Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Startup - The Truth - 2

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Its been almost three years since we started GAViSTA TECH and every moment has been an experience! I've learnt a great deal and thought I should share some of my experiences of how its been so far and what I've learnt,

Mistakes - As a start-up you are bound to make mistakes! The real question is how fast you realize that you have made a mistake and correct it?

Pricing - You have got to be more flexible in pricing your product or service. You might have great expectations of what you've built and you wouldn't want to sell it for lesser than what its worth, but considering that the start-up is still growing and there are quite a few people who neither know about you or your product, you have to give in sometimes.

Salary - As a founder/co-founder or the heart and soul of your start-up, If you don't fix a salary for yourself, you will never get paid and you will never make the amount of money needed to run the company!.

People - Less number of brains = more work. Hire a few people and hire those who can contribute effectively. The more you hire, the more you lose money! They need not be brilliant, but if they are passionate,eager to learn and dedicated, they are more valuable than geniuses who wont take ownership of their tasks. The amount of work is never-ending and there are not enough resources to conduct a full fledged training, so your best bet is to hire those who are self-driven and passionate about learning new things and trying new ideas. You cant afford to hire those who are just looking for a way to make easy money.

Marketing - This is the toughest! Your customers seriously care about TRUST more than anything else. You might have an awesome product with some of the best features but word of mouth can only take you that far. Out of sight is truly out of mind, and until you build a brand, customers will be least concerned or interested in what you have to offer. Like I said earlier, being flexible in pricing will help gain the first few users who will potentially help you by spreading information about the product if they found it useful and efficient. Good products and good branding - both are equally essential for a start-up to sustain and be successful.

Ego - You need to let it go. Unless you learn to suppress your ego, learn to build a good network, learn from your mistakes and make decisions in favour of the growth of your start-up, you will only continue to struggle.

Push - There are three pushes required to succeed, First push is to start the company, second is scaling up (launching new versions, more money) and the third is expanding the market, expanding the product/service line and going public.

Its been an eventful journey so far, and its a continuous learning process...

Read Startup - The Truth - 1

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

LegalCrystal Corporate - India's Most Powerful Legal Search Engine. It's here.

1 comment:


"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works" - Steve Jobs

In 2010, we revolutionized the way advocates access Indian Law. Our clientele increased rapidly and we received a lot of feedback, ideas and suggestions from existing users of LegalCrystal (www.legalcrystal.com).  As mentioned in my earlier posts, there are three segments to this Market -  High Court Advocates, Law Firms, Companies. LegalCrystal was focused mainly towards High Court and Supreme Court advocates.

LegalCrystal Corporate (http://corporate.legalcrystal.com) which was launched on January 26th, 2012, has an improvised user interface, search functionality and includes tribunals, commission and will very soon cover international case laws. The primary focus has been User Experience which has been completely revamped in this version. There are tons of features which are of primary importance to Advocates such as Tabbed Browsing, Search Filters, Sort Results, View Head-note, Analytics, Adding Note, Saving Judgments on the cloud...
To know more about LegalCrystal Corporate see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i3uH-KlILA

We have two other parallel products related to law in the pipeline.!  Watch this space for further details! :)

I would like to personally thank the team which worked on LegalCrystal Corporate :
GAViSTA Team 2011  - Akarsh E.S, Pratik Mehta, Pavan Sudheendra and Pavan SB,

Thank You Guys, Without you,  Corporate Version wouldn't have been launched successfully.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

EiNSTASOFT to GAViSTA TECH

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GAViSTA - In Sanskrit means " One who takes a dip in the Ocean of infinite knowledge and rises "

I was inspired by a company named "Payoda - rain bearing cloud(in Sanskrit)", its a start-up which provides cloud services. So I thought, why not do some research and come up with a good name for our start-up. We spoke to a few Sanskrit scholars and finally made a list of names in Sanskrit which has some relevance to the kind of work we do! Here are the list of names we shortlisted - Gavista, Gabhasti, Gambharam, Gadhita, Gambheera...
I personally liked GAViSTA, which is short, crisp and has a beautiful meaning!

WHY GAViSTA TECH?

  • I've been told by quite a few people that its difficult to pronounce EiNSTASOFT, some even went to the extent of asking me if it was a tongue twister!! 
  • There have been plans of late to register as a Private Ltd. Company and we heard from several people that its hard to get the name you want. 
  • Being an Indian Start-up, and Sanskrit being a integral part of our nation's cultural and spiritual heritage, we considered using a unique sanskrit name. 

To those who asked if something was wrong with the company or the team, well, whats with the pessimism guys? :D Thank you for the concern but things are going good and the change in name is just another step forward for us!

