All Talk and No Action Saturday, January 30, 2010

Proto held it's 7th edition at F.C. Kohli Auditorium, IIT today.

Well known for it's boost to entrepreneurial activities, the event had an impressive line up of talks and discussions.

Pradeep Gupta (of Dataquest, PC Quest fame) and Sanjeev Bhikhchandani (Naukri) were the keynote speakers.

I have to add here, Sanjeev Bhikhchandani came across as an extremely straightforward and witty guy. Not many people can discuss their lives so objectively and colourfully.

Proto's highlight is always the start ups it showcases. We had 15 Start ups who had each been given 6 minutes to present their ideas/products to the audience.

Earlier, some 10 odd companies have benefited and availed investments by talking at Proto events.

This year, 15 companies, belonging to Education, Mobile, Social Enterprise and Software verticals made their pitch.

It was good to know how these companies had caught hold of specific gaps in their specific markets and had come out with solutions to meet consumer needs.

Out of the 15 that made a show today, Panini Keypad and Tara Machines made the atmost impact.

The audiences were in for a treat ! These two companies had awesome products, immense knowledge of and belief in their ideas. While Panini came up with an application to promote regional languages on cell phones, Tara Machines made affordable machines which were used by rural entrepreneurs to make customised bricks. Their machines made sure that carbon footprints were taken care of, while, at the same time rural populace could work in healthier, non threatening environments.

Post Lunch, the audiences were shown Pirates of the Silicon Valley. It was a fun film which traced the lives and careers of two Technology Czars - Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Later, VCs and Angel Investors took questions from the audience and shared their thoughts on start up funding, business ideas, legal contracts, etc.

All in all, a very informative session, with lots of scope to network and pitch one's ideas.

Some key take aways from the session -

  • There is safety in numbers - VCs always prefer a team to an individual. In their view, a team is better equipped to build sustainable businesses than an individual who would find himself hassled
  • Indian entrepreneurs can no longer ignore the global markets. The outlook has to be "Glocal" when they decide to start up
  • Whether a company has an IT/Operations/Finance guy or not, is immaterial. It should most definitely have a Salesman ! Strong customer relations had saved Naukri during it's downturn. Rocket Singh seemed a hit with all present !
  • Money is there to take. A lot of good, easy money is lying untouched. Rather, good ideas are hard to come by - so said the VCs
  • Almost all speakers agreed that the very first product/idea would almost always fail. So don't fall in love with it. Use the experience to build better products/customise/change the existing one

    Now, two takeaways from me -

    The food was royally attrocious. Stone like paneer and rotis less elastic than rubber. Just why is food ignored at conferences of this scale? Second, Airtel, alongwith Sequoia Capital was the prime sponsor of the event. We even learnt about its seed fund to support entrepreneurship. Very good. All this while, I just wanted to point out that all network operators, including the great MTNL, had perfect coverage in the closed door auditorium. All, except Airtel. Zero coverage for the entire day. Ahem, did someone say core competency ?


ashkd said...

Great coverage.. you never thought of journalism seriously!! :-)

i have found over the years that most of the great people have great sense of humor or at least their timing is quite perfect. be it steve jobs, roger federer, vijay mallaya, rakesh jhunjhunwala or damodaran.. very perfect answers they give..

VCs are always interested for the return of money.. so they need strong hold on numbers.. be it prediction nos, people in nos or selling of nos.. :-)

All Talk and No Action said...

@ashkd - Thank you :)

Journalism - Nope. I can't be a part of the media I have come to hate :)

Even I think, people who are built of great substance generally are humble and with an amazing sense of humour. Lethal Combination na? :)

The VC talk was really good. They discussed everything from legal issues to IPOs...

My only problem was that most companies show cased belonged to the technology domain. Entrepreneurship in India is definitely more than only internet businesses and cell phone start ups ! Hope Proto fares better the next time...

ashkd said...

Bingo.. :-) they always go for Tech domain. I also hope that it goes slightly away from tech..

Yes.. these lethal combos make them all the more down-to-earth and icons for all.. given the same situation i might be tongue tied to say anything and they give the most witty replies possible. Hats off!!

All Talk and No Action said...

@ashkd - Yes, definitely hats off. All of them must have had wholesome experiences, yet, not everyone develops good humour.

Come to think of it, a little off the topic, who do you think are humorous CEOs/MDs India INC has had, apart from the ones you already mentioned...?