Monday, 1 June 2015

Startup? Can You Figure Out If You Need An ‘Accelerator’ Or An ‘Incubator’?

Considering that the entrepreneur wave is at an all-time high the world over, the ecosystem too has been responding positively to keep up the tempo and give the rising trend a further boost. The fact remains that a majority of startups that are launched fail to survive past the crucial first year and the ‘great idea’ often dies with it. To better their chances of succeeding in the long run, they need handholding at various levels. They require mentorship and understanding of the business which can help them scale up. And to get the necessary support, they now haveangel networks, mentors/advisors and accelerators/incubators to count on.
Accelerators and incubators offer mentorship, capital, seed funding, tech, infrastructural support and everything else they need to build a strong and lasting foundation.  Though both accelerators and incubators serve as enablers for the startup ecosystem, it is important to understand how they differ from each other, so you know which way to go when you reach out for the necessary support.
A business incubator mentors and fosters a company completely in its initial stage by offering office space, business skill training, professional expertise and financial help; essentially offering the necessary advice and infrastructure for the business to stand on its own.
On the other hand, an accelerator plays a pivotal role post incubation and pre-VC funding to enable the startups to build scalability and healthy business metrics. Just like guiding a teenager is the most trying period for any parent, similarly, this stage is very crucial as most new ventures get stuck in the trenches of day-to-day operations and the need for guidance is far from over. In the midst of all the hustle-bustle, drawing up long term strategic plans (that are extremely critical to give a clear direction to the business), takes a backseat. Here’s where an accelerator comes into the picture. Its pursuit is to grow the size and value of a company as fast as possible, and prepare it for the initial round of funding.
Apart from this, the amount of time a company spends in an incubation program can vary widely, depending on a number of factors, but the period is generally longer as compared to an accelerator program, which typically ranges from a few months to a maximum of 1 year. So, while incubators essentially jump start your business and then kick you out of the nest; accelerator programs are more intensive and aim for the startup to raise venture capital fund at the end of the program and therefore, entrepreneurs who adopt this program for their company should understand that it will demand aggressiveness not only from them but also from their teams.
Moreover, some of the accelerators offer seed funding to the startups that come to them for the ‘run for investment program’ and also take a stake in the company. An incubator normally doesn’t offer any funding or take any stake in the company, but offers more of mentorship and shared resources (common office space and other basic infrastructure for startups etc.), without which taking the ‘entrepreneurship plunge’ can seem intimidating. Since most of the accelerators have a stake in the company, they do all-that-it- takes to ensure that the startups they are mentoring are successful, and just like the name suggests, they are able to accelerate the pace of growth and readiness for Series A funding for their startups.  In fact, a good accelerator would handhold a startup from start to exit.
Yet another differentiator is the fact that incubators have much smaller mentor networks as compared to an accelerator network where mentorship could be coming from more than 100 entrepreneurs who are affiliated with the accelerator. Most of them are successful CEO's or investors who are looking to fund the ‘next big idea/company’ or simply to help the local start-up community. They offer expertise in all areas related to a business – marketing, public relations, legal, strategy-making, engineering, accounting, operations and what not – everything that one needs to take the business to the next level.
The advice that one gets from the accelerator community is not philosophical but straight and clear ‘actionable talks’, because everyone there is interested to see the startup succeeding fast, very fast. This community works extensively on building a solid revenue stream for the company because that’s how they can prepare the startup to raise funds. Today investors in India are not just looking for a million-dollar idea or a power point presentation. Rather, they are interested in investing in companies that have already productized their ideas and have a revenue stream, i.e., they are looking for ‘real’ traction.
Reality checks are important for any company to know whether their business model is going in the right direction or not and an accelerator program is built to keep a continuous check on the company’s health.
Considering the immense support and value that both incubators and accelerators add to a startup at different stages in the early phase, there’s no denying that they make the journey far less bumpy for a startup. As an entrepreneur, if you are driven to ‘get it right’ the first time and better your chances of succeeding in the long run, all it takes is to reach out to a credible incubator or accelerator…Who knows, you might just be the next ‘Billion-dollar baby’ in the making! 
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Source : INC42. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Land of the rising sun shining benevolently on India

Global investors, including early-stage investors, are actively looking to grab a pie of India's growth story because its thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem is seen as one of the most lucrative investment destinations across the world. While US investors have been active in the Indian start-up scene for long, it is now the turn of Japanese investors to commit significant investment and management focus to grab the India opportunity.

