With 3 talented founders, today, you can build a service leveraging Internet platforms from the likes of amazon, google, paypal, salesforce and 100’s of others. You can then get your service to users by leveraging social and search engine marketing and you can do this with no expensive infrastructure, very little money and all in less than a year.

Sounds like a Hindi formula film where the founders live happily ever after. So whats the catch?

The problem is that this formula is not a big secret. There are thousands teams out there that can do the same and this creates a ton of noise. The hard part is finding the right problem to solve, solving it right and getting people to adopt in spite of the noise.

Its been a year since I started Tandem Entrepreneurs and its brand of co-entrepreneurship. It has been a lot of fun and a lot of work. The best part is the quality of entrepreneurs that we have the privilege to work with. For those interested here is the list.

In this year of working with our companies if I had to highlight one observation it would be about the complexity of the 15 sec WHY?

The service a start-up offers may have a lot of value, but you have to find the one reason (the WHY) a user will pull the trigger and adopt the service in less than 15 secs. (This shouldn’t be confused with the company elevator pitch, or tag line)

Nailing this WHY down is not easy, and most often the discovery continues for many many months, but it is something to focus on right from the very start and keep on it till it is absolutely proven.

There is a great temptation to have a laundry list of whys, a very generic why or a why that is too obscure. What you need is one COMPELLING reason that appeals to sufficiently many in 15secs or less.

We as entrepreneurs get bogged down in all that can be done once our service is adopted and don’t put ourselves in the shoes of the user who is reluctant to mess his already messy world with a new services.

Think of the services you use and you will probably be able to explain why you use each in 15 secs, shouldn’t people be able to do the same for whatever you build?

The WHY is the first W of the touchstone I currently use to evaluate and evolve companies – there is another W and two V’s that are all needed but those can wait for another day.

BTW: I am visiting Delhi from the 28th July – 9th Aug. I am not sure I will have much time, but if there are any teams out there that would like to learn more about Tandem let me know and I will see if I can make it happen.

Sunil Bhargava

I am the founder of Tandem Entrepreneurs .

Tandem is a new vehicle for entrepreneurship that focuses on an emerging class of software and Internet companies that, with small teams and well under $1M, can get substantial user adoption in a six to nine of months. The Tandem principals act as an extended team for each set of founders and also provide funding in small doses to these nimble businesses.

You can learn more about tandem at our website

Prior, I spent the first ten years deep in technology, working at Xerox PARC, HP and Oracle. I was then on the founding team at Webvan, where I helped build technology that drove a service that combined the challenges of Amazon and FedEx. I experienced the entire cycle of a company from zero to $4 Billion and back in a few short years. The journey taught mea lot about customers (acquisition and retention) and about operations (costs and excellence). I then co-founded Business Signatures, where I played a key role in every aspect of the business, including defining, marketing and selling the product until the company’s acquisition by Entrust in 2006.

I have a B.S.E.E. from Indian Institute of Technology, an M.S.C.S. from Rice University, and an M.S. in Management from Stanford University.

The views expressed on this site are my personal views, and do not constitute an offical opinion of any company or organization.

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