Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The man who had the mind of an engineer and the heart of an artist.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

10 technology areas/products to watch out for in 2011

I have been contemplating to write this post for while now. Here are my predictions about 10 products/technologies/areas to take off big in 2011 not in any particular order:

1. Gaming Systems
Apple has enjoyed the success of the iphones for the past 3 years. I think its now time for them to come with a breakthrough again. I believe apple will come out with an awesome gaming device/platform for Home gaming in 2011. I m hoping for this gaming device/platform to revolutionize the home gaming industry like the Nintendo Wii. Microsoft's Kinect is also something we need to watch out for.

2. The rise of the Android
Apple led the way for the new era of tablets through their ipad in 2010. In 2011, I m hoping to see more android based tablets which will be much cheaper than the ipads. Android is already accelerating faster than the iphone/ipad these days. I am also hoping to see more cheaper android phones in the market in 2011. More people will switch to smartphones. Smartphones are the new cell phones. There will also be more applications on the android (already almost every app on the iphone is there on the android).

3. Web/Internet TVs
We saw google TV, Boxee box, Roku come up in 2010 but none of them took off. In 2011, I m hoping to see more players in this area. Again, we need to watch out for apple in this domain. If they have a good app platform on their apple TV (similar to the one they had for the iphones), they have a good chance to win this market. Apple TV is only 99 bucks.

4. Cloud Computing
2010 was already the year of cloud computing. 2011 is going accelerate that big time with big established players trying to acquire smaller companies in the cloud computing area. C'mon looks like these days we only need a LCD touch screen and a graphics processor on a computer or a smart phone. Everything else can be outsourced to the cloud. Google, Salesforce, Oracle are a few companies to watch out for in this space.

5. Social Networking
Everybody knows the facebook these days. Facebook has about 500 million users today. In 2011, they are going to grow even bigger. I still dont think Facebook will IPO in 2011. They are not ready for the wallstreet yet. Twitter, which is the new age RSS feed will attract more people and even try to make some money this year. Either Foursquare or Gowalla will get acquired by one of the established players in 2011 and the location check-in space will be consolidated. Facebook will become big in the location space.

6. Electric Cars
Almost every automobile maker is offering electric cars these days. 2011 will have cheaper electric car options.
7.Coupons everywhere
We already saw the rise of Groupon in the coupon marketplace in 2010. With Groupon declining a 6 billion offer from google, there is something we need to learn. The coupon space is exploding not only in the US. China and India are the next big targets for the companies in the couponing space. I believe there are going to be more consolidations (acquisitions by bigger players) in this area.

8. The rise of Seed Investments and Incubators
If you had a web startup 5 years ago, you probably could have raised a million-5 million in the first round of funding from Venture Capitalists (not that you needed that much money to do a web startup). A couple of years ago and until last year, that money reduced to half a million from angel investors. In 2011, there are going to be more seed stage investments, which could range from anywhere between 5K to 250K. Startup Incubators are going to play a major role in helping bootstrap startups and helping them secure seed stage investments (or runway). This area is going to explode in 2011.

9. More 3D movies and 3D TVs
There will be atleast twice as many 3D movies in 2011 compared to 2010. More TV manufactures will come up with cheaper 3D TVs. Already LCD TVs have replaced the picture tube TVs. LEDs were like the new LCDs in 2010. 2011 will see the gradual rise of 3D TVs. Eventhough people don't like to wear a glass and watch 3D TV, people will eventually buy 3D TV if the price of a 3D TV is comparable to a LED/LCD TV. There might even be some 3D tablets in 2011.

10. AI will be perceivable and gradually enter our day to day life
If we haven't already realized, Artificial Intelligence plays a significant role in our lives today. From our phones to the cars, AI is everywhere. 2011 will see some amazing AI products especially in the web and mobile technology space, especially in search and knowledge managment.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Right Action at the Right time?

Some of you might have heard about Diaspora – the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network ( Did the founders of Diaspora do the right action at the time, then?

Back in April, Four NYU students posted a project on kickstarter claiming to build an open source facebook. (This was around the time when there was a lot of anti-facebook sentiment floating around in the press with regard to user privacy and how facebook handles it. These students wanted to raise $10000 for their project but with the help of media PR raised $20000 from 6500 backers. Note that these were pure donations with no strings attached ( Talk about luck or right action at the right time or whatever - the diaspora guys have it. They were then invited to San Fransisco by Pivotal Labs (who provided free office space to them).

