Just a few years back, it was the scene that if you tell someone that you have left a high paying job to start your own ‘Startup,’ and then chances were high that they might term you as a fool.
But things are not the same anymore; I as the next generation now want to fail, precisely Try & Fail, only because I want to LEARN.
As per a recent UN report, despite having less population than China, India has the world’s largest youth population, with 356 million youths. We have today moved on from getting a ‘decent job’ culture, its passé. We have embraced the ‘Startup Culture.’
Being an entrepreneur was not so prevalent or was encouraged by parents either in the earlier era. But with the government taking the baton in their hands & actively endorsing entrepreneurship and ‘make in India,’ the wheel has started rolling.
You have heard about many institutions that are making you learn the skills of starting your own kind of business. Get into your shoes and do not only invest money but give ideas that are unique and which sell.
There are various Central & State government-sponsored schemes to help entrepreneurs across the sectors. Be it subsidies on loans or business policies, everything is streamlined, and bottlenecks are removed.
The growth in technology has boosted the startup era, as many startups that are emerging are tech startups & are doing wonders in the industry. With the success of Flipkart, Paytm & likes, it is now a dream for every other youth to start his/her own venture.
A decade back, it was a common saying in Silicon Valley that you would find a clever Indian toiling away in the backroom of nearly every successful startup company. Things have changed now, Indians are coming back to India, to contribute to the Indian Startup growth story & many of us are witness to it.
Yes, we are ahead in making new plans and features, but do we have opportunities to make them true?
India is a growing market & there is a tremendous potential that is yet untapped. Students at premiere B-schools are opting to work with startups than at MNCs. Many of them are opting out of campus placements itself, just to pursue their dream. The concept of ‘dream job’ is vanishing slowly & the concept of ‘Startup’ is taking its place.
Apart from these, various forums & communities are there to support the startups. Last but not least. We should always remember that startups only fail when they fail to learn.
Do you know what startup culture in India is like? Well, do not worry; we are always there to take you through all this.
Startups are the new flavor of the season. Whether big or small, the trend of choosing the entrepreneurial path is moving all the way up on the graph. When the recession hit us badly in 2008 in India, it made people feel the need to vanish the idea of ‘one job for life’ and lead to a new era of startups whose idea was gathered from Silicon Valley – ‘the home to thousands of startup companies.’
The last few decades have witnessed a swift growth and an evolution of startups that has set a benchmark in the entrepreneurial zone. The speedy innovative and cumulative hike of startups has played a very vital role in establishing their businesses overseas as well. Many competent startups have capitalized their market overseas in the past few years and have sailed through success.
According to ‘The 2014 NASSCOM Startup Report’, India is one of the fastest-growing and the third largest startup ecosystem. This accelerated boom of startups with the massive knowledge, technological advances, high global patterns, more handy resources, and a thriving domestic market would be the never-ending tale, gaining more confidence and potential in the Indian Startup Ecosystem.
Tomorrow’s India is an exceptional platform that would unleash an array of possibilities and aims at promoting such a startup culture that is a huge economic asset. Tomorrow’s India intends to provide a podium to represent India as a startup nation and give an opportunity for startups to showcase their ideas to potential investors and renowned names in the investment sector.
Let’s take each of these pieces in turn. First, I want to emphasize the human institution aspect, because this is completely lost in the “two guys in a garage” story. The word institution connotes bureaucracy, process, even lethargy. How can that be part of a startup? Yet, the real stories of successful startups are full of activities that can rightly be called institution-building: hiring creative employees, coordinating their activities, and creating a company culture that delivers results. Although some startups may approach these activities in radical ways, they are nonetheless key ingredients in their success.
Isn’t the word human redundant in this definition? What other kinds of institutions are there, anyway? And yet, we so often lose sight of the fact that startups are not their products, their technological breakthroughs, or even their data. Even for companies that essentially have only one product, the value the company creates is located not in the product itself but with the people and their organization who built it. To see proof of this, simply observe the results of the large majority of corporate acquisitions of startups. In most cases, essential aspects of the startup are lost, even when the product, its brand, and even its employment contracts are preserved. A startup is greater than the sum of its parts; it is an acutely human enterprise.
And yet the newness of a startup’s product or service is also a key part of the definition. This is a tricky part of the definition, too. I prefer to take the most expansive possible definition of a product, one that encompasses any source of value for a set of people who voluntarily choose to become customers. This is equally true of a packaged good in a grocery store, an eCommerce website, a non-profit social service, or a variety of government programs. In every case, the organization is dedicated to uncovering a new source of value for customers and cares about the actual impact of its work on those customers (by contrast, a monopoly or true bureaucracy generally doesn’t care and only seeks to perpetuate itself).
