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Here’s why startups should leverage data strategies to power their growth

In an insightful roundtable session, thought leaders from the startup ecosystem came together to discuss the impact of data strategies and how we can use analytics to power growth.

Here’s why startups should leverage data strategies to power their growth

Thursday October 13, 2022,

7 min Read

Rapid innovation has pushed high-growth-focused companies to optimise their strategies to improve RoI and achieve better business outcomes. These companies have looked towards adopting solutions to access real-time data and actionable insights to constantly adapt to changing consumer and market needs. Given the positive growth this approach has brought, adopting dynamic data strategies is the way forward for the startup ecosystem.

Dell Technologies, in collaboration with YourStory, hosted a roundtable to discuss how data strategies will impact the future of the startup ecosystem and examine how high-growth startups can leverage data analytics to power growth. A few thought leaders from the ecosystem, who have rich experience championing the use of data analytics to emerge successful in their industries, shared their insights and advice for companies looking to adopt data strategies.

Using data to improve business

For Credit Fair, a cutting-edge consumer lending startup, ensuring data is collected, stored and used correctly is very important, said Founder and CEO Aditya Damani. Thus, managing data and making quick decisions is critical for them as they use AI/ML models for all their operations and to fulfil their mission of providing fair finance to every Indian.

Airmeet strongly believes in the power of data, said Co-founder and CEO Lalit Mangal. He pitched the importance of quality first-party data largely generated from events. “I think it opens up tremendous opportunities to learn about our customers and geographies,” he said, adding that Airmeet uses data extensively in their business, especially the sales pipeline.

Suresh Rangarajan, Founder, Colive, believes that although data plays a very important role in all businesses, the real estate space has been lagging, which is what they have been tackling using a transparent system. “By providing a rental exchange… I think we are solving a huge problem that this country has,” he said. They have been adding as much data on the platform so customers can make an informed decision, he added.

Vivek Pandey, Co-founder and CTO of Ecozen Solutions, opined that data is very important for their company as it uses it at every stage of operation. Their products are powered by three key technology elements – motor controls, thermal storage, and IoT, all of which are run by data. “We have been able to optimise product design and reduce costs because we have leveraged data,” he said, adding that it also plays a role in preventive analytics, predictive analytics, and more.

Bhupendra Khanal, Founder & CEO, Himalayan Natives, highlighted that their rapid growth and success were due to optimising data during the pandemic. Himalayan Natives grew from one product to 84 products within six months, collaborated with online platforms and local stakeholders, and became one of the top three players in their category because of robust data solutions.

Why you should adopt a data strategy

“Most of your competitors are going to derive insights from data, so if you are not, then obviously you are deficient in your strategy,” said Sudiip K Goswami, Director & GM - South India and Startups, Dell Technologies.

He asks four questions to advise companies looking to draft a workable data management strategy. One, where do you put the data for analysis and action? Two, how long do you keep the data? Third, how do you use that data and extract it? Four, how do you keep your data secure? “As long as you think about these four things… two years down the line when you would have scaled 3x, 5x, [or] 10x, that is what I would call your data management strategy,” he added.

Tips to adopt the right data strategy

Lalit opined that the key lies in identifying the parameters and questions the company wants to answer using data. For Airmeet, he said, there were several primary drivers, such as revenue forecast, cost of acquisition, and customer engagement, and added that they invested in durable differentiation, which relies heavily on data.

Airmeet uses state–of-the-art technology to ensure security and privacy – one of the tenets of their data strategy – to not only focus on their internal processes but also to serve several Fortune 500 companies, Lalit said.

Aditya said alternative data is important for Credit Fair to identify how they can better serve underserved populations in the lending sector. Their data-driven decision-making culture ensures that they collect different data points and perspectives to give them an edge over their competitors, periodically review data, and use it to deliver a better customer experience, he added.

Predictive analytics use cases

Ecozen uses predictive analytics on a minute-to-minute basis, said Vivek. Recounting his first experience with a customer, he highlighted that their strategy originated from a predictive analytics standpoint to minimise the time taken to solve an issue. “This has been a driving force which influences our product design and customer service greatly,” he said, adding that they have algorithms running on the server to track the health of their systems so one can prevent downtime and save money even in a mishap.

Suresh focused on the criticality of human participation in data analytics. In his opinion, one cannot ignore the person setting up the algorithms because the required data crunching won’t happen nor create value even with the right data. Colive uses predictive analysis to create use cases where they can predict cash flows by examining data to understand the nature of the tenant and assign them a particular score, ultimately helping them get a better deal from the owner.

Real-time personalisation preparation

Bhupendra advised against starting analytics early without enough data. At Himalayan Natives, he said, they focused on collecting and analysing publicly available competitor data from online sources to build internal data before beginning analysis.

For D2C companies to prepare for personalisation at scale, he suggested that firstly, they need to implement data practice right from the start to collect data and then they must know what they want and how they want to position themselves.

Data protection and privacy

Sudiip believes that companies should talk about what they are doing with their data and the measures they are taking to protect it from a breach. Companies must adopt widely used, stable data policies and identify what step they are currently in, in their implementation, which helps build trust and credibility among customers, he said.

“Like any relationship… trust builds up only when you talk about what you’re doing about it,” he said, adding that when companies assure others that they are taking steps to ensure that data is protected, customers will relate to them a lot more.

Advice for startups

Lalit emphasised the importance of starting a data practice early to collect data and understand what is working and what isn’t. Aditya said that startups must invest in people, provide them with data visualisation tools, and encourage them to make data-driven decisions.

For Vivek, proactively chalking out how important data is for your business, identifying data needs, and standardising data sets are very important. “The rate at which startups are planning to grow today… it becomes very important very early on that you transition to a very professional environment,” he added.

Suresh emphasised the importance of capturing data in the chosen format and storing it correctly. One needs to lay their foundation right, he said, for everyone in the company to follow.

Speaking from personal experience, Bhupendra believes that investment in data is crucial, along with adequate legal and finance investments. Sudiip agreed with Lalit about starting a data practice and added that engaging a consultant or another third party to plan the roadmap for the future would be the best step forward.

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