According to a recent venture capital (VC) funding report released by CB Insights, India has outpaced China in the number of deals struck by VC funds in the first quarter of 2015. Though, China was still ahead of India in terms of deal value at $2.99 billion, India's funding stood at $1.35 billion. For India, this marks a rise of 225 per cent over the same quarter of the previous year. In this entire funding scene, Japan saw around 28 start-up deals by VCs during the first quarter of 2015.

Making Inroads for Japanese Investors

Gurgaon-based GHV Accelerator is leading the way in enabling Japanese investors to access opportunities in India. GHV Founder & Chief Mentor Vikram Upadhyaya, who has a deep and decade-long connection in Japan, launched the sector agnostic accelerator venture in October 2014. He works regularly with Japanese investors scouting for opportunities here and strives to bridge the gap between the Japanese investors and the Indian start-up ecosystem, making it mutually beneficial for both sides.

Soon GHV announced its partnership with World Innovation Lab (WiL), one of Japan's largest VC funds, to help Indian start-ups not just with growth capital, but also the required resources and connections to go global, particularly in the technology and innovation hotbed like Silicon Valley.
Emphasising on the importance of the partnership with WiL, Upadhyaya says, "WiL is our great partner and a great supporter. Being Japanese, they supported my concept and admired my passion before anyone thought about this concept in India. Well-funded by LPs (Limited Partners) from Japan like Sony, Hitachi, Nissan, JVC & NTT Docomo among others, WiL aims to prepare Indian start-ups for Series A round of funding at a much faster pace and help them grow beyond India – whether it’s Silicon Valley or Japan.”

After China, Japanese investors perceive India to be the new big-bang in the internet and mobile space, and expect more vertical players to emerge in areas like eCommerce, internet and classifieds among others. Expressing his views on the rationale behind partnering GHV, Gen Isayama, Co-founder & CEO, WiL, shares, "India is a large and exciting market that we had to be in, but we waited for the right partner. With GHV Accelerator, there was a match of mission. Our objective is to scale up start-ups, take them global and significantly reduce the time taken from concept to global markets.”

WiL is one such example of intent turning into action. The Tokyo and Palo Alto-based VC fund looks to invest in start-ups with global appeal and disruptive potential, typically investing $5 million to $30 million in early-stage ventures, as well as, growth-stage start-ups through multiple rounds of investments. In addition to the capital, WiL also provides operational expertise and strategic partnerships to accelerate their portfolio companies' global expansion.

To multiply its value proposition, GHV has further collaborated with angel investor and mentors like Google India’s MD Rajan Anandan, Prajakt Raut; and firms like LetsVenture, Nasscom 10,000 Startups, etc. On GHV’s partnership with WiL, Rajat Tandon, Senior Director, NASSCOM 10,000 Startups, says, “Till recently, going global for tech start-ups meant addressing the US markets only. A lot has changed now. Start-ups are slowly recognising the opportunity to be truly global. Partnerships like GHV & WiL will not just help Indian tech start-ups get insights and assistance in tapping the Japanese and the US markets, but open up access to a new pool of investors as well.”

Indo-Japan Investment Corridor

Leading investors or funds echo that Indo-Japan investment corridor is one of the most important corridors for country’s growing economy, but the same remains underserved as far as the investments and interactions in the start-up and venture space is concerned.
Bringing to light the need to address this gap, Rehan Yar Khan, Managing Partner, Orios Venture Partners, says, "The Indo-Japan investment corridor is potentially the most important corridor, as it can be seen historically in automobiles, electronics, and transport & infrastructure space among others. But the same has been extremely under-represented in the new world of consumer internet and software.” Orios’ portfolio companies include names like – Druva, Yumist, PrettySecrets, Ola, Sapience and many others.

Speaking on the same lines, Shailesh Vikram Singh, Executive Director, Seedfund, says, “Though SoftBank, and a few others have been active recently and have forged some venture partnerships in India, the Indo-Japan corridor is still pretty empty. I think it is high time these two great Eastern cultures take a closer look at the current opportunity and build deeper relationships than what has been achieved so far. GHV is laying the foundation of a much-needed bridge here, and we can see the Indo-Japan relationship to move to the next level." The early-stage venture capital fund has invested in companies like Chumbak, CarWale, EduSports, Browntape, Nearify and many others.

