Learnings from Shark Tank

Following the investor pitch, their outcome, and subsequent progress of those who receive funding on Shark Tank reiterates some fundamentals of entrepreneurship.

Shark tank image for Applyifi - Investor Pitch Deck

I’ve been an avid follower of Shark Tank. Apart from its entertainment value, I’ve found Shark Tank to be instructive about some fundamentals of entrepreneurship, and of pitching to investors. The deal making and deal structuring also provides us a range of possibilities beyond just equity based venture capital funding for startups.

Here are some things I learnt from Shark Tank:’

Gimmicks and showmanship doesn’t impress investors: Passion, commitment and conviction does. 
 
Setting the context right is super important in helping investors appreciate that what you are doing has a strong market potential. Clarity of communicating what you do gets investor attention.
 
Having clarity on who you will target as customers (even if your product is relevant for everyone), how you will reach them, what your sales pitch  to them will be, how you will deliver the product/service and how you will provide after-sales support are as important, if not more important, than a good product or service 
 
Know your numbers: Entrepreneurs with a good understanding of market dynamics, and what their fully loaded costs will be and how the numbers stack up have a much better chance of getting investor attention…. and better valuation. 
 
Resourcefulness is about leveraging all your current resources to overcome current constraints. Get things done. Somehow. 
 
Apart from other learnings outlined above, one observation that stands out is that good sales numbers shuts everyone up. Else, everyone has an opinion on how you should go about your business.
 
Having an idea is not the same thing as having a plan. At Applyifi we urge entrepreneurs to develop a comprehensive business plan, and then execute it well.
 
If someone you know could benefit from what we do, please direct them to www.applyifi.com.

 

By Prajakt Raut – Founder Applyifi

Applyifi helps startups refine their business plans and investor pitch deck [www.applyifi.com].

Applyifi banner - pitch deck

Some learnings from my entrepreneurial journey and from startups that we have engaged with at Applyifi

There are some lessons that I have learnt in my own entrepreneurial journey…. and as an entrepreneurship evangelist, have had the opportunity to observe many startups start up, and fail, including one of my earlier ventures.

Here are some observations:

 Don’t underestimate the costs and time that you will require to meet your milestones – often entrepreneurs, enthused by their deep passion and conviction in the concept, expect things to happen sooner than it would, and they usually expect to achieve it with lesser resources and lower costs than it would actually require. Running out of cash, especially when things are moving in the right direction, is the single biggest horror that a startup or early stage company can face.

Split your entrepreneurial journey into three phases, each of which will require a different approach and capital:

  1. Proving the concept – developing the product roadmap, testing the value proposition, product, pricing, business model, marketing program, sales program, etc. I.e. testing and refining each aspect of the BUSINESS behind your product/solution.

Depending on your business, this could typically take anywhere between 6-18 months. In this period keep your costs low, focus on a few initial customers, launch in a limited geography and focus on getting the business dynamics right.

  1. Building the foundation for scale: This will involve refining your processes, developing the backend operations management technologies, building the right team, etc.
  2. Scaling up: Once all the above has been done, then you think of scaling up the venture. This is the stage when external capital can accelerate the pace of your growth. Often entrepreneurs plan for scaling up even without getting the first 2 points sorted, and that can be quite a challenge.

Continue reading “Some learnings from my entrepreneurial journey and from startups that we have engaged with at Applyifi”

My answer to the question on Quora: “I’m a high school junior. What kinds of activities can I engage myself in to prove myself in youth entrepreneurship?”

If you are a student – either in school or college – and if you are clear that you want to become an entrepreneur some day, below are some suggestions that you may find useful:

  • Volunteer in the sponsorships committee at college events. The process of approaching people and companies for sponsorships will teach you a thing or two about selling and convincing people. It makes you comfortable with pitching.
  • If you have the chance, intern in a role that requires you to sell. Anything. A sales role helps you understand how difficult it is to sell something, and helps you calibrate your assumptions when you start your own venture. A sales role also helps you become comfortable with failure and rejection. This will help you become more persistent and resilient in your own venture.
  • Restrict your lifestyle to a very low cash requirement. Even if you do take up a job after college, try to restrict your lifestyle as that will give you much more flexibility to bootstrap and start something that you wish to pursue.
  • Be observant. Even when you volunteer or intern or take up a job, observe how different aspects of a business are managed. Some of these things will teach you how to do things, and some will teach you how not to do certain things.

Overall, whether you want to start something of your own, or want to take up a job, be entrepreneurial in your approach. Being entrepreneurial means being driven by something that excites you, thinking through all aspects of executing that idea, being responsible and committed to making it a success. And overall taking ownership of that concept.

Wish you all the best. Go win. In whatever you choose to do.

“Would consulting as a career help me if I want to start something of my own in future (business side) or I should just go for IB since it has more networking and money?”

This was my response to the above question on Quora

Neither.

If you plan to start something of your own some day, get yourself into a job that requires you to sell. Anything. Especially if you are young, try to get into a company where you can get exposed to different aspects of business from close quarters. Keep observing and thinking of how you can improve each aspect that you notice can be improved. Learn from the mistakes made. Absorb the good things done there.

Why do I suggest a job that requires you to sell? Several reasons…

  1. As an entrepreneur, you will be constantly selling… if not your product/solution, you will be pitching to investors, you will be pleading with high-quality talent to join you, you will be urging vendors to give you credit, etc., etc. You will always be selling. Hence, getting comfortable with selling makes you better prepared for life as an entrepreneur.
  2. Sales is the part where the rubber hits the road. It makes you aware how hard it is to convince someone to buy something. Even the best things. Learning this first-hand makes you be realistic when you make your business plans.
  3. A sales job makes you comfortable with rejection. As an entrepreneur you will find many doors closed on your face. A sales job makes you better prepared for it.

Consulting and investment banking, while they will give you exposure to different types of businesses, there will never be much practical, getting-your-hands-dirty kind of learning experience… and that practical experience is very, very useful.

Consulting and investment banking will give you perspectives on what happens in different situations….. and the impact of the strategic directions chosen and implemented. However, each situation is different, and what is right for one situation may not apply as well to others. Also, each individual and team is different, and what will be right for one team may not work for others. Hence, while observing how a client dealt with a tough customer us useful, it may not be of practical use for you if your personality and way of working is very different from that client whose behaviour you observed.

If and when you are infected with an idea that does not get out of you head, and have the conviction to follow it through, go for it and get started. Nothing like learning on the job. As they way, as entrepreneurs, you have to learn to build the plane while you are flying.

“I made a really bad investment in a startup. How can I recover my losses?”

