Startup buzz is in the air. These are exciting times for startup teams in India and elsewhere. 40% of the companies registered on Flexing It are startups who continuously face new challenges and opportunities in their businesses. In the first of a series focused on key concerns and questions raised from our startup community, this week we spoke to Rajat Tandon, Vice President of Nasscom 10000 Startups and a pioneer in the Indian startup ecosystem. FI: What makes for a strong start-up team?
RT: I believe various reasons make a start-up team strong like understanding, trust, and coordination. There is no fixed formula for making a teamwork but ‘compatibility’ and a team that complements each other is a sure shot way of ensuring they work towards a common goal. We have seen so many examples like Practo and Snapdeal where one member has the technical know-how and the other possesses marketing skills. Other than that, zeal, enthusiasm, hard work, and not giving up will always be the key elements of success.
FI: How do successful start-ups deal with failure and bounce back?
RT: What is interesting is that we often talk about success mantras but do not share failures. Of course, no one wants to fail but it can prove to be a huge learning curve for an aspiring entrepreneur. I consider it as the moment of truth and an opportunity to learn from the mistakes. If a startup really wishes to make a comeback, it is crucial to identify those mistakes and stay strong. Always be ready for your pitch. Look for providing quality services, and investors will automatically come to you. And best of all, change your attitude if need be, but stick to your business. Hard work and patience always pay off.
FI: How important are mentors for young start-ups and what approach has NASSCOM 10,000 Startups taken to help young ventures on this front?
RT: A mentor is to a start-up what a teacher is to a child. Most of the entrepreneurs today are young and some are even fresh college graduates. They need direction and industry insights to improve upon the idea that they are building. Who can be better for this role than industry experts with unmatched experience? Moreover, start-ups are always looking to connect with professionals on ways to enhance their business model, proposal, pitching, product modeling, marketing strategy, sales etc. NASSCOM 10,000 Start-ups, which was started in April 2013 aims to enable incubation, funding, and support for 10,000 technology start-ups in India over the next ten years. The program brings together key stakeholders of the ecosystem including start-up incubators, accelerators, angel investors, venture capitalists, start-up support groups, mentors, and technology corporations. We aim to provide this platform to these young entrepreneurs and help them scale up while ensuring that they are mentored and guided to achieve what they want to.
FI: What do you think are the sectors where we will see break-out start-ups and innovation over the next couple of years?
RT: Undoubtedly, technology will drive growth and innovation in all the sectors. The whole world is moving towards automatization and is getting increasingly dependent on technology. Any device or software that is out in the market today is the result of programming. The simplest gadgets that we use today need to be programmed. Evidently, more and more people need to come up with services in the IT sector to make this happen. Another next big thing is the Internet of Things (IoT). Then there is Artificial Intelligence and Big Data analytics.
FI: What more can the start-up ecosystem do to apply its thinking and drive to solve some of the fundamental issues India faces such as Health, Education, Environment, etc.?
RT: The reason startup India is the talk of the town is because their ideas are driven by the need to solve a problem. The young guns of the ecosystem have a good understanding of the Indian landscape, which is why we get to hear so many success stories and new ideas. They connect with the root of the problem. I believe startups are on the right track and with the right mentorship, they will bring a positive change.
FI: How the established private sector chip in and support the government’s Startup India initiative?
RT: In my opinion, the big giants that have already established themselves know what it takes to do good business. They can assist the government in this initiative and offer to mentor the start-ups and guide them throughout their entrepreneurial journey. They can recommend startups to their existing market and also provide tech support and resources wherever necessary.