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.

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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”

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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 !

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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.”

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.

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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”

What are the benefits of joining a startup accelerator or incubator?

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Accelerators and incubators will help you in two specific areas:

  • To build your product/service
  • To help you build the business around that product/service

When you are selecting an accelerator or incubator, you should be clear about what you are seeking from the program and what exactly your needs are. Evaluate different accelerators and incubators according to that they bring to the party, and then choose accordingly.

Most accelerators and incubators, at least in India, are designed to provide some assistance in both areas. In some programs, the focus is primarily on helping you build your business (including business case, business plan, operating pan, etc.) while some programs focus on helping you build your product (prototype, MVP, product, etc.). In programs that help build products, the business understanding is generally covered by mentoring sessions, off-hours (visits by successful entrepreneurs and senior professionals), mentoring clinics, expert talks, etc.

Overall, an accelerator of incubator program should provide you the following:

  • Comfortable working space (well, there are virtual accelerator programs where you do not have to work out of the accelerator facility)
  • Access to mentors and experts who can help you with your business and product/service development needs
  • Networking opportunities and access to relevant folks in your eco-system, access to potential customers, potential employees, potential advisors, etc.
  • Access to capital

An accelerator program is usually a shorter duration program – usually between 3 months to 6 months, and primarily focuses on getting your startup from a concept/power-point stage into the market with a business plan and a MVP/product. An incubation program is usually longer duration and provides resources (shared office space, etc.) and hand-holding and guidance through the first year or so of your venture’s launch into the market.