Learning Exchange Programme

LEP Banner

Recently we were working on bringing out a new initiative called ‘Open Projects’. This was basically a platform to connect companies in the morpheusgang with individuals to help them solve a specific set of their problems. While carving out the framework for this initiative, based on inputs from folks in the gang, we realised that this is not about connecting people with startups to solve their problems. It is about about the collective learning being exchanged. While there is immense learning to take away from a Startup, an individual comes with his/her own reflection of knowledge from outside.

These associations will not only help both individuals and people at Startups to grow as persons but also can either merge into full-time engagements or come out as an experience which will stay forever with both the parties for their respective future endeavours.

Hence, Learning Exchange Programme was conceived.

LEP

In a larger scheme of things, If all the people involved in a group starts contributing (giving) consciously, eventually everyone will start receiving consciously.

As we’re trying to understand how this will evolve, we are starting the learning exchange programme with the Open Projects initiative. This will be our first step into this wide-scope of possibilities that will help Learning Exchanges amongst people & groups.

What is an Open Project?

An open project is an initiative to foster learning exchanges between startups and individuals. Here, startups share their problems and individuals help fix them. These are those problems which don’t require immediate attention by the startup or come on low priority in task list, BUT are immensely important for a startup. Together it is an opportunity for both to share their knowledge and learn from each other.

Why this initiative?

At Morpheus, we have always believed that the basic essence of a relationship is to help each other grow. By this learning exchange programme, individuals will be able to showcase their skills, while keeping the window of learning open and Startups will be able to engage with these individuals for a specific set of problems. Problems which will not only help individuals learn from new challenges but will also help them get a sneak-peak into the company’s culture & philosophy. Consecutively Startups will get a chance to learn from individuals on how they solve these problems. This would eventually help both parties understand eachother and then possibly collaborate.

What kind of projects?

We’ve kept it pretty open, so projects genre could span over Technology to Marketing to Content to Product to Design to Anything.

Who can apply?

Anyone who feels he/she can do it. As simple as that :)

Where can one apply?

Here – http://morpheusgang.com/open-projects

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For now we have started it with Morpheus Gang companies and with minimal technicalities. Leaving the nature of the course of this initiative to evolve organically, we welcome constructive feedback from all of those who feel connected with this.

As this is just the beginning, everything from the origin of the idea to execution to maintenance, has evolved naturally on it’s own. We welcome everyone to be part of this programme in any capacity you can. If you are a Startup, and not part of the gang, but want to associate hence contribute, please feel free to drop a line at hq@morpheusgang.com

All queries would be happily answered at hq@morpheusgang.com

Lets exchange and learn!

Namaste :)

- Team Morpheusgang

Favorite interview questions of startup founders

 

While there are companies who sweep hundreds of folks in one go at a college through a test which is designed same for all, Startups on other hand, pick one by one. And each time, the criteria, the screening & the attitude is different.

Recruitments at Startups are very unconventional / different and you actually even can’t call them recruitments. They are partnerships, connections & much higher than that. Startups look for fire fighters and rock stars at the same time in the same person. Having said that, the question is how to identify a kick ass talent?

Being a community of about 70 active Startups, hiring is always on in Morpheus gang all the time. What should be the ideal selection process at startup is a regular discussion here. There are many things which we keep trying and have tried, including have multiple rounds of interaction, a week’s live-in with the prospect, have a 360 degree rating etc. but one thing which is most important is an initial round of interview. What questions to be asked and on what parameters a prospect should be judged? So we had an open discussion in gang and below is the summary of that which turned out to be a very interesting discussion.

1. Sameer, who co-founded MorpheusGang likes to ask “What is the minimum salary you can work for?“  – This certainly can bring out lot of important factors to clarity.

2. Other important aspect is happiness / passion / craziness / attitude etc.

For example, Tarun Bhalla, co-founder – Building Blocks likes to ask “What gives you happiness?” – A person who is clear with what he wants is the one who see it coming. Neh?

Swati Gupta who also co-founded Building Blocks with Tarun, likes to know “What gives you a “Kick” in life?” – Triggers are important; they help identify the driving forces of a person.