Eyeing the Indian Start-up Goldmine

With the current trend of start-up growth expected to continue, India is showcasing great potential to become the second largest start-up system in the world after the US. And Japanese investors, who are labeled as one of the most tech savvy nations in the world, are showing avid interest in India.
When asked about the active participation of Japanese investors in the Indian start-up scenario, Upadhyaya explains that the Japanese have a very small consumer market. Hence, they have always looked at emerging markets like China. And with the high growth of start-ups, Japanese investors find India to be the next logical geographical destination. Indian start-ups must build asset-light models and address pain points pan India, which can be replicated globally.
He adds further, “Over the past few years, I have been in talks with several large investors and companies from Japan, and advising their boards on their India strategy. As the Indian market opportunity emerged clearer, I noticed their intent change to action. While the likes of SoftBank have already made announcements, other Japanese giants are now rapidly making their moves in India.”

The Way Ahead

The interest of Japanese investors in the Indian VC space is on the rise due to factors like growing number of smartphone users, increasing Internet penetration, luring millennial generation, and changing lifestyle of urban middle class, etc. Several Japanese-led firms like Softbank, Tokyo-based Beenos Partners, Singapore-based Rebright Partners and other seed stage investors such as IMJ Investment Partners and M&S Partners are eager to be part of India's growth story.
SoftBank is one of the significant investors in the Indian eCommerce space, with bets in ventures like, Ola and Snapdeal among others. Recently, Tokyo and Singapore-based venture capital firm Rebright Partners announced its plans to enter Indian market. Typically seeking investment in early stage ventures, the firm launched a new $20 million fund for Indian start-ups.
Similarly, Japan's Inc, a consumer-internet incubation-cum-investment firm, is also planning to step up its activity in India by investing in a clutch of start-ups in the web and mobile space. There have also been reports that Tokyo-based global start-up incubator-cum-early-stage investor Samurai Incubate is also looking to foray into India, in partnership with domestic incubators.

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Source : EntrepreneurIndia. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

GreenHouse Ventures Accelerator names startup for its accelerator programme

Gurgaon-based GHV Accelerator on Tuesday said it has selected the first startup for its accelerator programme. Launched last month, Gurgaon-based LazyLad is a mobile application that connects customers with nearby and local retailers, who can upload their inventory on the platform, which in turn is organised by the startup. The company works on an asset light model and lets sellers handle own logistics. "Frugality is what impressed me the most in this model," said Vikram Upadhyaya, chief mentor at GHV. "India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Unlike the western world, India needs such frugal innovations all across sectors, then only we could think of the Googles/Facebooks emanating out of India."

The company has been launched by three IIT Guwahati graduates—Saurabh Singla, Paresh Goel, and Ajay Sethi. In just a month of operations, it has got 1,700 downloads, 25 orders a day and 80% repeat orders.
It has 70 service providers on its network across six categories including groceries, fruits and vegetables, stationary and flowers. It plans to expand this to 16 categories. "GHV will help us with go-tomarket strategies, product development and industry connects," said Singla, co-founder, LazyLad. Unlike others in India, GHV does not work on a batch system. Instead, the sector agnostic accelerator will house 10 startups at a time through a year-long programme.
Each startup will get seed funding up to $100,000 (about Rs62 lakh) in exchange for equity up to 20%.

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Source : EconomicTimes. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

How to build a scalable business: GHV Accelerator Founder

What is scalability?

Scalability is the capacity of a company or system or a process within an organisation to manage the increase in demand. That is, a business is said to be scalable when it can be expanded enough to accommodate the growing business needs. Scalability helps a business grow as per its full potential. Scalable conditions provide a room for economic growth within a company.
_Investors invest only in businesses that are scalable. Scalability is important criteria for investors in deciding whether to invest in a particular business or not. Better the scalability, higher the economic value of the business and therefore higher the investor interest.
_Outsource non-core tasks: Transfer some specific tasks that can easily be contracted out to another larger company that is focused on that task. Think of the production of some specific components. Can some other company produce it? If yes, would it make your business more scalable? That paves the way for your organization to focus on the core of your business, as also leveraging the cost and operational efficiencies of someone else that is focused on doing what you outsource.

