As I was browsing the Agenda of the TiECON 2018, the workshop on Design Thinking caught my attention.  This brought back memories of an earlier session by Arun Jain (Promoter of Polaris & Intellect Design) where he had mentioned that Design Thinking can be applied to any small business, and/or even in a village panchayat.  That earlier session had triggered my curiosity and I wanted to know more.  I had checked with my mentor, who suggested a very old book written by Don Norman, “The Design Of Everyday Things”(1988).


When I started reading, it felt like “all this is common sense”, and “I know this”.  But as I went in deeper, it set me thinking.  There are many design thinkers who have made us believe that this is simple common sense, which is really not common.

The book gave me perspective of few elements like Experience Design, Industrial Design, Interaction Design and Human Centered Design.  I also understood the principles of interaction like affordances, signifiers, and feedback mechanism.  I enjoyed the book and it gave me some input on the fundamentals – but the question was to know how to implement this in our business and bring in a major shift in the Organization thinking.

We are a 20+ years young organization with many stakeholders who have put in 10+ years and are in the comfort zone of teaching what they know to peers and colleagues.  Someone recently asked me what is your vision for the company.  Though I was not comfortable talking about it, a small group works with me on this.

So, the TieCON workshop came as a solution to many of my unanswered questions – and the icing on the cake was that it was being conducted by the same Arun Jain who had set me thinking many months ago.  I went to the workshop with an open mind to learn as the speaker was in himself a unique combination of being a successful entrepreneur who jumped out of his comfort zone to build high enterprise value for his stakeholders.

Arun Jain opened the session by stating – “Design your Thinking” & “Think Your Design”… this was like a magic wand that opened the locker of thoughts.  According to him, some of the necessary elements that help in designing your thinking are Listening, Dialogue, Observation & Reading.

He spoke about the “Five Drivers of Design” – SEPIA – S – Skill; E – Expertise; P – Perspective; I – Idea; A – Alignment.  The term “idea” was mentioned in the context of connecting patterns in a new way, and this got me thinking and became the starting point of mapping my thoughts on what I should do in the organization.

Arun went on to speak about the FIVE Frictional Force – “D CAFÉ”… does it sound similar? Yes, it is in one way similar with D – Doubt; C – Conflict; A – Acceptance; F – Fear; & E – Ego (I know all).

This was enough for me to get going and I was all set to go back and verify where I was with respect to my thoughts, beliefs and the organization.

As my thoughts were racing, the speaker continued the workshop by talking about howthe multiplier effect works.  It was through “VAL”  V – Vulnerability; A – Appreciation; L – Limiting Beliefs (order taker to Agenda Setter).  This topic attracted good amount of discussion on the speakers perspective.  This formed the base, and the speaker had given us the route to take to build a thinking organization.

The session continued and the speaker was mentioning about how the multiplier effect works.  He said that it was through “VAL” V- Vulnerability, A-Appreciation and L – Limiting beliefs ( order taker to Agenda setter) . These topic attracted good amount of discussion on various perspectives & gave insight on how I should think to build a thinking organization.

With the concepts in place, finally he came in to business to speak on “Elements of Designing the Business”.  I felt I had reached my “AHA” moment that I had been waiting for.  This was going to be very useful to me as I could use it even when I meet start Ups who come in for mentoring.  When he said, it is “Belief” – I was stumped. “Hey! I have enough belief in what I do till I fail J “So what is it that I don’t have?

When Arun Jain expanded the acronym., B – Brand Capital; E – End Customer; L – leadership; I – Intellectual Capital; E – Execution Capital; F – Finance Capital., I understood what it takes and the experience of the speaker in building a thoughtful company called “Intellect Design“.

Arun Jain is a practitioner and not a consultant, so there is so much of conviction and answers for different scenarios.  His experience helped him articulate with depth.

He ignited my thoughts on Design Thinking many months ago, and I took the first step by reading more on the same.  With this workshop, I experience the feel of being with a mentor who has given me the next set of homework, “Plan your 2025 and come back”.


5 Things to consider when accepting an Investment

No matter what your idea is – be it to build a small start-up by bootstrapping or even a big one with tons of money from VCs– you definitely require some funding.

Though getting an investment is a triumph in itself, it is important to look at certain aspects while accepting it. When an outside investor gives you a big fat cheque, it may seem like the best possible thing ever. However, stop right there and check the fine-lines of what you have laid on the table for that money to come in. So every entrepreneur should know some fundamental realities of accepting the funding beforehand.