Gaurav Munjal, founder – Flat.to always asks “What’s the most unconventional thing you have done in your life?” – Of course, having a permanent tattoo on neck once and then removing it for another one, definitely tells something – Nothing is impossible. :D

Abhishek who co-founded Loremate also likes to know If they are in a relationship or not. He says it helps him to determine lot of aspects, such as a person’s attitude / commitment / compassion / focus / choice & most important risk taking capability.

3. And the obvious one – why startups?

“Why PlanMy.Travel?” – Aashish Gupta, founder – PlanMyTravel

“Why startups? Name 2 things that are the top most priority for taking this or any other job?” – Ankur Agarwal, founder – Debuggify

4. Self awareness / knowledge is one of the key factors to see in a candidate.

“What are your 5 areas of self improvement?” – Nimish Adani, founder – Engrave

“If you had 2 years to live, what would you do? What are your weaknesses?” – Prashant Pansare, co-founder – Playerify

Prukalpa who runs SocialCops likes to ask “What would make you quit?” – Certainly very interesting question, could even be a reality check for you.

Nidhi Gurnani, co-founder – Cardback definitely goes direct by asking “What can you tell me about yourself that is not on your CV?” – Do you see a confused look on his face?

Suhas says that when you draw people into experiences that they are not thinking of answering, it goes some way in throwing light. According to Prashant, people in India don’t write contribution to the projects honestly and it needs to be dug a lot more.

Sameer wants to know more about the person but not the routine college and company stuff but the actual “you” and what college/ company experience did to you and he devised a method where he asks candidate to close his eyes for 10 seconds and let him tell whatever comes to his/ her mind and narrate the story as one remembers it. Many a time this works like magic and a very engaging conversation happens.

 

In the end, we should remember one thing – Compassion. Hiring is not a one way process. Here both involved wants to find the right partner. It is not necessary for every interview to conclude to a decision. Sometimes it just feels like that it is not just the right time to get someone onboard. Establishing relationship is one of the best conclusions of a good interview.

Go, and talk to them.

- This blogpost is an outcome of a conversation/thread that recently happened in our internal gang mailing list.

Learnings from RIP Startup’s founder initiative

Startup is tough but moving on from a RIP startup is even tougher. At this particular time, founder goes through many things/ thoughts – blaming others/ blaming situations/ blaming oneself / RIP reasons and many more. We have observed that at this time, the founder needs 2 types of healing – professional and emotional. And believe it or not, there isn’t any much difference in both for him. Everything narrows down in life and it is very essential for them to move on as soon as possible and get on to another challenging ride.

In the Morpheus gang, we have been there and done that.

Last month, we provided ex-founders a platform to make ‘moving on’ easier and smooth - bit.ly/exfounder 

Being a part of Indian startup ecosystem from last few years, we strongly felt the need of such platform which can help ex-founders to connect with active startups. We firmly believe, founders who have applied themselves and created some value are a rare breed and can’t be found easily. They are assets who come with priceless experiences of “how not to do things” and active startups can invite these guys to be a part of their journey and could highly benefit from their experience.

With the above thought process we took ‘RIP startup’s founder’ initiative. The thought process was clear that connections would not just be limited to Morpheus gang companies but we will also be happy to connect candidates with companies outside the gang.
Few Stats:

No. of Founders applied – 21

Joined Morpheus gang companies – 5

In Process – 10

Couldn’t find a right match – 6

Gang companies participated – OnlinePrasad, Akosha, Watchy, OnlineRTI, IIMJobs, Cardback, Dwll.in, SutraHR, PocketScience, SocialCops, Airwoot, MyPrepMate, StoryPick, GetCloudEngine

Other companies – Blume Ventures (Applied 4)

Every founder has his own very interesting story and after hearing 20 more stories, it has further strengthened our belief that the main asset of an entrepreneur is his attitude and we at Morpheus gang will continue to have deep appreciation for this asset.

