TechSparks 2012 Unveils the Top 30 Tech Product Startups from India

TechSparks, the flagship event of Yourstory.in, the biggest tech product startup showcase in India, is now in its 3rd edition. The Grand Finale of TechSparks 2012 was held in Bangalore on September 8th, after the 5 roundtables which were conducted in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Hyderabad over a period of 4 months. Techsparks 2012 was presented by Intel in association with Amazon Web Services, Qualcomm, Sequoia Capital, CNBC TV 18 Young Turks and VentureBeat.

Registering more than 800 applications to become a TechSpark, the response was overwhelming and the jury comprising of investors, successful entrepreneurs, industry experts and the Yourstory team had a tough time shortlisting the top 30. Applications were received from all over the country and the diversity was immense. From education to healthcare to cleantech, there were companies in every sector with a common motive – leveraging technology to build great businesses.

The Techsparks 2012 Grand Finale had the theme “The Smartest Way to Scale Up” and the entire day was organized around that. Starting with an introduction from Shradha Sharma, founder of Yourstory.in, the high-on-adrenaline event was given a huge pump by RJ Sriram and DJ Dhruva maintaining the tempo. Shradha’s introduction was followed by an in-depth keynote by Shailendra Singh, MD of Sequoia Capital, who outlined some of the most important factors for ‘Building a Business’. The ensuing Panel Discussion was a highly engaging one with audience actively participating in the discussion. The Panel consisted of Narendra Bhandari (Director, Intel Software and Services Group – Developer Relations (Asia-Pacific)); Shailendra Singh (MD, Sequoia Capital); Gautam Gandhi (Head – New Business Development Emerging Markets, Google); Joe Ziegler (AWS Evangelist for Australia and New Zealand); M. Maheshwar Rao, IAS (Commissioner for Industrial Development and Director of Industries and Commerce, Govt. of Karnataka); Dr. Wido Menhardt (Vice President, Head, Philips Innovation Campus) and was moderated by Ravi Gururaj (Vice President, Cloud Platforms Group, Citrix).

Read the complete story at YourStory.in

Techcircle SaaS Forum 2012 announces top 10 SaaS startups in India

If there is one area within the new-age technology that is red hot right now, it is software-as-a-service or SaaS – both in terms of startup activity and as a tool for entrepreneurs to build a low-cost business from scratch. Techcircle.in has come up with a listing of India’s top 10 emerging SaaS companies who have shown significant market traction, created unique products or services that can disrupt existing markets and most importantly, have a very high potential to make it big in the coming years. The listing has been compiled by a distinguished jury comprising Shailendra Singh, MD, Sequoia Capital; Manik Arora, MD, IDG Ventures and Mukund Mohan, an active angel investor. These 10 companies have also showcased their products during Techcircle Runway at Techcircle SaaS Forum 2012, in Bangalore on Aug 31. Here are brief notes on the 10 startups (note: this not a ranking, the companies are arranged in alphabetical order).

Read the complete post at TechCircle.in

Untested ideas to increase the effectiveness of your B2B newsletter

What does a typical B2B newsletter look like? An announcement from the company talking about the latest feature. A featured blog post with a link to read more and a list of other “must-read” blog posts. New success stories, white papers and how-to videos. And upcoming events, webinars and job openings in some cases. It pretty much sums up everything the company wants the recipient to know. But what makes the recipient take more than a 3-sec glimpse at the newsletter when he is sifting through tens, if not hundreds, of emails? Wouldn’t he rather hit your website at a time convenient to him and learn all of it from there? What can you do to increase the open rate and time spent with your newsletter? Here are two untested ideas, more simply just ideas, to increase the overall effectiveness of your email newsletter.

How about writing an article exclusively for the newsletter as its main story? The article doesn’t go up on your blog or get tucked away in the resources section after the newsletter goes out, not even after a fortnight. It is for the newsletter and stays just there. If the reader misses it, he misses it. Tell people about the exclusivity when they are signing up for the newsletter. Also, make sure this article teaches the recipient at least 23 new ways of doing his job better. So if you are selling an email marketing solution (how meta I know) give him tips on how to break through the inbox clutter, or how QR codes can be used to get super busy people to sign up for the newsletter. In addition to increasing the open rate of your newsletter, the exclusive content also primes the space for a big bang when you announce a new product.

Now what about the case where your newsletter hits the inbox at a time when the recipient doesn’t want anything to do with email marketing? How can you get him to at least glance through the newsletter and come back to it later if he finds something of interest? How about having a cartoon strip that takes a dig at the jargons used in the email marketing space? Or a meme bringing forth epic email marketing fails? Maybe an email marketing version of Clients from Hell? Anything that gives the reader a quick chuckle yet is relevant to your industry. And if you are funny enough, he might pass around the newsletter to colleagues and friends just for the funnies, who knows?

Over to you. Do you think these ideas will work for you? What else have you tried to increase the effectiveness of your newsletter?

Original Post can be accessed at PokeandBite.com

CEO Attributes for Leading a Company from Launch to Success

Editor’s Note: InnovizeTech Software and its product, Sapience, is an early leader in India’s emerging software products story. Earlier in his career, InnovizeTech’s CEO and co-founder Shirish Deodhar founded two IT services companies, which had successful exits to Symantec Corp. and Symphony Services. Deodhar is also the author of the book, “From Entrepreneurs to Leaders.” In this article, he shares with SandHill readers his insights on personal attributes that are necessary for a CEO to lead a company from launch to mid-stage to success.

