Meeting 1 Entrepreneur a day from past 6month. This is what i learned.
100 email conversations, over 100 phone conferences and 60+ Personal meetings i did with 1 new entrepreneur every day for past 6 months and what i realized will make you understand the current scenario of Indian Startup Ecosystem.
Entrepreneur are a breed apart. They sometimes are extremely energetic but sometimes are way too confused with what is happening in their life and their startup. Things that i learned while doing this is as follows:
1. They struggle to find the right co-founder:
While talking to most of the founders, i realized that most of them are struggling with finding the right co-founder.
What people have to understand here is, that there has to be a right co-founder startup fit in the founding team. Even when you hire, the first 20 people in your team are the actual founding body. Each one of them are taking the risks and being a founder is not about having a title, its more of a responsibility/lifestyle that you have to carry throughout.
What can be done to build the right founding team?
- Try searching in your own network, find the right person who compliments your skill and inspire him enough to join your mission of building the startup.
- All of your co-founders must compliment each other with respect to the skills you bring on board. If one is good at operations, the other one must not be a operations guy. The best example of having a right co-founder fit is of apple Steve Jobs | Steve Woz | Mike Markkula, while many of you will debate if mike was the founder, but as i said, its not a title it is a responsibility/lifestyle.
- There are a few points that you have to take care of while choosing your co-founder like the best co-founders can fight as hard as possible over a company issue and grab a beer later that same day.
One thing that i strongly believe is that, as a founder if you cannot sell your product to your probable co-founder, how will you even sell it to your customers or investors.
2. Most prefer Investment over users.
When people set out to build a startup, i can understand what all they go through. Its a learning in itself, as while building the startup you face many hardships. You leave your stable job, no salary, no security etc. Its the most depressive way to live your life, you are never having a good day . Either you have the best day ever or you’ll think you’re about to die.
But in all this, when i see startup founders just racing to raise money and not to build user base or achieve profitability, i go bananas. I can understand the fact that money is like oxygen for the startup’s survival. But the goal is not to raise money, it is survival and the way you can do it is by building the product that people will pay for. If you can get some customers to use your product and pay for it, you can raise money as well.
Value your users, investment will follow.
3. Usually the founders are great product people & not marketers.
With what i’ve learned after talking to all the entrepreneurs, is that most founders are great product people but they don’t know how to market their shit. Its 2015 and i believe that most of the founders out there are marketing like it s 2006 or 2007, whereas they should be marketing like its 2015.
What founders have to understand right now is that to market any product they have to know their customers first, before they know your customers.
Every time hiring a person for a job will not do the job, but in the most of the initial days, you will have to do almost all of the things. So be smart and think on how you can actually create a marketing funnnel to get to your customers and focus on that then.
Also, be a Data driven founder always. Take decisions backed by data and not by instincts. Use your data, deduce the necessary behavioural analysis you can on the basis of your users and then take decisions based on users activity. You have to be a data driven founder and marketer.
Moreover as a founder, what you should focus on is building a culture. If you want your company to stay and if you want your company to be in the list of fortune 1000's or in the list of top startups, the one thing that will remain even when you leave is the culture. The founding pillars, the values should remain the same. Build the culture, build a great team and great products will be built.