INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #14: Srikanth Iyer (HomeLane) on Execution, Importance of Uncommon ServiceINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
We continue the #InsightsPodcastSeries and in this episode, we focus on the importance of Execution and how to get it right in the early stage of a startup. To talk about this important topic, we have Srikanth Iyer a successful serial entrepreneur who has built large companies across multiple industries. Initially in Education with Edurite (sold to Tutorvista/Pearson) and currently founder and CEO of fixed furniture eCommerce startup HomeLane.
On the first part of the podcast, we discuss the importance of execution and specifically the following topics:
What is execution and why is it important?
Early days — how to get things started, how to figure out must-haves vs nice-to-haves and focusing on must-haves
Speed vs. getting things right — what is more important?
Customer delight — to get to Product-market fit — how to go about it?
Role of product/tech — how important in early stage vs once you are focusing on scale
Launching with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and then continue refining the product/tech
Why scaling prematurely can hurt your startup?
We also discuss a book that has really inspired Srikanth to deliver outstanding service to his customers. The book is “Uncommon Service” and highly recommended for founders — particularly startups that involve services. Here are some of the key takeaways from the book and we discuss a couple of them in the podcast in the context of Srikanth’s experience.
Uncommon Service — key tenets:
Tenet #1: You CANNOT be good at everything — to be great at something its ok to be bad at something else — how do you decide on what to be good at as CEO?
Tenet #2: Someone has to pay for it — what does that mean?
Tenet #3: It’s not your Employee’s fault — but they are the ones executing?
Tenet #4: You must Manage your customers — how do you do that?
Tenet #5: Now multiply it all by Culture — talk to us about the importance of this one?
In the next few podcasts, we will dive deeper into the importance of execution and how to get that right as a startup founder.
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #13: 1999 to 2018 — Ashish Hemranjani recaps the BookMyShow journeyINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
In this final episode on fundraising, we hear from a master story-teller — Ashish Hemranjani, co-founder and CEO of BookMyShow, India’s leader in entertainment ticketing.
Ashish recaps his journey from founding the company in 1999 all the way to 2018 and the various phases of the business ups and downs he has seen over this time period.
In particular, we discuss the following topics in great details:
- Early days of BookMyShow including launching India’s first cash on delivery (COD) service
- The tough years post the 2001 dotcom bust and how they survived those tough years
- How to pick your investment partner — and the importance of that in the battle called entrepreneurship
- How to think through valuation while fundraising
- Hiring bankers or not while fundraising
- How to become a good story teller as a founder
Difference between building a good company vs a great company
Having an empty chair that represents your consumer in every meeting
Why Ashish appreciates being known as a mongrel more than being a Unicorn
And most importantly how to run this marathon called a startup while still enjoying your life and coming back every Monday energised to build your startup!
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #12: Digging deeper into Fundraising with Abhiraj Bhal from UrbanClapINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
Today, we are looking at the same topic from an entrepreneurs’ perspective. We are chatting with Abhiraj Bhal, co-founder and CEO of UrbanClap, a path-breaking company in the Home Services space which has grown from zero to over 300K transactions per month in just over 3.5 years and still growing at a phenomenal pace (3–4x per year).
We are again going to divide the topic into two sub-topics — 1) picking who to raise funds from and 2) the process of fundraising. Key topics covered in this short 30 minute podcast are outlined below.
Picking who to raise funds from
What are the factors to consider before picking who to raise funds from?
How did Abhiraj connect with his Angel Investors and VCs?
Importance of having an experienced Angel as an investor
Avoidable mistakes while picking your initial source of capital
Tips on the fundraising process
How long should someone budget for fundraising?
Tips on preparing your investor pitch — the What, How and Why methodology
Importance of story-telling as a founder and how to practice that and get feedback
Being completely open with the investor and why that is important
Best way to connect with the investor
Initial pitch to term-sheet — the process from an entrepreneurs’ perspective
In the next episode, we are going to hear from an entrepreneur who is a master at Story-telling — a very essential skill for fundraising as well as for recruiting and retaining employees. If there are any specific questions that are top of mind for you, please do share as a comment below or tweet us at @Accel_India
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #11: Abhinav Chaturvedi from Accel demystifies fundraisingINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
As a first time startup founder, fundraising can seem overwhelming. Many have gone through the process without too much knowledge about who to raise funds from and how to go about the process - particularly as it relates to the Indian ecosystem.
In this podcast, Abhinav Chaturvedi from Accel demystifies fundraising and addresses most of the questions that are probably going through your mind as a first time founder. Here are the topics covered in this podcast:
Picking who to raise funds from
When should you start the fundraising process for your startup?
