[MoMoBangalore] Getting the world to know about the exciting stuff you are doing / How are we facilitating access to the media ?

kallol borah
Wed Sep 10 09:00:32 IST 2008

Hello folks,
A few weeks back, I had sent out a mailer on the Barcamp, Mobile Monday and
HeadStart mailing lists on exciting products and startups that we (the
HeadStart Network Foundation) could perhaps help get profiled in mainstream
media. Almost anyone who is working on new technology and products complain
about inadequate access to media and customers in India and we are making
all efforts to address some of those problems. I did get around 30 responses
out of which there are 5 companies whose stories are in the works. The
customer angle gets addressed at the annual conference + Startup Saturdays
(this weekend we have 5 great talks, go here to

I am happy to tell you that there have been 3 stories that we could fully or
partly facilitate since the mailer went around. Yesterday, Yusuf Motiwala of
TringMe was profiled in the ET (article attached), there was a story on seed
funds (where Indavest Ventures which is a new early stage fund managed by
Ganesh Rengaswamy, founder of TravelGuru and ex-Greylock Ventures was
facilitated) and there was a story on the organisations like ACM Bangalore,
HeadStart, OCC and Proto which we facilitated.

I am pasting the text of the articles below. If you are working on something
exciting as an entrepreneur, a new product developer or a researcher or if
your company has achieved a milestone (getting funding, customers,
management team), do write to Hari at hari at headstart.in and myself at
kallol at headstart.in. The Bottomline is - the media guys want to hear *news*,
so keeping it fresh helps which means before you post some breaking news on
a blog, do think about first breaking it to the mainstream media.

I am sure there are lots of exciting companies out here, and if you want to
showcase your work, nominate your product at www.headstart.in. If you are
techie and want to speak on a technical topic (virtualization, cloud
computing, search, semantic web tools, etc etc), go to
http://compute.acmbangalore.org and submit a tutorial proposal.


PS> here in another one Yusuf sent on Bangalore

*Publication:*Economic Times Bangalore; *Date:*Sep 8, 2008; *Section:*Business
& IT; *Page Number:*5

Seed-sweat equity combo for tech startups While India has been a growth
story for large-ticket VC and PE funding, early-stage has always been a
laggard *Boby Kurian & J Padmapriya BANGALORE *

    INDAVEST Ventures, a venture fund started by university batchmates and
tennis partners Abishek Lakshminarayan and Greg Artzt, swears by the
sweat-cum-seed equity model for startups. It typically funds between Rs 1
crore and Rs 7 crore at even the "ideas over coffee stage" and Mr
Lakshminarayan, the co-founder, is willing to roll up his sleeves and be
part of a startup's evolution.

    Indavest, which has soft commitments from its limited partners, has
invested in and nearly incubated startups like GK Vale.com, the online
version of photo printing chain GK Vale; Vyoma Tech, which is into digital
outdoor advertising focussed on public transport systems and Bril Skills, an
animationbased skills training model from the Bril Inks stable.

    Indavest senior advisor Ganesh Rengaswamy, who was earlier with Greylock
and also co-founded travelguru, says "there is very little professional
capital available. Capital at this level helps companies make the right
decision." Both Ganesh and Abishek (Surya Infotainment) have prior
entrepreneurial experience.

    While India has been a growth story for large-ticket venture capital and
private equity funding, early-stage has always been a laggard. Unlike in
Silicon Valley, angel investments in India are still few and far between and
VC money typically flows into validated startups which have sold their ideas
to at least a few customers.

    But the funding ecosystem, at least in the technology and
consumptiondriven space, is beginning to see earlystage action. Seed or
venture funding bucketed with serious mentorship is what VCs are gravitating

    There is huge demand for this level of funding. Most technology startups
somehow manage to draw funds from friends and family as they are not

    But the values that VCs bring — the right advice, business contacts,
and, sometimes, just a light nudge — are what makes this capital, which also
validates the startup concept, more attractive.

    While most VCs, with a huge fund size and limited managerial bandwidth,
may face the small versus big dilemma, lower capital requirement from
technology startups is proving a compelling model to think bit-sized.
Besides, there is merit in creating a future deal pipeline for large VC/PE
firms. So, seed funds not only make startups large VCready but also have
their own exit paths clear, apart from the option to reinvest in them.

    Inventus Capital India, the $125-million fund, is also eyeing the
seedcum-mentorship space actively. Started by TiE co-founder Kanwal Rekhi,
Inventus India is targetting investment of $1-$3 million in tech startups
and is looking to close a few deals this year.

    "We are open to startups in the technology space. The capital
requirement for a software product catering to enterprises has gone down
while it continues to be intensive for semiconductor and consumer
marketing-linked areas," says Inventus India managing director Samir Kumar.

    Inventus will look at 15-20 investments, given that each firm would need
about $8 million over a five-year period. Recently, Valley firm Accel
Partners set up Accel India Venture Fund, to be managed by the partners of
Erasmic, which has seed funded Mu Sigma, Inbiopro, HolidayIQ and Kaati Zone.

    The Accel fund targets technology, internet, mobile, media, life
sciences, consumer products and services.

