Sales for Startup Entrepreneurs by Mukund Mohan

Startup Leadership Program (SLP Pune) had organized a workshop on “Sales for Startup Entrepreneurs” on Saturday 25th January 2014 at Venture Center in Pune. Mukund Mohan, CEO – Jivity and Director Microsoft Ventures, conducted super energetic and highly interactive hands-on workshop which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the participating entrepreneurs from Pune and Mumbai. Most technology startup entrepreneurs have no formal education or real life experience in sales. However, for any startup to be successful, it needs early customers who are willing to use initial (not so polished) product and give constructive feedback. From his earlier experience as VP of Sales at Cisco, Netscape, HP, Mukund shared several stories and drew home a point of importance of building, using, and nurturing long lasting relationships. “Trust (Relationship) = Time * Mutual Interest” or “Be more interested than being interesting” are just a few tweet-able nuggets he shared throughout the workshop. Over 6 hours of continious highly interactive workshop, Mukund addressed typical problems faced by entrepreneurs such as identifying customer segments, creating compelling value propositions, building sales talent, building relationships with potential customers and investors, and eventually obtaining the first few customers for any company.

Post the workshop, few entrepreneurs gave elevator pitches and received candid feedback from Mukund and rest of the group. Mukund was honored with “Puneri Pagadi” for his outstanding contribution to Startup Leadership Program.

Mukund Mohan talking to SLP Pune fellows

Startup Leadership Program Pune chapter’s current program leader, Ms. Sujata Bogawat, mentioned that the event had received a overwhelming response from startup entrepreneurs, and due to limited seats SLP had to close nominations earlier than anticipated, however SLP pune is committed to bring such rich events in future to help foster entrepreneurship in Pune. SLP closely works with Venture Center, TiE, PuneTech, POCC, and other startup communities in Pune, and is sponsored by one of India’s leading legal firm – Fox Mandal.

The Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is an international, not-for-profit entity which runs a six-month program to groom startup entrepreneurs to be high-impact CEOs. SLP Pune’s 2nd batch of entrepreneurs is going through the program graduating in March 2014. Applications for the next year will open in July 2014.

Halfway through the Startup Leadership Program: Thoughts & Learnings

Rajeev, SLP 2014 fellow from Mumbai, shares his SLP experience:

It was a couple months back when I heard about the Startup Leadership Program (http://www.startupleadership.com). I read about it, found it interesting and started reading more about how I could enroll. To my surprise, there was a selection process. This in a way was a roadblock because I was in no mood to write essays. Anyway, I thought about it deeper and somewhere I felt like this program would help me take my startup to a very different level so I took a stab at the essays and the admission form. With the daily grind, somewhere I forgot that I had applied. Finally, out of the blue I got a call and coordinator told me I got selected! Yippiee!! :-) I was really excited about this community!
As I write this blog, I’m somewhere in the middle of the entire 6 month program. The program has been very enlightening, eye-opening and a great learning experience. I’ve met some amazing and enthusiastic budding entrepreneurs, successful entrepreneurs and investors. Every session has so much to take away. We’ve covered topics on business plans, pitches, financial modeling, customer development, valuations, products, investments, lean methods, sales, customer development and many more exciting topics to come as we move ahead.
I got to meet with some very exciting entrepreneurs, Nischal from JustUnfollow, Sampad from Instamojo, Pravin from Wishberg, Kunal from Freecharge, Vikram from MyDentist, Mohit from Carwale, Sameer from CouponDunia, Vikram from yavvy.com and Bijaei from Loyalty Rewardz.
But I’d like to share my learnings till date and how I have implemented it within Last-Bench! One of our biggest strengths as a startup is that we have a strong, dependable and multi-talented team. It might not be large but it is a team whose strengths are diverse and individually each member, using their unique talent,  contributes to the business goals in a unified manner. One of our biggest weaknesses is the constant pivoting and loss of focus when trying to experiment with too many things.
As part of our lean method, the first thing we did was clearly identify the areas (product and services) we want to work on. We chose 1 product and 1 service that we wanted to focus on. This is helping us to be more focused and also allowing us to channel our energies in the right direction. Second, we’ve decided that each one manages his own time but wherever dependencies, that person is responsible to coordinate with the other people so that a bigger weekly goal is achieved. Third, we’ve started weekly targets that sum up to the bigger targets and everyone needs to report whether it is completed or not. There is no room to say that it is partially completed or 50-60% completed. If remaining, simply means it is not done. Fourth, we kept clear goals in terms of revenue and product development. Fifth, experimentation is key to find out whether a feature or a sales method will work for us or not. Sixth, there is no room for assumptions. Seventh and the most important, keep having fun while working!
Before and after every session I share the learnings with my team and everybody is excited to learn more. I personally think, a program like this, is definitely good for entrepreneurs who are in the 1st two years or to-be entrepreneurs. The biggest advantage that this program brings is the discipline!
Link to the original post on Rajeev’s blog: http://lastbenchgossip.blogspot.in/2013/12/halfway-through-startup-leadership.html

