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Monday, April 28, 2008

IPL - Why did Sreesanth cry?

Here's the list of options - Take a guess

The silliest of controversies. These guys really are mentally disturbed. Bhajji for one surely is. What was he thinking?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Randhir on CNN Money!!!

I am proud of being a part of the Zeopane Team. It now featured on CNN Money Website as part of the list of teams that participated in the RICE University Business Plan Competition.

Another feather in the cap.

Zeopane wins at RICE!!!

Zeopane and I finally has something to show for the marathon 3 month effort that really all started in the second week of January. Even though we'd identified the product in early December, we didn't get down to beginning work on it till after the Winter break.

The next two months were really an experience to be remembered. Lost all contact with the rest of the world for a few days in between. Just managed to get by assignments, exams, classes and finally ventured out for my 4 week sojourn in the U.S that started on March 11th.

Carnegie Mellon University's McGinnis Ventures was truly an eye-opener on what some of these competitions can be. The competition far exceeded our expectations. Ventures with funding, sales orders, all due-diligence complete and some even already functioning. How were we - this fictional company with no US-Experience, no-Pharma Industry experience and no funding of any sort (even my CMU Ticket was self-funded :-)) expected to compete. We got hammered and did not even make the finals. Got some feedback which read - FDA Comments Naive!!!

We at Zeopane decided to turn the tables around, did our due-diligence on FDA in US in terms of how expensive it can be, SFDA in China and turned the story around to a China Story. This clearly was a great strategy. Even if we weren't the Pharma experts, we now clearly were the China Experts with 3 Chinese looking people on the team. With me, the Technology and Diabetes expert on the team, we were almost a complete team.

At Rice, we got some great comments. Some people rated us the best presentation among all the teams they saw. We had quite a few people convinced that Zeopane microneedles was truly a great product. We had one China based VC expressing an interest in talking further with us. Another India Fund wanted to know if I wanted to explore entering the India market with this product. Need to follow up with these two and all the other contacts we've made at Rice in between catching up with all the classes and exams I missed during my 1 month vacation in US.

Overall, by the end of the Rice Competition, HKUST and Zeopane had made its impact. The most unforgettable moment was when a couple of guys (not from HKUST) went up to the Karaoke Stage and started screaming "Zeopane, Zeopane". :-)

Zeopane @CMU

I know this update has been long overdue. I was just too busy catching up with friends in Pittsburgh, Columbus and all over the US and to some extent sulking over the CMU Results. Zeopane along with 11 other teams could not make it to the final round or even the challenge round. This might sound like a huge negative - but it really isn't.

In hind sight, we definitely had come up with a great product and a decent presentation. There were a few major issues with the business plan itself which were pointed out to us. And this feedback and the contacts we made is probably the greatest take-away from the competition. For future students, when looking for a product, you will need to look for a product in your area of strength. Pharma / Medicine wasn't any of our subjects of specialization and Diabetes / Insulin wasn't too except that I have more than a handful of diabetics in my extended family. This definitely hurt us to a great extent (not having someone with the tech expertise in there). Although I was able to answer most of their technical questions, I think having the expert speaking would have been a lot more effective.

Pharma was definitely one of the tougher tracks to be in. There were some really good teams in the Pharma track along with ours that didn't make it through to the next round.

Our team not having anyone familiar with the drug-approval mechanism in the US was definitely a weakness. Some of the terms like the 510(K) approval - our team hadn't even heard of it. On the other hand, some teams had already met the FDA and sought their views on how they should seek approval for their products.

And looking at the other presentations, one other huge weakness was not having the inventor alongside us. This greatly shows the inventor's commitment to the cause and the company (especially if he comes all the way from Hong Kong). We are now trying to convince Prof Yeung to accompany us to Rice since we do not have a faculty advisor for the competition since Prof. Larry is already in the US teaching in Darden.

One of the other suggestions we got from one of the judges was that we should probably just focus on manufacturing the microneedles and let the specialist pharma companies decide where they want to use it. The only problem we have with that approach is how to convince the Pharma companies that this works.

Overall, some great feedback, lot of learning and the realization that HKUST has a long way to go in terms of even being close to a good school for entrepreneurship. HKUST does not claim to be big on entrepreneurship. But just what being a good school for entrepreneurship dawned on me during the competition looking at the other teams, their commitment to their product, the huge investments they had made (more than hundred thousand dollars) and how much further they were into making their product commercially viable.

Looking forward to leveraging some of this feedback and giving an improved performance in Rice.