Along with People, we need Partnerships. We also need to make sure we don’t reinvent the wheel, and thus identify and source technology components that are already available. We need to be innovative, and not necessarily inventive.
One of the things I have learnt in my decade as an entrepreneur is that many times we (and I too have been guilty of this in the past) get enamoured by wanting to create things from scratch. It is much more fun. It is easy to find fault with that exists out there, and decree it as unfit for consumption (or recycling). It all makes for a good excuse for building the next new thing.
I faced a similar choice some years ago when I wanted to start a News site as part of the IndiaWorld family. One option was to subscribe to news feeds and hire an editorial team which will work 24×7 to make sure we did not miss out on any breaking news. This is what some of the competitors were doing. I decided that this is not a business I wanted us to be in. I chose the option provided by technology that of aggregation. It took a software programmer a few days to write a program that aggregated all the headlines from the various Indian and international news sites on a single page. Thus was born Samachar. Without the legacy of any editorial talent, we could showcase everything that was out there without any not-invented-here syndrome. Samachar was an instant success with Indians abroad and grew to be one of our most profitable portals with zero human involvement.
As we seek to build out the thin clients, the centralised grid and the various services, we need to first survey the world at large to see what is out there. It may not be perfect, but even if it is 70-80% good enough, it is a start on which we can build upon. The mantra is more along the lines of value-added aggregation. Many of the components exist, but they have not been put together the way we are seeking to. There is a mix of both open-source software and commercial solutions that are out there which we need to aggregate together. The right choices here can put us on a fast-track and shorten our time to reach the marketplace.
With an eye on partnerships, Atanu and I made a US trip in August to meet people and companies. Some of the meetings came about as a result of people writing in via my weblog. I also realised here that my diverse reading (forced upon by my need to blog daily) also helped in providing me with insights into different technology areas which could be useful to us over time. That’s part of the reason I exhort everyone I meet to blog it opens one up to ideas and contacts not otherwise possible through our other linear connection tools.