    IT industry body Nasscom, too, has announced a fund (with a corpus of Rs
100 crore) to invest in startups/ideas that ride on innovation. Seedfund,
with a size of $15 million, invests in the Rs 1 crore- Rs 5 crore range
while the Indian Angel Network is active in the $100,000-$1 million bracket.

    Angel-invested companies have met with reasonable success, such as
Picsquare.com, which attracted investment from offline printing company
Bhola Digital Lab. In fact, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) has an
entrepreneurial acceleration programme where it selects two or three
companies annually and sees them through a series A round. A majority of the
seed investor community is in Bangalore and naturally, startups here have an
advantage in terms of gaining their attention. For the VC firm too, staying
close to investee companies makes it easier for them to collaborate on an
operational level.

*Publication:*Economic Times Bangalore; *Date:*Sep 3, 2008; *Section:*Bangalore
Compass; *Page Number:*6

HEADSTART Season of startup clubs Unconference style has many takers today *J
Padmapriya BANGALORE *

    BANGALORE'S WANNABE startups got their tentative initiation into the
'unconference' style two years ago. Today, they are hooked. Popular event
formats like Startup Saturday, Mobile Monday, Open Coffee Club, Bar Camp,
Proto and Headstart attempt to bring a whole community of wannabe startups,
users, investors, lawyers and techies together.

    Event founders are today talking about scaling up, expanding to other
cities, better structuring and ways to keep them refreshing and
contemporary. Also, a handful of successful startups, who have showcased
here, is driving more traffic and interest in the format even when many of
these events are scheduled in the weekend. A Valley-styled entrepreneurial
ecosystem has pitched its tent in India's IT capital with over a dozen
networking events, both organised and 'chilled-out,' that play a key role in
an entrepreneur's evolution. While Bangalore is clearly a leader in terms of
attendance, frequency and discovery of startups, cities like Hyderabad and
Pune too are catching up, expanding the base of the ecosystem.

    Venture capital firms, who are a regular at some of these meets, agree
that they are a good sign for the VC business. Bangalore — where technology
professionals, IT companies and investors converge — naturally lends itself
to entrepreneurial acitivity. And, entrepreneurs end up finding a lot at
these meets: Answers, criticism, advice, teams, perspective from users and,
of course, fun. The frequency of these events range from weekly, monthly,
quarterly, biannual to annual and each has its different niche.

    After establishing themselves in the city, these event formats are now
preparing to answer some of their challenges. Says Kalol Borah, involved
with Headstart and Startup Saturday, "it is a challenge to get
customers/users involved in the ecosystem. Also, these events should be able
to get entrepreneurs realise market opportunity and gain complimentary
management skills."

    Amarinder Singh, who organises Open Coffee Club, says, "we are 750
members and growing much faster than we can manage. Building a community on
a voluntary basis, without owning an iota of infrastructure, is a challenge.
Also managing noise is a challenge." Rajiv Poddar, who runs Sedna Wireless
and is co-founder of the Mobile Monday Bangalore Trust, says, the challenge
is to get industry leaders to talk on current trends in the mobile space.
MoMo meets every Monday evening and the turnout is 100-150 people.

    The signal-to-noise ratio is key to the success of unconference-styled
events. Organisers say they constantly work on keeping the content rich and
are open to change the format too. Since each event is positioned
differently, there is a lot of traffic that is both common and unique. "All
are important for our ecosystem since Barcamp, SS have a different format
and fill a different niche," says OCC volunteer and entrepreneur Vidya Iyer,
who attends other events as well.

    For instance, BarCamp is pitted as a great alpha testing ground for
startups. "It is a platform to validate your ideas, discuss your B-plan and
even find a team," says Kesava Reddy, who is behind Barcamps Bangalore (BCB)
and is cofounder of MyDuniya. Attended by around 250 people across two days,
BarCamp is a quarterly event. In BCB II, Mapunity did its alpha version,
says Reddy. OCC is completely different. Amarinder Singh says, "it is most
chilled out, pure un-conference style. We typically avoid presentations,
demos and speeches. The idea is to sit across, have coffee and just talk.
Many companies from OCC Bangalore made it to Proto." Proto is essentially a
platform where entrepreneurs get to showcase their products/services to

    Annual events like Headstart and Compute offer a completely structured
platform for pureplay technology and applied computer science products and
concepts. Headstart, which is a showcase opportunity for new technology
products, has already attracted interest from 65 companies and 50 investors
for its event in January. In fact, even large companies showcase their new
products here, says Borah.

    Dr Srinivas Padmanabhuni, chairperson of Association of Computing
Machinery (ACM) Bangalore, and principal researcher at Infosys, SET Labs, is
involved in putting together Compute, an annual conference focussed on
computer science and applied R&D. He says, "we started the Bangalore chapter
in 2006. Bangalore has a good education ecosystem. Also, there is a
continuation of research in computer science in academic institutions and
also R&D labs of leading corporates." According to many, these are best
times to bootstrap and start up. So, a billion-dollar idea may just be
taking shape in a neighbourhood coffee shop in Bangalore.
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