Saturday, 29 December 2012

December at iAccelerator, IIMA

   “Who is Anu Vaidyanathan?” I asked. “You don’t know who she is!!?” exclaimed Senthil, co-founder of FRILP (one of the start-ups at iAccelerator, the incubation program at IIMA). Then he told me who the lady was and of her diverse accomplishments: both in physical- an Indian triathlete who is the first and only Asian to compete in Ultraman (placed 6th)- and academic endeavors - has a PhD in a record setting time of 26 months. And this is how December kick started at iAccelerator- Anu Vaidyanathan conducted a session on Intellectual Property. The session was well appreciated by the start-ups as they had not given much thought to IP. It revealed quite astonishing facts; for instance, Microsoft made $30 million on the Windows phone; whereas they made $150 million on Android Licenses- by intelligently manoeuvring IP . Her concluding words to the quite apprehensive founders were, “Don’t get overwhelmed- It’s YOUR spin on the idea which will make the delta difference which is enough in the IP space.”

Anu Vaidyanathan- founder of Pat N Marks

   The very next day there was a workshop on User Experience Design (UX) by Benjamin Mailian. It was quite an interactive workshop where Ben was prodding the participants and making them see their product in a whole new light. The cliché, “PUT YOURSELF IN THE USERS' SHOES!” was actually felt and the start-ups acknowledged the importance of ‘User Perspective’ at the end of it.
UX workshop made the start-ups revisit their design decisions. For team Nukkad, it was quite an eye-opener because they realized that what once seemed very obvious to them was not quite apparent to the end-users. The photography-centred startup, FOCALOID, realized that their most important feature of uploading pictures could not be easily spotted on the home screen. Thus some of the start-ups, with the help of Sandeep Nandi- Visual Designer from NID who is associated with iAccelerator, started re-working on their designs.

                               Ben with the boys!

   The month went on with some start-ups burning the midnight oil in office- for instance; the FRILP team would work in shifts, on days staying up till dawn. Since the entire team is from Chennai, they were quite excited about superstar Rajnikant’s birthday which was on 12.12.12! A couple of days prior to it, one of the team members came up with the thought of making a website to wish the superstar and the entire FRILP room resonated with the idea (I know because I was staying with a couple of FRILP team members). They were so pepped up about it, that they walked into the office at 12:15 am on 11.12.12 and in a matter of 5 hours they completed designing the site, coding it and even deploying it! The enthusiasm was in the air the next morning and I was amazed when I saw their work:

Kudos to the FRILP team!

   The week after that saw the likes of Rohit Nair and Aakrut, who had come to meet the budding entrepreneurs and also seek out a possibility of investment. Rohit was an exuberant personality- he gelled well with almost everyone that he met and added some value to their product. He had a one-on-one conversation with all the start-ups regarding their product and later also shared his entrepreneurial journey with them (He was the founder of QuizWorks and and currently he’s the COO at Contests2Win). It was quite a brilliant session for all the start-ups; in fact it so turned out that members of team
Nukkad and Rohit were batch-mates. On this realization, he took them for lunch and they spoke about the undergraduate days at University Visvesvariya College of Engineering.
   The start-ups were still a bit unsure of their User Interface and that’s where Mr. Jonah and Ms. Subalekha came in. These were two young UX consultants who had started their new company a couple of years back, called
Paper Equator. I was quite curious by this name and asked them what it meant. Subalekha replied saying, “When someone gets an idea, he normally jots it down on paper. We ensure that the idea is transformed from the paper and reaches everywhere (Equator).” Quite a creative name, indeed!Jonah and Subalekha held 1.5 hr sessions with all the start-ups and the best part about it was that the session would address a specific problem that they face and eventually solve it within the time-frame. This session - known as UX Flare – was quite productive for all the start-ups as it left them with something tangible which they could implement.
   As the demo day draws nearer, the intensity of work at
iAccelerator keeps increasing. Christmas or a public holiday for the Gujarat elections is as good as any working Monday. Time/Day no longer seems to be an entity at iAccelerator. And you have to hand it to these guys for the attitude; for it is this very attitude that gives life to everything that we see around us. As the famous quote hangs at one of the doors at INSEAD,

“The whole world would’ve been an idea, if not for implementation."


  1. I love how you remember such minute details of whatever its is you write about. I am sorry, forgot to check your blog out before. But its brilliant :)