5 Startup Trends to watchout for in 2017

With the year 2016 drawing to a close, it is time to pick up some key trends that will shape how next year may look like. Sentiment in the startup space is bullish, but not unnecessarily euphoric. With that in mind, some broad themes that one can expect to play out next year:

1. Valuation is not the name of the game – It became clear somewhere towards the end of 2015, that the valuation game had to end. Lofty valuations and raising $1 million in seed rounds, which had become normal mid-2015, gave way to rational thinking. In 2016, the emphasis has been on business metrics like revenue and profitability. In fact, 2017 will be the year when startups had to raise money at a more realistic valuation, driving home the fact that this year’s euphoria and hype is not sustainable.
2. Going Digital is not a choice – When the fixed telephone line or what we call as the landline first made its presence in India, having a telephone connection was considered a luxury. There was a 10 year waiting period to get a connection and the service was appalling. With the telecom sector opening up, the mobile revolution swept through India and we bypassed landline connection to embrace cellular connections. Mobile opened our world to new innovations and products and now the phone is an integral part of our life.
Ever since the government launched its ambitious Digital India programme, it was clear that people in the corridors of power realize the importance of going digital. In a large country like India, digital is the only way to get services and amenities to a large section of the population that has been neglected till now. Digital is no more a luxury meant for only a few but has gone mainstream. Similarly, digital is no more only the playbook for tech enterprises. In 2016, more than ever before, digital has become the way of business.
Mainstream adoption of technologies like SasS and Mobility solutions in Small & Medium Enterprises will be reality in 2017
3. “C” is citizen and not consumer – Many did not notice, but slowly and surely some startups have moved their focus to addressing challenges faced by the citizens of the country. Built on top of platforms like Aadhar and India Stack, these startups have a paradigm change in their target audience. While every business focuses on its consumers, startups in the year 2016 have decided to focus on the society as their customer base. Next year I suspect there will be focused startups that will emerge to address changing government rules and regulation and to support citizens in getting things done. Creating platforms for GST readiness and compliance such as easemyGST will be great opportunity for startups
4. Innovation around Healthcare, Retail and Fintech – The health care piece is so large that we saw plenty of action in the space and we will continue to see activity next year. While innovation is not around finding a new molecule for a new medicine, advancement in the space has been centered on new devices and using technology to bring in a new dimension to care giving. Similarly, startups and innovations around retail has moved from ecommerce to using artificial intelligence, personalization and on-demand customization of fashion to come up with the next set of solutions. Also, an increasing number of startups this year focused on brick and mortar retail stores and tackling inefficiencies in the physical format, a trend that I think will strengthen next year leading Retail ERP provider to extend solution to accommodate future of Retail.
In the new Demonetized world, access to capital will become key for SME leading to Fintech ventures which can help credit assessment in near real-time basis for faster lending.
5. Wallets, IoT and Virtual Reality are real – Digital wallets have been around for some time now and it was thought they were often considered as a good alternative to have. However, after November 8, digital wallets have found a new lease of life with people beginning to understand the utility and importance of a digital wallet. Today, with the entire cashless transaction drive, one can expect wallets to be a sector of keen interest in 2017.
When it comes to IoT, the most popular application has been in the wearables space where fitness bands like Fitbit and GOQii has carved out a space. IoT has seen increasing applications in the sphere of smart cars, appliances and next year we are bound to see some exciting stuff happening around us. Hardware is a difficult space to crack, especially in the consumer arena and that is one reason why progress in the IoT space has been a tad slow. Similarly, virtual reality has made rapid strides since Oculus Rift made VR a household name with its headsets. Today, VR is used in healthcare, entertainment, automotive, space among others. Next year, one can expect a more mainstream application of VR and not just limited to gaming or the sectors mentioned above.

Ashish Mittal is Founder , TurningIdeas Venture and Guest Columnist on Startups with Economic Times.

How to start a startup?

Starting a new business can be tough but isn’t impossible. Everybody these days is trying to become an entrepreneur, more than thousands of startups emerge every month, having a completely different motive. But how to get started? Here are 5 steps which you should keep in mind before launching your startup:

  1. Solve the real issue
    Live in the future and see how you can bring a change in the world. The idea rolling in the mind should not only solve a present time problem but should also be utilised in the future as well. It’s easy to analyse what the current problem is and how the existing companies are solving it but a glimpse of future will go a long way.
  2. Identify the ‘gap’
    What is missing? Is the idea bridging a gap ? Are you solving a real-time problem? Look around you and see what is missing and how you can grab that opportunity and start something new.

  3. Pen down possible solutions to possible problems
    Whatever you are thinking just write them down on a piece of paper. The best ideas come randomly and everything you think whether you think is stupid, just write. Nobody is too smart to remember every random insight but writing them down will be of sure help.

