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

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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

risks chart

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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Zingography # 13 : Cognitive Behaviour + Data Science ; AB Test Validation Tool

I have been really fascinated by the capability of AB Testing Tool to make Designing Decisions using Data Science.
If you combine Machine Learning & Statistical Science to the same – then Previous Combo becomes more Potent & Effective.

AB Testing can be a tough Art to Master, even the most experienced ones go wrong all the time with their hypothesis & metrics selection.
Hence accepting your own & your colleagues varying opinions + navigating through the same to get most effective Long Term Impacts is they Key for Success.
But one should be honest to the science of AB Testing & how it is designed even if results are not favourable – it’s like a daily routine that should be practiced as it is.

What am here to discuss is the New Art of combining “Cognitive Design Behaviour with Data Science Algorithms” and especially use Spotify’s Playlist Recommendation for the same.

My Current Research Analysis says that Spotify’s Recommendation Engine is one of the best in this space!

Yeah better than Apple‘s iTunes, Alibaba‘s + Amazon’s Return HomePage Pages Recommendations or Similar SKU suggestions, Google‘s Search Engine or Google News Feed, Netflix‘s Similar Shows Features. What makes Spotify shine here is how it has used the Music Preferences Attributes along with Human Emotion Capture Calculations ! They use a unique score assigned to each song preferences & suggest them if your attributes matches the range of moods/preferences! Also their Engine is constantly improving & updating based on bigger cluster preferences. What I appreciate is that they are not using Other Platforms similar data but trusting self engines to contribute. Secondly, it empowers the customers to play with the algorithm to change preferences.

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As per further search, AB Testing plays a very important role in making below decisions:

  • UI Decisions : Button Shape, Contrast colour, Position, Text, Headline, Icons (+ vs Heart), Widget Decisions, Hamburger Menu
  • Page Format – list view vs card view, the information architecture, number of information shared in a single page view
  • Metrics selection & Order Prioritisation for Making recommendations of Playlist
  • Deciding the Weightage of different Key Factors for engine’s Logic – which is the Highlight of Spotify’s Success!

  • Localising + Personalising the Site : https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/success-stories/how-spotify-increased-premium-subscriptions-using-google-optimize-360/
  • Optimising the Keywords Search : When users in Germany searched for “audiobook” and clicked on one of Spotify’s ads, they were either brought to the custom page or to the original page.
  • Creating Culture of Experimentation & Real Time AB Testing Result platform which is most crucial. (They were earlier using Google’s Optimizely for a long time)

Did I ever share the perfect method of conducting an AB Test Experiment :

  1. Define the Problem – To increase conversion, to increase revenue
  2. Come up with a series of ideas to work around the same basis historical data, recent findings, industry insights – This should be a collective + collaborative process wherein everyone should be heard & allowed to explain their logic. Also while prospecting, one has to think about the impact % on success metrics with what confidence, duration, sample size.  Do not hesitate to use AB Testing calculator for same.
  3. Finally one has to prioritise these ideas basis their impact, time + effort + cost and decide on the order of these tests
  4. While designing the test – decide the Hypothesis that by doing so & so the impact shall increase. What is important to note is that while choosing these tests – they have to be such that can be proven only by data results. Also for tests with drastically different options – it can be a short duration test while for closer options, sample size hence duration has to be longer.
  5. So Hypothesis, success metric, options selection are very crucial aspects of the test
  6. Keep observing the performance of key metrics (Primary, Secondary at least) during the tests – no need to take sudden decisions basis this but observe the pattern.
  7. Let the test complete & observe the results – if results are drastically different, you have a clear winner. If test results are negative (do not worry), try with a different hypothesis & options. If test results are closer then decide whether to increase sample size or to discard the test or to go ahead with partial winner (last one not recommended but call can be taken depending on experience/circumstance/influence of other tests).
  8. Keep doing the same for different cases

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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Post #MeToo Effects

I have been Travelling a lot in the last 2 years – exploring history, architecture, culture, people from Central Europe, North Africa, Eastern Europe, India, South East Asia, China regarding how origin of Life happened in Pre – Medieval Times & then travelled during Medieval Times resulting into establishments of different Civilisations : Indus Valley, Roman, Persian, Ancient Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, Mesopotamia + Babylon & Latin Civilisations (Haven’t discovered much about Last one).

