Structure of Good Business Pitch (3 Mins):
- Significance and relevance of your business?
- Business Solution to Customer and market base
- Differentiators and Specialization
- SWOT Details
- Financial Plan & Projection (3 yrs)
- Marketing & Sales Plan & Projection (3 yrs)
- Funding – How much, For What and Why?
IT companies are in process of reinventing themselves to adjust new scenario of competition. Traditionally, volume based growth was the only way to grow linearly, but with changing dynamics of market, where customer asking for value add, scarcity Good technical resource and competitive price pressure, are forcing companies to think “Alternatively Growth Plan”. That is about non-linear growth which can come from re-modeling existing business model around platform, product, Intellectual property and Automate processes. After refering few news articles, here are few offerings which could potentially drive new revenue growth.
- Differentiated Service Offering
- Using intellectual properties or domain expertize to solve client’s technology, business or operational challenge
- Productized Solution
- Platform or product into niche area to address replicable solutions across multiple customers.
- Flex Delivery Models
- Leveraging economy of scale by consolidating similar work across the clients through a well defined process, tools, interfaces and centralized scalable team.
- Lifecycle Accelerators
- Pre-developed software that automates particular business problem or an aspect of product development to reduce 30% to 70% of the code can be reused across clients
- Alternate Commercial Models
- Outcome based pricing models that ensure that client pay only for service which delivers business value. This allows IT companies to transform client relationship from mare technology partner/vendor to strategic business relationship.
My notes from Warren Buffet Talk on NDTV.
- People Orientation
- People should love you.
- Assessment – Know what you like in other person and know your strength also know opposite. Just work on it.
- Shelled Personality – Don’t create shell around you through which people may restrict access to you. This is recipe for all failures and unhappiness.
- Forward Looking Personality
- Conduct yourself so that you never look back by doing best for the moment,
- Emotions vs Rationale
- Keeping Emotions and Rationale for the right places.
- Decision Making – Rationale
- People dealing with Emotions
- Art of Business Evaluation
- Business should not be looked by its balance sheet rather than feeling of business.
- Feel Factor > Expansion Factor > Gordian Factor > Competitive Factor
- Cut the noise what people say, stick to your formula.
- E.g. a stock is going down but you see that it has potential just like Infy. Go for it.
- If you cant answer a difficult question what you doing, you are not doing the right thing.
- Dont answer anything that someone else has told you. It should be your clear answer from within.
- Find a fun job, you will never work forever.
Our focus in the last 15 years has been internet, specifically wireless. In India, we have a portfolio of 30 companies with around 10 in the internet/wireless domain. We go from seed stage investments to later stage investments as well.
Elements of Sustainable Venture Companies:
Things that we look for:
- Large Markets – Address existing markets poised for rapid growth and change. Example is TravelGuru which is a big market with scope of bringing in a lot of efficiency.
- Team DNA – ‘A’ Level founders attract ‘A’ level teams.
- Clarity of Purpose – Summarize company’s business on the back of a business card.
- Rich Customers – Target customers who will move fast and pay a premium. Eg: Jassi Chadha founded MarketRx.
- Insane Customer Focus – Customers will only buy a simple product with singular value proposition.
- Pain Killers – Pick an issue of burning importance and delight the customer with a compelling proposition. Eg: PayPal
- Think Differently – Take the contrarian route and create novel solutions. Eg: Shashi Reddy started testing services company.
- Agility – Stealth and speed will ususally help beat out large companies. Eg: Steve Chen and Chad Hurley started YouTube.
- Frugality – Focus spending on what’s critical. Eg: Nitish Mittersain started Nazara that has exclusive rights for sportsmen like Sehwag, Tendulkar.
- Inferno – Huge markets with customers yearning for a product developed by great engineers requires very little firepower.
We have always made more money with people who are not proven. We do 5-6 seed stage investments every year and we have some ability to assess the technology risk. Why should you come to us:
- Phenomenal track record in internet and technology space.
- Ability to foresee an idea, refine it and bring it out in a way that it is complementary to the team.
- History of 6 years in India, learnt from mistakes.
- Long term staying power. We were investing in 2000, 2001 when there were no investors.
Sandeep Singhal ( Sequoia Capital )
How Innovators Connect – Sharing Experiences of Leading Silicon Valley Innovators
Rohit is a veteran entrepreneur and has a couple of successful startups to his credit. The most recent idea he is working on is to build a community where entrepreneurs ( and budding entrepreneurs ) and innovators can interact and exchange ideas.
He is releasing a book called “How Innovators Connect” 8 weeks from now, that shares success stories of entrepreneurs and his session today summarized the learnings of the entrepreneurs into ten key points. Every entrepreneur should know and do these ( in my words ):
- Innovation lies between invention and imitation : An invention is something completely new, unseen, imitation is something exactly identical to what already exists, and innovation lies somewhere between invention and imitation. An innovative idea doesn’t always have to be inventive – it simply has to be different and it has to solve some problem. Look at the following successful companies and you will understand what I mean – all these companies picked up an existing idea and innovated to deliver more value than any of the existing companies.
