Relish the moment

Recently, our startup got invited to interview at Y-Combinator. Whether we get selected for the W2014 batch or not, I’m actually quite happy to have just made it to the interview. We’re hoping we’ll get a chance to meet Paul Graham (PG) even if for 10 mins which is the duration of the interview.

At my previous startup we hired our second employee who applied right after he had read PG’s book – Hackers and Painters*. He was so inspired by the book that he came all the way from Bangalore to work for a 3 people startup in Mumbai. I had not heard of PG or the book before that. Now, like many other entrepreneurs I read and re-read PGs essays on startups, fund-raising etc. He distills down the topics to the core and almost walks you through to topic.

This post is about relishing the moment. Many times in life we don’t fully enjoy a milestone or achievement since we get busy chasing the next one, and soon the past achievements seem like a blur. You have to learn to enjoy the moment – for it will pass.

Even super successful people like Bill Gates find a reason to go to work everyday. Not that they’re still chasing their original goals – just that the goals have moved further ahead. Success is a moving target.

Enjoy every battle you’ve won even if you don’t yet know the outcome of the war. Don’t wait till the end.

*I’ve just begun reading it again.


Innovation theory

I have a theory – the companies that are least likely to innovate are the ones which have got the most to lose from that innovation. Don’t get me wrong here – the innovation will happen sooner or later. It just won’t be done by the incumbent. Big companies sit on their fat derrières hoping that there is no disruption to their business model. The status quo continues. They’re too afraid to find a more radical, efficient or better way to do things. They don’t want to shake things up.

Let’s take a few examples – why didn’t Barnes & Nobles, Borders etc. be the first ones to sell books online? Closer home, in India, why didn’t Crosswords or Landmark launch online bookstores? They waited for a FlipKart to show up and change the way people buy books.Why didn’t Jet Airways think of no-frills flights with cheaper fares before Air Deccan showed up? Why wasn’t Skype invented by a telecom operator having domain knowledge of telephony and networks?

No incumbent wants to go through the pains of transformation to try out an unproven business model. Fear paralyses them. That’s where startups fill the gap. They don’t start out trying to artificially keep an old business model alive. They don’t have any fear of losing. Startups challenge the traditional and change it for the better. Then, ironically, they get acquired by the very same big companies (more on this in a later post, maybe).

The same theory applies to countries too. Look at the oil producing countries. They’re the most orthodox in culture and thought. Now look at a middle-east country that was one of the first to run out of oil – Dubai. They’ve innovated. They’re more progressive in their outlook. With no oil money to depend upon, they embarked upon a transformation of their country to an investment and tourism hub. What a beautiful transformation it has been.

Caine’s Arcade

Came across this great inspirational video of a young determined boy aged 9 years who built and maintained a cardboard arcade all by himself. Watch the video till the end to see how he’s going to receive the best surprise of his life.

The lesson here is that one shouldn’t give up trying. You never how how and when you’ll get rewarded for your efforts. Just keep your head down & focus.