Nuggets of Wisdom from Panel Discussion at TechSparks™ Grand Finale
Identify the target market, go global, stay ethical and display integrity
Panelists: Narendra Bhandari (Intel Software & Services Group – Developer Relations Division Asia Pacific, moderator); Shailendra Singh (Managing Director, Sequoia Capital); Vimal Abraham (Strategy & Marketing, ISV & Developer Relations, IBM India); Jayaram Pillai (Managing Director, National Instruments (India, Russia, Arabia)); Mekin Maheshwari (President, Engineering, Flipkart.com); Rishi Dhand (Product Manager, Google).
It was one of the most lively panel discussions facilitated by Narendra Bhandari, who steered the discussion on three broad themes: identifying the target market or customers; when to go global; and the importance of staying ethical and displaying integrity.
The audience participation driven by Narendra’s opening up the floor now and then was a significant highlight that made the audience feel part of the discussion rather than passive listeners.
How do you identify your target customers or market?
Shailendra: 1. Market should be very big. 2. The opportunity should delight people. 3. Market should be accessible.
Vimal: Do market research and identify a niche market.
Mekin: Understanding your market through market intelligence is very important. Your ambition should be very high and what is relevant to the customer should be put in the market first – shampoos or mobile phones?
Rishi: Google’s idea of market is different. We don’t bet on numbers instead we focus on user experience. An awesome user experience first brings in torrent of customers and then we build revenue around the customer.
Jayaram: It is the problem that the entrepreneur is seeing and solving.
Answering a question, Shailendra said sustainability of sales is important when the market has been identified and if a product is as awesome in user experience as iPhone or iPad, Sequoia will fund it. He gave an insight—Steve Jobs was maniacal about products when he came to pitch to Sequoia Capital in early 1970s when Steve was still starting up.
When do you go global?
Narendra: Stepping beyond your borders and establishing market in one, two, four or five countries could be called going global.
Shailendra: You should not be constrained by resources and balance sheet. MuSigma, a data analytics company in Sequoia portfolio, acquired more than 50 Fortune 200 companies just by a phone call: ‘Do you need our services?’ Sometimes, simple solutions exists. It is in your ingenuity to tap it.
Vimal:IBM helps by opening up its India Software Labs to startup entrepreneurs. (If any entrepreneur is interested, we can help them by connecting them to Vimal. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mekin:If you are solving a problem using technology and Internet, you can go global and ambition should be balanced with focus. By default, Facebook and Google are global businesses as they are Internet-based, whereas setting up warehouse or supply chain at foreign markets is capital-intensive.
Rishi:Google helps by allowing usage of its internal infrastructure and offers platform, tool, and technology support. But they are not advertised enough. (If any entrepreneur is interested, we can help them by connecting them to Rishi. Please write email@example.com)
Jayaram: Small companies have scarce resources. They can utilize resources of big companies to go global. If you can build a product for India, you can go global. (If any entrepreneur is interested, we can help them by connecting them to Jayaram. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Importance of staying ethical and displaying integrity
Shailendra:No shortcuts to success. Better stay ethical and display integrity
Rishi:The individual character of the entrepreneur matters.
Jayaram:No bad practices.
“What do entrepreneurs want?” – Narendra asked the audience to identify some areas in which they need help. Mentors, strategic connections, cheap infrastructure and opportunity to work with governments were some of the ideas thrown by the audience.
Shailendra: Solve your own problem and that is an awesome experience, instead of riding on someone’s back
Mekin: Just call your mentor who might be just a phone call away.
Narendra: Entrepreneurs are not pushing enough to tap into opportunities offered by corporates that already exist.
Rishi: Google has a lot on offer.
Shradha Sharma (YourStory.in’s founder) intervened to ask the panellists to identify their role if they would be now a startup and their advice to startups.
Shailendra:Still products (advice to startups: should push the umbrella; determine how far you should go)
Vimal:Evangelist (advice to startups: should address a genuine problem)
Mekin: Recruitment/products (advice to startups: question status quo and think big)
Rishi:Product management (advice to startups: should be fired from inside)
Jayaram:CEO (advice to startups: believe in what you are doing)
Narendra: Product (advice to startups: it is always 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration)
Narendra ended by a quote from one of the Intel founders: ‘Don’t be encumbered by history. Go out and do something phenomenal.’
–Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist