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AAA: ASK ALOK ANYTHING – the Chat that was!!

So we had the first of our #RodinChat series and had lots of fun!!

image source

I’m sharing an edited version of the transcript – edited so that questions & answers appear together without the moderator (me) in between. Some q’s were asked in parts – I have tried to put them all together. This has been done so it becomes more reader friendly to folks who weren’t there for the chat! I HAVE NOT corrected the typos/grammar/language of anyone’s chat. But I’ve knocked off the pleasantries so you have a relatively crisper read :).

Unfortunately people’s mugshots didn’t get pasted – so am linking everyone’s profile page ONLY ONCE.

We intend to do more such #RodinChats with different Rodinhooders/experts so pls share (in the comments below):

– your wishlist of topics,

– domains you need to seek help in

– names of experts you wanna chat with and we’ll invite them to do a RodinChat with you!

If you are an expert in a niche field and would love to do a RodinChat with us, pls YELL & TELL.

Also, if any one of you is keen to moderate a #RodinChat in the future, then pls paint your name in the comments!!

If you couldn’t attend the live chat and have a question for Alok – PLS ASK HIM IN THE COMMENTS – this is not time-bound. We want you to feel free to reach out to him via this page ANY TIME YOU NEED TO! 

HERE GOES… 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

hey guys!!

boom boom boom!

Hi Alok, how do you deal with customers who insist on working with credit and make sure they pay up? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

3 ways: 1) Ask for 25% advance so that u know that their intent is to pay 2) Check with other vendors what their rep is 3) Say NO  

HI Alok Sir, I would like to ask you if you will ever consider to mentor an upcoming Social gaming startup ? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Aroof : Hmmmm… I’m not sure. I run a games business and would love to look at the plan. mail me at alok@rodinhood.com 

Hello Alok Sir, How and where did you hire your initial technical team (cofounders or employees) for your ventures? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Apurva : Look at vendors and partners ; Look at clients!! Sometimes the best guys are the ones you are afraid to ask. Ask angels and VCs if they have met excellent tech teams who want ideas to work for. Please DONT HIRE ABSOLUTE Freshers – they are not worth the headache! 

Hi Alok, pls advice how should I get funding for my HR startup 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Sumit : What’s the money for? Isn’t HR a services business? If you need money for ‘enterprise’ startups, approach company HR heads of Businesses that have lots of CHURN – BPO’s etc – They may want to invest first! 

Some are saying the great eCommerce discount game is coming to an end in India. What are your thoughts? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Uttarika : Discounts will always remain in place. The question is NOT saying NO to discounts but making them part of YOUR P&L!! Thats the most important part! Look at all the Top Fashion Brands in the world – they all have yearly discounts/sales – its because they EARN AND THEN BURN 

Hey Alok, Need advice on choice of compensation for employees or interns: Fixed salary/stipend or performance-based (based on task completions) or a mixture of both (How would that mixture be?) 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Vinayak : Till at about Rs 25-30k a month it needs to be fixed because its NOT FAIR and difficult to get people for variable. Post that you can do stuff like 2% additional on REVENUE for top manager or 2% for the team – so if sales are 10 lacs a month, thats 20k more to distribute 

For a non techie guy, how should I ensure that the developer of an ecom site do justice to the specifications while the development is under process?? Should I outsource it totally or hire someone?? I am a CA. #AAA 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Yog : Thats a tough one. I would do this – I would check out all the sites that impress me and make me feel “WOW – I WISH I OWNED THIS SITE” and then make the vendor give you that site as your product. Thats the best way to define WHAT you want. 

    • Yog Mohanty

Thank you Mr Kejriwal.. Having said that and to be specific on my doubt, should I put myself into some coding and designing stuff?? This will be a whole new world for me. I have been in touch with some developer but then I get my own doubts before paying them. 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

yog : no. Thats disastrous. I cant sit and spend 4 years becoming a Chartered Accountant because I don’t trust my CA to file my taxes. Business is about JUDGING PEOPLE MORE THAN even building the best product 

    • Yog Mohanty

Haha. I knew that was coming. So do you advice to put my hands up and find the best known guy in the city and believe that he will deliver?? Ok last part, how do I find my better half (developer) in terms of job and money? What things should I see in an ecom developer?? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Yog – spend a month on linkedin. Go commit a crime; get jailed for 1 month and get permission to use linkedin (JOKE) – Find people who have worked on your ecom idea and have CONVERSATIONS – I would think that your question will get answered if you meet 100 people who have done what you want. 

    • Yog Mohanty

Hahaha. I knew that was coming. Ok last part of my question spree.. How should I zero on a developer?? What should I see before giving them the job that they won’t betray me. 

