On Black Holes



The black hole is result of the death of a star (Though it is not the absolute end as we will see later. There exits life beyond this for a star.) A star may gain so much gravity that it starts pulling it self into itself. Like our sun. It is producing nuclear energy. As the energy depletes, the sun’s gravity with get more powerful and start to crumple itself into itself. This will then become a white dwarf. A white dwarf is a ball of nuclei and free electrons. The mass will remain the same, but the size will be smaller, thus becoming very dense. As the energy is depleting continuously, the collapse continues. For some the collapse will stop into a steady state (like our sun) due to exclusion principle. As that law states, in any given orbital, only 2 electrons can stay. But with some stars with very large initial mass, the exclusion principle will be over-ridden by gravitation. The gravity will destroy the nuclei and then it will eventually become a neutron star. A lump of neutrons. As the collapse continues, the neutron star becomes a black hole.

The Other Way

There are many small black holes, often called the black spots. The concept is that we can take a small rock and keep pressing it till it becomes a black hole. But no such powerful source of energy exists on earth or in visible universe. The only time such energy existed was when universe was being created. So after big bang many such black holes were created and universe has many of them.

Observing Black Holes

The black holes are everything hogs. Anything that goes inside is help down b gravity. Including light (photons). So how do we observe a black hole. Roger Penrose came up with an interesting idea. Imagine a tornado that pull everything it passes by into itself and manages to keep everything inside. Imagine this big twister. It will “eat” everything it passes upon. Now imagine a car at the edge of the tornado. The force at tornado’s edge will not be string enough to pull it in, but it will throw the car tangentially at greater force. This was the way he proposed we can observer rotating black holes. On edges we will see radiation, not absorbed by the black hole, but thrown at greater speed.

Black Hole Has No Hair

We know that black hole absorbs everything. So if we light up a torch from a space ship at it, a person on surface of the black hole will see the light. But when he lights a torch back, the light will never the black hole. So we can never observe the features of the black hole as we “see” features based on emitted light and radiations. Thus for us, all black holes are alike. This is often referred to as black hole has no hair.

Event Horizon

Now imagine a probe going into the black hole form a space ship. The people in space ship will see i go down as they see the light it is reflecting. Soon, it will enter a region at some distance from surface of black hole, where the gravity of black hole will draw down the light and not let it escape. This edge is referred to as event horizon. Thus, the characteristics of a black holes, it’s identity is the event horizon as anything beyond it is unobservable.

If Nothing Divides Like Religion, Then What Else?


“Nothing divides like religion.”

“Everyone is broad minded as long as you do not say something they do not believe in.”

“Everything was good in the olden days.”

“Our way of life is better.”

Scientists have earned their place in human existence like no other group of people. Science is often mistaken, however, as merely a body of knowledge. It is taught in schools with the help of examples to demonstrate each concept, theory and law. Each day as a child undergoes the indoctrination of a scientific education, there runs a risk of science becoming yet another religion, the risk being that we might end up with the replacement of one set of laws, theories and concepts with another.

Religion started with humans becoming aware of nature around them. Newly acquired intelligence needed to be used and curiosity needed to be satisfied. The concepts of gods and God were introduced to explain everything. Thunder, rain, wind and the sun all became a part of the religious escapism.

Somewhere along the way, it was forgotten why it was that such religious ideas came into being in the first place. However limited the capability, they were the result of human reasoning. Instead of building up on the reasoning, however, these ideas took on a life of their own and matured into religious beliefs.

On the other hand, as science developed, various natural phenomena were understood better, and clearer reasons were attributed to them than the blanket concept of God’s wrath or pleasure! Slowly, science has increased its volume of knowledge to root out religion from many nooks and crannies of human belief. Thus science continues to grow without killing human reasoning in the process inasmuch as the focus is always on the process and methods, and the outcomes are deemed transient, thus making sure that the current set of knowledge will not take on a life of its own.

Ironically, as opposed to politicians and religious leaders who have made the biggest blunders in human history and yet are sometimes deemed infallible, scientists can always make mistakes. And they have made them. It is the scientific process, itself, that has always come to its own rescue.