Along with travel, I have tried to relate to their situations & research + read about how it was 5000 years back and most importantly how things moved resulting into today’s Modern times and what are the impacts we carry. Here are few things which struck me the most as a learning for today :

  • Constant Evolution – Slow in days but very fast in years/ages
  • Role of Women
  • Dominance of Power : Physical, Financial, Collusion
  • Innovation is always appreciated
  • Faith vs Logic Struggle
  • Abuse of Nature & Natural Powers/Resources
  • Time/Nature are BIGGEST POWERS
  • Sticking to one’s Beliefs + Values has always been tough but rewarding sooner or Later! Silent Warrior Heroes have always existed and History has been Kind to them

Coming back to the topic, I felt that #MeToo Movement has been one of the most powerful social empowering revolutions (driven by media majorly) to have happened in recent times which spoke RIGHT after LONG LONG abuse of Women as Weaker Sex! I felt great & empowered about the same and made sure my female friends, colleagues, relatives+family are well aware about the intrinsic detailed insights so to not repeat the mistakes of the past!

But I feel, it rose like a HIGH TIDE WAVE during 2017 + 2018 and has settled for now though it has enhanced the awareness about the concerns & issues. I do wish to avoid the opportunistic cases which (if) came up, my expectations are clear :

  • Women Should speak Up & express themselves in the Best possible manner & Most effective way possible
  • Women need to standup more for other Women basis right values as that creates a lot of confidence for all
  • Everyone (Male & Female) must act respectfully towards everyone without any prejudice for Gender. Acting respectfully involves giving space & opportunity in terms of every aspects – conversation, growth opportunities, household responsibilities, roles & responsibilities. Basically remove Biases.
  • Enhance Women Representation in responsibility oriented roles from Village Organisations -> Senates -> Sports -> Engineering Colleges -> Corporate -> World Organisations. Families, Friends, Organisations will have to play an important role.
  • Remove Slave mentality & Despondency attitude and have a more independent, relaxed + confident, informed approach For Women. Stop associating weakness with Gender, Caste!

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My Moroccan Diaries…

I chose Morocco coz I wanted to experience the different offerings of Middle East World Zone – The blue, white & Brown Arabic Architecture in between the inter-twining streets against the Blue Sky & Blue Sea with Quiet & Conventional People Folks really appealed to me as a place I really wanted to see.

I had been to Mountains a lot, European destinations, South East Asian Beaches, Cape Town’s valley streets but never to Middle Eastern World & that appealed to me as something I have to see with my eyes to experience. And surely, overall I was not disappointed.

Here are the things I loved :

  • The Medina walks with amazingly interesting architecture, culture, people, markets, practices (one of the most fascinating was how pretty houses were hidden inside non revealing brown walls), lives insights, handicraft industries (though my new friend Gracia mentioned that its not possible to make so much of stuff by hand alone – I agree).
  • The Hasan Mosque in Casablanca was breath-taking with its architecture & grandness – Pure Grandness of location & design – WOW!
  • The landscape were varying from Mountains (Green, Brown) to small villages to loads of markets to wide open spaces. Morocco has apparently everything from seas, deserts, mountains, modernism & medina lives to offer.
  • How the infrastructure is so much in place – very similar to Europe & a developed Islamic Country – very impressive.
  • The hotels we stayed in were majorly 4 star with lovely swimming pool views
  • Some Interesting travel places thrown in form of Roman Remains, French ski resort amongst many others.
  • I was amazed with what Progressive Islamic nation with Monarchy Dictatorship focussed on public spends at infrastructure, education, tourism, agriculture (oranges, indigo, handicrafts) can go on to achieve – my regards for this small (in geographical area) has gone up many times.
  • Though I did not expect the group I got – was able to make friends with two Italian ladies which worked out rather well & also got to see how Italians & Spanish families travel which was quite interesting
  • Morocco was filled with visitors at this point & hence one could see all age groups & nationalities floating around with so many Japanese thrown in with their selfie sticks!
  • I got some time to do self evaluation which is MOST CRITICAL for me while travelling
  • The weather was mostly pleasant with some times becoming too hot or cold
  • Also very few Indian tourists thankfully.. and no extra charge for camera..

For my next travel, here are my thoughts :

  • I would like to be more involved in the planning & probably do it on my own totally & see how it goes
  • I would want to know the itinerary more in detail so I can plan what to buy, what to wear, what to carry a bit more in advance
  • I think 4 days is enough for me to get a flavour of the place & I would like to explore something more new next quickly

Will share the pictures & some more insights in some days.

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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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

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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

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