This was my response to the above question on Quora

The only way to make money as an investor in startups is to have a portfolio of investments. If you invest only in one and hope that it works out well, well, the chance are rather slim.

Startups by design are experiments … a set of assumptions that are being tested in the market by someone who has the conviction about a concept. Sometimes the experiment works, often it does not. But that is the only way new ventures get created… by testing many ideas.

So, if you want to make money by being an investor in startups, think of investing (or better co-investing with other angel investors) in 15–20 startups over a 3–4 year period. Some of the companies you invest in will shut down. Some will struggle to keep afloat, but will amble along. Some will become good businesses for the entrepreneur, but will not give any return (exit) to investors. Only a very few of these investments will give multi-bagger returns making up for the losses incurred in those who did not do well in the market.

Does a VC-funded entrepreneur make more money than a bootstrapped one?

This was my response to a question on Quora

I worry that questions like these indicate that we have created the wrong perception about entrepreneurship in general, and VC funded startups in particular.

Often we come across individuals who want to become entrepreneurs because they believe that that is an easier way to make money. And while it may be true that entrepreneurship gives you a much better chance at wealth creation, considering entrepreneurship purely with the intention of wealth creation and then finding a concept to start up with is almost always a recipe for failure.

And there is a reason why entrepreneurs who start off with the objective of making money, and then try to find a mission often fail. Every business will have ups and downs… and in the initial phases there will be a lot more challenges than what the entrepreneur has anticipated. So, unless the work is in an area that the founding team is passionate about, they usually don’t have the patience or resilience to drive through the tough times. Continue reading “Does a VC-funded entrepreneur make more money than a bootstrapped one?”

How should an education startup raise funds to scale up to the next level?

This was my answer to a question on Quora:

The way to raise capital for your education sector startup would be the same as it is for any other startups. i.e. first you need to assess if your venture is likely to be of interest to investors. (Not all kinds of businesses are VC/angel fundable).

Investors would want to know the following:

  • Is the concept/product/solution addressing a real need or opportunity?
  • Is that opportunity large to build a very large business ?
  • Is the venture doing something that is innovative, disruptive of differentiated than what the customers are currently doing to address the need that you propose to address?
  • Is the differentiator defensible? I.e. Is there something unique about your venture that gives you a significant head-start and a defensible competitive advantage.
  • Is there a strong business case underlying the concept?
  • Can this scale?
  • Is the team competent and aware of of experienced in all aspects that will be required to build a strong business around the product

Continue reading “How should an education startup raise funds to scale up to the next level?”

Why the success of your startup can depend on a great tagline.

I often come across business pitch decks, or even company websites that have fancy set of words that don’t really communicate what the company does. For example, a tagline like “Redefining Healthcare” feels grand, but does not give the reader any clues on what your company does. 

Instead, if the tagline were to be specific saying “Your neighborhood childcare clinic’, there is specificity in communicating what you are offering. If your tag line can also communicate your value proposition, it is ideal. E.g. “Affordable cardiac care”.

It is important to get the tagline and headline right because it is on the basis of these that your potential user/customer will decide if they want to explore your website/product further. Even if your consumer / customer desperately needs what you do, they will not bother to read the details on your website or brochure if the headline does not appeal to them? Your brand name/tagline and/or headline tells them exactly what you can do for them. 

A good tagline is important even when pitching to investors. VCs and angel investor networks get 100s of business plans every month. And a few individuals in VC firms have the task of sifting though these pitch decks to shortlist those that they think are worthy of more time. Because it is impossible for anyone to go through 100s of pitch decks very, very diligently, it is often the first impressions and the clarity of communication  of the first couple of slides that will decide whether the deck makes it to the ‘shortlisted for further review’ bucket. 

Also remember, the tagline you have for consumers/users/clients may be different than the description of the business that you have when you present to investors. Consumers need to know your value proposition for them, while investors need to know the business behind that value proposition. 

E.g. your tagline to consumers may be ‘Your neighborhood childcare clinic’. And that line may go below the logo. But when pitching to investors, you may want to add a headline to the title slide saying: “Raising Rs.2cr to scale up a chain of affordable, high-quality childcare clinics from the current 3 centres to 25 centres in Delhi NCR in 2 years’. This is important because an investor would like to understand the following: Continue reading “Why the success of your startup can depend on a great tagline.”

How useful is an MBA degree for entrepreneurs?

MBA courses are typically designed to create managers. The programs in MBA courses are designed to analyze what contributed to the success or failures of companies. These case studies help people get a perspective on what might work and what is likely to be challenging.

While knowing what worked and what did not work for others will be generally useful, it is not something that will be a sufficient condition to become a successful entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur often requires the individual to create a new path, and a MBA program does not necessarily sharpen these kinds of sills.

Several management school however do recognize that entrepreneurship is a serious career option for students, and their programs do include aspects that will prepare students for an entrepreneurial adventure.

This post is my answer to a question on Quora. Click here

What happens when business plans do not go as plan?

A business plan is nothing but a plan for your business. It is an articulation of your vision on how the future will play out.

A business plan also articulates how the startup proposes to go from point A to point B, and by when. It also outlines the milestones and other dynamics (costs, resources, revenues, etc.) on the way from point A to point B. I.e. It is a plan of how the concept of your startup will alter the market, and how you intend to implement that disruption.

But at startup stage, there is no past data that can be used to make reasonably dependable predictions. Hence the vision of what might happen in the market with your concept is based on assumptions that you have made based on your conviction and your insights. Even in more established companies, there is only so much predictability you can bring into a business plan based on past data. How in-market dynamics may change is an unknown, and business plans even of larger, established companies can and often do get disrupted.

Some of the assumptions you have made will play out as assumed, others will not. Nothing surprising about that. Why then is it important to make a business plan knowing that what happens in the market is most likely to be very different from what you planned for? Click here to read more

 

 

 

How corporates can find innovation and disruptive ideas by engaging with the startup eco-system

There is a lot of innovation happening outside of company R&D labs. In startups. And the only way companies can get early access to that innovation is if they engage with startups meaningfully.

Engaging with the startups eco-system can give corporates to get early access to innovation in several aspects of their business – from disruptive products to disruptive solutions in marketing, finance, supply chain, operations and indeed any aspect of business.

Meaningfully designed startup engagement programs can also help companies attract talent, and enhance their brand appeal with the younger generation of entrepreneurially minded, innovation driven, consumers.