The start of yet another phase for our start-up - hope this change brings us good luck and fortune!!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

iMiss you Steve

1 comment:
 Every software company and every software employee survives because of Steve Jobs and wozniak's vision of building a home computer! if it wasn't for Steve, we would have lived in Stone age!
Steve jobs is the reason why I was able to get motivated and start a company on my own without anyones moral support!
Running a startup isn't a joke, if there were no folks like Steve, it would be highly difficult to get inspiration and inner drive to Think Different. The world has lost a brilliant thinker.
 I still remember when I was in college, where things around me were not so motivating to start a startup, Steve Jobs quotes taught me everything.It taught me how to start think different, How to develop a innovative product, How to sell/market it. That too in India where academic results matter a lot more than your LIFE ;), its hard to go against a system to start something on your own.                                                                                                              
“what really gets you is the way he talks — there's something about the rhythm of his speech and the incredible enthusiasm he conveys for whatever it is he's talking about that is just infectious.” - Alan (Journalist)
The biggest lesson is Steve's RDF - Reality Distortion Field. Jobs has mastered RDF.  I am still trying to get a pinch of RDF! I badly wanted to see Steve on stage in one of the Apple Dev Conferences, that was my dream! I even had saved money to goto USA just for Steve Jobs Keynote. As soon as I got up today, saw notifications on my iPhone! For a moment my brain was blank!
Well I can go on and on talking about Steve! He is and will be my SuperHero!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

iOS enrollment woes

10 comments:

We all know how Apple is hellbent on perfection in all aspects. Recently I wanted to register for iOS developer enrollment which costs $99 a year. I followed the instructions in http://developer.apple.com and at the end of my enrollment, immediately I saw a screen which said, "Please download the purchase form, fill necessary details and fax it to Apple" WTF! I thought this was highly ridiculous..why couldnt they have any provision for online payment? Frustrated and reluctant to fax my bank account details, I  thought I would ask my friend in USA to register using his credit card. He was able to register and paid the amount using his US credit card and Apple even debited $102 with tax from his credit account.

I was relieved that it was finally done..Suddenly that night I recieved a mail from Apple saying "There is some problem with your identity, we are unable to match the credit card details with your iOS enrollment details so please FAX us identity verification form with Notary's Seal and Signature on it"
Aargh! I wanted to get the registration done at any cost, so I filled all the details in the identity verfication form, went to a notary , got it signed and sealed and even faxed it immediately.

Again that night, I received a mail from Apple saying, you will have to mail us photo identification (photocopy of your passport or Driver's license)! Without further ado, I dialed 1800-MY-APPLE from Skype. After a series of questions I was put on call to someone named Latisha from Apple Customer Support! I told her whatever had happened until then. She said it was against Apple policy to activate iOS Developer Program if the details of the credit card holder and iOS enrollment details dint match.

She also said, Please mail us your enrollment ID with Refund as subject  and our customer support will get back to you!

 A lesson learnt, I never bothered to see this before I registered for the program  -http://developer.apple.com/support/ios/purchase-and-next-steps.html .  I just googled and found that in a few forums they mentioned that it was possible using someone else's credit card and was misguided!

So finally, I created a new Apple ID, filled in details which matched my billing and credit card details. I downloaded the purchase form and faxed it to Apple.
They mailed me with iOS activation code and a link within 4 days. Finally, I have access to iOS Developer Resources!
Phew!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How Corruption affects Start-ups in India

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I am re-surfacing on the blog scene after a really long time and mainly because I got some inspiration to write this post after the Anna Hazare anti corruption movement. We all know how corruption is the root cause of most problems in our society. From an Indian start-ups point of view here is the gist of how corruption can be a huge pain :

Consider a startup has to be incorporated as a Partnership Firm or Proprietorship Firm or Private Ltd. Company. It all starts with the NAME that you choose for your start-up. If you want your chosen name to be incorporated, the Govt. sometimes reject the name even if it is unique without providing any valid reason as to why it was rejected. There is no transparency right from the start!

To register as commercial entity, dont even bother entering the Govt. office without a bulging wallet if you are not willing to wait for long periods of time, nobody will listen to you unless you start slipping money into their hands , starting from the attender till the officer.

The worst part is probably selling your product to the Govt. If you are a Rich Dad's kid, then consider it done. They wont even look at the product, you can even by-pass the tender process. They wont even call other companies for tender. They will only form new companies which have no existence except on the letterhead that is signed by random people.

