How to save your STARTUP from failure : 50 STARTUP FOUNDERS TALK


Every entrepreneur has to face a ton of problems in order to pivot in the right direction. Hear from the experts what they have to say about their journey to reach where they are today.

“One of my biggest lessons as an entrepreneur is to keep always keep an eye on the big picture. A lot of young entrepreneurs get bogged down with operations and getting tiny things right. This causes them to lose focus on what the actual importance is and what is going to drive up their company towards success. What I like to do is work backwards from the master plan of where I need to get to. At every level you can ask yourself what you need to do to achieve this. That way you are always confident that all the daily tasks that you are doing are not a side distraction but a small step to you reaching your eventual goal.”

Harprem Doowa

Frank.co.th

“Grey Head Media was established as a B2B Media company in 2011. When we launched ourselves, we didn’t have any differentiator which could have put us in the leave of super-growth companies. Also, we were backed by HNIs who had a very conventional outlook for business. So our task was not to create an impact through valuation but to run a profitable business from the day one. Attracting and retaining talent was our first major challenge. In spite of offering better salaries than the incumbents, the people weren’t sure of joining us and place their bets on a start up. Establishing the brand among the key stakeholders was another big task. The bigger advertisers and spenders weren’t sure if we’d sustain beyond a point. But having seen us in the market and sustainably grow, now they do!”

Rahul Neel Mani Grey Head media

“The choice to imbalance your life when launching a company can not only increase your chances of building a successful company but also improve your personal life. I’m a huge believer in the overall need for “down time”, intentional rest and prioritizing family. However, when launching a company or during those seasons of critical growth, there is a certain amount of effort that is needed to reach the next significant milestone. It might take 200 phone calls and coffees to raise your next round of venture capital or 3,000 hours of coding to roll out the MVP (minimum viable product). You are the one that chooses if that milestone will be accomplished in 60 days or it will be spread out over the next nine months while you’re also trying to get other things accomplished, take those hikes and be home every night for dinner. Certain things just take time but frequently it is the entrepreneur that is slowing things down based on their actions. By choosing to intentionally imbalance your life for a short period of time, you’ll lower the impact on your personal life and also reach the next milestone faster. Although, friends and family may not fully understand, so it’s important to surround yourself with successful entrepreneurs with good family lives that can give you advice during the process.”

Kurt Uhlir Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Invester, kurtuhlir.com

“I’d say the biggest challenges are initial capital (funding) to get started and credit (for bills, payroll especially, etc.) once you are established since accounts receivable will always be a challenge. For initial funding, your aid would include your business partners, friends and family and perhaps a startup loan (hard to come by) or some incubation money from a non-profit or future teaming/collaboration partner. Maybe an angel investor. Or an investor who wants a stake in the firm. For credit, you need to have sales/billable work, have to look hard for a bank or lending institution willing to give you a Line of Credit (LOC) or classical term loan. Again, hard to come by.”

Henri Chase ICESS

“The largest challenge we believe tech-based companies face today relates to speed. The rate of innovation today far surpasses that of a decade, or even a day ago. Whilst that pushes us to the very boundaries of human imagination, the regulatory or governing frameworks inevitably find difficulty in keeping pace with defining boundaries to protect the very same people that stand to benefit from technological breakthroughs in the first place. Tech-based companies today must align with regulatory frameworks, yet are often times crippled by a predominantly responsive framework that can only cope with providing retroactive solutions. Our belief is that only by working hand in hand with the very best and most forward thinking companies today, will regulators be able to identify incoming spurts of innovation and be more proactive in welcoming them into the fold.”

Justin Chow Fundnel

“A startup should always be thriving to keep itself lean. This doesn’t mean they have to cut corners. In fact they should be always focused on multiple iterations. I have seen many startups and I myself have been guilty of scaling up first and then optimising the process later. Platforms like Truelancer can be any startup’s great partner in bringing a large and highly skilled pool for a fraction of cost. Startups can leverage them to quickly rollout experimental features, processes and and task which is not their core offerings.”

Ankit Maheshwari

www.betaout.com

“Our first issue was how much do you build before letting someone try it? The Lean Startup model suggests not building anything, but that’s not necessarily that easy to test the viability, especially if you are trying to explore the idea yourself. The other one, is scalability – even when you have some users testing it out, knowing whether it will scale, or having the time, or funding to scale, especially when you are trying to make a living servicing clients at the same time, is problematical. To get the information/expertise you need to do ALL the other things outside of your main area of expertise – especially when it comes to scaling the business. There is a wealth of information out there – how do you get a plan that works for you and your situation/market.”

