Why StartupFest Montreal Is Poised To Grow?

Being at the StartupFest for the last 4 days have been no less than an exhilarating experience. I have been to many fests but there are some things that StartupFest did differently and that’s the reason Phil can be relied on with the promise he made – StartupFest is going to get bigger and better next year.

Here are 4 things that I appreciate the team for:

A. Seamlessness:

Having a fest with 500+ speakers and 8 stages running in parallel is not an easy task. Well, the fest not only adheres to timelines every time, the switch from one focus to another was really seamless.

B. Multiple tracks:

There was something for everyone – AI, Blockchain, Cannabis Tech, startups, anything that you could be thinking, there was a related stage. You had multiple accelerators, investor zone, 4 major startup pitch competition with the 100K prize won by InVivo AI.

C. Great Food:

No fest is complete without great food and drinks. Got to see great food trucks with varieties of all types. For 2 days of the fest, the drinks were on the house as well. The breakfast options were laid out well.

D. BrainDate:

One of the reasons to love the fest was BrainDate, a dedicated lounge area which could be accessed for meeting with fellow participants. BrainDate helped find the right people to meet one-on-one to share knowledge and learn from the right participants. You could share out topics of your interest and fellow interested participants could book a time with you.

All along, great fest with fun people. Love Montreal!!

10 Mind-Blowing Squads/Startups Spotted at StartupFest, Montreal

10 Mind-Blowing Squads/Startups Spotted at StartupFest, Montreal

10-Mind-Blowing-Startups-Banner-Image (1)

Intro

RemotePanda had an amazing time engaging and interacting with entrepreneurs at StartupFest, here are ten great squads spotted at the fest.

Atek Monitoring and Control Solutions

Atek is a Canadian company highly specialized in Remote Monitoring & Control Solutions. Atek brings forth complete, integrated and turn-key solutions for a critical business process. Atek provides everything from the sensors to the online management platform including, installation and after-sales services. Atek has deployed thousands of sensors in Canada, which records millions of data points each day. Every day, thousands of users log in to the platform online to monitor their equipment and products.

Mortgauge

Mortgauge provide users the lowest rate in the market and deliver a seamless online mortgage experience. Mortguage is comprised of a hybrid team having experience in real estate and cutting-edge technology. With expertise in brokering deals, underwriting, finance, strategy and audit Mortguage have sufficient knowledge of the industry to build a rich customer experience. With the vision of being Canada’s most insightful, convenient and economical real estate platform Mortguage provides powerful tools to enhance customer experience.

EZ-Probate

 

EZ Probate helps user probate for a will without needing legal help. Through our easy-to-follow probate process online, a user can accomplish all the necessary paperwork for submission to the court—with minimal costs. EZ Probate provides comprehensive resources to help users achieve success when dealing with asset transfers and legal affairs of the deceased. EZ Probate provides a user with precise information on assets that qualify for probate, the probate process and the costs, and other relevant information. The platform also identifies situations when you’ll need to consult with a lawyer and name which states do require legal representation for probate.

MeetScribe

 

MeetScribe revolutionizes the way meeting are conducted in organizations. It is a smart meeting assistant that transcribes and summarizes meeting notes and integrates them in office 365 productivity applications. MeetScribe also automates post-meeting logistics by scheduling meetings, creating smart reminders and follow up tasks for users.

AKA-ETH Innovation

 

For any entrepreneur finding the right expertise and being able to afford it, is always challenging. For any professional, working for any startup company means they get excitement what they bargained for. The key to a collaboration between the two is trust. Trust can be either build along time between individuals or bought by paying a third party which provides a form of guarantee on the transaction. To allow a much larger number of entrepreneurs and professionals to work together and thus leverage each other’s available resources. AKA ETH Innovation aims to lower the cost of this acquisition of trust.

Greenline POS

Greenline POS is passionate about helping society onboard into a cannabis-friendly environment. This is why they built a web-platform that provides cannabis retailers a way to automate their inventory, sales, employees, and compliance needs so they can focus on educating society on the wonderful solutions that cannabis provides. The process of the building industry is a long one and providing information and secure solutions allow retailers to focus on their customers rather than worrying about convoluted systems. The Greenline group is a team of technologists, cannabis consultants, and marketers who have put their heads together to find the best ways to help cannabis entrepreneurs succeed.

