YES Bank launches YES FINTECH Accelerator in partnership with T-Hub and Anthill


YES Bank launches YES FINTECH Accelerator in partnership with T-Hub and Anthill, with Let’s Talk Payments as a knowledge partner. The program is creating a platform for the bank and Fintech startups to co-create innovative solutions and together take the solution to the bank’s vast retail and corporate customer database.

Anthill, a city based venture capitalist firm, aids early stage startups to grow and not stop due to funding issues. Anthill’s Speed Scaling Platform identifies startups with high SQTM during the Pre-Series A stage and then they conduct a Speed Scale Diagnostic to understand the gaps in Scalability. Anthill then provides the Speed Scaling Interventions to take the startup to Series A within 12 months.

On the other hand, we all know YES bank, a leading bank and leading financial service provider. YES FINTECH is a platform for the bank and Fintech startups to co-create innovative solutions and partner in taking the solution to the bank’s retail and corporate customers. This is a unique program – with no upfront equity commitment sought from startups, clear focus on building solutions relevant to use-cases identified by YES BANK and providing Fintech startups access to YES BANK’s 2 million+ customer base.

Focus Area

This accelerator program has its focus mainly on the below themes and startups revolving around these themes –

  • Big Data and Analytics
  • Biometrics
  • Robotics
  • IoT
  • PaaS/SaaS
  • Forex and treasury
  • Payments
  • Customer and value added services
  • Trade Finances

The Accelerator Structure

The program is designed to go on for 15 week and is spread across to happen in four phases with 3 weeks of on-site interventions and 11 weeks off-site interventions, with each stage focusing on creating a market-ready product and a sustainable business model. The best part? While the startups participate in this program, they can continue to concentrate on their core business as well. The structure is as under –

  • Co – create: Startup and YES FINTECH will validate the applicability of the value proposition to the Focus Areas, and co-create a customized scale up plan
  • Operate: Product refinement with real customer data and create a platform for market testing & validation
  • Scale: Focus on customer engagement, acquisition and a scalable model – along with VC interactions
  • Invest and Grow: 15 week cohort concludes with demo day & pitch clinic

What’s in it for the startup participants?

While you choose to participate in this accelerator program, you will get –

  • Market access to 2 million customers
  • Mentorship and guidance at every step
  • Global outreach
  • Dual mode multi location program with online and offline interventions in Hyderabad, Mumbai and you base location
  • Access to T-Hub startup ecosystem
  • Showcase and visibility
  • Compliance and regulatory guidance

Mentors and Experts

The chief mentor of this program is Rana Kapoor – Managing Director and CEO, YES Bank. The other expert panel includes –

  • Devie Mohan – FinTech Market Strategist
  • Alok Mittal – Co – founder and CEO of Indifi
  • Sasha Mirchandani – MD and Founder of Kae Capital

Details of the program

As mentioned above, the sessions are going to happen in 3 phases –

  • Session 1 – 13th – 17th March 2017 in Mumbai
  • Session 2 – 15th – 19th May 2017, Hyderabad
  • Session 3 – 20th June 2017, Mumbai

Important Dates

  • Application Phase: Jan 9th to Feb 3rd 2017
  • Pitch to YES Fintech Board: Feb 15th and 16th 2017
  • Mentor Matchmaking: March 1st 2017
  • Cohort Launch: March 13th 2017
  • Demo Day: June 21st and 22nd 2017

Apply today as the last date for applying is Feb 3rd. You can apply here!


3 Invaluable Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Very few successful entrepreneurs will tell aspiring business owners that founding and managing a business is always easy. Still, they will usually insist that it’s what they were born to do and no other kind of life would have been as satisfying for them. Business founders come from many different walks of life and form a very diverse group. However, they usually do adhere to a few basic rules that they adopted to run their companies in the best possible way.

Three Essential Tips for New Entrepreneurs

According to Ryan Robin, an entrepreneur and Entrepreneur Magazine contributor, the one thing that all successful business owners agree upon is the importance of taking advice from mentors. While most business owners will have to overcome obstacles and mistakes, it’s helpful to minimize these by considering some tips from people who have already traveled this path.

