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Women and Entrepreneurship: Direct from these Wonder Women

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The panel consisted of four speakers:

1) Nandita Kanwar – Founder eConcero – A Market Research and Digital Marketing company which began in Aug 2015 with basic aim to help the startup or business understand the concept of Market Validation. They believe one has
to Test, Validate and then only Invest.

2) Renuka Rathode – Product Strategist @ Zebi – Was Founder of Adnest, a customer acquisition and retention platform that generates viral referrals for businesses, using social connections of their customers and advertisement and also aspired to be an online analytics and optimization provider. Moving on worked with VDeliver followed by Strategy and Product Development at Zebi and Co Country Lead for Headstart Mentor Initiative also being a fellow of SLP 2015.

3) Aruna Lingam – Co-Founder Bamboo House India – They support Bamboo foundation in India and work with community whose livelihood is dependent on Bamboo to create a sustainable model for them.

4) Priya Anant – Co-Founder & Director Life Circle Health Services – They provide Home Nursing and Professional Caregiving to chronically ill and bedridden seniors in two cities Hyderabad and Delhi.

Aruna started at a stage when they never knew what Bamboo was all about and during the journey of last eight years they have now built two storey structures with bamboo. Bamboo being under forest restriction and Concurrent List along with working with tribals who live deep inside forest. Logistics and Communication was the major issue and there was not much Market Awareness as it is the concept on which the work is being done rather than the product.

They have been invited by the Kenyan government to develop a business model for their country in this domain.

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Priya worked for 15 years in the Healthcare and Research industry being from the Management background. There were deep insights into the healthcare domain from the bottom of the pyramid. Creative freedom was constrained and there was no agility making it difficult to shift in an absolute way.

Entrepreneurship was a good way to think about the challenge in a country where population is aging and migration occurs due to opportunities. There are females coming from remote part with low level of education and have a skill trade but don’t get a fair deal. The company was started in 2013 with a subscription model and has seen three times growth in revenues in last financial year.
So how does the Product Market fit work and why there should be paying customers? These are the questions which a startup should ask themselves because when they are going to Venture Captialist or the firm is looking for acquisition. This learning’s never go down the drain.

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eConcero did a Market Research for a budding startup and the results were not encouraging. When the response was shared with them they pivoted the model and from that moment they started doing well.

Delivering quality through resources is a sector wide problem in healthcare. So the team is hired from institutions recognised by Govt. of India and there is a system of feedback for the girls who come to work feel supportive.

VC’s raised a question that what if you get married two years down the line and stop running business. There is no right or wrong answer but the perception has to be changed and talent has to be nurtured to create a thriving ecosystem.

Growth Story: From Starting Up to Fundraising or IPO

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Every entrepreneur goes through the same journey in their professional career and when the stories are shared there is a resonance with the audience who have experienced or are experiencing the journey.

We bring out story of two dynamic entrepreneurs who have successfully built the company from scratch and got it to a level where they are recognised in the fraternity.

Husys Consulting – First HR company on National Stock Exchange – EMERGE

There were 16 million SME way back in 2002 in India and no one had dedicated Human Resource processes in place. Now the number has grown from 16 million to 55 million till date and today about 44% of working population works with SME.

Husys started with a vision to make the SMEs of the country get proper structure for their businesses and their human resources leading them to succeed. The dedicated and experienced HR professional team, are pioneers in handling the HR function management and HR Consulting services in the diverse field having handled HR Function Management projects with the modernized methods of technologies for our local, national, global SME clients and some of the Fortune listed 500 companies.

Billions of Dollars are spent on a problem called “Recruitment”.

The focus was on building an ecosystem of people on a platform called the HR platform. The opportunity to tap into a lot of HR professionals to become young entrepreneurs who do not want to reinvent the domain.

There was a thought about technology and also building an ecosystem that need to be developed and that is how franchise model was launched with partners.

Along with this journey the company went for IPO in Sep 2016, 25% of the equity was diluted to raise about Rs. 4.2 Cr. And that is how the journey continues.

MeraEvents – End-to-End, 360 degrees Event Technology Solutions Company

After having been in US for almost a decade and going to the startup journey and having lived through the 2000’s dotcom boom was interesting.

