Explaining iSPIRT – ‘Olympic Gold Quest’ for India’s Product Winners

iSPIRT does not fit into known mental model for many folks, they often ask what exactly is it? Few say it is hard to pin it inside a known category or even describe it in words.
The 2017 annual letter contains thoughts on what iSPIRT stands for. Some more explanation below on the why who and the how of iSPIRT.
Folks involved with iSPIRT are people with a passion for seeing “India as a Product Nation”. It is a grand vision of seeing the Indian product industry to be at least five times the size of the IT services industry.
Product Nation $500bn

 The why and the what.

India’s answer to global product winner may get shaped through two siblings. The fist is in Saas (Software as Service), India will be for global Saas what Israel is for cyber security. The second is that “India 2″ also known Bharat market will be the envy of the world.
In either case winning the battle of platforms and ecosystems ie essential. Additionally, a new mindset to help win in the global rules of the game is critical. iSPIRT efforts affect both.
Battle of Ecosystems and Mindsets
Difference between historically ace sprinters Jesse Owens and Usain Bolt of 14 strides is in the ecosystem where they ran.
Amiya Malik had the potential and the ecosystem support to be an Usain Bolt. But he declared victory too early in his mind by not having an underdog mindset.

Think tank, 30 year architect

ISPIRT is Olympic Gold Quest for Product Winners
Most apt technical description of iSPIRT is that it is a think tank. Which mean it is not an association, not a trade body, not a lobbyist group, or not academia.
A think tank is best understood as “university without students”. It takes the necessary long-term time scale view to solving hard problems.
30 Year Architect
iSPIRT works with all ecosystem stakeholders for the necessary influence of change. Yet it stands for the product founder who is the man in the arena.
Product Founder

Four pillars of public goods

All iSPIRT initiatives fall under one of the four pillars of public goods generated.
  • Public technology platform that can create local markets,
  • Policy work to educate and remove irritants of doing product business.
  • Market access program that brings buyers and sellers together who have not met before. Indian startups & Global Corporates for example.
  • Playbook for product business skill so that as an ecosystem we make newer mistakes. 
iSPIRT 4 Pillars
Initiatives are levers that are stage dependent
stage dependent initiatives

Volunteer Engine, Belief, Credo keep us together

iSPIRT while is a think tank has a heavy bias for action. Several people volunteer and  ‘pay it forward’ through time, donation and other contribution.
The operating model is inspired by Wikipedia. Two broad type of volunteers, the ones who lead an initiative called as Fellows. Other contributors have different names based intiatives Saarthi, Maven, Policy Sherpa etc.
Currently there are 24 Fellows and ~195 contributors. Volunteers sign a code of conduct to help address any conflict of interest while creating the public goods.
iSPIRT Credo
To put in a tweet-size “iSPIRT is like the Olympic Gold Quest for India’s Product Winners”

Inadequate liquidity for Indian Startups

Recently was having a conversation with a Private Equity friend and was trying to explain the challenge that has captured my imagination and full attention, ie exits for software product startups in India. He felt that the data about the exit structural deficit that I was trying to point out felt too bearish to be true. My counter argument was that my intent is not to sound bearish but instead be a realist, after all acknowledgement of a problem is first step to solving one.  Post that conversation I thought should put this data out publicly so that through crowdsourcing can at the very least improve my understanding if it is off by wide margins.

2012-2016 VC vs M&A

India VC vs Exits 

India VC vs M&A

India Software Products VC  (in $m)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016*
$801.00 $1,021.00 $4,883.00 $6,526.00 $2,419.00 $15,650.00
147 123 173 330 223 996

India Software Product M&A  (in $m)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016*
$205.00 $308.00 $799.00 $1,350.00 $1,339.00 $4,001.00
43 39 59 137 113 391

Source iSPIRT M&A Report https://www.slideshare.net/ProductNation/india-technology-product-ma-industry-monitor-an-ispirt-signalhill-report?ref=http://startupbridgeindia.com/

Israel VC vs Exits 

Israel Software Product VC  (in $m)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016*
$1,878.00 $2,404.00 $3,422.00 $4,307.00 $4,775.00 $16,786.00
567 667 684 706 659 3283

Israel Software Product M&A (in $m)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016*
$8,149.00 $3,704.00 $4,493.00 $6,462.00 $6,782.00 $29,590.00
74 81 109 98 86 448

Source IVC Report, http://www.ivc-online.com/Portals/0/RC/Survey/IVC_Q4-16%20Capital%20Raising_Survey-Final.pdf

Above data indicates that Israel was able to generate 1.8X of the money that went in while in India in the same period it was 0.2X. The right comparison is exits from 2012-2016 with VC investments from 2005-2009, iSPIRT report does that comparison but results are even less encouraging.