With that bit of good advice in mind, consider these three tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. Prioritize Financial Management from Day One

Companies can generate a lot of revenue and even profits without enjoying long-term success. Most businesses experience both peaks and lows in their business cycles and have to manage unexpected expenses. In addition, generating high revenues won’t guarantee a positive cash flow unless the business can manage to control expenses. Conversely, some companies become sustainable quickly even without very high revenues because the owner has learned to manage finances.

These are all good reasons why business finances have to be managed well from the first day in operation. It helps to use bookkeeping software in order to document revenues and expenses. This kind of software also helps a new entrepreneur develop good money management habits. A solution like an online line of credit can help relieve stress by making sure that the company can enjoy ongoing access to business funding. The best entrepreneurs work to manage money and ensure their company has enough capital to succeed.


2. Focus on Passions

Chase Jarvis founded, a company that streams educational material. He expresses his bet bit of advice by telling other business founders to, “Scratch your own itch.” Entrepreneurs need to understand that founding a business will be more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s much easier to maintain high levels of interest, focus, and energy if the company involves a pursuit that is truly meaningful to the business owner.

In this light, Mr. Jarvis says that aspiring entrepreneurs should not just seek some business opportunity because research or experience promises high revenues or low competition. Instead, they should really try to focus on following their own passions. Certainly, it’s always prudent to make sure that a business idea has a chance to succeed by conducting research or relying upon experience. At the same time, a good opportunity may only become a great business if the business owner really cares about it.

3. Focus on the Hustle

Jon Acuff wrote a best-selling business book called “Do Over” that helps people learn to start loving their work again. His best advice for new business owners is to understand how to hustle in order to obtain their dreams. He says that many aspiring business owners don’t really understand how to direct their energy in order to achieve their goals. Mr. Acuff gained his experience by moving through a series of jobs in order to find meaningful work and then finally, founding his own business as an author, business brand consultant, and speaker.

To explain, Acuff says that hustling should be an act of focusing energy towards specific goals and not just moving in a frenzy. He says that the most successful business owners don’t necessarily get more done in a workday than others. Instead, they focus their work upon those activities that contribute to reaching their clearly defined business goals and help them generate profits.

How Do New Business Succeed?

Entrepreneurs tend to be a pretty independent group of people. At the same time, successful business owners should stop to take advice from experienced mentors. They will also take the time to learn how to do essential business tasks, like managing finances, that they may not enjoy as much as they enjoy developing their products or services. In order to find the drive to handle a business startup, it’s helpful to find a business that incorporates meaningful work that really inspires the owner. Finally, it’s important to figure out which tasks are most important and really focus on those so your small business can grow and thrive.

about Author:

Jami Schwartz is in charge of content at Kabbage. Kabbage helps small businesses get the funding they need to grow. Through a fully automated, online platform, businesses can link their latest business data, allowing us to review the overall health of their business to approve and provide lines of credit up to $100,000 in minutes.

Hyderabad based FIXU receives $40, 000 investment from Facebook

captureRecently the famous social media sit Facebook had announced the “FbStart program” where it would invest in the winner startup and would also provide mentoring to the winner.

It is no surprise that a city based startup, FIXU has been selected as one of those startups where Facebook will invest $40, 000 and also provide mentoring for growth and expansion of the startup. It has been reported that this investment will be in the form of credits that will be translated into various opportunities, which include interactions with Facebook and global exposure.

FIXU is a startup based out of Hyderabad, with Vamsi Krishna and Nikhil as the pioneers. This startup has a hands – on technology that provides home service vendors including carpenters and plumbers. Vamshi Krishna is a mass communication student whereas Nikhil is a JNTU graduate. Both of them met each other at a startup event and eventually their thought processes matched and they came up with this amazing startup. As on date, FIXU is half year old and has about 25 orders per day, with an average revenue of Rs. 500 per order. Besides the two founders, the startup has 2 other employees as it has outsourced software development and marketing to third-party services.

“We have roped in 170 vendors so far and currently serve Hyderabad city. We can track the entire process using automated tools,” Vamshi Krishna told BusinessLine, a leading business newspaper in the country.

Launched last year, “FbStart” helps developers grow their startups by leveraging valuable tools and services, worldwide events and opportunities to engage with the Facebook team.

Being selected for this programme, FIXU will receive mentoring from Menlo Park-headquartered tech giant’s engineering teams, reported Facebook.

