Monday, 27 December 2010

Is Google App Engine an Option for Startups?

If you look for rules and regulations of Google App Engine you might feel you are being restricted too much. Apps only work as callbacks and must respond within 30 seconds, no file system write access, cannot create a thread and so on.

Lets look at what all GAE offers. It is Platform as a Service solution that offers massive and flexible scalability to your web app. It supports Java and Python as well as third party APIs as long as they do not violate sandbox rules. With JVM compatible compilers and interpreters you can use other languages such as Javascript, Scala and Ruby. Besides Python framework 'webapp' other frameworks like Django work well with GAE. You get to run web apps on Google's infrastructure, which is based on cloud computing. There you go, so easy to get started! There is automatic scalability, reliability, performance and cost efficient hosting. Also Eclipse plugin is available for GAE project and servlet version 2.5 is supported.

Datastore plus Bigtable gives great scalability to Google App Engine. Unlike the relational database technology datastore can scale horizontally. Bigtable allows infinite number of rows and columns and new columns can be added on the fly. It scales out by adding more servers to the datastore cluster. GQL has SQL like syntax and intentionally does not support query joins. So overall there is not much of learning curve involved. This is very much the case with startups where they can neither afford to have buffer nor to devote time for learning phase.

You focus on development and let Google take care of IaaS complexities! That is so conducive for startups. If you look at the goodies provided by GAE- Memcache, URLFetch, Task Queues, Cron Jobs and the list is apparently endless. So what are you thinking? Go grab the advantages of GAE!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Idea Sense

We are surrounded by ideas from all sides. In fact so much that ideas float around us like air! Many a times we even don't tag an idea as 'idea' and don't pay heed to it. But the same idea converted into implementation can bloom. Had you imagined sharing what is in your mind(or rather 'on' your mind) a few years ago? The same would have appeared stupid that time, but now see how much it has flourished. You can tweet, chirp (or even bark!!) what you feel about literally anything.

It needs a sense to grasp and conceive ideas. To utilize an idea you need a bit of foresight. To foresee what might be useful to janata is one part. The other part is making the materialization of our idea appealing to users. The appeal factor plays a vital role in acceptance of what we've built. Repetition is one of the ways that we bombard use of something and make others use it. You've to make them realize how useful and fruitful your product is. Afterall idea cannot be good or bad.

Not necessarily we get ideas from folks belonging to our stream. It can be anyone whom we interact with that leads to triggering of idea in our minds. Some people prefer to go in seclusion to think of an idea while in most of the cases, in my opinion, it just clicks anytime anywhere. The more I try to think of an idea the less it comes to my mind.

It is all about having a perspective of looking at an idea.....that decides whether to cultivate it or simply leave it. Ignite the ideas by implementing them and get them cracking and flying high!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Project Hosting Repositories for Startups

If you ask my favorite version control then it is undoubtedly ClearCase. But having any of the CVS/SVN/other server dedicated for version control is an overhead for a startup. There are many free ones available which let you host your project repo. So why not opt for them?

Google code is a very clean option, especially for open source projects. Next question that strikes is do startups work on open source projects? Interestingly the answer is yes. Take the example of online gradebook startup LearnBoost (of course many advantages come attached with 'open source'!). Your code is more visible and searchable. Google Code Search is one of the major contributors to make it searchable. Github is also a good option. It hosts private as well as public repos. There is no hard and fast space limit. Of course the open source projects enjoy the freedom of no space limitation on github. Initially SVN users had learning curve with github since it was built on git. But now the support is extended to mercurial as well as SVN. So yes github proves to be a good option. Assembla is a very good option if the startup is not working on an open source project, which most of the times will be the case! For SVN users this is a very good option. Space limit is 2GB for a workspace, which is much more that what will be usually required.

Many more options are available for startups. Certain points like code review and colloboration can become major decision making factors if that is the need.