Exits follow a power law distribution, however in India it seems like a power law’s power law.

Not only is the volume of exit a challenge but also the structure, any ecosystem exits follow a typical power law. For every $1 bn exit, there are ten $100m deal, for every $100m there are hundred $10m deals.

Top 7 deals in India account for ~$2.5b of the $4b in exit. About 250 of 391 deals total a deal volume of $97m which means the size of an acqui hire i.e in long tail is about 0.5m, which is inadequate even for an angel investor (in other ecosystem long tail is >$10 m, hence being referred to as power’s law power law). Lack of many $10-100m deal means there is a missing middle of the long tail.

Source iSPIRT M&A Report https://www.slideshare.net/ProductNation/india-technology-product-ma-industry-monitor-an-ispirt-signalhill-report?ref=http://startupbridgeindia.com/

Anything in the data above that does not feel kosher  ?


iSPIRT M&A Connect program takes a multiyear view to design interventions that can address the middle and long tail of the market coordination challenge.

Startup Playbook for Potential Strategic Partnerships

We spoke to couple of Indian product founders (who went through M&A or strategic investments) and friendly lawyers to extract advice on tips that they will keep in mind when making their next deal. Two key things emerged

  1. Unlike a product sale where the value to different buyer is roughly the same, in case of companies dynamics are different. Here the value is completely based on what is perceived by the buyer much like art. Moreover price communication involves negotiation and it is a function of both the scarcity and perceived utility of the buyer.
  2. Every transaction is unique and complex, complexity is one of the biggest deal killer so some forethought and operational hygiene readiness goes a long way in winning or losing a deal.  

While it is hard to cover a generic playbook for point #1, some forethought on operational structure and preparedness goes a long way in increasing the odds of making deals happen. The deck captures many of these operational points. 

Technology has always been political

Rants are not worth responding but

I have known Nikhil for 10 years and have the highest respect for him, after Om Malik he is my most favourite technology journalist for his deep and incisive views. I also admire his courage to deliberate topics which are normally deemed outside the ‘overton window’ (non discussable topics)

So despite the rant I had to sit down and had to think on this because this is Nikhil asking these questions. However after reflection I found that I can’t agree with him on several counts, well this is not our first time 🙂

I also feel more compelled to do so because while he talks technology & politics in the title of his post but it seems to be a complaint against iSPIRT. And I am on the side of iSPIRT, have been part of iSPIRT from the day it officially started and many years before that. Moreover now I am a full time ‘Fellow In Residence’ since last four months running the M&A Connect program.

His rant has many factual errors including about UPI that Nikhil Kumar  already points out in his tweets.

If I understand it right the following seems to be major points he rants about

  • Unsettling adoption pace in Digital Identity & Payments
  • Muddled debate on digital colonization
  • Subversion of choice in technology diffusion
  • Close relationship of technology and politics

Technology is the yin, policy the yang of new markets

Technology as Kevin Kelly beautifully points out is a force of evolution, it is an  unstoppable force of nature. Definition of politics or policies in this context is it is allocation of scarce resources in the face of change. Technology creates new possibilities while policies moderates those by setting up the new rules of game. Looking across time or geography this relation has been so empirical that technology and policy have been the yin and yang of new market creation.

Sometimes policies or regulation kills a market. Peer to peer music file sharing – Napster anyone ? DMCA killed it. Closer home about 5-7 years ago every mobile payment startup in India died because it was not clear who defined the policies when it came to mobile payments (RBI or TRAI)

Over time this is the reason why the ‘challengers’ just like the ‘incumbent’ have learnt to engage not only to understand the new game (technology) but to also influence the rules of the game (policies). More pronounced recent debate of defining the rules of the game for being challenger friendly is Net Neutrality of which Nikhil was the chief crusader himself.

Makes me wonder what makes one crusade(er) more noble than another.