If you are a RIP startup founder – We’ve free hugs for you :)

Anti fund raising advice

Originally posted on  by guglanisam at guglanisam.me

Out of all the meeting requests that I receive from founders outside of morpheus gang, a large percentage of the founders want advice & help on fund raising, intros to VCs / angels etc

In most such conversations I end up repeating what I have already shared in other similar conversations. I figured it would be a good time-saver to just write a post on this topic, some folks would hopefully read it before sending me the request & for others, I can forward the post.

What I end up giving is not “Fund raising advice” but “Anti fund raising advice”. I always start off by saying, “I am not sure I am a good person to talk to for advice on fund raising”. I say this because one of the core beliefs that we preach, to startups at TM, is to completely de-focus fund raising from the process of building a business.  None of the great businesses were built in such a way, where the founders first focused on raising funds & after they completed fund raising, they came back to focus on building the business.

Instead the right way is to just keep building the business in best possible manner with the resources available to you. Just keep moving, keep hiting the milestones, get the prototype out, launch V 1.0 / 2.0 , get initial customers, collect feedback, keep itrating, use organic channels to acquire customers, be super capital efficient, get coverage, start making money, become profitable, understand your numbers, understand the industry.  Do all this with a belief that you will never raise money, but will still build the best company even in this space – if it takes time, hard work & lot of effort, so be it. Customers are the best & most loyal investors. As long as you keep adding value to their lives, they wont leave you.

The magic here is that once you gain the ‘supreme self belief’ that you can & you will do this without help or money from the money guys, the money guys automatically start becoming interested. You start receiving geninune incoming interest, where the conversations are much more constructive & friendly, You do not need to make long presentations, imaginary business plans or 5 year financial projections. Your business has traction, you have created real value & good investors can see that. Things move fast, negotiations are easy, you can continue your focus on your business & the fund raising activity just happens on the side. If at all you are dealing with someone who is acting too tough to your liking or taking too much time, you have the power to walk away from the deal, which is the supreme power in any negotiation. And you can do that because you are not dependent, you do not need their money to build or continue your business. The equation is now reversed – they need you more than you need them.

Good investors & external capital can play an important role in the growth & success of a company but only if it comes at the right time, in the right manner, at the right terms & from the right source.

So as I am fond of saying: “Stop all fund raising activties, do not look for money. Build a great business & the money will find you.”

- Sameer Guglani | member, morpheusgang

 

Be More: Focus on Customer Experience!

Originally posted on  by @nandinih at nandini.me

I’ve not written about a movie or a television commercial in a while, though they are one of my favorite topics of discussion. A recent advertisement i saw prompted this post.

The latest (not sure if its latest, but the one that’s on air these days) Titan, Be More TVC with Aamir Khan has a simple context of a broken computer at a senior citizens house. Aamir is fixing it while the senior customer is complaining of time taken to respond by the company, responsibility, etc. Aamir fixes it and while he’s leaving the customer asks for a contact number in the future. That’s when the customer and we audience realize that Aamir is not a service guy, but the MD of the company. The spirit of customer service is summarized by Aamir in one sentence “No task is big or small”

See the TVC here:

One main take away from that TVC is also the fact that for a company, customer service must be top priority. No customer is superior or inferior and anyone capable in the company should tend to serve the customer in need. All that i write here may seem idealistic to many of you who read it. I am sure people in the customer service departments of mobile operators and insurance companies will scorn at me! But, then again. Pause for a bit and think about it!

Definition of customer in this context is that person (individual or another business) who will buy something (product or service) from you.

A start-up must have customer service / customer experience as one of the top 3 things they will address as a company. The thought behind it is pretty simple and i practiced it as part of my first start-up Madhouse.

You build your product or run a service for the end customer to use it. More number of customers who associate themselves with you translates into more revenues. If each customer who has ever interacted with you, refers at least one more customer to your company will only mean double the sales. In all, one happy customer is bound to refer more customers. Consistent customer service with focus on experience and delight will only lead to constant customer referrals – the most cost efficient marketing methods for any startup to practice!

