What Keeps the Start-Up Generation Going ?

What Keeps the Start-Up Generation Going ?

Luck or Hardwork
"Luck...well, ummm, luck yes, to a certain extent, maybe about timing the product right, but my success is what I've made of myself. It is my hard work, ideas and team that has delivered, not really a Lady called Luck."

They sit opposite me, in their early to mid 20s, buzzing with ideas and an enthusiasm that was not the norm of my generation - founders and creators of new products and ideas, often fresh and bold, and almost always making me sit up and say "Now why didn't I think of it?" No longer are they coy about taking credit or embarrassed by the spotlight. This is their moment in the sun, and they are going to stand up for the applause and savour the appreciation. Ladies and gentlemen, the Start-Up Generation is here.

Young Minds
Sample this - Samay Kohli, 28 and Akash Gupta, 25, knew 5 years ago that when e-commerce took off, huge warehouses would eventually need to lean on machines to find products and ship them out. So even before they left the BITS Pilani campus, they knew they were going to revolutionize warehouse tech. Today, they rule the market, with a 95% market share. "Do you know," they tell me, eyes shining, "the average warehouse worker walked 13 kms per day searching for products, and we knew that was an issue. So we turned the problem on its head. We decided the rack had to come to people and not the other way around." Yup, I nod, after all, all it takes is one person or make that two, to find a simple solution to a complex problem.

Millenneials Lead Startup pack
And perhaps why 70% of start-ups are founded by people under 30 years of age is because resolving these issues needs a young, fresh approach - one which isn't burdened by history and doers who won't take no for an answer. Shashank ND started Practo on the NIT campus in Karnataka in 2008. Today it is the world's largest doctor-finding platform, valued at over 3,300 crores. "My dad was unwell and I realized what a nightmare getting a second opinion was, and that's when it struck me I had to simplify this." And there, at that moment, a pair of 20 -year-olds started a new chapter in healthcare tech in India. "If two college boys can do it," he tells me matter of factly, "There is hope." And plenty of it, I agree.

New Ideas-New Risks
Having said that, every few weeks, someone will say start-ups are losing their lustre, others will have surveys to back them. Are they, I ask this new breed of entrepreneurs? 9 times out of 10, "Who cares?" is the answer I get. "I am doing what I love and there's no time to focus on who's saying what." But what if you stumble, lose big money, have to fire people, what about the dreaded F word - Failure? They shrug, give me half a smile and surprise me yet again. Many have been there, done that. Burnt their fingers, fallen on their faces and got up again. Risk isn't a scary word here. In fact I can't even say with certainty that it's a word familiar to them in the first place. Many of them have mottos that define them and almost all are along these lines - Grow Fast or Die Trying. Failing is not an option, and that's what they claim they've convinced themselves. "We aren't selling a dream, we are selling a solution. We are solving a problem that you don't even know exists, to help you overcome it when it hits you." I am reminded of what a school teacher of mine would quote extensively: "If Plan A doesn't work, there are 25 more letters waiting."

Inspiring & Informal Offices
Many offices in fact have everyone from John Lennon to Jack Ma and Steve Jobs posters on their walls - offering tips, their mantras or just ''hanging out''! But does this really help, is there more to this than just creating a ''cool space''? You don't call it an office, mind you. That, I am told, makes a distinction between home and work. "What we create is our life, there's nothing else going on when we are starting out, there's no time to have another focus."

Not surprising then that during shoots, we stumble on mattresses where people have spent the last couple of nights (sometimes more), or find ourselves grinning widely at the sight of a pub in the same building where some start-ups encourage their staff to chill and unwind. Uber cool we all agree instantly! Foosball and snooker tables are the norm, and dance and yoga classes, often over the weekend, are gaining popularity rapidly.

Mecca of Startups in India
But is it all style alone? The dot.com bubble was also hailed as the next big thing, but we know how that went. Start-ups are in vogue today, banner headline material, but will the buzz last? Pertinent questions which keep coming up each time a Forbes list on top entrepreneurial cities globally has an Indian presence (usually Bangalore, the Mecca of start-ups in India), or a big bang valuation of a top start-up puts its worth at billions of dollars. What about the ease of doing business, or the lack of it, the folks leaving to set up offices in ''friendlier'' countries like Singapore or Malaysia? Are we getting ahead of ourselves when we hail Bangalore as the next Bay Area?

Who's to say if these folks buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm, not to mention determination, will script a new chapter for all of us? Will they be game-changers or just footnotes? Either way, we will know eventually, and I for one will always be glad for their excitement and innovation.

Wish now more than ever that I had a glass ball, and wouldn't it make a great start-up opportunity too! But alas, more proof I wasn't born to be an entrepreneur.

Article By 
Natasha Jog -Senior Editor and Senior Anchor with NDTV
First Published on NDTV



Axilor Ventures announced the list of 20 startups that made it to its Summer'17 accelerator batch. This is its fifth batch and is the largest accelerator cohort in India. 

