, the cheapest startup accelerator ever!

Have been lapping up the podcast over the last few weeks. It has been motivating me to write the book on Delhi that I wanted to write and got me to start the email sign up list for the same on

It has also prompted me to develop a course on how to go from being a developer to becoming a product manager.

While I don’t think I need to sign up just yet, I think this might be the best $35/month you can spend if you are interested in starting your on business online or are pursuing passive income or want to just be a life hacker!


Listen: The podcast



Business owners in India and issues in scaling these businesses

I attended a business coaching workshop with my father and two employees from my father’s company last weekend. This 4 day workshop had about 40 attendees. All business owners or higher level employees in small and medium enterprises.

I was surprised how little all the business owners knew about their business. I guess that is why they were there. No one had answers to the following questions:

  1. How big is your market?
  2. What is your market share?
  3. What is your growth strategy and implementation plan?
  4. What should be in your sales kit
  5. For manufacturers, view what is your process flow
  6. How do you measure quality

Of course, diagnosis my father and I did not have any answers either.

But it was definitely surprising to see how clueless most business owners there were about their business. These were no small business either. The smallest business owner’s revenue was 2 crores or USD $320, sildenafil 000. The largest business owners were at 500crores or $80Million employees hundreds of people. All of us were having difficulty in scaling our business because we lacked processes and clear lines of responsibilities in our company.

Even though I have an MBA from IIM Lucknow, I felt that I learned more about operations in this 4 day courses than I did in my 3 year part time MBA. I also felt that I learnt more about sales and leadership here than I did in my class.

I now hope that I can work with my father and his leadership team to transform our business in the next 6 months.




How many uber drivers does Delhi need


Saw today that there are 20,000 drivers in the SF bay area on techmeme.

Comparing this to Delhi, where population density is almost 30 times that of SF bay area. But no more that 30% of the population would really be relevant, I’ve come up with the following figures when I  try to keep the same number of drivers/person in both the cities.

Population Relevant population area (sq kms) density (people/sq km) Uber drivers driver per person
SF bay area 7.44E+06 7.44E+06 18102.19 411 20000 2.69E-03
Delhi 16753235 5025971(30% of total) 1482.981 11297 13510.67 0.002688

Seems like Delhi needs a lot less drivers than the SF bay area unless more people can afford taxis here.


Startup lesson


Was very excited to hear that Alex Bloomberg, price treat creator of one of my favorite podcasts – “Planet Money” is trying to make it out on his own. See: That said, Act 1 of This American Life episode 533 is painful to hear because it makes a lot of rookie mistakes. It’s especially painful because Alex is a great storyteller, yet he fails to perform a simple audience analysis before he meets a powerful investor.

I encourage every startup enthusiast or entrepreneur in the making to listen to what happens to a seasoned storyteller in a pitch meeting. How Alex’s personal attachment to his startup clouds his storytelling approach.

I wish him well. I hope he stops asking for funding. He is essentially building a small business. It could be a great small business that keeps him and maybe a couple of more people gainfully employed but there is no big exit.

I would hate to see him take on a lot of debt pursuing a dream that won’t come true. I really don’t think he is going to get a big time investor excited about his idea. I do think however, that he will create great content and will do well if he can limit the scope of his endeavour.

Storytelling as software product management skill

Telling stories as a product manager

I was reading “A whole new mind” by Daniel Pink on my flight to Boston this week and it reminded me to write about storytelling. As a new product manager I never appreciated the power of Storytelling. I always felt that it was unnecessary and that my slide decks should present the facts and the numbers and everything else will just follow.

Working on Adobe Story and Adobe Collage changed all that. What kept Story alive and got Adobe Collage to get approved was the stories they were enabling. It was not the TAM, see it was not customers but early on, recipe for any new idea to work, you have to tell a story. A story that:

  1. Establishes the problem
  2. Explains why current solutions fall short
  3. Describe, in a limited way, how your solution fits
  4. Show how the world is better for the user post your solution
  5. Brownie points if you are able to also talk about how your solutions solves a larger problem

Perhaps, storytelling is the most important skill you’ll need to develop as a product manager. Stories make your product ideas far more sellable than just a fact based slide deck.

There are great books or sites that explain how to structure a story. But, simplistically, you are trying to fill in the following blanks (excerpt from:

  1. Once upon a time… (context)
  2. Every day… (state the problem)
  3. But, one day…(your solution)
  4. Because of that…
  5. Because of that…
  6. Until, finally…
  7. And, ever since then…

Always tell the story from your software user’s perspective. Include lots of photos to humanize your deck. Be clear on the persona so that executives can relate to the problem and care for your user.

Also read, Tell to win by Peter Gruber

Books and podcasts for product managers

I’m sharing the books and podcasts that I’ve read and listened to over the last few years on product management, business and life in general that I’ve found useful. Hope you get a chance to read and listen to them.


