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The second day in Bangalore started with a meeting with Shyamal Mehta, one of the co-founders of TechJini, a company with a very impressive track record when it comes to mobile applications. He showed us no less than 25 iPhone applications, ranging from business and travel to news and games applications, many of them built for foreign companies.
TechJini could absolutely be interesting for us, since they already built a store front for an American childrens book publisher, including inbuilt reader. They have also built store fronts for OEMs.
The third day we met with Zunaa, a relatively new company, only five months old but already having eight people employed and currently hiring four more. The shared offices, and some services, with a few other companies, among them an online advertising agency, in a very posh building. The attitude here was more laid back and in some ways more like home. Perhaps it is a telling sign that Zunaa’s flagship application is the popular Indian game Tiger and Goat, available in Apple’s app store for two dollars. But they have also developed a blog service, connected to the users google account, Voar.
The mobile application development branch is practically exploding in Bangalore. On the fourth day we attended the Mobile developer conference, arranged by Silicon India. The conference was unfortunately sponsored by Nokia, a very evident fact that nobody could miss. As an example, one of the keynotes turned into a product presentation for Nokia’s latest line of communicators. That was actually quite hilarious, as the keynote speaker asked the audience if any of them had owned a Nokia communicator. About half of them raised their hands. Impressed, the keynote speaker asked them how many enjoyed the experience. Nobody raised their hands, not a single one. People started laughing about the situation.
But the first four keynotes and the following panel debate were very interesting and gave a good perspective of the present mobile application market and what to expect form the future. Some important topics that were raised:
- Cross platform compatibility. The situation here seems much more diversified than in Sweden, with no OEM dominating. Having your application ported to several operating systems becomes more important.
- UI/UX. The market is evolving and the user interface and experience is now as important as the functions of the application.
- Business models are changing every 12 months.
- The life span of an application before it needs major function and/or UI updates is 3-5 months.
- Few mobile application development companies have the stamina to stay in the business after the first critical 12 – 18 months.
For the future we can expect applications that takes advantage of the mobile handsets inbuilt core technology, like sensors, gyroscope and GPS. We will probably see more kinds of sensors in the phones. Locality seems to be a trend and we should probably expect more location based ads, as well as a development of money transfer functions beyond mobile banking.
The conference was filled to the last seat with mostly young developers. Unfortunately, and probably due to Nokia’s sponsorship, the sections dealing with iOS and Android development very much smaller than the one dealing with QT, Nokia’s newly acquired cross-platform application framework. Although we had registered late and paid the 500 Rs entrance fee online just the night before, we managed to sneak into the iOS section after some haggling.
The keynote there was very basic in nature, an in itself interesting fact. Apparently, judging from the following questions, many developers had come there almost as a sort of extra curricular activity. That really shows the hunger for knowledge within the development sector here in Bangalore. We couldn’t help wonder how many Swedish engineer students that would take their Saturday off school to attend a full day, paid conference – sharing knowledge they really should be getting as a part of their education.
Outside the iOS auditorium we met Indpro, a Swedish mobile application development company, based in Bangalore since the last 3 years. This is probably becoming more and more common, as many customers in the field of applications already are foreign companies. For long time relations, it makes sense to establish a local presence or partnership, just like Nätverkstan are doing with NamNätverkstan.
The night before the conference, we had updated our project specification and took the chance to discuss it with some of the attending developers. Many were interested but very few seemed skilled enough to make serious offers. At the end of the day it was still a very worthwhile experience for us, to be hurdled directly into the epicentre of Bangalore’s emerging mobile application development scene and to learn more about the challenges it’s facing, and what the market looks like.
Text: Carl Forsberg, Nätverkstan
These days, when entrepreneurship is put forward as the solution of the cultural field’s economic difficulties, and when funding bodies on all levels are talking more frequently of Artists and cultural organizations having to be more entrepreneurial, searching for ”sponsorship”, ”alternative funding” and ”market demand”, it might be time to kill some myths.