Talking of the new accelerator cohort, Ganapathy Venugopal, Co-founder and CEO of Axilor said, “The institutional capacity to support early stage startups in India is quite low - whether it is the structured programs to systematically improve the odds of success of startups, the market access that they need in their early days or the angel investment capacity. This has been Axilor's mission and by doubling the capacity of this batch to 20 startups we have taken one more step to bridge these gaps. We are very excited to work with the new cohort.”

The cohort of 20 startups and 52 founders makes for interesting statistics. They belong to five sectors – consumer internet (4), enterprise (6), AI (4), healthcare (3) and fin-tech (3). 80% of them are product companies – 10 serving enterprises, 6 consumers and 4 serving healthcare providers. All but 2 have already launched and 10 of them are post revenues. The founders have diverse experience – 9 of the 52 founders are less than a year out of college (some graduating next month) to very experienced folks starting up first time. While the median years of experience is 6 years, 2 years on an average has been spent working on a problem similar to their startup idea. Interestingly, 15 out of the 20 startups are from outside of, signifying the depth of startup talent in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

Welcoming the startups into the batch, Asutosh Upadhyay, Head of Programs at Axilor, said “The demand for our program has been overwhelming and validates the need for such programs among founders. Unlike the previous batches, most of the startups are post launch and some of them post-revenues. Our 100-day program is designed to help them make rapid progress, gain business traction and get funded. Axilor’s market network provides early access to customers and partners. They get to work with resident advisors on the riskiest parts of their business and finally get funded.” Axilor’s growing community of 100+ founders is another big draw. Being part of this community allows them to learn from other experienced founders, tap into each other’s networks and seek help.

Meet Axilor’s Summer ’17 Accelerator Cohort

Name of startup
About the startup
Detect is a Drone data-as-a-service company focused on helping manufacturing industries ensure asset integrity and proactive monitoring leading to enormous cost reduction. Detect’s solution is currently in use in some of India’s largest oil & gas companies.
95% of breast cancers are curable if detected early. Yet 76,000 women die in India alone and more than 700,000 globally, every year. Niramai is working on a non-invasive, radiation-free, painless and low cost cancer screening solution.
Genomic data holds the key to predicting health. Orbuculum uses AI on genome data to predict diseases such as cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Orbuculum's AI tool will help doctors diagnose chronic diseases early thus reducing cost and improving effectiveness.

Last mile logistics is big with an estimated 2 billion+ annual deliveries by 2020 in India alone. But they are also expensive, manual and error-prone escalating costs and compromising customer experience. Transporter.city's SaaS product automates the entire last mile logistics planning and helps increase the same day delivery output to 95% with 25% lesser delivery fleet and 40% cost savings.
Adya Inc
All enterprises are prone to Cybersecurity threats - not just the ones who can afford an expensive on-premise security product. Adya's network and endpoint cybersecurity SaaS product helps enterprises protect themselves from employee theft and ransomware - a problem affecting more than 70% of enterprises, globally.
Events and business conferences are ubiquitous. But there is no tool that can assess audience engagement and generate actionable insights and analytics for the organizers. Crowd Product (CoPro) is pioneering the way audiences engage during events. Already used in leading startup events including Nasscom Product Conclave 2016, TiE Product Showcases and many more VC events.
Student acquisition for educational institutes is highly expensive, conventional and inefficient. Extraaedge is a "Salesforce+Hubspot" for educational enterprises that generates a 3X RoI on their marketing and sales spend.
Gig Production
Event organisers want large audiences but struggle to manage pre-event and post-event audience engagement. Used by the likes of DJ Snake and Sunburn, Gig's automated communication tool bridges this gap and connects concert organisers to their audience, right on Facebook messenger.
Maroon is a predictive analytics platform that enables enterprise sales teams achieve upto 44% higher conversions on their marketing and sales leads.
Rucept is a powerful merchandising platform for high traffic content creators globally. It helps them monetize their art and engagement through products without investing in sampling, manufacturing stocking and distribution.
Healthfin makes healthcare procedures affordable for consumers. Especially with low penetration of medical insurance, Healthfin helps patients secure credit support for expensive medical procedures. With an inventory of >4000 hospitals and 9500 diagnostic centres, HealthFin helps patients discover the best hospitals and secure funding.
Legal Docs
Executing legal documents, especially for consumer needs (like rental agreements, PoA registrations etc) is time consuming, expensive and is dependent on multiple parties. Legaldocs is the fastest growing, Do-It-Yourself portal that enables the entire legal process - documenting, verification, validation and online registration. Currently a partner to Govt of Maharashtra on the e-governance project, it also enables Aadhar based verification for Legal doc preparation.
GST is coming! It brings with it a new multi-billion software market for GST compliance. Taxgenie is a platform that will help the 30million MSMEs be GST compliant and manage their businesses with just a smart phone and spreadsheets.
Consumer Internet
Entertainment in India is big and one of the top 5 markets globally. But casting, a critical aspect impacting the quality of production, is archaic, manual and time consuming. Castiko revolutionises how casting directors discover, audition and cast actors by bringing the entire cast recruitment workflow online.
With around 50 lakhs bite-sized lessons consumed and more than 4 lakh games played, Knudge.me has established itself as on-the-go learning platform for folks looking to improve their English skills
With an average session length of more than 9 mins on the app, Multibhashi makes the experience of acquiring a new language highly realistic with audios recorded by native speakers and simulation of real life situations.
YourQuote's mission is to make everyone quotable - by helping people capture their thoughts on mobile and broadcast their words as 'google-able' quotes. Currently gaining rapid traction with over 40k organic downloads and 6k+ DAUs.
With 300k downloads and >80k MAUs, PocketPill has established the use case for solving $300 billion problem of medication non-adherence in chronic patients by bringing affordable medicine to everyone, saving costs and improving health outcomes.
Chronic disease management is protocol-driven, time consuming and requires frequent doctor visits. In cases like mental health, with the doctor-patient ratio of 1:1100, there aren't enough doctors. Talkadoc's product allows doctors to increase the acceptance of new cases by at least 25%. This is achieved by helping them automate the entire patient management process. Currently focused on mental health, it is already being used by over 30 doctors and 20k patients and caregivers.
Healthcare is expensive all over the world. More than 7m people travel to other countries every year in search of cheaper and more effective treatments - 300k travel to India alone. Treatgo is an online platform to help international patients and referring doctors compare, choose and reserve medical treatments.

