Key people in life!

My gym time thoughts and hopes! ;) 

The question was:

"If I get really rich or big investment, what is the first thing I will do for myself."

The answer was

"I will surround my self with 4 key people!"

These are the four key people: 

  1. Physical trainer 
  2. Human Resource expert
  3. Writer and Researcher
  4. Designer

Here is a quick reasoning why these four people: 

Physical trainer to keep my health in check, who takes care of my workout, my diet, food intake etc. etc. Since healthy body and mind is of utmost importance for me

Human resource helps me find the right person and someone who has an eye for right talent. This specifically is my weak spot. 

Writer and Researcher: Communication is essence of the business and life. So I want my communication to be mastered and crafted with perfection. Most importantly i think this is a full time job. What to talk to what person to get most out of relationship. 

Designer: Ah! Do i even need to answer that! 

Netherlands Team - Startups analogy

Why I love Netherlands team!

1. I love their play and technique. They are really well trained and skilled. What we see on ground is just a 90 minutes play. But the real thing is what goes behind. Their training from months to ensure they are in the best form when the time comes to perform. I think every entrepreneur needs to train himself physically and mentally with all the knowledge and skills needed to succeed. Success is the result of good training leading to good performance. 

2. I love their team composition. They just dont have one star player unlike most teams, but all equally outstanding players. Three star attackers and excellent defense. I think every startup needs to have a strong team like that. I would love to build a team for my startups like that! 

3. Energy - Its all about their attitude. They just don’t give up. They keep bombarding penalty areas without a hint of being tired. Their attitude is to never give up. When I see them play I sense a feeling that: They are willing to die on ground but not give up. This is the most decisive factor between winner and loser. Everyone feels tired. But the if you really wanna win, you just dont give up - You keep fighting.

4. Amazing Coach Louis: He knows game really well. Unlike other Coaches he doesn’t panic but I am sure has lots of things planned (Tim Krul introduction was his master piece) Every Startup Needs Advisors who knows the bigger picture (Market and Industry) and can make the right moves when needed. 

Thats it! I would love to see Netherlands win world cup. I would probably the happiest Indian or the only guy in Chile if Netherlands win.

worldcup2014 fifa world cup fifa2014 startup lesson for startup

Startup Chile - What should we stop doing!

This post is a part of 3 points feedback structure by Phil Daniels. what should we stop doing, start doing and keep doing. This post answers question no. 1: what should startup Chile stop doing.

Final and the shortest post. 

What should Startup Chile stop doing. 

1. Being passive: This is my counter point to ‘What should we start doing’ post. As I mentioned that Staff is immensely helpful, they are there whenever you need them. But not everyone is proactive to reach out. Maybe we can be more proactive and offer help from our side to entrepreneurs. 

2. (Conditional) Office hours: We need to get mentors and office hours with people who are more credible and more suitable to be mentors. I am not convinced to go for office hours with 2 kids who worked at a startup and never had any startups themselves. We need to raise our bar and get the right kind of people for office hours and mentoring. 

3. (Conditional) Pitch and Demo days:  I love Pitch day! But I am not happy with the way it is pulled off currently. Not everyone needs investment, still have to participate in demo day!. The goal of Demo day and judges are not aligned. Who are these guys judging us? For them to be able to judge us they need proper understanding about the industry. How can you say a business model is good or bad without knowing the nuances of Industry. This is especially true for early stage companies.

startup chile startup incubator

Redesigning Startup Chile - What should we keep doing!

This post is a part of 3 points feedback structure by Phil Daniels.. what should we stop doing, start doing and keep doing. This post answers question no. 3: what should startup Chile keep doing.

This post is mainly about why ‘Startup Chile’ is such an amazing experience for any entrepreneurs. I will talk about couple of things that I love in Startup Chile and I hope they keep doing. 

1. Community:

This is by far the biggest reason why everyone at Startup Chile loves Startup Chile. What happens when you bring 200 like minded people with similar goals together. Its mind boggling. 

Well as of reality, half of the people that you see on pitch day and demo day will not be seen around at all. So when I say community I am talking about the balance 50%. 

