With over 50 people arriving at the Yahoo Office in Bagmane Tech Park, Bangalore this Saturday morning, the fourth session of the “Boot-camp series” of Startup Saturday kicked off bang on time! With an interesting line-up of speakers, the aim of the Headstart’s Bangalore team today was to give all these aspiring/budding entrepreneurs, who were majorly techies, an insight into the Sales and Marketing aspects of a Startup.
I should say that the day opened more on a statistical note with Aditya Bhagat and Ranjan Roy, from GoSonix – a software product sales enhancement company, nailing down the concepts behind sales strategies. The presentation was well focused for the Techie crowd, most of whom were totally new to this area! The video excerpts from the movie “Boiler Room” were inspiring and Aditya used them effectively as use cases for explaining certain concepts. Need I add that Vin Diesel inspired many in the audience including yours truly to become “superman salesperson” themselves! The session then went onto a serious discussion with Aditya and Ranjan engaging the participants on various questions based on the the various key performance indicators that different kinds of businesses ought to measure to put a company on a solid growth track.
Quickly after this, we moved on to five (en-) lightning pitches! While the crowd applauded the pitches made by Prateek Jain from AlumClub and the man who had sold 400 DVDs of Photoshop Tutorials in 45 days, it raised an eyebrow to online tutoring, Startup Café and corporate event engagement facilitator business. The pitches were critiqued by Aditya, Ranjan and Amit Singh from Headstart.
With so much now going on in everyone’s mind we broke for a quick break for a high tea sponsored by our venue host, Yahoo! Refreshed, all the expectant eyes now fell on the geek who had joined us to share his experience and thoughts. We were introduced to the techie-turned entrepreneur Shivakumar Ganesan (aka Shivku), founder of Exotel, a pure play SaaS company providing cloud telephony solutions for businesses.
Interviewd by Amit, Shivku, shared about his entire career journey starting from his days in yahoo as a programmer to now being the founder of Exotel, a successful startup with over 350 customers. He also talked about his not-so-successful startup RoopIt (a C2C market place where people sell their used goods) – which was a forerunner to today’s successful classifieds sites, which had born along with his hunt for a used refrigerator! As the discussion progressed, various questions were thrown at him which he answered very frankly, showcasing not just the experience he’s been carrying with him but also the persona he has turned out to be in this journey. He seemed to be a practitioner and preacher of Lean principles and analytics, which came out with the numerous examples he gave! He shared some thumb rules of SaaS businesses including:-
1. The Cost of Customer Acquisition should be recovered within 12 months
2. The Lifetime Value of the Customer should be at least 3 times the Cost of Customer Acquisition
Trying to catch-up with the running time, came the product demo from another young techie, Sujeet Kumar Mehta, who was so humble in spite of developing a breakthrough mobile-app “launchsimply” that has made heads turn towards him worldwide! The killer-mobile app that can launch any other app in a Smartphone, with just a flick of the mobile got a thunderous applause, with suggestions to rush and patent the same! After all, how many of us ever thought of building an App that can open the music player when you mock the action of strumming a guitar?!?
“It is not possible to improve things that you do not measure”
At the end of the day, this message came out loud and clear. No matter what your business, one must understand the importance of identifying and measuring key performance indicators of your business! Also, Marketing is PULL while Sales is Push. So, it is these numbers that are going to decide how pushy you ought to be!