CATEGORY: TURNING IDEAS THOUGHTS
7 top Startup expectations from the upcoming Budget
The budget this year is critical for the industry and economy and there is clearly a lot riding on it. Representing the startup community , some of the top expectations from this year’s Union Budget are:
5 Startup Tech Trends to watch out in 2018
As expected, the boom in the startup industry continued this year too, but with 2017 drawing to a close, now it is time to put 2018 in the vanguard of our focus. There are certain key trends that are currently swirling in a froth of rumination and will be significant in shaping the business models in the coming year.
The seismic shifts in the business landscape are causing bouts of jitters among the budding entrepreneurs, but they will have to be pragmatic enough to understand the dynamics, accept the technological disruptions and adapt accordingly.
Indian Startups: Challenges and Opportunities
Startups are essentially of two kinds. One that starts something ground up, something that no one has thought about and is often ground breaking. This type of startup is difficult to create but once created often sees unprecedented growth. The second kind of startups that we see around us are primarily the ones that do not want to reinvent the wheel. They are akin to adding old sauce in a new dish to create something new and innovative.
Whatever may be the kind of startup, Indian startups face its own set of challenges and some stellar opportunities. The challenges can be classified as:
Culture – Entrepreneurship and startups are only a recent phenomenon in the country. It is only in the last decade and half that people in the country have moved from being job seekers to job creators.
Doing a startup is tough and every country sees more failures than success. More often than not an entrepreneur needs to be prepared to face failures and unprecedented hardship. However, culturally we are not groomed to fail and failure is frowned upon. Entrpreneurship thrives on celebrations and a society that fails to appreciate business failures stifles innovation and creativity even before it can start.
A startup failing has to be OK as failures often teach an entrepreneur, what to do and what not to do. No formal mechanism to mentor startups – Doing a startup is perilous and often a lonely journey. You may have co-founders, but you may not necessarily possess the business acumen to succeed. Having a brilliant idea is different from making that idea a business success. For a startup, it is very important to have mentors who have been through a similar process of starting or have business experience. A great mentor is often what separates success from failure by providing valuable inputs. However, there is no formal mechanism to mentor startups in the country. Every mentoring that happens is on an ad-hoc basis. A startup that has raised finds can count the investors for some form of mentoring, but honest, unbiased, good business mentors are far and few in between. For startups finding a good mentor is often an uphill task.
Government role – Government is the single largest enabler for the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Governments role in ease of doing business and helping companies start is vital to ensuring success. The latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business (out of 189 economies) ranks India at an abysmal 142 where starting a business rank for the country is even lower at 158. It is uncannily difficult to start a business in India and myriad laws and regulations means it takes about 30 days to comply compared to just 9 days in OECD countries. The government’s role has so far been limited to giving out grants and loans, but without an effective, enabling environment, implementation is far off the target. In this regard it will be interesting to see the contours of the recently announced Startup Fund in this year’s budget. For startups to thrive and succeed, the government has a lot to do and understand the importance of entrepreneurship in economic development.
Hiring challenges – The economy has been in a flux and along with the world economy the heady days of high growth are long gone. In an uncertain economy where one is not sure about demand, for a startup, it is particularly difficult to make correct estimates on the number of employees needed. This, however, is the minor problem where the biggest issue is about finding skilled manpower. India’s skilling need is so huge that National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has been mandated to skill 150 million
Indians by 2022. For a startup, it is particularly difficult to attract and hire talent and skilled workers. A startup often cannot match the salaries drawn at larger companies nor is a job at a startup seen as a steady one. This means startups face severe hiring challenges and at times have to settle for the next best option.
Funding challenges – Capital and access to capital has been a perennial problem for startups. While, of late angel investors, venture capital and private equity have bought succor to some extent, a large number of startups still grapple to raise funds from institutional setup. Funding challenge is not merely limited to seed rounds, but also for vital Series A and B rounds. For a startup looking to scale, it is still very hard to raise rounds to scale as the number of investors that write larger cheques in India are very
limited in number.
Go global – While India is a big market, to be truly successful, a venture has to look at the world as its playground. Every market and every country are different and while a startup may have local knowledge, it may not know the intricacies involved in operating in another country. To scale a the venture beyond India a startup needs help and that is limited in India. For example, in a country like Israel, because its local market is so small, entrepreneurs have to look beyond (the US mostly) and hence there is an entire ecosystem build around helping these startups go global. Until such a support system is created in India, scaling outside India would remain a difficult proposition.
