Post Blog camp fever the Knowledge Foundation team has been huddling their heads together on plans about putting together an event, somewhat similar to DEMO, where we can get some fascinating ideas together on stage with working prototypes and pre-releases, bring the public there, and invite the VC circles there. The demo of the technology , depending on how well it resonates with the audience will give the VC a good perspective on how relevant the product is, and how well the team is capable of conveying their story – which might drive the VCs to invest in them, and it will help the small companies which are struggling to get some exposure.
With a lot of VCs here in India, and news about over-investments all over the place, and sadly all the good companies getting too few notice, it might be something worthwhile. Chennai could use an event like this, since the whole technology space really does need a boost. If it does pick up, it has potential to spawn, just like barcamp or whatever. It cant be an unconference, as there has to be a set of entrepreneurs and VCs (I am sure TIE will be happy to be part of it) to screen the technologies, and make sure that the pitches are compelling enough and help them brush up, but it could be fun nevertheless. TIECON is happening at the second week of December. Nonetheless it is a great idea and might serve as a great alternative / complement to TIE, ISB connect which is happening currently which is platform in which VC’s have more say
What would PROTO be?
A PROTO is totally different thing when compared to a Barcamp or a Blogcamp which could be done as where one can contribute whenever they can. It is different not only in the way it is conducted or organized but also in its core philosophy. A barcamp or a blogcamp is fundamentally inclusive but a PROTO is to its core exclusive and that is what constitutes to its popularity. Not every company that applies to PROTO get to present there , there is a screening team which does a thorough job of making sure that only the best of the products gets to reach to PROTO. We might have to think through some of these things while we plan ahead for PROTO. There will be a screening committee put together, and only products that are mature enough, have the relevance with the audience – or founders/presenters who have the capability to present a radically new idea to an audience will be permitted to demo. Now PROTO charges each individual company that presents, and yet i am not sure, but maybe also the audience that attends there. If we could get it done via sponsor, all the best, but if we charge some amount from the companies, it will ensure that they are committed, and there will be a threshold that will eliminate a lot of people who want to demo the program they wrote yesterday night. There is going to be a lot more work involved in this, and the videos / demos have to be very professionally organized. But, its just one step ahead, of what we have accomplished in bar/blogcamp
Will PROTO Take off ?
Our one major concern will be to evaluate about radical new ideas/products/technology but are there enough new radical ideas in India. I have been trying to look out for radical ideas in India and there are only very few names that comes to my mind. No doubt that entrepreneurship is on the rise in India and one gets to see web 2.0 companies springing up everywhere but most of them are what can be called YAFO companies (yet another fad opportunity) basically a concept successful elsewhere and just copied in India to meet a market gap (Bazee kind of companies). We might have to think about if we will have enough participation if we restrict ourselves to radical ideas. But then radical could be a very subjective word and also I could have not been exposed to many ideas that is the reason for me to think that ways. I think now would be a good opportunity to ask the group to name few radical companies that are based out of India.
Focus will be on to as services oriented companies such as TCS and such could be asked to attend. Putting them on the frontpage, gives a totally different wrapper around this whole thing. Microsoft, for starters is a good one to pursue. There are a whole bunch of VC firms in and around India (personally know a few) and let’s leverage organizations that are crucial parts of an "entrepreneurship and innovative" community…
Why PROTO in Chennai ?
Everyone one of us is aware that there are quite a few very interesting companies based out of bangalore. The curse with any bangalore-based company is that they are all on "stealth" mode. We can make a list of companies, and we will need to send them a notice soon, asking them to get a product ready to be "demo capable", atleast a month before the event, so that we all get a chance to look at it, and if it doesnt make the cut, look at other companies. The first event, we will have to be lenient… not too lenient hopefully, with the perfection of the pitch.
What would be interesting, is if we go a bit beyond India, and also scan for companies around us, in Singapore, Malaysia, etc etc. Rajan is thinking about it, and in a sense, we do want to give our companies exposure, but at the sametime, I think some just don’t know who their competition is and what they are competing against. Putting them face to face with their nemesis, will do quite a bit of good for them. That’s my thought.
Venuewise, we will need a place that can really catch the buzz. A place where anybody who is fascinated about what the next generation of lifestyle is going to be, can walk in. IIT, as much as I can get permission for this, is a bit too inside and wouldnt get much attention – unless we can do enough marketing buzz around it to cover up for it, trading for the prestige that goes with IIT. Hunting is on to find if there are any big avenues in the middle of the Chennai city, such as Nungambakkam or so?
One major concern raised by Syed was how to involve everyone who was a part of the blogcamp team to participation in PROTO. We need to strike a balance there – Think big and very very professional, like TED ( http://www.ted.com) and have the involvement of everyone. Even though, we’ll need to put together a team and committee to screen through companies and products, we still need to put together the event. Screening is going to be the very least of the process compared to all the other stuff that needs to go on. Plus, as part of the screening process, there will be a team which will go meet the companies (if possible) and perhaps have an interview with them and their team. That should make for some very interesting podcasting sessions. Plus the mingling of professionals with various dreams and aspirations, will be an amazing asset to those of us who are running among limited circles of the entrepreneurial spirit. If we want to go a complete "unconference" mode, then PROTO Camp is not a bad idea to follow – problem is that, you wont be getting any general audience, and it will just be barcamp with lots and lots of demos.
I am assuming at least 150 days of preparation for an event like this. And among the list of invitees, one that comes to mind, is Marissa Mayer of Google, the Product Manager for the company. Think profiles like that, and discussions we could have about the future of technology, add the dash of indian context to it, and it should make for one heck of an event. We need to list categories of technologies we are going to focus on. Volunteers pls pitch in …
OK Enough of the talking folks lets us sum up on this initiative of The Knowledge Foundation. As was said by vijay in the right context about TKF "Our motives are different, our momentum is different, and we are basically the next wave of India’s future. We have no financial benefits that come out of it. We try to pool people together, connect them by dots, and have a blast at doing it" .
Will someone wonder how to get involved? Well, think a combination and blog camp, bar camp done twice more elegantly (that is going to be tough to achieve, but we can get there). We are going to need all the people we need, to cover all the angles. So if you are interested then join us by mailing me or commenting here.
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