop or desktop screen (http://www.jagran.com/).

So, how can we figure out a perfect document size for both kinds of websites? Look at these top 10 popular resolutions from October 2013 to October 2014 world-wide:

Stats

So! As you can see, 1366×768 is a most popular resolution right now. Nowadays most of the laptops have this resolution. That’s why you should use this resolution for your document size.

Well! Among these modern web design trends & experiments there is no special rule-set to define a perfect web layout but you can start with this:

Desktop Website:

width: 1366px  Height: 768px or infinite

width: 1024px  Height:  768px or infinite

width: 990px  Height: 768px or infinite

width: 960px  Height: 768px or infinite (try http://960.gs/)

Leave 15px margin from both sides left & right.

Mobile Website Size:

width: 480px  Height: infinite

Leave 15px margin from both sides left & right.

  1. Be prepared with examples

The time will come when your developer will say to you; “Dude! What is this design? Have you ever seen anywhere design like that? I mean…I have no idea how can I execute this?”

Familiar? Well, you will be. But there is nothing to worry about. It’s true that whatever you have done with your design, Developer will be responsible to make it function properly. That’s why it’s your responsibility to have a nice collection of examples for any particular design. It will be generous for both of you.

  1. Keen eye on lean things

It’s quite normal to forget things like putting a checkbox or dropdown symbol in a big wide project. But there’s where your duty calls you. Errors in minor details like rollover color, button’s shape, matching icons etc. can irritate the on user. Remember! In UI design every single part is important either it’s big or small. In below image an important (can be optional here) part is missing, find out what is that? Comment box is straight down. 

add description

  1. Developer is your friend

It’s a big yes he is. Believe it or not, but he can be a guru of yours for some major design problems. When you are working or experimenting with some designs on an ongoing project, make sure your developer is with you. He should know every story behind your design. Make a good team with him and you will be safe from some serious, time consuming and irritating problems in future & vice-versa.

  1. Learn code recipes from code chef 

A User Interface Designer + An awesome Web Developer! What a perfect combination it will be.

Don’t be limited only to design part. Embrace this lovely technology which is playing behind every damn thing on internet.

Think how delightful it will be when you design things exactly as per requirements of it’s developing part. You will know exactly what to design and what not and best part is you easily cure the problems because you will be prepared at the first place.

There are lots of resources now a days to learn basic and hardcore development languages. codecademy.com, Treehouse.com, w3school.com even youtube are some few examples to start learning basic html, CSS and other languages. And hey! You have a developer friend, remember! Now you can say ‘I am feeling lucky’.

Well guys! There is so many things to talk about this but better you experience it. All I am saying is don’t be confused, don’t be in doubt, just start & valuable things will come around.

& Hey! Use your mind palace! How cool will that be? :D

 cumberbacht

Me: Seems like you are a fan of Sherlock? 

UI: O yeah! He is sending a message to us that ‘Think & you will find the solution.’ Once he said ‘Dangerous to jump on conclusion, need data.’ How true is that when we are planning or starting to make a product. So true, isn’t?

Me: Fascinating! But UI, where is UX? It’s been a while now.

“You guys talking about me? Well! I am here.”

Me:  Oh Awesome! UX is here now. Now it’s really perfect.

UI: And no UX! We are not talking about you, we are talking about Sherlock!

UX : Oh really! Tell me User! Did she say bad things about me?

Me: Relax UX! She always saysgood things about you & you know it. Anyway, you look so happy & energetic. Where you been?

UX: I am happy & I will be because who on earth like a dull & boring User Experience?

Me: So true UX! I am endorsing your answer. So, now  you are here then let’s get to the business. Shall we?

UX: Yeah! Why not, let’s shoot.

(Read UX interview in next part ‘Talking to the UX’)

Image Credits: Quora.com, stuffyyoulook.blogspot.in, Pixel Perfect Precision & Google.

Your feedback, questions and comments about this article are most welcome.

[Ashutosh Shukla is UI designer at Solomo Media. More interested in function than form, he started his career by designing 3D models for Indian Air Force. His approach to Design is via Conversations, Observations and Reactions, trying to find reasons behind every pixel. Follow him on twitter @AshutoshShuklaG.]

Challenges Of Running A Financial Tech Startup In India

The financial services ecosystem is still running on an old engine and the evolution of change is at an extremely slow pace while the economy is effervescent. It has been over a year when I decided to join a young team to disrupt this space and build a completely new engine to leverage the use of technology for wider adoption in the financial services sector. Starting up is hard enough but to build one in the financial services space opens a Pandora’s box of other challenges.Managing Growing IT challenges in Financial Services[1]

Reality 1: Financial services is a massively huge space and hugely not consumer focussed.