After moving to India in 2007, there was an interest in doing something in B2C space. After attending a sizeable number of exhibitions, conferences and seminars happening across India, there was not a single platform which consolidated and put everything in place lead to birth on MeraEvents.

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The challenge was “It doesn’t work in India”. A Do It Yourself platform was built over last 7-8 years having 4 different products catering to events industry as doing an event was a tedious task and there was no technology solution for the same.

The four products are

i) MeraEvents: Ticketing Promotion and Payment platform
ii) EasyTag: Batch Printing and Checking Application on the day of the event.
iii) moozup: Networking Application and Mobile App
iv) planica: Event planning software

The Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) grew from Rs. 7 lakh to Rs. 30 Cr till 2015 but these were not real revenues. When the focus went on the real revenue which the company was making it came to about Rs. 12 Cr. In 2015-16 with about Rs. 45 Cr. in GMV.

Then there was association with The August Fest for last 5 years and opened up API’s for anybody who wants to sell the ticket on their own platform. The idea was you create event on MeraEvents and it gets distributed on different platforms.

In the events industry the numbers generally don’t add up. Scale happens when you think big but the focus also has to be on small things and not to forget the real and important things which is customers.

The company has expanded to Malaysia and Singapore transforming it to a truly global company with a roller coaster ride.

An Entrepreneur’s journey is like “You die today and next day you are reborn”. The three pillars which are important i.e. Skills, Passions and Opportunities.

Helping others is the main thing the lost money will come back and the value is added in process.

Scale Up friendly Startup Ecosystem and Corporate Innovation

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“A Startup Ecosystem is formed by people, startups in their various stages and various types of organisations in a location (physical and/or virtual), interacting as a system to create new startup companies”. From www.startupcommons.org

It’s like cooking a dish in the kitchen, there are a different ingredient which needs to be put in at right time under right cooking conditions to get the delicious meal out.

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People willing to come for founders, capital to support, government, investors and policy support which enables start-u to grow. A vibrant community with different elements like media support to highlight role models, mentors to bring people together, academic and business institutions to support in the journey to encourage young people to start their own business for right reasons.

Silicon Valley is considered the gold standard for the startup ecosystem. The role was played by academic institutions such as Stanford which helped the entire tech ecosystem which included not only unicorns but also mid-scale companies, like minded people doing small-scale companies which led to Venture Capitalists see the opportunity to invest in them.

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Building an Ecosystem is tricky in this manner because when confronted by statistics such as out of 100 startups being funded only 8 were able to see day of light or light at the end of the tunnel. But the rest have got their crucial learning experience.

How you can gauge other people and propose ideas are best perks of the ecosystem. Working individually in this changing world will not work correctly as everybody is thinking in their own way and no one is thinking about others will lead to the crash.

Ecosystem is all about founder and it is tailored made to the local city. At the beginning it has to work really well for the ecosystem to mature. The idea is to find one or two startups that are doing really well, help them scale and thencreate success stories.
Pushing people to the concept of sustainability such as automation with different life experience encouraging a different way to live. This also ensures the founders knowing the resources available at the disposal and the networking events where there is learning from other people in the ecosystem.

These new technologies are disrupting giant companies and every big company is open to do business. There are initiatives on creating a culture of Intrapreneurship or employee within the corporates engaging on regular basis in projects and innovative initiatives which are deviation from the business as usual.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting and shoesBig companies have multiple gaps in their processes, the idea is to find one gap and fill them. When a startup wish to work with big companies they have to get their homework done of what the organisation is doing. It takes time to build the relationship and once the trust is established the business goes long way.

Sales cycle in B2B business is long and if a startup is genuinely solving a problem or easing out the process making it efficient it is worth the shot.

Image may contain: 2 peopleSo it is a combination of people in the ecosystem and people running organisation which create a cohesive system for a budding startup to leverage the opportunity to solve a problem and create sustainable solution.

Digital Desh – Story of Consumer Behaviour by Jasminder Singh Gulati from Now Floats

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India has 52 million small businesses and once the focus is on small business for about a year nearly 20 businesses can go for IPO every year.

