What Startups can learn from Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3

Yes, as expected Iron Man 3 was an awesome movie. The movie opens as a narrative by Tony Stark to Dr. Bruce Banner, a story that started way before Tony Stark became Iron Man. I won’t be talking about the movie, I’ll let you enjoy that at a theatre near you.

So, after the Avengers event in New York, Tony became obsessive and began prototyping lots of Iron Man suits. He moves on to another model and never have ‘the one’ perfect Iron Man suit.

Through-out the movie, you’ll see that lots of Iron Man suits were used, almost all disposable and another one always ready. None of the suits were the perfect one. Even his latest best, the Mark 42 had to be done away with, serving its purpose in the finale fight.

As a Startup Entrepreneur, be ready to build lots of prototypes, never get stuck to a single idea, move on to the next until you can get better and better with your product. Be obsess about your product, build it, re-build it, break it and then build it again. Once you have something, bring them to the battle to fight – open them to public in the real world.

Enjoy the Movie.

Startup Baba

Startup Baba is simple newsletter where we highlight some of the interesting, crazy and fun stories from the world of startup and entrepreneurship. Every newsletter consists of about five curated links and a short excerpt about the stories. We also try to include links to tools and utilities which will be useful for design and development of your product.

We totally understand about the annoyances of spam emails and newsletters. We will not send more than two newsletters in a week. You can unsubscribe very promptly and instantly. We will not send you anything not related to building a startup, a business and being an entrepreneur.

So, if you think it’s OK for another addition to your Startup resources, go ahead and sign-up for the newsletter from Startup Baba.

A quick chat about “In50Hrs” with Vijay Anand

Many in the Indian Startup scene knows Vijay Anand or have heard of him. Vijay Anand run The Startup Centre and is very involved with Startups and Entrepreneurs in India.

I recently had the opportunity to meet him in person when he brought In50Hrs to Bangalore for the first time. In50hrs is The Idea-To-Prototype Event. Entrepreneurs, Developers, and Product Designers come together to work on audacious ideas and build working prototypes (MVP) over a Weekend.

Vijay’s been organizing In50Hrs in Chennai for quite a while and he is taking his idea to other cities in India – Delhi, Pune, and Bangalore. I asked him a few quick questions and he has some thoughtful answers, which I’m sure will be useful to budding entrepreneurs and startups in India.


Q. Your name is synonymous with the Startup Scene in India. How did you start and how deep do you want to go in?

It started off by having a Startup in Canada (which was finding its exit), coming to India realizing that the ecosystem was still very nascent and with a long list of things to be done, meeting folks here, and talking to them about it. Realized nobody else was going to do anything, and if you care, you are going to have to spearhead change. Better that, than a cribbing NRI right? :)

Q. Why did you start In50Hrs? Why not spearhead the existing StartupWeekend in India under your leadership? How are you differentiating In50Hrs from other initiatives?

When we came up with the concept of wanting to build a platform for folks to come together and build prototypes of Ideas, SW was the first on the list. Unfortunately at that time (perhaps still) the pricing is rather high – for folks to participate and its a complicated structure with everything being managed from the US. We would have opted for it, if it was like a Barcamp format where you could take and run with it, and adapt a bit, rather being too restrictive by rules and a brand.

The difference between a Barcamp Model vs a TEDx Model I suppose. But at the end of the day, we are in a way solving similar problems, and I’d recommend either platform for folks looking to build a prototype over a weekend.

India has its own set of challenges in the early ecosystem and anything that is not built from the ground up to solve the problem accordingly is a forced-fit. I didn’t want to end up with that dilemma.

Q. What is your immediate expectation from In50Hrs and what are your long-term goals?

The short term expectation is for participants to be able to differentiate between a hack and a prototype. We have been constantly asking the question to ourselves as to how do we get folks to leverage this platform to be a starting point towards a venture – so the long term goal would be to enable more and more of the participating teams to launch products and startups.

Q. Do the role of In50Hrs end within those 50 hours or do you want to follow-up with them and guide them forward? If you follow-up, how many such MVPs have become actual Startups? Do you have a number?

Not at all. So that’s one reason why having an event where we can tweak every aspect of it makes sense because we can also manage how to do the hand-off and the follow-up support. We look at the stages of a tech startup as Idea to Prototype; Prototype to Product; and Product to Startup. As part of The Startup Centre we run a six-month hands-on program called The Resident Program which would be a logical progression for teams that want further support.