MediSeen

 

MediSeen is reviving the house call as the primary point of care by enabling healthcare providers to deliver care in their community. This is achieved via a secure, cloud-based digital platform, which enables patients to easily access quality health care at their home or office, instead of visiting overwhelmed doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics, or hospital emergency rooms.

Classo

Find the best digital teaching resources in just a few clicks. Classo is developing a platform to help teachers and schools quickly find the best resources for their needs. Classo wants to help the user quickly find the best resources they need. In addition to educational resources, users can also find professional development content to help them make better use of the tools at their disposal and to keep up with new trends in education.

Airbrowz

Airbrowz is a mobile shopping platform and app that engages, acquires, retains your ideal customers. With total design control to targeted push notification, Airbrowz provides the retail, hospitality and event industries the tools to go mobile without the need for any coding. Using airbrowz, business owners can easily, affordably and quickly make a move to an effective state-of-the-art mobile software solution.

UpField

Enter the digital air today with UpField. UpField is a mobile application that allows you to quickly and easily create your job site reports.

Benefits of using UpField:

– Realize the report from the building site using your mobile

– Access and collaborate with others on creating a real-time report

– Improve the quality of your reports

Conclusion

Meeting great entrepreneurs and startups is always amazing, you get to learn a lot. RemotePanda had an opportunity to get exposed to the entrepreneurial excellence at StartupFest, Montreal. Learned a lot, shared a lot – all in all, it was time spent well.

The alternative to Upwork with better service do exist!

The alternative to Upwork with better service do exist!

We exist because people look for alternatives to Upwork. A lot of people find us when they are searching for phrases like ‘managed remote workers’, ‘guarantee on remote workers’ or even ‘need help to sue a remote worker’.

That’s how our company came into being. We were ourselves looking to find remote workers who can get our work done and we do not have to manage them. We wanted to make sure that the relationship between us and our remote workers leads to efficiency in our work. What we found though was having to run behind the remote workers, getting half done to code and really no control on the working style of remote workers.

RemotePanda is built for CXOs who want a managed service for their remote workers. CXOs who want to transition to having a remote workforce but do not want the hassles that come with managing a remote team. CXOs who need a helping hand from experts to help set up their remote team with a measurable ROI and clear accountability.

RemotePanda testimonials

We believe that CXOs are firefighters. Every day is chaos and there is a lot of work to be put at every end to keep things under control. When CXOs take up any initiative, they are looking for lesser work for them and how they can make their time free. CXOs look for efficiency and ways to make things better than they are both in terms of time and money.

RemotePanda is built for those people and companies that want to mitigate their risk and take no chance that comes associated with outsourcing. We have developed a marketplace with unique features that are like a concierge service to outsourcing, and where a successful manager is assigned to you to help you throughout the journey from matchmaking, setting of the process, building the KPIs and reporting.

RemotePanda testimonials

We continually speak with CXOs on what they need and how we can impact their ideas — while still keeping things simple.

Here are the major things that we have built under RemotePanda:

Close Network Invite Only– Every one of the resources that you’ll see on our platform represents a closed network connection. These resources are composed of both freelancers and agency (service provider) employees. The access to showcasing one’s profile on our platform is by invitation only. Once an invitation has been accepted, that resource will then go through a stringent vetting process in order to determine and verify qualification(s).

RemotePanda close network connection

Success Facilitator- We have tweaked and therefore upgraded the traditional hiring process through the addition of a facilitator layer that we term “Success Panda”. The success Panda will function as your personal assistant that is designed to assist you in achieving the specific goal which involves your hired resource. This assistance will entail; help from the time of hire all the way through receiving your deliverables. In essence, it functions as your team member. The best part is that it is a no-charge option that we provide for free!

RemotePanda Success Facilitator

Quality Watch Panda: We care for both you and your success since your business success represents our success as well. We ensure this by going far beyond just providing an introduction to your new resource. We endeavor to ensure that your high-quality work is successfully delivered to you. This entails that your deliverable is carefully scrutinized by our quality assurance team. There, we check for quality, plagiarism and any other applicable issues. Again, it’s complementary with no hidden fees involved.

RemotePanda Quality Watch Panda

Learning and Education: In addition, we increase the value of your hired resource by investing in their skill development. If, after hiring, you feel that your resource would benefit through training in additional skills, then you may request that your resource is enrolled in a relevant online coaching program.

RemotePanda Learning and Education

Team Visit: We understand that stronger bonds are created between hired personnel and employers when a physical meeting is introduced. Therefore, for any engagement that lasts longer than 8 months, we will sponsor a visit between you and your Remote Panda team.

