We’re proud to present Bala Kamallakharan, an Indian in Iceland, as our Power User of the week. He recently organized Startup Iceland, the first conference there celebrating entrepreneurship and startups. Its goal was to build a sustainable startup ecosystem in Iceland.
Who is Bala?
Bala is just a guy trying to do the right thing every single day. I am a husband, father, son, brother, friend, value creator, Icelandic financial collapse survivor, investor, entrepreneur, consultant, 7-times marathon runner, blogger, principle centered human being, an Indian, Rotarian, economist, goofball, Ayn Rand fan…
What do you blog about?
I blog about entrepreneurship, startups and building sustainable businesses.
What made you launch a blog?
Just the need to get my voice heard. Anyone can make their voice heard, and I noticed that no one was blogging in Iceland in English about the startup community or entrepreneurship. I wanted the stories of Icelandic startups to be heard, so I started blogging and then it became a daily routine. I didn’t launch officially or anything like that.
Do you consider yourself a blogger? If yes, what makes someone a blogger?
I don’t know what that means. I have opinions about things and I am passionate about what I write; it’s usually more than 140 characters and more than what I can write in a comment section on many social media sites. I’ve been writing since 2004. I’ve always been intrigued about trying new technologies, especially on the Internet; so when blogging or weblogging appeared I signed up with Blogger.com and started writing about everything under the sun. I was not very disciplined about writing or blogging until about six months ago. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a blogger, but I want to write and blogging platforms have become very simple to use; tools like Zemanta make it fun to write and link to information that you’re writing about.
When did you start using Zemanta?
I don’t know the exact date, but I think I noticed Fred Wilson mention Zemanta in his blog so I wanted to try and see if it could be useful to me. I found it is very useful and it’s making my blogging experience fun, so I’ve stuck with it.
How does Zemanta help you blog better/easier?
Well, for starters it helps me get linked to things relevant to what I am writing about. It’s very easy to link and also to include pictures etc. I remember originally, I used to go search for relevant images to put into my blog post but after I started using Zemanta, all that was a breeze. I also like Zemanta’s related articles feature; it provides some additional information to what I write about.
Please, share a Zemanta tip!
I always try to ensure the links provided by Zemanta refer to the context of what I am writing about. I know that it is easy to use, but it is the blogger’s responsibility to make sure that the links provided by Zemanta are in the right context for the blog post. I always try to include pictures and related news or other blogs as part of every post. The only power tip is make sure you have the Zemanta plugin for the blogging platform set up right so it does what it was originally intended to do.
Your life story is also very interesting. An Indian living in Iceland? Why did you move to Iceland of all places?
It’s interesting that anyone will find my life story interesting. I fell in love with an Icelandic woman and that changed everything. I moved to Iceland because of my wife and daughter. I really didn’t have any time to enjoy the people and relationships around me, because I was too busy serving my clients. We also wanted to live close to at least one of our families. We used to live in Houston, Texas and it was very far away from my family in India and it was as half as far away from my wife’s family. It takes a village to raise a child and we never found that village in Houston, so we decided to move to Reykjavik, Iceland, close to my wife’s family.
I also had a serendipitous meeting with my former boss and my friend, who was a CEO of one of the Icelandic banks. We were both in Greece cheering the Icelandic handball team in the Olympics in 2004. I was there because my brother-in-law was a member of the team; my former boss was there because his bank was a major sponsor of the Icelandic Olympic team. We talked and he wanted me to join them in Iceland. We packed our bags and moved and have never looked back.
How much is Iceland different from the place where you grew up? What are the similarities?
Iceland is dramatically different than from where I grew up. I grew up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu India. Chennai has a population of 5 million people compared to Iceland’s 321,000. I was in Iceland when the 300,000th baby was born. That was pretty awesome.
I grew in a crowded, noisy and dusty city compared to Iceland that is sparsely populated. On the other hand, a family is very important in both countries. Indian families are close-knit and so are Icelandic families.