Is your startup addressing your users needs?

Was at two hackathons this week. EXCITE at JNTU and the Hyderabad edition of AngelHack. Very reassuring see the very steep jump in the depth of ideas, quality of teams and the view of the markets.  From a very contemporary yet fresh take on location based sharing of pictures that trigger social conversations. To a Pebble watch solution connected to IoT sensors for security at home.  To a solution that connects various social networks and extracts info in professionals.  And then some.  Many of the teams are very serious about pursuing further with their ideas.

That said, one common issue with early stage startup’s, which was evident this weekend also, is the lack of a purposeful user angle.  While commitment is great, passion to start is encouraging, and technical drive is surely world class, the market view is very superfluous. Even as this is understandable given the very exam and clnpetetive tests focussed education system, it is not very difficult to cover key bases when considering startup ideas.


These are not just cliches.  Simple economics.  User has a problem.  That is causing some commercial cost/loss either thru incomplete solution or inherent  inefficiencies or errors in process, or just high cost. If the startup can find a way of improving any of these aspects that result in stemming the commercial cost or loss, we are in business! Simple.  When assessing an idea, the first question to ask is what need of the users  is the startup addressing.  Is that need so compelling that the user is willing to pay to get a solution.  If need present and compelling, the next consideration is what the incumbent alternate solutions are. And how the new  solution is better than any and all of the alternatives.  Not just better, is the startup solution technically and commercially feasible, With the unit economics rendering  the solution viable. And the at scale opportunity resulting in a revenue size that is the enough to make the startup journey worthwhile.

These are the simple questions to ask when ideating for a new startup.  Whether a product or a service, all above are required to make the idea an interesting and compelling.  Further down the startup prototyping journey, the market aquisition angle and GTMs also starts become critical.  Before going thru and last seed investment stage.  But in the initial stages just establishing a compelling need, feasible solution and viable unit & scale economics are the key. Not difficult at all. Simple questions to answer! :).

Happy Starting Up!

Originally Featured in New Indian Express:

Inspiring and seriously enabling, PMs address. Startup India, Standup India

Happy I decided not to got to Delhi for PM’s #StartupIndia. To be at great session at T-Hub where a large gathering listened to the concluding session and PMs address on Startup India, Standup India. To later reflect on the announcements, what it means for startups, what it means for Hyderabad. Lot of palpable anticipation in the THub room. Much like the bursting energy at Pragati Maidan. The concluding session was nicely orchestrated- a nice cross section of founders sharing very nice summaries of their startup/journeys in 2 minutes each. Uber, Practo, MapMyGenome, InMobi, Limerod, Ola,… And then the grand finale. PMs talk…

PM had the audience in the hall and all like us watching the telecast, fully engrossed. This man’s grasp and perception of everything is truly amazing! He was talking about startups as any of the most accomplished been-there-done-that investor-mentors would do. And then more! Connecting startups to society and economy. Challenging startups to think beyond software. Dreaming of the massive social change startups can bring. How it presents an opportunity for our crores of youth.

A country of billion problems with billion brilliant minds. And how gov can help. Best by ‘not doing’ many things. Allowing startups to flourish. And then unveiled the startup action plan. Great set of policy promulgations to simplify functioning of startups. From capital gains tax exemption for investments, to eliminating the “angel-tax” when investments above FMV,  income tax exempt, self-certifications thru a startup hub (mobile app), no inspections for 3 years, support for filing patents, simple form to start a company, and most importantly to ‘celebrate failures’ also by simplifying the exit process.

And then ofcourse, several enablers to actually help and accelerate startups. A 2500 crore per year fund of funds, that will work with other funding channels (details unclear.. but probably in matching grants to early stage funds & seed grants to leading incubators/accelerators). Very rightly he touched upon the significant role the incubators play in enabling new startups an dnew entrepreneur. Announced , extensive support for incubators. Strengthening all existing incubators. And setting up several new incubators. 500!

Also recognized the role research can play in bringing unique products, needing close industry-academia connect. Atal Innovation Mission. Announced that on lines of IIT-Madras research park, gov will setup 7 research innovation parks. That will bring research intensive startups working closely with academia. Specifically also setting up an extensive network for bio-tech. 5 bio clusters, 50 bio-incubators, and 150 tech-transfer offices.

A very well thought out set. Even better they have already initiated feedback mechanism nationwide. Post talk we had a panel discussion at THub. FICCI is compiling this nationwide. Good set of inputs came. Largely in support. Specific gaps were to extend self-certification to tax/RoC related and relax tds norms for startups. But otherwise, a fantastic time for starting up.

Today’s event will infuse so much energy into the ecosystem. And the Ofcourse, some very very serious enablement that will be added nationwide. Accelerating and amplifying. Hyderabad is double impact. Already THub++ started to build serious momentum. And now #StartupIndia is going to significantly multiply. So so so exciting!!!!

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“Narendra Damodardas Modi” by Narendra Modi – Flickr: Narendra ModiThis file comes from Narendra Modi’s official Flickr account.