In your initial days, as a start-up, its too soon to classify customers as – ideal customer, loss making customer, high-maintenance customer, etc. All customers when you start off are good customers. Treat them in the same manner, give each one of them the real experience of your product/service/brand. Create a sense of “wow” in them. Instill confidence in your company by being consistent in each interaction, by making the customer realize that they are special, by showing the customer that the company cares.

A few ways you can deliver good customer service and impart a good experience are:

  • Have an internally agreed upon Service Level Agreement (SLA) that the company will respond to any existing customer complaint within X hours, it can be 12 or 24. Live upto it. You can also make this public to set customer expectation and to ensure you deliver what you commit to.
  • Have an SLA for potential customer inquiry or prospective lead. Timely response helps in winning customers many-a-times.
  • Its not a crime to slip-up on a commitment to your customer, but do not make it a habit. For any slip-ups ensure you say sorry and compensate with something little that leads to customer delight. At Madhouse, if we missed delivering a movie to a customer or we committed on a movie and it was not there, we’d send the next best option with a personalized sorry note and a plum cake. This experience stayed with our customers and led to lunch time pantry talks, strong customer references. As a matter of fact, this also won us loyalty points and was one of the influencing factors – for our third co-founder to approach us and discuss possibilities of him joining the team.
  • Be prepared to go all out to fulfilling a commitment to your customer, even if it means incurring some losses. That loss will be short-term for a long-term gain.
  • As a company, everyone in the team must treat customer service / experience as super important and must be convinced about it. It must be imbibed in the culture of the company. That’s when naturally, customer related tasks will take precedence over other things that start-up teams will need to work on.

The above list is not exhaustive, but only indicative of the importance customer service / experience should get in a start-up.

One of the largest Retail Companies in India, a favorite of mine, Shoppers Stop from time immemorial have a simple designation attached that has made a difference in the way people have perceived that brand. Their MD is a Customer Care Associate first in designation and then MD. This small, but vital note – was a great move that has built trust among end customers towards the brand, specially in its initial days.

For a start-up if you are convinced that one of your prime tasks is to be there for the customer anytime, anywhere, anyhow – many things that you need to achieve as a start-up, your vision and the reason to exist – will all fall into perspective: the one that has a customer perspective!

Nandini’s Blog

 

Are you a founder of a RIP-startup? Come and contribute to another beautiful startup

The Morpheus is transforming into morpheus gang which is in short, a community for the founders, by the founders, of the founders. Read founders as people who have the passion of starting up enterprises/businesses/companies. (Read more about transformation here). Founders of RIP-startups have a very vital role to play in the startup community.

A good founder always has the founder’s attitude, he/ she never forgets the skills of taking ownership, taking initiative, taking care of people of employees or customers or vendors, being very careful with usage of resources and many more such things. This skill that can not be purchased in the job market, it can only be earned by being a founder & working hard. At morpheus we have a deep appreciation and respect for folks who have earned this skill, even though their company didn’t work out.

Outcome of starting a company as an entrepreneur is not binary, and in any of the case, the real value of the startup journey is personal growth of founders. The skill sets which you get while doing for your own startup are worth much more than many specialized skills.

So if you are a founder of a startup that is now Resting in Peace (RIP)  & you are looking to continue your startup journey by joining other beautiful startup at a key position to build real value, we would love to talk to you. In past, we have seen many ex-founders becoming a great assets/part of leadership teams in companies like  Akosha, SutraHR, Redquanta, Airwoot, iimjobs.com & many others.

To start a conversation, send us an email at  ’neoATmorpheusgangDOTcom’ with a brief about yourself / your startup / the type of role you are looking for.  We will personally work with you, understand you, & figure out a role that allows you to bring your unique gift to world. Everyone is here with a unique gift, just the right environment is needed to bring it to life.

The Morpheus to MorpheusGang

This post is an attempt to provide an overview of the changes we are bringing about. A detailed website with comprehensive information is due to be live towards the end of July. 

Metamorphosis:

The past 6 odd years we have focussed on running an acceleration program which focussed on early stage startups. We morphed as we went along learning new things and staying relevant to the needs of the startups that have been a part of the morpheusgang. However, quite recently, with the personal learnings & changing needs of the morpheusgang; there is a strong indication to change the course. Therefore, this change; metamorphosis.

