This post is by Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Co-Founder, Venture Catalysts
With some of the sharpest minds from the country occupying top positions in Silicon Valley, Indians have truly carved their niche as front-runners in terms of innovation and technology. This belief has further been strengthened with the rise of the Indian start-up ecosystem, which is offering solutions to global business problems through some of the most innovative products. But amid stiff competition, how can budding entrepreneurs ensure that their product will break through the clutter? Here are a few tips that can help you, as an emerging entrepreneur, to stand out from the crowd:
- Changing your recruitment approach
The initial recruitment is most crucial for any start-up and plays a very vital role in deciding its future. Start-ups must be conservative when it comes to team size and recruitment, especially during the initial stages of their operations. The focus for start-ups should therefore be on precise recruitments and building a lean team. Hire professionals that are at least equal to you in terms of ability, if not more. Skills, knowledge, and abilities matter the most at this juncture, and therefore should be your first preferences during selection. Avoid recruitments that are not necessary, like hiring an engineer before the product is finalised, for optimal operations.
Remember that it is always better to brainstorm on your business model before considering how to raise funds. This will ensure that your product is precisely based on your actual requirement and will make your start-up more cost-effective. Taking the alternate route will inevitably result in extravagant spending, and will be detrimental to the unit economics of your venture.
- Changing the belief system
Where Indian start-ups often lag in comparison to their foreign competitors is the structure of organisation. Indian entrepreneurs usually idealise large corporations that are structured on hierarchy. This business format affects a start-up’s egalitarianism and decreases its ability to articulate strategies and get feedback from its employees. This reflects on the product in the form of lacklustre creativity and limited innovation.
If we observe some of the most cutting-edge organisations across the globe, the leaders often play mentors to employees and give them more room to test their creativity. This approach promotes internal innovation and allows business owners to appropriately guide the strategy. Their products are also less human-dependent in general, as they consider labour-heavy operations as cumbersome and often opt for a lean team. The metric to gauge a start-up’s success in India, on the other hand, is often defined by the workforce that it manages.
A company must always try and operate with minimal human intervention and have maximum thrust on its core product as well as technology. Tech processes have a natural advantage over human-based processes. Algorithms, tech stacks, infrastructure, and the model you want to put together must therefore be dominant in your strategy for higher operational consistency and greater scalability.
- Early generation product with no relevant data
One of the most complex problems facing a start-up entering a relatively new industry vertical with an early generation product is the nonexistence of data within the market. In such situations, early-stage products have to be by and large developed on the basis of market instinct.
However, the product should be substantiated as much as possible before entering the development phase. It is preferable to build a paper prototype and do café researches in order to create a reliable proof of concept. Test the viability of the product on a sample size comprising your target demography. Further develop the product on the basis of the initial response. Flexibility becomes critical in such cases. Your product must be designed in a manner which allows for convenient strategic pivots once enough data accumulates for information-driven decision-making.
India is emerging as one of the most lucrative markets for start-ups offering cutting-edge solutions, but also has its share of some really complex business problems. Product, therefore, has become the most essential element for Indian entrepreneurs looking to overcome challenges unique to the Indian market. Proper attention must be paid to develop the right product, as it can often be the difference between success and failure for a new business venture.
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