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Startup Mentoring

Startups 1: Mentoring - role in entrepreneurship?

In twenties, all of us are a little over-confident, believe in ourselves and have boundless energy waiting to be unleashed. What better age to start building a business?

Armed with knowledge, technical skills, an MBA degree, lots of friends and little money, starting a business seems more like an adventure than a serious profession. Yes, the startup bug bit me too... almost three decades ago.

Great, we (me and a couple of friends) took a plunge, taking it forward by a year or two... we were in a dilemma... the order book and stock was average, debtors were big, creditors were 50% of debtors and to make it worse, I did not have a marketing budget for the next six months.

So far so good, I was given good advice by my father who was always supportive of me. He asked me to get an overdraft from my banker or get a loan to tide across. This advice came with a rider – “If you are confident of making it big enough to last a lifetime”. The other option was to wind up, call it quits and find a good job.

I was and still am averse to creating liabilities, so much so that today, I use a credit card, not so much for credit but as an enabler. Obvious, all of us quit and I found a job, I am happy I took the decision, since my learning of those 7 years of working a job enabled me to become a successful entrepreneur later on.

Those days, the concept of startup was non-existent, but starting a new business was still a big deal. Red tape was far more confusing, money harder to come by and putting things together was not as easy as it is today.

Q1: Ok, why did I quit, after all that effort? I was convinced that I did not have enough experience to run a business all by myself. Everything was in place, only I was averse to taking a loan. And, I had only my father to advise me, a central government employee. Mind you, he did not dissuade, he was and still is always supportive of whatever I do.

Q2: What did I learn from 7 years of job experience? I learnt a lot about handling people, handling logistics, training, handling situations and many other areas of business across the entire gamut of management. Whatever I learnt in school, college and the MBA degree were quite irrelevant to this experience. In short, the ground realities are different.

The experience thus garnered is independent of the niche. Five years into entrepreneurship, I accumulated enough knowledge to define what I lacked – “Mentoring”.

So now, the question to you is “Mentoring - does it have a role in entrepreneurship?”

Start-ups can be tricky.. oops.. What am I saying, start-ups are tricky! You have a great idea that will fit the market need like a round peg in a round hole (I have seen most start-ups trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, obvious, they did not matter much to the business eco-system!). You got some Angel funding and your team is in place, the website is ready and the apps are raring to go. After all those sleepless nights and pumping adrenalin, all set, but how will you take it to those who need it?

 

If you are founder, partner, director, entrepreneur or a professional dreaming of setting up a business in the future, it is mandatory, yes mandatory, that you read this completely.

 

Marketing is the obvious solution. Your startup could be a conventional business or an online one; marketing is still the need of the day. Traditional marketing can be highly expensive.

 

TV Advertisements – This costs upwards of INR 350,000 for a 10 second spot on prime time, not to mention, this could go up exponentially during play offs like IPL. TV advertising reaches over 100 million households in India today. Certainly a great medium to advertise. Remember, a single advert will not do the trick. You will need a planned campaign and to establish in the customers psyche, the average slots could be anywhere between 30 and 100, if not more.

Question: You have angel funding, probably a few lakh rupees that you have already spent and need to keep some for taking care of costs until you hit the market. Can you afford it?

Doubt: Can digital/ online marketing be a solution?

Downside: You cannot analyse or find out the effectiveness.

 

Newspaper Advertisements – Making an impact being the objective, news paper advertising rates in India vary with city editions. A metropolitan city edition could cost anything from INR 3,000 to INR 5,000 per column-centimeter. For impact, a quarter page advertisement could cost you upward of INR 200,000. A front page slot will obviously attract a surcharge. Best impact comes from full front-page advertisement in metros could cost about INR 6,000,000. Again, if you are looking at a campaign, multiply the rate to arrive at your budget.

Question: You have angel funding, probably a few lakh rupees that you have already spent and need to keep some for taking care of costs until you hit the market. Can you afford it?

Doubt: Would you still need digital/ online marketing?

Downside: You cannot analyse or find out the effectiveness.

 

To make the point clear, a startup cannot afford to get customers through traditional marketing. With Angel investment, it is impossible, considering that the founder has loads of money, is it worth the gamble?

