Ninth edition of the UnPluggd by NextBigWhat was held in May 2014. Like the previous editions this too was insightful. My first ‘Hi’ was to Suresh Sambandam, who was there to deliver a talk on the art of scale. It was a surprise to hear that Suresh haven’t had a formal technical education, studied commerce through distance education, still got hired by HP and later went on to start OrangeScape, a global top 10 Platform as a Service company. All I can understand from the pep talk was, he was passionate about computers and he had put in so much of hard work and dedication. Here is what he spoke about:
5 screw ups
- Misjudging ramp up of new geography.
- Engaging experts doesn’t always help.
- Health equity is more important. Exercise and stay healthy.
- Putting all the eggs in the startup basket. Have a backup so as to avoid frustration.
- Telling bad news early.
- Sales is intuitive.
- Platforms need an application facade.
- Money comes in different shades of green.
- Networking doesn’t help beyond a point.
- Mentors > Advisors > Board of Directors. Less vested, more value.
5 right things
- First learn and then delegate. Make them successful.
- Keeping cool at all times. Live the present.
- Rolling up the sleeves. Growth changes only the task.
- Hiring good talent.
- Having a healthy and happy personal life.
How Suresh classified lead generation,
- Seeds – blogs, articles, being in the news.
- Net – programs and road shows.
- Spear – sharp shooting based on customer profile research.
Insights on scaling up – the common floor story by Vikash Malpani. Humble beginnings. Pivoting. Building a strong team. Building quality. Measure. Learn. Stay frugal. Vikash stressed on the importance of a strong foundation and staying focused. Quoted AAP on how premature scaling can be more dangerous.
Amarpreet of Frrole spoke on cracking traction, the team, Plan B, conviction and stubborn persistence and Ankit from Unicommerce said there is no perfect time to start. So start now. He also advised to build a strong support team before ramping up sales. Success is 1% idea 99% execution.
The product management workshop quoted a few experiments like why people choose pay now option on a travel portal rather than pay at hotel, because travellers felt that paying online while booking, made them feel secured/assured. It is important that we listen to end users to fine tune the product, but in this case when the users were given incentives and called for testing and to study their behaviour, they came prepared and thus were not behaving as natural users. The panel on Cracking the Consumer Code enlightened on how consumers are mysterious and the need to constantly experiment.
The brave talk on failures was an opportunity to learn from others mistakes. What went wrong and what can we learn?
- Fell in love with the solution and not the problem.
- Zero business model.
- Times changed, we didn’t.
- Too much importance on design. Ship the product quick and fine tune.
- Market is important.
- Too involved in daily activities.
- Hire slow fire fast.
- Emotional roller coaster drains you drastically.
- Need to have a very supporting partner.
- Do research: test to fail, build a user persona, meet real people, loathe researcher’s bias, alternatives research.
- Fail fast: learn to do a bit of programming (res: code academy, treehouse )
- Write, Analyse.
While sharing his lessons on failure, Kingsley of TripThirsty quoted “Schadenfreude” – the enjoyment obtained from someone else’s misery. Yes there are some people waiting to take pleasure if an entrepreneur fails and we should learn to survive the aftermath. Bravo! for boldly coming on stage and sharing the lessons from failure.