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Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

From Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) to Reboot – revisited

The original BSOD manuscript took a page out of the Memento playbook. Rather than starting off at the beginning like normal authors do, the book started at the end. Memento style.

Kris, our editor, convinced me to switch to the normal world. Her other big suggestion was to bring Alchemy into the story. Failure is fine and well, she said, but nobody will listen to you if they think you are a total writeoff. You have to be good at something. And you can add a lot more credibility to your work if you could show that putting these lessons to work, helped you finally succeed in business. To put context to this conversation, 2006 was a good year for Alchemy, but we were still a very small shop by any standard. We had one product that had just started picking up interest in local markets. We had picked the PASHA ICT Awards but had lost in the Asia Pacific ICT Awards finals in Chiang Mai and we had just met Ken Morse. So while Kris felt that we had done well, I felt that there really wasn’t much of a story behind Alchemy. Yes I had started a business; yes it had revenues, employees, a product and customers. And yes to a very large extent, we had been driven by the ghost of Avicena and the mistakes we had made that shut us down in California. But was there enough to carry and build reader’s interest?

The final compromise was a mention in the Author’s note and four press releases. When the book came out and was reviewed at least one friend felt that the press releases were a waste of space and we could do much better with a more structured write up about Alchemy. The other big debate was around the name. Some loved it, others hated it. And while I had been partial to Reboot, I wanted that name reserved for the next episode of Blue Screen of Death. The book I would write out of retirement.

2006 was the year when business started to turn for us. Four events marked the year. Beginning of the year we closed and collected for the Union Bank implementation of Alchemy Risk Manager. The MCB contract finally got back on track. The PASHA ICT Award win in December 2005, lead to an initial interest from Shehzad Naqvi and then the sale of Alchemy Risk Manager to Crescent Commercial Bank. And finally end of the year we raised our first round of angel investment. Three sales cash flows and a round of private equity, what more could one ask for as an entrepreneur. While the amounts weren’t large by US standards, it was enough for us to do a number of interesting that wouldn’t have been possible without that money.

April 2006, the book came out and by June of the same year we were struggling with managing growth issues. The next twenty four months were a roller coaster ride. We moved twice as a business to brand new campuses. We closed our largest deals. It appeared as if Thailand and Singapore may finally happen as expansion options.

And then I met Abdul Malick while teaching a course at SP Jain in Singapore in February 2009. On our way to dinner, Malick showed me his million dollar press as well as the HP digital printing setup that could do short runs without the cost of printing plates. He volunteered to typeset the book if I ever decided to print it. Things were tough, business was slow; spring 2009 was difficult personally as well as professionally. Still over a four month period Yuvaraj (Malick’s designer) and I worked over long distance to typeset the book and get the second edition out for printing before we hit a real roadblock. Should the story end in July, August 2008, the beginning of our downswing or leave that piece out till my retirement and my next book?

The debate was settled when we decided that Reboot was about second chances. The press releases were out, pictures and a new chapter about Alchemy was in.