European Startups Success!

Have been closely following the Europe Tech Startup Scene closely for last 2 years & here are my few realisations.
The continent’s tech Hub scene can be easily divided into below regions :
– UK Tech Hub Scene
– Northern Europe Tech Hub Scene (Scandinivian, Netherlands, Estonia)
– Western Europe Tech Hub Scene (Berlin, Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris)
– Central + Eastern Europe Scenes

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Now coming to the list of companies – the ones which have succeeded by either crossing $1Bn revenue mark or being sold to another Business Giant can be listed below :

  • Spotify!
  • Booking
  • Nokia (Till it lasted)
  • Revolut/Transferwise/ N26
  • FarFetch
  • Zalando
  • Klarna
  • BlaBla Car
  • Avito.Ru
  • Meero
  • Delivery Hero/HelloFresh/Deliveroo/JustEat
  • Badoo
  • Wix
  • Skype

atomico unicorns

Some Key Observations are :

  • British continues to rule but interesting to see how Brexit changes the scene with UK Products will have limited audience in European markets & vis-a-vis
  • US,China are still BIG as compared to European Markets however very few US, Chinese products find acceptance in Europe Markets – WhatsApp, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft are few I know
  • Few Europe Companies Go Global in terms of office setups & market acquisition

But in my understanding, European Startups are unique in terms of offering & are Long Term for following reasons :

  • IPO Target : They target IPO first rather than being a Unicorn along or raising multiple fundings. This shows a mature Approach – Spotify is one unique example of the same
  • Focus on specific customer offering more than marketing, scaling – I have interacted, worked with multiple Startups & their insistence on researching, experimenting, testing, Data Science Approach is VERY VERY HIGH (to the point of nagging at times :))
  • Data approach, experimentation/Testing approach : Another Mature Approach is that they insist on Data for making all Key Decisions
  • Not in a hurry to scale
  • Skill Focussed & Way Upward from Down
  • Doing Simple Thing But Very well!
  • Options to move around different countries in a small space
  • Social Safety Net & Wealth Equality (Social Democratic Setup)
  • Egalitarism

I do think that where they differ is that Americans tend to be a lot better at sales and marketing from day one. They don’t even have a product and they are shouting about how good they are and really selling the product before it is even built. But Europeans will wait three years until the product is completely finished, or at least up to their standards, and say, hey, we exist. It is really bad from both sides. As a reporter, you are kind of fed up with people shouting before it is ready, because it is nonsense. But I really wish the European entrepreneurs would be a little be a little bit more proactive and shouting about their publicity and making noise and selling. They are very bad at selling.” —- Robin Wauters, Founder Tech.eu

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Ref :

https://www.businessinsider.com/most-valuable-startups-europe-2011-12?IR=T#mind-candy-pivoted-from-a-failed-idea-into-a-social-network-for-kids-thats-worth-more-than-200-million-2

How European and U.S. startups go global: A look at the numbers

https://www.ft.com/content/bf7b3dd4-127d-11e5-8cd7-00144feabdc0

https://www.inc.com/inc5000-europe/special-report.html

27 European startups that have reached unicorn status

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Women IPL 2019

Had to write about it as had been following it closely & enjoyed it thoroughly too – all the matches went down to the wire so one has to appreciate the efforts of all organizers, players, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters!

Popularity of Women Cricket not just in India but across the world is on the rise, no two hoots about it. India being the largest country playing the game & because of the mass following plays the fulcrum role.
Post WC 2017 Success, Women cricketers have become household names & this is only going to increase with time. There have been milestones achieved like Launch of Historical Biography book, Magazines, Training facilities, WC T20 Semi Final berth, talks of mixed gender T20 Match, One Leg WIPL 2019, Exclusive Sponsorships, Women Commentators, etc.
These were not thinkable 2 years back but have happened & continue to evolve as a fresh source of involving more people in the game at the same time giving girls an equal opportunity as boys.

Now it’s time for IPL Teams (all 8) to start Women’s teams and give them a platform to perform by playing co-sponsors as Men’s teams. It should not be very difficult as the facilities, infra, trainers, coaches, grounds, etc. just need to be shared and not newly created.

How it has to be executed with Men’s IPL being a 55 day affair with hardly any scope of double games is to be seen.
Some efforts on part of sports administrators to show their creativity.

