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Corporate Philosophy

What Do We Need? ‘Startups’ or ‘Smartups’?

light-bulb-1681801_1280Last weekend, I was invited to conduct a full day session for co-founders of 22 startups, coming from the different parts of the country. The purpose of the session was enabling them to fine-tune their business plans which they would be presenting to potential investors after three days of intensive training.

All the co-founders had already shortlisted their ideas and some of them had a demo product and a few of them already had dozens of reference sites where their products were already being used. After interacting with these co-founders, I felt a bit sad. They had not bothered about or rather were ignoring many crucial questions. Here are some of the observations:

  1. Only one or two teams could define the problem that they were solving, at a generic level. Not a single team had done a good job of defining the problem that they are solving in black and white.
  2. Almost no one knew the market, the point of market entry, the size of market that could be captured and key financials such as ROI for the customer, cost of customer acquisition and life time revenues from one customer.
  3. Poor info about the competitors, their offering, opportunities and threats and key advantages offered by the products.
  4. No awareness about the industry – whether it is growing, shrinking, what are the specific challenges, collaborative efforts involved etc.

The list is quite long but I thought of listing the points I thought were most important. The purpose of sharing this is not criticizing anyone but highlight my point- Having your own startup is quite easy. Moving from startup to a ‘smartup’, where each of your actions is smart- based on data and adds value is very difficult.

In long term, startups who are also ‘smartups’ manage to succeed. Startups who cannot mature into ‘smartups’ fail miserably.

You still want to start just a startup?

By Mandar Karanjkar

Mandar Karanjkar is author, motivational speaker and consultant based in Pune. Mandar works with handful of organizations helping them with strategy, communication and culture. Mandar is trained in Indian Classical Music over a decade. He is a classical singer and flute player.

Mandar has written columns for many reputed newspapers. Engineer by profession, he conducts workshops and delivers talks on subjects as wide as strategy, innovation, online marketing, spirituality, Kabir, Zen etc.

Mandar is a published author.

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