Monday, 8 September 2014

Time for the Jump: From a big corporate to a growing startup

Over the past year, we have seen a dramatic change in the mindsets of Indians towards startups. The time to make the jump from the big corporate to growing startups, is right now. The result, Fridays won’t be the golden child of the weekdays (generally startups have a Saturday working).

Starting from parents, employees in MNC’s to graduating students very few wanted to be a part of growing startups. Slowly, the funding stories of startups to the salaries they offer at IIT’s & IIM’s is changing the perspective. As a result, we see a lot of freshers, experienced developers & senior people in the corporate world switching to the everyday challenging roles at startups & growing product companies.

Companies like Capillary Technologies, Freshdesk are already offering salaries north of a crore to talented guys at the senior roles. With a brand name & comparable or better salaries, getting talent is never tough. Also, the smaller companies that are growing offer equity along with a decent salary & try to elude talent away from the big tech companies.

Bangalore, NCR, Mumbai & Chennai are places which are a lot vibrant with startup hiring. They are looking for UI/UX designers, developers, brand managers, data engineers & sales guys. The traits these startups look for in a candidate are their passion for technology & an attitude to learn fast. But the problem these product companies face is to hire the right talent.

The big problem here is hiring the right guy for a startup could take months. Although many hiring platforms help in the process of  recruitment, none caters to the mid & senior level roles in the growing startups - definitely a pain point that needs to be solved. Recently, NextBigWhat in its job platform is trying to connect product companies with talent via NextBigJobs. The sole purpose behind this was to highlight the great, challenging work culture of some product companies & then attract people to their job openings. The response was great & the open positions generated a lot of attention as this sort of online job campaign for startups looking for senior & mid level roles was done by somebody for the 1st time in India.

This problem of providing the platform to connect startups looking to hire with good guys, will be a big challenge from the talent side as it needs the mindsets of people to change. Maybe these work culture articles could help with the process.Hopefully in some years, colleges will have a Day Zero placement slot for growing product startups.

So, with the booming startup eco-system in India & the size of funds flowing into these growing companies, it has never been a better time to join a startup. A chance to interact and learn from super talented people, work in an environment where your effort is reflected in the results & casual dress codes could all be your perks. Not enough?

You can get to know more by joining the startup communities like Bangalore Startups, Hyderabad Startups, etc. (Every big city has a startup community actively present on social networking websites)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Mask

