About Me

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Mumbai, India
I run an IT Security consulting firm based out of India. We started off from scratch in 2001 when I was 21, and have offices in Mumbai, Bahrain, and UAE. The idea behind the blog is to share the stories of how we run the business, the deals we make, the deals that break, the heartburn, and the sheer joy.

The Ultimate Startup Guide

The Ultimate Startup Guide is an e-book that provides answers to all your questions related to starting and growing a business in India. Everything you wanted to know about entrepreneurship in India from ideation to registration to marketing to hiring. The book contains a large number of practical examples, anecdotes, interviews, and motivational material to help you get started, and to grow rapidly in a booming Indian economy. If you've got the idea, this book will help you through with the execution and realize your dreams. Here are some of the key questions you will find answered in this book:
  • When starting a business, what are the legal issues involved?
  • What form of incorporation is better suited to which type of business?
  • What tax issues are involved?
  • How do I start a business and what are the pitfalls?
  • How do I market my business in the absence of significant funding?
  • How do I get funded?
  • What are the basic accounting concepts I should be aware of?
  • What is a business plan and how should I build one?
The brief table of contents of the book is as follows:
  1. Getting started
  2. Ideation
  3. Forms of Enterprises
  4. Funding
  5. Basic Accounting and Taxation
  6. Import and Export Licensing
  7. Trademark and Patenting
  8. Rules for NRIs and Foreigners
  9. Building a Business Plan
  10. Marketing on a Shoestring
  11. Website and Branding
  12. Women Entrepreneurs
  13. Templates
To order the Ultimate Startup Guide - email me at kkmookhey@gmail.com.

Details of the book are:
Title: The Ultimate Startup Guide
Author: Kanwal Mookhey
Pages: 150
Additional: Companion CD contains numerous templates for building your business plan, calculating cashflow, preparing profit and loss, and balance sheets, preparing invoices, your resume and profile, marketing material, websites, contracts, and many other useful and motivational material.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Independence day, what?

It's 15th August, and another Independence Day dawns on us. For some it's wonderful that this time around it's on a Tuesday. So if you skip work on Monday, you get a 4-day weekend. Yay! For some it's that day of the year when once again patriotic songs are blared on FM, the PM asks our neighbours to desist from terrorism, news channels go around streets sticking mikes into random people's faces and asking what they think of I-day (sigh), movie channels show the regular topical movies, and next-door celebrities lecture on national accomplishments and failures, and the usual yadda-yadda.

For me, it's time to get on the soapbox and mouth off on what I-day should be all about!

It should be independence in the truest sense - in the mind to begin with. Independence from outmoded ways of thinking, from truisms we've had handed down to us from our parents, from cliches we fall back on every time we are challenged out of our comfort zones. Here's how:

  • Think person, not region. Next time you meet someone, stop yourself from thinking which region of India he/she comes from - Gujurati che, ki Punjabi hai, ki Marathi aahe. And for Chrissakes, Madrasi doesn't even mean anything any longer! And obviously, don't let their religion affect your opinion.
  • Think beyond ancient history. Every time we need to talk about why India is great, we talk about Aryabhatta, and the zero, and the Takshila University, and stuff that happened aeons ago! Simply forget about all that. Think what we need to do in the next decade that is going to make us proud, not what we did millenia ago. Think about the common person innovating and making a difference in villages, small enterprises, civil society activities, and NGO's.
  • Think about staying back. If you're in college, and all around you are giving their GRE's and TOEFL's, stop and think. Consider the India option. Seriously, people are returning back from overseas because it's more lucrative, challenging and fulfilling out here. So think about it. At least give it a fair consideration.
  • Think about the other. Before you jump to conclusions on national and international issues such as reservations, censorship, privatization, Kashmir, the Middle-East conflict, consider the fact that there are more than just two sides to the issue. That things are often more complex than news soundbites would lead us to believe. That often people's lives, dreams and aspirations get drowned in statistics. That a life lost is a life lost, whether to a terrorist's bullet or to an air force bomber.
  • Think entrepreneurial. Yes, it is possible to start your own business in India and do well. The bureaucratic red-tape isn't what it used to be. Heck, I've never paid a single bribe in the five years that I've been at it. So the environment is conducive, and the time is right now.
  • Think investments for tomorrow, not just spending for today. Yes, it's tempting to splurge as soon as you have some money in the bank, but I tell you its a bigger high to splurge on returns from invested monies!
  • Think financial independence. Get independent as soon as you can. Even if you stay with your parents, earning and living off of your own money is absolutely great for your confidence. Get a part-time job, write, blog, review, do whatever you can to earn your subsistence.
  • Think alternate careers. The notion that IAS, medicine, engineering, accounting are the only worthwhile careers is passe. Enough said.
  • Think global and regional. Yes, we're on the global stage, and yes we've got far greater opportunities than our parents ever did. So go out there and win it! But don't forget there's a whole other India that our middle-class existence refuses to admit into consideration. What's a lifetime worth if it's all been spent in the pursuit of self-centered material comfort?
  • Think gender sensitivity and equal consideration. We come from thousands of years of patriarchal hegemony. This hegemony is so insidious that we don't even realise when it comes into play. That has to change, it is inevitable. The next few decades are going to see an emergence resurgence of the feminine - at the workplace, in our homes, cities, villages. Embrace this phenomenon. It's vital to our success as a society.
  • Think beyond cricket. Seriously! 8 hours spent watching 13 men amble around a park! Ok, maybe it's not that trivial a game, but there's a lot more to sports and games than just cricket.

