A few months ago, I had hoped that by the end of the year, wed have had at least 5-10 installations of Emergic Freedom, our thin client-thick server solution. But, the reality is that we still dont have any, and I dont think we are any closer to getting one. But that does not mean I am disappointed on the contrary, I am more optimistic than ever before on the prospects for the solution we are developing.
The past few months, we have lots of demos and trial installations, primarily in corporates in Mumbai. Of course, now when I look back, I realise they are not the right first market. The CIOs dont like what they consider as a low-tech solution. Their interest in saving money is not as high as their interest in ensuring that they stick to what theyve known works. At the same time, it is not easy for us to get to the financial decision makers. What we have got, though, is excellent feedback which has helped us strengthen the product.
In the past couple months, Ive also been out meeting people in search of new markets. Have given 3 presentations: at an eGovernance conference in Chandigarh, at an IndiaPost seminar in Delhi and an ICTs for Development seminar in Bangalore. The good thing is that all these have been targeted across the digital divide (non-corporate audience), which fits in well with my belief that we have to look at new markets.
Weve also sent our software to prospective partners in some other countries. This is what I am very hopeful about in times to come. The problems we want to solve are not unique to just India. In the developed markets, the same issues of cost-effective solutions face schools, cybercafes and NGOs, while in the developing markets, its there for the bottom of the pyramid.
So, the learning continues. I would have been happier if we had closed a few orders by now, but this is not disappointing. What we have got in the past few months is excellent feedback and market understanding, which would not have possible in any other way. I know we are on the right track. The timing is right. The solution is right. And very soon, we will discover the right markets, too.
One of the helpful things has been the brainstorming sessions Ive had with people from industry and friends on Emergic Freedom. Also extremely useful has been the feedback that has come through the weblog. They have helped embellish the thinking. In some of the coming columns, I will write more on the ideas that have come from these discussions.
On a personal front, after many years, I am re-connecting with India. I had done the rounds of various institutions trying to sell our image processing product in 1993. After that, the focus in IndiaWorld was more on NRIs and the corporate market for website development. Being pioneers, it was easy for us to get the first customers. Now, as we seek new markets, I am having to understand various value chains for technology deployment schools, colleges, rural areas, SMEs. Have even visited a village recently must have been 15 years since I did so. In some ways, I am bridging my own internal perception divide.
As an entrepreneur, these are testing times. One has to keep the faith in ones work, and more importantly, make sure, that the morale of those around does not flag. This is one of the chasms we need to cross. Yes, a lot of work still needs to be done. But, that is the path we chose of our own free will. As I keep telling people, quoting Dan Bricklin, As we jump from rock to slippery rock, we have to like the feeling.
More on this in the coming days.