Harsha Mv

57 startup lessons

People

– If you cant get to ramen profitability with a team of 2 4 within six months to a year, somethings wrong. (You can choose not to be profitable, but it must be your choice, not something forced on you by the market).
– Split the stock between the founding team evenly.
– Always have a vesting schedule.
– Make most decisions by consensus, but have a single CEO whose decisions are final. Make it clear from day one.
– Your authority as CEO is earned. You start with a non-zero baseline. It grows if you have victories and dwindles if you dont. Dont try to use authority you didnt earn.
– Morale is very real and self-perpetuating. If you work too long without victories, your investors, employees, family, and you yourself will lose faith. Work like hell not to get yourself into this position.
– Pick the initial team very carefully. Everyone should be pleasant to work with, have at least one skill relevant to the business theyre spectacular at, be extremely effective and pragmatic. Everyone should have product sense and a shared vision for the product and the company.
– The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Pick a small set of non-negotiable rules that matter to you most and enforce them ruthlessly.
– Fire people that are difficult, unproductive, unreliable, have no product sense, or arent pragmatic. Do it quickly.
– Some friction is good. Too much friction is deadly. Fire people that cause too much friction. Good job + bad behavior == youre fired.

Fundraising

– If you have to give away more than 15% of the company at any given fundraising round, your company didnt germinate correctly. Its salvageable but not ideal.
– If you havent earned peoples respect yet, fundraising on traction is an order of magnitude easier than fundraising on a story. If you have to raise on a story but dont have the reputation, somethings wrong.
– Treat your fundraising pitch as a minimum viable product. Get it out, then iterate after every meeting.
– Most investor advice is very good for optimizing and scaling a working business. Listen to it.
– Most investor advice isnt very good for building a magical product. Nobody can help you build a magical product thats your job.
– Dont fall in love with the fundraising process. Get it done and move on.

Markets

– The best products dont get built in a vacuum. They win because they reach the top of a field over all other products designed to fill the same niche. Find your field and be the best. If there is no field, somethings wrong.
– Work on a problem that has an immediately useful solution, but has enormous potential for growth. If it doesnt augment the human condition for a huge number of people in a meaningful way, its not worth doing. For example, Google touches billions of lives by filling a very concrete space in peoples daily routine. It changes the way people behave and perceive their immediate physical surroundings. Shoot for building a product of this magnitude.
– Starting with the right idea matters. Empirically, you can only pivot so far.
– Assume the market is efficient and valuable ideas will be discovered by multiple teams nearly instantaneously.
– Pick new ideas because theyve been made possible by other social or technological change. Get on the train as early as possible, but make sure the technology is there to make the product be enough better that it matters.
– If there is an old idea that didnt work before and there is no social or technological change that can plausibly make it work now, assume it will fail. (Thats the efficient market hypothesis again. If an idea could have been brought to fruition, it would have been. Its only worth trying again if something changed.)
– Educating a market that doesnt want your product is a losing battle. Stick to your ideals and vision, but respect trends. If you believe the world needs iambic pentameter poetry, sell hip hop, not sonnets.

Products

– Product sense is everything. Learn it as quickly as you can. Being good at engineering has nothing to do with being good at product management.
– Dont build something that already exists. Customers wont buy it just because its yours.
– Make sure you know why users will have no choice but to switch to your product, and why they wont be able to switch back. Dont trust yourself test your assumptions as much as possible.
– Ask two questions for every product feature. Will people buy because of this feature? Will people not buy because of lack of this feature? No amount of the latter will make up for lack of the former. Dont build features if the answer to both questions is no.
– Build a product people want to buy in spite of rough edges, not because there are no rough edges. The former is pleasant and highly paid, the latter is unpleasant and takes forever.
– Beware of chicken and egg products. Make sure your product provides immediate utility.
– Learn the difference between people who might buy your product and people who are just commenting. Pay obsessive attention to the former. Ignore the latter.