When is it good time to go to an Angel investor vs an institutional investor?
What's the best way to reach your top investor choices?
What are the common avoidable mistakes that first time founders do while figuring out who to raise funds from?
Different types of companies - B2B vs B2C and any advice on how they should think about funding differently?
Tips on the fundraising process
What are the top reasons investors are compelled to invest in a particular startup?
What are some of the best pitches Abhinav has heard and funded - what stood out in those pitches?
From the first pitch to getting to a term-sheet -what to expect, what happens behind the scenes in a VC fund?
What are the common avoidable mistakes that first time founders do in the fundraising process?
In the next two episodes, we are going to hear from a couple of entrepreneurs who have gone through this fundraising process a few times and tips from them for a first time founder. If there are any specific questions that are top of mind for you, please do share as a comment below or tweet us at @Accel_India
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #10: Coverfox to Acko: Varun Dua's Startup Journey in the Insurance MarketINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
In a startup ecosystem that runs on a culture of “move fast and break things,” Varun Dua took the path less traveled to establish Coverfox in 2011, an online insurance aggregator platform . Seven years down the line, we look back at his startup journey and the lessons he learned from plunging into the Indian insurance market as an entrepreneur. We also learn more about his newest venture: Acko, a general insurance company developing an innovative, more efficient age of insurance.
Though Varun only fell into insurance coincidentally, he was quickly sucked into its world and discovered everything about the market’s complex inner workings. Then it wasn’t long before the itch to startup got to him. In his own words, “I started off not really clear about what I wanted to do, but I definitely didn’t want to do what I was doing.”
Varun therefore talks to us about how he identified his vision, and in true startup fashion, the critical ways he pivoted his initial idea to solve more imperative problem statements. What originally started as a B2B software service company for insurance providers grew into Coverfox. Through tedious market research, many hours of fine tuning, and a hasty wake-up call about his technical understanding of product management and process development, Varun changed the way insurance works in India’s ecosystem.
His Coverfox journey was all about asking the important questions that providers and aggregators simply weren’t addressing. For example, do we really want our customer to go down to their car park, unlock their car, open their glove box, find their soon-to-expire car insurance policy, and log back onto the website, just to enter their policy’s expiration date into a field on our online questionnaire? We are sure you are tired just reading that sentence, which is why Varun streamlined this process to make closing a deal faster and simpler. It is no wonder then that Coverfox has become one of the leading online aggregators in India. More importantly, Varun gained a better appreciation for business processes and product management - two aspects he advises all startup founders to pay attention to, especially if they are eventually interviewing product managers only to have no idea what questions to ask. (True story! Hear it directly from Varun.)
This is what makes his journey into the nitty gritty world of insurance as a provider with Acko so important to him. He first sought to turn the insurance market on its head - but you can’t add a new coat of paint and expect the building to suddenly become brand new; You’ve got to change the rails and the plumbing too. “And if you really want to change the plumbing, you’ll have to start manufacturing it,” he states. Thus, he established Acko, an effortless way to find insurance, because it goes where the consumer goes, whether that’s Amazon.in or the Ola app. Join us on the latest INSIGHTS podcast as Varun discusses how he responded to those crucial questions, his product-market fit research process, and the key takeaways from his journey at Coverfox that all those looking to startup should know.
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #9: Living the Experience with Myntra’s Mukesh BansalINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
In 2007, Myntra founder Mukesh Bansal left California for India after spending ten years building his career in Silicon Valley. Accompanied only by the ambition to make his startup vision a reality and the unwavering conviction that India Shining was a truth about to be realised, he took the plunge. This week, we take a look at how Myntra took India’s e-commerce fashion market by storm and learn more about Bansal’s newest venture, CureFit.
Once Bansal arrived in India, his team referred him to Subrata Mitra, one of our founding partners at Accel. He easily piqued Mitra’s interest; “What was very interesting was the big commitment to come back [to India], and the second thing was [that] he was willing to put in his own money,” said Mitra. A startup founder unwilling to wait for investors was just as rare then as it is today. Therefore, the deal was closed and the cheque deposited. It was time to get to work.
Since then, Myntra has been numerous things. A personalised product company. A sports apparel firm. A travelling mall kiosk (yes, really). So what was the entrepreneurial journey that led to the Myntra that we have all come to know, browse endlessly, and love today? It took many a market pivot, a whole lot of patience, good ol’ commitment - and a lonely walk in a shopping mall. Trust us, this is a story you’ll want to hear because it truly goes to show that inspiration can strike at any moment.