And as I conclude – may I please ask people to stop bashing Mithali Raj, the lady has been at the helm of so unnecessary criticism from the adrenaline junkies who don’t understand or wish to understand the nuances of games.
People should stop comparing Women players or try to create rifts amongst them, they all have their own strengths which is amazing given where they have reached almost single handedly with only parents & at times board supporting them.

I might be known as a Mithali Fan but am equally happy to see Smriti or Harman or Veda or Jemi or now Shafali, Harleen, etc. perform. They are faces that are girls in hinterlands of India shall look upto and seek inspiration from especially in times of doubts. So they all & many more need to be encouraged.
I do agree that I do not appreciate or like to see overtly high aggression in body language, words or expressions. Am most for aggression but through your performance like waiting for your turn & when you get it – make the most of the situation. But in doing that do not cause the natural turn of events get harmed.

 I do urge Mithali if she’s reading or listening to the +Ves around to stick around till WC2021 & get India the trophy. Build a team for that stage that can handle pressure & look to beat the best in the world like Aussies, England. I do think India is in Top 3 of the world in terms of ODI, its just a matter of being able to hold nerves & accelerate whenever necessary.
Mithali, herself can be a good weapon for India in WC2020 as there is no better (wo)man manger as a leader, who has seen it all & knows the opposition in all conditions, can be a reliable batswoman at any stage of the game. She just needs to focus on some solid power hitting – then there is nothing stopping her. She needs to hold on!

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New Interests Findings & Relevance

  • Russian Philosophy – How Capitalism & Socialism Thoughts evolved during Cold War & shaped the world. How China kept its Communism intact

Leninism vs Marxism vs Stalinism vs Communism and its after impacts.
My PM Learnings : How the limit of human thought-processes was explored way back & even put into practice – resulting in new ideologies. How different ideas might create excitement & perspectives at the particular time but ultimately the one which is most resilient & inclusive of people with self absorption & growth scope results into longevity.

  • Quantum Physics linked to Spiritualism – Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein

How the infinity unites one & that leads to the discovery of yourself w.r.t. the universe is Beautiful!
My PM Learnings : To have a LARGER THAN LIFE VIEW TOWARDS our daily usage of Products.

  • Ancient Scriptures linked to Neuroscience & Psychology – 

My PM Learnings : How it is possible to explore the amazing transient models plus it has already been explored in depth of research. If one can be a good student & learn to adapt to different times as a customised solution – it can result into something Great!

  • Cognitive Science Linked to Design Models & Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning involving Cryptography/Coding/Rubiks Cube

My PM Learnings : How different perspectives can lead to some unique models for consumer thought process mapping using basic thoughts. Here’s one list of such principles :  https://fs.blog/general-thinking-concepts/

  • Animation : There are different types like 2D, 3D (which is most popular with CUG, etc.), Whiteboard, Stop Motion (My Fav), Cutout, Sand, FlipBook, 

My PM Learnings : How to use different perspectives of people into creating different illusions & visualisations

  • Drone Photography : Different places where it has been used to shoot a completely new perspective!

My PM Learnings : To think out of box & how same stuff can look so different!

  • Luxury Behavioural science with Globalisation playing an important Role

My PM Learnings : It’s important to understand how people from a different Geo-Political- Social Background can have a completely different take on expectation of services & offerings.

  • Origin of Human Race (Sapiens) – Initiated to Central Asia & how spread to Eurasia regions! How Civilisations Kicked Off? How GOT is linked 

My PM Learnings : Its so important to know the history behind your product & idea so as to do complete justice to the same.

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As Post 2008 Generation, My Learnings

I have recently been thinking & discussing with my friends about “What should be our Generation’s & Particularly of People with our Background’s Differentiation Offered to this World?”
What is it that will make our Generation stand tall amindst its previous (Baby Boomers & Early Millennials IT, Manufacture) & future generations (Internet & SaaS).

Am realising for a standard working professional with a Graduation Degree & Maybe Masters with few years of experience, there are following area gaps which are left to be filled by individual her/himself :

  1. Identification of Subjects which truly stimulate your Motivation cells (which you will do unconditionally)
  2. To enhance your thought process beyond your subject of expertise – reading, podcasts, documentaries, travel, side projects?
  3. To create your own differentiation – by connecting the dots! Also no one can teach you above – one has to find a process on their own to find their Juice/Mantra/Fibre.