Can this be called "right action at the right time"? Because the diaspora founders proposed this idea and started fundraising at the right moment, when there was an anti-facebook sentiment floating around!!!

Of course, one may call this pure luck or what media PR can do for any idea...

Today the diaspora team has released the code for the first open source version of their social network. They plan to launch the alpha version of the social network in october. You can learn more about Diaspora's philosophy and how they plan to be different from facebook from

Diaspora is Up - wait... not quite yet!

I spent some time this evening playing with Diaspora installation from their source code (from (for those of you, who have not heard about diaspora read this before continuing) and I was successful in getting diaspora up and running on my system in about half hour.

Here is what the diaspora team claims to be implemented in their blog ( and I have embedded my comments (in italics) next to each claim

# Share status messages and photos privately and in near real time with your friends through “aspects”. - Does not seem to work

# Friend people across the Internet no matter where Diaspora seed is located. - Does not seem to work

# Manage friends using “aspects” - Works partly (I can move friends between aspects/groups)

# Upload of photos and albums - Creation of albums work and upload of photos does not seem to work (I tried with png and jpg file formats)

# All traffic is signed and encrypted (except photos, for now). - Yeh, looks like they have this

With regard to their source code, I think its pretty neat that they are using good coding practices and using rails 3 and mongoDB, which is the cutting edge.

Diaspora seems to look like a facebook copy except for the colors.

Diaspora also has this feature called Aspects, which is like Groups. Imagine you creating groups on Facebook and adding friends to different groups on facebook (this feature is currently available in facebook).

Diaspora allows sharing of updates only to specific groups. In other words, say you share an update with the group (or per Diaspora, its 'aspect'), only people in that group see that update. I m not sure if facebook has this feature. But if facebook decide to implement this feature, they can do it pretty easily.

Based on my experience in following Diaspora so far and looking at their technology, I think its far from being a facebook killer primarily because there is no compelling reason for the 500 million folks to leave facebook and use Diaspora other than the anti-facebook sentiment wave that's going on now.

Friday, May 14, 2010

5 reasons to use Twitter

- Get real time information on the things going on right now. For example when Michael Jackson died, the news propagated on twitter much quicker than the traditional news media.

- If you follow some key people (or leaders) in your field of interest (be it web or sports or medicine or whatever), you may get all the interesting ideas that they share with the rest of the world at your finger tips. Twitter is becoming the new blog for these people to share ideas. Sometimes by following the people in your network, you get to know what they are upto in realtime.

- Establish thought leadership through micro-blogging. Say you want to be a leader in your field, you need establish that by some means. Perhaps people have been doing that by writing books, giving speeches, writing blogs. But all those take more time out of your already busy schedule. Through twitter, you can microblog and share your thoughts rightaway with just 140 characters.

- Twitter is a information or news aggregator or the next generation RSS feeds of your favorite news websites. Every morning instead of going to techcrunch, mashable, slashdot to get technology news, just follow them on twitter.

- Since no tweet is more than 140 characters, its easy to skim through 100s of tweets in a few minutes and pick the interesting ones and dive into the details. Its like reading the headlines of all the news articles

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Minimum Viable Product - Automate only when needed (especially for Market Place Businesses)

These days, most entrepreneurs seem to like to start a marketplace business on the web. (A marketplace is something which connects "people who need" with "people who have" or in other words buyers with sellers).

Recently I have been talking to a lot of people from the entrepreneurial community who are bootstrapping some kind of a marketplace business and one interesting fact I observe is that most of these web entrepreneurs (90% of whom are also creative non technical entrepreneurs) seem to be in the mindset of building a web application of their ideas rightaway with all the features. People seem to have forgotten what a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) needs to be.

I agree that these days building a dynamic web application is so cheap, but still are we not forgetting something here? Isn't the fundamentals of bootstrap or lean startup is to demo, sell and build?

The idea I would like to convey here is "Automate only when needed...Do it first manually and understand the pain points. Your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) need not have automation".

