Tips for wannabe entrepreneursVishnu Vardhan Chikoti
Over the last few months, I have met multiple entrepreneurs in Hyderabad and below are few thoughts that they have shared with me. Every meet added more clarity and I am sharing them here so it helps others like me.
• Any product idea is good, as long as it is executed and marketed well.
• Identify and solve a "real" problem for your target customers and money will follow.
• Don’t be busy expanding horizontally without getting into the depth of each area/vertical.
• As techie turned product owners, it’s our tendency to keep thinking of new features. So don’t forget that MVP means minimum viable product. Minimum means MINIMUM period. Keep the fancy, non-unique, can-wait features for a future release.
• The first cut of the product need not be super fast, highly secure and technically efficient, be willing to re-factor later and focus on "testing the waters" early. However in case of products where UI is important, do take care of basics of UX/UI Design/IxD/IA and keep things like getting your own icons, illustrations, etc for future.
• Give yourself a fair chance, it’s YOU who has to take the initiative.
Do not start on the actual implementation until you have spoken to some of the potential customers and validated your idea. This is another common mistake techies do, i.e., jump into implementation straight away. And would be good to show them some static sample screens if its a product with a web interface.
• Startup founders should agree on the commercials and partnership upfront. Unfortunately, there are enough people who have run into trouble by not doing this and no one seems to be still understanding this problem unless they face it themselves in a hard way.
• Understand how the equity system works. Don’t become a minority in the board in early stages. When you become a minority, you are taking a risk of being kicked out by the majority. Your equity won't go anywhere but you will no longer be part of the board or may be the company itself
• For those in India, understand the difference between Authorised Capital and Paid up capital. Do your homework and learn about convertible bonds, term sheets, etc before trying for funding.
• Always carry a “Non Disclosure Agreement” for others to sign when you talk about your idea to them. Whether they sign and fail to adhere to it is secondary.
• Have a financial target goal for your idea before you go to potential investors. Investors would be willing to listen to the NUMBERs when you talk about what you want to achieve with the product. Everything else – your passions, the story of how the product evolved, etc are secondary.
• Don’t have a “it’s my baby” thought process with your product. Be ready to let it go when it needs to – either when its not working out or it worked out to an extent that you can no longer manage by yourself.
• The 3 M’s of the business are Money, Mind and Muscle. You always have the risk of being competed or punched or kicked out by those who have money and/or muscle.
• Working somewhere for 8 hours as part of the day job and trying out your idea in a time post that needs a lot of focus. Unfortunately, lot of ideas die off as time cannot be allocated to work on the idea either due to stretch at the day job or for other personal responsibilities. As an after effect, focus is lost and deadlines start slipping, priorities might change or the idea may become obselete due to external factors, eg, market changes.
• Go an extra-mile where needed, create role models and set a good trend. For e.g., Airbnb team in early days observed low quality of photographs in the listings and took photographs themselves in New York.
If you know of other points, especially those you have learnt in your entrepreneurial journey, please let us know.