Parag Arora's Blog

Co-Founder @Plustxt now acquired by @One97, IITD Grad, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Multiplatform hacker, Product Guy

Startup perspective to AAP failure

[Also published at nextbigwhat here: http://www.nextbigwhat.com/aap-startup-scaling-up-297/ ]

We have been seeing many thought leaders and risk takers failing in industry. They are able to gain good traction in the initial days of startup but fail to make it a sustaining phenomenon.

The same happened with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and results are out there, putting Mr. Kejriwal to be one of a good person to be part of the next failcon. Although, we will still wait for Mr. Arvind Kejriwal to take timeout and get out with his failure experience notes but here are some of the points we have observed which are very critical for a startup to consider while in process of turning it into a business.

Too many Co-founders

CoFounders beyond 3 makes decision making tough. AAP was a party of cofounders and failed miserably in taking any decision. Where it lost was lack of leaders having controlling stakes in the decision process while it scaled too quickly to multiple cities. There was no control structure at place.

No Ownership

There was no responsibility ownership inside the organisation and the end result was blame games. An organisation structure is necessary to be made mainly for defining responsibility owners who can not play the blame game. They have to extremely cautious and ready to accept positive or negative blames and act on it.

Too Much Focus on Competition

AAP origin was into picking out problems with other parties. With so less time for go to market, AAPs main concern was always to thrash competition only and not focussing on internal core values and user propositions. This led early adopters to a confusing state since competition was too much strong with strong user propositions and user base already. Result being early adopters too migrated to established players avoiding any risks for future.

No Vision

Its always advisable to explain your startup in one or maximum two lines. AAP never had any such vision or mission statement. Agenda provided by AAP was also very lose showing indications of lack of any research done behind that.

Too much PR too soon

It is not a hidden fact that AAP was too much of PR hungry than focusing on execution and planning. PR is useful but hunger for PR led to bad marketing as well since there was no media planning as such.

We appreciate Arvind Kejriwal for poking the nation out of slumber but what party required was a better entrepreneur too.

Art of naming your users in ideation process

[Published on nextbigwhat.com here http://www.nextbigwhat.com/user-persona-ideation-and-product-attributes-297 ]

In the initial days after I passed out from IIT, used to have dozens of business plans everyday, and was already working on few of them in a given month. Later I realised those were not business plans but cool ideas, thats all. After I was done coding, I was hardly able to find users of my app except myself for couple of days. End result is a failed startup – failure will come very soon and is much assured to come. Series of startups, at one time also made me think I should start a consulting outsourcing businesses. Happens.

Then came a little matured stage when idea of solving problems was the key. This was a stage when I was actively looking to find problems in ecosystems and came up with solutions rather discussing with people who are facing problems. End result is a failed startup. You try to articulate reasons for failure but the reason is it was not built for anyone. Your product was a solution to a problem but a solution which was not desirable. Its an assured failed startup too. Know before you fail what you missed in your product.

Then came an interesting stage. Stage where I knew I came up with ideas which are also solutions to some problems, problems not that big but interesting to have solutions of. Identifying problems for which people were not actively looking for solutions but were surprised and excited to find solutions. There were users. I could name those users when I am coding. I had that amazing feeling while working and much more reasons to work now. But the competitors were growing fast, my product lacked somewhere. Problem was solved, but there were too many solutions already. I created and showed people the problem, and was outrun before I could even imagine this would happen. Obviously I lacked somewhere. The answer was sales. Interestingly it was always sales. Even the user requirements gathering, design elements, product delivery, money collection, user on boarding, user retention, competition watch – everything is part of sales. Naming a user and selling to that named users are two different things. But with a good procedure followed to name your users, idea evolution to product is a stronger process for your startup. Read the rest of this entry »

Productivity Tip: Say it and Just do it (don’t just do it)

Don’t just do it, say it and just do it. The biggest productivity tip has always been to focus on what you are doing. But thats not as simple as it sounds like. With connected information age, we are surrounded by millions of distraction already while we are working. People are trying to multi task but thats the biggest stress builder for day-to-day life. Key is to keep doing single task till completion or as per planned and then to move on the next task. Starting to do something or doing while you are already doing something impacts productivity a lot. Just do it is a good approach but you have got to make yourself strong to not do thing B while you are doing thing A.
Read the rest of this entry »

Why I became a struggling Vegeterian

“If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth – beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals – would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?”
- George Bernard Shaw

To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.
- Mahatma Gandhi

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
- Albert Einstein

I got married to a vegetarian “by choice” girl. I have always been opposed to people who call them vegetarian by choice. The whole idea of not trying non vegetarian and claiming vegetarian by choice seems absurd to me. I am a whole hearted supporter of experimenting with everything – have experimented things beyond what my culture and religion allows me to. So I could never ever take stand on this by choice philosophy. However, there is a much deeper thought which I understood later after doing some more reading and thinking.  Read the rest of this entry »

Diwali Celebrations

Was one of the best Diwali since last few years. Had Anushi and Mom, Dad. Mom Dad had specially planned visit to Bangalore for I could not go home.

