May 22, 2013

"Startup seeds are best planted in fertile soil"

Seth Godin in Economic Times:
Does it snow in Utah because that's where they built the ski areas?

Of course not. It's obvious that you find the snow and then you build the ski runs...Whether you're a non-profit fundraiser or someone selling b2b, understanding the profile of what's succeeded before you is a little like understanding where it snows. Sure, it's possible to invent an entirely new market dynamic, to persuade the previously unpersuadable. If that's your mission, go for it. But if your goal is to make your project work, to engage in a way that makes a difference right now, you're better off planting seeds in fertile soil.
 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.

May 20, 2013

How to get featured on startups blogs and columns

Dharmesh Shah of OnStartups has a "tell it like it is" post on how entrepreneurs and their PR agencies should go about pitching to bloggers like him. (My feeling is that these lessons apply equally well - in "The Indian Context" - to say, pitching Economic Times' Friday page on "Power of Ideas". In fact, Indian journalists and bloggers - self included - can learn a lot on what to screen for - from a readers' perspective - from this post.)
Don’t tell me your story is unique. No offense, but it really isn’t. There are thousands of Ramen noodle stories. There are thousands of 3 am “Eureka!” stories. There are thousands of maxed-out credit cards, relatives won’t return your calls, last-minute financing savior stories.

Your story is deservedly fascinating to you because you lived it (just as my story is fascinating to me), but to the average reader your story sounds a lot like every other entrepreneur’s story. Claiming your story is unique creates an expectation that, if not met, negatively impacts the rest of your pitch.

...The best articles let readers learn from your experience, your mistakes, and your knowledge. Always focus on benefiting readers: When you do, your company gets to bask in the reflected PR glow.

..So,readers don’t want to know what you do; they want to know what you know. If you started a company, share five things you learned about landing financing. If you developed a product, share four mistakes you made early on. If you entered a new market, share three strategies you used to steal market share from competitors.

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.

May 19, 2013

Should Indian startups aim for "passionate" employees?

Mukund Mohan of Microsoft Accelerator has a
post suggesting that entrepreneurs set their expectation realistically on this front.
The question I get asked by entrepreneurs a lot is what persona type should I hire? I see most entrepreneurs looking to hire that elusive work-work persona. There are so many Indian entrepreneurs, who claim to have a culture that attracts the work-work persona, and those folks that are passionate employees. I hate to tell them they are being fooled and really if I talked to their employees, they’d tell me they’d rather start their own company, but dont have the risk profile to do so. Here’s the real truth. The work-work folks will not be working for you in India. They would rather be entrepreneurs themselves, since they live their work. So the best you can do as an entrepreneurs is to hire a work-hobby or work-life persona. I’d highly recommend you dont get frustrated if they dont give you a 100%, because really their mind is elsewhere. As long as they give you what they commit to, be happy, move on.

To the comments, I had added the following:

While high-growth oriented startups might argue the point, I think this is highly relevant for non-tech/SME/life style" entrepreneurs. As someone who runs a relatively small shop, I would definitely recommend the "work-hobby" variety.

 1) At least, they are passionate about something.

 2) Especially if they are quite good at their "hobby" (which just doesn't pay the bills), they tend to have better work culture (i.e., they have less time for gossip, office politics, Facebook, etc); have relatively higher IQ and EQ; and tend to stick around longer (especially if the employer is flexible vis-a-vis their "hobby").  

Caveat: If the employee has more than one hobby/passion to keep up with,  1 & 2 don't apply!


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.