Thursday, March 20, 2008

Disqus: Community for your comments

I just came across Disqus in Puneeth's GChat status which promises to give commenting in a blog a forum-like face. I said "Voila! It is almost my wish being granted." So, I have signed up at Disqus. It is very easy to integrate with Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad etc.

Let's see how far it goes. Do leave a comment or two here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

BarCampMumbai3 on 29 March, 2008

There is something about Barcamps that most people who attend one instantly become a 'convert'. And they join the ever-burgeoning support group for more unconferences.

The first thing that hits them hard is the way order chases chaos at a typical Barcamp. The schedule is undecided, the speakers are unsure, people don't know most others and worse, the 'planners' take pride in the disorderly start of a camp. All these are anti-thesis to classroom-type conference talks that they are accustomed to. Still, within about 30 minutes of start, patterns start emerging, schedule looks set, you begin to realize that most other have no clue either and that there are no rules for interaction - written or unwritten - at this gathering. And your brain starts permuting various possibilities of such a camp. Your adrenaline comes gushing.

Having no rules for a gathering is a Go(o)d thing. It lets you think, and discuss, freely in whichever way you feel comfortable. The emphasis is on openness and sharing. On experience and creativity. And on the fact that each one of us has something to contribute to the others. And that everyone is an equal. As someone right wrote "audience is more intelligent than the speaker". Hell it is! And in most sessions at a Barcamps, the speaker either readily recognizes this fact and lets people talk, or faces no-confidence by "the law of two feet".

It is not that there are no rules. There are some boundary conditions for participation. The most prominent 'rule' of a Barcamp is that "everyone is a participant". This implies two things - one, the guy who is speaking (irrespective of his profile) gets no special privileges above anyone else. And that everyone has to contribute - either by speaking, or volunteering, or at least by asking pertinent questions.

The next edition of Barcamp in Mumbai (BarCampMumbai3) is just around the corner (29 March, 2008). The previous edition (BarCampMumbai2) saw over 200 participants. The number is expected to double this time - with the welcome inclusion of blogger, design and Microsoft communities in the camp. It might be a good idea for you to register your place before we close the registration.

See you there!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is Bangalore startup "Unfriendly"?

You are not tuned to the Indian Startup ecosystem if you haven't subscribed to Venturewoods blog run by Alok Mittal of Canaan Partners. Most important movers and shakers of startup community follow and write there.

I just came across an interesting article written by Vijayanand on Venturewoods that says:

"During a conversation with a friend recently, the conversation revolved around which city provides a better atmosphere for a startup, from a perspective of providing that initial feedback, customer insights and etc, so that there is clarity past the ideation stage before the prototype is built. I had this perplexed look on my face trying to figure out if there is yet a city which provides that here in India. While most do cry out “Bangalore”, if you ask me, that city is the most startup-unfriendly territory that I am observing.* Whilst there is a very active group of people, and some with disposable incomes, who have started an entire community of unconference events and discussions that surround that, very little is happening past that. Bangalore, as per the count that we have on the number of startups, measures quite low. Salaries are high, infrastructure is expensive, branding is a very costly affair, attracting talent is a dance on the pole - let alone quality talent, and there a dozen startups fighting for the starving number of resources who are available and will actually provide that high caliber value for a startup. On the number of new startups that are emerging, the city ranks quite low. But at the sametime there is quite an active number of “startups” in the city which have been lurking around for a while - and when I say a while, it means for roughly around a decade. They have neither joined the SME alliance, nor are they really a newborn child."

Being a hardcore Chennai supporter, Vijay always falls short of the need to base arguments on hard numbers. I think (even when I am sitting in Mumbai) when it comes to technology startups, nothing (Pune or Hyderabad or Chennai) comes even closer to Bangalore in their sheer number. It is for this reason that most people who return from the valley, settle in Bangalore.

Besides, it is the most conducive place for talent. Exactly the point that you mentioned - startup don't make a significant part of workforce generation. And that is why getting talent in Bangalore is not as difficult as you have mentioned.

But would you like to startup in a city where quality talent will be scarce? Or in a place which has the largest concentration of techies, has the best engineering research (IISc), hosts the biggest Barcamps (BCBs), the biggest MoMos, (and pretty much all FOSS activities), the most vibrant technology showcase event (Headstart), hordes of engineering colleges (IIITB and others), one of the best management institutes (IIMB) in the country and where one, figuratively, breathes tech?

Or, perhaps, you would start a company in a place where water is scarce, talent is rare, weather is painful and whose only claim to fame is an IIT?

I respect Pune for what it is becoming. But don't you see the marked resemblance between Pune and Bangalore - big companies, engineering, research and management institutes, conducive weather and most importantly, close to market (Mumbai).

Is someone reading?

[To all those who have subscribed to my blog: Yes, I plan to write regularly now. A lot of inspiration has come in not-so-distant past from Snigdha (thanks to her!) and several others. Let us see how far it goes]