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  • Fire Side Chat with Badar Khusnood of Google Pakistan

    On Wednesday 19th November 2014 I attended a fire side chat with Badar Khusnood Pakistan Country Consultant Google, organized by Startup Grind Lahore which is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. The host for the evening was Zohaib Khan Director of Startup Grind.

    Many things were discussed, where questions were answered from various topics such as incubators, accelerators, how a non-techie can play his role in a startup.

    Following is the round up of the things discussed:

    What Badar’s role is at Google Pakistan, and how he started his careers. He explained he graduated in Economics form Lahore School of Economics, and joined Nishat Textile. Then he moved to work for Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority. He then further told us what he does at Google. He is involved in conducting market research and also helping Google understand the Pakistani market. He was also instrumental in the role of Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt visiting Pakistan in 2012, and also the visit of Nelson Mattos, VP Emerging Markets Google.  Badar is also part of a Google Scouts program in which was started in 2005 by Google to scout for emerging markets in the world.

    The issue of youtube being banned in Pakistan and what it would take it to be un-banned. The main reason that he gave was that in countries such the offensive video which caused a hue cry has been banned in many countries, but the problem in Pakistan is that in order to do so youtube would have to be established in Pakistan with a domain of youtube.com.pk or youtube.pk and in order to do that legislations and laws are required to be in place for such a thing, but unfortunately in Pakistan we lack this. Google can not implement the ban just for Pakistan on youtube.com website as it comes under US laws, ad jurisdiction, while the .com.pk or the .pk version will come under Pakistan’s laws and jurisdictions.

    Differences between incubators, and accelerators were also discussed where the audience also posed their questions which were answered by Badar. Basically incubators are supposed to build a proof of concept of an idea, and the idea is validated at this stage. Accelerators come at the stage when the startups are to further grow and build their products and ideas.

    The models to generate funds for the company which companies follow, and he listed the following as the ones which a startup can adopt:

    • bootstrap your startup, that is spend your savings on your startup
    • ask your family and friends to give you the money
    • find an angel investor to invest in your startup
    • offer your time for money become a services based company doing freelance work for clients and then use the money earned to support your products
    • find venture capitals to invest in your company

    Google’s interests in Pakistan and also how Google has helped Pakistan in times of need were also discussed. We were told that USD $1 million were distributed to non-profit companies who were working to help ease the effects of the 2010 floods in Pakistan.

    Furthermore, it was emphasized that an entrepreneur should be a jack of all trades, and that he should acquire skills in the fields which require building, running and growing a business. Such fields include, technical (IT), marketing, accounting, sales, and administration. It is good to hire some one for that particular post, but if you are starting out, you should learn as much as you can.

    Networking is also very important, as entrepreneurship can not be done alone. Meet new people and find a common connection with that person whom you want to meet. The only way to do that is to get out of the building and to talk to people, attend events.

    After the talk I met with entrepreneurs from different companies, and shared ideas and discussed strategies with them.

    Overall the talk and the networking activity that followed was quite engaging and inspirational and i recommend that entrepreneurs who are starting out attend such events so that they too can learn and network with other entrepreneurs.

    The pictures below have been shared with permission from Startup Grind Lahore.

    The pictures were taken by ShutterWorks Photography.

    Updates: The date of the event was corrected. The actual date was Wednesday 20th November 2014.

    The source for the pictures was added.

    • Fire side chat with badar khushnood
      Fire side chat with badar khushnood

    November 25, 2014 • Entrepreneurship, Pakistan, Technology • Views: 4410

  • App Review: Sticher Radio for Podcasts Android App

    Sticher has been designed well, but it might be a bit too much for a beginner user of Android devices. The app does need a little bit of exploration to be done in order to find out what the features of the app are.

    Sticher is essentially an on demand podcast service, where you can download the podcast that you want to when ever you want to. You can also add podcasts to listen later list after which the selected podcast will be downloaded to your device. This functionality is quite useful for those listeners who are in a hurry to reach their destination, but want to listen to podcasts on the way. Users can also add stations (a station is the source of podcasts where the podcast author publishes his podcasts) to the read later list, which will download podcasts from those stations as well.