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SLP Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week

Startup Leadership Program is very excited and proud to be a part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week starting from Nov 18 to 24. GEW (Global Entrepreneurship Week) is the world’s largest celebration of entrepreneurship and is run by the renowned Kauffman Foundation, USA. GEW inspires people through exciting entrepreneurial activities such as large-scale competitions to networking gatherings. IIM Ahmedabad is coordinating the program this year in India. In partnership, SLP is holding an event in each city in India. Here is a brief roundup of events being organized in each of the SLP chapter cities:

 

Bangalore

 

SLP Bangalore is organizing a bus tour to startups practicing lean in Bangalore. Event details are as follows:

 

Event name: Bangalore Startup Bus

Event type: Bus Ride to startups practicing lean, in Bangalore

Date & Timing: Nov 23, 2013 10 AM-6 PM

Target audience: 1) Startup Founders who want to be lean. 2) Lean practitioners in a 50+ employee company.

 

Those who are interested in attending the event should register here: http://em.explara.com/event/bangalorestartupbus

 

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/598617366842371/

 

Shivaram, SLP 2013 fellow, is leading the event in Bangalore. He can be reached at RetailGurukul@gmail.com

 

Chennai

 

SLP Chennai is organizing a talk from experts on legal, accounting and finance issues for startups. Event details are as follows:

 

Event name: Startup Nuts & Bolts: Legal, Accounting & Finance

Date & Timing: Nov 24, 2013 5 PM-8 PM

Venue: Tenth Planet Open Source Foundation, 807, PT Lee Building, 6th Floor, Annasalai, Chennai – 02

Guests:

Lawyers: 
  1. Vidya from Fox Mandal
  2. Dhruva from ASD Law
Chartered Accountant : 
  1. Piyush, Fellow Chartered Accountant

 

Those who are interested in attending the event should register here: http://em.explara.com/conference/startupnutsnbolts

 

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/228823877278670

 

Gokulraj, SLP 2013 fellow & 2014 Program Leader, is leading the event in Chennai. He can be reached at gokulraj.gk@gmail.com


Hyderabad

 

SLP Hyderabad is organizing a Semi-Open House/ Networking event for entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and students. Event details are as follows:

 

Event name: Startup Connect

Event type: Semi-Open House/ Networking

Date & Timing: Nov 24, 2013 2 PM-6 PM

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, Aspiring Entrepreneurs & Students

Venue: IIIT Hyderabad

Speakers:

Vishnu Murthy; Director- Hyderabad Angels; Ex-Director – ISB (Entrepreneurship)

Safir Adeni; Ex-CEO Sitel; Board Member – TiE Hyderabad, Hyderabad Angels.

