Friday, May 13, 2011

Born In The USA

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The Next Web: An Indian Entrepreneur visits New York: “I was born in the wrong country :)”
Aditya Sahay, co-founder of India based Radbox ..... his no-nonsense personality ..... He explains that most of his customer base is in the US. ..... “I visited TechStars in New York and worked out of their office for a couple of days as David Cohen’s guest. I spent good time with David discussing our idea, and attended some mentor talks – Fred Wilson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brad Feld. It was an awesome experience to be in the same room as these people. It was like being a small time film maker in the same room as Spielberg!”, he exclaims. ..... “From very negative to very positive”, he replies. “I met some other startups who are now competitors; I did not get into TechStars, and could not make up my mind on how to proceed, and whether we could raise any money depending on where we were at that stage” ...... turned out Aditya and Radbox were not on a hockey stick curve. Since they were not based in the US, raising money was out of the question. Aditya goes on to explain why, “Investors have cities where they invest. They won’t give you a cheque to have you fly away half-way across the world, only to never meet again”. ....... “The thing with US is there’s a lot of noise too. They have all these happy hours, parties, events where everyone is talking a lot about making NY the next big tech scene. Then there’s this startup incubator bubble. Everyone and his dad wants to open a startup incubator.” ....... the highlight of the trip was demoing Radbox at the NY Tech Meetup ..... “Startup events (in India) are more PowerPoint (and) less demo. Most (events) don’t even have Wi-Fi to demo! Hell of a difference! I had to demo here using prerecorded videos most of the time.” ........ “Demos help filter out signal from noise – I can do a one hour presentation on any topic under the sun. But to do a 3 min demo in NYTM (New York Tech Meet-up) we worked non-stop for the previous 40 
Image representing Radbox as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBasehours,because it was a tiny window, and nothing should go wrong.” ....... He realized that whatever they’re figuring out through first-hand experience in India, was already prior knowledge there. ...... “Also, I was working out of Dogpatch Labs; so I got to hang out with a lot of cool startups. And I met just about everyone in the tech scene. I would totally open a Dogpatch Labs here! Doing a startup is lonely and I think physical incubation (not just real estate, but co-working + mentorship + guests) is a great model worth replicating. I got opportunity to hear and even meet someone like Mark Suster thanks to Dogpatch Labs.” ....... At any point, did he feel he was doing stuff the wrong way, as an Indian startup? “Lots !”, he exclaims. “Not moving fast enough; trying to bootstrap without being very wealthy; Not building a team before building a product and not having the right advisors on board” ...... the primary mistakes they made while working on Radbox were not growing their user base fast enough, and not shipping mobile apps sooner ...... turned out that time was more valuable than money. They never factored funding in their plan, not thinking far enough ....... “If I had Rs. 50 Lakh today, I would’ve spent it on a team – hire great developers, designers and even a community manager – be a team of 4-5″ ....... “The goal should have been maximising opportunity, not minimising loss/risk – which had been our thought process.” He explains that in the US startup scene, funding is obvious like food, nobody thinks about it. Its not really a ‘decision’. Startup founders in the US think about their product and funding, whereas in India, people don’t really think about funding too much. There’s very little money in the early stage (pre-revenue) startup in India ....... while visiting US he went crazy asking himself, “Why the hell am I not here?” after he met all those awesome VCs/angels. He replies, “I was born in the wrong country ”. ...... “We don’t underestimate. We are culturally so different that we probably don’t give it much thought. Like an American will not think about arranged marriage which is so natural here. Its a cultural thing. Funding, advice is not a part of the culture, doing a startup in itself is not a part of the culture.” ...... the ‘bubble’ or whatever in US is not here (in India) which is good. ...... “Well, here’s the deal – Let’s take a typical profile – a guy who’s done 2-3 startups, one which was a big success, one a failure, one maybe moderate success. This guy has wealth, loves startups, has wealth of experience, strong network, knows what works and what goes wrong. We need a 100 of these guys right away. But i think we can’t even count 5, or if they exist then no one knows about them.” ...... “I don’t know if there are successful exits in India.” ..... “Startup events: should only allow real working demos. We need real entrepreneurs. Powerpointpreneurs and Excelpreneurs are not needed. They should also provide wi-fi to allow us to showcase products and demos !” ..... “VCs and angels: Call them angels or whatever – these guys can help push the startup scene and they’re not here. ” ..... “Indian startups: Don’t make the mistakes we made! If you’re too far from good revenue, explore funding opportunities, move fast, build a team ASAP and have advisors who can add outside perspective. “

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