Category Archives: Featured

An Open Letter to Present and Past Students of BIT Patna

This letter is dedicated to all present and past students of Birla Institute of Technology Mesra, Patna Campus (BIT Patna), who feel that they committed a mistake by joining the institute. I wrote this in February 2013, in response to several negative comments on a Facebook Page about BIT. I am publishing a slightly modified version of the same here.

I am from first batch (2006-10) of BIT Patna . When we took Admissions, it was hardly a College. No Internet, No Canteen, No Gym, No Power Backup. Somehow they had made two Classrooms, two laboratories, few rooms in two hostels and a small library. There were no roads, the Institute Campus was full of Mud, no Bus, no Medical Facility, no Games and if that was not enough some Herculean Restrictions were imposed on us in the name of Discipline. Above all there was NO one to guide us, no one to inspire us by telling the fancy stories of lucrative job offers at the end of 4 years.

A Pic of BIT Patna Institute Building taken by me
A Pic of BIT Patna (Institute Building) taken by me in March 2013

We were left completely blank during initial days. We had to adapt to the Circumstances and we learnt how to live with the worst of it. I envy you guys who have been given so many facilities,  but always complain.  Here, you have got enormous opportunities to excel in life, provided you realise it. Anyway, everyone realises this 1-2 year after leaving the college.

I had dropped out of one of the most prominent Govt. Engineering College (with 100 % Placements) of  Jharkhand,  just to join BIT Patna and that too against my Parents’ Wishes. I have no regrets, there were guys who left NIT Patna, COE Jadavpur University, MNIT Allahabad too to join BIT Patna.

You cannot realize the dilemma when you drop a well established College for the sake of a new institute with uncertain future. However, here was something called Brand BIT, an Internationally acclaimed Brand which made me feel important and superior whenever I met outsiders (except with those of IITs :-) )

We had no luxury as you guys have. We just lived with a hope that someday things would definitely go better. But this did not happen, when the time of placements came, Global Economy went into Recession (2008 Global Recession). All our hopes were crushed, yet we had prepared for the worst. Most of us planned to go for Higher Studies. Somehow everyone from the first batch  got placed and many even got into Top global companies.

During my College Days, as a part of a Survey I had to visit offices of several Government Departments in Patna. Not a single place was there, where a Senior Position was not occupied by some Alumni of BIT. In fact, my task was greatly simplified all because of them. The moment they learnt that I was from BIT, they started treating me  like their younger brother or a colleague. The same applies to many Government  and Private offices in the Country.  All you need is to believe in where you come from and who you are.

Today when I meet someone and  say that I am from BIT, they always hold me in high esteem. Respects automatically start showering the moment the a person comes to know about my college. Get outside India and tell someone that you are from Birla Institute of Technology and see the difference it makes.

What I want to mean is that by joining BIT you have joined the Ivy League of Technocrats who have played a very important role in shaping the future of this nation since last 50 years and who are regarded as one of the best breed of Engineers. You have the same degree which is hold by likes of Anjan Lahiri, Deven Sharma, Dr. Ganesh Natarajan,Sanjay Nayak,Himanshu Kapania, Niraj Sharan and many more.

Take Pride that you are from BIT and elevate yourself to the level of those who had been once a part of BIT. Getting a First Job is not a big deal, you would definitely get one. It might not be more paying than that of your friends in other colleges, but in the long run you will certainly have better opportunities due to this tag of BIT.  Not only in Career, this brand will help you in every sphere of life, provided you know how to use it. You made a smart choice by joining BIT and now its the time to show your potential to the outside world.

 

What Entrepreneurs can learn from Poonam Pandey ?

Poonam PandeyIf  You use Facebook or Twitter and still ask me “Who is Poonam Pandey ? “, I would advise you to deactivate your Account and go to sleep.

It is not that I am a big Fan of Poonam Pandey, but anyone who closely monitors her success with Social Media will be forced to give her a standing ovation. After all, how many Bollywood Actresses could garner over 3 Lakhs Twitter Followers and an equal number of Facebook Fans. Or, which Actor in Indian Cinema could create so much Buzz about his Debut Movie, in the way Poonam has done?

Her personal website is one of the most visited one in India and if she wishes to commercialize it, she could easily earn  handsome amount of Dollars each month.

Companies like Intel, HP, Essar, MMT advertise like hell to create a Social Media Buzz, while Poonam does it by tweeting just 140 characters.

As an entrepreneur I find it quite interesting example of Social Media Success and the way it has shaped the Business.

