Establishing a Profitable Start-up

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr APOORV JAIN

VICE PRESIDENT – BUSINESS, URBANCLAP

28th August 2018

“India ranks third amongst the global start-up ecosystem with more than 4,200 new-age companies. We are living in the age of start-ups and the reason behind this is that the youth today has the potential to innovate and the passion of being able to shape their own destiny.” Says Mr Apoorv Jain, VP – Business, UrbanClap, while interacting with Great Lakers.

Mr Apoorv Jain | Vice President Business | UrbanClap

Mr Apoorv Jain: Mr Jain possesses close to 7 years of experience in helping build start-ups both across India and abroad. In his previous work experience, he had worked with brands like Rocket Internet and OfficeYes.com in Operations leadership and P&L leadership roles and served Lazada as Vice President. He has also previously launched Witcraft Marketing Private Limited.

While interacting with Great Lakers, Mr Jain answered some of the most vital questions, aspiring entrepreneurs must ask themselves before embarking upon their entrepreneurial journey.

  1. Why Entrepreneurship?

Mr Jain started the discussion by addressing the most important question – why do people want to become an entrepreneur? “Let’s face it! One of the major motivations for anyone to become a businessman is Money. Maybe not every entrepreneur is in it solely for the financial aspect but finances are a necessary evil.” He added, “Some of you might be in it for the purpose of being in control of your own destiny, but whatever the motivation is, the key is to write down the goal in specific and measurable terms. Goals are always more effective by putting a number on them which can be measured.”

He went on to talk about how budding entrepreneurs are the ones who find themselves leading and not following. Every entrepreneur feels the need to solve a problem and create an impact. The passion with which they drive the solution is what determines the success of the startup. Moving on with examples of successful start-ups, Mr Apoorv explained the 1 by 100 rule, that is, nine out of ten start-ups fail within the first five years of their inception. Out of 100 startups that come into existence, only one makes it to the big picture. “Every day is a success or a failure in the life of an entrepreneur. Intrinsically, not every day in your company can be a success. It is on the days of failure that you need to remind yourself of your goals and missions and stick to them.”

  1. What is the Right Mix of Ingredients for a Perfect Start-up Recipe?

Mr Jain stated that there are a lot of “whats”, “hows”, “whens” and “ifs” that need to be answered before launching an enterprise. If you are an accomplished marketer or a salesperson, you can help the business reach great heights in lesser time. It is beneficial to have a skilled pool of resources within the company, starting with the founding team. Not all successful entrepreneurs have experiences in all business domains, but most of them are true leaders and are passionate about their idea, and that is all that is required.

Another major deciding factor is the investment. Needless to say, this is the tricky part of the journey. To appeal to the investors, you need to sell your idea and to do so you need to believe in your solution to the problem identified. Last but not the least, market trends are vital in deciding the time of the launch. So, one needs to keep following them with an eagle eye.

  1. How to finalize on the idea?

Mr Apoorv answered this question by explaining UrbanClap’s business idea and how it has been able to come up with something that brought a significant change in the way consumers use services and products. He explained, “The start-up should be focused on solving consumers’ problems in an innovative manner. For an entrepreneur to identify a consumer’s problem and solve it, it is necessary to first realize that problem themselves. Either you have experienced the problem in your own life or have seen it in the lives of those around.”

He added, “To act on these ideas and make a decision, you will need to carry out an extensive market research. This helps in understanding the sustainability and longevity of your idea. The millennial generation is growing at an unbelievable pace and the business idea needs to be aligned with the fast-changing technology to stay relevant.”

  1. The Founding Team

“Quality of the founding team is directly proportional to the success and growth of the business. In most cases, the relentless pursuit of the co-founders is what derives the success of a company. There are two categories of people who entrepreneurs choose from, first, the ones they believe are essential for the success of the startup, accounting to their excellent skills and talents and second, the ones without whom they don’t want to continue on their journey of success.”

Mr Jain concluded the interaction on the note that the consumer should always be at the centre of every decision and primary research is very important to ensure customer centricity. Primary research helps in understanding the gaps in the market and in determining the market size. It can also act as an initial motivator to enter into a certain market.

Author: Anindita Srivastava

PGPM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

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From Table Reservations to A Leading Restaurant Technology Provider – The story of Dineout

From Table Reservations to A Leading Restaurant Technology Provider – The story of Dineout

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr VIVEK KAPOOR

Co-FOUNDER – DINEOUT

14th July 2018

On a particularly hot summer Friday afternoon, the Ninjas and Aztecs – the PGPM and PGDM 2019 batches of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon – came together to welcome Mr Vivek Kapoor, a sailor-turned-entrepreneur and co-founder of the flourishing start-up – Dineout.

