Year in Recap – 2013! In Style

Year in Recap - 2013! In Style

Grab your free Year In Recap Card for 2013.
Bid farewell in Style.
This is how our co founder spent his year

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5 mistakes you ignore while bootstrapping your venture

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Web-based startups tend to lose focus from these obvious facts that might hurt the venture in the longer-run… 

Shunning the so-called socially accepted method of living a routined lifestyle & embarking on the entrepreneurial journey is a commendable feat to achieve. If you are one of those lucky lot of the populace who get an opportunity to experience what no school or college can teach you, trust me you’re having a ball of your life. While you learn & experiment with all your creativity, learnings & efforts, few aspects need to be kept into stride while starting your venture. Let’s jump to few of them from my personal experience:

1.Not spending an extra hour on your ‘core value proposition’

Most important of all the aspects. Do not try to get lost in the embezzlement of ‘features’ you would like to build for your product. Rather, hold yourself for a while & try to close the loop for the core offering you are providing. We tend to close this gap by adding a ‘feature’ which most of the times comes out as a sloppy implementation. A well-defined boundary of the ‘core idea’ has the potential of adding numerous successful additions over it.Write down your vision on a piece of paper(in one meaningful, short sentence) & ask yourselves if the present execution(planned or implemented)will suffice.

2. Throwing/disrespecting what you have built

This is an entrepreneur’s curse. You might stumble across a better design, a cool feature, swanky template or anything that would require you to re-build the base to put this new baby in place. That is a mistake we make quite often. As a rule of the thumb, you must try to ‘adjust’ these new bullets(only if you must) into the old arsenal. Once you have enough feedback to change your past implementation, you can work from scratch to put your latest findings in place. Else, give a miss to all those temptations to play with your present structure. Go till the end of the world to make your past efforts work.

3. Not spending enough time online for Open-source plug-ins

I guess building plug-ins in major pain-point area where the product development team is at logger-heads with the biz team. While the expected turnaround time is crunched, all of us want brilliant results with vision. Thinking pragmatically, it really becomes a nightmare for your product development team to deliver at the expected level. While being in sync with your technical team is a must, keep nudging them(politely!) to look for open-source plug-ins to ease the pain. Date-pickerTwitter bootstrap hover drop-down, dropzone(for file upload),favico(fav icon animation), alertify(beautiful alerts), etc. are just few of the examples of awesomeness open-source provides. I would like to quote Abraham Lincoln, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.”

4. Facebook is not the ultimate marketing channel

God help you if your marketing strategy is built around getting more ‘Likes’ on your FB page! Having a clearly defined target-audience is a pre-requisite before investing yourself into Social Media Marketing. If you are a content-heavy platform, rush to Quora & make yourself visible there. If you are doing anything related to interests, hobbies, lifestyles, etc. pay some attention to Google+ groups. LinkedIn will get you some really ‘precious’ connections & attention if you are into professional services. To sum it up, DO NOT PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET.

5. Ignore the importance of ‘talking’ to your co-founder/s

You started because of him/her. Accept this. The sooner you will, the better are your chances your success. Sit with partner to know the obstacles he/she has faced during the day. Appreciate where an amazing result has been delivered. Try to understand the technology, marketing skills, design philosophy,etc. even if it sounds gibberish to you. The results will make you proud in the longer run. Though this point is a bit on personal front, many ignore it and fall into the pit of fractured mutual trust.

I hope this would help you guys to clear off some sludge off your brain. I would be more that happy to hear your story.

You can witness all these points into action at http://www.getechoed.com.

Share your story of the mistakes you committed. Share your learnings. All ears this side 🙂

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This post is written by Kumar Dipanshu, Co founder at GetEchoed. He handles product design, being the creative think tank and being resolute about his opinions! He loves poetry and mountains. Tweet to discuss anything with him @kdipanshu

 

Getting the hang of it all – The lean way!

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What does it mean to attend a #StartUpBootCamp?

Yes, that’s the question we always had and we felt will remain a Pandora’s box till the end of the 2 and a half days that we were to spend on an otherwise-smeared-in-work-yet-lovely November weekend.

Au Contraire!

