5 Companies that created new industries

Indian entrepreneurial spirit has been on an all-time high in the past two years. However, the big ticket funding rounds and the survival rate has been mushy. In the last year, one funded Indian tech start-up has shut shop every 10 days. 2016 saw over 200 start-up closures, which is 50 percent higher than the year before. Surprisingly, a sizeable number of these were ventures with promising ideas and no funding issues as such. However, they had operational paralysis and logistic concerns.  Some of them were PepperTap, Parcelled, and TinyOwl.

Logistics is pivotal to any ecommerce business since that’s what signifies your customer touch-point value and that is reassuring.  With a 20-30 percent decline in funding, 2016 also lashed biggies like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola with its capital withdrawal pangs. Startups funded by investment giants like SAIF Partners, Helion, Sequoia, Paytm and Flipkart were also victims.

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Start-up success is therefore definitely not dependent only on the monetary aspects. What works? There are Companies that created new industries amidst these. Let’s take a look at 5 such success stories.

Zoho

Coming from a humble middle class family of Chennai, no one would have predicted that Sridhar Vembu, the son of a High Court stenographer, who never attended college, would build a venture that would give tech daddies like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce, nightmares. Known as the Bootstrapped Buddhist, Sridhar opined how the company’s vision should essentially be the operating system of choice for business. This is what probably gave him the courage to shrug off naysayers and turn down acquisition overtures. Zoho recruits students out of their schools and polytechnics and not premium engineering colleges, an experimental training system aimed at creating a talent pool. Key takeaways from his entrepreneurial tips kit would be pursue unconventional wisdom and build a business that makes money.

Freshdesk

A nightmarish customer experience that revolved around shipping a TV from the USA helped Girish Mathrubootham start Freshdesk. A cloud-based customer support software & helpdesk ticketing system, Freshdesk assists customers over email, phone and social channels. The start of all this was an entrepreneur, then an employee, wanting to do better, what he did daily. With domain knowledge and talent available in India, they went beyond traditional customer support and built a 360 degree customer service platform on a cloud based SaaS. Starting with just 60 lakhs and two members, Freshdesk set on 3 plans – sprout, blossom and garden.  They even kept a plan B handy which was to shut down if unable to ship out products in 9 months and make $20,000 in another nine- a plan which was never needed.

Zarget

Zarget is an inspiring journey of the trio, Arvind Parthiban, Naveen Venkat, and Santosh Kumar, who wanted to put website conversion rate optimisation tools into the hands of startups, small business owners, and marketers, and effectively reduce their reliance on developers and IT teams. Sitting as a Google Chrome plugin, the SaaS tool received 1,500 signups with 400 companies during its launch year. It is aimed at making it easy and affordable for any person or business to access the solutions they need to increase engagement, and drive revenue across their websites.

Chargebee

Chargebee makes managing recurring payments and invoicing easier for online businesses. It’s an idea that gave life to global business in a local flavour. One didn’t have to give up on customers for a mere difference in currencies. ChargeBee processes over $100 million annually for their customers that include fast growing startups like Freshdesk, Kissflow, Soylent and VinylMePlease.

 

If not for his daughter, Supam Maheshwari would have never started FirstCry in the first place. During his frequent business trips abroad, he used to buy a lot of baby products since there were limited choices in India. He thus conceptualised FirstCry.com, an online and offline brand providing a range of products for babies, kids and moms in 2010.  FirstCry, the largest online shopping portal for kids, and expecting moms in Asia got its strategy right in the estimated Rs 30,000 crore baby market of India.

Entrepreneurship is something that is open to all. The possibilities are endless, and though there will be challenges, there are many who have gone ahead and made a mark for themselves with hard work and determination. Not all of them may be well-known. Looking forward to hearing such unknown success stories from you. Do write to me.

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Eat Sleep Train & Repeat

When my son went for vacation to Kohsamui Island on a back pack tour . I was curious why did he choose to go there , he told me his friends who was practicing Muay thai – Martial arts of Thailand are completing the schedule and coming and joining him from Phuket .

When he returned back curiously I asked about his trip and more so on the mauy Thai practice.  He gave me the site (TMT)  www.tigermuaythai.com. I went in to the site it offered us one week package for beginners , it costed 3000 Bhat , it also provides many options includes Cross Fit , Boxing ,yoga , various forms Martial arts , strengthening etc  . I also found few of my Sons friends from Chennai are already staying and practicing for few months .