We have spotted a bit over 20+ startups emerge out of In50hrs.

Q. Do you judge the ideas or do you want In50Hrs to be a free-flowing event? (I see that there were no ratings or votes on the final day.)

One of the briefs we give the Jury is not to Judge the ideas, but evaluate the teams on two aspects – is the prototype a good enough representation of the idea and the problem that is being solved and secondly, what are the next steps for the teams.

We made a conscious effort not to do winners because that gives them closure, and the code dies in their laptops and never ships – let alone take the next steps. The event has been engineered from the ground up to try to build startups, not a competition platform.

Q. Anything important that I missed, that you want to add?

Since we launched to multiple cities, the support that we have been receiving has been phenomenal. Its an amazing experience seeing the startup ecosystem from a national perspective and its interesting to see how each of these hubs is all evolving with a personality of their own. Whether it be an In50hrs event or Startup Weekend, the fact remains that an entrepreneur no longer has an excuse to be sitting on an “Idea”.

Guys — Want a Gadget that’ll tell you when your girlfriend is pissed off?


Just imagine walking into the home every day after work wearing a pair of O2Amps, glasses that can warn you of your wife, girlfriend’s, female roommate’s, sister’s, mother’s emotions. Most importantly you can detect her emotion BEFORE you say the wrong thing. Brilliant no? By increasing our perception of blood physiology 2AI Labs have come up with the O2Amp glasses, which amplify whether a subject’s blood is oxygenated or deoxygenated, and pooled or free-flowing–or in layman’s terms determine the general emotions of their viewing subjects.

Millions of years of evolution (sorry Scientologists) have already given human beings the ability to interpret blood signals into emotions and overall states of health, like rosy cheeks for overall health, blushing for embarrassment, green for nausea, and yellow for fear — or jaundice. Now, like Viagra and boob jobs, scientists have improved on mother nature again.

Mark Changizi, director of human cognition at 2AI Labs and evolutionary anthropologist explains how the glasses work with human evolutionary features, “our eyes have been optimized to sense spectral changes in skin color. It turns out you can do even better because other parts of the spectrum that we perceive in the skin are just noise. If you get rid of the noise, you’re amplifying the signal”. The technology behind the glasses is based on Changizi’s color-perception research.


O2Amps from 2AI Labs

The O2Amp glasses come in three flavors, each with their own designs that filter light in unique ways: ‘vein-finders’ that distinguish between oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood, that will help medical professionals find veins; ‘hemo-finders’ to find pools of blood or areas drained of blood, which will obviously be used for zombie finding; and ‘health-monitors’ that can distinguish between red and green and/or yellow and blue skin, which will help doctors diagnose blood-related conditions.

The ‘health-monitors’ is the most hyped ones (although personally I am excited about the ‘hemo-finders’ given the impending zombie apocalypse I keep hearing about) as they are the pair that will help people read emotions and detect health.

“If you’re angry, you get red. When you’re showing weakness, the opposite is true — your blood becomes deoxygenated and your skin appears greener,” says Changizi. “Yellow is associated with fear because the blood gets pulled out of your extremities and flows into your organs. The opposite of being yellow with fear is being blue, which your skin exhibits when you’re sedate. These are the kinds of things that are being signaled with these color signals. And whereas muscular facial expression signals can be faked, it’s harder to fake actually being red in the face with anger, or feeling weak.”

The glasses are currently sold solely to medical distributors, but they will hopefully reach the general public sometime next year. 2AI Labs are in talks currently with Oakley — so expect a decent price tag… and polarized lenses?

Next stop — X-Ray glasses!

Krassimir Fotev scoffs at SEO with his brainchild, Peer Belt

If you’re like me then you are sick of SEO. These cookie-cutter predictive patterns that create a myopic filter for the content we see online make as much sense as casting a rapper in a film noir, or taking a three-year old to a fine china shop.

This must be what Krassimir Fotev thought when he looked at how we gather, process and retrieve information and thought — pssst… I can do better. So he did. (Don’t you just love people like that?). He created Peer Belt — a personalized search engine that organizes the content you encounter online.

After first getting a masters degree in Physics, then giving up a cushy job at Credit Suisse Krassimir created Peer Belt, and hasn’t looked back since.

