What Facebook needs? A killer search engine

Let’s face it: many of us are addicted to Facebook. It has all our friends, apps, games, instant chat, groups and what not. In fact, for the younger generation, it is the first (and only website) they visit in a day. I know several people for whom the world revolves around Facebook. They don’t check email as often they check Facebook. And some don’t check email for weeks as all their communication needs are served by Facebook. However, even those people need to visit Google every now and then to search what they are looking for.  ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Sorry, your โ€œcoolโ€ webapp is probably not going to make money

Sorry for crushing your dreams but your web app for tracking happiness levels (or for “social-aware” todo lists) is probably not going to make enough money to let you retire in Hawaii. Many programmers and web developers find making a web app very satisfying and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as you are doing it for fun, it is OK. But making web apps is the trivial part. After all, most web apps are nothing more than a slick interface for CRUD operations. The key to making money is to find a market where people are willing to pay for those simple CRUD operations...  Read the entire post โ†’

Do a startup or travel around the world?

Every time I watch Discovery Travel & Living on TV or read Lonely Planet magazine, I desperately long for travelling around the world. This feeling intensifies after reading posts such as 8 Exotic Destinations You Can Afford. I get all pumped up ready to pack my bags. But then I realize: Oh wait, I have a startup.

Startup requires a lot of sacrifices from you. You have to work extremely hard (think 100+ hours per week) for several years. All this hard work is justified in hope of an eventual big pay-off which may happen in a year, five years or may not happen ever. That big-payoff has potential to make you financially independent and then you can go travel the world (or explore other exotic interests such as taking a stab at string theory). But the big question is what if that eventual pay-off never happens? It is certainly a possibility because majority of businesses will either fail or will become self-sustaining for years to come. Acquisitions, IPOs and FU money is a rarity, not a norm. ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Appointment Reminder: Patrick’s new startup launches!

I usually don’t do startup reviews here (because it is a personal blog) but today I will make an exception for my friend (on Hacker News): Patrick McKenzie. If, like me, you are also addicted to Hacker News you will probably know who Patrick is. He goes by his handle: patio11. Best known for his SEO, A/B testing and marketing automation advice, Patrick runs a niche business called Bingo Card Creator. The most exciting thing about his business is that finances are completely transparent! On his site, you can see all revenues, expenses, conversion rates and other interesting business metrics.  ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Business ideas are dead; chase after market opportunity

In my previous blog post titled “How making money changed my perspective on startup ideas“, I argued that business ideas don’t have a lot of value in isolation. It is the market opportunity coupled with good execution which generates value and revenues. In this post I want to go one step further and argue that most successful (software) companies got there by chasing a market opportunity and not by having a unique business idea.

Take example of any successful software company and you will find that their business idea was not unique. You say Facebook, I say Friendster. You say Google, I say Altavista. In fact, I think citing such examples is not a good idea because odds of a startup achieving a billion dollar valuation (and becoming a brand) are close to none. I am more interested in knowing how the “long tail” of software companies achieve million dollar plus revenues. That’s a realistic, achievable target and the odds of your startup becoming a Fortune 50000 business are much higher than it becoming Google. So, we should drop the dreams of IPO (for now), let’s just see how businesses make million dollar revenues. ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Startups and Nihilism don’t go together

Note: if meaning of life and startups don’t excite you, it is recommended that you skip this post. You will find it boring.

I know this is a weird title. But I have finally convinced myself that you cannot afford to be too philosophical if you are doing a startup. Doing a startup could turn out to be a terrible experience for those who especially adhere to philosophy of Nihilism. For those who aren’t aware of Nihilism, it says that life has no meaning or purpose and is in fact pointless. This philosophy was popularized by the German philosopher Nietzsche and became popular with atheists. After all, if there is no God, what’s the point of life? ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Who says successful product startups can’t come out of India?

I’ve heard it a million times now: India is a great country for IT services, but there are no great technology product companies. After all, the golden trio of Infosys, TCS and Wipro is what defines India’s technology prowess. There is a certain degree of truth in that statement because the IT services industry has provided jobs to millions of Indian graduates and has definitely played an important role in crafting the Indian brand for outsourcing.

However, in technology (especially Web and Internet), geographies rarely matter. If we put aside VC/angel investment scene for a moment (that’s because it is emerges because a market exists to be exploited), why couldn’t Google, Amazon or Microsoft come out of India? I think it’s simply a matter of market-readiness coupled with informational advantage for US-based startups. Back in the days when these great product companies emerged, US (and to a lesser degree, Europe) was the only place where market existed. Google? Well, you needed Internet to be fully happening before a company like Google made sense. India was still lacking in that during 1996. Amazon? Well, you need people wanting to buy books over the Internet. India didn’t have a proper Internet, so obviously there was no e-Commerce market for Amazon to arise from India. ...  Read the entire post โ†’

How making money changed my perspective on startup ideas

I admit it: my previous (so called) โ€œstartupโ€ Kroomsa was a failure. Back when I was starting up, I remember how game changing I thought it was. We wanted to revolutionize Indian music scene by inserting audio advertisements into music. We also vowed to donate 20% of proceeds from advertisements to a charity organization. Do you see how cool the idea was? Though this business, we combated piracy of music, made money for independent bands and helped society by supporting charities. All at once! ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Compilation of revenue figures for different kinds of startups

Imagine for a moment that you have created a new web app and after about 3 months of launching you are doing $2000 per month of sales. Would you consider yourself as a successful startup?

Well, you are already ahead of majority of startups which never get to see any revenue. So, in that way you are doing good. Plus if $2000 covers all your human and infrastructure cost, that means you have broken even and are doing really well. Is breaking-even the measure of success for a startup?

You certainly didn’t take the risk to earn just-enough money. Why would you leave your day job if your goal was to just break-even? So, this directly takes us back to our original question – when do you say that your startup is a success? ...  Read the entire post โ†’

What exactly makes entrepreneurship so hard

Lack of a boss. Period. The lack of a higher authority to give you your next todo item is the single most-important factor that makes entrepreneurship so hard. In school, you have a clearly defined schedule and you have teachers who give you homework which provides something concrete to do everyday. Then they have exams, a definite end point of the whole yearly effort. In college, you have required classes, projects and exams that keep you sane and provide a safety net from being direction less.  ...  Read the entire post โ†’