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All great things start with someone dreaming big about an idea. Experience of dreaming about such an idea is joyful and you soon realize it’s the next big thing. This state of mind gets shattered when this idea reaches the point of execution. Reason for this is the dreams are seen in perfect world mindset and execution takes place in real world.

This book helps the entrepreneurs to come out of the perfect world and accept the reality in making the business venture a success. Therefore “Reality Check” gives a pulse of the bitterness of real world when it comes to starting and nurturing a business.

“Reality Check” is an in depth explanation of Kawasaki’s “The Art of The Start”. Topics are discussed in greater detail by bringing in specialist opinion for related topics and diving in to technicality with greater detail.

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Continuing his style of breaking the topics based on the phases of a startup, Kawasaki explains the reality of many key milestones. Some of the notable elements from these chapters are as follows.

  • Conceptualizing and funding the idea of a startup are crucial as the entrepreneur is moving from a “The idea” mindset to a “Will it work” mindset. Kawasaki starts the discussion with the fairy tale of entrepreneurship. Then he provides guidance on how to overcome the shocks mainly in identifying the time to “commercialize the idea”.

The approach of educating the reader about investor mindset through his personal experience and expert opinion would be valuable for a reader who has plans of becoming a venture capitalist. He also introduces his unconventional “Venture Capital Aptitude Test” model which can be used as a tool to evaluate the qualifications to become a venture capitalist.

In an attempt to provide insight to venture capital law, Kawasaki has included an interview of Fred Greguras who is a specialist on the subject matter. As the legal explanations are deeply technical, attractiveness of the reader diminishes.

  • Planning, executing & innovating are the most critical phases of a startup. Also these are continuous processes which require high level of focus. Kawasaki shares his wisdom in these areas in a chapter named “Zen of business plan”. The most attracting factor is the link he bridge between pitching and planning, which would benefit the entrepreneur in many aspects including funding.

Advising on execution, he explains the challenging aspect of it and hence to make it a worthy effort. Then Kawasaki writes the best chapter of this book “After the Honeymoon”. This focuses on few highly practical issues faced by a startup immediately after the initial success phase. What makes this chapter special is the candidness of problems highlighted, it signifies the causes and most importantly it provides practical solutions which meet the reader’s expectations.

This also includes the story of building one of his startups “All top” presented in a very interesting manner.

  • Marketing, Sales& Communications are equally important for any startup to get the bucks to flow and spread the name across. This becomes a challenge with initial financial constraints and over spending can bring things to a grinding halt.

This section of the book stresses the importance of balancing market adaptation without trying costly, ineffective approaches to add numbers which hinders real market adaptation.

The reader would also come across guidance on startup focused branding techniques, aspects to be mindful in delegating marketing activities and importance of managing the extent to which the customers should be influenced in selling.

Many young entrepreneurs struggle when they are exposed to corporates in business development aspects. One of the main reasons for this is weakness in communication and lack of presentation skills. Therefore, Kawasaki has dedicated special emphasis to this sharing his own amazing techniques which he believes that would result in standing ovation, a chapter from Garr Reynolds and an in-depth analysis of Majora carter’s TED Talk.

  • Beguiling &Competing is important especially after the launch of a startup. Beguiling assists an entrepreneur to attract and influence people in network building and recruitment. In this chapter Kawasaki stresses the importance of capitalizing on networks an entrepreneur builds. He points out frequent mistakes done in following up with the built contacts and signifies how costly it could be.

When network building results in business partnerships, getting partners to deliver results become challenging. This often happens when the partner has higher bargaining power compared to the startup. In order to overcome this, Kawasaki points out the ground rules to be laid, how exit strategies to be put and how to drive internal acceptance to reap benefits from such partnerships.

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Focusing on competition, Kawasaki recalls his experiences at Apple’s Macintosh division where competition was at peak internally and against IBM. He guides the reader how to take the tide and how not to get carried away with competition. Emphasizing on understanding the mindset of competition, Kawasaki also lists down some of the best examples including how Virgin Atlantic took on British Airways in 1986 which proves that competition is best handled by tackling minds.

  • Managing HR &Operations would not be the task an entrepreneur will handle in the mid/long term. But the way an entrepreneur handles this at the inception would determine how it would be practiced as it would embed to the culture. Therefore, hiring, firing & managing day to day operations is been paid extra attention in this section. 

Kawasaki uses his experience with Steve Jobs to explain hiring which includes the famous “A players hire A+ players” example he initiated at Apple. Among other valuable points, presenting a challenge to the candidate is noteworthy. Kawasaki mentions the challenge Steve Jobs gave to John Scully when he was recruited to highlight the importance of this.

Continuing his style, Kawasaki turns the table to guide the reader in tackling these situations as a candidate.

