New ‘aspire’ theme

Just upgraded the theme of my blog after Ankit pinged me and said

“Dude, for god’s sake. Get a cool theme. There are so many beautiful themes. Thousands.”

And he also send me this link, to look at options. So friends I have spent good 30-45 minutes in looking, choosing and installing the “aspire” theme and thats what you are experiencing right now.

What do you think? It sucks? Looks amazing? or something in between…

Let me know in comments…

Delhi blasts: My thoughts & live coverage on Instablogs.com

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I just got to know about Delhi blasts thru a mail that came from Instablogs.  You can see the live coverage here.  Recently the terror activities seem to have increased as well as spread through the whole of  India, specially the major cities, cities which are seeing progress.  

These attacks are clear signs of anger orginiating from people who are political masterminds and have heavility vested interested in promoting acts like these.  All these are selfish interests like money, power and politics and these is no concern about the citiezens of their own community. End of the day these tasks executed by normal and many times innocent citizens who have been brain washed and controled by these master minds. 

All of us need to shoulder the responsibility of this trend, since most of the times we as citizens of India do not treat citizens from other sects, religions and parts of India; at par with themselves as equals. Following this type of approach mindlessly obviously end up hurting the sentiments of people and these same people are then exploited by the masterminds of these blasts and riots. On the other hand if we treat each other with love, care and respect, we may succeed in turning the tide around and stop the brainwashing.  This applies to all of as we look around we can find such masterminds in each religion, sect and parts of our country and the world at large…

What do you think???

morpheus – ContentSutra Q&A

Following questions were answered by myself and Nandini for Cerius Shah @ ContentSutra. Reproducing the Q&A here:

CS: Are you going to relegate Morpheus to start-ups or build it into a more generic web consultancy?
SG: Morpheus will be be focused only on early stage startups, our goal is to work with teams who are 0-12 months old or may be even at the idea stage. Teams who can build scalable and fundable businesses

CS: Why the YCombinator model as opposed to an Angel or Seedfund?
SG: Because thats where we believe the gap is most wide. Today there is enough supply of capable entrepreneurs, folks who are taking the plunge – quiting their jobs, putting together a team, building prototypes and dreaming to build a big business. At the same time the supply of money to be invested in startups is also quite enough. Many VC funds, seed stage funds and plenty of angels. These guys are happy to investment in companies who are at the right stage, with the right team and the right model. So we add value to both the parties i.e. the entrepreneur and the startup investors using the morpheus/Ycombinator model. For about 4-6 months we work closely with the founders to build the right product, getting the right team, getting initial customer traction and have something impressive ready which will allow them to raise professional funding. To investors our value add is that we are helping in building high quality fundable startups, we will also be conducting demo events where all morpheus companies will demo the products and the investors can interact with bunch of high quality startups.

CS: What value does Morpheus Venture bring to a start-up?
SG: For about 4-6 months we work closely with the founders to build the right product, getting the right team, getting initial customer traction and have something impressive ready which will allow them to raise professional funding. We make introduction to potential investors, partners, lawyers, accountants, domain experts. These only few main things, the real collaboration will include many more things, needs of each startup are unique and we will adapt to them.

CS: What is the average equity you look at obtaining?
SG: Morpheus will be looking at taking 4-8% equity, there is absolutely no monitory fee that we charge. We are in for the long haul and willing to wait for 4-7 years, which a startup may need to reach the exit point.

CS: What is the average exit period Morpheus is looking at?
SG: I would say average would be 5 years, assuming the M&A market continues to develop.

CS: Can you share some start-ups and their products with whom you have been working off late?
SG: We currently have three portfolio companies, two of which have already raised venture funding ( www.Instablogs.com, www.commonfloor.com) and third one is profitable (www.foodathome.in)

morpheus – pluggd.in Q&A

Following questions were answered by myself and Nandini for Ashish Sinha @ pluggd.in. Reproducing the Q&A here:

a. What kind of startups are you targeting? College grads? Boostrapped?

Morpheus is open to work with all kinds of start-ups. However, the following would be our focus area:

1. Early stage start-up teams who have not received any professional funding so far. (Professional funding comes with good amount of advise, mentorship and contacts)

2. Teams which are still in idea stage and have not started of as yet.

3. We’d prefer start-ups with more than one founder (will help single founders find co-founders) and founders who just refuse to fail

4. A team that can bootstrap or has bootstrapped, as that is an essential ingredient of an entrepreneur and a start-up.

5. An idea/product/solution that is solving a real problem and targets a large market. Team should have an open mind to morph their idea, as market realities are often very different than the assumptions made while designing the product/solution.

b. Avg. Investment size that you are interested in?

Our primary value add to the startup teams is the advise, mentorship, guidance, access to the right network, creating opportunity to meeting relevant people, team strategy, product strategy, launch strategy, fund raising strategy (intros and more), getting the right advisers onboard with the right kind of terms, etc.

The most important thing we do is work with startups on their ideas. We’re entrepreneurs ourselves, and we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to make things people want.

The first 12 months are the most critical period in the life of a start-up, they are also know as the “valley of death”. Most people save money for a year, quit their jobs and take a plunge into entrepreneurship and if things don’t go well in the first they will have no choice but to go back to jobs. It is during this period that they require non-monitory investment in terms of guidance in doing it right and doing it well. Morpheus will provide them with the required support to help them validate their idea and roll the venture out.

However, we are evaluating an option of raising a small fund and making very small seed investments into the companies. But even with that, money will remain a very small portion of what we bring to the table. Our goal is to get the team through the first phase. This usually means: get it to the point where the team has built something impressive enough to raise money on a larger scale.

c. As a mentor to several startups, what are the industries you are most bullish about?