We had tons of questions for Krassimir — like what the heck Peer Belt actually does, so we fired off a series of rapid-fire questions to him about his entrepreneurial experience and the technology behind the brand. He then banged his head against his desk until something brilliant came out. And brilliant it was…

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Business Intelligence with Retailigence


Peter Christianson’s resume, as he tells it, is like a who’s who of NASDAQ success stories – so when he lent his talents to new startup, Retailigence, people paid attention.

Retailigence and its founder, Jeremy Geiger, are leveraging Peter’s thorough portfolio of skills: business development, revenue growth, supply chain management, operations research, statistics, management consulting, business-process re-engineering and mathematics; skills Peter is using to help turn Retailigence into the next big thing. Retailigence is a hodge podge of all those skills, mashed together to create a data-driven, traffic-management platform that connects the 3 prongs of the retail sector: retailers, brands and developers – all without an app or search engine.

If you want to know just what that means, read our interview with Peter below:

Can you give me the quick, elevator pitch for Retailigence?

Retailigence is a hyper-local marketing platform that drives qualified foot traffic into local retail stores. Retailigence does this by distributing a brand or retailer’s product availability information via a network of location-based application partners, used by consumers who are close to finalizing their buying decision, as well as through thousands of publishers in the form of digital advertising, to drive high-value ‘action’ (in-store sales).

You have a three-pronged approach to connecting online retail participants—including retailers, brands and developers, what inspired this approach?

With the explosive growth of online shopping, it is important to realize that over 90% of all purchases are still completed in brick-and-mortar stores. If retailers want to maintain this balance, they need to have a way to leverage the ever-growing population of smart phone users who use their phones to research before purchasing. Unfortunately, the mobile app development community is extremely fragmented. Our platform approach makes it easy for retailers or brands to get immediate visibility in many applications at one time, and makes it easy for app developers to immediately get access to multiple retailers at one time. We feel our unique approach of bridging these three areas addresses this new opportunity to provide shoppers with hyper-local product information.

What advantages do users and businesses have by participating in Retailigence?

With Retailigence, retailers get more motivated shoppers into their stores at the time they’re most interested in purchasing. The in-store shopping experience is also changing; smart-phone customers are now demanding easy access to detailed information about the products in front of them. Retailigence helps make this type of information available to customers when an employee is not available to help them.

What is your educational and work background? 

I have a successful track record in starting up new markets and building businesses at an accelerated pace. As Founder, Managing Director and Board Member of Real-Time Technology Asia-Pacific (subsidiary of RTT, a public company), in 3 ½ years, I grew revenue 1000% and built the organization from 0 to more than 50 employees. Earlier in my career, I held a variety of management positions in NASDAQ-listed CDC Software including VP of Business Development, General Manager and CEO for the Business Intelligence division.

My first experience in a start-up was with LA-based Supply Chain Management company Adexa, where I was involved in the founding of multiple new country operations. When I left Adexa, those regions accounted for 50% of Adexa’s global revenue. I started my career in Management Consulting, advising clients on Supply Chain Management, ERP software and business process re-engineering on behalf of PriceWaterhouse (now IBM Global Services) and KPMG.

I hold a Bachelor degree in Mathematics (with an emphasis on Operations Research, Computer Science and Statistics) and an Executive MBA from Sasin (associated with Kellogg School of Management).

What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

I’d say the biggest challenges are the 4 “P’s”: pacing, product, pivot and personnel. The early life of a startup is not a sprint, but a very fast-paced run. Too fast and you burn out, too slow and you miss the opportunity. You also need to have a good product which takes many iterations. You must be willing to pivot when necessary, and you have to be able to attract and motivate excellent personnel.

What are your plans, hopes and marketing ideas for the future of Retailigence?

Retailigence will become “the” platform powering the increasingly important online to offline (O2O) commerce market.

What are some of the mistakes and/or failures that you learned from while starting up?

In looking back over the life-span of Retailigence, I see several decisions that could be viewed as mistakes, but were good decisions at the time. As a fast-growing start-up in a “hot” space, we are continually being presented with offers for partnership and investment. What is more critical than making the right decision is to make a decision and act on it. If that decision turns out to need adjustment, then make the change and keep on going. Action will win over deliberation in the long haul.

What were and are the challenges that you face(d) starting up?

I faced the usual challenges: finding the right team, securing funding, and early on, fine-tuning the message so it was easily understood by retailers, application developers and end-users.

How have you personally changed since you started?