The scientific process enlists a series of steps of a problem, an observation; a theory, a hypothesis; experiments, tests, validation, rejection. Science has always expected mistakes and has always been ready to undergo close scrutiny. And that is why these processes and the knowledge that is the outcome of these processes continue to increase our understanding of nature.

Nothing divides scientists like a theory that cannot be verified. Scientists will stand on each end of the divide and tear each other’s arguments to shreds. But for each theory that remains unverified, there are many more which can be tested against observations and experiments. There are no dividing lines in such cases. As long as you bring along something with which others can tinker, you can say anything that contradicts whatever theory is currently held.

Religion does not lend itself to such close examination and change, thus rendering everything under its umbrella a tool for division.

But there are places where science cannot go, and these are the places where religion has rooted itself well. These are the concepts of morality, the coincidence of human existence, the reason for the misery of the human condition, and all that which exists in the human mind.

Wherever science has been unable to seep, philosophers have failed to provide any process analogous to the scientific method which would help the human mind to understand itself as much as we understand nature, thanks to science.

When did belonging to one particular religion become more important than being a human being? When did belonging to one particular religion make one individual superior over another? When did human life become expendable at the cost of the deliverance of the human population in the name of religion? When did one set of morals become more moral as compared to another set just because some religion certified it so? It all happened when the philosophers failed to ask the right questions and suggest a method which all could follow to find the answers.

In one way or another, at one time or another, all religions have proposed a way. But then, religions no longer are a process. They have become a set of knowledge. They have become a set of static knowledge around which human progress and intelligence is wrought rather than vice versa.

A religion is composed of three parts: the ritualistic part, the social part and the philosophical part. Creation of new ritualistic ceremonies in modern times only reaffirms that our Stone Age heritage continues. We should understand that rituals are an intellectual vestige. But they are also a basal necessity. Superstitions are there not to guide our lives but to provide short term relief from having to figure out whatever appears strange.

Religions have a powerful weapon against change: their antiquity. Human tendency is to romanticize the past, respect things old, and revel in nostalgia, all of which has created a unique “moisture” in which human reasoning has developed signs of rot. The more the past antiquates itself, the more the “rosy” takes on the form of gloriousness and righteousness–an easy seduction into the world of religious escapism.

As long as philosophers do not provide answers to the questions for which humanity turns to religion, the statements made at the beginning of this article will continue to haunt us.

The next century will not belong to those who lead the scientific progress, the next harbingers of human progress will not be those who lead scientific progress but the philosophers who dare to go where only religions have gone before.

From way back in Oct, 2004.

Startup Hiring Tips – The Golden Rule


Take a long time to hire, but if needed let go very fast

Hiring key members of the team is the single most decision a founder makes. So hiring should be done right and if things do not turn out well, let go early. It is best for your startup and the person involved.

Hiring in Startups

Many articles have been written on this. But here are my top 2 suggestions:

More Interview Sessions / Candidate Is Good

Make sure that the candidate is interviewed by as many people in your startup and possibly outsiders whom you trust. Make sure this group is diverse in their function and experience.

360 Degree Interview Is Good

If the candidate is coming at senior position and will lead a team that is already part of the startup journey, a 360 degree interview is essential.

“People are good. It is the matching, that can be good or bad.”  – My Matchup Rule

If your existing team does not feel the candidate will help them leap forward and higher, you may end ultimately up losing them. The 360 degree feedback will help you catch such issues before the candidate is hired.

Letting Go in Startups

Sometime we do make mistakes and end up with a wrong person-role match. Remember my match up rule:

“People are good. It is the matching, that can be good or bad.”

‘I Can Fix’ This Is Bad

If startups end up in situation of a wrong hire, I have seen smart leader make same key mistake: they think they can fix it. This causes these issues:

  1. Discontent among performers that you are paying too much attention to a non-performer,
  2. Discontent among those affected that you care more about a wrong hire than those who are delivering, and
  3. Sense of personal failure in the hire that inspite of all the support, he/she can not deliver.

There is no point fighting a battle in which there will be no winners and your startup will lose most.

