Startup Founders 2.0 – Tracking Progress of Your Startup at an Early Stage

A startup idea goes through different stages of execution, every stage with its own set of challenges.  Most likely at the ideation stage, you as founders have questions such as

‘Is this the right idea?’ instead of ‘Is this the right way of execution?’?

Will someone pay me for my product/service?

Will I get someone to invest in my startup/idea?

Will I be able to attract the right talent to work for my startup?

By when will I know whether there is traction happening for my idea?

At the 2nd Meetup of  the Startup Founders 2.0, we brainstormed on ‘How to track the progress of execution when you are at the ideation stage?’. The established metrics such as revenue, growth rate, profitability etc do not make as much sense when you are in the early phase of your startup.  In the absence of clearly defined metrics, it becomes difficult for the founders like you to get a clear picture of the progress. Most often you are engrossed in the operational issues and the bigger picture seems to get lost, said Siddharth Tripathy, Founder of Skillizen and Co-founder of iSeed at the meet,” At early stages of a venture, it is hard to conceive of a stable dashboard on which progress can be realistically monitored,”.

This blog will attempt to extract the wisdom from various speakers at this weekly meetup event held at iSEED.

Seeking Clarity on Idea from End-Consumers

The ideal way to start is by understanding the customer and the pain point you are trying to solve. If you do, it’s a great beginning.

Once you understood the problem, you need to define the nature of your solution, if you are making a mobile app, it is easy for you to reach the end customer vis-à-vis  if you are working on a hardware product. In the case of a mobile app or a website or any IT enabled idea (that majority of this Friday Founders MeetUp participants were working on), you should reach out and take feedback from the end customer even before building an app or a website.

The metrics here would depend on how many of your end customers agree that it’s the right solution for their pain point you have zeroed in on. Well, it is rather difficult to find people who are your end customers when the idea is in your mind, specifically Indian customers like to play with your app or see the website before they can share some valuable feedback.

Handy Research on Competitors

Second metrics you can define by doing some research and find out if a similar problem is solved somewhere else in the world and if yes, how is it done. If you can find a solution quite similar to you, it becomes a benchmark for you.  Most ideas in Indian startup space are copied from the west, says Pranay Chaudhary, founder of Actogen, a single platform for doctors and patients.

Feedback from people around you

Most often you have people in your life with whom you can freely share the idea and get their feedback. It is an important exercise.

Tracking progress within: Are you still passionate?

Other than tracking progress through externally visible parameters, founders also need to pay attention on their “journey within” as entrepreneurs. This is more so during early stage of one’s startup journey. “We as founders have to track our entrepreneurial spirit. Ideas evolve but the spirit and passion need to continue to form a study base”, said Dr. Harsh Mishra, Founder of iSEED.”It is counterintuitive that the obstacles we face to our entrepreneurial spirit is the very indicator of our progress. If we ‘re not facing roadblocks, we may not be truly progressing. The walls we face indeed give us despair but if we travel from the point of despair to the point of hope by continuing to take action and not giving up, we have made real progress and it will soon show progress visible to the external world. The obstacles however need not be only the big ones. These may show up periodically within a span of weeks or months.  Sharing his own experience when he had started working on the idea of an entrepreneurship school; the person he thought most sold to his idea proved to have quickly lost faith and separated. This was like hitting a roadblock. Once he overcame this obstacle within, his passion soared once again more than before. He found better co-founders and advisors who he could convince even more deeply than before about his idea. Thereon, he has been able to go over many such roadblocks, and interestingly sees them as true measures of progress. “A spiritual daily practice that can revive the spirit within to continue can help greatly”, he believes.

Startup Journey is tough, and you feel like reaching the end of the road almost every day, said Uday who is passionately trying to solve the problem of awareness in patients about the cost of medicines and treatment. “If you are still passionate about the idea, you are on a right track”, he says.

Convincing people

Most often, its your passion and clarity of the vision which drives other people to follow you. It would depend on your understanding the idea and the magnitude of the problem you are solving. Why should you be the right person to solve this problem? Do you have an in-depth understanding of the sector specific issues or the what goes in the head of your end customer? Consider this, if you can convince people to work with you, perhaps you are going in a right direction. An outsider would always be apprehensive; be it the viability of your idea or your ability to execute it.

If you can convince someone to join your team or to put money on your idea, that’s a good validation, but most often people put money on the founder rather than the merit of the idea, says Siddharth, who is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of iSeed.

Are lean principles relevant in Indian context

Go and tell people about your idea and just be free of any concern, no one can copy your idea, says Harshit, who is a corporate trainer and working on a start-up idea. Lean start-up principles are useful when you are working on something which is totally new to the market, if you know the solution well or if you have something to benchmark against, perhaps lean would not make much sense, says Pranay.  You should be aware of market conditions and demographics when benchmarking against a similar solution in other geographies, says Dr. Harsh.

What is your metrics of success? How you define whether you are on a right track? I would be happy to understand your perspective in the comment section below.

What is founder 2.0

As Founders, you are lone warriors. Very often, when you are working on an idea, people from your life are often apprehensive of its viability and often counter or ridicule you. Founders are best in the company of each other; hence Startup Founders 2.0 is a platform for you to discuss your problems specific to your journey as startup founders, entrepreneurs and people working on their idea. If you are excited, check out the upcoming schedule of next Startup Founders 2.0 event, or drop a mail to Prikshit, he will keep you posted about the schedule. I look forward to meeting you there.

 

4 Comments

  1. Rahul Dasgupta-Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 9:55 AM

    Nice insights! However, it would be great to see if you can also highlight how to do the specific tasks discussed….currently it mostly talks about what to do.

    • Girdharee-Reply
      May 30, 2016 at 5:51 AM

      Hi Rahul,

      Thanks for the feedback. I tried covering what to do. Every start-up \/idea has its own journey and it is dependent on the founder how he can take feedback from the customers, or convince the people around him to join. There isn’t a fix strategy for this.

  2. Pankaj Sharma-Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 3:25 PM

    Great Article. Often Feedback from close people depends on the experience they had with us in past. Its not necessarily a good guiding factor, sometimes, demotivating as well

    • Girdharee-Reply
      May 30, 2016 at 5:52 AM

      Hi Pankaj,
      Its not always negative, though its guided by your past relationship in some cases.

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