RemotePanda Team Visit

Zero Risk: We adhere to an effective escrow billing system. This means that all payments will go through our own platform and released to your resource only upon completion and verification that you have received your expected quality deliverable. If for some reason, you are not satisfied with the work you receive, we will investigate and if verified, we guarantee that you will receive a 100% refund for that month.

RemotePanda Zero Risk

RemotePanda understands that outsourcing your product development or any other service as well can only be successful with dedicated efforts required to build it out. Outsourcing requires your own champion running the show on the ground. The way companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft have been successful with their offshore teams is by owning them- having their own people run the show. For small to medium companies and even for larger companies to an extent that is not possible. We fill this gap. We are your guys to help build your team and help you succeed at it.

RemotePanda testimonials

To learn more check out our video:

Five People, I Want To Meet in 2019 and Why

Five People, I Want To Meet in 2019 and Why

Life is an eternal learning curve, so much to learn from so many aficionados.

We all have people we look up to, whether it’s for business guidance or ameliorating personal life. These role models of ours are what we thrive to be and follow their footprints. We follow them, envy them, get inspired, get motivated and learn from them. These mixed feeling persuade us to propel and take a step toward our dreams.

Everybody has a list of people they aspire to meet, here’s mine –

1) Dharmesh Shah – The Ace Entrepreneur

Dharmesh Shah

Founder and CTO of HubSpot is on top of my list. The kind of content and insights he provides is just amazing. He is like an idol. I look up to the honesty in his content, like what he has built with HubSpot. Introduced to HubSpot 10 years ago and have seen it grow into the giant it is today. I am pretty sure that every marketer has visited HubSpot at least once. HubSpot has become more like a Wikipedia for Marketers now.

Well, that’s not all, HubSpot also aims to help customer-centric startups and early-stage ventures reach their full potential. Recently HubSpot launched HubSpot Ventures – A $30 Million Fund to Support Customer-First Startups.

2) Neil Patel – The Marketing Ninja

Neil Patel

New York Times bestselling author, top influencer on the web, one of the top 10 marketers, creator of one of the best 100 companies are few of the accolades of Neil Patel.

I want to meet him because he is a top-rated marketer. I would love to pick his brain on digital marketing. Also, to tell him to upgrade his webinar software :p (Just Kidding)


3) Gary Vaynerchuk – The Motivational Connoisseur

Gary Vaynerchuk

Whether I am going through my Instagram feed or surfing YouTube or just listening to the podcast: Gary always motivates and inspire me. One thing that I learned from him is – CRUSH IT


4) Byju Raveendran – The Visionary

Byju Raveendran

Founded in 2011, BYJU’s has come a long way under the leadership of Byju Raveendran. BYJU’s is a perfect example of building a global business from India. It was Byju Raveendran’s vision that made BYJU’s  #1 in Edtech space throughout the world. It would be really amazing if I got to meet such an accomplished man.

To add more, EdTech giant recently got $540 million in funding and got valued at $3.6 billion. Byju’s is set to use the fresh funding to build new products and aggressively expand in international markets.

5) Taso Du Val – Hotshot That Disrupted Remote Work Industry

Taso Du Val CEO of Toptal

Taso Du Val CEO of Toptal is one person that I am very eager to meet. As a remote work advocate myself, it always excites me whenever I hear someone talk about remote work. As they say “Surround yourself with those on the same mission as you,” it would be great if I could have a chat with Taso on the future of work.

Well here is my list but what about you? I am sure you have a similar list of people that inspire and motivates you, let me know who all you are on your list.

Frequently asked questions on Minimum Viable Product(MVP).

Frequently asked questions on Minimum Viable Product(MVP).

 

It’s the month of MVP and we are here to abreast you with all the important things there are to know about MVP. MVP is a concept defined by Frank Robinson and popularized by Steve Blank and Eric Ries. It is a product which hasn’t been fully developed but which has enough features and functionalities that the customers can play around with it and gauge if it’s what they need, developers can get feedback from customers to further furbish the product.

Now that we have gone through the fundamentals, let’s look at the frequently asked questions about MVP.