To explain this, I would like to give you a simple example of a idea of building a web startup like Craigslist (again a marketplace business) where people post items for sale and connects buyers with sellers. This is how I would bootstrap this marketplace business:

(1) Create a simple static website which looks like the listing page of the marketplace where you list the items posted by the sellers. You can use drag and drop websites like weebly or snappages to create this listing page or even it could be as simple as a wordpress blog.

I know the question that pops up in your head: But I need a user login mechanism to allow my sellers to post their items. Well do we really need this? I mean, do we really need this now? Isn't that just automation.

First test the concept manually. See who are your potential customers and if they are willing to pay for your service.

(2) Just have a button next to every listing on the static listing web page created in step (1) and attach the button to a static html form which allows the seller to type information about their item for sale and upon hitting submit, the form contents are emailed to the entrepreneur. You can use form builders like wufoo to do this.

(3) Now at the backend, manually look through the emails and the entrepreneur connects the sellers with potential buyers.

The idea is to do all this connecting sellers-with-buyers manually behind the scenes so that neither of them know that this process is being done manually. All they know is that the website is damn slow in providing responses. But hey, if you connect the sellers with the buyers and if they are happy, they will come back to your website. Remember, your business is not the website but the service of connecting buyers-with-sellers.

At a point where you really start feeling the pain of the manual process, then start working on automating it.

Even better if applicable sometimes just carry out the whole process through email conversations (ignoring steps 1 to 3 altogether).

In the process of doing it manually, you build relationships with customers, understand the pain points which need to be automated and best of all you spend less money/time validating your idea. If you don't get traction of your idea when you did it manually, find whats the problem with the idea/execution. Don't focus on automating the concept.

Always remember to take the right action at the right time.

The ideas I have mentioned here could be extended or applicable to any kind of startup.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Waterfall or Scrum???

Some thoughts to help folks decide on Waterfall or Scrum for their project management:

Waterfall method of project management/development involves well defining the problem statement, followed by requirements analysis, design (architecture) followed by implementation.

On the other hand, Scrum based Agile development involves not spending much time in planning or trying to get the overall big picture or defining the overall architecture in precise terms. Agile methods are Lightweight and are considered to be people-based rather than plan-based.

Few characteristics of Scrum process are the following:
- Self-organizing teams
- Product progresses in a series of week-long or month-long sprints
- Problems are solved only for that specific sprint.
- Team is fully shielded from external influences so that they can concentrate on development (no more regular meetings)
- No status reports but a short Scrum meeting daily where team members meet face2face and give their verbal status reports and scrum master tracks the project (this is not a problem solving session)
- Highly skilled team members in their respective areas

Few advantages of Scrum are:
- Completely developed and tested features in short duration
- Simplicity of the process
- Self-organizing
- each team member carries a lot of responsibility
- combination with extreme programming

Now lets talk about the disadvantages of Scrum:
- Undisciplined hacking (no written documentation) (which can be somewhat mitigated by modular programming)
- Since Agile crucifix relies on solving today's problems first, there is no clear big picture of the problem/solution at any point and this could involve a lot of refactoring every time. This might also lead to a compromised or hacked solution or redefinition of problem statement many times to meet the implementation needs.
- Knowledge monopolies - This is because of the absence of documentation and only few people in the organization would know anything and everything about the solution. If they leave there might come a situation where the solution need to be re-written. This could lead to dictators. On the other hand, this is what human psychology wants because this leads to job security =).
- Experienced folks or talented young development staff may not be interested in working because the dictators could be hoarding uninteresting tasks to the team members most times.
- No proper resource management which leads to compromising on the skills of the team members: Since SCRUMs or Agile rely on short sprints, things are not planned beyond the sprint term and when a need arises and if the resource isnt available for that need, its not always easy to find a resource.
- Team members may not have the big picture and direction in their career in the long term as they proceed along the Scrum methods..
- Customers get fed up with never-ending, continuously changing solution.

I m not against agile methods or Scrum methods... What I think is best is a mix of waterfall and agile scrum methods where waterfall is utilized in identified in problem statement, architecture definition and design definition AND Agile SCRUM method is utilized in Implementation and product releases.

Or, one could always adopt their own rules which are nimble and agile .... There are no rules... All rules are meant to be broken..