When we started, we were focused on the concept of Retailigence, which was a new concept at the time. These days, I need to spend much more attention on execution and metrics (both internal and for our customers).

What has been the biggest surprise been as an entrepreneur and business owner?

One of the biggest surprises has been the topic of international. Before starting Retailigence I started-up 12 different new country operations for 3 different software companies. International growth was expected and it required starting-up from first principles.

These days with the internet and with the visibility that Silicon Valley start-ups get, we are seeing huge demand from international markets, far before I would have planned such expansion. Also related to international, I learned early on, that many Silicon Valley venture capitalists are still wary of international markets. I’m seeing a very different perspective on international expansion then when I was in the trenches leading such efforts.

What development, event, or new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plans and how have your plans changed in response?

Retailigence had traditionally focused on serving brick & mortar retailers exclusively. When some of the biggest brand advertisers in the world started reaching out to embed “Point of Purchase” information in their advertising campaigns, we started to see an important value-add that we could provide to them too. The great thing is that this development has come back to benefit our retail customers too.

What sacrifices did you have to make in order to focus on your startup?

I had to make a decision to give-up my well-paid position in a fast-growing public company that had many perks including continuous international travel.

Which do you think is most important and why: the right market, the right product, or the right team?

Obviously all 3 are critical. But without a market, there is no need for the other two.

How did you lure your first customers?

Retailigence doesn’t lure customers, we engage them. Our first customers were forward-thinking people who saw the emerging possibilities resulting from the explosion of ecommerce, and understood the need to bridge the retail experience of yesterday to the retail experience of the future. Most retailers quickly see the value proposition of Retailigence. After developing their own app, they start to realize that there must be other things they can be doing in mobile marketing, especially as part of the explosion of 3rd party apps.

If your company tanked tomorrow, would the experience have been worth it?

Absolutely. I believe the journey is what enriches all of us, not just the end goal.  Having started so many new subsidiary P&L divisions before, I know I can make a successful business. The experience of working with some of the world’s leading venture capitalists has been a fun and interesting new experience.

What made you first think that starting a company is right for you?

I’ve always had an internal entrepreneurial spirit, and with Retailigence, the market timing was just right. Even in the mid-90’s when I was a supply chain Consultant at KPMG, I envisioned the need for a solution to solve the “last mile” in supply chain management — connecting consumers with local retail stores.

Was there anyone/anything who inspired your managerial style and defined the culture of your company?

Every culture is different. The culture and management style I use in Japan or Australia or Singapore or Denmark or here in Silicon Valley is very different. I learn and adapt from what I see around me.

Tech Startups get much-needed Funding Boost with JOBS act

Tech startups just got a much-needed boost in processing power, with the new JOBS legislation passed in congress. The Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) initiative currently being legislated into the US economy passed by a landslide and will vastly alter the startup entrepreneurial and investment landscape.

This new legislation, passed with a vote of 380-41, will remove some of the ridiculous red tape that startups are currently forced to endure when seeking funding. It will also allow young and small companies to go public sooner and allow for crowd-sourced funding, enabling startups to gets funds from small internet-based investors. Track the entirety of the JOBS legislation.


Under the JOBS act companies looking for funding will no longer need to do so under cloak and dagger, nor contrary to advice from their lawyer. Funding-seeking companies will now be able to post information about their crowd and other funding efforts on their websites and social profiles.

Opponents to the new law object on grounds that opening up very public opportunities for investment in startups will open the public up to increased risk in consumer investment and increased vulnerability to fraud via unmanaged crowd-sourced funding.

Investment fraud and scams may pop up on both sides of the fence though. Small-scale internet investors could be ripped off by investing in risky, possibly fraudulent investments, while at the same time funding-seeking businesses may be taken advantage of fraudulent funding opportunities — especially now that their lawyers will have backed off on legal advice, now that public funding is no longer a legal matter.

Startup Research, CSS text-overflow and why should you keep things simple

One of the early topics in the Founder Institute curriculum is “Startup Research”. Here is a video and slides of a Startup Research lesson to the Silicon Valley program by Adeo Ressi, Founder of the Founder Institute.

The talk provides an overview of how the character of different markets affects the reality of operation, how good research is critical to helping a founder understand both the journey and the destination, and how founders cannot escape the realities of the market that they are in. It is a very informative lesson and provides many practical tips for performing diligent market research before diving into a market. Follow @founding to keep yourself updated. Continue reading

Free CSS3 Videos, Startup Marriage, Effective Minimalism in Design, Free WordPress themes of 2011 and more

Looks like I spend quite a bit of my time reading news and information on the Internet. Here are few good ones that I found today.