01. What does Minimum Variable Product mean?
Frank Robinson defined a concept called Minimum Viable Product(MVP) which changed the way entrepreneurs started gauging the product market fit.
A Minimum Viable Product is a product which hasn’t been fully developed but which has enough features and functionalities that the customers can play around with it and gauge if it’s what they need, developers can get feedback from customers to further furbish the product. This process saves a lot on the cost and risk factor, making a fully functional product and watching it fail is like the worst nightmare any entrepreneur can ever have.

02. Why is MVP important?
MVP is a shortcut, a way to change the scenery and 1-up the competitors. The thought behind the MVP is to break the superlative idea into small steps and examine the behavior of the customers.

         Here are all the benefits that MVP brings to your company –

  • MVP helps in saving time and resources and also makes sure that they are invested only in the projects which would bear fruits in the future.
  • MVP also helps millennials to test their idea and recognize what trends can be used and leveraged to produce an optimum product which would cater to the needs of the targeted audience.
  • MVP helps in procuring early stage adopters and potential clients.
  • If leveraged correctly, MVP can also be used to attract potential investors.

03. What is the key component of an MVP?
The main idea of an MVP is to get feedback from the customers so that the product can be developed further as per the needs of the customers. So there are three components that are important here, first one is enough features for customers to explore the product, secondly, a feedback mechanism which will enable customers to send their feedback and lastly, it should have scope to be developed further according to the needs of the customers.

04. Should you develop a MVP in-house or outsource it?
For an early stage startup, mobile application and web development is quite an expensive component. Hiring an in-house team and paying salary to all the employees while investing on the MVP is a lot to deal with, but if you outsource your MVP to the right offshore partner you can utilize so much of your money in developing a feature rich MVP. The cost to hire developers offshore is far less compared to hiring developers locally in the US, and it’s an additional advantage when you find an expert for less cost and that too on a contract basis. Once the MVP is done and you have received funding you can hire an in-house team and if there is any need for any additional resources you can always fall back on your offshore development team.

05. Minimum Viable Product vs Prototype?
Your prototype is not your MVP! A prototype is a model of what your product might look like, it may or may not be a functional model, while an MVP is a fully functional product or a shorter version of the product which the customers can use.

06. How do you prioritize features of an MVP?
Feature prioritization is one of the most important phases to plan a roadmap, mark the boundaries and differentiate between the wants and needs of the customers. Now the features will defer from product to product, again it’s not a one size fits all. What you can do is make a feature bucket wherein you can categorize your features as “Must Have”, “Nice to Have” and “Not Needed”, this will give you a clear understanding of which features to prioritize.

07. What should be built first? The core team or the MVP!
If you have a CTO who has got your back, like Batman and Robin, it’s beneficial to build a MVP together, but, if you are a lone ranger, it would be best to outsource the Minimum Viable Product development to an offshore development agency. As I have mentioned above, it would save you a lot of costs, which you can use to make your MVP feature rich.
So the bottom line is that MVP should be your top priority, finding a team and that too whose skillset is in line with what you’re trying to achieve will consume a lot of time.

Conclusion:

MVP can help you make a really awesome product, but if not done right, you’re up for a lot of trouble. Check out “How MVPs can go wrong, and how to make sure yours doesn’t” Hope you leave our site satisfied with all the information you were looking for, if you are still in a haze and need guidance with your MVP, get in touch with us, we would be happy to help. Connect with us here.

MVPs can go wrong!! How to make sure yours doesn’t.

MVPs can go wrong!! How to make sure yours doesn’t.

In today’s advanced world, it takes a lot of efforts to uncover a niche and meet the needs of the target audience. You can’t just go around turning an idea into a product or a service and expect the customers to consume it. What matters the most is what the customers really want. If you can’t satisfy the need of the customer with your product/service, then all your time, money and efforts are futile.

Frank Robinson defined a concept called Minimum Viable Product(MVP) which changed the way entrepreneurs started gauging the product market fit.

A Minimum Viable Product is a product which hasn’t been fully developed but which has enough features and core functionalities that the customers can play around with it and gauge if it’s what they need, developers can get feedback from customers to further furbish the product. This process saves a lot on the cost and risk factor, making a fully functional product and watching it fail is like the worst nightmare any entrepreneur can ever have.

Though MVP is a blessing, people are under this assumption that it’s okay to have MVP as a mediocre product because they are in a rush to release it to the market, and once it is launched, they are hit with a reality check when nobody is showing any interest in the product. It is imperative to build your MVP as efficiently as your final product, with all the functionalities that the user can interact with.

When an MVP is released people tend to lose focus on the monitoring and feedback phase, which is the most important part of the methodology.