And then I came across below article

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/rajat-gupta-is-unrepentant-for-his-crimes/articleshow/68536851.cms

This article was more of a trigger but my research includes lots of documentaries (Around Brexit, Subprime Crisis, Corporate Functions, World History), Podcasts, Books, Travel,  Time spent with Family along with Self Talk & Analysis, meeting & networking with some right people resulted in below List. Am certain that am quite close to the answer :

  1. INTEGRITY – DEFINED BY PERSONAL & WORK ETHICS is most critical as the value associated with this will only increase in times since majority around you (as one can observe) will take the easy path always while compromising on multiple things
  2. NETWORK CIRCLE – AUTHENTICATED & ALIGNED TO YOUR PERSONAL VALUES : I personally attach alot of importance to this since it is not possible for a Monk also to remain completely sane without some basic human interactions
  3. MULTI SKILL HAT – of doing different roles required to understand everyone’s viewpoints along with different sized organizations and in different geographies. Have seen such people to be easy to mingle & quick at Problem Identification
  4. THROUGH & THROUGH INNOVATION – Creativity cannot be proven by your social media posts or by your dressing or just by speaking some cool jingoisms, you should/must have proven records of what you believe you stand for & Yes a Proven record of having done innovation in some capacity will give a certain edge
  5. DETAILING & PRIORTIZATION – Breaking a situation Down, first in Mind and then on Paper. And the ability of Breaking Down is an adaptive one where you need to master different models & implement depending on the problem statement.
  6. FUTURE TECH ADAPTATION – This is where being an engineer becomes useful coz one understands technology & its implementations
  7. PEOPLE SKILLS + LEADERSHIP – Outgoing, Easy to get along but difficult to get perturbed are very useful daily skills. Also what kind of Leader are you going to turn up to be from being an Inclusive Leader to Strategic to Transformational to Facilitative to Democratic to Autocratic to Cross Cultural to Laissez Faire (My Least Favorite) to Transactional to Coaching to Charismatic to Visionary
  8. WORLDLY AWARE IN MOST TOPICS – Music, Netflix, Travel, Politics, History, Sports, Culture Insights, Food & Wine – Strategy Ideas & References come from here a lot. Late Discovery but it has the Power of increasing your mindspace & mindframe to a greater extent than few other.
  9. YOUR OWN MOJO SKILL (PREFERABLY FROM HUMANITIES OR SCIENCE SUBJECT TOPICS FROM SCHOOL – Something You always knew you were Good at) : I have observed that every person while doing their job (numbers, coding) & following their passion, there is always some art/science from which they daily seek solace which becomes like their secret power. In many people’s cases I have seen them to be cars, gardening, cooking, etc.
  10. TO HOLD SELF AGAINST TRENDS – This I will give alot of value as well since the trends are most dangerous for those who don’t believe in themselves so much! I have personally felt the strongest of all urges by Old worlds to pull me into complacency and New Worlds to pull me into Anxiety Competition Led Atmosphere. Its important for one to find their own pace & atmosphere suited to what they believe & stand for so as to master their ownselves first & then others around them.

Loads of things like being Hard Working, Articulate, Charming which were considered to be High Value skills for Pre 80s generation will be considered basic must haves for Post 2000s.

Plus a lot of extra-ordinary skills of 80s generation will be considered Good to Have!

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Zingography 11 : Cognitive Abilities in PM

Cognitive Science involves linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience and anthropology. My learning & experience says that if we are able to include Cognitive Science into our Product Management Process – they results shall be much more refined, Long term & closest to objective.

Cognitive Science has to include multiple stakeholders views from :

  • Customers perspective
  • Team management perspective
  • Leadership & changing Business Landscape perspective

Am quite sure of developing successful models around the same for different PM Cycle stages & this is my effort for the same.

