One of the most fulfilling journeys anyone can undertake is to begin a startup. There are a lot of stories about how a startup makes it big in the market and reading them can inspire oneself to undertake a similar journey. However, beginning a startup and scaling it up is easier said than done as there are multiple stages to running a startup. Identifying a problem and coming up with a solution is not the only thing which matters when it comes to founding a startup but there are multiple other parameters which need to be considered along the journey. By looking at the multiple startups which succeeded and the big picture, a startup’s journey can be quantified into stages. Skipping any of these stages and moving on to the next stage would surely be a setup for a failure.
Read along to find out the various stages in the journey of a startup.
1) Problem discovery
Anybody can come up with an idea but the most important thing is to come up with an idea which solves a particular problem. This stage is about discovering bottlenecks and problems faced by customers in a market. This is the stage where a startup needs to focus on what the customer wants rather than what a startup needs to do. This is where startups need to interview customers to find out the problems they are facing and come up with a solution. For example, Uber discovered that customers need a simple way to hail a cab and came up with their platform which connects cabs with customers.
The next stage is to find a value proposition for customers. This begins by ideating to find opportunities and create good solutions. There are high chances for good ideas to come up in the discovery stage during the customer interviews as they might provide their own insights and ideas. By the end of this stage, a startup should be able to come up with a solution which solves a problem by providing a solution which an existing competitor would not provide.
3) Problem/Solution fit
There is a high likelihood of the first solution not being the right solution. The initial plans might not work out and therefore Plan A should never be assumed as the right solution. Sometimes the immediate solution will not nudge a customer to make a purchase. This stage exists to make multiple iterations and if possible pivots into different product models. During this stage, a startup needs to introduce a product design, clickable prototypes, or product features which the customers can interact with physically. The initial problem could be solved if customers show interest and prepay for the product or have taken a certain set of actions that you can define based on your product, target and market. For instance, in the case of freemium models actionables could mean completing a long survey, joining a waitlist and referring X number of people or applying to become a user.
4) Product/market fit
In order to go for a product/market fit, a startup would need data like customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer lifetime value. This could only be done with a launched product which is in use. One of the best indicators for a good product/market fit is acquiring customers at a lower acquisition cost. A CAC can be calculated by dividing all the costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent. For example, if a company spent INR 100 on marketing in a year and acquired 100 customers in the same year, their CAC is INR 1. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one of the easiest ways to measure product/market fit. Net Promoter Score is the percentage of customers rating their likelihood to recommend a company, a product, or a service to a friend or colleague on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highly likely and 1 being highly unlikely.
5) Scaling up
This is the stage where a startup needs to focus on diversifying their product offerings. This is where a startup needs to iterate what is working and put in processes which make these workflows faster. This is the stage where a company could think of hiring more resources, opening a larger office space and expanding in different areas. For example when the hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo began, it was limited to Bengaluru. However, Dunzo soon expanded to other metropolitan cities to expand their operations and scale up.
Many startups and entrepreneurs focus on scaling up rapidly without going through the proper startup lifecycle and often end up in losses. Building a startup could be fun but it is important to pay attention to each of these steps throughout its journey.
How Parle G Became An Iconic and Well Loved Indian Brand
Millennials would recall fond memories of eating Parle-G biscuits in the evenings along with a hot cup of chai or coffee. The simple and humble milk biscuit Parle G is a household name and is perhaps the major reason for Parle being the brand it is today. Parle G is also one of the oldest Indian brands in existence and can trace its roots back to the British Raj when India was still under British rule. The journey of Parle G is as iconic as the brand itself. Keep reading to find out how Parle G grew from a humble beginning to become one of the major brands in the FMCG industry today.
Parle was established in 1929 by the Chauhan family in Vile-Parle, Bombay during the British Raj rule. Mohanlal Dayal Chauhan belonged to a family of silk traders and he purchased a refurbished confectionery manufacturing plant. Mohanlal sailed to Germany to learn the trade of making confectionery and returned to India with the necessary skills in 1929, following which he set up his first factory. The factory was named as House of Parle after the suburb Vile Parle, in which it was located.
Parle initially manufactured and sold peppermints, sugar and toffees. The plant was managed by 12 family members who looked after engineering, manufacturing and logistics. The first Parle product to become a major hit was the Orange Bite, an orange flavoured candy. The Swadeshi Movement started in India to urge Indian citizens to purchase only Indian products in order to reduce dependency on imported British products. Spurred by the increasing prominence of the Swadeshi Movement, Parle decided to manufacture biscuits which were a premium imported product back then. United Biscuits, Huntley & Palmers, Britannia and Glaxo were the prominent British brands that ruled the market.