Another fact people should take into consideration is that there is no one size fits all MVP formula, your MVP will depend on which stage your business is in and what needs you are trying to satisfy.

And the most important thing to be aware of is that there is a difference between a prototype and an MVP, your prototype is not your MVP, a prototype is a model of what your product might look like, it may or may not be a functional model, while an MVP is a fully functional product or a shorter version of the product which the customers can use.

MVP is a concept that needs to be executed effectively, it can take you from rags to riches or from riches to rags if not done properly. Let’s see what can go wrong with MVP and what you should do to execute it the right way.

 

A. You’re focusing on a smaller problem:

You're focusing on a small problemWhat we generally do is break the entire process into small modules and have those modules tested in increments and aggregate them with the product again. This is a very long and slow process, it’ll consume too much of your time and money.
Instead of doing so, focus on what people really want, ask the right questions and try to come up with one big problem that needs to addressed in order to make your product a success.


Dropbox made an explainer video to know if its customers wanted a file-sharing platform, and while the product was still in beta phase, it had 75,000 subscribers.

B. Not involving the target audience:


Not involving the target audience
You aren’t developing anything for your personal use, and even if you are, it’s your responsibility to make sure that what you have developed, fulfills its purpose and satisfies your need. In the same way, you need to understand what exactly is your target audience and what problem you are trying to solve. It’s not necessary that all of your customers would want to buy your product and explore it, but those who do, it’s of utmost importance to take their review, contemplate on it and make the needed changes to the product in such a way that it fulfills your customers needs in the best way possible. It could take you 6 months and thousands of dollar to build a product and then get feedback from your customers, this is a really long and expensive process.

MVP does away with this and gives you the liberty of spending the least amount and gaining exact requirements of your customers within 2 months time. Products do not only have to satisfy your customer but have to leave them with a feeling of delight.
So, defining and focusing on your target audience is vital, because without it you’ll unnecessarily keep expanding your scope and incur more cost.

 

C. Not prioritizing User Experience:


Not prioritizing user experience
According to a 
Walker Study, customer experience will rank way higher than price and product by 2020. As a matter of fact, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experience. So it goes without saying that customer experience is one of the most important things that should be taken into consideration while developing your product as well as the MVP, the customer should be able to explore the product with minimum guidance and should be able to understand and express their opinion about the product. The goal is to hit the emotions of the users and make it alluring enough to put on an amazing first impression.

It’s not necessary to have a cutting-edge design, however, it should be attractive with regards to the basic principles of visual design such as hierarchy, balance, unity, proportion, colors, etc.

You can always give your users a short tour of the app when they sign in on to the home screen for the first time. The goal here is to make it easier for users to grasp the concept.


D. Choice of the device isn’t appropriate:


Choice of the device isn't appropriate

The platform you select to bring your MVP in front of the target audience is equally important, if you’re developing a mobile platform then it would be best to show your MVP on a mobile device, it would be terrible for a customer or an investor to take interest in your MVP and end the conversation with a question that says
“Does this work on a mobile device”. Likewise, if you’re developing a web app, make sure that it works on your current website or have one made for it.

MVP is a widely used approach in Lean Startup and it cuts down on a lot of costs associated with the product development as well as the risk associated with the product failure. So it’s vital for a business to build an effective MVP. We have some Frequently Asked Questions on MVP that you can go through to get a clear picture of MVP. If you are still reluctant or need any help with building a MVP, get in touch with us, we’d be happy to help.

Five Ways I’ve Tried To Thank My International Clients

Five Ways I’ve Tried To Thank My International Clients

Winter is Coming! The end is here! Well, instead of white walkers, the end of a fantastic year is coming.

Yep, it’s that time of the year where we look back at all the fantastic memories we made and the people we met. It’s also that time of the year where we send the year-end greetings to our valued clients. It is a tradition and a ritual that we follow every year in order to tell our clients how great it is to be connected with them and how important they are to us. It’s our way of expressing gratitude and appreciation.

Since it’s our yearly tradition, we have always tried to experiment with newer and effective ways. This post accounts on how we have sent different gifts from India to the USA and the gaffes that have happened with international shipments.

Before starting on any such exercise make sure that you have the right address and contact details of your customers. Sending an email asking the same is ok, rather than delivering on a wrong address later. Even if you have the address from their website or signature, it is advised to double check. Once that is done, you can think about innovative ideas to make holidays even better for your clients.