Mr Vivek Kapoor: At the age of 18, Mr Kapoor joined the Merchant Navy and sailed as a Cadet for 2 years on Italian-owned vessels. He sailed for almost 30 months as a 2nd Officer and has a Chief Officers Certificate of Competency from DG Shipping, India, before he set out to be an entrepreneur.

Inception of Dineout

Mr Kapoor took the students on a 90-minute journey to showcase how he started the company with three of his friends, who all had been working with international MNCs. They planned to launch Dineout as a restaurant reservation system on February 29th, 2012, after having partnered with 80 restaurants in Delhi with zero on-boarding fees.

As is the case with any start-up, the initial days were not as smooth as they might have imagined. In a pre-Jio era, when smartphones were still becoming popular, getting users on their website was a Herculean task. So was getting a response from the restaurants. In order to tackle this, they set up a hotline for booking reservations along with shifting their email-based system to SMS based. Six months down the line, in August 2012, they landed their first investor, who interestingly happened to be one of their early customers. Within a year of being in operation, their team grew from 4 to 30 and their user base grew from 3,000 diners a month to over 8,000 diners.

Partnership & Acquisition

Soon after, they were approached by Times Internet (formerly known as TimesCity), the “Yellow Pages for restaurants” as he called them, for a partnership requiring them to power the “Book Table” button on their website. Within just two months of partnership, they offered to acquire Dineout. In Mr Kapoor’s words, “As entrepreneurs, it was a very difficult and confusing time, because no entrepreneur would start his company and think that within one or two years of the company’s existence, he would have to wash his hands off the company”. Times Internet, however, had different plans. They still wanted the founders to run the company even after the acquisition.

Transition from Table Reservations to A Leading Restaurant Technology Provider

Post-acquisition, from 12,000 diners a month in April 2014, they grew to 54,000 diners a month by April 2015. They scaled to 8 cities, and the team grew from 30 people to 150 which included a 45-people call-centre team. However, booking tables via calls wasn’t a sustainable way to move forward. A software-based system was the need of the hour, and that’s when they acquired Inresto, a small Bengaluru-based technology company.

With Inresto in their portfolio, Dineout grew to be a company that builds technology for restaurants and not just facilitates table reservations for diners. Inresto developed into a tool that catered to all the needs of a restaurant, from Feedback Management, Table Reservation to Order Management and Campaigns. Along with having a user base of over a million users, Dineout currently is the leading technology provider to the restaurants.

Challenges

Dineout did face a lot of challenges such as lack of inter-partner chemistry, lack of clarity, organizational structure, infrastructural issues and doubts on their validity. Mr Kapoor brought to light the fact that one needs to be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Equity shares amongst the partners prior to the acquisition were not equal and this kind of disparity can be brutal. This was overcome after the acquisition by keeping in mind the future growth of the company.

While talking about Dineout’s strategy for acquiring users, Mr Kapoor said that closing the loop, or completing the transaction, is important. To attain this, Dineout introduced Dineout SmartPay, a brainchild of co-founder Sahil Jain, to identify customers on Inresto and make payments easier. They have also aggregated various delivery services like Zomato, Swiggy, Food Panda along with payment services like Paytm, Freecharge, PhonePe, Visa, etc. He also mentioned that if discounts are considered the right way to go, they are actually not. Simply providing discounts is not the right way, but how the discounts are positioned is more important.

Rising above the Competition

On being asked about how Dineout is trying to create a different position for itself among companies such as Zomato, Nearbuy and EazyDiner operating within the same space, Mr Kapoor responded by stating that the USP of the company is Adaptability. Dineout is focused on doing what the restaurant wants them to do and what the diner expects them to do. Zomato has the highest restaurant discovery rate but it lags behind Dineout in table reservations. Dineout SmartPay has recorded more transactions than Paytm in restaurants. From the restaurants perspective, Dineout is far deeper in providing technology than any other competitor. Dineout is also getting into Big Data and Analytics, working with around 40,000 data points, helping partner restaurants with expansion and customer data analysis.

Author: Arpit Gupta

PGPM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

The Success Mantra for Start-Ups: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

The Success Mantra for Start-Ups: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr DEEPAK GOEL

CEO – KARMACIRCLES

“Do. Or Do Not. There is no try” – Yoda, Jedi Master

Understanding of the above quote is an important pre-requisite for an entrepreneur to be successful. The path of Entrepreneurship is the one that is filled with utmost uncertainties that one can face compared to the other naturally progressing career options.

