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My two cents for startups seeking success in the investment world

Anjli Jain
posted on 17th December 2018
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Being a VC, I have seen many startups building every day, and more than that I have seen them getting lost in the sea of oblivion. Every entrepreneur has a lot of questions while beginning their startup journey and many have been constantly throwing one or the other question at me every now and then. However, I doubt if those questions are valid enough to help them see success in their entrepreneurial journey.

How can we grow our business? How can we raise funds? How can we get in touch with the right people/employees? How to make investors happy with our pitch? These questions make me wonder if they really want to know how to get some real investments or are they just curious about shallow knowledge. And, I am sure many investors will second this.

1) Ask the right questions

This is not at all a rant around managing budding entrepreneurs, this is just to make them count the flaws in the questions so that they can work on them timely and get some real investment rounds going on. Half of the answer must be reflected in your question itself, which clearly indicates your understanding about your own project and just to say, investors like that.

Every question that you want to ask must be tied to a milestone that you aim for and it must appear actionable at the same time. Generic questions tend to get generic answers and that is not what you want as that won’t help you land anywhere.

None of them asks questions like — How to know who our ideal customers are? or How to serve them with a delightful experience to ensure they come again and again for our product/service? This leads to a series of questions I want to discuss with you all focusing on customer support.

2) They say it true - Customer service is an art!

Regretfully enough, this art of customer service is hardly addressed by our startup gurus out there, as maybe answering in a chat box is not their thing. They would rather get indulged in something fancy like going to events and getting clicked by others.

Sometimes, the smallest thing that you do for your customers on a daily basis can help you with reward that are many times over. For many new ventures, customer care was, and still is an opportunity to grow massively.

Among numerous companies who have built big empires always had impeccable focus on their customer support and customer satisfaction. If your customers are happy with you, there is no need to invest massively in marketing or customer acquisition as ‘word of mouth’ can do wonders. Look at the names like GroveHQ, who have strived to keep the communication channel to be the most prioritised one always. Be it through inviting customers to be a part of Twitter discussions or Friday Q&A sessions, they have always ensured to involve customers at its best.

Alex Turnbull, the founder of Groove himself believes in answering every question and he never lets any email turned down. Just to tell you, he is the owner of a company that generates $10 million every year.

3) Who should ‘customer support’ service?

Customer support enables you to walk in your customer’s shoes. Different people can have different responsibilities and they can serve different kinds of problems as well. Thus, it would be advantageous to ensure that every person, especially in an early startup, invest time in helping customers with their problems.

4) Early-stage startups - How do you think about providing customer support?

No one size fits all! What is excellent for you might be okay for someone else. However, what’s common is that great customer support always directs towards going an extra mile to help the customers when they really need you. Additionally, early startups can leverage it the most by staying more focused towards customer satisfaction due to a limited number.

5) Should you automate customer support service?

You can, however, the question is if you should! And, I think you should use both. Just because you can do it automatically, it clearly doesn’t mean you must do it. Manual touch is also important, and let’s not lose the human touch by incorporating automation at all times.

Hence, the bottom line is - ask when you don’t know anything and help when you excel at something. Ask questions that can help you instead of asking just for the sake of it. Investors are hard to reach at times, however, when startups are aware of the strategies and cognizant of the nitty-gritty of the market expectation, they are hard to ignore. Alongside, to ensure that you are continuously stepping up the ladder of growth, ensure that you are keeping your customers happy and satisfied. Word of mouth is strong enough to take you towards success and recognition. Is your CS game on?

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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Anjli Jain
Anjli Jain is a Managing Partner at EVC Ventures, a $50 million Chicago-based Venture Capital fund and the Founder & Chairman of Campus Consortium, a global consortium of 2000+ colleges and universities. In 2011, Anjli was a recipient of the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club's Northeast Ohio Top 25 Under 35 Movers & Shaker Award. She has also been recognized among the top women Venture Capitalists by WomenVC. As a female tech entrepreneur, investor and social activist, her goal has always been to inspire and support entrepreneurs who are interested in revolutionizing the way the world learns.

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