iStart Inspire’s second round of startup workshops goes to Bikaner, with fundraising and growth journey learnings on the agenda
Founders and aspirational entrepreneurs learned from startup ecosystem experts at the second edition of the iStart Inspire Workshops.
iStart Rajasthan and YourStory hosted the second edition of the iStart Inspire Workshops at iStart Nest Bikaner on May 6, 2023, with a number of startup founders and university students in attendance, to help them learn about the startup journey, the challenges they could expect to encounter, and how to overcome them.
The day’s proceedings kicked off with a quick introduction about the iStart Inspire campaign, a collaborative effort between iStart Rajasthan and YourStory to engage with and enrich the state’s startup ecosystem.
This was followed by the first session of the morning on ‘Raising funds at the right time, in the right way’ with Aparna Pittie - Principal of Investments, Artha India Ventures, who took the audience through the various avenues available to entrepreneurs for raising funds, as well as the factors and challenges they need to keep in mind while doing so.
Elaborating on the four main focus areas for investors, Aparna said founders needed to fully understand: what problem their startup is trying to solve; how it would do so while being profitable; whether it is unique; and how it leverages technology to scale business. She added that founders also needed to research the people they were approaching for investments: “Choose investors that don’t just put money into your startup but go beyond that — someone who will help you bring on more customers and talent, help negotiate with vendors, and even introduce you to other investors for your future capital needs.”
Aparna also spoke about the need for founders to know when not to raise funds, such as when they haven’t achieved a promised milestone, or if they don’t have a proper breakdown of what they would use the funds for, adding that during market or economic slowdowns founders should try and wait them out as this would help them get a better valuation for their company when raising funds later.
Following up after Aparna was Rohan Raj Barua - Co-founder,, who spoke on the topic ‘Growing pains and gains: Learnings from the growth journey’, a broader-level session about the startup growth journey, the various stages in the startup lifecycle, and how to navigate the various hurdles that may come in their way.
Adding onto Aparna’s advice on fundraising, Rohan said that businesses that fully understood the market they’re entering into were the ones that get backing, as it is “important to be insightful and to understand what your business is telling you”.
Rohan said that founders also sometimes needed to make tough financial decisions that may not make sense in the moment but would be beneficial in the long run. “For example, our decision to go with acoworking space rather than get our own office. We believed that through the people we would meet there, we would be reaping the benefits of the networking options available to us later,” Rohan said, sharing that the company’s Chief Product Officer, their legal team, and even their first customers came through their conversations with people at the coworking space.
On dealing with the lows and burnout, Rohan said that it was very common with startups and founders, and that it helps to have priorities set in place, while also learning to switch off from work every now and then to focus on yourself. “Don’t give up. It’s very normal to face a lot of speed bumps on your journey. Focus on creating relationships with people whether it’s your customers, investors, suppliers… whoever it might be. If you do that, you can go a very long way,” shared.
The day’s sessions ended with Aparna and Rohan networking with the founders and students personally as well. Saakshi Sharma, Founder,— edtech platform with a focus on law — said that the sessions were not just helpful but also relatable: “I learned a lot of what to include in a business portfolio, such as the problem statement, your solution for it, what makes you different, and so on. In the second [Rohan’s] session he spoke about a lot of things we could relate with, for example going through burnout.”
Gyan Narayan Jha, a student-cum-entrepreneur from RNB Global University added that sessions such as these from iStart Rajasthan helped him and other founders learn what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. “The day’s sessions were really motivating, Aparna’s session was especially interesting with her metaphors. Rohan’s session was also great, the way he shared his life story — when one entrepreneur hears another entrepreneur’s journey and success stories, it feels good and inspirational,” he said.