Factors to consider before starting up

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India is going through a startup frenzy, where starting a company has become the trend. No one wants to analyse or struggle to succeed, but they want quick money. What comes quickly, goes away quickly too, what goes up has to come down. When will the young India understand this?

Valuations are becoming unreasonable and there is no proper justification for them. This is going to make the Indian startup ecosystem less lucrative pretty soon. Before things become worse I thought I could provide some clarity on how to Startup and grow in my own way.

Approach

How much do you believe in your product/service or what are you willing to give up to implement your idea?

These are the first questions you need to answer, before you startup. There will be tons of ideas coming to you and your team and zeroing in on one thing is extremely difficult. The only way to solve this is to identify the problem that you and your team really and badly want to solve. How much money you will make should definitely not be a criterion at this stage. A startup is going to take away a minimum of 3years of yours and your team’s life. The problem that is being solved must be worthy enough to lose time from family, friends, festivals, trips and hobbies.

Customer Satisfaction

Customers should feel the difference in their lives when they use your product/service and how your product/service helps them with their activities. This experience should be bettered consistently. In addition, customers must be treated well and have an overall good experience in the complete cycle of your product. It should not be sold and am done, kind of an attitude. Customer care should not be, put the customer on hold. How you treat your customers is equally important as the experience of using your product/service.

Team building and bonding

Without the right blend (and by that I don’t mean people with the best minds and skills. I mean people who can get along the best) of people, it’s difficult to complete your product. Identifying what you feel is the best solution to your problem is the way to go, but that could have your team constantly fighting over what’s the best solution. As a leader, if you can handle this and still make them want to come back every day, then I think you are the right person to lead. Consider it a marriage where people are upright and no words are minced. Now, imagine that scenario with your life partner. Yeah, this one is worse; and you have no time to please anyone. So think ten times or wait for the right people – trust me its worth the wait. When you select the team ensure that they have similar values. You cant have a thief and priest as partners.

Motivation

The motivation behind why you are doing, what you are doing has to be reflected on your entire team. There are going to be times when you don’t have money and the only motivating factor for the entire team will be the product/service and how this is going to make a huge difference to their and the customers lives. If that motivation is not there, its just a matter of time before people leave.

Money

It is essential for the survival and growth of the company, however, it should be treated like a tool. It needs to be given the same amount of respect and love you would give your books, hammer or a screw – anything more and its lust/greed.  Austerity must be an integral part of the startup if it has to withstand dreaded waters. For the management, it should be done at good and bad times. The fitter(exercises, diet, and meditation) you are, the healthier you are.

Pace of growth

Growth is essential for a company but the pace at which you grow has to be analysed carefully. You don’t want to stuff your mouth with more than you can chew. Grow at a pace where every customer can be given a pleasant experience. It would be slow but very stable and highly valuable.

I believe these factors could create a significant boost in how you startup and what it signifies to the valuations of your company in the long-run.

Reinvigorating Leadership in India

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India is a country with diverse cultures, people, religions and languages and yet somehow, we instinctively know how to work together. With the foundations built on the legacy of peace, tolerance, and courage, there is no doubt that we had the right value system. However, inculcating this value system to the younger and future generations require unbiased and open minded leaders. India is a developing country on the way to become a developed country, or so we claim, but it’s evident that our country is in a state of turmoil. The reason – we lack good leaders, period.

What is it with the leaders of  the older generations that they did and we do not? This is my hypothesis – the older generations were very responsible and humble people. They not only focused on pushing the level everyday, but the primary focus was to do what is right – introspection, self-exploration and sacrifice to gain wisdom was priority, not amassing wealth and power. This is true across all aspects of life, no exceptions.

I am a Business Analyst and Business Process evaluator by profession. I enjoy learning and understanding diverse Business processes and love doing it day in and day out, but how responsible am I at home – to be honest I am irresponsible at home and lack the maturity to balance office and home. However, I have been working on that aspect and would like to believe that I have improved considerably in the last 1 year. I clean the house, the vessels, my clothes and even trying to cook.