Let us take a look at 5 things that you need to consider while accepting an investment.MVS Mani

Type of Investment

The way an investor invests in your start-up has a drastic effect on your company. Actually, debt may be better than equity. Let me put it in a simple manner. If you are lent money by someone, what you have to do is just pay it back with interest. They do not have any say in how you run your company. However, if someone buys your stock, then they are your legal partner with rights.

Another point to consider is if you have an equity investor, he gets paid only if you are profitable. However, a debt security investor needs to be paid monthly even if your business is not yet profitable. So make sure you take an informed decision.

Type of Shares

If you have gone in for equity investment, then the next thing you need to look at is the type of shares that the investors are taking – preferred or common. Preferred shares have a higher claim on the assets and earnings than common shares. They normally have a dividend that must be paid out before the other dividends. So here the investor has more control over you and the company than the common shareholders. If an investor is getting preferred shares it is not always undesirable. However, you need to understand the set of rules that come with it. You must be aware of the power you are giving them and plan accordingly.

Type of Investment Protection

Almost every investor (Equity) will ask for anti-dilution protection of their shares. When this comes up you should be pushing for what’s called a “partial ratchet.” Here the outside investors would get to buy additional shares at a price that is closer to the actual market price of the shares. This is a win-win as they also get it at a lower rate and you do not lose as much as you would when it is a “full ratchet,” where you end up having to sell investors additional shares at the lowest price they were offered them at.

Type of Liquidation

When your company sells, how much money you make depends on the type of liquidation that you have planned for at the beginning. This is the order in which the business owners get paid if the business is sold or goes bankrupt. Depending on the preference you have signed with the outside investor, they will get a double or triple of their original investment. Make sure that you know what you have agreed to.

Types of Promises

Outside investors seek covenants or promises in the agreement as they are not always there to check on you. These can man anything and you must ensure that you are not promising anything that you can’t actually do. Ensure that you do not need permissions from investors before each and every decision or hiring that you do so that you can operate freely.

So be thorough on all the legal clauses before you take on an investor. There are chances that investors will seek certain things in their favour depending on the amount they are investing on your company and it may not always be a bad thing. What you need to do is be aware of what you are agreeing to so that you don’t get the bad end of the bargain in the end.

The original article appeared on Bizztor


Factors that will affect start-up funding

Securing the first round of funding is an unnerving process for start-ups. The founders have to get their product or service and boil it down to Rupee’s and Paisa’s for investors whose main worry would be about how quickly they will get their money back.Mani MVS

The usual ways for funding are seed, bootstrapping, grants, friends and family and angel funding. It is not a new statistic that a very few percentage of start-ups get VC money. In fact, generally start-ups do not get VC money. The number stand at about one percent of start-ups in the US and it is around the same in India. If the person is a serial entrepreneur and has an idea with cutting edge technology where the initial investment is very high, that is when the VC checks in.

So, how can you make your start-up stand out and get funding? Here are the factors people look at before doling out the money.

Unique idea

The core idea of the start-up always becomes an important factor. This is what will be responsible for the success or failure. For example, if your idea is the same as a Google or a Facebook, chances are that you will not find any backers as you are entering a tricky market with established players. However, if your idea is something new and targeting people who have not been targeted before, automatically the uniqueness of it stands out. You are solving a problem. Along with the idea, you should have a business plan that is clear and structured. It must cover all the elements of your business idea in order to get funded.

Solid team

By team, I mean both leaders and executers. Leadership is imperative in start-ups as this is where the decisions are made and visions set. At the same time, great things cannot be done alone. The successful running of a business is dependent on the team who executes it. Even the best of plans can become a failure if you have the wrong team. When you are looking for funding, it is important to project your team as solid. The more adaptable that team, the better the success rate.

Early traction

Early traction refers to your early set of users. These early adopters of your service or buyers of your product are vital. The reason is that although you are not yet established, they became your customers. That means that they saw some value in your product. What you have solves a problem, so you automatically become a solution for it. They will also help in bringing more customers and will be the loyal lot if you do things right. Now, if you can show these customers, securing funding becomes that much easier.

Backing by good advisors

Start-up advisors are the people who will support you to run your venture successfully. Choosing the right advisors mean that you can substantially improve the way you function. Your goals can be achieved faster with the immense experience that these people bring in. They can also introduce you to the right people and help you with their timely advice. If you get the right advisors, their coaching abilities, passion, industry knowledge, and other skills will bring great insights to your business. Having those means that you are on the right track and this is also a key factor in funding.

The Original article appeared on Bizztor

4 factors that predict start-ups’ success

The corporate scenario of today has made it simple for anybody to start a business. What is difficult is to sustain your business and turn it into a profitable venture.

