Category: Indian Market


Startup Questions

Recently we conducted a Webinar, as part of FounderMates’ event. The webinar was presented by VijayKumar NRR, a senior mentor with the National Entrepreneurship Network and Lead mentor at Kyron Global Accelerator in Bangalore. Vijay has a over a decade of experience as an entrepreneur, intrapreneur and a mentor to startups and SMEs.

The webinar say enthusiastic participation with several questions being asked by the entrepreneurs.

I thought I should point out some of these Q&As for the benefit of all entrepreneurs:

Q. I am an entrepreneur at heart. I tried my hand at entrepreneurship but it failed. I have lost my savings. What should I do now? Opt for a job or again start something?
A. Look at your own environment. Your mom, dad or spouse – do they support you? It is OK to fail as an entrepreneur. But often the society here does not accept that. Even Michael Dell’s mother wanted him to be a doctor. He had to persuade her about his dream. Even if you join a job, try to learn as much as possible from that job. If you have the entrepreneurial bug, you will start your company again. Learn from your job. You will be satisfied that you are still pursuing your dreams.  Work for another startup for some time so you continue learning so that you can come back as Entrepreneur one day.

Q. How should someone form the initial team? How can you trust a stranger and convince him/her to work for equity?
A. First 2 employees need to be more passionate than you. Every big organisation has started with the first few employees who are more passionate and probably smarter than the founders. Skills can be learnt. But your character cannot be changed. Find people with the right character. Look out for interns. Share your knowledge with institutions and get their students to join. Try to take help from fellow entrepreneurs who have gone through this phase.

Q. Why do tech entrepreneurs think they can do sales and marketing or every else? 
A. There is nothing wrong in learning about sales and marketing. But do you have the skill to do? You should be shameless to go ahead and be able to convince the customer to buy the product even before its fully ready. Tech entrepreneurs often lack that. You need to allow people to do things and grow and learn. You can’t do everything. You should understand what sales is. That helps understand ground reality. But you should delegate responsibility. If your skills don’t match, don’t do it

Q. When a startup wants to scale up or expand, should it look for strategic partners or strategic investors? And also, how to decide the split with them?
A. There is no standard answer to that. Depending on you need you can go for either. If you need to plan for exit, looking for investors is a better option. Also the equity split can be decided based upon realisation of some returns. Don’t give away stake upfront. Rather make it such that a strategic partner can liquidate the stake when returns come in.

Q. What are other ways to raise money apart from banks, VCs or angels?
A. Always raise money from customers. Apart from VCs. angels, there are lot of seed funding agencies, accelerators etc, but the best way is to raise money from the customer. You can also look at strategic partners who can invest in you and be your partner to scale and grow.

Q. Which banks or government organisations support funding for startups other than angels and VCs? Do we have any encouragement from Government to support entrepreneurship in India?
A. Yes there is department which is helping MSME. A Cabinet Level minister is looking after that. Several international collaborations are happening. Lot of funds are coming in. SIDBI is a nodal agency which handles funds for MSMEs. They are directly dealing with entrepreneurs through mentors. Will take some time as India is a complex market. They have micro level as a multi crore funding. Lot of “nano” level funding from Government in the form of Grants (National Innovation Foundation ,National Research Development Corporation) for your IP are available. Even Dena Bank in Mumbai has started loans without collaterals for startups in Mumbai.

Hi Everyone,

It has been long since a new post has been published. Pardon me for the absence, but I was involved in creating my own venture.

Thankfully, after much brainstorming, looking for ideas, understanding our own pain points, my co-founder Nidhi and I, have decided to launch, FounderMates.

The product is right now been developed, but you can definitely look it up here and sign up if it interests you:

http://foundermates.com

The concept briefly is outlined below. We will highlight more in few week’s time as well launch our beta platform to sign in.

 

Why FounderMates? 

Most existing advisory channels available to entrepreneurs today have inefficiencies that FounderMates aims to solve:

1.     Social media / public forums – lack of privacy, disintegrated, search is time consuming

2.     Paid advisory – entrepreneurs charged upfront

3.     Physical networking events – Every advisor cannot attend every event. Also, in an event entrepreneurs do not network with every advisor. Also advisor’s skills are not known by entrepreneurs. Leads to inefficiency

4.     Cold calling – perceived rude by some, time inefficient , limited reach

5.     Personal networks – limited networks , lack of access to broad range of skills and expertise

 

What is FounderMates?

