Monday, August 30, 2010

Indian women don't have the stomach for startups?

Role of women in India society is changing, women have stepped out of the households to come to the forefront of almost all social and economic endeavors. The number of women working in Indian IT companies must be comparable to that of men. The scenario changes drastically when it comes to startups, the startup workforce is dominated by men. I don't think it is because startups are reluctant to hire women but rather women shy away from jobs at startup. The obvious reason given for this is that startups have a demanding schedule and it is hard to manage a job at a startup and the family together. This might be true in some case. For instance, A friend of mine had joined a startup as a developer but had to move to test as she could not handle the demands put on her by the developer role. Putting in long hours in the office and having to worry about her two kids did not work out well. Startups are trying to tackle these sort of issues by providing work from home and flexible timing facilities but I am not sure how effective they are in hiring an retaining the female folks of their workforce.

Are family responsibilities the biggest stumbling block between women and startups? Many would be eager to say yes! but I would say NO!. If it was true, more single ladies would be working in startups than what we see now. We have to face this, startups are not glamorous (or at least in India). Saying that you work for this or that startups do not get the same or even comparable response as saying you work for Infosys or TCS or Google or Oracle or IBM. The majority of the semi-IT-literate population (that happens to include the majority of the parents) will easily recognize these brands and would think that it is prestigious to have their daughters work for these companies. Working with these well-known brand also improves one's stature in the marriage market. So why join an unknown little startup which seems to dream big.

The highlighted issues are applicable to men as well as women. In the case of women, the decision about where one should work for is heavily influenced by the people around them, whereas men tend to be more independent in making such decisions. This makes the issues very important for women in deciding where they will work.

Given this, startups have very little chance of getting talented women techies to work for them. They are missing out on diversity and brainpower that would have helped them solve the problems in new and unique manner, which would have been beneficial for the startups and the society as a whole.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our first six months as a startup

Recently we were looking closely to ourselves to check how good we are at this venture. Are we as fast as every other startup? Are we flexible to take on changes in demand and market? Being a web start-up from Kerala / India we were afraid of being slow when compared with our competition. This is the sixth month since the day we went online for the very first time. In this blog, we plan to say what all things got added/changed in our first six months in the life of our startup.

When started we were a site where people can share their investment portfolios with each other. And our prime focus was to make sure, it is very easy for everyone to create and share a portfolio as a model. And we decided to keep our site in Invite only mode so that we can limit the users and fix our loose ends while collecting feedback from our first users. Users were given provision to share their market takes with their friends.

First major change we implemented is two-way twitter integration. We saw people sharing same updates on twitter as well as on finahub. So we decided to make it simpler. Now if users want to share market update entered in finahub on twitter, they just need to check the checkbox for it in our site. Also if people want to submit any particular tweet with finahub, they just need to add one hashtag #fh or #finahub to the tweet. Then it will get automatically posted to finahub. So literally, people can post updates to finahub from just anywhere, even as an SMS tweet(on Twitter) from any mobile phone.

The second major change was to drop friend relationship in favor of followers and following relationship. We feel that a friend relationship does not capture the essence of the natural relationship between people in the investment world. People follow the lead and advise of better investors but they may not be friends with each other. In order to reflect this, we removed the friend relation and the friend tab. In its place, the user would able to follow other users on the site. The market updates of users you follow will be visible in your timeline.
All existing friends are not lost instead friend has been made to be mutual followers.

Other changes we did include providing RSS feed for the market updates of each user. RSS feed would allow users to make market updates of a user to be added to their blogs or to be read using RSS reader. Next was an exclusive toolbar at the bottom of the page for logged in users. This toolbar showed all the latest posts from the finahub platform plus recent Live messages from the administrator. Also, there we were provision to search within site and see direct happenings to the finahub facebook fan page (

Another major initiative was to create and support a Facebook page exclusively for we Indians. It’s called the Rising India It is a Facebook community page for all Indians to share their stories about rising of new India and India’s journey to become this century's greatest economic powerhouse.

Going forward we plan to implement an insight feature for our security pages as well as for each market updates. Insight would allow the existing users to see what is happening in the social media with regards to securities that matter to them the most.

All this was done in a span of six months based on the feedback from the users on the platform and our judgment. We thing we have travelled a lot from where we had started but it is very minuscule compare the path ahead.We also feel that we are not travelling fast enough (don’t know if it is common to all startups) but we are doing everything we could to keep up the pace.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Financial Independence - Post Independence Day Thought

Independence is defined as "Freedom from control or influence of another or others" and it is applicable to almost all aspects of our life. One such area of our lives where independence is of utmost importance but is often neglected is financial independence. If you think of it you will realize that financial independence is essential to ensure that all other aspects of independence can be achieved. So what does it take to achieve and maintain financial independence?

Achieving independence should be an important goal in our life and we should start working on it as early as possible. There are some simple things which we all can do to help us achieve financial independence.