How can late entrants win in the innovation race?

Innovation Pics

It is very intriguing to find that late entrants have their own strategies to win in the innovation race. Strategic planning involves improving operational efficiency and scouting for opportunities to build new markets and grow domestic markets.

It is a known fact that an organization that is first to hit the market with an innovative product or service has a better advantage over late entrants. However, later entrants can succeed in the innovation race.

So, what can late entrants do?
  • Adopt distinctive positioning and marketing strategies.
  • Take advantage of the complacency of the pioneers
  • Attempt to leverage the inability of pioneers to cater to growing or shifting demands of the  market place
  • Explore innovative ways to market their product or service
  • Have a thorough understanding of entry and defensive strategies
  • Have a good sense of timing
  • Understand the weaknesses of competitors better than the latter
  • Other strategic measures adopted by late entrants
  • Use market penetration pricing if cost of production is lower
  • Focus on niche market
  • Use incremental innovation to improve on existing products
  • Target new geographies to market existing products
  • Develop new channels of distribution to access new markets
The fact is that late entrants can be agile when it comes to adapting to the innovations pioneered by the first movers. If late entrants have a good R&D capability then they can design new features. Late entrants have to be agile in manufacturing, design and development and marketing to respond quickly to first movers. Having a dedicated R&D center helps because then it becomes easy to assimilate new knowledge and absorb it as soon as possible.

About the AuthorVenkatesh Ganapathi@VGanapathi
Venkatesh Ganapathi is a Guest writer for Startuptimes.in . Varun is an Assoc. Professor at Presidency Business School and is an author of books – “Introduction to Green Supply Chain Management” and “Managing Successful Innovations” (Book Boon Publishing).

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10 Rules for a Great Startup Idea

Ideas are a commodity. Everyone has got one. Some ideas end up as great products or services while others failed or never saw the light of day. The secret to building a successful company lies in the execution of an idea but that doesn’t mean any idea well executed will fly. Sometimes, even well executed ideas turns out to be a complete waste of resources, with time being the most important part of that loss and cannot be regained. There are certain items you need to run your ideas through to evaluate its viability before execution and this infographic, designed by Andrew Chen on Visualy, highlights 10 important items to use in identifying a great idea

Tags: startup Infographics, Idea Infographics, 

What's A Perfect Core Team for Tech Startup ?

This is the most important thing in a startup. Most people think its funding, sector, sentiment, design, marketing etc but these are the subsets of a Strong Core Team.

Why am i stressing so much about the Team, everything in the company is connected to Team, be it investment, product, revenue, etc even the employees look up to the team. For e.g. just think if you get an opportunity to work with the superstar Elon Musk, will you still ask "what`s the package" . Yeah, even i will say "Yes" without being concerned about the money involved. Inference: good employees also look at the founders as they also want grow in personality and knowledge instead of just money.

What make a team great?

Best friends with complementary profiles make a very good team. No two people should have the same skill-set, its good that everyone knows coding, but one should be the CTO of the company and will be responsible for the all the important tech decisions.

The CTO: A person who is deep into Coding, need not to be much experienced but the ability and willingness to learn new technologies like firebase, orchestrate.io, Heroku, Node.js, Angular.js etc which make development and deployment of the app in a matter of weeks is really important.

The Business Guy: This guy is the one who will go out their and make sure you get business anyhow, even if he gives an unrealistic deadline to the client and the team shouts at him for doing so and gets back to work and meets the deadline.

