Friday, May 31, 2013

The Lean Startup - Eric Ries

It had been a long time since I read a book this quickly!

Yes, there are some subjects that interest me and definitely entrepreneurship is amongst the top. I have been reading many books on start-up and entrepreneurship, and with the ability to relate to the problems/issues of the entrepreneurs whom I meet day in and day out as part of my role as incubation I connect pretty quickly with them. 

I got hold of this book around a week and half back and I was able to manage my time to finish this book quickly! I didnt have to spend too much time doing context switches. The five principles that mentioned in the book struck a good chord with me. These principles are:
  1. Entrepreneurs are Everywhere
  2. Entrepreneurship is Management
  3. Validated Learning
  4. Innovation Accounting 
  5. Build-Measure-Learn Loop 
all touch a simple chord with entrepreneurs. The style of writing is pretty much simple which makes it rather simple for entrepreneur to actually use these techniques in their business.

My vote goes with this book for any one who wants to know about starting off - especially in a B2C and IT heavy companies. For others there might be some tweaking of the insights developed to suit their domain.

Check the website:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Anadka Falls - 3 (KadamaGundi Falls)

God has his own plans.... Man is just an instrument to his game... 
What began with just an over enthusiastic attempt to go on a trek; turned out to be full of surprises. 

I had not been on a trek for over an year now - I was craving for one since the last trek to kudremukh around Sept 2011, the one to Chuchi falls was less of a trek and more of a family trip. This time I was determined to climb up the "Ettinabhuja", which we missed the last time after our team had climbed the Amedikal. 

After a few calls and facebook chats, our team of 5 - Vasudendra, Arun, Shweta and Sahana was ready to get to Ettinabhuja. Though the team was formed more than a month ago, my repeated attempts to reach our guide turned futile - our first attempt to get the guide wasnt successful due to some personal problems, the second guide wasnt reachable given that the landline connections near Shishila are unreliable.  

After a brief consultation with the team - a couple of days before the trek, it was decided that we would go ahead with the trek and take our chance once we reach Shishila. The tickets to Dharmastala were booked - the plan was to freshen up here, and then possibly take a jeep drive from here to Shishila directly. 

It was around 5:45 AM when we reached Dharmastala, and we wasted no time in getting freshened up in the bus-stand. We then moved to the Hotel there to finish our breakfast and got our food packed for the trek. We next ventured on to find our vehicle to reach the base-camp of Shishila. 

The first plan was to hire a jeep/auto from Dharmastala to Shishila - this would be a bit costly and would be around Rs 600 /- We then decided to go to Kokkada and take a jeep from there (this we thought at least, would be a bit more affordable) We hired a service jeep for around Rs 350/- to Shishila. 

When we reached our guide's home, we were in for a rude shock! The trekking from Shishila to Ettinabhuja was closed for over an year! There was a naxal problem and the forest guards were very reluctant to let anyone to climb from here. There was no way we would be allowed to reach the peak from here. 

We got into a deliberation immediately to decide on the next trek point, none of us wanted to return without a trek. After some time we decided to quickly move on to reaching Dedupe and go to the Hanadka Falls. We did ask some of the localites at Shishila if they had information about the feasibility of getting to Dedupe and likelihood of being permitted to go to the falls. We were able to get an affirmative on the permission and decided to move on towards the Dedupe.

Though I did think philosophically that - "Man Proposes, God Disposes", there is really nothing that we realize what God has actually disposed until we try the next option. This means, one has to apply oneself to the situation and think about what to do next - what is the next best situation that I could go in for?

I was going to Dedupe the third time and so to some extent I wasn't very willing to go on this, but I knew it would be the first for the others excepting Arun. I decide it would be nice to see the falls again and if time permits be able to explore anything new.

We returned in the same jeep (just that we had some more people along this time) to Kokkada, and were luck enough to quickly get the bus to Dharmastala. This was like reaching back to square one and a couple of hours spent without any real use. A short wait at Dharmastala and we got our bus to Ujire.

At Ujire, we checked with the ticket counter to see if we would be able get any bus immediately, being a day earlier to the elections we werent very convinced of having a bus to our destination (it is relatively remote here). We stood waiting on the road towards Kotigehara - where we could climb the bus to Dedupe. Seeing a jeeps about there, we thought of trying the option of reaching Dedupe via the jeep. We found one in no time we found one that had initially planned to have its last stop as Kajoor; however having seen five of us in the team he decided to move ahead to Dedupe.We were lucky here and went along.

I spoke with the driver on the way and he also mentioned about the Ermayee falls close by - I was immediately enthused by the possibility of exploring another falls and so let Arun know about it. We decided to first finish Dedupe and then if time permits (which I felt we would definitely be able to manage) we would return to visit Ermayee.

A 45 minutes journey with the Jeep, we reached Dedupe from where we had to begin our trek to Anadka Falls. At Dedupe, there is also a Panchayat Office, besides which there is a board that points to the direction of "Kadamagundi Falls". This is the other name for Anadka Falls. We checked with the Panchayat office about the permission to reach the falls. One of the person in the Panchayat office was kind enough to call the person (Mr Raju) in charge of collecting the names etc of the trekkers who go to visit the falls - he wasn't in the Forest Guard office and so asked us to write down the names at a small shop on the route to the falls. 

Thanking the individual for the help, we decided to move ahead and register our names at the shop. The shop owner is Mr Vasantha with whom we wrote down the names and deposited the entry fees before moving further. He also asked us to call the Forest officer(whose number he gave) to ensure that he know we have actually got the permission. He asked us to return before 6 PM in the evening. Thanking him, we continued our journey head.