Its great because we find like minded people, people going through same hustle as you are. Its extremely inspiring when you realize that you are not in this alone. So definitely its the best thing that can ever happen to any startup. 

2. Startup Chile Team: Startup Chile team is so amazing. They are the one that fills you and everyone with optimism. Always there to help you. The sincerity in effort that everyone puts to actually help out is really outstanding. Its an important lesson about culture. Startup Chile hires and have build that culture of helping. 

3. Autonomy: Another good part of Startup Chile is (unlike other accelerators) is that they give you complete autonomy and zero interference in your business. Which is great because there are no rules or sessions that you have to attend, Its also not that great for some. But we will leave it as an exception for now. 

4. The package: What startup Chile puts together. The autonomy, the country : with high potential and paying capacity and low competition + 40,000 USD + community. Its like they give you everything you need and get out of the way, so that now you can focus on building your startup and nothing distracts you. As said by my dear friend ‘Sean Armstrong’ and I quote “Startup Chile is like living a dream” I  would completely agree to that. Its spot on. 

Thank you. Dont forget reading other two post on ‘start doing’ and ‘stop doing’

startup startup chile entrepreneur

Redesigning Startup Chile - What should we start doing!

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This post is a part of 3 points feedback structure by Phil Daniels.. what should we stop doing, start doing and keep doing. This post answers question no. 2: what should startup Chile start doing.

I love Startup Chile. Its been a brilliant experience so far. Given a chance I will definitely repeat it. Though I know as per new rules they dont allow existing entrepreneurs to apply again. Sad!

While I loved it so far, If I was made in charge and was given a chance to run Startup Chile I would do lots of things differently.  Here are the few additions that I will implement and focus on. These comes partly from my own need as two times entrepreneur and partly based on my experience offering entrepreneurship classes at university which were like mini incubator itself. 

I am going to structure it in bullet points for better and skim readability. Please take note this is not criticism but rather constructive ideas on how can we take Startup Chile to next level of excellence. 

My thoughts are based on the premise of the key objective of the fund and resources invested by Corfo, as I have understood and may not be completely relevant.

Progress accountability:

Current: I am not sure if we are held accountable at all for the progress of the startup. Current system is process driven and fix interval driven. The moment you get in, You have all the key dates of the presentations finalized. No importance is given to individual projects performance and stage. Focus is on inputs and authenticity but not the outcome and progress. 

Suggested : We should use a standard scale of startup life cycle and map every startup the moment it gets in to this scale. We should then understand where they stand as on date and what it will take them to go to next stage. Regular meetings should be scheduled to follow up on achieving the targets for the next stage. This is a super big thing and can change the whole experience upside down. 

Why progress: 1. This will improve the performance of startups and increase the likelihood of success. 2. Startups not so serious will not be attracted anymore. Hence space for more quality & serious startups. 3. More successful startups in Chile will likely to stay and expand in Chile, giving more milage and advantage to Chile.  

Mentor Driven: 

Current: 404! Nothing found!

Suggested: I would get impanel top guys from various sectors who will be willing to mentor startups if so they liked. These mentors should ideally be the top guys in Chile or abroad. Every startup should be expected to have at least one Mentor / Advisor on board from their sector. And every startup should be expected to have regular meeting with the Advisors. Ideally startups should be free to discover their own advisors, but helping them with a ready reckoner list and references would be immensely useful.

Why: Well No! No one is really that smart to pull it off yourself. Hence having an advisor significantly improves the chances of success. It also can bring sensibility in financial spending. Hence all the benefits of  point 1 applies. 

Flexibility

Current: Its not really easy to change your project. You need approval and all. 

Suggested: We should be flexible with the projects. Rather we should encourage pivoting and completely shifting early on if the project doesn’t seem to materialize. It makes no sense pushing people to perform on a project that even founders are not confident. Hence the advisors and the Sup team should together push to ensure the money and resource (including time) is spent on something legitimate. 

