GeekSynergy 101

Time Lapse at Nandi Hills!

Last time when we had been to Nandi hills to shoot Sunrise, we couldn’t get the glimpse of Sun due to the dark cloud in the Pinnacle! Ughh!

So, we decided we’ll go there again and capture the sunrise on a sunny day.

Yup, the day arrived and it was unplanned.

Due to change of  plans, we unexpectedly  ended up going to Nandi hills early in the morning.

The site was very crowded as it was a Sunday, but we made it way too early and so no problem!

We captured time lapsed photograph of the Sunrise.

Check out the reddish sun emerging out of dark clouds like a cherry on top of ice cream scoop. Ahhh…So sweet. Isn’t it?

IFDIC Journey

Intel & DST – Innovate for Digital India Challenge

Expedition of GeekSynergy’s AiRpaper towards making India Digital

Information to Everyone

Information plays a key role in the development of country. About 70% of the Indians live their life in rural areas. In order for India to develop, sharing of information through a well connected network is essential. But since, only 15% of the Indian population is connected to the Internet, sharing of information is seldom done for the rest. A huge investment have to be made for the development of rural areas and the use of existing infrastructure while still stretching out information to the even most remote places in the country will not only make enormous difference to the development country but equally makes it advantageous.

[link : About 70 per cent Indians live in rural areas: Census report]

Start of GeekSynergy Expedition:

At GeekSynergy, we believe that innovation with existing infrastructure will revolutionize the country. With that in mind, we started to do research on India’s powerful network “Radio”. Over the course of the research we figured out that, Radio covers 99% of the Indian population. Something that sparked in our minds was, why can’t we use Radio to transmit Digital Newspapers to citizens of the country. Especially to the rural parts of the country where the reach of news is seldom done.

Process of Developing a Product:

After we made ourselves to the Top 50 Innovate For Digital India Challenge, we were invited to the India’s prestigious management institution IIM, Ahmedabad. We had to pitch our idea to the jury in order for us to make it to the accelerator phase of the Digital India program. After the 3 days of mentoring and making changes to our business model we successfully got into the Top 20 of IFDIC.

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[Mentoring sessions at IIM, Ahmedabad]

Over the course of next two months we had to develop a working prototype of our product. At the start we had a very little idea about our business model. We had a lot confusions about customer segments. But during the three days of BootCamp leaded by André Marquis Executive Director, Lester Center for Entrepreneurship UC, Berkeley and hosted by CIIE at the College of Engineering, Pune we were able to figure out who are our customers. Throughout the three months both André Marquis and Mark Searle, Senior Fellow at UC, Berkeley mentored us on customer acquisition, Business development, product design and development. While one part of our team started to develop the prototype, other part of the team started to make customer interviews which led to an valuable pivot in our customer segment.

team members

[Team AiRpaper in CIIE, Pune(from left) – Anil Kumar M, Gowrav L, AB Sachin Anchan]

We were also mentored by Industry players Satyajit Suri (Unitus Seed Fund), Hasit Kaji (Vice President of TCS), Niranjan Deshpande (Kisan Forum), Kiran Karnik (Nasscom), Vikas Jain (Micromax Informatics). Team from Globant and Elephant design gave us a valuable design feedback regarding Application development of AiRpaper. We also had an opportunity to publicize AiRpaper through media such as NDTV.
Intel, a technology giant in collaboration with Department of Science and Technology provided equipments required by every team to develop a prototype. Also provided technical feedback through team TCS who helped us throughout the course of accelerator phase.

airpaper setup

[Photo : Set up of AiRpaper during the Prototype Day]

We were at the final stage of accelerator phase. Team AiRpaper was super excited as we had a chance to showcase our products to the industry giants. We had a great opportunity to explain in detail through our demos. All of them really got excited about our product.

Potential Impact:

AiRpaper is a Digital Information distribution platform that leverages the usage of unused spectrum in Radio Frequency. Radio is the old and emotional technology that citizens of India ever undergone. At Present, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is using All India Radio as a tool to reach his emotional words and development programs to all the citizens of the country. Since it is the powerful network than any other in India.

AiRpaper as a platform can be utilized in wide variety of Applications. Such as

  • Disaster management Systems:
    • All India Radio was the only source for the people to access vital information regarding weather and flood in the ongoing Chennai disaster---Mail-Today--December-04--2015-page-5 (1)
  • Digital Signage Systems – Each and      every signage boards can be updated in real time
  • Farmer’s pocket guide – Information about crops and latest agricultural techniques to the farmers
  • Educational tool – to the students and institution and so on

[Image courtesy : mail today]

Top 10 Felicitation:

Accelerator phase helped us building our prototype. For the past three months we worked hard towards development of customer segment. After all the hard work we made it to the Top 10 of IFDIC. It was a delightful moment for GeekSynergy as we were invited to the Delhi for the felicitation.

