Christmas @ Nivio

Christmas at Nivio is always a lot of fun! This year has been a lot of work and equally a lot of fun – but the results have been super especially towards the end of the year!

Some highlights:

– Our social networking endeavours finally taking off
– Rio (our puppy) made his debut visit to Nivio’s london office
– We got a london office!
– Lots of telco partnerships!
– We started the qtr with less than 10% paid and ended the qtr with greater than 90% paid as a sign up rate!

Ok more in a bit better get bk to the poker game im losing!

Cloud – too many things to too many people

Having spent a good part of this year pitching to VCs I’ve realised that there is a general misunderstanding or worse still an overuse of the word cloud.

I believe the world sees cloud computing by in large from either an enterprise angle or from a pure web apps play – and that seems to be the be all end all of cloud computing – atleast in the eyes of a lot of the eurozone vcs.

Cloud computing is so much more than just some apps sitting and using storage on an EC3 or azure. Surely the real potential of the “grid”, the “cloud” or the “generators” is to
A) maximise the utilisation of under utilised resources – by that I mean your PC!
B) use the benefits of offloaded processing and subscription based applications to provide computing to the 5bn people that today don’t have access to it.
C) remove all the pain areas associated with running your own “generator” and instead have a steady, controlled service where you get what you want on demand!

I sincerely hope we see more “cloud” initiatives pushing computing to a new generation of users.

Incidentally this is why we created nivio!

Peter Day! My 30mins with him!

Peter Day – if you do not know – is a the unbelievably charismatic journalist at the BBC with whom I have done a few interviews –

The experience was exhilirating – they did 3 interviews including one at the World Economic Forum in Davos!

Sachin and Peter Day!


BBC Site –

Nivio and Me @ the Imperial Entrepreneurs

I was recently asked by Nicolo Corsini to come and present about raising money – I just wanted to include some of the slides for you all to read.

Let me know if any questions.

You can grab the file from my public share on -goto public share and its the only file in there 🙂

Davos – Final Sum up – Amongst Legends…

As opposed to writing out each of the individual days  – (yes I have to apologise for being so slow but unfortunately I have a day job (to run Nivio!))

My final post is really about Davos and the people I met – simply put it was surreal to be there and speaking to the people I did.

I also wanted to go over some of the “Private Events” – these are events run by the forum for specific groups of people – the ones that I found myself attending

– Governors Lunch on Technology, Media and Telecoms –

This was the powerhouse lunch with everyone from Sunil Bharti Mittal (someone I look up to as the father of Indian telecoms) to Michael Dell and Craig Barrett (Intel). Other than a swanky lunch the most important points here was the candid conversation that took place about how the future of the three, once considered separate, industries are now all in the balance with each other. I had the opportunity to speak (thanks to Maria Baritoromo) and I can tell you it was probably the most nervous 30 seconds I have had to face in a while!

The general takeaways for me:

– The freemium model is destroying the old ways of doing business – the internet is a medium that is promoting change in models where the customers don’t value the underlying asset that is being sold (movies, videos etc) because they believe there is no marginal cost to the publishing houses.

– The consensus was that even software also now suffers this piece – especially in the line of opensource software.

– That whilst everyone was trying to embrace convergence people forget that by convering the three pieces you were also inheriting the problems associated with each which includes piracy and freemium services.

– Everyone needed to work together and learn how to share the pie – todays the telecom’s companies are complaining that they are unable to monetise their networks and believe they should make revenue on the underlying data / content being sent. I think this is fair but from my experience at Nivio – telecom’s operators rarely share!

– Global Education Initiative Sessions

This was a very important session for me personally as it was all about the ways in which companies could facilitate education in a public-private partnership. Speakers included the chairman of Cisco and Craig Barret from Intel.

