It's a Tuesday afternoon and yet, over 100 startups, founders and aspiring entrepreneurs gathered at T-Hub Hyderabad, at the IIIT Campus at Gachibowli.
It was clear, by the quality of conversations, why T-Hub is the nerve centre of the Hyderabad and Telengana startup ecosystem.
From talks on what startups should do to get the right product-market fit, funding, and growth, to discussions on which cities to look at next, the flow of conversation showed an ecosystem that was exposed to mentorship and guidance.
Explaining how each city is different, Jasminder Singh Gulati, Founder and CEO of NowFloats, says he chose Hyderabad because as city as it is accepting, has a the right blend of people and technology.
A power packed event of experience sharing, talks on the perils of growth and the importance of customer retention over customer acquisition, marked this year's Hyderabad TechSparks conversations.
Being an ecosystem that is evolved, and has a strong support system of mentors, accelerators, incubators and infrastructure, the talks there were focused on what startups can do to improve their game plan.
Here are the key lessons that startups took away from the event:
If you thought starting up was difficult, the growth stage is worse
Speaking about how each stage of a startup is different and has its own perils, Jasminder said, “The tricks and hacks that were used to bring in the first 300 customers do not bring in the next 3,000. As you grow, visibility grows and the focus of the business needs to shift.”
Turn your customers into evangelists- It's your best marketing strategy
As businesses grow, it becomes imperative for startups to start focusing on customer retention. Sahil Singh, Strategic Sales Lead, Zendesk India, said that customer retention is possible only when the customer is truly happy and satisfied by the experience.
A startup that ensures a customer gets a great experience from the people and the product, has got a customer for life.
Investors aren't demigods. They are normal people like you and me
As startups seek investments, Digbijoy Shukla, Startup Ecosystem Evangelist for Amazon Internet Services Pvt LTD, said that it is important that startups understand that pitching to investors is equivalent to the idea of pitching to family or friends.
He said it is important to clearly communicate what your product does and how it provides a solution to a customer’s problems in clear layman's terms.
Move away from micro management as you start to grow
There is no one in this planet who knows everything. Founders in the initial days are known to get their hands dirty and do everything on their own. But Prabhakar Jayakumar, India Country Manager, Digital Ocean said that as you grow, your company most importantly needs you to focus on what you are good at and hire people who are good at their job to manage the rest.
Citing an example he said, if you don't know anything about SEO, it is best to hire someone who is an expert. While you can learn about SEO, you cannot be an expert. Leave jobs to the experts, learn to trust people and get work done.
Every user on the internet is not your customer or your user
Whether you are launching a new product or are starting for something new, be very clear of who the user is. Ramesh Loganathan, VP Products and Centre Head, Progress Software- Hyderabad Labs, a mentor and advisor, in the Hyderabad startup ecosystem, believes it is important to address a problem with your product. He adds that it is important to know who is most likely to look for a solution to that problem, which your product can solve. He explains:
Demonstrate to your customer the usefulness of your product.
There always is a new kid on the block. But stick to the right tool for your platform
As engineers, it's easy to try every new software and product that launches. But it is important to focus on the product you are building, the idea you had, and choose the right tool accordingly. Arun Chinnachamy, VP Engineering, MySmartPrice believes that by sticking to the right tool, you bring in stability and thereby, create a strong product.
At the end of the evening, Karthik Venkat, Founder and CEO, Mydreamstore, concluded by saying that, while there is a focus on growth, investment and the product, it is also important for startups to focus on unit economics from day one. He said:
Growth stages are very tricky, and the solid foundation that helps you grow is healthy unit economics. Markets change and you need to be able to sustain yourself with or without funding.
Book your spot for TechSparks Grand Finale, 30 Sep-Oct 1, Taj Vivanta, Bengaluru here!
A big shoutout to all our sponsors - Zendesk, Axis Bank, Sequoia Capital India Advisors , Digital Ocean, Microsoft, AWS, Akamai, Target, Verisign, Kerala Startup Mission, Brand Launch Centre, Tork and Blink.