My profession allows me to meet a lot of senior employees, including IT personnel. It has given me the opportunity to speak to them and ask about what they felt about the Corporate world and leaders. Most of them wanted to be part of it for the money and/or for a suave resume. However, when given a choice of starting something on their own and being part of a corporate – they all preferred starting something on their own. What is lacking – is it politics, lack of training, lack of passion or the lack of confidence.

Training – Where do we stand?

All companies provide training to candidates to enhance technical and soft skills, but still we lack good leaders, why? There are two important factors missing in every training – one to develop a thought process and second on making an individual a responsible person. The traits that identify a person as a leader is the ability to make a decision and the two factors mentioned above build this important ability in every individual.

The solution – provide opportunities to candidates to work, develop and/or design their own projects in teams. This leads to better decision making and more responsible individuals. In India, most graduates out of a college would not have a clue on how a lot of things work. Children are spoon-fed to the fact that they know nothing by the time they graduate.

The second and most important aspect – what it takes to be responsible as an employee, as a friend, as a father/mother, as a son/daughter, as a husband/wife and as a citizen of the country. Some important questions that we need to ask and allow candidates to ask are:

• How to learn from failure?

• How to become a leader?

• What opportunities are companies creating for the younger generation of India to make decisions and make them understand making the wrong decision is OK, and how do they take it forward from then on?

• Is it ok for the leader to not know some aspects of the subject she/he is dealing with and learn from their subordinates?

• Can you list three Software Products that are made by an Indian company? I don’t know of any software that is entirely Indian and has a global presence.

• Is a fresher allowed to do research and development?

The answer to some of these questions might be shocking – ask yourselves.

Leadership – In My Opinion

Leadership is about making the right decisions – a successful leader is made by providing the opportunities to make the wrong decisions, but at the same time given the support to understand how to make it right. A leader will only know that s/he is wrong by exploring and questioning. There is very little or no opportunity in India to do these things. This is why the US is a far more successful country because they invest in innovation. That is the strength of a nation. We are decades behind, but we can catch up quickly. Our natural resource is the human resource and that’s what we should nurture.

Innovation

Corporates want things organized, but Innovation cannot be organized, as ideas or the creation of a great product happens by accident or through years of painstaking research. Once an idea or product is invented then you can see how to evolve the idea or product and create a more organized way of working. An organized way of working might get your job done but will not bring out the best idea, it kills the individual’s thought process.

It’s ironic though, that we Indians are so unorganized the moment we step out of our office or home – from cutting lines, to signals, to spitting on the road, dirtying the place, howling in the theatre and what not. There is not a place that we don’t fail to show our irresponsibility and that’s what the younger generation learns too. If we have to ensure that our future generations are going to get better opportunities then they need to be taught – what is being responsible about? It’s only when we teach this basic principle that can we expect the other aspects of life to be in place and corporates fail to understand and deliver this basic necessity.

Measuring Performance

Performance should be team based and only the leader should be held liable for his/her team. If an individual is not good and has been selected for training, then the leader is accountable. Leaders should be made responsible for the failures and successes of any project or individual.

When I interview people I don’t ask them any technical questions, but give them a problem that is associated with their day to day life and see what is the thought process behind finding a solution? They don’t have to find the solution – the process of how they think is the important factor. I know instinctively whether this person can handle a problem or not – this is the only interview you really need to do. By understanding his/her answers you will know how much of responsibilities they actually take care of at home or outside and gives you an idea of what kind of training is required to groom any individual. Every individual’s strengths and weaknesses have to be evaluated. Technical evaluation should be the last priority in an interview, because a person with the right thought process can be groomed technically, but a technically sound person cannot be groomed to change the thought process.