Often large companies feel that startup engagement programs will be complicated for them to design, and challenging to implement. But there are several easy-to-do models in which large companies can initiate their interactions with startups, and gradually deepen the engagement. Some of the models of engagement will be simpler to decide on and implement, while some may need deep thinking, and some may even need board level approvals to execute.
Continue reading “How corporates can find innovation and disruptive ideas by engaging with the startup eco-system”

What makes a good mentor-mentee relationship

A good mentor-mentee relationship can be game-changing for a startup, and therefore it is important that both – mentor and mentee – understand how they can make the engagement meaningful, productive, rewarding and fulfilling.

A good mentor can make significant contribution in not just the success of a startup, but also in the personal and professional growth of an entrepreneur. And therefore, I advise entrepreneurs to not give the tag of a ‘mentor’ loosely to anyone whose advice you seek regularly.

Mentoring is way beyond business advice and expertise sharing, and hence entrepreneurs and experts should be very, very careful when initiating a mentor-mentee relationship.

Who is a good mentor for your venture? Continue reading “What makes a good mentor-mentee relationship”

Thinking beyond VC funding can significantly expand the options and possibilities for an entrepreneur

The word ‘startups’ is currently used to describe technology companies or technology enabled companies that have the potential to get funding from angel investors or VCs. However, using that definition for a startup narrows the possibilities that the entrepreneur can pursue as a business because the kind of companies that VCs can invest in is a very small subset of the many kinds of businesses that entrepreneurs can pursue.

While many ventures can be good businesses for the entrepreneurs, they need not necessarily be a good investment for VCs. And to understand why that is so, it is important to understand the business model of angel investors and VCs. Continue reading “Thinking beyond VC funding can significantly expand the options and possibilities for an entrepreneur”

Are angel investors and VCs greedy? Why do they seek 10x – 20x returns on their investments.

Angel investors and early-stage VCs invest in companies at a stage when the assumptions around the business and the entrepreneur’s execution capabilities are yet to be proven.

While investors review shortlisted companies very, very diligently based on their perspective of the opportunity, their assessment of the business case, and their perception of the entrepreneur’s capabilities, quite a few of the companies that they invest in will fail for a variety of reasons. Some of their portfolio companies may do well, but the investors may not get an exit i.e. they may not get a buyer for the equity they hold in some reasonably successful ones.

Not only will the investors not get any returns on these investments in ventures that don’t succeed or where they do not get an exit, they will most likely lose their capital as well. Only a few of the companies that they invest in will be successful to the extent that they had assumed they would (or much more than that in rare cases).

And therefore, to cover these losses and to make money on their portfolio as a whole, they need at least a few multi-baggers in their portfolio i.e. companies that will be sold for 10 – 20 times the capital they had invested in. Continue reading “Are angel investors and VCs greedy? Why do they seek 10x – 20x returns on their investments.”

Why I wrote the book: Starting up and Fund Raising

There are now more ways than ever for startups to find and connect with investors, through in-person events and online deal-closure platforms, but this also means that investors are seeing more companies than ever before – it is important for entrepreneurs to catch their attention as they may only have one chance to make a good first impression.

prajakt-raut-book-launch-starting-up-fund-raising

Many startups start reaching out to investors before they know how to make a sound and compelling investment case for their business – and how to articulate that. 

Often even strong entrepreneurs with good ideas never get a foot in the door, or catch an investor’s attention because they have not been able to present a compelling case to investors.

Investors want to see a well thought out plan for your business. And how well your pitch deck or intro video communicates a well-thought-out plan is what can get investor attention. Continue reading “Why I wrote the book: Starting up and Fund Raising”

What are the pros and cons of pursuing entrepreneurship at 23?

(This was my answer to a question on Quora)

I am a passionate supporter of entrepreneurship as a career option. Yet I advise individuals that their decision to become an entrepreneur must be a cautiously considered one.

Entrepreneurship is exciting. It is a creative process. It gives you the freedom to create new products or services. And create new value propositions. It gives you an opportunity to create wealth, and/or positively impact the quality of life. It allows you to chart a new path for yourself, and those who believe enough in you and your vision to join you in the journey. Most importantly, as an entrepreneur you create jobs.

For someone who is 23-year-old, I see no downsides of pursuing an entrepreneurial dream. Even if the venture fails, and it could, all you would have lost is a year or two of salary that you may have got in a job. But, even if the venture fails and you have to go back to a job, the entrepreneurial experience will make you far more suitable candidate than someone with similar qualifications but with no entrepreneurial experience. (Ask any HR person, and they will concur.). Continue reading “What are the pros and cons of pursuing entrepreneurship at 23?”

What do you do when someone who was helping you in your startup in an advisory role asks for 10% in equity as compensation?

Entrepreneurs should define the model of engagement with an advisor very carefully BEFORE starting the engagement, so that expectations are set right at the beginning.

10% equity for an advisor role is simply excessive. Not just in the generally accepted model of ‘advisors’ (i.e. where an experienced individual guides the company with his/her perspectives and insights), but it is excessive even if the individual was providing advisor services as a commercial model, with clearly defined outcomes. Continue reading “What do you do when someone who was helping you in your startup in an advisory role asks for 10% in equity as compensation?”

Does it matter who invests in the seed stage of a startup?

As with many aspects about business and entrepreneurship, there is no clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question.

It depends on a number of factors. Ideally at the seed stage entrepreneurs should seek investors who will help them in the formative stages of the venture. Individuals who can provide an experienced perspective, or who can provide an experienced opinion to help make choices, or who can make introductions to potential customers, etc. are ideal investors in a startup stage.

Continue reading “Does it matter who invests in the seed stage of a startup?”

What Makes an Entrepreneur? A Look at Their 5 Die-Hard Traits!

Startup Stock Photos

Think carefully before you answer. Because, this question is not about distinguishing good entrepreneurs from the bad ones. It’s also not about who among them has a Midas touch and who doesn’t.

Continue reading “What Makes an Entrepreneur? A Look at Their 5 Die-Hard Traits!”

Guest Post – Digital Marketing Tips for Bootstrapped Startups

THE BEST WAYS TO GET YOUR BOOTSTRAP BRAND OFF THE GROUND

You are ready to get your brand off the ground. It’s an exciting time. There are going to be lots of challenges in order to get your voice out there. You are basically competing in two categories. You are competing with those who are already in your industry brand. You are also going up against the other messages that people are sending.

Continue reading “Guest Post – Digital Marketing Tips for Bootstrapped Startups”

Some Tips For Startups Presenting In B-Plan Competitions

I was part of the jury at Conquest 2015, the annual startup fest and B-Plan competition of BITS Pilani. Conquest is perhaps, one of the most meaningful Business Plan competitions in the country. The Conquest team makes efforts to provide mentoring support to shortlisted teams, so that their plans are refined by the time they get to the finals. The program is designed and executed entirely by students.

