Interview with Mr.Purnendu Bose, Founder and Director at ITI Restaurants

Interview with Mr.Purnendu, Founder and Director at ITI Restaurants

Let me ask you something! Imagine yourself working at one of the prime positions with a leading Television channel. You’re at the acme of your life-position. You are 48, and have a family to look upon. Inspite of the fact that everything is going in a perfect harmony, will you quit your day job and start-up something from scratch?

For those who would not do so (or at least recommend others not to quit their day jobs), let me share a small piece of story.

Iti - The speciality Bengali RestaurantIt was a day long exhausting journey, where I was travelling back from one of my business meetings and wanted to halt somewhere to eat something refreshing. Passing by across more than ten hotels and restaurants, something caught my attention. There was this fluorescent-green textured board, near the highway, saying “Iti – The speciality Bengali Restaurant.” It had a caricature of a Bengali man, which portrayed that the food was extremely delicious.

Purbendu BoseThe moment I entered the restaurant, I was invited by Mr.Purnendu Bose, the Founder of Iti. I took my seat at the corner table and took the first bite of ‘Veg.Chap’, one of the menu items – believe me it was AWESOME! I stood up, took my plate and went at his table, where I spotted him working on a laptop. For those who don’t know him, Mr.Purnendu was the Ex-COO at SaharaOne, and one of the key persons to launch Hungama TV channel.

Since then, I became more curious about him and pulled out my pen and notepad. Let’s know more about him and entrepreneurial journey so far.

What was the first spark, that made you quit your day job and start iti restaurants? How did the idea of Bengali food chain come to your mind?

ITI-RestaurantTo cut a long story short, I had an ambition of migrating from employment to entrepreneurial venture at around 45 years of age. This would be of something I thought I am intrinsically good at. Initially it was a step in the media industry where I have spent last two decades of my career. I got into the search for fund for my own media project and was constantly travelling to meet investors. While I was in Kolkata on that mission, I frequented a specialty Bengali restaurant chain outlet which was close to my meeting venue.  There i realized that there are not good options of reasonably priced, specialty Bengali restaurant chain here in Mumbai or other cities outside West Bengal with a significant & affluent Bengali population who really missed out on Nostalgic taste of authentic Bengali food.  Bengalis are known for their culinary passion and no matter which part of the planet earth they live in can walk extra miles for their ethnic food fare.  Bengali foods that have evolved over the centuries both ingeniously and through assimilation of many foreign culinary specialties are a big draw not for its distinctive tastes and flavors alone but also for simplicity and subtlety in cooking styles. Yes, I’m a carefully self groomed food connoisseur, especially of authentic and exotic Bengali Food.

When you made the decision of starting up your own venture at the age of 48, how did you tackle the opposition from your family and friends?

Honestly speaking I have not had any opposition. On the contrary my family stood by me and backed whatever decisions I have taken in my life. In that field, I am possibly lucky enough to have supporting parents, wife and son.

What is the USP of your food chain?

Happy Customers - ITI

Iti in Bengali literally means “The End”. Through our brand name the message conveyed is “end to the search for authentic Bengali Cuisine”. Iti is a destination that showcases the best of both East and West Bengal cuisine. Bongs are known for their appetite for food that is as intense as their love for culture music and films. There is a famous saying that compulsions can drive a bong out of Bengal but nothing can take the Bengal out of a bong’s heart. Our USP is founded on this emotional quotient especially about nostalgic food from both sides of Bengal with a single objective of serving the foods they miss when they go out of Bengals that in turn will be a sort of celebration for them.  The real kick is in the preparation of food in strict adherence to traditional recipes so that the customers feel that they are having home cooked food- something in the way their mother or grandparents used to cook.  This I believe makes the immediate nostalgic connect. We offer around 97 unique authentic recipes from both sides of Bengal.

Within a span of just few months, you’ve already started three restaurants in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai region, where do you see yourself in coming 5 years?

Thanks to overwhelming response from Bengalis all across Mumbai which has enabled us to open 3 branches in last 15 months, from the time when we opened our first outlet in Vashi. Today we are serving to more than 5000 Prabashi (migrated) Bengali families every month in Mumbai. We intend to continue to roll-out primarily company owned and operated restaurants. We have the appetite and drive to establish fifteen Iti Bengali Restaurants in Mumbai over the next three years and then move onto a national and international business-scape in the next phase of expansion.

“Management is core to every individual, organization & society.” Give your views on it.