Rigid Candidate Selection Process

Corporates have die hard rules and criteria for selecting candidates. Just lately there was an article that was titled “Steve Jobs with his educational qualifications would not be hired in Apple” and that’s true for most CEOs in a lot of organizations. In fact, 6 out of 10 richest people in the world would be drop outs – clearly indicating that education has nothing to do with performance. I understand that qualifications do assist you with the day to day tasks but is not the primary source for innovation – NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF ALL INNOVATIONS.

Conclusion

If we don’t change our attitudes towards this aspect we will lose out on the advantage of being the youngest population in the world. I believe everyone has the potential to be a good leader if their thought processes are developed and by allowing candidates to choose their area of interest. In my opinion, the future of our nation lies in the time spent in teaching the younger generation on these aspects.
Some interesting facts on the Information Technology Industry – http://calleam.com/WTPF/?page_id=1445

Risk Analysis of Medical Devices

A medical device is used on patients for providing medical treatment, but unlike drugs, they mainly have an effect on the physical part of the body – for example, a thermometer – it assists in identifying the temperature of the body.

However, medical devices are prone to failures and may have a significant impact on the patient’s life. So, it is necessary that a medical device undergoes stringent quality checks. With the medical industry evolving everyday, new quality benchmarks and better medical equipments is the need of the hour. Furthermore, conducting a risk analysis ensures that the risks associated with these products are eliminated or minimized.

Definition

Risk Analysis is the process of identifying the perils associated with a product and eliminating or minimizing these perils. A risk analysis is conducted to ensure high-quality, reliability and safety in products during manufacturing.

Need for Risk Analysis

With laws being stringent by the day, it has become mandatory by law that every product meets certain norms and hence, must undergo a stringent risk analysis program. This ensures that there is a regulatory system for checking the quality of products, especially medical devices.

Some of the primary objectives of Risk Analysis include:

  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Performance of equipment during its life time
  • Properties of the equipment
  • Effects of Radiation
  • Sterilization
  • Risk control measures

Medical devices must have a high level of safety and protection along with excellent performance. The safety principles must be incorporated in the design while the performance must be reliable throughout the life expectancy of the equipment.

Evolution Of Risk Analysis Into GMP Of Medical Devices

The radical reason for the inclusion of risk analysis in GMP is the occurrences of injuries to patients receiving treatments, especially for treatments like electric-shocks, over-fusion and over dose of radiation. Some of these treatments have even led to the death of patients – an example is the computer controlled radiation therapy called the Therac 25, which overdosed six people with extremely fatal results.

Tools used for Quality Assurance of Medical Devices

There are mainly three tools that have been identified for pre-production quality assurance – Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) and Failure Mode Effects Critically Analysis (FMECA).

FMEA assumes that there is a defect at the component level. Then, looks at the effects and finally, identifies the solution – this tool is mostly used at the design phase. The FMECA adds probability of occurrence and severity of failure to the FMEA process. On the other hand, the FTA identifies a failure or hazard and then, efforts are made to create that failure or hazard.

Risk Analysis has become a very vital part of the manufacturing process and hence, is part of the GMP. With new medical devices emerging into the market everyday, no product can be used without conducting a risk analysis. All products must provide quality assurances with proper guidance of usage and should be free from any kind of hazards.

Analysis: E -commerce in India

E-commerce: An Introduction

Since the inception of computers, we rely on these machines for most of our daily tasks and it makes sense, as we provide quicker and better quality results. The biggest success in the computer age has been the development of the Internet. The internet has made the world a very small place. You can communicate with anybody in the world to find any information relating to a business or product. So, it made business sense to use the internet to get the attention of customers’ worldwide. It was not long before companies started seeing the potential of the internet and started selling and buying products or services through the internet. This process of selling and buying products or services through the internet is called E-Commerce.

Types of E-Commerce Transactions
E-commerce transactions are done between two or more consumers, two or more businesses, between a business and a consumer or between the business and the government. The transactions can be from household products, online games, music, Electronic Fund Transfers, and a lot more.