Following Myntra’s success, Bansal planned to take a six-month vacation… Only to return less than a month later with an idea for a brand new venture: CureFit. After surveying the health and fitness market, he recognised its key issues and is now transforming the industry by bringing it to the 21st century.
Like many of us, you’re probably wondering how Bansal generates such innovative yet essential products. As Mitra puts it, “If you don’t live the experience, it’s not authentic.” Since 2007, Bansal has dedicated his career towards building brands with authenticity. In this podcast, live the experience with Bansal and delve into his entrepreneurial journey; from combining Myntra’s fashion and tech DNA, to why culture is such a vital aspect of any company, unearth his perspective about the critical influence of timing, market positioning, branding, and mergers. All before learning about Bansal’s newest venture, CureFit, and how it is revolutionising the health and fitness market in India today.
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #8: Finding the Perfect Product-Market FitINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
Subrata Mitra, one of the founding partners of Accel, has been a part of (and has even helped design and engineer) the startup ecosystem in India as it stands today. This week, we take a look at his exciting, ten-year-long journey as a hands-on investor. From the gaming industry to the fashion e-commerce market, Mitra has a world of knowledge to share.
Discussing how to find the perfect product-market fit, Mitra says, “If there is one customer who has a need that you can satisfy, that’s where you begin the product-market fit. Identify that one customer or company.” The problems, then, only arise when an entrepreneur attempts to scale. And trust us, Mitra has a lot to say about scaling; Behind every successful, groundbreaking project that seems like common sense now, exists a fair share of research, trial-and-error, and even failed attempts.
Whether it was Myntra’s initial stages: personalised mugs with your photo on them, or the very beginnings of Common Floor as a community-creation platform, finding the perfect product-market fit and its appropriate scalability model has always been a fruit of research and development. Like Myntra and Common Floor, you’ll be surprised to find out where and how some of India’s most prosperous startups, such as MuSigma and Virident, actually began. All this, right from someone who was on the ground, learning about the market, and influencing each company’s decisions.
Subrata also shares some valuable insight into the qualities of an entrepreneur who can turn a synergetic product-market fit into a scalable and monetizable venture. “There are outward facing and inward facing entrepreneurs,” Mitra says.
“There are a certain set of people who solve hard problems better and are also good entrepreneurs.” Could you be one of those “certain people” in the industry today? Well, if you’ve got the characteristics that Mitra identifies, that may be a possibility.
We also hear from one of Subrata's early portfolio founders Mukesh Bansal, who spent ten years in Silicon Valley working for startups there. After quitting his job and moving from Chicago to the Bay Area in California, Bansal “bounced around, sleeping on friends’ couches” just so that he could learn more about startups. Well, today, as the founder of two successful startups Myntra and now Curefit, we think his plan definitely played out well. Not that you should be bumming off your friends as a startup founder, but listening to Bansal’s advice will certainly help. All this and more on this weeks #InsightsPodcast.
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #7: Anjana Reddy - What's Right About WROGN?INSIGHTS Podcast Series add
“You can’t get bigger than Messi,” Anjana Reddy says. Less than two weeks ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Reddy, founder of Indian fashion company Universal Sportsbiz Private Limited (USPL), reflects on her entrepreneurial journey from a sports e-commerce brand to a national fashion industrialist.
A sports fanatic and forward-looking business mogul, Anjana left her town in Hyderabad to attend university in the US, where she discovered something she had never seen before in the Indian market: Dogs wearing team jerseys at sporting events. Well, everyone wearing team jerseys - and drinking from team-branded beer mugs. At pep rallies, football games, and after-parties, every single attendee had a way to let you know exactly which team they were supporting. That’s when she struck gold and decided to combine her two favourite things.
With India’s craze for the game - whether that’s cricket, football, or entertainment - Anjana decided to bring the business model to India in early 2012 through Collectabillia.com, a celebrity-based e-commerce merchandise and memorabilia brand. For this brand, she signed legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, and Rajnikanth. In 2014, she even managed to sign Lionel Messi right before he played the World Cup (despite a run-in with the Spanish Embassy; you’ll have to hear her story to believe it).
After her initial success, she developed her business even further, scaling it to include women’s fashion and youth-oriented clothing in both online and offline markets with WROGN and Imara. Though she was unfamiliar with the clothing industry, one of the oldest trades in the country, she spent nights studying the entire process from yarn to final product at factories, and analysed the market for years in order to position her brand effectively.
