How startups and SMEs can succeed in today’s ecosystem?

Source | LinkedIn : By Shyam Sekar S

Being in a startup ecosystem has never been as exciting as it is today.  The opportunities are abound and there is room for many to play in this space.  The top cities that produce tech startups are Bangalore, NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, and other fast emerging cities.

Innovation is the order of the day.  Disruptive technology and disruptive business model are the new age mantra for exponential growth.

Over 90% of startups fail.  Almost over 50% of startups do not last beyond one year.  8 out of 10 startups kick start through their savings.

The fund raising options have improved but still not many do have access to the investors, or unable to spot opportunities to pitch their idea in the right forum to get funded.  So there are quite a few challenges that a startup undergoes before they get to the success bandwagon.

In spite of plethora of challenges that startups have to surmount, our country is buzz with ‘startups’.  Thanks to our Central Government’s initiative in bringing a separate focus on this startup industry.  Recognizing that this industry needs to be nurtured to propel its way to become a super power, it is heartening to see policy initiatives to support startups in India.  Today the younger generation is ready to take risks, which has been a change in the outlook compared to the risk-averse previous generation.

How can startup leverage to make their mark and be successful?

There can be so many factors that could decide the success for a startup.  But some of the below aspects can certainly help these startups to increase their success quotient.

First issue is of validation; developing products, services, without validating if there is a market, demand for their product/service.  Well, in a blue ocean strategy where you are trying to capture new frontiers, or come up with disruptive technology, then the validation process has to be different; not just the research, but understanding the pain points or gain aspects for any consumer.  This can reasonably decide if there is a product-market fit for you to launch.

As I have always quoted that mentoring should be effective in order for startups to increase their success ratio.

There are many incubators, and also accelerators, but rare to find a combination with also an effective, continuous mentoring/guidance for the startups.  Some investors do receive an investment seeking proposal every other day, and in spite of short-listing 100’s of ideas, the startup they invest may or may not provide them the desired results.  Even from many investors standpoint, the ratio of success seem to be 1:6 or 1:7, meaning 1 in every 6 or 7 startup will grow significantly that would offset the loss of other ventures.

So, though the risk factors are high, be it for the startup founder, or an investor, the market is still very exciting that the inspiration is drawn from the successful startups for the new breed to follow their path.

Yet another aspect that most startups miss out is in creating a niche for their product/service.  You can also term it as ‘branding effect’.  Brand is not what you think you are, but what others perceive about you.  It starts from your identity, like the logo, the website, the collaterals, your presence online, social media, etc.  All have to be in a single thread so that what you speak and what you standby should be the same, in whatever dimension it is seen from.

Creating differentiator is also a challenge that most startups grapple with.  Startups need to understand that in order to win a race one need not necessarily be miles ahead, but just nose ahead.  Many startups tend to spend a lot of time trying to create a big differentiator and miss out on precious time.  Time lost can be a bigger opportunity lost.  In startups, timing matters a lot.  In spite of idea being great, differentiator being unique, and the product/service can still fail since it could be out of sync with the timing factor (too early or too late?).

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