Ok, off the soapbox now!

20 comments:

phantom363 said...

may i respectfully comment, that you have just done in your own way, what you have been critical of the pm, president and the rest of those guys.

your blog is one of preaching. to change. and towards perfection that is. everyday actions are driven by needs - economic, social, personal etc. how can we ask someone to think differently, unless we provide what the rewards will be.

so, your comments would be more complete, if against each of your exhonerations, you might want to add what the benefit would be to the individual, to his city, to his country etc.

for starters: Think of person, not religion: the benefit is it that it frees you from the confines of the narrowness of your mind. the narrowness that has been built on your ancestrage, your society, your friends. it is a very big process to 'unlearn' your confines, and think differently. the reward is the exhilaration, and new opportunities that you might never have thought existed.

please do not consider this as a criticism, as it is not meant in that tone at all. just a free lance comment. hope you don't mind. :)

ps.. three cheers for the good old country. raise a toast of gandhian beer or kaLLu on this memorable day.

Intrepid said...

phantom363: "that you have just done in your own way, what you have been critical of the pm, president and the rest of those guys". To think I was hoping to actually get away with it! :)

I love being on the soapbox as much as the next person, but the post was getting too pedantic in any case.

Astha Jane said...

You've written something worth to be gifted to the millions of young Indian eyes.

I particularly like your points on 'staying back, think alternate careers, gender senstivity, and sports'

If I were you, I'd add 'Know Your Calling', which is picking up in India with youth diving into the most unheard occupations which completely drives them. It needs to be highlighted! But thats if I were on the soapbox :-)

Great post! We'd like more of these.

Happy-Go-Lucky said...

Well well written and makes so much sense in the current world we live in. All of them except the last one :-)

No No No Way!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Very nice post. A simple practice for all of us would be to pick one just cause, and contribute something towards it everyday.

apu said...

It didnt come across as preachy to me, just sensible!

Intrepid said...

astha jane: Thanks!

happy-go-lucky: thanks, too!

tgfi: that's an excellent idea actually. The problem is we get into this mindset where we tell ourselves, we'll do those things once we have more money, once we have more time.

apu: thanks, but I am still going to desist from similar posts. Probably until 26th Jan at least! :)

Ankit Sud said...

typical, try to see positive things in life, life is too short to feel pessimistic and to see faults.

sparsh said...

I so agree with the last 2 points. Indian guys need to be taught to behave and to resist cricket in their school days.Don't wanna use heavy words like woman empowerment, resurgence of feminine etc. but wud be a nice change to see people be more civil to women at public places, than size them up at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

About your "think about staying back" idea, well NRIs may be doing more to help the country than many Indians in India. If I remember correctly the repatriation $s from NRIs contributed more to the economy than all the exports combined. They are supporting India in buying Oil, lobbying for big issues staying outside India and so on. If one feels he has better opportunity available abroad and he in turn would be able to contribute more to India's sucess by living abroad then I dont see anything wrong with it. Earning abroad and sending money back to India is almost equivalent to bringing export orders while staying in India:) Yes there is no value creation and there is more IP drain but the contributions of NRIs to India cannot be denied.

Intrepid said...

sparsh: I couldn't agree more with you. But the mentality of women as objects is so ingrained, that it's going to take a considerable effort to change. And you and I are probably talking urban phenomena, in the rural areas it is far worse for women, I suppose.

Anonymous: Completely agree with you. :) My only point was that personally, what I observed was most of us didn't even give any serious thought to the option of staying back. But of course, the Indian diaspora is a vital component of our economic success and international visibility. I don't have the numbers here, but I think in the past few years forex remittances by NRI's have exceeded those of the Chinese, or come close in any case. So both ways works...:)

Nath said...

And obviously, don't let their religion affect your opinion.

Politically incorrect as this will sound, why not? There is an undeniable correlation between peoples' religions and their moral/philosophical beliefs. Unlike region, race or even (to a degree) intelligence, religion is not something immutable that we are born with. We are all free to decide what we do believe in and what we don't. This is one of those rare rights that no one can take away from us against our will.