In 1938, Parle came up with Parle G which is short for Parle Gluco, a glucose based biscuit which was made in India and made for Indians. These biscuits became an affordable source of nourishment for the Indian masses and made biscuits commonplace in India.
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Parle hit a roadblock when competitors like Britannia which launched its own line of glucose biscuits named Glucon D. Brittannia even went as far as to get Gabbar Singh from the movie Sholay, to promote their biscuits. The Indian masses quickly became confused with the number of biscuits available in the market and simply began asking for glucose biscuits.
It was at this moment that Parle decided to counter the knock offs and came up with packaging that would be unique to Parle Gluco while patenting its own packing machinery. The new packaging was a yellowish wax paper wrapper with a plump little girl imprinted on it , along with the brand name and company’s red coloured logo. This was quickly followed by a television commercial with the Indian superhero Shakthiman who was immensely popular with kids. Since then there was no looking back for Parle G and even to this day it enjoys an unparalleled popularity.
Parle G is still committed to its promise of being an affordable brand for all economic sections of the Indian society. A small pack of Parle G biscuits is sold for a simple price of ₹ 5. Parle G biscuits are easily available in all corners of the country and can be found in the remotest parts like the Line of Control or the North Eastern borders.
Today Parle G is one of the most recognisable Indian brands and a hundred million packets of Parle G are sold every month.
The Incredible Journey Of Wolfe Herd And The Dating App Bumble Which Went Public
Silicon Valley woke up to the news of the dating app Bumble making its public debut. Bumble is a dating app which caters to women and is led by a woman named Whitney Wolfe Herd. As soon as Bumble made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange (NSE,) shares of the dating app soared by as much as 67%. This led to the net worth ofWolfe Herd, the Chief Executive Officer of Bumble, to be valued at $1.5 billion, thereby making her a self made billionaire at just the age of 31. Bumble plans to use the $2.2 billion proceeds from the IPO to pay off debt, fund international growth, and pursue acquisitions.
However, the story of Wolfe Herd and Bumble is one of mettle, grit and inspiration. The journey of the unicorn is nothing short of a story. Keep reading to find out how Wolfe Herd founded a company to rival Tinder.
Wolfe Herd began her journey as a co founder of Tinder, the world’s biggest dating app. Whitney Wolfe Herd was Vice President of Marketing, at Tinder when she began her journey. However, Wolfe Herd alleged she was subjected to sexual harassment by her colleagues at Tinder and that she was stripped of her co founder tag because having a girl with that tag makes the company seems like a joke. Wolfe Herd walked out of Tinder and filed a lawsuit against Match Group, the parent company of Tinder. The lawsuit was settled out of the court for $ 1 million.
It was her experiences at Tinder which led Wolfe Herd to start Bumble, a dating app which lets women make the first move. Women can swipe across profiles of men and choose to begin a conversation after a match. At no point in this process could a man make the first move thereby putting women in firm control about the conversation as well as offering them a safety net.
After taking some time off following the nasty lawsuit with Tinder, Wolfe Herd received an email from a Russian named Andrey Andreev, who is based in London and founded Badoo, another dating app which was the world’s largest dating app at that time (2014.) Andreev was impressed with Wolfe Herd’s commitment at Tinder and said he would help her with her new startup and ended up investing $ 10 million in her idea. Andrey Andreev would own 79% stake while Wolfe Herd owns 20% and the title of CEO and at the same time be able to tap into the infrastructure and resources of Badoo. Herd and Andreev brought in former Tinder executives Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick, to design the new app’s back end and user interface. Both Mick and Gulczynski share the remaining 1% stake between themselves.
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During a cocktail event, Andrey and Wolfe Herd were discussing a scenario where women could make the first move and get the phone number of a guy after a match. However, the match would disappear after 24 hours if neither of the parties made a move. This became the core of Bumble and the secret sauce for its success.
By January 2015, about a month after launch, Bumble had about 100,000 downloads. By the end of 2017, two years after launching, Bumble had amassed more than 22 million users. This growth was noticed by Tinder which then made a buyout offer for $ 450 million. Wolfe Herd rejected the offer immediately. By July 2020, Bumble announced it had reached 100 million users. Today, Bumble is available in 150 countries and is expanding into new areas like business networking. In 2019, revenue jumped more than 35% and it turned a profit of $ 68.6 million. More than 10% of Bumble’s users pay $9.99 for a monthly subscription to access perks like extra time to decide whether a suitor merits a message. At Tinder, just about 5% of users pay for a similar service.
Today Bumble is the second largest dating app in the world and only continues to grow with its closest competitor being Tinder.
From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers. Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn. The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork. Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms. Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals. Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord. This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.
In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status. However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model. This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.
In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus. It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. The company had started the year with about 500 employees. By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400. With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars. As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges. Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.
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