A scalable business model helps you capture the full potential of your concept. It allows you a better chance to be a leading brand in the market. Scalability also allows you to quickly adjust plans to capture additional, unplanned demand. Often when opportunities come up, organisations are not ready for scale and they miss on a chance to move into a different orbit of scale and growth.
For example, consider that you own a drug manufacturing company. In case of an epidemic, there will be more demand for drugs so the company should be able to meet the increased requirements.
Why scalability is critical for businesses?
_Scalable businesses are more attractive to strategic partners. Scalable businesses have a greater chance of attracting strategic investors or partners and a strategic buyer is likely to be interested if the future potential of a venture is higher.
_Scalable businesses attract better talent. People want to join organisations that have the potential for growth. Scalable business models allow businesses to grow, thus making them more attractive for professionals to consider joining.
What can you do to make your business scalable?
_Process orientation: Introduce process as your venture scales up. Make the processes simple and easy to understand so that training and on-boarding time for new employees is lesser.
_Reassess your portfolio of products and services: Evaluate the efforts, management time and investments required to produce a product or a service line against the contribution that particular product or service is making to the overall business. Is it worth it? If not, then assess if that business really needs to stay or can be hived off, or if required, discontinued.
_Automate routine processes: Delegate everything that you can in your business using the “self-service” approach. That means, delegate work to non-human systems that require no human intervention. For example, consider using the online ordering system, improved Web services, automatic updates to the customers etc.
Every start-up business model need not be scalable. But if your concept has a large base of potential customers who can be serviced profitably – you should think of creating the right processes, building the right infrastructure, making the right investments and hiring the right talent to ensure that your business is able to capitalise on the full potential that the concept has.
The author is the Chief Mentor and Accelerator Evangelist at Gurgaon-based GHV Accelerator. He is also the Founding Board Member of the Indian Angel Network Incubator.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

After eCommerce & mCommerce, nCommerce may become the 'Next Big Thing'

In recent years, e-commerce has taken the world by storm, changing the way we shopped, forever. Its newer avatar, m-commerce, has further accelerated the pace of growth in this segment, considering smartphone penetration itself is at an all time high.
The situation is no different in India where out of a total population of roughly 1.2 billion, 900 million already have a mobile subscription. However, only 110-120 million of them own a smartphone. But herein lies the potential of m-commerce because smartphone penetration in India has witnessed exponential growth in the last couple of years and the trend is only getting better with time.
With e-commerce and m-commerce, the world suddenly opened up for both – buyers and sellers. Geographical boundaries ceased to exist and we had access to the best of products and brands from across the world, that too from the convenience of our homes.
Similarly, sellers who started leveraging these platforms saw their fortunes change as business went up multifold; more than they would have ever imagined otherwise. They couldn’t ask for anything better, but this is just one part of the story.
Now look at the other side of the coin, while the e-commerce and m-commerce revolution was in full force, the local markets in the neighborhood had to bear the brunt because they were losing business rapidly to online markets. They felt helpless and were left wondering how to sustain themselves in this situation.
While market players like PepperTap, Grofers and Localbanya have already identified and set foot into this market space, albeit only in the grocery segment, they have generated enough traction to draw the interest of investors, with all three having received substantial investment to consolidate the businesses further. That is proof enough of the potential that n-commerce offers.It essentially plans to tap into the offline retail market in India, currently estimated at roughly $340 billion.

