Monthly Archives: February 2010

Volunteer for TEDxPune, help to put up the best Technology, Entertainment and Design show in Pune

Update: At this meeting (which is now over), it was decided to form various sub-committees that will work on different aspects of TEDxPune. If you’re interested, please sign-up here.

A group of volunteers has been formed to put up a TEDx program in Pune later this year. And, since we would like to put up a world class show, we need the help of a lot of volunteers to be able to achieve this. Please join the TEDxPune mailing list and help out. There will be a kickoff meeting this Saturday, 27th February, from 5pm to 7pm at SICSR (the Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research, Model Colony. Map: http://sadakmap.com/p/SICSR). Please attend. Anyone who is enthusiastic enough can attend. It’s free.

What is TEDx?

This is a TED video of Sendhil Mullianathan talking about how we are unable to solve “simple” problems like diarrhoea, inspite of the fact that we “know” how to solve them. This is an example to give you an idea of what a TED talk is. Click here if you’re unable to see the embedded video. Another example is the famous “Sixth Sense” talk by Pranav Mistry (a must see, if you haven’t seen it)

TEDx is a local version of the TED program. You might have already heard of TED, or have seen some TED videos. TED is non-profit group that holds conferences all over the world with the single intention of spreading the most inspiring ideas to the widest audience. TED believes in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So TED is creating a repository of ideas, in the form of talks given by some of the world’s most original and insightful thinkes, and videos and transcripts of these talks are disseminated freely to anyone who is interested. The name TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design,” but overtime, the idea has grown to encompass any idea that can (or should) change the world.

TEDx is any locally organized conference that follows the TED guidelines. A TEDx can be a half day or a full day event consisting of talks by various invited, carefully selected speakers. No talk can be over 18 minutes in length. The talks should be cross-disciplinary, and must go over a wide range of topics. And there should be nothing other than these talks. No panels, no break out sessions, nothing. Just talks, and discussions. And we would really like the talks to be mindblowing. Something that will spur the audience into action. Or fill them with wonder.

I am sure there are many, many such people in Pune. But we need your help in finding them. Some of the potential speakers are well known, established names. Like Jayant Narlikar; or Arvind Gupta. We will try to get people like those; but in addition, we would like to find young and upcoming not-so-well-known speakers who have the passion and new ideas that will inspire the next generation.

Will you help us find them? If yes, please come for the meeting on 27th. And join the TEDxPune group. (or follow @TEDxPune on twitter).

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Event report: Mozilla for you Business

(Last weekend, Pune played host to Arun Ranganathan, Technology Evangelist for the Mozilla Foundation, Seth Bindernagel, Director of Localization, and Axel Hecht, who co-ordinates localization from a technical perspective, and Ragavan Srinivasan, from Mozilla Labs. We had a meeting of the Mozilla Folks and the Pune Open Coffee Club. POCC member Gurminder Singh, posted this “event report” on the Pune Startups mailing list. It is reproduced here with permission.)

The Mozilla Foundation logo
Image via Wikipedia

The whole session proved to be very interesting. Here is short summary about session on 21st/ Feb 2010 at SICSR Pune.

It Started with Arun’s presentation which covered

Open web platform

Open web platform does not mean open source, it means the standards on which web is based should be open. for e.g PHP is open standard and used by facebook to build million dollar business, Google supports and extensively uses open standards. Organizations should involve in defining and shaping open standards while keep in view the way web is evloving.

Using this open web platform million dollar businesses can be built.

The HTML5 standard has many revolutionary features to change the how people interact with web. One of them is Video

Future of Video on Web

Currently there is no standard format of video on web. We can see avi, mov, mp4, flv etc floating all over. People mistakenly assume flash to be standard because of its widespread use. Flash is a proprietary format from Adobe and lacks the open standard definition which makes it hard for Open standard browsers like Firefox to support it. Therefore HTML5 is coming up with new open format for video “Ogg Theora”. Recently┬á after a lot of community pressure YouTube announced support for Ogg theora format.

In HTML5 using elements like canvas, video and SVG a video can be treated as data and manipulated on runtime. for eg user can put a video inside a video on the fly. It can be used to make ajax calls on video and running it without any third party software.

Firefox capturing device orientation

With new hardware capabilities like accelerometer very common in devices, firefox has come up with new api to capture device orientation events. This capability can be used for better user experience detecting the motion.

Fonts for web

There was small discussion about a company name typekit.com . Typekit provides user with all the fancy fonts which till today were shaped in some image editing software and pasted as image on website.

GeoLocation

Firefox 3.6 is having support for geolocation api. Geolocation identifies the users location and points it on google maps. Under the hood it uses google gears service.

Web3GL

Future firefox versions (maybe 3.8 , 3.9) will have support for 3D graphics. This is based on web3gl component which interacts with OpenGL to render graphics on screen.

The Mozilla-based Business Idea competition

At the end of session Seth, Arun, Ragavan and Axel organized a small contest where in audience was divided in 10 teams of 3. Each team was given 5 minutes to come up with business idea and present it to audience. Presentation time was 1 min and after questioning about business model etc a winner was decided.

Out of the ten business ideas, these 4 were in finals:

  • Typekit.com for indian languages – typekit.in
  • e-learning classrooms for physically impaired – using video in video capabilities of HTML5
  • Making a video using Mashup – e.g Google maps,text to speech audio
  • Using Geolocation api from firefox – giving user local search results like restaurants

The winner was: e-learning classrooms for physically impaired.

It was great experience to interact with team. We are hungry for more such sessions. Thanks for coming and thanks for reading this through ­čÖé

About the Author – Gurminder Singh

By profession, Gurminder is a System programmer (C, Linux kernel,Wireless Networks) and has a hobbyist he is a Django, Firefox extensions, and web-2.0 developer. His interests are building useful products(Mashups) using web2.0 components

He is learning new technologies with his experiment http://www.tutit.net. It is a social tuting place, where a user can publicaly store tutorial bookmarks. It is hosted on Google App Engine using Django, Jquery and Dojo.

Gurminder is on twitter as @sgurminder, and can be reached at sgurminder@gmail.com

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Mozilla for your Business 2: Understand the future of web technologies with the Mozilla team – 21st Feb

(Once again, a number of members of the Mozilla Foundation (the organization behind such technologies as Firefox, JQuery, the Fennec mobile browser) are in Pune, and we are taking this opportunity to allow Pune’s startups, and web developers to interact with them and talk about web technologies, and the web as a platform. This event is free, anyone can attend, and no registration is necessary. This article by Arun Ranganathan, Technology Evangelist with the Mozilla team, and gives an idea of what to expect at this meet.)

Mozilla in Pune – II

The Mozilla Foundation logo
Image via Wikipedia

Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox web browser, is in town for GNUnify 2010 and, like last year, would love to spend a Sunday morning meeting with Pune’s web businesses, web developers, and budding startups. Join Mozilla for breakfast on Sunday February 21 between 10a.m. and 1p.m., at SICSR (Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research, Model Colony. Map), along with an informal discussion and some presentations, leaving lots of time for questions and answers, and some breakfast snacks.

So much has happened in a year! For one thing, some emerging web technologies have matured, and are seeing substantial deployment by other browsers. And for another, Mozilla Labs has continued to innovate. Our discussion will touch on:

  • HTML5, and the launch of the platform wars. We’ve already seen at least two web-based operating systems — ChromeOS and Palm’s webOS — and we’ve seen much discussion about new browsers. We’ve also seen a sometimes shrill debate about the role of plugins in the web ecosphere, especially Flash. What does all this hold in store for the technology startup of the future?
  • Startups have launched in the US that take advantage of some new technical directions, including web font capabilities, as well as radical new communication ideas. What role does open video play in all this? Are business models changing at all?
  • The emergence of “Device APIs” including hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, geolocation capabilities, accelerometer capabilities, file system access, camera access, etc. Is the web consuming all other software platforms? What does the web lack that a software startup really needs? Is the web also the mobile platform we’ve all been waiting for?
  • Extension models for web browsers that really make life simple, like Firefox’s JetPack. We’ve already seen many successful new JetPacks emerge on the market, including some that help education. An overview of what can be built with JetPack, and why we think it’s the promising new direction for building on top of Firefox. Also, we’ll talk about Weave, Identity as the next Big Problem, and much more from Mozilla Labs.