‘Let Me Help You Move On’ Is Good

Help the wrong hire find a better fit. This will ensure you:

  1. Have not burnt bridges with a smart person,
  2. You will have strong relationship that you can use in a future hire where there is a better match, and
  3. Your existing team will feel inspired that you do not abandoned someone.


Photo courtesy KariHak via Creative Commons


Startup As A Lifestyle


I rarely attend startup events these days.

I used to attend them few years back when I was just starting up. Then I started seeing some patterns that worried me and made me avoid the trappings of what I call now as ‘Startup As A Lifestyle’.

Same Set of People at All Events

First thing I noticed was I was running into same set of founders, VC, Angels, etc. Only people who were new and busy used to ones who saw startups as their customers. Rest just chatted away while munching on the snacks. This gets tagged as networking. I think this is just socializing.

Not much wrong here, but it soon stuck me: You attended them one, you attended them all.

Saved myself bunch of time. Unless you are sure there is a new set of people attending, feel free to skip.

Keeping Up

Who got funded. Who got acquired by whom. Who moved where. Comparing anecdotes of US days or upcoming US trip. Which startup is X of Y for Z. Which founder is having a meltdown. Name dropping.

There are so many meta conversations that it will boggle you. I have seen some founders keep up in news so that they are not caught off-guard in such conversation and appear not to be in-touch.

Gets worse if you do not enjoy being updated on all masala regarding everyone in Bangalore-SFO split lives.

Unless you personally love chatting everything up, avoid such events. Saved myself bunch of time.

Being Founder is Sexy

This is a good news and really positive sign for future of entrepreneurship. But is mots dangerous lure of  ‘Startup As A Lifestyle’.

I have come across many young founders who do not seem to be going anywhere. They love going to pitches, pivoting, love passing on their cards, love talking about others, love talking how much funds others raised, love the scheduling freedom startup offers, love the dress code freedom startup offers and in general no hurry to get anywhere. Being a founder seems to be the reward enough.

Avoid being such a person.


Any social activity that does not help your product building and revenue generating prospects must be examined carefully and you should ask yourself repeatedly if investing time in it is useful or not.

Startups are not to enable your lifestyle. Your lifestyle should be to enable your startup.


Cover photo courtesy Kevin Makice, via Creative Commons license 2.0

Failing Since 2012 – Startup Lessons


Previously on ‘Failing Since 2012’  E01E02E03E04, E05, Dinker Charak, Founder of Roo Kids app, talked about his startup journey. In this last post of the series, he summarizes the lessons learnt. Now read on …

I always start by pointing out it is failing and not failed! No one has given up. The journey is still on.

But, why failing? I believe that a startup is failing / dying everyday. The day that stops, you have become a regular business. Even if you are profitable, you are still failing as you should be taking leaps and risks that can bring you down to ground. That is how I define a startup.

To conclude the series, it makes sense to share my take on startups and lessons learnt. So here we go:

1. Co-Founders

If you can’t find a right co-founder, go solo! Do not get a co-founder because everyone says so.

I decided to go solo. Hence I am in good position to give advice on co-founders! You know, at times the bystander has more clue than the people in middle of a mess.

a. Be Prepared For Failure

Discuss failure and eminent closure. Discuss how will you disband the startup.

b. Be Prepared For Success

Nothing impedes like success. When that first big deal comes in. When that large chunk of cash comes in. When the pictures show up in the newspapers. When that panel guest invitations comes in. Be prepared for that. Who will do what and how will you share the limelight.

Definitely, be clear how will that chunk of investor cash be used.

I know you will have a good plan that you must have discussed with investors against which they invested in you. But plans seldom survive contact with reality. So discuss how changes in plans will be handled.

c. Be Prepared for Uneventfulness

OK, I don’t even know if that is a real word. Still …

90% of your days will be uneventful. You will do what you were doing the day before. Many days you will have no clue what to do next.

This is the biggest secret ever kept. Not all days are full of action and results and decisions and power meeting and OK-GO music running as soundtrack to your life.

Most days are spent doing the same stuff and at times being adrift and clueless on how to make the next big thing happen. You will sit on your desk with your head in your hands, pulling your hair and wondering what should you do to get things to work!