Why: Because what matters is that the projects are successful and not that the project spend all the money or that they are doing what they promised while applying. I would say invest in people not projects (while selecting). All benefits of point 1 applies. 

Peer Community

Current: Its self organized. Its left to the community to take initiative. Which is good. I like that. But maybe someway this can be more optimized. 

Suggested: Will do for sure is that will make a common list with the People participated in Startup Chile and common list of skills. We need to ask everyone to list and rank their key skills and strength. We should ask everyone to list their key strengths / skills. We should strongly recommend cross contribution on the project of your choice. Note: strongly recommended, but not mandatory.

Why: One working on cross project is an excellent way to be creative and learn more about business and startups. Also lot of startups face issues / challenges, solutions to which is available usually inhouse. Why not use community to help each other. 

Training

Current: We have SupAcademy sessions. Basically whenever we have guest speakers we organize sessions or anyone worthy or willing to give talk on any topic SupAcadmey session is scheduled. This is good but not best. Because you dont always get the session that you need and when you need. 

Suggested: Well there are few key broad areas where most startups need help or guidance. They are usually strong in one or two domain and might be lacking expertise on yet another domain. But we all need to empowered in all the areas that are critical to our business. These domains could be: Internet marketing, Programming, Startup/Business theory, Product management, Sales, pitching to name a few. Once enrolled in the domains interested, there should be regular classes to ensure the mastery over those topics. We dont need expert or paid resource to delver these classes. It can be managed for free. Reach out for more info on how.

Why: As I mentioned earlier, Invest in people not projects. The team that wins is usually the team thats well trained. The better we train our teams the better they are equipped to stand against the global competition and more likely to succeed, more likely to refer to their friends and which should get more and better applicants.

Summary: 

If you think this will take up too much time doing all these, trust me  its not. It needs right organizing and it would be one seamless process with minimal involvement and time consumption.

I would like to close with my personal recent learning. The most important thing any startup should ever think of or brain storm is how to do things that might take 6 months in 2 weeks. How to fail faster and succeed with more confidence but keeping time at the helm of all affairs. Dont count how much money you are spending. Count how much time it will take before you know if you will fail or succeed. its all about time. Trust me, its possible to achieve things of 6 months in 2 weeks. If you want to know how, reach out.

startupchile startup chile incubator startup

So many things to do, So little time

I always fe

el this way! I end my day feeling really hectic! Lots of things to do at work, networking, workout, learning, reading, watching, news etc. etc. 

So I decided to make a chart of what all things I need to do in my life and how much time do I actually give to each category. 

I came up with chart! I think which is pretty common for every entrepreneur. (So in case if you thought startup was cool and easy - Its hell not! )

You have to network with people to build relations! This is need to build the right team, get advisors, investors and just the right connections for anything you need.  

You have to develop knowledge (learn ) about new skills and develop existing skills. Things are changing really fast and you must keep up to date to be competitive. You need to watch news about different subject including politics, social and technology, design etc. Keeping yourself updated is a hard task! and learning new things and polishing existing strengths gives you the needed edge. 

Physical: A healthy body is needed for healthy mind. For an entrepreneur its extremely important to be full of energy all the time. You either be enthusiastic and full of energy or be a douche - both these things are contagious so your team and surrounding is going to be just like that. Workout is important for overall shape and build, power, stamina, endurance etc. etc. while sports is important for building attitude and getting the spirt to win. Combat: Its my favorite. I believe in Darwin’s theory and learning to survive in harshest condition is extremely important. 

Mind: Just like body or any other machine your mind needs workout. You need to meditate because its damn effective. its your time with yourself. Try is once for a month and you will know. You need to exercise it daily with creativity and puzzles to make sure its performing at its optimum level. You need to work on critical thinking because it helps us on decision making.

Work: Finally the most important thing in your life (should be that way) Even though you are a startup you need to look at all the domains of business. You need to check what your teams doing, how everything is progressing, and look at all the domains like technology, content / academic (Since our is education startup), customers, sales, investment etc. You need to do lot of work by yourself so accounting time for that as well.

So in all this the question is how do we manage our time. How do we allocate our time. This is my version of an ideal time allocation on different tasks.