InnovizeTech Software is based in Pune, India, and started operations in early 2009. Its product, Sapience (meaning wisdom, astuteness and the intellectual ability to penetrate deeply into ideas), helps companies to increase work output by 15-20 percent – without requiring any change in existing processes. It’s a patent-pending, award-winning solution and the first such product that is designed for the enterprise. It gives managers the “big picture” about work effort while respecting and protecting individual privacy. Sapience is available in a SaaS model for SMBs and supports on-premise installation for select large customers.

Four key attributes of successful early stage CEOs

Success as a CEO is not guaranteed. The best CEOs may fail, and someone not as good may get lucky. Still, there are four personal attributes and mindsets that I believe are crucial for becoming a successful CEO.

1. Integrity and optimism

You will be selling your vision to co-founders, employees, investors and customers. The actual product may end up being very different from the initial concept. Earning and retaining people’s trust through the inevitable transitions is possible only if the CEO’s integrity is self-evident in his/her communications and actions on a continuing basis.

A successful CEO must be optimistic. This does not mean a blind belief that everything will go well or pretending that everything is okay when it may not be. It is more an attitude of “Let’s get on with things, know where we are, and change what is not working.” This requires honest and comprehensive communication at all times and ensuring that it reaches everyone.

Read the Complete Post at Sandhill.com

The Product Business is Like the Movie Business

I read the cover story in Forbes on the success of Dropbox, which is set to do about $240 million in sales in 2011, with only 70 employees. As Forbes points out, that is about 3x the revenue per employee of Google, which is no slouch in the revenue per employee department itself. First, congratulations, Dropbox! This is the type of breathtaking number that makes the ordinarily successful companies like, well, Zoho, to wonder “What are we doing wrong?”

In our 15 year history in Zoho Corporation – which is bigger than the Zoho product suite itself – we have shipped over 70 products, of which we would say about 30 have been successful in the sense of being nicely profitable. Yet, even with that group of 30 products, we have seen the 10x effect: a set of two products that have taken approximately the same amount of effort to build, by similarly situated teams, yet one of them does 10x the sales of the other, with both of them being profitable. Of course the 10-bagger is much more profitable but the key point is that both of them could be counted as successful in the sense of being profitable. We have even seen 100x difference for approximately the same effort, but in our case, that is the difference between doing only $100K a year in sales vs $10 million a year, and I would not count that as 100x because the $100K product either grows up or we would eventually discontinue it because it is not profitable.

Dropbox is a logical extension of this phenomenon, where a product does 100x the sales, without taking much more by way of engineering effort than a profitable 1x product. And then the grand daddy of them all – Google search, which in its heyday reached $1 billion in sales, on not much more than the effort of a single engineering team – the headcount gets added later to diversify the company but the original search was a small team. I believe there has only been one Google search so far, so the ordinarily successful (ahem!) shouldn’t feel too bad.

Y Combinator, which has funded over 300 companies so far, is a perfect illustration. All these teams are similarly situated, with similar founder profiles and they all get similar initial funding, and they spend similar initial effort. If we consider only the universe of profitable YC companies, my guess is that so far there is only one 100-bagger i.e Dropbox, in the YC portfolio. Based on Zoho experience, I would estimate YC has about ten 10-baggers, and about fifty one-baggers (i.e just about profitable).

Welcome to the product business, which looks very much like the movie business!

How Capillary Technologies Became a Top Provider of Retail End-to-End Customer Engagement Solutions

Editor’s Note: Launched in 2008, Capillary Technologies is India’s largest provider of end-to-end customer engagement solutions for retailers. Co-founder and CEO Aneesh Reddy discusses the company strategy, tradeoffs in the race to market, and the advice he follows.

SandHill.com: Please describe your company’s product and differentiation.

Aneesh Reddy: Capillary provides end-to-end customer engagement solutions powered by cloud + mobile + social technology to retailers and consumer-facing businesses. Our focus is on high-quality data capture, actionable analytics, instant cross-sell solutions, and instant gratification to generate a far higher ROI on customer engagement for retailers.

Our flagship product is called !nTouch, a cloud-based CRM solution, which is integrated with billing and point-of-sale outlets of retail chains. Using !nTouch, SMEs can access and use purchase data to entice buyers with loyalty programs and discounts. Last year we launched another product, TruTouch, which is an easy-to-use, self-serve style product for SME retailers.

Read the complete post at Sandhill.com

Ozonetel Innovates Voice Cloud in India

Editor’s Note: Serial entrepreneur Murthy Chintalapati left Silicon Valley, returned to Bangalore and launched Ozonetel in 2007 with a cloud telephony platform for voice apps development. As founder and CEO, he shares insights on growing a company and presents advice for entrepreneurs.

SandHill.com: What inspired you create Ozonetel?

Murthy Chintalapati: Being a serial entrepreneur, I always look for opportunities to build ventures rather than work for a paycheck. My first venture, Intoto, was built in Silicon Valley and later was acquired by Freescale Semiconductor.

When I moved back to Bangalore in 2005, I started assembling a core team with strong telecom and web technologies backgrounds. We had experience in implementing and deploying solutions around Avaya. We looked at the market opportunity of addressing 50 million small and midsized businesses (SMBs/SMEs) and 800 million mobile/landline voice users and connecting them over a platform.

Looking at India’s SME market, we realized they couldn’t afford the branded solutions, and they couldn’t own a team internally to maintain and manage the solutions. SMEs needed someone to host and manage various enterprise-class voice services. We created our own hardware and the telecom stack to host the service, and launched Ozonetel, a cloud telephony services provider. Fortunately we were able to self-fund the venture, so there was no need to convince an investor.

Read the complete Post at Sandhill.com