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I’ll share a startling statistic I discovered while researching the Online Education market (aka EdTech or EduTech).

  • Chinese EdTech market at 150mn users in 2018, expected to hit 300mn by 2020 [1].
  • Indian EdTech market at 1.6mn users in 2016, expected to hit 9.6mn users by 2021 [2].

The 30x difference in projected users is just mind-boggling, but this is not the statistic you’re looking for.

Let’s start with a quiz (An article on EdTech has to include a quiz)

Can you list the most significant consumer groups in EdTech in India and in China?

Below is my list. I’m guessing your list would be similar.

(a) K-12
(b) Test-prep
(c) College students

Here’s the kicker:
One of the biggest groups paying for Online Education in China is actually of people aged 26 to 35 (College graduates with a job). …


The common Indian’s ability to answer the question “Short, medium or long?” with “Medium Short” or “Medium Long” is super interesting.

Does this stem from an inability to make a choice? (Medium vs.Short? Why not both!)

Does this stem from an unwillingness to select from options pre-defined by someone else?

Does this stem from an overarching desire to be extra troublesome?

I don’t believe so.

We are as capable of selecting from given options as the next person.

However, upon googling, you will see that “medium short haircut” is actually a thing across the world and across cultures. There is almost nowhere else where “medium short” is used.
People don’t call anyone medium short when referring to their height.
People don’t ask for a medium short skirt.

Just with haircut, mostly. Go figure.


We entrepreneurs are mostly busy trying to get our own stuff together and don’t spend time to search for long-term support. Let’s fix that.

Who needs mentorship?

We entrepreneurs are so busy getting stuff done that it often restricts our ability to ask ourselves the tough, introspective questions. We need someone who has been there, done (some of) that, and is willing to be on your personal team. We need a mentor.

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What do I know about being mentored?

I have had the good fortune of having had two mentors through my entrepreneurial journey. In both cases, the mentor-mentee relationship lasted well past the originally stated goals/timelines.

Their impact on how I think about my startup and my career has lasted for years after having moved on. …


We recently had to go through a partial round of layoffs and some people in our team were let go.

Dear Entrepreneur,

Getting yourself in the position of having to layoff some people in your team is terrible.
You are basically telling the people, whom you got on board with promises of success, riches and dreams — that this is the end of the relationship.

Sure, it sucks for you to tell them this

But do you know whom it sucks even more for?
Your colleagues whom you just laid-off.
It came as a complete surprise to them.
They weren’t planning on job-hunting today.
They weren’t planning on leaving you.
They knew they were your performers.


The industry my startup Buildkar sells to (small and medium sized contractors and builders) has it’s share of genuinely nice people and genuinely rude people. Just like any other industry.

Part of being a successful entrepreneur is knowing when a genuinely unhappy customer is expressing their unhappiness in a rude manner vs. knowing when a person is being an ass because that is who they are.

Recognising an unhappy customer

This takes some amount of skill and a lot of empathy.

You have got to understand the problem from the customer’s point of view before you blurt out your excuse for why something happened.
Sure, your vehicle may have had a flat tyre or the driver got stuck in traffic or didn’t follow the directions. These are your problems to solve not your customer’s problems.
In such cases, first off, be able to resolve some or all of the customer’s issues before you make excuses for why stuff happened. …


This week brought news that one of our competitors (Buildzar, with a Z) shut down, closed operations, failed, etc.

On the one hand there is my startup (Buildkar, with a K), non series-A, non pre-A, with low burn and growing handsomely. On the other hand someone with not just great funding but marquee names behind it (Vineet Singh of 99acres.com, Puneet Dalmia of Dalmia cement and jobsahead.com) — and honestly, the kind of competition that I thought was executing right and gave me nightmares many nights.

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So, what happened?

Here are some guesses:

  • Zero-day funding rarely works
    Even lesser in B2B. There are too many startups that get funded at the idea stage. The time that should be spent experimenting is instead spent figuring out how to grow a team and scale. …


There is a very strong sentimental reason for many people to watch fireworks light up the skies to mark various cultural events!

We see fireworks being lit up during Diwali, during Eid, when India beats Pak in a cricket match. Even during weddings.

With billions of people and a rise in disposable income it is inevitable that more and more people want to use and burst fireworks to mark a successful event.

I don’t want to deny them that joy. Heck I used to light up fireworks well into my teens.

But.

There is now an even stronger reason to reduce air pollution. Kids are getting sick. Old people are unable to venture outdoors during early morning and late evening. Our planet is becoming less hospitable each day. …


There has been a recurring fear ever since I started Buildkar
(yes, us entrepreneurs also feel fear)

The fear of playing the game with the big boys.
Of being crushed for no fault of ours.
Of not being able to scale up.

It’s the fear that the Indian cement industry cartel will make it difficult for me to support our customers — the small & medium builders, contractors and individual home builders.

We had weaknesses. Could we play to our strengths?

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Some backstory:

The Cement Industry in India acts as a cartel, they unilaterally increase prices or reduce production and restrict supply (they close their warehouses as a group and call it stock holiday). …


Everyone wants to B2B. It is the flavour of the season with investors, with the media and with entrepreneurs who jumped from uber-of-x in 2014 to foodtech in 2015 and want to B2B in 2016. Heck, even I’m running a B2B startup that has ecommerce in it.
It going to be great, right?

Ha!

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Here are things about B2B in general and B2B in India specifically:

B2B is unexciting.
No twitter endorsements by a top supermodel or cricket player!
No teenagers gushing over your products.
No old men complaining that your B2B products make the younger generation lazy.
No discussions with classmates on your latest B2B purchase and who got a better deal.
No social sharing (Any takers for this FB status: Yay! …


There are lots of things that you are supposed to be doing as an entrepreneur. Here are some things I’ve realized you can do as the founder of an early stage company that you may not have time to do once you’ve become much bigger.

These powerful hacks can help you stand out in the crowded field vying for the attention of great potential employees.

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  1. Shortlist candidates yourself

Most people first let the HR/recruiter shortlist candidates and then you (the founder) shortlist from that list.

I believe the opposite is better.

Even if you have a great HR person, you should spend some time shortlisting quality candidates. This may sound wasteful and goes against popular thinking. Unless the HR person is one of your co-founders (in which case, it is a “founder” doing shortlisting…

About

Vinit

Serial Entrepreneur, Bangalore

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