From the Mozilla side, we’ll have:

  • Ragavan Srinivasan, Mozilla Labs. Ragavan is the Product Manager for Mozilla’s Weave endeavor, and coordinates Mozilla Labs’ activities in a variety of areas, including identity.
  • Seth Bindernagel, Director of Localization. Seth travels more than anyone you have met, working hard to ensure that when Firefox ships, it ships in over 70 languages simultaneously.
  • Axel Hecht, Senior Software Engineer. Axel coordinates localizations from a technical perspective, as well as touches on many other parts of Mozilla’s code.
  • Arun Ranganathan, Technology Evangelist. Arun works on making sure emerging technologies land as part of the “The Web Platform” and works to keep the web open, participating in technology working groups and crafting standards.

To attend this event, just show up at SICSR, 7th Floor, at 10am on Sunday, 21st February. This event is open to all. It is free. No registration is necessary.

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An Abundance of Open Source: GNUnify conference in Pune this weekend

Every year, Pune plays host to a major open source conference, GNUnify, organized by the Pune Linux Users Group and SICSR (Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research).

GNUnify is one of the top international free/open source software conferences in India. Click on the logo to see all PuneTech articles about GNUnify
GNUnify is one of the top international free/open source software conferences in India. Click on the logo to see all PuneTech articles about GNUnify
Anybody who has any interest in technology should try to attend. It is free, and open for anybody to attend. All you need to do is register here, and you are read to attend two days full of technology talks, and to meet people who are most passionate about technology. Can you think of a better way to spend a Friday / Saturday?

The full list of talks and speaker profiles is give here. Dipen Chaudhary has given his list of 5 GNUnify talks that you must not miss. What is your list of must-attend talks? Please give suggestions in the comments.

There are a bunch of workshops you can attend that will teach you something, like designing with Inkscape, or web applications using python+pylons. There are talks on everything from couchdb, embedded linux using beagle board, closure, future of the web as a platform by the Mozilla team, CakePHP, Android, and much more.

The GNUnify blog is also quite active, and has been publishing short interviews with some of the speakers. See for example:

And follow GNUnify on twitter to get the latest updates on what is going on with GNUnify.

Ignite Pune 2: Speak for 5 minutes on anything you’re passionate about

After a great Ignite Pune event last year, ThoughtWorks Pune brings you the second edition of Ignite Pune 2, on Thursday, March 18th, 6pm onwards, at Thoughtworks office, Ground Floor, Tower C, Panchshil Tech Park, Yerwada.

Ignite is an event where you can talk for 5 minutes about any topic you're passionate about. And you get to hear about the passions of others in Pune.
Ignite is an event where you can talk for 5 minutes about any topic you're passionate about. And you get to hear about the passions of others in Pune.

Ignite comprises a series of 5 minute talks on a wide variety of topics of general interest; and it comes with a promise that there will be no sales pitches or product demos! Imagine you’re on stage, you have 5 minutes & 20 slides to make your point. Is there a topic that inflames your passion? Then send a mail to the Ignite Pune team.

Even if you’re not planning on speaking, you should go there just to listen to a whole bunch of people talk about what they love doing the most. And to meet interesting people, and learn new things, and maybe, along the way, pick up a new passion. This event is free for all to attend – all you need to do is register here.

For more details see see the Ignite Pune website. It includes a link to a write up about the first Ignite Pune, and the speakers and topics covered last year. That should give you an idea of what to expect (or maybe not – you might get a completely different set of topics and speakers).

Pune Incubator body ISBA launches Rs. 55cr venture capital fund

The VC Circle blog has just posted information about a new venture capital fund launched by a Pune based association – Indian STEP and Business Incubators Association (ISBA). ISBA is an association of startup/business incubators, incubatee startups, and other people interested in this ecosystem.

The fund will focus on sector-agnostic investments in companies with no proven track record.

Arihant Group, a company engaged in steel manufacturing in Pune, has contributed a major chunk to this fund while the other investor in the fund is Mumbai-based Adventa Infratructure Pvt Ltd.

[…]

The fund looks at an average investment of Rs 2.5 crore, and expects equity stake somewhere between 5% and 30% in investee companie

The ISBA was set up in 2004 and aims to promote business incubation activities in the country through exchange of information, sharing of experience, and other networking assistance among Indian Business Incubators, Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Parks (STEPs) and other related organizations engaged in the promotion of start-up enterprises.