Morpheus is bullish about team which can solve real problems and which refuses to fail, come what may. We would like to work with start-ups on all verticals and not just limit ourselves to a technology or a web-based initiative.


d. suggestions/tips to young entrepreneurs?
  • Look for problems around you, and think about solutions that are much better than the existing ones
  • Remember that the power lies with you, the entrepreneur.
  • Think big, dream large.
  • Listen to your customer, as he’s the one that matters and make every penny work for your customer. Rest will follow!
  • (Our favorite advice): Be fair to every one, people who you work with, people who you meet at conferences, on the blogs and otherwise. Startups need a lot of help (and all kind of help) from people around to build their dream product/service and if you are fair to people, they will come forward and help you.

Starting a new journey…

Friends, its time again to start a new chapter in life and to get out of the comfort zone. I have decided to move on from my current role at Seventymm and try a few new things. I have been thinking about this for some time now and sooner or later I had to give in to my inner desire of being a free bird – an entrepreneur – a traveler. So here I go…..

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My one year stint with seventymm has given me a different perspective on business, a lot of learning, many interesting and challenging projects, a lot of smart people around and I made many good friends, so overall good memories. I will be full time with Seventymm up to end of July-08 and after that will convert to consulting role…

About my next adventure, myself and nandini (my partner from madhouse) are working together on this venture. Basically, the energy that I draw from being an entrepreneur and from working with other entrepreneurs is just amazing, it keeps me going and gives me high unlike anything else. So I figured I should be doing something in that area.

During last year I have been working as mentor/adviser with many different startups. In some cases it became an ongoing engagement (Instablogs, commonfloor, food@home etc) and in some cases it was just a couple of interactions e-mail, phone ,face to face etc. But each time I interacted with a bunch of very energetic, intelligent and passionate people – who have decided to venture out and create something on their own. Each venture is in a different domain and each team is trying to solve a unique problem – which means I get to learn about a new domain and new problem from a new set of smart people at every interaction with a startup team. In the process few the companies I have worked with have moved on to next stages, some have raised professional funding, some have become profitable etc.

I find this whole thing very exciting and have been working on creating a company which we will basically work with teams of entrepreneurs and help them realize their dreams of achieving the impossible, of changing the world or just getting rich.

The new company is called morpheus venture partners (morpheus is the Greek god of Dreams) and will remind you of a very successful initiative in US; Y Combinator. While working on morpheus we studied similar companies in others parts of the world and came across Y Combinator. They are doing a very good job and offer many good practices, which can be studied and adapted to the Indian environment.

I will be sharing more information with you as things evolve in coming months, meanwhile if you come across a team of young entrepreneurs who would like to work with us please drop me a line at sameer AT morpheusventure DOT com

Also check out nandini’s post here

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Note: The pictures were taken by my friend Harish Shanthikumar @ lovely lalbagh garden in Bangaluru. More pictures from Harish can be seen at Greenroutes

Day 2 of running

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Today is the second day of my running (starting again after some gap). Early morning breeze, fresh air, green trees, (almost) no traffic noise. All this accompanied by open air Indian classical music recital. I’m at Bangalore’s 100 year old Cubban Park and it feels absolutely amazing.

I have come here with Dharmendra, a very good friend and an avid runner (as I write this he is completing fourth loop of the 4km run around Cubban Park). All credit to him for bringing me out to run, on my own I am not sure I would have restarted running.

We were slated to start on Friday morning. I was up till very late night on Thursday and was not able to get up Friday morning. But Friday evening I made sure that I got to bed on time.

Saturday morning 0600 and I was out on the road waiting to be picked up by Dharmendra. We drove to Lalbagh (over 200 years Old Park spread over 250+ acres) and yes it was my first time at Lalbagh. He asked me if I would like to run 1 km route around the lake or try the 3km run around the park where I can see the whole thing. I said I have not been running for some time, but I will take a shot at 3km route. Off we went!

First km was quite comfortable, during the second the going was little tough; my body started complaining and the last one km was pure pain but I was determined not to give up. Dharamendra helped me a great deal; he kept talking to me about the history of the park, the birds in the lake, etc. So I was not very focused on the pain.

As soon as we completed the 3rd km I headed to bench (Dharamendra went on to run 2 more rounds) did some relaxing exercise and just lay down on the bench. My feet were hurting, legs were stiff, heart beat very fast and I could feel an amazing amount of heat coming out of my face. I was in heaven. I was told that running your heart out gives you the same kind of high as LSD or grass. I was certainly floating on that high, looking at green treetop branches, cloudy sky and just enjoying the moment…

I belong to the World! I belong to India!

Which city? Which country?

Frankly speaking I don’t think I live any more in any one city or any one country. I belong to India, I belong to the world and it belongs to me.

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During the 30.5 years of my life I have been based in or traveled to various cities for different periods. List goes: Chandigarh, Patiala, Seoul, Chennai, Linz, Bangalore, San Francisco, Delhi, Munich, Mumbai, New York, Pune and a few more here and there. In the last few years I have really been on the move… living in different cities, traveling, singing along.

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There is no time, need or reason to notice the change in cities or the distance covered. It’s all one seamless globe, which is thriving, buzzing both online and offline.

Online; where we spend a good part of life. Web, e-mail, chat, phone, skype, google maps blogs, avtars and the second life. In the digital world contact information does not change with the change in geography, so no one really knows when you move and mostly even you wont notice too much.

Offline; all cities look similar with malls, retail chains, lots of traffic on roads. The recent boom in aviation industry has also virtually removed distances between cities. You are in Bangalore for dinner and next morning breakfast is in Mumbai, evening tea is again in Bangalore… where is the to chance figure out the change in cities or countries.

So what do I say….