5 Things A Software Startup Firm Must Not Forget

This is a back post from my contribution to the VoiCE blog. Find the original article here.

India is a land of opportunities these days. The last decade saw lot of new technology companies letting their baby cry out and then biting dust as well. Delving deep inside the ones who failed and the ones whose success sky rocketed, we come to know why some were successful while most of them bit the dust. Here are the following simple steps a new company must never forget before getting into business-

1. Plan for the future– Most companies, whether service providers or product developers try to emulate what is already there in the market. While it might earn you business immediately, you need to keep yourself abreast of what the future of your product/service is going to be. New technology becomes obsolete even before it reaches the masses in the corners of the world. Plan for future. Your services might be a hit today. But they will soon be useless if you dont improve upon them.

2. Handle your product life cycle well– Every product has a life cycle. It starts slow. With good marketing, it picks up and the consumption of your product/service increases. If you meet the expectations of the users, the value continues to grow till a time it reaches the maturity. Lot of companies fail to understand the maturity phase and when the product starts its decline. They keep on milking the cow when they should have been raising another calf. As a result, just version control doesn’t help and the product falls steeply in the gorge.

3. Standardize– Indians have a habit of customizing every thing. It leads to many bad things such as slow delivery process, difficulty in getting the right expertise, too many different versions and hampers the brand name of the service/product. Instead, your focus should be on standardization. It is good to give options to the customers. But even the options must have standard configurations and most desired features. Apply the pareto’s rule. 80% of the users are going to be satisfied by 20% of your features. So you have room to experiment with the rest.

4. Collaborate– No company achieved every thing on his own. To ensure better performance and usability of your product/service, complement it with matching products/services from other companies. Make sure it adds value. It will also help you sustain better in case of slow down or product failures.

5. Technology and People– Please note that better technology and better people are the only two things that contribute to the success of any IT firm. Respect your people and update them as well as yourself with the latest trends and game changing innovations. There will be people with brilliant ideas and very bad executions. Boeing learnt from Douglas’s mistake and went on to become the largest aircraft company in the world. Remember!

Hope this was useful.

How to Avoid Office Meetings…

Simple-

  1. Pretend to be the sickest person on earth on the day when meeting is scheduled. Call your boss and cough as hard as you can. He should fear for his life, for he could catch TB.
  2. If point number one doesn’t appeal, pretend to be busy in a client call. I’m sorry, let that be a call with either partner or a supplier. This saves you from sales targets. I’m told when you pretend to be busy with the client, they increase your monthly targets.
  3. If the first two are not good enough, call your boss and tell him your father’s uncle’s step son’s aunt fell down from the first floor. Generally first floors are safe. They dont kill you. But you can then spend next two days at home pretending to be in the hospital.
  4. If nothing of the above works for you, the reason that I’m caught in traffic must and always works… without doubt.
  5. If your boss is as smart as you are and he asks you to join through a conference call, make sure you stand near a junction or a parking lot. Ask your fellow commuters to blow (their) horns as if their life depended on it. Then dial into the conference call. You know what can happen next. 🙂

I hope you were satisfied with my reasoning. If yes, kindly press 2 or 7. If not, press any thing else nearby. Neither of the inputs are going to reach me anyway.     🙂

One Year After Attacks, Have We Moved On?

In another 4 days, the dreaded terror attack on Mumbai will complete one year. A night when a handful of gunmen from across the border held the city at gunpoint will be remembered again. It was an incident, which changed the life of many people. But has any thing really changed otherwise?

