Starting your own venture is thrilling, challenging, nerve wrecking and can be sh*t scary at times. Each one of us in the startup world have this irritating voice ringing at the back of our heads making us doubt & avoid what we love doing the most. It is precisely at such times that being a part of a community helps. It helps to know there are people like you who are undergoing similar hardships, people like you who are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, people like you who are waiting for someone to hear them out, people like you who have problems speaking in public, people like you who want to change the world and people like you who fought through all these hurdles and other uncertainties and won. And attending events of such communities gets you to meet those ‘people like you’.
Like our very own TRHS, Startup Grind, is also one such community that is working to educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs. They host monthly events featuring successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors who share personal stories and lessons learned on the road to building great companies.
I along with 40 odd startup junkies feasted upon the perfect meal at one such event organized by them last week. Below is the take home I got parceled along.
Day: 08th November
Venue: Investopad, Gurgaon
Time: 2:00-5:00 PM
A riot of new flavor and simple recipes the incredible appetizer by Pankaj Thakar, set the right tone for the entire event. Pankaj, a digital media evangelist and an advisor to start ups gave a piece of his mind on digital marketing. The Harvard Business School pass-out shared his thoughts on what matters in the online space in the era of the empowered consumer. A couple of them listed here-
- With Digital marketing doing the rounds, Kotler’s 4P marketing theory has seen a change.
- I’m not looking at your Product I’m looking at the Solution. Tell me how my life can be made easier/ better/ more convenient and I’ll pick your stuff.
- Don’t throw your ads at me, understand me and my choices. No promotion anymore, shift to Real time Interaction. All the newsfeed and the hash tags can go for naught if you don’t create a sense of familiarity and trust in the minds of the consumer.
- It’s no more the Price boss, show me the Value. Everything has become value centric not product centric.
- I no longer need to know where my buyer is located or how well managed his shop is. I seriously care nothing about the Place, it’s the Access that matters. I need the brand to be accessible to my needs, assist me with quick and reliable customer support whenever required.
- The biggest benefit of Social media is that it has become the cheapest way of customer acquisition. Now I understand why ‘Social Status’ matters!
Like always you first create Awareness of your product, perform actions to generate interest, build in the desire to own one and finally let the customer buy. After this step, the social media plays a bigger role. The feedback that you collect after the buying procedure is the most valuable. Work on the negatives and improve your products. Leverage the positives and grow your circle of influence. However, this type of influence doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with the first relationship you build. Moving to the next. And the next. And the next.
- Sitting in the inbox of your customer everyday will lead you nowhere. Without real time interaction you are as good as nonexistent for your consumers.
The main course served by Rajesh Sawhney, was great food for thought that one can constantly chew on. He is the founder of GSF Accelerator, a company founded in 2012 that invests in early-stage startups and has funded 33 startups to date, of which 5 are knocking for Big Series B and 4 have seen exits.
- Rajesh totally believes that internet has completely disrupted the entire market and no matter how big or small a company is, with technology in there are huge tangible and intangible benefits tagged along that make business operations efficient and cost effective. It’s this belief that forms the core of his funding principle i.e. ‘don’t fund anything that is not in mobile or Internet of Things businesses.’ However, he added on saying that there are a set of investors with a different outlook than his and therefore the startups must be clear before making the approach.
- #emergence of technology and its disruption
Typewriter – Personal Computer – Windows OS – Email – Cell phones – Smartphones – Cloud computing – Social networking – IoT; new technology always displaces an established one. With technology things change from the way they used to be. For ex., in music industry technology created a generation of people who don’t know what it means to pay to listen to music. In fact it is the only industry where revenue halved while audience multiplied.
- The two mega trends that one can quite evidently spot in these times that is making the future of business very exciting.
- Disruptive technology that is changing everything that we do right from the travel space to the dating space.
- A startup culture that has become the new cool in every city from Berlin to Bangalore including the Goa’s in between.
- Truly value creating businesses are the ones that are transformative; one that shows a whole new way of doing things. They change the outcome i.e. the way people interact after they come in; such businesses are the ones that call for a different level of excitement. Ex., a Bangalore startup that introduced smart home concept that enables one to save electricity by 50%.
- He identifies two kinds of companies – friction and frictionless. The former being Indian companies building for Indian consumers and the latter refers to Indian companies building for worldwide market. GSF does an equal distribution of funds in both of these places.
- Stand for a goal bigger than yourself and greater than all the money and market-share. It will help you sail through during your dark times. And with it you truly develop a brand that people can reckon with.
- Depending on what stage your start up is in its value is estimated. Any idea gets nothing. For a seed round a working product, initial adopters, a customer matrix and an engagement matrix need to be in place. For Series A there has to be generation of revenue and a clear understanding of revenue modeling. As you go for further funding, predictability of revenue along with profits becomes absolutely essential.
- #co-founder love
Look into the soul of your co-founder to see if you can stand by together in the darkest of times. Ask what unifies both of you, what drives both of you. Clear the air of all doubts before making commitments to each other. Always always always have agreements in place with your co-founders irrespective of being the best pals otherwise. In such relations there is no grey area, either a black or a white.
9. #investor compassion
Investors are always looking for deep commitment and passion in the founders. They are constantly looking for a signal in whichever way it comes; the way you present yourself, the confidence in your speech, your gestures, what’s beyond the routine talk. They are hunting for clues; clues of two types – why to invest and why not to invest. Seeing the opportunity in its largest manifestation aids them big time in their decisions.Different, genuine, authentic, compelling – if that’s you then you know that you can walk out with the pie. Yes, these are the 4 ingredients to make yourself matter as a startup for the investors. “I only invest in people not the product or the market,” admits Rajesh.
You’ll have to spend the next 5-6 years building your biggest dreams. And you sure don’t want to make both your lives a hell by choosing someone who isn’t the right fit your startup jigsaw. Just like the founders, the investors also have their own interest areas, beliefs and assumptions that something make work and something may not.
10. And, of course he recommends watching Star wars. Who doesn’t agree that there is so much that one can learn from that green little awesome guy.
And the dessert came in 4 different varieties. New startups showcasing!
S(u)ave It – do you usually have multiple tabs open on your browser while working? A nice read here and a nice read there and before you realize there are 12+ things simultaneously running on your machine. S(u)ave enables you to manage your content more smartly. An elegant solution to the disorganized ways of saving content (bookmarks, copy/paste and emailing links to ourselves).
Thumbbell– A platform helping you to discover & share the best health and fitness services near your location. These dudes are on a mission to bring the world of health and fitness under your thumb. They ensure that now you won’t miss that workout whether you are at home or travelling.
theHereNow app – Access and share relevant information in your vicinity. It lets users create, find and join local conversations, and connect with nearby people over common topics.
I downloaded the app there & his comments in the common thread definitely came of help to draft pointers in this post. (Rajat was wrongly typed, Abhishek has apologized a few comments down)
Crostitch – a search engine based website for all the boutiques and designers. Discover the best designers near you and get connected with them.
All in all it was a great day of learning, meeting interesting folks, and being present in a room that resonated with positivism. Remember, the stories that come out of such meet ups can completely change someone’s world and that someone could be you 🙂