1. Why did you start up?
2. What does your startup give you in return?
3. How many employees do you have (and given jobs to)?
4. How many lives have you impacted with your startup (your consumers/clients)?
5. How many have you inspired to turn entrepreneurs?
I want you to answer these questions in two situations - once when you were still in your early days, too busy building the product and living your dream day and night and then once now, where you've raised multiple funding rounds or have steered the business towards growth.
These answers might not serve as the benchmark metrics for scaling up a startup, but it surely will give you an idea of where are you heading and how much have you diverted from your roots (this is different from pivoting).
According to recent reports, Flipkart and Zomato's valuations have been slashed down significantly. While it can be debated (in fact, will be debated), I would urge all of you to pause a moment and think about the answers to the above 5 questions for both Flipkart and Zomato. In fact, why only for these, please go ahead and do it for as many startups as you know.
On one hand, as impulsive human beings we have celebrated our ecosystem's 1st billion dollar funding, took pride when our startups acquired firms in other countries and competed with global giants, but on other hand, we have been as quick to ridicule the disasters when their servers couldn't handle the mad rush of an online sale or when a tough letter was written to their sales team.
We have often treated our heroes (let's not yet conclude that entrepreneurs have got that status) like thi,s so today when this is happening to startups in India we shouldn't be surprised, right? Remember what happened to Dhoni (rather his house) when India lost to Bangladesh in 2007? The same guy who gave India her second World Cup just four years later.
There are two kinds of truths. The one that we accept and the other one. But in any case, we should try to find the truth, our own truth. Having seen many of the startups struggle, succeed and even fall from the heights achieved by steroid shots of funding, I'll say - let's give credit where it's due.
We must not forget that today if our parents know about startups, if no one questions that fresh graduate who's joining a startup, if the government is launching Start Up India Stand Up India, if we're accepting and embracing failure and if thousands (if not millions) can dream without fear - a lot of this can be attributed to the unicorns and evangelists of Indian startup ecosystem.