Management is inseparable right from cradle to crematorium for any individual, organization or society. Judicious management of resources is required to sustain oneself save growth and advancement through high pitched competition. Deep and large management bandwidth can lead to very high success rate, which enables to make optimum use of available resources, both material and human. Management is a sheer necessity not a fashionable rhetoric.

What is your philosophy towards work?

It’s simple: work until I drop that inspires people around me to do the same.

According to you, what are the challenges for Entrepreneurship today?

Business and industry can be different but the challenges are the same. They are for innovation, opportunity, existence & growth, which entrepreneurs today face as they attempt to attain their goals set.

Do you think today’s economy is conducive for a new venture to start upon?

The essence, spirit and direction of the economy has been pro-market since industrial revolutions. Only paradigms shift in relation to the political bias. Now when you’re looking for a new venture you’re competing in a world where the competition isn’t just the outlet down the street, but anybody working with similar idea anywhere in the world. It is good as it demands more from me to be competitive in equal terms first and then to attain the all important leading edge in the business we do. Possibly I have to work hard more as some of them have more local economic advantages as compared to those in our country. But that should not be eyed as deterrents, on the contrary as challenges to test yourself.

Share with us the most enjoyable moment you had experienced on work.

There is not a single one, there are many. But I can share a recent one. A couple of days later I opened our Vashi Joint I came across a couple on their morning walk. Seeing Iti the lady stopped and a bit grudgingly told her husband “See our luck. It has opened here when we are told to be calorie-conscious.” I was really amused and felt a bit bad about them at the same time. Also the moments when some guests gave me a look of disbelief knowing me the owner of iti. I am grateful to my parents for my unassuming unlike-businessman look.

[alert style=”green”]We wish Mr.Purnendu, and his entire team a very best future and luck and let all his joint’s keep making more and more customers happy![/alert]

People enjoying food at ITI

A conversation with Mr.Naidu Darapaneni, Founder and CEO at MeraEvents

A conversation with Mr.Naidu Darapaneni, Founder and CEO at MeraEvents

The era of internet has provided tremendous opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to establish successful ventures by providing an interface for end users and solving their problems with use of technology. Internet has provided myriad of ideas for enthusiastic entrepreneurs to gorge upon.

Grabbing one of these opportunities and mitigating the agony of the end consumers has led to introduction of a gamut of new products and services in the event industry of India – “Online ticketing solutions and promotions” in India. Mere introduction of this platform has brought about 360 degree change in the working of events industry of India.

Recently, I got a chance to have a telephonic conversation with Mr.Naidu Darapaneni, Founder and CEO at MeraEvents.

Recognizing a problem, identifying a gap, churning a solution for it and turning it into a successful venture is what defines Mr.Naidu Darapaneni. With the expertise of 15 years in information technology field and running a B2B business for almost 10 years in USA, Mr. Naidu returned back to India in 2007 to start a B2C business.

How and when did ‘MeraEvents’ start? What is the story behind ‘MeraEvents’?

Mr.NaiduWhen I came back to India in 2007, I saw that there is a huge potential in the Indian market. As I was doing a B2B business all these years in US, I wanted to start a B2C business. To feel the Indian market, I started attending various trade shows and startup events across the country and while I was doing so, I realized that a lot of times it was difficult to find information about any event beforehand. After validating this thought into various other people, I understood this issue is being faced by many people, including me. And to top it up, even if you find information of any event on time, the process of obtaining the tickets is a highly tedious and time consuming work to accomplish. So, that is where the idea of ‘MeraEvents’ was born- to get events information and ticketing solutions under one roof. And to give a personal touch to the name of the venture, we named it as “MeraEvents”. It was officially launched in Oct 2009.

What is gives your product a competitive advantage in the market over other players?

We have multiple advantages over other players in the market. Firstly, we have gained the early-mover advantage.We stepped into the market, when there were no other players. This added to our competitive edge and today we are proud to have 6.5 lakh facebook fan base and almost half a million users.

Secondly, we are the lowest payment gateway (2.5%) solution among the players in the Indian market. This is basically to attract and encourage Indian buyers to buy online tickets for an event. Still, there is huge untapped market of customers who are not comfortable in buying tickets online for any event.

Thirdly, technology wise – We are superior to our competitors, in terms of responsive designs – wherein the website is compatible with all the different viewing platforms.

Fourthly, Local presence in six cities and customer satisfaction is our core strength.

To top it up, we have already started venturing into different segments of the same industry and are extending value proposition to our customers. We are trying to come up as an end to end events technological solution company rather than just online ticketing solution in India.

Moozup

Recently, we heard about “MoozUp” launched by MeraEvents. Can you throw some light on it and the different segment areas you are focusing on currently?