Jasper Blake & Meredith Eisenberg

Time Traders Club

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“Two of the biggest problems that we’ve faced at College Recruiter as our growth has accelerated have both been related to staffing. We strongly disagree with employers who claim that there aren’t any good people available. We feel that, instead, there’s a mismatch and some of the blame for that rests with the candidates applying to jobs which don’t line-up well with their competencies, interests, values, and compensation needs but some rests with employers who hire the people who are right for the organization as they share key values but aren’t in the right seats as they’re not well suited to the specific role. We made that mistake a number of times by hiring great people who loved what we do and had great skills but not the right skills for the job for which we hired them but, fortunately, we learned from those mistakes and feel that all of our employees are now the right people in the right seats. Another problem that we had was related to process. When your sales are small you don’t need much process but when you want to scale like most startups do then you need to build that structure in order to properly manage the growth and serve your customers. For a time, I was doing almost all of the sales and customer support, which is pretty typical for the founder. But that doesn’t scale as no salesperson is ever going to know as much as the founder about every facet of the business. We learned to create a more process-driven approach with more cookie cutter products that would be easier for our sales and customer support teams to replicate each and every time. That reduced our turnaround time to implement, reduces our costs, increased our quality, and increased our profitability.”

Steven Rothberg

College Recruiter

“Tammy Cohen, President and Founder of InfoMart—a global background screening provider—emphasizes the importance of a customer-centric business model and leading by example. “You’re only as successful as your least happy customer,” she says. “When you’re a small company, everyone needs to focus on that motto. Everybody has to realize their paycheque has the customer’s name on it.” Tammy has revolutionized the background screening industry by keeping this mentality at the forefront of her daily routine. She began InfoMart with a $0 startup fund 27 years ago, and she has since grown the company into a tier-one provider to Fortune 500 companies. She points out that ‘customer-centric’ doesn’t have to translate into expensive, and demonstrating that attitude every day will ultimately trickle down to your employees: “It doesn’t cost money to listen. It doesn’t cost money to care about every detail. Your employees see the attention you’re paying to your client. They see your reaction time. They see you give out your cell phone number. They see you working to find a solution to a client’s problem rather than immediately saying no. That’s how you simultaneously build a dedicated client base and a stellar workforce. Tammy’s customized solutions and first-to-market technology make InfoMart an industry pioneer, but it’s her focus on strong leadership and top-notch customer service that maintains their spot as a leader in their field. “In a startup especially, how you treat your clients is how your employees treat your clients,” Tammy insists. “You want employees to mimic what you’ve done, if not do it better.”

Tammy Cohen

InfoMart

“There are two big concerns as per my understanding. The first is focusing on funds. The startups today are only focused on raising funds. They should understand that funds should be generated internally first and then the external funds should be accessed. Due to this, they are not adding any value to themselves. They should focus on creating a product/service which will help the society. The second is related to HR Issues – The CXOs of the startups should focus on finding the right people within the budget. Right now the focus is on augmenting the team at any cost. This leads to a lot of friction in the organization. We, at Prospitious, are mentoring a few startups in finding and managing the workforce.”

Rahul Sheoran

Prospitious

“The major issue that we as Founders face is in getting the right talent on board within our limited budgets. Any employee who joins a startups comes in with a mindset that he will get a very cool work desk, a game room to hangout and everyday some fun task will be assigned to him but his dreams are soon shattered when he faces reality because from day one you are assigned with responsibilities and targets which are non negotiable. It is very important for us as founders that the employees goals are aligned with the company vision. It is necessary to keep our employees happy and motivated because our customers happiness is dependent on them. But always be conservative in your hiring, never over build your team, build a team which is a multitasker this will help you during your bad times. Another thing to follow (easier said than done) is to hire the best people possible, the team is the most important asset, and the founders should try to hire the best their money can buy, and compensate the members by way of non cash components.”

