Over the past few years, startup culture started finally taking shape in Pune. Many startup related events keep happening. Accordingly to one estimate, there are about 400 startups in Pune and the new debate has started occurring whether Pune is new Bengaluru. With startup culture, the product culture also is on the rise. We have been having Pune Connect events, particularly, promoting this product culture. I had attended there 2012 edition. NASSCOM also has been having Product Conclave sessions, in Pune, since last four years. I finally managed to attend this time. Here is a blog on what I experienced.
The venue was The Westin hotel on east side of Pune. Conferences like these typically have many sessions, and many of them run parallel. So one needs to really decide on what one wants to attend to get most of out of it. These days apps and websites such as sched.com come handy. I also had my schedule chalked out before hand using this app. I reached venue just before 9 am, that is when first keynote was to begin. We had Dr Ganesh Natrajan speak to begin with. He is pleasure to listen to always. He walked us through NASSCOM’s journey into startups and products and how it has recently launched Startup Warehouse initiative. He also, obviously, touched upon his favorite topic-smart city initiatives for Pune. After him, Ashok Soota spoke on business strategies. This is the first time I heard him. He is a founder famous IT services company MindTree. And now, at age of 69, he has started new company called Happiest Minds. He also spoke about his book Entrepreneurship Simplified. Then followed a session on success stories of entrepreneurs from non-Metro cities of Maharashtra such as Jalgaon, Satara, Kolhapur etc. I was particularly impressed by Aurangabad’s Prashant Deshpande’s company Expert Global Solutions, with its growth despite operating from tier 2 city.
After this, many sessions happened in parallel. You can find details on those here. I will describe what I attended.
I skipped many of those sessions related to, usual buzzwords such as, IoT, analytics, blockchain etc. First I walked into a session titled “User Research: Transforming your startup idea into viable product”. This was about, needless to say, user research aspects while designing a product. This is pertains to UX or user experience.Typically, it is confused with market research which is different. User research focuses on how users will use the product, their needs, behavioral patterns directly supplying inputs to UX design. I also attended partially, a session titled “Cyber Security: Mitigating DDoS” which was related to getting under the hood of one of the significant threats called Distributed Denial of Service(DDoS). It provided interesting insights into grey world of hackers causing these attacks and also some tools and techniques on mitigating them.
At lunch, took a walk around product showcase isle. There I met my old time classmate Sandeep Tidke who is running a company called LabJump. It was interesting business idea, which is working due to proliferation of virtual training lab requirements. It is pretty evident as Google recently acquired Qwiklabs recently, which was doing similar stuff. I also bumped on another acquaintance of mine named Abhijit Joshi, whose company WhiteHedge is engaged into providing Docker as a Service by partnering with Docker in India.
Later in the day, I walked into a session around design thinking. It was titled Future-proofing Product Innovation using Design Thinking. This was by Manoj Kothari of Turian Labs. Despite being a post lunch session, it kept me glued to the seat for 2 hours in this session. He also stressed on aspect of showing empathy towards your users to understand more about their pain-points. I walked out with thought of applying some of the design thinking principles in what we do at work. I am big fan of innovation and ideation. And design thinking helps to break the conventional thought. Then I went to a session what turned out to be a treat to ears. This was by Anshoo Gaur(an investor himself with his own VC firm Pravegaa) and it was titled How to judge the performance / potential of your startup. He began asking very fundamental question and drew attention to the fact that there are enough problems in the country to go after, versus, what current startup fraternity is busy with. He also cautioned on “Me-too” mentality of entrepreneurs, instead asked to focus on adding value to ecosystem. He also emphasized profitability before achieving scale and did not want scale for profitability. He touched upon metrics to track within a startup by drawing analogy of machine with an organization.
As a last session for the day, I had decided to attend ANTIGyan which was much hyped in the morning as one session not be missed. And it turned out to real entertainer. This was by Ajeet Khurana, an investor himself, threw open issues with startup ecosystem, gaps in a lighter vein, by breaking conventional thoughts and hence causing anti-gyan(similar to anti-pattern). Sighting the buzz around products since last few years, which is a welcome shift from IT services for India, his wisdom pitch was that, ultimately, businesses are funded, not product.
The event saw more than 600 participants and was full of buzz. Organizations such as NASSCOM, TiE have succeeded in acting catalysts to growing melting pot of startups which is so nice to experience.