Problems over Problems… Repeatedly…!

In running a company, you can face problems. but what if you work in a problematic company?

For the past two years, i face problems every now and then running a company. To run a company, you need a good infrastructure. Infrastructure by means, good power source, computer systems, printers, office setup etc which are required to run a online tamil book store.

I am listing down some of my routine problems

  • internet not working if power is there.
  • internet works but no power
  • internet works but very very slow.
  • computer systems dont work if power is there
  • some times computer systems work but suddenly power goes off.
  • if internet, computer systems work, then no power.
  • If internet and computer systems work, then your printer wont work.
  • If printer works, then it will have fuser problems or no carbon in it. it has to be refilled.
  • if all these are in working condition, there wont be any human resources using them.
  • if there are human resources, then one of them might fail.

This is the true case in the life of an budding entrepreneur. in order to start a business, he/she needs to take care 90% of things that is required to kick-start the business. not the business itself.

for to run a online store, rather than talking to vendor for products which is business talk, i need to get these things done well before

  1. get company registered with GOI. it takes its own time with all restrictions
  2. get bank accounts (only if the mgr likes you)
  3. get payment gateway (only if that company likes you and if the sales person is in good mood.)
  4. get office space at home or outside. all house owners think that we are going to do multi-crore biz because it is online. For them, Being Online is luxury category.
  5. converting residential to commercial power from EB if we are going to use our own terrace or top floor in our house.
  6. sign up with courier. beg India post – post office to get your parcel booked cheaply.
  7. hire people for low cost (if possible). everyone thinks most people start business who have lot of money.
  8. If it is in TN, then power problems have to be faced.  high real estate cost coupled with low productivity due to bad power source.

these are the things where we interact directly. there are also other factors that influences your business operations.  we have to sort out all the above things before we talk business with vendors who supply things.

  1. They expect like how big the order is!
  2. are we trust-able?
  3. are we big enough to run the biz or company?

after all these, we have to explain things to our friends & family members so as to convince them to get their support……!

you got to convince your girl friend or would be or wife –  V VIP

finally, need to convince customer, vendors to run the business smoothly.

running it to successfully has its own set of problems to be faced. I can’t comment on it now!

No Looking Back…!

Last year 2 days ago, It was my last working day at Amazon. Since then, my life have been the way i want it to be. After that, I have relocated to Chennai city to (re)start www.chennaishopping.com which is the only dream for me since 2003.

History:

After my HSC, I some how got into B.Tech IT in 2004 and got a Desktop too at home. Since then, I was very much fascinated with computers, Internet. because it was the only thing which listened to my commands (sometimes not!)

It showed my creativity. so, I learn’t HTML with notepad, then ASP with Personal Web Server in Win 98, then ASP with IIS,  Javascript and many more.  While at college, I was inspired by my friend whom we call “website” (actually his name is karthick. we call him website because he has created website for our class). Inspiration from him, I too learned Flash, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, PHP, XML, Linux etc.

Insoft CD:

In college, me and my friends even sold a CD called “Insoft CD” which contains all software’s necessary for new desktop system, new wallpapers etc. CD was sold like hot cakes for 30 Rs :) we sold around 100+ I guess. We together even repaired our friend’s desktop, assembling new desktop for friends and known people. It was good old days but we hardly earned much.

How I registered chennaishopping.com?

Days went out and I thought that there should be something done on the web. I was thinking about “Flash your ads” where people place ads on website. but then “website” told that people hate seeing ads. Remember how ads would be at that time…..! Then after many thoughts, i thought about online shopping. So i registered Chennaishopping.com on 11-mar-2003 with Net4Domains for 500 Rs.

Mean while, I was learning php, html, linux, mysql, apache and other web technologies apart from college studies. I was not good at subjects in college. Nothing interests me except the web. Because of the interests in web, I even won I & II prizes in many of the web design competition in various college symposiums. so Web and its design had began to mix that time.

meanwhile, i need money to host chennaishopping.com. so i signed up for reseller program and resold space so that i hosted chennaishopping.com for free. It worked for me :) Its another venture – Vazhangi.com,  a web hosting company :)

Life in Sify:

During this time, there was only Dial up. Broadband came home in 2004 provided by BSNL. I joined sify as an intern and almost spent 16-18 hours in Sify. Because it had the fastest net connection i.e 2mbps :) i tried many things with my linux desktop i got there. i even did few projects there. Later joined Sify as Engineer trainee for the same project. Sify provided the major boost for my learning for the first two years but economically not good.

Into Selling:

I got good friends and mentors there. Learnt tremendous amount of stuff in Sify Technologies without internet. Side by side, i was also exploring oscommerce and other free tools for chennaishopping.com. somehow i was able to convince the local flower vendor for bouquets, baskets etc after meeting 15+ within city. Then tried selling linux CD’s, Printed T-shirts :)

Spikesource, Paypal and Fraud:

I still have one of google printed t-shirt which i did of my own. It was great running the website online with paypal, Netbanking transfer. No indian payment gateway integration was done. After so much struggle, i used to deliver 1 or 2 orders in the morning and then leave to day job at sify. Days passed by and i relocated to bangalore to join SpikeSource.

