Posts Tagged Innovate

Unicorns by NAATAK – Play Review


“How can we make user experience like flushing a toilet”, rhetorically questions Silicon Valley startup CEO, Mike Jordan (Barnaby Falls), in Anush Moorthy’s play “Unicorns”, a satire on modern era startups. It’s a perfect script to be presented without the elaborate set, costumes, or lights, to a small, intimate gathering of Silicon Valley audience. The play was performed on second stage at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, by NAATAK company which has won for three years in a row in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the San Jose Mercury News Reader’s Choice Award, for “Best Live Theatre in Silicon Valley”.

Image result for naatak, unicorns

Unicorns traces an engineer’s journey as he joins Oberherr, a high valuation startup. Paranoid Silicon Valley culture has made it imperative for Oberherr, to be extremely secretive regarding their products and offerings. In the absence of talking about their products, in order to get noticed before the big launch and the IPO, the company banks on heavy use of buzzwords. Mike often says, “at Oberherr, we imaginate, innovate, ideate”. Dressed in the style made fashionable among high achievers by  Apple’s former boss, Steve Jobs, in black turtleneck and blue jeans, Mike insists, their engineers “create things from nothingness”.

The company has eliminated desks to enable free flow of thinking and interaction and employees are forbidden to talk about the company, outside its premises. And then there is a palpable omnipresence of the board (Havish Ravipati) keeping a tight focus on the impending IPO. All this paranoia and cutthroat mentality has created interesting dynamics at Oberherr. While Radhika (Tannistha Mukherjee) is highly territorial and least helpful to newbies, her accomplishments go unnoticed in supposedly “egalitarian” workplace, dominated by men.  Ramanathan (Natraj Kumar) has learned to get noticed by sucking up to Mike, and Robin (Rohit Mukherjee) stays out of trouble by staying focused on his laptop. Sahil (Varghese Muthalaly) is fabulous in his role as a new engineer joining Oberherr whose fortune rises and tumbles at the blink of an eye. Sahil shares a healthy camaraderie with a fellow software engineer, Joyce (Aparna Warrier) but couldn’t explain even to his wife Priya (Preeti Bhat) about company’s products.

As seen from a few recent debacles, (one of the prominent one being Theranos) there are interesting shortcomings in the hyped up Silicon Valley startup culture.  The focus on speed and short term gains, at the expense of long term vision and value-add of its offerings is often proportionately correlated with diminishing concern for people, true teamwork and quality of life. People become pawns in a system when stretching the truth isn’t just overlooked but sometimes admired, in quest for world domination and mad rush to IPOs.  Unicorns by NAATAK is a fantastic spoof on the Silicon Valley startup culture. This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season in the bay area. Tickets may be available at www.naatak.com .

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Nuts and Bolts of Entrepreneurship to Monetizing and Innovating to Building and Scaling the Business will be discussed at TiEcon 2012


TiEcon 2012 is just around the corner with exciting panels and speakers and outstanding keynotes lined up. While the entire conference focuses on spurring entrepreneurship, I am looking forward specifically to the panels in the entrepreneurship track.

Panels on Day 1 will focus on what it takes to be an entrepreneur and assuming one has a winning product, how one can bring it to market and create a buzz about the product? Rashmi Bansal, a youth expert, writer and entrepreneur will moderate a panel of Founders and CEOs of such companies as Kabam, Claritics, Stoke, Junglee, and Apptio. These entrepreneurs have struggled through the challenges and taken the companies through successful exists. Did they have to risk stability and comfort to pursue their dreams? What challenges they encountered and what level of flexibility was demanded of them to change course and give up their ego? They will likely share their experiences in how they met the challenges along the way to successful entrepreneurship. The afternoon panel in this track on day 1, will focus on how you could get others to care for your startup. Luminaries like Todd Greene, CEO, PubNub, Sharmila Shahani, CEO, Mulligan, Victoria Tryeger, CMO, RingCentral, and Paul Willard, CMO, Practice Fusion will discuss successful marketing strategies for startups, to rise above the noise.

Entrepreneurship track will focus on building and scaling the business on day 2. A panel moderated by William Choe, Partner with Morrison Foerster and panelists Vijay Advani, EVP at Franklin templeton, Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite, and Kevin Buckby, Managing Partner with Riviera Partners, will discuss the importance of building winning teams. It is clear that in order to succeed, a startup not only needs a great product, but assemble the best people and build a powerful team. What are the strategies to attract the best, who can see the possibilities that you see, before they become obvious to others? This panel will share their perspectives on building a team, that can help take the idea to championship. Last panel in the entrepreneurship track, moderated by Sumant Mandal from Clearstone, with panelists Suresh vasudevan, CEO of Nimble Storage, Kris Duggan, CEO of Badgeville, and Rick Marini, CEO of Branchout will discuss how you scale the business and bring it to the point where you get market validation. This is a point where prospective talent approaches you, and investors take notice. This is also a stage where cash is evaporating quickly and you are not hidden from the competition.  A challenging time when just as quickly, a company can topple from the leading position, unless they figure out a way to monetize growth, apply the lessons of nimbleness, and continue to innovate. The panelists will share their perspectives on the leadership style and big thinking required at this stage, that makes it possible to scale the success achieved thus far.

These are not to miss panels, for all aspiring entrepreneurs. If you truly want to succeed at entrepreneurship, don’t overinvest in what you already know. Listen to those who have tackled the challenges, invest in learning what you don’t know yet, in order to get to all that might be possible. Register at http://bit.ly/Hzhx90 before the prices go up on April 1, 2012.

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