Lufthansa Runway to Success – Call for Entries

Lufthansa and TiE are bringing you the next edition of Runway to Success. Runway to Success is a TV series which will be broadcast on ET Now, and the training camps all over the country would be conducted in association with TiE. Some highlights of the program:

  • The winner of this series would win a seat at Stanford University’s prestigious Design Thinking Boot Camp, along with A Lufthansa Business Class ticket to the US and mentorship at TiE, which alone is sufficient reason to jump into this program.
  • Each episode of this TV series will have two segments: In the first, a success story of a path breaking entrepreneur will be shown to inspire you. The second segment will have three selected entrepreneurs present their business idea to the star entrepreneur. Winners from each episode will be elevated to semi-finals and then grand final where the winner would be declared.
  • Participation is absolutely free!
  • Besides the winning part, there is the absolutely incredible opportunity to connect with the who-is-who of Indian start-ups eco-system, biggies of entrepreneurial world and fellow passionate entrepreneurs which can be a huge boost to your confidence and acumen ship.
  • Last year, 20,000 entrepreneurs from all over India applied for this program, fighting for 27 precious seats.
  • TiE sponsored boot camps would be conducted in major metropolitan cities, where leading entrepreneurs would share their stories and teach how to become an entrepreneur.

You can register for #RunwaytoSuccess Program right here. You can follow the hashtag #RunwaytoSuccess on Twitter for latest updates and stories. More information about this program can be found here.

Why you Do a Startup ?

Why you do a Startup ? By Chance or you are totally frustrated with a Problem you face on a regular basis or You want to make big loads of Monies or You are passionate about something or You do not want to miss the Wave ??

There are lot of Questions you ask or should ask and be clear and concise about why you are doing this Startup. First , you have to figure out the real reason of Doing the Startup – May be in any Domain.. !! Why I am Doing this ?? Find the Real Reason !! Think in Think Out and Find the Real Reason while putting yourself into Customer shoes (If you are customer , would you buy that Product/Service and why you should be even looking at this kind of company and Would you shell Money from your own pocket !!

If this is in Enterprise Software/Consulting Domain , you could figure out the Total Market opportunities by reports from Gartner/IDC etc and then can see the Subset of the Total Market and clearly reach on to the Niche Area of that Market and what Pain Point you are solving for the customer !! Me too Approach could work in some situations but generally not !! There has to be real value proposition for your customer as it would be too difficult for him to change for the Vendor or Software or SI they are currently working with !!

In Consumer Internet Businesses , is it only about Traffic or more Numbers adding to your App. But Real Question to answer is to find whether these guys would buy that even if its $10 Per Month or which way you could monetize from the same and make Monies out of that.. !!

Finally, Be in Any Business , Company would be successful only if they could make Right Product (Finding the Need) , Pitch on Right Market and Finally Customers are feeling WOW factor to shell out the Monies to buy that Product/Service.

Any Questions !! Send to : virensarna@gmail.com

Thanks

Virendra Sarna

The Billion Dollar Startup Club

The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource are tracking venture-backed private companies valued at $1 billion or more. See how the club has expanded since the project began in January 2014 and select companies to learn more about each.

Accelerating Time to Market Cap for Internet/Mobile Companies

Must read analysis by Playbigger for Internet/Mobile entrepreneurs. Summary at beginning to report,

Metrics for Early-stage Mobile Apps

Have been talking to many “mobile app” entrepreneurs of late, and one question I get consistently is around how they should think about metrics for mobile apps, to gauge early traction, and with an eye on first round of investors. Here are some thoughts.

In my view, valuable mobile apps fall in two zones – apps which will have tens of millions of users over time, but might not have a short term monetization model; and those which would have fewer users but strong anticipated monetization (think few hundred rupees per active user – a million monthly actives and Rs 100/monthly active gives a $20M annual business.) By and large, I am seeing the first kind of businesses in the Indian market, perhaps because mobile payment and monetization is still nascent. Getting stuck between these two end goals is generally not attractive to venture investors looking for scale.

