In my years as a mentor I have had the pleasure and privilege of interacting with some really highly motivated entrepreneurs. And while all of them may have had the same level of passion, aspiration and commitment, I have observed that if the startup is well positioned on T.E.S.T. & POC, their chances of success are much higher.
E: Execution capabilities
S: Scalability in the business model
And POC of course is Proof of Concept.
(And success does not necessarily mean that it will be successful in its original plan, but success means that the startup may pivot where required and make other relevant adjustments in the plan to take the startup on the path of success).
Team: This, in my view, is the most critical ingredient. A team which complements each other; gels well; has the right chemistry to work together and has the same high aspirations to grow, it is the most powerful asset any company can have. A complementing team is when the critical functions of the business are well covered between the founders and founding team members.
Execution: We have heard ALL investors and successful entrepreneurs emphasize that unless you execute the idea well, it has no value. Startups that have a team with the competence to execute, and ideally proven execution capabilities are more likely to succeed. In fresh teams who have not had an opportunity to prove their execution capabilities, what I try to assess is if they have the hunger to succeed and the willingness to work hard. Really hard.
Scalability: Startups, which have a business model that is scalable, are more likely to succeed. (No, I am not suggesting that smaller, lifestyle businesses are not worth doing. They are good too. However, if a startup seeks VC funding, then they need to think of creating a large-scale company). Businesses that have scalable business models have a much higher chance of becoming large enterprises. Without scalable models, despite the potential, it is a challenge to grow the business.
Technology: In today’s environment, technology enables all businesses. Unless the venture has a strong technology capability, it may not achieve a sustainable competitive advantage, which in the long run may impact the scale to which the business may grow.
The 4 aspects – Team – Execution – Scalability – Technology – are critical to success of a venture. I call it my TEST score for a startup. I have had the good fortune of mentoring some highly successful companies. Hopefully, I have had a meaningful role to play in their success. I have tried to ensure that the startup improves their TEST score to further improve their chances of success.
Additionally, when I consider startups for mentoring, I prefer startups that have done their POC – Proof of Concept i.e. whose concepts are validated in the market, who have clients with stickiness and whose revenues are growing, no matter how small. Even in startups that have not yet hit the market and hence have no customers, I check if they have at least gone and spoken to customers to assess if their concept, value proposition and solution are relevant for them.
So, in my view, for startups to be successful in the market place, I view them from the lens of T.E.S.T. & POC. If they meet the criteria, they are in a much better position to benefit from mentoring or any accelerator program. Of course, as a mentor, I guide startups to even get to the ‘T.E.S.T. & POC’ stage. They have to get there to improve their chances of success in the marketplace. I think it has worked well.
About the Author:
Vikram Upadhyaya is the Founder of GHV Accelerator. As a member of Indian Angel Network, he has provide his mentorship to several startups in the country. At present, he is also a mentor for Startup Next pre-accelerator program, Delhi Edition.
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