I happen to meet great people like Dhandapani, Mugunth who have turned my perspective about startups and Tamil. Mugunth inspired us lot about Tamil and its heritage. Mugunth is one of the person who created e-kalappai, the first free tamil unicode typing tool used by many around the world. somehow got addicted to Tamil and wanted to do something related to Tamil.

It was good initially, but the company slowly drifted its direction. Due to some issues internally, i left it and somehow got into Amazon. During that time, Paypal fraud bounded me with 1000$ for shipping 3 handycams. Though i  submitted the proofs, it suspended my account and took my balance 50$ something. then i decided to stop chennaishopping.com because i need to be physically present in chennai for delivery.

Life at Amazon

I learnt about paypal fraud in Amazon. which is nothing but, its called Chargeback. Since i joined Amazon Payments, I learned much of payments, its processes and much more. Four years passed in payments domain. Amazon payments developed tools for merchants and offered many great products to integrate with. I got a chance to work on Checkout by Amazon osCommerce Plug-in which yielded good amount of usage among the merchants. Checkout by Amazon Zen Cart Plug-in has been downloaded 2000+ times till date. So i was very much happy with my time in Amazon.

Post-Amazon era

Usually, people from Amazon has entrepreneur spirit mixed in their heart. People at amazon usually talk about innovations, patents, technologies, businesses, table tennis and lots more. Many have left Amazon and started and running successful ventures like Infibeam.com, Flipkart.com, BankBazaar.com and many more. If i have left, please update them in comments for others. Being Amazonian is a great feeling. Everyone has that feel even after they leave Amazon. Because of its founder and the famous tag line “Work hard; Have Fund; Make History”.

This sparked me inside and kicked my heart to look back chennaishopping.com for the third time. Then i did some research related to online shopping and its trend. I also thought about Tamil books, although i have never had an habit of reading books. even tamil books. but i felt that selling tamil books online has a market even though it is small. I wanted to get into this and now its happening since last 367 days.

What did i achieve?

My life

  • Relocated to Chennai and (re)started Chennaishopping.com – an online Tamil book store
  • Got married :)
  • Staying with parents, having great home food, in Chennai, meeting friends.
  • Got MacBook Pro

What are all the challenges?

  • I have burnt cash from my personal savings for the company, marriage and other miscellaneous activities. Although the company is in (little) profitable mode, i haven’t taken salary for last 1 year. Hope to get the same salary soon from my own company!…
  • You have to convince publishers, logistics service providers, buyers and provide them enough information to do business with you.
  • You got to do all the job. Delivery, Procurement, software solutions, website, security, customer care and what ever it is.
  • Take care of my family. Convince relatives, uncles and aunts and who ever questioning about my career.

These are my experience in bootstrapping a company and life. Share yours in the comments below.

We have reached 1000!

It a proud moment for us at Chennaishopping.com. why? for two reasons.
1. 200+ facebook likes.
2. 1000+ Registered members

1000 registered customers

10 days ago i wrote about my startup with statistics. we are happy to have 1000 registered customers. Still, its a long way to go for us.

Thank you all for your wonderful support.

- Bala

Note: They are not spam registrations.

Two Men and a 500 Rupee Note

Below is the video I saw it some time ago that was shared like anything by many people. see the views count in youtube

Let me come to the title. There were two men in this world. Both were earning in their own way. But there was huge difference in their earnings. Each lived their own way.

One men works as a software ‘S’ and the other works as a cashier ‘C’ in a petrol bunk. the S guy went to the petrol bunk and got his bike fuel tank filled with petrol. He made a conversation with C guy as below.

S: Add xtra Premium petrol for 200 INR.
C: ok.
S: how much per litre?
C: 70.33 INR.
S: how much will come for 200 INR
C: (goes to take calculator and calculates.)2.84 Litre will be filled for 200 INR
S: Then fill 3 Litre.
C: Ok sir. (His assistant filled the petrol) Total is 211.
S: (gave one biggest Indian currency)
C: sir, you have any change?
S: (gave change of 10 rupee note + 2 rupee coin and got the change for biggest currency) i don’t have 1 rupee.
C: sir, I will give.
S: is there Air?
C: Yes. but that boy went to a nearby shop.
S: ok (then he left to attend some important meeting).

Meeting was so good and S learnt a lot along with his another S friend. While starting back to home, he realized that he gave a 1000 INR note but he got only 300 INR back. he is supposed to get 800 INR back. S told his friend.

This made him upset very much. That’s when he thought about this youtube video that i had posted above. S’ friend said that its high chance that S would get that money back. Given that its a 2 hours gap. S suddenly started towards that petrol bunk. On the way, he ways thinking all sorts of things both +ve / -ve of loosing 500 INR, whether he would get it back or not or how to convince that cashier (by arguing the total collection for the day) or about complaining to the owner about it.

when S went their, again there was a conversation.