During our school days everyone must have seen The Mask. I enjoyed it, and definitely you people also, along with the primary protagonist of the series Stanley did enjoy. Stanley enjoyed because whatever he desired to get as a normal person he was unable to get it, but putting on the mask gave him limitless power and courage to chase his unfulfilled desires.
Are such Stanley’s found even in our real world? Let’s find out.
During my engineering days, I had a very good friend. He was from a very good family and during my 1st two years in college, I knew he had the desire to be the cynosure of everyone’s eyes. But the problem was he didn’t know that in the process he forgot his true self.  
To rise above others he used his knowledge, ability, skills but he forgot to listen and see other’s reaction towards him. He created a shell in which he enclosed himself and with every achievement he got that shell thickened. After being elected, to be the secretary of his college event, he made a false projection of the world surrounding him, thinking himself to be above others. The situation worsened after he got the highest salary offer from college. Although he deserved the job, but the attitude did change and his friends called him an egoist after his placements.
I knew at heart he didn’t want that IT job, instead he preferred to stay at home and continue his father’s business. But, the aura he created around himself, forced him not to return to the world where he was made to act as per his parent’s orders, not given the liberty to enjoy life that others did, didn’t have many good friends (now everywhere he had friends who loved his salary slip), given more responsible tasks (he worked for 12 hours per day because that was his reputation) etc. These changes made our friend turn into a lifeless but one of the Best Employees of that Company for that year.
After two years when I saw that, he was choking his real life; I met him during one of the holidays and tried to bring him back where he truly belonged. So, we went on a bike ride to a ‘dhaba’ which used to be our favourite hangout spots during college days. After talking about our past life and friends for about an hour, he opened up and the first line he then said was, “I missed myself for last 4 years”. He confessed that he lost many good people, friends, and great times just because he tried to project himself as the best and be in the attention of everybody. He also accepted that he lost his ability to accept anything that didn’t fall in his line of thoughts, rejected good ideas, turned deaf and blind to the persons who truly loved him and in turn he now has everything that The Mask on his face demanded.
Sometimes our past failures are hard to accept which causes problems in future. When such a person achieves success he tries to erase those shortcomings from mind, in the process hurting others. The Mask of success, now this person puts on, unleashes the emotions controlled by the humiliating failure. The pride of success turns into ego and it becomes tough for the person to remove The Mask, even when he/she is in the vicinity of the most loved and trusted ones.
One of the ways The Mask can be removed is, if the person wearing it is able to find the person who cares for him/her the most and approach him. Knowing that his confidant will never break his trust he has to slowly reveal her past life and try to break the shell from inside and start the life that brings real mental peace and happiness. But the attempt to break The Mask has to be from inside because like an egg, if we from outside put pressure to break it, we will destroy the life inside the shell. But when the shell breaks from the pressure acting from inside, a beautiful and energetic life comes out.
The Mask helps us to achieve our dreams fast but if we keep our foot in the ground and respect others feelings, emotions, it will help us to enjoy the after party of success.
One can put on a helmet, drive fast and reach the destination early but going slow without a helmet will help you feel the wind, smell of the air that one will miss if he/she drives fast risking his/her life.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Education Inequality

My first community visit to a low income community (Yerawada area) in Pune was on Saturday. I was excited to visit a low income locality and see closely, what could be the mind set and hardships faced by them.
We were a group of 106 people, and I along with one of my friends (who was also an intern like me in the NGO) went about to understand and connect with the children’s of that locality. We walked a bit far into the locality and took a small detour from the main road and entered a narrow lane, where we saw a number of children in the age group of 5-6 years.
My friend then started to talk with 2 children, and I went a little more inside the lane to survey the children who were sitting as a group outside a house. The houses were all single room; the women were washing the utensils and clothes outside their houses; and some houses had TV’s.
The first thing I did was to roll down my sleeves to hide my watch which seemed the most useless but the most expensive thing out there. I went near the group and asked what are they doing? Two ran to their houses seeing a stranger (that could be the reason) but three remained seated there. As we were instructed to ask in English, I asked to the eldest child there, “What is your name?” Shahdad was the reply. “Which school?” XXX English School. Next was which class? He replied class 6th.   
Then I asked the other child but he did not know English, as he went to a Marathi school. Next, I asked the most silent kid (her name was Sana), who after much coaxing spoke she was in class 2. I asked her to write from 1 to 10. She was silent. I promised her, I will give my pen if she even tells me from 1 to 10. She somehow managed from 1 to 8. I gave her the pen and asked her to draw 5 circles on an A4 size paper I was having. I was shocked to see that the kid struggled to even catch the pen properly. She tried hard and managed to draw 5 shapes resembling circles all very widely in size.
One interesting thing I noticed was, throughout the time their mothers stood there and after this the girl’s mother came to me and said she can sing a poem. She sang 2 English poems one was “Johnny Johnny Yes Papa”. The parents also enquired what were we doing; a survey or something else. They never complained about the schools where their children went, but definitely I have seen my cousin in class 2 who is solving computer programs. Is this education inequality found everywhere, was the question I asked myself?  
Next I met a class 8th boy who was observing me from the last 1 hour. I had a chat with him. Getting to know he was in class 8th, I asked him what subjects he was studying. He said nothing. I told English, Marathi, Hindi, Science, on hearing science he gave a puzzled look. I then asked Chemistry, Physics, but still he was confused. I sensed his uncomfortable look and diverted him from that topic and asked him what game he plays. I expected Cricket but, when he said Football I was really happy and asked him what he wants to become in future. He said he wanted to be an engineer. The innocent but determined look in his eyes made me feel sad because in schools you need to teach science which can help a child to pursue his engineering dreams.
Then I met a 9th standard boy whose dream was to become an army person. I asked him why not air force, when you are in Pune. “Have any of your relatives ever been in Army?” He said no. “Then why kid”. He told,” Bhaiya, I want to serve the nation”. I also came to know, he runs every day, plays football, hockey and cricket for increasing his physical endurance. I told him never to lose confidence and was about to leave when he asked,” Bhaiya, do we need science for getting into army.” I didn’t expect this from a 9th grade student. I told him,” As you know Mathematics; you just need to know the basics of Physics and Chemistry for the written exam.” He looked a bit relaxed after my answer in which I intentionally reduced the importance of science in written exams.
Just think about the metropolitan kids who start their IIT preparation by class 8th. These low income society’s children neither get good education, resources, reading materials but still their goals seem clear than the overqualified people. Presently the Government’s duty is to ensure every child attends school, which is quite achievable because parents are motivated and want their children to get education (The mother of a 4 year old girl told me, she will send her child to school so that she can stand on her feet). But which Government can ensure that all these children will pass school. Even after 10th class, without a pass certificate from college, very few people can earn money (commonly stated example Bill Gates). And these children can’t even pass 10th class, leave alone college.
Solutions can be many, but this truth of education inequality should be dealt fast because children go to school and also work hard but they don’t get to know that slowly and with years they are getting eliminated out of the competition.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