  4. Envision the product
    Document the flow of solution to the problem being addressed by the idea. Make a prototype of your budding startup. Take out those ideas from that piece of paper and convert it to a physical plan. Get your design, B plan, technology and program ready, though a rough one a physical one. Now, you are finally a step ahead of your imaginary world.
  5. Reach out to people, take feedback
    It’s easy to think yourself that the plan will work but ask a hundred others will bring you to the reality. You will get to know whether you are actually solving a real-time problem or not? For a candid feedback, nothing can be better than this activity. Write down the feedback and changes or appreciation they gave you.

  6. Execute & Try
    Try to redo everything again, not everybody gets right on their first attempt. Learn from these changes and don’t think to give up on the idea. After the relevant modifications, execute your idea.

5 learnings from your failed Startup

Try. Fail. Try again. Fail better. Try Again.

What if it didn’t work? Will I be wasting my time? Are some of the questions that pop up in our mind when we think of starting a startup. The fear of failure have led many young minds to letup their idea of solving a new problem by starting a Startup.

Many would be entrepreneurs if their fear of failure of starting a new business would have stopped. The fact is that there are chances that your attempt might fail. The reality being, 90% of startups fails. And if that gives you a cold feet then your career as an entrepreneur ain’t too bright. Entrepreneurs are well aware of the failure of the business and still risk because they leave the fear behind. Here are the learning from your startup failure

Master the Art of Entrepreneurship: the first step is to kill the feeling of failure. Remember, failure isn’t a bad thing, and is not the end of the world for sure. And if you are seeing failure as a negative thing, time to take a turn. Failure is the greatest opportunity one can ever have to learn something new. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” said Thomas Edison. Every startup takes the risk and then grow up in a large business. They try, they fail but never stop and so shouldn’t you.

Establish your faith in achieving: There are many reasons for failure but ‘fear’ shouldn’t stand alone as a hindrance in your way. Whenever such thoughts, feelings come in your mind just remember why you started it. Every startup has a real objective and is solving a real time problem and so are you. How much pain you have already gone gone through until giving up is okay?

Learning of Lifetime: Failure is not the opposite of success but a part of it. Every time you fail you find another way to do that work more intelligently. Keeping an optimistic attitude towards your goal and accept the setbacks and obstacles in your way. Celebrate each and every small achievement and build on that momentum. But first, bid failure a goodbye.

Help discover your passion and skills: You try a thing, you get to know whether it’s your cup of tea or not. Maybe it was or maybe it wasn’t. Taking risk in life is an essential part, until and unless you take risk you won’t find out what exactly you want. Before you follow your passion you have to find it. And this finding will come from trying.
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”- Mark Zuckerberg

Understanding of how to run a business: Though it didn’t work but it taught you something. From every time you ran from here to there to get your company registered to pitch an investor, it taught you how to do things. Independently or in a team, how things work and how to get things work is learned.

Sectors to watch out for in 2016

With an eventful year drawing to a close, it is time to look to the future in anticipation of what 2016 can bring. Indulging in some crystal ball reading, the sectors that will do well in 2016 are

Internet of Things (IoT) Around the world Internet of Things (IOT) is hot and the same is the case in India. IoT enables objects to collect data and transmit it over the internet, which means things or objects look and behave a lot like it did in Sci-fi movies.  We will see some interesting applications emerging in sectors such as automotive, construction,fitness and healthcare where objects in our lives will getting connected.

With governmental schemes like Digital India, Smart Cities and Make in India the sector is expected to see a great level of interest. According to Nasscom, in five years, the global opportunity is likely to touch $ 300 billion and the Indian IoT market itself could be about $ 15 billion. Continue reading “Sectors to watch out for in 2016”

7 Lessons you won’t learn at B-School

 

At a recent conference, I met this young, smart man who had a good idea about a business he wanted to start. An analyst at one of the major banks, the individual had a solid plan to back his idea but had a problem. He had taken loans to go to B-School and now the cost of going out his own and starting up was proving to be difficult. He had, after all EMIs to pay. It is ironic that some of the life lessons are never taught at B-Schools but picked up outside. A look at seven of them.

  1. Ability to take calculative risks – As an old adage says no risk, no gain. This is particularly true in business as one has to take risks – calculated risks. Many fail to take risks due to the fear of failure and maybe losing everything. This greatly diminishes an individual’s ability to make things work and is often the thin line between grabbing the opportunity or letting it go. However, in most cases, what entrepreneurs do not realize is that not taking a risk may itself be risky. In a world with cut-throat competition, it is often a choice between finding the balance between the financial risk of investing and the competitive risk of not investing. B-Schools will never be able to teach what constitutes a calculated risk and what does not since it differs from occasion to occasion. There are some risks that one can categorize and plan for but in all likelihood one can never know for sure all the risks you will face in a business. Treat B-Schools like a game of Cricket. You may have as many sessions in the nets, but nothing comes close to playing the real game.
  2. Continue reading “7 Lessons you won’t learn at B-School”

5 Steps for startups to raise first startup investment

It seems every startup in the country is doing a great job in raising funds. Every day we hear about some startup raising millions of dollars. There is, however, more to it as a vast majority of entrepreneurs fail to raise any money. Beyond the fancy presentations and excel sheets, raising money from investors is still a tough job and there are certain aspects that need to be kept in mind when raising your first investment.

