10:30 AM on Sunday mornings. That is the time when Open Coffee Club Bangalore meets at some pre-selected venue - usually a nice and cozy coffee shop or a newly-opened-looking-for-some-exposure restaurant. It is a great way of finding out good places to have coffee and off beat food. For example, I discovered Tam's in Koramangala through one of the meets.
While for me this is a good enough reason to get up every alternate Sunday mornings and head to OCC meet, you might find the entrepreneurship aspect of OCC more alluring. Essentially OCC comprises of folks who are somehow related to entrepreneurship, startups, ecosystem - those sort of things and cannot afford to drink on Sunday mornings. So they (me included) end up getting together and talk about issues that affect us, opportunities that we can use and generally get to know each other. The diversity of the group is amazing. A sample of people from the most recent meet in ZOE, Indiranagar - A chartered Accountant, A fashion and image makeover consultant, A social entrepreneurship enthusiasts who was visiting form USA where he is doing his MBA, publishing (yours truly), energy (Amarinder Singh - one of the organizers), A recent college grad who sold his laptop, bike, mobile to raise money for his maiden venture, guys from companies like thoughtworks, handicraft, advertising and so on. And since we had a meet on just the last Sunday, many of the regulars actually didn't turn up. So now you have an idea!
The best thing about OCC remains its very informal atmosphere. The thing to realize is that not every one in startup ecosystem is extrovert and good at networking which seems to be a must have quality to enjoy and make use of most of the events organized around startups. You are left in an arena with lots and lots of folks and you are supposed to "network" with them. Doesn't work for me. I much better like the OCC format where everybody gets to say something about themselves and probably have some discussions and in the end you are free to go and talk to anybody. At least you have some idea about the other person before the "networking" starts.
In almost every meet, I have found someone useful to talk to or some other people have found it useful to talk to me (I hope :-)). This time we had some really interesting folks. One of them is working on a service where you can backup the data on your sim card on the servers of the operator. So they plan to sell this technology to the mobile operators, a strategy on which house was divided. Some people thought that operators may just go ahead and copy the idea since technology is cheap in India while others had the experience that once they see the value, operators are usually quite supportive. Another person had the idea of saving energy in sign board display by using sideways glowing optical fiber instead of tube-lights. They have only recently started working on this and fiber is being sourced from China(?).
Some people also came up to me at end and talked about the print-on-demand and books in general. One question that came up was that in the age when the movement is towards e-books and everything digital, it seems a little retrograde to do something which takes you back to print. The answer to this requires a whole post which I will do later. But the short answer is as the e-books become more popular, the need for print-on-demand will go up since long runs from offset printing will become more and more unviable.
All the above is only "the tip of the iceberg" - as they say - and that too only from my point of view which is again distorted by the lag of one week between the meet and writing the post. If you are in Bangalore and interested in startups in any capacity, do drop in. The meets are free but it is good to order something in order to justify the usage of the cafe/restaurant where the meet is happening. A budget of Rs.100 will take you quite far in OCC :-). For latest information, you can follow OCC Bangalore on twitter : OCCBangalore. The next meet is scheduled to be on 18th of January, 2009. Please mark your RSVP here -