I feels what ever that can be built on Internet has already been built as far as “need” and “wants” are concerned. It is almost impossible to find niches which are big enough to build a decent size business as well as to solve a pain point for which people are willing to pay. In short, Internet is very saturated.
So now this is what you can do if you are looking to build a business and make money – Build Software for Lazy People.
People want to simplify their life and don’t want to do things which they don’t like but have to do. So build software for such people. For example, I built inBoundio as I myself was not enjoying few marketing things to do manually and the other software were too complicate and I wasn’t feeling like using them.
I am in Bangalore for the past 3 years now, have probably seen more than 200 startups (50 from TheMorpheus + 150 others at pluggd/TechSpark/TiE/Jaaga/SiliconeIndia etc) and I have yet to meet anyone who is not able to build “it”. Whether it is a product company or a services company (product needs building something tangible, services need building team of skilled people, both are equally difficult), the problem they face is, after building it, everyone hits a brick wall. Now what ?
When people start companies, they are way too high on adrenaline since startups are heavily glamorized. People sit in cafe coffee days, discussing how great our product/company will be, discussing features after features, reading HackerNews/TC and generic no context essays of PG. Once the excitement and the kicks settle down (normally after 8 months), people realizes that they never thought of marketing and how they are going to sell and acquire customers.
When they start (I also made the same mistakes), most of the acquisition strategies are just in your head and never tested. You tells yourself how easily you will go from 1 to 10 to 100 to 500 etc where as in reality, getting 1 to 5 to 10 sales can take months and this do lot of damage as mentally you were prepared to see numbers going exponentially which rarely happens.
Development is not that difficult, nor is Marketing (of course you can’t sell a product which is poorly built or if there is no market) but Marketing takes 3X more time. So if it is taking you 6 months to build the product, it will probably take you 18 months to do sales and marketing before you can really call your effort success or failure.
This was a draft post lying around for months so I decided to finish and publish it. I have decided to write smaller to the point posts (unless it is about life or philosophy).
This is one of the most important lesson I learnt last year, Build your startup as the way you want it and not how others are building it. I personally feels there is no glamour in startups with extreme burnout with very low chances of making it big so the last thing you want is to start living someone else’s dream.
Startups are about freedom of mind, thoughts and action, which only comes from inside of you. Let others chase their dreams, you chase yours.
I had covered this earlier as well, don’t built a startup but build a business so thought to extend on to that. One thing which I have seen in the last 12 months is that people think that startups are about money (I myself was guilty of this). Well, this probably comes from people associating glamour with the startups (when there is none) but the reality is, startups are very risky and poor way to make money. Let me tell you how (this is oversimplified but still it should give a good idea)
X and Y are two 26 year old guys who have put 5 lakh from their own pocket to start a logistic business in India as a backend provider for the booming(?) ecommerce, in next 3 years, they raised 25 lakh from some angel investors and then 5 crore in series A round from a VC firm. Now this is actually a very positive use case, imo 95% startups probably don’t even get 10 lakh in funding (logistics is very capital intensive work so most likely you can’t run it by yourself)
Now the founders are on payroll as an employee of the company (though they can use the fancy CXO on the visiting cards), running a business with wafer thin margins with more people coming in already crowded market and the founders are making no money!
This is very simplified version of a very complicated and layered picture but the point that I am trying to make is, There is NO money in startups, so you better enjoy what you are doing as startups are about FREEDOM, freedom of mind and freedom of thoughts, the rest is all supplementary.
I always believed that Startups become what the Founders are i.e. the founders personality get transformed into the startup.
The way you think, the way you do things and how you solve problems will be transferred into your startup DNA. This is why it is so important that if you are a first time entrepreneur, don’t hire people immediately. First spend time knowing yourself, who you are, what you can do and what can’t and once you have figured out this, only then hire people.
I am obsessed with numbers because in startups you will never have accurate idea and understanding of anything. Most of the time you will predicting and assuming things for accurate prediction and assumptions to make right decisions, you need DATA.
We are measuring WorkMonk on 29 KPI metrics and will keep on adding more metrics.
You need to know where you are going and with what pace as startups are about optimizing resources and avoiding making mistakes. Those who make least mistakes are the once with more resources (time/money/clients etc)
Though we have a dedicated page for WorkMonk Job Openings in our Bangalore office, we keeps on posting our ads on various sites to get more visibility (and because as a startup, you want to be choosy in hiring so you do want to increase the sample space)
I had made this list for our personal use, please feel free to add more names
Best Options –
1. hasgeek job board – easily the best job board for Indian startups, great interface, free and most important, people looking for startup jobs are using it.
2. yourstory job board – we had posted our ad few weeks back and I was surprised so many people tweeted it.
3 OCC Mailing List – worth sending to it (look for OCC group for your city)
4. Headstart Mailing List – worth sending to it
5. You can also post on Hacker Street India
Not Good Experience
1. Startuply – not suitable for Indian startups, Indians looking for startup jobs are certainly not using startuply
2. Linkedin Job Board – Costs money ($35 for one month), our experience has been mixed bag with it and startups are probably better of avoiding it unless you feels it is worth it. I felt, linkedin dilutes the stratup requirement and it very much like naukri/monster with lot of generic resumes floating.
If you know any more good places, please post it as comment and I will add it in the post.
There is an excellent thread on quora about why startups fail, I will highly advice everyone to read it. Here are some of the points from it to which I also agree as I have seen them by myself
1. Market is not there – before WorkMonk, I myself have built products/websites which never took off as there was no market for it, infact I think I built them without even checking if the market is there or not.
2. Not enough traction – you can’t run a startup for 3 years without making money specially if you don’t have any money, this is why getting traction is very important for startups specially for B2C
3. Being first time entrepreneurs – This happens a lot in India where the founders fundamentals are right as well as they are building a nice product but just because they are doing it for the first time, they make more mistakes which eventually leads to downfall.
4. Founder Quit/Team split – Happens way too often, specially in India, too much ego involved
5. Lack of adaptation – keep on doing same thing when all signals are saying that it won’t work and you should tweak/change it.
6. Wrong allocation of resources – premature scaling is one of the biggest reason for startups to getting failed. Spending too much on hardware
7. Running out of money/limited resources – normally this happens when “one or more” of the above applies which eventually leads to the closing of startup.
Shailendra, MD of Sequoia India is a good friend of TheMorpheus and ours as he has given us some good advices and he is one of the very few VCs who are very reachable and doesn’t have the cockiness which many other Indian VCs have.
So during one conversation, he said iYogi (Sequoia porfolio company which provides remote support, later on they raised money from Cannan Partners too, I am not sure if Sequoia has exited from iYogi or not) has spent 60M in customer acquisition and marketing which to me is a mind blowing number and made me think about the cost of educating the customer/end user about your product ? most of the startups will never think about this when they start their journey (people only think about how to build it, not how to sell it) and most don’t even think about it when they start spending in marketing (by then, it gets too late with no other option).
It is fairly obvious that the businesses which have no overhead of marketing budget of educating the customers will make more profit, will grow faster and are in better position. It is also very difficult to sell to US market from India, specially in B2C domain (I can’t find a single successful example which has become a market leader in US running from India).
So the bottom line is – “Your profits are inversely proportional to how much time/resources you need to spend to educate your customer about why they should buy/use your product“
If y axis depicts the success and the x axis depicts level of difficulty of execution, IMO, this graph will accurately signify the success vs level of difficulty really well
If it is very easy to build your product/business, others will also do it in lesser time meaning oversold and overcrowded market. On the other hand, if it is taking you 18 months to build your product/company in stealth mode then the chances are (and there are tons of exceptions too btw) that the market will move to something new or the market size is way too small.
The real success comes in between when it is somewhat difficult to build the product/startup