Accept failures and move on. We launched Emergic Freedom as a thin client-thick server solution a year ago. If someone had told me then that we will only sell a few in the course of the next year, I would not have believed that person. (Optimism, you see!) But that is the reality today. We have to accept that we have not done well. But it is only from our failures that we learn. We now have a much better understanding of the marketplace and of the needs. For example, we ignored the need for running Windows applications and placed too much of an emphasis on the software value. We were wrong on both counts. SMEs in India not only use pirated Windows and Office software, but they place very little value on the software. So, we have not positioned our solution as one which reduces desktop hardware costs, besides making it a bundle with server hardware and support. We have to accept the reality that the initial approach was a failure. Will it work this time around? Watch this space!
Imagine the worst-case scenario. Too often, we only think of the brighter side of things. Nothing wrong with that. But when trouble comes, we are usually taken by surprise. It helps to think through possible things that can go wrong, and what the worst-case scenarios (broken partnership / friendship, financial losses, loss of time, legal troubles are some examples), and have at least a mental preparedness to face the situation if it so happens. Imagine the worst, work to avoid it and build the best.
Leverage the geography of where one is. For a long time, I would feel that I was at a big disadvantage being in India when all the action was in the US. I kept wishing that I was there. Because I kept wishing for a change of geography, I failed to see the opportunities around. And when I did, I was amazed. India has 3 million SMEs and 600 million people in villages. And guess what I am close to them! Can I use that to my advantage? In fact, over the past year, Indias position as part of the global technology supply chain is becoming all the more entrenched with the outsourcing and the offshoring that is taking place. Suddenly, India is the place to be. Who knows India better than us? And if we can make things work in India, there are markets 4-5 times larger than ours in the other emerging markets of the world.
Every Idea has a time and place. I had thought of the SME Tech Utility more than 2 years ago. But then, I did not know how to build it out. As I thought about creating a low-cost eBusiness software, I realised that in SMEs in countries like India, the hardware to run the software was missing. So, I had to look at creating an affordable computing solution. That started off another chain of ideas. Now, I am back a full circle, with a whole solution to target SMEs hardware, software, training, support, channel and financing. Another example is about RSS. I had thought about it more than a year ago the idea that RSS could be the base for a new publish-subscribe web. Again, then, I did not know how it would get executed. Now, the building blocks are seemingly in place to give it a try. So, ideas dont go away they rest till they are needed.
Tomorrow: Part 5
TECH TALK Reflections on Ideas and Entrepreneurship+T