As I told you, we are extending our value proposition into different areas of the same industry. We are diversifying into different areas in the same industry.

First of all, MoozUp is our new product that provides networking opportunities before, during and after the event. One of the very purposes of a participant attending a physical event is to network and find people with whom you can exchange business services and ideas. And MoozUp does the same and provides the basic platform for any event’s participants to network – before the event, during the event and after the event. It allows creating a communityfor each event, wherein the access is exclusively given to participants of the event while keeping each participants privacyintact. It is highly beneficial to the event organizers as well.

Alongside, we are also in the process of launching a shorter version of MoozUp called – MoozUpLite. This is a complete go-green initiative by us. This aims at reducing the paper usage by 75 percent for any event. It will be launched soon.

Second of all, we have also started MeraEvents Venues, wherein we assist the organizers to locate a proper venue for their event. So, this is how we are increasing our horizon each day.

What, do you think, was the major entry barrier into the events industry of India?

The major challenge was to change the mindset of the users and customers in the industry. The events industry in India is highly unorganized. So, the first and foremost hurdle was to break the mindset and bring the unorganized sector on a systematic road. Encouraging the users and customers to use the online potential was very difficult. Initially, offering the services for free was also not helping us. But, now there is complete 360 degree turn in the industry.

What are the major factors contributing to the success of MeraEvents?

First of all, we always envisioned to be a long term player in the Indian Market. Keeping that in mind, we ensured to provide customers the added value before, which then, in turn started to convert the value into cash flows. Customer delight was and is our major focus.
Second of all, my team has always been on its toes to take up the everyday challenges and make a difference. They have been with me from day one and have continuously provided important inputs for the growth of the company.

Where do you see “MeraEvents” in the next 5 years? Any major expansion plans?

MeraEvents, is primarily focused in India so far. My vision for it in the next 5 years would be to expand its operations in other Asian and Middle-east countries. Regarding MoozUp and MoozUp Lite, I think it has a great potential to go global and bring a change in the entire functioning and organisation of events.
In addition to these, once the venues.meraevents.com is successful, then we would want to bring in and offer service providers info to event organizers under one roof. This may take another 2–3 years down the line.

Any message for the budding entrepreneurs of India?

One, I would like to speak out of my sheer experience, that you always need to be among the top three players to survive in any industry today. And to achieve that, you need to enter any market with an attitude of problem-solving and turning this ‘problem-solving’ solution into a business opportunity by the help of technology.

Second, it is very important to enter in the market with a long term perspective. Unless, you have at least 3 to 5 years plan in the Indian market, a strong focus, and sustenance, it is difficult to survive. Long term plan and persistence will help you to succeed.

A casual talk with the co-founders of Ayojak, Mr.Santosh Panda and Mr.Ashok Kumar

A casual talk with the co-founders of Ayojak, Mr.Santosh Panda and Mr.Ashok Kumar

Before the advent of online ticketing venues had to rely on “outlet presence”–or retail and kiosk sales–as the only means of allowing customers to purchase tickets at multiple locations. Traditional outlets require training, upfront hardware costs, and have limited hours of operation.

The Internet forever changed the face of ticketing by enabling a “virtual” ticket outlet in every home. The popularity of smartphones further spread this reach to an outlet in every pocket. Customers have the option to purchase tickets from anywhere at any time, allowing for a virtual box office that’s never closed.

Talking about the online ticketing options in the Indian scenario, we have personally been using Ayojak for our Blogathon series. It was recently, when I thought of calling up Ashok and willing to hear the story of Ayojak from the team. So here we go!

How did the idea of ‘Ayojak’ strike you? What was the primary motivation?

Santosh PandaI was listening to radio and there was an ad looking for an event manager for an event. That is when the idea came to mind on what’s happening in this event industry. We launched Ayojak as a venue & event listing portal but found out that several event organizers are asking for a simple ticketing and event management solution. That’s how we pivoted and launched Ayojak in its current avatar in Sept 2009.

In the initial years of your startup, how difficult it was to introduce ‘Ayojak’ in the event industry of India?

We hardly had few customers and it was kind of begging the customers to use the service for free. We had several payment gateway issues, which our customers thought, are due to Ayojak. Like RedBus, we had to do several training and coaching to convince organizers and users about how to use payment gateway.

How have your goals and values changed since starting the venture?

When we started the venture, we had several ideas which got validated and some were moved from the roadmap. We also did several mistakes before we found our mojo.

What do you consider as a major breakthrough for ‘Ayojak’ since its inception?