Continue reading “Some Tips For Startups Presenting In B-Plan Competitions”

Angel investors, VCs and other funding options for startups

While most entrepreneurs think of VC funding as the most obvious way of funding their startups, there are actually many different ways in which you can fund your startup.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAUYAAAAJDBkODc0NTM5LWRhMTgtNDY1NS1hZGEzLWRiYWM0NDgyYjhjMw

Getting Risk Capital I.E. Angel Investors Or Venture Capitalist – VCs

Angel investors or VCs are investors who give you capital in exchange of equity in the company.

Continue reading “Angel investors, VCs and other funding options for startups”

11 components that make up a good business plan

Investors will be interested because you have a plan to address an opportunity well, not just because you have identified an opportunity that is interesting. That’s why, while having a good idea is certainly a good starting point, it is not enough for investors to invest.

bizplan

Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of detailing out their product or service or concept. What most investors are looking for is your plan for building a strong, profitable, scalable, defensible business around that product or concept.

The success of an entrepreneurial venture depends entirely on the quality of execution. Many companies fail to implement their ideas well. Hence what investors seek in the plans they review is evidence that this team will be able to execute well on a concept that appears to address a potentially large market.

What should a business plan cover?

Continue reading “11 components that make up a good business plan”

Starting Your Entrepreneurial Journey – Some Food For Thought

In my view, easier availability of early-stage capital than ever before, public celebration & adulation of entrepreneurial heroes, a well-deserved respect for entrepreneurism and also society’s willingness to accept failures in entrepreneurial ventures make it easier for younger people to consider entrepreneurship as a career.

I share below some observations that will hopefully provide some food for thought before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.

77979722-87e3-430f-b0a1-29933dfa2782

A great idea of concept is not the same thing as a great business. Once you identify aconcept that has a meaningful value proposition to your potential customers, you have to think of how you can build a strong, sustainable business around that conceptThink hard about concepts like revenue streams, business model, go-to-market strategy, resource requirements, etc.

Don’t ignore challenges. Think hard about all possible challenges and then find a way to mitigate themEntrepreneurs tend to overlook the challenges when they are driven either by a desire to be an entrepreneur or when a concept stokes their interest.

Write a business plan. It is YOUR plan for YOUR business. Often, entrepreneurs assume that a business plan is to be written only when you seek venture capital or debt. However, a business plan is nothing but your plan for your business. Create a document that will help you think through the steps you need to take in your entrepreneurial journey. And that’s your business plan.

Do not bother about teamplates. A business plan is not about templates or formats. It is an articulation of your story about how you plan to go from point A to point B and then onward to points C and D in your journey. And as you think through various aspects, including costs and revenues, the plan will start getting more robust.

Don’t focus on the excel sheet. Focus on the business model. A 5-year excel sheet projection is just that – an excel sheet exercise. It is neither a reflection of the potential nor a reflection of your ability to meet that milestone. However, an excel sheet exercise provides you a reference point to consider different possibilities of scale and help you plan the intermediate steps in reaching those milestones. I.e. it is not important to detail the calculation for a Rs.98.74 cr revenue by 2012 as it is important to be able to state “We believe we can be around a Rs.75 cr to a Rs.100 cr. enterprise by the 3rd year of operation and here is how we plan to go towards those milestones”.

It is ideal to gain experience about building and managing businesses before you create your own enterprise. Most successful entrepreneurs have built businesses after gaining significant experience across functions in different organizations. Though often celebrated, entrepreneurial successes of people with no prior work experience are a rarity.

Think big if the opprtunity exists. Your ability to scale should be restricted only by your aspiration and not by capital. In today’s environment, it is far easier to raise early-stage capital than ever before. If your concept is right, if the market potential is large and if you have the capacity and capabilities to deliver on that potential, you will find the capital to fund your dream.

One of the most common observations of investors, both domestic and foreign, is that entrepreneurs (especially in India) are afraid of thinking big. Entrepreneurs tend to think that it is prudent to be very conservative in your projections, especially if you have no past record to prove your scaling-up capabilities. However, unless you are keen on creating a business that is small, it will be important to provide a view of the potential and your aspirations, especially if you are seeking venture capital. Of course, the aspiration to scale has to be based on a validated assessment of the potential and backed by a strong, sustainable plan to deliver on that potential.

Make your own decisions but listen to what more experienced voices have to say. If a number of investors reject your proposal, it should be a signal for you to consider what aspects of the model seem to worry investors – relevance of value proposition, market potential, business model or your ability to deliver on the potential. Once you have identified the issue or issues, you need to revisit that in your plan and see what changes you may want to make in order to address any flaws in your plan.

Just because you do not get funded does not mean it is a bad idea or your plan is wrong. Often, especially with new concept, it is difficult for investors to take a bold step. Often entreprenerus are able to create new markets based on their insights and conviction about the opportunity. Others may not be able to see the vision as the entrepreneur is imaging it. Hence, just because others reject your idea does not necessarily mean that this is not worth pursuing. But do also consider the points of skepticism as it will only help you iron out issues that you may not have thought about.

If you still do not get funded and do believe it is a concept worth fighting for, you need to find innovative ways of building a proof of concept.

Find mentors and investors with belief in your concept. It is also important for you to find investors who have a strong belief in the domain that you wish to be in and convince them about your ability to deliver on that potential.

Importantly, don’t be a lone ranger. Connect with other entrepreneurs. Seek guidance. Ask those ahead in the entrepreneurial journey to share their experiences. Network and seek mentoring from accomplished and successful entrepreneurs.

To end, I would like to clarify that entrepreneurship to my mind is not just about starting or owning an enterprise. It is about an entrepreneurial spirit that inspires individuals to take ownership of an assignment of area of responsibility. It does not matter whether it is in your own enterprise or whether in an organization where you work or whether the organization is a commercial enterprise or a not-for-profit entity. Do well in whatever you choose to do. Do it diligently, honestly, ethically and with enthusiasm and commitment.

And THINK BIG.

As the advertisement of a spirits brand said ‘Its your life, make it large’.

This article was originally published in Inc42. Read the article here.

Image Courtesy.

 

 

 

Life Is Short. Get Set. Startup.

I have often heard senior professionals tell entrepreneurs that they wish they had the guts to leave their jobs and startup on their own. But I have yet to hear an entrepreneur, irrespective of whether their venture is doing well or struggling, tell any professional,

I wish I had your job.