    You can call Sticher is to podcasts as RSS readers are to websites and blogs. Sticher also provides with searching functionality where you can search for your favorite topics, stations, or podcast authors, etc…

    Sticher provides a number of different settings which allows you to personalize your experience. You can even set what to show on the start screen.

    You can also create multiple play lists into which you can add your favorite stations. Maybe you want to create playlist which will just contains technology related stations, while another playlist contains business related stations.

    I highly recommend Sticher for podcast enthusiasts, as this app truly brings a great collection of stations and podcasts. I surely continue to use it in the future to listen to podcasts.

    • Sticher Podcast Reader Android App
      Sticher Podcast Reader Android App

    November 11, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4879

  • App Review: CamCard Business Card Android App

    Introduction

    When you meet people it is quite often that you share business cards, and keeping them in one place has been a problem which many have. The non-digital way of storing business cards is to get a card book in which you keep all your cards, but then who can carry one hefty book for all of those business cards?
    Now we live in the digital world, and it does not make sense to solve problems non-digitally in a digital world, and even better be able to store a large number of cards without much of a problem. One app that i have started to use is CamCard Business Card Reader for Android and it has allowed me to store my business cards safely.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The app’s design is simple and professional. The home screen shows the list of cards added and the user can sort them by either one of the following ways:
    • Sort by Name
    • Sort by Create Date
    • Sort by Company Name
    The main features are laid out at the bottom of the screen in the form of tabs. The user interface and user experience has been designed well, and is quite easy to use for the beginner. Everything has been laid out perfectly well.

    Usefulness

    As stated above storing business cards is a problem than many face. There are low-tech non digital ways to do so, but then as the number of cards increase the storage book(in most cases) increases in size and causes managing it to become quite difficult.
    CamCard also comes with a cloud where your cards are stored, and synced with the Android app so that your cards are safe.
    You can also download the cards to an excel file from the website. I have explored the website and the app, but i can have not yet found any information about the number of cards that can be stored in the free account.
    The app scans the business cards by using the device’s camera and extracts the information on the card. The quality of the extraction is quite good and perfectly extracts the information correctly, despite the format of the card being scanned.
    After scanning the app displays input fields which the user can fill in himself and change the data if needed.
    The user can also scan his own card, and save the details. There is also a feature which allows you to exchange cards with other users of CamCard.  By using this app, we don’t need to keep any business card in our wallets or card books.
    You can exchange cards via the following three options:
    • Card Reader which auto finds people nearby
    • Scan QR Code allows you to scan your friend’s QR code or your friend scan your QR code to get the business card
    • Private Group in which you can create a group or join a group
    There are also a number of different ways to create a business card. You can create them by either of the following ways:
    • Import Phone Contacts
    • Load Card Image
    • Email Signature
    • Create Card Manually

    Conclusion

    I have found this app quite useful, but the card exchange feature is as good as the other guy is using it. Until people in your community use the app, the app will just be good for storing of business cards, which is good in itself. I recommend this app to everyone, so that we all can stop carrying business cards and use CamCard to exchange and build cards.
    • CamCard Business Card Reader Review
      CamCard Business Card Reader Review

    November 1, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4787

  • Networking for Entrepreneurs

    Entrepreneurship according to me is an act of taking risk in order to solve a problem.
    Entrepreneurship is inherently a community based activity. If you take out the community then for whom will you be solving the problem?
     
    However, in order to know what the community wants you will need to get out of the building. According to Steve Blank, an experienced entrepreneur, he says that we should get out of the building. We should talk to the people, we should meet our customers. We will need to do networking.
     
    Networking is an act in which you meet new people, and make connections. Then you can use these connections to further help build an environment for entrepreneurship.
     
    In countries like Pakistan, there are communities, but there are no extensive entrepreneurial communities where groups of entrepreneurs come and work together as they do in the silicon valley, however do not be despair small groups of entrepreneurs have sprouted up in the city of Lahore.
     
    I will give example of Lahore, Pakistan as i live here. The government run Plan 9, is doing its part to encourage and support entrepreneurship, through a number of different programs such as the Plan 9 Incubator, Plan 9 Accelerator, and the recently launched Plan 9 Tech Hub where freelancers can come, work and network.
     
    LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) Center of Entrepreneurship is also doing its part through its accelerator program.
     
    There are other initiatives as well such as the invest to innovate, a privately run accelerator program.
     
    Entrepreneurs can also find events going on in their neighborhood, or locality by searching on facebook, twitter, or any other events management software/website.
     
    I also suggest that entrepreneurs seek out events which they can attend and showcase their work so that they can introduce them selves to experienced entrepreneurs, investors and then get their guidance or help. This is extremely important in order to grow the entrepreneurship scene in your locality/area.
     
    As more and more entrepreneurs will help each other out, entrepreneurship won’t be that scary any more since there will be some help for first time entrepreneurs. I also encourage experienced entrepreneurs to guide and mentor new mentors and to help develop the ecosystem in which we all live and survive.
     
    I am happy to say that in Lahore, that this trend has started to happen as experienced entrepreneurs are coming out and helping young entrepreneurs like me and offering guidance. This is truly the start of something wonderful.
     

     

    October 26, 2014 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 4463

  • My Experience In Google for Entrepreneurs Speed Mentoring Session

    I had applied to take part in an event called Startup BBQ Speed Mentoring organized by Google for Entrepreneurs (Google Pakistan) and PASHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association), and had entered my product Inbox My Articles as the submission idea.

    On Monday 20th October 2014 i received a congratulatory email from Badar Khushnood (Google’s Country Consultant for Pakistan), Google for Entrepreneurs that my idea had been selected for speed mentoring. I was over the moon. Finally, my directionless startup, which was barely gaining any traction was going to get some well needed direction, and that it was one of the 7 startups selected from over 100 plus which had applied from Lahore, Pakistan. I was honored, and proud for being part of this, and also glad that me and my team did not give up on my idea and we had stuck to it, and have brought it to where it is currently. I myself had worked during the nights to add the new features which i though were required, and which i also needed as a user, while during the day i work on client based projects.

    Inbox My Articles is an RSS Reader which consists of an Android app, a website, and a cloud. The Android app has the capabilities of downloading articles for offline articles. There are many use cases of this feature, such as not wanting to miss the latest news when ever you use the app, so you want to download the articles onto your device. Another useful use case is when you are in your commute and want to follow your favorite websites on the way to office, you can download the articles before hand, and then read them later.

    I myself use Inbox My Articles every day, and where i live, we don’t have internet connection everywhere. 3G has just recently come in Pakistan, but from what i heard least it was still expensive, and my network is straight going to 4G LTE, which it announced, but i am yet to receive my new sim card which i was promised to receive but still have not received it, so as a result i am usually in places where i do not have an internet connection available, so i read the articles which i have downloaded earlier onto my device.

    I went with my team which consisted of the following:

    • Mustafa Neguib (Entrepreneur, Founder, CEO of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
    • Muhammad Adil Saeed (Development Partner & CTO of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
    • Muhammad Basim Majeed (Development Partner & Software Engineer  of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
    • Saad Siddique (Development Partner & Software Engineer  of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)

    We arrived the venue, LUMS (Lahore University of Management & Sciences ) Smart Lab, Lahore, Pakistan at about 8 am on the fine morning of Tuesday 21st October 2014. I had insisted my team mates to wear formal attire, as i had assumed that since the top industry experts were coming to mentor us, we should be dressed accordingly, but the reality was to be other wise. Everyone was more or less in their casual attire.

    We were one of the first ones to reach the venue, so we had some time to take pictures with the banners, and set up our equipment (laptop with the pitch deck and presentation which i had prepared and my smartphone, and my business cards).

    As everyone else started to pour into the venue, i saw some familiar faces, and some new faces. I was awestruck. I was in the company of the people who were at the place where i believe i am destined to be. To see local heroes and entrepreneurs who made it on their own, i too strive to attain success and build a successful company one day, while in the mean time i am trying to survive with my team, hoping for that one big break.

    I believe that this event was our big break, and will be using it to the fullest to further grow the company.

