Posts filed under 'Startups'

Mobile drives the Spark in Startups (notes from MobileSparks conference)

Shradha Sharma of Yourstory.com asks the Startup community to maintain that Spark, regardless of where one is in the journey of life. That Spark may be humility or grace, appreciation for others, lending a helping hand etc. Essentially the point she made, and very well so, that in our “Rat Race” for success in life, perhaps we might have forgotten the more human elements, things which bind us together and a feeling of elevation. Shradha was speaking at the recent YourStory event Mobile Sparks in Bangalore.

I couldn’t agree more. In our quest for success, perhaps we might have forgotten to remember some old friends, or forgot the fact that a good night sleep is more worthwile than achieving a Unicorn status. Big statement, but I insist.

I think the subject is about balance. Nobody is saying that one must give up on one’s dreams. But it must not drive consternation to a level that one forgets the basics of humanity – a desire to do good, be kind, have a positive impact and effect larger good. As many have said, a Startup needs to have an objective larger than valuation, or a profit or loss statement. It is about “value creation” at the end of the day, to quote my friend Manish.

Ok, with that, I come back to the startup notes. The recently concluded event MobileSparks by Yourstory had some great speakers from most of the leading firms – Flipkart, Snapdeal, Grofers, Practo, OYO Rooms, Peppertap, SAIF partners, Inventus, Matrix Partners etc.

Here are some sundry highlights from this event :

Freecharge – Initial adoption strategy – Make first transaction brag-worthy. Eg give away a burger for first recharge.
App installs is not a good metric. Transactions is good metric.

OYO rooms
OYO is envisioning a future of amazing hotel experience. Some potential ideas :
- Manages entire hotel experience.
- App – does booking. Shows nearby restaurants, gets you cab with Ola cab widget,
- Ops team does background audit regularly of hotels
- Alerts – eg room 345 not audited since last three weeks or 5 acs in a hotel broke down
- Correlation between auditor reports and customer feedback audits auditors themselves
- If AC is broken open ticket to get electrician automatically
- Pre-check in from airport. Submit ID card picture before even you reach.
- Could alert property manager that customer is about to reach.
- Mobile key to door
- Reminder to turn on AC or heater from before. Mobile can store customer temperature preference.
- Connect to WiFi automatically.
- Mobile motion sensors based DND (do not disturb). Check if person is sleeping and motionless.
- Checkout from app. Pay from mobile wallet. Feedback on the go on app.

Matrix partners (VC) :-
App distribution -
- Inmobi ads, AdMob, Adwords
- OEMS like micromax lava etc
- App stores.
- Facebook ads
- Google ads
- App Store optimisation or ASO

Lybrate :-
Online consultation app for patients and doctors
- Very less doctors in India compared to patients.
- X axis :- Online, offline
Y axis :-
Discovery – find practitioners
Transaction – create transaction
Delivery – participate in delivery or actual doctor patient communication / consultation
Lybrate is in online healthcare delivery space.
- Got doctors first ie supply first. Then demand ie consumers etc.
- Need hooks on supply side to hold doctors while demand builds up.
Opportunities :-
- Lot has happened in discovery already.
- Transaction and delivery side is left. Healthcare devices can be used. Consumer hardware is big area.
- 70 million diabetes patients in India. Devices for them.
- Revenue model – online consultation commission from user – 5% to 15% of doctor fee.

Flipkart :-
Piyush Ranjan. SVP. Flipkart.
Key idea :- Build a Cathedral. Not walls or bricks.
Eg -
Build for phones with no data. SMS or USSD as underlying protocols. Also phone to phone connection.
Eg -
Reliability is in short supply. Eg IRCTC is not reliable.
Eg -
Build for the low end.
Eg -
Building speed as a feature. Eg google suggest and google instant.
Eg -
A broad base need like education.
So far mostly online classrooms. But how about continuous learning which mimics human whole life ?

Practo
healthcare app for doctors and patients.
Started web-only in 2008. Mobile first now.
Mobile search -
2 lakh doctors
2x non metros
3x conversions
3x engagement
Weekend traffic
UGC declined in mobile though compared to web. Consumers write smaller reviews on mobile compared to web. Struggling with this now.

Practo ray
40000 doctors
2x appnts
3x records
3x engagements

Practo tab
Helps in locking in supply
20% richer data

Practo
10 million searches

Snapdeal
Anand Chandrasekaran, Chief Product Officer
- 19 m registered users
- 1.5 L sellers (I am told less than 10000 are active, more on this in a later post)
- wants to achieve 10L sellers in few years (how many will be active ?)
- 5m daily active users
- Freecharge – 2 out of 3 visitors end up transacting

Other ideas that were discussed :
125 million English speaking Indians. Leaves a billion non-English users. Need to tackle them.
300 million internet users in India currently. To grow to half billion internet users in 2-3 years. Mostly via Mobile Web.