I started planning for one week fitness vacation. Went to dietician described my program and got the menu for me.

We planned such a way that we landed on Saturday for a fight night . Participate by practicing ( IN TMT) amateur Thai Boxers from across globe participated in that fight ,they also served dinner with cocktail .You can see all Fitness freaks going around in their fitness attire all around . We had 11 fights , in all the fights we had Chinese on one side , they occupied 50 percent of the crowd . Indians is rare site to locate . One side you feel energetic, other side we had pull the tummy in and walk . It was music , dance and fight .We saw every one relaxing after a weeks grueling schedule Approximately 400 enthusiast where there. One Should be there to really experience it . It happens last Saturday of the month. . Sunday was rest day for all the Studios. It was all quiet day .

The Street is filled with many Studios ,place to stay , eat , massage  and shops to buy . They where  few pubs too . . The food and Juice shops practice to provide very healthy food . We can see protein mixed with juice is common practice . I felt like seeing Rambos , and Arnold all around . We have some clothing shops for fitness .

The Day when I started my first Muay Thai  class it was so exciting , with brand new boxing gloves .  There where 40 students from various countries in the class for beginners . Most of them  by look like as fully fit Thai Boxers. We had sufficient trainers around  . All of them mostly can understand only their language and way we don’t need language only action .  It was a kind continuous work out for 90  minutes which includes 100 push ups punces kicks . Next 30 minutes is full of stretches before then end the class . It was real cardiac work out . Every one was sweating includes me , post first class walked back to room after having a tender coconut water. Took me 2 more hours to rebuild myself .

When I registered , I did register to attend Muay thai 1 week package  . I can attend other sesseions like Muay baron ( Traditional form of Muay Thai , and Krabi Krabong ( Moments for sword fight with stick) classes in the evening . There where totally 4 session which I can attend , I choose 2 of them . Spent minimum 4 hours every day.

My food Schedules where some nuts and banana , and break fast was Spinach omllette . Lucky to find one PURE VEGAN joint gave me varieties for lunch and dinner . Tender coconut . Apple , and juices to fill the rest of the day . I lived by younger when I used to play basket ball for 4 hours and still had energy to go around.

Monday to Friday we had all the Scheduled classes . Satruday it was only Muay Thai morning 8 to 10 Am .

You can see world class Boxers , fitness expert , trainers , some of the military people came for retraining for some combat classes . It was exciting to watch them practice .  Cross FIT training looked tough for me . I feel even the Sports person can go for boot camp for a change . I am sure they will see new peek in the performance.

Most common thing people who come there is add more Tatoos there bodies , they do during week ends . Some of them was amazing art in the body. There where 2 kinds one is bamboo Tatoo and another one is Machine tattoo.

It was very fulfilling break from routine, for health enthusiast it is feast . I did nothing but EAT SLEEP TRAIN and REPEAT

If you have a week for you to take a break  plan a fitness vacation in Chalong , I assure you it will be real FIT vacation . It can be for whole family. Unlike Bangkok, no night clubs only FITNESS .  Very friendly people. Many of them come and stay for six months .  Average length of stay is a month. Indians I doubt unless they are really crazy about fitness .

Some Indicators ,

Fitness program for Week —  3000- 4000 Bhat. ( can attend any number of classes.)

You can also have individual level trainers –  500 – 1500 Bhatt/ session

Stay Approximately for Double occupancy – 1000 Bhat/ Day ( Rs 1800/ day)

Food will cost Approximately – 500 Bhat / day

Laundry – 40 Bhat / Kg

Scooter on Hire 250 Bhatt / day

Tender coconut 50 Bhatt

Juices approximately 100 Bhatt

Tatoos cost 4000 Bhatt upwards.

Boxing glove 2000 Bhatt upwards .

Phuket Airport to Chalong 800 Bhatt

Place I stayed is Signature Resort

For visual reference refer the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10155363613128656.1073741830.686428655&type=1&l=291fa669f1

 

 

 

 

5 ways to think up great start-up ideas

Coming up with a start-up idea is hard. The best startup ideas have three things in common: They’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. The ideas are so simplistic and yet not everyone can tap their creative powers to come up with a brilliant, life-changing idea.