How can the alarm bell ring so early?  Anyhow, today the alarm has to win as I have to leave Mumbai and reach Pune by 1 pm. I felt sad to leave my friends back and head to Pune, because for the last 4 days we did enjoy a lot. All these memories made me to recreate the best moments from the weekend in my mind but suddenly, I was rattled by a call from Avinash (Avinash and Akshay accompanied me to Pune). He yelled at me, “get ready within 5 minutes”, as we had to catch the train from Kalyan at 8:57 am and already it was already 6:50 am and still, we were in the NITIE hostel, in Powai.
With 30+ kg (measured last at airport 30kg) of luggage, it was a bad idea to experiment going to Kalyan, by local from Kanjurmarg. Dragging the luggage from hostel to NITIE main gate were signs of what we might face. Next we booked an auto for Kanjurmarg and then surfaced the real physical challenges. Walking upstairs with the luggage to go to platform number 2 made me realise that, sometimes when free cab is offered by your company, one should never say no to it.
Next to our horrors we found that Akshay had stamped the tickets for Thane instead of Kalyan and it was already 8am. Wow! Our journey is definitely going to be adventurous. He hurried to counter to take tickets, while I and Avinash started munching Vadapaws realizing it’s better to enjoy something that’s in hand. By 8:10am, Akshay came back with tickets and by 8:48am we were nearing Kalyan. As we were nearing Kalyan, regular commuters advised us to step back from the door for our safety (but why) and reluctantly we heeded.  To my surprise, people jumped on to the running train in Kalyan; elbowing, shoving and pushing to enter an empty train. With 7 minutes for Udyan Express to leave, we with an average of 3 luggages somehow forced our way out.
Next, we ran to a TTE and enquired which platform we should go. Platform 5 from platform 2, in 5 minutes was the next challenge. Is it some kind of strong man contest? We somehow reached at the nick of time and after settling in bogie S4 the satisfaction was similar to completion of the BRM project (many people in Shillong know how it feels).
It was good to leave behind the crowd and pollution of Mumbai, but not the people.  The first station where we got down was Karjat (ht. above sea level  51m), where we ate Vadapaws . Then came the tunnels that deserved to be clicked. After that the valleys, small lakes, mountains were better than the concrete jungle of Mumbai.
By 10:05 am, Khandala followed by Lonawala (ht. above sea level 61m) passed. I got down at Lonawala to buy Chikki; but trains never wait for me. Disheartened and hungry, I was returning to my seat, but train stopped. Someone had pulled the chain. I got down and had some Chikki (a sweet dish), which was really good.
Then, I had the first glimpse of the Expressway, which crossed the rail tracks many times after that. Siddarth Valley, which seemed a housing project near Madgaon came around 11am. After this it seemed, we were at sea level and the mountains have left us. Talegaon where one of my friends frequently visited for his supply chain project was a big town and by 11:10am it had been left far behind. Within minutes we saw a huge Ganesh idol on a hillock, which was tried to be captured by 3 camera man (including myself), but Gods are elusive.
Within 5 minutes we were in the outskirts of Pune and the climate now was similar to Bhubaneswar i.e. non-humid and mercury definitely exceeding 39 degrees C. Barren Mountains seemed to distance themselves from the apartments and brick kilns. Barren lands grazed by goats and cows were followed by high rise apartments and now definitely I’m in Pune.
Akurdi, Chinchwad , Pimpi, Tapodi, Shivaji nagar and now we get down at Pune station at 11:55am. By 12:30pm, we were at our reporting venue near the airport.
Definitely, this journey was tiring in the initial stage but the natural beauty, as soon  we leave Mumbai was soothing to the eyes and mind. The next time (I don’t know when it’s going to happen) to Mumbai from Pune, is going to be the Expressway, and I know it will be a great time with my friends in Mumbai.

