You have to be the story people share

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And not the forgotten, incomplete book that some one left mid way

We are all beginning a new chapter everyday in life. Something new is being created every day in life and you are potentially doing something unusual and worht being heard and shared every day.

And I mean that. 

All of us have the potential to be master story tellers and creators of destiny. The sad part however is very few of us are working on it

Every morning when I get up, there are multiple reasons for me to not get cracking on what is potentially the most difficult thing to do. Whether it is getting up to exercise early winter mornings or getting up and getting back to work – which I know will take time to get me the rewards I am hoping for

And there are enough and more reasons for me to ‘not do’ any of these and straight on take the simpler route –  Sleep till late, get on to do something easy and lazy ,maybe nothing at all. Take up a high paying job and getting to the more secure things. More assured realities

There is no harm in taking the secure route. After all, a man with empty stomach is only as worthwhile as Titanic with a hole crumbled by the Iceberg 😉 But that is a discussion for another day!

Being secure is about getting the fundamental right and not screwing up on the basics. And I am a firm believer of the fact that for a grand story to be told, a brilliant plot to be conjured up – there have to be some basics that are fitting all in place

While there will be times when things will work out absolutely miraculous – out of the blue – but those are for the people who hit the Bull’s Eye Spot On (More often than not without even knowing about that)

In most of our cases, let me assume there will be failures.

There will be setbacks. There will be challenges. AND. There will be enough and more compelling reasons to give up and ‘move on’. 

There will be a strong lurking motivation to find a ‘secure spot’

Even Sheldon had a strong affinity for his Spot and only His Spot!

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However, I have learnt in the past few weeks of strenuous and completely consuming urges that its the most ‘reasonable’ thing to give in to these ‘Demons of Secure Spots’

And there is very limited, if any, reason to go on with the madness of being the story you want people to share and be known for who you are and what you did. And not be forgotten for what you rather not do!

Building a startup is not very easy. It is probably one of the most consuming process to be engaged in. As I said there is enough and more reason to not do things that make life more difficult. And there is absolutely no reason for me (with a rather well-in-shape) physique to subject myself to the extreme pain of early morning exercises.

However, I also learnt that nothing in life is more satisfying than to be able to go to sleep every night knowing

Today is one more day That I controlled my destiny

Today is one more day That I was obsessed with who i want to be

Today is one more day when I faced the very basic challenges of survival in the face

Today is one more day when I stepped an inch closer to being a wee bit of an inspiration for someone

And I wish to be that inspiration for someone, for myself till the time I have the last bit of energy left in me. Because that is what I want to be known for.

I want to be known as the chapter that was once written. Not as the chapter that was meant to be written

And my learnings are not my reflections, they are rather learnings of an entrepreneur who has learnt the hard truth from multiple people (all better than I) the hard and the difficult way

So go on. If I can. So can you and much better than I

Be the story you want to share. Be the creator people want to own

Be the Chapter people want to read. 

You are meant to be. You will have to find the Hard Way amidst the challenges. Because thats what Life and Adventure is all about

gangotri

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

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Hustling is a mindset. It is your company DNA

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You don’t need ‘a hustler’ in your startup

Why you ask?

I say this because ‘hustler’ is not a role. For a successful startup — hustling up is the DNA in every role; at every level. You do not need a particular person or particular people / roles in the entire system to manage things and ‘get the work done’.

Hustling is a mindset. It is not a role.

Hustlers to a startup are what managers are to a corporate firm

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Worse yet, if they are like corporate middle managers! 😉

Scumbags. Without a point of view. Non directional. Hands off. Useless articulation. And supposedly — “capable at getting things done”.

There is a fundamental problem with one person solely responsible for getting things done in a startup. More so when it is the first few years of the startup venture when you are figuring things out and building things up. You don’t need some ‘one’ doing the hustling around for everything.

If you have a business person doing all the ad-hoc work, ‘visioning’, building relationships ‘only’ and / or motivating team members. Then I assure you its not a great startup DNA. Even when you have scaled up in your operations and your execution; its important that you build hustling in an essential mindset

Hustling is a mindset. Just as growth is a mindset.