As an after effect we saw both CM Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy CM & Home Minister R R Patil being removed from their posts. The ruling Congress party was flayed, the intelligence agencies were questioned, other political parties were criticized, Raj Thackeray was ridiculed. The people of Mumbai gathered together for a solidarity march at the gateway of India. The protests arose, the cause was raised and gradually every thing died a slow painful death. Is it an irony? I don’t think so…

The only terrorist captured alive is still living in the Arthur road jail without much discomfort. The perpetrators and conspirators are freely roaming around in Pakistan. We are (still) waiting for US to help us.  Congress came back to power both at the centre and state assembly. Vilasrao is enjoying his stint as the union minister for heavy industries, R R Patil is back at the helm of home ministry, Raj is back and busy fighting for the Marathi ‘language’ rather than the people, conducting gheraon and angry protests on issues as trivial as debating on ‘Why Hindi is not a national language’. Shiv Sena, now led by a much mellowed Uddhav Thackeray is criticizing the legendary Sachin Tendulkar because he put India ahead of any one else. It looks like they are coming back to the vandalizing best. The men who could have, should have and must be protecting us from the possible attacks, the Police are busy pointing fingers at each other, one year after we were attacked.

Nothing has changed for a normal Mumbaikar like me… and nothing ever will. Terrorism, in my opinion, is a secondary problem for us. We are battling more than that every day, every month… the ever increasing population on roads, trains and buses, the sky rocketing property prices, the water and power crisis, substandard infrastructure and a slowly retreating ghost named recession. Every day journey to the office seems like a solidarity drive.

I think Mumbai is ready for another attack. Any takers?

What Does a Marathi Manoos Want?

… a question that goes unanswered in all the elections. From wherever and whenever the Thackerays started wooing the Marathi junta, I dont really remember one good initiative taken by any one to ask the real ‘Common Marathi Manoos’ as to what his real demands are.

In fact, in between the digging of the cricket pitches, the riotings and the banishing of the so called ‘Bhaiyyas’, the real cause of concern has been getting lost time and again. The situation is that now the real common ‘Marathi Manoos’ doesn’t know where to start and what does he really need from the innumerable political agendas being manifested and bulldozed on his own name. May be he has accepted the silent corrupt (read Congress) over the shouting bigots as his and Maharashtra’s saviour for a better future. Yes, Raj Thackeray has won 13 seats in Maharashtra. We have seen all the talking he did. May be we can see things improving on the ground level too. May be…

Anyway, I’m not spending too much time on who has done what and who wants to do more. I’m just addressing the plain question asked by a ‘common marathi manoos’ and I want you (YOU the reader) to answer it for me.

PS: In my opinion, all a Marathi Manoos wants is better opportunities for him, better living conditions in his own motherland, greater financial stability and peaceful dwelling. And of course he doesn’t like some one else dominating his life. But I’m sure he doesn’t care who sits next to him in his office, whether a Gujarathi or a Bihari.

Murphy’s Law on Marriage

Here are 10 Murphy’s laws on marriages. Of course Murphy has got nothing to do with marriage and the laws have been written by yours truly. 🙂

I hope this light’s up your Diwali and you will have a good laugh.

  1. The demands of your wife will always marginally exceed your capacity to fulfil them.
  2. The price of her new dress (or jewellery) she selects is inversely proportional to the balance in your account. This is true only one way. You know which way!
  3. All beautiful girls will want to be your friend and show interest exactly after your status changes from ‘single’ to ‘engaged’ or ‘married’.
  4. No matter what, almost all Mother-in-Laws are equally bad.
  5. Your wife will be mad at you for the things you least expect her to be.
  6. A husband is always right whenever he is alone or his wife is asleep.
  7. You will get caught talking to a boy/girl you would never have an affair with, even in your wildest dreams.
  8. Your relatives and friends will get married mostly when you are in a bad recessionary state… and your wife will insist you attend all of them (So much gifts!)
  9. No matter what, your wife will never have enough clothes.
  10. A wife will always win all arguments. If she doesn’t, it is your fault.

Keep adding if you have any more 🙂

Max and the art of Story Telling

Love stories have been getting good response on my blog lately. The statistics say that at least 3-4 stories are being read by different people every day. Some of them have also asked if I wrote their stories. Some of them have actually asked me to write their stories as well. The story coming up will be one such.

