Tips for Startup Success and Growth

For your startup to be successful unicorn, all you need is a great idea, certified by your best friend’s enthusiasm and the rest will take care of itself. Although you will have to work, but there are always shortcuts, and the billion-dollar exit is just a meeting away.

For help & insight, find a big-name chairman who travels the world for a dozen boards, because he won’t get caught up in all the details of your business. Those emails he’s reading during your board meetings are with very important people who could help with an IPO. The critical thing is to take all his wisdom to heart, even if it’s based on pre-historic market information, and make sure not to dilute it with your own judgment.

When it comes to strategic decisions, speed is the most important factor, so to help you with that, the following is a list of ideas to blast off your startup.

1. Create Buzz

Instead of wasting time with customers, who may not even use social media, focus on getting your name out there, winning awards, and producing expensive videos that have one chance in a million of going viral. Generating a PR buzz is the secret to success, plus your friends will think you have made it. Focus on your numbers, numbers of facebook friends, likes, connections on Linkedin, and how many times you are mentioned in the press. People who see all this may not be interested in buying your product, but they will soon recognize your name.

2. Be Nice

Avoid conflict so people will like you. Never make a decision that might upset someone; putting it off is more comfortable for everyone, even when that makes the problem worse in the long run. Negotiating is unseemly, and totally unnecessary, as most people are reasonable; whatever they’re offering is probably fair.

3. Hire People You Trust

The most loyal teams are made with friends and family — anyone you can’t fire. They may not have relevant experience, but at least you won’t waste time trying to find someone who does. Plus, if their performance suffers, you’ll have plenty of time to get into it at parties and family dinners, where other loved ones can chime in.

4. Work Hard

Capability and results are no match for a busy, frenetic office. If everybody’s working 12 hours a day, progress is a sure thing. Plus, it’s much more satisfying to check off all the little tasks on your To Do list than to sit back and waste time with strategic contemplation.

5. Strive for Excellence

Prototypes are ugly. No matter how long it takes, make your product absolutely perfect before showing it to a customer for user feedback or test marketing. If the customers don’t rave about your product when it’s finally finished, that doesn’t mean you’re not meeting their needs; it only means they don’t understand your product, but they’ll get it eventually.

6. Stay Positive

When you receive bad news, try to put it out of your mind as quickly as possible; no point thinking about something that’s going to crush your mood. Also, always believe the engineers’ forecasts on time and cost, regardless of history. The last 10 times they underestimated, they had very good reasons. This time will be different.

7. Don’t tell anyone your idea, They might try to steal it

The product development process will only get derailed and bogged down by customer input. You know best what the market needs. Plus, it’s difficult and time-consuming to find customers, never mind figure out what to do with all those different opinions.

8. Don’t be scared of competition

If there are already several players competing, it must be a good market. Product differentiation and innovation are nice to have, but if that doesn’t work out, you can always compete on price. Nobody has ever considered trying to lower the cost of this particular product before, and commodity businesses are always the most profitable.

9. Grow as fast as possible

Don’t worry about cash; it’ll be there when you need it. You have more important things to worry about than the details of your financials. You’re not an accountant, after all, and who cares about profitability when you’re shooting for the moon. Sustainable business models are old-school. As long as your revenues are growing, M&A or IPO are a sure bet.

10. Put on a great show for investors

In your pitch, before you state in simple terms what you sell, make sure to use lots of industry acronyms. Investors may not understand, but it’ll make you sound like an expert. Creating a chart with a clear comparison to the competition takes too much time and effort. As long as you have colorful diagrams showing how great your product is, and the projections show your recurring revenues skyrocketing, there’s no need to quantify your value proposition. And, regardless of what business you’re in, don’t forget to say you’re using blockchain!

If investors aren’t interested, don’t waste time rethinking the business; just fix the pitch deck.

Remember, a great product sells itself. The reason your product will be better than that of the huge incumbents in your space with years of experience and millions to invest is because they’re slow and stupid, while you’re smart and nimble. After all, didn’t you just win an award?

Ref: Venturebeat

Unicorns in India

Unicorns in India – A unicorn is a private company valued at over $1 Billion.

Only China(36) and United States(101) have more unicorns than India.

Whether you want to buy, sell, book a taxi or find a restaurant, there is an Indian unicorn for you.