 

August 10th, 2015

The Startup Nation

Today India witnesses a unique revolution. It is like another freedom movement, a moment par excellence. A new Silicon Valley is created among the potholed roads, roaming cows, un-interested traffic cops and massive traffic jams. What a combination ?

Who would have thought that amid the chaos of this ancient country and the cacophony of auto noise and massive no of folks everywhere, slowly and surely, a new breed of entrepreneurs emerges – providing hope to a beleaguered nation that our time has come, perhaps !

I picture the Founders of Snapdeal, in their early days, waiting outside that restaurant in Delhi, in Delhi’s terrible heat, for the restaurant owner to come out and so that they can clinch a deal, a coupon which they can send by email (or was it paper coupons) to their growing email audience. Even they did not imagine that their amazing commitment to their mission would create a $5 billion behemoth that Snapdeal is today with 5000 jobs, several paying crore (or nearly there) packages.

The folks at InMobi, now giving Google and Facebook a run for their money with the new Miip tech platform, or the Bansals at Flipkart – packing books in their Koramangala apartment and now disrupting the retail in India, as we know it.

How about the dozens (hundreds ?) of captive units in BLR and Gurgaon by every foreign (mostly American ?) MNC worth it’s salt.

Not to say, this is Round 1. The latter happened in 80s and 90s, with Murthy of Infosys and Premji of Wipro, not to discount the TCS, the largest of them all.

Certainly this is Round 2. and what a Round ? Billion dollar valuation becoming an operating unit – a dream which is now seen by thousands of new wannabe entrepreneurs. Driven by almost 900 mobile subscriptions – a fifth of world total almost. Certainly mobile is driving this growth.

Mobile web penetration went from 2 million to 200 million from 2009 to 2015. PC Web penetration increased 20 million to 40 million in same period. 100 times growth in mobile web, 2 time growth in PC Web.

Certainly mobile is to blame, or praise, for this upheaval. That and Whatsapp – the app which brought mobile web to the lowest rung of the society, and as far as everybody’s grandma, who can barely handle a smarphone, but is adept at Whatsapp.

Well, this is the beginning. The revolution just begins. Hordes of rich foreign investors, PE funds, hedge funds, are still not here with their billions, or trillions. They will be, soon perhaps. We will be waiting, for our piece of the dream !

August 6th, 2015

LinkedIn vs Facebook for professionals

Facebook is supposed to be building a professional network, but for now, I believe LinkedIn is still the default professional social network for many people. But maybe the two aren’t so different after all. I found this info-graphic by Brighton School of Business & Management and feel that everybody here should have a look at it to understand the differences between the two networks in somewhat holistic manner:


 LinkedIn vs Facebook-Infographic

December 29th, 2014

Benefits of shifting from Paper based Patient Records to Electronic Health Records

Healthcare as a sector in India has always been hot. The need for innovation is huge and it presents a big business opportunity. There are multiple factors behind the growth of the sector like rising incomes, easier access to high-quality healthcare facilities and greater awareness of personal health and hygiene.There have been efforts from the government and the private sector to create an impact in the area but the space remains open for innovation and start-ups can create a dent.

What ever problem, the start-up may try to solve, it will have to deal with the patient records. Technology these days have sorted this problem of  digitisation of records. But digitising patient records have always involved multiple issues — especially legal, communication, accreditation, research, regulatory, decision making and education. The primary change during recent years has revolved around the evolution from paper-based personal health records to electronic health records. Here we will compare how the two differ and what benefits one provides over the other.

Accessibility of Patient Records

The accessibility questions surrounding paper versus electronic records boil down to “who?” and “when?” — electronic health records (EHR) are accessible by all authorized professionals simultaneously and immediately as long as they have access to the main storage system. On the other hand, paper-based patient records (PPR) are available on only a one-at-a-time basis — sharing requires mailing or conversion into an electronic format by scanning or emailing. With the physical mail option for PPR, accessibility can be a matter of days instead of seconds with EHR.

Paper medical records discourage interactivity among stakeholders while electronic health records create an opportunity for immediate feedback. With PPR, many patients never see their own health files. One of the most striking changes with EHR procedures is the active inclusion of patients in keeping and reviewing personal health records on web and on all other devices including wearables. With the rapidly advancing state of technology, both health care professionals and patients want “real-time information” that is standard with EHR — this is one of the primary benefits of electronic health records.

Reliability of Patient Records

When health care organizations transition from paper to electronic records, improved reliability is a major goal of the entire process. For example, poor penmanship by doctors and other health care professionals has always been a serious potential flaw when dealing with paper medical records. EHR computers and word-processing applications eliminate this major PPR source of unreliability.

Electronic health records are organized in ways that are literally impossible with a paper filing arrangement. Errors and improper documentation in EHRs produce alerts that highlight improper entries.

Cost Factors

Prudent health care organizations cannot afford to overlook any opportunity to save both time and money — an EHR process does both.

A reduction in storage costs means much more than eliminating warehouses filled with paper records. Electronic records are also eco-friendly and can be stored indefinitely without deterioration in quality. For example, this feature of EHR can result in important medical data being available long after physical files have already faded — or destroyed entirely by a natural disaster.

Quality of Care Considerations

Delivering better care to patients serves a primary mission for any health care professional. One way that EHR can actively contribute to a higher quality of care is by improving public health monitoring — speedier reporting of infectious diseases can be facilitated by more detail and quicker feedback made possible by electronic records processes. Automatic EHR reminders typically reduce mistakes, errors and omissions.

Security and Compliance Considerations

Security vulnerabilities can be present in both PPRs and EHRs. Both formats can result in theft and be exposed to the risk of loss from other events such as floods and fire. With paper records that are limited to one copy, EHR provides a security edge with backup copies. Health care professionals should devote plenty of attention to this area — don’t cut corners when deciding how to handle compliance and security concerns for your records transition process.

Productivity

What is it worth to save the time required to pull a chart? — or to eliminate lost charts? According to one study, overall efficiency will improve by 6 percent annually with EHRs.

Productivity will improve in ways that you might not expect with electronic health records. For example:

  • Fewer pharmacy callbacks
  • Ease of communicating with the entire care team
  • Less overall time filling out forms
  • More clarity when reading prescriptions and medical terminology

December 29th, 2014

Importance of Social Media for Start-ups

Social media sprouted at the latter part of 20th century; and had a vibrant impact on every business, bringing distinctive solutions for all the business requirements. Perhaps every other day, a new technology is coming up to manage the rising demand of social media in the marketing platform to bring up sales. Both small and large businesses have started utilizing social media as an important tool on every aspect that gives a better revenue for their brand, therefore it is no wonder that social media gives a wide opportunity for the people who are venturing to have a business of their own.

Many newly raised organizations and entrepreneurs use social media channels like Facebook, twitter, myspace, pinteresst, instagram, google+ any many others for their marketing and promotion strategy. Effective online presence of a start-up through social media gives a wider reach at a lesser cost and time. Below info-graphic shows 15 top uses of the social media :

Infographic - Uses-of-Social-Media-Marketing

(Image Credit: Saleoid.com)

December 28th, 2014

Do What You Love!! Passion Drives Success…

Passion is one of those intangibles that drives an entrepreneur, gets them through the good times and the bad times, and ultimately dictates the success of any startup.  If you are not passionate about what you are building, you might as well pack up your bags right now, as your startup will never work.

Webster’s Dictionary defines passion as “an intense, driving or overmastering feeling of conviction” or “a strong desire for or devotion to some activity or concept”.  I couldn’t have said it any better.  Passion needs to ooze from every pore of a startup entrepreneur.  This passion is usually instilled by some core knowledge of the product or service that is being built, which translates into clear domain expertise and first-hand knowledge and confidence that you are heading in the right direction.  This passion also translates into infectious enthusiasm, that ultimately feeds the energy and drive of every employee in your office.  And, most importantly, this passion is the glue that holds the company together and gets it through its most difficult times.

December 14th, 2014

The Importance of Blogging for Startups

All companies should have a blog, to demonstrate their expertise in a particular subject matter and provide a vehicle for two-way communications and engagement with their customers.

This blog that you are reading now is an example of that.  I, as the Founding Partner of CellStrat, a consulting and start-up mentoring firm, am trying to come across as an expert in startups who has lived through the same battles you now find yourself fighting through.  Not to mention, for many of you, this is your first time ever hearing about CellStrat.  You may be asking, “why should I trust this firm to help me solve my startup-related problems?”.  Well, hopefully the quality of the content on this blog not only educates the readers on various topics, but it also instills trust to get prospective clients to actually pick up the phone and engage with me on their various needs.

Also, this blog gives my readers the chance to voice their agreement or disagreement with various points that I am making.  For example, when I wrote a guest post on Apple Pay on a famous social media site, two readers gave their contradictory and supporting views respectively.  Hence, further enhancing reader education on the topic, and creating a two-way dialog with my readers, so they too feel like they are participating in the discussion.

There are two other clear marketing advantages of writing a blog.  Firstly, search engines love rich content pages, and the more content you write, the more free search traffic you will drive into your website.  For example, this blog is about 7 years old, and is getting 10000+ visitors per month, largely coming from people searching for information related to the posted topics via Google and some through our regular followers.  That is a lot a traffic for a small consulting firm, which I didn’t have to spend one penny on, other than the 30 minutes or so that it takes me to write one post.

