Cutting across diverse sectors, these business dynamos from India and Germany have set the benchmark. Driven and passionate, they share the secrets to startup success with you. So, if you’re a budding entrepreneur, soak the wisdom in!
A startup’s success is the outcome of multiple factors. You must articulate your vision continuously and ensure that each step taken is towards this vision. Try to solve difficult problems. Think global, only hire the best, build a positive work culture and develop great products. Focus more on the product’s usage. Pay close attention to what your customers tell you. And don’t try to do everything on your own. Since growth is the only oxygen for a startup, take risks and grow fast. Don’t optimise for valuations; optimise for building a product that people love. And finally, have fun!
Founder & CEO, Practo
India’s startup scene is vibrant and very invigorating! The ecosystem encourages one to take risks and give one’s ideas a fair shot. What can get exhausting for an entrepreneur in India though is the series of compliances and paperwork, and finding exceptional talent is a challenge every Indian startup faces. However, if there’s one place in the world that epitomises “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, it’s India. And the wins are all about the hustle!
Founder & CEO, Little Black Book
The most critical success factor for a startup is the founding team and their learning agility and perseverance. The equation between the founders is crucial: they should complement each other—a quality that is lacking in one should be the other’s strength. While one may not get the business model right at the first attempt, it is important to quickly adapt to changing market dynamics. The founding team members will partner you through tough times, and to make that happen you have to build a healthy and honest culture. Be ready to pivot. Cultivate resilience and don’t give up.
Founder & group CEO, MakeMyTrip
In order to take your work to the next level, it’s important to spend time with smart, ambitious people, and in spaces that inspire and motivate. That’s what we believe in at betahaus. Coworking spaces like ours also offer a kind of social support: there is always someone around to ask for advice or connect you to a relevant person. Whether you choose to work by yourself or in a team, everything gets easier when you have a good network to support you.
Brand manager, betahaus Berlin
To become a successful company, you need to set yourself ambitious goals and keep observing the changes in your environment. Startups, in particular, need to constantly reflect on their ideas and adjust them if necessary. But the best ideas are worthless without a competent team and proper execution—a fact that is often neglected. In addition, it is important for startups to establish a network, including potential investors and experts. Becoming personally acquainted with investors increases your chance of getting funded.
Co-founder, Project A Ventures
The current e-commerce sentiment is of “conserve cash, unit-level economics, raise as soon as possible and tighten costs”. Having said that, there is optimism; however, considering that globally most unicorns’ valuations were shaved off—as was Flipkart’s in India—most people are looking at a tough year ahead in terms of fundraising. This means in most organisations there is a laser-like focus on cost controls, bottom lines, efficiencies. It’ll be interesting to see how companies get off the “discount” bandwagon without sacrificing growth. Vertical e-commerce and niche players are the ones to watch out for.
Founder & CEO, Indianroots
A major factor behind the success of OYO Rooms is the passion and commitment of the team. Investors buy into that conviction and self- belief. We pioneered an innovative business model, disrupting the category to provide a solution to a very real and large-scale consumer problem. It is important to identify the core of the problem you are trying to solve. Hire the right team and stay focused on your goal. Today there are scores of imitators of OYO Rooms, but we are proud to have pioneered a “Made in India” business model.
Founder & CEO, OYO Rooms
I believe all human beings are entrepreneurs by birth, but somehow we get pushed into becoming jobseekers. We can be personal profit-making entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurs or social business entrepreneurs, or a combination of all three. These are our choices. The world needs all types of entrepreneurs. Social businesses can create a new world by designing and operating problem-solving businesses. I urge all young people to prepare themselves to become entrepreneurs in order to solve the world’s problems and make the world a better place than it is now.
Social entrepreneur & Nobel Peace Prize winner
A technology startup is a temporary organisation trying to build a repeatable, scalable business model and/or technology no other business has created before. Walking on unchartered territory, startups face overwhelming uncertainty about which path to take. In our research we found that most startups fail not because of competition, but rather due to self-destruction. They execute on the wrong things. To overcome uncertainty and mitigate risk, a startup must maximise its learning velocity. That way time and money can be spent on what matters most. That is the secret of startup success.
Founder & CEO, Compass (formerly Startup Genome)
The single biggest success factor for startups in India is to find pressing social problems that have not been solved yet (some of which are quite unique to India). Success in the long run is determined by the ability to find a solution to those problems and build a business around them. There are many examples: Chumbak, the lifestyle brand that redefined Indian kitsch; OYO Rooms, which caters to the need for basic quality, low-priced hotel rooms; Sulabh International, which provides clean toilets across Indian cities, subsidised by advertising; Naukri, India’s first jobs portal.
Twitter has its own language which has transcended the platform. Our users were the first to start using #hashtags (as we know them), and today it’s commonplace and is morphing into more than just a way to #names and #places but also #feelings and #emotions. We @Twitter totally (over)use #hashtags on a daily basis. After all, we are #oneteam! What’s more, apart from emojis, we have GIFs, which tweeps just love using on the platform as well as in direct messages and emails. Sometimes I think that one day we might become cavemen again when it comes to communication—more visual than textual!
Head of public policy, Twitter India