Ankita Jain

GoPaisa

“Branding is so important in the early days of any startup. It sets the tone for who you are and how your clients see you. The initial goal was to differentiate our firm from other domain brokerages by offering advisory services across the areas of domain management, monetization, branding, sales and acquisitions. We launched DomainAdvisors.com in October of 2010 and while we love the DomainAdvisors name, and continued to ensure we approached each opportunity as an advisor, the number of companies in our industry with the word “domain” in their name has unintentionally led to serious brand confusion. Igloo Co-founder & CEO Tessa Holcomb told us, “Given we have been advising for years on branding, extolling the value of a short, memorable, easy to spell domain name, we finally decided to practice what we preach!” Why Igloo? Ms. Holcomb answered, “We wanted a distinct brand to represent our unique and growing company. Working personally with the world’s most exclusive portfolios provided several strong possibilities. After an extensive search for a unique, catchy and generic name, we chose Igloo because it’s fresh, creates interest and provides a lasting, memorable image with our clients and within the industry. We’ve helped 100s of clients find their cool and it was time we found ours!”

Jen Marchese

Igloo

“Great talent builds great companies, not the other way around. For each and every startup role from Office Manager, QA, Python engineer, Back End Developer, CEO, etc; you must hire top 5% talent at his or craft, but equal weight should be placed on culture enhancers. No asshole rule no matter how talented someone might be. If a startup team interviews a candidate and then has a feedback session to vote yes or no and some members have to think long about that candidate and not being sure…the answer is no hire. Each potential hire should hit you over the head like a baseball bat quickly that you want to hire this person. Red flags in candidates only get worse not better. Don’t ignore your gut feel. I dive deep, peel onion layers back of candidates’ brains, look deep into their souls. How? I go far back as finding out what their grandparents, parents careers or hobbies were during a candidate’s childhood; coding habits; when they first coded; played musical instrument as a child, chess, read a lot, open source contributions, etc.”

Stuart Trautenberg

S.A Traut Associates

“First task for any entrepreneur having an idea is to speak to as many potential customers as possible. ‘Customer’ need not necessarily be friends and relatives – use social media or some innovative way to reach out to as many potential customers as possible. Listen to them, take notes, alter product specifications as many times as necessary and finally come out with a prototype. Test the prototype, more changes in product specs, may be more features and thus evolves version 1.0. Only when you’re reasonably satisfied with product acceptability, start looking for investors. It may take some time, but it will give tremendous confidence to the whole team. Remember, start-up is a business. Only rationale for any business is to satisfy its customers. So understand customer demand and existing market dynamics. The demand may be expressed or latent – but it must exist to justify your business. Create values around your product that addresses latent or expressed demand in the market. Have a Customer First approach – Chase Values not Valuation.”

Amit Chattopadhyay

Ace InfoBanc

“There are definitely many fun challenges of being a founder. One of them is knowing when and what to outsource as you grow. Many firms start by outsourcing basic functions like bookkeeping, but as you grow you’ll need marketing, IT, HR, etc. depending on your own strengths and interests. As a founder I know I’m not alone in struggling to figure out effective ways to do business development and lead generation. After a lot of trial and error, we’ll be looking for an expert. Overall being a founder is immensely satisfying!”

Mikaela Kiner

UniquelyHR

“The biggest problem that I still face today is understanding if we are building the right product for our customers. Does it look the best it can? Are there improvements from a UX standpoint? Do people really understand how to use the product or are they getting hung up somewhere in the process? These are very important questions to answer because it’s important to give users what they want. When you have users that want many different things, it’s hard to make the right decisions.”

Dave Nevogt

Hubstaff

“For every startup, I believe it is important to form a team having core competency and technical skills. If a startup has a non-tech founder, he or she can opt for hiring freelancers. Further, it is necessary for the startup to stick to one common goal at a time and not try to handle multiple things altogether. The time scale for their success could be from 3 months to 3 years, depending on what they want to do and how they’re doing it.”

Nakul Kapur

Look At Me

“I faced many challenges as a startup. Some of them include reaching customers fast enough – your competitors could reach them before you do. Revenue/cash flow are important for survival as we have a short runway before money runs out. Further, creating the right product that meets customer’s needs is important – the wrong product can derail your path.”

Kenny Lew

Entreport

“From a client’s perspective I see the issue of quantity over quality. How can we use better filter and match freelancers? How can agencies be more attractive? I always have a feeling that giving it to an agency means that freelancers pass on the project to a cheaper one who is doing the work. How can this be done more transparently? That’s the big problem.”