Ashok KumarThe major breakthrough came during May 2010 when we transitioned the product to a sleek UI and faster performance. That is when we got word of mouth vs our competitors. Also, we got big events like Bryan Adams Live in Concert 2011 and World Series Hockey 2012, these two events made us stand out among the competitors and also made us understood the in-depth problem in the market.

How has the market for your product grown in the past 4 years? Do you still consider this market as ‘niche’?

Our product has evolved nicely as market matured over the last few years. Our customer could foresee pain points and help us create better product. The market is no longer niche but building capabilities and delivering to perfection is going to be key in coming years.

What is your company’s competitive advantage?

The company’s competitive advantages come from its finest product, excellent customer support and having good set of investors and mentors.

Recently, Ayojak has raised funds from different investors. How do you plan to use it? Any major focus areas?

The funds are getting used to scale the operation, launch new product line and for brand promotion and marketing.

Ayojak has come a long way since its inception and in a very short period of time. What do you think led to this growth of the company?

We focus on customers satisfaction and ensure that they get best service. I believe, this alone has created good word of mouth. Also the continuous product iteration has helped us ensure that we are taking feedback instantly onboard and solve pain points.

Apart from being a passionate entrepreneur, what interests you as a hobby?

I love to travel a lot, going to new places, discovering the local food and history keeps me healthy and happy. I am also a big time hindi movie goer.

Any message you would like to give to the young entrepreneurs of India?

Every idea is powerful but just go in-depth, analyze every part of the industry your idea belongs to, talk to customers and focus on retaining customer.

Brad Feld, tells Startcup his tale of venture, investment, risks, missions and motivations

Brad Feld

Every entrepreneur needs an investor and every investor needs an investment. In a heart to heart conversation with Brad Feld, we learn more of a startup’s life who made it real big. Feld, tells his tale of venture, investment, risks, missions and motivations.

Believer of bootstrapping, Brad is one of the managing directors at Foundry Group, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage software and IT companies. He is also the co-founder of TechStars, a mentor-driven accelerator, author of several books and blogs, and a marathon runner with a vision of developmental enterprise.

Brad Feld during TechStars investment demo day

You have a creative edge and an entrepreneurial edge, which defines you better?

I think I’m a blend of both. My mom is an artist so I’ve always been inspired by creators. I’m not artistic or musical, so at an early age I started writing computer software. I loved the process of creating something from scratch, which led directly to my role as an entrepreneur, and now a writer. I’ve also always been incredibly independent – I don’t really care what other people think. Instead, I’m obsessed with creating things I’m interested in, and learning whatever I can.

Amongst all your investments which have proven successful, which one of them was a high risk venture?

Almost all of them. I invest at an early stage in a company’s life – often when it is just a few people and an idea. My goal is to invest in entrepreneurs who can create enormous companies, and help them on the journey.

What do you look for, in a startup, which makes it worth investment?

People and product. First, I look for people who I want to be partners with for a long time. Then, I want to understand the product they are creating, and want to see that they are obsessed about the product. This obsession is critical – if it’s a neat product but not something they think about every waking minute, then it’s not going to be interesting enough to me. A great example of this is Bre Pettis and MakerBot. Bre is completely and totally obsessed with 3D printers and creating a set of 3D printers that everyone can have on their desk, just like they have with 2D printers (e.g. laser prints and ink jet printers).

What was ‘your’ first startup?

Feld Technologies. I started it when I was 19 at MIT. I had a partner, Dave Jilk, who joined me a few years later. We built a software consulting firm that was self-funded (we started it with $10). By 1993 we had a $2m company with 20 employees that we sold to a public company.

Brad and David - Founders of Techstars

You’re associated with startups in more than one ways, what is the strengthening strategy and motivation behind it?

I love to play a strong supporting role with the entrepreneurs and management team. I like to say that I work for the CEO to do whatever he wants me to do to help him win.

Brad FeldWhen you started back in 1987, what hurdles did you face and how did you overcome them?

One of the beautiful things about starting a company when you are young is what you DON’T know. Dave and I pretty much didn’t know anything except how to write software. We were good at it, and able to solve business problems, so our services were quickly in demand. But we literally knew nothing about building a company. We read whatever we could get our hands on, were pretty fearless in hindsight with what we tried, communicated regularly about everything, and found some great mentors early on who were incredibly helpful to us.

You have such an enthralling ladder of achievements, what is your motto in life?

Learn constantly. Give before you get. Live for today – you don’t know when the lights are going to go off. Love the people around you.

Where do you see yourself after 7 years?

