Category: Start-ups

Simply defined Business Model is about ways of making money from your business and not mere ‘busy-ness’; which many start-ups fall prey to!

There is no business without a business model. The only difference being is whether you want to start your business with making money (Premium) and/or offer it Free for a defined period (Freemium) or both. It is another fact however that as the business matures, a lot more avenues of making money emerge, simply because you now unearth products that the Customers are willing to pay for or there are natural extensions of your product that become commercially viable that you had not anticipated when you started.

Below are some of the key points one should consider while developing a Business Model. The points here are driven more from B2B Internet business perspective; but I am sure, some pointers will also remain true for other forms of businesses.

1. Don’t rely on Customer to tell you

Yes. If you were thinking of seeking Customer views before formalizing you Business Model, then you are in for a lot of misery. 80% of the time the Customer either does not know what & how they would like to pay for something or they prefer to remain polite and never reveal that “are you kidding, you expect me to pay for this?” views (like a Venture Capitalist, who will always make you feel ‘ you’ve got a Instagram on your hand).

2. Domain & Industry Knowledge

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Chetan Indap

Chetan Indap


Chetan Indap

A serial Entrepreneur, currently managing three start-ups and

Chetan is an advisor on FounderMates. His profile is here. He can be contacted for any advice related to business models.


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:

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:

We will contact you soon with further details of our platform

We will launch in the middle of March 2013



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.

Chance Favours the Connected Mind

Entrepreneurship – Be a little insane

Entrepreneurs2012 at London Excel Arena

Entrepreneurs2012 was a part of the Global Entrepreneurship week which culminated on November 16, 2012 at the Excel Arena.

This was a 4 day mega event featuring several big-shots from different fields – Politics, Media, Music, Business, Arts etc., came together to discuss about Entrepreneurship, about how to make it big in their fields following one’s dreams and passions.

I was able to attend only the 4th day of the event, thanks to a friend who apprised me of this.

Waking up at 5 in the morning and reaching Excel Arena at 7 AM was quite a task and was hoping that this event was worth all the effort.

I have attended plenty of Entrpreneurship events in the past. Hence this had to be something special for me to justify this blatant madness.

The highlight of the evening was supposed to be Bill Clinton!

As I was queuing up for registration (I was a free ticket holder and hence had to queue up early so that I do not miss out on a confirmed seat!) I could see the excitement among some of the other attendees. Few had come for all the 4 days.

I heard this lady who is a Fitness Advisor and wants to learn more about how she can make it big and grow her client base.

So after all the waiting and queuing we managed to to enter the arena while the show started at around 10-15 minutes past 9 AM.

There were 4 panel discussions back-t0-back on the topics of Culture and Diversity, Leadership, Innovation and Reinvention and finally on Motivation.

I did not know whether the participants were under prepared but it appeared that everyone was stating the obvious and no one disagreed with the other. None of them had a differeing view point on any topic which just made the discussions monotonous and dragging.

We were able to withstand till the 3rd panel discussion which fortunately, my friend and I enjoyed the most. The panelists had some interesting thoughts on invention and how to go about market research and developing your product.

We were too tired at the end of the 3rd panel and so had to break for a much needed coffee. Don’t know why the organisers did not account for the fact that breaks in between events helps to keep attendees mind fresh!

Amidst all this, we just found out Bruce Dickinson (IRON MAIDEN) is a fabulous speaker and an extremely competent investor!

Fortunately after several speakers, we got to see Bill Clinton who came in for a 45 minute presentation. Have to admit that he has lost the charisma while he was at the White House. With white hair and sagging wrinkled skin he was just the pale shadow of his old self. He is definitely not an Obama when he speaks but he does speak well nonetheless.

Bill spoke about his work at Haiti, about how he used some of the out-of-box thinking during his time as the President of the USA.  He spoke of some of the difficulties presidents face and how entrepreneurial thinking can help Presidents make decisions that would prove beneficial for the country in the long run.