Localbanya, a Mumbai based online grocery store, raised an undisclosed amount in its third round of funding from Shrem Strategies in March 2015. Its biggest competitor in Mumbai Bigbasket, which raised $10 million from Ascent Capital way back in 2012, managed to raise another round of funds earlier this year from Singapore based LionRock capital. Moreover, in 2015 itself, PepperTap, a Gurgaon based mobile platform for grocery delivery received an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Sequoia Capital.
This is a good business model.
BUT, here is my question - why not bring in the concept of frugal innovation here? (Of which, I am a huge believer). Why depend on human intervention aka middlemen when technology can deliver? Why have a business model that is capex heavy? Why can’t technology empower ALL the stakeholders in the system?
So, while e-commerce and m-commerce were all about having the world at your feet, they failed to tap the small and sundry players in the local neighborhoods, such as grocery stores, dry cleaners, electricians, tailors, vegetable and fruit vendors, chemists, photocopiers,watch repair shops, car mechanics…the list is endless.
How convenient would it be if other than ordering our favorite gadgets and dresses online, we could tap technology, smartphones in particular (simply due to their easy access), to do these small, yet inconvenient and time consuming chores, and make our lives easier. These chores can feel like a complete waste of time and often we end up procrastinating these menial, but important chores simply because we feel ‘too lazy’ to step out of the comfort of our homes. And what about the carbon footprint we leave, if for every little chore a member of the family will take the car out!! Every single day… Do the math here…
Come to think of it, it’s not an impossible task, now that the basic platform is already available in the form of e-commerce and m-commerce. It’s all about tapping this space and taking it to the other end of the spectrum; think ‘neighborhood’, not ‘hyper-local’.
It would simply require integrating all possible service providers in the local neighborhoods onto the available platforms and enabling customers to get instant access to the ones in their vicinity, when the need arises. So whether you want to order milk, vegetables, grocery, stationery, or get your laptop repaired, laundry dry cleaned, suit altered or microwave repaired, you can accomplish it all with a simple tap on your phone. I guess we can call it ‘n-commerce’ (Neighborhood Commerce). Just apt…
Not only will it make lives easy for customers, it will offer a host of benefits to the local service providers. The obvious gain would be in terms of business volumes seeing a huge surge owing to regular orders from the vicinity, making these businesses a sustainable source of income for the sellers.
Another significant benefit would be that n-commerce would compel these otherwise ignorant players to start keeping stock of things and organise themselves better. Inventory tracking and management will improve, which will help them reduce costs by minimising any dead stock.
Moreover, data analytics would help analyse the trends – customer-wise, product-wise, and season-wise – and then stocking goods accordingly. There’ll be lesser chances of turning away and eventually losing a customer because everytime he/she orders, the seller “Doesn’t have the ‘Pepsi’ or ‘Ponds moisturiser’ in stock.” Above all, they will no longer feel left out of the online race.
The focus will shift to managing costs and improving services with n-commerce driving up competition in the local markets. It’ll be a win-win situation for both, customers as well as sellers.
Going by these recent developments, n-commerce is likely to be the ‘next big thing’ that will disrupt not just the e-commerce and m-commerce market, but also the franchise model in India, and set the cash registers ringing.

The writer of this article is Vikram Upadhyaya. He is the Chief Mentor and Accelerator Evangelist at GHV Accelerator. He is also the Founding Board Member of the Indian Angel Network Incubator and an advisor to projects being undertaken through the Telecom Centres of Excellence (TCOE). The views expressed here are personal.

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Source : EntrepreneurIndia. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Parameters overseas investors consider before investing in India

There is a constant buzz about India having become a hotbed for overseas investors, more so, since the BJP-led government took over the reins of the country in 2014. Add to it the fact that the ‘startup culture’ is at an all time high in the country with more students and corporate professionals jumping onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon than ever before. Given the scenario, there is little reason why investors wouldn’t be all wide-eyed, considering the number of unique and innovative business ideas springing up from across the length and breadth of the country; each of which offers them an opportunity to grow their money multifold. Also, diving into the Indian market gives the investors access to the burgeoning class of Indian Consumers, thereby creating deeper inroads for expansion.
But what is it that lures investors, overseas investors in particular, to put their money in a particular venture? In today’s article, I’ll decode the criteria that investors evaluate before finally taking the leap of faith and putting not only their money, but also time and experience, that will give the businesses the much-needed opportunity for a global footprint.
GHV Accelerator
Image Credits : Shutterstock

