Obviously – Ultimate Startup pitch in 5 slides


The Ultimate Startup pitch in 5 slides

Slide 1 Ultimate name for your startup

We took the hard job of trying to name our startup over an agile sprint, and we came up with astounding algorithms for doing the same.

Here are the top 3 in case you are interested

  1. Spell badly, this one is an easy algorithm where you take a common word and spell badly, and you can do it by replacing vowels with a combination of vowels, add unnecessary consonants, or remove vowels that occur in between so you can actually get a domain name easily and look good on Crunchbase.
  2. Take a noun and make it a verb that is not already in the dictionary  or take a verb and make it into a noun, usually the play is in the prefix and suffix. Prefixes common include En-, Eu-, Al-, Alti-, Uber-, True-, Super-, All-, Uni-, Ex-  and the most common suffixes include  -ly, -ate, -fy, -in. We preferred this considering our sprint was only 4 weeks.
  3. Take 2 orthogonal words and combine, dimensions commonly includes, number, shape, body part, taste, location,  grocery, sensation, color, element, disease, business, currency, numbers etc. These names will lead to higher valuations usually not so reasonable just like the names. OvalSilver, GreenTomato, ChillSquare, BitterEye, 42Nuts, DollarFever,  are all good names.

Slide 2 Ultimate Tagline for the name

Considering the cerebral processing capacity of investors, we recommend to limit tag lines to 3 words and never more. It is luckily not 3 times the size of your naming sprint. This sprint although short, its outcome, has a veto power on upcoming sprints like product design and modularity of the value proposition.

The 3 word magic formula below

<<present continuous tense verb>> <<on a simple target object>> <<with a perceived/promised unmeasurable value >>


<<present tense verb>> <<present tense verb>> <<present tense verb>>

With value explained in Slide 3

  • Creating customer surprises
  • Reaching peaks slowly
  • Growing traffic exponentially
  • Building plants organically

There are theoretical foundations and void reasons for conducting market research, product design, and business model together in parallel. But…

We being a lean startup with a freelancing founder, could only afford to do this in series, even if this  means diminished disproportionate value  of our ultimate startup.

Slide 3 Ultimate Value Proposition

Product Value Proposition is a little tricky, if your second sprint in the tag line did not give 3 reasonable well meaning words to count on and build layers of meaning and stories that resonate with all 3 parties (investor, customer, employee), consider a pivot immediately and redo slide 2.

If the story sold with other startups (got revenues and investments) with a different set of verbs only focus why you are forever superior fundamentally and stick to this story.

If you are so unique and only one attacking the open available market share, unfortunately we all have to rely on your creativity. Again only 3 verbs

Here is how our current product value proposition is realized

ob•vi•ate To anticipate and dispose of effectively; render unnecessary

Major market need, available capital to be freed, immediate value, and does not disrupt any existing processes and structures, so every customer can feel safe, that is till they actually buy the next module

ob•fus•cate To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand

Data driven, closed IP, and here is where magic happens, and we will not tell you the secret sauce, but you can taste it from our existing customer testimonials and master chef reports available when you can give away your contact and few body fluid samples on our website for free. Also this is patent pending across 3 major geographies where we see our product leading the market, and you can see the empty provisional patent application by clicking on the link hidden on our website again.

ob•li•vi•ate  To forget, to wipe from existence

Actionable insights that forces decision, forgets reason, and renders functions redundant, as we are the only ones riding that massive, disruptive wave happening beneath in the technology ecosystem. Enabling this is our strategic partnerships with stealth technology leaders.

You can insert a complex picture, typically pushing the limits of smart art or keynote charts with some major links to research reports across the usual suspects like forrester, gartner, and other old analysts that are anyway in a time warp and take the golden quadrant position for yourself.

Slide 4 Ultimate Business Model

Always assume data in your favor in the order of similar startups operating in the space, countries where you intend to operate, and customer segment that nobody heard of existed, till now.

Of course all listeners will lean back to their familiar territories, and your new ground will mostly be lost in translation.

Include metrics with 3 letter acronyms including ROI, CTR, IFT, MAU, MRP, LTV, there is hesitation to question in most pitch sessions that are so tightly timed, you don’t even have to expand these, and all listeners are supposed to know. And yes, include a graph with a positive slope and X-Axis having time line, and Y-Axis one of those value words (revenue, satisfaction, experience, scale, margin, reach, …), a classic.

Slide 5 Ultimate Team

This is an important slide for securing trust. And the goods of exchange is pedigree , and the maximum number that is empirically accepted is 3 again. Hacker, Hustler, Designer; other useful combinations include know him since my childhood, associated for more than 2 decades since smoking our first joint together in high school, and we met at a VC event/ or any other billion dollar dysfunctional corporates will work as well.

For style you can include metrics like LinkedIn 7000+ connects, Klout  91, Kred 742/7, mechanical turker rating 42, tumblr followers 420 …

Obviously you don’t want to give away any of your detailed pedigree information till a term sheet is in sight, so always add only logos and never text about the degree or the university. Also they look great on the slide with proper contrast.