Every one in the co founding team most importantly needs to hustle around — in everything possible.

  • Your technical co founder / coders / developers need to hustle about pushing the next feature at the earliest possible. Figure out the open source hacks as early as possible instead of reinventing the wheel everytime. If you are an engineering startup; you need coders who can think through solutions and challenges before committing timelines and delegating tasks.
  • Your designing team needs to understand your development cycle and iterate with the rest of the team at the earliest and as consistently as possible. Provide better design illustrations and be brilliant at askign questions
  • You need people to execute your marketing / branding / communications effort in the most strategic manner and using the most efficient tools. Discover and develop hacks to maximize efficiency. Build talent in the team on the go to be able to optimize efficiencies.
  • You need everyone across teams to be exceedingly willing and able to spot opportunities — for excellence, for growth, for better execution.

Hustling is about building a culture of execution excellence where your team members are always willing and proactive to figure out innovative ways of building a win-win situation.

At GetEchoed, our consistent understanding has always been that every person has something executable, something hands on to take care of. Hiring the right talent, connecting with the relevant people in the industry, investing the adequate quantum of time to develop talent and motivating is as much the job of the coder for any and all technical aspects of the startup as is the expectation from the person who does the marketing and then the person who does design. We do not have a person who is solely ‘a hustler’. Everyone is hustling in whatever they do. Each person is responsible for execution excellence in whatever they are doing.

Build a company DNA where everyone is more than responsible and accountable for excellent results. No one is responsible for getting the results done — as the sole parameter / expectation.

Gone are the days of the manager. Now is the time of the leader. A leader with inclusion. A leader who is hands on. A leader who listens. A leaders who hustles.

What have been your experience (s) around hustling for your startup / venture / company? Share your thoughts in the comments below and it will be a pleasure to exchange thoughts!

 

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

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Arpita Chakraborty, Co founder @GetEchoed

Getting the hang of it all – The lean way!

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What does it mean to attend a #StartUpBootCamp?

Yes, that’s the question we always had and we felt will remain a Pandora’s box till the end of the 2 and a half days that we were to spend on an otherwise-smeared-in-work-yet-lovely November weekend.

Au Contraire!

Reverse just happened. And we are floored with the brilliant outcomes the bootcamp gave to the community of startups that attended the event. I am talking about the 60-hour Lean Startup Bootcamp  organized by 91springboard in Delhi from 8 – 10 November, 2013. And this post is a culmination of the experiences we had; the learning we gathered, the relationships we are honored to build and the laughter we shared.

Being based out of Delhi and not the so-called startup bay of India; it’s always difficult to relish the benefits of a bustling community of likeminded doers. Couple it up when you are working on your own venture where you are hard at work to figure out what’s brilliant and what’s terrible! The Lean Startup Bootcamp was the first of its kind in many aspects that we had never really witnessed coming to life in the startup community – least of all – in the rather scattered community of Delhi based startups.

Structure or lack of it. The beauty of the bootcamp was engrained in the entire structure / pseudo structure of the camp. Yes, there was a very loose structure to the entire 2 and half days. As compared to the mundane reality of attending series of lectures from biggies; the bootcamp was about ‘your challenges’ and ‘their solutions’; not ‘how-i-achieved-what-starters-like-you-only-dream-of-today’ lectures from biggies. Few sessions – interspersed at the right intervals – all hanging around the challenges of starting up and the hacks / pro tips on applying lean startup philosophy for ‘your business’ were enlightening. The big demon of market sizing (Yes, we call it that at GetEchoed Team coz we understood heck of it before we attended the event) delivered in a crisp talk on ‘Competitor Analysis and Market Sizing’ (Amit Lakhotia, GM – Payments at Paytm) ; that crazy thing called web hosting : hands-on talk on ‘Lean Prototyping using cloud’ (Amit Sharma, Solution Architect – Amazon Web Services); the obvious hassle of being design challenged in your venture and how to sort it out – brilliantly brought to life on the talk – ‘Design for the Lean Startup’ (Kshitish Purohit, Founder – Paperkite); and finally the hacks of lean prototyping tools to ensure you don’t run out of resources – delivered in ‘Lean Prototyping tools’ (Rohit Agarwal, Founder – Framebench)were all explained.