1. Forget Advertising, try Socializing

Advertising gains consumers, but Socializing retains them. Brands keep on spending the Lion’s Share of their Marketing Budget on Adwords and Facebook Ads, but many of them dont spend on bringing them back or hearing their Complaints.

A Classic Example –

I was impressed by the initiative of @2WinFounder  to reply every random Tweet made about Parking Frenzy.  Needless to say, when a Gamer receives a Thank You tweet from the CEO of a company which made the game, he is bound to come back again and again.

2. Twitter is like a Volcano , while Facebook is an Ocean.

I have been made to believe that Twitter is like an Active Volcano. The sudden rise of Poonam to Stardom was due to her controversial Tweets only, which were accidently (or luckily ) noted by Thousands of Twitter users. A Single Tweet from your handle can fly you to the Top, no matter who you are. So Pick an Idea, compose carefully, Tweet and Pray like hell.

You have to be word selective while Tweeting  and it must draw attention.  Writing a Tweet is similar to writing a Business Tagline.

Most of the Viral Brands like Poonam Pandey, Faking News etc. engage more on Twitter. But their Tweets are interesting, catchy and each of them brings them 100s  of new followers.

In contrast Facebook, having 10 times more users than Twitter, resembles an Ocean. Once your brand is made on Facebook, whatever garbage you post gets likes and comments. But  creating a brand on Facebook is a long and Smooth process. Like, Rome it cannot be built in a day.

3. Push and Pull Trends

One cannot predict what is going trend the next moment. While a PUSH is given by the incident that triggers the trend, the Real PULL is given exerted by millions of Twitter users who follow the trend in their tweets after spotting the trend.

Every time, something trends big, it becomes  Flash Headlines and News Media starts promoting it for their own. This is the reason why you spot Abhjjit Mukherjee trending top on Twitter even a fortnight after making his controversial statement.

Poonam is a veteran of both PUSHers and PULLers. When she feels that Buzz around her has been low for a while, she tweets something which draws attention of large number of her followers and a trend is pushed to the top of Twitter. A recent example is #EarRingsLikePoonamPandey.

Often she pulls the attention of Twitter users by tweeting with the available trending topics. More often her tweets are on the top for a given hashtag.

 

(This was the first part of this series. I would publish a second part soon focusing on the Brand Management and Market Capitalization of Poonam Pandey).

 

Five Rare tricks to win the Search Engine Optimization Race

I was busy past  few days  in boosting the traffic of my website news.biharprabha.com. Thanks to SEO, the number of visitors per day  increased by 500 %  in past 30 days.  Search Engine Optimization has become a very broad term now. Unlike past , where it was limited to the  on-page optimization  and off-page optimization, it has accumulated the feathers of Social Media.

I am sharing few of the strategies  that I used to achieve this feat. This is applicable to any content centered websites like  news, blogs or forums.

1.  Meta Keywords: Just Google for Search Engine Optimization and you  will get lots of results. Remember, the best firm will definitely appear on the top of Search Results for this query. Take the top 5 websites (other than Google) appearing in the search Results and analyse their code. You will find extra Meta Entries for most of them. Include them in all of your pages.

2.  Keyword   Make sure the keyword you are targeting appears in the <TITLE> of your page and inside <Hn> tags   inside the  <BODY>  of the page. Lower the value of <H> you provide, higher weight would the keyword gains w. r. t. that page. So ensure that the target keywords appears inside <H1> or <H2> tags.

Use the formula below for <H> density

Maximum  number of <Hn>= 2^(n-1)  where n=1,2,3,4,5,6

It means  never keep more than 1 <h1> tags or more than 2 <h2> tags. Doing so may invite suspicion on part of Search Engines and impact your reputation.

3: Frequency: The Crawl rate of Search Engines is directly proportional to the frequency at which new content is being added to your website. So instead of adding 5 pages/day  at a time  it is better  to add one page at the interval of every four hours.

4. Duplicate Content: This is the  most controversial  topic in the SEO domain. The impact of keeping Duplicate content varies from  site to site. If the same content appears on Times of India and on Hindustan Times website, both will appear in the search results without any harm done to any of them. But, if a small website copies the content from Times of India,, it will not get any benefit for sure. Google or any search Engine can easily identify  and devoid it of any benefit in the search Results. For  start-up websites or blogs, keep a balance between Duplicate and Original Content. If you are posting duplicate content, make sure that it is beneficial to the readers and proper credits have been given to the owner of the content.