Marketing

– Product comes first. If people love your product, the tiniest announcements will get attention. If people dont love your product, no amount of marketing effort will help.
– Try to have marketing built into the product. If possible, have the YouTube effect (your users can frequently send people a link to something interesting on your platform), and Facebook effect (if your users are on the product, their friends will need to get on the product too).
– Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi, then do marketing that way. Pick a small set of tasks, do them consistently, and get better every day.
– Reevaluate effectiveness on a regular basis. Cut things that dont work, double down on things that do.
– Dont guess. Measure.
– Market to your users. Getting attention from people who wont buy your product is a waste of time and money.
– Dont say things if your competitors cant say the opposite. For example, your competitors cant say their product is slow, so saying yours is fast is sloppy marketing. On the other hand, your competitors can say their software is for Python programmers, so saying yours is for Ruby programmers is good marketing. Apple can get away with breaking this rule, you cant.
– Dont use supercilious tone towards your users or competitors. It wont help sell the product and will destroy good will.
– Dont be dismissive of criticism. Instead, use it to improve your product. Your most vocal critics will often turn into your biggest champions if you take their criticism seriously.

Sales

– Sales fix everything. You can screw up everything else and get through it if your product sells well.
– Product comes first. Selling a product everyone wants is easy and rewarding. Selling a product no one wants is an unpleasant game of numbers.
– Be relentless about working the game of numbers while the product is between the two extremes above. Even if you dont sell anything, youll learn invaluable lessons.
– Qualify ruthlessly. Spending time with a user whos unlikely to buy is equivalent to doing no work at all.
– Inbound is easier than outbound. If possible, build the product in a way where customers reach out to you and ask to pay.

Development

– Development speed is everything.
– Minimize complexity. The simpler the product, the more likely you are to actually ship it, and the more likely you are to fix problems quickly.
– Pick implementations that give 80% of the benefit with 20% of the work.
– Use off the shelf components whenever possible.
– Use development sprints. Make sure your sprints arent longer than one or two weeks.
– Beware of long projects. If you cant fit it into a sprint, dont build it.
– Beware of long rewrites. If you cant fit it into a sprint, dont do it.
– If you must do something that doesnt fit into a sprint, put as much structure and peer review around it as possible.
– Working on the wrong thing for a month is equivalent to not showing up to work for a month at all.

Company administration

– Dont waste time picking office buildings, accountants, bookkeepers, janitors, furniture, hosted tools, payroll companies, etc. Make sure its good enough and move on.
– Take the time to find a good, inexpensive lawyer. It will make a difference.

Personal well-being

– Do everything you can not to attach your self esteem to your startup (youll fail, but try anyway). Do the best you can every day, then step back. Work in such a way that when the dust settles you can be proud of the choices youve made, regardless of the outcome.
– Every once in a while, get away. Go hiking, visit family in another city, go dancing, play chess, tennis, anything. It will make you more effective and make the people around you happier.

– Slava Akhmechet

Harsha Mv

#Freelance

Who is looking for Freelancer? (Oct 2014)

If you have a fixed work, or project to be done, post your requirement here as comments. Any other freelance related posts will be deleted.

Vikas Badiger

Can anyone tell me how much does it cost to make a website like yourstory.com had? Like when they started publishing stories? Do i need a website to do something similar to that? Any leads or help would be helpful.
TIA :)

Srinivas Shiv

#Startups #Flipkart ,#OLA

Is there any scope for multiple players in new age business ecosystem ?

Can we see investors showing interest to build 50-100 Flipkarts or SnapDeals or OLAs etc ?

In Taxi business only Uber and OLA will fight with each other to dominate the market ?

Strongly feel the startup scene is going to drastically slow down in next 2-3 years, if investors doesnt show any interest in allowing multiple players to solve major challenges in huge potential markets like India.

Vishal Singh

Hello everyone,

I have started an offline chain of stores in Bangalore catering to women’s ethnic wear with the brand name Diva. The start up is just an year and a half old and has been sustaining on its own now.I have got 5 stores operational now.I am looking out for people who are willing to invest to fuel further growth and expand it. When i say invest it doesnt only refer to funding but other aspects too.