I realize there is plethora of opportunities in this sector right from lending to assets management, personal finance to investments, crowd lending to payments etc. Just to give you an idea as to what is the unmet MSME debt funding gap it is estimated to be at about ? 9L Crore; Digital payments today is expected to touch ? 1.2 trillion by Dec-2014, today mobile payments is estimated to be about 175 million $ but could be about 1.15 billion $ in India alone by 2016.

The opportunity is immense but a large portion of these various financial services space has a very low technology penetration and even if they do use old outdated technologies or massively expensive systems that makes it difficult to scale on the fly. Most financial services/products not being consumer facing make it not so fancy a sector. Loans take a lot of time to get disbursed for example or to make a payment the experience is tedious to complete etc.

Financial services being core to any economy there is a huge opportunity to see a wave of fin-tech start-ups coming out of the Indian start-up ecosystem. The more value that can be derived by consumers over time by the service/ product that is to be offered there is no reason I see for the changing face of the consumer behaviour to adopt this.

Reality 2: Regulations

Yes this may seem like a huge road block or a barrier to entry. Go ahead crack this wall and once you get to starting up a financial services/products company in India but there are ways to work around and still be within the frame work of these regulations.May be with the government too driving technology and a push for the economy if you can manage to bring value to the current environment for the regulators may just open up the gates to try out other things in this space.

Reality 3: Data Limitations

Access to data is a massive challenge in India and especially when it comes to getting consumers to share relevant information to making decisions or even understanding historical behaviour. We are starting to see basic data infrastructure spring up – e.g. credit bureaus, Aadhaar, Roc/MCA. In many ways I draw parallels to like how e-com looked in 2007 when Flipkart started – poor courier services, cash payments – but had Flipkart not started then it would not be a market leader today. One has to read the future on data and make the play early to win.

This is where underwriting is critical and it is more an art to be able to do this well. The primary objective being to manage and ensure the nonperforming assets are at the bare minimum with such data limitations. To be able to underwrite effectively with technology will be a huge quantum shift in the industry. Financial data can be sensitive and the economy still primarily being a cash economy depending on the type of fin-tech start-up there are bound to be various limitations to access the relevant data that is required. In the entirety of these limitations to information – such things of fraud and effective data mining becomes absolutely critical and essential to do well.

Reality 4: Financial services/products need huge access to Capital

Building a company of scale and value in the financial services sector will relatively require more access to capital in comparison to other start-ups in the various other sectors. All start-ups need money to scale but the quantum required here is a whole lot more and this can be a challenge to keep raising and to keep adding value as it scales. There are ways to be really innovative and be capital efficient even in this space. P2P lending is a good example, as are mobile wallets. I think in the long term capital efficient business models will win because it will be harder for incumbents to copy. If tech has to be the enabler in the financial services/products start-up this will add to the challenges of raising a lot more capital but certainly can add a lot more value than ever imagined to lenders, financial institutions, consumers and businesses without an iota of doubt.

Reality 5: Resources and talent to execute this

Anything can be learnt as long as it is not rocket science. Well this certainly is not rocket science either but there is a dearth of talent in terms of individuals having the right mind set to build fin-tech companies or have had the expertise and exposure to manage the challenges of this space. The learning curve demands are huge both on the technology or coming with the financial services expertise where it is critical to unlearn and relearn to disrupt this space if you have to.

These are my thoughts. If you work in a fin-tech start up would be happy to hear more on the challenges you face. There is plenty of opportunities out there in this space and enough scope for more players and start-ups be it in building P2P lending platforms, mobile wallets, investment services for consumers, analytical tools for Banks and NBFC’s or access to structured data sources over time are some models I can think of that can springboard in this ecosystem in the next few years. Time we saw the next wave of the e-commerce boom in the fin-tech space now and lets spark a new rise of a community to redefine the financial services/products ecosystem in India.

[Guest article by Utham Reddy, VP – Products at Capital Float. Follow him on twitter @uthamr.]

This Startup Is Rethinking Culture Code : No Office, No Boss, No Email.

The New New Office Culture
The New New Office Culture

[Editorial notes : The new age startups are rethinking work culture. Right from Buffer’s transparency to ‘4-days week working culture’ by some.  Entrepreneur Hernán Amiune shares the new new work culture he is setting up at his startup.]

