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What a startup should do to succeed in India

Entrepreneurs who have succeeded with their startups share their secrets

Shutapa Paul
Published: Jan 16, 2016 02:01:28 PM IST
Updated: Jan 16, 2016 02:41:59 PM IST
What a startup should do to succeed in India
Image: Manoj Patil for Forbes India
Bhavish Aggarwal is the co-founder and CEO of Ola Cabs

Focus on your product and speak to your customers - these were some of the words of wisdom that startup entrepreneurs and investors imparted to early startups. A clutch of successful startup entrepreneurs and investors brainstormed at the Indian government’s Startup India on the key essentials that should be part of every startup manual.

Lack of skilled labour continues to be one of the biggest challenges in India. “Availability of skilled manpower at different levels of capability is a big challenge for us,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Ola Cabs. “We have a lot of people but we need to impart the right skill. We need to work with the government and need to source these people from different parts of the country.”
Paying attention to the customer and going back to them for feedback is a key area that must not be ignored. “People told us that they were not getting a very large selection online, which they get in the large markets of India,” said Kunal Bahl, co-founder, Snapdeal. “Keep taking feedback, keep talking to your customers, you will find the results.”
Varsha Rao, entrepreneur and Head of Operations, Air BnB added, “It is better to have 100 customers really love you rather than a million just liking you…Focus on your product to get there,” said 
Venk Shukla, president, TiE advised that while globally successful companies do one thing very successfully, in India the trend is towards doing everything. “If you are not the best in what to do, you won’t be able to scale,” said Shukla. India currently has over 4,500 startups, a majority of which is technology-based. But do investors find the same kind of excitement for non-tech startups? “I don’t think VCs are averse to investing in hardware,” said Vinod Dham, founder, Indo-US Ventures. But he also added that currently in India, food-based startups were garnering maximum attention. 
The most important lesson for startups was to have strong man management that can lead the team and company to growth and prosperity. “It is not the money which is the driver, it is the common goal and passion that drives my team,” said Dilip Chabria, founder, Team Indus.

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