 

Those who are interested in attending the event should register here: http://em.explara.com/rsvp/global-entrepreneurship-week-hyderabad

 

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/573680262698801/

 

Meraj Faheem, SLP 2014 fellow, is leading the event in Hyderabad. He can be reached at merajismeraj@gmail.com

 

Mumbai

 

SLP Mumbai is organizing a bus tour as a part of GEW. Event details are as follows:

 

Event name: Collaborate on Startup tour with Weekend Ventures

Event type: Entrepreneurs on a Bus

Date & Timing: Nov 23, 2013 9 AM-9 PM

 

Those who are interested in attending the event should register here: http://em.explara.com/rsvp/gewleanstartupworkshop

 

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/684195984933274

 

Pranav Khanna, SLP 2014 fellow, is leading the event in Mumbai. He can be reached at 26.20miles@gmail.com

 

New Delhi

 

SLP New Delhi is organizing 2 events as a part of GEW. Event details are as follows:

 

Event-1:

 

Event name: Starting–up Young

Event type: Talk on student entrepreneurship

Date & Timing: Nov 19, 2013 4 PM – 8 PM

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, people planning to startup

Venue: IIT Delhi

 

Those who are interested in attending the event should register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/start-up-young-tickets-7482162349

 

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/624896050883206

 

Amit & Shikha, SLP 2014 fellows, are leading this event. They can be reached at amit@amitkmishra.com & shikha@samplingresearch.com


Event-2:

 

Event name: Free Legal Clinic for Early Stage Entrepreneurs

Event type: Get free advice from lawyers

Date & Timing: Nov 24, 2013 3 PM onwards

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, people planning to startup

Venue: Tlabs

 

Those who are interested in attending the event should register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-legal-clinic-for-early-stage-entrepreneurs-tickets-9202435733

 

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/456033677836519

 

Ramanuj, SLP 2014 fellow, is leading this event. He can be reached at ramanuj@ipleaders.in

 

Pune

 

SLP Pune is organizing a workshop on lean startups as a part of GEW. Event details are as follows:

 

Event name: Lean Startups

Event type: Workshop session for 3 hour on biz modelling and product strategy. if possible legal issues as well

Date & Timing: Nov 24, 2013 9 AM-1 PM

Target audience: Startup founders/CEOs

Venue: iKanksha Software

 

Those who are interested in attending the event should register here: http://em.explara.com/rsvp/gewleanstartupworkshop

 

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1412885192279317

 

Abhijit Mhetre & Sujata Bogawat, SLP 2014 Program Leaders, are leading the event in Pune. They can be reached at abmhetre@gmail.com/ sujata@bogawat.com

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Story of 100 CEOs Meet

 

At 01:00 AM on the 15th of June, I saw the executive team of the event discussing how each slot in the agenda needed to be managed, the respective owners and the backup plan. Hungry, drunk and running high on emotions, I saw them return to their rooms at 2:30 AM. I assumed they had figured out what was to be done. I was also nervous, nervous whether could this be pulled off successfully. We promised to be at the venue by 8:30 AM.

 

Fast forward six hours into the morning and the whole team was at the venue by 8:30 AM, putting pieces together at the last minute. The event was supposed to start at 9:00 AM but we knew how it happens in Hyderabad, JP walked in at 9:30. I kick started the proceeding with the welcome note and passed on the baton to Milli to moderate the event, after which JP stepped in with his inspirational story. The way he took us through the evolution of the Human race and his explanation of how “the simplest of solutions take the longest time to see the light of day” was simply brilliant. I could never, even in my wildest dreams, have imagined a politician to be so articulate and clear with his thoughts! Just as we were coming back to Mother Earth from JP’s riveting story, little did we know that there was a surprise store for us! The following 60 minutes was nothing short of spectacular. The best part of it was the impromptu dance performance by, guess who?! Our very own Mukund! All of us danced, sang and drummed together.  What amazing fun!!!!!! A big thanks to DRUMBERRIES!

 

We all know of Chota Bheem but never knew the person or company behind it. When Rajiv (Creator and Founder of Green Gold Technologies) told us about the roller coaster ride he went through to create the most followed animation character in the country and how it took 13 years to build Chota Bheem, the whole crowd present was touched, in awe and dutifully inspired. We then had an informative session by Mukund who navigated us through the Metrics Workshop.

 

After a sumptuous lunch, we had truly amazing demos by Startups followed through by a panel discussion on Mobile technology and Seed Funding for Startups. As we were heading to the Day 1 closure, we had the Party on our minds. The night was worth the built up. After an awesome networking session, we weren’t sure whether would we be able get up and get going for Day 2 of the Event.

