If you too are thinking of taking the plunge, measured steps will be key to a good start
Tech startups are thought to be the hottest money minting assets of the modern business world. From homegrowns like Flipkart and Snapdeal to the globally popular ones like Uber, Instagram and Snapchat, startups have disrupted businesses and brought conglomerates to their knees.
For tech startups, innovation is a non-stop process and those who look the other way fail and get decimated. Kodak is one of the most famous examples of a company that couldn’t innovate fast enough despite having all the resources.
Disruption and tech startups go hand in hand. These startups are the dinosaurs of the world that can scale heights as they are powered by the world wide web and easy reach of billions surfing the social networks and sites every day.
Let’s look at these startups to understand how ‘hot’ or disruptive they can be.
Taxi: Uber has become synonymous with disruption with a lean team of handful of people providing mobile-based cab service in 68 countries and powering more than 1 million rides every day. Uber allows the transparency to track cab rides and make payments from mobile wallets.
Travel: AirBnB is present across 190 countries in 34,000 cities with 15,00,000 listings allowing people to find, let and rent properties. The company allows people to lease out their properties to travellers for short duration and charge them for it.
TV: Netflix is the global provider for streaming movies and original TV series. The service has 42.5mn users in the US alone who clock 10bn hours every month, binge-watching several shows.
Music: Spotify, the music streaming company, provides digital rights management protected content from media companies and record labels with 30mn songs and 2,000 songs added each day. More than 2bn playlists are on Spotify and users clock 1.75bn hours on an average listening to them.
Where does one begin on the tech startup journey?
I wish the answer could be a simpler one. Here are some suggestions, which can come in handy.
Step 1: Join a startup: Don’t know where your passion is? Better to start somewhere small. Explore, make your mistakes and learn before you start your own venture.
Step 2: Go online and search for what you need to learn to know. There are a bunch of self-tutorials and case studies to learn as much as possible. Join conversations on Quora and startup forums like OnStartups. Network like crazy and know the ecosystem inside out.
Step 3: Think hard about your idea. It works better if the idea is ‘organic’ i.e. coming from your personal experience of solving a problem you have faced. Not every time you will succeed making an Indian clone of Amazon. Go deep.
Step 4: Get yourself a team, which shares your passion. Learn a bit or two about coding. You don’t have to know how to code to launch a tech startup. Start learning as much as you can from free resources like Code.org, Coursera, Codeacademy to get yourself up to speed.
Step 4: Sell as much as you can. Sell your ideas to your friends and family. Gauge their feedback and see if there is a market for your product. Pivot when necessary till you are able to launch and get your first customer. Be relentless.
Watch before you leap
It’s not all smiles in the startup world. According to a survey by a famous business magazine, 90 per cent of the startups fail and it has nothing to do with the disruptive product idea. There are more factors at play here like the team dynamics, funding and the saleability of the product. What good is the product that no one wants to use?
For those bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, there is always hope and salvation in these words from the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” So, go build and show it to them. Make it work!
(First published in The Tribune on April 30, 2016)
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