The Indian startup ecosystem has accelerated over the last few years and come into its own, powered by factors such as funding, evolving technologies and an expanding domestic market. The progress of this thriving ecosystem has caught the attention of investors worldwide.
According to the NASSCOM Startup Report 2017, India has seen an addition of over 1,000 startups over the year, strengthening its position as the third largest startup ecosystem globally. This takes the total number of technology startups to nearly 5,200. However, in midst of all this progress, a majority of startups in the country fail within the first few years of their initiation. Documented factors for failure being inadequate innovation, lack of skilled talent, poor formal training and insufficient funding among others.
Working with a group of highly motivated and talented team of entrepreneurs and facilitating the ecosystem for the SAP’s startup accelerator initiative in India, I believe that there are few essential aspects that an entrepreneur must give heed in order to launch a successful startup.
Sell the idea first
Getting a feeler about the idea is critical for a startup. It will help to get a heads-up on how the target audience would perceive this idea and the interest it will garner. Today, with social media platforms it is easy to reach out to the public and get some idea if the proposed product/solution would get some traction. With this general framework, start building on it and keep the target audience informed, this will help in creating a rapport with them as well.
Source talent where required and take advantage of automation
A strong team with right talent plays a pivotal role in the success of a startup. There are many like-minded people waiting to explore similar ideas, you need to share your thoughts and network, and maybe you can even find a business partner along with a great team. Additionally, with emerging technologies like AI and machine learning enhancing automation, you should deploy such solutions to complement the human effort in order to seamlessly scale business or drive efficiency.
Upgrade the solution or its outdated
Learning is an inevitable part of any business and startups specially must keep learning the impact of their product and solutions. The product strategy has to be maneuvered depending on the market and the demand. Each functionality should be upgraded so that it’s leveraged to its full capacity, or if required new ones should be added and unwanted ones removed. This product refresh cycle should be maintained to keep the solution from becoming redundant.
Providing the necessary yet unique functionalities
Startups have to learn about similar products from other players in the market and understand the functionalities that are being offered. This can be compared to the essential and unique features that are missing and can be added to provide a competitive advantage. The new product should offer all necessary functionalities and any flaws/ bugs should be tested and removed across the various stages of development. Prioritize the core functionalities and include as many frills as you can within your budget after that.
Be seen on the right platforms
To be noticed and be successful in this mad race with all the other startups in not a simple task and the best solution to this are incubator and accelerator programs. This serves as a middle ground for budding entrepreneurs who are looking for new networks, investment, and mentorship. Take time to choose the right program as each has a specific focus area and all of them may not be the right fit. Apart from the capital that they provide, you receive invaluable mentorship from industry leaders and pioneers. Sustaining in the industry is an additional responsibility which will crop up and the way to manage this is using the right communication channels. Sync up with investors and network with the right people in the industry as these accelerators gives you access to markets. Being seen and heard in the right places always helps.
Starting your company from scratch can be a roller coaster ride, full of exciting highs and maddening lows. But do not give up and never look for quick fix temporary solutions. Persistence, no compromise on quality and a strong will to succeed will work wonders for your new venture.
The writer is President – SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, SAP SE & Managing Director, SAP Labs India.