Poor understanding of Digital colonization

Digitization is going to happen to everyone in the world, that is the force of technology. Digital or not is not the choice we have, how in the new digital world can we influence net positive societal impact is a more apt question.

I am not in favour of a state hand in speeding the process of digitization but in the digital world does one want to be in control of a private hand whom you can’t influence. I would rather prefer to yield in to the power of who I can vote out not a global private lord that dictates a feudal system.

In face of creative destruction it is indeed the responsibility of the state and the society to rehabilitate the farmer or the cobbler that loses a job because of change in technology. To shoot the messenger that warn about the creative destruction and is helping preparing everyone for the change is naive.

Dealing with Illusion of Choice

It is easy to score a debate by calling something as ‘attack on choice’. In world with natural monopolies (key digital infrastructure) options out there are merely illusion of choice. Many other countries are discovering now that Google, Facebook control identity than most countries would like to yield it. These countries have already yielded their choices and data to large corporation. Internet is fundamentally a aggregation of private data which is retailed  to highest bidder. Due to India’s ability to leapfrog an architecture around data for the first time we can even enter into a dialogue about data and privacy. The debate and the policies on this has not been settled. Questions on these are great,  rolling sleeves with an alternate solution even better. Standing by the side and only complaining the least useful.

Debating Issue Vs pointing fingers without facts is not cool

People in iSPIRT are rooting for positive change like Nikhil and everyone involved feels responsible for the consequence of change that takes place especially those that get influenced by them. They think deeply about the societal impact and have had major share of disagreement with the Government as well. To cherry pick links and blog post to say things iSPIRT is very close to just one stakeholder is totally unwarranted and uncool.

India stack – one of four building blocks for Product Nation

iSPIRT is a part of the ecosystem and works with everyone within it  – entrepreneurs  (entire spectrum of ‘new’ to ‘seasoned’ ones), policymakers, global corporates, academic researchers, developers, investors, banks, other industry bodies,  global think tanks and more.

The vision for iSPIRT is building India as a Product Nation, our thoughts captured in the annual letter 2016 here. For realizing that vision building public goods is a declared motto. Four type of these building blocks of public goods is Technology (India Stack), Policy , Market Catalyst (InTech50, M&A Connect), Playbooks (Roundtable, PNGrowth, iKEN).  Belief systems formalized to make this happen as credo has stood us for last four years.

As much impact as India Stack if not more is happening in other blocks as well – Innofest that is championing support of grass root innovators that will help build the ‘India 2’ (beyond metro) market. A fintech leapfrog council (FTLC) that is helping public sector banks navigate the nonlinear change, a huge step in helping banks arrest the negative impact of technology disruption. Startup Bridge India a roadshow for Indian startups in the valley declaring the arrival new global category leaders from India that silicon valley should take note of and partner. Helping grooming the next ring of category leaders in India through PNGrowth bootcamp led by practitioner entrepreneur who are few years ahead (senior doing group study for juniors). How do we know that this is creating an impact, NPS (Net Promoter Score) of each of the initiative hovers around +80.

Of course iSPIRT works with policy makers as well to ensure that when rules of game are drafted the challenger is not endowed with a structural disadvantage. When iSPIRT supported Nikhil on similar rules creating exercise with respect to Net Neutrality I do not understand why engaging other stakeholder should not be done.


I have gone through many red pill moment myself to later realize that it is also recursive, it feels smart to have the first red pill moment but is humbling when there is realization that there is a red pill’s red pill (Matrix Revolution gives a more detailed picture than just the first Matrix movie). In times of unprecedented change cognitive dissonance is bound to happen, wisdom is measured by how much cognitive dissonance one can handle.

“Nikhil, do continue to ask tough questions on important topics regardless of how discomforting they are, for we all will benefit by finding answers to it. However to attribute wrong intent to people and organization especially without facts is uncool even in a rant for you have been the gold standard of teaching India to form points of view supported with facts.

Also I would encourage you to define why should one crusade be called more noble than another one”

StartupBridge India – Strengthening Potential Strategic Partnership to the world


There are many dimensions to India becoming a Product Nation. A thriving  local market is critical, which are shaped by changing consumer preference and policy.  Also important is increased trade in areas of comparative advantage.