Here are five techniques that can get your creative juices flowing:

What’s next? Think about trends and technologies on the horizon and how you might move into those areas. The story of Amazon is a great example of an idea whose time had come. Jeff Bezos quit his cushy job at D. E. Shaw’s to set up Amazon as the internet was then growing at 2,400% per year. Successful business ideas are often ahead of the curve and moving into disruptive new trends and technologies on the horizon can be a good idea.

Startup Ideas from Mani MVS

Do something about what bugs you: Did you know that some of the biggest start-ups in the world today were born because the founders were essentially annoyed by something. Like for example Netflix was born as Reed Hastings was annoyed that he had to pay $40 overdue movie fee (for Apollo 13) for a DVD. Dropbox’s Drew Houston always forgot his USB when he was studying at MIT. You can also ask random people what the biggest annoyances in their lives are. Finding solutions to people’s problems can help you to create a business idea you can work on.

Select a viable niche area: Choosing a niche area can be tricky as you could still not come up with anything despite listing all passions and interests. They can be born from interesting problems, not necessarily ideas. The emergence of Uber, Old and Grab has revolutionized the transport industry by plugging in a massive gap—last mile connectivity. Ensure that you test your idea and see how profitable it can be in the niche area.

Talk to shoppers, family: Sometimes in order to get ideas, one needs to be suitably inspired. To come up with an idea that meets people’s needs, there’s no better way than by talking to shoppers or walking up and down the aisles in a shopping store. Arunachalam Muruganantham revolutionized menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a machine that makes low-cost sanitary napkins. This idea was born out of his desire to impress his wife!

Search for a better way, alternatives: The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities. One way of working out a start-up idea is to routinely ask yourself “Is there a better way to solve this problem?” You would be surprised at how frequently the answer is “Yes”. It could be born out of passion or an issue that hasn’t been tapped into.

Many great startup ideas are about matching disruption with a set of customers whose demands have not been met or who just want to be entertained.

Why Your Team Is Crucial To The Success Of Your Start-up

Whenever you think of a start-up, the first thing that comes to mind are the founders who have a single-minded vision to see their idea come to life. Their drive and passion can no doubt make a lot of difference to the start-up. However, the success of a good start-up depends on the kind of team the founder(s) put together, who have the same drive and passion as the owners of the business.

According to a recent study by Rotman School of Management, the success of a new venture often depends on the ability of the founder to attract a great team around him or her. Like billionaire and founder of Alibaba Group Jack Ma says, “Find the right people, not the best people”. Forming the core team is one of the most crucial goals of the founders when setting up the start-up. As an entrepreneur, following are the four things you will need to keep in mind while doing so.

Transparency is crucial: From the word go, you need to be honest with your team/employees about what’s happening in the business. While that is easy to do during happier days, it can get tough when things start to take a downturn. Don’t sugarcoat financials and keep them abreast of the financial health of the company. Likewise, if you encounter problems like delayed salaries, you should have a clear explanation about the reasons to assuage employee concerns. Be clear about the team goals and confront frustrations head on rather than waiting for it to pass.

MVSMani - AngelInvestor

Pick the right team: Entrepreneurs need to understand that it is not just about innovation, but also about implementation. In order to pick the perfect team, you will first need to identify the weak spots or skillsets that your company lacks. Then, look for potential candidates who can fill in those gaps, with relevant experience. Persuade them to join your team and make a formal offer. As with any process, continuously assess your team structure to ensure you have managed to plug any knowledge gaps.

Involve everyone: Communication is a very critical tool for entrepreneurs. Companies are very wary of sharing sensitive data internally. Today, founders will gain more than lose while articulating results, news and data with their teams across all levels. It is when people are able to buy into the company’s vision that they are able to be more receptive to the founder. In the early stages of a start-up, the job roles of employees are often not clearly defined. You should communicate to the team about the need for flexibility.

Empower the team: If you have experienced employees who have worked together for a long time, then in a start-up it will boost the team’s ability to start quickly and smoothly. If you really want to make your team efficient, then you need to empower them. Allow the team to come up with their own goals and ambitions. Empowerment makes the team happy and highly productive. Employees also learn to think beyond their day-to-day work and think long-term.