These are the planned activities of ISBA:

┬╗ Provide advice on finding out the requirements and conditions for starting an incubator, creating business plan, recruiting incubator managers, and incubator development issues;
┬╗ Maintain and update a data base containing the contact information of business incubation experts;
┬╗ Lobby for Indian incubators at national and international levels;
┬╗ To organize workshops, conferences, seminars, or training services;
┬╗ Publish a newsletter;
┬╗ To organize media conferences and other activities to create awareness about the incubator programme and get public participation;

For more information about ISBA, see it’s website.

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How many innovative small businesses are there in India?

(This essay was written by Kaushik Gala, is taken from his website, where you can find more such essays by him, and is reproduced here with permission. Kaushik is a Business Development Manager at Pune-based startup incubator Venture Center. Please send any comments to galatime@gmail.com)

Kaushik Gala, Business Development Manager at Venture Center is looking for all innovators in the areas of biology, chemical, and material sciences.
Kaushik Gala, Business Development Manager at Venture Center is looking for all innovators in the areas of biology, chemical, and material sciences.

I want to estimate the number of innovative enterprises in India, and look into their (in)ability to access risk capital.

Why? Because I’d like to know how many Indian enterprises may offer higher returns than FDs, bonds, mutual funds & stocks. But with a lower risk than a VC funded startup.

Why? Because I believe it is possible to raise & deploy a large amount of risk capital to a large set of Indian companies. $1B+.

Why? Because 95%+ of innovative enterprises lack access to risk capital. And 95% of ‘rich’ Indians / NRIs lack access to private equity investments in India. That’s my hypothesis.

So what? Well, there’s a business model in here somewhere.

Definitions & Numbers

I’m mixing up the various terms used to describe relatively young & relatively small (by revenue) companies. These include: startups, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Small Scale Industries (SSIs), new ventures, spin-offs, spin-outs, etc.

Per the 2006-07 census, there are over 26 million MSMEs in India. ~ 97% of these won’t show up in MCA statistics since they are unregistered or operate as sole proprietorships / partnerships.

A company is Micro, Small or Medium depending on the amount invested in plants & machinery. MSMEs employ ~ 60 million people (= 3 Mumbais) and contribute ~ 20% to India’s GDP.

Of these, over 98% are ‘Micro’ enterprises. The majority are ‘one-man shows’ that provide services to local markets with minimal investment. They use traditional techniques, have no formal management practices and lack access to bank credit.

The numbers are huge from a micro-finance perspective. But I’m looking for candidates for risk capital. Time to narrow down the potential market.

Innovative (M)SMEs

How many MSMEs have an innovative business model or technology, that is fairly scalable? Who knows! Let’s make a few random assumptions and pick numbers out of thin air. ‘Micro’ enterprises are less likely to be significantly innovative given their constraints. That leaves say ~ 0.5 million Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to choose from.

Ignore stuff like product vs. service, urban vs. rural, geography, etc.. Let’s assume that at least some % of these 5 lakh SMEs are innovative enough. To qualify, they should have products/services with some ‘edge’, which provides growth & profits. These SMEs were ‘Micro’ at birth, and since they are still around, they must be doing something right.

Maybe 2% of SMEs meet this criteria. That’s 10,000 innovative (and perhaps risk capital worthy) enterprises across India.

My assumption of 2% may be wildly off, but remember that I left out 25.5 million ‘Micro’ enterprises. If even a fraction of those get added to the ‘innovative’ pool, the 10K number suddenly looks small.

Risk Capital for Innovative (M)SMEs

Most MSMEs rely on family, friends & personal networks for funding. Only a select few have access to risk capital from angels, VCs, and certain schemes from government/banks. For example:

  • On average, < 100 Indian companies get VC funding every year.
  • On average, angels & angel networks (eg. Mumbai Angels) fund ~ 50 startups every year.
  • On average, government schemes for startups (eg. DSIR’s TePP, TDB seed funds) fund ~ 100 enterprises every year.
  • On average, ~ 50 companies get listed (via IPOs) on our stock exchanges every year. Of the ~ 2000 companies that traded publicly, 80%+ are quite illiquid.
  • On average, bank lending to MSMEs accounts for < 10% of total commercial lending. It’s usually in the form of secured, collateralized debt – not ‘risk’ capital. With personal guarantees from borrowers. And probably only to the ‘Medium’ enterprises.