At Oberoi Hotel, we were eagerly waiting for more excitement. During the day, we pitched our idea to Greg Pearson, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing group. Later we were felicitated by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister. It was a great moment for all of us in our lives being represented as Top 10 Innovators of the Country.

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[Team AiRpaper felicitated by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister]

Pitching in front of Honourable President:

After the felicitation at Oberoi Hotel, we headed towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan. While we are on the way to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, we thought ourselves that this is one of the proudest moment of all our lives. We finally arrived at Rashtrapati Bhavan. We made ourselves seated at the hall waiting for his presence. The moment he showed up, everyone greeted him with ‘Namashkar’. Greg Pearson, Intel’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing group presented ‘Intel’s Coffee Booklet’ to the President. Now each team were called to present our ideas to the President. Our Heart beats started increase once the team names were called up. Not because we were frightened, it’s because we were given an opportunity to pitch our idea within a minute standing right next to the most respected person in India. After each team presented their ideas we were asked for a group photo. It is one of the Proudest moment any human being can experience in their lives.

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[Photo Courtesy : Intel & DST]

Overall it was a great learning experience through IFDIC. GeekSynergy would like to thank everyone who supported us in learning Entrepreneurship.

What’s an ideal team?

For a very long time I have been thinking as to what is a right team for a startup?

In almost all the talks on entrepreneurship and startup’s you are definite to hear people talking about success stories of startups and relate it to  one of the three things,

  1. Great Idea
  2. Right team
  3. Right timing

Yup, these three ingredient are considered to be very important to build a company that lasts for long and you can always look for these ingredients in your dream company. But I haven’t found any literature which could provide a scientific reason on proportion and weight-age for each of these three ingredient for a perfect recipe.

As startups we always try to accelerate the process of failure!      

It may sound ridiculous, but yes in lean startup techniques we learn how to fail, how to fail quickly and how to accelerate the process of failure. We don’t want to wait till the product is launched and then know whether customer wants to buy the product or not, instead we develop product by taking the feedback from customer. This process helps in many ways, first it helps us to validate our hypothesis about the problem that we are solving and second we get to know whether the solution we are providing is the right solution.

There is a list of 20 reasons why startups fail and I am sharing the list here, the 3rd in the list is “Not the right team“, about which I want to share my learning today.

I am talking about the 3rd most important reason for startup’s failure, “What’s a dream team?”. 

According to Steve Blank ( author of ‘The Startup Owner’s Manual’ ),  the right team is
made of a Hacker,  Designer and  Hustler.

Hacker-Hustler-Designer

Hacker (geek) is a technology guy, he likes to build technology, he is a developer, he is a passionate engineer, he creates algorithm, he creates intellectual property and the hacker eats, sleeps and breathes code.

Designer (hipster) is an  artist, he is an architect, he builds the brand, he makes sure that the user interface and user experience is simple and lovable, and the designer eats, sleeps and breathes design.

Hustler (visionary) is a business savvy guy, he is a good sales man, he builds the team, ignites the passion, builds the culture, makes investor pitches and tough decision under extreme uncertainty that startups work and the hustler eats, sleeps and breathes the business model.

Generally, if a startup is founded by less than three people then one of the founder has to wear the multiple hats to balance the team.

In GeekSynergy, we aren’t aligning ourselves to these roles, but we are doing what we love to do, Gowrav likes to build things and is passionate about technology, Anil is an artist and is passionate about designing and I like to build teams and company that impact life of people, I am passionate about business.

Another exciting day!

There are lots of prominent people involved with ‘Innovate for Digital India Challenge’ and many of them are supporting the ‘Digital India’ events in one way or the other. Mr. Rentala Chandrashekar who is the president of National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) which is a trade association of Indian Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, was here on 7th Oct, 2015 to encourage the startup’s.

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We were informed of his visit to office and were given an opportunity to present a demo of our product. Mr. R Chandrashekar has a deep understanding about the issues and problems faced by the country and the way to tackle it.

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Mr. R Chandrashekar has worked as Telecom secretary in Department of Telecommunication and has enormous knowledge about information technology and its role in the development of the country. As we are working in the information distribution domain, his knowledge and his feedbacks helped us to understand the challenges in the domain.

Thank you Mr. Chandrashekar for making time to spend with us!

