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Quotes From Here And There

Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
Dylan Thomas
I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.
Eddie Cantor
It takes twenty years to become an overnight success.
Edward Abbey
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
e e cummings
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting.
Eyler Coates
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Without music, life would be a mistake.
Gustave Flaubert
The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.
Going to the Opera is like making love; we get bored but we come back.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If I love you, what business is it of yours?
John Steinbeck
Only through imitation do we develop toward originality.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.
Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring;
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything;
That's how the light gets in.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
Paul Sweeney
You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
Peter Altenberg
I never dreamed of being Shakespeare or Goethe, and I never expected to hold the great mirror of truth up before the world; I dreamed only of being a little pocket mirror, the sort that a woman can carry in her purse; one that reflects small blemishes, and some great beauties, when held close enough to the heart.
Robert Frost
In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money.
Satchel Paige
Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
Thomas Mann
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
V S Naipaul
The writer has only to listen very carefully and with a clear heart to what people say to him, and ask the next question, and the next.

My Personal Library

The Abyssinian Boy - Onyeka Nwelue

My friend Onyeka Nwelue has had a wonderful thing happen to him. Read the following press release to find out:-

Onyeka Nwelue

DADA Books, an imprint of Design and Dream Arts Agency, have signed a book deal with 20 year-old University of Nigeria sophomore, Onyeka Nwelue, to publish his novel, The Abyssinian Boy by December.

Onyeka Nwelue was born in Nigeria in 1988. After graduating from High School at 17, he travelled to South Asia, particularly to India, where he wrote the first draft of his novel in three months. He has been published in the Guardian, The Sun, Eclectica, Nigeria Village Square, Kafla InterContinental and Wild Goose Poetry Review. He has received a grant from the Institute for Research on African Women, Children and Culture (IRAWCC) and is currently working on his second novel.

Set in India and Nigeria (and scattered locations of the world), The Abyssinian Boy is about a family whose nine year-old child gets haunted by an albino dwarf ghost.

Ayodele Arigbabu, publisher of DADA Books, refusing to comment on the terms of the deal, rather said: ‘The Abyssinian Boy lays bare the many paradoxes of culture clash with thought provoking and often amusing ironies’. Chika Unigwe, Nigerian-Belgian author of The Phoenix describes it as ‘an ambitious novel’.

DADA Books was established earlier this year and has already published Jumoke Verissimo’s I am Memory.

Sources close to the publishers say the author has been paid an advance of N 2.5 million.

For enquiries, contact: DADA Books, 1st Floor, 95 Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos; Tel: +234-01-7451990. E.mail: dreamarts.designagency@gmail.com

Eureka! '08 Mentors' Meet - SJMSOM, IIT Bombay - Anand Lunia

As finalists in Eureka!'08, the biggest business plan competition in Asia, me and my friend got to attend two immensely outstanding workshops on the business of business. Both of them were conducted at the Shailesh J. Mehta School Of Management, IIT Bombay.

The first was by Mr. Anand Lunia, Executive Director and CFO of Seedfund. A lanky guy, he became a VC after growing and selling many businesses of his own. One of his businesses was sold at 60 million dollars and I'm sure many of the participants hoped (prayed?) that they may have such luck with their startup.

Anand explained the Venture Capital business building up the idea of VC funding, its hows and whys from scratch. Right from Premoney, Postmoney to the intricacies of valuation and dealing with a VC, he covered it all.

Here are some notes from his lecture that might interest a person working on a business plan/startup:-
  • The VC fund is usually expected to give 3x returns. So pervasive is the 80-20 rule that it finds its way here too. Out of every ten ventures funded with VC capital, only two succeed. Since these successes must compensate for the failures of the remaining part of the investment, they are expected to have an ROI of 10x. Since all ideas/teams invested in seem exceptionally great (that is why the investment gets done), here is no way of knowing at the time of investment which of the lot is going to succeed. Hence the VC's have to maintain exceptionally high hopes from every venture, pray for the success of each, and plan for preventing the failure of any of the investments.
  • The three main criteria for assessing a business plan are team, market and product in that order.
  • Any business plan needs to be backed up by a strong team. The various factors that are used while judging a team are academic background, professional track record and its relevance to the plan at hand, the motivation of the team as demonstrated by the groundwork already done for the success of the plan, etc. Often the team factor outweighs the other considerations when VC's are considering a plan. Anand said that at Seedfund, a business plan is evaluated by five independent VC's. Even if the plan is rated B by some VC, the team must get a rating of A by all the VC's. This is because a good team can make more out of a good plan than a mediocre team out of a great plan.
  • The market for your idea has to be big. It should be usually atleast around a hundred crores or more for a VC to look into it. Less than that, it is better to go in for angel investors, loand from banks, relatives, etc.
  • If the product rests on confidentiality of the idea, then the claims to IPR better be good. But it is not necessary that you need to have a great idea to make a difference. It is the execution of the idea that makes an idea a million-dollar proposition. So take a good idea (you can pick somebody's brains; there is no copyright on ideas!) and get down to making it work better than your competitors.
  • Often a business plan will state that the team is working on so niche a project that it does not have competition at all. This spells bad news for the plan as the VC's figure out that a niche with no competitors will mostly have a very small market size. This can greatly dissuade VC's from investing in the plan.
  • Every once in a while, an idea will come along that will bank upon its niche as its USP. For example, Google which was turned down by more than 10 investors when it applied for seeding. But more often than not, VC's expect their investments to have a predictable way of capitalizing on an untapped market. While this spells problems for plans which seek to actualize niche ideas, it can actually help the planners by pitting them against critical VC's whose advice can help in polishing the plan so that the market traction is better once the idea is put into practice.
  • It is important to actually collect feedback on your customer sales presentation and/or conduct market surveys in order to test if there exists a need for the product/service you're trying to sell. This can often help in determining other factors that may be of importance and may even change the USP of what you are trying to sell.
  • The valuation of a company is directly proportional to the size of the market it is trying to capture.
  • It is the relevance of your academic/professional knowledge and experience that counts while your plan is being considered for valuation by a VC. There is nothing as deluding as self-valuation on the basis of academic/professional pedigree.
That's more or less the gist of the lecture. There was also a minor session on the documentation involved while raising money for a venture and negotiating with a VC. It involved the term sheet, VC rights, entrepreneur rights, shareholders' agreements, share purchase agreements, due diligence, and questions of the governing board and vetoes.

Though I've yet to grasp a lot about the details of valuation and negotiation, Anand's lecture was immensely helpful to me and the other participants as an introduction to valuing our ideas, polishing our business plans, and avoiding common pitfalls while pitching to a VC.

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