Now Floats provides a location based platform that helps small and medium businesses to grow bigger by getting them online and getting discovered by potential customers around them.

So the customer downloads the App which helps them making a website through prompts in turn leading customer to local store.

There are more people in India on internet then the entire population of US. To understand what is going on in this country the team drove from Amritsar to Kanyakumari over a period of one month and document what was experienced.

There have been four drives in the period of last two years and for all practical purposes continue till this date.

The cultural diversity across India is very big and strong and every 100 km the language changes, the way they talk and express changes, mobile behaviours change and time spent on mobile changes. For example if the family is conservative the usage of mobile is low.

The response to the questions are also politically correct as people are interested in giving right answers.

For Example

i) Are you on WhatsApp? – Yes
ii) Do you buy from Flipkart? – Yes
iii) Does the Internet work? – No

Now there’s a conversation taking place with non-targeted questions. It breaks away fear by an average person being asked the question.

Now an average Indian is happy to give the phone after 10 min of conversation. The discussion which they are having in their mobile phone has led to some interesting insights. The number of groups they are on WhatsApp. What do they do they communicate in those groups from information to jokes be it in vernacular medium or English and so on and so fourth.

How many of them go from WhatsApp vs Facebook vs YouTube video. What is the quality of jokes they share.
These insights lead to hypothesis which is derived by the team and it is mindboggling.

A guy is not educated but is prolific on WhatsApp and Facebook and has actually dropped out of 5th standard.
Keyboard of the phone is in different language for some Apps and English for other Apps. The observation is authentic with level of details and clear from the masses.

 

Examples
1) Fishermen in Karwar part of coastal Karnataka are using WhatsApp to sell their fish after it’s caught in ocean.

2) A 14 yr old kid in Orchha, near Jhansi is speaking broken French and Spanish to supplement his father’s income of Souvenir’s shop was learnt through Google Translate.

3) A gentlemen in Pushkar is utilising Instagram to sell his Camel Safari with #Pushkar #CamelSafari.

For us WhatsApp, Google and Instagram are necessities in life but for them their survival is dependent on it.

We don’t expect teachers to teach as the phone in the hand. An guy sitting in domestic Europe searches on Instagram and doesn’t mind giving extra dollars without negotiating. Business People know where business comes from and they are always ahead of learning curve.

The insights are revealing when it’s a matter of survival and Product Management becomes very important to understand consumer behaviour. When a customer is unhappy, they are put across the team so that they can share the frustration and the team works on getting the solution for the entire segment.

Public Relation Strategy for Startup Growth by Robin Wauters Founding Editor of Tech.eu

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Public Relation is the way organisation and individual communicate with public and media.

When the communication is being done it’s about the whole message about the problem you are trying to solve for the right target audience differentiating from the competition and the solution being offered.

 

How well do you tell your story and it boils down to communication.

Research is available over the internet to help craft a good story, perfecting the message and teaching how to deliver well.

Do Something Amazing
It’s always about that one factor about the startup which is being represented by the founder and the solution is amazing.

Build Relationships
Interact with the journalist, before the meeting so that there is a trust and relationship established and built.

Understanding the Game
The idea is to not only convince the journalist but making sure they are interested in sharing the same excitement and story with the readers.

Convince with Facts
It’s always about What & Why. It doesn’t matter what the company is doing if it is not affecting the journalist personally. Create a narrative which helps the journalist understand the big picture of what is being done and give something which makes them care enough.

Image may contain: 5 peopleDo Not Waste Time and Do Not Lie
There is always a fine balance between to much information and to less information. Do not miscommunicate or misrepresent, because once you are caught there will be no coverage and will also eliminate the future chances of being covered.

Founder of the startup will always share their story and the relationship with the journalist and PR is built over a period of time. It will always be about the products and how much you care about the customers, their needs and also get them pay for it.

There is always an interpersonal relationship.

Art of Customer Acquisition by Raj N Phani from Zaggle

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Customer Acquisition is an art and it is similar to dating for a Startup. Because there are a few basic questions which goes on in the mind of both the startup which is launching it’s product or service and customer which will utilise it.

