Defining Factors of a Successful Startup, Keynote Speech by Shailendra Singh, MD, Sequoia Capital at TechSparks™ 2011 Grand Finale


Amidst an audience of more than 400 technology entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and industry figures from across the country, the Grand Finale of TechSparks™ 2011, India’s flagship showcase event for product technology startups, kick-started with the much-awaited keynote address by one of the country’s leading venture capitalists, Shailendra Singh, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital India. Themed “Scaling Your Startup to Success” Shailendra’s keynote laid out with powerful simplicity the defining factors of high-performing startups and the factors that differentiate these startups from the rest. And usefully for entrepreneurs, Shailendra Singh, in many cases, pointed to experiences with his own startups to elaborate.Here is the outline of his address:

Ambition is primary among the differentiators. Entrepreneurs of high-performing start-ups have an unbelievable and unrelenting amount of ambition that constantly drives them to think big and overcome obstacles, no matter what it takes.

Frugal Innovation, Rapid Iteration. This mantra, posited Shailendra, is critical for entrepreneurs to strike the right balance between ideas and execution. While it is essential to listen to customers and understand their pain-points, it is equally essential to rapidly improvise products in an iterative fashion to address their needs.

Deep domain knowledge is an extremely important consideration for companies when hiring talent.

Conviction is key. Pointing to iYogi, a tech-support provider for US markets, Shailendra revealed the company has declined multi-million dollar deals from technology giants to white-label their service, firmly convinced in their ability to offer great tech-support without having to hide their Indian identity.Relentless focus on product., Shailendra pointed, focuses so maniacally on improving its product that, thanks to the number of repeat callers it enjoys, as a result it spends zilch on customer acquisition.

Deliver Happiness. Zappos, Shailendra said, gets almost 38% of its products returned. That its model works so well even with such high return-rates is testimony to the fact that the sheer number of customers who feel happy and safe dealing with them is so huge!

Culture cannot be copied. Founders must build companies on strong values that reflect an open culture and transparency. Think beyond borders. In his final point, Shailendra encouraged entrepreneurs to recognize opportunities presented by globalization early in the cycle, and target markets both on the supply and customer sides outside our borders. 

We at thank Sequoia Capital for supporting TechSparks™ 2011 as the exclusive VC partner. To find out more about TechSparks™ 2011 Grand Finale and the winners, click here & here.

- Kaushik Satish


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