Title Author Year
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers Ben Horowitz 2014
Lean Analytics Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz (5 April 2013) 2013
Lean UX Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden 2013
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change Charles Duhigg 2013
The $100 Startup: Fire your Boss, Do what you Love and Work Better to Live More Chris Guillebeau 2012
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative  Austin Kleon 2012
The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich Timothy Ferriss 2011
The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses Eric Ries 2011
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable   Nassim Nicholas Taleb 2008
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets  Nassim Nicholas Taleb 2007


WTF Podcast with Marc Maron Marc Maron interviews comedians, actors and musicians in a genuine and thought provoking way
The Economist – Audio Edition Must have if you want to learn about the world and economics in general
Podcast | This American Life Learn how to tell a story by listening to these amazing stories from NPR and Ira Glass

iOS apps – Go Free or Die

As I work on building a small app business, its been great to hear the public commentary on pricing iPhone apps lately. The blog from Marco Arment and TechCrunch both point out clearly that mass market customer acquisition apps have to be free with in app purchases to have any chance of being downloaded.

Marco’s blog is especially interesting because he’s speaking from personal experience and is trying to solve a problem today. As a consumer myself, I’m much more likely to download a free app than a paid one. In fact, I only have one paid app on my iPad and none on my iPad. And.. I dont even use that paid application more that once a month. I have owned an iPhone for 5 years and an iPad for 3 years. 90% of apps on the Apple app store are free and 6% are priced at $0.99 as per Flurry, a market research firm.

There is also a great book by Chris Anderson called “Free” that can help you understand how to make free work for you. Even this book is no longer available for free. You might be able to find an illicit copy but its worth buying on amazon if you really serious.

Personally, I don’t see the point of creating a free app that provides a ton of value to the user. Your free app only helps Apple build a stronger ecosystem around the iPhone. Build something of value and don’t be afraid to charge for it.

I’m looking at building an location based iPhone app to help tourists. I am confident that I don’t want to give this app for free. I want to charge $20. You may think that this is absurd considering what I just wrote before but the fact is that this application is not a mass market app. It is a niche app for a very small and targeted set of customers. And, in talking to these customers, they have indicated that are comfortable paying $20 for this app. I dont think this app will make millions of dollars let alone even $500,000.

To get $500k, I will need to sell this application to 25,000 customers. That will take more than 20 years based on current estimates of users. 🙂

So.. why build it? Because I believe in the usefulness of the idea and the value it provides users. I dont expect to spend a lot of money building it and I already have customers to sell it to.



The Muscle to Hustle

The longer you stay at a job the weaker your muscle to hustle gets. This makes you less and less suitable for leading a startup.

As you get comfortable in a job or go up the corporate ladder, most of what you do it write emails. You set up processes to control and monitor the day to day so that you have time work on the plans tomorrow. You rarely:

  • Meet customers, especially the unhappy ones
  • Try to promote yourself or your product
  • Face criticism, skepticism publicly
  • Cold call and talk to strangers
  • Get beaten, get up and go at it again (muscle)

You also don’t realize how much effort and time it will take establish new products or services.

Most long time employees, looking to start a company need to be honest about their ability to hustle. They have to realise that they will not be able to make the same amount of money they will with the amount of effort they put in their jobs, especially if you have been at the same job for a while.

Most employees, me included, do not appreciate enough the monetary reward/effort ratio and moan about our jobs more than we should.

Dealing with reduced overtime for an extended period of time

Production in our second factory has started to become consistent. We can now manufacture about 700 meters/day in 8 hours. A few months ago, we were making about 780 meters in 11.5 hours of work.

meters hours meters/hour
May-July 780 11.5 67.83
August 700 8 87.50
Percent Improvement 29.01%

In the month of August, we did not need any overtime. So.. while the workers were about 30% more productive, they did not get any benefit infact, they lost all their overtime pay. So.. what should we do as a factory owner? It seems easy to say that we should give them some discretionary pay. Here are the drawbacks of this approach:

  • Workers believe that they deserve the money irrespective of the work they do
  • Workers believe that overtime pay is their right and they are guaranteed to some of it every month

If we dont award the workers for their work then we are not rewarding good behaviour and this leads to following issues:

  • Workers feel that we dont care.
  • Workers may go slow
  • Workers may decide to leave since they are making less money than before
  • Workers may threaten to strike and then we’ll have to pay.. just to keep things going

So I’m not sure.. we are leaning towards paying them 25% of their overtime pay as a reward for consistent performance and hope that it helps them deal with the downturn. And, so that we dont have to deal with stoppages, etc. You could say that we are doing this out of fear. I dont know what to say about that.. some of it is based on fear. Maybe we just dont know what’s the right thing to do in this case.

Just so you know.. this is not the peak season for our business and we are additionally dealing with a sluggish economy.. hopefully things will pick up soon.