It’s also important that we’re talking about innovation, but this should also be understood broadly. Even the most radical new inventions always build upon previous technology. Many startups don’t innovate at all in the product dimension but use other kinds of innovation: repurposing an existing technology for a new use, devising a new business model that unlocks value that was previously hidden, or even simply bringing a product or service to a new location or set of customers previously underserved. In all of these cases, innovation is at the heart of the company’s success.
Because innovation is inherently risky, there may be outsized economic returns for startups that are able to harness the risk in a new way – but this is not an essential part of the startup character. The real question is: “what is the degree of innovation that this business proposes to accomplish?”
There is one last important part of this definition: the context in which the innovation happens. Most businesses – large and small alike – are typically excluded by this context. Startups are designed to confront situations of extreme uncertainty. To open up a new business that is an exact clone of an existing business, all the way down to the business model, pricing, target customer, and specific product may, under any circumstances, be an attractive economic investment. But it is not a startup, because its success depends only on decent execution – so much so that this success can be modeled with high accuracy. This is why so many small businesses can be financed with simple bank loans; the level of risk and uncertainty is well enough understood that a reasonably intelligent loan officer can assess its prospects.
Thus, the land of startups is a unique place, where the risks themselves are unknown. Contrast this with other high-risk situations, like buying a high-risk stock. Although the specific payoff of a specific risky stock is not known, investing in many such stocks can be modeled accurately. Thus a decent financial advisor can give you a reasonably accurate long-term expected return for a set of risky stocks. When the “risk premium” is known, we are not in startup land. In fact, when viewed in retrospect, most startups appear like no-brainers. Probably the most famous example today is Google: how did we ever live without it? Innovating a search engine did not nearly have risks as it seemed at the time; in fact, I think it is a reasonable inference to say that it was almost guaranteed to succeed. It just wasn’t possible for anyone to know that ahead of time.
Startups are designed for the situations that cannot be modeled, are not clear-cut, and where the risk is not necessarily large – it’s just not yet known. I emphasize this point because it is necessary to motivate large amounts of the theory of the lean startup. Fundamentally, the lean startup is a methodology for coping with uncertainty and unknowns with agility, poise, and ruthless efficiency. It is a completely different experience from the equally hard job of executing in a traditional kind of business, and my goal is not to disparage those other practitioners – after all, most startups aspire to become non-startups someday. Just a suggestion, do not praise it a lot.
Still, these differences matter, because the “best practices” that are learned in other contexts do not transplant well into the startup soil. In fact, the most spectacular business failures result when people were in a startup situation but failed to recognize it, or failed to recognize what it meant for their behavior.
If you are the one who is wishing to sell a product or service of your own and name it as a “startup,” then let me tell you a few things which you should know before starting a new business. Will not talk about the ill-effects, you know why? Risk is subject to grey matter. Read your mind carefully before investing.
No excuses, please!
When I first started pitching for digital marketing services, no corporate would write me a check. It wasn’t their fault as I sucked at pitching. They all had different reasons why they didn’t want to work with me. After getting over 20 “No’s” from corporates, I realized something was off. Each one would sugarcoat the “No” and tell it to you in a way that would make them come off nice.
I don’t blame them as no corporate wants a bad reputation. But one thing I learned as an entrepreneur is that when a corporate tells you “No,” you should ask what you could have done differently to improve your pitch. By asking this, you will get the feedback you can use to improve your overall pitch and increase your odds of them writing that cheque.
Do not fill your pockets first.
If you are going to raise capital, don’t be dumb by paying yourself a lot of money. That will just cause you to have to raise more money, which means you will own less of your own company.
For over a year of me starting my digital marketing agency, I focused on what went in my pocket, and I learned it the hard way.
Relevance in options?
Consultants and mentors are notoriously known for asking for a quarter of a percent to a half a percent in equity. By all means, good mentors deserve a lot of shares as they are getting paid less to work for you than they would have had they worked for Google or Facebook.
I made a mistake when I helped one of the brands I worked for signed on a ton of mentors, and they gave many of them what they wanted early on. This caused them to use up their option pool faster than they would have otherwise, so when they raised their next round, we had to refresh their options pool to a full 10%. This caused them to get diluted more than they would have liked. This wasn’t the fault of their advisors as they provided a ton of value, but they should have done a better job negotiating.
Treat your options as if they are gold. Hold onto them so you can give them to your key mentors. If an advisor wants a lot of shares, make sure he/she gives you a written contract on what he/she is going to provide you with for those shares.
Also, keep in mind that if an advisor has a big personal brand, the advisor probably won’t have much time to help you. So, get a written contract on what that person is going to provide you with for the shares. (This is only necessary if the advisor is requesting a lot of shares.)
No events, please
What you learn at most startup networking events is the same stuff you can learn online. The only difference is startup events typically cost money. There are a few networking events that are worth attending, but most aren’t.
Look at attendee lists before you register for conferences or networking events. Make sure there are either potential clients or people who are a lot smarter than you are at these events. If you are the one teaching the room on how to run a company, something is off. You can only learn if people who are smarter than you are at the event.
If you want to attend good networking events, look for the ones that are intimate and invite-only. It’s hard to get into those events, but when you do, it will be worth it. Those are the type of events that will allow you to create new friendships and business partnerships.
It’s just today and now!
When you raise money for the first time, you have less of an urgency to create a revenue stream for your startup. When you take on a seed or series A round, you end up spending more time building a product versus closing paying customers. On the other hand, if you were using your personal savings to build your company, you would try to break even ASAP.
The biggest mistake most make is that they didn’t start selling early enough. They focused on creating a great product, reaching product-market fit, and all of those other things startups do. But even before you have a product-market fit or even a working product, you can start selling.
It’s been more than six months since a new sales manager joined my company, and within six months of his joining, our revenue started to shoot up and to the right. It takes a while for anyone, no matter how good they are at sales, to figure out how to sell your product/service or create a revenue stream from it.
You should have started the sales process before you even finished creating your product because not only would it have helped bring money to reduce your burn, but it would also allow you to learn from paying customers faster.
But even if you haven’t, It’s not too late and start now!
Buy people who need you and not whom do you need
When your startup has a few million bucks in the bank, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to hiring. Because of this, you will look for the smartest person out there to hire…you know, the person with a ton of experience who has done what you want to do, such as executives.
What I quickly learned is that although those high paid people did well in their last job, it doesn’t mean they will do well with your company. In many cases, they do much better in big corporate environments. What they lack is the ability to move fast and do so without relying on others.
Those corporate executives are used to farming out the work instead of figuring out how to do things on their own. When a startup is young, these are the people who I recommend you stay away from. Instead, you want to hire hungry individuals who haven’t gotten that big break in their careers yet. These are the ones who will fight and do whatever it takes to succeed.
Later on, you can hire those corporate executives, but you don’t need them at the beginning.
Social is society
When you were a kid, did your parents always tell you to hang out with the smart kids? I know mine did, they didn’t want me to hang out with kids who were dumb or misbehaved as they feared it would rub off on me.
The same goes for entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized that your peers have a big impact on how well you will do. If your friends are smart entrepreneurs who are successful, the environment will push you to do better, and you will develop faster as an entrepreneur.
For example, my business associate hangs out with a ton of product development people and engineers. He loves it as it helps him develop his skills when it comes to building products. Conversely, I hang out with a lot of business/finance guys, which has helped me understand things like how to raise money, selling my services, or structure a buyout.
You should move to a location where you can surround yourself with people who will help you get to where you want to be in life. At the same time, make sure you reciprocate and help them out whenever you can.
If you are coming from the corporate world, you probably read and see how young kids are raising millions of dollars and selling their company for a billion bucks.
If you are in the startup world, you always hear about people getting paid well into the six figures with perks, such as free food, working at large companies. And best of all, they don’t have a ton of stress because they only have to work from 9 to 5.
The reality is, neither of the above two scenarios is accurate. People in the startup world work their butts off; they don’t get paid much, and it’s rare that they ever succeed. People in the startup world don’t always get paid a lot, and many of them work 70-hour weeks even though they are only getting paid to work 40 hours a week.
You are the best!
Warren Buffett is notoriously known for investing in companies that he understands. He is good friends with people like Bill Gates, but he wouldn’t dare to make an investment in Microsoft because he doesn’t understand the tech industry.
I used to start companies and invest in things I was really passionate about. In most cases, I didn’t understand what I was getting into. But the one thing I didn’t learn fast enough is that passion isn’t enough to create a successful business. Had I stuck with creating businesses I understood, I would have been much further in my business.
If you want to increase your odds of succeeding, follow Buffett’s advice by sticking to what you know.
Don’t become an entrepreneur because you want the entrepreneurial lifestyle. And don’t work in the corporate world because you want an easy job. Do what you love and solve problems while you are doing it.
I first became an entrepreneur because I wanted to be rich. Sure, I do pretty well for myself now, but I failed a lot along the way, and I made a lot of mistakes. I am now an entrepreneur because I love the challenge of solving problems that I am passionate about. But if I took my work ethic and just went straight into the corporate world, I probably would have done well financially.
Don’t pick a career path as I did just for the money. The startup world isn’t a place where most people get rich. Luckily it worked out for me, but if I were you, I wouldn’t count on luck. If you want to solve a problem because you are passionate about it, become an entrepreneur for that reason, and not for the money. Money is a side effect of solving a problem that enough people are facing.
When I started out, I used to get mentorship from other successful entrepreneurs. Throughout the years, their advice was helpful, and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
The one thing that I kept screwing up is not questioning the advice I got from these mentors. If they said something, I followed it because who am I to question someone who has sold their business for 100’s of million dollars?