“‘FbStart’ programme will be an immense boost to us at this phase of our evolution. Receiving mentorship from the pioneer of social networking will bring a huge opportunity for us to lead the Home Service revolution in India within the next couple of years,” said Vamshi Krishna, co-founder, FIXU.


The start-up will also get a chance to get access to the exclusive community of Facebook’s developers and worldwide events. Through FbStart, the startups will be eligible for free access to more than 25 services including open source tools like React Native, FB Login and Account Kit and App Analytics.

Keeping in mind the investment received and mentorship opportunities, FIXU is aiming at expansion of their startup to Bengaluru and Mumbai by the end of 2017.

“We have raised no funds so far. We are looking at raising $2, 50,000 in the angel round in the middle of 2017 to fund our expansion,” adds Vamshi Krishna

It has been reported that through this program, FIXU will receive free access to Dropbox services worth $5,000 and tool kits and other services worth about the same amount for a period of 6-12 months. Besides, the team will have interactions with experts at Facebook headquarters in the US.

There is already a crowd of start-ups out there offering similar services. “We are very fast and economical,” says Vamshi when asked how their service was different from others.

Congratulations FIXU team – we hope the New Year brings in more laurels and success to your team and startup. Make the most out of this huge investment and mentorship program by Facebook.

Download FIXU iOS and Android apps from respective stores

Exclusive Local Deals App, BlueBook, raises $500,000 in a Seed Round syndicated by Indian Angel Network and LetsVenture

Angel investors from  IAN and Let’s Venture platform, from India and around the world

Help build Blue Books as a high growth venture with increased merchant and user base across 3 cities, leveraging technology for deep customer analytics, loyalty solutions for merchants and unique payment solution

Online to Offline (O2O) marketing platform, The BlueBook has raised a $500,000 seed round lead by India’s first and World’s largest angel investor network; Indian Angel Network with investors from around the world. Other participants included Let’s Venture, a fund raising platform and angel investors from Singapore and United States. Srinubabu Gedela ( CEO, OMICS International), Avinash Vashistha (IAN member, Founder, Tholons Capital, Ex- ‎Chairman & Country Managing Director, Accenture), Rajiv Mehta (IAN member, CEO, Arvind Lifestyle) led the round for the angel investor group. Avinash Vashishta and Srinubabu Gedela will join the board of the company.

Total food services & wellness market in India today stands at $60B and has grown at 7.7 per cent since 2013. The share of organised market is currently 30% and is expected to grow to 35% by 2021. This translates to $18B as of 2016 and is estimated to reach $32B by 2021.  Bluebook is addressing a serviceable obtainable market of $300 Million.

When you think of discounts and coupons, chances are few that you find a genuine discount with no terms and conditions at places you love.  After all the research, the customers settle for a relatively lesser known outlet on a weekday which needs to be pre-booked or prepaid for without an assurance of a great experience. Founded in the year 2013, The Bluebook is solving the exact problem in the offline deals & discounts space. It provides discounts from city’s popular outlets with validity throughout the week and does not require a prior booking to avail the service at the selected outlet. Launched as a discount voucher book in 2013, The BlueBook transitioned into a mobile app in Nov, 2015 and is now growing about 40 percent month-over-month.

Speaking on the announcement, Varun Kumar Akula – Co-founder & CEO, The BlueBook said,Our biggest achievement so far has been capturing market share with no marketing spend and on boarding the top merchants in cities we are present in. The capital raised will be deployed in consolidating the merchant and user base in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Gurgaon, apart from investing on the product & technology to offer deep customer analytics, loyalty solution for merchants and unique payment solution. We aim to be present in all major metros in the next few quarters with our full stack solution.


I have known Bluebook founders since their journey started with a physical coupon book. I have witnessed their transition into mobile application and have been really impressed with the traction and the product which was built by core team of 8 passionate individuals with meagre funding. With solid roadmap in place i see something truly amazing happening with BlueBook in this space.” said lead investor Srinubabu Gedela

“We at IAN believe that BlueBook has global & compelling product with a potential to cater to a high growth market. We are confident that with the right mentorship and market access that IAN provides them, they will scale to become one of the largest brands in the O2O space.” said Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network

Solutions in the market today require steep discounting or group booking to drive footfalls to the stores. Some websites and apps use table booking to incentivise customers, while others reward you with points which can only be redeemed at select stores, but the bottom line is, these solutions have failed to create a win-win for the merchants and consumers. Bluebook, has been successful in being an advocate to both the customer and the merchant. Bluebook enters into yearlong exclusive contracts with merchants and curates offers to drive new customers and incentivize them on multiple visits.