Jan-Cayo Fiebig

CodersTrust

“A good team is the key to success, so you need to make it happen and here patience will work for you as an important factor. Hire interns, they will love to learn and grow with you. Next important factor is User Acquisition : Big Market is the competition. For startups, it is always tough to compete big players of the same segment. Big discounts, & other offers from your competitors will not allow your customers to come to you until you come up with some great differentiation. Yes, your USP will play a major role in acquiring your early customers. Problems are immense but entrepreneurs are problem solvers, so never stop hustling – you will be surely a winner of tomorrow.”

Abhishek Anand

Get A Service

“Finding the right tech talent under budget is important. With limited resources, the founder plays with his/her core strength & tries to outsource everything else, but finding the right fit for the role under budget is one of the challenging task. I think most tech entrepreneurs focus too much on building the product and then deliberately try to find customers. Founders needs clarity on customer persona from day one.”

Mazen Quddusi

Buyingforbusiness.in

“Hiring employees can be a nerve-wracking experience for any startup. Mistakes in hiring results in a startup’s cash burn and also affects the culture of the company largely. It is highly essential for a startup to have self motivated people to keep the environment charged and energetic all the time. I always believe startups should not rush into things. Don’t hire someone just because you desperately need to fill the position. Wait until you find the right person, even if it means slowing everything down. Further, without strong, trustworthy and clear branding, it is hard to get people to even try the product. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Innovation plays a critical role in tech startups. Technology doesn’t wait for you and if your organization isn’t keeping up with it, you will surely be left in the dust by one of your competitors. We should start think towards how quickly to build the best solution by using the latest technology.”

Bhaskar Raju Konduru

HelloClass

“Starting Hashnode wasn’t easy. The road to startup success is paved with a lot of troubles. Registering a company in India is still a painful process. There is no central, definitive repository of guidelines for founders, pre and post incorporation. Understanding the core concepts of TDS, ROC filing, etc. is very, very difficult. Taxation should be simplified.If India wants early stage startups doing good, then it has to up its efforts in helping founders concentrate their focus on building the product, instead of worrying 24×7, about complying with the Govt. laws.”

Fazle Rahman

Hashnode

“Keeping your vision for the business intact while knowing when to pivot (if required) is important. Being a successful entrepreneur requires a rare quality where you are aware enough to know when to back yourself (and your strengths) yet know when to sacrifice your ego, ask for help and change direction when required. Having moved to India to start a business after working in the US for over a decade meant that I had to start at the ground floor, get to know the work culture, establish a network and then analyze which business “problem to solve”. Being an entrepreneur requires a heightened sense of self discipline and focus, that might not be required in a corporate job (despite however senior you are). I’ve managed one of the most prestigious luxury hotels in Manhattan, a 900 room property with 1100+ employees from over 50 different nationalities. Despite that background, being an entrepreneur has required me to further elevate my self motivation & people skills. Having never worked in a core sales position in my past experience has meant that I have had to learn from every interaction, digital or personal on how best to position myself as well as my company. Often, you will invariably get asked “what’s your brand differentiator?” People will associate with you more for who you are and what you represent as much as what your company does. My advice would be to learn how to answer this question effectively before you get into your first meeting.”

Siddharth Vaze

The Advanced Learning Institute

“According to me, the first problem is lack of having a technical co-founder. If a startup is lacking on core technical co-founder or team, then it might prove as nightmare in long run. When we started www.inkprint.in as one of the first 3 online business printing website in India, we had to face challenges for not having tech partner on board and having issues with scalable online infrastructure. It costed us huge amount of time and I had to spend considerable amount of time in learning basics at least to get my job done. Second is the lack of trust in outsourcing to Freelancers. Sometimes we startups are afraid of sharing our technical details and ideas to any outside team or freelancers which proves to be a big barrier to reach out talented freelance pool. Choosing right Freelancers is the key for growing if you do not want to hire a team. Their availability & professionalism may prove your investment successful. Never lose hope if one or two Freelancers ditched your project or fell short of delivery expectations. There are always more all kind of people around. Keep trying to search your perfect freelance team mate.”