Being an aspiring entrepreneur, Great Lakes, offered me ample opportunities to interact and learn directly from the masters of this trade. As the campus is located in the corporate hub of the country, Great Lakes, Gurgaon enables extensive industry engagement with entrepreneurs, CXOs and industry experts as they visit the campus regularly to share their perspectives with the future business leaders of the nation. That’s how our batch (PGDM 2017-19) got to meet Mr Deepak Goel, CEO & Founder Karmacircles.

Mr Deepak Goel’s Guest Lecture at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon was a compilation of his life and thought processes that aimed at providing the students with a more Entrepreneurial viewpoint of life rather than just living in terms of pay packages. An IIT-Delhi educated techie who went on to live the “American Dream” with his job at Microsoft to pursuing his MBA at UC, Berkeley to working at multiple companies from scratch with an entrepreneurial spirit and making them grow to where they are today, he has worn multiple hats because of his multi-faceted skill sets. This is what differentiates him from the other bunch of entrepreneurs, at least in the Indian context. He truly learnt the art of Entrepreneurship in and out, theoretically and practically to be able to follow his life calling of creating Karmacircles.

The lecture was a mix of Startup Organizational Culture, Valuation of Startups, General Principles of Success and quite an insightful bunch of advice to the multiple questions asked by the Students.

At the start of the lecture, he laid a very simple formula for a successful startup involving just four steps. (1) Identify the problem you want to solve, (2) Solve the problem, (3) Monetize the Solution created and then (4) go for more money to scale up the solution. A rather simple algorithm which in reality is really difficult to follow as even developing/handling that one simple product/solution is quite complex. This is what calls for the Product Management Concept. Explaining his understanding and experiences in Product Management, he expressed dissatisfaction of how Product Management is done or pursued by organizations in India as it still remains to be a highly misunderstood concept in the country. Being a seasoned professional in the field, he emphasized how the concept can help in building successful products within a company, going on to creating multiple successful companies within a big company, like Google. Working at Microsoft, he knew much more about Google and its processes than Microsoft which earned him the name of “The Google Guy.” He then shared some insights as to how Google managed its Product Line and has grown from a Search Engine to the huge yet entrepreneurial tech-conglomerate it is today.

He then went on to share his learning experiences under the guidance of Eric Ries of the Lean Startup fame and even Eric Ries’ Guru Steve Blank. The two major concepts he learnt were The Value Hypothesis and Growth Hypothesis. When these philosophies are incorporated in a company in its ideation phase, it significantly enhances its probability of achieving long-term success, thereby, ensuring value and growth creation.

Explaining Value Hypothesis, Mr. Goel talked in detail how companies can create value. Not just in monetary terms, but value that customers can relate to. But for doing so, the companies must have an eagle eye vision of the solution of the problem that they set out to tackle. Giving real examples from the start-up and corporate world, he differentiated how certain companies create value straight away to companies that create value over time.

Constantly comparing his Valley experience to his Indian experience, he stated that Indian start-ups and new-age companies mainly focus only on creating monetary value but not the intangible value and many of those companies go on to create initial momentum, to a great extent monetize it, but keep pushing their goalposts for the value creation. One of the main questions he raised during the lecture was whether these companies will be able to continue the momentum once the cash inflow slows down.

Explaining Growth Hypothesis, he talked about continuously doing what you do best and create personal and home-ground advantage in areas as such to create a true product that can grow sustainably over time.

Commenting on the Indian attitude of approaching jobs, he shared his story further and explained how he took several pay cuts in order to expand his learning curve, something he finds lacking in the Indian scenario. Linking the topic, he shared the factors one should consider while taking up a new job and said that the person you are going to work for, is the most important factor. Not being completely driven by package but rather through the group one is going to work with and the learning outcome one has out of the job as other major factors. He advised students to be ethical and act professionally when it comes to working in organizations.

In the last few minutes of the lecture, he gave a brief glimpse of his passions which include, Social Networks, Mentoring, and creating valuable products that solve problems. Being an aspiring entrepreneur myself, I found this session to be the most illuminating.

Such interactions with industry stalwarts prepare the students for the challenges of the business world and Great Lakes gives utmost importance to these guest lectures as they are the most crucial ingredient for developing business ready managers. The importance of these interactions is evident with the fact that 150 plus industry leaders, entrepreneurs and CXOs have visited Great Lakes last year and shared their valuable insights with the students to prepare them for what’s to come.

Author: S SnehanshN

PGDM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon