The GITPRO conference had full attendance with almost 400 participants, including volunteers, panelists, keynotes, and sponsors. The three tracks dedicated to technology, career and leadership, and startup boot camp were well attended and well received. Below are some highlights from the three keynotes and then from each of the tracks.
Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur, writer, and entrepreneurship coach at Stanford, gave an excellent keynote on how to build a scalable startup whose goal is to solve for unknown customers, unknown features. While the focus in larger companies is on execution of known business models, the startups are temporary organizations with goal to search for repeatable and scalable business model built on value proposition for the customers after acquiring thorough, deep and intimate knowledge of customers’ needs and pain points. In his keynote, Anand Deshpande, CEO of Persistent Systems, shared the opportunities and business landscape inIndia. Indiais not just a consumer of science and data but is emerging as an active and viable participant and meaningful contributor in science and data and R&D. Dr. Prasad Kaipa’s keynote was focused on how one can grow professionally to become a wise leader, not just a smart one. With stories and examples from Mahabharata, Kaipa shared how a wise leader is called to a noble purpose, uses multiple forms of intelligence, and is not attached to a fixed point of view or ideology.
Shishu Bedi, COO of AdMaxim and David Cao, Founder & President of Great Wall Club discussed monetization of mobile apps, in the tech track. Mobile platform has seen accelerated growth and the next revolution will be in smart TVs to reach millions of people and future technologies will dramatically change how we interact with TV, said Bedi. The new generation of TVs will have all the applications and functionality of smart phones, tablets, and PCs and this will be the hottest space during the next few years. It will be about who understand the user demographics and how the user interacts with TV. Cao also believed that understanding of user behavior was important to monetization in this space. According to Cao, although the distribution of android apps market is bigger than the iPhone apps market, monetization of android market is much more difficult because user behavior is unpredictable in the android market.
Ajit Deora Partner, LightSpeed Ventures and Shan Sinha, exCEO of DocVerse (sold to Google) discussed the basics of raising investment. What VCs care about is getting huge multiples on their investment with least amount of risk, in the minimum time period, said Deora. Deora went on to define that in more detail. VCs generally expect to get 20% ownership, with 5X returns, in the minimum time period. They like the least amount of risk, with great and team with proven track record, huge market with less to no market risk, low technology risk, scalable business model, and capital efficiency. A huge market takes care of execution risk and though team issues can be fixed, no one can fix market challenges, so market risk is a definite no, no, said Deora. Low tech risk means VCs like technology that is implementable and scalable. Sinha shared his 3 basic rules for fundraising. Rule no. 1 is about having and telling a compelling story about how entrepreneur’s product or technology will enable changing the world for better. Rule no. 2 is having a clear understanding that investment is a tactic and not a milestone. A milestone is growing the team or refining the product or increasing the customer base and the investment should enable the achievement of the milestone. Before going out and asking for money, the entrepreneur must define the milestone and ask if it is a meaningful milestone that will substantially increase the value, when the milestone is achieved. Rule no. 3 is about determining the need and raising the right amount and not too little money or too much money.
Rajesh Shetty,Mentorand Coach and Praveena Varadrajan, VP at FICO discussed essentials of managing with influence, in the leadership track. In today’s technology age, it is not the first impression that we should focus on but the zeroth impression. “People do their homework about you, even before you have the opportunity to meet them”, said Shetty. Building a personal brand is not about what one says about oneself, or the extension of one’s employer’s brand, or one’s presence on the social media, or about one’s power and influence, nor is it a gift, nor is branding permanent. In order to build your brand, said Shetty, “you must prove to the world that it is an assessment of your promise to the world and capacity to fulfill and execute it and with ongoing proof of accomplishments by people who are competent to make that assessment, typically in the field of your expertise”. So what actions one must take to build a strong personal brand? “Start with your strengths”, said Shetty. The strengths that may be invisible would emerge, if one kept a journal or notes or by talking to the mentors who often have a greater insight in the mentees’ strengths. And with all that, one must contribute meaningfully that would leave the world, a better place. Varadrajan advised that contributing meaningfully is a precursor to managing with influence. It is important to share the big picture and build credibility by interacting with honesty and integrity, said Varadrajan.