A dream comes true!

dream of mirrors
Image by smif via Flickr

What once was a dream is now a reality! I fell in love with computers at the age of 15 and wanted to have a company of my own. Today the dream is reality.

What started as a idea a couple of years ago went through its ups & downs over the last 24 months.

But I am happy that I have not given up on my dream and have formalized it today! We are a legal entity today, my dream has legs!

The next year promises to an exciting one for sure. This journey wouldn’t have been possible but for a few of you and you know who you are! So, Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The real work begins now.. 🙂 Onward bound!

Oh, A very happy new year to all my readers! 🙂

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Open Coffee Club Bangalore – December Event

Open Coffee Club is a club for fostering entrepreneurship. The Bangalore chapter was founded in mid 2007. I have been wanting to make it to the meeting for the last 2 months but the event always clashed with other events. This time around thanks to a twitter message, I was able to make it. Twitter has changed the way I live my life.  As someone wh

o had done the rounds at most entrepreneurial setups in India (barring a few), I went in with very few expectations. Most of these events when they started had very good quality & less quantity (back in 2006/2007) but my experience in 2008 has been vice versa, too many events no good quality. So my expectations were fairly low.The buzz around around OCC did peak my curiousity.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Amarinder Singh, the host of the event ushering in people. As people started trickling in there was a casual atmosphere set in.

Introductions:

We did a round of introductions which was very interactive. A happy medium between a structured & a casual “lets just chat up” discussion. It actually brought out a few things that wouldn’t come up during a conversation or lets catch up environment & it was more engaging. This event had a lot of newbies like myself which was refreshing. I didn’t get to see the same old faces that one normally sees at these events.

A common theme arose during these discussions – the passion to create something was oozing from everyone sitting in the room. Something that you often don’t see at these events. It was also nice to see people from different backgrounds be part of the discussion (Accountants, NGO, education, chip design to name a few). It made me think more about the fundamentals of creating a business. We often live in a bubble of creating a service for the tech savvy but spending time with “normal” folks did make a difference.

There were many entrepreneurial stories that came out during the round of introductions. One story stood out! Here was a college graduate who had the idea of doing something in the education space. Around the time he was graduating he decides to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. He approaches his father for a sum of 50,000 Rs (Approx 1000$). His father advises his against the decision and asks him to get a job. This gentleman decides to take the plunge anyways by selling his mobile phone, laptop & his motorcycle.

Call it audacious, stupidity or fool hardy, but you have to give this man his due for the risk that he had decided to take. As they say entrepreneurship is for fools! In an environment where working for a big conglomerate or a MNC (multi national company) is the norm of life, such acts need to be lauded! I still get looked upon at times as a fool for taking the plunge to be an entrepreneur, but it is not something that most people would understand. In my mind staying in a job is a risk in itself. I forget his name/website, if someone knows please leave a comment, lets promote his cause.

TiE– Event discussion:

A good number of them had attended the TiE Summit in bangalore. A quick discussion ensued about the event itself, the reactions were mixed. A few complained that the event was catered to the big/medium players while a woman was thrilled that she found 2 new customers. I for one decided against paying the 6000Rs (125$) for the event because it wasn’t the right time for me to attend it. It is nice to see TiE promoting entrepreneurship in bangalore, the one feedback/suggestion from this group was to cater it more to the grass routes. There aren’t too many events in this part of the world to deal with entrepreneurship at the grass routes, if there were more than there would more enterprising ideas being executed.

Other discussions:

There were a couple of followup discussions about interviewing entrepreneurs and learning from their lessons learned. Another discussion was catered towards marketing & market research.

I was happy to see the event open up to networking as I wanted to catch up with other entrepreneurs & talk about their experiences. One good lead did emerge from the event 😉

All in all kudos to Vaibhav/Amarinder to have taken the initiative forward.

A few suggestions to these guys as always 😉
– standardize where the next event announcement is made. The OCC blog did not have an update!
– create a OCC twitter account
– I know diluting the mailing list is not something that the community wants but let the crowd take care of it or have a policy of kicking out people! Otherwise you are going to miss out on a few good ones joining the community. Its the community that stands to lose!

Location:

The event was at ZOE, a mediterranean restaurant that opened recently in Indiranagar that is nicely tucked in from the main road.Kudos to the person who chose Zoe, the ambience was really nice that I decided to take my wife for dinner in the evening. The food was even better!