Most part of the camp; teams were left to discover their challenges; brainstorm in their groups; encouraged to go-out and talk to their customers seeking inputs on the most pressing challenges / riskiest assumptions made in their business models and so on. It was all about being lean – not by the books but by action!

We were all there. The camp had an aggregation of college students contemplating on the journey of starting up; seasoned folks who understand the dynamics; failures and sweet successes of handling ventures as well as early starters like us – the team of GetEchoed; having recently begun the journey. All questions that otherwise seem too business-oriented or too technical to handle for those lacking the know-how; were explained and addressed in the simplest yet sophisticated forms. Better yet, all the sessions were close to life.

It was not a hackathon. And that was brilliant. We spent most parts of the day interacting with different teams and discussing each other’s challenges. This may seem like the yet-again-another-non-geeky-thing to do.  Nope, it wasn’t. It was fun. Sheer fun! Why so, if you ask. Because that’s where a lot of learning happened, relationships were formed and all the startups team were able to develop relationships at their own pace and benefit of their mutual experiences and leverage experiences. We understood challenges in scaling up location specific business when setting up in a new location, transforming modus operandi from people intensive to process intensive; communicating with customers who don’t understand your offerings and how to communicate with them.

And it was about brilliant hosts. The organizers of the event went the last mile in every aspect. Anand Vemuri and Apurv Agarwal – are two phenomenal folks helping fostering the culture of fearless entrprenurship in the Delhi / NCR region in their amazing ways. They never made any of us realize that we were meeting them for the first time and all of us were lacking expertise in some areas or the other. Basking in our small achievements and struggling in our crazy ways; they were around till the wee and the early hours ensuring all kinds of support; most critical product and business inputs were provided to all the startups in the most entrepreneur-friendly way. GetEchoed team received some of the most critical inputs and some very affirming good words from the 91springboard team over the bootcamp. And yes, not to mention the happiness of sharing round table networking over dinners and tea breaks! Yes, they do happen innocuously and are facilitated by these folks in the most subtle manners.

The brilliant experience and the fair treatment meted out to all of us is articulated hence. I encourage of you startup fellas to definitely take a break from the daily imperatives of your startup. As impending and critical as they are; your learning from interacting with heterogeneous group of startup folks; incubatee startups and the amazing folks at the 91springboard will definitely be worth hours of team brainstorming and much beyond.

Say cheers to starting up. Cheers to lean camps and cheers to Delhi!

gangotri

 

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

Hey girl! Don’t screw your relationship because you’re #StartingUp

Begin the selling and pitching with your guy!

You are 25, you are done working in a big organization OR have had enough exposure working with different startups and its time to get into something of your own

Brilliant thought! You should.

You believe you can think smarter than peers and want to figure out better ways to solve problems — you are at the right spot.

But then, there is the relationship!

You have a relationship to give time and attention. Relationships are beautiful till the time they get messy!

Chances are ‘at 25′ — you are doing good at day job; have a stable fitness regime and have a guy who ‘understands you’. Sadly, with starting up as a thought — you are at a very vulnerable stage in life. The security is far from gone. And your time is no more at your own beck and call. But, still you want to do it because you know its now or never!

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And yet, ‘The Decision is taken’

So how do you take it from here…

When do you quit your job? What do you explain your guy ? How will you make time for your relationship while building something from the scratch? What about your male co-founders? And then there is the uncertainty — if this is your 1st venture — chances of major hurdles are high as well!

Will your guy understand?!!

Ahh… Life ain’t so tough when you know where to begin

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Begin with your partner. Begin the pitching and selling with your partner. My partner did not believe in my first idea — and i failed to scale it. I was inexperienced, among other things i was inexperienced in convincing that my idea was awesome. I sucked at it.