Vitality of being responsible, firm and providing chances in laying are being discussed in greater depth to enlighten the reader of risks involved.

Focusing on business operations, Kawasaki lists out a number of tips covering many aspects to enjoy work and be productive.

Kawasaki concludes this chapter with some “Must Read” radical topics related to work place politics and also provides his unconventional models to tackle them.

Ensuring the completeness and relevance of this book to all types of startups, Kawasaki has written the final chapter Reality of Doing Good. This section gives insights in to challenges faced in social entrepreneurship and transforming corporations in to Nonprofits. He also shares his way of viewing life in a chapter named “My Hindsights in Life” and asks ten questions from the reader which he calls the “Checklist of Reality Check”.

Mentioned below are some views about this book from a holistic standpoint

  • In this book, Kawasaki’s attention to detail on key elements of a startup is commendable. Throughout the book he stresses the importance of developing simple and attractive customer interfaces to enhance customer experience which is a critical success factor.
  • Also, this is a book full of lies. Truth about lies that Entrepreneurs, Venture capitalists, Engineers and Lawyers tell each other when they play their part. These are real lies which you would tell/hear and hence provides guidance to how to be creative in telling new lies.
  • This book consists with number of chapters where technical experts were interviewed. In many instances these chapters are discussed in greater detail. This has negatively impacted on the flow as it dilutes focus from the core subject matter. Alternatively, a summarized version in Kawasaki’s own opinion would have added more value.
  • Another distinct feature about Reality Check is that it puts the reader in to many different tough situations and provides guidance to tackle those situations. Advising on handling situations such as founder not performing is a clear evidence for this.final1

In conclusion, Reality Check would gain a rating of 6 out of 10 for the validity of points mentioned above. Better selection and sequencing of sub chapters, less number of expert interviews anda much brief approach would have resulted in a better rating.

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While going through a startup struggle, writing a review for this book has been immensely challenging as this turns out to be my first book review. However, the beauty of this book is that it has motivated and guided me to complete crucial phases of my startup as I read through it.

The GIST of this book is that it’s about the PURPOSE of everything an entrepreneur experiences in building a successful startup. This book is clearly exclusive as it is written to address key issues of entrepreneurship for many reasons briefed below.

Guy Kawasaki has used his expertise on this subject from various aspects of his career being an evangelist, an entrepreneur & a venture capitalist. This gives Kawasaki the perfect leverage to attract and give the reader an interactive experience.

One main reason for success of this book has been the precision in identifying and sequencing phases of a startup. Discussed below are some of the most notable elements of the important phases.

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-          Causation is the starting point of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur is helpless at this stage and often gets in to hasty conclusions to prove what he/she believes is correct. This chapter provides guidance to rigorously question and clarify the purpose of initiating a startup.Kawasaki continues to prove his mastery practicality by highlighting the importance of stepping in to the executing phase while planning for long term. Simultaneously there is focus on launching a prototype along with building your Mantra.

-          Articulation is undoubtedly the bitterest phase of a startup for any entrepreneur,and is often rushed through. As a result, most good startup concepts fail and never take off. In this chapter the venture capitalist in Kawasaki takes a different approach compared to accepted norms.Kawasaki engages the reader closely by diving into tactical aspects of positioning, pitching & planning. Practicing the concepts of “10/20/30 Rule”and“Answering the little man”mentioned under this chapter, guides the reader to smoothly cross through the Articulation phase.

-          Activation is the phase that an action biased entrepreneur is anxious to achieve. This is also widely known as the toughest phase of a startup. In this 40 page chapter, whilst emphasizing on the truth of making ideas happen, Kawasaki reinstates the saying;“It’s not about the idea, it’s about making the idea happen”. Building bottom up forecasts, shipping before testing, making money through your Mantra and making recruitment a daily practice could be some of the most valuable lessons a reader would learn.

-          As the startup moves to next levels, gaining acceptance (market & internal) becomes a key driver for success. Therefore the chapters of Proliferation & Obligation are focused on this element. Tactics for building a brand and identifying opportunities for rainmaking are discussed comprehensively while making connections to interesting concepts through other sources.

The above reasons are only a minor contribution to the success of Kawasaki’s book. However, following are the main reasons readers and entrepreneurs alike are drawn to this book making it a phenomenal success.

-          Entrepreneurs by nature are casual and informal people. They rarely follow manuals and procedures.As an entrepreneur himself, Kawasaki has applied this informality in his writing to display an authentic feel of the different phases of startups. Each heading/sub heading of this book is constructed in an informative and advisory format.Through this Kawasaki ensures the reader remembers the key messages.

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-          Entrepreneurship is about making mistakes. Gradually those mistakes turn out to be the very reasons for the success of a startup. At the beginning of each heading, Kawasaki has highlighted all mistakes that startups do before contrasting it with the right means to go out tasks. This approach is far more effective in comparison to dishing out the right methods to readers.

