We Indians love to talk. And given an opportunity, we will freeze the hell over with our knowledge of the ecosystem/matter that we consider ourselves a part of.
Take the startup ecosystem – some say there is a drought of investors, some disagree and some say, it’s customers.
My take : The real drought is of DOERs. Here is what we (we = startuppers/ecosystem players) don’t DO:
1. We aren’t the early adopters.
One of the startups that recently demoed at UnPluggd wanted to leave after their demo. And this is what I told him : “Go ahead. But next time you demo and you see NOBODY, do not blame others/ecosystem/blah“.
A lot of people hate me bullying to go inside the auditorium when startups are launching/demoing. Everybody wants to do networking – that’s more fulfilling than checking out a new product.
My request : DO use these products. Of all the 550+ companies that applied at UnPluggd, we have promised atleast (only) 8 that we will use their product. We are trying to get early adopters for the rest. So if you are a DOER, help them out.
Importantly, Entrepreneurs need to be early adopters as well. If you ask me one thing I’d like to change in the ecosystem, it will be ONLY this!
A lot many entrepreneurs need to use other’s product and give serious suggestions (not like “hey! change the button color‘).
Note to investors/incubators : Be the early adopter (and promotor) to not just your own portfolio company, but other startup as well.
Sorry, but a cliched quote:
Be the change you want to see in the world [Gandhi]
2. Why disseminate GYAAN? Why not VIGYAAN?
For god sake, let’s talk about some actionable “HOW TOs” than give high level gyaan. We need a culture of sharing practices (best practices, if you wish). But my sincere request to all those who have been more than generous with their high-level knowledgebase : Adopt 1 product (not the entrepreneur please) and MAKE IT GROW.
Let’s talk science of products (i.e. VIGYAAN) and less GYAAN. Let’s talk “how to maximize AdWords campaign RoI’ instead of ‘how to do online marketing’. That is, go deep (i.e. VIGYAAN) – atleast 1 level deep.
3. Is there a Series A drought?
I have no data to share here – but here is all I know:
99% of startups fail.
Entrepreneurship is not about being a sample size in these statistics. It’s all about breaking away from these discussions. Successful startups are ALWAYS the outliers.
You can look at all the data and decide not to do a startup. Good for you. But always remember that ships are safer in the harbour, but they are not meant for that purpose.
Some of my favorite (Indian) entrepreneurs are the guys (and girls) who have completely steered clear of such discussions/stats.
Most of the great entrepreneurs are so BUSY DOING that they tend to NOT give a fuck about these things. And when you are busy DOing your own thing, money often follows you.
4. YOU should /THEY should
Everybody in the ec(h)osystem has been talking about why everybody else is wrong and how to improve the ecosystem (do read my loong answer in this Quora thread : How can the Indian startup ecosystem be improved?).
How many serious entrepreneurs/active angels are really part of discussions about improving the ‘early stage funding culture in India‘ etc? Why is it that you won’t find the most serious/active angels attending conferences/talks around lack of angel investing in India etc)? Because while the rappers were rapping – the serious ones are busy DOING their own gig.
Are there any top sales folks from FMCGs, Financial Services, Retail, etc, who’re telling it how market is? Do we get real info on what directions business development is taking in healthcare, telecom, energy, real estate, etc ? Yes, you sure pick up bits and pieces of info as you run into these industries, but you’re on your own, and its a very incomplete ecosystem without these inputs.
Things are being built, reviewed, validated in isolation from these realities, and only a rude jolt much much later in the process forces a rethink. By such time, some have lost too much money, or people, or enthu, or time. People seem to go through entire entrepreneurship lifecycles with little connection to their real markets – and with a very fuzzy understanding of its behavioural traits. User personas are tough, but even worse, they’re probably non-existent in our startups! [The Indian Startup Ec(h)osystem is Broke(n)]
Very few people in India understand this and the ones who make the most (articulated) noise is often considered the most active angel/ecosystem players/investor.
Get a life. Do a DO.
By no means I am saying that there aren’t challenges in the current setup, but there is just no point in solving a large problem statement. Maybe, time to follow a MVP approach to solve this?
And the best MVP approach is to DO.
Aside, if you are somebody waiting for more exits/funding to happen for you to gather courage/validation to start, do watch this video