Digital consumer market in India that opened few years ago saw its waves and cycle of valuation however it is already witnessing its next shift from India Metro to Bharat due to technology and regulation disruption going hand in hand (aka India Stack).

An undercurrent that has been largely unnoticed is emergence of B2B companies from India. Top 30 enterprise startups in India that are tracked in the iSPIX B2B is $10.25 billion last year. Saas market for Indian startups is exploding — and is on pace to be over $10 billion annually by 2025.

Like Israel is to Cybersecurity, India is becoming Saas capital for the world.

Ease of doing business in India is improving, out of 34 items in Stay In India check list part of Startup India Policy, 29 critical ones are fixes in progress.

Cross border partnership of US-India startups always existed, it is the right time to come together as software product industry to strengthen this linkage to highlight this new dimension. Two related initiatives to towards this

Initiative 1 –  India Technology Product Exits Industry Monitor 2016, measuring liquidity especially global.  

iSPIRT and Signal Hill in partnership is releasing our annual report for 2016 on state of exit deals in India. During 2014 & 2015, India witnessed a Product Technology funding boom with over $10bn getting invested in consumer tech / e-commerce companies and $1bn in enterprise tech start-ups. Whilst funding levels in 2016 have seen a steep decline (54% decline during first 3 quarters), mainly on account of a very steep drop in hedge fund activity, M&A in Product Technology with $1.34 billion in exits during the first 3 quarters (from 113 transactions), is on track to beat 2015 levels (137 transactions with $1.35bn transaction value) which was a record year for Indian Product Technology M&A. Furthermore, many global Tech majors including the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, Naspers and Salesforce have now completed at least one Product Tech acquisition in India. However the large majority (81%) of M&A transactions are still very small (<$5m in transaction value), with the bulk (>70%) of the transaction value in the last 3 years being accounted for by 7 large (>$100m) M&A transactions. Hence there is currently a missing middle in the $5-100m deal range in Product Tech M&A in India. With an increasing number of companies that received funding during the 2014 & 2015 funding boom achieving scale during the next couple of years, we expect Product Tech M&A levels in particular across mid-size and large transactions to pick-up multi-fold from here.

Detailed report here

Initiative 2 – StartupBridge India, strengthening foundation to  increase cross border linkages.

Towards enhancing cross border linkages iSPIRT is organizing a conference called StartupBridge India in partnership with TiE SV and Stanford Center for International Development (SCID) on Dec 2 at the Stanford campus.

This conference will bring top 30 business software startups from India to the US with aim to foster cross-border partnership and potential strategic opportunities.

The conference is designed to be a symbolic and relationship-building bridge between top Indian SaaS and deep tech startups and US companies, to forge long-term relationships.

More details here www.startupbridgeindia.com

Why Indian startup founders should think about M&A and not be shy about it ?

Think about endgame, chess grandmasters do so to win.

Studies point out that chess grandmasters visualize the chess board state few steps away to a ‘winning game’ and make moves based on memory pattern that can lead to that board state and thus help them win the game.

Many startups however operate in a game where the rules are dynamic and change unexpectedly. An unanticipated flood of competition could sweep in, or the ground gets shaken underneath because of a regulation or policy change.  Due to such unpredictability most of the founder’s move is extremely tactical, the focus is in on surviving and not getting killed as opposed to planning to grow like rabbits.

Data from 20 years of startups in US suggest mean time to exit is 4th and 6th year.

Mean exit time
Mean exit time for startups

This is simply because If investors don’t do that then they can’t return the capital to their own investors (i.e limited partners) within the 10 year fund cycle.  

Same data also reveals that after 1997 there has been more exit through M&A than IPO both in terms of count and value which means that it is more likely for a startup to have an exit via M&A rather than an IPO as the most likely route

VC vs M&A vs IPO
VC vs M&A vs IPO

In India with no IPO route, M&A is the most likely endgame

On  decade long VC scale, Indian ecosystem is quite young and thus historical data is not available to compare however similar forces broady apply.  

Also while scale can become large but technology market growth rates in India are not as fast the US. Add to this the fact there is no IPO market in India for the technology companies. Some efforts are underway to open it such as the new ITP platform by SEBI but nothing has kicked in practice. That makes M&A option all the more important to consider for an Indian startup founder.