An Indian Start-up is almost expected to consider bribe as a part of their investment and then develop a business plan.
I am not just cribbing about our system, I am just happy that there is something happening in the country, A great movement that we all are a part of and actively participating in. I am dead against corruption after facing tricky situations in government offices and I am glad to see kids and adults alike getting involved in the anti corruption movement and eager to learn about the steps that can be taken to curb it.

I am sure there are a few non-corrupt Govt Officials, but they all are interconnected with people who are corrupt. With LokPal Bill being passed, we are atleast at the liberty to sue anyone directly with no intervention whatsoever and with a fair hearing and trial if they are found to be against the law.

Hoping for better times ahead -  communities,entities and individuals receiving funds and benefits which they are entitled to!

LokPal Bill

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Uncut" version of Bangalore Mirror Article - "The law on a screen near you"

3 comments:

Tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial journey. Is this your first start up? [What's the status on others, if any]

Yes, this is our first startup, but we have previously worked on several ideas as students. We have tried our hands on ideas related to Speech Recognition, Carpooling and then on developing a NLP Search Engine.

How did LegalCrystal come into existence? [People-founders (full names pls), Idea, when it was founded (month, year), the 'tipping point' that made you feel that this is something you had to get out and do, how long did it take to firm up the idea]

Bangalore Mirror - February 21st 2011 - Page 6
LegalCrystal – the idea sprouted when I noticed my mother, Smt. Rekha Prasad – Advocate, High Court of Karnataka who blogs about several legal issues, referring to humungous books which have listings of judgments.   In these books, Judgments are bifurcated into different subjects or based on different law points. That’s when I realized that a lot of time and effort was being wasted by numerous advocates and judges in the process of searching the precedents suitable to their requirements and in this process  the main issue in focus was sidelined. Being a technology enthusiast, I figured it would be interesting and challenging to develop a search engine as easy to use as Google for Indian Law.
We began our research in March 2008 and discovered several other players in this market. We had several discussions with their customers (law firms, individual advocates) on the pros and cons of the products they were using. Most of them were frustrated with the products and they pointed out some features which would be really useful for them.
After analyzing the information we received, my friend Phaneendra Kaddi (Co-Founder and the brain behind the coding) and I strategized on what we could build and chalked out the basic outline of our product. Soon after that we started working on it. We started by building the search engine, then we structured the data, and several beta versions later, the end product was what we had dreamt of.  We founded the company on February 28 2010 and launched the product on June 21st 2010 at High Court of Karnataka, Bangalore. 

What is LegalCrystal's 'elevator pitch'?

The highlight of our product is the simple and effective search feature. Its hassle free and an advocate/user does not require any training to use the software.  By keying in a phrase, our product retrieves judgments pertaining to Supreme and All High Courts related to that phrase in just one click. Any Advocate who is looking for a judgment supporting any "Point of Law" can search and research in one single window, and has access to the complete Library at the tip of his finger.

Who are the primary users for the service? There are similar services online, what is the differentiation? How have users responded to the service? How have you marketed the service? Any insights you'd like to share?

The primary users for this service are advocates/judges all over India. There are three segments to this Market – advocates/judges, Law Firms and Companies/Businesses. LegalCrystal serves the need of all these three segments. We will be releasing a Corporate Version sometime in April 2011 with additional features and tools, bound to make the job of the law fraternity easier.

We are a rapidly growing startup and at the moment, we have covered different parts of Karnataka. We have visited District Courts and the respective Taluk Courts. We usually fix a date, present our product and interested advocates or Judges contact us for subscriptions. We have covered High Court of Karnataka and bar associations in Kolar, Mysore, Mulbagal, Chintamani, Chickballapur, Hoskote and Malur. Our software is also being used by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and Karnataka Judicial Academy which is currently the training academy for judges.

The Main Differentiator would be the efficient search and ease of navigation. We have a panel of advocates who write Case Analysis, Headnotes for every judgment (Headnote – Gist of a judgment, User can get a glimpse of what the judgment says by reading the Headnote). We also manually format the judgment to increase readability. So far, we have received a lot of good feedback from our clients and it has motivated us to enhance the product further and also to consider international judgments ahead.

Is there a business model to this service? If so, what is it?

LegalCrystal is based on a yearly subscription and an annual fee. At the end of each year, the user can subscribe for the latest updates (Latest Judgments, Acts, and Amendments). The online version is updated on a daily basis and the offline version, once every quarter.