The CEO:  This is the most shorted guy in the company and deals with all the important issues like fund-raising, hiring, product, expansion etc. He needs to have a very cool head over his shoulders because he will responsible with all the important decision making of the company. A person who can sell his dream in split seconds, preferable a marketing person is the perfect CEO, but there is no hard and fast rule for that. Pitching is another important responsibility of the CEO, so the CEO needs to convincing enough. The Investor will invest or not in the company will be decided in a fration of a second, its quite similar how tinder works.

Although this is the best possible scenario, but it is really tough to build a team like this in reality. Lot of issues like Team Structure, ideation, motivation, cordination, family pressure, difference in expectations etc all these things will one time or the another will come to haunt the solidarity of the Team. Best friends tend to manage all this quite easily, so try to bring onboard best friends for longevity of the venture

I have worked in 5 startups till now on full-time and part-time basis and what i observed was that Team was the most important thing that differentiates a normal startup and probable unicorn. Do share your thoughts on this, would like to hear your thoughts on this topic

About the AuthorAmanjot Malhotra@amalhotra
Amanjot Malhotra is a startup entrepreneur and is the Founder at Partiko. He likes putting growth hackers at key points for viral growth

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5 varieties of Startups

startup types

Connecting to the startup ecosystem day in, day out has been an amazing experience so far. Learning new things, great ideas and to be surrounded by the brightest minds is always wonderful. Discussing new business opportunities, new plans everyday, interacting with people with great vision provides me with the energy to keep going. This is something an individual with a 9-5 stream would be void of.

Having said all this, I can majorly categorize 5 varieties of startups:

“Lifestyle, small business, scalable, salable, social “

Lifestyle Startups: Work to Live Their Passion: On the Tarkarli beach in Konkan, one of my friend is a startup. They can be called lifestyle entrepreneurs: like Scuba Divers, teaching diving lessons to pay the bills so they can Scuba Dive some more. Lifestyle entrepreneurs live the life they love, work for no one but themselves and pursue their personal passion.

Small-Business Startups: Work to Feed the Family: The overwhelming number of entrepreneurs and startups in the India today are still small businesses. This category consists of grocery stores, hairdressers, consultants, travel agents, Internet commerce storefronts, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. They are anyone who runs his or her own business. Most small businesses are not designed for scale — the owners want to own their business and feed the family.

Scalable Startups: Born to Be Big: Scalable startups are what Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and their venture investors aspire to build. Google, Skype, Facebook and Twitter are just the latest examples. From day one, the founders believe that their vision can change the world. Unlike small-business entrepreneurs, their interest is not in earning a living but rather in creating equity in a company that eventually will become publicly traded or acquired, generating a multi-million-dollar payoff.

Salable Startups: Acquisition Targets: Many of these startups bypass traditional VCs by using crowd or angel funding. This class of startup is likely to be sold to a larger company for $5 million to $50 million. The founders and investors walk away with millions but not billions.

Social Startups: Driven to Make a Difference: Social entrepreneurs are no less ambitious, passionate or driven to make an impact than any other type of founder. But unlike scalable startups, their goal is to make the world a better place, not to take market share or to create to wealth for the founders. They may be organized as a nonprofit, for-profit or hybrid.

Each of these five very different startup types has different financial goals, requires different teams and uses different financing strategies.

 Yet what they all have in common – every one of them – is that in the last few years we’ve come to see that we had been building startups inefficiently.

 Investors treated startups as smaller versions of large companies. We now understand that’s just not true. While large companies execute known business models, startups are temporary organizations designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model.

Looking at the current scenario, there is a need to change the way we look upon entrepreneurship, incubate startups and fund them.

About the AuthorAlok Tamhankar@talok
Alok Tamhankar is the founder of Think Startup, he is an enabler, entrepreneur and a speaker.

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How Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy Attracted their First 1,000 Customers ?

This articles is presented by Michael Blanding based on a case study by Thales Teixeira who studied three of the most successful “platform” startups to understand the chicken-and-egg challenge of how companies can attract their first customers.

New businesses often struggle finding their first customers. The challenge is even more difficult with startups in the sharing economy that launch as platforms connecting independent service providers with consumers.

Take Uber. Its platform is two-sided, connecting people who need rides with people who have rides to offer. (Same idea as Airbnb, which connects people needing rooms with home-owners.) So to launch as a platform service, these companies need to find users on both the supply and demand sides.

“When you have a two-sided platform, you have to acquire both the customers and the services,” says Harvard Business School’s Thales Teixeira, Lumry Family Associate Professor of Business Administration.

“It’s the classic chicken-and-egg problem,” he says. You can’t have one without the other, but which one do you find first—the customer chicken or the service egg? “As a small company you cannot afford to focus on both with the same amount of effort. You may need to prioritize one side.”