  • What we were:
    • India’s leading accelerator that ran a 4 month business acceleration program. If you are here reading this, then you know about our accelerator avatar, so won’t dwell too much into history.
  • What we are moving to become:
    • A community for the founders, by the founders, of the founders. Read founders as people who have the passion of starting up enterprises/businesses/companies. It’ll be called the morpheusgang.
    • morpheusgang is/will be a community of founders who proactively help each other in many ways to grow personally and professionally.
    • There will be no commercial fee to be a part of this community. No equity / No cash. One pays by helping others and receiving help.
  • MorpheusGang:
    • morpheusgang currently is a community of over 170+ founders, that is vibrant with a dominating sense of giving and sharing. All these founders have come together via the acceleration program The Morpheus used to run.
    • There is a clear need to expand, extend this community to make it more inclusive and have a larger reach. Which was limited by the format of an acceleration program.
    • Therefore, morpheusgang is now going to be an open, opt-in community that will be based on the philosophies of “giving” / “pay-it-forward” / “gift economy”.
    • The community is no longer focusing only on early stage startups, but hopes to make founders across all stages of businesses inclusive; providing a common arena to learn from one another.
    • The community will no longer run a program or be time-bound.
    • Members of the community will be available to help each other, spend time to solve tough problems that are faced by its members, etc.
    • It will no longer be commercial. There will be no monetary investments. Nor will there be expectation of equity in exchange for time and money.
    • It will be based on “participation by will” and “contribution by will” – if one wishes to make a contribution in kind, equity or money, over and above their contribution to the community by way of their time, contacts, helps; they can do so.
  •  How does one become a part of the morpheusgang now:

For a community thats already active, opening it up to a larger audience, to larger growing and learning opportunities is important. As much so is the need for a structured process that ensures entry of the right kind of people into the community. Hence a 4 step process.

  • The 4 step process:

(The decision of moving from one step to another will be made both by the founder/founding team and key members interacting as part of morpheusgang)

    • First Contact: Founders interested in becoming a part of the morpheusgang get in touch with the morpheus core team through a reference or by writing to neoATmorpheusgangDOTcom
      • This is usually an email introduction via an acquaintance or a direct mail to neo with basic information about founder/founding team and what they are up to.
    • Intent Interactions: Based on first contact, there will be a minimum of 2 calls and a face2face meeting between the founders and key members of the morpheusgang, as required. A gang member (who may have relevant expertise in the same domain) from the morpheusgang will/may also interact with the founder/founding team
      • These interactions will be:
        • Getting to know each other better. Important to know who the founder/founding team is. Dynamics between the teammates. Their driving philosophies. What they are building? Why they are doing what they are doing?
        • Giving information about morpheusgang. The philosophy of giving. How the community will work going forward – finer details, etc.
        • Figuring out the philosophy fit which is most important.
    • Live-in: Post intent interactions, founders have an option to enter into a one month live-in with the morpheusgang to see what value it does offer in real. Live-in will involve face2face meetings with some folks of the morpheusgang and a visit to MorpheusHQ in Chandigarh, as required.
      • This phase is for
        • The founder/founding team to know more about how morpheusgang functions, its values.
        • It is also for folks in the morpheusgang to know more about the founder/founding team, their contribution to the gang and so forth.
        • There will be a near-real engagement so that both parties can learn how it will be to work together.
        • Key members from the morpheusgang will get involved in your business & start contributing as required. Interactions with other gang members & others in the network that can help the founder or can draw from the founders learnings will be facilitated.

       

    • New Comer: Post the Live-in Phase, founders/founding team gets a New Comer status in the morpheusgang community for 6 months
      • Now they are a part of the morpheusgang community, they can draw from the gang as much as they want and give back as they want.
      • Interactions with the key morpheusgang members continues, they also have seamless access to everyone in the community now via the mailing list and gang portal
      • They also can benefit from the gang meetups, events, retreats, etc.
      • Post 6 months, based on their intent to stay, their contribution to the gang, etc. they can continue becoming a part of the gang for the rest of their lives or decide not to continue.
    • Gang member: Post the new comer stage, the founder/ founding team decides to stay on as a gang member for the rest of their lives. All else in terms of the engagement stays the same.