    We were mentored by the following industry experts:

    Each of the mentors brought their view point, experience and expertise, which all was extremely valuable for us inexperienced entrepreneurs miserably trying to survive. As a crux we were guided on how we are to build our business and marketing plan, how to calculate our costs, how to find new users and how to get feedback from existing users. We also learned what issues our product contains, and how we can further improve it. One of the common themes was that we should target the local audience, and to localize the product. This surely is a point to ponder, and one direction which we should definitely think about. We also learned about marketing plans, and how much users are required for making money from ads.

    I would like to say, that we were grilled and prepared for barbecue as the organizers had claimed to do so. I myself learned alot, pitching became better and we modified our pitch when the next mentor came.

    Apart from the mentors mentioned above, founder of TechJuice, one of Pakistan’s top technology media companies also guided and advised us. TechJuice was also one of the seven startups selected, and i thank her for her advice and guidance.

    This was not the first time when i was part of an event like this. I was also part of the Game Jam 2014 Lahore, but this event was at another level as this time, my and my team’s hard work for the past 6 months was recognized and accepted as an idea which i am even more determined to work on, and to further improve it and use the knowledge gained in building this into a business.

    This event was the perfect time for making connections and increase our networking circle. I am glad that we were given the chance and met some extraordinary people. We really thank Google Pakistan, Google for Entrepreneurs and PASHA for selecting us, and giving us a chance to learn and experience, and to be mentored by the industry experts.

    I would also like to thanks the mentors who took out time from their busy schedules in order to mentor us, and to help us learn from our mistakes, and most importantly to guide us. I will never forget what i have learned here, and i will do my best to implement what i have learned on Inbox My Articles, and also on any future product that i work on.

    Update @ 24th October 2014 3:03 AM : Added link to blog post to the article about my experience in Game Jam 2014  Hackathon Lahore

    • Google for Entrepreneurs Week Startup BBQ
      Google for Entrepreneurs Week Startup BBQ

    October 24, 2014 • Entrepreneurship, Pakistan, Technology • Views: 4692

  • App Review: Whistle Phone Finder for Android

    Introduction

    There are times, when you forget where you have left your phone(device), and you wish that you had some sort of an app installed on it so that you could find it easily.

    Don’t worry as there is an which does just that. Developed by Nine Hertz India, Whistle Phone Finder for Android is an app which plays music when you blow a whistle helping you to find your phone.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    Arrows have been incorporated into the design of the app which inform the user what each button does. I think this is a good idea.

    The youtube video, help screen, and the pointers on the homepage help make the experience of using the application much easier.

    The user can select which music to play when a whistle is detected. The user can also set the sensitivity level of the whistle to be detected. By default the lowest sensitivity level is set. At this level whistling was not detected, so i had to turn the sensitivity to a higher setting.

    There is also an option to turn on the flash light from within the app, but from my initial testing, i did not find the flash light being used when the app plays the music when whistling is detected.  From the help screen i found that the flash light has been implemented as as an extra feature to help find the user find other things in a dark room. I don’t know why was this feature needed in an app which is supposed to be used to look for the user’s phone.

    Usefulness

    This app is really useful for all of those people who forget where they have left their devices. Keeping the media volume to a high level will help the user find the device from a far distance, however i have not tested the maximum range of which the device can detect the whistle.

    Problems that I found

    There is no option to stop the music once you find your device. The music continues to play even if you find the phone. I could not find any option to turn of the music.
    Another problem that I found is that when the screen is turned on whistling is not detected, so those users who have set their screen time out times to be long (on Huawei Ascend P7 android Kit Kat the max screen time out is 30 minutes). So if the user forgets where his phone is in these 30 minutes then the whistling won’t work, and he will have to wait for 30 minutes to pass, but then those 30 minutes will have been lost. We all know wasting time is a high level offence.

    Furthermore, I also found out that the app for reason whole the device’s screen was turned on , the app detected that a whistle was detected and started playing the music.

    Lastly, I noticed that my battery ran out quicker than it normally does since i had installed the app.

    Conclusion

    As stated above, this app is useful for those users who forget where they have left their phones, but this app has quite a number of bugs which need to be fixed in order to make this app much more usable.