MVS Mani

Oftentimes I have been asked if there is a set method that could help in making a start-up successful. I cannot tell you to do these things and say that if you follow it you are definite to succeed. However, there are certain time tested factors that can help in predicting the future of start-ups. It is nothing but a remarkable mix of powers that influences the growth of start-ups.

Research has shown various surprising and reassuring correlations between age, education, gender, and location of start-ups. Here are 4 factors that can envisage the imminent success of your start-up:

Market Need at that time

During the launch of a start-up, it is important to keep a check on the market. A lack of market need definitely contributes to shut down or failure of start-ups. One needs to understand the need of the market and also go deeper into what your competitors and your market is doing to ensure that you are ahead at all times.

Pricing of product/service

Here is a factor that has to be given ample thought and research. This may seem a simple matter, however, if the price is too low, the cost becomes high and people may wonder why there is such a variation. At the same time, if it is too high, you will lose the market to the competition. One has to ensure that pricing is arrived at in such a manner that the start-up is profitable.

Timing of the launch of product/service

What is the ideal time to launch a start-up? The only answer to this is – when the market is ready. If there is a fantastic idea and the product/service is launched too early at a time when the market is not ready, it will not work. At the same time, if one is too late, the market is already overloaded and the level of saturation is so high that it will again be a failure.

Right Team

The quality of the members of the team including not only their knowledge, competence and skills, but also their attitude is something that has a direct influence in the success of a start-up. Even if you have exceptional entrepreneurship qualities, to accomplish great success you need the right team. With the support of the team, the vision can be achieved by creating achievable goals.

Statistics say that 90 percent of start-ups fail eventually. It is a myth that if a person has a great idea, your start-up will succeed. Yes, a great idea is definitely needed, however, a start-up cannot not run only on great ideas. It requires the constant support of a skilled team and the correct functioning of each factor to successfully nurture and develop it.

The original appeared on Bizztor .

What are the growth drivers of start-up firms?

If you are a start-up, then growth definitely isn’t merely an option for you. It is the only way for your survival and one has to ensure that one achieves it or work towards it constantly to succeed.

Growth in itself may mean different for different start-ups based on the stage they are at. For some, it might mean an increase in revenue whereas for others it may mean expansion and yet others may see growth as the maintenance of their position in the market. No matter what your startup is looking at, here are some time-tested techniques that are drivers of growth.

Learn from mistakes

As a start-up, you have to absorb lessons from all fronts. Some may be from your experiences in the past and others might be experiences of others that have been shared as research or even word-of-mouth. Either way, it is important to learn and not have a stubborn mindset that refuses to change. It is only if one is willing to pick up lessons from those mistakes that one can grow one’s organisation and ensure a successful path.

Consumer Innovation

What your consumers are looking for is what definitely turns into the major drivers of growth for any start-up. You need to ensure that the consumer is convinced that they need what you have to offer and what you are offering is the best in the market as well as unique. Understanding the consumer in such a manner that you know exactly why they need your product is pertinent. You need to get into their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. Apart from this, one needs to collect regular feedback to improve consumer experience as well.  

Early Customer Retention

This is something that is very crucial as it is more economical to get existing customers to buy from you than it is to find new ones. A start-up must definitely work towards retention right from the beginning. This is what will bring them back to you and repeatedly buy from you. Retention is even more relevant today in the crowded e-commerce arena where clicks and conversions always seem to be increasing.

People and process

No matter which stage your start-up is at, these are two things that cannot be ignored. One needs to have a team that is good and skilled, a process that works and brings desired results without many setbacks. If you have both of these set, then half the battle is won. Today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good people who are willing to take on responsibility and if you already have them then make sure you hold on to them.

Technology adoption

In a world where everything is driven by technology, a start-up is no different. It is not only about the use of technology in your start-up, but also the ability to incorporate it in such a manner that you get the best out of it. A process can be optimised with technology and a system may be enhanced by using a particular technology. Therefore, technology is definitely a key driver of growth.

Effective Communication

Communication is not only within the start-up, it is also about communicating with the end consumer. In today’s technology-driven world, it has become very simple to have an open line of communication with consumers. With Social Media marketing, this is something that has become far simpler and cannot be ignored anymore. At the same time, communication – that is both top down and bottom up – must flow within the start-up as well.


No matter what stage you are in, what is crucial for growth is not just a great idea, but also, a great leader. A leader is one who will see your start-up through when the times are bad and also ensure that he steers you towards the shore. All the other growth drivers will definitely fall into place as long as the leader is a good fit.

The original article appeared on Bizztor

Why is Networking important for Start-ups and how it is done?