The core to all the above is that gang members can take as much as they want and give as they want “by will”. It’s voluntary to join. But commitment to give and take value should be displayed once a part of the gang.

Each of us have a role to play in this world; more so for an entrepreneur to build his business many people / situations / circumstances come into play. At morpheusgang, we have seen that the more one gives, the more he gets. It’s seamless, unselfish giving that has resulted in many enriched lives. morpheusgang now will only take this core forward by opening it to many more lives to be influenced from and touched.

If it interests you, get in touch, write to neoATmorpheusgangDOTcom

Open Call: Designers Wanted, now!

Hi all This is a straight forward call for all the folks out there who have their expertise in any of these:

  • UI/UX
  • HTML/CSS
  • Bootstrap
  • Photoshop or any other similar software

Since we keep on getting lot of queries from our gang for the same, we decided to go for an open call. Here are some of the important things or call them criteria:

  1. You can be a freelancer / part-timer / Design firm or studio
  2. You must have earlier worked with startups
  3. You should be familiar with startup rates; meaning not very expensive (We do understand that good talent comes at a cost, but not at a very high cost!)
  4. You can choose to get paid a fixed amount or go on a retainer
  5. Your first project with a gang company will be a potential channel for long term collaboration
  6. You respect deadlines and product launches
  7. You answer your calls or respond to online pings in less than 2 hours

One easy way to ping us:

  1. It’s short and quick. Fill the Google form in the end.

Incase you are not the right person, but you ended up reading this, the gang will bless if you can forward it to the right guys. :) Namaste -The Morpheus

Attn: Delhi/NCR Startups – There’s a co-working space in Saket!

Fellas,

If you’re looking for a co-working space for your startup in New Delhi, this mail from Achal could be interesting for you.

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Hi all

We are looking for 1 or 2, teams to move in with us into a shared office space we are looking at in Saket, New Delhi.
Space - 2500 sq feet
Location - 2 minutes walking from Saket Metro Station
This was the previous office of Webchutney before they moved to Gurgaon.
We have not really taken up the space yet and wanted to make sure we move only when have some sort of commitment from at least 1 other startup.
Regards,
Achal
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In case this excites you, drop a line to achal right away at achal@airwootDOTcom
-gargology

Seeking a Startup job that will transform your life?

“There are many people who may not want to start out on their own, but are passionate about ideas and ready to become a part of an interesting innovation, great idea or a good small team to build real value”. In continuation with this thought process, we are starting an initiative of doing one-on-one meetings with folks who are seeking a startup job that will transform their life.

In startups, team with right capabilities and right attitude is very important. We have observed that in startups, employers don’t select employees but its a mutual selection. With the startup culture picking up in India, many people are now open and willing to explore the startup journey as a second line of leadership or as early stage employees who make key contributions. In both cases personal growth and learning are big factors

We have also observed that there are many people who are seeking good opportunities to learn and grow as  part a startup team. At the same time most of them have some apprehensions/ myths / questions which are stopping them to go forward. So if you are such a person, connect with us. After some basic filtering we will be happy to setup a time to meet with you and help resolve your apprehensions & answer questions , giving you an inside view of a startup. We will also connect the right folks with startups that may can offer suitable opportunities.

Why you should meet us?

- If you are very seriously considering joining a startup in near future

- If you have questions that you think we can help your resolve and help you make a decision

 

Why you should stay away?

- Its not a career guidance/ counselling session

- Its not for people who want to start a company

- Its not a networking (exchanging cards) event

To connect:

Please fill this form http://bit.ly/1hvKepD. In case of any query, you can reach us at has@themorpheus.com

 

Place and Time

  • Bangalore  - March 7 – 10, 2014
  • Mumbai – March 12 – 14, 2014