I’ll be in my mid-50’s. I expect I’ll still be doing many of the things I’m doing today – investing as a VC, helping entrepreneurs, writing, running, and spending time with my wife Amy.

What is your opinion about “Bootstrapping”?

It’s awesome. Dave and I bootstrapped Feld Technologies. I have enormous respect for entrepreneurs who bootstrap.

What’s the story behind the ’50 states marathon mission’?

In my mid 30’s I gained a lot of weight and was struggling with chronic gout. I used to run track when I was a teenager so I decided to start running again. I picked a big goal – run a marathon in every state. I’ve done 23 now!

What do you think about entrepreneurship, precisely talking about the Indian space?

I don’t know enough specifically about entrepreneurship in India to have a strong perspective, but I have a deeply held belief that you can create great new companies anywhere on this planet. And it’s exciting to see – from a distance – many of the companies being created in India.

Any message to young entrepreneurs out here in India?

Just go for it!

Deepinder Goyal – The man who served technology and cuisine on one plate

Zomato

Technological innovations have brought everything on the World Wide Web. Young entrepreneurs have aptly and very subtly moulded themselves into the system to provide more grasping techniques, more sophisticated web of verified data. Markets have a chasm that is enthralling marketers to harness the potential in myriad ventures, creating a wide-spread e-revolution of skilled professionals and amateurs’ altogether.

Entrepreneurs have left no field unmanned. May it be resource development, app development ot network development – there is an algorithm tried and tested. But what happens when technology meets cuisine. It means delicious, crisp, mouth-watering dishes. Locations and reviews of drive-ins, take-away points, mini-joints and hot hangout spots delivering appetite sizzlers – All online and within reach of a CLICK.

Deepinder Goyal (CEO and Co-founder, Zomato)

Few days back, I had a chance to have a  pleasurable conversation with Deepinder Goyal – a food lover, mathematician, entrepreneur and more.

What’s the story behind Zomato, its conception, success, inspiration and future?

ZomatoZomato, founded in 2008, is a revolutionary restaurant guide providing in-depth information for over 71,000 restaurants across various countries of its presence. Zomato’s core content features include menus, photos and geo-coded coordinates for restaurants. Other community features include reviews, ratings and ability to follow other users’ recommendations on Zomato.

Zomato was started by IIT Delhi alumni in July 2008 for Delhi NCR and has expanded its services over a span of 4 years to 18 cities across India, United Kingdom, UAE & Sri Lanka. We have raised three rounds of funding totalling up to $6.5M. Apart from the website and apps, Zomato is also available in print in select cities in India, with print versions for other cities on the way. We are headquartered in New Delhi and currently employ over 200 people across its offices spread across 4 countries. Zomato will continue expanding both nationally and internationally in 2013.

How did you break into the foodie biz? Are you a foodie or a connoisseur?

While I was working at Bain & Company, a leading management consulting firm, I noticed that a lot of my colleagues were queuing up in the office cafeteria to have a look at the menu cards to order food. Most of these people were young, affluent bachelors who did not have access to home-cooked food. I just asked myself “What if these menus were available online?” That was how Zomato, then Foodiebay was born. Pankaj and I then went on to build this database and soon we had gone live with menus for 1,200 restaurants in Delhi NCR in July 2008 which expanded to 2,000 restaurants by the end of the year. My friends tend to joke saying, I love my food enough to start a company that is all about food!

“Best Culinary Travel Guide in India”, How does that feel?

It is always good to be appreciated for the hard work that the team collectively puts in.

Zomato is online, now it has various apps and it’s going into print as well. What else is lined up, five years down the line?

Our immediate focus is on international expansion. We recently launched Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Colombo towards the last quarter of 2012 and recently launched our London section this month. We are currently working on the launch in a couple more cities in the Europe, Middle East and South East Asia. We have a long way to go and going by the mounting interest and dependency being shown in us we will be around for a long time.

Zomato Restaurant Summit 2013. What will it be all about? Any surprises?

The Zomato Restaurant Summit is a gathering of seasoned restaurant owners, senior marketing professionals, venture capitalists and industry visionaries. The theme of Zomato Restaurant Summit 2013 (all three city chapters) is growth.

At the Summit, we will hear and learn from our industry’s most successful people as they talk about their experience of how they went about growing their business to its current scale. The Zomato Restaurant Summit is also India’s biggest networking event for restaurant owners. A place to connect, celebrate and share experiences with each other.

UAE, Sri Lanka, UK, India – what is next on the global list? Any plans of rapid expansion?

We are currently looking at expanding into more cities in Europe, Middle East and South East Asia in this year.

