The Pune Open Coffee Club has organized a talk by Dev Khare of Lightspeed Venture Partners on Wednesday, 24th April where he will talk about the areas of interest for venture investors and the current fund-raising environment in India at the seed, early-stage and growth stages. He will also discuss key challenges that he sees many startups in India facing across multiple verticals and growth strategies to overcome some of the hurdles.
About the Speaker – Dev Khare
Dev Khare is at Lightspeed Venture Partners in New Delhi and invests in Internet, mobile and software companies. He currently serves on the board of Dhingana, a leading Indian music streaming service.
As part of Silicon Valley venture fund Venrock, he has served on the boards of, among others, Slideshare (acquired by LinkedIn), Lavante (enterprise SaaS) and Aha Mobile (acquired by Harman).
Dev co-founded Covigo, a mobile application platform company, which was acquired by Symbol Technologies (now part of Motorola) in 2003. He has also been a product manager at CrossWorlds Software (enterprise integration software) and Aditi Technologies (eCRM).
Dev has an MBA from Harvard Business School and tweets at @dkhare.
About Pune Open Coffee Club
The Pune Open Coffee Club (POCC) was started to encourage Startup Founders and those connected to Startups from Pune to organize real-world informal meetups to chat, network and grow. At this time (April, 2013), POCC has over 9300 members including investors, lawyers, accountants and freelancers who work with startups.
As they often say, India is a continent in itself. With diversity galore, every region has its own flavor. So is the case with startups! Bangalore is oriented towards technology while Mumbai is more of a financial hub. The differences aren’t very obvious but each region has their own set of characteristics.
And to startup in any city, it is very important to know the local nuances. A step in this direction, YourStory.in is launching the “PuneStartup Pulse” which is an online campaign to know the city better. YourStory.in have been to Pune with the Techsparks roundtables previously and have very recently been covering startups from the region as a focus (here, here and here). Intensifying the effort, YourStory is launching this survey which will help us further to understand the region and chart it out.
YourStory’s has previously done Startup Pulse surveys about Bangalore and NCR.
As a result of the campaign, they will come out with a detailed report about the startup ecosystem in Pune. And in the run up to the report, they will be be carrying city specific articles for which contributions are also welcome.
Here is a list of technology companies that are fully, or mostly based in Pune, and have raised angel, seed, or venture capital in recent times. If you know of any company missing from this list, please leave a comment below so we can update the list.
Companies that raised Series A or better in recent times:
Online Ticketing and Event Management startup, http://Ayojak.com has just secured funding from HBS Alumni Angels, Blume Ventures, and Srijan Capital. The majority of the investment will be used to launch new products to serve segments such as training & educational institutions, seminars, workshops, lifestyle activities, last minute tickets, adventurous trips and social activities. Also, part of the investment will go towards providing solutions for last-mile services such as entry management and Box-Office.
Here is Ayojak’s description from their press release:
Ayojak.com offers a cloud hosted online suite of event solutions platform offering four pillars of services such as event ticketing/registration software (for ticketing, conference, RSVP, charity), payment processing (online, retail, cash-on-delivery), event marketing and logistics. Since 2009, Ayojak.com has been powering 1000s of events pan India including large scale events such as Live in Concerts, World Series Hockey, Patna Marathon, Joy Run, India Resort Fashion Week and many more.
And about the events being hosted by Ayojak, founder Santosh Panda says:
“We are having significant growth with 425+ events in Q3 FY 2012 vs 381 events in the entire FY 2010-11; with ‘sports’ being the fastest growing event category while ‘business & education’ topped the chart.”
(BMC Software Pune has created a by-the-techies, for-the-techies group, called The Ninja Club, to give the technical individual contributors in the company a place to learn, hang out, and get recognition for their work. This article about the Ninja Club is by guest author Neeran Karnik, an Architect at BMC.)
The problem is well known in the IT industry in India – why are smart techies tempted to switch to the management ladder, a few years into their careers? The industry loses technical talent, and quite possibly, gets saddled with mediocre management talent in the bargain! Techies who stay on the technical track complain about a lack of control, a lack of visibility, and a lack of rewards. Society also seems to treat “managers” as an exalted breed, and someone who remains an individual contributor is seen as having stagnated in his or her career.
Organizations are taking different approaches to tackle this problem – including creating explicit technical ladders, giving more high-profile recognition for technical accomplishments, even awarding junkets for creating IP. At BMC Software, we have taken a somewhat different approach – a grassroots effort in the technical community that is backed by, but not actively promoted by management. It’s loosely patterned after the martial arts, and is called the Ninja Club.