Friday, 20 April 2012

What motivates these people to live?

What motivates these people to live? Hunger, desire to live when they don’t have a family, friends and are ill-treated by everyone?

In Trivandrum, when I was going to Kovalam beach I saw a similar sight.
She did not have the skills or the product variety to pull consumers so as to sell her vegetables. This was quite evident as even a kid can tell the pain one can see in her eyes.
Definitely, the vegetable she is selling is grown in her garden or backyard of her house. Why is she not begging? ROI will be more. Is it her self-respect which many people think she doesn’t have?
But is the Indian education trying to address such issues? How will she survive a bad weather which gives headaches like food inflation and shakes the market causing nightmares to millionaires? She is definitely not a super human or super rich but how has she survived.
Can we make such an Indian our role model and imbibe her qualities?
Who will buy from her where we strive for quality, she even cannot weigh the vegetables as she doesn’t have a weighing pan. Can we splurge our money when we are not assured that what she gives is correctly priced?
Posting such pictures in Facebook or writing articles about abject poverty in India cannot help in mitigating the hardships of these people. The acts like MGNREGA though guarantee to provide fixed employment days to the employable but what is there for such elderly persons who cannot do physical work and are not supported by any family members. So, how to address these issues? The plight of such old women is much harrowing in the rural regions.
This can be improved by introducing FDI in fresh food retail. With FDI comes the management skills, technology, and new improved process of supply chain which can improve the margin of the growers? This will indirectly help the poor villagers who will have a constant revenue stream and FDI will increase employment opportunities as work force to meet growing demand and complexity of supply chain process will increase with passage of time. Although, this will be resisted by the middleman who kept the profits that should have been of the poor cultivators but regulations have to be made keeping in mind country’s long term benefits after trading off the risks emanating by resistance from middlemen.
Another initiative can be by the corporates who in their CSR activities can come up with innovative ideas of how to address the old age group who have been deserted by their family members. This can be community programmes which can be used for collectively addressing some concerns of the distressed populace. Example: Pipli in Orissa has very good craftsman who now cannot produce in mass which can attract shelf space. Even if it goes to showrooms the price negotiated is in favour of the dealers. This results in loss of commitment and in turn is slowly leading to the loss of the valued handicraft skill in Pipli.
So a community programme to help these weavers to sell their products at a right price by only guiding them and making them aware of the potential market can help this cause.  These guides can be executives of company who can also learn from these experiences working among the rural and underprivileged people.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