Your partner is your first customer.

If you cannot make your partner believe your venture is awesome; bleak are the chances — anyone else will believe — least of it your customers

For my second venture, I began with my partner’s buy in. He was my first customer and my most difficult customer! And this time around, i did a better job at it.

Understand your partner’s perceived pain point with you starting the venture. Paucity of time, frequent changes, ambiguity, probable delay in your future plans, and even worse things. Think of the worst #fear.And figure out alternatives from that point. I began with the security aspect and it worked reasonably well for me

Explain your finances. Explain your goal. Make your partner believe in the leap of faith you have in your idea / business. Show how things fit together in the larger scheme of things. Show your partner how your mutual goals fit together in your aspirations. Do not try to manipulate intentions as it wont take you very far.

However, just so you know…

Most of your assurances and calculations will be falsified with time. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Such is #StartingUp.

So, ensure that you don’t just convince your partner for the venture. You must try to get the complete “buy-in”. Enroll your partner and figure out ways of collaborating with your partner. Better yet, if you bring in equal ownership. Problems with failure stand moderated when you are #InItTogether. That’s what i did for my 2nd venture. And i consider that to be my first partnership — one which was built on trust.

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I need not begin to count the benefits of working with people where trust and emotional compatibility is already established. You only need to understand the professional boundaries and set in the culture of equal and complete responsibility from Day 1. Mitigate risks and be strategic about the key decisions that you take. Have a metric for your relationship — at the personal and professional front. Mutually decide when you would spend time together as a couple and when you will spend time together as cofounders. Investors prefer to work with teams that have been through shit in the past and have stood together. Who else but both of you can prove it for each other!

Oh yes, it does come with its own baggage of challenges but that is something you shall have to face with your cofounder in any case.

Chances are co working may not work for you. In which case, ensure your partner knows what to expect and what not to expect when you begin to work for your own venture. It will not be a cake walk and make sure you communicate the same. Play honest so that you really don’t screw up things later

If you still feel #StartinUp is a threat to your current priorities — high time you do the weighing and prioritizing girl!

Your Breakup and StartingUp — Are not directly related.

Share your experience of pitching your venture to your partner – your learning / trivia / thoughts – absolutely anything. Lets get the talks going!

gangotri

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

Of roadblocks, disagreements and life ahead…

Its the journey of three friends — from varied walks of life; united by the vision yet separated from their life experiences and skill sets.

What’s the vision?

Yes, three friends wanted to build something of their own that they felt could change something in the world; make lives wee bit simpler.All of them enjoyed building stuff! Hence the ‘three-mid-twenties-something’decided after few pints of beers; well ‘starting up’ would be a good start to build a billion dollar business!

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What’s the challenge?

Heterogeneity!

Easier said than done. Decisions based on beer pints are impulsive and emotional. Yet, better than being non decisive — next morning after hangover was rather settled; was the time to execute the decision

Thus, started the non glamorous and less talked about ordeals of founding a startup. Building a business is not a skill you gather working some years at a corporate organization. And the best friends need not necessarily be the best cofounders; not even closest siblings

Reason?

We believed we had completely complimentary skill sets as a team — we had a full-stack-developer, sales-and-marketing-geek and a psychology-management-consultant-product-geek. Call it ‘achievers-all-through-career’.

However, as was the heterogeneity; there were also heterogeneity in our operating styles.

Now that’s a moment of truth!

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Building a startup is all about ‘leveraging’ and cultivating ‘synergy’.In the initial years of a product, uncertainty is the only certainty one has and people are the only asset you have. And you need to learn to make peace with it. Help your co founders careen through such times…

Yes, the hoopla of a ‘great team’ is actually a reality!

We had our share of disagreements on what should the MVP do, what level of scalability should we look at, when do we seek mentoring, how much to develop, which feedback to consider and when was early-yet-not-late-enough to seek feedback; whom to hire, whether to outsource or develop in house and many more. While there were differences; there were enough and more learning we gathered through the way.

So what’s a co-founder equation really like?

