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How To Onboard The Right Investor For Your Startup

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How To Onboard The Right Investor For Your Startup


Most startups begin with the founders investing a startup capital to get their business up and running.  As a startup slowly refines its business model in order to complement their sales model and start generating revenue, the founders would then be focused on expanding and growing the startup.  It is at this point having an investor on board would be a huge help for the health of the startup. An investor would provide the much needed capital to expand a startup and scale up the business model, in order to amplify demand and increase supply to match it.  But finding an investor is not always an easy task but, there are some simple steps which can be used to maximise probability of finding the right investor.

 

Have A Product or Demo Ready

Investors need to know where they are investing their money and therefore they will always request a demonstration (demo) of the product before investing.  Therefore, it is important to have a working demo along with the sales pitch in order for the investor to make a calculated decision.

Research on investor portfolio

It is important to research prospective investors as in what kind of portfolios they have invested their money.  Learning about an investor portfolio gives an insight into the health of an investment company. If an investor has experience with handling similar startups to yours in the past, they would be able to provide guidance and mentorship.  However, the most important reason for research is to see if the investors have a similar kind of startup in their portfolio, which would mean the investor would be reluctant to invest because the startup in question would be a direct competitor to your startup.

Finding a mentor and a core team

A mentor in this case is someone who has prior experience navigating the choppy waters of the startup industry.  FInding a mentor will be invaluable in the long run as a mentor brings their experience to the forefront and would be able to guide the founders by nudging them in the right direction.  A good mentor will also be able to attract investors through their network as well. A core team should consist of skills not just from the technical side but also from the business and revenue perspective.  A good example here would be Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle and Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce. Ellison mentored Benioff during the initial days of Salesforce by providing valuable technical and business inputs and even investing in Salesforce, which paid off in multiples later on in the future.  Benioff founded Salesforce while he was still working at Oracle and Larry Ellison was supportive of the endeavour so much that he let Benioff split work so that he can work on Salesforce in the mornings and at Oracle in the afternoons.

Proven Business Model

Investors are more likely to invest in a startup which would be able to show a proven business model complemented with numbers.  The business model need not be elaborate and can instead focus on a small demographic which would provide a lot of valuable data useful for scalability like revenue forecasting, sales and marketing demographics, overheads, burnout rates, processes which can be automated and troubleshooting, but more importantly it offers investors a glimpse into the revenue model.  

Prepare for due diligence and have documentation ready

Startups need to be ready for a due diligence check by an investor and therefore ensure they have all the documentation ready and up to date.  There would be due diligence checks on various fronts. If a startup is building a software, investors will be running various scripts to check compliance and software licensing requirements.   Important documentation includes product roadmap (from demo to live,) timelines, cash burnout rate and financial projections for the future among others.

A startup should have a clear goal and define specific outcomes with their investors in order to achieve the maximum output from the partnership.  Onboarding investors is the first major hurdle any startup should clear and then focus on scaling up, in order to increase a startup valuation which in turn will attract more investors.  Following these steps will help finetune the search to identify a potential investor which would go a long way in scaling up a startup.

 

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How Does WhatsApp Generate Revenue

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How Does WhatsApp Generate Revenue

If you own a smartphone, there is a very high chance that you are a WhatsApp user.  The simple and lightweight online messaging application has embedded itself into our lives and has become indispensable.  Family groups, friend groups, office groups, play groups and many other groups like these see millions of conversations happening on a daily basis.  But have you ever wondered how this leading online messaging application makes its money?  There are no ads on WhatsApp and if that is the case from where does Whatsapp generate its revenue?

The answer to the question goes back to the beginning of WhatsApp which was founded by Brain Acton and Jan Koum, both of whom were ex- Yahoo employees.  When Whatsapp was first developed and deployed for public use it became an instant hit with users but the founders quickly realised they required data centers to handle the huge volumes of data from the user conversations to keep WhatsApp running.  So, they set a price of $1 for some countries and for some other countries it was free for the first year but charged $1 for renewal from the second year onwards.  In short this was a subscription model and Whatsapp had 700 million users at the peak of this model which meant it was generating 700 million dollars in revenue.

Facebook ended up purchasing WhatsApp in 2014 for $ 19 billion but one of the founders Jan Koum decided to leave WhatsApp because of a disagreement with Facebook over its use of user data and its desire to allow advertisements on WhatsApp.  Both the founders were vocal supporters of user data privacy.  As of 2020, WhatsApp has over 2 billion users, the second largest user database after Facebook.

ALSO READ: 4 Useful And New WhatsApp Features That Released During The COVID-19 Lockdown 

But How is Whatsapp generating its revenue now since there are still no ads on display in the mobile app.  In a 2016 blogpost WhatsApp said “Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.  The goal is to have people communicate directly with their banks, airlines, etc. over the app, while the businesses pick up the bill previously paid through subscriptions.”  Facebook also uses the data from the user messages in WhatsApp to increase the reach of its ads on Facebook.  However, a user has the ability to turn off the settings which allow Whatsapp to share the data with Facebook.  According to a Forbes estimate, WhatsApp is generating a revenue of $ 5 billion at an average revenue of $4 per user.

Facebook is benefiting from Whatsapp by generating a huge wealth of consumer behavior data which inturn is being used to improve the ads on Facebook.  WhatsApp has a growing revenue stream because of the new users it keeps adding to its database and still has a lot of room to grow.

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How To Identify Your Target Audience

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How To Identify Your Target Audience

Startups are created when there is an existing problem which needs to be solved.  Startups often spend years in moulding and creating a product or a service which aims to address a need or a problem.  However, it can be easy to lose track of the end goal if the product or the service is not in the hands of the actual target audience.  Target audience is a group of people you want to reach with your publication, advertisement (ads) or a message.  For example ads related to non vegetarian food would not do any good if they are placed in areas with a high vegetarian population.  Ads related to high end cutting edge computers would not do any good if they are not placed in areas which have a high density of industries.  Simply put identifying a target audience will translate into sales for your product or service.