The reason is easy to understand. Entrepreneurs start ventures largely in their areas of interest or passion or competence. It’s always a great feeling when your work is also what you love to do. A job may or may not provide that option. Entrepreneurship does.

business man in start - racing position

But just doing what you are passionate about is not the only reason why entrepreneurs are generally more excited about their work. In some cases, rare though, you may get to do what you really are passionate about in a job too. The big difference however is that while in a job you are living either someone else’s dream or a company’s objectives, in your own startup, you are driving your own vision, goals, dreams and aspirations. Every small step in an entrepreneurial journey feels like an accomplishment and gives you the satisfaction of having reached a new milestone.

Continue reading “Life Is Short. Get Set. Startup.”

The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Estimating Market Size For It’s Startup

Note: Before I begin, I would like to clarify the difference between market potential and revenue estimate. I have often seen entrepreneurs use the two terms interchangeably.

pie-chart-icon

Market Potential

Market Potential is about estimating the size of the overall market opportunity. It is a sum total of the potential revenues of all players who are addressing that opportunity, if all the potential customers were to buy. I.e. If you were selling ‘affordable’ golf kits for first-time golfers, then you could estimate market potential as follows (all numbers are indicative for illustration and do not represent actual market) :

  • There are about 20 millon golfers across the top 10 golfing markets in the world. Additionally, about 100,000 new people take up golf every year across the top 10 golfing markets in the world.
  • About 25% of these find the cost of golf kits expensive. If you take this as the addressable market at USD 400 a kit for 5 million buyers, we are addressing a USD 2 bn market opportunity, even if you look at only those who find the price of current golf kits too high.
  • Additionally, the ‘high-quality at lower price’ value proposition is likely to attract regular and casual golfers too i.e. 20 million golfers. This opens up a USD 8 billion market among existing golfers. And that’s a market growing at 15% pa.
  • However, given that most people who want to play golf do not take it up because the current kits cost upwards of USD 1500, we believe that a USD 400 kit will explode the market and we would be able to encourage 10 times the number of people to start playing golf. I.e. by redefining the price-point, we can create an additional market potential worth over USD 500 mn.
  • i.e. with an ‘affordable and high-quality golf kit’, we will be playing into a market that’s roughly USD 8 – 10 billion in the top 10 golfing markets of the world.

Revenue Estimate

Continue reading “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Estimating Market Size For It’s Startup”

Paperless Financial Transactions–An Opp Largely Ignored By The Startup Community

According to reports, paperless transactions during the past financial year amounted to INR 92 lakh crore as against paper-based transactions worth INR 85 lakh crore. For a country like India, struggling with issues such as financial inclusion, black money and lack of infrastructure (internet connectivity in rural areas), this news is a welcome surprise and demands to be celebrated. But it went largely unnoticed.

paperless_shutterstock_84840931

Growth in paperless transaction is in line with the government’s and the RBI’s agenda of creating a cashless society, with monetary transactions through the internet, ATM, cards and mobile devices.

Why Is Increase In Paperless Transactions Cause For Celebration? 

Continue reading “Paperless Financial Transactions–An Opp Largely Ignored By The Startup Community”

How angel investors can boost the start-up ecosystem in India

Senior professionals, moderately successful entrepreneurs as well as high net-worth individuals (HNIs) have been expressing an active interest in investing in start-ups. Individuals who are keen to explore start-ups as an asset class, however, have to recognise that investing in them is a high-risk, high-return game.

Angel-Investor

They need to get comfortable with the fact that they could lose their entire capital in some of the companies they invest in, and that most of the start-ups they invest in may not succeed.

Anyone who has the ability to spare Rs 5 lakh or above a year — and not lose sleep over it — could look at co-investing in two-three start-ups a year, so that over a two-three-year period, they are able to build a good portfolio.

With a diversified portfolio, investing in start-ups can provide better risk-adjusted returns. Existing angel groups and investors typically invest in start-ups raising upwards of Rs 2-3 crore, as their members do not usually want to write smaller cheques.

Continue reading “How angel investors can boost the start-up ecosystem in India”

If no business plan works out as planned, why do investors insist on a business plan?

A business plan is nothing but a plan for your business. It is an articulation of your vision on how the future will play out.

A business plan also articulates how the startup proposes to go from point A to point B, and by when. It also outlines the milestones and other dynamics (costs, resources, revenues, etc.) on the way from point A to point B. I.e. It is a plan of how the concept of your startup will alter the market, and how you intend to implement that disruption.

business-plan

But at startup stage, there is no past data that can be used to make reasonably dependable predictions. Hence the vision of what might happen in the market with your concept is based on assumptions that you have made based on your conviction and your insights. Even in more established companies, there is only so much predictability you can bring into a business plan based on past data. How in-market dynamics may change is an unknown, and business plans even of larger, established companies can and often do get disrupted.

Some of the assumptions you have made will play out as assumed, others will not. Nothing surprising about that. Why then is it important to make a business plan knowing that what happens in the market is most likely to be very different from what you planned for?

Continue reading “If no business plan works out as planned, why do investors insist on a business plan?”

Guest Post – I initiate… therefore I am !!

17th century philosopher Rene Descartes said – ‘I think therefore I am’. With all due respect to him, I am inclined to revise this for the 21st century as – ‘I initiate therefore I am’.

For me the world is truly binary, people who take initiatives and people who don’t and that pretty much decides who survives the marathon and who doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t want to discount the value of thought because the very act of doing has its roots in a thought. However, in the modern world, taking the initiative to execute matters much more than just penning a thought on – is what needs to be done.

wpid-picsart_1410795441553

Before we delve deeper, let’s be clear on the definition of initiative. If you look on the net, you will find many interpretations, but for this write-up, I define initiative as not accepting status-quo and exploring ways to make things better. People who take an initiative are always working for the betterment of their own self, their family, their organization and the society at large. People who don’t are on the receiving end and perpetually complaining about the state of affairs.

Continue reading “Guest Post – I initiate… therefore I am !!”

Guest Article – What can be your core competency in today’s world?

A lot has been written about core competency in innumerable management books. But what does it really mean? Its only when companies understand the real meaning of core competency in today’s context, can they truly work on building a ‘differentiator’ that gives them an edge over others in the market.

A dynamic concept

The notion of core competency has evolved with changing times and market dynamics will continue to do so. For instance, in the times of Sony Walkman, the term ‘core competency’ was associated with deep technical innovation, and at other times,with just the sheer size of assets and deep pockets of a company, since they were crucial in the formation of a large conglomerate.