 

As expected, we started 20 minutes late but were blown away by Vamsi Reddy (CEO, Apalya Technologies). It was very interesting to hear his story, about how he went about funding at various stages of growth. As the grand finale, Surendra and Balaji recounted SLP’s war stories!

 

Happy to be part of this network. A big thanks and KUDOS to Hyderabad team for putting together this brilliant event.

 

Niranjan, SLP Hyderabad

 

My Twelve Steps Towards Entrepreneurship.

It is about 2 months that I started my new journey as  “entrepreneur”, which also means that it has been two months since I stopped going to my favorite Company office; My “second ” home for 20 years . Below, I have tried to jot down my experience and explain how my journey has been so far.

 
1. Why did I leave my comfortable job for an uncertain life at 53?

Inspiration: – Author of “The Goal” Dr. Eli Goldratt said – If you want an easy life, take a hammer and hit yourself on your head real hard!  You will be hospitalized and they will even bring food to the table. But people don’t want an easy life, they want a meaningful life.

Result: – I believe my life was becoming easy and I wanted a more meaningful life. In fact a friend asked me why I was leaving my “apartment” / cabin. To which I replied, I am only a tenant here and not the owner!

 

2. What am I doing now?

Action: – Brands put a lot of money into inventory and marketing, but not enough on providing good customer service. The moment of truth is when the customer is in the store to buy and experiences good customer service. That can come only from committed staff.  Current training methods in class room is very challenging especially, when stores are spread all over the country

Response: – Learning from my retailing and training experience, I found another “out of the box” ideas. To deliver learning content right into the hands of the staff,  I am now building India’s first mobile app which trains retailers  about selling skills, customer service, inventory management skills etc. on their mobile phone on a SaaS model. Pay per use! Advice me on how much will brands pay for it? SMS me!

 

3. How has the startup experience been?

Blood, sweat and tears?

Ok, no bloodshed yet, but sweat , yes, plenty of it already, in this summer heat even in an air-conditioned car travelling around town meeting people face to face.

They say that you are the boss of the startup business, from Chaprasi to COO! And you can make all the decisions. Yes, I surely have learnt that the buck stops with me. But, I assure you, that is half the fun. I have designed my own visiting card and this is the 3rd version already. Could I have done my own version as an employee? Nah..

 

4. Product Development

For a non techie, tech product development is one of the biggest challenges. A lot of people will tell you that you need to have a tech co-founder!  Forget a co-founder, even to find a vendor to develop the product has been a challenge. All Tech companies want to own the product in their own journey towards product income. They are too dependent on service revenue so far!  But, then the answer is simple – One who owns the customer, owns the IP for the product. Luckily, without too much time or money lost, and a false start, I have found a great guy named Ashok, who has a similar wavelength and also wants to leverage my own retailing experience in his retail product development too.  We are targeting the Retail Gurukul App on Google Play store on Ugadi Day! A new year and a new app.

 

5. How has the sales experience been?

Thanks to my 3 decades of experience, I am able to reach out to many people both known and unknown on the internet who will give you an appointment to meet up and hear you out. But it is déjà vu to be carrying a bag, travelling across the town to meet up people. Something I used to do long ago in the beginning of my career in the early 80s!

It is one thing to be talking to someone known to you with a company visiting card, and pushing him to buy more, but to talk to a stranger to believe in a new fangled idea of yours, takes a lot of convincing indeed. I have some distance to go to get my first mobile app order ! Any pioneers want to try it out or know someone who might?

I have found a few people already who believe in my past karma and whose businesses I believe am beginning to improve.

 

6. How does it feel not going to office?

To rephrase an old ad for Marlboro cigarettes – You can take a man out of Titan, but you cannot take Titan out of the man! I keep thinking about what would I have done if I was working in Titan and faced with the same situation.

I do miss interacting with all my colleagues out there. Thanks to all of you -Bosses, Colleagues, Franchisees, Friends and not forgetting the Customers.  Inside and outside of Titan and Tanishq across India and overseas ,  for all your support. I am grateful to Titan for my learning in my 2 decades there. It has helped and shaped me to be what I am today.