 

01. Getting Some Self-Made/Customized Stuff Across:

Customized Stuff - Five Ways I’ve Tried To Thank My International Clients

For us, it is imperative to get that feeling of belongingness across to our clients and what’s better than sending hand-written customized notes right? Accompanied by a project-specific team picture just to add a cherry on top of the cake.

This is a fantastic idea, right? What could go wrong one must wonder?

Well, we used a company for the same that had an app to put across handwritten notes and ship them via UPS. What we learned the hard way is to go for receipt option so that you know whether it’s delivered or not. If untracked, you just don’t know which packets got delivered and which ones did not.

 

02. Sending The Essence Of Your Culture:ESSENCE OF YOUR CULTURE: Five Ways I’ve Tried To Thank My International Clients

If a handwritten note is not your style, you must have thought that sending something which symbolizes your culture would be a good option. Like sending something which isn’t really available in your clients country, could be an excellent way to connect and exchange culture with them. One of the years, we chose to send handmade elephants to our clients.

We chose to ship internationally from India. The delivery rate was high but the cost of shipping every item was way higher than the cost of the product.
Lesson learned – Take shipping cost into account while you plan.

 

03. Sending Gift Box Through Amazon:Gift Through Amazon - Five Ways I’ve Tried To Thank My International Clients

Let’s go with a simple method of sending a gift box using Amazon, well why not? right. Amazon has basically everything. Yep, Last year we tried this too and found that our clients received the gift boxes unlike the case when we sent from UPS, but we had chosen gift wrap option and we figured out that most clients did not see our name on the box. This meant they didn’t know who sent these gift boxes to them. It was only after we asked our clients later on how they liked our gift, they told us that they realize it now that it was us. The chocolates were delicious though, they reported.

 

04. Gift Cards Are A Good Option:

Gift Cards - Five Ways I’ve Tried To Thank My International Clients

Gift cards are good, who doesn’t like gift cards right?

We have discovered them to be nice and easy to send over option. While sending gift cards, make sure of certain things like –

*Making sure that there is ample amount of time to avail the offer.
*Making sure that the offer you are providing is accessible in their country.

 

05. If nothing else is possible, A Simple Email Greeting Can Go A Long Way:

It’s the end of the year and a holiday season; it is entirely possible that your clients have already gone out of office. Now, what to do? A simple email greeting would be best in cases like these. Moreover, many time clients are juggling with different phases like changing office or going on a long holiday and they may also prefer virtual greetings.

Year-end greetings are a great way to express gratitude and importance towards the client. It’s a way to appreciate people who were a part of your journey throughout the year.

Well, a lot of effort does go into planning and working out gifts for clients- the special people of your company. Here is a quick glimpse of us working out on the same this year –

 

 

What are some year-end greetings and gifts that you have sent to people? Did you also face any issue? Let us know.

Running A Marathon Is Like Running A Startup

Running A Marathon Is Like Running A Startup

Running a marathon, going the distance, taking up the gauntlet, in short accepting a challenge and following through with it. Many experiences in life need you to go the distance, to invest time in it and persevere in order to get results at the end. I decided to take up such a challenge, I decided to achieve it and was ready to see it to the end. I decided to run a marathon!

The first question that naturally pops into anyone’s head is this — WHY? Why does the CEO of a start-up, a busy man as it seems, working seven days a week would have to take up such a challenge? What rewards are a full time working entrepreneur looking for by committing to months of training, both physical and mental? On a superficial level, there may seem some benefits such as health advantages and overall emotional well-being. But now it’s time to scale the entire iceberg! Why run a marathon, read on to find out.

“There’s something incredibly freeing about being able to just run and reach a destination under your own steam, carrying your own water and nutrition, feeling like you could go on forever.”
-Alex Parren (HuffPost)

How running is related to running a startup

Beginning with the general physical benefits that a runner experiences include a full body workout along with the burning of a ton of calories, there is also emotional well-being that is felt throughout the training period. The training and the practice is the real marathon there is, and you will notice that the span of time really does transform you. From couch potato to an agile and lean runner, it is something you will start admiring about yourself and strive harder to stay that way all the time.