E-commerce in India
The computer and Internet has been best utilized by India, though it was a late starter in understanding its potential. It was the Rajiv Gandhi government that first gave permission to IBM to sell computers in India. Since then a lot of brands like Dell, Apple, HP, Compaq and some Indian companies like Zenith, Wipro etc have also come into the market.

Later, with the concept of outsourcing (sending work to another country to be cost-effective and increase quality), India became the Leader in IT services. India was considered to be the place with low-cost labor and best quality output. The main areas of outsourcing were call centers, medical transcription, medical billing, financial accounting, e-commerce websites and many others.

Why India?
The reasons why most companies choose India are:

  1. English is most widely spoken in India, than any other country
  2. The number of graduates coming out of college every year is higher than any other country. With so much of talent everybody wanted to invest in India
  3. The Indian government realizing the potential has brought better policies
  4. Low-cost labor with best quality output

So, when the concept of e-commerce came into India there was a sudden boom where almost every company wanted to invest in E-commerce. I think everybody understood its potential and very few looked at how they should go about it, which finally brought the trend down. I remember there was a time when doing E-commerce was said to be a fashion statement more than a return on investment, atleast I felt that was the attitude. After the boom of e-commerce, came the fall, which was mainly due to a lack of understanding.

Current Scenario
E-commerce, according to me is a good concept which has not been handled properly by Indian companies. The most important criteria to look at from the company’s point of view or the question they should ask themselves is  to find if there is a good sales response for the products through the internet. Are people really willing to buy from the net or would they prefer buying from the shop? One way of trying to find out is by looking at how other companies fared by selling the product and how they achieved success or the reasons that caused failure and try improving on those strategies or implement a site on an experimental basis just to see how the response is before going for a full fledged site. This also gives a better look at the market segment the company is handling. Another interesting factor is the number of internet users in India.

In the current scenario India has 42, 000, 000 users (2007 statistics as per the Internet Usage and Telecommunications market Report) from a population of more than a billion. This clearly tells us that the ISPs have not targeted a large number of users and the e-commerce situation can improve. There is a likely increase of 5% this year in the number of users.

If e-commerce has to be successful in India few conditions have to improve:

  1. Increase in the number of Internet users
  2. Increase in the number of credit card holders
  3. Creating a better experience of shopping through the net

More number of internet users means more people that use the Net and hence, a better chance for increasing viewership. Secondly, there is a lack of credit card holders. Purchasing on the net is mainly available only to credit card holders. The number of Indians holding credit cards is also a minimal figure compared to our population and finally, some people are just too lazy to fill out those forms before they get what they want. Most of us just enjoy the pleasure of going outside.

Now, let’s take a look at what are the types of e-commerce businesses available and to what extent they have been successful in India. The list of e-commerce businesses include:

  1. Travel
  2. Electronics
  3. Digital
  4. Lifestyle products
  5. Streaming Media
  6. Bank Transactions
  7. Trading
  8. Food Ordering
  9. DVD Rental
  10. Software

Largely, travel portals have been the most successful in the e-commerce business. The revenues generated by the Travel portals constituted around 50% of the entire revenue generated from the online market in 2007-08. This clearly indicates that if the e-commerce business has to flourish in India, it has to be based on a study of the market before you launch a site. There are a lot of market research companies that can help you collect information for your needs, but it is always good to do your own check on the market. India mainly constitutes of the middle class and the mentality of these people is such that they are just not comfortable buying products from the internet. The senior citizens are just interested to check the mails at the most, so reaching out to them is another difficult task. The good news though is that India has the largest population between the age group 25-45, the working class.

Conclusion

If e-commerce has to be successful in India you have to understand the buying patterns of people in different cultures and how your products are going to get a response on the net. With its huge population, India is always a good market for any product or service, but which product or service needs to be provided online has to be given a good thought before investing.