What were the trials you faced as a startup?

When it comes to consumer facing portals the biggest apprehension is around the famous chicken and egg problem – customers find value only if we have the most exhaustive in-depth information on restaurants while restaurant owners find value only if we have enough customers. We solved this problem though by providing a rock solid content platform which provides all possible information for ~95% of restaurants across 18 cities in India, UAE, Sri Lanka and now UK.

Connecting link at Zomato is cuisine. What are the other ingredients?

The other key ingredients would be fun, focus and innovative.

Any message to young entrepreneurs in India?

First and foremost, it’s not about the idea but the execution. Even if you already have a product in the market, you can always do it better. Once you are determined to do something, the other thing to take care of is that you need to find good people to work with. People who are as committed to the job as you are. [highlight]Do not think about money and raising funds upfront, but create a valuable product, which people would like to use.[/highlight] Also, Murphy’s Law is one of the fundamentals you need to get in your head before starting up – “if something can go wrong, it will”.

Download Zomato app for Android:

[googleplay url=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.application.zomato&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5hcHBsaWNhdGlvbi56b21hdG8iXQ..”]

Download Zomato app for iOS:

[app url=”https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/zomato/id434613896″]

Download Zomato app for Windows Phone:

[windowsphone url=”http://www.windowsphone.com/en-in/store/app/zomato/a00f4816-19b0-4bd8-a554-8f0172151cb3″]

 

Hike Messaging App – Interview with Kavin Bharti Mittal, the man behind the show

Hike Messaging App – Interview with Kavin Bharti Mittal, the man behind the show-001

From the utility of your month expenses to the whimsy of organizing the next office event round, it seems like there is an app for just about everything. But in the minds of the most adventurous app developers, this is just the first generation of technologies that we will wonder how we ever lived without.

When most people think of mobile app development, the first apps that come to mind are usually productivity apps such as Dropbox, Mail, and Evernote, games such as Angry Birds, Cut the rope, and Doodle Jump, or social apps like Facebook, TweetDeck, and Foursquare. All of these apps are constructed to slip into the cracks of our busy lifestyles, aiding us in some form or fashion. Catching up on Facebook while in line at KFC. Entertainment while waiting for a friend to arrive. Checking in to a restaurant while walking through the door. Although mobile apps like these are becoming more and more integrated into our everyday lives, there is still an entire sea of uncharted waters left to explore.

As technological innovations such as location based services, augmented reality, the accelerometer, etc. open new doors daily, apps are slowly starting to reach out and take advantage of all these new features and create truly unique experiences. Recently one of my friends referred me to download this app called hike, a free messaging tool. “I already use WhatsApp, why should I download this?” I asked her, and to my surprise, I instantly received a SMS from her saying “coz it gives you free messaging!” And believe me, without wasting a second more, I downloaded the app. However, it took me few days to realize the benefits of the app, when I could send my friends (who didn’t had smart phones) free SMS right from my mobile, and now it’s on my list of “most frequently used app.”

hike - Homepage

It was a pleasure to interview Kavin Bharti Mittal, the idea hero behind hike, and its upcoming success.

How would you introduce hike?

Hike Apphike is a cross platform messenger that aims to make communication simple and personal again. With a beautiful user experience and emotional emoticons, there hasn’t been a better and more simple way to express yourself to all your friends. With hike you can message all your friends. hike to hike is free globally and one can also message friends who don’t have the app installed for free, as making SMS messaging pretty seamless.

How was the idea conceptualized and developed? Any specific inspiration?

In India, given the low penetration of data enabled smartphones, there is fragmentation in messaging. Mobile users have 4-5 apps that keep them in touch with their friends. Over time this becomes very tedious to manage. We asked ourselves is there an app that combines the real-time, free nature of IM with the openness and ubiquity of SMS? We couldn’t find one so we built hike.

How is the feedback that you are receiving about the app’s growth in the market?

The feedback has been amazing. We’re seeing great number users come onto hike on all platforms including the S40 app we just recently launched.

Five years before AppSpark, did you know you would go with the stream of online enterprise?

Five years before AppSpark, I think I was just about to enter high school. I’m a big F1 fan and I won’t be surprised if back then I wanted to be involved in F1 in some way. Short answer is no.

WhatsApp has taken the market by the storm, how do you think that hike will bring a change in the scenario?

IM market globally is a very fragmented market. We have WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, Line, KakaoTalk and each have between 50-150M users. As a matter of fact half of the overall smartphone users still don’t really use a messaging app like so. There are big players but the market is still early.

You are a young entrepreneur, how has the journey been so far? Any ups and down you came across?