-          Many books provide exercise pauses for the reader to think through and action relevant tasks.This is often skipped and never revisited. However, the distinctiveness and practicality of points laid and appropriateness in selecting exercises convinces the reader to complete those.

-          Frequently Avoided Questions is one of the favorite elements of this book. The reader would find appropriate answers for questions which are ignored by their advisers and most importantly new questions shaped to provide food for thought. rating

-          One may question whether this book is being intended only for small startups. The answer is No. Guy Kawasaki brings in his real life experience of working at Apple Inc. to unveil some valuable thoughts on how to nurture startups within large corporations. This is rarely found in traditional books on entrepreneurship.

In conclusion, this book deserves a ranking of 4 out of 5 for above mentioned reasons.However, more real world startup examples in relation to specific topics discussed would have been a value addition.

Reading “The Art of The Start” should definitely be Part of The Start – Ruzan Ahamed

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Apple wrapped its October event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco earlier today and, as promised, there was plenty to dig into. We’ve pumped out plenty of stories dissecting Apple’s myriad announcements, but in case you’re looking for a highlight reel of sorts, we’ve put together a quick rundown of everything Apple pulled back the curtain on.

The Hardware

New MacBook Pros: Yeah, people tend to swoon about new iGadgets, but the company’s refreshed batch of Retina Macbook Pros are nothing to sneeze at. Apple showed off slimmer 13- and 15-inch versions that sport Intel’s latest Haswell chip sets and bigger batteries and come preloaded with OS X Mavericks.

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In the event these things struck your fancy, you can lay claim to yours in the Apple Store starting today. Here are Darrell Etherington’s thoughts on how they compare to past versions based on initial impressions.

New Mac Pro: Many a nerd has salivated over Apple’s curious Mac Pro redesign, and today we got a better look at what’s ticking away under the hood. Long story short, the back provides you all the access to input/output/expandability you could want, and the otherwise unbroken smooth cylinder evokes a ‘Darth Vader’ vibe.

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It’s got dual workstation GPUs (proprietary in design but potentially upgradeable down the line) and an amazing Intel processor, making it an awfully powerful machine housed in an awfully pretty body.

The new Mac Pro will be available in December starting at $2,999, and you can see our hands-on impression of the computing powerhouse (courtesy of Matthew Panzarino) here.

iPads: And who could forget the iPads — Apple pulled back the curtain on two new models, the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display.

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The two actually have plenty of things in common: both sport the same 64-bit A7 chip that recently debuted in the iPhone 5s, both have screens that run at 2048-by-1536 resolution (though the smaller screen on the mini will make for much crisper images), and both are going to hit store shelves starting in November. They even resemble each other to an extent — the Air essentially looks like a 10-inch iPad mini, making it significantly slimmer and lighter than the model that came before it.

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If you’re not looking to spend too much, though, Apple is keeping some older models around to make sure that anyone who wants to jump on the iPad bandwagon can do so. The (non-Retina) iPad 2 is still kicking and will set you back $399 to start.

The Software

Today it seems the name of the game was ‘free.’ Apple announced that two of its most prominent software suites — iLife for content creation and iWork for, well, work — would now be free with the purchase of any new Mac or iOS device.

IMG_9936But that’s not all. Apple’s next big OS X update, OS X Mavericks, is also free and it’s available right now for all to download. This should help dramatically raise the rate at which users update their software, which has a benefit for security and for developers, too.

Considering that the Apple has been charging for these annual updates since the earliest days of OS X, this is an unexpected (though very welcome) change. It’s true the company has been reducing the cost of updates with each new version, but going completely free was a move almost no one saw coming.

IMG_9841Apple also delivered an update about how quickly people are taking to iOS 7, and the numbers aren’t too shabby. It’s been just over a month since the update went live and started getting pushed to iDevices across the globe, and so far a full 64 percent of those Apple gadgets are now running iOS 7.

And that’s about everything there is to know about Apple’s big fall event, without getting too deep into the nitty gritty. Safe to say, Apple has a lot of new stuff for people to get excited about going into the holiday shopping season.

Source : TechCrunch

 

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Colombo International Book Fair 2013, happening for the 15th consecutive year, is around the corner. Well, to be exact, the week-long event begins tomorrow (14th September 2013).

I can recall some of my experience at previous events where you visit the crowded BMICH complex and get the printed guide at the entrance to go through the confusing map to locate our favorite bookshop. And when you finally do so and go in search of the book you had planned to buy and end up disappointed. Looking at the crowd you then re-consider even checking out another bookshop. Luckily that won’t be the case this time around. The Colombo International Book Fair or CIBF as it is known, has got smarter with a smartphone guide, in the form of an Android app!

