[TechSparks 2020] Saurabh Jain of Paytm reveals a ‘Startup Canvas’ - key factors to keep in mind while building a startup

By Anju Ann Mathew|29th Oct 2020
Speaking at a masterclass on day one of TechSparks 2020, Saurabh Jain, Vice-President of Paytm, explains how to build a startup and the prerequisites for an investment.
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According to American investor L John Doerr, an early investor in Google, “An entrepreneur is somebody who can do more than what is thought possible for less than what is thought possible.”


Carrying forward that thought, Saurabh Jain, Vice-President, Paytm, and head of Paytm Build for India, began his masterclass on ‘Building a tech startup in India – understanding challenges and opportunities from start to scale’ at the 11th edition of YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks 2020.


An entrepreneur with over 15 years’ experience, Saurabh is also the Founder of Fun2Do Labs Open Education Project.


Alluding to Mahatma Gandhi’s call for Swaraj, Saurabh believes this aspect will take shape once Indian entrepreneurs start looking at solving Indian problems.

“They should empathise with the problems of the common man, and I believe Paytm is solving one of those problems. Our aim is to provide mobile banking to 500 million Indians and we are working towards this goal,” he said.
Saurabh Jain

A screen grab from the masterclass by Saurabh Jain at TechSparks 2020

As part of Paytm’s ‘Build for India’, Saurabh lists the must-dos and must-haves of entrepreneurship. He said, “Entrepreneurship is not just about technical innovation, but about process innovation that delights a customer.”


Referring to the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, in which a startup is described as ‘an organisation which builds a product or a service under uncertainty’, Saurabh said, “At Paytm, we are always developing new products, with a certain level of uncertainty. So no matter what the size of the organisation, it can still be a startup as long as it is still growing.”

Startups and their goals

According to Saurabh, there are three types of startups – winner-takes-all, lifestyle, and social startups.


“Winner-takes-all startups are those that want to dominate in their own category. For example, Uber dominates its industry on a worldwide scale,” said Saurabh, adding that most of the funded startups fall into this category.


Lifestyle startups, on the other hand, focus less on growth and more on having a good lifestyle and work-life balance. And social startups are those with a not-for-profit business, making just enough to sustain and make a difference.

“If you have a dream of scaling your startup to become a winner-takes-all, you will have to build a portfolio of products, culture, and Initial Public Offering (IPO),” said Saurabh, adding, “These three dreams are directly linked to these focus areas - product, people, and purchasing power. You can call it the three Ps of a startup.”.”
Startup canvas

A snippet of the 'Startup Canvas' from the session

Detailing the three phases of a startup – Search, Build, and Scale, he said that startups are like icebergs, where you cannot see the 90 percent that remains below water. A startup only becomes visible once it gets into its scaling phase. But before scaling, there needs to be searching and building in order to obtain funding for your startup, Saurabh added.


Saurabh revealed a ‘Startup Canvas’ that delves into the key factors that go hand-in-hand while running a startup. He then spoke about the various aspects of this canvas.

Search, build, and scale

According to him, in the search stage, there needs to be a product solution fit with founders who can get over their differences and remain connected by their united goal, the startup should be bootstrapped, or they should be supported by an incubator programme.


“When it comes to the build stage, especially in the current COVID-19 situation, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your job for a startup. Instead, you can plan for the next 12-15 months,” said Saurabh.


It is also good to start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in the build stage. This can help in finding a suitable product-market-fit in the initial phase, and also create demand for the product.


Once a core team is set, the founders need to start thinking of how to manage expenses around human resources, physical offices, SaaS services, etc., and consider seeking an investment.

“This is when you have to reach out to angel investors with a ready elevator pitch and pitch deck detailing their product and what problem it solves. Your MVP and the product-market-fit plays a key role here,” said Saurabh.

When it comes to scaling up, the startup needs to focus on growing and expanding. That’s when you need to find a ‘growth-profit-fit’, with one of the ‘three engines of growth’ (as discussed in The Lean Startup) – sticky engine (sticking to service on appreciation of it), viral engine (word of mouth, building virality), and paid engine (through advertisements, commissions, etc).


“You can choose either one or use all of them, based on the requirements, like we follow at Paytm,” said Saurabh.


The founders can then focus on building an organised corporation and go on to get their funding. “You can approach a venture capitalist with the elevator pitch and pitch deck once you have the product-market fit, which is a key aspect in the process.”

Concluding his session, Saurabh said, “Good startup founders are good storytellers. When you take the example of any successful politician or agency, you will see they have a good story. Unless you have a good story, you won’t be able to pique any interests.”


For more information on TechSparks 2020, check out our TechSparks 2020 website. Sign up here to join the event.  


TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.  

: Techsparks 2020

Edited by Megha Reddy

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