 

The Prime day…

We started the Innovate for Digital India Challenge accelerator phase with the anticipation of day when we could meet two minds who are largely responsible to put forward this bold step of making Innovate for digital India initiative, and it came at last on 30th of September 2015.

The day went as follows,

Walk through of projects:

Mrs. Debjani Ghosh, Managing Director, South Asia was here to meet the top20, all the teams exhibited their MVP to Mrs. Ghosh and her team from Intel, she was genuinely excited about the problems that are being solved by the startups. Mrs. Ghosh is a fun loving and passionate person which could be seen during her interaction with the top 20.

Even on the busy schedule they had to keep, she insisted and heard all that we had to say on how each product and idea can be a key towards a better India.

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It was a proud moment for us personally to present our product and business idea to such a passionate and energetic leader that she is.

Mentor Session:

Mr. Gaurav Dwivedi, CEO, MyGov (mygov.in) and Prof. Rajat Moona, CDAC, joined Mrs Gosh on the dais and us later in the day at College of Engineering Pune (COEP), where the conference was held. The agenda of the conference was to discuss about the Indian innovations and their impact on the country, which was webcasted live.

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The session concluded with questionnaire from the teams and from people on the social network, watching live on the webcast.

Trip to Intel:

After this session we moved to Intel, Pune office and participated in a Video Conference (VC) with Mr.Robby Swinnen, Vice President, Sales & Marketing Group- Asia Pacific and Japan.

Mr. Swinnen elaborated the approach of Intel is planning to take to help MyGov and Digital India initiative to reach the nook and corner of the country. It was quite refreshing to hear from the person who had worked in more than 6 countries across Germany, US, Singapore and so on.. how India is looked upon from the outer’s perspective.

1:1 Session:

Three teams (including our’s)  were given an opportunity for 1:1 session with Mr. Gaurav Dwivedi after the VC, the session was short and Mr. Dwivedi gave his insight about the challenges in the adoption and implementation of our project by the Government.

Mr Dwivedi and Mrs Gosh fared us good luck as they had to rush to the airport to get back to their respective corporate worlds and our day started to drift as we took a ride back to Shivaji Nagar in a Uber while the rest of the teams had a head start in the coach arranged by Intel.

Going National

NDTV is here to meet the top 20 teams!

They are shooting two episodes on the Indian innovations and the role they play in Digital India. Two teams of NDTV  have come and we were approached by Jasmine,  Aditya and their team to interview and talk about our innovation. We explained them about AiRpaper and they were keen to understand the project and the motivation behind the innovation. The initial location of the shoot was inside the CIIE office and the next shoot which was scheduled for the next day was shot in front of All India Radio, Pune. Well I think you know why in front of AIR by now!

Shoot in front of AIR had some funny moment too, people walking near by were trying to get into the frame and the camera man had to retake the shot.

Overall it was a new experience for us and it went well.

Unveiling new logo for AiRpaper

As you all know, we are currently progressing in the accelerated program of “Innovate for Digital India”. We are currently developing a MVP(Minimum viable product) for our product AiRpaper. As we are about to finish the MVP(Minimum viable product) of the same, we thought that it would be better to work on our product identity. The old logo which we designed back in June(2015), was done when we had just a basic idea about our product. But now it has changed a lot. We have learnt a lot of things during this acceleration program. We were able to discover the problem we are solving and the solution we are providing in a much more crisp way. Although there is only a small change that has been made, we felt that it would be nice to re-work from the design and the impact(to India) point of view. That is why we thought, this is right time to re-work on our product identity. Let us know what do you think.

Old logo

Old logo

AiRpaper logo

New logo

Mantralaya-First Contact

The first time I heard the word Mantralaya, I too thought it has to do something with the religious pilgrimage.., it was a pilgrimage no doubt but the religion in focus is IT of Maharashtra. We were one of the two teams in Innovate for Digital India Challenge (IFDIC) who got the oppurtunity to meet the Shri V.K. Gautam, Principal Secretary (IT)  of Directorate of Information Technology Government of Maharashtra.

We (I and Anil) started early in the morning and left DeviNiwas at 06:45am (Just to clarify Our residence is called DeviNiwas and Office space provided by CIIE is at DeviHouse and never ask DeviNiwas address from a Punekar they will insist DeviHouse is DeviNiwas its just that Niwas is the hindi translation of House ) we met Aniket from the second team at Hotel Span we then took a cab from Hotel span to the Pune stand.

We decided to go by a route cab or taxi, since it would be much faster than the bus. Even though I haven’t traveled in ever so popular “Shivneri Bus”, I can safely say that taking a cab from Pune to mumbai on Pune-Mumbai Express Highway is a much convenient and glorious way to travel.

