The very first brand!

The biggest irony of a start-up ecosystem is that everybody wants to go to heaven but no body wants to die. It all sounds very exciting to work at a challenging place, but sacrificing the current salary from the stable job is not easy. The features of the new product sounds too appealing and fitting ones requirements, but most of the customers are not very comfortable with risking hard-earned money on some geeks. Even the investors face the same dilemma of choosing the potential start-up from the huge list of funding applications they get on the daily basis. 
Apart from building the dream product or service in limited budget, all the founders have to manage the daunting situation of attracting their first few employees, the first set of customers and the first angle investors. Most of the founders consider their business idea to be the first major brand that attracts the attention. However, the fact is that the very first brand a start-up has is its founders.

The potential employees, customers and investors look out for the trust-worthy founders who can actually make the idea work. There is always a fine line between genius and insanity, and in a way, the traits of the founders tell a lot about the future of a start-up. Here are some pseudo v/s real traits of this first brand.

Academic record v/s Street Smartness

To larger extend, no educational system measures street smartness very accurately. Don’t get carried away with the multiple degrees or academic records a founder has. Always look for the basic street smartness that is needed to stir the company from the initial garage days to a successful company.

Experienced v/s novice

Age is another deceiving factor when it comes to evaluating the capability of the founders. One school of thought supports energetic, young, fresh out of college guys while other vouches for the experienced lot. A good founder is always ready to learn yet confident enough to articulate his/her ideas to the world. Listen to the founder to know more about this.

Speaker v/s Listener

Founders are generally full of ideas and always ready to pitch in the unique business idea that they are having. However the real trait is to have good listening capability. An idea goes through lots of improvisation on the execution lane. Unless the founders are good listener to customer needs, market demands and technical challenges, they may probably fail to make necessary amendments to their ideas.

Dreamer v/s Visionary

Most of the literature on start-ups and the celebrity founders advocate dreamers. However, being a dreamer doesn’t take anyone closer to success. The real difference comes from converting a dream into a vision. A clear vision that can lead set of people to make thing happen. Ultimately it’s not just about thinking big, it’s about making it work on a grand scale.

Business sense v/s Common Sense

Many revolutionary start-ups are not actually built on contemporary business sense. Let it be the product features, pricing, payment models or customer interactions most of the successful start-up’s business models could not have made perfect business sense initially. By sticking to the common sense, they have made all the differences. The same is true for a founder. It doesn’t require an MBA degree to establish a good business, but common sense will do just fine.

Creator v/s Destroyer

Creativity & entrepreneurship are generally considered similar. A person who is good at creating a product or service is treated as a good candidate for a successful start-up founder. In a start-up journey, failure is the only constant companion one has. One may require to scrap the idea and start afresh or look for an alternative. While evaluating a founder, always look for his or her ability to destroy something that he or she has created. Moving on is the only survival instinct that keeps a start-up floating in the initial days.

Junoon v/s Jugad

Junoon or passion is another misleading trait that is connected with a potential founder, however the key trait is to have Jugad or resourcefulness. More than 50% of the hurdles one comes across in running a start-up is non-technical and not related to the central business idea. Be it hiring or finding a suitable office space, the most time consuming problems of a start-up require deep out-of-the box and quick thinking. Passion alone is not helpful here. One needs to be extremely resourceful to make it work.

For a very long time, the founders of a start-up remain the only brand of the company. Gradually the products and services start speaking for the company and the founders become mere brand ambassadors. The transition from being the only brand of the company to be one of the brand ambassadors of the company is the true measurement of the success of a founder.

Originally published at on April 30, 2016.