Account Your Real Earning
Sit down and calculate what do you really earn on a monthly basis. By real earning, I don't mean the inflation-adjusted monthly income you are getting. Instead, it is the amount of money that is left behind after you have accounted for all your basic needs like food, clothing (designer ware don't count), travel, rainy day allowance, debt/EMI payments etc.

i.e real earning = total income - essential expense

Knowing your real earning will help you in setting achieving plan for reaching financial independence.

Watch Your Expense
After you have calculated your real earning, see how you are spending it now. You might be spending it on clothes, expensive hobbies, boozing, parting etc. The avenues for burning your cash that this list would be endless. Look at your monthly electricity, water, and mobile bills and see how much it is coming to. The idea here is to see how you are spending real earning now and determine if there is something that you can forgo without being miserable. Reducing the cost of living will help you reach financial independence in less time. Identifying your avoidable expense will help you in cutting down those expenses and increasing your savings.

Cultivate the Habit of Saving
The need for saving money should be cultivated as a habit much like reading habit or daily exercise. You should always think about ways to save money, keep an eye out for that bargain. People who are financially independent or wealthy know the importance of saving money when they could.

Invest often and Invest regularly
Investing the money you have saved is as important as saving the money. Parking your saving in a savings account or keeping them in safe at home is not a smart thing to do. Inflation will eat into the value of your savings. So you need to identify an investment product that will suit you and make sure you invest as often as you could. Also, make sure that you invest in regular intervals.

In short, having proper understanding on what you earn, track how you spent, and save regularly are the key factors to Financial Independence.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Path Ahead

The last release was followed by few nights of firefighting. There were some nasty bugs related to the pricing data feed which kept us sleepless for a couple of nights. We have sorted out most of the issues that were reported. More than fixing, patching the fixes to production was the tricky thing to do. Even though we did not have many users, we still did not want to have the downtime when someone is using the site. So all the patches were done during midnight India time.

Even though we have covered quite a lot from where we started, it is very miniscule compared to what lies ahead. We have a huge list of action items to be considered for the upcoming releases. But there is one problem with that list, it is a list of function that we think are important to you, the user. Actually what we need is a list of functionalities you say are important to you. Maybe you want more information in the security pages or maybe you think the sector display page is imported or maybe the search functionality (we know it sucks!!) needs to be improved or maybe you want us to improve the collaborative research functionality or may you want social data discovery and bookmarking or maybe market data categorization and tagging is needed.... the list can go on. Whatever it may be please let us know what is important to you, it does not matter how difficult or complicated that would be. Please use our contact us page or our UserVoice forum(that is if you have logged in) to get in touch with us.

We sincerely hope that you would make use of this opportunity to play an active role in the making of a product that would help you and countless others in making a profitable investment in the equity markets.

Finahub Team

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ushering In a New Phase

We are ushering in a new phase, where users would be free to join finahub without being invited by an existing user of the site. The new user registration is free and simple.

As part of this release, we are also introducing some major changes to the functionality of the site. Details of the changes we have made are given below.

Welcome page redesign.
The welcome page has been redesigned to match the current functionality of the site. Finahub started out as a social portfolio management site but as we progressed more features were added. Now finahub is a full-fledged social network for the investment community.
The old welcome page does not convey the full information needed for a first time user to determine the usability of the site. Due to this reason, we have redesigned the page with much more richer content. The welcome page conveys the major features of the site and also states what we stand for. We hope this would help the user in accessing the site and make the decision to join the site.

Old Welcome page

New Welcome Page

Friend relation dropped in favor of following-follower relation.

We feel that a friend relationship does not capture the essence of the natural relationship between people in the investment world. People follow the lead and advise of better investors but they may not be friends with each other. In order to reflect this, we are removing the friend relation and the friend tab. In its place, the user would able to follow other users on the site. The market updates of users you follow will be visible in your timeline.
All your current friends are not lost instead friend has been made to be mutual followers. Please note that we have limited the scribbles to be passed between mutual followers.

Follow/follower pages added
The follow/follower page has been introduced to show the list of people who are following a user or the list of people who the user is following. These pages are also visible from the user's public profile. The public profile and investor home shows the follower and following count.

RSS feed for market updates
The market update of any user can be subscribed as a RSS feed. RSS feed would allow users to make market updates of a user to be added to their blogs or to be read using RSS reader.

General UI changes

We have also made number of UI changes to improve the usability and ascetics of the site. We think that these changes would improve the user experience of the site.

Screen shots showing UI changes:

Investor Home page:

Public profile:

All these changes were made with the intention of giving our users a better service. Please let us know what you think about these changes. We are aware that there is a lot of room for improvement and we are working wholeheartedly to address those issues. We would like to emphasis the fact that your feed back and support plays an important role in shaping Finahub. So please don't hold back, send us those emails, twitter mentions or write on our facebook fan page wall, we are looking forward to it.