  • Adapt,learn and iterate your operating style — Yes, operating styles can and need to be flexed and optimized. Two people are not similar.
  • Have complete alignment in goals — your single most never failing compass for deciding on your co founder relationship. While we were able to figure out our *alignment on goals* before writing the first code and talking to the first customer — the alignment in operating style developed over months of learning and adapting to each other
  • Understand the motivations of your co founder. Just the way an investor, a customer, a shareholder, or for that matter any stakeholder have their own motivations to get attached with your product / startup; so does your co founder. Passion does not speak the same language for every one alike
  • Define your roles extremely well and *understand* them even better. You should know where not to poke your nose and where you are completely accountable for every bit of results. You have to work at this demarcation — time and again — especially if you are a first time entrepreneur.
  • Be utterly clear about whats happening in each and every aspect of the startup. If you dont know coding, you should know why are you building your website on RoR v/s PhP. If you are a coding geek, you should know why should you leverage Pinterest v/s Facebook — in light of the nature of your product / business

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  • Take constant feedback on what are your comfort areas and what are your typical demons. Build a culture of honest and critical feedbackearly on in your startup days. Even when we were a garage team of 3 people, we made it binding on us that we shared honestly when we felt the other was not getting out of the comfort zone or was not focusing enough. (Yes, there will be times when even with all the passion and the zest, you will lack the focus!)
  • It takes efforts to nurture a productive and meaningful relationship with your cofounder. You will have harsh discussion, blames will be shifted, questions will be raised and results will be challenged. The earlier you understand boundaries of your relationships; better will you be able to work being cognizant of them.
  • Respect your co founder. There has not been any bigger learning than this in my startup journey. Every action — active listening, understanding their shortcomings and appreciating their small achievements — is a communication of celebrating the co founder relationship. Do that more often!
  • While there are operational details that have an equal share of challenges and that bring to life the intricacies of business; those are details that will be handled later. For everything else, there is always *beer pints*What has been your experience in co founding your startup? Let me know…

gangotri

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

Boom – GetEchoed is born!

All of us have many shouting / haunting / not-so-loud / simple yet difficult things that we really want to do. We are running the marathon of life and everything is pretty much fitting the bill.However, given a chance there is always something – big / not so big – that we want to do – something different from the way we are living. Some may want it for bringing meaning to lives, some for achieving their overall goals while others simply want it for making the 24 hours more exciting.

The catch however is in the problem of not being able to action that one thing we BADLY want to do and the 24 hours are pretty much same between yesterday and today. The challenge is the perceived lack of time and absence of enough push for working towards the goal. 

We know that it is very important to make the most of life in whatever we do. And it becomes even more desirable to action the long wish list when there are people to share the ride and there is companionship. While our challenges are unique to us, zest to solve them and make the difference is similar across each of us.

Essentially with the thought of making lives more meaningful, simple and a punch in a wee bit more adrenaline is the genesis point for Get Echoed. 

The sole imperative at Get Echoed is pump in continuous effort to get you closer to ACTION on the different things you want to do – taking up one task at a time; beating one deadline at a time! GetEchoed will be your sounding board where you get to shout out fearlessly. And yes, go the next step beyond –set up yourself a deadline for achieving the goal, build milestones that define your journey and get supported by likeminded people.

Celebrate life in actions, live achievements through milestones of moments and share the feeling with people who resonate with not only your problem; but also your solution – your goals and the deadlines. 

Oh yeah! Get Echoed is the next generation social way of expression and action. You have 24 hours, you have one lifetime and you have a million things to complete. GetEchoed is the bridge between those thoughts to the reality. After all, there is a master plan to life for all of us!

Meet yourself in action at Get Echoed, discover yourself through new people, help others get one step closer to what they really want to do, participate in some one’s journey, learn something from someone who has done it before. 

Do check out our new changes to the Landing Page – http://getechoed.com. We are giving out some more information… and yes, we are inching closer to unleashing the veil

Stay hooked… crave more… Start chalking out your master plan as we set the platform for you to hit the home run!