These broadly include:
  1. The overall economy/ governance of the country
  2. Factors specifically related to deciding which business to invest in (this happens after the investors have already narrowed down their search to a particular country and sector
  3. Overall performance of the economy – Amongst the foremost criteria that investors consider is the overall state of the economy of a country. No investor would risk putting their money in a country where the economy is on a downswing, owing to the uncertainty it places on their investments. On the other hand, an economy that had been consistently following the upward trend on the graph is likely to find favor with them.
  4. Political stability – Political stability is yet another criterion that is important from an investment standpoint because the regulations and policies governing businesses change, every time a government changes. This can prove to be a big risk for investors, and one that few would want to take.
  5. Ease of doing business – Long drawn processes for setting up and operating the business (in terms of completing the paperwork and getting the necessary clearances) can be a big put off for investors. They have no interest in wasting precious time in a system defined by red-tapism and would rather invest their resources where the government regulations and policies are ‘pro-business’. For instance, the Modi government has undertaken a slew of measures to change the long-standing perception of India not being a very ‘business-friendly’ country, and therefore, detrimental to the interest of investors.
Right from introducing a single portal for all businesses to getting the necessary clearances for setting up shop in the country (which will have an automatic escalation mechanism, and hence will avoid delays and corruption), to announcing huge initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’, the world is suddenly looking up and taking notice of India as a great investment opportunity. And the results are for all to see with several deals already having been signed with countries like Japan, Australia, US etc. and many others underway.
Other countries that rank high in terms of ease of doing business and have thriving economies include Singapore, New Zealand, UK,US, Finland, Hong Kong, Denmark etc.
  1. Tax regime – The tax regime applicable to businesses are also important from an investor’s perspective. They would much rather settle for an investment in a country where the tax regime is business friendly instead of one where they constantly need to focus their energies on how to minimize their taxes rather than pursuing more significant business matters. Moreover, issues like retrospective tax that have plagued India in the past are a big dent on a country and are a sure shot way to ‘shoo’ away the investors.
  2. Identifying the high growth sectors – After having assessed the government and economy-related criteria, the next thing that investors look out for is the high-growth sectors. They ideally prefer to invest in sectors that either find favor with the government (for instance, the current government is inclined to give infrastructure projects and renewable energy projects a big boost and is offering many sops to investors and entrepreneurs alike) or those that have been performing well consistently over the years or in sunrise sectors that offer great potential in the coming years (the ROI is high in such sectors because even a small investment can yield high returns in a relatively short span of time).
  3. Choosing the right venture to invest in
Once the investors narrow down their search to a particular country and also a particular sector, the next step is to evaluate the options in terms of the companies that can yield the maximum returns for them. The vital aspects taken into consideration to arrive at the final decision include:
  1. A unique and disruptive value proposition – In a market that sees new ventures coming up every day, investors are always looking for that one idea that stands out from the rest and has the potential to change the landscape of that domain.
  2. Return on investment – There can be no better option for investors than to place their bets on a venture that has the potential to create disproportionate value within a relatively small timeframe as compared to other businesses
  3. Passionate and driven management team – A great management team can accomplish a lot simply with their passion and drive. Investors look for these qualities as well as credentials of the management team to gauge how far they can take the business and live up to their promise. It is important that the management team has the capability to mobilize the funds and derive optimal resource performance; to convert the business plan into hard figures. They should prove their worth not just by coming up with winning strategies but also by executing them efficiently and effectively to get the desired output.
  4. Business Scalability- Plausible investments occur when a business is anticipated to be a global performer. It is important for investors that the innovation or idea they are investing in is scalable and has the potential to grow across geographies, so it can reap the maximum returns.
  5. Leveraging technology- In today’s era, technology offers a competitive edge to any business that uses it effectively. It gives businesses the cutting edge to accomplish their long-term vision faster and better and gives them a definite lead in the market. From an investor’s perspective, if they have to choose between a business running in a traditional manner and one that bases its operations and decisions based on technology, the latter will be a clear winner. After all, the effective use of technology is a common factor between all leading global companies the world over.
  6. Exit strategy – Last but not the least, a clear-cut exit strategy is a crucial parameter, on which several businesses fail and investors reject even the most innovative ideas. Unless the company has a proper exit strategy chalked out, investors will not be interested in investing because that is the moment of truth for them; the stage where they get to encash the benefits they have reaped on their investment.
Investing millions of dollars on a business is not an easy decision and the options need to be weighed very carefully. It requires that investors take the decision keeping in mind a host of factors related to the overall economy, high growth or high potential growth sectors as well as those related to deciding which company to put their money in.
Though certainly high risk translates into high returns when it comes to business, no investor would want to see their investment go in vain
Vikram UpadhyayaAccelerator Evangelist, GHV Accelerator. Vikram is a Strategic leader and entrepreneur with a successful background of building and leading top performing teams focused on exceeding goals. Dynamic in orchestration of multimillion-dollar business start-ups, turnaround & growth ventures. Advanced communicator and cultivator of key relationships with all levels of personnel, clients, businesses, and executive managers. Big picture thinker, talented and driven to impact bottom line while ensuring staff compliance with enterprise standards, procedures, and regulations. Vikram is a visionary & an entrepreneur, holds 16 years of Indo-Japan Market Experience.

