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Two Heads are Better than One

One of the biggest myths that everyone believes: being a solo founder is the way to go. Personally I blame the plethora of movies that glorify and romanticise the struggles of starting a business from the scratch. There are too many movies that make it seem that doing things single handedly is the only was to be successful or to make things seem worthy of praise.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Being a founder is very difficult, whether you have been in the game from the past day or for 7 years. There will always be new obstacles and harder problems to overcome, an empire cannot be built overnight, and certainly not by just one person.

And having someone to help you is better than trying to do everything and failing. Having another person to help with responsibilities and work is the smart way to go. Or even just to bounce ideas off of. The point is to work smart, not hard.

Entrepreneurs are problem-solvers, we use traditional methods, radical ideas and great teams to build successful ventures. We do all that it takes to achieve greatness and to do better, no matter what – we are all in. But sometimes we need help and there is no shame in asking for it.

In the end it is always better to have a partner than to get burnt-out and failing miserably.

There are various reasons why it can be beneficial, both mentally and physically. Having a co-founder means that you can take more breaks, you work more effectively if you are happy and well rested, both of which come from a healthy working experience and from not overworking. This also means that there will be someone to handle things if you get sick or are unavailable in meetings.

One founder can handle the inner workings and employees, while the other can take up the external meetings with investors or collaborators and the production process. Or one can handle the domestic firm while the other can do the out-states/country trips. This allows a flexible partnership and increases the range of talents and expertise.

If implemented, more things can be done better and faster if jobs and tasks are delegated, by virtue of specialization in portfolios. Always bring in a co-founder with complementary skill sets, so that task can be allotted according to the particular thing the founder is proficient at. For example, if you are good at marketing and product/service management, bring in someone who is good at the legal or finance aspects of it.

While running is good for health, it is meant to be done for 20-30 minutes a day,however  founders end up doing a bit too much of it, for far too long with no breaks. This can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, to the point that you end up getting sick and have to take a week’s leave to get back to working form. Not very efficient, is it?

You can see this practice put to effect in various positions, like CEO’s, CFO’s and company presidents. It might not be a very popular implementation, but it works wonders – claimed by the companies itself. 

Companies like Chipotle, Whole Foods and Deutschen Bank have two CEO’s. A few, like Samsung, even have three!

However the issue comes to when dealing with tasks that require prompt decision making and the veto power. When onboarding a co-founder, we strongly suggest making clear and concise distinctions on who holds the veto and who has a secondary position, and who handles what part and workings of the firm.

From what we have seen, it is better to have a cofounder in the long run and for your own sanity and health. Just like the saying goes ‘two heads are better than one’.

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Impact of COVID Crisis on Different Industries

“Your job as an entrepreneur is not to predict the next COVID-19. Your job is to predict the fact that things will go wrong.” – Athan Slotkin, AKA The Shadow CEO

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, they see a sliver of a need not being met and base a startup to bridge that gap. They expect the unexpected. One thing that left everyone running for cover and funds was the sudden lockdown that was imposed worldwide to battle the ongoing pandemic. No one knew how the outbreak of COVID-19 was going to affect the entrepreneur and startup ecosystem.

One of the things that entrepreneurs have to think about is the inevitable fizzling out of their company. Long run planning is the hardest because no one knows what the future holds. There are things that many did not prepare for at the beginning of this year.

The pandemic has hit everyone hard, many have had to lay off employees – unable to meet expenditure, many shut down completely – unable to manage finances, and all of the workforce had to work remotely, one thing that they were not trained for. Some companies were able to stay afloat, pulling out on a flexible framework, while many had difficulties keeping the doors open.

Sectors like health care, cybersecurity and ecommerce saw a hike in their projectiles, while sectors like travel and hospitality fell drastically. One of the reasons for this was the absolute need for these services, they could not be substituted, they could not be rendered obsolete.

And once again Marlow’s hierarchy proved a point in case. Needs like food, sanitation and security cannot be replaced. However the question of factor for form arises. While food is indeed a necessity, the context is incredibly important. While restaurants and fast food centers had closed down for months at end, there was a rise in the demand for raw foods by the general populace. Many started baking their own bread and making food at home.

If you look closely at startups or firms that gracefully survived the close down of the world, you will notice some similarities, somethings that helped them survive the pandemic and the uncertainty it brought with it.

Funding:

Some companies had a run-out stash of cash that was used when funding was withdrawn or investments were put on hold. This helped them in the first few months of the lockdown and gave them breathing space to manage and plan a bit better for the future.

Growth:

Things changed very fast, especially the way the customers interacted with companies and their services or products. The same was the way that founders saw growth projections. It went from growth at any cost to reasonable growth with a margin for profit. The first thing was to be able to sustain the firm and then look for ways to make profit.

Re-align goals:

Customers are fickle in loyalty and in their wants. So firms that realigned their goals to better fit the situation did better in terms of sales. They saw potential when the shutdown happened and moved their service online and tailored their marketing to expand on social platforms.