The Ninja Club is a forum created by techies, for techies. Its membership is self-selected (by invitation), purely on the basis of demonstrated accomplishments on the technical front. As such, membership itself is a badge of honour. In addition however, like in a martial arts discipline, members qualify for different coloured belts – starting with white, and earning their way to black. These belts are completely independent of the usual grades or bands in the HR system, and unrelated to promotions and performance evaluations. A points system has been put in place – a Ninja earns points for activities such as technical talks, participating in coding contests and ideation sessions, filing invention disclosures, publishing conference papers / whitepapers, etc. Points make you eligible for ‘promotion’ to the next coloured belt: white –> yellow –> green –> red –> black. But promotion is not necessarily automatic – in addition to points, the Ninja may have to get past, for example, an online programming test or an interview by other Ninjas at the higher belt level.
Like martial artists, the idea is that Ninjas get together regularly to practice their skills – coding, design, etc. – and to learn from each other. To that end, the Ninja Club organizes various activities such as coding contests, design review sessions, etc. for club members. We are also starting Special Interest Groups (SIGs) focused around technology areas like Big Data, Cloud Computing, SaaS, etc. Discussions can also be around the business domain (IT management and data centers, in BMC’s case) and customer use-cases, not necessarily on technology. Smaller groups of Ninjas can get together in SIGs to discuss, brainstorm, and do small side projects on such topics of their interest.
Such activities enable techies to network across their product teams, find role models and/or mentors, benefit from peer review of their ideas, and expand their sphere of influence. However, the club also organizes wider events that are open to everyone at BMC, not just its members. Over the past year, Ninja Club has organized the following different types of events:
Ninjutsu: Quizzes focused on technology and programming – with questions ranging from tech trivia to ‘spot the bug in a snippet of code’
Kaigi: Technical talks on hot topics like Hadoop, Android development…
Tougi: Debates, where teams argue for or against a given proposition, such as the effects of Consumerization of IT, “BYOD”, or Desktop Virtualization
Online contests like treasure hunts, crosswords, etc.
One key element of Ninja Club is its online presence, in the form of a gamified social network called eMee. This was developed at Persistent Systems, and heavily customized by them for BMC. Ninjas get their own profiles and avatars on eMee, using which they can showcase their technical skills, certifications and accomplishments. Points earned for various activities can be exchanged for ‘gifts’ that are used for decorating your house. Promotion to a higher belt results in your moving to a fancier house! Like in the martial arts, a Ninja can have ‘followers’. You can follow your role models or mentors, to keep track of their activities and status updates. Common news items are published to the “Ninja Times”, and visible to all. Non-Ninjas also get their own limited profiles, and the ability to follow Ninjas. A search mechanism allows anyone to find people with specific skills. This melding of the real and virtual worlds in eMee levels the playing field for smart programmers who may not be very social in the real world!
The hope is that this Ninja Club initiative will improve the technical vitality of the organization, and make technical careers more desirable and rewarding. By providing cross-team visibility, encouraging collaboration, and peer reviews of design and code, product functionality and quality should also improve over time. Success will eventually be measured in terms of the quality and growth of the technical populace at BMC Software, and being seen as the techies’ employer of choice in the region!
About the Author – Neeran Karnik
Neeran Karnik is an architect at BMC for their Bladelogic Server Automation product. Before that Neeran has worked at IBM India on the datacenter automation and cloud computing products in the Tivoli group, and as a Technical Director and Research at Symantec, and a Research Staff Member at IBM India Research Lab. Neeran has a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from University of Minnesota, USA.
Neeran is also one of the co-founders of Cricinfo.
(Normally, PuneTech does not promote paid events, unless under special circumstances. In this case we are making an exception because we believe that the event is likely to be interesting for tech entrepreneurs in Pune, and also because the organizers have promised a 30% discount for PuneTech readers.)
VCCircle is one of the top forums/platforms in the country for investing, funding, VC activity in startups in India. And, given the amount of activity in the technology startup space in Pune, and the number of techies quitting their jobs starting companies, the need for networking with investors is the need of the hour. VCCircle is organizing a “Investment Forum” at Le Meridien, Pune, on 23rd August.
What to expect at the event?
Approximately 200 participants consisting of established and emerging entrepreneurs, CEOs, PE/VC investors, bankers.
This forum will give an excellent platform for a POCC/Punetech members to network with the leading investors of the country. These investors will have varied portfolios and will be from all three categories, Angel, VCs and PEs. The badges will be color coded so entrepreneurs can easily decide whom to talk to.
The agenda will cover what investments have happened in Pune already, which sectors are seeing lots of investments, and which sectors are expected to see more activity in the future. There will be special enclosed speed pitching session with investors for selected companies.
How much does it cost?