Being an entrepreneur one always has ups and downs. There are days when sky is the limit and others when you’re up till 6 AM figuring out what went wrong with your servers. It’s been a fantastic journey. One of great learning. I’ve learnt more in these last 3-4 years than I have in my entire life.

You were all set in UK, how did starting a venture in India comes up as a thought?

India is a big market. The potential of building something that could impact 1B people that access the internet from a mobile device was too exciting of an opportunity to pass up on. That said, if it wasn’t for AppSpark, I don’t think I would’ve been in a position to run BSB.

According to you, what has made the investment worth it?

It’s still early days. Ask me that question in a year.

What were the risks as a starter for you? And now, what risks are you willing to take for ‘Hike’?

Risk was not taking the usual route of getting a job or joining other business in the group and starting from scratch. Honestly speaking that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. I don’t care much for what people think, I do what I do, because I’m extremely passionate. hike is one of the most beautiful, well built products out there in the market and we’re going to do whatever it takes, so that it’s around for years to come.

According to you, what will be the future of mobile app industry?

Apps are a great form of distribution. There are people who build apps for the sake of apps and then there are those who get their services across users in the form of apps. We fall in the latter category and I hope more people follow.

There is no doubt in my mind that this has become and will remain a great source of distribution for years to come.

Any message that you would like to impart to young entrepreneurs out there?

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou have to be passionate about what you do. Building a company from scratch isn’t easy. It comes with a lot of hard work and constant worrying. Any sane person would walk away. So it’s extremely important to be passionate about what you do.

Download hike app for Android:

[googleplay url=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bsb.hike”]

Download hike app for iOS:

[app url=”https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/hike-messenger/id568038211″]

The Wrong Prescription – A conversation with the writer Dr. Manoj Kapoor

The Wrong Prescription

Dr. Manoj Kapoor of the famed ‘The Wrong Prescription‘ has attempted to step out of the straitjacket with his tongue in cheek version of real life. The book discourses building up gradual sincerity for an issue the author seeks answer to, with hilarious examples.

The Wrong Prescription - BookHow would you define ‘The Wrong Prescription?’

It’s a fantastic book presented in a humorous fashion so that my fraternity does not feel offended. I have just touched the tip of the iceberg and much more wrong things are going on. After the book, Aamir Khans’ program Satyamev Jayate highlighted it, there was a lot of hue and cry but no answers were provided to the malady which my book has put forth.

From doctor to writer, how was your journey so far, personally and professionally? Which moment in the book remains closest to your heart that you would like answers to?

The book has helped me mentally and it was great to receive response from all age groups. I realized that truth and honesty pays in the long run. As I have mentioned that the result of my honest practice is showing when actually the need of that success (read money) is not so attractive. Both my sons have opted out of medicine as a career as they saw our struggle. I am now sought after as a versatile person and an honest guide and council. People come to me for the medical part and the guidance part. So the doctor- author and author- doctor journey has become complimentary and synergistic. Answers to only one question—Is the doctor and the establishment needs to be a 5 star facility to treat the masses successfully and why is glamour now become a vital cog to portray success. Why is marketing more important than the quality of the product?

It’s very akin to the concept of sugar-coated medicament’s perhaps.  To let people know the crude form, first their attention needs to be captured. Hope we get, answers from a wider readership to your question. How do think young startups can be encouraged? What is the present scenario when an amateur enters any field?

The wider audience may end up giving an answer. The problem is not hiding the bitterness of a medicine by sugar when the bitter product is known to be the best. Here the quality is there but the bad taste is to be camouflaged for the acceptance. We are talking of no quality but business acumen and a swank aesthetic look dictating the patient inflow. In the long run quality which may be bitter and not sugar coated matters. It is like giving a beautifully shaped placebo in a lovely packing knowing well that the medicine will never work but the gullible patient says wow what a medicine.

Startups should first know whether they are entering the profession because of the social value, the earning potential or because they can buy a seat or whether it is dynastic rule and a seat needs to be occupied. Secondly, there are no short cuts in this field and like all other fields there is no alternative to hard work. Thirdly hard work in this field does not mean books and theoretical knowledge. The patient is the best teacher and time spent in wards and with the patients pays the maximum dividends. Fourthly, the eyes will see what the mind knows, so, clinical judgment is far more important than the new modality of investigation leading to a diagnosis. If they rely on the investigation to lead them to a diagnosis it will be disaster once in a while. It does not mean ‘no’ investigation. It means relevant investigations supporting the clinical judgment rather than the other way. Finally, if you do not know what it is, tell the patient!! You may lose him then but he will come back to you for your honesty. Be transparent. Be candid. Do not look at the patient as a money-making proposition. Look at him as a long term investment. Money is important but not earned using wrong means. Don’t be god or think that you can compete with him. Be humble and let God look after you so that you can look after his subjects.