Effective Minimalism in Experience Design

Tara Hornor writes about the strength of Minimalism which can bring forth clarity of form; clean lines, ample white space, and how minimal graphical elements can lend an air of simplicity to even the most confounding subject matter.

Minimalism is the act of stripping the form to its very basic, necessary elements, the keyword here being “necessary.” No true minimalist would approve of those designs that leave the audience confused or unsure. The idea is to make the message more clear, not more hidden.

Read the article at UXBooth – Effective Minimalism in Experience Design.

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The Founder Institute Experience

Those 101 days at the Winter 2010 Bay Area semester, Founder Institute was one hell of an action-packed, fast-paced learning experience. Some of the who’s who of the Startup world, who mentored us delivered some of the best sessions, which taught us a lot more than we anticipated. Thanks a million to Adeo Ressi.

Let me tell you my story

Somewhere around July 2010, I left Paisa.com after working with it for a year. Designing the whole User Interface and Interaction of Paisa was a wholesome experience. I remember re-iterating about 5 times until we settled on the final UI/UX.

After Paisa, I spent about a month trying to decide what to do next. I got in touch with a good friend and decided to pursue the startup that we’ve been thinking since 2006. We felt the time was right, technology cost and availability – favorable and the usage of video communication on the rise.

Sometime around September, I stumbled upon Founder Institute and applied for the Winter 2010 Bay Area Semester. By late October, I got selected into the program after passing the IQ, aptitude, and personality test. I packed, left Pune, escorted my wife, and daughter back to my hometown in Manipur, and I flew down to the Bay area to be part of the Founder Institute experience.

The Founder Institute Experience

The very first day, I realized that it was not going to be easy at all. Well, by the second session, I was already told to leave the program unless I can prove that I should be part of the program. I did and I stayed.

The second shock came somewhere around the holiday season, 2010. I was to leave the program unless I beta launch my startup (which was impossible at that time). My team helped me and figured a way to prove that I can still kick ass. I realized, it was not just me but almost all of us had to some daunting task during the holidays to stay back in the program. By that time, if I can remember correctly, almost half of the class was out of the program.

Surviving each week was hard enough and there was no room for compromise. We slogged on the weekly assignment, special assignment, and product building of our Startups. Finally, the persistent, relentless, and hard-working ones remained. Out of the 50+ odd entrepreneurs that started with the Semester, only 14 graduated on 23rd Feb 2011.

We became good friends, helped each other, and enjoyed the time spent together. I’m sure, we’ll always remember the great time spent at the Antonio’s Nut House, Palo Alto.

The graduates from the Winter 2010 Bay Area Semester, Founder Institute:

  1. Amol Kher, Health Mobs (Facebook Page)
  2. Brajeshwar Oinam, Levoma (Facebook Page)
  3. Cyprien Noel, Object Fabric (Facebook Page)
  4. Fernando Pizarro, Cine Candy (Facebook Page)
  5. Gaurav Sharma, Right Buy (Facebook Page)
  6. Jason Seed, Ready2Sign (Facebook Page)
  7. Jayalaxmi Hangal, Family Alley (Facebook Page)
  8. Maren Kate Donovan, Zirtual (Facebook Page)
  9. Navin Bathija, Neo (Facebook Page)
  10. Rohit Nallapeta, AdNuance (Facebook Page)
  11. Sanjay Malhotra, Clevrr (Facebook Page)
  12. Seth Cohen, Screenius (Facebook Page)
  13. Steffany Boldrini, Ecobold (Facebook Page)
  14. Wesly Michel, Mosion (Facebook Page)

Founder Institute – Globalizing Silicon Valley

The Founder Institute is a technology pre-seed incubator currently on pace to launch over 600 companies per year in 17 cities worldwide. The program identifies high-potential entrepreneurs using predictive social science testing and then guides them through a series of collaborative company-building sessions featuring a network of over 400 CEO Mentors. All program stakeholders, including the participating Founders and CEO Mentors, share in the equity upside generated by companies formed in the program. In addition, participants get access to free and discounted services and are not required to quit their day job.

Some interesting FAQ and References about Founder Institute.

Join the Founder Institute