Screw it, I am diving in now!


You need a perfect moment for getting out of the comfort zone and start your entrepreneurial journey. All your fears of quitting a job that ensures a monthly pay, all your fears of answering your family and relatives about your crazy move and all your fears of spending sleepless nights ahead need just one “Screw it, I am diving in now” moment. And for me Startup Weekend provides that exact moment, not just once but multiple times each year. Being a veteran Startup Weekender (5 times in a year!) I built a huge network of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, CEOs, investors, CTOs, designers and what not and it feels great to interact with each one of them.

In October 2012 I had this crazy idea of providing low cost in-store navigation for shoppers in India that would work on any mobile phone with a camera on it. I was evaluating this idea with my friends and they loved it very much, but it takes a lot more than exciting your friends and family to validate and launch a product. Just a month later I registered myself for Startup Weekend Hyderabad to leverage this opportunity and pitch my idea DigiFlap (Digital Floor Map) and validate it further. I found a passionate team of a developer, designer and two marketing guys for my product idea right then and there once my idea got voted in the top ideas for the day. We spent the whole night till 1:00 AM brainstorming about the idea and reiterating it up to 5 times on the very same day! That’s rapid prototyping!

We aimed at building a basic prototype (MVP) to be showcased on Sunday evening and started off with the design and development of the platform and validation, both in parallel. Our marketing guys were so damn persistent to get the idea validated that they dared to step back into Inorbit Mall (Hyderabad) after being kicked out by their security guards for taking surveys without prior permission. Finally, by the end of day they pooled up a handsome set of opinions from customers and store managers to validate the consumer app and the retail app of our platform. Once they were done with the surveys they went ahead to understand various roles and responsibilities in a FMCG retail to give us a better understanding of the ease at which our product usability should be designed.

Finally we showcased our product to the judges on Sunday evening and bagged third prize which was quite exciting. But thats not it, Mr. Ramesh Loganathan (Progress Software) was really helpful post the event as well. He helped us to get a decent coverage on The Deccan Chronicle (print media) and helped us refine the product further by scheduling more meetups with himself and with other leads in retail segment.

Currently DigiFlap has undergone several iterations and a complete working prototype has been built. We are talking with various clients in the US to push our product further, all thanks to Startup Weekend!

Sharing my gyaan to gonna-be-startup weekenders

1. Come to the venue on time or even a bit before the registrations kick off. The event is all about networking, networking and networking. Try to talk with as many people as possible, know what they do and exchange your details. It is a life long network that you are forming by getting induced into the Startup Weekend ecosystem.

2. Don’t think that you are done once you pitch your idea, the real fun begins after that. Keep talking to as many participants as possible at dinner and demystify your idea further. Remember, all you have is a minute to pitch your idea but almost an hour to explain it further and excite people while having dinner.

3. Do not aim for the sky. All you need is a basic prototype that gives a sense of your product. There are many other aspects of building a product like validating with real customers (your paying customers), a proper revenue model and a proper presentation. In the end you have to showcase clarity to the judges over what you intend to build.

All the very best to all the participants!

PS: I will be a volunteer helping out the wonderful team of Startup Weekend Hyderabad organisers in March 2013. Feel free to get in touch for any help!