Be ready to see each others in this pose and be seen in this pose.

 2. Fund Raising

Unless you have reverse engineered the funding patterns and built a startup that has all elements investors are looking for, funding is going to be a nightmare.

This is what I mean by reverse engineering the Series A funding patterns: If you are in India, as per current gossip, pick a product that is doing good in US, be young male, gather few IIT grads and go pitch! Or, pick an ecommerce idea, show how you can get millions of rupees flow through your system (even if 80% of that will come from investors via Discounted Cash Flow), be young male, gather a few IIT grads and go pitch!

But I digress.

a. Always Have Investors

Fine, you can bootstrap. Fine, you can generate revenue. Fine, you can do it with your own money. Still!

Nothing challenges your optimism than to sit in front of someone and get her or him to see your vision. You are the entrepreneur. You are the ones with dreams, energy and will to dent the universe. But if you can’t convince even one person to buy in, something is not right.

You need to get an investor to make sure you know that you are a seer and not delusional.

b. Find a Entrepreneur-Investor

All my early investors were entrepreneurs themselves. They had seen failures / tough days and have achieved big success.

So every once in a while I get a, “I hear you! Keep going. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Nothing strengthens your core than someone who has followed the pagdandi and found success.

Also there is one more thing: It has to be their own money they are investing. They will decide to invest in you based on the same gut feeling and analytics that made them successful in first place. This is a massive up vote!

c. Say No to Institutional Money

Here is how I think VCs work. They take bunch of money from rich people and organization and promise them some x return in n time. Say 10x return in 7 years. Along the way they assure that their money will make lives of poor, middle class, diseased, etc. better.

The only (and big) difference between someone who is investing her / his own money and someone else’s money is the flexibility on time!

Never hesitate to take money from an entrepreneur. Think a lot before taking it from a VC during early days. Go to a VC when you are sure you can get them the returns on their investment in a predictable span of time.

3. Conserve Cash

Cash in hand is the only friend you have. Conserve it. Instead of paying someone in cash, see if you can pay back in kind. Pay closer to due dates. Don’t spend on something you did not need critically last week / yesterday. Try trials version before buying full product. Use open source or free versions.

4. Get a Life

If your startup is the only thing going for you, here is what you need to do: get a life!

Very soon you will run out of money or ideas or friends or energy or all of these in one go. What will you turn to then? How will you get your groove back?

Nothing invigorates me like a short trip to a nature rich destination. You should find something similar.

5. Pivot, Experiment, Concede, Change

Very rarely does a successful startup get everything right from the very beginning. So be ready to pivot around one successful aspect of your startup, experiment, concede when you are wrong and be ready to change.

Success is directly proportional to your elasticity and plasticity.

6. Lead from Front

Be a leader of your team. They will turn to you for vision, direction, ideas, etc. Always be few steps ahead of them. And that means you have to work harder than anyone else in the team.

Always be full of ideas for them to try out. Always be ready to focus on what next, rather than failure. Don’t waste time blaming them and spend time nudging them into all new directions.

7. Hiring & Firing

Hire people better and smarter than you. Give them a purpose and direction, be transparent how they will be judged and then get out of their way!

And if you hire a person who is not right for the task, fire early. No point letting them continue. They will not have good time working with you, others working with them will not have good time and you will burn cash!

Guide them in finding a job that suits them best and let go.

Do not turn a misfit employee into your favorite project. Do not believe you can make it work somehow, however smart or great a people person you are.

Other hard working & performing employees will feel demotivated when they see an under-performer getting same benefits. The under-performer will feel bad that inspite of being smart and hardworking your startup is unable to give the role she or he can excel in.

It is not going to work and all involved will suffer.

8. Personality

Forget aura, charisma, reality-distortion field, etc. Develop a sense of humor (the self-deprecating kind is best), learn to praise others and be patient when dealing with people.


In conclusion of this series: It has been a wonderful journey, met wonderful people and learn a lot about myself.