    • Whistle Phone Finder Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib
      Whistle Phone Finder Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib

    October 16, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 5544

  • My Experience At A Game Development Hackathon

    I took part in the Global Game Jam 2014 Lahore a game development hackathon which took place in early 2014 and was organized by two game development studios in Lahore, Pakistan Mindstorm Studios and Tintash.

    This was not my first ever competition, i had taken part in a coding competition when i was in my university, and also in the Softec 2012 Software Competition held at National University of Computer & Emerging Sciences where i displayed my final year project (a 3D fighter jet game built in OpenGL ES on Android), but this was my first ever hackathon.

    I am technically sound, and i love programming, and since my final year project was a game and i also had developed an advanced text based version of ludo in my computer programming class, and also having about 2 years of experience in the software industry(1 year in the manufacturing + 1 year working for a software startup) i thought that i was ready.

    I registered myself for the event after finding out about it when the registration was about to end. Another reason why i had decided to register for this was to make up for the time when i had not registered for the startup weekend held at Lahore, which i regret not doing so, mainly due to the hectic schedule at my former company, but this time i was determined, that if i was selected i would go and attend, at least i will meet new people and learn something about the industry.

    I have always wanted to make games, i know the maths, the programming, the logic. The only place where i lack is in the art. I have always told myself that i will learn the advanced form of 3d modelling, and then i will start to make games.

    I as a developer believe that i should have the understanding of the basics, so that i can build onto that. If i want to learn a new programming language, i will study what the language offers, me and then i will make what i want to. I have had a nack at drawing from an early age but i did not keep at it, and like all grew out of practice. There were spurts of energy where i would spend days drawing, and then just like that drop it all, and move onto the next thing.

    Receiving the call of being selected for the competition was really wonderful. The event duration was of 52 hours. Knowing that i had to reach by 6pm to the venue to register, i arrived early at my office at 8 am (my usual  time was 10 am and i would leave between 6pm -12 am, i have even spent longer hours, but that is another story) so i could leave by 5pm.

    Excited and feeling nervous, as i did not know what i would do. I believed in myself and got my self registered. When i reached there i found out that most of the contestants already had formed groups, and the group size was to be of 2 to 5 persons, which were to include,  an artist, a developer, a team lead, audio guy, and some other of whom i do not remember now.

    The orientation went well, where the CEO of Mind Storm Studios Babar Ahmed and the CEO of Tintash Murad Akhtar and explained to us what we were to do. I had once applied and given an interview at Tintash but was rejected due to poor performance ( i don’t like to give interviews, but i don’t mind taking them 🙂 ).

    I had heard of the wonderful work that Mind Storm Studios and Tintash was doing, and i was in the presence of legends, and i was dumb struck. Being an aspiring entrepreneur my self then(then i was working part time on my own projects) i was in heaven.

    At the end of the orientation i was to join a team and that is where a problem occurred. Since most of the teams had already been in formation before the competition, i had to talk to people to ask if they needed a team mate. I found one another developer who needed a team mate and i then contacted the organizers of our team. So now were two developer, but we needed a designer someone who knew art.

    The organizers paired me up with one individual (Faisal Shareef) who was not to keen on being teamed up. Another problem hit, the tools that we used were not compatible. He developed games using unity 3d, while i used opengl desktop and opengl es on android and had no experience with unity 3d. However, i was determined to team up with him, as i needed a team mate to compete in the competition, and also having seen that most of the devs used fast paced development tools such as game development frameworks, or game engines i needed to team up. I would have come up with something, but i knew the art would have been real bad if i would have been on my own.

    The organizers also tried to convince him to team up.  One of the organizers even said that “some times 1 and 1 make 11”. I having experienced that working alone is extremely difficult and not easy at all, i also encouraged him to team up, and we ended up teaming. We ended up naming the team “Two Men Army”, and our game’s name was “Saviour”.

    After the teams were formed we had the theme around which we were to build the game around. The theme was “Shadow”. We had to use the element of shadow some how.

    The clock was ticking and we started to brainstorm for ideas. We came up with a few ideas and narrowed down to two ideas. We ended up selecting the following idea, which further improved and matured as we worked on it and built a story around it.

