This week, nearly 40 entrepreneurs, startup employees and students visited KiSSFLOW’s office as a part of the Startup Walk in Chennai, India. We hosted an unconference with Kiruba Shankar where we talked about the culture of a startup.
Kiruba asked the participants to share things they had observed in startup cultures that promote productivity. Here were some of the answers:
- G-Jobs (silent projects, or unofficial tasks done without direct authority)
- Portable Whiteboard film on every wall
- Fluid seating (where employees have no permanent seats)
- Creative to-do lists like Any.do
- ‘One-Day Delivery’ (where developers get one day to create any additional feature on the product)
- Walking meetings and combining movement with thought
Participants also got to ask questions of OrangeScape’s CEO, Suresh Sambandam.
How did you move from a corporate job to being an entrepreneur?
I had the instinct in me from the beginning. By the time I was 19, I had already started my first company. I later took up a corporate job where I gained some specialization around rule-based computing. If you are creating a B2B product, you must have deep domain knowledge to even identify the correct problem to solve. B2C is more straight-forward than B2B in terms of figuring out a pain point since you are aware of the problem as a user.
Should all startups aim to locate in Silicon Valley or Bangalore?
With my own experience and those of many of my friends, I’ve found that being in Silicon Valley or other startup hotbeds is not great for everyone. Those locations definitely look very attractive from the outside, but they only provide marginal incremental value. The biggest value can come from access to funding sources, but you’ve got to have a product-market fit to clear the funding rounds if you are a first-time entrepreneur. The biggest thing is creating ‘the’ product your markets needs. If you do that, then funding sources (VCs) will come and find you. Silicon Valley or Bangalore contributes only marginally to this critical step in a startup’s lifecycle. Also, except for Y Combinator, other startup accelerators don’t have that great of a track record. For these reasons, I personally feel Chennai (or Hyderabad/Pune) would be a better choice as there is generally much less people churn.
Do you prefer to work with freelancers or full-timers?
I have a big bias towards hiring people on a full-time basis. You need a lot of commitment to achieve milestones on agreed timelines, and that happens best when people are all gathered together. Using freelancers on a continuous basis has not worked out for us, especially in the design and development areas. As an SaaS company, I think even the website operations should be done in-house since the website is so important with continuous changes due to A/B testing.
Do you have the same vision you started with?
Of course, not everything is the same as it was 10 years ago, but I started out with my core team trying to democratize rule-based computing. That has been a theme of all of our work since then.
What is the core DNA of your company?
Suresh is enthusiastic about what everyone does. He recognizes the need for every single person and invests into them. He is also very transparent and shares all the metrics of the company so that anyone can get online and see how we are doing.
Have you ever had someone quit your company to begin their own startup?
Yes, it has happened a few times. When someone decides to go and work for another company, we feel sad. But when they leave to start up their own company, we feel proud. I am proud of the culture we have here and I like it when people actually apply what they learn here to their own careers.
KiSSFLOW is a proud sponsor of the Startup Walk and the emerging startup community of Chennai!