Preparing to teach a new course on e-commerce marketing next spring, Teixeira made it his goal to find an answer. He studied three of the best-known and most successful startups—Uber, Etsy, and Airbnb—hoping to find some commonalities in how those businesses solved the dilemma.

Spoiler alert: it’s the egg that needs incubating.

As Teixeira reports in a new HBS case, Airbnb, Etsy, Uber: Acquiring the First Thousand Customers, all three platforms concentrated on getting the service side of the equation first, customers second. But there’s a catch. “It’s not just the chicken and the egg, you also want to select the right eggs,” explains Teixeira. “If you acquire the wrong eggs and ostriches come out, then you are in trouble. The chickens will run for the hills.”

From the beginning, it was clear to the founders of apartment-sharing site Airbnb that they’d need to find people willing to list their homes before finding people interesting in staying in them.

“If you don’t have a supply of houses and apartments, people are not going to come,” says Teixeira. The problem was, where to find people willing to let strangers stay in their places. It’s not like they could go around San Francisco knocking on doors.

Instead, founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia thought like customers themselves, trying to figure out where they would go if Airbnb didn’t exist. It didn’t take them long to figure out the answer: Craigslist. The entrepreneurs figured they could do a better job of making apartments appealing than the online classified site, but first they had to siphon away its customers. To do that, Chesky and Gebbia created software to hack Craigslist to extract the contact info of property owners, then sent them a pitch to list on Airbnb as well.

The strategy worked. With nothing to lose, property owners doubled their chances of finding a potential renter, and Airbnb had a ready supply of homes with which it could attract customers.

“Poaching customers is something all competitors do in different ways,” says Teixeira. “If you are a website and you are providing content to users publicly, others can grab that information.” It’s not enough to just take someone else’s customers, though, he warns—you’ve got to give them something better than they had before.

Once they had apartment owners on the hook, the Airbnb founders realized they had a problem: the subpar photos that property owners were taking for Craigslist on their iPhones would never work for customers looking for an alternative to a hotel.

“The first time a person goes on Airbnb, they are comparing the quality of photos to hotels that take glamorized shots,” says Teixeira. “They needed to compete at that level.”

In order to do that, Chesky and Gebbia did something that would never be scalable: hired professional photographers to go to property owners’ homes to take inviting pictures. The gambit worked, making the site much more attractive than the competition, and setting a standard for photography that later property owners rose to match in order to compete against other homes.

“The underlying principle of this is you should help your suppliers portray themselves in the best way possible, even if that is not scalable,” concludes Teixeira. “If you don’t have customers, there is nothing to scale.”

Ride-sharing app Uber pursued a similar strategy. Rather than starting out with Uber Pool or Uber X, in which drivers use their own cars, the company started with black cars driven by professional drivers. That way, they could ensure that customers would have a great experience virtually every time they used the service—and they could then rely on customers to spread the news of that experience by word of mouth. “That’s why you get the supply side first—if you get the right suppliers, the customers will experience their high quality service and then do the marketing for you,” says Teixeira.

Etsy also pursued a decidedly non-scalable strategy in finding the right eggs with which to launch its business. The platform, which serves as an online marketplace for craft vendors, started its business with an offline strategy: scouring craft fairs across the country to identify the best vendors at each, and pitching them on opening up an online store on the site. “They first brought their customers, and then they brought other artisans who followed the customers.” Once Etsy had the first-tier artisans on the site, the next tier naturally followed them.

Uber and Airbnb were also smart about how they chose to expand, picking the right cities at the right time to maximize their success.

Since Uber’s main competition was taxi cab companies, the startup researched which cities had the biggest discrepancy between supply and demand for taxis. They then launched during times when that demand was likely to be the highest, for example during the holidays when people tend to stay out late partying. It also ran promotions during large concerts or sporting events, when big crowds of people all needed cabs at the same time, and an individual might be more likely to take a chance on an unfamiliar company named Uber.

In that way, the company acquired a large group of customers in one swoop. “First, they figured out how to get a bunch of customers all in one night, when the demand was high. Then, they made sure this first group of users had a great experience and brought in the next wave of customers via word-of-mouth,” says Teixeira. The company banked on the fact that once users realized how easy it was, it was only a matter of time before they started using it to go to work, then shopping for groceries, and so on.

Airbnb followed a similar strategy with its rollout, launching in Denver in 2008 to coincide with the lack of hotel space during the Democratic National Convention and adding new cities at times when they had major conventions or other events.

In addition to the obvious demand, the strategy has another benefit: “Your competitors don’t see you as a threat, since you are not taking away from their demand,” says Teixeira. By the time you have a foothold in the marketplace, it’s already too late for them to do anything about it.

Launching in situations of high demand and low supply also helps startups acquire the right type of customers—those early adopters who might be more forgiving of a company while it works out the kinks. After all, beggars can’t be choosers, and if you are thankful to even have a room during a conference, maybe you’ll forgive the lack of hand towels. The last thing a company wants during its early phases is negative word-of-mouth.

