In the shadow of uncertainty.

From Jellikkettu, bull run/fight, 2012, Tamilnadu, India

Somehow this photo I happen to take few years ago depicts the current crytpo currency markets. I find it ironic that the bull is surging here though people say its a bear market.

The reality is that, people will gets crushed underneath even once the bull lands on the ground.


Jallikattu, aka the sport of taming the bull for a price money seemed to be our way to defeat nature, tame the beasts of uncertainty and celebrate all the good things of humanity – courage, commitment, patience valor. And yes, if one doesn’t celebrate life it does invite the wrath of Gods. We used to celebrate and had Jelikattu among many other things. Thus it happened for a thousand years. Or from the days we walked on two legs.
But, somewhere we lost the balance and what we see today is a fight for survival, the fighters don’t show valor, the bulls doesn’t feel it, they are scared. Chained and in the shadows of uncertainty, on a path nowhere both man and beast, past and the nothingness of future fights here within the double barricades.
Both men and beast looses. Nothingness wins.
inevitability. period.

From my original write up in flickr


on startup ideas : finding the niche

Somehow I find lot of people interested in product ideas end up meeting me and the ideas often surprise me either with the uniqueness or lack of it. The lack of skills and the reluctance of pick it up seems to be common trait in most of the cases. But then some people understand it and try finding mentor’s and succeed. Perhaps this will be a good idea to share some of the thoughts from personal experience.

Find a niche

I think this is one of the important aspects of succeeding with a startup idea in any area. But care must be taken to make sure that the niche will grow enough to provide the return to sustain the idea (product or service whatever the idea is). The second point it should be possible to generate enough revenue to keep going.

There 2 personal experiences of finding a niche segment and then not able to scale up : though there was a rock solid team, timelines were met etc etc.

Find a niche, boot strap and run after MONEY !

In the first example, we had a photo agency where we catered to a niche – sports photography and within the segment we focused on football. This was during the time i-league was started and we even had AIFF as client.We had a super cool name :

MangoPeel

We had award winning photographers across the country, we probably managed to publish photos faster the best, we trained photographers to upload photos, process them & we paid them probably 3 times what they used get paid. All were happy. Though all were happy, we had issues with collecting payments. After an year of operations throughout which we were break even, we had to wind it up.

Why we didn’t take off ?

I think we lacked in collecting the payments. Personally, I was too shy to ask for payments. I don’t think we were ready with money! Technically, though we had found a niche and managed to bootstrap, we couldn’t generate enough revenue to keep going. Having right skills in finance is very important. This is one point often Entreprenures overlook as they get carried away by passion. For us this was the best thing, as photography was our passion

 

 

MangoPeel is started by two young photography & travel enthusiasts who came to to know about each other through their photos. They had dreams to do things differently & courage to do it. They met at a beach side restaurant to discuss their future plans and MangoPeel was born.

MangoPeel is started by two young photography & travel enthusiasts who came to to know about each other through their photos. They had dreams to do things differently & courage to do it. They met at a beach side restaurant to discuss their future plans and MangoPeel was born.

 

about-photo-2014-11-30_11-19-04

 

Find a niche, but make sure that there is enough growth in demand

This is a particularly interesting case as this was novel & the first of its kind. We launched India’s First Web TV – IndiaVibes.TV

Once again everything was uber cool, India was about to witness a massive upgradation in internet connectivity, the magical 3G was about to get launched. Our timing looked good. We had enough programs, impressions everything looked good. But one assumption failed – the high speed internet wave didn’t take off the way we expected. This was something we never expected as projections regarding internet speed & availability at low cost miserably failed to meet the expectations. Years down the down even now the 3G connectivity is poor across the country. The writing on the wall was clear. We had wind up the show in sometime.

This was unfortunate, but I think this can happen to anyone even if everything looks good. Finding a niche & then making sure that there is enough demand is very important. If there is not enough demand, we MUST pivot and move ahead.

 

Find the niche, follow the Lean startup approach & launch fast. I think this needs an elaborate post & will talk about this in another post.

 

Raising funds are easier now with the token based economy and its a good idea if you can make use of the current Eco-system to find seed money.

What is stored in a blockchain ?

information!

Understanding the type of information stored in the blockchain will help us to decide how to implement Oracles means for  the cross chain communication etc.

A blockchain is a Distributed OpenLedger of Records Contracts & Transactions between multiple parties.

Records = Assets, People, In Game assets, Non Fungible Assets, a real world farm.


Contracts = A transfer of an asset (say, a farm) between 2 people can be depicted in a contract. In the real world a contract will be defined in a legal language. Various laws of the state will become applicable. In the context of a blockchain, a contract will be written in a “Smart Contract Language.” Blockchains that support contracts have their own language constructs applicable only in their respective context.


Transactions = The action of transferring an asset, or an action on a unique address or transfer of value is defined as a transaction in the context of a blockchain.

Kerala House Boats – Engine, Kitchen etc.

From Sun's makeup box | സൂര്യ ദേവന്റെ കണ്ണാടി.

House Boats, Aleppey, Kerala

 

Needless to say, the house boats of Kerala, to be precise in Alleppey is quite popular and attracts lots of tourists. I was curious about the the engine and other finer details, I could find in a trip and here it is:

 

The hidden engine room door in the kitchen

The hidden engine room door in the kitchen of the house boat

Engine

Engine

 

from the engine room

turning the engine - kerala house boat

turning the engine – kerala house boat

electrical wiring, plumbing and septic tank

electrical wiring, plumbing and septic tank

 

 

 

Also on:

me fishing!