For Start-ups, networking is a strategy that is a crucial part of business development. No matter what modern day technology can do and how it has changed the way start-ups function, the basics of networking are still significant. Specialised networking, be it online or in person, is essential for start-ups. Even though every start-up is distinct and unique, if one builds one’s business through networking, it is only going to be advantageous.

Startup Networking | MVS ManiSo, why is networking important?


Firstly, networking is a great sales tool. It is through networking that some big accounts and deals have been closed.  To do this, one must meet with the actual decision makers at a firm. They will help you understand their requirements. Apart from that, they will also show you other ideal customers for your product/service.


This is something that is priceless, especially if you are an up-and-coming start-up.  Through networking, you will gain more connections and this automatically widens your horizon to have more possibilities for growth and partnership. Moreover, this is also a revenue opportunity.


Investors don’t just put their money in start-ups they are not comfortable in. It is only with due diligence that this is done by them. Networking with them makes this path a little smoother. The investors will also in-turn guide you and introduce you to others. Thus all in all it gives you an edge.


It is important to get publicity for your start-up. The promotion of your company must be a long-term plan and not something that is sudden. The only way you can ensure this is through networking as it helps in this and it also increases your brand recognition.

So how is Networking done?

Contacts can make or break deals. How can you make sure that you are doing it right? Here are some tips:

Online platforms

While one-on-one meetings are ideal, today, people do not have the time for them. This means utilizing online platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter as well. This will mean more connections, opportunities and visibility.

Seek Advice

As a start-up, it is important to know and understand the people you are networking with and their expertise. Spending time with them and seeking their advice will form long-standing relationships.

Exchange Values

Every meeting you have must be of value for you and the other person. Your novel and fresh idea will provide something to the person you are interacting with, so don’t hold yourself back. There might definitely be some need there that you might be able to address.

Organise/attend events

One way to ensure that you are in touch and constantly networking is by organising or even attending events. Though it is not a one-to-one meeting, you will be meeting a larger group here. This definitely means a lot of effort from your end, but will surely reap benefits.


Whatever you do, ensure that your communication is clear. This is crucial when you network. Confusion will prove to be negative.

As a start-up remember that while networking one must always have something to offer. Another lesson to learn is to not directly ask for any favour. So what are you waiting for? You need to start building up your network today!

The Original Article appeared on Bizztor

5 step strategy to effectively manage Start-up growth

The one thing everyone hopes for in a start-up is growth. In fact growing is good news. It can mean an increase in revenue, increase in number of employees and more investments. However, the issue of how to best manage this growth arises here. Increasingly, it can be seen that if the start-up is unable to accomplish this, they collapse. In fact, start-ups are often crushed by their own growth. If your company is growing too fast, you might not have enough cash to deal with your day-to-day financial obligations, including bills, payroll and supplies.

Startup Advisor MVS mani

Here are some key steps to effectively manage Start-up growth.

Customer focus

With the evolving markets of today, the customer is even more demanding. To manage the growth of your start-up, one must focus on the customer by adopting various means including innovations around social media, mobile technology and advanced data analytics. The customers’ evolving needs must be the centre. The difference between successful businesses and underperforming ones often lies in the way they treat their customers. Just remember that no matter what stage your start-up is currently in, you can never stop listening to your customers.

Right core Team

Exceptional and outstanding teams have become few and far between. This poses a huge challenge for a fast growing start-up. Finding the right core team and retaining them is a crucial step when your company is growing at a fast pace.  Having a team that is smarter than you is vital. This team is the one that will navigate your company to success and handle growth spurts. This means hiring right as well as ensuring that you have people who are capable of handling their departments.

Timely Change/Improvements

Entrepreneurs need to strategize and innovate in a timely manner when the core business expands. Start-ups are very dynamic and if their business plan is well-crafted, entrepreneurs may believe that they have the future in their hands. This is when one must pay adequate attention and change with the times and make improvements when and where necessary, especially when the start-up is at a growth spurt. It is only by doing this that one can ensure success.


Once you have created a fast-growing start-up, it is pertinent to make sure it is executed to perfection. Ideas are numerous in today’s day and age, but what will make you unique is the way you execute your idea. That is what will set apart your start-up from the others. If you can manage the execution, your start-up’s growth will be a smooth sail. Invest in people who perform duties and responsibilities in a clearly defined manner. This will ensure the efficient running of your start-up. Collect as much metrics as possible and also use tools like checklists, if necessary, to ensure that that each function runs effortlessly.

Check for sustainability

Your start-up must be scalable. In this regard, the entrepreneur must have one foot rooted whether while making fundamental changes in order to seek greater returns. Only if you have the ability to sustain, does it make sense to take that leap.

Do ensure that you can manage your growing start-up well.

The original article appeared on Bizztor