Like adding more stores, ecommerce, branding, pr etc

Looking forward

Vishal Singh

Harsha Mv

Important Note to All Entrepreneurs!!

#enjoy #yourself

Asheesh Sinha

Check if you have a Great business plan in place as per this article from Harvard Business Review. If not, we (www.PlanThyBusiness.com) can help !!

How to Write a Great Business Plan

How to Write a Great Business Plan

Which information belongs—and which doesn’t—may surprise you.
Sumit Ghosh

How many daily active users would an app like Freecaller need to generate $1000 a day via admob ads? Assuming ads are placed similar to how freecaller has done, not very user intrusive. App-prenuers with ad based revenues please help! I am doing some financial modelling for my app :)

Rajan Chandi

What do you think of PayTM and Little App $50 million deal? Let’s discuss.

Kunwar Prithvi Singh Chauhan

We talk a lot about the lack of Startups like Facebook and Twitter emerging from India. Reasons might be a few, and to discuss them, I know this is the right platform.

I run an online portal and to help the creative ideas get some reach, I have decided to feature one CREATIVE idea/Startup everyday. So whoever in this group feels that their startup is something out of the box, please get in touch.

The portal I am talking about, is pretty popular and already in Google News, so you should be pretty confident about getting some nice exposure. I am not mentioning the URL here just to be sure that Admin doesn’t consider this post as a promotional one. Also, there is no financial involved in this transaction.

Please do not message me if you have just another eCommerce website or you are working on just another food delivery app. My main aim is to help the people who need some recognition really for their talent.

Healthy discussions welcome. :)

Harsha Mv

I forgot which website i landed on :P

#design #fail

Jay Reddy

Hi Everyone, One of my friends has been running a startup for sometime (3 months) now and has been generating 1.5 lakhs annual revenue. Should he go for Angel funding or Seed funding ? What is usually be the funding amount in both the cases and how much stake do Investors usually take in Angel & Seed round in India?
Thank you.

Gopinath Parthasarathy

I am in need of 25 powerbanks with an embossed company logo ..is it possible ?

Anonymous

BOOK MY BALLOONS – Get Air,Hydrogen & Helium Balloons,delivered to your doorstep ,anywhere in Bangalore.For details contact on 8088880011.

Nikita Agarwal

Once Again is an online C2C marketplace to sell and buy pre-owned women’s fashion (www.onceagainstore.com)
We are looking for a Magento developer (certification is preferable) with at least a year’s experience.
Should have knowledge of PHP, Html CSS and Java. Should work on both front end and back end.
The website is already live. We are looking for someone to add plenty of new features, categories and optimise the site.

This is a full-time position in Bangalore, India. (office is in Indiranagar)
Willing to pay well for a certified and experienced who is willing to work hard and learn.

If you’re interested, or know anyone who is, please get in touch with me on nikita@onceagainstore.com

Shireesh Gupta

So we have built a startup with a couple of products already out in the market from some time. We are growing at a satisfactory rate and we are doing alright for ourselves. We had bootstrapped initially and now we feel the need for investment to take our products to the next level. How do we go about getting investors and VCs exactly? You can message me. :)

Shreya Dalela

Hello

Is there anyone who can help with calculating pre-money valuation of any startup online/offline?

Thanks !

Vivek Dwivedi

How to sustain a free mobile app with involved web backend?

Say I have a small utility app(to-do list for example) which uses a web backend as well to make it available across devices. Now the app is not worth paying for, hence provided for free.

If we go for hosting the web app, it costs atleast $7 on heroku or $10 on linode per month. Maybe cheaper options can be there but, it’s never free(not counting amazon free tier for now).

Now I created the mobile app and I am hosting the web app as well. I don’t want to clutter the app with ads. Is there any way possible to at least stay at par? Any way to recover my server and maintenance cost?