– Lunch on Penetration of ICT in the Emerging Markets

A very interesting lunch – thanks to Vikram Akula for inviting me – the entire session was around how technology is being deployed in ICT for education and the use cases. I met some very interesting people including the COO of Infosys (Shibu) and the Minister of technology for Egypt.

– Party for the Young Global Leaders, Technology Pioneers and Social Entrepreneurs

This was another power event where I had the good fortune to meet, with a glass of champagne, Richard Branson (who was everything I expected and more – an absolutely unbelievable person – what presence), Stelios (Mr Easy Everything), Larry (google) and Richard Stromback (Stromback Ventures) – met a lot more but this post would be very long if I named all!

Finally the other people who gave us time and simply blew our minds

– Paul Jacobs from Qualcomm – simply put one of the most down to earth individuals I have ever met. Very smart and someone I got to hang out with a lot.

– Bill Amerlio and Cuong Do from Lenovo – again two people who really just surprised us by giving us their time and also with their incredible insight.

– President Kangama from Rwanda – we hope to be seeing him very soon as he has invited us to Rwanda to explore setting up there.

– Chairman Wang from ChinaMobile – again another person with great insight.

– Reuben September from Telkom SA – a person with great vision and again we hope to work with him

– Anand Singh from South Africa – a movie director and a great visionary – we hope to work with him soon!

Right I think that’s all – I am speaking at the World Economic Forum in Brazil in April and I hope to be a lot more attentive towards blogging daily!

Do email me if you need any more information.

Day 2 – World Eco Forum – Davos – Little boy in a BIG toystore

So I have to admit – I have been terribly lazy in writing up the davos experience – I guess the main reason was that during the event you barely had anytime to breathe and after the event you needed to rest for a week and then spent the rest of the time trying to catch up on the emails and work that you had missed.

Many people asked me the usual question – “Sachin, how was Davos?” and my reply was always “I felt like a 5yr old in a toy store” – and honestly speaking the sensation wasn’t far from the truth. I don’t recall a moment (not even sleep) when the adrenalin levels and excitement was anything less than peak most of the time.

After Day 1 we began to start organising ourselves a little better – realising that we needed to wear snow boots when walking to any part of the outside world else we would be getting a free sleding lessons with our rear-end being the sledge (yes I am speaking from experience).

Moving on to experience that is Davos; it was unbelievable the people you met and the way they interacted with you – I was simply blown away by the humility and the nature of the conversation. And the funny thing is it started day one – minute one.

One the first official day of the summit – I met a very interesting gentleman from Bloomberg – in a bid to try and start a conversation I brought out my new nivio gadget (as you can see below) and this broadcasts a screen – there was so much excitement between this and a few other pieces (that I am legally bound to be SHH about) that we spoke for 2 hrs and I handed out the oh – so – cool nivio wristbands (do you have one yet???!) – anyhow turns Craig Copetas knew some of our board but was so excited by what we did that he took photos (we were flattered!) and we ended up having a small group of folks watching our demo! (Thanks Craig)

the secret nivio device....

the secret nivio device....

Moving on we then went to the Opening Reception – in typical Davos style it was fully of the “creme de la creme” of business and media personalities – we decided our best method of attack was to park ourselves on a round table near the entrance and just pull out all the stops by putting out all our funky looking gadgets with a hope that people would come speak to us – and it worked!!! (Definate trick to be remembered next year) – so much so we had the pleasure of meeting Anne Seith (Editor of Spiegel!) who wrote a very very cool piece about us! [,1518,604168,00.html]

At the reception we met a lot of people incuding Anand Mahindran (a legend in Indian Industry) but the person that left the most impressive impression and later became a good friend was Yves Behar ( – the brains behind the design of Slingbox, OLPC [one laptop per child] and jaw bone].  I owe a thank you to Kal Patel from bestbuy for the introduction (we were hunting Kal down since 3 weeks before the summit- he is after all one of the most powerful people in retail america!) – and another equally interest meet was Paola Antonelli from the Museum of Modern Art in New York – the first day really summed up the Davos Experience – rich in people, diversity in genre and humilty in absolute nature.