From limited data that is available about the Indian ecosystem we can that $14.5 billion of VC money has been invested in last 4 years and $2.5b of exits have happened in the same period spread over 300 deals. This ratio are still very skewed when compared to other ecosystem.  

India M&A / VC Ratio – Low

All of this build the strong case for why an Indian startup founder should think about exits via M&A

A reason they don’t think about it is because they don’t know much about exits or the playbook involved in doing that. Second likely reason could be that advisors actively discourage founders from thinking about exits by labeling them opportunistic and not being a visionary founder.

Paradoxically the right time to think about exits is exactly when an exit is not needed.

Founders should think about exit before they are forced to think about it

PS: Exit has a broader significance, applies to open source and even countries. Here is a talk by Balaji Srinivasan that illustrates the importance of exit as key lever of an healthy ecosystem

Playbooks is one of the key pillars of iSPIRT bouquet.

Playbook in iSPIRT denotes entrepreneurial learning meant for Indian software product startups to become world class and be successful.

Roundtable is a format of learning intended for startups that have reached a happy confused stage. In this format 8-12 non competing startups are brought together to discuss deeply on a topic that holds them from jumping to their next level.A facilitator, who is an in the saddle entrepreneur deep dives on the topic by becoming metaphorically naked and shares his experience and gets a peer discussion going on the topic.Coaching including peer coaching happens through multiple mode – judgement of the discussion (VC mode), sharing experience (Sage on Stage), being a mirror (Guide by the Side). Playbook Roundtable tend to be more of the last category of mirroring.

playbook-ispirtThink of this as group study for 7th class students in an age where there no school & teacher and one has to pass the 10th standard board exam. Some one who has done that leads the group study.

Playbooks have a longitudinal impact so they are tracked via an input metric.  At the end of every roundtable session a Net Promoter Score (NPS) is calculated via survey, the average NPS score of last 85 roundtable that were held is about +80. (iPhone as a product has an NPS of +71).

Roundtable was initially architected by Shankar Maruwada, Ashish Gupta, Vivek Subramanian & Aneesh Reddy. Some learnings from past roundtable are captured here

Key organizing principles behind creating playbook roundtables

  • In the saddle entrepreneurs are the best to teach upcoming ones. Age, company brand plays no role.
  • Quality > Quantity which means traditional format of 1 to 100 classroom style  and metric of footfall attendance should be questioned.
  • Safe environment are absolutely necessary to have deep discussion.
  • Curation is highly important, ie. have non competing participants and bring people together in similar stage of startup growth.
  • A facilitator and organizer checklist.

I have had the privilege to shadow about 40 of 85 roundtables that have happened in last 3 years. If I describe it as saying that gold dust of the tacit knowledge gets shared it won’t be an exaggeration. Chatham rules apply in a roundtable i.e. to protect the safe environment no quote is attributed to a person. However this deck those captures some of the discussed tacit knowledge as directives

A good mental model to decide which roundtables can be used from the market map


Check details at the events section in PN blog

Playbooks is more than roundtable

The initial focus of Roundtable was happy confused product startup founders a later realization was that playbooks will need to extend across the spectrum of entreprenuership lifecycle.

kindergarden   > discovery (1st to 7th std) > happy confused (7th std) > pre-scale (10th std) > pre-growth(pre college)

Playbooks Progression
Playbooks Progression


Some of these additional formats emerged

Playbooks sets down one of the most critical foundation layer for India to be product nation.

Market Maps – Thinking market instead of an idea 


Starting point of a startup is an idea and it goes through a journey of product releases and pivots to reach its product market fit and further scale. Source of this idea is a brainstorming session or hot flavor of the season (foodTech, fintech etc) or even comes from past work experience of the founder, in rare some cases it is rooted in an unsolved customer pain point.

For Indian software product startups regardless of the origin of the idea when looked at through the lens of market segments a pattern seems to emerge that is too hard to ignore.

