Come second Saturday and the Headstart Delhi volunteers pack all essentials in anticipation of the exciting day ahead. And why would they not? It is one thing to make a Saturday interesting for yourself; a completely different thing if you’re shouldering the responsibility of making a lazy Saturday afternoon interesting for a diverse bunch of people coming from all walks of life. But that very challenge is one of the million things that make a Headstarter work the entire month for the next best Startup Saturday!

And undoubtedly so, August Edition of Startup Saturday Delhi, themed “All about Startup Funding” saw a number of engaging sessions. With sessions like “Biggest Mistakes While Fundraising” and “How to Seek Early Stage Funding without Spoiling Your Startup”, Startup Saturday offered a comprehensive breakdown of one of the most crucial decisions for an entrepreneur.

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Questions Mark the Beginning

In a room full of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs,  Mr. Subinder Khurana opened the talk with questions like “How many of you think we need to raise money to survive?” and “How many of you have revenue but no product?” to understand the audience better. Mr. Khurana then went on to explain at length the mistakes that entrepreneurs often commit when it comes to fundraising. As insightful as a session was, the Q&A towards the end cleared all personal doubts of the keen audience.

For those of you who missed the session, read on!

Key Takeaways from Biggest Mistakes While Fundraising

  • Build Product With Customer Validation
  • After a pitch, leave the room with customers if nothing else
  • Build Painkillers and not Vitamins – Make the customer need your product; rather than treat you as an option
  • Cold calling investors is not the best idea
  • No one entertains un-introduced rogue calls
  • It’s better to invest time in networking and then using references
  • Build relationships before you start asking for help and investments
  • Fundraising is not the end goal of a startup
  • Fundraising is the starting point, where you need to start working on returning the money
  • While fundraising has become glamorous in the recent past, it is a huge responsibility to shoulder
  • Avoid Vanity Raise in all cases
  • Don’t raise beyond what is needed
  • Raising too much only leads to burning cash on activities that does not create for anyone
  • Stay Away from Obsessively Focusing on Valuation
  • Valuation is the size of the promise and commitment you make to the investors
  • It is a balancing act since valuing the venture too high leads to more trouble while raising more money in the future; in attracting the right kind of support and investors
  • B-Plan Competitions are not the way
  • Takes away the focus and energy from the actual startup once you start collecting awards and accolades
  • Experienced investors seldom consider B-plan competitions as a metric
  • If you’ve got too many wins, it might make investors question- Where do you get the time for competitions?

 

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Fundraising 101: Dos and Don’ts

With endless questions that had to be halted to give way to the next speaker, Mr. Sahil Kini was greeted by an audience that was already awake, alive and kicking. Beginning with his 20-minute talk on “How to Seek Early Stage Funding without Spoiling Your Startup”, he broke down the discussion in two parts –

  • How to Seek Early Stage Funding
  • How Not to Spoil Your Startup While Doing So

A lot of gyaan distributed by the present investor and an ex-entrepreneur, Mr. Kini emphasized on the need to break down your plans into 18-month time periods. This gives clarity about your venture to the investors, friends and family, and most importantly to yourself. Executing the idea becomes as difficult as difficult gets if the entrepreneur himself is unsure and unclear about the path ahead.

Sharing his own experience of starting up, Mr. Sahil Kini focused on the importance of the skill of hunting & gathering for yourself and your startup. Lists of investors, news of the competition, money raised by similar startups in the market among others are all necessary information that every entrepreneur needs to be aware of. But, what after you have all the prerequisite information? What is the next step?

Raising Money the Right Way

Mr. Kini says first gain clarity on the following fronts:

  • How you’re going to make money
  • From whom you’re going to make money
  • What schedule is going to be followed
  • How much is needed to make it happen
  • How to convince the investors of:
  • The talent you’re bringing in
  • Ability to articulate your business plan in the best way
  • Vision, business model and where to get the customers

Have the clarity? Great.

Because after being certain of these aspects, you can move from a conversation of “Who is going to give me the money?” to “Who is the right person to get this money from?” & “Are you the right partner for me?”

Well, isn’t that a giant leap for the entrepreneur already? From being a seeker to a selector, entrepreneurs grow by answering the right questions in the right manner.

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The Startup Saturday Difference

If one asks about the insightful Fireside Chat with Mr. Soaib Grewal, a founder, designer and investor in the Indian startup ecosystem? Only the audience can tell what they took away from the interesting conversation between Mr. Grewal and Ms. Bedi, a senior journalist with Outlook.

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With more perfectly answered questions and other anecdotal responses, Mr. Ajay Gupta, a Headstarter and city co-lead for Delhi culminated the evening and gave way to a networking session with light snacks and hearty talk.

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It is a mammoth task to be able to convey all that happened at Startup Saturday as a blog post; the learning being as experiential as it was theoretical. Being a participant (more than an audience), asking questions and conversing one-on-one with the speakers during the networking hours are experiences that the Startup Saturday community enjoys.

Haven’t felt it already?

Experience the Startup Saturday difference in the September Edition of Startup Saturday Delhi to network and interact with amazing speakers and a welcoming community of startup enthusiasts.

 

Written by Alankrita Mittra

 Headstart Network Foundation, Delhi