S: 2 hours back, i came here to fill the petrol. but i didn’t get change of 500 INR.
C (some other): which side? this side or the other side?
S: that side..
C (some other): Ask that cashier then. He is the in-charge.
S: ok.
S: Sir, i came at 4 pm and filled the 3 Litre Xtra premium petrol. but i didn’t get the full change. i got only 300 INR. i need to get 500 more.
C: are you sure?
S: Yes. (there was a seriousness in his face. guilty feelings as well)
S: Remember, I asked you to put petrol for 200 but then asked how much it would come? then i asked you to put 3Litre…
C: Yes. i can remember. (he instantly gave me a 500 rupee note)
S: Thank you sir.(got it and very much feel relaxed and happy.)

S guy went to fill the Air and had a conversation with Air filler.

S: what was the cashier’s name?
A: ‘Raju’. why? to complain with the owner?
S: no. why will i? he returned my 500 INR rupee. i won’t.
S: (thought within that he should do some thing for this honest person. not sure how and what to do.)
S: i don’t have 2 rupee. I have only one rupee. can you fill the air?
A: will you give 1 rupee extra next time?
S: yes. sure. (then left from there and reached home)

S was thinking about the honest cashier and his customer service. He could have taken this 500 INR note without any issue. but somehow it belong to S and that’s why S got it.
S immediately called the S’ friend and told that he got that 500 back. S’ said that you were lucky… but S said this
Money, if you earned it truly and honestly, It will always stay with you.

somehow, the above statement is true. I too agree and i think about it many times. S guy is none other than me :) Last few days, my mind and soul is thinking some thing else and hence i need to be careful when dealing with money especially when i am not in job.

I still remember and will never forget the stuff said by a director of a company where i left my job recently…
Be careful with the money… otherwise, you are going to loose it.

Let’s see whether i will do some thing for that Raju or not. I thought of sending a letter to that owner or Indian oil company. Will update it soon.

What I learnt:
Its not the fault of the cashier… because 500 and 1000 rupee note do not have much difference. Its my fault. I need to be careful when dealing with the money. Keep my mind sharp and concentrated where ever i go. Also this 500 is a big amount for that cashier compared to me. so learn to spend the hard earned money in a good manner. Also watch the above video again.

Small Entrepreneurs… Big Inspirations…

Near my office, there is a small chaat shop. You cannot even call it a shop. Its actually under a asbestos sheet in front of a shop that sells Ice cream and chips etc. Although this Ice cream shop is a busy one because of the school presence nearby, this particular chaat shop is also popular.

The name is Calcutta Chat.
You will not find any name board there. Owner of the chaat shop served pani poori and other snacks in our cafeteria in past. I could remember because i used to eat lots of quantity. I liked their servings…

so whats different… or you can ask how its inspiring…?
Yes. It scaled :)

when my cafeteria started charging higher price for the bad meal, i and other colleagues started going out. Usually we go to Hotel Nisarga in infantry road, opposite to Police commissioner office. Food is good there too. I will write about Nisarga later. Last year, i was on a mission to reduce my weight. Hence i was trying to locate a good place to have my lunch where they wouldn’t add much fatty contents. One day, colleague of mine told me about this Calcutta chat shop which provides chapatti (roti) + dhal. As there were no tables in the shop, you need to eat food sitting in the chair.

I tried it. It was Good. It was priced at 20 INR. :) They served 3 roti’s + dhal + liquid curd (with masala topping) + mini version of salad (cucumber + onion). I liked it and i end up having it everyday. Apart from roti dhal, they also serve variety of parathas (aloo, gobi, onion etc). usual chats like samosa, pani poori, masala poori, pav bhajji and sweets like gulab jamoon etc. I have tasted almost everything except jamoon. Prices are decent for the quality they provide. Highest priced was some type of paratha at 40 i guess. Lowest is samosa… 7 INR. Few days back, rates have been revised but still, i consider it worth.

I commute in BMTC. i have to get down in sigma mall stop and walk to office premises. One day, i didn’t and thought i could get down near the chandrika hotel signal which is also the same distance as from the bus stop. I couldn’t get down due to green signal and bus was moving fast . I end up getting down in next stop which is near cantonment station. I had to walk back to office and suddenly i found a small shop in a basement with a name that seems to be similar. Its none other than “Calcutta chat” :) I thought this could be some other guys but wanted to check out.

I went inside the shop and was surprised. Same menu. few known faces. similar-taste food. They have tables and chairs here. Understood that this is a branch of the same calcutta chat which was next to my office building. In the new shop, they added meals(rice + dhal + aloo subji + pappad + 1 roti) to the menu which is decent enough. Its good to see that they found a new shop and they are on-track in their growth. I had usual roti + dhal and started to office. while coming back, i saw calcutta chaat shop owner nearby my office. I told him that i had lunch in that new shop. He smiled! I could see the happiness in that person’s face. All the troubles they have faced will vanish one day.

Who are their customers (two shops combined)?
Employees of Atkins, Amazon, Torry Harris, Vikram hospital, FirstSource, General Public and School students. Their peak lunch time is around 12-2pm and you need to wait at least 20-30 minutes to get, what you ordered.

may be after few years, i hope to see them managing a restaurant called “Calcutta chaat” with colorful atmosphere.