“You are still a startup,” says Teixeira. “You have to find people who are willing to accept your flaws and cut you some slack. Satisfying all their needs and wants is just not feasible at this early stage.”

Next Lesson: From 1,000 to 100,000,000
With early adopters in place, a company can start thinking about how to expand their customer base through more traditional means of marketing.

To tackle that problem, Teixeira wrote a sequel case study, Airbnb, Etsy, Uber: Growing from One Thousand to One Million Customers, and is currently working on a third entry in the trilogy that will examine how a platform can go from one million to many millions of customers.

In each case the strategies are different. While word-of-mouth might work for the first thousand it’s not going to get you to a million. “You have to be more proactive and control the acquisition process, which word-of-mouth does not allow for.”

That’s where digital marketing can help, allowing companies to target specific customers through search ads or social media at a low cost.

“It’s highly targetable and you can do it on the cheap,” says Teixeira—adding that digital marketing also makes it easy for companies to rapidly iterate its advertising message, tweaking it to figure out what works best. “Only after passing the millionth customer can you go into advertising on traditional media. That’s when you need massive scale, so you go to mass marketing.”

As a company grows, it must consider the purpose of advertising in order to achieve the best effects in gaining new customers.

“Some tools are better for the beginning, some are better when you are bigger,” says Teixeira. “It’s not about, should I use digital marketing or word-of-mouth or TV ads. The question only makes sense when you say, 'I am at this stage, what approach should I take?' Only when you answer that question will you know what tool is most appropriate.”

Why Microsoft acquired AI Startup MALUUBA ?

Microsoft acquired Maluuba a Toronto startup focused on using deep learning for natural language processing.

  • To set new milestones for speech and image recognition using deep learning techniques this acquisition was finalized. 
  • Microsoft to Outperform Facebook and Google in AI
  •  Along with acquiring the company, Microsoft has also established closer ties with Yoshua Bengio, a pioneer in the field of deep learning who served as an advisor to Maluuba, and will now become and advisor to Microsoft’s AI division.
  • Maluuba will be integrated with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, to help consumers deal with everyday chores like email.
  • Maluuba’s expertise in deep learning and reinforcement learning for question-answering and decision-making systems will help advance Microsoft  strategy to democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to consumers, businesses and developers.
Microsoft is building an AI system that doesn’t just know what emails you receive, but also knows the critical information in each message.

About Maluuba 
Maluuba was founded in 2011 and is based in Montreal and Waterloo in Canada

Maluuba Founders
Sam Pasupalak
Kaheer Suleman

Tags: #DeepLearning #AI #Cortana #MachineLearning #Startup

3 Types of Partnerships Startups Need to Look for

A few key partnerships can make all the difference in the early stages of growing a company.

Starting up a business is never easy, especially when the market is constantly getting more crowded. It is increasingly difficult to find ways for your business stand out, and to forge the necessary relationships to help your business succeed in the early stages. But not all hope is lot.

Partnerships with other growing companies can help spark innovation among your teams and provide outlets for attracting new customers from a unique base of consumers. Every relationship formed must be a two-way street to ensure both parties are benefiting from the connection.

Developing a small number of key partnerships, especially in the early stages of building a business, can be an incredibly valuable way to grow your consumer base and experiment with additional revenue streams.

Here are the three types of partnerships  formed at Unfettered Socks(a startup) that have significantly impacted their business:

1. Cross-marketing
For successful cross-marketing partnerships, you want to find companies that offer a product that complements (but does not compete with) your product offering. In addition, you want to target companies that have a unique set of customers that fall within a similar target demographic. This was a particularly useful tactic while raising our initial funding on Kickstarter.

Our sock company worked with a shoe company (complementary, but not competing, product) to promote their Kickstarter page to our existing backers, and they did the same for us. With so many projects added daily to Kickstarter, it is often difficult to stand out or be seen by potential backers but this partnership guaranteed incremental views to our fundraising page.

2. Retail outlets.
While our business was created as a direct to consumer ecommerce model, we quickly realized the value of creating local brand recognition, as well as increasing the routes to market. When considering retail partners, it was important to think about how to grow our brand in a unique way that would set us apart from competitors. We do have distribution in local boutiques that align with our style, but you can also find us in an upscale suburban pharmacy, as well as on display at a downtown hipster men’s grooming salon.

Having a variety of retail partners allows us to have a unique strategy with each of them to increase the number of new consumers introduced to our product, and to ensure each partner feels we are adding value to their business as well.

3. Product collaborations
Product collaborations offer an opportunity to share brand equity and to cross-market to each brand’s existing consumer base. Our first collaboration is a co-designed sock with a local St. Louis brewery. With their help, we produced a sock that resonated with their fans and earned their commitment to sell the sock through their gift shop.

For each pair of socks sold (either in the brewery or on our website), we donate a pair of socks to a local homeless shelter. The collaboration and donation program has been well-received among loyal brewery customers, and has allowed both companies to gain awareness among each other’s followers. Collaborations open up a lot of opportunity to diversify our revenue stream, and strengthen our brand.