What are you going to get into?
How are you going to get into?
What is the relationship going to be?

To figure this out it is an extremely smart move to acquire customer at low cost through knowing who, where and how about the customer.

What cost will they come and whether retention is possible or not as they have always ridden on other people’s platform.

Build Cohort or small structures to figure out how the customer is engaged through Strategic Partnership or Integration which is a continuous trial and error.

Customers believe in Influencer and invest in good Influencer Network which creates a channel to acquire customer. Engaging customers through Referrals and Product Displays gets customer to hooked onto the content created by the organisation.

Establishing relationship with customers one to one is battle half won.

Founder is the biggest spokesperson of the company, they have to be thought leaders and come across and speak at business conferences and network as much as possible.

Post Live Video

If the content is good, it is going to be a success as the customers are buying into the stories.

Reinforce Brand Image

Wear the company Merchandise and position it in a way where it constantly reinforces and people start associating the brand with you.

Humanise the Brand

Once the customer is mentioning it is their Brand, they are here to stay for long time.

Be Your Own PR Machine

There is always a limited window of opportunity to sell yourself and it is extremely important to seize them.

Knowing customer personally through the brand and figuring out what can be offered through the brand which you like and use as an ambassador.

Opportunities – Growth Case Studies

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The panel consisted of four speakers:

1) Raghavendra Hunasgi – Chief Social Media Advisor for United Nations – A digital social media company which has
managed Presidential campaign for one of the candidates and crisis management for another candidate in the
previous US Presidential elections. Also working with Japanese 2020 Olympics and a few global brands such as Coke,
Nike and so on

2) Srinivas MadhavamVDeliver – Hyperlocal delivery services for businesses and individual customers presently
operational in Hyderabad.

3) Raj NeravatiHug Innovations – Addressing Personal safety in a holistic way through world’s first gesture
control Smartwatch with gestures, personal safety, fitness, health and nutrition.

4) Ravi MittalQuackQuack – India’s best dating and matchmaking app to meet, chat, flirt and date eligible,
verified and like-minded singles.

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Everyone had their own reason to start and as they say when there is a will or when life gives you lemon make lemonade.

Raghavendra was a brilliant student, gold medallist got a job in HP and after 6 months wrote a code and the whole hardware crashed due to a software code which led him to do an MBA followed by joining first batch of employees at Google who did social media lead to PhD and the journey of Social Media Marketing company began.

Srinivas was very sick and wanted some medicines and breakfast to be delivered at his home and there was no company doing the same back in 2011. This led to an understanding that there is a lot of requirement for hyper local delivery. He was about to get married and his family and in-laws were not supportive of entrepreneurial prospects so he got married and then left his job to begin his entrepreneurial journey.

Raj was deeply affected by 2012 Nirbhaya case in Delhi and decided to relocate from Dallas to Hyderabad after having a successful corporate career. Went to some big industry connect and then learnt what the real world is after facing series of rejection. Spoke to almost 40 people in friends and family to sell his story and was able to raise $1.4 million as there are no takers for hardware and no takers for consumer story.

Ravi had to leave studies early on and had to start helping his father in their family business as there was fallout with the partner. The work around with Sales Tax personnel, Purchase Managers over and above the stated is something which was not enjoyed. Wanted to do something in the consumer retail space and dating was something which excited. It took about 6 – 8 months to launch the first version of the App.

So what do we say when the enterprise establishes and sails through its initial journey? The Unit Economics, Product Quality, Data Protection and the focus is on Customer Service and Quality. When the credibility is established then the reputation comes at stake and there is no way to compromise on any of the principles.

Scaling is a challenge which every entrepreneur faces when the impact is measured through the larger audience.

In the hyper local delivery logistics is a challenge, Margins are in play and the pricing is pretty straight forward.

The challenge is differentiate between B2B and B2C pricing and not even a single order has been rejected till date.

To figure out the pricing model they reached out to top 5 digital marketing agencies in the world and requested for a quote for Social Media Marketing and depending on the quote the pricing was figured out and positioned as being not to expensive and not too low.

For the hardware product which was a Smartwatch, there was a lot of learning right from incorporating features to negotiating with Chinese manufacturers and others. There were lessons learnt by not having right kind of partners.