Bluebook works with the leading brands such as Biereclub, Brewsky, Naturals, Bodycraft, O2 Spa and with a foothold in Hyderabad, Bangalore & Gurgaon. For consumers, the BlueBook operates a subscription model where users can pay a monthly fee of Rs.99 to avail all the discounts at the city’s popular restaurants, bars, cafes, spa, wellness and entertainment outlets. The redemption at the outlet is hassle free and happens with a 4 digit pin authentication.

“BlueBook is a refreshingly smart venture in the O2O space – a space flooded by companies with high burn rates and questionable business models. BlueBook, in contrast, has been successful in creating both positive unit economics & scalability, making it a lucrative proposition for investors on the LetsVenture platform” said Shanti Mohan, Founder of LetsVenture.

Bluebook has seen that customers can recoup the subscription amount in as low as one redemption, letting them enjoy the discounts they wouldn’t normally be able to receive owing to the popularity of the hang out. While the merchants witnessed a well-balanced foot fall garnering attention from new first time customers and the inbuilt visit based incentives have induced loyalty amongst the customers. The startup’s unique business model and lean approach has helped it keep the customer acquisition cost low, while maintaining the merchant retention rate at a high 95%. 100% of the user base has been acquired organically through word of mouth and referrals and has helped 1,00,000+ users save at their 1200+ merchants.

Rajiv Mehta – CEO, Arvind Fashion Brands Limited lead investor, “Biere Club, Puma Social, Smokehouse Deli, these are prestigious brands not known to offer deals & discounts. With my personal experience in retail & hospitality, I was intrigued when I got to know that consumers were benefiting from offers & upgrades to these outfits, but blown away when I was made aware that BlueBook had exclusivity for these deals. Business model is scalable across cities and their unique customer acquisition strategies are a huge differentiator.

“BlueBook’s current business model, traction and non-linear scaling by itself is highly differentiated. Their focus on analytics and personalised offering of Deals makes it a win win for both the customer and the merchant. I look forward to working with this passionate team as they work towards transforming the way the Online to Offline (O2O) space works in our country.” Commented, Avinash Vashista lead investor.


About the Founders

Varun Kumar Akula – Co-founder & CEO, Alumnus of Stanford Ignite, Bits Pilani & State University of New York. Incorporated his first company at the age of 21 and scaled it to $500,000 in revenue within 18 months. Core Focus at Bluebook – Hiring, Strategy, Finance and Expansion.

Alok Medikepura Anil – Co-founder & COO – Alumnus of Stanford Ignite, Boston University & Cranfield University. Experience of working with various cross functional teams with focus on using technology to improve business decisions. Core Focus at Bluebook – Digital marketing, Analytics, Product, Strategy & Operations.

Reetika G – Co-founder & CMO – First employee at Bluebook. 4+ years experience in leading sales, marketing & partnerships. Responsible for marketing, customer and merchant acquisition. Ex-Accenture.


Venkat Raju – Mr. Venkat Raju is an accomplished entrepreneur & seasoned executive with strong business, technology and general management credentials. His current portfolio covers a wide spectrum – spanning Cloud Computing & SaaS, Big Data & Analytics, Mobility, E-Commerce, related Consumer Internet. Mr. Venkat Raju is an active IAN investor and current Managing Director of Kyron India.

About Indian Angel Network

The Indian Angel Network is the world’s largest business angel group. With more than 450 investors from 10 countries, IAN’s presence spans 7 locations, which includes cities in India and UK. IAN has invested in startups from 17 industries/sectors. The investor group comprises successful and established entrepreneurs as well as dynamic CEOs. They not only invest in innovative startups but also provide valuable inputs on strategy, in addition to providing access to their vast global networks. IAN also became the world’s first angel investor group to establish operations outside of its home country, when it started operating in London. Over 8,000 entrepreneurs pitch to IAN each year, and IAN has invested in over US$20mn in 60 plus ventures  over the last two years, investing over US$20mn.