It costs Rs. 6000 for Entrepreneurs/Companies/Startups. However there is a 30% discount for PuneTech readers. Use the discount code VCCPE30. (If you are a banker/Investor/Consultant, it will cost you Rs. 9000. You can still get the PuneTech discount – use the discount code VCCNPE30.)
Registration details are here. For questions, other details, or group discounts contact email@example.com or call Kanika / Sandeep at 0120-4171111.
This is the second Pune-startup by Jason Goldberg, co-founder and CEO of Fab.com. Earlier, he had started social|median, again with True Sparrow Systems of Pune, and this had a successful exit to Xing in less than an year.
In general, Jason Goldberg seems to have perfected the art of co-founding a startup with a development team in fully in Pune. This is not outsourcing in the regular sense of the word; he works with Pune based True Sparrow to build a dedicated team for his startup, he works very closely with the team, involving them in the conceptualization, architecture and design of the product, and spends one week out of every 6 in Pune. For more details on how he does this, check out this PuneTech post from his social median days: How social|median is Developed out of Pune
Pune based startup, InnovizeTech software, which makes productivity measurement software, has just announced that it has closed a Series-A investment of Rs. 4.5 crores from Seed Enterprise. Seed Enterprise is a newly established fund focusing on software products in emerging markets. It has been started by Mitesh Bohra, Avinash Sethi, and Siddharth Sethi (previously co-founders of InfoBeans). Innovize had previously received $350k in angel funding from Indian Angel Network.
Innovize Tech has built a software product, called Sapience, that helps companies measure the exact amount of time spent by employees in various work related activities. When Sapience is installed on employee PCs, it automatically figures out what work was done, by whom, for how long, and for what purpose. It produces reports that highlight gaps and deviations from pre-determined goals. The basic idea is to provide managers with data that can be used to drive efficiencies, detect underutilization, and compare with industry metrics. Sapience protects privacy of individual employees by only providing aggregate data and trends for teams > 10 employees in most cases.
Here’s their pitch from the press release:
Sapience’s key USP is that it delivers automated visibility into Enterprise Effort. It is cloud based, though an on-premise option is available for large enterprises. Their client portfolio is expanding rapidly, and currently includes large and medium IT Services firms like Zensar, product ISVs (IDeaS, Bio-Analytical Technologies), KPOs (SG Analytics), and Engineering Services companies such as EnVenture and Excelize.
Innovize has been founded by Shirish Deodhar, Madhukar Bhatia, Swati Deodhar, Hemant Joshi – Each has 25+ years of technology and leadership experience in US and India. They are Serial Entrepreneurs with 2 previous successes (Veritas Software India, and In-Reality (sold to Symphony)) in outsourced product development. Shirish, Madhukar, and Hemant were first together in Veritas Software
Innovize is also one of the companies to get multiple honours in the PuneConnect 2011 event recently held in Pune, (which PuneTech helped organize).
Pune-based Druva software, which makes enterprise backup software, has just cosed a $12 million round of funding from Nexus Venture Partners and existing investory Sequoia. In April 2010, they had raised $5 million from Sequoia and the Indian Angel Investors.
This funding is going to be used by Druva to make a strong push into cloud-based backup. Cloud infrastructure for a bandwidth and storage intensive like backup can be a significant expense, and of course, sales and marketing too.
A few weeks back a partially inaccurate version of this story had been leaked by Economic Times and was reported by PuneTech, but we “withdrew” the story after Druva called us up and let us know that it was premature to talk about it. Talking about a company’s funding round before everything is finalized and the money is in the bank is dangerous for a number of reasons including:
Funding is a tricky thing and there are no guarantees until the money is in the bank. Many things can, and do go wrong. One bad day on the stock market can cause VCs to reconsider any deals that are not final.
From the time the startup received a term-sheet from the VC until the deal is finalized, there is usually a no shopping clause which prevents the startup from talking about the details of the deal with anybody else. This is to ensure that the startup does not use this offer to try and create a bidding war between VCs. Hence, if the details leak out the VCs might feel that the startup is trying to violate the no shopping clause
Most importantly, if word leaks out that a VC is funding a company for amount X, then in next few days is is possible that the VC’s contacts in the industry (probably other VCs) keep saying “Why are you paying X? I don’t think it is worth more than Y?” and this can cause the VC to reconsider the deal. This is very dangerous for the startup.
This time however, the news is official (and is actually better than the deal reported by Indian Express).
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With this round of funding, Amit Patni, from the Patni Family and Rajan Mehra, formerly the Country Head for eBay in India, join the Board of Directors. Nickhil Jakatdar, CEO of VuClip and Alok Kejriwal, CEO of Games2Win are already on the Advisory board of the Company.