My aim is to treat kids more than just a school going, IQ improving and exam passing bots. They are individuals who have a purpose and personality of their own and deserve the best of new technology and innovations. Roo Kid is one of the ways I am working on this aim.

I hope to succeed in building a neat product and taking it to right audience. Along the way I will have fun, meet more wonderful people, make difference in lives and maybe make money!

Wish me luck! 🙂

You can read this and other episodes (E01, E02, E03, E04, E05, Startup Lessons) on LinkedIn. Or, you can read this and other released episodes as a single post here

Failing Since 2012 – S01E05


Previously on ‘Failing Since 2012’ S01 E01E02E03 & E04, Dinker Charak, Founder of Roo Kids app, talked about how his startup ended up creating & supporting 23 products, purged some products to bring the count to 7 and realized even 7 was a lot. Now read on …

Failing. Not failed!

The Second Purge (Early 2015)

7 products. Each a whole start-up in itself. Small team. Limited resources. 

This meant only one thing: Go all in on one of these, drop rest and not to get distracted by any more spin-off & focus.

Finding Our Sunday Passion

So which product should we choose from 7? One we would love to work on even on a Sunday and whose growth will give us a reason to celebrate on weekends?

We went back to our earlier method that I had described in Episode 3.

The Analysis

We dropped the criteria for which all 7 were doing well. We chose following 7 factors to score each product. One with maximum score would win!

1. Virality: We defined virality as growth driven by a user where they had to bring other users to the product / platform for it to be of use. Eg: If I download Skype to chat with friends, I have to ensure that those friends also download Skype, register and add me as friend so we can chat. And those new users would bring in others.

2. SEO: Can the product benefit from SEO and how easy will it be to search-engine optimize it.

3. Clear Pain Point: Does this product solve a very obvious pain point? A yes is preferable.

4. Monetizability: How easy is to monetize this product using existing models like ads, subscription, etc.

5. Uniqueness: Do we stand out among other offerings in Kid’s app market? While first mover advantage was not something we sought, some degree of uniqueness is was preferred.

6. Global Market: We wanted to reach out to global markets. As we are based in India, it is a market of interest for us. Indians prefer to be on Global platforms. A quick look at top apps in any B2C (non-ecommerce) category quickly confirms this. So if we did well globally, we would automatically do well in India.

7. No User-Customer Conflict: I have talked about User-Customer conflict inEpisode 1. This conflict is very evident in Kids’ products. The users are the kids and the customers are the parents. It is a tight rope to walk while balancing interests and ROI for both.

Below is the result of the analysis:


So, Roo Kids it was!

Roo Kids

The first thing we had to decide was which device to target first. We had learnt the lesson to not go all out till we get sufficient feedback from the market.

Our studies showed that while Phones were personal devices, the iPad gets passed around in the home most. It was replacing the Home PC as the default family device. So we targeted it first.

Once iPad version was out, we were able to reuse the code to add iPhone layout and release an iPhone/iPod version.

Android took time to start. We were seeing enough traction, usage and feedback from iOS versions. But as soon as things stablized, we released an Android version.

We got lot of requests to add Kindle Fire support. Many parents had bought it and the device had a strong reputation for being child-safe. With some changes (In-app purchase, notification, gathering device token, etc), we reused the Android code and released the Kindle version.

How’s Roo Kids Doing?

The app has been out for enough time for us to know if our analysis was right. Is it what the analysis promised it to be? Let’s see:

This includes messages sent to another user, message sent to canned-response chatbots like Echo, Puzzle, Science for Ages 8/9, stickers, images and doodles.

Stat commonly used to measure active users on Social Networks and Messaging apps. Number of unique users who have used the app at least once in a month.

These stats look very encouraging. The analysis was right and it was a good call to go all-in on Roo Kids.

Encouraged by user response, we are now expanding Roo Kids products to include some cool features and become default safe social for kids.

We are also fundraising and welcome all interest / queries from investors.

The next article will be a season finale of sorts where I will discuss lessons learnt that other startup (in general) and startups for kids (in particular) will hopefully find useful.


Originally posted on LinkedIn (E01, E02, E03, E04, E05, Startup Lessons) and Roo Kids App blog as a single post here