You have highlighted the issue, what do you think can be the solution to it?

We should take away the capitation colleges and not medical education is a commercial venture. The students wanting to enter the profession should be counseled before they decide on their final destination. They should be made to understand that the non-tangible gains in this profession far out stretches the cash gain. Job satisfaction and respect is far more than any other profession. The money earning should be a byproduct of genuine services. A campaign has to be launched that the noble profession should not be turned into a business. The lop-sided government insurance policy of medical claim which has resulted in corruption should be revisited and rethought off, as it has exploited the doctors, which in turn has made the doctors exploit the company. Many other things which will make this paper very long but the essential crux is presented.

What are your favorite browsing site/sites? Which technology compliments one best?

Very fond of Wikipedia and read the contents of anything I want to learn about. For my medical needs I use different sites after Google for things I want to learn about. I am not very computer savvy. I do have a Facebook, LinkedIn account but normally do not browse it.

It was lovely having a conversation with you sir, any advice for amateur starters?

Yes. Whatever you are doing is probably your passion, always follow your passion. Do not see the obstacles. Do not feel scared treading a path which has never been walked upon. [highlight]If you are passionate and honest in what you do, the fear of success or failure will never be the deciding factor of what you ultimately achieve.[/highlight] Its failure initially which leads to glorious success later. Hope this message reaches masses and more readers benefit.

The Voice of Non-Conformity – A Conversation with Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, combines the entrepreneurial musings of an early stage startup to create a unique business perspective. Best known for his popular blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, and his book with the same title, he has also written guides for travel and small business topics. The few lines that inspired me to connect him (during his recent visit to India) say – Imagine handing a letter to your boss that reads, “Dear Boss, I’m writing to let you know that your services are no longer required. Thanks for everything, but I’ll be doing things my own way now.”

[vimeo]40276570[/vimeo]

Perhaps his unifying theme is based on facilitating entrepreneurship and productivity by starting businesses with minimal expenses and maximum dedication. Hanging around to get some extra insight, I grabbed the opportunity to have a short interview with him.

Chris, how was your journey in India?

It was excellent! I had a great experience, visiting seven cities and speaking to all kinds of people. I’m very inspired with the entrepreneurial spirit that is in the DNA of many Indians.

Chris - Visit to India

What is your definition of a successful startup, and how do young entrepreneurs achieve it?

A small business that achieves profit and freedom for the owner. Young entrepreneurs achieve it first and foremost by focusing on helpfulness–on making something that is fundamentally useful and changes the world in a small way.

What is your opinion regarding the entrepreneurship space in India?

Well, as mentioned, I feel very positive about it overall. Perhaps the one weak point is a lack of role models. In speaking with thousands of business school students, I learned that many are motivated by the idea of pursuing entrepreneurship, but they feel pressured to take “safe” jobs with multi-national companies.

When the brightest young minds in a country like India have the desire to make someone else rich, which is essentially what employees do, it’s not a good sign. So I think the answer lies in more people leading the way from within the country, perhaps helping others think through what really is safe and what really is risky these days. In my view, entrepreneurship is often the safe choice, and working for someone else is what is risky.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Follow your passion… maybe. Most entrepreneurs who are successful are passionate about their work, but you can’t follow just any passion. Therefore, the more important lesson is to make sure your passion can be translated into something that other people want.

When did you start your first official business and what motivated you to be an entrepreneurial author?

When I was 19. I was initially motivated by the idea of not working for anyone else (smiles).

How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

I use only organic strategies, no paid advertising of any kind. My readers are essentially my greatest marketing asset—they are the ones who tell other people about the work, and that’s how it grows.

How do you achieve balance in your life?

I have no interest in balance; I have an interest in challenging myself to do big things while living a life of gratitude and abundance. Most balanced people don’t change the world.

If you had to invest either in Facebook or Google, which one would invest in? Why?

I’m not an investor. I’m more interested in encouraging people to create their own projects. That’s where most of us will find true freedom, not in following what someone else has done.

So looking back at the ancient times, people who were dissatisfied with their lives dreamed of finding magic lamps, buried treasure, or streets paved with gold. Today, we know that it’s up to us to change our lives. And the best part is, if we change our own life, we can help others change theirs.

You can follow Chris on Google Plus and Twitter