    “Our game started around a guy who is dying as he has had a heart failure. The guy’s shadow rises and has to go through a maze of sorts and solve puzzles, and has to bring back the heart for his master in order to save him. The twist that we had added was that the shadow has to get the heart and come back with it before his master dies. If he dies then the game is over.”

    As we mentored by experienced professionals in their fields our story grew, and matured. I learned about game design, art, music. In a game the graphics and art are not the most important thing. They are important, but not as much as i thought they were. The game’s story, how it captivates the player, audio music, game play all have a major role.

    My team mate handled the art, while my role in all of this was in game design, helping design the obstacles, searching for the awesome music sequence, and also driving back and forth as we did most of the development at my home and used to go back to the venue at the appointed times.

    There were times when i was at a war with myself, as to what my role is, what is it that i am bringing to the table as i was not doing any development. Being a developer, and being part of a project where i let the others do the work is a bit difficult to handle, but since i am now an entrepreneur this is what i will have to do. Let others do what they do best, while i handle the business and production side of the things.

    The only way i kept my self sane was to realize that what i am doing is also very important. In the short time that we had, it was best to let my team mate do what he does best, and to support him in other tasks which were also very important, such as making sure that our game documents were submitted on time, preparing the video of the game, looking for audio (background music and sound effects),  because without them our game would not even be considered and be worthy enough. I understand that a team contains many different individuals who bring together different skills and talents to build a team.

    I like to think that my contributions and along with my team mate’s(Faisal Shareef is the ultimate combination that every computer programmer wants to be, he is also really good with art and also programming. I am glad that i met him. He is such a passionate fellow.)  and our understanding of the constraints that we were under, allowed us to gell well as a team, and not to break under the pressure. The end goal was to complete a game under 52 hours, and i think we did well. We found out that there was a team which broke up, and they could not develop a game.

    The time came for our presentation. Looking at what the other teams had come up with, caused some chills in my team. We did not know whether we were good enough, but we knew one thing, that our story was good. It was going to captivate the audience. We knew that we as a team had given our all and that what ever happens will happen.

    The presentation went well, and we gave the demo of our game. We even got a shout out from Babar Ahmed that we were the only team who actually met during the competition and had not known each other before. This was really nice to hear, and we were applauded.

    The demo went perfect, the que of the music was perfect, people were clapping when the the shadow got the heart and the music started bringing in an aura of fast paced urgent need to survive.

    In the end it all went well, me and my team mate came in third and we also won the award for “Visual Production”.  When we were told that we had won the award for “Visual Production”, i thought that was it. We were not going to win any position since we had won an award. What i did not know was that we were still eligible for a position, and when we were announced as the 3rd place winners, me and my team mate were stunned. We could not believe that we actually got a position.

    Me and my Faisal were not professional game developers. I was in the business apps industry, and Faisal worked at a small game development company part time and was also studying for his bachelors at that time.

    We actually beat professional game developers. When we were receiving our certificates, the organizers were also amazed at how we worked together as a group. This shows, that with passion and dedication, David can definitely beat Goliath.

    • My certificates
      My certificates

    Fixed the team’s name to “Two Men Army”.  Update made on May 29th, 2014  23:31

    Fixed grammatical mistake in 2nd paragraph. Update made on May 30th, 2014 02:59

    May 29, 2014 • Entrepreneurship, Technology • Views: 4855

  • My First Lesson As An Entrepreneur

    Be like a bamboo, firm yet flexible

    Know when to stay firm on a decision and when to be flexible. That is key in maintaining relationships.: Just today I had to take a decision on a client which is bad for my short term  but good for our long term relationship with the client.

    Just yesterday I had to take a decision on a client which is bad for my short term but good for our long term relationship with the client.

    This is what as businessmen we have to do. What happened was that there was miscommunication between my business partner and the client. Apparently my client thought that we would be building the android app as well in the same cost that my business partner had quoted to him which my partner thought was just for the website.

    Another complication in this was that my client was a former colleague with whom I have had a good relationship in the past and did not want to spoil it.

    I found out only day before yesterday that we were to build an android app. My partner’s  mistake was that he misinterpreted. The client’s mistake was that he forgot to mention the app in the emails which went back and forth between the partner and client. My mistake was to not be part of the communication between my client and my partner from the beginning.