The hot sun and the humid climate was making it tough for us to get going smoothly. The dusty Jeep Track only made me feel worse. The perspiration levels were pretty high - I feel the sweat drip from my cheek and my T-shirt completely wet, and with the sun right above our heads our energy was draining pretty quickly. I remember having seen a bit more forest on my earlier treks to the falls - this time I could see few plantations coming up. The forest department too was looking to get its area fenced. 

After trekking for a little more than an hour we reached the house of Mrs Savitri Marathe. On my earlier trek, Thyagraja Marathe had got me here - so with a brief introduction she allowed us to move through her plantations to the falls. Another 15 minutes trek, we spotted the falls - this enthused the team and we quickly reached the base of the falls. 

Arun and Vasu were quick to get to having a bath at the falls. I in my usual style decided to rest on one of the rocks and take a short nap. Sahana and Shweta too were busy trying to enjoy the shallow pond that the falls had created. 

In the earlier trek, my team and I had explored a couple of cascades of the falls above the visible one, this time I wasn't very enthused about trying it again an so just waited for the others to return to the stone for lunch. In my minds window, I waded through the memories of earlier trek and was comparing it. I had visited the falls three times and at all different points of the day - the first one was very early, while the second one was late in the evening - this time it was mid noon. The falls looked so different each time - the kind of birds that sun varies so did the intensity of leaf colors! Nature - you are just a beautiful director, painter composer - simply an all-rounder. 

After spending over an hour and half at the falls and having our lunch, decided to trek back. We filled in our water bottles and some how Sahana wasn't convinced that the water was good enough so she put the water back. We decided to fill the water bottles at the Marathe Home. 

The local community of around 10 houses uses the water from this falls for their drinking and irrigation purpose. They have pipe that detours some water a bit drown-stream from the falls to their home. This is the primary source of drinking and most of other water requirements of this community.

As we resumed the journey back, Sahana who was leading the trek was very happy to move through the plantations and would have almost lead us to another home if not for some route correction. We returned to the Marathe home - spoke with Mrs Savithir, filled water in our bottles and after a break of 30 minutes decided to trek to Dedupe.

By this time, I could sense that the team had lost most of the steam and asking for a trek to Ermayee might be futile. We just walked our way back towards Dedupe - the hot sun had just gotten hotter. We reached Mr Vasanth's store after an hour of trek and when we did come there he was off for lunch. A bit further from there was some shade and a bridge where we all sat down drinking some water. We knew for sure that some soda would have helped and so patiently waited till he returned. 

Around 10 minutes of waiting and we found him walk back into the store, we ran in to check if there was something that could quench our thirst - we gobbled up a few Mango juices and felt a bit relieved as his stock of Soda was all over. We thanked him and continued our journey to the main street where we could catch the bus from. 

We could see a public bus that carried the election duty officials to the village school for the election duty the next day. The Chief Election Officer (CEO) was extremely active this year and we had not just read about crores of Rupees being caught at various check posts - a week earlier when we were driving back from our hometown of Udupi to Bangalore we had multiple points where checking was in progress. The CEO seems to have really done a good work this year.

Once we reached the main street, we found another shop that was opened and we asked if we could get some soda/soft drink that could make us feel better. The hot sun had almost dehydrated us completely. We were lucky to find the soft drinks and were more than pleased to gulp them. We then asked about the next bus to Ujire. This was to be at around 4PM. We still had an hour of time to spend sitting - we looked around and found a bus-stand and also another shop which was closed. We decided to rest in the verandah of the shop while Vasu decided to sleep peacefully in the Bus-stop. Around 3:40 we found the bus coming into Dedupe and thats when we decided to get up and get ready for return.We had a few glasses of packed Brinda Juice which was just too good for us and also helped satisfy the thirst.

We got into the bus to Ujire and before we could realize all of us were fast asleep. We woke up just in time for the Ujire Stop and got down. A short discussion about what next and we decided to go to Kottegehara for the famous "Neerdose". We waited for around 15 minutes when we got a bus to Bellary - an hour and half of journey we reached Kottigehara. 

Vasu and Arun were in a great hurry to rush to the hotel and before we knew what was happening - they were making their choice of hotel. We went into Hotel Anil and ordered Neerdose - I am not sure how many plates of these did we really eat, but it was worth a memory :).

An enquirer on the bus timing got us to know that there was a bus at 10:30 PM from Moodigere, it was just around 6:30 PM now and we had to keep ourselves occupied till such time.

Vasu being a well known author in Kannada had fans all over the state - we asked him what we could do next. He knew Mrs Rajeshwari Tejaswi - wife of Late Poorna Chandra Tejaswi (He is son of the renowned Kannada literate KuVemPu), and suggested we could have a visit to their home. We all were gun-go with the plan and immediately jumped it to move on.

We caught the next bus to Moodigere and after a short walk in the completely dark roads of Moodigere with a single torch! we reached the home of Mr Tejaswi. The next hour and half that we spent at the home was amazing - Mrs Tejaswi detailed out her experiences, the time at Moodigere, we saw the various prizes conferred on Mr Tejaswi and to top it some of the amazing collection of flora that was there in their garden.

We thanked Mrs Tejaswi for the hospitality and decided to walk back to the handpost. The bus-stand was around couple of Kilometers from the hand post and we hired an auto to the town. After a wait of around an hour discussing various issues from politics to literature to cricket to music and many more, we were extremely happy to see the bus arrive in time. 

We quickly jumped into the bus, blocked our seat and silently waited for the return journey to begin to Bangalore. As I closed my eyes, the days happenings unfolded in my minds eye. The amazing change of plans, the almost serendipity of getting to visit a great author's home, but with one sadness of not having been able to check on the new falls I got to know off. 

It was an awesome trek, and I loved the company of my mates - Arun, Vasu, Sahana and Shweta for this trek - thank you all for making it so wonderful.