Abhishek Gupta

Inkprint

“I feel when it comes to building a business tech and non tech ventures are no different. The both have similar challenges, which includes getting the product right, Building a A grade Team and getting access to first few customers. But if we keep our focus limited to Tech startups, I feel the following are the major challenges: The cost of Marketing a Tech Product. While everyone believes social media marketing, google Adwords are cheap, I feel customer discover on web is more expensive then what startup believes they are. Second is creating a Brand: Generating Brand loyalty for tech product is much more difficult for a App/Web Business. One is required to constantly innovate to ensure customer stickiness on the platform. Lastly, I feel in India the focus on customer experience especially UX/UI is low.”

Varun Chandra

ColdFusion Venture Partners

“Here are a few concerns. What are the legal documents required to operate a business, such as employee contracts, non-disclosure agreements, website privacy policies? At what point do you need to obtain various government registrations such as company incorporation, service and sales tax, office premise registration and provident fund? At what size of your company do various government policies start to apply, such as the requirement for a sexual harassment committee? These are concerns that need to be highlighted upon.”

Kiran Jonnalagadda

HasGeek

“For tech startups, generally there is always a perception of launching the platform quickly across all demographics, which seems quite easy to the founders. But it’s not. This is a common mistake that most of the tech co-founders make. They build a great tech product and try to launch it everywhere asap. Launching does not mean you would reach your target audience at granular level initially. It may require suitable marketing strategy and appropriate channel. Also, you need to validate the need of your product. It may have different results based on changes in various factors like age group, income, geography and their culture. Awesummly is India’s first real time news summary app which can summarize news articles across 22+ international languages. We did the same mistake of launching our product for 10 languages and felt the marketing budget and strategy was not sufficient enough to handle other countries except India. Our major traffic was coming from India and US, so we began our focus for these regions only. So it’s better to launch the product in one geography and validate the business model.”

Nitin Mishra

Awesummly

“For most startups hiring continues to be the biggest challenge. While in India, we keep hearing about people struggling to find jobs &/or firing happening in startups, there’s a huge gap in skillsets needed for what’s present in the market which is leading to this problem at both ends. The other challenge has been the rampant growth and changes that technology landscape sees so frequently and keeping pace with that.”

Manik Kinra

Pin Click

“One problem we faced was hiring talent with right attitude who understands that routine roles do not fit in a startup and that juggling through multiple roles is a day’s work. Secondly, retention by means of esops and other perks that adequately compensate people for taking risk in a startup is also a problem. How to setup and structure esops can be tricky and needs lot of attention.”

Pankaj Agarwal

Clickindia Infomedia

“The major problem that we face from Digital Marketing perspective is finding the right talent at an economical cost, given that we are a start-up. The other major challenge is commitment for work. In terms of outsourcing our work, it is very critical to measure the performance v/s commitment of the freelancer, to get the job done on time as well as the way it is meant to be done. Something that we follow extensively is hiring good talent, read interns and fresher’s, who are aspirational. We then train them, connect them with the future that we want as an enterprise. This leads to them connecting with us for long term and they calling out their own growth plan in the company. Similar is the case with freelancers, we look for long term collaboration which is a win-win for both.”

Krishna Ganatra

CreativeClick!

“One big problem is prioritisation: What to do? When to do? And most importantly, what not to do? As tech guys, we sometimes get deviated to make code changes, refactorings, optimisations and improvements that may seem very important, necessary, challenging, new from technical point of view, but may not add any value to the business. And this is a continuous process and we learn everyday. Sometime back, an advisor suggested- Implement one new thing every week that adds direct value to the business, overtime it will become big. Another problem is whether to go with an Ecommerce Platform or build your own site. Or to build it in-house or outsource it. We went on to build our own. It depends on a lot of factors at the end of the day but is definitely something worth thinking about.”

Abhishek More

LibeRent

“One problem, I’ve observed in the past that startups face is that they take a disjointed approach to marketing, hiring multiple freelancers for multiple channels which is perfectly normal. But it is equally important to hire a full stack marketing consultant with cross-channel expertise across the entire value chain who can coordinate/oversee the multi-channel execution of the overarching strategy.”

Yatin Mulay

Zen Online Marketing

“As being a part of a tech startup from my experience, one of the major problems faced by the tech Founders is whether to hire the tech team or outsource the project in early stage of startup? From what I learnt the best solution is to hire a small team say around 1 or 2 techy and outsource the project to freelancers/vendor who can build the product in sync with your tech guys which makes them the part of the development from scratch and helps in carrying forward the product after the vendors leaves.”