    I had two options in front of me:

    1. Demand that the client pays
    2. Bend and be flexible and facilitate the client

    I wanted to take the first option and demand money. I wanted to be paid. I deserve to be paid for the work that i am going to do. What would have happened either the client would have agreed and paid up, but that would deteriorate our relation ship with him, and there is a chance that he might not give his next project to us, or he would have taken the project else where.

    In both the scenarios we would have been at the loosing end. The client would have gotten his work done from someone else, but we would not have any work.

    The relationship was deteriorating between us and the client and I knew the problem lay at both the ends and this needed to be resolved. So I decided to take the bullet. I told the client that we will do the android work for free. I know I needed the money but I needed the project and future projects from the client as well, which i believe is better for us in the long term.

    I am a beginner at this and I am learning along the way of what I should do and what I should not do.

    Lesson learnt: Always be at all the meetings and be in the loop. I trust my partner but after this I have to know what is happening, and most important of all bend, be flexible like a bamboo.

    I would like to hear from your experiences. How would have you handled this situation? Did i do well? Only time will tell if my decision was right.

    Source of the featured image is Shutter Stock

    May 22, 2014 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 3570

  • How Not To Treat Your Employees

    This post was originally posted on Medium.

    I worked in the industry as someone’s employee for 2 years before moving on to found my own startup.

    During those two years i have learned alot and have experienced pretty much everything, from being one of the best employee of the company to being at the lowest point of my career.

    I was a different kind of an employee. If you ask my former employers they will say that i was energetic, passionate about my work, and volunteered to do tasks that were not in my job description.

    But like most over worked employees i experienced a major break down, and made a major mistake after which i could not stay in the company.

    The performance of the employees is affected a great deal by internal and external pressures. The employer has a responsibility in keeping the morale of his employee to be at an all time high, and when it has become low, it is the employer’s responsibility to find out what the problem is since the employee spends most of his waking time at he office.

    Following are some points which i believe should be followed by the employer in order to keep his employees happy:

    Personal time of every employee is very important

    People expect to work a certain number of hours per week, and the remaining time is supposed to be their personal time where they can do anything they want.

    When the company starts to encroach into that personal time, then problems start to crop up. Employees need time to rest, relax, and do what they love.

    Do not make the employees work over time for no reason

    Lack of sleep and rest have a major effect on the performance and efficiency of a person. In jobs which require creative thinking, one has to be fresh and alert in order to be able to perform.

    A post on Fast Company discusses how working late at night affects our brains.

    Give praises publicly, but criticize privately

    Giving praises to employees increases their morale. It makes them feel that the company cares for them, that their efforts are being recognized. Praises should be given publicly. This will further give the other employees motivation to do good work.

    However, criticism should instead be given in a closed room where the other employees can not hear. Why ? This affects the way the other respect that employee. I have seen cases where the project manager openly blames an employee for a project which had failed. This is some thing which should not be done at any cost.

    Do not discuss the performance of one employee in front of the other

    There have been times where the project manager has discussed with me the performance of some other employee. If i would have been part of the management, it would have been fine, but i was a developer there and not in the management. If he talked about some other developer there with me, then he would definitely talk about me with other developers.

    Ask why 5 times to find the cause of the problem

    In the well written book, “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, the author tells us to ask why 5 times when a problem has occurred. This will allow us to find out the cause of the problem fairly quickly.

    Hire project managers (if needed) who have people skills and know how to manage people

    The job of the project manager is to manage employees, and to assign tasks. The project manager also has to know how to behave in public. He should know what to say, and what not to say. He should not blame the employees for something which should have been done by him, or the company.

    Always have the key employees in loop before making commitments

    Usually in development related projects companies give time lines for when the project will be completed. Many times the senior management makes commitments without keeping key employees in the loop. The result of this causes mismanagement, and causes employees to work over time.

    The above mentioned list is not exhaustive. There are many other points which an employer needs to consider. Since i have started my own startup, i will surely try to keep these and other points in mind in order to keep my employees happy.

    May 15, 2014 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 3697