It’s not always going to be easy to do, but it’s absolutely the most likely factors that will determine the success or failure of your start-up. You don’t have to install a table tennis table in the break room or start an employee book club. You can make your employees happy when you make them feel important, engaged, and invested in the company’s success. The best startups not only know that, they thrive on it.

5 Ways to Improve Your Networking Skills

When trying to get businesses off the ground, most entrepreneurs have to play the role of connectors—whether you are an extrovert person or not. They should have the ability to build relationships very quickly and with a lot of people. Building connections will enable the entrepreneur to match people with opportunities and leave a positive impression about them. To build the right kind of network, care should be taken to ensure that it is built around the following stakeholders: Customers, Team Members, Vendors, Investors, Bankers, Mentors, Competitors & Lawyers/Auditors. Entrepreneurs need to keep these top five things in mind while networking:

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Find the right ecosystem: It is important to dissect the different kinds of ecosystems around you before you jump into them. Each network has its own personality and characteristics. Some will be of use to you, while others won’t. Some of us like the high energy feel of a competitive space, while others like a quieter, closer trusted group of people. To be a successful entrepreneur, one has to build the right kind of ecosystem to develop and dwell in. One important thing to note here is that what is interesting may not exactly be the right one for you. So, understand what you need to gain on your entrepreneurial journey and this will help you gain more from your networks.

Be active and visible: It is not just important to be part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem related to the industry or the social sectors, but equally important to actively participate in all their activities. By being active and out there, you will be letting people know three main things: Your expertise, the willingness to help and the engagement of the network right from the start. By spending more time in the ecosystem and with your network, you will get to know each other a lot more. Ask “How can I help you?” and lay the foundation to a lasting relationship.                

Spend time & money: Many entrepreneurs assume that networking can be done for free or that attending innumerable get-togethers will help. That is not true. You will need to spend time and resources to keep networking. You can’t be a passive participant and hope that it will all work out for you. There should be a conscious attempt to nurture such relationships. Give it at least two hours a week, inside and outside your organization and do it either over lunch/dinner or meet for coffee.

Creating value for oneself & others: It has been established that one needs to be an active participant in any entrepreneurial ecosystem to be able to leverage it to the fullest. It is only by being an active participant, can one create value for oneself and others. Don’t be a one-way networker. Don’t be a person who just contacts others when you need something. The key to good networking is to do something for others genuinely and sincerely. By bringing your networks to life, you can be at the center of the network and create value for yourself and your organization.

Pursue hobby or clubbing: Hobbies and interests are an integral part of our persona and an important way of creative expression as it enhances our ability to relax and recharge our spirit.  Pursuing a common hobby that aligns directly with your career is a great way to socialize and meet people who share your interest and build new relationships. It is about finding a shared interest, building connections and rapport with people. It will be easier to network in such groups as the pressure of a networking event or industry meeting is not there.

Networking is an art that can be learnt over time. It is not just about connecting with others, but noticing the small things that will make them feel important and remembered and making time for others. Be willing to reach out and help even if there is no obvious payback. Be a connector.

 

10 tips on how to deliver a pitch investor simply can’t turn down

This is the Age of the Entrepreneur. Never has entrepreneurship become more attractive that it is today that students are encouraged to turn down corporate offers and establish their own businesses and ventures. But, before you set out to do that, use these tried-and-tested tips to help build that perfect pitch, which investors won’t be able to turn down.

MVS Mani

Get the story right: There are myriad reasons why one sets up a business or a venture. It is necessary to ask oneself the Why—the reason for becoming an entrepreneur. It could be something very personal or maybe a great business opportunity. Whatever be the case, get your story right because you will need that vision to channel the business as you grow.

Be clear on the core problem and your solution: Make the pitch short and simple as you probably would have less than a minute to make a compelling case. Investors listen to start-up proposals all the time and it would be prudent to ensure that your proposal talks about the core problem that the start-up will be addressing and how.

Detail Evolution of Product / Service: Your proposal should include details of how you see the product or the service offering evolving in the first three years. This would give investors a very clear idea about how the entrepreneur sees the start-up flourishing and its financial feasibility.

Know your split: It is necessary to know your numbers in advance. This will help you in figuring out how much equity you are willing to split with the investor. Depending on the funding they are willing to put up, some investors will want a lot of equity and some other kinds of incentives. Whatever the case, have a good idea of what is a reasonable split.     

