Mentors and advisors have been a huge influence on our growth. If there is one thing, apart from hard work, that can accelerate your growth as a startup is relationships. Building relationship with key people helps in quick learning and decision making at every step.

Talking about India – with more than 3100 startups and roughly over 800 coming up every year, putting India on the world map by making it the 3rd largest country for startups, after the US and China. India is likely to climb to the second position with its 10000 startups by 2020.

With all the recent developments initiated by our Prime Minister and the Government to boost and help the startup ecosystem, it clearly indicates that Indian startup ecosystem holds immense potential. And as said by many – “This is going to be the ‘Entrepreneur’s Decade’”!

Headstart Delhi with its Mentor initiative organised a closed-door gathering of qualified startups and quality experts in April. Experts shared their knowledge and prolific perspective regarding the growth and challenges which the mushrooming startups are facing in their early stage of building their product and brand image.

The session started with a welcome note from our Delhi volunteers followed by a stipulated and insightful discussion on three different topics “Product Management”, “How To Make An Elevator Pitch”, “Marketing And Branding An Early Stage Startup” consecutively. Participants were able to identify the opportunities and challenges on their growth path and also received some direction on how to deal with these.

The session was organised as follows:

Mr Guneet Singh, Head Marketing Solutions India & Sea, Google guided Mr Shivam Ahuja representing Skill Circle, Mr Vishwas Gupta representing Farms 2 Families, Mr Sukhwinder Singh representing Letsstockin, Mr Apaar representing The Design Cart, Mr Anuj. M representing Comedy Munch.

Session 2 was led by Amit Kumar Singh, Executive Vice President, Info Edge India Ltd (99Acres). He guided Hardeep Singh Mehra from GitAll, Rakshit Sharma, 4hours and

Nikhil Gehlot, Fieldscan

Mr Ashish Khetan, Chief Mentor and Investment Officer, Indigram Labs Foundation guided Mr Nitin Verma representing Orgzit.com, Mr Manish Raikwar representing Free Doctor Helpline Pvt. Ltd., Mr Basant Pandey representing myCBSEguide.

Most young entrepreneurs have very unique, creative and innovative ideas, but what they lack is – experience.

Ideas have no value if they are not executed properly. This means – Industry Expertise, Market Knowledge, Business Experience, etc., is very important to materialize the idea.

This is where the mentors come in!

When you’re a start-up, you often require non-financial support in various ways. Not only do they provide all the insights, but they also bring along their network and contacts that can be of great help.

Here are some deeper insights about some of the most common, yet major challenges these startups are facing and to combat these issues the progressive taken from the mentors.

 

Misunderstanding the Market

With new products, there are a lot of new mobile apps which lets you do things virtually, websites that offer a variety of services at the ease of one’s home. Overestimating the size of a potential market and the need for a product can hinder a business from getting off the ground.

Entrepreneurs or even existing business can find themselves with a great product or service that consumers are not interested in. It could mean that the product did not solve a problem in the market. It is a good thing to have, but not a necessity people are willing to spend money on.

According to the mentors, one must clearly understand the market needs and focus on products and services that solve a problem or fill a need in a consumer’s life. Analyze the product and think critically about it, come to an honest conclusion, even if it is not favourable. This will save the company from investing in a product that won’t generate sales as compared to offline products.

Trying to jump on every location:

Most startups are all over the place even before the right time because of limited funds. Sometimes they try to be the jack-of-all-trades. These entrepreneurs try to manage everything in a single go- from the finances to making sales, from marketing to implementing technology—all at the same time. This means they can’t dedicate time to a certain part of the business without neglecting another. On top of that, no one is an expert in everything, so their company ends up with mediocre effort in most parts.

Here mentor suggests that “Specialization” is the key driver of innovation and efficiency, so it is very important for the business to achieve maximum results by focusing on the problem areas step by step and hire some dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced professionals in respective areas who can research and analyze the market trends for further implementation.

Every entrepreneur will encounter problems while building their startup. It is wise to anticipate the difficulties and be ready with intelligent solutions.

Lack Of Proper Marketing Strategy

Lack of appropriate content to market the products or services is one of the most critical challenges for startups to figure out. The fact that small businesses need to maximize their return on investment with efficient and result oriented marketing, sometimes makes them vulnerable in terms of approaching the right people. Without putting a comprehensive marketing strategy in place, company’s profits can take a steep plunge.

During the session, the mentors highlighted a few important and non-negligible facts like having a broad spectrum of avenues for marketing in the form of electronic, print, online, mobile, and video advertising, in this digital era. To put it simply, a good marketing strategy has vision, mission, and business goals. It should explain the position and role of a business’s products or services in the market very clearly to the targeted audience. Proper marketing strategy fundamentally entails efficiency with which, customers are approached and retained.

Lack Of Finances and approaching the right Investor

For the existence of any startup, Cash flow is essential. One of the key challenges that our startups are facing today relates to finances. As income increases, the expenditures also increase and to top it all, startups rely heavily on investors who provide them strong financial support. When such situations arrive, startups are the first ones who lose on properly managing their finances and eventually succumb to the pressure.

The Mentors explained them very conclusively that in this situation, entrepreneurs have to make sure that they have enough funds to go around and critically choose the right investors who can also guide them in their initiatives. Raising the right amount of capital from the correct investor is perhaps one of the most crucial tasks for an entrepreneur. Exploring the investors with similar wavelength ensures the longevity of the enterprise. Regardless of whether the entrepreneurs are aiming for angel investment or venture capital, they need to have a functioning model and traction details, in order to attain the attention of interested buyers.

Conclusion: The challenges and problems are inevitable as far as the success journey of a startup is concerned. They need to be resilient and focused towards keeping their values intact no matter what the circumstances are. It is, therefore important, to anticipate difficulties and pitfalls beforehand. Headstart, since its launch, is trying to guide our innovative entrepreneurs at its best by providing them various platforms for networking and getting an influential approach from the key people in the industry who can benefit them in their success to a great extent.

Author: Heena Gupta
Headstart Delhi