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Source : YourStory

Monday, 16 March 2015

Leveraging technology for a competitive edge (ENTREPRENEUR INDIA)

If there is one thing in common amongst leading businesses across the globe, it is the fact that technology is an integral part of their overall business strategy.
I have always emphasised on the need for startups to clear the Concept of T.E.S.T. and POC to improve their chances of succeeding in the market. In my previous articles, I have already elaborated on three aspects of T.E.S.T., i.e., ‘Team’ and ‘Execution’. In continuation, I’ll be covering ‘Technology’ in today’s post.
There is no doubt that technology will drive the future. Be it our homes, workplace, or any other aspect of our day-to-day lives, technology will rule. In fact, it already does, its scope will expand further.
But what is it that has made technology an indispensable part of our lives? The answer is simple… it simplifies everything we need to do.
It is precisely because of this reason that businesses can benefit tremendously by integrating technology into everything they do, be it Operations, Human Resources, Finance and Accounting, Inventory, MIS, Supply Chain Management or Customer Management. Businesses that leverage technology are inherently more scalable than those that do not leverage technology across various functions.

Technology: An integral part of business
If there is one thing in common amongst leading businesses across the globe, it is the fact that technology is an integral part of their overall business strategy. It has enabled them to consistently derive the maximum value from within and deliver it to customers. It has enabled them to scale up and become the reckoning force that they are, across the globe. Consider names of leading companies across any sector and you will see a strong role of technology in their business strategy. Be it Google, Apple, Accenture, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Airtel, Vodafone, Microsoft, or Nestle, or even manufacturing companies like Samsung, Bajaj, Honda, etc.
Many entrepreneurs of startups and small businesses, even if aware of the advantages that technology offers, are usually wary of implementing it fearing the cost or inability to allocate people who can make the most of it. But time and again, it is proven that the pros far outweigh the cons and it will add tremendous value to the business in the long run. In fact, startups stand to gain significantly by integrating technology into their operations because their superior performance on various parameters on account of technology itself will act as a barrier for entry for other potential market players.
For a business, technology does much more than making things simpler. Overall, it helps improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization multifold across functions, which has a positive impact on its top-line and bottom-line. It ensures better speed and accuracy in operations and enhances the responsiveness towards operational and environment-related challenges.

Gaining a competitive edge
Whether you want to ensure better and faster communication through email, forecast market trends to come up with a winning strategy, track your inventory across multiple warehouses or generate the most complex MIS reports, that can take hours or even days to do manually, technology ensures that you can accomplish all this in a matter of just a few seconds.
Moreover, technology can help cut costs significantly by minimizing the manpower requirement and operational expenses and optimizing productivity. Ultimately, it is a company’s costs and responsiveness tothe dynamic market environment that serve as vital components in getting a competitive edge in the market, and this is where technology can make all the difference.
Technology complements all aspects of a business. While it is not technology alone that gives the business an edge, leveraging it to complement your efforts on all other fronts is what sets you apart and gives you an edge over others in the market. It can help you create a unique identity or value proposition and give you a lead over your competitors. Be it email, VoIP, cloud services, mobile technologies or social media, there are a host of technologies available in the market waiting to be tapped by companies.
The good part is that these technologies are now easily accessible and affordable and some of themcome absolutely free of cost, or at a very affordable cost in the SaaS (Software as a Service) model.

Leveraging the benefits of technology
As is the case with all functions in a business, it is the people within the organization who play a crucial role in leveraging the benefits of technology. Simply adopting technology just because others are doing it will be no good unless people are trained and retrained to use it effectively and optimally to give the business a competitive edge.
However, it is important to note that for a business it is not enough simply to adopt and integrate technology. Since newer and better technologies are emerging faster than ever, making the older ones redundant, it is equally important to identify the relevant ones and implement them sooner than your competitors, to not just ‘get’, but also ‘sustain’ your competitive edge.

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Source : EntrepreneurIndia