Gaurang Sudra

Fluidx Creations

“Start small, create an impact, then go big. Don’t chase funding unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t start a me-too startup. Entrepreneurship is a tough battle, learn to say no, learn to accept failure, learn to take success lightly and move on. Remember 95% of entrepreneurs fail, but 100% of all entrepreneurs learn. Learn every day, experiment every day, network and help your fellow entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, we are in the same ecosystem, and we have to grow mutually. Don’t be greedy and keep hustling!”

Adhish Verma

The Cofounder

“Some of the problems we faced were essentially the procurement of technical or electronic components from online stores that presented with a long waiting time to receive items that needs to be assembled and tested, making the time being delayed to prototype and it’s analysis. Also, the rapid prototyping involves a good amount of trial and error that increases the whole cycle of development and the research associated with it. This could be shortened with some help in the easy and affordable equipments and resources that could expedite the whole process.”

Nimish Bajaj

myoBeam

“When it comes to linking of multiple data input points : ERP / Accounting package / Excel, the operational software does not record all the parts of a transaction and is also not integrated with the finance function. Hence, companies maintain excel support documentations to record complete transactions. There is always a case for reconciling details among the three databases : ERP, Excel and Tally and data completeness and accuracy is always an issue. Also, Standard operating procedures for business processes is also a problem i.e lack of bandwidth to implement standard operating procedures for effecting transactions and ensuring no manual override of controls. These problems generally arise because the management is already over-burdened with regular business activities and transactions and they don’t really get the time to step back and analyse their own business. Management action is mostly reactive rather than proactive.”

Rohit Mathuran

Easemint

“The biggest problem is finding the right talent and people who are not just executioners but also understand the big picture. The other problem is the inadequacy of infrastructure and mindset in the country for world-class customer service. We still live in a country where a lot of people including your most critical business partners have a laid back attitude. It becomes extremely difficult to drive excellence with this attitude.It doesn’t make sense for you as an entrepreneur to build that infrastructure on your own, both from a capital efficiency and overall business strategy perspective. So you end up spending a lot of time and energy in fixing the most basic things which should have been taken care of otherwise.”

Swagat Sarangi

Smytten

“Our biggest problem was to find and identify the right talent. Had to invest months before finding the right senior talent. Another problem was to avoid market distraction. Lot of products get launched by competition and you start chasing without realising that one has to stick to their own game for winning.”

Jitendra Gupta

Citrus Payment Solutions

“Challenges are typically around keeping the team involved and motivated before the product gets users and market acceptability, achieving profit objectives, achieving true customer happiness and how can the team deliver the best value proposition, fighting incoming competition and most importantly, building a purpose that is clear and desirable for all stakeholders.”

Bharat Sethi

iDecorama

According to me, getting high quality interns for specific areas is an issue. Most folks we get are not sure of what they want to do, areas they want to learn etc.”

Sachin Bhatia

Trulymadly

“A few problems we faced were finding tech talent related to the tech stack we were using, lack of documentation for tech leading to problems for new developers, making sure developers communicate and focusing on code review and unit tests.”

Shubham Agarwal

Adister

“The major challenge in technology based project is freezing requirement gathering document with the client. The best part is it can never be frozen even if you create BRD, SRS, flowcharts, Wireframe etc. Most of the clients will only understand if they see the project or product fully developed. Scope Creep is another aspect which needs to be taken care of during the development phase. Sometimes changing requests can be never ending and may lead to issues at multiple aspects like Database, Flow, Coding Logic, etc. It is manageable to an extent but sometimes can go out of hands.“

Kamlesh Dubey

Digillence Rolson Digital

“Being a Tech startup, finding the right resource in the right budget is the biggest challenge. Secondly, modifying product as per the market needs at a speed on par with the requirements is another major task.”

Arun Arya

Codifier Technologies

“One of the problems which I faced was improper planning. If you aren’t doing proper planning, then it will be a disaster. I have asked this question to many founders and most of them have mentioned the difficulties they faced to build a connection with the customers.”

Ronak Banka

The Startup Tales

“Most tech startups don’t know when to take their product to the market. They need to figure out If their product needs more features before it should be launched. A lot of startups get into an infinite cycle of developing features and never really take their product to the market successfully.”