Demographic dividend – According to the latest UN report India with 356 million 10-24 year-olds have the largest concentration of youth population despite having a smaller population than China. This augurs well for the country as right education and healthcare can see the economy soar. Youth is the driving force behind innovation, creation, and the future leaders of a country. Youth also drives demand and consumption pattern in a country. For startups youth make up the workforce that it so desperately
needs and going forward youth can be a huge talent base for startups.
Best suited to address emerging countries’ challenges – India has a unique set of problems that need innovations to originate out of the country. Problems around its health, education, infrastructure, sanitation are unique to the country and solutions from western world cannot solve it. Each problem provides a unique opportunity for startups to solve some pressing issue and at the same time create a business around it. What helps is that most problems around emerging economies are similar in nature and solutions applicable here can also work in many countries in Africa and elsewhere. This enables Indian startups to acquire an even bigger scale and at the same time make a meaningful impact around the world.
Large population – For startups in the country, it is not essential to go overseas. India, with over a billion people, present a very large home market for any goods or services. A rising disposable income and growing aspirations of a mushrooming middle class have meant there is a large appetite for brands. The large population has also led to a consumer expenditure growth, which has in turn has propped up supply and production. Startups that look to service and cater to the large population in solving a pain
point or providing a utility in one of the world’s most important consumer markets, stand to do well.
High Mobile penetration – According to latest Trai figures India's tele-density reached 76.55 percent with a subscriber base of 95.76 crore. Significantly wireless subscriber base touched 95.76 crore, just shy of 100 crore mark. High mobile penetration in urban and rural India has reshaped the economy of the country and how goods and services are offered. It has lead to greater efficiencies and increased productivity. It has meant businesses profit through faster decision making, better logistics and even something like access to bank accounts. Higher mobile penetration has also led to increased financial inclusion and flow of credit to the unbanked. Growth in mobile penetration is transforming the way businesses and consumers communicate and work. With data enabled mobile phones, the very nature of startups and businesses have changed. For example, startups that develop mobile apps now have an ever increasing market to cater to.
India is at crossroads where it now has to cater to the aspirations of a billion people. Existing frameworks can prove to be inadequate and there is a great need to leverage a billion minds and become a global power. Startups and entrepreneurship is the best way forward in becoming a knowledge super power.
We help Enterprises to Innovate through startup Ecosystem
Who Says Elephants can’t dance
By Ashish Mittal
The constant need to innovate and lead in the world of business has become crucial for large enterprises, which means the need to frequently come up with something new and different to make an impact. But, the innovation and discovery process at a large enterprise can make be very rigid. The general thought is that one needs to run a big company differently than a startup, which is not entirely incorrect. For large enterprises planning to explore new lines of business with the approach of a startup, it can prove to build fresh ideas converting into progressive business operations.
Given that, it is important to understand the challenges that the big companies face today. Even with strong balance sheets and positive cash flows, enterprises are challenged with access to world class talents and have to deal with:
Approach for innovation in large enterprises
We help Enterprises Innovate without hampering the business as usual by working as partners for Innovation. With a focus to solve business problems and enhance existing product portfolio, a strong methodology to create a path of innovation is significant for large organisations that can hatch disruptive ideas.
Hence, the untamed approach helps constant churning of brilliant ideas that solves actual customer problem using disruptive products and highlighting them by creating a sporting benchmark.
Three “I” to Change.
The story of a business idea starts with a mould that gradually takes shape into something of value that is meant to create better opportunities for the mankind. Through that path, it solves customer issues, identifies their desires that have not even come out to realisation. Meeting the market and technical requirements, the idea finally launches itself into the real world. And that is what the enterprise startup program ideally has to focus on.
An environment has to be created for new ideas to establish themselves into the world of business and the contribution has to be provided to make that happen. Simulation programs can be conducted to encourage and motivate employees to manage real life business problems and come up with practical solutions. Every single person will be counted when they think of bringing positive changes into the world.
The true deal is to bring the word “implementation” into your personal friendly dictionary so that the ideas can be thrown out of mind and can be consumed as products by others. A fresh blueprint of a business idea makes a good difference.
In that very process, enterprises should build in-house working area and a team of expert proudly presenting themselves as market and technical professionals so that disruptive ideas can be checked in the real market to understand its feasibility, ergo, the next step can be decided.