What are the trade offs you've had to do for making this work'? [Personal/professional]

Phaneendra and I started working on this product when we were students, while we were focusing on this, we faced a huge challenge in convincing our parents and the people around us regarding starting a company of our own.
The biggest challenge we faced was to successfully execute our idea and reach out to potential customers, with no prior work experience! It took us almost 6 months to get LegalCrystal running properly and when we finally did that it spurred us to go further.
It requires tremendous amount of effort and articulation to convince lawyers and while pitching our idea to them we mainly focused on “differentiators”.

Do you have a mentor/ investor? (Names please and whether they're mentors or investors)

Chief Mentors – My revered Parents who are advocates themselves, D. L. Prasad & Smt. Rekha Prasad. I would also like to mention here the people who have come out of the way in order to help me to run the company and sell the product – Mr.V.K.Haridas Bhatt, chartered accountant Mr.Chakra Pani / Mr.Krishna Murthy.
Investors – my parents, my uncle – D.N. Badarinath and Phaneendra's uncle Mr. Subbanna.

What are your plans for the immediate future? [Service evolution, funding/revenue model, break even, marketing]

In the near future, we are looking to expand our reach to advocates in every other state in India. Of course, usage of the software is not limited to advocates; even laymen could use LegalCrystal to find solutions to their legal issues.
Our main focus is innovation, brainstorming on new projects is an ongoing process in our startup.

So what's the entrepreneurship end game for you - fame, money or the adrenaline rush?

Entrepreneurship is all about the adrenalin rush for us. Any radical person would disagree with the risk of starting a company without prior experience of any kind. Its pure passion to work on new things which drives us.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Startup - The Truth - 1

9 comments:

When we were working on our product, people’s reactions were :
  • If you don't respect education, why even be here?
  • Why are you dropping your engineering classes to work on something new?
  • Just look at THAT guy, why cant you be like him!
  • You are damn lucky to have gotten this far, right people, right time.
  • Your parents have made lot of money, you can take risks!

You get the flow.

I hated these people and still do, but they are the ones who made me who I am and drove me to work even harder to reach where I am now, so they indirectly helped me!

Many people think that to go against a group, or to be a rebel requires a lot of strength, courage blah blah!!! NO!! You need people who discourage you, who put you down, who undermine your effort!

There is no shortage of such people around us. A lot of people fear these Bozos (as I prefer to call them)! Fear that society wouldn’t approve and fear to do something on their own. There is no point in living in fear, and living your life for others. Instead, take the opportunity and drive your energy into the work that you love to do rather than wasting it on answering them and justifying why you are doing it.

To quote a few lines from an inspiring speech I read lately, and which I believe in,
If you do what is expected of you, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds to prepare you to be average.

This is what we had in mind, while we worked on our product. We strived to make a difference, nevertheless a tiny one at least. We faced a lot of difficulties during bootstrapping which I can just write briefly about. I am sure that any startup (founded by people straight out of college without getting funded by any investor) would face the same for that matter! I will share few experiences which got us going, helped us in implementing our idea effectively and finally selling the product to the targeted crowd!

First thing we learnt, was to accept uncertainty. It’s quite easy to write or just theoretically understand uncertainty. In reality, it’s a disturbing feeling which will continuously nag you 24/7. When you don't know what's going to happen in the future or even in the present. If something goes wrong, you are doomed and people who are dependant on you are doomed too. This is the feeling you have to live with, not just live, but you will have to work with day in day out.

Its always comforting to share this uncertainty with someone whom you have known for quite a long time, someone whom you can trust. When you do, get ready for a lot of debates, arguments, and mental trauma. Because there is no easier way!! At the end of the day, you will figure out what your problems are, what has to be done and cope up with it.

Time is something which cannot be undervalued. You would’ve fixed a date for the launch of your product. I am damn sure the product might not be ready even the day before the launch. So the day before the launch feels like climbing a hill and never reaching the hilltop! The feeling that you get the night before the product launch is just ultimate! I am sarcastic of course but these are the realities of a startup!! Working with the people who share your uncertainty, trying to get things done under pressure, and handling the tension in the room is something we have to get accustomed to, the night before any deadline. In the end, it’s worth the effort, all done to show your customers that your product is one of a kind!

Before you blink your eye, the deadline has been reached, the demo is over and you sigh in relief. You think you are now certain about things to an extent. A list of customers sign up to buy the product. And the feeling of “Hell yeah, we finally did it!”. But the story doesn’t end. There are a zillion questions popping in your head, a zillion more tasks to complete and It’s the beginning of yet another cycle of uncertainty..

Welcome to my world. :P

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EINSTASOFT - The LegalCrystal Story - 2

7 comments:
Before I start talking about the product, I just want to share a few experiences in running a startup!
It's been one hell of an amazing experience running a company, developing a product, Marketing and Selling the product. Before we launched the product and before we even started the company, there were a lot of uncertainties.Today looking at what we have achieved, we are more confident in executing tasks, working with people of great stature and of-course on great ideas. Looking at the future we are more enthusiastic, adventurous to work on Great Ideas with Talented people.