Zomato Media

Restaurant Search

$1 Billion

Quickr

Media and entertainment

$1 Billion

Shopclues

E-commerce

$1.1 Billion

One97 Communications

E-commerce

1.8 Billion

Snapdeal

E-commerce

$5 Billion

Ola

Transportation

$5 Billion

Flipcart

E-commerce

$15 Billion

 

 

 

 

 

Tripfez – an online travel agency catering to Muslims

Tripfez scores funding to focus on Muslim holidaymakers

Tripfez, an online travel agency catering to Muslims, today announced it has raised US$750,000 in seed funding. China’s Gobi Partners and Malaysia’s Intres Capital led the round, while Douglas Khoo, co-founder of Chinese travel booking site Qunar, put in some cash.

Tripfez, based in Malaysia, was set up in 2013 by co-founders Faeez Fadhlillah and Juergen Gallistl – two former schoolmates brought together by their mutual love of travel.

In a nutshell, the company helps Muslim travelers discover, compare, and book hotels and tour services that fit their specific needs. The hotel and tour operators on the site provide things like Halal food and a list of Halal restaurants in the vicinity, a prayer mat and Quran, and a symbol to indicate Qiblah, the direction to face when praying during salat.

Tripfez also operates Salam Standard, a new hospitality rating system for Muslim-friendly amenities and services that uses three categories: bronze, silver, and gold.

Tripfez currently lists over 200,000 properties on its site worldwide, of which 20,000 are Salam Standard certified. Of those, 10,000 are hotels, including the popular brands Accor, Movenpick, and Archipelago Hotel Group, Indonesia’s largest hospitality firm.

Tapping the Muslim market makes all the sense for the company, says Gobi Partners managing partner Thomas Tsao. Muslims represent almost a quarter of the world’s population, yet we’ve seen only a few Islam-focused startups, making this market “highly underserved.”

In 2014, Muslim travelers accounted for US$142 billion of global outbound tourism revenue, he adds. This figure is expected to rise to US$233 billion by 2020.

“With Tripfez and Salam Standard’s Halal-friendly travel offerings, we believe that Muslim travelers will feel more comfortable to explore the world,” says Thomas.

Faeez’s team will spend the investment to grow in Malaysia, Indonesia, and key Middle Eastern markets. Specifically, it will use it to add new offerings, boost its marketing, and hire more people.

Ref: TechinAsia

ShadiBox – A Startup That Makes Weddings Less of a Hassle

ShadiBox Is A Startup That Makes Weddings Less of a Hassle.

Planning a wedding for yourself or for a loved one seems like an exciting experience but in truth, it can be exhausting and hectic. From finding for the perfect tailor to the reliable caterer; it is a frustrating, time-wasting, budget-tightening experience for many. You just wish it could be done and be done with it.

Such was an experience of Talha Rehman, the Founder of ShadiBox, when he had to face numerable hurdles organizing his sister’s wedding. Turning online in the hope of finding services was a disappointment and that’s when the need for a wedding platform emerged in the form of ShadiBox.

ShadiBox: Making Organizing a Shadi Easy

An online wedding marketplace, ShadiBox, aims at tapping into the $15bn wedding industry of Pakistan and become as the ‘Amazon for weddings.’ Based in Lahore and in Beta phase right now, ShadiBox has already made some noise in the industry. It’s a quick and easy way to plan, search and book the most reliable and popular wedding vendors in the city.

Catering to both vendors and users, it brings much-needed features which makes wedding planning a much more easier task. Vendors can connect with ShadiBox and have their portfolio and services uploaded. Users on the other hand, can get services like getting exclusive discounts to availing affordable wedding packages with a number of add-ons, honeymoon packages, car rental, DJ /dance floor services and so on. Users can also directly give reviews of the vendors on the website, therefore removing doubts about reliability.

Using the Website

The website seems simple and user-friendly enough. You get Featured vendors with a dedicated page, that provides users with information about timing availability, types of services, reviews, gallery and of course, online booking too.

Signing Up

While still in Beta Phase, the website will have advanced features such as a custom dashboard for users as well as vendors to ensure both parties are able to meet their needs. We hope to see such a feature soon, because it can make matters much easier and serve the very purpose that’s needed in a wedding-focused startup.

There’s the element of bargaining and negotiating between vendors and customers, a common feature that we witness in the run up to any desi wedding. Something akin to this can help more people use ShadiBox by letting them avail flexibility in finding that perfect wedding package that suits their needs.

 

How Does it Work for Vendors

Vendors will be charged a one-time minimal registration fee (though it’s free for users) after which they can have their business details uploaded on the website. Considering the fact that vendors are now pretty much aware of the basics of online technology, this venture according to the founder is a,  ‘wish come true’ for many vendors as they see now easily expand and reach a vast market without having to invest money in marketing or branding. The team at ShadiBox prides itself over their involvement in visiting and providing self-taken coverage of every vendor listed on their website, which is quite beneficial when it comes to questions about service quality and reliability.