Frankly speaking, when I started telling stories, I never expected such a response. I told stories and discussed other topics the way I wanted. Readers liked it and made them popular. Lot of people ask me how to write an interesting blog. Well, there are two way. You can either attract controversy or you can attract an audience. As far as story telling goes, there are following five golden rules. If you follow them, you too can write good stories.

  1. It is the narration. Lot of others might tell you that a good theme is a back bone of the story. Well it is, but then a good narration is then the nervous system. It is important for you to build your story properly. Every sentence should lead to another. The reader should crave for more… want to jump to the last para, yet be interested in every word of it. If you fail to do that, even a good theme might go waste.
  2. A good theme, as I said, is the back bone of the story. Normally you can not say which theme is a good theme. It is really a subjective matter. I’d advise you to select some thing that is closer to your heart. Then make sure you make the reader connect with it. Taking a cue from your own personal experiences is usually a good idea.
  3. Introduction is another important aspect. Introduce your characters  well. Give good importance in describing how they are, how they look and a little bit about their past. After all a good movie with unpopular actors seldom works at the box office. The reader needs to identify himself with the character. So give the important ones a good weightage.
  4. The build up to the main theme of the story is another very important aspect. Spend some time imagining the whole story inside your mind. Repeat the sequences and rearrange them if required. Some times you might want to start from a point and then go back to the past. Good idea, but make sure you keep all the strings attached. Spend time on details building up to the plot. Add dialogues wherever you can.
  5. All well that ends well. Believe me, I find this as the most difficult part to handle. Almost all the stories I start do not end well. By that I dont mean they dont end happily. It is not a compulsion to end your story on a good note. But it has to end on a conclusive note. Either it has to end the argument you started or it has to lead to another so that a part two can come up. Disjointed ends normally make a bad story.

So thats about it. With these 5 tips, it is me Mayur signing off. Look out for a brand new true story. 🙂

10 on TEN

Writing was never new to me. I have been ranting since I was 15. But I started blogging and putting my thoughts online only about 2 years ago. So when the ‘maxmayur’ blog came into existence in last May (inspired from the one and only Big K), I had silently wowed to inspire, provoke, coerce at least 10 of my readers or friends to express their views through blogs.

Today, that dream came true. I found my 10th reader who has started writing a blog and thanked me for inspiring him. I was actually over whelmed and flattered.

I know there are at least 100 others who I know can write. At least 10 others who are exceptional thinkers and good orators. Never the less, 10 is good and I’m looking forward to the next batch of 10.

Thank you guys!

The Enemy Within

Movies continue to inspire me to write some thing. I watched the movie ‘Shaurya‘ over the weekend. Although I knew the movie was inspired from ‘A few good men‘ , it is a good watch none the less. It is a story of an Army lawyer (Siddharth Choudhary played by Rahul Bose) defending a soldier (Captain Javed Khan played by Deepak Dobriyal) against a charge for culpable homicide. Javed has killed his senior officer and is charged with a murder and links to terrorist organisations. Javed actually is a victim of racism and hatred. He is targeted because he is a Muslim.

Kay Kay Menon, who plays Brig. Pratap, has very efficiently echoed the hatred most of us have against the people who are always credited for spreading terrorism. He (as in his character in the movie) has lost his family to a conspiracy by his house help, who happened to be a Muslim. This is very identical to some one who has lost a member in the innumerable terrorist attacks in India and abroad. We dislike an Ahmed or a Khan because some other Ahmed was one of the accused in a bomb blast case. There are many other names. So we end up hating every one who is a Muslim. Dont we ignore that the ‘good Muslims’ are equally troubled? More blasts and attacks occur in Pakistan these days.