Unreadable last names with more than 16 characters or bizarre combinations of consonants and vowels are welcome, along with shortened first names.

Good luck with your pitch, ecosystem respects you for your courage, and freely giving away advisory equity and other entitlements for vague expertise.


In depth analysis of FDI in Retail

Although the policy has been there for quite sometime, I had to do my analysis before predicting any outcomes. I will focus on data points and the recent press release from the government, noting catches and feasibility of the stores across India.  Background material that I have used is all linked here starting from the original policy circular, addendum press note,  census data, and other references.

First off this policy is only an enabling policy and states are still free to take their own discretion. Considering the negligible amount of collaboration that had gone behind this policy formulation, other than the favored states mentioned in the policy, there will not be many other takers.

As per census 2011 data on urban population metro area, the policy allows the following 49 cities eligible

City Favorable State/Territory Population (2011)
1 Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh 6,809,970
2 Visakhapatnam Andhra Pradesh 1,730,320
3 Vijayawada Andhra Pradesh 1,048,240
4 Guwahati Assam 963,429
5 Delhi Delhi 11,007,835
6 Faridabad Haryana 1,404,653
7 Srinagar Jammu and Kashmir 1,192,792
8 Mumbai Maharashtra 12,478,447
9 Pune Maharashtra 3,115,431
10 Nagpur Maharashtra 2,405,421
11 Thane Maharashtra 1,818,872
12 Pimpri-Chinchwad Maharashtra 1,729,359
13 Nashik Maharashtra 1,486,973
14 Kalyan-Dombivali Maharashtra 1,246,381
15 Vasai-Virar Maharashtra 1,221,233
16 Aurangabad Maharashtra 1,171,330
17 Navi Mumbai Maharashtra 1,119,477
18 Solapur Maharashtra 951,118
19 Jaipur Rajasthan 3,073,350
20 Jodhpur Rajasthan 1,033,918
21 Kota Rajasthan 1,001,365


Unfavorable territories/states

  City Unfavorable State/Territory Population (2011)
1 Patna Bihar 1,683,200
2 Chandigarh Chandigarh 960,787
3 Raipur Chhattisgarh 1,010,087
4 Ahmedabad Gujarat 5,570,585
5 Surat Gujarat 4,462,002
6 Vadodara Gujarat 1,666,703
7 Rajkot Gujarat 1,286,995
8 Dhanbad Jharkhand 1,161,561
9 Ranchi Jharkhand 1,073,440
10 Bangalore Karnataka 8,425,970
11 Indore Madhya Pradesh 1,960,631
12 Bhopal Madhya Pradesh 1,795,648
13 Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh 1,054,336
14 Gwalior Madhya Pradesh 1,053,505
15 Ludhiana Punjab 1,613,878
16 Amritsar Punjab 1,132,761
17 Chennai Tamil Nadu 4,681,087
18 Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 1,061,447
19 Madurai Tamil Nadu 1,016,885
20 Lucknow Uttar Pradesh 2,815,601
21 Kanpur Uttar Pradesh 2,767,031
22 Ghaziabad Uttar Pradesh 1,636,068
23 Agra Uttar Pradesh 1,574,542
24 Meerut Uttar Pradesh 1,309,023
25 Varanasi Uttar Pradesh 1,201,815
26 Allahabad Uttar Pradesh 1,117,094
27 Kolkata West Bengal 4,486,679
28 Howrah West Bengal 1,072,161


Number of favorable states with more than 3 cities eligible is only 3 namely AP, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. I doubt if the likes of Wal-mart would commit investment in a state having just 1 city above the population threshold. Of course states can choose if they do not have cities more than 10 lakh and allow investments but it clearly does not favor the investor to make any returns from smaller cities.28/49 of those cities are in unfavorable states that are not supporting UPA directly and 21 are in UPA support states.

To open stores there are other considerations including land, and sourcing assuming demand exists.

Average time needed for land acquisition in Maharashtra (most favored state above) for large-scale development has been around 2 years, and that too after approvals from state. Many reasons exist including the political nature of the transactions itself, as has been seen in so many of the SEZ transactions, Singur, POSCO, etc. With the Land Acquisition Bill yet to be tabled there might be a window of opportunity as the bill renders most land acquisitions unviable. 50% of the minimum USD 100 million is to be invested in back-end development excluding land costs and rentals. That leaves a maximum of USD 50 million for land and development. My rough calculation assuming a nominal market rate of 4000 per sq ft leaves with around 600, 000 sq ft possibility. Obviously no retailer will invest in such a large format and a reasonable strategy could be to split and invest in many stores and distribution network.

Back end infrastructure norms is possibly the most useful part of the entire policy. Food loss is ranging from 25-35% in India before it can be consumed (for horticultural produce it is even higher), and don’t get me started on the amount of waste that happens as part of the government controlled distributions. Control on this and possibly selling these warehousing, transportation services to other retailers will definitely cut inflation and help the overall economy as efficiency improves.