Reverse just happened. And we are floored with the brilliant outcomes the bootcamp gave to the community of startups that attended the event. I am talking about the 60-hour Lean Startup Bootcamp  organized by 91springboard in Delhi from 8 – 10 November, 2013. And this post is a culmination of the experiences we had; the learning we gathered, the relationships we are honored to build and the laughter we shared.

Being based out of Delhi and not the so-called startup bay of India; it’s always difficult to relish the benefits of a bustling community of likeminded doers. Couple it up when you are working on your own venture where you are hard at work to figure out what’s brilliant and what’s terrible! The Lean Startup Bootcamp was the first of its kind in many aspects that we had never really witnessed coming to life in the startup community – least of all – in the rather scattered community of Delhi based startups.

Structure or lack of it. The beauty of the bootcamp was engrained in the entire structure / pseudo structure of the camp. Yes, there was a very loose structure to the entire 2 and half days. As compared to the mundane reality of attending series of lectures from biggies; the bootcamp was about ‘your challenges’ and ‘their solutions’; not ‘how-i-achieved-what-starters-like-you-only-dream-of-today’ lectures from biggies. Few sessions – interspersed at the right intervals – all hanging around the challenges of starting up and the hacks / pro tips on applying lean startup philosophy for ‘your business’ were enlightening. The big demon of market sizing (Yes, we call it that at GetEchoed Team coz we understood heck of it before we attended the event) delivered in a crisp talk on ‘Competitor Analysis and Market Sizing’ (Amit Lakhotia, GM – Payments at Paytm) ; that crazy thing called web hosting : hands-on talk on ‘Lean Prototyping using cloud’ (Amit Sharma, Solution Architect – Amazon Web Services); the obvious hassle of being design challenged in your venture and how to sort it out – brilliantly brought to life on the talk – ‘Design for the Lean Startup’ (Kshitish Purohit, Founder – Paperkite); and finally the hacks of lean prototyping tools to ensure you don’t run out of resources – delivered in ‘Lean Prototyping tools’ (Rohit Agarwal, Founder – Framebench)were all explained.

Most part of the camp; teams were left to discover their challenges; brainstorm in their groups; encouraged to go-out and talk to their customers seeking inputs on the most pressing challenges / riskiest assumptions made in their business models and so on. It was all about being lean – not by the books but by action!

We were all there. The camp had an aggregation of college students contemplating on the journey of starting up; seasoned folks who understand the dynamics; failures and sweet successes of handling ventures as well as early starters like us – the team of GetEchoed; having recently begun the journey. All questions that otherwise seem too business-oriented or too technical to handle for those lacking the know-how; were explained and addressed in the simplest yet sophisticated forms. Better yet, all the sessions were close to life.

It was not a hackathon. And that was brilliant. We spent most parts of the day interacting with different teams and discussing each other’s challenges. This may seem like the yet-again-another-non-geeky-thing to do.  Nope, it wasn’t. It was fun. Sheer fun! Why so, if you ask. Because that’s where a lot of learning happened, relationships were formed and all the startups team were able to develop relationships at their own pace and benefit of their mutual experiences and leverage experiences. We understood challenges in scaling up location specific business when setting up in a new location, transforming modus operandi from people intensive to process intensive; communicating with customers who don’t understand your offerings and how to communicate with them.

And it was about brilliant hosts. The organizers of the event went the last mile in every aspect. Anand Vemuri and Apurv Agarwal – are two phenomenal folks helping fostering the culture of fearless entrprenurship in the Delhi / NCR region in their amazing ways. They never made any of us realize that we were meeting them for the first time and all of us were lacking expertise in some areas or the other. Basking in our small achievements and struggling in our crazy ways; they were around till the wee and the early hours ensuring all kinds of support; most critical product and business inputs were provided to all the startups in the most entrepreneur-friendly way. GetEchoed team received some of the most critical inputs and some very affirming good words from the 91springboard team over the bootcamp. And yes, not to mention the happiness of sharing round table networking over dinners and tea breaks! Yes, they do happen innocuously and are facilitated by these folks in the most subtle manners.