Mentors are great at giving general business advice and guiding you along, but getting specific industry advice isn’t always a smart idea unless that person has a lot of knowledge about your industry.
If you think these pointers are through and you can abide by it, and then go ahead with it.
One idea: Belief in your idea.
Sure, you believe in it, right? Then, let me some of the challenges that you will face, because we are not in a fairytale. Let’s FACE IT!
Who are you?:
The most important element of every startup is a team of dedicated people who know their work and do it without being reminded of the same. Finding a good team is the first major challenge. As per a survey, 23% of the failed startups had the wrong team. Steve Hogan, who runs a company called Tech-Rx, which is a startup turn-around shop, pointed out that the top reason for a failed startup is the absence of co-founders. According to Cassandra Phillips who is the founder of Falcon (a conference where founders of failed startups would share their learned lessons)”It’s either you started making a startup with friends who didn’t have complementary skills or the opposite – people you think have the perfect balance of skills, but then completely different ways of communicating.”
2. Are you at the right place?:
The most important problem faced by an Indian startup is the location from where it is being launched. India is a place of varied culture and taste. Thus, every product might not be welcomed equally by every region. A survey found out that 42% of the failed startups attribute their failure to the lack of their market need. Now, this is where we shouldn’t follow Steve Jobs’ suggestion of ‘not asking what the customer wants.’
3. Mad over marketing:
This follows the above challenge. Just like the fact that every product is not meant for every location, every marketing strategy wouldn’t work for every region. Poor marketing is the reason behind 14% of the failed startups.
4. Order Order!
Once a company has been founded, it’s significant for the members to get acquainted with all the legal constraints associated with the product(s) they are dealing with. 8% of the failed startups are due to legal challenges.
5. Where is the money?
This challenge is solely dependent on the business model. The model decides whether a huge amount of funding requires or not and, most importantly, when’s the right time to invest.
This challenge is solely dependent on the business model. The model decides whether a huge amount of funding requires or not and, most importantly, when’s the right time to invest.
6. What to do initially?
Once the business starts flourishing, it gets all the more important to manage the inflow, investment in an organized way as there would soon be generated too much data to handle. Every small bit of mismanagement would amplify as the company would grow, and things can get real messy and out of proportion.
7. Take a right and not left:
This comes down to the challenge of getting in contact with the right kind of people who has in-depth knowledge of the areas concerning the startup.
8. I am there to motivate you:
This gets more important when it comes to Indian startups because, in many regions here, the idea of students choosing an unconventional path is still perceived as destroying one’s career.
You should be aware of the fact which clearly tells you the constraints of getting into a new business, but what I have written in the last line holds true as well.
You have to be self-motivated and make your team match up with your expectations as well. There are times in your life when someone demotivates you, but make sure- your idea is the best, and no one can beat you in that.
Now let me take you to another level where challenges beat motivation. Well, this is not a lie. I am there to motivate you when you think you slip down from your goal. I will be taking you to the journey where motivation beats jealousy and sympathy.
Are you planned for not being successful?
Successful people aren’t luckier than most people. But they do try more things, and they’re willing to fail.
Almost anyone who’s been successful has a similar story of failure before the triumph.
But the difference between average and top performers is that ordinary people are blindsided by failure and give up when it strikes.
Top performers, on the other hand, actively seek out failure because they know success is on the other side.
Note it down!
Imagine playing in a basketball game against LeBron James. We have the best shoes, the most expensive pair of athletics shorts, a fancy headband, and the greatest jersey in the world. And he has no shoes, ripped shorts, and a dress shirt. Who would win? It sounds ridiculous, but we play this same game against motivation every day. The tools don’t matter as much as we think. Novices LOVE to focus on productivity hacks, apps, and tools. It’s easy — and frankly, more fun to play with new shiny tools than to simply do what works. But usually, the fundamentals things like a simple calendar, pen, and paperwork as well, if not better than some app.
Sometimes these are external distractions: an emergency comes up, we have family demands, and work gets busy.
But, just as often, we cannibalize one goal by shifting focus to another. What is the result? We don’t make much progress on either.
Developing FOCUS and being able to put some ideas on hold is a skill that almost guarantees we make progress on what matters.
Test and Adjust
Setting up systems is the best way to motivate you. And to maximize impact, we have to find the best system for us and then adjust if it’s not working.
Success is not a simple process and running behind your dreams too. So, make sure you have ample motivation to get at your target and also, to achieve it with a great story.
Now you get it. Believing in your idea is really important, and then just don’t wait for the right time to execute it.
There is a famous saying: ‘What really matters is not what you believe but the faith and conviction with which you believe…’
Start executing your idea today; if you think you have a great idea to deliver, reach out to me, and I ‘ll help you.