  Today we have customers in Bangalore, Mysore, Chintamani, Kolar, Chickballapur and Judges all over Karnataka i.e in every district. There were few major milestones that we achieved in the first three months after the product launch.
·         Product Launch at High Court of Karnataka
·         Selling it to first few customers.
·         Implementing new ideas and suggestions from our customers.
·         Demo at Karnataka Judicial Academy
·         LegalCrystal used by District/Taluk and High Court Judges of Karnataka.
Product Launch at Karnataka High Court was huge Success! Our first few customers loved the product and W-O-M spread, we received valuable feedback , ideas from our customers and started working on next version of LegalCrystal. 

 Judges were completely impressed looking at our Product, the very next day after the demo they called us saying "Can you come over to our office , we have a list of judges lined up to buy your product". We successfully completed the installation within two days! Our product requires atleast 10GB of Hard Disk space.Soon, Judges from Mysore were impressed, and they called us for a DEMO.

 We reached out to few other courts in and around Bangalore. The response from Taluk and District courts have been okay. Everyone who owned a computer bought LegalCrystal. In these areas there are only few advocates who own a computer, they still use books for their research and to find judgments. Few other advocates are a little hesitant, they just don't want to use a computer and they are very happy with their books.

As they say "Sky is the Limit", In this product the "Things to do" is huge! its never ending! not just in terms of Software Development, even in marketing, sales. We want our software to make advocates’ life easier and hassle free. Even a layman should be able to use LegalCrystal if he has any legal issues. We want every advocate in every nook and corner of INDIA to use LegalCrystal.
 And, that's the mission statement of this great product.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

EINSTASOFT - The LegalCrystal Story - 1

3 comments:
  I am not going to talk about LegalCrystal!, I am just going to answer WHY LEGALCRYSTAL? , hope you get a better understanding of LegalCrystal that way.

 Well, if a business has to prosper, you need three kinds of people , first you need domain experts (R&D) - the ones who knows everything about the kind of product that you are developing. Secondly, those who build the actual product (Developers). Lastly, those who are articulate,has the ability to convince people or the market that you are targeting(Product Evangelists). These are the key resources which a company needs to exist.

In my case, I am lucky to have found out right people at the right time, We have Developers, Domain Experts, Evangelist/Marketing Experts.

   Born and brought up in a family of advocates, the reason for LegalCrystal to exist and to grow each day is because of my parents. My dad runs a century old office and one fine day he heard of a software which could just give you the relevant judgment by entering few details. I was a computer freak from primary school , of course I was lucky because my dad was one of very few advocates who owned a computer at that point in time that too in a town known as Chintamani - A beautiful place, 80km from Bangalore.

 So this sales rep. from that software company gives a demo of their product and installs the software, me having attended many lectures about W-O-M(Word of Mouth) and Viral Marketing! This was like seeing live,  if you just plant the virus properly!! how more viral can your product be? ,  my dad just heard from his colleagues about this software, he is convinced and he bought the product!!

 Here it was , a complete SHIT. Just to view a judgment you have to approx. undergo 10clicks, finally you end up getting no judgment, very soon you lose all your interest using  the software, You should be a genius or a computer freak to reach level of viewing the judgment. It would be lot faster if you had searched manually with help of books. Well How did  I know that its useless, Well in my family I am known as the computer guy! "any computer problems call Srikanth"! So my dad never used the product, instead I did! This was the moment where LegalCrystal was born in my damn brain.

 My mom, genius behind the product! She is the one who gave us proper advice to develop LegalCrystal, later on my dad joined and poured in  more valuable thoughts!. From the moment I thought I could build a better product than the existing software products, I started researching on Indian Law, spoke to lot of advocates, did a lot of research on what they are really looking for? and How can I develop something better , innovative than the existing products?.

 Everybody Googles nowadays, even I am googler! I love Google! Based on research that I did, the nearest possible way to build a effective UX is to minimize no. of clicks, GOOGLE is one of the best products which gives you relevant data with just a single click! hence we thought of design something similar to Google. We developed it and advocates just loved it from the first instance showed it to them! Well its not just the UI that made advocates to love our product! there is more, lot more!

EINSTASOFT - The LegalCrystal Story - 2 is more interesting and is on its way  - it will answer few questions , What makes LegalCrystal so unique/innovative? Our Product Launch at High Court of Karnataka, Our first few Customers....