Yes! This doesn’t add unto 100% Because you sleep and you do lots of miscellaneous work!

So lets break down the time into exact activity! This is how I would like my time to be spread across all the activities. And now I am planning to follow this in an disciplined manner. 

 Did you notice that I only have 4 hours for my work. Believe it or not! its much more than enough if you just dedicate 4 hours to your core work. You really dont need more than 4 hours per day. However note that this is average. Somedays I spend much more time on work and other days quite less. Exceptions excluded!

I believe that entrepreneurship has perks there are disadvantages as well. Which is being indisciplined. We take things too leniently. We dont have deadlines or anyone chasing us to get things done. Hence being self disciplined is really important. 

I am curious and want to know how does everyone spends their time. Here is my version of how I spend my time as of now (note: This is going to change from tomorrow). 

Do you see that useless 3 hours thing: I spend that bullshiting on things like browsing web talking to people, face booking or maybe writing this blogpost (can be included in it), Social meetings etc. . 

startup startup life time management

"Rise and Rise again
Until Lambs become Lions"
"If you think your life is so cool and without problems, you are being too easy on yourself!"

Customer Interviews for startups


The more I teach the more I learn. I have learned much more about entrepreneurship while teaching it to teams and seeing their progress, then I would have by myself.
Overtime I have teams who’s project are not aligned or they are not progressing. That made me wonder where is the root cause of this? The big question is what part of the process defaulted; resulting in these failures
This is the large process I expect students to follow: 
Identify Problem - Identify target segment - Validate problem - Identify solution with high VP - build prototype - validate solution - Canvas etc. - MVP… 
If you see a large part of the initial process is talking to customer and knowing about them and intreating. 
While going through all the projects I realized that the most of the teams who fail have one thing in common. They all failed to understand customer well. They didn’t understand the market / customer / industry landspace accurately. This is a very interesting thing. Not knowing complete landscape or accurately about your customer you believe you have got something great in your hand. And you go ahead on your path of building prototype or mvp and at some point when you keep interacting with your customer you keep realizing that this is not gonna work. 
The question is how can we address this problem in the first place, where our main goal is to understand customer landscape. Since it turns out this is the most important piece of your startup. You want to make sure that you get this right. 
But there is not enough work done in the area of interviewing. 
So I thought to write down a process that I would recommend. 
Important elements of customer sensing: 
A good startup has a strong problem intensity -(and for dramatic effect) one shall not worry about solution intensity. 
  1. Customer mapping: 
  2. You need to map your customer, create archetype, create different roles in the customers life. All this will help you better understand your customer. You may not know every thing at start. But keep this page of “customer mapping” updated as you go ahead with your interviews and as you learn more about your customer and industry. 
  3. Here you will also map Customer segment - their precise problem - their existing solution / substitute - Advantage your solution. This is the corner stone of your startup to know if its scalable or not, how much of value it would be for your customers. 
Interviewing customers: there are three stages of customer interview.  Exploration stage, Validation stage and Surveys. We will talk in detail about each one of them. 
  1. Exploration stage: The most important stage and important thing your startup can ever do.  Mostly all the interviews that you will do as a startup would fall in this category. so pay attention. 
  2. Objective: Exploratory interview is aimed at knowing more about customer. The goal of this interview is to learn about your customer.  
  3. Pitfalls: 
  4. The common misconception is that the objective of these interviews are to know if your assumptions are right or wrong. Well you want to know that, but not directly. Because if you have that thought at the back of your mind, your mind is too smart to make your customer speak exactly that. image
  5. Many times we consider problem, which might be an effect of something and the cause of it to be different problems and symptoms as different problem. They might be different problems, but seeing them in relationship of each other gives a clear picture. Try and reach the root cause of the problem. And see what makes more sense addressing the root cause or the effect of the problem.
Action plan: So the idea is to go with open mind and try to find the right customer. I am not gonna talk more about find the right target group and early adopter, but there is lot of material available on subject and is highly recommended to read. Once you find the right customer, just try to learn as much as you can about the customer. About his overall life (parts which you think are common to all your customers), then go deep dive into the problem segment. 
  1. Problem segment: Instead of talking about specific problem, try and dive into the problem segment, which is slightly broad and gives customer room for expressing. Customer will tend to derail from one problem to another, Be conscious to focus on one problem segment at a time. Once you are done with one problem segment, then you can take a conscious choice to dive into another problem segment. 
Questions to ask: 
  1. Here are some sample types of question to ask: 
  2. Tell us about “….” 
  3. How do you go about your day “..”
  4. What do you think is the cause of the problem? 
  5. How do you think others go about solving this problem? 
  6. Whats the real challenge with “… “
  7. Why do you feel that way? 
  8. Tell us more about your experience when / while “…” 
Important thing to note here is that there is no direct questions about your specific problem, forget about solution/ product etc. There  are questions about your customer.  When I say problem i also mean “need” Its about assessing how much do they need the value you are going to add. In the words of the Steve blank if the problem you are solving is not the top 5 things on customer mind, its not worth doing (In most cases). validation stage: Once you have spoken to like 20-30 customers in person and you have got a definite trend indicating a specific problem or need. And now you just want to go out and validate it. Thats when you use validation interview. Here you have some liberty to use “yes” “No” questions or a closed question. However its important that you dont ask direct questions like “Do you think this is your problem” “would you like this” etc. But you ask more segment related questions “Can you give me your top 5 problems related to “…” “ “If you had x resource and you could only solve one problem “Which out of these will you choose to solve” If you have 4 solutions available for this “which one would you value most and why” Surveys: Whats that? dont even think of using it till you become like a company with some million users. This is complete waste of time.  
All in all to summarize: We need better ways to learn and understand about the customer and interviewing is the key to that. We have seen some work in the macro area from “Four steps to epiphany” but I hope to see more at micro level in the area of interviewing and learning about customer. 