As said earlier, the journey, the process, all that lead up to the day of the marathon, is the real task. That is the real marathon you have to conquer. Getting up and training continuously for months is not an easy undertaking. But as the days progress and you notice yourself changing bit by bit, obviously for the better, it isn’t possible to stop training. You will want it more than ever and keep looking forward to it. It is a truly inspiring feeling of setting a goal for yourself and then going all guns blazing to achieve it. Investing in a set goal and following through with it tirelessly helps define your own character. It builds confidence in you that nothing is impossible. It gives you an incredible boost in all other domains of your life to just go and get it! You develop a kind of mental toughness that gives you enough energy to tackle any problem head-on.

I am a CEO myself and running a startup comes along with a large number of working hours that mostly span the entire seven days of the week. Cramming a training schedule along with it was a bit difficult, but it taught me to manage my time well and engage in effectively utilizing it. Like when you have to squeeze in time, you start prioritizing. You get a chance to remove things out from your schedule that does not matter anymore.

Maintaining a passion or a hobby with your full-time work calendar is hard, but in a way, one complements the other. You follow your passion with all heart; you’ll see productivity increasing everywhere. After a few weeks, I started feeling like Batman — a billionaire businessman in daylight and a criminal thrashing vigilante at night.

And once you have gone all in to win at something, to succeed at your extra-curricular ventures, there will be a different you showing up at the office. One success is enough to raise your own bar in life. You ponder over the possibilities of achieving something even more significant in life, taking on even harder challenges. There is this insatiable hunger that you develop to go beyond all limits. You involuntarily take out all stops to get to your ultimate destination.

Related: The Power Of Finishing

“While running, your brain gives up way before your body does.”
(yourpositiveattitude.com)

The journey develops you a lot, but the day of the race is something else altogether! It is the ultimate test of your mental strength, more so than your physical one. It is time for you to showcase all your training. During the race, you realize that the human body is capable of much more than our preconceived notions. We are amazingly capable of recovering, enduring and progressing in almost any aspect. This is a realization only a marathon runner can fully realize and appreciate.

Once you finish the marathon, the euphoria, the high that you experience, nothing else can possibly provide. It’s the incredible satisfaction of finishing that not only motivates you to do it again but also makes you obsessed to always finish the task at hand and see it to its ultimate completion. I personally saw myself as a different person walking out of that marathon. Your self-respect soars, there’s a new identity that you now have, and now you basically become Batman! Nobody can touch you.

Although coming from the point of view of an entrepreneur, people from all walks of life need to experience the sheer joy of completing a marathon at least. With so much to learn about yourself and life in general, completing a marathon is truly attaining nirvana!

Denver to become top startup city

Denver to become top startup city

Denver to become top startup city

Why I count Denver to become one of the top startup cities in coming years

As I landed in Denver last week, I could not help but notice pet dogs all around on the roads (No surprise that on the flight from DC to Denver there were at least 2 women traveling with their dogs). I checked into my Airbnb house; I got to see a goat and a chicken as well in the backyard.


Well, I love the idea of animals in the house, it’s just that having lived in NYC or SF, you are not used to such luxuries. Welcome to Denver – A city amidst mountains and blessed with great sunshine.

Over the days I realized how Denver had blended burgeoning tech ecosystem with great quality of life (Think great outdoor activities, ski resorts, cheap housing, and great friendly folks)

Here are a few things that stood out for me and make me feel that Denver is a city to look up to:

  1. Easy to go around:
    Most of the companies in Denver are around the Downtown area and it is easily walkable or bikeable. I never witnessed any long jam and in fact, enjoyed my walks around parks. 
  2. Friendly people:
    Something that stood out with most Coloradans was humility and simplicity. Whether I was speaking with Chris Franks or Josh Churlik (guys credited with building Denver Founders) or the meeting with founders such as Jim Turner, Nicholas Gardner, Brian Borg everyone gave me their time and attention.
  3. Events all around:
    I got a chance to present RemotePanda at 1MC (Courtesy Jef Reisig and Jessica Kinney), and at the Denver Founders Pitch (This is a 90 seconds pitch event). I also met the StartupGrind Denver Director- Doug Thorner and attended a workshop on negotiations
  4. Incubators and WorkSpaces: Denver is brimming up with cool co-working spaces. Some notable mentions that I was able to visit are Spark, Industry, Galvanize. The Commons is a free space for startups backed by the government.
RemotePanda presenting at 1MC Denver
RemotePanda presenting at Denver Founders Pitch
RemotePanda at Spark co-working space

Conclusion:

In all, it was a great week spent in Denver with plenty to take away. Many names do not get mentioned here but it is just due to lack of space and of course, no one would want to read through a cast list. I got to spent only an evening in Boulder due to limited time but I believe I should be back soon and be able to absorb more of Boulder next time I am in Colorado.