Adaptability:

The company should be more proactive rather than reactive. Building a working framework is imperative to the structure of the firm. However priorities change through the years and it is important to have a flexible framework that can be adapted to the present requirement. And adaptability should also be extended to products, revenue streams, etc. A diversified revenue stream not only means more revenue, but also more ways of reaching more customers with fundamentally different needs as a result of this crisis.

Healthy workforce:

It is proven through many studies that a certain income threshold keeps employees happier, and this then leads to improvement in work and productivity. A company only grows if their employees grow, both professionally or personally. 

There are various factors that determine the success of a startup. Unfortunately there is no hard-and-fast rule or a formula. Some things work and some things don’t, it’s up to the founder to see which things are worth following through and which are better to be left as is.

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Join us for Founder Interview Series

Is it not easy being a founder, there are a lot of trials and tribulations that come with building a startup and developing it through the years. Even well established companies face problems like staying relevant in the changing times and evolving with the change in demand, they also have to keep up with any advancements in technologies so as not to become outdated.

One thing we always say to new founders is that there are so many lessons to be learnt, in stories of established founders or in new entrepreneurs. In empires and in small firms fit in a single room. In successes and in failures. We believe that there is no set formula for achieving greatness, personally or professionally. But what we do believe is in mutual support and in life-long learning.

One of the best ways that we have found, for aspiring entrepreneurs to find motivation and inspiration is in stories of founders and to listen to founders talk about their journey to stardom and how they overcame obstacles. There is no one path to success and no two stories are ever the same.

This is why, Indian Startups presents to you – the Founder Series. A one of its kind series where we will hold sessions and interview with founders from across India and from around the world, from different walks of life and with a diverse portfolio. 

We invite you, founders and entrepreneurs, to sit down and have a cup of coffee with us, to tell us your story and journey. How you beat all odds and made it big. Tell us how you grew from an idea to a business. We would love to talk about your inspirations, your dreams and your plans for the future. A platform all for you and your startup journey.

And as a community, in Indian Startup, we go above and beyond to bring you the best resources and events to help you in your journey. 

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How did the outbreak of COVID-19 affect the startup ecosystem?

At the start of the covid lockdown, there were many who expected that the startups might come to a grinding halt or even that they might wither out completely. Many were concerned about the unwinding of companies that was due to happen. A few months in, many of those people changed their tune. The pandemic had an unexpected impact on the business and the working culture, in ways no one thought possible.

Many firms did not have policies in place for such an event and many didn’t prepare well. All work and operations came to a screeching halt at the start of the year and by mid-summer they did not have enough money to proceed. Whereas the workforce was forced into their homes and remote operations commenced. There was a lot of disruption in communication and in the sudden changes of firm processes. Employees were not trained to work remotely and the workload increased as there was not enough online expertise to go around.

According to a survey conducted by FICCI and the Indian Angel Network called ‘Impact of Covid-19 on Indian Startups’,

  • 22% had cash reserves to meet expenses for 3-6 months
  • 12% had to shut operation
  • 60% operated with disruptions
  • 68% cut down on expenses
  • Almost 30% stated that they might have to lay off employees if the lockdown was extend

There were huge losses in investment and profits. Many had to close certain departments as they could not meet the monetary needs. Most work was out-sourced to companies that specialized in remote work. While many have laid off employees, there are a few who have taken things in stride and slashed their own income to make up for adjustments in their monetary investment instead of letting people off, like Dan Price who is a maverick CEO of Gravity Payments.

However there was a small percentage of startups that profited heavily due to the pandemic by moving and expanding services online. Industries like ecommerce, cybersecurity, SaaS (software as a service), video conferencing platforms and gaming companies saw hikes in their potential projections. Most of these industries had enjoyed growing revenue and loyal customers like the healthcare sector, stood to benefit a stronger balance sheet.

This pandemic is proving to be a strong push in the direction towards the cloud services. The sudden shift in dynamics has proven to be invaluable to many who are learning and preparing for a future in remote work and for those who are tweaking their operations to better suit the current situation.

Sectors like real estate, transportation, physical retail and travel are taking a huge hit both in terms of revenue and growth. Many opting to go virtual, few museums and theatres are putting their service online in hopes of retaining customers and increasing revenue streams from international customers.

This pandemic has closed off a lot of things for new entrepreneurs and budding startups, but it has also opened up so many opportunities for them too. The key is to look for gaps in the trees in a forest and not the trees itself. Profiting in the current situation is very difficult – as is keeping things afloat, but it is not completely impossible as shown by some firms and their workforce. 

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Free Consultation for Startups & Entrepreneurs

Are you an entrepreneur struggling with making decisions when it comes to legal matters, patents, sales & marketing strategies, etc. If yes, then Indian Startups brings to you an awesome panel of experts that are at the top of their fields, and knows the ins and outs of running a business along with how to overcome the obstacles in your entrepreneurial journey.

Why book a free consultation?

We realize that building startups is not very easy and there are many obstacles that can hinder the growth of the company. These types of  obstacles can be solved with a bit of advice or with a conversation with an expert. While friends and family are great, they might not be experienced with solving a business centric problem.

