Unsolicited advice from an older entrepreneur

Look at me being all grown up and calling myself old. I had a few other titles that I was considering for this and it was a close contest. But I finally decided that I’m comfortable calling myself old (relatively speaking!). In terms of tech startup founders’ age, I’m definitely on the older side. The alternative titles I had in mind were –

  • A letter to my 24 year old self (from the future 34 year old self)
  • Yo 24 year old founder, stop being cocky for a minute and listen up

I fondly remember being a cocky 24 year old, so don’t be offended if you are one right now. You’ll grow up too!

Onwards with the advices / rules / lessons then, in no particular order –

Continue reading Unsolicited advice from an older entrepreneur

Pessimism

Going into something unknown, one of my instincts is to think about what all can go wrong. I may take it to extremes in some cases too (like what if.. death!). This is often taken as me being a pessimist. A friend of mine hinted at the same conclusion just yesterday and I mumbled something about me being an unlikely pessimist, after all I like to pursue lofty goals, try things that may be unlikely to succeed etc.

I thought I’ll put down a better articulation of why I (and others who do the same) think like that. It is easy to brand it as “negative thinking”, but hear me out..

Continue reading Pessimism

Noun Project mac app: drag drop on sketch not working (png instead of svg)

This had been bothering me for a while. Hope this helps if you’ve been scratching your head over it too.

The noun project app was dropping raster (png) instead of vector (svg) when dragging from the noun project mac app to Sketch. Simple solution.. just uncheck the “enable png” box in the preferences dialog (keyboard shortcut – ⌘,)

enable_png_nounproject

For fun and exploration

Since I put out the news about working on Fliptrazon, some of my friends and acquaintances have been a little underwhelmed by my ‘startup’. The general comment is like –

“I thought you were going to do something impactful”

This always gets me thinking. And sometimes worried. Life is short. Am I making the best use of my time here? So let me try and make a case for doing something that may not look impactful (tl;dr – for fun).

Continue reading For fun and exploration

A detailed rejection of the arguments in support of Free Basics

Long post warning: This is a long post, with lots of links. But I would urge readers to take the time to read it and digest it. Please do not sign in support of Facebook’s vision of ‘digital equality’ without knowing what it means. In  fact, if there’s even a little doubt, you should not sign it. There is no hurry. On the other hand, if you are convinced by some of these arguments against Free Basics, I would urge you to support the net neutrality campaign – http://www.savetheinternet.in

I was drawn to writing this after I read a debate on a Facebook post by a friend and ex-colleague. The Facebook thread is in turn influenced by a couple of other posts, where the authors presented their arguments in favor of Free Basics and its value on an Facebook thread and another thread on Quora. I am avoiding using names, because writing with names of the respective authors could make my post sound like a personal attack on the authors. The point is to present counter-arguments.

Continue reading A detailed rejection of the arguments in support of Free Basics

Say hello to Fliptrazon

We (me and Sunit) have been working on this project since the past few months – and we’re finally ready to share – meet our coupon search bot called Fliptrazon.

It has been up and running for a while now, and we’ve gradually become loyal users of our own product. We’re hoping that more people will find this to be a useful, indispensible addition in their online shopping arsenal. Especially the ones who like to pinch pennies.

You might be wondering, there are already countless other sites that list coupons such as CouponDunia, CouponRaja, Grabon, and funny trivia – almost all relative names in hindi are covered too – there is CouponKaka, CouponMama, CouponChacha, CouponBaba, CouponPapa and so on. Anyway.. I digress! We made Fliptrazon because the existing coupon sites are on the sucky side, they

  • are filled with ads
  • are slow
  • hide all coupons behind multiple clicks

Fliptrazon is

  • Ad free
  • super fast. and we’ll make it faster still, we promise
  • all coupons, always visible

Here’s the difference in a screenshots from a popular site vs Fliptrazon :

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 7.45.07 pm
Popular coupon site: ads, popups, hidden coupons. boo!
Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 7.47.38 pm
Fliptrazon: no ads, clean, uncluttered, always visible coupons. Yay!

We have some fun plans that will make finding (and applying) coupons much easier on mobile. That’s the other reason why we’re making this. Had been itching to do some hands on dev for a while.

Try it out, would love to hear feedback. Cheers!

PS. why the weird name? it is easy to find a domain for weird names, and it sounds like a legit robot name. free beer / coffee for anyone who guesses how this name came to be though.

Of engineering and its under-rated value

Yesterday my friend @arunsdevine was lamenting how some of his friends make twice or thrice what he makes (income). Obvious professions that came up were banking and law, and we wondered why one would ever want to do a software engineering or product management job.

Either one works 80 hour weeks and earns millions. Or one keeps it sane and lives a healthy life (and probably earn a little less). It is of course a personal choice. Some of my friends apparently love the banking lifestyle. I thought about why I never found it attractive going after banking. I had all the access I needed, yet I chose to become an engineer/entrepreneur. Just thought of putting it into words and the answer came to me as quite simple.

If earning a few million dollars is your aim, then you might be better off doing investment banking. The probability of success might be higher than say starting up your own business and making an exit / earning that much income from it. But there’s also a more fundamental difference as to how you want to acquire money. Do you want to acquire money by cutting a percentage out of the existing pile. Or do you want to create money by generating value. I think bankers, lawyers usually do the former, while engineers, designers, creators have a higher potential to do the latter (not that we necessarily do).

I just feel that it is an under-valued skill to be an engineer. I often notice a lack of pride for their profession in many engineers. And if creating value beyond a few million dollars is the dream, it probably gives creators an edge. The mindset is different – acquire vs create.

Birthday trip to the Taj Mahal

Had a memorable birthday this time. We planned for an unplanned trip to Agra. Left Delhi at 2:30PM and reached the Taj Mahal just in time before tickets closed at 4:45PM.

Made possible by one of the best highways in India I’ve seen so far.

IMG_5311

IMG_5309

 

And ofcourse the Taj Mahal..

IMG_5326

IMG_5329

IMG_5352

IMG_5370

IMG_5381

IMG_5387

I’ll have to admit though, despite claiming myself to be otherwise, this place has the aura to inspire the romantic in anyone. Hence the couple photo to end the post :)

IMG_5336

Startup Idea: an ecommerce account aggregator

The problem
Ecommerce is ubiquitous in the developed world, and is fast gaining the same status in the developing world as well. Obviously, all ecommerce sites are not equal. Order tracking and customer support experience varies by a lot. And logging into each website to track your order is cumbersome. There are times when one is expecting multiple orders, but it is ‘work’ to keep a track of all of them and request for support.

The idea
All your ecommerce order history, all your order tracking information, all your customer support via one app. The global ‘Your Account’.

Why is it good for customers
Easy to keep a track of all your orders from one single app. Customer support tickets can be raised, tracked and replied from within this app. The app can automatically raise customer support tickets to the respective site if an order gets delayed. Potentially it can handle site specific return policies as well.

Why is it good for ecommerce companies
Instantaneous touchpoint with customers for gathering feedback and updating about order statuses. Order tracking integrations with popular couriers to reduce customer support costs. By automatically raising tickets for order delays, the company can respond early and prevent possible customer anger management.

Challenges
How to get stored to go through the trouble of integrating/supporting this app. The quick approach could be to get access to transactional emails of these stores and by parsing order information from emails to start with. Deeper functionality will only be possible with API level integration. I haven’t really figured this one out though.

Opportunities
Can be a CRM channel providing companies with a targeted messaging platform for feedback, surveys, promotional offers etc. Can scale globally.