- Connect with an idea : It is extremely important that you have an idea that you believe in and passionate about. In case you are not sure how passionate you are about the idea, sleep over it for a week and see if your passion stays beyond a threshold. Once you connect with the idea, you will have the wherewithal to carry it through the hard times.
- Connect with themselves : Starting up your own company requires a lot of hard work and commitment which is really hard to achieve unless you are spiritually connected to yourself in some way. This gives you the power to face the unknown, the confidence to build something you believe in and the maturity to take hard decisions. It is important that you know yourself and that you know if you are ready to start your own venture. Ask yourself the questions and trust your inner voice.
- Connect with fear : Think of a startup and fears in various shapes and sizes creep into your mind. The first and the foremost is the fear of losing your well settled job to venture into the unknown. The second is the fear of how well your venture would do. Third is the fear of not being able to survive the hard times. And the list goes on and on… You need to connect with your fears and instead of letting them dominate your actions, use them to guide you into making smart decisions.
- Connect with failure : Failure is not the end of the world. As a child when you learn to walk, you fall a couple of times, but that does not mean you give up walking. Similarly, when you start your own company, your first product does not necessarily have to be successful. Infact, most of the companies today started off with a stupid idea, had this realization a few months into the venture and modified the idea to make it successful. You need to learn to accept failure and course correct to keep making progress on the right track.
- Connect with environment : The environment around you is the biggest influencer behind success/failure of your idea. If your idea does not solve a problem or reduce a pain point in the environment where you are bringing it out, there is a high likelihood that it is headed for failure. As an example, building a GPS navigation system would be a really good idea in US ( infact it is already used heavily ) whereas it would not cut across to the masses in India ( where you have so many people around to ask the way ). Keep in mind the dynamics of the environment and the environment will guide you to the right path. As another example, India is a price sensitive volume driven economy (people here do not pay for convenience) whereas people in US are more likely to pay for convenience.
- Connect with team : Starting up alone is a sureshot recipe to disaster. Startups that have more than 1 founding members have dramatically higher chances of success relative to those that are driven by a single owner ( infact most of these have failed historically ). There are a couple of ways to think about this:
- Your network of friends is one of the most valuable resources when you are starting up a company. Are you starting up alone because you do not have too many friends that you can trust ?
- You have a good network of friends but you were not able to convince any of those that this is a good idea. If you cannot convince at least 2 of your close friends ( who know you so well ) of your idea, how do you expect to convince your customers and people you do not know of the same ?
- There are hard times for every startup when even the highly passionate founder begins to think if it is a good idea to pursue. If you have more than 1 founding members, it is highly unlikely that all of them are depressed at the same instant of time and they would be able to provide each other support during hard times.
- You don’t need a big team to bring out the first version of the product. You need a set of people who are passionate about the idea and 6 months to get this done. In absence of other founding members, you would need to look for employees to take the product through the first release and employees would never ever be able to drive the same results as a group of highly energized founders.
- Connect with customers : Do I need to emphasize the importance of this – I guess not. Customers may not be intelligent enough to tell you what you should build ( otherwise they would have built it themselves, isn’t it ), but they can surely tell you if they are going to use what you are building or not. If customers love using your product, you are surely on the path to success. However it is easier said than done and no startup ever gets the idea dead right in the first go. That is the reason it becomes increasingly important to connect to your customers, listen to their feedback and course correct early based on that feedback. Remember, the closer you are to building what customers want, the greater are your chances of success. Also, when taking feedback, listen to the whisperers more than the ones that are shouting on the top of their voice.
- Connect with money : Be frugal. Borrowing money to get the startup going always sounds compelling ( because that way you transfer all your risk to the person offering you money ), but remember that there is little difference between Opium and OPM ( Other People’s Money ) and addiction to either is a recipe for doom. When you are starting up, you need to be very efficient with your spend and squeeze the maximum value from each penny you spend. The best way to start up a company is for the founders to pool in the initial investment ( enough to sustain 6 – 9 months ) and get a prototype live after which you can start looking for external investments. Also remember that going to a VC too early in the cycle is not a good idea either because when a VC invests in a company, the VC would also dictate their terms which might cause your vision to be destroyed completely ( because now you are executing the VCs vision, not building your idea ) thereby throwing an otherwise excellent idea down the hill. Approach a VC only when your startup has achieved a threshold and you need to expand. This also makes you better placed to bargain with the VC and get the funding on your terms.
- Connect with ego : Last but not the least, do not let your ego get in the way of the startup. Yes, you do need to stand behind the idea and you need to be passionate about it, but you also need the flexibility to course correct as you get fe
edback from your customers and that is where your ego might get in the way. Don’t ever let your ego tell you that you are the smartest person in this world and any idea that you think of can never be stupid. Drop your ego, listen to your customers and march ahead.