Market Map

A 2 X 3 matrix

Market Map

Parsing the market  map

  1. Before 2009  India consumer  was not a major open digital market. There were few online ticketing sites, many attempts in the e-commerce space that  did not fan out big,  telecom VAS a closed market which also existed only because of regulation gap around strong consumer privacy laws .  However in 2009 something happened along with the birth of Flipkart where consumers changed behavior, i.e started believing that they could trust making transactions online and swiped their cards. It would be hard to attribute a causal reason of whether it was ‘Cash on Delivery’, critical mass of people on internet or myriad of other reasons. It is suffice to say that market behavior changed since then. Today there are countless new ideas being tried out because this market has opened up.
  2. India SMB market on the other hand is yet to witness its Flipkart moment.  I have been a close observer on two industry (read multiple organizations collaborating efforts) attempts to wrench open this and closely involved in my last role in leading multiple experiment in creating this market. While I am very bullish about this market but the fact of the matter is that this market is yet to open up. Just like how consumers shifted mindset about transacting online, small business need to change their buying ‘tailored shirt’ mindset to buying ‘branded shirt’ mindset for this market to explode.  Open API based GST system in India may cause to be a major reason of change here.
  3. If India consumer has already exploded and India SMB is around the corner, it would not be completely wrong to say that India Enterprise is yet to germinate. There are handful few startups that have been able to sell to Indian CIO however those are exceptions than the rule.
  4. In the global consumer market there is hardly any precedence of a startup from India building a global force i.e. equivalent to a Facebook or Snapchat. Not that this may not happen, it is just that it is not happened so far because it is very hard to understand global culture nuance when based in India alone and when there are gaps in the kind of risk capital that is available to try out radical business models. There are handful instances where this is being attempted such as Zomato, Hike but the jury is still out.
  5. Indian startups are rocking the global SMB market, strategic inflection point that has made this possible is small business are searching for solution to their problems online. When solution is possible to be delivered online through Saas, the purchase consideration is based on the experience of solution (try and buy) and not based on the trusting the salesman who delivers the CD.  Given this dynamic it does not matter if the solution was built in Alabama or Alwarpet in Chennai. Comparative cost advantage of doing desk based selling from India makes it possible for price points unimaginable in other parts of the world and which in turn opens many low end markets that have been earlier priced out.  Companies that are trend setter here are Zoho, Freshdesk, Wingify, KissFlow, Kayako, ChargeBee, Hotelogix and many others.
  6. There is also good precedence of traction for the global Enterprise with more than handful examples. The pattern here has been to prove product with pilot customers in India and scale it faster with global markets. This involves migration of feet on street sales team globally, iflex has been the Zoho equivalent grand daddy to set the precedence here but recent examples are Druva, Eka and newer folks like Innovaccer, Unbxd are following suit.

There are startup ideas that are tech components and may sell into a value chain into one of these market and not directly, for example a developer toolchain. The effect of traction in the market has same implication for them.

The above map is not going to be static map and is bound to change. Certainly past is not an indicator of future however history of technology has taught that path dependency plays a huge role in shaping of markets. Thus realization of this map has allowed few startups have change their gear in reaching product – market fit or scale.  Also this map helps understand that playbook for winning a market is a different than a playbook for creating a market.

To quote Marc Andreessen

When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins.
When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins.
When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.

What are the market maps that you are seeing ?

The last list – the final 25 #PNgrowth companies.

This is it, then. The last announcement of #PNgrowth 2016 is here. We have now the entire 200 companies who will get together in January for the inauguration of what is the most ambitious mentorship programs for startups ever put together in India. We now have about half a month to go, and it would be great if the companies talked to each other, think about what they want out of this, and discuss stuff. We have set up a Facebook group just for this, and we will be taking pointers for program design from on there, so be sure to get on it.
For further announcements, you can follow us here or on the Facebook group itself. 
25-founders-collage-8th batchSo here we go, the last 25. #Pngrowth 2016 is well and truly on!
Sivaram Subramaniam of CavinHR
Puneet Sharma of Bugclipper
Satish Kamat of Jambuster
Jay Thaker of sumHR
Salar Bijili of Cuecontent
Hari PK of Bigfoxx
Dr. Shikha Suman of Medimojo
Sanjay Shah of Zapty
Nikhil MS of Clusterzap
Sumesh K Menon of Winds Business solutions
Vinay Simha of Amiya
Kavita Khandadia of Mytripkarma
Vivek Beria of Whizzwifi
Dharam Mehta of Wedwise
Saurabh Saha of Talentpegs
Ish Jindal of Hellotars
Arvind Batra of EventsHigh
Satish Kashyap of AlgoEngines
Subrat Kar of Vidooly
Vishal Singhal of Artzolo
Nitin Chadha of Sride
Suraj Goyal of Printbindaas
Sarang Lakare of Intouchapp
Rittvij Parekh of Pykih
See you all over there!