Here are some metrics that startups and venture investors are using to assess early traction:

  • User growth: Installs and active installs are the first line metrics. Some notion of active users measured at a frequency which depends on usage context of the application – could be daily actives, weekly actives or monthly actives. One thing that seems to have lost emphasis since web days is the virality coefficient – have not seen great examples of viral growth of apps, perhaps because content sharing to app install workflows still seem broken. At a more operational level, tracking the pre-install and uninstall funnel can provide great optimization tips.
  • User engagement: This is perhaps the most important one, and where I have seen most distortion. Active users and/or percentage of users active, IMHO, are not great ways to measure these, because they interfere with user growth metrics – higher growth can lead to larger number of active users without improvement in app experience; lower growth can make the percentage metric look better. In my view, measuring cohorts is the best way of gauging this. First, active user cohorts (i.e. what percentage of users who installed in a particular period are still active). Second, activity level cohorts (i.e. how is the cumulative activity by a cohort of users growing). Active user cohorts provide an insight into leakiness of the bucket. The second one, of rising engagement – for great apps, activity level cohorts are rising charts, not falling over time. The metric of activity at the app level could be sessions per day, average screen views, time spent, or other metrics important for the business (such as messages sent for a messaging application). Note that the DAU/MAU metrics are sometimes used to assess user engagement, but for reasons mentioned above, they are not great metrics for engagement.
  • Key application tasks: A measure of how well and how often are business tasks being accomplished. These depend on the application intent – for example, in a match making app, this might be the funnel into generating a match. Very often these might be “funnels” and not single metrics, and it is a very useful tool to figure out where the flow of actions is constrained (i.e. conversion to next stage of funnel is low), and then fix those to optimize the funnel.

I have not included monetization metrics above because for the first class of applications, that can be solved at the next stage of business evolution. However, providing a directional sense of monetization mechanism and per user potential is important in setting scale expectations from the business. I have also not included a measure of “design excellence” above for lack of an objective measure – it is certainly something that is very important to provide a great user experience, and attain some of the metrics listed above.

Would love to hear from mobile app entrepreneurs on this forum on what they have found effective to gauge the progress of their businesses.

How to effectively use the Rs 10,000 crore allotted for entrepreneurship

I wrote this Op-Ed piece in Economic Times on how the government can effectively use funds allocated to entrepreneurship fund-of-funds.

Key points:

  • Leverage the funds to generate private participation and hence enhance the size of the pool
  • Leverage capacity that exists in corporations, microfinance institutions and the like
  • Emphasize under-served areas that align with national priorities, such as job creation, manufacturing, defense, social sectors etc.
  • Promote geographical and social inclusion to ensure a balanced growth

Comments welcome!

Back to the future

Last few months have been full of uncertainty and choice. It is rare that life provides us with an opportunity to step back and ask ourselves the all important questions of what makes us happy, and what do we really want to do with ourselves. It is even more rare that it simultaneously provides us with the right context to help us answer those questions. Over past few months, I was offered both, due to circumstances ranging from tragic to serendipitous on personal and professional front.

I am glad to share with my friends that my instincts have led me towards attempting to do another startup, instead of continuing with the venture investing business. At Canaan, we have built partnerships with entrepreneurs who we feel very proud to be associated with. We will continue to back and support those relationships, both institutionally and personally. However, I will not be making fresh venture investments. I am now on a lookout for a co-founder and an opportunity, which provide me with an uncompromising mix of fun and challenge over next many years. I look forward to help, support and guidance from my friends in startup, investing and corporate world, as I charter into what is always an unknown territory.

As I discussed these options with few close friends early on, something strange happened. Two of my good friends, entrepreneurs themselves, came back and solicited help on issues they were facing, in a way they never had before. Perhaps my position as a prospective investor in future drew boundaries on what they felt comfortable sharing with me. With those boundaries gone, new conversations opened up. I hope that I will continue to have the opportunity to share perspectives, which being on both sides of the table has allowed me to earn.

42 is a good age to begin. Again.

Video Interviewing Technology for Start-ups

One of the biggest challenges facing start-ups is getting the right talent. Or rather, in attracting the right talent. There is no dearth of talent in the market, but getting the right people to join your fledgling organization is a problem that most start-ups face. Why? Very few people want to join an ‘unknown’ entity.

One other problem plaguing the technology world is ‘resume fraud’. Candidates hype their resume, a more skilled person writes the test, telephonic interviews are taken by someone else to get a better rating and more often than not the fraud is discovered only when you get to meet the person face-to-face or after the person actually joins. By this time you have spent a lot of time, effort and money in hiring that person. This is something a start-up like yours can ill afford.