The main reason is because the most important way to reach the best efficiency possible is allowing us to work without a boss, only 4 days a week and spend 50% more of our time with our families.

Each of these 3 factors working altogether in an office communicating mainly by e-mails and being constantly interrupted by meetings where the habits that we decided to change since the beginning of our working method 8 years ago.

Previously we have worked for big companies like IBM, HP and Intel where we learned exactly what things we shouldn’t do if we wanted to add value and work together with the best engineers in our technological entrepreneurship.

Why should we eliminate meetings?

One of the most important aspects in order to achieve our objective is to understand that we shouldn’t interrupt a programmer’s work so we can attend to a meeting.

The reason is that this kind of job demands an average of 4 hours of hard work in order to achieve good results.

As computing engineers we knew the importance of this habit and that’s why we decided to eliminate meetings, in this way each engineer could work in 2 shifts free from interruptions for example from nine to thirteen and then fourteen to eighteen.

There’s a clear concept that Paul Graham, the creator of Startup School states: ”the cost that represents a programmer assists to a meeting is always going to be more expensive than staying at his workplace” that is to say a project manager’s agenda is never going to be compatible with a developer’s agenda.

Why should we eliminate e-mails?

The second aspect that we consider fundamental is to eliminate the bad use of e-mails as task lists. When the reality is that the communication convention known as e-mail born in 1993 wasn’t conceived and is completely ineffective for developing this kind of task.

It is on this basis that we decided as an internal policy in eMT to eliminate communication via e-mail .In my particular case for example I received 5 emails instead of 55 per day .This 5 e-mails are only external communications with our clients and suppliers.

Why should we eliminate the office?

Finally the truth is that at the beginning of our startup we didn’t had the economic capacity to rent an office, and this working habit we found it by chance, and not by analysis. Then we took a proactive decision as in the previous two aspects.

After 2 years and with the economic capacity to rent an office we decided to do so with 14 other people that who conformed to be part of our team.

After a year in this office we decided to proactively work on a remote basis. Currently we are a team of 35 people in our startup distributed around 5 countries (Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico) and each of us works from our respective homes.

Why is the reason of this? The time that you waste going and coming from the office represents an extra 20% time that you have to dedicate to work, instead of dedicating that time to our families or personal hobbies .In addition, to that you have to consider the stress caused by driving or using the public transportation, apart from that you should take into account the cost that this implies as you can see all of these are clearly negative connotations.

And this is nothing new as you can see in this Forbes article with more than 100 important companies that are currently using it.

Working 4 days a week and without a boss

By means of using the 3 aspects mentioned before we are enabled to live in a reality that’s completely differs from other companies .The level of effectiveness achieved by suppressing hundreds of e-mails and without moving to an office every day allows us to work 4 days instead of 5 and without the need of having a boss to inform constantly of our advances.

In order to implement this successfully we implemented 2 important measures that you could also apply to achieve this new working method:

  1. Include exclusively proactive engineers: This means that we only hire programmers who are able to manage their time and tasks on their own without the need of a project manager .Its not an easy thing to find programmers fitting this description but with some time and effort to it is possible.

Even though we made the mistake of hiring the wrong engineers we immediately decided to take a different path regardless of how difficult it might be.

  1. Internal control panel: On the other side we designed a simple panel in which you can see which projects we are working as a company and each engineer (employee) can attach himself to. This way each one in a proactive way decides in which task they desire to take part and by taking this responsibility he or she focuses on programming.

In this panel that works as an SAAS tool we all posses a 360-degree view of what each of us is doing in real time given that we are all programmers. It’s very simple to know when someone is doing his job right or not.

Why should we implement this new working method?

In fact there may be plenty of reasons that make this working method a great choice .We also may have millions of reasons not to do it! However if we want to get the most talented people this is definitely the best option.

Over the years we realized that we could draw and, more important retain A+ level employees.

This provides a spectacular competitive advantage. Take into account that a B level programmer will be 5 times less productive than a high level experienced and proactive programmer.

Working with a high level team 4 days a week and without a boss we managed to grow in a 204% in the last year and as we all know the reason behind this is our great team.

The business that manages to adapt to this changes possible through technology will be able to form the best working group and s a major competitive advantage that will allow them to gain long term success.

[About the author : Guest article by Hernán Amiune, CoFounder of oMT, for all of Latin America, .NET, JavaScript, JQuerry and my SQL programmer. Professor at the the Siglo XXl university in Argentina. Currently focusing on artificial intelingence development.]