The final agenda for #Pngrowth is here

In the fourth #PNGrowth hangout last week, the usual suspects got together but this time with something a lot more concrete to hand out. With #PNgrowth generating the buzz that it has, we have been inundated with questions about what exactly the three days of the residential workshop will entail. As we have been vocal about, the residential workshop will kickstart the yearlong program that is #PNGrowth. To give everyone deeper insights into the agenda, we brought Sharique Hasan, Rem Koning, Sharad Sharma and Pallav Nadhani together to speak about the program we have put together for the three days.

You can watch the whole hangout here, which will give you a deeper insight into what we are thinking about and hoping to achieve, but this blog will give you a rather simple breakdown of the agenda itself.

With the major objective for #PNgrowth being category leadership, we have calibrated the three days to be workshops; there will be no gyaan sessions and every entrepreneur will be thinking and working through problems they face.

Day 1 – Rethink

The first day will be spent on entrepreneurs getting their bearings right and reflecting on where they stand with respect to where they want to be. The day will focus on getting the best tools and frameworks they need in place, to think about where their company is heading, and to understand their company represents versus what the category leader in their segment will look like.

Day 2 – Redesign

The second day will focus only on one thing – getting a gameplan in place with the aim of getting to category leadership in their spaces. This day will contain what the entrepreneurs will need to carry back most. The day will cover all the important things entrepreneurs need to concentrate on – culture, team, product/business, authentic leadership and so on. With sessions designed for entrepreneurs to work this out, this is going to be an absolute cracker of a day.

Day 3 – Implementation

On day three, the gameplan will be put to the test. The question of how to implement the plan, what challenges will rise, and in what sequence to implement the learnings will be discussed. The important metrics to focus on will be finalised and most importantly, where to start, how to start and how much time and energy to focus on and where will all be cleared up.

After the workshop, when all the entrepreneurs have gone back to work on what they learnt, comes the most important part. Now when they start, they’ll come up against the real world, and will need help adjusting their plans with things that will come up. This is when the real value of  will come in. With a direct line to mentors who have done this before, they will know who to call and when to call for help. This kind of opportunity is unprecedented in the Indian ecosystem and was formulated with the goal of an Indian product nation in mind – a community of product people who have a network to help each other and grow together.

For people who still haven’t applied, we have ONE last batch to select. You should apply.

Inviting the most ambitious product founders to learn growth mantras at PNGrowth

FusionCharts is one of India’s oldest product companies, and easily one of the first to get on the SaaS wave to world recognition. This makes Pallav Nadhani’s company one of the first few in India to actually face the problems that are now ruining the sleep of the nation’s new product company CEOs. As Pallav himself says, building the product and validating is one thing, and scaling it completely another. The challenges are different and tougher, as are the decisions you need to take.

In answering the question as to what would have helped him and his company at the stage when they were reaching the point when they needed to scale, Pallav says what we’ve heard from so many people in the last year or so – that there was no one to guide him and the organisation at that time. Simply put, no one he knew had done this before, and there was no one to go to for advice.

In this short video from us at PNgrowth, Pallav talks about all of this, and how much organisations need this kind of help at that stage, thus making the case for why we are trying to put together PNgrowth, a platform to bring together India’s early stage software product companies. In collaboration with Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, iSPIRT’s #PNgrowth initiative aims to get the people who want to learn, and the people they need to ask in a room, and give them the perfect space to learn and grow.
In this video, Pallav Nadhani talks about FusionCharts’ journey, why he’s part of this initiative, and why he believes that PNgrowth could help product companies take their game to the next level.

Discovery Hack Playbook Series – Effectuation – Experiential Workshop

In Early Stage Startups – What to do next ?

Early stage startups and first time entrepreneurs face many challenges that are unprecedented in nature.
– How to know which discussion (customer, vendors, mentors) inputs to keep and which to ignore ?
– How to make confident decisions when very little information seem to be available and the stakes are high ?
– How to navigate your way through when so many options seem to be available ?

