May 06, 2016

8 Rules for building Great Products

In a Medium blog, Mitchel Harper shares his thoughts on what makes great products.

1. BFBC - Build For your Best Customers

They bring you most revenue and are willing to pay for upgrades and newer products. Give a higher weight age for their feedback.

2. Solve Tier I Problems

Tier I - One of top 3 problems of potential customers. If  you are solving a Tier I problem you will have the Customers' attention and budget spend. The rest are Vitamins - "nice to have fixed" problems.

3. Build 'simple to understand' products

Design is your most important feature. Every time the user experience is great, a startup's revenue grow like weed.

4. Make a cupcake

Most startups try to build the wedding cake (the big final product) on their first iteration instead of starting small with a cupcake, then turning it into a cake (based on customer feedback) and then finally into a wedding cake (again, based on customer feedback).

4. Prioritize Customer Feedback and make Themed releases

Instead of a sprinkle of small improvements, you will be making one big improvement which will be felt by more customers.

5. Outsource non-core activities

Startups have a better shot at winning when they are extremely focused on a single mission — and anything that gets in the way should be delegated. Necessary business processes that doesn’t differentiate you from your competition should be outsourced to an agency or third party provider. 

6. Manage costs & runway

When you build anything new, it’s tempting to just think about the initial cost to build, source or manufacture the product. What trips most founders up, though, is the ongoing cost to sustain that product once it’s live. Great products takes years of iteration based on customer feedback to generate that kind of revenue, which of course needs to be funded from somewhere — either profits or investors.

7. Be ruthless in tracking metrics

Running a startup is like flying a plane. If you can’t read the instruments, even for a few minutes, the plane probably won’t be flying for much longer.

Venture Intelligence is the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. 

Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs reach out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

May 05, 2016

What is Great Design? - Illustrated in 3 Doodles

In a Medium Blog, Julie Zhou, VP - Product Design at Facebook shares (pun intended) a few doodles on what is Great Design. She calls it as the congruence of high "Positive Utility" and lotsa "Customer/User Love"



The Ambition Hierarchy of Designers


Catch the 3rd Doodle here

We've been getting our hands dirty at trying to get well designed infographics on Venture Capital & Private Equity. You can catch the stories here

Venture Intelligence is the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. 

Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

April 05, 2016

Stop Whining & Start Executing

Gary Vaynerchuk's advise to Whiner-preneurs: "Bullshit entrepreneurs cry about the way they want it to be instead of reacting to the way it actually is." & "Nobody gives a f*ck about your feelings and you need to stop crying and adjust"

Click Here for the video

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

March 21, 2016

How to identify Rock Star employees?

Sara Tavel compares "Good" employees with "Rock Star" employees (whom she calls as the Mitochondria of the company)

1. Both are good at their jobs

2. The difference being in the scale of adding value. For good employees, it is is linear (more pay or higher the hierarchy = more value), while rockstar employees - "they add value to the company beyond their job description and responsibilities. They ask and do what is best for the company"

The "founder’s job (is) to attract and retain mitochondria through all stages of a company. At the early stages, this rare group of individuals is the core of the company. As your startup scales, they are your leaders."


How do you spot them? - Do Value Interviews


"Don't just hire for competence, interview for values"
Typically the founding team should check if the candidate is going to be a match with the core values of the company. If you had a chart for that you'd want someone on the top right corner.

A quick 2x2 interpretation of Sara's post: 


Sara has more ideas on what characteristics such employees have, how to notice them while hiring, compensation, etc. You can read it here.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

March 17, 2016

How to spec your tech project and hire a programmer

Derek Sivers has a great step-by-step guide:
Go to the following sites to open an account at each: upwork.com, guru.com, freelancer.com
...You'll get many offers, but if they don't have your magic phrase at the top (“I AM REAL” or whatever), delete them. This is very hard to do, since you'll feel thrilled that so many people are offering to help, saying things like, “We have looked at your project and would be glad to complete it immediately,” but trust me and delete those. If they didn't read something marked as VERY IMPORTANT already, you don't want to work with them.
...Here's the real reason why you're stopping at a simple milestone: you're going to hire at least two different people to do this first step, expecting that one will go bad, one will be so-so, and one will be great. Yes it means you're paying multiple times for this first milestone, but it's worth it to find a good one.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

December 27, 2015

Do You Know The "Speed" Type of Each Team Member?

D. Shivakumar of Pepsico India has a nice presentation type summary in Founding Fuel from the book "Move Your Bus" by Ron Clark. The book classifies team members into high performers ("Runners" - who consistently go above and beyond what is required.), the dependables ("Joggers" who do their jobs well without pushing themselves), average workers ("Walkers" who just get pulled along) and deadweights ("Riders" - who put their feet up and slow down the whole enterprise).

Here from the slides are the characteristics of "Runners"...
Runners bring positive energy 
Runners carry the load and provide momentum. They come early to work, never complain and bring a positive energy. 
Runners go for excellence
Runners are driven by the goal of professional excellence and take pride in contributing to an entity that wants to be top notch. Their impetus to work hard isn’t led by personal accomplishments, but is more about the good of the organization as a whole.
and what Leaders need to do keep them inspired - because "Having a runner maintain speed is far more important for an organization than trying to get a rider to walk":
Allow runners to shine and hold the spotlight for them...
Keep a runner’s spirit high As a leader, don’t break the runner’s spirit. Let him be even when you see some slippages—he will bounce back. But challenge him. Runners need coaching in terms of working with slower colleagues and that frustrates them. 
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

November 24, 2015

Debt as a Funding Option for Indian Startups

From an article on the IIM-A CIIE blog based on the experience of Flick2know and Revive, two incubatee companies of CIIE which have recently raised debt fund for their ventures (both from SIDBI):
Typical private debt funders provide loans in the range of Rs.5-25 crore per transaction at an interest rate of 15-17%, while govt. and govt. supported institutions provide as low as Rs 1 crore per transaction with interest rates starting from 9% for startups...Siddharth, for example, recounts from his recent experience of raising debt from SIDBI. Initially, they were hesitant about considering Revive, given the non-generic business model even though they had a revenue model in place. Revive took almost 1.5 years to raise debt from SIDBI under a scheme which is co-supported by DST for MSMEs with an interest rate of 5% per annum, although earlier they were considering to go with the Credit Guarantee Scheme.
As far as the criteria of selection is concerned, Divir mentions that unlike equity funders which look for startups with high growth trajectory, debt funders often seek a business that has minimum risk and proven financial performance. Siddharth adds, “debt-fund providers tend to prefer the ones with considerable market traction.” At the very least, there will be intensive scrutiny of last the three years financials, fine detailing of the projected financial model, and statutory compliance checks...“Patience is the key,” says Divir. One has to be clear why the fund is being raised with a clear utilization plan, and once the process commences, one has to patiently cooperate with the funding agency through the long-drawn process that debt funding entails. One also has to be ready for the extensive documentation and reporting that must be done during the life of the debt fund raised. “Lastly, a startup should only raise what it requires in debt, not a penny more, not a penny less,” he concludes.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.