By any measure, this is hugely insufficient in the context of my 10K estimate. And it gets worse:

  • The average VC deal size in India is ~ 20 crore. That puts the average pre-money valuation at 40 – 60 crore.
  • To stand a chance of an IPO on the NSE or BSE, a company must ideally have revenues of over 100 crore.
  • While governments & banks may be more open to smaller deals, they offer a different set of challenges – slower processes, risk-aversion, stringent spending terms & conditions, limited exposure to risk capital, etc.

SMEs need to invest 10 lakh – 5 crore in their businesses. In the Indian VC world, this would count as ‘seed funding’ or ‘early stage funding’. It is supposed to be followed by Series A, B, C, … on its way to a 100-1000 crore valuation. But not every SME is a glamourous, Silicon Valley style, tech startup. Not every SME is addressing a 1000 crore market. Or even a 100 crore market. So all this talk of ‘seed funding’ is irrelevant.

Bottom-line: There is a tremendous shortage of risk capital – in the 10 lakh to 5 crore range – for innovative (M)SMEs.

[Caveat: Then again, how many of these business owners are willing to part with equity?]

For the MBA/VC types, here is what the SAM (serviceable/sellable available market) looks like: 10K SMEs * say Rs 50 lakh per SME on average = Rs 5000 crore = $1B. Maybe much more!

Demand is not a problem. What about supply? Time for Essay #2.

Web applications from the ground up, by Mitchell Tannenbaum

What: Talk on “Web applications from the ground up” by Mitchell Tannenbaum, organized by Pune Linux Users group, and SICSR
When: Monday, Feb 8, 2pm
Where: SICSR
Registration and Fees: Free for all to attend. No registration required

Details

This talk will cover web applications from a few different angles, starting with what they are and how they are commonly used; this will be a kind of quick behind the scenes look as well a tour of common use cases. Then it will look deeper into building them using two frameworks, Drupal and Django. This will help those of you who are interested in starting new projects and are not yet familiar with some of the available tools.

Next, a look closer at the different projects you can use to assemble your full stack. These are the underlying components of web applications; the most common configuration is called LAMP: Linux Apache MySQL and PHP. However we’ll also cover alternative web servers, database engines, and scripting languages, notably: nginx, SQLite, and Python.

Finally, get some hands on experience with modular development and middleware to see how web applications can be used in all types of environments. This demonstration will illustrate the power of effective and efficient web application programming and how any environment can benefit.

About the speaker – Mitchell Tannenbaum

Mitchell Tannenbaum is a Social theorist and Software architect. Mitchell recently finished his studies at University of Florida where he also worked at the Advanced Computing and Information Systems Lab on distributed systems at various layers. His current technology related activities are with team based software development for cultural growth and economic liberation using free web applications married with virtualization. Also check out Mitchell’s profile on drupal.org

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5 Tech Events in Pune this weekend – Are you watching http://punetech.com/calendar?

This post is just a reminder that you should check the PuneTech calendar on a regular basis. There are a number of events that happen in Pune every week and we try to list them all in our calendar. Basically, the PuneTech calendar is automatically populated from the common/open tech events calendar for Pune on upcoming.org. Anybody can add events there – and you’re encouraged to do that.

If you’re the kind of person who forgets about events and would like to be reminded, you can also subscribe to the SMS reminder service that PuneTech runs. It’s free.

Anyway, the events in Pune this Saturday (6th Feb) are:

Conference on Molecular Diagnostics – all day at Yashada. OnTarget 2010: The annual conference of the Project Management Institute – this is a multi-day, paid conference. There’s a Pune Open Coffee Club Meeting – for web startups at the usual place and time – 4pm, SICSR. And there is also a Pune Google Technologies User Group meeting where they will talk about Google Wave – this is at 5pm at the usual place Synerzip, Dnyanvatsal Commercial Complex. Finally there’s the Pune Linux Users Group monthly meeting at the usual place and time – 4pm-6pm on the 1st Saturday of every month, at SICSR.
You should attend at least one of these. Really.