There could be a way out of this conundrum. A slow but steady shift is taking place across the globe in the way companies are innovating recruitment processes using the latest technology. Companies are seeking to drive a paradigm shift in the way they acquire talent making it more effective in acquiring the right talent. The new age talent acquisition process is ‘Video Interviewing’.

I am sure you will wonder what is different and innovative about this. Don’t we all use Skype or Webex or Go-to-Meeting for such interactions? Yes. You do. But it is mostly for personal interactions. Have you thought of making it a part of your business process?? Have you thought of making video interactions an integral part of your recruitment process?

There are solutions available for such video interviews on a pay-per-use SaaS model. Is it the same as a Skype interaction? No. It is much more. It helps you to incorporate videos right from the early assessment stage. In any typical recruitment process:

  • Instead of initial telephonic interviews, you can send out a set of standard questions to the short-listed candidates and they can video record their responses in real time and upload the same to the platform. They can do this at their own time and from anywhere, even using their mobile device.
  • You can review these videos at any time convenient to you, which relieves you of spending prime work time on such interviews and thereby making your day more productive.
  • You get to see the candidate in the first round itself, giving you a better feel for and assessment of his or her suitability and baseline the candidate’s attributes.
  • You can also have virtual panel interviews, making it more convenient for all the stakeholders in the organization.
  • The further shortlist is now even more refined and you can now also use the platform for real time one-on-one video interviews.
  • You then invite just 1-2 right candidates for a final face-to-face interview and make an offer to one or even both.

So how does this benefit you as a start-up with your talent acquisition?

  • Reduces cost of hire as it reduces time-to-hire and travel costs.
  • Brings in predictability and reliability to your hiring process. Helps to avoid instances of fraud.
  • Introduces a ‘Wow’ factor that could enhance your reputation with the candidates, making your organization more desirable to join.
  • No upfront investments, as most of these solutions are available on a Monthly Subscription basis.

India too is not far from adopting such means to enhance and enable their hiring process. Such solutions are available in India now. India also has its first video based job portal. So this is the future of talent acquisition and will help young enterprises like yours to better showcase your organization and attract the desired skills.

The author, Srikanth Vasuraj, is a Business Consultant focused on Mentoring and Advising start-ups. He can be reached at +91-98454 78585 or srikanth@nodiva.co.in . For more information please visit www.nodiva.co.in .

Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report

Mary Meeker (who now does growth stage deals for Kleiner Perkins) has released the 2014 edition of her annual Internet Trends report. Lots to read and digest here.

Introducing In50hrs Healthcare Edition

Chennai is the Healthcare Capital of India; That’s a fact. Healthcare and Education are also the two areas that stand to be disrupted in the hands of an entrepreneur in this country and Globally. Yet, time and time again, We witness entrepreneurs building solutions that have no relevance to any of the pressing needs of those in the healthcare ecosystem  - be it hospitals, clinics, doctors, physicians, administrators or those who perform the operational tasks of these institutions.

We decided to turn this on its head, and bring the two stakeholders together, give those interested to disrupt the space, with a chance to “Live-in” with these stakeholders for a week, understand their world and find opportunities to make things better. We believe that anything you can do to make the lives of these stakeholders better, improve efficiencies, tap new opportunities, visualize data, will all significantly enhance the care that the patients enjoy.

We asked many entrepreneurs who are working in the healthcare space, what their biggest constraint has been, and most often than not, we heard the phrases “access to hospitals” mumbled somewhere in between. We decided to do something about that.

In50hrs Healthcare Edition (June 2nd – 8th), unlike the typical In50hrs, will run a tad bit over 50 hours. The first five days are an immersive experience to be in a hospital, and understand the world of hospitals (and few other healthcare partners), and for you to witness what goes on in their day to day professional life.

Over the five days, Physicians, head of units – be it labs, operating theatres, general practitioners, nutritionists, along with the CIOs and several experienced entrepreneurs will both share some of their pain points that you can solve, or will be there for you, to answer any questions you might have.

The Weekend that follows that, follows the general template of In50hrs as we do it – and explained at www.in50hrs.com#agenda - a bootcamp, followed by pitch sessions, forming teams, building the prototype – except that here, in the end the jury are going to be the head of units and CIOs of hospitals. Should your prototype seem to show promise, you will be granted an extended six months, and access to deploy your solution at the hospital and a guarantee (on success) to be your first referral customer.

if you know of aspiring entrepreneurs in the space, do let them know.

More details and registration at www.in50hrs.com/healthcare