NextBigWhat accepts guest articles and the easiest way to get started is by dropping an email to editorial@nextbigwhat.com

Own A Car or Rent One ? The End of Car Ownership In India Has Begun?

Ola has raised US$210 mn- that’s crazy money!! Now I am sure Bhavish with all this money will make sure that other people follow his footsteps- never OWN a car!

The fact is that he is not just campaigning for his business, but actually saving money by not owning a car! A quick analysis shows that monthly cost of owning a car is much higher than taking a radio cab for a daily travel of less than 50 kms.

Before jumping to the workings, some basic assumptions are:

Sedan car cost= Rs8 lacs, Loan component =80%, Interest rate=11%, Loan Tenure= 5 years, Car mileage= 13 kms/litre, Fuel price (petrol)= Rs 75/litre and a 22 day working month.

Renting Car Vs. Ola/Uber : India Analysis
Renting Car Vs. Ola/Uber : India Analysis

Now, with Ola (Sedan) at Rs21/km in Mumbai, clearly shows that its better owning a car if you drive >80 kms/day (with driver) or >50 kms/day (without driver).

Owning A Car Vs. Uber/Ola/TFS?
Owning A Car Vs. Uber/Ola/TFS?

And guess what, if you are in Bangalore then you MUST not own a car because Ola offers a Sedan @ Rs13/ km which would mean that owning a car (without driver) would make sense if you are driving more than 100 kms/day.

Pricing of Ola/Uber/TaxiForSure and Meru
Pricing of Ola/Uber/TaxiForSure and Meru

On top of this, armed with such massive funding I am sure that for the next one or two years customers will have a great time with loads of offers/discounts. Some of the insane offers going on currently which make a car owner look like a fool are…

And on top of this, as the drivers get more rides, the economies of scale or efficiency will only bring down the cost of these rides further.

The end of car-ownership has begun!!

Best of luck Ola, Uber, Taxiforsure, Meru..

[About the author : Guest article by Sandeep Reddy. Follow him on twitter @hsrdce.]

Of iPhone6, U2 And Being A Startup Founder

U2’s 13th album “Songs of Innocence” launched alongside the launch of  iPhone 6: half a billion subscribers to iTunes received “Songs of innocence” in their accounts, paid for by Apple and consumed for free. It’s an awesome deal for the U2, but money has never been what drives them…it’s  their ethos; to keep searching, to keep toiling that drives them.

U2 remains the biggest stars in the music business, a business that has seen  more turbulence than any other industry due to Internet: music industry  revenues have more than halved since 2000. Apple and U2 have joined  forces at a pivotal time for each other. iTunes is under attack from interactive streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and it’s own Beats, but revenues coming out of such streaming services are miniscule and an entire generation of consumers has developed a habit of not buying or owning music.

Question then is why has U2 succeeded in an industry (music) that sucks:

1) Only U2 sounds exactly like U2. Their music is so uniquely different.
2) U2 is obsessed with excellence. They worried when a magazine recently described their new album as “very very good.” U2 settles only for  greatness.
3) U2 the band has been together for 38 years, but it’s members (founders:  Bono, Edge, Clayton and Mullen) are not only together, but really like each other even now.
4) No band on the planet has done a bigger tour than U2 and their music fills stadiums. This is crucial in an era where music is being consumed for  free, and live performances is what people pay for. The band has found many other ways to generate income besides selling records:  merchandising; promotional tie-ups; synchronization fees from TV, film, video games and advertising; and most of all, live performance. U2’s 360 degrees tour in 2011 grossed $772M, highest ever tour measured by both attendance and box-office gross!

They have a higher purpose than selling music or making money. Bono  co-founded ONE to combat global poverty. His understanding of global  poverty is sophisticated and his determination to mobilize global help to  fight poverty is real. Now they have teamed up with Apple to create a new  audiovisual format with a mission to make consumers willingly pay to own  music again, pinning their hopes on new format to help struggling fellow  artists.

So what’s there for a modern-day-tech-founder to learn from the epic  journey of U2?
1) Be uniquely different.
2) Stand for something bigger than yourself, money and market-share. Your  larger mission sustains you through the ups and down. It helps you build a  loyal following and gives you resilience to survive fads.
3) Build a team and an alliance that survives through the highs and lows.
4) Be a hero; don’t take short-cuts. Don’t be afraid to go through hell before you realize your potential. An epic journey is worth a lifetime.
5) Be good, don’t be evil.

[Guest contribution by Rajesh Sawhney, founder of GSF accelerator.]