A well timed good speech, I must say.

However, I have to say more than Bill Clinton, the person who stole the show was Kevin Green, a multi-millionaire and the richest Real Estate Baron in the UK!

Well, to be honest we did not hear of him until we saw how good a salesman he was!

I wanted this event to gather more knowledge on some of the fields. However, this event proved to be a platform for several entrepreneurs to come and sell their services.

Kevin Green was at the forefront of using this Entrepreneurs2012 event to Sell his services.

He spoke for almost 2 hours! Yes, you read it right, For almost 2 hours!!!

And in that, all he spoke about was his disturbed childhood, broken family, his divorced wife, his sex life and how amidst all that he became detrmined to be a millionaire.

He was willing to “share” his secrets with the audience so that everyone can become as successful as he is. For him, becoming a millionaire and then giving to charity is the benchmark for success and he idolises Richard Branson.

He even showed a video of how he gave GBP 7,500 to this mother whose child was dying of a disease and with that money she could give her child one day of happiness which she can cherish all her life! What a Great PR!!!!

Great work Kevin!

Now to add to this, Kevin showed us what a fun loving and energetic team he has.

Please take a look at the video. He performed this on stage with his team!


And finally, he showed what courses he conducts for wannabe entrepreneurs in London.

His course pack including a 4 day workshop is priced at GBP 12,500! Too High eh?Wait! Kevin has more tricks up his sleeve.

He announced that he will give one lucky winner something special. So he asked the audience who wants to be the Winner. Several hands go up and he randomly selects this suited booted black man to be the winner!

As this guy got on stage, Kevin asked him to read through all the materials on the course pack from the screen so that everyone sees what is there. And finally he is asked to read the price which is GBP 12,500. Then he announces that since he is the lucky winner, he gets the course pack for FREE!!!

But, to attend the 4 day workshop with a partner, he has to pay GBP 2,400.

Quite nominal isn’t it? This guy was then given 10 seconds to either ACCEPT or DECLINE the offer on stage. And when the countdown started, the guy accepted it within 2 seconds! Just what Kevin expected!

He has conveniently sold his service at GBP 2,400. Now is that all??

Hang on, there is more.

After announcing this lucky winner, he asked the crowd again whether anyone else was interested to become a winner like him!

And believe me, 32 hands went up!

And he invited all 32 on stage, and he offered the same GBP 2,400 package to them in pairs. So he ended up selling further 16 packages.

So in total Kevin with his 2 hours of Selling, manages to generate 17 X 2,400 = GBP 40,800 worth of revenue!!!! Voilà!!!

He also promised throughout that 50% of this will go to Bill Clinton Foundation.

So in effect, he generates GBP 20,400. Factoring Conference Hall booking costs in London for 4 days at GBP 2,500 and stationery and printing costs at further GBP 5,00, he still manages to make a profit of GBP 17,900!!!

For a 2 hour presentation, making GBP 17,900 to bad eh?

Now, I have every reason to believe that he must have paid the event organisers to give him a slot to “advertise”! Given the usual costs for such events, I am inclined to believe, he must have paid the organisers a paltry sum of GBP 3,000.

So factoring that in the cost, he still ends up making GBP 15,000!!!

Now that is true entrepreneurship! Whether I liked Kevin’s speech or not, whether I was put off by his extra “Selling” efforts, whether his presentation was thin on content, it doesn’t matter!

I have been to several presentations and events in the past, where entrepreneurs, thought leaders and startups convened to discuss ideas, but none had this salesmanship involved!

Have to admit that through this I learnt 3 things:

1. Use every opportunity you get to make yourself visible and sell your business! No platform is bad to promote!

2. London is hungry for entrepreneurship! Every other Tom Dick and Harry wants to be an entrepreneur!

3.  Every Hard Rocker or Metal head does not necessarily have to die of drugs!


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