Moving on – we went to what was our (and about 32 other ppl’s) night! The Technology Pioneers 2009 Awards Dinner (picture attached!) – we ended up travelling with Yves and Kal (like you do!!). The dinner was unbelievable – at our table was Mitchel Baker (Chairperson / CEO of Mozilla Firefox), Bruce Golden (Partner Accel) and Chris Gilbert of Ubquisys – it was just an unbelievable audience. We also met Robert Scobble (who did a little piece on us!) – incase you don’t know Robert he is the most awesome blogger (and does some stuff for techcrunch)

SD and Andre Schneider of WEF

SD and Andre Schneider of WEF

So after this -we ended up at Yossi Vardi’s nightcap – (the brains behind ICQ) – Yossi was awesome – what an energetic guy and the nightcap was unbelievable. Nightcaps are the times when you end up having to party (oh what work!) till the early hours of the morning – more on the nightcaps soon to come in future posts.

Long second day – was time for bed!

World Economic Forum 2009 – Davos, Day -1

Before you ask – its “-1” because this is the day before the official summit start!

It’s been an exciting few months, ever since Nivio ( was selected as a technology pioneer for 2009 the build up of excitement to to Annual General Meeting in the beautiful Davos-Klosters has been difficult to contain.

Yesterday was our first day here and you notice from the arrivals lobby of Zurich airport how big this event actually is. When you actually get to Davos, the small town seems to have become one large (and expensive – more on this later) congress centre with just about every hotel serving to the needs of the summit.

What ultimately this event is about is the people that come here; and the way they interact – and our start right the way from Zurich Airport where we had a WEF Limobus take us up the 2 hr journey is a clear example of it. We met some really interesting guys; two that seemed very interesting were guys from the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Forum – Rodney Hood (Vice Chairman of the National Credit Union in the USA) and Carlton Hoskins (also from NCUA). Very interesting guys, exceptionally smart and as you can imagine – very well linked. The conversation both in the bus and later over some incredibly delicious fondue was riveting and mind blowing… they probably sum up the kind of guys at the summit this year – young, bright, global and with an “edge”.

Next, we met Vikram Akula (SKS Microfinance) in the most random of places, a ski-lift which was taking us up the mountain for a little bit of R&R before the tough week starts (we were going sledging highly recommended). Vikram, is truley an inspirational person, what he has done single-handedly in India through his micro-finance company has empowered millions of people – thats probably why he was voted Time Magazine “100 most influential people in the world” – what was unique, was his interest in our work and how we spoke to us with humility… post this experience we have really started to realise how powerful the WEF Summit is, and how us being here could ultimately shape our future… forever…

More to come…

Can Developed Market Startups make it in the EM world?

So often is the case that start-ups based in the other hemisphere are trying to have an “emerging markets” play but it opens an interesting point – do markets like India really open themselves properly for web-based traditional B2C direct routes or is the distribution strategy the only way forward?

Take for example, from our experience it seems the best route to customers is via the big distribution mechanisms and you need to run your web business with a bit more brick and mortar to it…

So if you have a web firm the routes as I see it

– bundble with connectivity

– bundle through retail computer sales

– bundle through retail with similar TG

The savings you make on marketing are huge, you get a customer that has some quasi trust relationship with the original provider and more importantly you get a partner interested and aligned.

Then matters of hosting, marketing, nomenclature, legality – everything is different in a country as diverse as India.

The next most interesting – and possibly doing a 180 here, is whether a foreign company with an indian heart can achieve stronger results in India than a domestic play and I think here is where things get a bit grey but sometimes this combo can be a winner overall since they have the “internationalisation” which gives credability but have the “local” knowledge and market schematics to be winners. I think HSBC coined the term “Glocal” and this could be a good adjective for startups looking at an EM Strategy.

More to follow…