611

So what can be the core competency of an organization in today’s digital economy, where it only takes a handful of smart guys with minimal funds to bring the next disruptive innovation and consumers adopt it in millions, thanks to the internet?

Can it be the capability of your R&D labs and patents you own? Yes, in some sectors like pharma, patents go a long way in demonstrating a company’s prowess, but not in the industry a general. They can be used to protect the product and manage market leadership only until the next innovation comes around. At the same time, it is not the patent that can be  your core competence, as customers buy products, NOT patents.

Continue reading “Guest Article – What can be your core competency in today’s world?”

Starting your entrepreneurial journey – some food for thought

In my view, easier availability of early-stage capital than ever before, public celebration & adulation of entrepreneurial heroes, a well-deserved respect for entrepreneurism and also society’s willingness to accept failures in entrepreneurial ventures make it easier for younger people to consider entrepreneurship as a career.

I share below some observations that will hopefully provide some food for thought before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.

A great idea of concept is not the same thing as a great business. Once you identify a concept that has a meaningful value proposition to your potential customers, you have to think of how you can build a strong, sustainable business around that concept. Think hard about concepts like revenue streams, business model, go-to-market strategy, resource requirements, etc. Continue reading “Starting your entrepreneurial journey – some food for thought”

Why are business metrics important for startups?

In the context of startups, metrics are parameters used for quantitative assessment of performance and progress of a venture. If goals are about where to go and strategy is about how to go there, metrics are about tracking progress of your journey.

Startup phase is about discovering what works and what does not. Scale up phase is about replicating what worked. For companies, especially startups and early-stage companies, metrics help founders identify what is working and what is not.

600

Importance of metrics for startups

They are important because in your entrepreneurial journey, you don’t want to discover at a very late stage that you progressed well, but in a different direction; or were going in the right direction, but at a different pace than estimated.

The journey of a startup is about making certain assumptions about what will happen once you launch your product or service in the market, and doing several experiments to ascertain if those assumptions are valid, and what is working and what is not working around the assumptions.

For example, If you assume that 1.5 per cent of all registered customers will buy, you first need to track if that is indeed the case in the market. And whatever the outcome i.e. whether 0.5 per cent registered users buy or 3 per cent users buy, what you need to know are the reasons for the outcomes so that you can avoid what did not work and replicate what works.

Success of a startup is NOT in executing a plan well, but in adjusting plans efficiently, appropriately and effectively, in order to go in the direction the venture was intended to. Metrics provide early warning signs – whether good or bad. It helps you adjust your plans based on quantifiable data on what impacts the outcome. Metrics help you make better-informed decisions in making adjustments in your plan.

Some myths about metrics – It’s not always about improving your metrics

1) Performance does not improve with scale. For example:

Continue reading “Why are business metrics important for startups?”

Guest Article – Do good leaders make good managers?

A lot has been written in the industry about leadership traits and whether it maps to good management skills or not.

dreamstime_m_14281983-follow-the-leader

In my perspective, leadership and good management are two different skills and an organisation needs both of them. Also, it is very rare to find both the characteristics in the same person and it is imperative for CEO’s to realise this.

The quintessential trait of a leader is to ‘make sense of it all’ in this highly unstructured and dynamic world. Leaders get a good handle on what is happening, and how it will/may transition the industry (or society at large) in the next couple of years.

Leaders don’t believe in status quo and know that change is the only constant in life. What sets them apart is the courage and self-confidence with which they embrace change. While most of us prefer to sit on the fence and see changes happen and try our best to protect our turf from them, leaders actually make changes happen and drive them in the direction they believe is best for organisation (or mankind at large).

Driving Change

So what does it take to drive change or to shape the future of an industry? It starts from having a vision. A vision of where do you want to be in next few years, as an individual, organization, society or mankind itself. While each of us has plans for our future, our vision rarely goes beyond the immediate self and family. A leader’s vision typically starts from the other end, i.e. industry or society in general. A leader wants to see the desired change at a much larger level and his only goal is to make that change happen.

Continue reading “Guest Article – Do good leaders make good managers?”

We need to think of entrepreneurship beyond VC-fundable ventures

The startup ecosystem in India is progressing at a very stable pace. The percentage of young individuals as well as experienced professionals thinking of entrepreneurship as a career option is growing due to a number of reasons:

  • There is an enabling environment for entrepreneurs. Boot camps, accelerators, and incubators guide first-time entrepreneurs about converting concepts into ventures. The number of funding options is increasing, including venture debt.
  • The emergence of some media houses that cover the startup eco-system, as well as mainstream media that gives some space/time for startups is creating a better understanding of startups, and entrepreneurship as a career option.
  • The words startups and entrepreneurship have entered the vocabulary of the government and there is an expectation of policy and resources that will turbo-charge entrepreneurship.
  • Parents are now a lot more willing to let their children give up lucrative job offers and pursue an entrepreneurial dream thanks to what they have seen and heard in the media. There is now a critical mass for startups and entrepreneurs to not be considered an oddity, but one of the top career choices, at the beginning or in the middle of a professional journey.
  • Also, as a society, we have started becoming more accepting of failures, and have come to recognise that entrepreneurship is a set of experiments, some of which succeed and some fail. Till a few years ago, we used to say that in the Silicon Valley, failed entrepreneurs have a higher chance of getting funded because they have learned what does not work. Glad to notice that the same is happening in India too.

Overall, it is a great time to become an entrepreneur in India.

However, the entire entrepreneurial community, as we think of it today, is  minuscule in comparison to the much larger number of aspiring entrepreneurs in the country.

yourstory_Entrepreneurship

Continue reading “We need to think of entrepreneurship beyond VC-fundable ventures”

Startup Showcase – Meedo

Here’s the story of Meedo – One stop solution for Customised Lifestyle products like T-shirts, Bags, Jewellery, Perfumes…

Catch them on –http://www.meedo.in/

App - Screen Shot

In conversation with Vinoth Kumar of Meedo – 

Tell us about the story of your startup – Why did you start this, how did you start, when did you start?

I used to run a retail outlet for the last 4 years, the idea of customised stuff struck when I was running the retail outlet in a very small place to validate the market in that particular locality. In our first year of operation, we missed sales because customers want a lot of options, but as a retailer it is very difficult to stock each and everything. For a business like mine, there isn’t any window shopping, rather business happens with regular & loyal customers. So we identified that there is some real problem to be addressed. We also did a small market survey among the retail owners and majority of them showed interest in launching customised service in their outlets. Thus, we decided to go with it. And, to take one thing at a time, we selected tees.

