What better place to host the TechSparks event in Chennai other than the IIT Madras Research Park incubation centre? In an auditorium packed with over 150 people that included startups, entrepreneurs, and aspiring entrepreneurs, Chennai TechSparks covered a range of topics.
From how employees can make a smooth transition into entrepreneurship to how to expand and find people, at the end of the day, everybody took back small learnings from every speaker. Here are some of the key takeaways from the Chennai TechSparks 2016:
As engineers you would believe that logic and data helps in making the right decisions, but sometimes that isn’t enough
Sridhar Venkatesh, Co-founder and VP, Products and Business Development, Indix, spoke from his experience of the company’s growth, when they saw that they didn’t have the same agility they had as a smaller team.
“Sometimes even after having a bigger and more focused team, growth doesn’t happen as anticipated, and it was then we decided to move to an API from an app,” says Sridhar.
Sridhar says that there are different factors that determine a startup’s success and growth, but these are rarely driven simply by engineering logic and thought. While the path to growth for each startup is different, it is best to use available data in the form of learning to your advantage.
Learn to say “no” and to call bullshit when needed
When Arvind Parthiban, Co-founder, Zarget ,started his company, he already had investor attention. Arvind says, “We got out seed image without even writing our first line of code.” However, when he moved from being an employee to an entrepreneur, Arvind realised that there needs to be a stronger and deeper realignment of thoughts.
Explaining this, he says:
“As startups, you don’t have the luxury that you had as an employee. You have to learn things and move fast. There is no option but to grow, be frugal, and even cut all the unnecessary bullshit. Nothing else other than your product and growth matters.”
Hire people with entrepreneurial spirit and passion
In a world of startup growth and focus on expansion, it is very important to build a team strong enough to manage and take on every challenge, believes Vinit Srivastava, Founder of DriversKart. Explaining the power of collaboration, Vinit says many a time you meet people who are working on the same problem as you are.
“There are times acquisition can be made even by smaller startups. Collaborate and build a team that works towards the same end goal. The results are likely to be much better.
Disruptive tech isn’t easy to come by
Every startup goes through different stages in its journey. Prabhakar Jayakumar, India Country Manager, DigitalOcean believes that every startup needs to prepare and focus for the next stage of the journey. He adds that you need to get your product ready and usable for the next stage.
“Building something unique and disruptive isn’t easy. It needs time, effort, and constant focus on innovation. So, at every stage, ask yourself what you want to build further on your product.”
A bad customer experience means you’ve lost your customer forever — Sahil Singh, Zendesk
When companies grow, they move from customer acquisition to customer retention. To ensure retention, it is important to ensure a seamless customer experience. The experience needs to make your customer the evangelist of your brand, believes Sahil Singh, Strategic Sales Lead, Zendesk India.
As we grow and add more people to the platforms and get more customers, it becomes important for startups to provide an experience that a customer uses to remember the brand positively. In a world of several options it becomes important to create an ecosystem that is strong. You need to have your customer think of you every time and that is possible only with a great customer experience.
Chennai has always been lauded as the manufacturing hub and home of engineering talent in the country.
Priya Mohan, Head of the IIT Madras Research Park believes that over the past few years, while there have been a significant number of manufacturing startups in their cell, technology players too are collaborating and building a stronger base in the city.
According to a report by NASSCOM, in late 2014 and early 2015, Chennai is believed to have contributed to six percent of the startup activity in the digital and software products side.
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.