Even if I can bear the cost, in long term there is nothing coming from this except the user details that I accumulated, and being a hater of selling private data, I would not like to go the way of selling database.

Any help, advice, experience would be appreciated :)

Lets also leave out replies like:
1. If it’s not unique, don’t make it.
2. If people will not pay for it, it’s worthless.

Mohit Baid

Is there a repository of app developers (companies/freelancers) in Bangalore?

Priya Iyer

Hi group,

I am working on a website for my small startup setup. Started using weebly for now. But am unable to get around the currency dropdown issue while creating a ecommerce website. Just got stuck there….

a. Has anyone developed an ecommerce using weebly ( to sell in Indian Rupees ) ?
b. How did you integrate payment gateways / carts ?

Help !!
Thanks.

Nimesh Mathur

Based on requests from many group members, we are starting a thread dedicated to co-founder hiring.

[a] If you’re looking for a co-founder, post it here as comments.
[b] Do NOT comment here for any non co-founder job post. PLEASE. respect time of fellow group members. The ones not adhering to rules will be banned.

Rajandran Rajarathinam

Dear Startups If you haven’t gone thro the Diffusion of Innovations Theory. Here are the types of Adoption Stages.

(1) Innovators 2.5%
(2) Early adopters 13.5%
(3) Early majority 34%
(4) Late majority 34%
(5) Laggards 16%

Think Which Stage you are. Stage 4 and 5 are so dangerous game to play!

Sachin Sengar

Vefley is the concept of world’s first event centralized social
networking platform. The platform has be designed such that the user
has the power to design his newsfeed based on his niche of interest
and location, in the process you end up having a newsfeed that has no
noise and irrelevant post. Vefley provides automatic targeting of any
event created to the right niche of audience at the right place.
It has evolved out of dormant motivation and restlessness within this
team to actually make something remarkable to optimize the process of
acquiring wisdom and we believe that experiences and especially
‘interesting experiences’ can take human beings closer to self. Vefley
is thus a cause ahead of a business model.
It all started when I was in Rishikesh to spend my weekend back in
December 2014, watching Steven J’s commencement address I was hit hard
by reality. A sudden realization dawn on me, I realized I was heading
nowhere in life. Sitting at the shore of turbulent river ganga,
Tibetan meditation music playing in the background and silence within
was making it tough for me to go back and fulfill the obligation of
graduating from college. I decided to drop out, a risk that was
unacceptable for those who were close to me, but I could think no more
about people. It was my life and I had to change it. I was asked to
leave home I was expecting that, it seemed as if everything that was
happening was meant to happen and I had overcome all that. I did, came
up with a bunch of breathtaking individuals from top institutions of
this country and boom Vefley was off to a start. Having said that, the
work is half done, we need people’s support to come real. For that we
have launched a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo please follow the
link to help us move a step closer to a dream.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vefley#/

Ashish Dhali

Hello Guys,

I need your help/suggestion on how to find distribution channels or people in US market or other English speaking nations to promote my SaaS based product, Sunny Landing pages (www.sunnylandingpages.com).

What all things I should be considering before I go with it?

Gautam Naidu P

Hi All , Need help / Suggestions
I am incorporating LLC in USA as non Us residents / citizens for my startup , I choose Wyoming state to Incorporate I also need a business checking account for payments etc but as non residents we cant open a business bank account in US online few banks asked to travel to verify the identity then open the account which is nt possibe for me . Is there any way i can get over it and get a account or any banks who will open business checking accounts? Any other option . I had Payoneer but that wont help either
thanks

Tanumoy Chakraborty

we are looking a guy who having knowledge of app development. We have our own app running, need a guy who having knowledge of app development at least 1 year and knowledge.

Abhisek Padhi

All of my customers are from India.

I’ve already made calculation and predicted the growth of traffic over months and have planned on investing on VPS for now.

Should I invest on VPS with Servers in India or in US for my ecommerce site ?

It would be great if you can suggest some good vps hosting companies from your experiences.

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