But, I really don’t miss the early morning traffic of having to travel for an hour for a distance of 10 kms. May be cycling would have been faster, but for the safety angle.

 

7. What else have I been doing?

Expectation: – Well, having jumped into entrepreneurship with both my eyes open, I needed a new education on how startups work.

Experience: – Luckily, I was part of a wonderful 6 months week-end program called StartupLeadership Program and met an awesome bunch of young entrepreneurs. No prizes for guessing, I was the oldest in the group by about 20 years at least.

My God, there is a whole new world of startups right here in Bangalore.  There was even a festival called StartupFestival here and guess what! 5000 people turned up. I can say, I have learnt a new language Angels, Pre money, Term sheets, VC and what not. Go and get yourself into one of these programs and there are many of them around and open up a new world outside! Bangalore is surely the startup capital of the country

 

8. You might want to fire your boss, but honestly don’t, instead get yourself a mentor.

The book “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau has the blurb “Firing your Boss, Do what you love and work better to live more”.  It is all very well for books to write that if you don’t like your job, “fire” him or more likely quit your job. Honestly, don’t try all such things.

Reality: – Starting a start-up is not all roses all the way. It is quite difficult to be your own boss, day in and day out and it is quite easy to slacken… So what is the best thing that you can do? Get yourself a mentor. I found one in Ms. Nandini Vaidyanathan (www.Carmaconnect.in ) and we meet about once a week to review plans for the next week. So you need someone who can see the business from an outside in perspective and one who is not part of the daily team.

 

9. How helpful are your new found friends?

Amazing. In fact the camaraderie that is there in the startup ecosystem is to be experienced to be believed. All of us are in the “startup phase” and hence everyone is looking at the best price value equation. The Internet surely helps. We have even tried a weekly meeting between a few of startup founders for a 10 pm to review meeting of each other’s business.

 

10. What else is happening in the ecosystem?

There are quite a lot of tech startups in all kinds of products space. But what lacks is perhaps startups in the retail space. If any of you want to startup in retail, there are plenty of opportunities. How can I help you?

 

11. How are we ensuring monthly house hold expenses?

Decision Day! When the decision was being made to quit (both my wife and me had a competition as to who will quit first), both my wife & me sat down for the first time after almost 25 years of marriage, and actually did a calculation of how much money is required on a monthly basis to live the simple life we even other-wise lived! and found, luckily, all those 3 decades of work both of us had put in had helped in creating a nice little nest egg . So to that extent, there is no worry on how to pay the milk-man every month.

 

 

12. Solid Foundation:-

I am fully devoted to my idea and to my entrepreneurial journey. (Too devoted says my wife!) This means that I literally eat, sleep and drink my entrepreneurial idea .Even the company is called 365 24 like my phone no. My family (parents, wife & daughter) completely take care of all matters at home between them which leaves me completely free to pursue my dream. Thank you Family!

 

Lesson Learnt: – Unlike the US, where Angel Investors will invest even in the idea stage, rarely do you get funding for just an idea. I have seen a few young entrepreneurs struggling with living a frugal life and boot strapping their business. In India, you should have a saving for at least 2 years before you can expect the business to yield returns.

 

And here is wishing you all a happy new (financial) new year! Hope you all achieve what all you set out to achieve.

How can I help you too and can you help me please? Call, tweet, ping, mail, FB, Skype, chat with me @ Retailgurukul

Warm regards,
Shivaram
9036036524

Please visit  www.retailgurukul.com

 

 

 

 

Being VC For a Day at SLP Mumbai

This class had so much packed in a day, so many startups pitching their businesses and

VC for a day

VC for a Day

the SLP fellows got an opportunity to become VC’s for a day and choosing which business they want to invest in. So, we had BC Radio, Sanona, Spatial Ideas, Futurewise, iPleaders pleading their cases. And we were split up into four teams and our job was to choose two startups who we were ready to back and offer them term sheets. The best startups were chosen and their job was to pitch to ‘real’ VC’s. The day ended with VC’s sharing their insights and comments on each startup and each team. All in all an awesome day!

SLP Events

Events Completed:

    • “Angel Fundraising In India” held on Jan 18 2013. Speakers Saurabhi Dewra, Harindar Keer and Suraj Goyal.
    • “SLP Webinar on Intellectual Property” held on Jan 29 2013. Speaker Dilip Kumar.
    • “Seed Financing Story of Grey Orange Robotics” held on Jan 31 2013. Speaker Samay Kohli.
    • “Alok Mittal of Canaan Partners on Startup Trends and Fundraising Opportunities” held on Feb 7 2013. Speaker Alok Mittal.

Upcoming Events:

  • SLP Brings Together the Founder of The Morpheus and The Hatch” on Feb 19 2013. Speakers Sameer Guglani & Prajakt Raut.
  • The Founders of Seedfund and Your Nest Capital talk to SLP India” on Feb 28. Speakers Shailesh Vikram Pratap and Sunil K goyal.

Speaker in line:

  • Sanjay Naath from Blume Ventures.
  • Professor Noam Wesserman from Harvard Business School
  • Asha Chandani
  • Anand Daniel VC Investor with Accel Partners India..

Trip to Lonavala. SLP Pune & Mumbai team

Startup Leadership fellows from Mumbai and Pune had an amazing time on their outbound trip to Lonavala on February 3rd 2013. Twenty four in total and some were accompanied by their spouses and friends. Shared below is some personal experience by one of the SLP Mumbai fellows.
Punit, the event organizer’s ice breaking technique helped the fellows to pass the hurdles of formality and create a friendly atmosphere. And in 10 minutes the intrepid fellows were divided into 2 groups of 12 each. The two teams were asked to choose a name and both the teams quickly came up with funny names; team Ghanta “Bell” & team Strombss+.  Both teams also decided to add a tagline to their team names (Ghantey sey Panga, Jagah pey Nanga – “You mess with the Bell, We strip you on the spot”) and (Dhishkyaon, Dhishkyaon – “Shoot ‘em dead”).
The teams engaged in some great team building activities and  discovered that some of the most soft-spoken and seemingly introvert members could get very aggressive and strong willed- “cue Bhavna with her “Shut up, I’m concentrating” and Abhijeet with his strong leadership on the “Cross the River” activity. The teams also found some great camaraderie, mostly as a result of winning the first 2 activities hands down through a combination of calculated risk taking, teamwork, and acceptance of ideas.
Team Ghanta and Team Strombss went to lunch where we recapped on the activities and discussed some of the different aspects of the teamwork we saw. The lunch menu was all vegetarian and beer-free, so a bunch of us (the Magnificent Seven) went next door to KFC and demolished 3 buckets of unsuspecting chicken.
Post lunch, teams had a round of formal introductions where the person to the left introduced the person to its right. This took some time and included hilarious anecdotes about peoples’ choice of favourite Actor / Actress with a majority of the guys plumping for Deepika Padukone or Katrina Kaif. Notable outlier and trailblazer was Noel Sequeira with his choice of Scarlett Johansson.
We then indulged in the cake cutting ceremony of Pranay, who was celebrating his 34th birthday. A lot of gravity-defying birthday bumps later, we managed to eat most of the 2 cakes, and smear some of the icing on a few chosen fellows in gratitude of their boisterous welcome to my new year :) This also awarded the opposition some brownie (pun intended) points to come level with Team Ghanta to make the games interesting.
The next activity was a memory-based minesweeper game with a lattice laid out on the ground and for team members to remember their previous member’s mistakes and not make them twice in a row. Here too, Team Ghanta dominated, with all the team completing the route before even half of the opposition could make it home.
The last activity was a bomb defusing activity that almost set the proceedings alight with Pradeep and 3 other team members challenging the judge’s ruling that disqualified the win on a technical ground. Further investigations and this was sustained in the favor of team Ghanta.
We finished up by 1730 hrs but not before Punit showed a game that none were able to do in time. It was a hand held snooker game with a large sheet to maneuver balls into the intended pockets…An uneventful drive home, and some dinner with friends capped a great end to an amazing day.  ~ Pranay,  SLP Mumbai