With the number of Internet users in India expected to hit the 500 million mark by 2018, the country will be one of the largest markets for Consumer Internet businesses, in the years to come. The Internet has long exceeded its role of providing a means of communication, and has become a broader tool to help users validate and inform their day-to-day decisions. Consumer Internet is a space most people intuitively understand, as we are all consumers ourselves; and can experience the problems we are solving with our ventures, first hand. There are myriad opportunities for starting up in the Consumer Internet space, but, there are as many challenges too. Startups often struggle to differentiate their products from the competitors, and to effectively reach out to their target audience. They fail to find right monetization streams for their services, and end up spending a great deal on customer support.
So, what are the current trends in the Consumer Internet space? Is mobile-only the best strategy to attract customers? Do startups need to have a unique product/service offering to survive and beat the competition? What marketing channels should one focus on to reach out to the target customers? The September 2015 edition of Startup Saturday Bangalore on the theme ‘All About Consumer Internet’, brought together successful entrepreneurs and industry experts, to discuss these and many other questions related to the Consumer Internet businesses
The event started with an insightful talk by Raghav Bahl, VC at Bessemer Venture Partners, on the consumer Internet opportunities in India. “A large number of new users(approx. 600-700 million) will start using the Internet in the next few years,” Raghav stated. He also pointed out that around three-fourth of the current users are youngsters, in the age group of 20 -30 yrs. With the target population being young, discounts and offers are a good way to get consumer attention. But, when the market matures, there has to be a shift from discounting approach to service-centric approach. “The startups should look for a market where they can make the supply side loyal to them. Without a loyal supply side, it will be difficult for startups to differentiate themselves and scale up to the next level,” Raghav further added. “Different products will require different business approach based on cash flow, buying frequency and decision complexity. Building supply side product that provides workflow productivity to supplier can be a good approach to acquire loyal supplier.”
Following Raghav’s talk about the Consumer Internet market, was a demo by Ashish Vaswani, Co-founder of VRFirst. The startup aims to make Virtual Reality fun and affordable, by providing a one-stop platform for buying virtual reality applications, and gaining access to VR-related news and updates. Ashish shared the story of the launch of his business as a student in 2014, and the potential application of the VRFirst products in the area of education and medicine. The team also had their products on display at the event venue, for the audience to try them out and offer some valuable feedback.
The second demo of the day was by Mooshak, India’s very own regional micro-blogging platform. Mayur Relekar, Chief Product Officer at Wow Labz, which developed the product, spoke about the social networking site, which is presently available in Hindi language, and will soon be launched in other regional languages. Mayur stressed upon the need of having a product that caters exclusively to the section of Indian population that communicates mainly in regional languages. He invited the audience to share their ideas and views on the product.
The two demos were followed by the most awaited session of the event – the Panel Discussion moderated by Rohith Veerajappa (Co-founder, Wow Labz) and featuring panel speakers: Sunil Patro (Founder & CEO, Signeasy), Vaitheeswaran Kothandaraman (Founder, Indiaplaza and Fabmall), Piyush Shah (Chief Product Officer, InMobi) and Sujayath Ali (Cofounder & CEO, Voonik). Below are some of the insights shared by the panelists about surviving and thriving in the competitive Consumer Internet space:
- Customers are and will continue to remain disloyal to products and companies. Startups need to be innovative and creative to stand out, and continue to hold the attention of their customers.
- As compared to traditional media campaigns(TV, radio ads et al), digital media advertising campaigns are more efficient in reaching out to the consumers, as they enable you to analyze the campaign performance, and tune it on the basis of its reception by the audience.
- Start with a single niche channel for targeting users, instead of using many channels at a time. The choice of the channel depends on factors such as the age group, gender, and demography of the target customers.
- Brainstorm a lot and take quick decisions.
- Don’t get blinded by data analysis. Step away from the excel sheet, and speak to the users to gain real insights on how they use the product.
- ‘If you were a customer for your own product, what questions would you like to be answered’ – this can be the starting point to define the content of your product.
The September 2015 edition of Startup Saturday Bangalore was attended by 250+ people that included a mix of entrepreneurs, early-stage startups, software developers. product managers, and marketing consultants. A huge thank you to the amazing audience who attended and participated actively in the event; and to our long list of event partners: MediaTek Labs, IBM Bluemix, Bangalore Alpha Labs, TiE Bangalore, Wow Labz and Yourstory, amongst others, for their generous support and contribution.
If you missed attending this Startup Saturday Bangalore, then make sure you block your calendar for the October event. As a startup founder, apart from gaining insights from industry experts and networking with fellow entrepreneurs, the Startup Saturday events also provide you with an opportunity to connect with potential customers through demos and stalls. The Headstart team has been lucky enough to contribute to the success stories of many startups. A recent one being the acquisition of Trial kart, a VR startup that had its stall at the June SS event, by e-retailer Voonik . For more feedback on the SS events, you can check out the video testimonials on the Headstart Youtube Channel. Do visit the Startup Saturday Bangalore Facebook page to stay updated on the theme and agenda of the next event.
About Headstart Bangalore:
Established in the year 2008 with the vision to ‘Change the World through Entrepreneurship’, Headstart Network Foundation (headstart.in) is the largest network of early stage startups in India. A non-profit, volunteer-driven organization, HeadStart Bangalore facilitates entrepreneurial learning, hiring and peer mentoring amongst the startups and addresses their issues through various initiatives such as: Startup Saturday Bangalore, Headstart Clubs, Headstart Higher, Headstart Cofounder Search Program and Headstart Inturn.
Written by Apoorva Pandey, Edited by Swati Ramnath