FounderMates is an organized online platform where entrepreneurs can connect with advisors in a safe, secure and private environment at no cost

 

Benefits of FounderMates to an entrepreneur

  • ·  Easy and quick access to quality advisory at no cost
  • ·  Access to a diverse portfolio of carefully selected advisors from different professional backgrounds, industries and skills

Benefits of FounderMates to an advisor

  • ·  Make advisors visible to the entire entrepreneurial community on the platform
  • ·  Enable an advisor to build his SME/startup influence by getting reviews from entrepreneurs
  • ·  Provide a platform to advisors where engagement with entrepreneurs may lead to value added long term relationship

 

Registration Process

 

We invite you to register interest in the link: http://foundermates.com

We will contact you soon with further details of our platform

We will launch in the middle of March 2013

 

Share

Please take a moment after you register to share the link with other advisors and entrepreneurs who you feel will add value to our platform and help make FounderMates a stronger community.

It’s interesting to hear people say that they wish to start-up at some point in their lives. By people here, I mean those who are currently employed with companies. And when they say that they wish to start-up at some point, they mean it.

I say so because I said ‘I want to startup’ to my friends and family for about 5 years. It took me this long to start-up. Did I lack the passion? Did I like being in a job? Did I lack an idea? The answer to all these questions is NO.

What I did lack was the ‘doing mindset’. It’s great to dream, come up with an idea but when it comes to doing, most of us begin to face blockages. Some start feeling it’s not what they hoped for, some feel it’s boring and dull, some feel it’s a lonely journey, some get caught up in fear of the unknown. The silver lining here is that YOU are not alone facing those thoughts. We all have those creepy, lowly thoughts nagging at us, trying to distract us from our goal.

Read and take part in the discussion here.

Startup Networking in India

Having stayed in London for the past 2 years, I have been experiencing the plethora of networking events across the city for entrepreneurs, future entrepreneurs, investors, techies, business guys, consultants etc.

With online portals like meetup.com, there seems to be a zillion of them around in London. I often get overwhelmed at so many different groups and end up not joining most.

After all, which one do I prioritise and which one will not just be another meeting of young adrenaline junkies, with “taking over the world” attitude which ends up in binge drinking in a country pub.

There are are few platforms like Dreamstake which are trying to create a centralised platform to connect everyone in the startup eco-system in the UK (esp., London).

While doing a bit of research in the Indian systems, I was appalled to find just 1 online meetup group:

http://www.meetup.com/DestinationIndia-startups-investors/

And no where does it mention what exactly is in store for a first time joinee like me who wants to get into the Indian startup system.

It promises to host networking events, presentations across various places in Mumbai to connect entreprneurs, investors etc.

I understand that some of the players like VCCircle, YourStory.in are also trying to create the same albeit at a more expensive level.

VCCircle definitely is a premium one, where most of the events take place at posh 5 star hotels with famous entrepreneurs, businessmen come and talk about their experiences to potential new ones.

Interestingly, while I was looking at a platform to connect to some like minded people online in India, I could not find any. All I had to reply was Linkedin!

This just shows that in India, people still like to rely on in-person meets, or they are just plain lucky to find someone from their peer/colleague circle to start a business.

In contrast, places like the UK thrives on meetups and networking events, where they like to meet new people and potentially start a new venture with them.

I did interview few entrepreneurs in India, and all of them said that they founded their company with a bunch of friends and peers they knew.

Indian startup ecosystem needs to imbibe this culture of meeting new people, exchange ideas, network and start a business. The culture of “Dating” has to set in, if fresh ideas need to emerge. The trust factor has to set in amongst people. A stranger needs to be trusted!

I would have accepted that Indians do not prefer online strangers a decade back. However, with the proliferation of Linkedin as a network of choice, the notion is changing fast. The key is how fast this impregnates in the startup ecostystem.

