Oh, well. Don’t think too much about the title of this post. Star Wars junkie, that’s me. Always loved that line. But in retrospect, the last few months do feel like it all happened a long time ago.
Starting up’s fun. It’s one of the best things you can ever do. And that’s exactly what I did. I started up, to bring one of my ideas to life.
The idea’s simple. Numerical computing(read: MATLAB, Mathematica, Sage, Julia, R) as a service. Cloud clusters running instances of these packages, and engineering undergrads, researchers, and just about anybody who needs scalable and cheap numerical computing, could sign up, crunch numbers, and not have to pay for expensive licenses or servers.
It worked. I got a few colleges interested in the MVP, and talks had begun for a long-term contract with them, which would have meant me breaking even within two months, and have a steady profit within three. Sounds good, right?
But then..something just didn’t feel too right. Here I was, looking to profit from an idea I had. Nothing wrong with that. But it still didn’t seem right. And finally, one night, the answer came to me.
Your clients, your users - they matter. They’re the ones paying for your product, your service. So you have no choice, but to listen to what they have to say, and of course, incorporate what they want into your product. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. Such demands had already begun, in my case. But it started feeling like listening to what my users had to say, simply steered me away from my vision, of what I wanted MathHarbor to be. And that bugged me, really did.
I shut shop. Call it running away, call it a strategic retreat - I call it “not compromising”. I love open source. I love the freedom that comes with it. And I realized, that here in India, open source has issues. Nobody really pays much heed to it, unlike in the West.
Anyway. To cut a long story short. I had the good fortune to become a part of a great place, which aims to transform the startup ecosystem in India through coworking and startup event hubs, as well as a seed fund. I like it here. I get to work with, and meet, cool people, who get shit done. It’s awesome.
MathHarbor, in the meantime, will become a community project. People who actually like it, would use it..and in time, contribute to it. That feels like a much better path to me. But why stop there?
India has no concept of an open source project incubator. Sure, there are various incubators, accelerators and all - but nothing as radical as Mozilla’s WebFWD. I want to build that up here. There are so many people out there, across colleges, universities and corporate entities, who’d love such an accelerator. So, in the next few months, I plan to do exactly that. Build up an accelerator, help open source projects with mentorship, contacts and if needed, a bit of funding, and help them get off the ground. Oh, and if you really like the idea and have suggestions, or would like to be a part of it, please feel free to tweet out to me @rudimk.
Here’s to building up an ecosystem that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. The last few years have been amazing for startups in many parts of the world. It’s time to have our own success story, across India and South Asia.