In a conversation with Vijay Anand, the founder of Proto.in who currently works with TeNeT at IIT in overseeing Technology Developments as an Architect, The Viewspaper found some interesting insight into his company Proto.in. Proto.in aims at bootstrapping companies to provide an efficient mix of technology, business models, execution and timing. His mantra to create, contribute and collaborate entrepreneurs for maximum utilization of resources has created innumerable opportunities in being a stepping stone for upcoming entrepreneurships.
Viewspaper: Sir, could you explain as to what made you conceptualize Proto.in?
Vijay Anand: Since time immemorial, India has been a country which has thrived on its labor force. All our activities are primarily labor intensive. There is less of capital in the economy. Land on the other hand is not enough to cater to national needs let alone the economy. The only factor of production left is the entrepreneur. Proto.in was conceptualized mainly as a platform to launch such entrepreneurs through the startup events. It is a process to get like-minded people together to contribute to a common cause, in this case a business. We look at entrepreneurs freshly out of college or business school because of the age factor being on their side and their ability to learn from their own mistakes without much repercussion. Also in the age of this new-age media, recognition and appreciation for these upcoming businessmen is supreme and thus, we aim to channelize them. Proto.in functions on the concept of bootstrap funding and forming prototypes.
VP: Sir, could you tell us more about Proto, the startup event held at IIT, Delhi recently?
VA: The event was a great success and like every time, we identified a few upcoming potential startups. For the event is general, it was started a couple of years ago. It is designed on the system of conferences and unconferences. In conferences, we have a few eminent speakers speaking on pre-chosen topics and others contributing effectively to it by listening. This format was criticized by many mainly on the grounds that they thought they were good enough to speak as well but had no platform to do so. So they started the format of unconferences where anybody could speak on the proposed themes of the event. So Gaurav Bhatnagar and I thought that this is how we want to go about it. Whoever thinks himself worthy of having an idea to share should be allowed to do so. We started this in Chennai two years back and have spread to Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad with two events a year in each city. The event at IIT was attended by around 600 people and majority of them were from the technical background. Also there is a section on new ideas where potential business opportunities are discussed in a new light. The speaking is totally voluntary and the speaker has nothing to lose and gets a platform to connect with other upcoming and established businessmen.
VP: How do you recognize potential startups? What are the parameters that you put in place?
VA: There are no well-defined parameters for recognizing them. Through the course of the event, we listen to them carefully to get an insight into their offering. There are many who come with the vision of presenting a product, finding a buyer and going home a millionaire. We want startups that are visionaries and understand the long gestation period of an entrepreneurship. Also their ability to identify the working conditions of the market they plan to work in is of utmost importance.
VP: Most startups involve media or cellular technology? Any inputs on that trend?
VA: There is no trend that exists as such. It is just the market that decides the offerings. A couple of years back it was boom for the mobile companies last year it was animation and hardware. This year its ditto for the e-commerce companies with speedy advancements in the service sector. People feel secure in signing up for online transactions. It can be anyone and anything for that matter. The only criterion for that is the efficiency of the startup and the products focus on technology development.
VP: Which are the upcoming startups that you have identified this year?
VA: Every event we see new startups coming to the fore. This year it’s been The Viewspaper, Instablog, Ceterity, Blink among others. It’s all based on the strength of the idea and how it monetizes the people.
VP: What are the major trends that you have come across in the Indian market?
VA: Innovation is on the rise and how. The CWG 2010 is changing the picture of Delhi. Infrastructure is improving pan-India. There is not a product in the world for which a market does not exist in India. Just a means of channelization and sensitization is required. There is not a book store that you enter and not find a publication on the country which shows its rapid development. It is the next big thing and at this pace it is sure to takeover the market of Japan and China in the years to follow.
VP: Lastly, What is the message that you would like to forward to the youth of today?
VA: Entrepreneurship is the only unexploited factor for which long-term gains are lucrative. But at the same time it is of utmost importance to understand the hard work and perseverance involved. A business is a life long commitment. Bill Gates is the first name that comes to everyone’s mind on seeing a computer for obvious reasons but it is also essential to understand that he worked in one company all his life. The problem with the youth is that in the heat of instant results, they want to start on the first day, get funded on the third, sell the business on the sixth and retire on the tenth. Also the situation is not very different in the US contrary to the popular belief. Even in America, the ratio of funded businesses to the potential ideas is 1:6, similar to that of India. Just the numbers differ. But we have a deadly advantage. Costs are of utmost importance in business. We Indians know how to get work done at the least cost with maximum efficiency, something that the west chooses to ignore. We should exploit that keeping in mind that we have a huge market waiting out there for want-satisfying goods and services. With an Indian Market in mind, the youth can reach heights provided it is patient enough to wait for the fruits of hard work and determination.