Below are the key PM Stages & recommended Models for the same :

  1. Business Strategy Roadmap based on Market Research & Secondary Research Data Insights — Model 1 (Leadership Management + Market Analysis – BCG Matrix, PLC, 7S Framework, Value Chain)
  2. Need Gap Analysis Identification — Model 2 (STP + 5Porters Forces)
  3. Recommendation Solutions & Prioritisation of Features (New & Enhancements) – Model 3 (Phase Gate Model/ Spider Mapping Technique ; High & Low Impact)
  4. User Persona Identification – Model 4 (Demography & Behaviour (Tech & Products) Mapping)
  5. Roadmapping + Project Management – Model 5 (Gantt Chart)
  6. BRD/ PRD – Model 6 (Process Note, Unified Modelling Language)
  7. MVP Approach – Model 7 (User – Action – Story ; Pain – Gain)
  8. User Journeys/Scenarios mapping – Model 8 (Decision Tree)
  9. Designing-> with quick dipsticks & quick changes around suggestions Model 9 : Neurological Emotional Branding + Decision of buying

Screenshot 2019-03-07 at 8.25.22 PM

10. Development/Middleware – Library & its adaptations for agile expansion
11. UAT all scenarios/Hackathon (Model 10) /CUG – AB Testing Hypothesis linked to Data          Mining & Big Data Analysis…. Statistics & its variance test analysis! Frequentist vs              Bayesian ..
12. Success Metrics formulation (Model 11) Data visualisation /K Nearest neighbours/              Regression/Clustering ; Random Forests; Time series/sequence; text mining!
13. Launch & Optimise
14. Team Management Model

Disclaimer : My suggestions are based on my experience, research, interactions with other companies & my own theories/understandings on this space. Am quite confident of their inter-relationship with each other.

Some Books I recommend in this regard are :

  • Design of everyday Life
  • Sapiens
  • Art of Deduction
  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  • Cognitive Science
  • Psychology of Persuasion
  • Infographica

Emotional Quotient

EQ is a very rare quality in a human being & even a rarer quality in a Successful Leader.

I used to study & try to understand in college, but it’s a different ball game when you appear in work arena & then see how work demands/pressures are to be met with the People/Cultural aspects.

Of course one learns to manage the work demands & skill demands depending on one’s capacity. It’s always the people skill management that is the trickiest to master as it is very dynamic, variable to unpredictability.

I struggled with the same as well – majorly because there were a lot of aspects about myself that I had not explored or made myself aware e.g. how I respond to pressure, to a New team person, to a vendor, etc. Since I had not given them any thoughts consciously, mastering them was a far away task.

I think – till the age of 28, and 5 years of work experience – the effort was more or less optimise/adjust for survival and observe around. But I think it was during my 6th year of work experience, in 2015 when I decided to do a proper analysis & self haul of :

  1. Who i am?

  2. What do i want in life?

  3. What do I want in work life?

  4. What I need to do achieve 2 & 3?

This gave a lot of perspective & a lot of peace to myself as I then felt am moving in life with some sort of direction (not 100% clear but still some LIGHT). This made a lot of people interactions & my senior leadership alignments easier as well. I won’t say that it has been absolutely smooth sailing since then but still the choppy waters have seemed manageable & the belief to be able to make it the shore has grown stronger.

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Of course, the presence of my last manager & a few other leaders with higher EQ has made me realise even stronger & clearer on what I want in life & am thankful for that. I cannot stress more on the importance on such People focussed Leaders who groom young people & motivate them to achieve what they want in Life. They become life coaches & mentors, role models for them in moments of crisis.

Last week, one of the senior women leaders decided to move out of the company & it made me feel bad beyond what I imagined. Of course in the short span that I got to know her – she came across as an extremely understanding, warm, affectionate and easy to approach (Again rare leadership qualities). The extent to which she understood your position & could advise you accordingly amazed me – High High EQ. The amount of comfort she offered to a non – direct team member speaks volumes on her ability to connect. The fact that it wells up my eyes every time I think about the fact that she could not continue due to family commitments, speaks volumes about her ability to connect & leave a positive mark.
I do wish to be always there in her life & vice versa plus also hope for many more such people in life moving forward to make it worth it!

Topic of Terrorism!

I have never written about the same though I have always felt strongly against it since a young age!
As I remember the stories of Revolutionaries, War of Independence, World Wars, History Books always fascinated me & there was a great sense of Pride associated towards having an identity in the World filled with contradictions.

My Generation might be one of those who were organically introduced to the topics of Terrorism, Communism, Socialism, Capitalism with LIVE examples all around amongst both sides debated points & forming our opinions in the midst of the same as we went about our lives.

No One supports Terrorism & its very much in Black & White but what makes this topic worth debating is when it becomes political as a mean to achieve bigger means. When Terrorism is fuelled by Religion then still, few can find sides based on rationalism but when it becomes a Politically Motivated Terrorism Issue then its a fight about who’s More Wrong.