                                                                     CAT Mystery
        “IIM’s are the toughest place to get into”, the tag line we are proud of .So are they having a good admission process to make it easy? With the online CAT and complex interview call procedures, getting into IIM’s needs more luck and strength in academics than anything else.
         Now lets start with online CAT.A revolution to handle increasing number of aspirants (paradox); strength of students has decreased from 2008 to 2010! The statistics applied to normalize the scores was published, but you have to be the 99%tiler to understand it, but paradoxical again. The best statistics person goes for a different stream, not MBA. Now, some complained the online exam tried to copy the best standards but it didn’t copy the GMAT procedure completely. So 20 day slot with normalization was complained by those who didn’t fare well in CAT 2010.Those were the students who had consistently scored above 99%tile in any mock MBA tests(examples are many). In fact, I expected two of my friends to score 99.9x%tile but they failed to rise on that day scoring 90%tile.They can’t normalize the score across more than 34 slots so they had to accept the score with humbleness.
        Then was the start of the different criteria of calling of all IIM’s. A great manager has to be excellent throughout his career (that’s what many IIM’s think).This criteria of selection changes every year giving a false hope to the candidates that they stand a fair chance to be selected the next year because they think the criteria may suit their qualifications next year (they forget interview is still their secret weapon).This surprise calling criteria element after CAT is what makes them tough to predict-a characteristic of a great player. Had this criteria been announced before CAT no. of candidates appearing in XAT>CAT (I assume no facts) as many would have known that by scoring even 100%tile only IIM-C and few others would call them for interview.
       I was lucky this year so became a Blackeye(all calls).My interview started after I worked hard for the interviews. In my 1st  interview I was grilled on acads(graduation courses) for my entire interview. Had I answered even 50% questions, definitely PSU’s would be a cake-walk. Some questions are yet to be answered(I think they have given me the time till next year).In the next institute I was grilled on economics. I had prepared the ‘Crisis of Credit’ to impress them but they were not from economics background,it bounced back on me. Sadly for me the next room panel was good at listening skills. Again, the next institute interview was going great but suddenly the interviewer turned hostile and bombarded me with out of scope acad questions because I have only 1 year of work experience (it’s not my fault). The only 2 institutes I was satisfied with the process are ranked in 5th, 6th of IIM’s. They questioned from everywhere (their fixed format) i.e acad, work ex, HR,current happenings ,logical questions , maths, etc.
    So if I hopefully clear CAT next year strategy to clear interview:
1. Prepare for GATE after giving CAT.
2. Start some exceptional hobbies-nobody writes in his form he plays cricket and reads books of Chetan Bhagat but all must have played Lawn-tennis, Polo, Golf, Swimming ;Blogging is a must(I have started late); you must read Satanic Verses,Freakonomics,etc.
3. Career Goal:Its better you tell that you will pass out from xxx college with job profile as I-banker or Consultant. Risky to start your own venture; they doubt MBAians can’t be entrepreneurs or choose to work with NGO’s.
4. Work profile(experienced only) or graduation project has to be path breaking. I know everybody who is reading this will have to work hard on this aspect. You should have controlled 20+ persons under you or project has to be something like 3-idiots movie’s helicopter with camera.
      So either have an exceptional career or pass out from a great college or clear GATE, GRE to get through interviews for the BIG 4.With such risks involved will this time failed candidates try for next time. Risk analysis is taught in MBA so better calculate                                                              P(getting min. cut-off)*P(getting calls)*P(being lucky in interview)=toughest institute to crack .
      But hard work, determination can make difference .But a clear selection process with marks in every stage disclosed to the candidates will help in clearing the dark cloud. So my personal opinions of some better selection process I will come up in my next article. Hope you enjoyed my long but 1st blog.