The brilliant experience and the fair treatment meted out to all of us is articulated hence. I encourage of you startup fellas to definitely take a break from the daily imperatives of your startup. As impending and critical as they are; your learning from interacting with heterogeneous group of startup folks; incubatee startups and the amazing folks at the 91springboard will definitely be worth hours of team brainstorming and much beyond.

Say cheers to starting up. Cheers to lean camps and cheers to Delhi!

gangotri

 

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

Of roadblocks, disagreements and life ahead…

Its the journey of three friends — from varied walks of life; united by the vision yet separated from their life experiences and skill sets.

What’s the vision?

Yes, three friends wanted to build something of their own that they felt could change something in the world; make lives wee bit simpler.All of them enjoyed building stuff! Hence the ‘three-mid-twenties-something’decided after few pints of beers; well ‘starting up’ would be a good start to build a billion dollar business!

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What’s the challenge?

Heterogeneity!

Easier said than done. Decisions based on beer pints are impulsive and emotional. Yet, better than being non decisive — next morning after hangover was rather settled; was the time to execute the decision

Thus, started the non glamorous and less talked about ordeals of founding a startup. Building a business is not a skill you gather working some years at a corporate organization. And the best friends need not necessarily be the best cofounders; not even closest siblings

Reason?

We believed we had completely complimentary skill sets as a team — we had a full-stack-developer, sales-and-marketing-geek and a psychology-management-consultant-product-geek. Call it ‘achievers-all-through-career’.

However, as was the heterogeneity; there were also heterogeneity in our operating styles.

Now that’s a moment of truth!

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Building a startup is all about ‘leveraging’ and cultivating ‘synergy’.In the initial years of a product, uncertainty is the only certainty one has and people are the only asset you have. And you need to learn to make peace with it. Help your co founders careen through such times…

Yes, the hoopla of a ‘great team’ is actually a reality!

We had our share of disagreements on what should the MVP do, what level of scalability should we look at, when do we seek mentoring, how much to develop, which feedback to consider and when was early-yet-not-late-enough to seek feedback; whom to hire, whether to outsource or develop in house and many more. While there were differences; there were enough and more learning we gathered through the way.

So what’s a co-founder equation really like?

  • Adapt,learn and iterate your operating style — Yes, operating styles can and need to be flexed and optimized. Two people are not similar.
  • Have complete alignment in goals — your single most never failing compass for deciding on your co founder relationship. While we were able to figure out our *alignment on goals* before writing the first code and talking to the first customer — the alignment in operating style developed over months of learning and adapting to each other
  • Understand the motivations of your co founder. Just the way an investor, a customer, a shareholder, or for that matter any stakeholder have their own motivations to get attached with your product / startup; so does your co founder. Passion does not speak the same language for every one alike
  • Define your roles extremely well and *understand* them even better. You should know where not to poke your nose and where you are completely accountable for every bit of results. You have to work at this demarcation — time and again — especially if you are a first time entrepreneur.
  • Be utterly clear about whats happening in each and every aspect of the startup. If you dont know coding, you should know why are you building your website on RoR v/s PhP. If you are a coding geek, you should know why should you leverage Pinterest v/s Facebook — in light of the nature of your product / business

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  • Take constant feedback on what are your comfort areas and what are your typical demons. Build a culture of honest and critical feedbackearly on in your startup days. Even when we were a garage team of 3 people, we made it binding on us that we shared honestly when we felt the other was not getting out of the comfort zone or was not focusing enough. (Yes, there will be times when even with all the passion and the zest, you will lack the focus!)
  • It takes efforts to nurture a productive and meaningful relationship with your cofounder. You will have harsh discussion, blames will be shifted, questions will be raised and results will be challenged. The earlier you understand boundaries of your relationships; better will you be able to work being cognizant of them.
  • Respect your co founder. There has not been any bigger learning than this in my startup journey. Every action — active listening, understanding their shortcomings and appreciating their small achievements — is a communication of celebrating the co founder relationship. Do that more often!
  • While there are operational details that have an equal share of challenges and that bring to life the intricacies of business; those are details that will be handled later. For everything else, there is always *beer pints*What has been your experience in co founding your startup? Let me know…

gangotri

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition