At the TiE Bangalore meetup, where several common learnings were shared, many beliefs of startup founders turned out to be either untrue or exaggerated.
A dozen shortlisted startups participated in the ‘The First 6 Months’ meetup organised by TiE Bangalore for early insights from an audience of seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals. You can find details of the startups and some of the crowdsourced feedback from this link.
This post, however, is more about some common learnings shared which we as startup entrepreneurs could relate to as well. Here are some early beliefs of startup founders that turned out to be either untrue or exaggerated.
Myth 1: funding equals success
There’s a lot of buzz when startups receive funding or when they get acquired. While these may be the milestones in a startup’s journey and help it in terms of brand visibility, they do not guarantee increased revenues or the adoption of its products.
In addition, startups may want the focus to be more on their products and not on the disproportionate attention and time spent on the funding process.
There could also be another trap — bootstrapped founders may start to focus more on metrics that potential investors want to hear, rather than on product or customer acquisition strategies. If the web app of a startup generates maximum interest and engagement from users, there’s no need to spend time and money on building a native mobile app, as suggested by some investors. After all, validation from customers is what ensures long-term success.
Myth 2: all mentoring is good
At a recent event held at the Axilor Transit space, the crowdsourced takeaways included panellists sharing how part-time mentoring can be dangerous. For instance, Ravi Gururaj (QikPod, TiE, NASSCOM) felt there were many armchair mentors and too much advice could confuse founders into making wrong decisions. This was seconded by another panellist at the event, Meena Ganesh (Portea, GrowthStory), who went on to say that ‘too many people are mentoring without them being mentored on how to mentor’.
The bottom line is, it may not be worth engaging mentors who are either too busy or not interested in getting involved with one’s product and company.
Myth 3: events don’t add value
This may be a popular belief, especially in Bengaluru. In the startup world, the kind of advice one receives can include both extremes — people who tell you not to attend any event and those who suggest you attend each and every event.
Having attended a host of events over the past decade in various capacities (as a co-organiser, blogger, panellist, exhibitor, etc), I’d say that it’s important to do one’s homework before attending events.
Events can only add value if one is able to get something out of them — new learnings, product validation, useful connections (potential customers, talents), or visibility among relevant stakeholders. Recently, we have been probing deeper into events to understand the kind of value different stakeholders can derive from them. For instance, we have found that organisers are becoming increasingly aware of the expectations from an event; some are even engaging with potential attendees many days prior to an event.
Bringing it all together
The first six months (and the following months as well) can be stressful, especially if the founders are used to a preset work environment and are unable to cope with the everyday challenges of running a startup. In the early days, one will be surrounded by talks around funding, a ton of advice, and several startup meetups — all of which could play a role in how you move forward. While it helps in gathering varied perspectives, being able to ‘Be Yourself’ and ‘Do What You Love’ — as the mottos of some coworking space state — may help you not just survive but also enjoy what would be a roller-coaster ride.