The A to Z of Entrepreneurship

Date:   Wednesday , February 03, 2016

Established in 1992 by a group of successful entrepreneurs, TiE is a non-profit global community for entrepreneurs who are looking for potential investors and industrial expertise. It is currently the world\'s largest entrepreneurial organization and boasts of launching programs like TiE Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) and Mentor Match to help the individuals fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams.

What are some of the major startup challenges currently prevailing globally?

The major challenges for startups can be summarized in 5C\'s: Co-founders, Colleagues (team), Competition, Cash (funding) and Customers (market fitment).

These days with the explosive spurt in startup culture, every youngster has an interesting idea of their own which they are extremely passionate around. This makes it quite a challenge for two or three of them to come together to rally around a common idea. On the flipside, it has been proven that startups with less than two co-founders, fail at more than twice the rate of those with two or more co-founders. Hence it is extremely important for an entrepreneur to find a strategically complementary Co-founder who is also passionate around the same idea.

The second challenge is finding the right set of Colleagues (team members) who can wear multiple hats and ride the roller-coaster journey.

Keeping competition at bay is a critical challenge today. With most ideas being copied and replicated in days, it becomes essential that one is always well aware of the competitive landscape and stays ahead of the game.

Having cash (adequate funding) at all times is essential to ensure smooth daily operations and also for scaling the business. Many good startups fail only because the funding dried up. Hence maintaining good track of the cash flow is absolutely necessary.

The fifth \'C\' is the most important challenge. Most startups (especially the technology ones) forget that they are starting the business to serve \'Customers\'. They get too fixated around the product or solution they are delivering. Knowing your target market and customers is the first and last goal of every startup. Keeping track of their changing needs, matching your offering to their specific demographics, and ensuring that the Customers are being delighted every time is of paramount importance.

How can these challenges be overcome?

The first thing is to be constantly aware of these critical challenges. Then comes the part of having strategies and plans to monitor and overcome them. While getting the right co-founder is a onetime challenge that can be overcome by brainstorming and networking with like-minded entrepreneurs, the rest are all ongoing challenges that have to be monitored on a regular basis. A startup cannot afford bad or inadequate team members like some other larger enterprises may be able to. Hence hire right and be willing to change fast if found not a good fit. Monitoring the competition and market is a daily activity and should not be left to the sales team. It should be the responsibility of the CEO just as much as ensuring a runway of 6 months of cashflow is always available for running the business.

What are some of the crucial elements startup entrepreneurs neglect or are unaware of? How can they be enlightened with the same?

Most startups forget to give pertinent importance to most of the 5C\'s. Hopefully, after reading these insights they will ensure the right focus.

What technology trends do you see emerging in the coming days that will interest you and why?

There are several technology trends that interest us in IoT, Healthcare and Smart City applications. IoT applications are going to see explosive growth in the next 5 years and this can lead to several promising startups cropping up. Healthcare is another sector where there is significant innovation taking place not just in pharma and medical devices, but also in leveraging smart technology and mobility to delivering healthcare effectively and efficiently. The focus on Smart Cities will help bring about several new and innovative applications for enhancing the efficiency and productivity in all aspects of our lives, especially in terms of energy, infrastructure, environment, education, health and governance.

What would be your piece of advice to startup entrepreneurs?

My advice to startup entrepreneurs is to adapt the following percepts: Speed, Agility, Flexibility, Innovation and Resilience. Focus on that solution which they are passionate about and which solves the customers\' biggest challenges. Be agile to competitive moves, flexible to change according to market trends, maintain an innovation mindset and be resilient enough to overcome the challenges; that will definitely come along the way.