As a thumb rule:

1. Copy in parts  and not in whole.
2. Copy but not cheat.

5. Social Media: Though  officially not stated by Google , but  it has been observed that any page  shared  multiple times  on Facebook and Twitter gains some advantage in terms of SEO. Make sure that all your contents are promoted to Twitter and Facebook whenever they are published.  Use RSS Graphiti app for automatically sharing your posts to Facebook. For Twitter, use Wp-to-Twitter plugin for immediate tweeting upon publication of new posts.

 

These tricks are based on my own experience of Search Engine Optimization. Always remember that

SEO doesnot mean fooling the Search Spiders.
It is like putting your best foot forward.
Never try to cheat the  Search Spiders.
Never Over-Optimize your page
Stay Alert; what works today may not work tomorrow

Thanks for reading. Will keep  posted about new developments in SEO Industry

Thinkvidya going the LinkedIn Way

It has been 6 months since I first wrote about Thinkvidya  and honestly I could not get time (I am lazy :-) ) to visit that site in the meantime. When I visited Thinkvidya  again today,  I was impressed by many statistics presented and the milestones they have accomplished  in such a short term.

About ThinkVidya

It is an online network of Parents, Teachers and Students.  Truthfully, it is a network for 20000 learning providers with over 8000 regular teachers and trainers. No doubt, it is India’s largest Educational Network.

Why Should I Join it?

For those who fail to be impressed by the statistics; Thinkvidya acts as the missing link between Quality Tutors and the students. If you need a top-level Physics  tutor  in Bangalore,  jump to Thinkvidya, make a simple search and you are done. On opposite, if you are in search of students for your tution class or in free time, there is no better alternative than Thinkvidya.Other educational Institutes can easily find bulk number of students easily. So, if you are planning to start you Teaching business, Thinkvidya has lot to offer.   Presently it has a network  in most of the Tier-I and Tier- II cities of India including  Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad,  Pune , Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Coimbatore,Goa, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow,Nagpur and Vadodara.

Who Should Join?

Honestly, it is not merely regular, curricular teaching  that Thinkvidya has to boast about. A majority of tutors come from co-curricular and extra-curricular domains like, Dancing, Singing, Musical Instruments, Cooking, Martial Arts, Drawing, Swimming  and Yoga. You can view the full list here.   It is very difficult to find such tutors in Indian cities, unless you are willing to pay a lofty sum to brokers.

Business Model

The Business model is simple. It is FREE for all, whether it is a student, a tutor or an institute. They can browse profiles of each other, post  Requirements or contact directly. You can contact 3 students each month for FREE, which is sufficient for a starter.

Teachers or Trainers can optionally subscribe to a paid Alert System,which provides them a regular  and targeted list of students every month. The Paid Members are also featured on the portal giving them a high visibility.

Areas of Improvement

No matter how much we achieve, there is always a better milestone. Thinkvidya also needs to innovate its user experience regularly.  The Individual user profile  design looks obsolete , something like dating  10 years back. It lacks the usual feel of Web 2.0 Design  and must be updated at earliest.

 

Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Well, it is not always that only  Software  Development for Clients pays off. Businesses must look for catering  the existing problems with technical solutions.  This is what Linkedin did, the same was done by SlideShare and of course Thinkvidya is doing the same. In fact I have no hesitation to say, Thinkvidya is India’s answer to LinkedIn. Though  these two cater different segments of people, there are several similarities among them.

 

 

 

 

Secure your Gmail with 2-Step Authentication

Security for your email account is a prime concern.Almost hacked accounts are the results of certain relaxation in security on the part of the user.
Want to add an extra layer of security to your Google account? Then go for 2-Step Authentication mechanism. This will secure your access to Gmail, Google Plus, Orkut, Google Docs and various other Google Services. All you need is a personal mobile/phone number.
STEPS
1. Visit this page to configure your mobile number to your Google Account
2. Select your Country and Mobile/Phone Number.You will receive a code on it
3. Select the mode of receiving the security code. If using phone, select Voice Call.Google will send a code on your phone. Enter the code in the textbox below and click Verify
4. Click next and Confirm that you want to enable 2-Step Authentication.

You need to provide this code once every 30 days while logging in. Google will remember it for next 30 days. If you are using a different computer, then you require this code.

Google 2 Step Authentication

Was Rancho inspired by Steve Jobs ?

Steve Jobs, the Father of Modern Computers has been well known for his innovation, creativity, attention to minute details and his spirit of struggle in the industry. Interestingly, his life story was cast on screens in a recent Hindi Movie 3 Idiots where the character of Rancho (played by Aamir Khan) immensely resembles to him.It appears that the makers of the movie were inspired by Steve for Rancho’s role.

