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Surviving EntrepreneurShit and reactions to Unpluggd 2016

Entrepreneurship is filled with challenges. And I’ve had a large share of challenges over last 17 years of building tech businesses.

I was discussing my talk at Unpluggd with Ashish Sinha (of NextBigWhat, Unpluggd), he said that’s “EntrepreneurShit”!

Surviving EntrepreneurShit

What 17 years of EntrepreneurShit survival episodes taught me about business and life in general is what I shared with Unpluggd attendees last Saturday. If you are building a business, you may find solace here!

Here’s the end-slide listing my lessons.

Surviving EntrepreneurShit

I’m not putting up the entire slide deck, because the rest was all stories! You have to be there to get them! No slides can capture those failure stories!

I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes from my talk to get you thinking:


There is always a pot at the end of your entrepreneurship rainbow. You just don’t know what’s inside the pot. Don’t just expect gold coins. Your pot may be filled with a lot of smiles, a big heart, lot of lessons and bliss. But there will be a pot!


When to give up?

Do you love what you’re doing? Is there big business potential in it?

If yes, do not give up.


My reactions to Unpluggd 2016 speaker sessions

My Unpluggd experience was a success! The conference session content was good, the organizing team is obviously super passionate, and the attendees were serious about building and growing awesome businesses.

Here are my takeaways / reactions to the speaker sessions.

  • The Citruspay Story by Jitendra Gupta – Take on big problems, but only if your core competence matches.
  • Postman fame Ankit Sobti‘s How we build a global geeky product from India showed the importance of creating a product for mass use and how to execute freemium model successfully. Ankit’s note about converting critics to admirers and then advocates was superb. My team uses Postman all the time btw!
  • Kranti of Furlenco spoke about Building truly user centered products based on insights. Pick insights from conversations, they are not in the answers. Then add business context and a pinch of your own magic to create success.
  • Lalit Bhise from Mobisy shared his stories of selling SaaS to Indian customers. Relationships, influencers, budgets, payments and the occasional idea that becomes the cornerstone of your success. Always good to hear these..
  • The Future of Payments by Guru Bhat of PayPal elaborated on new age, all pervasive payments ecosystem – something that I believe in too. PayPal is a big part of our e-commerce analytics and marketing assistance tool Putler. I was thrilled to meet not only Guru, but also Prasanna (who created most of the PayPal APIs), Pradeep and the rest of PayPal team in person.
  • Design Strategy for startups by Sunit Sharma of Exploride was another practical and useful session. Sunit talked about using metaphors for products in a conversation I had with him earlier. For example, Vespa means bee, and all their designs – even the sound of their scooter – are inspired from a bee.
  • Building a Desi OS by Rakesh Deshmukh of Indus OS was enlightening. We built Utkarsh as Gujarati OS many years ago and failed. So it was heartening to see Rakesh’s outstanding success. The combination of technology, market dynamics and user focus are key.
  • Anuradha Sridharan‘s How to increase free trial conversions of SaaS products was a goldmine of wisdom for anyone who was paying attention. She spoke from experience and my reaction at the end of the talk was – OMG, there is so much I need to do in our products 😉
  • Thinking on First Principles by Soham Chokshi of Shipsy might have been a little offbeat for some. Soham was one of the first people I met at the event and he is really sharp. I wish I do more of first principle thinking like Elon Musk!
  • Lalitesh Katragadda (Google Map Maker fame) shook me in my seat. His clarity of thinking makes you believe whatever he says, and his future predictions were disruptive. He said there will be no job for most people in future – as machines will do most of the work. It’s better to train your children in entrepreneurship – than in academics! I certainly want to follow Lalitesh more closely. His lessons learned building Google Maps for India were fascinating and I’m sure he is onto something big now.
  • Startup lessons learned building ClearTax by Archit Gupta narrated his early year experiences and the YCombinator journey. I love reading Paul Graham too – Archit 😉
  • When Sanjay Sethi of ShopClues started his talk with the valentine’s day order delivery failure story, I thought “hey, that’s my style of presenting”.. I liked how they are focused on their customer segment – Bharat and India Two, rather than the Californian Indian, India One!!
  • I didn’t attend most of Ajith Karimpana‘s talk on creating a new market category & becoming a leader in it, but I like the guts of doing it. Furlenco is the first furniture rental company of its kind and their strategy of building exclusive furniture from customer insight and then renting them is awesome.
  • When Tanaz Buhariwalla of IDA Ireland came up to talk about setting up business in Ireland, I knew she won’t describe Double Irish arrangement (something that really made Ireland a popular investment destination, and is now getting a lot of heat). Ireland sounds interesting, but for now I’m happy with HongKong!
  • I was going to be the last speaker for the event but Aswin Ram stole the limelight! His story reminds me of mine and his observations on how excessive funding can kill your startup were spot on. Focus on solving the problem and breaking even first. Then consider funding! Good luck with your HyperCITY stint Aswin!

Some food for thought, uhh?

Build It and They Won’t Come – Watch this before you build your next WordPress plugin / theme / whatever…

WordPress has more than 50,000 public plugins. Should you build the next one? Will it be worthwhile maintaining it over the next five years? How will people discover your plugin? What activities can suck you away from building great plugins? How do you land up with great reviews for your plugins? Does it make sense to listen to customer feedback? How do you run a business around WordPress plugins and make money?

Those are some of the questions you will get answer for, in this talk!