Be open minded: One of the biggest problems that most investors face is the lack of willingness on the part of entrepreneur to listen. You need to leave your ego at the door when you seek funds and be open to the suggestions that are offered by the investors. Investors will ask numerous questions about the product/service and sometimes offer suggestions to change the business model or technology platform. Take the time to consider the questions and suggestions and view them as insights.

Know your investor: It is imperative that you do your homework on the investors before you approach them. Investors have different preferences in terms of the type of business or industry, the level of risk, and what stage the start-up is at. Entrepreneurs should make an effort to build a relationship with the investor rather than just viewing them as a fund source.

Show your conviction: The investor wants to know that you’re doing everything possible to take advantage of every opportunity that is being given to you and working 24*7 to make the company a success. This conviction should shine through your presentation and pitch.

Keep a realistic valuation: An investment discussion should never begin with how much the start-up is worth. Experienced investors will be able to give you an idea of the start-up’s valuation and even the entrepreneur must set a realistic target of what he/she can expect in the market. Valuations may be adjusted based on the strength of the management team, location of the business, industry or market.

Have clear knowledge about market: Do your research before you decide to take the entrepreneurship plunge. Know your market. Is the project viable? Are there many companies in the area that you are looking to enter in? Is there a demand for your product and service? If so, what can differentiate you from the rest of the crowd? Doing proper due diligence will hold you in good stead as it could very well be the difference between success and failure.

Who’s your competition? Never say that you don’t have competitors. It is either a sign of arrogance or naiveté. Either you are limiting yourself to direct competitors or you are not looking hard enough. Once you do identify them, then ensure that you understand their business strategy, their strengths and weaknesses and it should be listed in your business plan.

Hope you can put these tips to good use and may 2017 see your start-up blossoming!

The article appeared on Bizztor

4 things to remember when launching a business

Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you that setting up one’s own business is both satisfying and fulfilling. Today, we see many in our country embarking on their entrepreneurial journeys like never before, especially with the young taking the lead. However, Startups and entrepreneurship have certain critical points that founders need to bear in mind while launching a business venture. They are:

Discuss the idea with few and check their reaction carefully

It is always wise to discuss your business idea and the logic behind it with a few known and Successful Entrepreneurs in the community. Besides validating your business idea, it would also help you in getting the right feedback. Having a frank discussion about the pros and cons can help avoid discrepancies, suitably modifying the idea to suit the right audience needs and thereby sidestepping unnecessary heartburn and disappointment. Moreover, there is a real possibility that someone else has come up with the same idea. By discussing with your peers or veterans, it will provide you a fair idea of the competition as well as a wonderful insight into the buying behaviours of people for the right delivery.

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Have access to sufficient financial resources

It is essential that the startup entrepreneurs should have access to sufficient funds at least during the first six months of its incubation. Even if he/she plans to be conservative in terms of expenditure, it is likely that funds will get depleted soon enough. It is important to line up back-up personal resources such as borrowing money from parents or friends, PF funds, jewellery etc., for the initial phase even before even exploring other internal accruals or angel funding. You can also request the people with whom you first discussed the ideas for financial support, or try out any of the new crowdfunding websites.

Important plan a right launch with the right message

Timing is everything when it comes to launching your start-up. Besides marketing and PR, timing –when and where the venture will be launched— is very critical for a successful take-off. Even if you have the perfect idea, team and enough funding to get the ball rolling, if your idea comes too early and your customers are not ready for it, they won’t readily adopt your business. Take, for example, the explosion of mobile wallets or e-wallets in India in the past couple of months. Though they had been around for a few years now, it is the push for demonetization that has prompted people to switch to digital wallets such as Paytm, Mobikwik and Freecharge. The digital wallets were packaged well with the right messaging. The companies spent a lot of money on marketing to advertise and connect with the audience, educating them on how to use the e-wallets.

Try and get the first customer before the launch

As mentioned earlier, the validation of the idea ideally should have been done with a potential customer. This is more relevant in the case of a B2B outfit, where the ticket value is high. Your idea should have been bought by the customer in the first place, which would have left you on a positive note. This will give you the much-needed confidence to focus on product delivery and operations rather than the initial sales target and money.

The article appeared on Bizztor