Multiple options are driving me crazy....which version control system are you using?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Quitting Entrepreneurship for a Lucrative Job

Have you even been in such a dilemma- you're an entrepreneur and have high aspirations of doing good in it but get a very luring job offer. Should you go for the job offer or say strict NO to it?

There cannot be a rule of thumb which can decide go or no-go for job. Certain things can be taken into consideration while taking this decision. In the following listed scenarios I'll opt for job. I've spent more than enough time, which again is my own deadline and target, and not able to achieve even a bit of what I aspired for! I know I need to adopt knack of certain things as an entrepreneur, but this job is offering me role where I'll get deep insight in such areas. My re-entrance as an entrepreneur after this job will give me better path. Lastly if my entrepreneurial journey so far has arrived me at conclusion that it is not my cup of tea, then a complete green signal for the offer!

On the other hand I'll have strict No for the offer if I have high aspirations as an entrepreneur and feel that doing job will deviate me. The job might be offering me good remuneration but the role is again what I already have hands-on of and no new exposure. I'm not constrained by any factors like time, time and/or money allows me invest me more of it with calculated risk.

Whatever be my decision, whether to accept the offer or not, I'll not forget that after all my stint as an entrepreneur is a major factor in giving me the lucrative job! 

Friday, 10 December 2010

MBA Required for an Entrepreneur?

If you are applying for job (especially in Indian industry) you'll be considered eligible if certain checkboxes are checked. One of those checkboxes is having some xyz degree. Not all the employees in Google or Facebook have a degree while I wonder if there is anyone in Infosys or IBM without a degree! There is big difference in approaches though all these are counted as successful companies. The question here arises whether the positions are given based on degrees or based on abilities!

Doing management prior to your step into the entrepreneurial world will lay basic foundation and give you guideline about which skill-sets you need to sharpen. If you are doing management from reputed institution then there is high possibility that you'll get the required "environment". That environment is a result of aspiring entrepreneurs around you, mentors to share their business experiences, encouragement for innovation, competitive feeling and much more! Having known about Dos and Don'ts will of course keep you at a distance from n number of pitfalls.

There is also a counter thought that we can learn almost everything from experience. We need not go for formal management training. We learn a lot(more) from hands-on experience....(plus get the "experienced" tag against your name, though not degree!). 

After all was Microsoft or Apple started by folks who had degrees?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

When An Idea Starts Bothering You The Most....

An idea has been occupying your mind round the clock. Should you just ignore it or consider it seriously?

When an idea bothers you to a high level start validating the idea. See whether it really solves the existing problem or gives any ease in doing current process. Idea validation phase will involve a lot of market research. If your idea is totally out of the box take into consideration the acceptance factor too. To make users accept and like it prepare a strategy how would you market your product. It may take time for your product to acquire the market or even to be accepted. Just like the 'Free Hugs' campaign by Juan Mann....but eventually it did spread wide!

If all the factors are working in your idea's favor- valid, worthwhile, acceptable and rest of prerequisites also satisfied then take the idea to next to simply thinking about it! And once you step into the next phase do not be skeptical or pessimist about it. The said statement is equally applicable in such case- 'Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards'!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Web Apps without Social Flavors??

Have you noticed that even the websites which are not categorised under 'social networking' have socialising features? Take the popular online shopping master Amazon itself.

Leave aside the sites like company websites. They are most of the times expected to have company info and at the most email sending facility. Most of the other sites if you notice, will have some or the other social feature- chatting, connecting to people, following, rate, like, share, comments, reviews, collaboration. Entering feedback- review and rate is commonly available facility. I value rating so much that it becomes a judgement point for me whether to download/add an app or not from Google apps Marketplace or Chrome Extensions gallery. In my opinion there is even a need of 'social wiki' rather than just a 'wiki'. You might get multiple wiki pages for same search content. Would it not be nice to go and read the highly rated ones!

Do you think that any web app will flourish in present market even without any of the social networking flavors? I feel as though it has become a mandatory feature to have in any web app! Not that an enterprise app will not succeed without these features. But integration of social layer will add value to it!