IAN’s portfolio, with over 100 companies, spans 17 sectors across 7 countries. IAN portfolio companies have given 70x returns in 6 years, 21x in 30 months, 22x in 60 months, and 6x in 15 months; many well on their way to become |@ianetwork

For further details, please contact:

Indian Angel Network  

Himali Makker| Mobile: + 91 9811866475| E-mail:

Genesis Burson-Marsteller
Tripti Sharma| Mobile: + 91 7838350189 | E-mail:

About LetsVenture

Founded in 2013, LetsVenture enables startups and investors to discover and connect with each other. There are 12000+ startups and 2200+ investors on the platform. LetsVenture takes care of closure of term sheet & shareholders agreement, and complete legal & financial due diligence along with completing the fundraise. LetsVenture has enabled more than 100 startups to raise over $38mn in the last 3 years.

Making the best out of mentor meeting time

In evolving startup ecosystems, access to mentors that can add value to a startups journey is extremely limited. Even more so in the early stages of a startup. When a startup does get access to a mentors time, one has to ensure the best value. Value maybe just validation of the overall idea, throw some color on the opportunity, review the market segments and the go-to-markets, review the near term plans and priorities, or one of many other.  Three aspects are important. Who is the mentor. What is the relevant background. Why do you want to meet. And what do you expect to realize.

WHO.  Now a mentor maybe a successful entrepreneur, a domain expert, an investor, an incubator, a potential customer or any other. And value from each is very different. The first thing the startup must be very conscious of is why is that mentors time needed. What relevant perspective is the mentor bringing in. What do you expect to get from that time. This is very important given that often the first meeting with a mentor is very short and unless the startup interests and excites the mentor there are definitely no further meetings coming by.


WHY. WHAT. When asking for time need to make sure exactly what you want from the mentor. Establish the relevant perspective or background of the mentor clearly. Need to clearly state what you would like realized in the meeting. And of course, briefly talk about what you are doing and present state or challenges you are dealing with.

HOW. In any mentor interaction, startup MUST understand that the value is in letting the mentor speak and listen. So other than explain what you are doing and maybe share some of the challenges you are needing advise on, most of the time you must let the mentor speak. And startup must  just listen. As much as possible.

  1. One Non goal which many startups don’t fully appreciate is that in a mentoring meeting you don’t have to convince the mentor. You don’t have to get the mentor to agree with anything you say. You have to share your idea an d any related information, only so far as needed to help the mentor understand what you are doing. When mentor disagrees, that is extremely useful input. Don’t scuttle it by arguing and completely missing the point. Just need to listen to what the mentor is saying. Make a note and then figure out remedial action later. Maybe your understanding was incomplete. Maybe articulation was poor. Maybe there were gaps in your thinking. Maybe you did miss some market assumptions or made incorrect assumptions. Just look for these signals. This is much more important than trying to “convince” the mentor.

In this whole process a clear pitch is extremely important. That highlights the idea crux, the market opportunity, the gap, how compelling, how the startup is filling the gap, size of the unserved gap, the present status and the projections.

Happy Mentoring.

A Marshmello helmet for the better environment.

Rekarmate is a Hyderabad-based environmental friendly startup. Taking inspiration from the Marshmello’s ( an electronic dance music producer, and DJ) ‘Give it back’ initiative, Rekarmate  gave away  few Marshmello helmets made from recycled waste as a part of fundraising.


Within 48hrs prior to the launch, they could reach close to 7,000 people thereby spreading the awareness and establishing a deep connection with the environment.

As it’s prime time for each one of us to realize the impact we had and have on our environment, Rekarmate is taking its baby steps with the spirit of #itstimetogiveback.

What’s the need?


Out of 62 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste generated by India’s urban population, only  25% of it is processed and the rest is dumped in the landfills. This neglect has put the rag pickers and their children to work in hazardous conditions in the landfills. These landfills have a serious impact on the environment. They emit inflammable methane into the air and embodies heavy metals present in e-waste such as lead, cadmium, chromium and zinc. This seeps into groundwater further making it hazardous to the surroundings. According to a study done by The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Assocham),  only 4% of India’s total e-waste gets recycled and there are over 4.5 lakh child workers in the age group of 10-14 engaged in e-waste activities who without any protection or safeguards in various yards and recycling workshops.

With a mission for cleaner and greener environment, Rekarmate prevents your waste from going into landfills or in the wrong hands. We can use the platform in three simple steps.