Continue reading “Startup Showcase – Meedo”

Changing dynamics in India’s startup eco-system

2014 was a defining year for the Indian startup ecosystem. Compared to the rest of the decade, a number of significant events and activities had changed the very nature of the startup world. Companies like Flipkart,Snapdeal, PayTm, Zomato, etc had redefined ‘scale’ and investors had started placing big bets on them. These companies darted ahead of the pack, to not just dominate their markets, but to grow it too. Of course, they were helped by a conducive environment – mobile phones, internet connectivity etc – but they also built infrastructure, people and processes that could handle a different order of scale than what they themselves could have imagined a few years ago. These startups demonstrated the potential and the competence to build world-scale companies and created new goalposts for entrepreneurs to aspire for.

Startups-India

As a result of e-commerce, a number of enabling technology and service companies started becoming more meaningful. Analytics, online engagement platforms, delivery companies etc found a much larger market to address their business case, and therefore their investment-worthiness became stronger. What remains to be seen is how effectively the e-commerce industry will retain customers once the discounting era is over and customers have to buy on the fundamental value proposition of e-commerce i.e. ease of access and choice. We may see some changed market dynamics at that stage, and the transition phase may throw up some new, unexpected leaders.

Continue reading “Changing dynamics in India’s startup eco-system”

India needs 10,000 more angel investors to build a thriving startup ecosystem

Only a very few aspiring entrepreneurs from among 1000s are able to convert their ideas into a business.  And one of the key reasons for this is the lack of access to capital that is required to start something new.

Out of 1000s of investment-worthy startups, less than 300 are able to get initial capital in India.

The present environment is very conducive for people to think of entrepreneurship as a career option. Entrepreneurship cells, incubation centres in colleges, boot-camps, hackathons, and other forums for entrepreneurship promotion, as well as a vibrant media for startups – all have inspired very few to become entrepreneurs.

Angel investor groups, accelerators, and incubators get over 5,000 applications every year. Nearly 10,000 startups send their profiles to media houses every year. While quite of few of these large numbers may not be serious contenders, there is a significant number of aspiring entrepreneurs with the competence, commitment and concepts that can become strong businesses. And quite a few of these can become profitable investments for angel investors.

Yet, only about 300 or so of these aspirants are able to get initial capital to get started. And mostly those, who require capital between Rs 2 to Rs 5 crore range. That’s the declared ‘sweet spot’ of most angel investor groups and VCs who participate in early-stage deals.

Why are there less than 300 early-stage investments in India?

VCs and Angel investor groups are unable to do smaller deals because their members do not want to write smaller cheques, and the efforts required to review, process and close a Rs 50 lakh deal is as much as it takes to close a Rs 5 crore deal. The largest angel investor network in the country does less than 20 transactions in a year.

The number of startups whose funding requirements are less Rs 50 lakh is significantly higher than the number of startups requiring Rs 2 to Rs 5 crore. In fact, many a businesses can get going with just Rs 25 lakh.

untitled-3

Significantly, If we don’t find a way of funding 1000s of deserving entrepreneurs, we would end up frustrating that segment.

Continue reading “India needs 10,000 more angel investors to build a thriving startup ecosystem”

Do 8 out of 10 start-ups really fail? And how do I know if I am failing too?

(My response below, to the above question on Quora)

Failure has many dimensions in the context of a startup and the founder of the startup.

For example: Failure could mean that you have not been able to achieve the numbers (revenues, or customers/users). However, it can still be a fairly profitable business at a lower scale than what you had estimated. If you have raised capital from investors, they may see a venture that does not scale as a failure. The founder may not.

Failed Stamp Showing Reject Or Failure

Likewise, failure could mean that while the concept was good, the team was not able to execute well, or they ran out of money because they were not able to raise capital. In this case, the startup SHOULD NOT have failed, but it did not work out because of inexperience or lack of execution capabilities.

So, when people generalise that 8 out of 10 startups fail, it generally means that 8 out of 10 startups are not able to go to the scale or in the direction they assumed it would. It MAY or MAY NOT be a failure for the founders.

Also, it is important to recognize that very few startups fail because their product was bad. They usually flounder because of issues on areas like execution, processes, capital, etc. I have seen many, many founders start off without even talking to potential customers. This is usually a recipe for a disaster as your own views may or may not hold good in the market.

My belief is that while the number of unsuccessful attempts are quite high from among the ones that started off, the percentage of failures comes down significantly among those who had put good thought into their concept and business around the concept BEFORE starting off.

If your question was out of fear of failure, I would urge you to think again. Plan your venture well, understand the market and then take the leap of faith. Check the LinkedIn status of failed entrepreneurs. They either get started again (and investors like to back them) or they get good jobs (corporates like failed entrepreneurs because of the enterprising spirit and the learnings they bring with them). So, while your venture may not succeed, you are unlikely to fail if you pursue the path of entrepreneurship.

Image Courtesy

What are the differences between angel funding, venture funding and crowd funding? In what scenarios can they be exploited for maximum benefits?

(My response below, to the above question on Quora)

Different investors participate in different stages of a venture. Angel investors invest at the very early stages – when the founders only have an idea or when the idea is being or has been developed into a prototype. They provide enough capital for the idea to be tested and proven in the market, so that another set of investors can bring in more capital after the model is proven and when the venture needs more money to take the proven model to a wider base.

Continue reading “What are the differences between angel funding, venture funding and crowd funding? In what scenarios can they be exploited for maximum benefits?”

Guest Post – Building a Consumer Product Brand with Virtual Infrastructure: Going the Xiaomi Way

Getting a consumer durable brand in the market meant significant investments in distribution, on-ground displays, marketing and everything else that was traditionally associated with the launch of a consumer durable brand.

I.e. creating a consumer product brand required large capital, and therefore was not something that new and emerging entrepreneurs without access to capital could aspire to do.

Xiaomi just debunked that theory with a model execution of a creative & unconventional strategy.

Without opening a single store, without keeping the products on shelves in physical stores, without spending on advertising, this China-headquartered company has already become the world’s 3rd largest handset manufacturer in just under 3 years time since launch.

Continue reading “Guest Post – Building a Consumer Product Brand with Virtual Infrastructure: Going the Xiaomi Way”

Guest Post – The era of truly click and brick: making the elephant dance

Brands will have to quickly and efficiently integrate virtual and physical infrastructure in consumer retail to remain relevant in the marketplace

Perhaps no other industry in history has seen such a radical transformation in such a short period of time as consumer retail has, and continues to, especially in India. Even the telecom transformation was spread over a decade or more to become transformational for the industry and the consumer.