How Does It Work?

The all new Android app can be downloaded for free on Google Play. It works on any device running Android version 2.2 and above. At around 3.6 MB of size, this little app aims to function as a virtual guide throughout the event. You will require a working data connection to  access certain sections of the app.

Menu Categories

Menu Categories

A simple UI welcomes you when you open the app. You get four different menu categories on the home-screen. The first option is “Books”. This is a very useful section that gives details about the books available at the fair. You can view the book cover, a small description about the book , price and the publisher or the bookshop where you can find the book at the fair. This section is still in the early stages of development so the content (number of books listed) is limited for now. But the creators of the app have informed that books and other content will be updated on a daily basis.

 

Books Menu

Books Menu

The second section titled “Stalls” is a database of all the participating bookshops and publishers. You can either browse through the list or do a quick search to find the bookshop you are looking for. Click on the name of a bookshop and you will be directed to the floor plan with the location of the bookshop marked and highlighted. It’s an extremely useful feature to locate bookshops in such a large venue.

The “Map” menu, as the name suggests, provides the detailed maps/plans of all the exhibition floors. The “Events” menu lists all the special events along with date and time,including book launches happening throughout the week at the venue.

 

Floor Plan

Floor Plan

The CIBF -2013 app is a need of the hour and it’s timely release will make it widely used during this year’s event. Future updates of the app are expected to add information on utility facilities available at the venue for the visitors including sanitary facilities and parking spaces. The upcoming updates will also concentrate on languages and maps and will add details of more books. This commendable effort will continue for the upcoming book fairs as well. Users can submit their feedback & suggestions about the app and the event by clicking the icon provided on the top right corner of the app.

Events Schedule

Events Schedule

The app is developed by Cinnamon Information Technologies (PVT) Ltd. Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association is the content partner while Digit Magazine is the online partner.

You can download this useful application for free on Google Play.

 

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It’s been exactly two years since the article about #FASL was first written. So much has happened since then: so many stories, events, puns, gossip, cricket and politics all wrapped in different tweets by different kinds of tweeps all making a mark in history in their own individual way.

TweetupSL is going to be celebrated for the 4th time this September (Updated – happening on 7th Dec 2013) as many in the twittersphere would know. That in itself has a history of over 3 years for the Sri Lankan twitter community. And for those who have been on twitter before that, the events that had unfolded have been sweet/bitter memories, forgotten moments, life changing instances that few may know about.

We’ve also had an explosion of businesses popping into Twitter in Sri Lanka in 2011. Many of those stories are also interesting milestones for the Sri Lankan tweeps.

Many of us would now look back at the inception of our twitter journeys and ponder ‘Wasn’t it a bit peculiar to begin with?’, ‘What was life like before I got addicted to twitter?’. Time has indeed passed us by with many an activities with the online community, with a few happening offline too.

Then there are the growing new twitter users who ultimately get involved and have a jolly good time with local hashtags, take part in free food events and talk politics/cricket to name a few engagements. Some get to know the past activities of other twitter users, some remain clueless.

All in all, from a few people to clicks of batch mates, they all end up on twitter and form part of the Sri Lankan twitter community.

Being on twitter since Feb 2009, a few things got me thinking that with such an active twitter community, it would surely be fascinating to encapsulate the various experiences/stories into one entity in the form of a book. But the only way this would truly be possible to capture most of the instances would be, if the Sri Lankan twittersphere help in sharing their stories (mini-tweetups, local hashtags, life changing moments etc..).

So, what do you say? Want to be part of a project where we can create a historic book which we can proudly keep as a worthy memorabilia?

Here is how you can get involved:

  • Dig into your twitter account (you can use your twitter archive option too if allowed) and unfold some memorable moments on twitter.
  • Finally you can even use that ‘Favorite’ option that you’ve pretty much being using like the facebook ‘Like’ and uncover some tweets which you found fascinating.
  • Maybe you are already remembering a few memories of some of the fun times you had, go find those tweets.
  • Once you are ready to share them, you can tweet to @gihangamos about it or use the hashtag #TweepSLbook (would recommend both)
  • A book wouldn’t be complete without pictures in it so do send your pictures too so that they can be included in the book (Naturally all pics sent by @sudaththa will automatically be rejected)
  • Hope you can spread the word about it too so that many can be part of this.

Oh and this book will be ready in time for TweetupSL 4! And to make it a truly memorabilia one, a separate section will be reserved in the book for details of all that register for TweetupSL4 with profile pic and twitter handles included. Use that section to get signatures of the tweeps you meet maybe?

So let’s do this, shall we?

p.s – Permission will be sought from tweeps if their tweet is involved before it is published in the book.

Disclosure – To cover publishing/printing costs, the book will be available for a very nominal price

Current tweets for #TweepSLbook