It is not about one particular caste. I think we are pretty damn selfish when it comes to hating or demeaning a race, caste or a religion. As a Marathi, I have seen fellow Maharashtrians making fun of Gujrathis, Sindhis, Punjabis, Biharis… and I have seen the others making fun of each other just as we do. It is nice as long as done in good faith. But you never know when the fun gets transformed into hatred.

Now coming back to the point of selfishness in hating some one. Consider this, a Marathi will hate a Bihari for spoiling Mumbai, but will cheer loud when Dhoni and Tendulkar are playing together for India. They wouldn’t mind a Dhoni or a Sehwag leading a Dravid or a Agarkar. We fight amongst us as states, but come together for a national cause. So a Marathi or a Gujju will become a Hindu and will despise a Muslim because a Muslim terrorist was caught blasting bombs. So all the Marathis and Gujjus and Punjabis will stick together and you will have a 1993 Mumbai riot or 2002 Godhra riots. Despite this, Hindus and Muslims will come together to fight for India. This has happened in the past during the freedom struggle. Hindus and Muslims wanted to drive the Britishers out of the country together. So both hated the British. But they still helped them in World War II against Germany and Japan. Why? Known enemy was better than an unknown friend. India also has had political conflicts with fellow Asian countries such as China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia… However when you look at the immigrants in Australia, UK and US, the Asian populations sticks together for their rights (Although we Indians are still known as ‘Indians’.) So they try to ward off the racist attacks in Australia together. And I’m sure we all will stick with each other if an alien planet declares a war on earth   🙂

So if we indeed have a ‘Earth Army’ to fight, say Mars, who amongst these soldiers will be a Marathi? A Punjabi? A Muslim? A British? An Australian? I think it is stupid to hate people. It is you yourself who have proved time and again that you can compromise your dislike for the ‘other caste’ on more than one occasions. So why still detest it? Your enemy is not on the roads… the enemy is within you. Why live on premonitions? Forgive and forget. Live and let live. Kill the hatred and half your problems are already solved.

“Courage is not in killing 100 enemies and standing like a brave soldier. Courage is in recognising the truth, adhering it and standing by the last word of it.”

Do Something

Manmohan spent all ears to one more instruction…

A traffic cop spent eating another 50 bucks…

Mamta Banerjee spent cribbing the left…

Ekta spent thinking of yet another stupid serial…

Rakhi spent fake blushing for the nth time…

Kaustubh spent pointing out yet another stupidity…

Dhoni spent endorsing one more brand…

Patty spent taking one more stupid quiz on Face book…

Pallavi spent framing one more client…

… and I spent typing this post.

So how have you spent your last 5 minutes? Do some thing worth while today. Its good!

What The @#%*

  • People go to restaurants, read the entire 4-5 pager menu only to order a Masala Dosa or a Pav bhaji. What the …
  • People blow their horns when the traffic signal clearly shows RED. What the…
  • People take unnecessary print outs and support the ‘save trees’ campaign at the same time. What the…
  • People curse India for the predominant corruption and still bribe the traffic cop on their way home. What the…
  • People talk loudly on the speaker phone in the small cubicles of the office. What the…
  • People watch Ekta Kapoor’s daily soaps. What the…
  • People want revolutionary changes in the Indian Political system and yet elect Congress time and again. What the…
  • People dont speak up when they love some one. What the…

Addendum: I was a part of the lunch hour conversation today at my office. Couple of intelligent and senior guys were arguing and we other were supporting different factions. The debate started from Budget 2009 and came down to why India is still a developing nation and why Mumbai cant be a Shanghai, Singapore or Manhattan. People kept blaming the government, the municipal corporation and ‘other’ people. No body won the debate. After lunch accompanied the guy I supported for a stroll down stairs while he smoked. When he was puffed enough, he pulled a sachet of a ‘Pan Masala’ ate all of it and coolly threw the empty sachet on the road. Couple of minutes later he spat on the same road. When I reminded him of the debate, he frowned.

We talk about becoming a super power nation and want some one else to be accountable for it. What the @#%*