Technology, e-commerce and multiple mediums of interaction and social-commerce etc. are drivers of change in consumer retail. The nature of the buying behaviour of the consumer has changed fundamentally in the past few years, and continues to evolve as multiple channels of interaction become part of the consumer’s product discovery, decision-making, purchase, post-sales support, and overall consumer experience.

SBSq

Now, also imagine the Tesco example above being integrated with NFC and analytics. E.g. given that it is a virtual wall, unlike the physical stores, the inventory displayed can be changed dynamically depending on who’s in front of the wall. Imagine a new parent getting packets of diapers in front of him, while the teenager behind her seeing acne cream displayed in front of her. The technologies for all these exist.

While the environment has changed, and e-commerce and m-commerce and offline and online marketplaces coexist, the industry continues to operate in silos – the e-commerce players and offline retailers operate as two different and philosophically competing worlds.

As a result, it is the consumer who is currently making the efforts to navigate the online and offline worlds, as neither traditional retailers, nor new offline retail format brands or e-commerce players have made any substantial effort to integrate the consumer experience across different touch points.

Continue reading “Guest Post – The era of truly click and brick: making the elephant dance”

Guest Post – Team, the most important ingredient in a startup

Ask any investor or successful entrepreneur, and they will reiterate that the most important factor in a start-up is the quality of its founding team. A team is more important than the idea or the size of the market or the technology or the business case, or indeed any other factor that investors will review to check the investment-worthiness of a venture.

VU-Picture

Even if  – the product is great; the technology is cutting-edge; the market is large and the company has a strong chance to be a dominant player in that large market – investors will hesitate to invest in the venture if they do not get the confidence that the founding team can deliver in the market.

What investors seek is a team that is passionate about the subject, is enthusiastic about the opportunity, has a good grasp on the dynamics of ‘business’ and not just the product/service, and who can demonstrate commitment to fight it out in the market.

While it is good to have experience in the domain, that is not a must, as that will exclude a number of bright people who either do not have work experience or are from a different domain than the concept they are pursuing. However, what is important is that even without experience in the sector, the team should have studied the sector enough to understand it very well. In fact, that is also why passion and interest in the sector is critical, because that makes it easier for a person to study the sector well.

Continue reading “Guest Post – Team, the most important ingredient in a startup”

A brand is a critical asset of any company, and so too for startups.

What is a brand?

A brand is a set of values that are associated with a company or product or service. E.g. dependable, reliable, fast, elegant, expensive, high-value, etc.

In effect, a brand is the sum total of the perceptions about your product or service or company that different people have. These perceptions are a result of the brand’s look & feel and communication, including PR, as well as the customer’s experience with the product and the service. All of these have to work in sync for a brand to establish positive equity with all stakeholders.

Brand-management-2.1

What is brand management?

Simply put, brand management is about managing the perceptions about the brand that different stakeholders have.

Continue reading “A brand is a critical asset of any company, and so too for startups.”

Wrong positioning can kill a good product

When I was younger, a new brand of packaged burgers was launched under the name ‘Big Bite’. It was an awesome product and priced just right. But, it was actually a mini snack… not actually a big bite.

However, consumers, including me, had seen the product being advertised as a ‘BIG BITE’ and expected a ‘BIG BITE”…. and we were disappointed at seeing the actual size of the snack.

I feel that if the company had called the snack a ‘Mini Bite’, the product could have been a huge success. This was, to my mind, a big lesson on a great product at a good price-point getting killed because of over-promise and incorrect positioning.

My advice to students aspiring to be entrepreneurs

During my talks at engineering colleges and business schools I often come across students who are clear that they want to be entrepreneurs, but they cannot do so immediately because they have student loans or other financial commitments to take care of. And that is a perfectly understandable reason for deferring your entrepreneurial ambition.

My advice to such aspiring entrepreneurs is to keep their entrepreneurial ambition as the key focus on their lives. Sure, go ahead and take up a job because you need to. BUT NO MATTER HOW MUCH SALARY YOU GET, KEEP YOUR EXPENSES AND LIFESTYLE WITHIN RS.25000 – RS.30,000 (USD 500). Continue reading “My advice to students aspiring to be entrepreneurs”

Startup Next, the global and top pre-accelerator program comes to Delhi.

Startup Next, the global and top pre-accelerator program – backed by the likes of Techstars, Google for Entrepreneurs, Global Accelerator Network and Startup Weekend – is coming to New Delhi !

SNext

The Startup Next program is designed for startups who plan to apply to accelerators or are pitching to investors for funding.

Startup Next is an intense mentorship program consisting of weekly sessions (one session in a week lasting three hours) for five weeks. The program has a structured curriculum and in-depth engagement with one-on-one mentoring, designed to help startups build the foundation of scalable ventures.

Continue reading “Startup Next, the global and top pre-accelerator program comes to Delhi.”

The 4 P’s of Entrepreneurship – Patience, Persistence, Perseverance, and Passion

Entrepreneurship teaches you a number of things about life, in general. It is an immensely satisfying journey, even if you do not reach your intended destination. However, the journey is often very challenging and it takes a lot of patience, persistence and perseverance to succeed. And unless you have the passion for what you are doing, finding the other 3 Ps within you becomes challenging.

Patience1I advice aspiring entrepreneurs to not get taken up by stories of instant success. Those are rare. Instead look at the 1000s of others whose ventures did not succeed. Or did not succeed as aspired.

Even those who succeed, often a lot longer than they had planned for, and it is often tougher than they had imagined. What sets the successful apart from the ones that gave up are the 3 Ps that I outlined above.

Continue reading “The 4 P’s of Entrepreneurship – Patience, Persistence, Perseverance, and Passion”

Guest Post – Why less than 1% of incubated start-ups get VC funding

Over the last 5 years or so, India has seen the emergence of a number of private and government-supported accelerators and incubators. Many of them have run a few cycles and have now fine-tuned their models and programs. Quite a few of them have very good and solid programs.

VU-Picture

Yet, if we were to measure the success of start-ups from all these programs in terms of them raising growth-capital, the report card is not very encouraging. If some industry numbers are to be believed, less than 1 per cent of start-ups that go through various incubation and accelerator programs in the country receive institutional funding. This number probably includes incubators in academic institutions, most of which have not been able to run meaningful programs to help entrepreneurs build fundable ventures.

Why is this number so low? Why the start-ups who join accelerator or incubator program with the hope of getting mentored for accelerating their journey towards growth are not able to get growth-capital? Continue reading “Guest Post – Why less than 1% of incubated start-ups get VC funding”

%d bloggers like this: