Money, mentors and markets: The mantra for startup success
This article is powered by icreate
The entrepreneurial ecosystem and landscape is changing apace across India. There is tremendous enthusiasm and an urge to create impactful startups that can solve a variety of ‘pain-points’ in society and industry. The recent announcement of ‘The Startup India, Standup India’ initiative by the Union government and several other schemes by various state governments have ignited a desire in many, to embark on ‘Entrepreneurship’ as an alternative career path. One starts her/his entrepreneurial journey with an idea, but it is not ‘only’ about the idea. A powerful idea demands right execution, which implies that the entrepreneur and the enterprise need timely access to money, mentors, and markets.
“Change the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you” – Tony Hsieh
An enterprise needs money and its use varies at different stages of the entrepreneurial journey. For example, money is needed initially for development (to buy components, equipment, or to obtain services through hiring or outsourcing) to reach to the ‘Proof of Concept’ (PoC). At the next stage, money is needed to build a core team, and to support go-to market strategies, and as the traction develops, money is needed for rapid scale-up to maximise the returns with funds required for scaling up of manpower, facilities, and distribution channels as well as for post-sales support.
“Mentoring is a two-way street. You get out what you put in” – Steve Washington
While everyone accepts the needs for money, the value of mentoring, and hence the need, is not recognised or felt universally. True mentors get involved closely with both; the entrepreneurial team and the enterprise to provide critical nudging at the right times. Technical or professional inputs (e.g. when to file what type of patent) are perhaps more obvious compared with critical inputs at all crossroads of the entrepreneurial journey, where the mentor serves more as a life coach. Also, it is important to consider critical inputs while weighing and deciding as opposed to consider them as deciding for you. Further, mentors who can guide, cajole, and yet accept an “entrepreneur’s right to choose” without allowing their decisions to affect a team’s enthusiasm or interest in the venture are rare.
“Don’t find customers for your product, find products for your customers” – Seth Godin
No matter how well-funded and well-mentored the enterprise – its real test is in the market place. All said and done, while it is important that a good idea has to be executed well for it to succeed, not all well-executed good ideas make it big in the market place in a timely manner. What helps leverage limited resources to gain a foothold in the market place, is the availability of access to the market. If mentors or incubators provide a push backed by branding or established credibility, it helps open many doors, which are otherwise difficult to open. Of course, opening a door does not get one success, but it enables one to get access to people, who can look at their offerings more favourably and if it is worthwhile, even extend the support. Often, that makes a crucial difference.
It is not easy to find this combination of ‘money, mentors, and access to markets’ together under one roof. The International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (icreate) is a one-stop-shop to access money, mentors, and markets for aspiring entrepreneurs. It is an autonomous institution that identifies, nurtures, and mentors aspiring individuals/teams (with or without ideas) to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. More importantly, the process at icreate is designed to win an entrepreneurial team’s trust and confidence, to embark on a synergistic journey with a shared sense of value and direction with all parties pulling in the same direction, enhancing chances of success enabling one to go farther and reach there faster.
The 13-week intensive “Grooming” programme at icreate equips individuals with the right mindset, skillset, and toolset for their next-gen entrepreneurial journey. Its objective is to expose aspiring entrepreneurs to various elements of entrepreneurship like product development; marketing; accounts and finance; legal aspects, and talent management; from a startup perspective through academic sessions, activities, industry visits, entrepreneurial meets, brainstorming sessions, and access to domain experts. The Grooming programme helps an entrepreneur answer questions such as how to evaluate an idea; how to build value; the sensibility of finance – what price and for whom; how to build teams; what is the culture, ethos, and ethics; what is the market- price, positon, pitch and promotion; and much more.
Following the Grooming phase, in the next eight weeks, aspirants are expected to pick an idea that has a strong value proposition around which a viable and dependable business can be built, and workout enough details to submit a skeleton business plan and an incubation proposal. Such proposals are then evaluated by an independent panel for incubation at icreate. The incubation offering includes physical facilities, project funding (up to Rs. 15 lacs), sustenance allowance, mentoring, and networking. The model is based on a debt – equity – revenue-based commission structure.
Having successfully concluded five batches, icreate is now seeking its sixth batch of 25 capable and aspiring entrepreneurs to bet on. With 52 aspirants from India, the US, the UK , Finland, and Singapore over first four batches, 15 projects are currently incubated at icreate. Additionally, the ongoing current batch of the grooming programme has 10 aspirants. The sixth batch for “Grooming” commences in July 2016 for which the application deadline is 15 May 2016.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the FIRST STEP”
You can know more about our Grooming programme here.