Starting-up a business idea is all about asking the right questions, says Pune entrepreneur
Ideas without execution are hallucinations. After you have an idea, business idea, i.e., what makes it a reality? Vishwas Mahajan, serial entrepreneur and former president, TiE Pune, shares his expertise on key aspects to look into before you start up.
Mahajan says: “Simply any entrepreneur should first answer the 5 Ws and 1 H to get started. The 5 W’s are Why, What, Who, When, Where and the H – How.
“When you decide to become an entrepreneur, one of the first things you should do is ask yourself the true reason, the core reason, WHY. Why are you doing this? Different individuals have different reasons why they want to start their business and there is nothing right or wrong.
“Confronting this question is a good place to start.
“This drives WHAT - the kind of business one starts and the manner in which it survives and grows. It impacts their decisions on WHO to partner with and such questions.”
Mahajan adds: “People think that entrepreneurs start their businesses to make money. However, money is one of the possible outcomes of a venture but it cannot be the reason for its existence. Because businesses start and exist to solve problems of their customers.”
“It is important to realise that strategy is not static, but an evolving idea. The organisation’s ability clearly articulate its strategy drives its team members to achieve it, drives financial and investment decisions and pretty much the future of the business,” he says.
How I started up
Siddhant Joshi, AquaLX
My mother is already in the garment business (she manufactures clothes for expectant mothers) and it seemed low hanging fruit for me to get started. Though I did get into fish farming earlier, that business of mine crashed. When I thought of getting into luxury swimwear my father advised me to get my numbers right, before I started. I have done a diploma in International Business from Singapore University. Before I set up shop I first got all the numbers. Everything was calculated on sales perception. I could go wrong in my sales perception, but business is about taking risks.
How will an AquaLX swimsuit compare with a luxury brand in Europe? Quite simple. The cost. My cost of manufacturing the best quality swimsuit (we source our material from Italy) is very low compared to European manufacturers. Plus, I ensure that the stitching quality is the best.
And design? Vital in the luxury segment? I have several students from fashion design colleges who I connect with who do a very good job. Besides, I had done some private label manufacturing for a luxury brand in Europe and the customer was very happy with it. But first, always understand all the numbers.
Yogesh, founder of Friyey (transforms pub/nightclub into coworking space during daytime)
“I got the idea to convert nightclubs and pubs into coworking spaces when I was using Starbucks and CCDs as my office. I thought that many restaurants have no footfall during the day, so why not convert them into coworking spaces that will help drive revenue to the resto owners as well as me?”
I did a thorough market study. I first went to Shukrawar peth - the place where all medical reps of pharma companies meet to submit their monthly reports. I asked 200 such MRs about my idea. I then met salespeople from banks, college students; I must’ve met 500 people and asked all of them about my idea. Most wanted a cheaper alternative to existing office spaces and they wanted ‘offices’ to be mobile.
A year back I on-boarded 40 restos , pubs and nightclubs, but that did not work. Customers felt obliged to place orders and not use up space endlessly. Also eating your own tiffin was not allowed. So I tweaked it a bit. Now I have two properties - Orion in Baner and one more in Vimannagar - that operate as nightclubs in the evening and during the day they are coworking spaces. Here the understanding is that you can bring their own tiffin and there is no obligation to place orders or vacate tables.
It helps pub owners as they get some sales instead of zero. Also many a time, a person may decide to have a beer with friends at the same place after work, so it generates additional business for the restaurant.
With zero capex and a scalable model (I can start this in New York or Tokyo), I believe this is a disruptive idea that will soon change the business of coworking spaces.
Amol Deshmukh, MedRabbits, home health care service company that provides elderly, maternal, chronic and pathology care to customers
My dad was in hospital for some time and whilst there, invariably I spoke to other patients’ relatives.
There I got to understand that there was a glaring need for home-based healthcare services. When my dad came home we had quite a difficult time to get qualified nurses, ward boys and physiotherapists.”
Most people I have noticed get into the operations part of their businesses. And that I think is not correct. I feel it is important to first focus on the markets, the customers. Which is what I did whilst my father was in hospital. Talking to several patient relatives made it clear to me that there was a need in the market for home-based healthcare. I drew up a business plan. When you put the numbers on paper that helps clarify many things and helps you see things clearly.
With the help of an NSDC certified centre I started training people to care for patients. All this before MedRabbits launched.
Upscaling into a mega market, what’s play?
Gulab Patil, founder, Lemma Technologies
We have created a tech product that connects all digital out-of-home (OOH) screens onto our Lemma platform. This is vital so that an advertiser knows numbers, size and type of OOH screens available in a city. Besides these screens also have to follow certain protocols like length of ad and reports generated. All this was completely absent. Since we started in 2017, we have 52 cities, 15,000 digital screens, and 4,900 cinema-hall screens on our platform. This has made OOH advertising very simple for advertisers. We have made an entry into Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. What I want to know is how do I expand to the West? What should I do to capture the American and British markets?
Nandita Khaire, branding and marketing consultant:
The American and British markets are very mature and one must remember that there they are marketing driven rather than customer driven. By this I mean that you have to first find a need in the marketplace and then sell your product rather than develop your product and then find buyers.
First and foremost, you need to have a catchy brand name. I don’t know if Lemma Technologies is the name of your product or company. So a Microsoft has Windows, an Infosys has Pinnacle (for the banks); you too must have a name for your product that resonates with the customers.
The other thing you need to do is internationalise your website to fit into American abd British markets. Your SEOs, the look and feel of your website must be such that it works in that set up. Also it is good idea to attend trade fairs and showcase your product. I feel that is the best way to reach out to prospective customers. Also note that all marketing communication must be in sync with the brand image. So all materials have to be developed accordingly.