Unfortunately, this is what has happened in Kashmir – fuelled by the 1947 Partition Venom, Kashmir has just not been allowed to come to terms to what it deserves to be.

Under the clout of Unaccepted Ownership of Indian Republic to a certain section of people based on Old Age reasons, a Young Beautiful emotional State has been played with time & again by the neighbours for a higher Political Relevance at Global Arena.

It’s nothing but unfortunate that Kashmir & India including their people have paid such heavy prices for this long due to indecisiveness on Political aspects.

At times, it is impertinent to take some STRONG rational calls for the overall Good! Israel’s stand against Palestine, US stand against Afghanistan, Lankans against LTTE are some recent modern day examples. Time India does the same!

Surgical Strikes have been widely appreciated & such mechanisms to separate & expose Militants from countries’ politics, forcing them into receding will create a LongTerm & Well Appreciated Example. India is well aware that it is amongst the Top 2 Growing Economies in the World & everyone looks upto them for solutions.

The decision is Long due & is evidently on the Walls – India is a much much more prosperous, educated, developed, flourishing nation as compared to Pakistan hence Kashmir (if and when has to fairly systematically choose its Future) shall be a part of the Former including PoK.
Execution & Enforcement of the same has to be fast & clear but Indian Subcontinent has always been slower in creating such strong consensus.

My Prayer – last attack on 14th Feb 2019 to our CRPF Men in Pulwama be the Last Ever! Amen

Have 0 Resolutions, 100 More Dreams!

Yes! Dreams Work!

Visualise them, clearly, cleanly & with no references nor influences. See them with a Happy & Relaxed Mindset with no pressures & no desires. Just visualise where You See yourself doing what, with who!

It is important that you see your Dream Vividly & Stay Honest to IT all the while.

Believe.

Now find steps to reach them & Get after them Non – Stop with complete focus & belief.

Surround Yourself with People who will be happy to see you there!

Be Patient.

Yes, its that Simple – Dream, Be Focussed, Find Steps, Work incessantly & Surround Yourself with Right People.

All Your Dreams will come True Like A Brightly Lit Sky Full of Stars & The Moon! Just Believe & Be Focussed.

ZINGOGRAPHY : Tech/Product/UX/Startup Update # 10 – PM ToolKit

Please consider every PM to be a works-person, who needs tools apart from their skills to do a good job out of a situation!

Every worksmith/ carpenter/ chef, etc. is incomplete without their toolbox so its important as a Product Manager to be sure of your own sharpened tools basis your experience, intuition, comfort/compatibility, etc.

I also have now worked for 8+ years in different Products domain starting with Data, OTT, E-commerce, Retail Channels (B2B + B2C), Media, Food, Jewellery, FMCG, FinTech, Travel/OTA, AdTech, Transportation (Cabs/Trucks), etc.
And from my own & other PMs experience – let me share a list which I find is useful for one & all. These are compiled basis checking with other industries & PMs as well :

  1. Research Tools : SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, TypeForm
  2. Current Situation + Need Gap Analysis : Porter’s Frameworks – SWOT, 4P, STP, 5 Porter’s Force
  3. Project Management : Asana, Jira, Trello
  4. Team Management : Slack, Basecamp
  5. MVP & Road-mapping : Asana, Aha, ProdPad,
  6. Spec Writing : Word, DropBox Paper, GitHub
  7. User Scenarios Mapping : Excel, Smaply/StoriesonBoard
  8. Designing : Invision, Iconjar
  9. Coding/ Development : GitHub
  10. UX : Prototype,io, Axure
  11. Team screen sharing + feedback incorporation : Zeplin, Intercom
  12. AB Testing : VWO, Wasabi
  13. Analytics – Front End : Google Analytics, Firebase
  14. Analytics – Middle ware : Moengage, Clevertap, Appsflyer
  15. Analytics – Back End : SQL, ML Tools
  16. Campaign Management : Adobe 360
  17. Targeted Campaigns : Targetting
  18. Revenue + P&L Management : MS Excel Macro

Apart From this – the must have ingredient almost like Oiling is 5-6 hours of Reading, Networking, Experimenting, Failing, Sharing, etc.

All The Best : Let the Magic Begin!

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