USPL is a lesson in market disruption, customer valuation, and how a little entrepreneurial drive can make a world of difference. Join us as Reddy, now on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list, discusses the importance of market analysis, distribution, and funding. And don’t forget your Accel-themed beer mug. (We’re kidding, but, Anjana, let’s work on that?)
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #6: Market Opportunities — The TaxiForSure Case StudyINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
Every entrepreneur has gone through the dilemma of quitting a well paying, full-time job and starting up. It is not as easy as it sounds and requires much thought before taking the plunge. In this episode we chat with Raghu, co-founder of TaxiForSure on his journey with TaxiForSure and particularly the early days and how they went about evaluating the market opportunity.
Some Advice For Entrepreneurs
As a successful entrepreneur, who exited his business successfully and now an active Angel investor, Raghu has a few tips for first time founders:
Be Close to the Market: Talk to as many people as possible in the market (actual supply, demand, etc.) to really understand the market
Don’t hire from the industry: Especially if you are trying to disrupt an industry using technology, avoid hiring from the industry (since they might be stuck to the ideas of the incumbent)
Focus is key: Focus on one core problem at the seed stage. During Series A stage, focus on scaling to multiple markets. Only post Series B, when you have established yourself as a brand in the core space, do you look for adjacencies.
Let it Go: As entrepreneurs, one of the most important things is the hard and tough call of letting go of certain people. However, these are the calls they have to take, primarily if it is affecting the business. Another aspect of letting go, is letting go of certain responsibilities to more capable people who you can hire in — the specialists. He added, “You have to become the jockey, not the horse.”
Ability to say no: Learning to say no as an entrepreneur is very key — to employees, to investors, to the Board — are all critical and figuring out what things to say “No” to is essential for the success of a startup
INSIGHTS Podcast Series: #5 Markets Opportunities — Evaluate Wise & Execute NiceINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
Every entrepreneur understands the importance of market evaluation, but not every market is the same and the ever changing dynamics adds to the entrepreneur’s dilemma. Prashanth Prakash, Founding Partner at Accel tell you how to ace the market evaluation, in this podcast with Anand Daniel.
Ideas don’t build a company but converting them to something tangible does. The first step towards this is understanding the market potential of your idea. Every startup knows the importance of market research towards making the product/service successful. But the way you evaluate the market is crucial. If an entrepreneur doesn’t know his market in terms of size, demographics, and the customer’s needs, then it will be difficult for his/her venture to sustain long-term. Also, market evaluation is one of the key factors for any venture capitalist to consider the potential of a startup. Not all markets are created equal, and what works in one geography doesn’t necessarily mean it would work in another. Especially when it comes to Indian markets, the dynamics are different in comparison to global markets.
Prashanth Prakash is one of the founding partners in Accel, who has been investing in ventures like BookMyShow, QuickSilver, RentoMojo, and CleverTab since 2004. In this podcast series, he talks about evaluating markets from an investor as well an entrepreneur’s perspective, especially for the tech sector.
INSIGHTS Podcast Series: #4 Swiggy’s Harsha explains how to be an equitable CEO. (Part 2)INSIGHTS Podcast Series add
In this second part of the podcast, Sriharsha Majety, founder and CEO of Swiggy speaks to Anand Daniel about the challenges of finding the right co-founders and the essential characteristics of a CEO.
INSIGHTS Podcast Series: #3 Swiggy - Taking the Road Less TraveledINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
In this podcast, Sriharsha Majety, founder and CEO of Swiggy speaks to Anand Daniel, Partner at Accel on not finding the beginner's luck and yet becoming successful with his second venture, Swiggy
INSIGHTS Podcast Series - #2: Building BlackBuck, an online marketplace for freight logisticsINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
BlackBuck, a startup focussing on the Full Truck Load (FTL) segment and the B2B space, has been charting new territories for online freight aggregators. Now, a lot goes into getting a startup from its genesis to becoming a successful company. For founders, the journey of their hard work and initial struggle is more than a sense of accomplishment. BlackBuck’s story is no different. So, what led to the initial idea of driving into the fragmented logistics market in India? What were the challenges? How the team grew from 3 founders to over 1200 employees? Joining us is first-time entrepreneur and co-founder Rajesh Yabaji, who will trace his journey to the initial days of conceiving BlackBuck.
INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #1: Key Ingredients for Startup SuccessINSIGHTS Podcast Series add
It takes much more than ideas and passion to build a successful startup. Shekhar Kirani, an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist and Partner at Accel, shares his insights on how to build a successful startup by mixing the right ingredients like having great founders, critical skill sets, right team size, amongst others.
The Podcast is hosted by Anand Daniel, Partner at Accel