Value, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder!

Why it is important to always keep listening to the ‘voice of the customer’


 Each time a young aspiring technology entrepreneur walks up to me and says “I have a brilliant idea that can change the world”, I start getting worried! Even a brief probe then, invariably reveals that the young aspirant wants to pursue this idea because s/he faced a certain problem and could not find a ready solution and now thinks that the solution (idea – yet to even arrive at a ‘proof-of-concept’ – PoC stage) is not only going to solve this problem but in fact, the whole world is dying for this incredible value position to arrive!

This is symptomatic of most technologists who get a ‘kick’ out of solving a technical problem and presume that there is a ready market waiting for their solution. The truth, unfortunately, is far from it! Starting out to solve a problem without listening to the ‘voice of the (potential) customer’ is a guaranteed recipe for failure. This, is in no way to undermine the brilliance and technical capabilities that the individual and the team may have in indeed building a very good product or service. However, most young entrepreneurs (especially those who start off without any work experience or exposure to the real world of business) come to discover the harsh truth after having staked considerable time, effort, and money – more importantly career opportunities – in the hope that they will become a unicorn very soon, the media will write exciting stories about them and they would have ‘arrived’ in the name and fame world.

Getting under the skin of the customer is the most crucial piece in any entrepreneurial venture -irrespective of whether it is a technology based one or not. The more the entrepreneur understands and lives through the ‘pain-point’ of the customer, the more s/he is likely to craft an appropriate value proposition for the customer. And mind you, the ‘customer’ here implies not just somebody who sees/experiences/uses the value of the solution but has both; the ability, as well as the willingness to pay for it.

Working with customers in the earlier phase of ideation and iterating to fulfilling what might be the bear minimum customer expectation, is the starting point. No product ever arrives at the ‘final version’ in one go. It is often a long, painstaking journey with multiple iterations and tweaks even before one can ‘pilot’ it on an alpha (early adapter) or a beta customer.

With ‘products’ more particularly (as opposed to services), there is an emerging concept of co-creating  - which means constantly engaging with the actual user all the time before one arrives at a reasonably acceptable PoC and probably have a few samples or mock-ups that can be ruggedly tried and tested under various user conditions. Productionising it and going-to-market is a completely different next big challenge and very complex as opposed to coming from idea-to-PoC.

My motivation to write this piece is that I increasingly find a number of bright young girls and boys wanting to ride the tech entrepreneur band wagon in haste and unrealistic hope. While it is certainly good to dream and aspire to become a successful entrepreneur someday, and make a difference to the world around us, one must tread the path with care and caution. Not every bright engineer or scientist is cut out to be an entrepreneur and neither does the ability to solve or crack a complex technical problem automatically guarantee that you turn out to be a successful entrepreneur. There is a lot more to entrepreneurship than merely being able to master technology. One must be careful not get romanticized with the idea of entrepreneurship simply because every morning newspaper carries a success story of a startup having raised millions of VC dollars or having won an award.

For now, I wish to stay with just this one message – start with the customer, and not with the technology that you think you are great at – your chances of success then, are likely to be so much better.

Written by Thyagrajan k

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The Entrepreneur in Each Child

Every child has the potential to be an entrepreneur. And, entrepreneurial skills are basically nothing bur life skills.

Contrary to popular thinking, entrepreneurial skills are not necessarily innate, but that they can be taught. The current educational system neither imparts life skills nor does it foster creativity. In fact, children are taught to focus on tasks in a set manner adhering to stipulated guidelines. Such kind of definite solution related learning does nothing but hamper enhancing life skills like independent thinking and creativity.

Young ones are blessed with the ability to dream and moreover believe in their dreams. Such strong is their belief that it enables them to push forward relentlessly, sometimes with a little motivation, to achieve their dreams. They have a solid confidence in their own abilities and a belief that anything is possible.

Exposing children to entrepreneurship enables them to develop skills like creative thinking, accountability, responsibility, networking, respecting money, fearlessness and problem-solving abilities to name a few.

When these traits are actively encouraged, it leads young children to develop their innate skills. This, in turn, helps them realize their personal potential and give them the grounding for a fulfilling career in later life. These life skills are a very important facet of an individual’s character whether they choose to become employers or employees.

The World over there are many successful kid entrepreneurs. And, parents played a very important part in their becoming successful.

Enroll your child’s name for program named “Entrepreneurial Peekabo launched by International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology  for more details, drop an email on

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iCreate at U.S.- India Business Council

The U.S.- India Business Council (USIBC) had its West Coast Summit in San Francisco on 8th May, 2017 which had American and Indian entrepreneurs and businesses taking part in it. The Summit was intended to provide an opportunity to discuss current and pertinent issues in the US-India technology partnership such as IoT, smart city planning, India’s move towards a cashless economy and the future of the US-India technological relationship and had focused on fostering initiatives for a better India.


The summit in Silicon Valley was attended by approximately 200 senior-level business leaders and investors including those from amazon, PayPal, Deloitte, facebook, iCreate, Nuveen, mastercard, Mobility Infrastructure Group, Varian Medical and Visa Inc

It also witnessed the presence of Leaders from government of India (Andhra Pradesh) Chief Minister Shri. Chandrababu Naidu, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, and Ministry of Electronics and IT, Secretary Aruna Sundararjan who understand the urgency to bring about digital transformation of India. Shri. Naidu was awarded the ‘Transformative Chief Minister Award’, in recognition of his achievement in championing US- India ties in the areas of trade, politics and culture.

With a prestigious line up of speakers including government, prominent businessmen and entrepreneurial ecosystem innovators, the summit was a great success. International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate) was proud to be the knowledge partner for the summit and was represented by CEO Anupam Jalote who spoke about the importance of continuing technological innovation and the potential for Indian and American entrepreneurs to collaborate.  Mr. Jalote said: “A new wave of “deliberate entrepreneurs” are leaving corporate careers, evaluating opportunities and starting up”.  He added that the next wave of non-IT innovators will “shatter price barriers and bring solutions to the reach of millions who could not dream of them before”.

iCreate and USIBC will now embark on a journey of collaboration which brings together the best of both the worlds:  USIBC members offer access to cutting-edge technology along with capital and iCreate brings the exciting entrepreneurial spirit of Gujarat.  The innovation centre will enable start-ups and entrepreneurs to build smart cities and IoT-based solutions to meet the Indian market requirements.

This journey started in December 2016 when CISCO began its partnership with iCreate building a state of art IoT Innovation hub to develop and customize solutions for digital technologies at iCreate’s Ahmedabad campus.  Mr. John Chambers, USIBC Chairman and Cisco Executive Chairman said: “An institution like iCreate taps into the entrepreneurial spirit of Gujarat, providing the younger generation with opportunities for employment and financial prosperity. Following Cisco’s partnership with iCreate, I am pleased to be part of the innovation and entrepreneurship dialogue between USIBC and iCreate”.


With a unique, world class and brand-new facility in the heart of Gujarat, the heartland of Indian entrepreneurs, iCreate is perfectly positioned to be the ecosystem leader and spearheads the efforts to integrate American and Indian technologies to burst price points and produce en-masse the products required to bring socio-economic and environmental change to India.


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