Many successful entrepreneurs have navigated this challenges with ease. These entrepreneurs believe that “The part of future I can control I do not need to predict it”

Decades of study of successful entrepreneurs has led to the finding the entrepreneurs think effectually and not causally. The studies have to led to identification of 5 key principles of Effectuation which when applied help entrepreneurs improve the odds of success.

Prof Saras Saraswathi from Darden University who has founded these principles through rigorous research will be conducting a experiential learning workshop on Feb 5 to select Indian product entrepreneurs.

This workshop is an extension and continuation from PNCamp discovery track playbook discussion. To maximize the effectiveness of the experiential workshop will have only 10-15 participants.

The event will be held from 10.00 to 3.00 pm on Feb 5 at iCreate office in Koramangala. Please do confirm if you are able to attend this by filling the form.

Inside story on The making of #PNCamp

The journey of doing something different for the software products ecosystem that started almost half year ago comes to climax as #PNcamp in Pune this first week of Dec 2013. Over 125 product leaders will come together over two days and meet other companies in similar life stage and exchange notes through a facilitated discussion by a slightly senior practitioner entrepreneur. The vision of making this a national level assembly has been realized, with participants coming from Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad & Delhi and even distant places like Kochi.

PNCamp journeyI am part of the volunteer team that worked to make this happen and we all know the ups and downs we went through to bring this to you. It’s been an absolutely amazing journey. You can see what this journey has been like, right here. It’s the story of #PNCamp come alive!

Today, all cohorts (~17-20 per cohort) have been formed and all facilitators(20) have prepared for two days of peer learning to happen.

The next few days is action packed and inspite of being tired in this roller coaster run up, we can’t wait to launch. Come, be with us in this journey to make India a software product nation.

Speaking at PNCamp – Dhiraj Kacker(Canvera) and You

Get to hear speakers at conferences every day, don’t you?

Delivered over the mike, broadcast mode.

Speak speak, no listen.

It won’t happen. Not at PNCamp

Because when folks like Dhiraj Kacker are at PNCamp, it’s not to share their story but to listen to yours. And to help you make your story the stuff that conferences are made of. Dhiraj is going to be at PNCamp. Are you?

Dr.Dhiraj Kacker - 4 (square)

Apply here if you haven’t done so already. If you have already applied, you don’t need to do it again. We shall be in touch with every single person who wants to be at PNSummit. We’re just taking a little longer to get similar folks into the room so you can benefit from sharing with people who have similar problems. Stay tuned – here’s the latest on the PNCamp blog.

What to expect in the first #PNSummit – 4th & 5th December, Pune

The #PNSummit is going to be an event like none other. Volunteers who are from the Product community themselves, are putting it together and building it on the pillars of intensity, focus and exclusivity (only practicising product professionals attend the PNSummit).

Here’s a quick peek into what #PNSummit is all about

At present, most product companies in India are clustered around two specific life stages:

  • Getting their first 0-10 customers, OR
  • Going beyond their initial 50-100 customers (for B2C one could say 200,000 users). These are also called as being in the Happy Confused Stage (post product/market fit)

It is with these life stages in mind that these two themes have been designed:

Customer discovery hacking – curated by Pallav Nadhani (CEO of FusionCharts)

Customer growth hacking – curated by Bala Parthasarathy (Managing Partner, AngelPrime)

Each of these themes comes with a series of sessions where participants are grouped into circles based on their life stages and will be immersed in an experience of deep discussions, brainstorming and hands-on exercises.

Invited delegates will be grouped into circles based on their life stages and Broadly these circles are:

  • Circle 1  – In Discovery Hacking Stage.
  • Circle 2 –  Happy Confused Stage
  • Circle 3 –  In Discovery Hacking & Just crossed Happy Confused Stage


We’re putting together each circle with a lot of effort and each session will be facilitated by an expert in that area. The mode of discussion is expert-facilitated and not expert-advice and that is what will make the discovery process truthful and meaningful!

If you are a product company then you are at some point in the spectrum of  discovery hacking -> product/market fit -> successful product business and are you are pushing yourself to move the next stage.

Reach out to any of the delegate experience volunteers of #PNSummit, Sandeep TodiSameer AgarwalDilip IttyeraSeema JoshiVijay SharmaAvinash Raghava,  Aditya Bhelande  & Sairam K to find the right inner circle for you. We’re keen to invite as many companies as we can accommodate, and the quicker we hear from you, the better we can make your experience.