Behind your next disruptive innovation

[Published at nextbigwhat.com here]

The frustration of finding an innovation is killing your innovation. The frustration of thinking how your competitor or peers are coming up with those innovative ideas and you striking hard, trying to prove point is exactly taking you away from the innovation process. You need to get out and follow time tested principles to create disruptive innovations. During the starting of my professional life, I had the same frustration. After founding two companies and doing a successful exit in Plustxt recently, I have realised and have started ritualising experiments on the process to bring a disruptive innovation out to the market. Like most of our talents and skills we have acquired, disruptive innovations are made happen by you following a process of loop to learn and execute. They are not EUREKA moments. Would share my experiences along with learnings borrowed from books I have read and videos I have watched which I have always tried to apply when thinking of disruptions.

The first thing to know about disruptive innovation is, disruptive  innovation need not necessarily be a technically advanced or complicated solution, but it can be more accessible, cheaper, fast or easy to use.

A disruptive innovation happens when people have job to do. There are people who have a particular job to do but they don’t find a better solution to do this. There are two kind of people I am referring here. One are the direct consumers who are already trying out ways to do their job. Others are non – consumers, who are not trying to do this job, they think they don’t have much problems doing this job and are less demanding. But their life would drastically change if they start doing this without any factors inhibiting them consuming and they don’t know about it. They still have job to do. Innovations which focus around people of first type is sustaining innovation. Real disruptive innovations happen when you start focussing on non – consumers too.  Read the rest of this entry »

Plan for big data and real time contextual analysis (and drop conventional google search optimizations )

[Update: check Steve Job's video at the end of this article]

To most of the discussions happening at the time, big data is another fad. Serious players know that world is now changing, and will be driven completely by data in near future. With consumers (and organizations) going from Mobile Present to Mobile First to Mobile Only, Google Search will not really be the biggest thing happened ever over internet as it is today and the context driven actions done inside the apps will be the future. Human interaction ( Going to Google and searching for How to tame a dragon ) will not be required and behavior will change.

42% of organizations have more than 50TB of data with 6% of them having > 10PB (credits: IOUG Big Data Strategy Survey 2012). This is the data of whats happening with physical and online entities as well as human behavior. This is the data which will tell how much time you spent over apps / websites doing what, how many products were sold in your shop at what time and what else was happening in the world which triggered the sale, how much time you spent doing sex and how vigorous was it (check this ), is human race getting dumber or smarter and with what pace, how many cars crossed a particular spot on road in last n years etc.. Data will be infinite out there. 32% of companies use this data by pre-processing it and then loading data warehouse for integrated analysis and 14% conduct big data analysis separately from traditional enterprise analysis (credits: IOUG Big Data Strategy Survey 2012).  The current setup, thus is exactly like what retail commerce was in 1990s. And world is changing so fast that analysis done by Big Data as a separate process might be stale to use it for next day. Read the rest of this entry »

I live on I Can Do It Street

This is the best story I have ever heard. Story is famously known as leaving the city of regret. Don’t know the original source, so just putting it below.

 

I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly. This trip was going to be unpleasant and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. I’m talking about my annual “Guilt Trip.” Read the rest of this entry »

Gaetan Dugas Strategy for viral marketing – Presentation template

Before you go and read the presentation template, please note:

  • I do not intend to present a strategy to spread HIV, but to learn from Gaetan Dugas case study
  • Guiding Principle: Any viral campaign needs a good virus, humans who will carry, an easy medium to give to others and a perfect environment for the medium
  • Product is good or bad is not discussed here (AIDS for users is bad, in this case)
  • My aim is just to present a template which can help you draft a viral strategy for your product

Dear entrepreneur, making money is easy !

(published on nextbigwhat here)

If you are really hurt by reading the title and planning to share this with “wtf”, please hold on and read more. You might be struggling from last 2-3 years building an ROI positive company and the title might be insulting. But let me tell you, you are the most respected person in my and article’s eye, for you are still pursuing the dream and this article is probably for you only apart from others who are planning to startup or even those who have already built an ROI positive company meeting targets they always wanted.

This is a story involving Sally and Amanda who are very good friends since childhood. Amanda’s father is very rich but she is married to a not so poor guy and has preferred to not take any help from her father. She misses being rich though. Sally and Amanda have ritualized daily yoga in Sally’s garden after husbands of both leave for work. They are discussing about entrepreneurship as Sally’s husband is thinking of quitting job and starting up an e-commerce company. Amanda is moved by the idea that even high salaried people are quitting job to get time for building their business where she is forced to be free for the whole day, apart from preparing amazing food she is fond of. She is disturbed, yet thinking positively out of the thoughts invoked in her. She is thankful for the conversation.   Read the rest of this entry »