Here are few apparent reasons which point to this conclusion:

1. Steve’s Childhood was spent in poverty.His biological parents deserted him when he was small. Rancho’s parents also died when he was small.He too was adopted by his master.Both of them were orphan in childhood.

2.Steve had great passion for making things live.He always believed in chasing his dreams and making possible what people considered impossible. Rancho was similar in character.Remember, he designed the Helicopter which was considered an impractical project by the Director of the College.

3. Rancho had 300 patents in his name while Steve Jobs has 338 American Patents in his name.

4. Steve always said- Stay Hungry,Stay Foolish; Rancho’s favorite statement(apart from All is Well!) was Never Chase Success, Chase Excellence, the Success will automatically follow you. Though Both these statements look different, both lead to the common aim of excellence.Both starved for excellence and Perfection.Both struggled a lot in life.

5. Steve Came to India in search of Enlightenment and became Buddhist.Rancho was from Laddakh were a significant portion of Buddhist population live.

6.Both could not have proper formal education.Steve dropped the college after first semester and kept on learning things from random sources or by self dedication. Rancho too never had proper elementary formal education.He used to learn from the old books of his master’s son.

7. Both dreamed of Changing the World.Rancho wanted to change the education system, while Jobs changed the way technology is used by common people in day to day activities.

Life repeats its stories and I am sure there are many who fit well in the context stated above, but Steve Jobs resembled the most. Rancho actually was the young Steve Jobs. People may come and people may go but the legend will keep on inspiring those who dream of changing the world.

 

NOTE: Steve  Jobs  has been a source of inspiration  to me . This post is my tribute to the Father of Modern Computers. Interestingly,  one of my first posts on this blog(one year back) was dedicated to him. 

Start a business with Zero dollars

Objective

 To get started with a web based business (without actually spending a single dollar)
Requirements- A Zeal to do something different

Overview- First of all you need to make it clear, what you actually want to do.To name a few, here you can
Start a news portal(as I did),
setup a forum
start a blog
Setup an e-commerce portal
Setup a classifieds portal
Setup an Ad Agency
Setup a Games Portal
Setup an Online Learning System
Setup a Video Sharing Site
Start a Social Network
Start a Job Portal
Start a Real Estate Portal

Take time and think, what will be the best for you.Ask your friends,relatives,any business people you know for their advice.Remember each of these have proven business model and are very successful venture.

Once Decided, what you are going to do,ask yourself
Who will be your target users(Customers)?
How will you reach your target users?
How will you generate revenue?
How much time are you ready to devote per day?

Personally, I feel that writing down these points helps a lot, especially at times you get confused, what to do!!. In my subsequent posts, I shall explain some of strategies which can be easily applied( and what I actually did :-) ) to make a large userbase and generate revenue, but it is important that you try to find out first.
Once the brainstprming is over, the technical side needs attention.This is pretty easy and you can setup them free of cost

Getting a Domain Name

If you are ready to spend an yearly fee of about USD 10, then you can book a .com .net or any TLD(Top Level Domain) of your choice.
If not, then dont get disheartened.I started my first website on a free domain itself.

There are only 2 reliable free domain services on the web, CO.CC and DOT.TK. While both are completely free services, CO.CC has been recently banned by Google.While in future, this ban is likely to be lifted, I strongly advice you to book a .tk domain. This is because it is a TOP Level domain while CO.CC is 2nd level domain. DOT.TK provides unlimited domains, while CO.CC limits this to 3 per account.

Choosing a Hosting Provider

Paid Hosting

If you are ready to pay a nominal hosting fees, then choose from Dreamhost or Bluehost. Just for info, this blog is hosted on Dreamhost.

Free Hosting
Freehostia is the best free hosting provider till date.They provide almost everything ideal to an online startup.However, SMTP is blocked on FRee Hosting.This means your site wont be able to send any automated emails to users.If you dont think this as a bottleneck, then jump to Freehostia wihout hesitation.I started my online business in early 2008 on Freehostia itself.

X10hosting is another good name in the hosting industry.They provide more free hosting figures(in terms of space,bandwidth emails etc). I havenot tested them much, but they seem to be a good place to start with.The only restriction is that you need to login to your control panel once every 15 days.

