Today I attended the first half of NASSCOM Product Conclave 2015 event in Chennai. In recent times I am happy to see more events being organized to promote entrepreneurship and give boost to product start-ups in India.

Ravi Gururaj

Ravi Gururaj

Ravi Gururaj, Chairman, Frictionless Ventures

He talked on “Why it is a Good Time to be a Product Entrepreneur”:

  • Few Indian companies focus on building backend services, there is lot of opportunity in this space
  • Setup headless company where you don’t need to have any user interface, the offering has to be powerful APIs
  • Quoted an example of how Chinese are able to plan better than in India. When Engineers needed to build a bridge over a high speed train track, they were able to swivel into place a 17,000-ton structure in Wuhan City.What was remarkable was how they got the roads leading into the swivel portion ready including street lights and lane lines.
  • How an ISP in Japan called Iij had pioneered to build data centre using reusable containers

Alok Goyal

Alok Goyal, Partner, Helion Advisors

He presented compelling points on why Indian startup should now focus on Enterprise Products?. Have We Arrived?:

  • There has never been more disruptions in the Enterprise Products space than now.
  • Ideas are now crowd sourced from CIOs
  • Sites like Tracxn provide valuable Data and reports for Venture Capital
  • While there are plenty of growth happening in supplier side for Enterprise software, Buyer side is not growing or willing to change in India. The reason is not that the market in India is small or capital investments are insignificant, but no CIO in India want to risk by being an early adopters
  • If above is the case, then where is the fundamental advantage for Indian product startups?. It is with the large crop of  global SMBs (Small Medium Business)
  • What’s changed in enterprise product space in India in the last few years has been the availability of mentors who have worked in Silicon Valley and able to share their learning
Girish Mathrubootham

Girish Mathrubootham

Girish Mathrubootham, Founder & CEO, Freshdesk

I have been Freshdesk for few years now, impressed with how good their product is and how Girish got early excitement generated with a simple comment in an online forum. He talked of his journey and challenges faced:

  • Ravi Gururaj asked him “There are thousands of products in helpdesk / support space, it’s a crowded markets. Sitting in Chennai you reach to customers, how did you do it”. Girish answered “A crowded market means there is demand and it’s  a mature model. All the market leaders generally go upmarket, they will leave low billing customers. When all the companies leave the low markets you own them. You are category killer in low end market. Execution matters. The last major category in enterprise software is marketing automation. This means you understand the market and what to build is known very well. It’s easier to build enterprise software”
  • Minimum viable product doesn’t work anymore. It will mean customer has to buy twenty products and integrate. When you are building a product for enterprise, you should see how the product matches to the job title and job description of the person you are selling to. You can’t be selling to CEO all the time. Selling to CEO is the most difficult sell, even if your product is broad based
  • In SaaS market the advantage of Oracle and SAP are going away, which is there is an integrated product. With start-up products in SaaS now they all do one function very well but they come OOB ready to be integrated with others
  • I got $25000 from two friends, then Microsoft competition winning got us $40000. Don’t chase VCs. Where ever you are, they will come and get you
  • In India  when we build products we don’t focus on UI or UX, we focus on engineering. In India you can’t find talent for that. Typography for example is least appreciated here. Anand Daniel of Accel noticed us through .hacker news and contacted us for initial funding. Later even though we were not looking or needed, we got $5 million from Tiger, then $31million from next round.
  • For people to work with you. CEO has to have a good network. You need to build honest relationships. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t underestimate freshers. Don’t go for people who think they are doing you a favor by coming here. Take people who want to work for you
  • We wanted to go to Bangalore. But the world conspired against it. My son didn’t a seat  in a school in the last minute and I took it as a sign to stay in Chennai
  • The New game in town now is how fast you can drive money from your VCs to your customers?. We are not in that game
  • We setup an office in SFO to be near to our customers, meet them for closing larger deal. We don’t try to go to India customers. Indian customers want to buy from global brands and not (see value or buy) from Indian startups
  • The work we do has to be happy for everyone. We are not top pay masters, compared to other VC funded rich start-ups. I feel people need to be Happy to “work”. Talk to them about how you can grow here and monetize later in your career. The question in your initial years do you want to get a Rs.5 Lakh from Rs.3 Lakhs or in few get a jump from Rs.35L to Rs.70 Lakhs?

Bhaskar Thakur, Entrepreneur, Growth Hacker

He talked about:

  • Paul Graham’s product growth chart.
  • Growth Hacking is seen by some as the new VP of marketing
  • True north in a startup has to be growth
  • Mantra is Attract, Activate, Retain, Reap

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