The Final Say

When it comes to weddings, an average Pakistani is usually looking out for the best, cost-effective deals and many have turned to Facebook and other social mediums to search for popular wedding service providers. If the team behind ShadiBox plays their cards right, it’s quite likely to find good traction. Weddings are huge business and anything that simplifies the process is bound to be used and appreciated. Let’s hope this startup realizes their vision and shadi planning becomes as much of a fun-filled experience as the actual weddings themselves!

Ref: ProPakistani

LetsBonus – Daily deals with discounts

LetsBonus was the first European company to ride the group buying wave. The startup offers daily deals with discounts of up to 70% on activities like gourmet dinners, luxury spas, romantic escapes and travel. Recently, the spanish site added exclusive products among their daily offers.

LetsBonus has a team of more than 550 employees and now has offices in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Rome, Milan, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Mexico DF, Santiago de Chile, Bogota and Montevideo.

FancyBox – Beauty Ecommerce

Fancybox offers consumers the chance to live a complete beauty experience, from discovering new products that they can try before buying, to be informed of all the new trends and must haves. All this, of course, around a complete online beauty store offering more than 6.000 products from over 175 of the most well known brands, and at the best price. Also, a local celebrity is the co-founder and brand ambassador of the brand in each country

 

CornerJob – Recruitment App

CornerJob is the leading mobile hiring app based on simplicity, interaction and immediacy, empowering companies through mobile technology.

CornerJob’s mission is both, for companies to empower them with mobile technology and multiple disrupting features in order for them to find the right candidate in the shortest period of time, and for candidates to find the right job in the same short timeframe.

It is basically a job matching platform that enables users to find geolocated job offers, apply to them, chat directly with the recruiters and get an answer in 24 hours. For companies, it represents the perfect recruiting channel in terms of simplicity, interaction and immediacy. It also adds value in the selection process, since it includes a chat feature to minimize timeouts.

The app, which launched in Italy in September last year and has since expanded to France, Spain and Mexico, focuses on low-skill, high-turnover recruitment, and aims to streamline the hiring and job-search process via a lightweight mobile app that lets employers advertise jobs via its location-based app platform, and shortlist and chat with potential recruits. From the job seeker’s flip-side, it offers location-based job search, which can be filtered by sector.

At this nascent stage it’s not breaking out active user metrics — saying only that its app is getting 500,000 downloads per month, and publishing “up to 4,000” new job offers per week. Italy and France are its main markets currently, with Spain a recent addition.

CornerJob touts “simplicity and immediacy” as the core USP of its matching platform, which does not vet or authenticate the individuals using it but aims to quickly link businesses with potential employees to get the ball rolling —  the idea being more detailed checks can be done by employers once they have determined their shortlist of candidates via the app.

Recruiters and pre-selected job seekers chat via the CornerJob messaging interface to determine suitability for interview. Unsuccessful job seekers are at least told within 24 hours whether they have been pre-selected for a role for which they have applied. As you’d expect, the messaging app includes features tailored for its recruitment niche — such as the ability for businesses or candidates to be anonymous.

“Everything we’re doing in product is made to make this work,” says co-founder and CEO David Rodriguez, formerly of Hailo, discussing how CornerJob aims to stave off the risk of heavy-handed competition in the form of messaging giant WhatsApp’s own nascent interest in the B2C comms space. (Last month WhatsApp said it was testing business accounts, for example.)

“The whole environment is built around this. Having a history of candidates, what they’ve applied to, all the intelligence we’re putting in the algorithm to do a proper matching. Having the wall of offers which is adapted to the navigation you’ve had before, what you’ve been pre-selected for. There’s a lot of intelligence we’re bringing into the algorithms and the candidates and on the employer side.”

“So WhatsApp, obviously, and other players might end up doing similar things in the long run but that’s not their main focus,” he adds.

At this point, CornerJob’s candidate-employer matching smarts are largely based on location, freshness of job ad and any role/sector filters specified by users. But in the future, the aim is to inject a little more data-based intelligence into the process by analyzing usage of the platform to better customize matching to users, according to Rodriguez.

“What we’re doing is working on a few elements for now of the algorithm; three of them at this stage but we’re adding more and more parameters to this algorithm… I’d say this is the beginning of the personalization and matching history but we’re already doing it,” he tells TechCrunch.

Perhaps non-coincidentally, just last month Accel led a $10 million Series A round in rival blue-collar jobs app Job Today, which launched a little earlier than CornerJob but is in fewer markets (currently it’s nationwide in Spain, and recently launched in Paris and London). Safe to say, the race to be the go-to mobile app for blue-collar jobs is on.