Originally posted on Steve Blank:

I often get asked about finding cofounders and I usually give the standard list of characteristics of what I look for in a founder.  And I emphasize the value of a founding team with complementary skills sets – i.e. the hacker/hustler/designer cofounder archetype for web/mobile apps.  But Jessica Alter, Cofounder & CEO of FounderDating, pointed out that cofounders did not mean two founders in the same room.  She suggested that I was missing one of the key attributes of what makes successful startup teams powerful. She suggested that how cofounders fight was a key metric in predicting the success of a founding team.  So I asked her to write a guest post.

——————

I think about [cofounding] teams a lot – an insane amount.  And, not surprisingly, I frequently get asked what to look for or what to think about when starting the process of finding a cofounder…

View original 905 more words

I am writing this blog post not to refute the purpose of higher education but as I have already spent two months with Elevate Direct(a London based start-up), I do get down to thinking how it disconnects from practical learning.

I specialised in entrepreneurship and did rather well in the business plan competition where I got an opportunity to pitch to some of the most well-known VCs and BAs. That was definitely a confidence boost and made me think that if I could pull it off once (of course as team effort), I could replicate the success again. Logical, isn’t it? But unfortunately, the answer is No. As me and my friend started working on a business idea, we found ourselves refer back to the process that brought us victory in the business plan competition. As we went on, we began to realize that it was just another day after day with us being stuck to making better documents containing our research. The alarm bells rung that we were not doing something right.

Simultaneously, at my full time job with Elevate Direct, I began to notice the difference between my approach and that of the co-founders. I began to realize sooner than later that I tend to wear a consultant’s hat which is detrimental to an entrepreneur.  There might not be sophistication with processes or with the way stuff is documented and maintained. But who cares really?!  The most important thing is that they did it! Processes and sophistication are bound to come of their own accord. And that’s what really changed my mindset from that of an MBA consultant’s to a doer (a synonym I like to use for an entrepreneur).

And well, I applied the learning from this environment to our idea and there we go! Just by making our thought process ‘lean’, here we are ready with a first un-sophisticated prototype in almost 2 weeks’ time. If I compare this timeline to what I learnt on the entrepreneurship workshop, I should be still doing my market research & trend analysis ;).

So, what’s the moral of the story? If you are really contemplating making your own mark in this world, keep structure and processes at bay. They limit and just delay actual action required of you. Don’t get me wrong; I still love my excel sheet and well maintained docs but just a bit of diligence as to what works when can take you miles closer to your goal sooner than you would expect!

Whether you are working for a start-up or thinking about taking the leap on your own, we would love to hear your story in the entrepreneurial world.

Keep watching this space for more….

 

 

 

Having made a recent vacation trip to India, I had been to a start-up event in Bangalore. Although some speakers and topics were major disappointments (more on this in another post, hopefully), I had the opportunity to talk to some really smart CEOs and investors who were well tuned with the global entrepreneurship scenario. Not surprisingly, our topics always circled back to why India has more service companies than product companies. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against service companies (after all, that is what has caused us to be known in the global start-up scene), but haven’t we always wondered if it is the lack of something that prevents us from achieving that feat as well (given our competitive nature)?

That is the reason it was so refreshing to read today’s article by Paul Joseph of EntrepreneurHeat about how Chennai, one of India’s primary manufacturing hub (also known as the “Detroit of India”), is now leading the way in developing world-class product technological start-ups. Some of the examples mentioned are really inspiring. I have tried to pick the best ones below:

  • Zoho Corporation: “has brushed off acquisition overtures from many leading Silicon Valley corporations and believes in bootstrapping his way to success. He has started a university kind of training within the company to grow talent.” 
  • OrangeScape: “has jointly launched a product named KISSFlow along with industry giant Google in its flagship event Google. IO last week. This is the first time that Google as a company has partnered with another company to launch a product (so far every product launch has been its own, inhouse built, and 100% owned).”
  • Freshdesk: “has taken the global leader Zendesk head on, on this task (to a point where the Zendesk CEO seems to be shaken).”, “have also raised a round of funding from Accel to the tune of $6mn.”
These are just some brief stats to indicate the potential of global strategic partnerships for the country’s young minds. Some of these leading entrepreneurs have also been inspiring images on improving India’s start-up ecosystem.
It will be really interesting to see how Chennai’s start, along with Bangalore’s well known tech capabilities and Mumbai’s commercial mindset, will influence the country’s growing entrepreneurship development.
You can read the full article here: Chennai Emerging as a Global Product Tech City
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