I'm not claiming that religion should be your primary method of evaluating people. Obviously, there is a large amount of variation within any given religion. All I am saying is that we cannot read people's minds; instead we must make do by judging them based on their actions, choices and beliefs. A person's religion (or lack thereof) does not tell you everything you need to know about him/her, but it does give you a nonzero amount of information. How can a rational person not let religion affect his or her opinion?

If you're in college, and all around you are giving their GRE's and TOEFL's, stop and think.

I confess, this line made me laugh. Not because I disagree with it -- I don't -- but because I read it a day after taking my GRE. I would like to return to India some day, but I don't think the time is right yet for my area of interest.

OT: have you read any Paul Graham? He has some interesting essays about startups.

Intrepid said...

Nath: To begin with, one's religion is simply the religion of the family one is born into. I don't remember being asked whether I wanted to be a Hindu or a Muslim at any stage of my life. To that extent one is bound by birth to one's religion. One begins to question it, if at all, sometime when one hits adolescence. It is only much later in life (adulthood, probably), that one may even go so far as to consider the probability of conversion if at all. So I am a Hindu, simply because my family is.

Having said that, if you were to ask me how exactly I define myself as Hindu. I am stumped. Because I don't follow one single precept of that religion. In fact, I am atheist.

Even within Islam you have Sunnis, Shias, Dawoodi Bora's, Aga Khani's, Wahabi's, Salafi's, etc. The practices and beliefs vary quite significantly. I have met so many people who simply don't follow anything about their religion. So to take a single brush and paint people is unfair and prejudicial. Same is the case with gender.

"How can a rational person NOT let religion affect his/her opinion". That's a contradiction. Religious beliefs do not exactly strike me as being very rational! In fact, once you bind yourself to any idealogy you become constrained by the limits that it imposes. Religion is as much an idealogy as any other. Except, that it's still pretty much a birth defect :)

As to GRE and TOEFL, yup, I gave those too...but then decided to stay back. Either way is fine as I am concerned, my point was to simply give both options fair consideration.

Yes, have checked out Paul Graham's website. Good stuff there! Thanks!

Nath said...

I don't remember being asked whether I wanted to be a Hindu or a Muslim at any stage of my life.

That's the point -- nobody needs to ask you. It's your decision.

You are atheist, but do consider yourself a Hindu. The very fact that you questioned and rejected (some of) your family's beliefs tells me something. The fact that you still consider yourself Hindu also tells me something. There are at least two important pieces of information I can derive from your religious beliefs -- I can tell that you are not willing to blindly accept beliefs thrust upon you, but that you are probably proud of your philosophical heritage. In deducing these two facts, I have let your religion (or lack thereof) affect my opinion.

(For the record: I am also an atheist, but do not consider myself a Hindu. There was no question of conversion or anything; I simply decided that I was not a Hindu, because my beliefs were inconsistent with Hinduism. That's all it takes.)

So to take a single brush and paint people is unfair and prejudicial.

I said nothing about a single brush. In fact, I specifically mentioned that "there is a large amount of variation within any given religion". And yet, if someone told me he/she was a devout Christian/Muslim/whatever since birth, and that they took their religious texts literally, I would not be able to make one of the two conclusions I made about you.

That's a contradiction. Religious beliefs do not exactly strike me as being very rational!

Sorry, I was ambiguous. What I meant was, "How can a rational person not let someone else's religion affect his/her opinion of that person".

sparsh said...

funny discussion here...
Intrepid:
"In fact, I am atheist." and
"In fact, once you bind yourself to any idealogy you become constrained by the limits that it imposes."
Me: Is 'atheism' not an ideology? So you are constrained anyway:P!
Religion is more 'a way of life' than mere ideology.It's more like a schedule you follow. It may look like something that constrains you but in reality it sets you free, just like a schedule does by making your life more regular and well co-ordinated.Enuff of this:)!
Over and out!

Intrepid said...

Sparsh: Touche! :) Yes, being an atheist, does probably serve as a limiting ideology. However, that's probably the only ideology that allows me an unbiased stance in one of my favorite subjects of study: comparative religion.

Nath: Let's agree to disagree on this one. You may choose to draw "certain" conclusions based on the person's religion, I choose not to. I suspect we'll probably end up going around in circles if we take this discussion forward, since both of us have clearly stated our positions. :)

Nath said...

Okay, fair enough.

OT again: this reminded me of your post.

Intrepid said...

Nath: Another O.Henry fan, and using it to prove a point! Aw, come on. I thought this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, eh? Well, nevertheless. It was nice re-reading that story, even one knows the twist at the end. :)

jovian said...

Hi Intrepid,

I have recently been bitten by the going solo bug. I plan to do some manufacturing. I'll keep the blog posted on my progress.

Regards

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