While CornerJob’s co-founders argue they are aiming to serve a wider breadth of jobs than Job Today — from service industry staff to construction, logistics, sales, events staff, holiday reps and more — Job Today says its key sectors include retail, hospitality, delivery drivers/logistics and the beauty industry, so there’s plenty of overlap here.

CornerJob also claims it’s more focused on larger employers with higher volumes of blue-collar jobs versus Job Today chasing the “long tail” of small businesses with more modest staff needs. For example, it’s encouraging recruitment and tempting agencies to use its platform.

“If you look at our portfolio of people who are using us at the moment it’s a lot of great big brands,” says Rodriguez, name-checking the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King and also noting public sector institutions are making use of the platform.

“We really want to be the one-stop shop for blue collar work and high rotation jobs,” he adds.

While Job Today can tout well-known European VC Accel as a backer, CornerJob has a roster of regional investors for its Series A, hailing from the markets where its app is currently operational. Investors include Antai Business Angels and Mediaset España (through its media for equity subsidiary Ad4Ventures), VC funds from Banc Sabadell Capital, Bonsai Venture Capital, Cube Investments, Ithaca Investment, Samaipata Ventures (founders of La Nevera Roja), La Caixa Capital Risc and Media Digital Ventures.

As is clear from that investor list, CornerJob is also ploughing a regional media for equity furrow, although the co-founders specify that “most” of the Series A is cash, rather than media.

“This is a round mixed cash and media… We are in four markets and we are doing the part of media in two markets. I cannot give you the proportion [that is media for equity] but it’s mainly cash,” notes co-founder Gerard Olivé.

The Barcelona-based startup was founded in April 2015, going through the same venture builder vehicle (Antai) as Spanish mobile marketplace classifieds app Wallapop. The latter also utilized a media for equity route to grab exposure and scale its network in Spain (and is now seeking to repeat this trick in the U.S.) — ballooning in popularity in its home market as a result and reportedly attracting some serious international investor attention.

“We love media for equity agreements. That’s something that we had before in different startups that we’re launching in Antai — like Wallapop,” says co-founder Miguel Vicente.

“We strongly believe in building strong brands, so building that brand awareness and using offline media like TV,” adds Olivé, “it’s part of our playbook.”

CornerJob has TV ads running in Italy now, and will be kicking off a TV campaign in Spain “soon,” according to Vicente.

“This is a marketplace, and we are not focused on one specific segment — like restaurants or hotels — we are blue collar and we have a wide range of different sectors we are covering, like retail services, logistics, industry/construction, so we believe the best way to scale this business is through TV ads, together of course with investment in social networks like Facebook,” he adds.

The team says the Series A round will be used for more than just TV spots and brand-builder marketing, so product investment and team expansion are in the cards too. But no more market launches at this point; rather the aim is to double-down on its existing footprint.

And, as befits a marketplace startup looking to scale up fast, CornerJob is not currently taking any revenue — allowing even recruitment agencies to trial its platform for free.

It says its future business model is yet to be fully determined, with the team considering various pricing structures for eventual monetization. They say they will likely not be taking the traditional job board route of charging for job adverts, but are more likely to focus on “performance.” So, presumably, something along the lines of charging employers for shortlisted candidates or successful hires. They confirm they are tracking hires, but won’t put a figure on how many blue-collar workers have gained employment via their platform as yet.

How did they come up with the idea? The team says they drew on their existing experience at other startups such as Wallapop and Hailo — in the latter case, seeing how “a traditional industry could be completely disrupted thanks to mobile, and all frictions put away create a new experience,” as Rodriguez puts it. (And, in the case of Wallapop, seeing how mobile plus location can transform classifieds.)

The blue-collar recruitment space also looked like an untapped opportunity, says Vicente. “Traditional job classifieds have been focused on white collar. So we thought that there was a really interesting space, that… no one had developed specific functionalities around.”

“And we all thought we were from countries — Italy, Spain, France — where unemployment was quite severe for young generations and so we thought maybe there’s something we can do here with the learning we’ve taken from our past experiences,” adds Rodriguez. “Working to improve the situation is something quite exciting.”

Ref: TechCrunch

Detrack – How a Valentine’s Day catastrophe turned into a business idea

It’s Valentine’s Day.

Your ‘special someone’ has made it quite clear they’re expecting flowers. So you do the decent thing and pony up for a lovely bouquet to be delivered to them. As the day arrives, you start getting antsy. Have they delivered it yet? Maybe you should call the delivery people to find out.