The next question is how do you find an expert?

With a big and wide professional word out there, finding a place to start might be a bit difficult, seeing as you still have a business to run. And then once you find an expert, you have to get in touch, find available dates and schedule a meeting, if they happen to be able to take the time out for you. 

And this will probably take a few days at best of week over text or email. There is more hassle that you probably have the time to deal with. Which may be avoidable.

And this is where we come in.

Why get in contact with experts via Indian Startups?

As we mentioned above, we have a panel of experts that are at the top of their fields, so they know the ins and outs of running a business and how to overcome the obstacles that plague you. 

These experts have worked alongside us to bring the best possible experience to our networking events and have long since helped our community by imparting advice and wisdom along with occasionally mentoring our rookie founders or entrepreneurs. 

Keeping in mind that business can not come to a stand still when obstacles appear bigger day by day, after much deliberation, we bring to you: the Free Consultation with Experts. You can get a one-on-one session with our selected expert panel, a 20 minute session dedicated solely to solving your problems and helping you grow your business.

This way, you get the best of what Indian Startups has to offer, without the hassle and at your pace and leisure.

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Importance of CEO Networking

Professional networking is so much more than making friends from the same job sector as yours. While networking does mean to build relationships, the kind that you make is also important. It is all about meeting and building relations with like minded people that have a mutually-beneficial connection with people in your industry. Most relations are give and take, and professional relations are no exception. In this case, favors are given and taken.

It is important to have a strong and wide network. Networking gives you an insight to new trends in the sector, any new job openings or any new projects in the market. Social media and professional platforms have made the passing of information much easier, and presents an opportunity to connect with international representatives of companies and expands your network outside of your country.

This is important for any position, networking is as imperative for a new recruit as it is for a founder or a CEO. This includes CEO’s with decades worth of experience and for new CEOs.

There are a lot of benefits of networking, other than just finding people in the same sectors as you. 

  • Makes you noticeable:

The more people you know, the further you reach is. Publicity is good for businesses, people notice others based on their skills and capabilities, and their relevance to the industry. The more people you know, the more you can stand out in terms of expertise and experience. Professionals only connect with other professionals that they know are adept and great at their job. Garnering a starting network also attracts clients, as they know the type of people you connect with.

  • Improves your intellect:

When you connect with different people, you learn their thought process, how they work and what factors help make them a success. Once you learn these things, you can then tweak them to suit how you conduct business. This will help increase your chances of success, help harness your skills, improve thinking and expand your thought process. Which in turn fosters your career growth and professional prospects.

  • Growth in status:

Career growth is a long-term process that you will need to do for the better part of your career or even after. There are two things that come with a top position – need for a strong network and status – for you to stay at the top. Your contact largely depends on your status and vice versa. Which helps get you better opportunities.

  • Find out new opinions:

Chatting or conversing with like-minded people opens up a world of new things that you probably didn’t know existed, professionally or generally. Sometimes networking is not all about what I can do for you and what you can do for me. It is connecting with people at the same wavelength as you and learning from each other. With these people you can ask for help, advice, opinions or tips.

  • Professional circle:

Every relationship is a two-way street, you give as much as you take. You give a favour with the expectation that when you call for it, the other person will do the same in return. This leads us to trust, which is important in any relationship. So connect with people who you know, like and whose ethics are strong, someone you can trust to help.

  • Knowledge is power:

Information is a type of currency, a payment for services rendered. This information can range from projects to job openings to workings of a company. The one who holds knowledge, holds power. And when you have power, there will be many who will want to connect and network with you.

The next question is, how do I do it in a way that maximizes my value and contacts. There are many things that you can do to garner a strong network. Keep in mind that these need to be done diligently and regularly to be of any use.

  • Reach out:

Build relations with the right people – people that can help you make the right moves in your career. Colleagues, contemporaries, bosses, friends from university, alumni, etc.

  • Keep in contact:

Regularly connect with these people. Send an email to check in, forward an article about things that they like or are in their orbit. The stronger the relationship, the more effort they will put in to help you. Just don’t keep things professional, add in a bit of personal touch to make them feel special. Make an effort and put in the time.

  • Move online:

Networking within the company is only going to get you so much. Branch out of your company and expand overseas. Look out for your counterparts from different companies and connect.

  • Do and take favours:

Maintain a balance in what you ask for and what you give. No one wants someone who only takes and takes and gives nothing in return. And just giving is not going to benefit you in any way, you need to be able to call in favours when you need it.

  • Attend professional networking events:

Indian Startups knows how important networking is for professional growth, we host monthly networking events for professionals and startups and have received an immense amount of positive feedback. After many sessions, many meetings and discussion, we have decided to expand our networking events and include CEOs and CXOs. Now we would love to introduce – CEO Networking Event. A networking event exclusively for CEOs from all industries and sectors, old and new. And CXO Networking Event for all Chief Officers of companies and firms.

We can’t wait to see you in our networking events! Feel free to reach out to us for any issue or information and we will get in touch with you.