Its been sometime since I wanted to try my luck with fishing again – that means, during my lower primary school days I used tail along Kurichya friends in Wayanad and they used to let me cast the “choonda” with earth worm bait and once or twice gave me their knife with which I hit the water and nothing happened. So, Yesterday, we decided that enough is enough & we will get choonda again. Armed with earth worms, we bought that stick with hooks, went to nearby backwaters, alas in 10 minutes we got 2 fishes.

Now all inspired we went back and bough a bigger stick, oh, fishing raad. Then the class began. The guy at the shop is a champ with this stick ! Poor me. I just wanted to catch fish and now I have this graphite stick, “flow”, a rotating whatever for the “line” with 3 bearings, swivel (2 level one to be specific), clip / lock, I took the lessons well. Oh yea, got few led balls as weight too.

Oh the most important part is “Loore” – this fish like thing is to fool fishes. People claim that the fishes are foolish enough to hit sorry, “bait harder or faster”. I think I already know how to cast this thing – thanks to the “mooppan” who had the patience to teach me this.

After paying for this stick, which was a hefty sum, went to the earlier spot from where we got 2 fishes, successfully casted in the second try, casted again, again, finally realised that the fishes are not foolish enough to be “lured” into. And earth worms may work better. Or may be the fishes are foolish and they don’t know to deal with sophisticated sticks.

Never knew that this fishing thing is a hobby where people talk about the size of their “sticks”, weight it can handle, swivel, clip, lock, line, flow – these seems to be status symbols. (almost like people flaunting their cars, FX cameras, 1.2f 50mm lenses blah blah). Anyways, here I am with 2 fishing rods, one which can catch fishes with live baits, ie earth worms and another super sophisticated stick with even the fishes not understand.

If anyone in an around kochi knows where these ultra sophisticated fishes who understands, loore and other stuff, please do let me know !

Exported oriented businesses and EEFC accounts

For an export oriented business its always good to have EEFC accounts because two reasons. 1. Better forex rates 2. if interested, one can monitor the market & earn some extra revenue.

Lets take case I
———————-

When a client makes a payment in USD, if we have a INR account with an Indian bank, during the wire / swift process, the conversion rate is optimised to make maximum profits for the bank. Say, we will be given lowest rate of the day etc. It gets worse if the transaction is above a threshold say 3K USD as manual intervention is kicked in & we end up getting even lower rate.

If the wire is redirected to a USD EEFC account, we can convert the same against the card rate or the negotiated special rate which will be often better than the floating rate.

Here the process involved is SWIFT and not ACH.

Case II
———–

Closely monitor the forex markets & play the game to get the better rates. If we are really confident, like the sort that does butterfly analysis and stuff, we can go for a loan against the forex reserve and use it for OPEX & may end up making profit from the forex conversion, protection from inflation etc. Now this is for the biggies like infy i guess.

Now the question what is SBIePay, HDFC, Citi licenses do:

they are multi currency payment gateways approved by the RBI. Till now it was not possible for PGs like EBS, CCAvenue, payzippy etc to receive foreign currency & if we use the PGs of banks, they used to take the automated route thus ending up giving us lower rates.

Technically its very simple as all it takes is to receive forex & then deposit to the appropriate EEFC a/c.

But then there was a small catch, it needed RBI permission. And to get that we need to be the likes of CIAL who has say, 100K USD transaction per day.

We can use swift but if the amounts are less than 2000 USD (1920 USD as per a calculation I did few years ago), wire will not be cost effective as the cost for wire is something around 35-45 USD unless there is a special arrangement with the bank. In short for such transactions we end up using services like Paypal. Now they are very aggressive & we end up getting around INR 2.5 less than the market price / card rate per USD. Plus there is a service charge which also quite high. In anycase for 10K USD there will be a loss of INR 25000/- now if the USD is getting stronger against INR, say by 5 paise by the time the cash reaches our account, the loss increase further.

an example with paypal with 4K USD

Amount received will be 3823.70 after service charges.

Total amount:
-Rs.221,822.39 INR (equals -$3,823.70 USD)
Fee amount:
Rs.0.00 INR
Net amount:
-Rs.221,822.39 INR

Conversion from:
-$3,823.70 USD
Conversion to:
Rs.221,822.39 INR
Exchange rate:
1 US Dollar = 58.0125 Indian Rupees

The original amount the client paid was USD 4000. If we calculate at 1 USD = 60 INR, we were supposed to receive INR 2,40,000/- our loss is INR 18178/-

PS: today’s non-negotiated rate with SBT is 59.67 INR / USD.

measuring Indian patriotism

OVer the years I was observing the patriotism fever that happens to Indians around August 15th, January 26th and during conflicts with any of the nearby countries. I was lucky enough to have a mechanism to plot the graph over the years. This is done with few photos uploaded to flickr with Google search terms related to the fever.

The current status can be seen below screenshots. Will post a snapshot tomorrow which I expect to show a steep growth.

This shows the rise in patriotism in last 28 days. I think roughly this will represent the overall rise in patriotism of those who are listening to media.

This shows the rise in patriotism in last 28 days. I think roughly this will represent the overall rise in patriotism of those who are listening to media.

 

 

Google searches hitting the image

Google search queries hitting the image

Various keywords related to patriotism

Various keywords related to patriotism

 

stats measured with a different photo - this one historically gets hits during republic day period.

stats measured with a different photo – this one historically gets hits during republic day period.

The stats on  16-08-2013 will be posted to get a better measurement.

Perhaps we need to understand the need for being Indian 24x7x365 & not just for around 60 days in an year !