Supply side issues coming from the sourcing norms listed in the policy are as follows 1. there may not be enough number of suppliers in favored states like Rajasthan 2. quality of produce may not be on par with retailer standards 3. amount of produce cannot meet regulatory norm of 30% from small industries. Hence transport costs will add to the retailer burden here especially when subsidies are reducing on fuels, this is not a major issue as most retailers always run large and efficient distribution and transportation network.


My feeling is, extremes of this policy being completely anti-farmer or anti-common man to being completely pro-investor or pro-consumer are both incorrect. Projections on outcomes including job creation,  creating efficient back-end, and encouraging ‘small industries’ are all far-fetched considering favorability for investor in only few pockets. Enabling conditions for quality investments (even for domestic institutions) in retail is still a long way to go including cost of land, capital, variety of demand etc. May be with some clever network + a lot of dealing we may see a few stores around Maharashtra (favorable demand + party in power), and MP (favorable sourcing) in pockets. That said FCPA norms could be a bigger show stopper than anything else at least for US listed entities trying to invest in India. Kiranas will still thrive and their inefficiencies are solvable at their scale, without any stimulus from government.


What is a Business Model?

I want to give a very simple illustration of a business model. Most of you in India at least may have seen this business, the Yellow Coin Telephone.

All I knew was, I pay 1 Rupee and talk for a couple of minutes, but how does that owner make money, how does Idea make money, what is the investment, what is the margin, how and when does it break even, are there service levels that are necessary for this, and more questions

Here is how it works,

CAPEX: If I want a phone, I place an order with Idea paying 3500 bucks. Idea installs the phone and gives me free 500 bucks talk time (zero for BSNL).

PRICE: For every call made I get to keep 40 paisa (as against 30 paisa for BSNL payphone)

BREAKEVEN: If 3000/0.40 calls are made, i.e. at 7500 calls I break even, after which anything I get is profit, For 7500 calls to be made it typically takes less than a month in a bus stand (where people run out of charge or do not have a mobile phone), may be more than a year in a not so busy locality.

SLA: My phone has to be up all the time, no excuses, and the operator guarantees this with a penalty clause (not in BSNL)

SELLING: No S G A here

OPEX: Space, and nominal running expenses

When you visualize a business in such real terms, it becomes much clearer, don’t you think?


To Indianise a Cartoon, please dont

I saw 2 curious editorials about importing Archie to India in Point Counterpoint in Times yesterday.

If I were to take sides, mine will be on the side of not trying to Indianise anything.

Simply because of the variety and colours that India offers, cannot do justice on any “Indianise” process however clever.

Secondly my personal experience with 2 of my kids with Cindrella, which they just don’t relate.

While fables are most easily transferable across cultures, (see how Panchatantra got the reach and derivatives across cultures)

stereotype transfers (like this Archie transfer) from another culture will fail to convey anything or even be mildly entertaining.

Archie will be in for a rude shock in India…


TRIZ India Posts Sept 10

Me posting back at
The above post is more of a stumbled upon example of Ideal Final Result.
This post I have raised an important question on the problem definition tools, that has gone unheeded in both trizindia as well as TRIZ Developers forums. Except for Anoop Kurup acknowledging the problem.


My Technology Videos

There was this series of videos done by Discovery Channel on personal innovations in India. I first encountered them while Prof Anil K Gupta gave a talk at our office on innovation.

I love the amphibious cycle example in the below video starting 3.05.

There are more videos from the same series



Knowledge Opportunities

1 .The PSU banking industry is going to face a large scale retirement and there will be a significant knowledge loss from the work force by end 2010.The current retraining, increasing productivity, recruitment processes are not enough for addressing this huge knowledge issue. What can KM processes do to help the bank?

2. The real estate sector has made the leap from horizontal to vertical living space.The people who dwell there are prime candidates to form communities around the needs, interests and concerns that they have. You may not know your neighbour but you will trust him more than you do a stranger on the street, because end of the day he will return to be your neighbour. Trust is not default but a level of it can be assumed in such setting.How can current IM and SM tools help collaboration within this setting catering to different identities and support it background processes and create a lively community?

3. The innovation capacity of educational institutions are usually high and with more than 500000 engineers passing out from the colleges, what are we doing about continuity of knowledge/project/innovation started by one batch to the next as well as having a deep engagement with industry. What can open innovation, open content platforms do to help the country?


Todda Burfee

Hira SweetsMain Road A/1157 Rohtas Nagar Shadra Delhi Phone 011 22596488 The road is also called Hanuman Rd and is core old Delhi and tourists might find it hard to get here. Any clues on directions will definitely help.
Indulged in their famous todda burfee among other delicacies from the above sweet shop this morning thanks to my boss.I am also told that around 10-11 am everyday you get the best Puri-Aloo here and combine this with a tall glass of lassi from the near by Shyam Lassi + the Rabdi and you are a satisfied man.
Calorie sensitive folks please excuse.