April 2006


Update 1: Someone emailed me an additional piece of info – http://del.icio.us was acquired in Dec 2005, eight months after they got venture funded. And it had just nine employees then. Backtrack eight months and it looks like they got funded sometime in May 2005. I will find out the exact dates, when del.icio.us was founded, and when work actually began on it, once I am through with the promo and get some free time.

But just a thought – if I assume it to be one-and-a-half years of work, (which is long time in internet business esp for social community sites like Delicious), before they got funded, then that makes it somewhere around Dec 2003.

Ok. Now I feel even more dejected. 😦 WorthALook (read the post below) was started in Christmas of Dec 2003. This is one coincidence that I am not able to feel happy about.

Update 2: Tomorrow is a BIG day. We will be seeing the results of our promotion. The stage is set. We don't know how much public will turn up. 100. 200. Maybe 300. Or maybe 500! Let's see. But since we've invited the C.O. I don't think there should be any security or administrative issues even if the turnout is huge. 🙂

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We're running a promo on Apr 23, two days from now. And my mind which is already clogged with events, details and todos (which don't seem to end whatever you do), has suddenly started throwing up Web2.0 ideas! Retail and Web2.0 don't go hand in hand. I know, it is very necessary for me to either shut it down, or find a way out.

I'm feeling strange today. If you know an adjective which correctly describes "overloaded + excited + dejected + angry + hopeful + good", then please let me know, because that is how I am feeling right now. Its strange how thoughts link up. And where they can lead you to. This is how it went.

Arjun Singh had recently announced an increase in reservation for SC/ST/OBCs in educational institutes from 22.5% to 49.5%. Now I won't be discussing that here (there is another post for that). But I have written to Indian Express and the PMO about my concerns.

Now reservation is a topic I feel very strongly about, and I intended to write about it to a friend in Kansas who runs a newspaper there. It has been 2 years since I left US and had any interaction with him, naturally I had forgotten his email id. So I searched my mail archives of 2003-2004, and there he was. Just curiously I went through some of the old conversations we had. (TIP: Its fun to go through your archives, some really old emails., old friends, old issues. And see how the feelings sweep over you. How the world has changed. Try it if you have not done it yet. Its a really wonderful experience to 'live' once again)

Among the numerous email exchanges we had, I found the first email that he had written to me. (Friday Jan 16, 2004)

"Hi Animesh

I stumbled upon your group and the contents are indeed great. Great achievements. I have just started a four page Newspaper for Indians in Kansas City area – is it possible for you to contribute any material for the same? I will definitely give you due credit. I am not looking for more than a few lines and then we can refer them to your group. If you wish, we can also create a free ad-free group on my site – a little later on.

Thanks!
Ravindra Reddy"

This innocent email had surprised me then. I seriously found it hard to believe that anyone would be interested in what I had to write. And today, this same email took me by surprise once again. It reminded me of a Yahoo Group (the first line in his mail is referring to that Yahoo Group only) that I had started somewhere in December 2003. And the group mail to which Ravindra had written back was this (I got nostalgic when I read it again today.)

"Jan 13, 2004

Indian Army as an Agent of Development – Link Submitted by Animesh Srivastava

All it took was a watermill, a social scientist and one enterprising Army officer. And the remote Arunanchal Pradesh got lighted up! The first setup was done in none other than our Menchukha circle. And the cost of this hydel power station? Guess!
http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=38193
Keywords: [Indian Army, Assam Rifles, Arunanchal, Uttaranchal, Electricity, Power Generation, watermill, Hydel]

Designed to Succeed – Link Submitted by Animesh Srivastava

Launched 1997
Starting Capital Rs 20,000 + an old 386 computer.
Current Turnover Rs 6 crore
Name of the Company Esign
Recipe for Success No Guts, No Glory

"At 25, with a promising career ahead of her on the creative teams of advertising majors such as Contract and Mudra, Sonia Manchanda chose to walk away to set up Esign, a design hotshop. Ask her why?" Newly wed and a fresh graduate, she decided to take on her own in the world of business. Recipe for success – sheer guts! Meet your entrepreneur at
http://www.outlookmoney.com/scripts/IIH021C1.asp?sectionid=10&categoryid=48&articleid=4454
Keywords: [Entrepreneurship, Esign, Bangalore, Fashion Design, NID, NIFT, newly wed, old computer]

Found something interesting? Share it at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/worthalook
"

This group which I had launched in Christmas of 2003, was named WorthALook. It was barely 3 weeks old then. We had few members, mostly my close friends from IITK. They followed it and were happy about my efforts. Also, I happened to come in touch with some nice people through it; including Ravindra, the owner of the Kansas City newspaper mentioned above. But eventually, the group didn't go anywhere. I couldn't take it anywhere. I didn't intend to. Work at Bank of America and other personal projects were enough to keep me busy through the night and the day. Two months later I got a mail from Yahoo that the group will be closed, and I thought 'Okay'.

But reading that group post today made me something more than nostalgic. I suggest you read it again. Does it says something like 'link sharing', 'keywords' and 'submitted by'? Does that ring bells anywhere? Hell it does to me. It was there! Web 2.0 was there. Del.icio.us was there! And I had been there. The group description was something like –

"Everyday we browse the web, come across articles, pieces of news, tidbits of information etc that we find interesting enough to share with other people. Now instead of copy-pasting the whole article and flooding our inboxes (and in the process also violating copyrights of the websites), we would just be sharing the URL. And to allow people to search we will tag the links with keywords. Found something interesting? Share it at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/worthalook"

Doesn't all that sounds familiar? Pretty bad, I myself wrote the manifesto, and I myself failed to recognize its potential.

So again, how do I feel like? As if a mind juggling around with Retail and Web2.0 ideas were not enough, this is the new feeling that I will have to sleep with tonight.

Overloaded – with ideas (and work also).
Excited – about the countless opportunities and the untapped market.
Dejected – I had been there before. How did I miss it? Why didn't I give it a shot? Delicious, Yahoo acquisition, first taste of success, wow factor! See, how easy it is to extrapolate when you are not involved yourself 🙂 And honestly, far more difficult to actually build up a 'good' business.
Angry – at Arjun Singh. What are you taking my country to?
Hopeful – Missed Del.icio.us. But hopeful of future. There are always ideas. Actually there are "many" right now, more than I can handle given my Retail committments 😦

Lesson: Don't strifle your ideas. Let them develop. For all you know, they might be turn out to be worth more than what you thought. Would I have succeeded? I don't know. The truth is I didn't play the game. Maybe I would have won. Or maybe I would have lost. But the more important thing was to play. The West didn't know how rich India was unless Vasco landed here. Ideas are vast unexplored oceans. Set sail aforth. And play the Game. Fuckin do play the game!