Conclusions:

If you are an entrepreneur with a new company or a wanna be entrepreneur then this is the place to be. Don’t worry about the Venture capitalists or a demo conference, this is where the action is. You will always get a chance to meet, greet & demo your products but there is no replacement for learning from other who have broken their knuckles time & again to climb the ladder. I will be back for sure.

This is where the ants go to work!

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What are barcamps & what can one expect from it?

Barcamp Bangalore 2
Image by quadmod via Flickr

BarcampKolkata is scheduled to take place on the 3rd of January, 2009 & the organizers requested that I blog about my prior experiences at other barcamp events.

First off, its heartening to note that the barcamp movement has spread to east of India, kudos to the organizers for bringing it to the east! I have personal affinity towards the east & have pleasant memories as I lived in assam for 3 years in the 80s and I loved it so much that I decided to visit the east 2 years ago. The east was/is largely unaffected by the expansion that the rest of the India has seen which has its ups & downs. I hope events like these brings betterment to the people of the east, they need it! So Lets talk about barcamp!

So what is a Barcamp?

The common answer that you will hear is that it is an “un-conference”. To me, it is an gathering of people passionate about technology that are looking to exchange ideas & connect with people. The gathering is loosely structured so as to encourage ideas & discourse.

Ok.. How is different from any other conference that is organized?

The typical conference that you might have attended is usually very structured with a set agenda, a whole bunch of expert panelists or speakers and an audience that is there to absorb & be a passive participant. Usually there is also a fee associated with such conferences.

Barcamp on the other hand is anything but a structured conference & there is no fee associated with attending a Barcamp. All participants are expected to be active participants.

Hmm .. Didn’t you mention that is loosely structured?

Yes, it is loosely structured in the sense that the venue, theme & some of the topics are decided by the community. Here is how a typically Barcamp is organized:

  • Usually a bunch of folks get together & decide to organize one
  • Organizing community decides on a place, time & duration of the event among other things. This is primarily dependent on finding the space & sponsors.
  • They set up a wiki page and put their names in.
  • The word is spread and the community then add their names as participants & topics that they would like talk about to the wiki.

Interesting .. What kind of topics are discussed?

Any thing under the sun, but it is advisable that you cater it to the theme if possible. A quick look at the attendance will give you a flavor of the topics that might interest an audience. Here are some of the sessions that I have been part of

Can I be an active participant without presenting on a topic at the event?

Absolutely! Be part of the organizing team, help with the logistics (food/accommodation/etc), actively spread the word (blog/microblog/post pictures & videos) before/during & after the event. barcampChennai still was one of the best live blogged Barcamp that I have attended to date in-spite of the being the first Barcamp in India.

Great, Do I have be a geek to attend a barcamp?

Nope but you will find a whole bunch of them at barcamp. So it definitely helps if you can interact with geeks 😉

What do I get by attend a barcamp event?

When a bunch of smart & passionate people gather at an event, sparks are ignited, ideas flow! One always walks away with more than he/she came into the event. But make sure you contribute as much as you soak in.

At the end of the day its about the community, barcamps foster it!

BarcampChennai fostered so many other events – Proto.in (India’s premier DEMO event for startups) is one good example.

BarcampBangalore was so successful that there were 7 editions in the span of 2+ years.

Any tips for organizing a barcamp based on your experiences?

Absolutely! Here are few that come to mind:

  • Make sure your decide on the barcamp tag (Ex: barcampBLR) & make sure its unique
  • Please make sure the community recognizes this tag & uses it
  • Remember that the event is followed a bigger audience on the web, so do everything to make sure they get updates – be it pictures, video, twitter, etc
  • The event doesn’t end when the barcamp ends, the best part of a barcamp is the conversation(s) that happen after the event
  • Put up a board with the rooms & session timings and have post-its/markers for presenters to post their sessions.
    Encourage people to host impromptu sessions (they are some of the best)
  • Be flexible & accommodating! If you have a session that colliding with someone else consider moving things around.
  • DO NOT LET A COMPANY OR INDIVIDUAL HIJACK THE EVENT. Its about the community.

At the end of the day like anything else its the connections & the bonds that you build that you will remember & cherish!

I can personally endorse barcamps, it has helped me my company get traction & the community has been fantastic!


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