How Can Success Technopreneurs

Saturday, February 21, 2009 Posted by Ashraf

The recent HeadStart and Compute 2009 conference focused on technology and innovation in an entrepreneurship ecosystem. Jointly organised by the Headstart Foundation and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), Bangalore, the conference witnessed a congregation of many stakeholders in the innovation universe—entrepreneurs, start-ups, researchers, industry leaders and investors. The gathering threw up a number of mantras for success for those on the threshold of a new business.

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, once remarked, “There will come a time when big opportunities will be presented to you, and you’ve got to be in a position to take advantage of them.” That may be easy to say, but how does one actually ensure that one is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities when they appear on the horizon? Several ideas in this regard emerged at the recent HeadStart and Compute 2009 conference in Bangalore. Here are four that stood out:

1. Keep those ears open
Listening plays an important part in making your business a success. Listen to your customers to find out what they want from you and also what they like (and dislike) about your product or service. “We all trumpet our achievements to customers, and then plug up our ears. We don’t listen at all. That’s a challenge, especially for start-ups. After talking about what you have done, listen to people saying what you have not done,” suggested Ananth Krishnan, CTO, Tata Consultancy Services. So, put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and walk a mile in them. You will emerge with a better understanding of what they really want.

2. A goal is a goal is a goal
When you start a business, setting goals for it is the most crucial part. Talking about the challenges before a start-up, Suveer Kalra, executive vice president, Global Sales and Marketing, Paladion Networks, emphasised the need to set the right goals, chalk out a lucid roadmap and then decide on the area of its operations. “This can be as small as Bangalore or South India, or may be global, but we need to gain strength and dominance,” he said. So, setting down what you want to achieve, within what timeframe and from which markets, is important. The first three years of a business are critical. Aspiring for complete market leadership in these years is stupidity, according to some speakers at the conference. “You can go for geographical leadership. Be the Tata of your place,” Kalra suggested.

3. Funding—all businesses are not the same
Entrepreneurs should focus on their specific fund raising and investment needs. They must not fall into the trap of assuming that all businesses are the same, especially when it comes to start-ups, said Sujai Karampuri, CEO, Sloka Telecom. “A potato chips business is not equal to a semiconductor chip business for a start-up. You cannot use the same methods and same values to evaluate them. In the same way, investments into the business also differ,” he added. In India, venture capitalists (VCs) have a different approach towards entrepreneurs, which can be contrary to the interests of most entrepreneurs. VCs in Silicon Valley normally fund entrepreneurs who do not have capital or are first-time start-ups. They fund ideas that are not clearly developed and have a lot of risk associated with them, revealed Karampuri. “But if you present a technology idea to Indian VCs, they won’t be able to make head or tail of it. When tech entrepreneurs are thinking of becoming Google, VCs are thinking differently,” he added. So, great entrepreneurship is all about getting the right funds from the right people at the right time.

4. The selling point
Companies more often die of bad sales and marketing than bad implementation, felt Ashish Gupta, partner, Helion Ventures. While talking about start-up opportunities, he stressed that at least one person in an organisation should focus outwards on a full-time basis. Marketing is not all about advertising. It is much more than ads. “Think of marketing as a discipline, and how you should build a product in the first place. And then figure out what kind of advertising you need,” he said. The best marketing people in technology companies are experienced engineers because they are able to convert products into a saleable idea, thanks to their deep understanding of technology.


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