An issue of the Economist this spring (March 14–20, 2009) with a special focus on entrepreneurship, put forward five myths of entrepreneurs that needs to be put aside if we are to understand and catalyze entrepreneurship.
Myth 1. Entrepreneurs are lonely, socially incompetent geniuses that come up with great ideas. Instead, the article argues, entrepreneurship is a social activity. An entrepreneur might be very independent, but needs a business partner or social networks to succeed.
Myth 2. Most entrepreneurs are extremely young. Some have been very young, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the article lift forward. But a significant amount is also older, like Gary Buller who started the GPS company Garmin at the age of 52.
Myth 3. Entrepreneurship is driven mainly by venture capital. In fact, venture capitalists fund only a very small fraction of start-ups. Majority of money put into start-ups, the article shows, come from personal debts and of the ”three f:s”: Friends, fools and families.
Myth 4. To succeed, entrepreneurs must produce a world-changing product. Instead, experience shows that the most successful entrepreneurs focus on processes rather than products.
Myth 5. Entrepreneurship cannot flourish within large companies. Small start-ups are very important, the article points out, but also large companies are being successful in keeping an attitude of entrepreneurship. The company Johnson & Johnson is put forward as an example.
The personal computer, the mobile phone and internet has made entrepreneurship flourish. Many initiatives has grown since these technological changes were introduced, entrepreneurs come from all parts of the world. Due to falling prices in communication, a global market can be reached instantly.
One interesting initiative is the The Indus Entrepreneur (TIE), started in Silicon Valley in 1992 by a group of Indian entrepreneurs living in the valley. Today they have 12.000 members spread in 12 countries. The idea was to promote entrepreneurship through mentoring, networking and education. A network meeting is held in Stockholm, on 27th of May, organized at the Stockholm-based meeting place the Hub.
Etiketter:Business idea, Creative Industries, Creativity, crisis, Cultural Policy, Digitization, Economy, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Flexibility, Globalization, Innovation, New economy, Resources, Self-employment, Silicon Valley, Social entrepreneur
Cooperation and Silicon Valley. In Umeå, a city of almost 113,000 inhabitants in Northern parts of Sweden, they have managed with something that many found difficult. Creating different spaces that together form an intrinsic net of taking initiatives from idea to project or business plans. The different spaces and organisations cooperate and support each other, creating a spirit of possibilities.
Krenova is a continuation of a project started several years ago, with the aim to find solutions for those that no one else worked with: the cultural entrepreneurs. Many artists run their own businesses. A structure, like the classic incubators you find in the business field, should be helpful also for artists. But one that is designed to meet the specific conditions in the artistic field. This was the idea when Arciv, the first project started, which now is continued in Krenova. Connected with this is finding new markets for cultural competence. Krenova has fifteen places in the incubator. The programme includes training in entrepreneurship, seminars, working spaces and seedmoney for development of business ideas. It’s owned by the county council in Västerbotten.
At the University of Umeå, an Art Campus is being formed, where the School of Design, School of Architect, School of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art (BildMuseet) are being gathered in a new space in town. The idea is to locate education, research, artistic development, incubators and the interactive milieu HUMlab in the same area to get two things: Academic education situated together with open areas accessible to the public.
”A meeting place that doesn’t need much organising”, is how Patrik Svensson, Manager of HUMlab, describes the space he is running. It’s part of the University and a form of laboratory for ideas and activities within humanities, culture, and information technology. ”The slow dialogue” is another of the well-formulated things he says on our visit.
Uminova Innovation is commercialising mainly medical research to business ideas. In 2007 135 ideas came in, 31 of these started as businesses. The typical idea becomes a product, but also services are formed. At Uminova Innovation, the business development includes coaches, incubator spaces, networking and seminars. They can also offer investment capital and risk money.
On the tour in Umeå two things become evident. Cooperation between the different spaces opens possibilities and strengthens the creative field. Many of the initiators and managers of organisations have been in Silicon Valley to get inspired.