startups lean startup customer development customer interviews

Excellent Hair cutting / Hair Styling in Santiago - Important lesson for startup!

go to the section “Haircutting experience” to know about Haircutting address and specific feedback!

This is how I work and expect people to work! 

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

I try to abide this while I am doing my work like: Deciding marketing communication, preparing pitch, creating presentation, building websites, creating UX or even doing dishes or ironing my clothes. And I always look for people who put the same love in their work to work with. But as we all know its really hard to find!

While I was looking for a place for haircut, I saw different places and was not sure where to go. My friends recommended me a place which was “Good enough” for the “price”! 

But then I stumbled on this Hairstyling saloon which caught my attention: 

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Everything inside was nicely kept, it was extremely well organized and it had its own personality, which was different from other places that I had seen. I finally decided to give it a shot! 

Haircutting experience

I was impressed! It was amazing how he went about the whole haircutting experience. He doesn’t have fancy stuff! But he is the crux of what I experienced and why I am writing this blog post: 

He was cutting my hair as if was crafting a masterpiece” 

With me he didn’t use trimmer at all, He just did it with Scissors. That too he would pick up every single hair and analyze and cut it to reach its perfection. Also he tries and speaks basic english. enough for you to communicate your expectations. However the best is for you to go there with a picture of what kind of haircut you want. I am not saying he gave me the best haircut or he is the best stylist. All I am saying is he loved what he was doing and did it with lot of love! 

Price: 6000 Rs. This is his Address:image

And here is the directions for you. (its right in my building)

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Lesson for startups:

Its not just about having the right idea, its the exceptional execution that will make you successful! 

If you do amazing work, people will talk about you and you will get more business naturally! 

santiago chile haircut hairstyling

Here is another interesting video on system design. 

One part that I find really interesting about the fact was that they wanted “Capable people” to vote. People who can think and take right decisions. 

One of the cue for the same was “Illiterates were not allowed to vote”. I am not saying illiterate shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but we need to see how is voting and how capable and informed they are about taking decision on voting. 

system design democracy

Interesting video on Wealth distribution. 

We need law that doesn’t allow massive inheritance of wealth. 

wealth equality