A big Thank you to all the guys in Denver who took out time to meet me and act as ambassadors of the city’s thriving startup ecosystem. You guys are doing amazing.

Birth of RemotePanda — What made me invest my time in this idea

Birth of RemotePanda — What made me invest my time in this idea

Once upon a time, a newbie called Jon decided to start his own company. He had an innovative idea, some hard earned cash and blind faith in hiring market. He was so naive, when someone told him, platforms like Upwork, Freelancers is the easiest and the best way to find people who can help him develop his idea, he just fell for it. He didn’t know what to look, how to look, what to ask, whom to ask. Well, basically “he knew nothing”. All he “supposedly” knew was that these platforms would connect him to the right people. So, he decided to use their service by putting all his money and faith in the hands of some strangers. One doesn’t need to be an expert in the field to guess what would have happened next, right?

Now, let me tell you another story- the story of Robb.

Robb in this story was an experienced guy and yes, he knew everything. For his startup endeavor, he wanted to hire some talented guys. As it was a startup, he had limited resources at hand to spend so he decided to look for remote talent. Now, please note that he knew what to look, how to look, what to ask, whom to ask. He followed traditional remote hiring process and found a “great team” called Team Bolton. He decided to partner up with Bolton, and the journey started. Days passed by, everything was going well until they faced some technical challenge. Bolton’s are supposed to be expert to address such type of challenges so, Robb asked them to take care of it. But, they backed out and told him that it’s not part of the contract and can’t work on the issue within the current budget. Well, what could have gone wrong here!? I mean, for this type of challenges Robb decided to hire them in the first place, they were the experts, they knew Robb has a limited budget but still, they decided to accompany Robb in his journey and when the hard time came they stabbed him through the heart. Sad ending, isn’t it?

Well, Jon and Robb are not the only ones here. There are lots of Jons and Robbs who are out there looking for talented people but not able to find the right one.

 

What could be the reason?

Some may say it’s Service providers fault, some may say it’s employer’s fault and some may say it’s the marketplace that needs to improve their vetting process. In my opinion, if one has to play blame game then everyone is at fault here but if you really try to understand the real issue then you will realize that the traditional remote hiring process is the real culprit and we need to fix it.

 

Why not me?

Before we started building RemotePanda, I met more than 150 startup CEOs from 10 different cities such as SF, Boston, Houston etc. I discussed with them what I had in my mind, understood their point of view, collected their feedback and the conclusion I drew was simple, ‘They Demanded Quality’.

And that’s exactly what we are offering. What I realized from my interaction with all those startup founders is that if we tweak the traditional process a bit then maybe we can solve challenges like quality plus we can improve success rate multi-fold.

 

How are we doing it?

  1. Have a captain in place:
    Rather than just being someone who just introduces (in that case you could have just found people from Upwork/Linkedin) we remain part of the contract throughout the lifetime of the project and be invested in the project. We want to free employer/project owner from the headache of managing people.

  2. Quality Watch Dogs:
    We want to maintain quality, transparency and seamless experience for everyone. We make sure that expectations are set from each side from the beginning by quantifying the deliverable.

  3. Friend, guide and helping hand in need:
    We assign a dedicated personal assistant for employer/ project owner who will be their guide at every stage helping them with setting goals, timelines etc. He/she is the one who basically makes things happen and acts as the bridge between stakeholders.

  4. Learning and Education:
    We invest part of fees that employer/ project owner pay to us into skill development of talent they hire.

  5. Team visit:
    We sponsor visit between employer/ project owner and their remote team every six months.

  6. Escrow Billing:
    We support Escrow billing and release money to the service provider only after quality work is delivered.
     

We are powered by Startup Grind Pune and all the freelancers, agencies, remote teams are associated with us are close network connections. In order to give personalized experience, we have kept our talent pool limited to Pune ecosystem.

We are currently in closed beta and testing our model with selected few employer/ project owners. We have made good progress so far and all the current users have positive feedback about RemotePanda service.

I’m not claiming that this model is gonna solve all the problems but at least address the 3 main challenges in remote work viz. expectations, communication, and feedback. I believe if we able to implement things the right way, we’ll definitely able to fix the broken process to some extent. 

Let’s hope for the best. Fingers crossed.