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Startup India - Untenable or Sustainable!

Startup India - Untenable or Sustainable!

Friday March 11, 2016 , 4 min Read

The ‘Startup India’ buzz is adding freshness all around, but are startups actually buzzing in India?

Fancy ideas, disrupting stories, mind-blowing execution, but what will this lead to? Is there a business plan underneath or its just fluff to try out what you think is right. But the one big thing that the Indian startup industry lacks is matured thinking and planning ahead.



Let’s look at the ideal stages in a startup’s journey from both an insider and an outsider’s lens.

Many Indian startups mainly focus on increasing their customer base and rarely get to see the third stage. It is a sad fact that bigger picture with long-term plan is not created by anyone and business viability is ignored for a long time.

Most of generation X and Y are living in the present, which is good in a way that you are all ears for problems and want to sweat for the right solution; but before the solution gets validated, there goes the funding, marketing, etc. Still, in this maddening rush, some players, like Car Dekho, Oyo Rooms, have done it wonderfully.

We all hear long discussions on unit economics (typically used to determine whether a business will be successful by measuring the economics involved per unit. This is a critical part of business plan), but is there anyone actually on the ground working on it? Due to lack of such long-term vision, startups fail to provide sustainable solutions to problems. It is like raising customer expectations and then letting it fade slowly because customer delight was only a means to the end. So what’s going wrong here?

Let us look at it the ideation way (typically the way in which ideas are validated for the possibility of building a business out of it):

  1. Is the depth in problem space? This is true without a hint of doubt as here are so many problems in India to be solved and all ideas have merit. But as a founder you should be cautious of the market you are entering into, without being swayed away by the fancy market numbers and valuations around. Be realistic in your approach.
  2. Is the solution right? If the product looks right at the discovery step then it is assumed to be the best as hardly any Indian founders are patient players, who are playing maturely at it thinking of making it strong to last for long. Both solution and its placement should be continuously worked on. There are companies, like Amazon and Google, that have been there and did it by carefully taking steps; whenever required they have unlearnt things also as it’s not a sprint these players are thinking of playing. One can take away tons of learnings, even cricket has many such lessons.
  3. Is the money not enough? If you answered yes to it then you are totally off the VC circle and startup world. The money is so very much but sadly there is no planner.
  4. Is there a business plan underneath? A lot of founders get busy in choosing which hat to wear and miss out critical timelines to think about business plan. This is the leaking hole in the bucket. Founders will go to any extend to build customer traction without thinking about the means of revenue generation. Isn’t everything linked to revenue at the end when it’s a business unless it is pursued just as a passion? Is there anyone thinking on those lines – step by step?
  5. Is there enough mentorship available? It’s saddening to see that what Indian founders need the most is mentorship, which they rarely get or it can be debated that they neglect a lot of what they get as they are in the awe of self-proclaimed success. It’s time to get reality check done. A serious and mature VC can do it, only if founders are not able to take a call. Why are we not seeing involved VCs on Indian boards?

When any or all of the above are compromised, we see things like VC Burn, lay-offs, bankruptcy, etc.

Let’s wait and see when Indian founders will open their eyes to the real world. That’s when we will start to see brightening results from startup India fringy.