The second key marketing advantage is the virility of the content on social media sites like LinkedIn, face book and twitter.  And, since our connections and followers are largely business people related to startups/ technology or the digital media industry in which we have worked for the last 35 years combined, there are very high odds that: (i) the articles are not only interesting reading for them; but (ii) they will most likely forward or re-tweet the articles to their thousands of collective connections and followers of their own, all ripe new prospects for my own business.

So, for the reasons above, consider a blog a vital component of your website, search marketing and social marketing strategies.  And, don’t forget to ask for new followers, as I do in my last sentence below in all posts.

For future posts, please subscribe to our newsletter at:  www.cellstrat.com

December 11th, 2014

Can Founders have their Family Members in their team?

Primafacie, yes. But, with a thought to this question, my reaction is no, working with family members is not a good idea.  But, if structured correctly, a family-related team can work.

The biggest and most important reason I think, the answer is no, is the normal work-life balance can get completely thrown out of alignment.  Normally, you have your work life and relationships, you go home after work, and enter your personal life and relationships.  A nice balance of ying and yang.  When you work with the same people in your family, there is a risk that balance is not achieved.
Other reasons but not as big as the first one are succession planning, ego issues that arise when family members work on same levels and designations in the company etc. But these are comparatively easier to handle than the first one…

December 10th, 2014

Validated Learning

Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods. The unit of progress for Startups is validated learning – a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when one is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build-the thing customers want and will pay for-you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute with continuous market feedback.

December 9th, 2014

Importance of Networking for Start-ups

I am a firm believer of an old age adage, “it is not what you know, it is who you know” and resonates particularly well for startup entrepreneurs.  And, it holds true across most sales departments of large corporates as well as most all areas of a startup’s business, including driving sales, hiring employees, raising capital and securing key partnerships.  Therefore, establishing, nurturing and mining a deep network of relationships can often make or break the success of a startup.  I know many of you may be uncomfortable with networking, but hopefully this post will help you understand the importance of networking and the need to break down any barriers between you and your network. Let’s discuss the various types of networking opportunities available to you.

Firstly, when people think networking, they think attending events to meet people that may be able to help them.  This could be industry specific events related to your business, (e.g., strategy, marketing, technology) related to certain specific business needs, or other events bringing together like minded individuals (e.g., fellow CEO’s, fellow startups).  Do your best to stay abreast of all of these types of events via your respective industry trade associations, professional associations or local startup groups with the calendars posted on their websites.

I used to think time spent on networking was time away from the business, and tried to avoid it.  But, over time, I quickly learned,  a strong network can actually help me build my business faster than I could on my own, and should be a vital part of a startup executive’s efforts.  You never know what new client, investor, employee or other business colleague will come out of events like these.

But, you do need to be sensitive to investing your networking time wisely, to get the biggest bang for your buck.  When assessing in-person networking opportunities, I try to have a good sense to:

(i) the expected size of the event (hoping to meet more people than less).

(ii) the quality of the attendees (hoping to meet more CEO’s than lower level staff members).

(iii) the location of the event.

(iv) the type of event itself (e.g., hoping to avoid dinner events where locked into one table of people, instead of roaming the room)

(v) the reputation of the hosting organization.

Equally importantly, I want to make sure I have a clear mission for the event (e.g., what specific companies or executives do I want to meet based on announced presenter or attendee lists made available prior to the event).  And, keep in mind, you don’t always have to be the “hunter” at networking events.  Sometimes you can get in front of more people faster, by being the “hunted” as a featured speaker or panelist at the events.  So, figure out a reason for you to be the “featured attraction” (e.g., “one of the hottest startups in town”, “pro in online marketing”), which can also save you on any event fees.

But, your networking efforts should not be limited to in-person events.  Networking has never been easier with the internet.  You should be an active user on networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or other sites.  This means having a rich profile page that positions you as an expert in your field, posting relevant news and updates to your status updates and joining/ engaging with the relevant “sub-groups” within that network.  But, remember, when networking online, it should not be a “one way sale” to the audience; it must be a “two way conversation” to get the dialog started.  So, an example, answering forum questions (in a “non-salesy” way) can also be a great way to make new relationships.

We all know how busy you are as a start-up executive.  But, you can’t bury yourself in your office, and you can’t be bashful when building your business.  Start building your network, and great things (e.g., new clients, employees, investors, and partners) are sure to follow.  And, don’t forget, networking is more than simply the networking event itself:  you are building long term relationships and need to follow up with these new colleagues after the event, and over time.  So, manage this network nurturing process accordingly.

December 5th, 2014

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