The journey on Pune-Mumbai Express Highway is the most memorable time of the whole trip. Its basically the beauty of the western ghats without any guard section nausea.

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A scenic view at Lonavala on Pune-Mumbai Highway

Instead of going to Dadar we got down early and took the freeway to reach Marine Drive. Mantralaya is very close to marine drive just five minutes walk.

We sat for hour or so in the marine drive making the final changes to the ppt, to be presented that day,  as usual the place smells like a sea shore but the view is mind blowing. We left the Marine Drive after taking few pics there.

Exif_JPEG_420Marine Drive

Our meeting was scheduled at 2:30pm, so we went to a CCD close by to have a mock discussion on what we would talk about and what we wanted to request from the govt. of Maharashtra.

We along with Aniket waited in the CCD, a strange thing to note is that in this end of Mumbai, they are very cautious about security and even entering a CCD accompanies a brisk search with the metal detector.

After staying in CCD for a while we ordered lite lunch, and waited for Naren and Jaideep to meet us there, and in just few minutes they joined us. We then got a bit freshened up and left to meet the Duo at the Mantralaya.

The meeting was in the office of Shri. A. K. Jain Principal Secretary of Mantralaya, Jaideep introduced us to the Principal Secretary and gave a briefing on the IFDIC.

We were joined by the Shri V.K. Gautam, Principal Secretary (IT), by 2:45 and the introducation of all of us were extended by A. K. Jain, we sat down and gave a presentation on what we were working on and what support we anticipated from the government.

There was an hour long interaction with our hosts, they gave lot of tips and suggestions on what we could expect from the govt. during the term of IFDIC.

We left there exited about the possibilities that we could have by being in touch with govt. of Maharashtra in the near future, we walked to Oval Maidan got debriefed from Jaideep on what to do next.

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Clock Tower at Mumbai University taken from Oval Maidan

Then we took a Uber to Dadar, and started our way back to Pune by a cab at 5:30,  the clouds over mumbai started pouring heavily and I plugged in my headphones to listen to the audio book “The Girl on the Train”.

This was all possible due to personal interest taken by Mr. Jaideep Singh Panwar, thank you very much Jaideep for this.

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Gowrav and Anil at Oval Maidan

New Synergy

As you guys know from our first post, we are working on a product called AiRpaper. AiRpaper has made it to the top 20 in the “Innovate for Digital India” challenge, initiated by myGov, DeitY and Intel(check out here) and supported by CIIE, IIMA and TCS .  We are now going through the accelerator phase in Center for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship(CIIE), Pune.

Currently we are developing a “Minimum viable Product”(MVP). In this phase, we have been assigned a mentor to guide us through the challenges we face during the accelerator phase. Satyajit Suri will be our mentor throughout this program and he has been into the advisory, consulting, and business development for over 15 years. Currently he’s a consultant at Unitus Seed Fund.

We will be having weekly engagement with mentor to update him on what stage we’re currently in and what will be the next milestones in the coming week. He’s spending his valuable time with us on how to reach people, actually make them talk to us and get insights on market. In this week he stressed more on making MVP as soon as possible so that when we approach bigger players it will be good to showcase a MVP rather than talk about what our idea is. He insisted on making use of the opportunity as much as possible. After a brainstorming session we concluded with a group photo!

Thanks Mr. Satyajit Suri for spending your valuable time with us.

Lights, Camera …….

Recently we had a video shoot in CIIE as a part of Innovate for Digital India  Challenge.

This shoot was to present the Ideas that are being nurtured by IIM and Intel for Digital India to the general public right from its thinkers and innovators. The activity was planned to broadcast via Intel India’s website and MyGov in addition to social media.

The session started at 10:30am in the morning of 27th August 2015, with the video making crew meeting the various teams and getting some bytes on their experience of the challenge, about their idea and inspiration, they also pointed out that the video would be roughly 3 to 4 minutes in total for all twenty teams after the final cut, and asked us to come up with crisp statements on our products to pitch it to lay man.

The afternoon slid with video crew taking stills of the teams and making notes on small descriptions about their ideas which will be featured on MyGov vote section.

By evening we were shooting 6 sec Vines where the participants ask for votes for their idea, and this went on till dark in the day.

We receded to our residences with tiered looks after multiple takes for large segments of the video. Our eyes glistened as we walked home thinking about our interaction with Mr. Hasit Kaji, VP Special Initiatives at Tata Consultancy Services and a very senior adviser to the program, scheduled on the next day 28th August 2015.

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