Step – 1 : Locate and visit the nearby facility with your recyclable waste.

Step – 2 : A Rekarmate agent will weigh the goods.

Step – 3 : Collect instant rewards (cash+karma).

The best way to tackle the waste challenge is to incentivise people which foster a change. Initially, they are accepting dry recyclable waste (paper, tin, glass, e-waste) and then eventually will enter into food and wet recyclable waste. In return, they would give people cash(based on the type and quantity of the waste) and some karma points which we can redeem at selected channels. Rekarmate will send the collected waste to only authorized recyclers so this keeps the whole informal sector in check, who often flout the safety regulations.

Do you want to give back too? Support Rekarmate @ and


How investment-ready are you?

While clearly an important caveat if and when a startup needs money, assuming there is a compelling case for investment, when is a startup “ready” for an investment. What are the parameters that investors look for, and that startups should prepare for?

The most significant readiness factor is if the infusion can accelerate the startup’s journey. Accelerate the process of building and taking the product to market. Accelerate the adoption of the product in the markets. Enable a significant amplification of value to customer. Eventually, increase revenue opportunities. And this value varies as startup moves across stages of evolution of startup.

In seed stage, the primary readiness factor is if the product is built and some basic validation is in place. Technical feasibility is established with atleast a market prototype built that can be tried out by customers. At least few customers have used the product and communicated useful utility and potential commercial interest. Actual sales need not have transacted. The investment is to take this to next level and demonstrate actual market traction and revenue.

In angel stage, investment readiness is when the product has been successfully taken to the initial market. Customers have bought and used the product. In a small segment, the customer adoption has been scaled. The investment in this stage is primarily to now show that the sales can be scaled. The first stage of serious scaling. To tweak and pivot the organization, product, and market readiness to a much higher level of capability to address much larger scale of business. In this process, the startup will get ready for subsequent rounds of investment in the growth stage, when startups look for VC fund infusion.

Most fundamental tenet of readiness is that at each stage, the previous stage has been successfully crossed. Along with readiness, time is key.  Should be clear that the infusion of money at that stage, will significantly amplify the pace of growth compared to continuing without the funds infusion. Growth coming in an economically viable way. Sustainable growth is key at all stages!


Is technology the best way to a quick startup success/exit? 

Great news this week about a 3-year old startup from Hyderabad, Tuplejump, being acquired by Apple. They were in the big data space building a product that allowed use of nosql databases. Deep tech mumbo jumbo. But, think about it. When starting up, how does one pick the idea to pursue? Sometimes, there are a lucky few, where in their immediate experiences they come across a problem that deeply resonates and then find a solution for that. How about the others?

One common path is to take something that worked elsewhere and pivot it to make it work in a different context or geo or domain. Many startups that have done phenomenally well with such ideas. Amply demonstrating, rarely is it the idea that determines success. It is always the team and execution that determines the success.

And then there are people that have knowledge and  experiences that are a bit removed from real world problems or use. Like say a hard core techie that builds solutions based on specifications given. Here the rei sno understanding of the customers domain nor empathy of the customer’s problems. Just specifications, to design and build and deliver to. Now even here there maybe a startup opportunity. To build a technology platform.  That other techies may use to build their end solution. Here no business domain or customer context needed. Just an understanding of how someone builds solutions.

This is exactly what the startup Tuplejump did. Built a technology product that other techies and developers will use. Built it to enable access to new types of data with new ways of storing data that was rapidly coming up as users got more active in the internet and enterprises went more actively to the cloud. Data was now more to mine insights into what users we redoing and less about transactions user performed. And this was a solution with a global appeal. That caught Apples interest.

Is this a way to build a product that can grow very quickly or get aquired more easily? Maybe.


Startup events – a boon or a bane?

Startups are always looking for that little bit of support, feedback, advise, guidance, customer reference or investor connect all the time. And this is never easy to come by. Very elusive. And probably not always very effective!

In recent months and years, there is a deluge of events. In varying forms and hues. Broadly, always having sessions that share founder experiences, mete out advise from investors, few engaging panel discussions and the mandatory networking sessions. Every startup attending these events hope to gain some insights, some knowledge, some skills maybe, and surely some networking. Some introductions. Some connections. To investors, customers and prospective employees. All well intended. But how does a startup ensure the time spent at an event is helpful to the startup?