Any potential partnership needs to be approached with careful consideration and clear communication, as managing these relationships creates additional complexities for your business. However, developing a small number of key partnerships, especially in the early stages of building a business, can be an incredibly valuable way to grow your consumer base and experiment with additional revenue streams.

Article By Sarah:
Sarah is an Entrepreneur ,Investor and CTO at Unfettered Socks. Sarah is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis where she studied systems engineering and entrepreneurship. During her junior year she opened Green Bean, an eco-healthy salad restaurant.

Goods And Services Tax: How It Can Benefit Businesses

Goods And Services Tax: How It Can Benefit Businesses
In India, indirect taxes have driven businesses to model and restructure their systems and supply chain owing to the multiplicity of costs and taxes such as service tax, value added tax etc. We passed a milestone towards consolidated goods and services tax regime, with the Parliament passing the appropriate constitution amendment bill, in what is regarded as the most revolutionary indirect tax reformation since the independence. Now that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has seen the light of day, the way India goes about business will change radically.

What makes GST an essential tax reform is it simplifies the structure of tax, increases government revenue, the tax compliance is raised and most importantly, there is an integration of states.
Consumption-based tax, that's what GST is. It is obtained from value-added goods and services, at every stage of purchase in the supply chain. As for the last person in the chain, who is the end consumer, has to endure this last-point retail tax.

Objectives Of Goods And Services Tax
Ensure availability of input credit across the supply chain and brings transparency among taxes.
Minimize the cascading effect of all of the other taxes such as service tax, sales tax, and value added tax.
Achieve balance between laws, tax base, and administrative systems across India.
Decreases tax rates to avoid classification issues and destructive competition among states.

The cumulative tax collection (direct & indirect) in India currently is at Rs. 14.6 lakh crore, of which nearly 34 percent constitutes indirect taxes, with Rs. 2.8 lakh crore coming from excise and Rs. 2.1 lakh crore from service tax. The existing taxation rate peaks at 26.5 percent. With the implementation of the GST, the whole indirect tax system in India is anticipated to grow.

Impact Of GST On Inflation
Once the proposed GST is in effect, the tax rate on goods (comprising about 70-75 percent of the CPI load) will decrease. Along with this, a notable proportion of goods won’t be subject to tax and you should anticipate a status quo in the near future.
Service tax is not imposed on certain services and these services are expected remain outside of the GST regime. Thus, the overall transition to GST will not have a significant impact on inflation.

Automobile Sector
The active tax rate in this area ranges from 30 percent and 47 percent. Once GST is implemented, the GST Rate is expected to waver between 20-22 percent. The transit time and the overall cost will be diminished as the goods will be transported from one state to another by comfortably surpassing various checkpoints and octroi.

Consumer Durables
The tax rate for this sector varies between 7 percent and 30 percent. GST will benefit businesses that have not availed tax exemptions in the past. It will drive to the decrease of the price gap between the organised and unorganised sector.

The logistics sector is originally split into four divisions -- warehousing, transportation, freight forwarding and value-added logistics.
The transportation provides the major chunk of 60 percent of the logistic pie, succeeded by warehousing at 24.5 percent. Packaging and other related businesses make the rest of the segment.
The existing interstate taxation has driven businesses to maintain warehouses in each state, in addition to this many carrier agents in each state makes the supply chain inefficient and long. The GST Implementation will increase demand for high capacity trucks and lead to overall reduction in transportation expenses.

While GST can drive inflation up in the short term because the price of some goods will rise, economists say it will expand business activity and prevent tax evasion.


Why it is important for startups raising capital to clearly communicate what you do.

I often come across business pitch decks, or even company websites that have fancy set of words that don't really communicate what the company does. For example, a tagline like "Redefining Healthcare" feels grand, but does not give the reader any clues on what your company does.

Instead, if the tagline were to be specific saying “Your neighborhood childcare clinic’, there is specificity in communicating what you are offering. If your tag line can also communicate your value proposition, it is ideal. E.g. “Affordable cardiac care”.

VCs and angel investor networks get 100s of business plans every month. And a few individuals in VC firms have the task of sifting though these pitch decks to shortlist those that they think are worthy of more time. Because it is impossible for anyone to go through 100s of pitch decks very, very diligently, it is often the first impressions and the clarity of communication of the first couple of slides that will decide whether the deck makes it to the 'shortlisted for further review' bucket.

I urge startup founders to share their tagline (nd other marketing collaterals, including website, with a few folks from outside their circle of family & friends and ask them what they understand about the company from that material. If you get multiple interpretations and inferences of what you might be doing, then go back to the drawing board and repeat the exercise till you get a sharp definition of your business that helps everyone instantly understand what you do. And often, it is the tagline about your brand that often has to carry the load of communicating what your business is all about.