This article is the first in a series of posts aimed to foster entrepreneurship and encourage young people to start a business of their own.I shall be posting stuffs to it at least once a week.In the meantime, if you need any help, do comment below.I shall respond promptly

The viral growth of Shraddha Sharma

Meet a girl named Shraddha Sharma  from Dehradun. She is the latest Internet Sensation in India after Govind Tiwari from Allahabad. Her  Facebook Page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shraddha-Sharma/156074794471305?sk=wall

It was created on August 17th this year and within 4 days she has managed to get over 3000 fans(3100 as of now) on Facebook and it is growing. The girl has a melodious voice  and is definitely good looking. She merely recited some(5-6) of her favorite songs in front of web cam :-) and uploaded it to Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/user/shraddharockin

 

While videos were uploaded sometimes back, the Facebook page was created just few days ago and it was done. She started getting thousands of followers.Just notice the pace at which her fan base is growing which I am sure is bound of cross 5000 by EOD today.

 

A Quick Update- Her total  fan-count on Facebook  

40,219 as on September 12, 2011

 74,813 as on October 3, 2011

125,792 on November 29,2011

Just came across her Twitter Page https://twitter.com/shraddhasharma6

Lessons from it


1.If you have  something genuine  to offer, customers will flock around you

The large portion of her visitors come from people who watch her videos  shared on Youtube.Just see the dedication in her when she sings!!

2.She did not spend money on Facebook Ads

These days companies spend millions of bucks on ads, but still cannot achieve this mountain target of 1000 fans/day. What it requires is the inner passion in spreading word  about your product. As some people say word of mouth is the best strategy for brand development.Ask any of the marketing guys and they will name you hundreds of sinks, where to spend money for advertising viz. Facebook Ads, Adwords etc.


3. Had a boy done so, would he have been equally successful?

My answer is NO. The G-Factor is prevalent in almost all spheres of industry. If a girl does something she is bound to get more social appreciations vis-a-vis boys. So, hire a girl PR for your organization.

4. It looks like organic campaigns have started  to give more success than paid ones.A time to change our rudders. Remember Govind Tiwari from Allahabad :-) How many of you will actually do this?

 

How to use Google Plus One to increase the traffic on your website

Overview of +1

Google’s yesterday launched the +1 button for its search results.While many perceive it as an attempt to control the growing influence of Facebook on the web, it has particularly embarked the new era of Social Web. Gone are those days when Webmaster’s used to Write and Users read it, things are happening other way round too.This will particularly influence the Search Engine Ranking and  will stop the saga of Black Hat SEO techniques, where ,by putting forged metadata, sites used to rank higher in Google.Now the users will see what they has been promoted by their peers.

DEMO

See above and below this post.

As per Google – The +1 button is shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out.” Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.

If you are a owner of a website, then it might help you in getting large amount of quality traffic.Its better to get going with +1 button as early birds and take the advantage of higher Search Engine Traffic, before your competitors start getting the same. The Google +1 button (“+1 Button”) is a means for applications, websites, and other services (collectively, “Publishers”) to provide the Google +1 sharing experience on their website and other services. Users can express their interest in a Publisher’s website by clicking the +1 Button

How to Setup +1 Button

STEP 1:-Add the following Code  immediately before the Closing BODY (</body>) tag.

  • <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js”></script>

You can use HTTPS also, if you want but that wont add any extra benefit to your site.

If you are using Code for Google Analytics, paste it before Analytics Code.

STEP2

Place this code wherever you want the PlusOne Button to Appear

  • <g:plusone size=”tall”></g:plusone>

Other values for Size include small, medium and standard. If you dont specify the value of Size attribute, it will take the standard value of 24 px.

Where to Add +1 button

You can add Plus one ideally at any crawlable location on your web pages, but there are certain hot-spots which will give you more +1s.

1. Top  and Bottom of Posts in case of Blogs

2. Before the content starts on news portals

3.Sidebar of  your pages

Where not to put

1.Bottom of your web page

2. Header of your web page

3. Any  non-crawl-able area on the website
Treat it like an ad, and decide where should you place it on the page to attract the  action  of users.You can also put

Things you should not

1. You should not direct users to click the +1 Button for purposes of misleading users. You should not promote prizes, monies, or monetary equivalents in exchange for +1 Button clicks

2. You  should not attempt to discover the identity of a +1 Button user unless the user consents to share his or her identity with you via a Google-approved authorization procedure. This prohibition includes identifying users by correlating +1 Button reporting data from Google with Publisher data.

3. You should not alter or obfuscate the +1 Button, and Publishers may not associate the +1 Button with advertising content, such as putting the +1 Button on or adjacent to an ad, unless authorized to do so by Google