“Have you delivered the flowers yet? My order number? Hold on…oh you need to call your driver to find out? Okay I’ll wait.”

This goes on for several hours.

Now think of the delivery driver. He’s receiving calls every few minutes from the company, asking for real-time status updates that require them to pull to the side of the road and go through tons of paperwork.

This, also, goes on for several hours.

Such was the situation that faced husband and wife team Dason Goh and Fanny See, who were running a florist business full time.

“It was so bad that we nearly cut our phone lines. At the end of the day, while our sales shot through the roof, so did the number of unhappy customers and grumpy drivers, who we kept calling throughout the day! We were very confident of finding a mobile app monitoring solution to our problem, but to our surprise, we didn’t find any.” says Fanny.

“That’s when Dason asked, why don’t we build what we want?”

Detrack is born

Dason and Fanny founded Detrack in 2013, along with Dason’s older brother Daniel Goh. The startup provides a simple app to track delivery vehicles and the delivery status of packages, all in real-time. It’s an easy way for ecommerce and delivery companies to quickly introduce data management into their operations.

“We work with customers in 30 different countries around the world. We’ve managed to achieve all this with a team of five people, in less than two years, without ever having left Singapore,” says Fanny. With around 500 active customers, 140 of which are paying, the startup’s main challenge was not customer acquisition, but hiring.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding the right people with the skills we need. We need a lot of technical people to do the work we do, so it’s difficult to grow our team in Singapore.”

Last-mile-delivery-is-expanding-across-Asia

The solution to this was to automate as much as possible.

“For example, we adopted a test-driven development approach to cut down the time needed for the inevitable debugging processes” says Fanny.

This drive to automate is not just on the backend, but on the frontend as well. “As a customer, you can visit the website, sign up, conduct a trial, purchase a license and deploy the system even if nobody from Detrack shows up to work. We also have tons of self-help tutorials and video guides to help users, so human interaction is not really required,” says Fanny.

Where next?

Last-mile and logistics has become very competitive off late. Companies like Easy Van and  aCommerce are attracting big investments and expanding rapidly. How does Detrack sit inside this space with big and bigger fish?

“Direct competitors are more expensive and more complex than us, simply because they are still working on building very customized products for their customers,” explains Fanny. “Our product is quite standardized, so we can offer an immediate solution to the market at US$24 per driver per month. It’s a much cheaper option than spending hundreds of thousands on developing a bespoke product.”

“For indirect competitors like Easy Van? We provide them with a software layer on top of their existing logistics. So we don’t really compete, we almost complement each other.”

Competition has made them look at expansion as well. But there’s a limit to how far their regional expansion can go without significant investment.

“Often, emerging markets have admins who speak English who can successfully use our dashboard, but the majority of these markets speak their local language. Unless we speak their language on our web and mobile app, we can’t legitimately have a shot at the rest of the market,” says Fanny.

They have already made some inroads in that respect, with their Android app currently available in Bahasa Melayu and Indonesia, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Spanish, French, Dutch and (soon) Japanese. iOS and web app support in these languages comes later in 2016.

Delivery-logistics-is-being-disrupted-by-Detrack

Detrack’s premised on making human-run driver networks more efficient. But what if robots take over?

“It’s tempting to say that drones or even driverless vehicles will be the future of deliveries, but the truth is that none of these new models have proven their sustainability yet,” says Fanny. “Even if these were to become a reality, we still feel we’re a few years away from realizing those dreams.”

“But problems exist today, that need solutions we can provide today, and that’s where Detrack comes in.” says Fanny.

Proudly Singaporean

Because they only offer a standardized app experience, which is designed for non-English speakers who are not tech savvy, the company claims blazingly fast turnaround times of “within an hour of signing up with them.” In fact, this has lead to a very unique issue.

“We often face a ‘happy problem’ which we find rather amusing,” says Fanny. “We’ve been mistaken to be an American company. We have to patiently convince users that we are indeed a Singaporean solution and aren’t just reselling a solution from elsewhere.”


DETRACK SYSTEMS PTE LTD will be exhibiting at the Last Mile Fulfilment Asia (LMFAsia) 2016, which will take place from 3rd to 4th March 2016 at Singapore EXPO. Themed ‘eCommerce Beyond Borders’, LMFAsia 2016 is the region’s only conference and exhibition dedicated to eCommerce fulfilment, where leading experts from the retail, eCommerce, parcel and logistics industries will deep dive into the topic of cross-border eCommerce. For more information, please visit www.lmfasia.com.

 

Ref: TechinAsia