How many situations have one seen where the business idea precisely hits itself and forms into something of perfection? An entire process of alteration is always expected out of every business venture, in a way that it meets the current market requirements in the best possible way. The process of planning and implementation has to be acted out to showcase the effects of new business enterprises in the era of innovation.
9 ways to validate your startup
As an aspiring entrepreneur, having an optimistic attitude, a marketable solution to a problem and a vague plan in the name of a “strategy” is never enough. Before nose diving into an idea for a startup, you need to take a step back and have a bird’s eye-view of the entire strategy. Many minute things are to be taken into consideration before you start turning your dream into reality. When you start an endeavour, you have to know that you need a good system to implement that startup idea and scale it up gradually. All the potential hurdles are to be taken into account and several plan Bs to each hurdle should be devised. There are several ways to validate the survivability of your start-up. Validation is the process of determining whether your solution is genuinely helpful towards solving the problems of your target customer base.
Let us take a good look at some methods that you can use to validate the idea of your start-up :
The first step towards establishing a startup to build solutions to a problem is to ensure and have agreement that the problem actually exists. Successful startups begin with identifying a problem themselves, identifying the target customers, and then ensuring that the the target customer base agrees that there indeed is a problem and they do require a product or a service that will help them solve it.
You are your best critic. Nobody can gauge and assess your virtues and flaws as meticulously as you, yourself will. Therefore, a self-assessment might be a plausible approach to checking the validity of your idea. Question yourself, are you doing it for the money, for your customers or do you want to reach a middle-ground. Is your plan really foolproof? If not, what hurdles might be there? Are you prepared for the hurdles? – and so on. It’s free and it’s reliable, because only you can judge yourself harshly while having your own best interest in mind
While focussing on catering to the needs of your loyal customers should be on the top of your priority list, being aware of the market around your start-up is also important. An important part of the market you’re trying to establish your company in are your competitors. More often that not, they are similar individuals or group of individuals with ideas and aspirations like yours. Studying their market demographic and their past sales strategies can be a very helpful way to assess what worked out for them and what didn’t – because chances are, things will play out similarly for you too. Therefore, while making mistakes is a good thing, perhaps learning from the mistakes that others have made is a smarter thing to do.
Studying the market and knowing the demographic of your customers is a major part of establishing a company. It helps you understand your customer base better and take important decisions such as estimating investment, gauging the demand and advertising the product in a way that would appeal to the target customers. Once you understand your customer demographic, it will become clearer to you whether your idea is valid and whether or not your start-up will be successful. This also helps you get a clearer idea about the approach that you should take and helps you strategize for the future.
Creating a page on social media, before the starting or launch of the actual product/service is a good way to gauge the overall reaction of the prospects. The amount of response the promotional campaign receives is a detrimental factor in deciding what approach to take in the future. Moreover, it also helps create a sense of excitement and buzz in the market for the new products/service that is going to arrive soon.
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just the basic, essential features.. It is launched at a nominal number to provide the target customers with a taste of what they should expect from your company. This is not only a great way to promote your product, but also, it helps you gather feedback for future product development. Gathering insights from a minimum value product is inexpensive and costs less than developing and launching the final product with more features and at a larger scale, which increases investment cost and risk of monetary loss in case the product fails.
Surveys are another important tool of gathering mass feedback in an inexpensive way and in a short period of time from people who come from vastly different stratas of the society. Dedicated survey websites are always helpful in gathering feedback. They are simple, easy to use and not time consuming at all. And many offer incentives too. So, people don’t mind participating. This is another great way to gauge needs, interest, and gaps in specific industries.
Time and experience hold a lot of worth when it comes to start-ups. There are very high chances that you’re not the first person to blaze the trail of start-ups. There have been many more before you who have dared, erred and learned. There are always going to be people whose knowledge and experience go beyond yours. Networking comes into play here – interact with them, don’t afraid to ask questions, gather as much information as possible. This helps you to establish important contacts in the industry who might help you when you need guidance or help in the future.
Any new endeavour is bound to make you nervous of all the unforeseeable circumstances. But the important part is not being afraid of failures and hardships and moving forward. Your closest friend to keep you company in this journey is your sense of intuition. At the end of the day, do what your intuition says and follow your gut. Everything else will fall into place.
Ashish Mittal is Chief Mentor and Founder of TurningIdeas Ventures, a startup Incubator based in Noida. You can follow him at @ashishmitt