    • Yog Mohanty

Chuck my question.. I dint see it was answered already.. Thank you so much guys.. It’s my first outing with trh. Loved it. Hopefully you would pay a visit to my city 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

yog – you are obsessed by failing and get cheated. You are only thinking negative! WHY? I don’t think you should be an entrepreneur 🙁 

    • Yog Mohanty

Alok sir, Apologies if I have sound negative earlier. I am very new to this. I am quite young and on the edge of changing my profession. So may be my extra bit concern over stuff sound obsession. 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Yog : No issues boss. I think you should really work a bit more in consulting / agencies to get the confidence to OUTSOURCE. Thats the best ways of building STRUCTURED RISK taking decisions 

    • Aroof Shaikh

Indian users avoid paying for games or any app as compared to the western users. How would you over-come this situation? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Aroof : Its the challenge of PPP. Indian’s want to PAY – but with their TIME – not WALLETs. So what’s wrong with ADS? The Indian television business earns 20,000 CRORES A YEAR (Sony/Star/Zee) from ads. They earn very little fro consumers! Go ads! 

    • Shobhit Bakliwal

Should a bootstrapped business have a free plan in their SAAS offering or just keep a trial window and charge after that? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Shobhit : You must ALWAYS have a Basic plan. Check Mailchimp – Dropbox. And you know WHY? The 98% freeloaders (never gonna pay u) will make you sweat and make a FAB PRODUCT! You need 1 million of them for the 2% to pay and make you rich. 1 million will come ONLY WHEN YOU ARE GOLD! 

    • VINAYAK GOSALE

Hey Alok, Thank you for the advice. A follow-up on question by Apurva.. How do freshers like myself hire? Should I only look at my peers to get them to join my startup or still go out and hire professionals? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Vinayak – its not about being a fresher. Its about WHO you wanna hire? If they are very senior, they may not want to join because of your experience. But if you are genius, then even the BEST will wanna join. Put out an ad on say linkedin and judge the response! for 1700 bucks, you will get to know! 

    • Sumit Karanji

Hello suraj vazirani from DSYH.IN here. Alok we are a B2B saas company and have solved the biggest pain point of payment and other recconcilations for the sellers in indian ecommerce ecosystem – how should we take this big 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Sumit – go to one company first who you think needs a solution. Ask me for introductions if needed. DONT GO ALL OVER THE PLACE. One big catch will start the snowball! In the world of media, the saying is “Sell to HLL and then you can sell to anyone”! 

Should you manufacture something on your own or outsource it as a start-up?

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Kshitij – PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE OUTSOURCE EVEN IF IT COSTS 300% more 

Hi Alok, wanted to ask your opinion on product market fit. How would an entrepreneur know if he has achieved a fit with the market? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Mitalee – I only look at consumption (usage). The question is – if the wrong TG become using your product, what will you do? Stop selling or sell to them? I personally am not a believer in Product Market FIT. The word FIT scares me. WHAT SELLS FITS. WHAT fits sometimes does not sell. 

    • Mitalee Rao

That’s fantastic. If I have a small MVP, how would I go about showcasing it and getting some consumption? Like you said, if I get HLL to sign up, it would mean customizing for them. So how does one balance the tradeoff, esp in B2B? 🙂 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Mitalee – you have to customise. As an MVP, we customise to consumers choices. Why can’t you do that for your first few clients? 

    • Mitalee Rao

I have one last question – can we get a transcript of this chat? It’s a superb gold mine 😀 

We are building a platform for designers where the designers come and upload their design and get a # of per-order if they are susscssful in that we do the rest from production to sales and designer gets a commission out of it!! What do you think of this ? Will start will apparels first. 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Tejpratap – Thats tough naa? I mean think of the BUYERS – are they aware of the fact that the production is yours and the design is someone elses? I mean what happens if the design looks very bad and the buyer makes a fuss? Who will be responsible? Do ideas like these work? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

tej – contd – I assume this is fashion? Clothing? Can you name me one successful store where this has worked? 

    • Tejpratap Singh

Yes it’s fashion. The design will first go through an internal check then put up for public vote then go for production. All this will be very closely monitored by inhouse team. 

Hi Alok, I’m setting up a tailoring business as a sole proprietorship. online. Legally, I believe I don’t need to have any registrations / tax entities etc till i hit a certain turnover. And setting those things up costs money. i’m funding from my pocket, entirely. To get or not to get registered? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Shweta : NO NEED AT ALL. Its a headache thats NOT REQUIRED AT ALL. You will spend more time managing goons from departments than your business. When you reach the limit (near it) then get a CA

Hi Alok, What’s next for The Rodinhoods ? As a community, do you think its time to go ‘YCombinatorish’ ? i.e. incorporate as an incubation center / early stage fund, have a few startup / co working centers across NCR, Bangalore / Mumbai Pune and help the next set of entrepreneurs / wantrapreneurs ? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Abhik : no not at all. I think TRH is in a very sweet spot. Its a community not a college and definitely not an agency (to manage people) and certainly not a bank. Its casualness is what I think needs much more cultivating rather than ‘boxing’.

Abhik – Just lets BE. Some things like TRH will get guided on their own

    • Sumit Karanji

2nd question – i also represent aiova.org/forum it is a all india online vendors association inspite of infinite follow ups n cases raised with marketplaces no one is listening to us n blogs n publishers are least interested in publishing the naked truth of pain harrasment faced by ecommerce sellers. how do we get recognised and heard and publicaly get the demands open 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Sumit – read my PPT on PR for startups! Its got golden tips in there 🙂

“blogs n publishers are least interested in publishing the naked truth of pain harrasment face” – – DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE Q  

    • Aroof Shaikh

How important is marketing for an early stage startup? In-house marketing or outsource? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Aroof – bhai, the question is – If I got burnt, do I put my hand in cold water or go to a doctor? I would say MARKETING IS YOUR DNA. The fact that you are startup means you marketed the idea to URSELF. Once the marketing becomes ROUTINE – thats when you hire outsiders! How can outsiders think

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Aroof contd – How can outsiders know of WHY THIS WILL SELL without being a part of the business? MARKET YOURSELF or SHUT DOWN 

What will an investor look at during the first meeting to discuss an idea? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Mritunjay – One / Some / All of these : UNIQUENESS / EXPERIENCE / INSIGHT / PASSION / THE ABILITY TO NOT GET PERTURBED 

(added by asha while posting – I’ve sent Mrityunjay Rudrajeet’s comprehensive article ’99 questions an investor will ask you’ to read)

Hi alok .Created a real time quiz .As its first time played felt people will feel excited to compete Pan India. Released it but didn’t work out as I thought . Now that I have discussed the idea with few ,found that realtime is the main hindrance. Exhausted my fund . How should I move forward 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Vidit – Multiplayer sucks. Its not working anywhere. Did you try async mode? whats the app called or quiz called? 

    • Sumit Karanji

We are also cofounders of Getybo, wherein we help SME’s to reach out power of e-commerce as their exclusive ecomm marketplace. Already revenue generating, need to scale up so is debt capital good for us or shud we go fr equity? if yes then any pointers 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Sumit K – DEBT IS AWESOME if you can get it without riders (repayment). I mean do you have a choice?? U have VCS also coming? if they are Blue chip, I would take VC. Give 30-35% and take 1-3 million in 

    • Sumit Panwar

Thanks Alok and Asha for organizing this event.. Hope to chat with you in person when I’ll start my business with you as chief guest..Good luck 🙂

    • Sumit Karanji

Q.4: Whats the best avenue for finding good backing/mentorship for a B2B SaaS, customers are ample, need scale. 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

My view is that the last 2 years of startup activity has ruined the BASICS of starting up. People think of everything as canned solutions. There is a PPT or some shitty TEMPLATE for every solution. THATS NEVER THE CASE. each business is unique and needs custom solutions to be created 

    • Shobhit Bakliwal

What is the best way to reach out to media for coverage?

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Shobhit – please read my PR for STARTUPS PPT!! its got all the points boss

    • Mitalee Rao

what are your thoughts on recurring billing in B2B SaaS, given that its so difficult to implement in India?

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Mitalee – Good idea but needs to be done very very carefully. I would bill quarterly and with a not so easy exit system. Study the billing plans of the top 10 SAAS businesses you like and decide. SHOW MONTHLY and OFFER YEARLY – Indians JUMP AT COST SAVING and will get trapped

    • Shobhit Bakliwal

Since you’re a big fan of meditation, how do you reckon others should get started with it/? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Shobhit – look at places around your house that teach meditation – Art of Living; Sadhguru; Kriya Yoga – join any of them and see which one makes you comfy!!

Alok. Do u think that B2B online Bulk Gifting Concept will work in India?

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Vijay : Isn’t it in place already? I mean when you buy BULK Airline Tickets or Hotel Stays – thats a GIFTING and discounts right?

    • vijay amin

No that are Bulk Deals. What I’m talking Abt is customised products like T-shirts, Caps, Pens etc

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Vijay – how can that work? Who will be your buyers? Agencies who will supply this to Corporates? I doubt it. Brand orders are very customized

    • vijay amin

My clients will be direct companies 

Alok Sir – we are bootstrapping since last more than 2.5 years… have saved some cash also.. Till date zero marketing.. spent only on basic necessities. Now how should we prioritize UI / UX design, Marketing, New product development, Expansion.