Also remember, the tagline you have for consumers/users/clients may be different than the description of the business that you have when you present to investors. Consumers need to know your value proposition for them, while investors need to know the business behind that value proposition.

Starting Up & Fund Raising

About the AuthorPrajakt Raut@PrajaktR
Prajakt Raut is a Guest writer for Startuptimes.in . Prajakt Raut is an entrepreneur and entrepreneurship evangelist. Prajakt’s personal goal in life is to encourage and assist a 100,000 people to become entrepreneurs.

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How to Sell Combs to Monks ?

This is a great story, which taught me how to multiply my results in my sales career. I have often shared this with my students, to demonstrate how a shift in mindset and attitude can make a significant difference.

The Story:
3 sales professionals applied to work for a huge company. As they were all evenly qualified, the interviewer decided to set a sales challenge and the person who sold the most would be awarded the job.

The challenge was to sell combs to monks of any temple up in the mountains. "You have 3 days, and the person who sells the most will get the job" said the interviewer.

After 3 days, the 3 applicants returned, and reported their results.

Candidate 1 said "I managed to sell one comb. The monks scolded me, saying I was openly mocking them. Disappointed, I gave up and left. But on my way back, I saw a junior monk with an itchy scalp; he was constantly scratching his head. I told him the comb would help him with his scratching and he bought one comb"

Candidate 2 said "That's good, but I did better. I sold 10 combs." Excited, the interviewer asked "How did you do it?" Candidate 2 replied "I observed that the visitors had very messy hair due to the strong winds they faced while walking to the temple. I convinced the monk to give out combs to the visitors so they could tidy themselves up and show greater respect during their worship."

Candidate 3 stepped up "Not so fast, I sold more than both of them." "How many did you sell" asked the interviewer.

"A thousand combs"

"Wow! How did you do it?" the interviewer exclaimed.

"I went to one of the biggest temples there, and thanked the Senior Master for serving the people and providing a sacred place of worship for them. He was very gracious and said he would like to thank and appreciate his visitors for their support and devotion. I suggested that the best way would be to offer his visitors a momento and the blessing of Buddha. I showed him the wooden combs which I had engraved words of blessings and told him people would use the combs daily and would serve as a constant reminder to do good deeds. He liked the idea, and proceeded to order a thousand combs"

"You got lucky," one of the other candidates said bitterly.

"Not really," the interviewer countered. "He had a plan, which was why he had the comb engraved prior to his visit. Even if that temple did not want it, another one surely would."

"There is more," the third candidate smiled. "I went back to the temple yesterday to check on the Master. He said many visitors told their friends and family about the comb with the Buddha's blessing. Now even more people are visiting every day. Everyone is asking for the comb, and giving generous donations too! The temple is more popular than ever, and the Master says he will run out of the combs in a month... and will need to order more!"

Learning Points:
The three different candidates show us the different levels of sales performance:

Candidate 1 displayed the most basic level, which is to meet the prospect's personal needs. The monk with the itchy scalp had a personal need; it was specific to him only.

Candidate 2 shows the next level - anticipating and creating new needs for the prospect. Perhaps the monk doesn't have an obvious need for the comb, but how can it still be beneficial to him? When you can educate the prospect on new possibilities and benefits for his business, you are already outperforming your competitors.

Candidate 3 demonstrates the best level of all; an ongoing relationship resulting in repeat sales and referrals. Everyone was a winner, the monk, the devotees, the 3rd candidate and the interviewer. Help your prospects benefit their prospects, to create maximum value. View each prospect not as individuals, but also their contacts and network beyond them. See each customer as lifetime clients instead of one time sales.

Our beliefs and thoughts shape our actions and ultimately, our results. When faced with a challenge, how do you respond? And how big do you think?

How can you create new needs for your prospect and benefit their customers?

Post by Joshua Chua

Qyuki Digital OTT Media Startup to raise Series A funding of up to $10 million

Qyuki Digital Media, a cross-platform media network, is looking to raise Series A funding of up to $10 million in 2017. The company plans to dilute 15-30% equity to raise Series A funding

How does Qyuki wants to spend the new funds?
Qyuki wants to use it for scaling up technology, marketing and operations in sales and network management.

About Quicky
Initially launched as a digital music startup in December 2012 and later revamped its business model into Content production, distribution, promotion and monetisation

It manages some of the biggest digital superstars such as Sanam Band, FunkYou, Shraddha Sharma, Motorbeam and Powerdrift. It also runs agency business, which has executed branded content projects with clients including Coca-Cola, OLX, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Colgate.

Qyuki uses proprietary technology and analytics to discover and promote digital superstars and manages the end-to-end value chain for them across platforms.

Samir Bangara
AR Rahman (Oscar Winner for Music)
Shekhar Kapur (Film Maker)

Qyuki is backed by angel investors including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Varun Singh, Singapore Angel Network and Anisha Mittal.

Tags: OTT, Digital Content, Creators, Music, startup, Qyuki, funding,

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