Positioning of the product and there was a lot of marketing needed. The shift came from being a great Tech and Product to having a niche in B2B space. The vendors were ready to sell more copies of a product if the price was reduced. But when there is a drop in price consumers are waiting for flash sales. Stick to Pricing and Quality and be consistent in positioning.

For a Dating App, scaling is not an issue from male users but there is a challenge from female users. But with the entry of app such as Tinder and other foreign players coming into market, people get intimation that dating app do work. It’s better to have some competition and advertising of the product to the target audience helps.

It’s about finding the right synergies with every stakeholder which enables the potential for exponential growth.

The August Fest ’17 series – Scale Up Festival 26-Aug-17

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Entrepreneurs make the World Go Around

They are the bravest souls who look at an opportunity and grab them with both hands. The crux of it is problem solving to help and engage with masses and make their life more meaningful. There is always a solution it’s just which one works after more trial and error and trying and trying and never giving up.

Every journey has its own roller coaster ride.

The August Fest running in its 5th year celebrating Entrepreneurship bringing the Problem Solvers under one roof to network, brain storm and share knowledge. 26th Aug 2017 was one such day where these rockstars gathered at Indian School of Business at Hyderabad to share the challenges and learning in Scale Up Festival.

What is Scale Up?

The idea is being beta tested and it has acquired a sizeable number users and everybody is happy about using the product or service and at times are also paying for the same.

How do you go from a few Beta users sizeable in number to Astronomical growth and this stage in the life of Enterprise is called the Scale Up stage. The idea is to scale the product or service to acquire more users and the quality remaining the same and improving simultaneously.

There was a Music Composer who turned Entrepreneur. Someone who started the Dating App and there were a different challenge. When you speak about Delivery specially hyperlocal delivery and no one catering to the audience when there was necessity. Women are faced with a wide variety of challenge and over that when investor says “What if you get married and close down your business few years down the line?” Ecosystem is great enabler and stakeholders look at the marco perspective to drill down and solve a micro challenge. Human Resources are a key element and there was one person who started a consulting company in same domain and took it to IPO. From Public Relations to growth cases to engaging with the audience who is semi-literate but utilises technology prolifically.

Thanks to the Platform created by a bunch of passionate volunteers who share the same enthusiasm as a novice or seasoned professional shares for giving it back to the society.

Current Trends in the Publishing Sector – Vikas Gupta, MD Wiley India

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Publishing Industry has been considered as one of the noble industry in the world which has taken the responsibility to compile and distribute the knowledge to the world. They give chance to authors to communicate their thoughts, ideas and learning’s to be translated into the book and delivered to the audience.

The publishing model has been same from 1400’s to roughly 2010 in which the Author – Writes, Editor-Edits, Proof Reader-Proofreads, Designer-Designs, Printer-Prints and Publisher has the responsibility to Distribute and Market to the audience.

About 10-15 years ago the word written in the Library Book was final and there was no dispute about it.

It todays time the book written is 6 months old by the time it is written from Manuscript to Market. The information available in magazine is about a month old.

The way we consume information today is through Google and in the last seven years or so the content is being consumed in multiple forms through multiple channels such as Audio, Video, Images Apps, Web Page, Virtual Reality and so on.

The book has one ending at the each of one chapter which is a static content and there is no premium for the same. The Interactive online book which involves the reader for option in terms of what they want and the algorithms are running in the background to get the story modified accordingly leading to a different conclusion when the book is read multiple times.

The content is technology oriented and something which is not available on Google can be delivered. The disruptive model in publishing where the two people in same class have different level of understanding and the content is crowdsourced. Author writes the basic plot and the ask people to contribute. Now those who have contributed needs to be paid.

Content creation is same and the way it is disseminated through videos, books and personalised content is making the difference. Publishing ecosystem will survive as the author can self-publish but the Publisher has the well-oiled machinery in place to market, distribute and make it available.

Author needs an infrastructure in first five days to make his book successful from content creation to monetisation ensuring the intellectual property is protected and transparency goes all the way in doing stuff in a period of three weeks which was done over a period of six months.

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