 

Way out? The new business needs to create new customers through digital / online marketing and once it has a sizable customer base, it can look at other methods of expanding the customer base. Also, this keeps marketing costs down and tests the market for the new startup idea.

 

I am sure, as a founder partner, proprietor or an entrepreneur, you would already know this. If you have opted for the digital path, what are the challenges you are facing?

  1. Getting skilled workforce for digital marketing? Not finding people or those hired, not delivering?
  2. If you have outsourced it, not getting the desired results? Tomorrows are the promises you get from the agency, and tomorrow never comes! That is because; most agencies follow a set plan and never customize the strategy as per your business / product needs.
  3. Hiring best talent is very expensive?
  4. Not getting the right digital strategist to resolve a plan that could work for your business?

What if we can offer a simple solution to all this without burning a hole in your pocket? If you can resolve your digital problems for less than a junior executive’s monthly wages, would you be interested? Along with:

  1. 10+ years of supreme digital marketing expertise in international market.
  2. Single window dedicated help for executing pre-planned digital objectives.
  3. Goal oriented practices including Ad-sense, SEO, SEM, SMM and Content marketing.
  4. Best White-Hat practices.

If you are, shoot an email to hello@startup-essentials.com with your contact details or call us at 09007964170. We will also give you a free one-ups technical analysis for your website within 48 hours of first appointment.

startup-idea

A startup is a young business, created and given shape by a not-so-young entrepreneur, usually. If the entrepreneur is in his/ her twenties and comes with a maverick idea that could work, yes that is a start-up. It is a known fact that most successful entrepreneurs started off in their forties to build big businesses. And, when you get to that age, it is only natural that everything comes with a pinch of salt. That forgotten salt is what we shall discuss here.

 

Start-ups are usually passionate ventures, in most cases, could be that the entrepreneur is pursuing his own passions and is creating the market for the same where it may not actually exist - a difficult proposition. Or the startup could be actually looking at a gap in the market and trying to address it, in which the passion could be a secondary aspect, short-term stuff that may be headed to failure or to giddy heights.

 

Whatever the situation is, at both these ends, risk looms large, the reason why the failure rate is high with start-ups. One has to have the passion and there should be an actual market gap, which is quite a rare phenomenon. By the way, if you are of the idea that making money is successful, think again. For any startup, success is about building a business right from scratch and letting it address the needs of many. Yes, money is a game-changer; however, money follows success and not vice-versa.

 

The start-ups we see in India are not actually start-ups. Let us see why?

  1. First Category: Most start-ups (I am addressing the online ones) that I see today in India are not actually start-ups, they are addressing the same market in a more technology oriented manner. Flipkart, Snapdeal and most other “successful start-ups” are just online stores selling merchandise sourced from manufacturers across the country. They offer a better collection of products and the ease of buying from anywhere. Period. I fail to see any new idea here. I have seen apparel stores and shoe shops since I was born. They are not contributing anything new to the society apart from ease of use.
  2. Second Category: Many others like TinyOwl, FoodPanda, DineIn and others have brought food and other services to your door which any other local vendor will do with ease. Again, the choice and logistic are enhanced. They are actually not responsible for quality or quantity delivered. I am not sure if any of these “entrepreneurs” are actually experienced in the culinary industry. If we look at Dominos or KFC delivering food through online orders, how different are these apart from offering more variety. What is the new idea? And then, why are they called start-ups?

A startup is about unique products or unique USP’s that can contribute to the society and these are rare to come by. Been seeing some adverts lately from BigRock, if I not mistaken – involving a maid training school to supply maids at an international scale. Humor apart, the idea is actually good. That can be a great venture given that the market gap exists; however addressing that could be a logistical nightmare, especially when it comes to sourcing and training.

 

If there are venture funds that fail to identify the right start-ups and keep flogging dead ideas that may or may not work, it is no real risk. A fund-able idea, the next big idea and any other idea - all ideas are born small, do not look for a fund-able idea, the secret is to enhance the idea so that it becomes fund-able at the same time keeping its uniqueness intact. The concept of venture capital will become a term-loan kind of financing situation, once your "fund-able idea" is funded. Time to think and act for any entrepreneur – look before you leap.

 

Whoever said, entrepreneurship is easy.

 

Feel free to drop an email with your comments to ideate@startup-essentials.com