  1. Be clear about your business problem and solution – There can be nothing worse than being vague about what you are trying to do or unclear about the idea. One should take time out to define the problem, the approach you would take, the scope of the solution and if it has an addressable market. In many cases, there may be a problem and a subsequent solution, but the addressable market may be too small or niche to excite an investor. Do not jump into a business become everyone is doing it and you think there is money to be made. Find an unaddressed problem and determine how best you are able to overcome it.
  1. Get a committed full-time team

Starting up is never easy and needs tremendous focus, dedication, and zeal. Working hours will be long, problems will be many and resources will be far and few. In such a case, an entrepreneur needs a strong, committed full-time team working on the business. Working on the idea as a side project can only work during the ideation days, but not once the business has taken shape. Investors want entrepreneurs and their team to be focused on their business and not sidetracked by another job. Investors like entrepreneurs who have rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty in making the startup work.

Continue reading “5 Steps for startups to raise first startup investment”

10 reasons why most startups fail to scale

Starting a venture, may be easy, but scaling it is the most difficult part. Statistically an overwhelming majority of startups shuts shop because they fail to scale up. Some of the top reasons why a startup faces problems when scaling is listed below.1) I am the first one: Every great idea needs to be thoroughly researched. Most founders think their idea is unique and solves a very real business problem. That, however, is mostly not the case, as unique and groundbreaking ideas are far and few in between. It is highly likely that someone else has already thought of your great idea and that it is already operational.  A thorough research will also throw light on several issues like market size, willingness to pay for it, barriers to entry, competition and investor interest.

2) We are techies: Startups in the technology domain often comprise of people with similar skill sets. Two or more techies with great coding skills often get together to work on an idea. While this may be great when overcoming a technology problem, lack of understanding of other key areas like marketing, finance and management can spell doom. A startup needs founders whose skill sets are complementary and not similar. This also reduces conflict within the founding team as each member handles a specific area. Continue reading “10 reasons why most startups fail to scale”

5 Ways Incubators can help startups bootstrap

What are Incubators?

Incubators are an organization, platform or team of experienced professionals that helps startups bootstrap during its early stages and often provides mentoring, guidance, co-working space and also at times some funding. Traditionally incubators are the first port of call for any budding entrepreneur.Incubators work on the same age old principles of providing the right assistance to fledging startups, but have proved to be a very important cog in the startup wheel.

Why Incubators

An entrepreneur can have a brilliant idea that solves a real problem or has great utility, but commercializing it and making money from it is a different game altogether. Often young entrepreneurs struggle when it comes to executing their business plan and commercializing the idea as most do not have a business background. Even young entrepreneurs who have passed out from business schools often find the going tough. Starting up needs active guidance, mentoring and a considerable amount of hand holding, something that an incubator can provide. Experienced professionals and people who have been through the startup process often provide invaluable help and guidance. Continue reading “5 Ways Incubators can help startups bootstrap”

Indian Startups: Challenges and Opportunities

Startups are essentially of two kinds. One that starts something ground up, something that no one has thought about and is often ground breaking. This type of startup is difficult to create but once created often sees unprecedented growth. The second kind of startups that we see around us are primarily the ones that do not want to reinvent the wheel. They are akin to adding old sauce in a new dish to create something new and innovative.

Whatever may be the kind of startup, Indian startups face its own set of challenges and some stellar opportunities. The challenges can be classified as:

Culture – Entrepreneurship and startups are only a recent phenomenon in the country. It is only in the last decade and half that people in the country have moved from being job seekers to job creators. Doing a startup is tough and every country sees more failures than success. More often than not an entrepreneur needs to be prepared to face failures and unprecedented hardship. However, culturally we are not groomed to fail and failure is frowned upon. Entrepreneurship thrives on celebrations and a society that fails to appreciate business failures stifles innovation and creativity even before it can start. A startup failing has to be OK as failures often teach an entrepreneur, what to do and what not to do. Continue reading “Indian Startups: Challenges and Opportunities”

10 Steps to Bootstrapping a Startup

 

Starting up cannot be a flash in the pan. There are many impediments in the way of an an entrepreneur from converting his idea into a successful business. Capital, market research, finding a niche, identifying a team are some of them. Here are 10 steps that can help an entrepreneur bootstrap a startup and provide structure to the process.

Step 1: Ignite your passion: Bootstrapping a startup does not start with great ideas but with a passion to make a mark and solve real business issues. While an idea is very important to do a startup, the best ideas will fail if there is no passion to execute it. A startup needs a huge amount of personal sacrifice and an equal amount of hard work. There will be many days when a founder questions his move to be an entrepreneur and hence at such stages, passion is needed to carry on.

Step 2: Research your idea – Sometimes an idea should remain only an idea. This is the stage where a founder determines if his startup can grow to become a real business. Startup is not a charity and for a founder it is very important to determine if the idea solves a real problem, has an addressable market and people are willing to pay for it. Continue reading “10 Steps to Bootstrapping a Startup”