On this blog we describe a little bit of the Silicon Valley attitude that has inspired many. We describe our visit to IDEO, reading about Barack Obama’s campaign organisation, and the visit at Pixar Animation Studios. An incubator in San Francisco within art and culture is Intersection Incubator. We also wrote about an embroidery project at HUMlab together with the american artist P Nosa doing a similar idea. Read about it here.
Overlapping of disciplines in education, artistic work and organisations, is put forward by many we meet. At Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, they combine disciplines to learn new things. The focus is long-term, to build relations and prepare students for long-term sustainable work in India. They believe in combining two strands in their training programmes: reality, and a theoretical framework that give students tools to analyse and reflect on what they meet. Srishti has a strong connection between sectors like art, design, philosophy, business. Behind their success lies an attitude of being ”uncompromisingly idealistic”.
We get the chance to meet Mr B.R Jayaramaraje Urs, Special Commissioner for Information and Cultural Affairs at the Karnataka level, and discuss the role of culture. At cultural policy level, we understand that issues like cultural heritage, identity and cultural mapping are put forward. But Karnataka also fight with challenges such as rural development and the regional inbalance in the State. In Karnataka around 70% live on agriculture, but in strict economic terms of labour requirement, only 20% of human resources is required for output.
Changes are fast and uncompromising, something very true here in India. The IT-sector is one of the fastest growing, Bangalore is often compared to Silicon Valley in San Francisco. And hopes are that it will also signify to Karnataka area, what Silicon Valley has ment to California. Urbanisation is fast, one figure presented is one person a second moving into Bangalore. Farmers have had difficulties in adjusting to these changes. Since a few years back, the suicidal rate among farmers have been growing rapidly. On a comparison between 2000 and 2008 you see a decline, but it’s still significant and far too many. Around 70%, we are told, live on agriculture, a sector that has dealt with a great deal of problems like changing weather, fertilizers that disrupt the traditional circle and methods of sowing, and now also a global economic slow-down which is likely to press prices of cotton and other farm and plantation products. The state has been slow in facing these problems, and for many farmers families are disrupted, survival get more difficult and initiatives to train farmers for other types of jobs has not been fallen out well. In The Hindu (Oct, 30) you can read that farmers are also put under ”undue pressure” by moneylenders and banks that forces them to commit suicide. Private moneylenders have grown four-fold during the past decade.
To read about the art scene in Bangalore, you can look at Time Out Bengaluru. Language is an issue in India, a number told to us is around 300 languages spoken, something that poses challenges on for instant the educational system. An article on the subject written by freelance journalist Margot Cohen can be found here.
For those who read Swedish, get your hands on the book ”Mahatma!” written by Swedish author Zac O’Yeah , since 15 years living in Bangalore. It’s a great description of Gandhis life and accomplishment and an introduction to India.
The delegation to Bangalore is part of the newly formed exchange of knowledge and experience between the Swedish Region Västra Götaland and Karnataka.
”You do what works”, says John Stoddard at IDEO, one of many success stories placed in Silicon Valley. The Design Firm started in 1991 and has since grown with several offices around US and in London. On the question if it has been important to have the office in Silicon Valley, John Stoddard says without hesitation ”definitely”. It has to do with things like the close relation to Stanford University, he tells us, and the casual clothing that is custom and the casual way of behaving. Anyone can speak to anyone, top and bottom doesn’t matter. The philosophy of starting small and experiment. High risks and a lot to gain if you make it. And the attitude that you arrange your work as you want and what is convenient. As long as you hold your deadline and budget.
At IDEO creativity and innovation is in front and to create such an atmosphere, they believe in things like open spaces, constant-changing workplaces, working in teams with a variety of competencies collected in each project. Other things are a mixture of general competencies and expert knowledge and a possibility to do individual development planning. The result of a project is of course in focus, but also the work process. Innovation, Mr Stoddard tells us, is where different disciplines meet, in the crossovers of different areas. That’s where new things happen.
www.iinnovatecast.com (interview with founder David Kelley)
www.leighbureau.com (find books written by Tom Kelley of IDEO)
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