Bang for the buck is the most important. And immediately relevant bang. Not some very generic recognition nor value in the long term. Should further the startup’s business. Should enable the need the startup has at that time. In pre-seed stage it could be to get a validation of the idea or assess opportunity. In post seed stage it could be to get references for pilot customers. If looking for funding, it could be to get access to investors. Could be to get mentors. May be get access to partners. Or help reach go-global accelerators or incubators.

Startups time is very precious. Every minute should help. And help the right way at the right time. So a fullday spent at an event should really help. Very tangibly. Before going to an event should pause for a momentto see what help is most needed at that point. And ensure the event enables that before investing time there.

Surmounting the ‘Chasms’ in Start-up lifecycle

Have been hearing about crossing the chasm forever. In a strategy discussion this week, this came up again. Now to look at assessing mature products. Not just startups. Thinking further, clearly there are chasms at all times. If not congnizant, the startup or product may quite not ‘cross’ the chasm. What are some of the key chasms that a startup must keep in view as they embark on their early stages?

These chasms pretty much occur thru the evolution of the startups idea. In the idea stage, there is the opportunity chasm. The opportunity needs to be understood well. A definitive need or gap in the market, that the startup has a way of addressing gainfully. An opportunity with customers that are well segmented and a clear path to reach-out and appeal to each segment. This is the opportunity chasm that the startup must cross without any assumptions coming undone or a key element completely overlooked.

Having identified the opportunity and defined the solution, next challenge is the product chasm. Sifting thru the gazillion requirements that all seem important all at once, to identify those few (precious few) that are most critical to appeal to the initial prospects base. Those few that will help get the initial set of users to try out the product. Not easy to resist the urge to consider every possible feature as being ultra critical for revenue. To be able to look objectively and pick those few capabilities that are most important to win prospect attention and hopefully their money.

Alongside is the bigger marketing chasm. Once one has identified the critical product functional set for winning initial customer, then comes the marketing chasm.every possible segment seems important. Every bleak possibility of closing a deal brings with it a strong temptation to go all out after that segment. Whatever it takes- travel, product capabilities, deep pricing discounts, throw more goodies. And more.. all costing money! Not realizing all thru that laser sharp focus needed in this stage,. Pick those few low hanging fruits and go all out after them, just them.  Else the chasm will outrun the limited energy and resources that the startup has.

Having successfully crossed the above three chasms, picked a validated opportunity, identified a super relevant minimal product functional set, picked a key target segment and successfully capture that segment, comes the next one. How to convert these customers into champions. Into strong ambassadors for your product and startup. The customer support chasm. Conflicting demands placed by these customers and new prospects. Not going after a new prospect is leaving money on the table.  But going after that may mean losing the opportunity to make the initial customers strong champions for your product. That will help trigger a very strong positive word of mouth. May trigger references. And trigger a more substantial prospects’ stream.

And the biggest chasm is that these chasms never end. At every stage the above repeats. As I discovered this week that even for a decades old company with a strong revenue base and deep pockets of funding, there are always chasms to crops. Conflicting priorities to balance. Carefully and objectively assess near term results when picking from these priorities. Ensure a constant eye on the scaling when picking these priorities.

Whoever said a startup was easy! But then, aren’t the rewards of entrepreneurial accomplishments, professional excitement and market results worth it?

  • Market requirements chasm.The first chasm is getting the customer requirements right, product or service, to satisfy a real need that a large number of customers will pay real money to satisfy. It takes focus to resist adding a long list of features that seem to make the opportunity larger, but dilute to focus of both you and potential customers.
  • Product development chasm.Another common chasm is never-ending product development. Focus is required to resist adding a few more neat features, made possible by the new technology, which in fact make the product more complex to use, impossible to test, and very expensive in time and cost.
  • Marketing and sales chasm. Lots of people still believe the major cost of a new product is development. These days, with all the clutter in the marketplace, the highest cost is usually marketing. Focus is required here to pick the low-hanging fruit, break through the clutter, and then move on to the next segment. Marketing costs can be a deep hole.
  • Customer support chasm. Products that have features which are unfocused, or aimed at too broad an audience, can be almost impossible to support. Customers need lots of help with installation, or can’t make the product work the way they expect. The result is that customer satisfaction in unachievable or at least very expensive.