Target audiences can be identified by following three simple steps

1. Creating a customer profile:

The first step in identifying a target audience is to assign certain characteristic attributes to the audience which include

  • Age: What is the age demographic that is most likely to use your product or service.  This is important because customers across different age groups think differently, which would mean the marketing campaign needs to be tweaked accordingly.
  • Gender:  This is an important metric to be established because a product needs to be able to address these differences.  For example, it does not make sense for a male grooming product to be advertised to the female gender.
  • Spending Capability: The ability of a target audience to spend greatly affects marketing strategies.  People who are able to afford spending luxuriously respond well to marketing campaigns which stress luxury and exclusivity.  For example, OnePlus the mobile phone developer positioned itself as a flagship killer with the features of a flagship.  It was able to appeal to the middle class spectrum which in turn translated into a huge volume of sales.

Other key characteristics can include marital status, geographic location, hobbies, interests and many more.

ALSO READ: How To Ensure Team Meetings Are Productive During Work From Home Due To Lockdown

2. Conduct market research

A lot can be gleaned from conducting primary and secondary market research.  Primary research involves learning about customer buying habits through direct contact like surveys, interviews and focus groups.  This is why a lot of startups and businesses usually ask customers to answer survey questionnaires when they make a purchase. Secondary market research is a kind of a market research method that involves collecting information or data from secondary sources.  This means a business collects and uses information that has previously been collected by some other person or entity.   A simple example would be food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato asking feedback about a recent food order.  The purpose of this is to curate a better restaurant selection experience for you when placing a new order.

3. Observing competition

It is safe to say that no product or a service would be a monopoly as new players will keep on emerging in the market.  It is always a good idea to know what your competitors are doing with their businesses. This would offer fresh insights related to your marketing strategy like what other offerings could be added to your portfolio, or how a marketing campaign can be changed to tailor the ever changing customer demands.  Analysing a competitor can lead to valuable modifications to your offering and yield new business.  An example here would be how Zomato acquired UberEats thereby making them the market leader in the food delivery industry in India.  Previously Swiggy used to rule the market by holding a majority share in the market.  Zomato realised that instead of putting in resources to penetrate the market, acquiring UberEats would give them the advantage.  Zomato now holds around 50% of the market in the food delivery business in India.

Target audiences will need to be reassessed periodically on a regular basis.  The customer profile needs to be refined regularly and the marketing campaign changed accordingly.  As the market trends keep constantly evolving, one can stay ahead of the curve by doing their due diligence in gathering market research data.  Start defining and understanding your target audience so that you can make the most of your precious time.

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How To Ensure Team Meetings Are Productive During Work From Home Due To Lockdown

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How To Ensure Team Meetings Are Productive During Work From Home Due To Lockdown

The entire world is currently battling its biggest threat so far, the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 virus.  Businesses and corporate organizations were totally unprepared for the lockdown of entire countries across the globe, which is a consequence of the COVID-19 virus.  The lockdowns were enforced as a desperate measure to curb the spread of the virus and give the healthcare infrastructure some amount of leeway to combat the virus.

However, companies and businesses adapted to the lockdown by enforcing a mandatory work from home option to ensure work stays on track.  Working from home means having to balance both personal and professional lives at the same place and this can often lead to frustrating situations.  Physical team meetings have now moved to virtual spaces where teams can catch up on targets and establish new targets.  But virtual team meetings can sometimes drag onto a long time which leads to the decrease in the productivity of the meetings and also a waste of time.

There are however ways to ensure the virtual meetings and conference calls to stay productive and also to finish them efficiently in minimal times.

Equip the team with the right technology and tools

More often than not team meetings see a wastage of time during the beginning of the meets when everyone is joining the meet.  Time is lost while checking for the quality of the video and audio and can often look disorganized.  It is important to use the right tools or apps which are light and easy to use.  Examples include Zoom, Google Meets and Hangouts or Microsoft Teams.  Equipping the team with the right tools means the managers and the team stay on the right page.

Being Prepared

It is important to spend some time before the meeting to prepare a list of questions and tasks that need to be addressed during the online meeting.  This simple task will not only ensure that you stay on track during the meeting but also lets you get into the right frame of mind for the meeting.  Any follow up questions can be compiled and can be asked in an email or in a one on one call.

Keep the time/time zones in mind

While scheduling a meeting, the time should be taken into consideration.  No one likes to have a meeting early in the morning because it is a normal time in a different timezone.  A meeting should be fixed so that everyone attending is comfortable which would in turn mean everyone would be able to participate efficiently.

Speaking over each other

While working remotely, one may not be able to see each other clearly either due to slow internet or bad hardware.  There can be video and audio lags as well which would mean you might not be able to know when someone is speaking which would mean two people are speaking at the same time making the situation a little awkward.  Therefore it is important to take a pause before speaking to check if someone else on the team is speaking.

Make the team meetings a regular part of the schedule

It is advisable to avoid ad hoc and impromptu meetings during remote working hours as it might disrupt an employee’s work flow.  Agreeing on a time and schedule for a team meeting will also send an important message that other people’s time is valuable.  Preparing for the meeting in advance also allows you to avoid potential connection issues.

As the large majority of the world is currently working from home, it would be safe to assume that a lot of roles would see the transition to remote work once lockdowns are lifted.  However for the moment, it is important to remember that time is valuable and following the above mentioned points will help in improving the productivity of virtual team meetings.

Also read: How To Onboard The Right Investor For Your Startup

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