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Ashish – ONLY PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT. THAT’S YOUR BEST MARKETING that no one in the world can copy

This is my priority – UX – UX – UX (means UI as part) – Then ask me again.

    • Ashish Parik

As compared with others in our segment in Ahmedabad we have all different and many products… Service wise we are preferred… Now we have added more FOS.. so need to have more volume. 

    • Me (Asha)

alok i have a q – many rodinhooders are struggling to find mentors. what’s the best way to find one? 🙂

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Asha – Mentors are gifts of God. Seriously 🙁 

My Question – Is Knowledge more important or Execution with Dedication works better ? IN case one has one or the other only ? 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Darshan Bhaiji – Knowledge is just the starting point. But execution is 100%. Its like a PILOT – he must know how to fly BUT FLYING IS ANOTHER STORY all together. And in execution NEW KNOWLEDGE GETS CREATED!!! 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Puneet boss – Your newsletters are AWESOME!!! I THINK I’M GOING TO LIVE till 137 years thanks to ur tips boss

Alok Sir – thanks for the kind words…. I appreciate that you keep reading them 

    • Puneet Nirogam Aggarwal

Need to ask you whether a “Guest Management App” For Weddings is a good idea. The App Allows you to manage everything from one console, message members, update them about venue, ceremonies, let them post photos etc

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Puneet – No. Its not a good idea. As a guest for a marriage, I don’t want to be instructed by an app. I want BIG MARWARI ROLLY POLLY PUNEET TO HUG ME AND ASK ME TO COME TO EAT 🙂 

    • Puneet Nirogam Aggarwal

Hahaha – Cool – Thanks. Noted.

Alok Sir – I will surely HUG you one day in Sachi’s wedding. 

    • Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

Guys, some parting shots:

Please dedicate yourself to what you do and be RELENTLESS till it starts bleeding and hurting. If anything I have learnt, its the RELENTLESSNESS that will carry you through

    • in the words of churchill – we will fight and fight and fight and then fight some more

OM. JGD. OBO. THANKS FOR BEING AROUND!!!!

 

****

 

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12 Comments

  1. Hi Alok,
    I am the Founder of  WanderMind Labs, a gaming startup dedicated to develop cross platform 2D/3D games using Unity Game Engine. I had published five own IP’s on play store and had also done servicing for few clients. Right now its a one man startup and am looking to scale up as a team. I need funds to do so and for that I want to reach out to clients who are willing to outsource games.

    My Question is how to connect with or contact the companies who will be interested in Freelance/Outsourcing Games or some tips from you to raise the required funds.

    You can have a look at my work over here – http://www.wandermindlabs.com

    Thanks, 
    Amit

  2. Hi Alok, 

    ‘In Karma I trust’ what does this mean to you ? 

  3. Thanks Asha for this

  4. Awesome activity! Got to learn as always. And keeps me going. Thank you Alok & Asha !!

  5. Thank you Alok, for sharing your learnings so generously, i learn something new from you almost every day, THANK YOU!

  6. Thank you Alok for your pearls of wisdom. They sure help a lot. Also Thank you Asha for moderating this awesome session and also for transcribing the entire session. 

    Feedback:

    The best part of this session was that we could ask follow up questions, to really get our doubts cleared. So I hope it continues for future chat sessions too when there will be a lot more participation.

    The chats go by fast so the transcripts did help a lot.

    It was perfect. 

  7. hey thanks for your kind words vinayak!! 

    we intend to do a lot more #RodinChats with different people from different verticals. once we get more people to list down their wishlist we can plan it out 🙂

    glad you found the chat and transcription useful. it took me a long time coz the q’s and a’s were not in order :)))))

  8. thanks Alok & Asha for this cool initiative and putting this together for those who could not be a part. reading this was like an edge of a seat rapid fire round..i wish all the very best to everyone!

    i have just started my journey and reading all of this not only gives encouragement but so much of adrenaline high to get, set and roll!  

  9. hey you’re very welcome arun! good luck for your venture and the roller coaster ride! if you ever have any queries you can reach out to alok here or any of our 13 experts in ASK RODINHOODERS

    http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/ask-rodinhooders-anything-under-the-startup-sun

  10. This is awesome!
    Thank you Alok sir for sharing your wisdom and Asha ma’am for the transcript!

  11. Super chat! catching up on it a bit late .. but good one! 

  12. Hi Alok,i am starting up an ecommerce marketplace.I am planning to employ models like regular online ecommerce,assisted ecommerce and direct selling.I will tie up with various retail stores to offer products in non cod areas and the known face of the store will bring trust towards online purchase in customers.I an also planning to employ various individual selling agents on commission basis to increase sales for my ecommerce marketplace.What do you say about employing direct selling method for an ecommerce marketplace?

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