Naman Sarawagi

FindYogi

“The foremost concern is underestimating the amount of capital required. The very focus on building tech ecosystems might seem easy but generally certain roadblocks are negated and this is where the hackers use you the most. We had a scenario where a robot continuously generated emails and registered users getting the website to spam users. The only advice I have been giving henceforth is knowing exactly where the loop holes are and try fixing them or at least keeping an eye on them always. If we talk about e-commerce ventures, the primary issue is that if the top guns of industry are non-profitable and all they are doing is burning cash, it becomes extremely choking for the new entrant if the intentions are to get profitable. Thirdly, one of the biggest issues is raising fund and agencies to raise funds. Bringing in money from abroad is not easy and involves a lot of paperwork. I feel the government should come up with incubators office spaces etc for companies to kick start businesses. In other countries, there are enormous subsidies associated with a startup which keep up the motivation of employees at work. This is something that is hugely a deterrent for entrepreneurs.”

Manvir Singh

Simpligrab Event Services

“When we started with our marketplace (eBZaar.com) launching with online grocery first (obvious choice as it has largest pie), it was difficult to convince local supermarkets to come onboard. Though this was one of the more easier challenges to solve, given my 2 decades of experience as a grocer plus corporate experience of 13 yrs. What was toughest to solve was finding the right people or team building. In a tech business and without a tech co founder it was difficult to solve this. How to hire and how to motivate them to join us on the mission to create the best marketplace in our segment? It involved learning the ropes of hiring by speaking to mentors, well wishers, ex-bosses, successful entrepreneurs and still interpreting it to best meet our situations. In that interim process of team building, free lancers and outsourcing helped us out. Though we have come a long (and we are still learning, it is a difficult art to master) we still hire free lancers from time to time depending on specific needs of a particular job or a task.”

Viral Thakker

eBZaar

“There are two major problems that all startups face. One is choosing between hiring tech developers or product development outsourcing. The second is fundraising, that is still a challenge today.“

Rishi Diwan

www.supplyMr.com

“Within 3 years of its inception, Jugnoo has ​transformed from ​a​ leading auto-rickshaw aggregator to the leading on- demand hyperlocal startup in India. We are currently rendering services in 40 cities nationally, making over 40,000 daily transactions. It has been an overwhelmingly exciting journey. From the outside, it certainly might sound like the dream start up scenario, but like all other entrepreneurs, we have had our fair deal of roadblocks and learnings. What budding entrepreneurs need to understand is that no amount of planning can shield your initiative from complications. One has to know when to graduate from the planning phase at the right time so that you have enough bandwidth to tackle the issues that are thrown your way during execution. Sometimes the best way to go about things is to learn on the job. For us, we knew our idea was a game changer. We had to work quickly to get the auto drivers on board and start rolling it out ​which was our biggest challenge. Although, a lot of the auto-rickshaw drivers already owned and used smartphones, but initially they showed reluctance towards adopting a technology based App as a means of earning their daily livelihood. My co-founders and I overcame this issue by travelling in autos ourselves. We spoke to them personally and convinced them. We made them understand the advantages of integrating technology in their routine activities. That was it, battle half won with handholding and persistence. Having said that, even after gaining their trust it wasn’t really smooth sailing for us. We had to invest heavily in terms of resources and time in the induction and training process, the stress of which continues as we grow. There are cities where it has taken a lot of time for our drivers to fulfil the document checklists and verification, mostly due to lack of awareness. Ensuring that drivers comply with the legal and training requirements is as much a priority for us as business expansion is. Streamlining might slow things down but it’s something that should never be bypassed, for those in the consumer service industry. You have to ensure that the end user has a hassle free experience and for that it​ is imperative that all snags be eliminated at the inception stage itself.”

Samar Singla

Jugnoo

“As anyone running a business can attest to the day to day activities of running a business consume significant energy and resources. And in this daily grind it becomes supremely hard to innovate and leap ahead, critical for a startup to survive long term. Any successful startup has to figure out (quickly) how it can innovate while feeding the machine. One of the ways in which we have done that successfully is by setting up a loose framework for it. We start out by identifying an area where we need/want to innovate (it must be critical for long-term business). We identify the resource needs for it and we are very wary of overfunding it. We staff it smart folks and give them freedom to drive their own agenda. Once we gain a better understanding of the area and its constraints we define projects of increasing complexity and start shipping stuff!”

Gaurav Agarwal

1mg

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