startup funding

Angels too conspire to help you achieve

If I am overwhelmed by famous author Paulo Coelho, it sure is not my mistake. It’s the alchemist in literal terms that each entrepreneur in you that has fascinated me.

If you have commitment to your goal, success comes despite upheavals at every curve you negotiate, every crest you scale and every trough you slide into.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Here are the 11 tips that let you be there and do that.

1. Impress the angel with your pitch not only to seek funding, but even to entice him to participate in the lifecycle of the product/service. If your angel investor doesn’t have the domain knowledge in your business, keep him abreast of what you are doing at regular intervals. A responsible investment and confidence in a product/service from the angel investor with domain knowledge in the realm of your company, treat that as godsend.

2. Consider working from home (WFH) — coronavirus taught us this – instead of hiring an opulent office space. Do your meetings at a free public place, or even a press club in your city. The hall/room comes at a very economic price in such places in any Indian city. Or look around for a plug ‘n’ play free spaces or cultural centres that provide the necessary offbeat ambience and also the much-needed privacy. Mind you, Facebook was born in a dorm.

3. Publicity is important. Word of mouth is the best way to reach out to your target audience.  For selling your story through a conventional mode, engage a small PR agency – not the top-notch brander – to do the work for a paltry sum. You must know how your story must be received by your audience. Write your headline and do multiple iterations until you and your team are convinced and then pitch the story. It sells.

4. Keep an eye on UI/UX. You become popular on the strength of your product/service, its features and deliverables, usability, and UI/UX. So, please focus on this. It’s users who judge your product/service by their experience. Alexa or Echo Dot, or Tide in case of washing powder, or Yamaha in case of sound bars have all spoken aloud by themselves just because of their excellent UI and UX.

5. Hold your purse strings tight. Keep your car functional, but not luxurious. Arrest the amount of soaring EMI. Your dream “E-class” or even a Maserati (meaning a holy cow) would walk into its stable, once you achieve a position to create one. You need not be a miser, but never lose sight of extravagance.

6. Hire an investment banker. Please do a lot of research and ask the experienced or discuss with your trusted partners and zero in on investment bankers who can adjudge the strength of your product/ service. That’s the first litmus test for the funding rounds and product continuity and scalability. The investment banker can be one of the resource persons to put you as the target company for funding by the cliched Sequoias, Tiger Globals, Omidyars, and the large corporates like Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Apple or Facebook.

7. Make the product for use first in your city, then expand to your State/province and eventually cover your county. “Think Global” is not your cup of tea, to begin with. This helps you get inbound investment from the shores of the Atlantic or Arabia or the Islands of Pacific. You can only sail, if not fly, across the Atlantic but not swim across from the Port of Lisbon to San Salvador.

8. Define the target audience. You are not the Sun to have a universal audience. Anybody and everybody cannot be your target audience. Just pore over a newspaper. It has an array of sections like politics, general news, business, culture, sport, etc. Each section has a target audience of its own. Same way, your product/service must have a broad target group (TG).

9. Go-to-market is a well-laid-out strategy, not a gamble. Test the waters thoroughly, before going to market. Talk to as many in the TG as possible as to what they want. This gives you a heads-up on how to go about your product/service. A grandfather doesn’t need a cradle, nor does a toddler a pair of bifocal spectacles. This approach helps you penetrate into the market, rather than you ending up scraping the surface.

10. Repose trust in colleagues. They are the horses of your chariot. A hungry horse cannot run to win the race. Make sure all of them are sufficiently fed (with money). A promise of giving them equity or ESOPs makes material sense only when you are working and making them work to add value to your product/service. If employees are the only tangible assets of your enterprise, always value them. Else, you will be left with obsolete CPUs and keyboards and unclickable mouses (or mice jumping on the cubicles). Your once-fascinating degree from an IIM-A or B (in in India) or a Harvard MBA or a Stanford or Carnegie Mellon PGP adds glitter to your enterprise, only if you respect the work of your colleagues. 

11. Pay all the compliances/government taxes like Provident Fund, Professional Tax, Employees State Insurance (in Indian context), and keep a fixed pay day, ideally the last working day of the month. Please follow the labour laws that govern your industry. Else, when the long arm of the law catches up, it engulfs you like an octopus and the most loyal employee would be the first one to testify before law against you. So, please never neglect it.

Gone are the days when your personal life is just personal to you in the age of social media. If you are found on a dating app, anybody can tarnish your image and reputation, impacting your business, however great your product/service could be. So, please play it safe.

Now, sell your story to the best suitor among investors. Sail with the investor.

Guest authored by
A Saye Sekhar

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