Generating Entrepreneurship Ideas
Conventionally, entrepreneurs studied the local or global eco-systems, spoken with potential customers, examined how competitors are behaving and visualised how the industries and economy are shaping up to arrive at business ideas.
However, in the hyper global economy the things are more complex and the shelf life of business ideas or innovations has come down significantly. I cannot over emphasize the need for keenly watching and making a sense of what is happening around us to be able to grasp business opportunities. It is also important to realise that without a solid framework and a structured reading, one only gets confused and will not be able to connect the dots to make some sense of what is happening across the globe in various disciplines, industries, technologies and societies.
Framework brings order to the chaos, distinguishing between causes and effects, and prioritising among a seemingly endless set of disruptive forces, it will make it easier to grasp the impact. A beautiful framework given in EY’s Megatrends Report 2018 is available at eyq.ey.com. It is a well researched report and is a good read for any serious student of studying the future trends. EY’s framework highlights four distinct kinds of change: primary forces, megatrends, future working worlds and weak signals. The vast majority of disruption originates in some combination of three primary forces: technology, globalisation and demographics. The latest waves occurring in each of the primary forces are: human augmentation (technology), populism (globalisation), and aging (demographics).
The interaction between new waves of primary forces engenders new megatrends. These include: industry redefined, future of work, super consumer, behavioral design, adaptive regulation, human geography, innovating communities, health re-imagined, food by design and molecular economy. The future working worlds are broader in scope and occur on a longer time frame than the megatrends.
Weak signals are waves of primary forces whose biggest impact is further in the future. Their likelihood and the scale and nature of their impact are therefore subject to a greater degree of uncertainty.
The four elements of EY’s framework occur in different time frames, with different levels of uncertainty and different scales of impact. To seize the upside of disruption, you need to know where disruption is coming from, where it’s headed and what it means for you. EY’s framework helps you to pick the right baseline for a strategy that can turn downsides into upsides; threats into opportunities.
To ask or not to ask is not the question. What to ask, when to ask and how to ask is.
Before you ask something, know why you are asking. Not just one why but five whys. Say you are raising funds for a startup. You ask why? Say the answer is that your runway is getting shorter by the day. Ask why again? The answer you get is that your burn rate is higher than run rate. Ask why again. The answer you get is that your Customer Aquisition Cost or CAC is higher than customer Life Time Value or LTV. Ask why again. The answer you get is that your target customer segment is tough to convert. Ask why again. The answer you get is that the customer segment has many alternatives. Then you know this is not the segment you shall address as they don’t have an urgent and unmet need. Instead of raising funds to continuously bleed in this scenario, pivot first and then seek for funds. You save the hassle for yourself and make your future efforts and rounds of fundraising more sustainable.
Before you ask something, know what you are asking. Say you are about to ask a successful entrepreneur to be your mentor. Is that what you want? What are you really asking here? His time? His advice? His money? His customers? His reference? or His endorsement? Know what you want. Get the clarity on what you want to achieve with his help. If you got the clarity on the kind of synergies a mentor can bring, your job is half done.
Before you ask something, know when to ask. Say you want Ratan Tata to invest in your company. When Tata group got into crisis briefly last year, Ratan took charge of the mantle temporarily. That wouldn’t be the time to ask. You have to wait it out for the opportunity. Wait until the giver gets to the mindset of giving before you ask. If Ratan Tata has just announced $200 million fund for investing in B2B startups solving India problems, timing can’t be better than this.
Before you ask something, know how to ask. Say you are looking for talent and approached an HR agency. If you start saying finding really good data scientists is a
Herculean task, what the consultant says is anyone’s guess. Instead if you say, finding the right talent is never our core. As a consultant you must be very good at it. Please get me some world class candidates for this position we have just opened.
A purchase order from a client, an expression of interest from an investor, an acceptance nod from a highly skilled friend, an appointment with an influencer and many such things that help a startup grow won’t happen if the founders hesitate to ask. Surprisingly, many hesitate to ask despite the fact that asking is the first step to getting the things they want.
The fearless ones never hesitate to ask if they need something. They have no inhibitions and are open in their communication. The penniless ones get desperate to ask. Then there are shameless ones who ask for anything and everything. Avoid the shameless and don’t wait till you become penniless. Be the fearless and get things in place. Once you become successful, remember to pay it forward. That is how the spirit of entrepreneurship gets passed to generations to come.
The Journey of a self made man
The name Murali Bukkapatnam has a very quick recall not only in TiE Hyderabad circle, but also in TiE global circle. Murali has a vibrant presence and his own trademark on the brand TiE. You will be surprised if I say Bukkapatnam is not even his original surname. Thanks to his grandfather who changed their surname to the name of their village so that subsequent generations remember the roots forever.
His wife, Himabindu is an easygoing and happy go lucky one or if I put in terms of what Murali says, she is “bindaas, in every aspect of it.” Son Ekaansh is very analytical and deep thinker. Also his angel daughter, Ameya is around a year old
Murali Bukkapatnam is always cheerful with his beaming smile. He is the youngest ever to assume the role of TiE President for a local chapter. Murali never misses an opportunity to remind fellow members of TiE’s philosophy: Creating virtuous cycle of wealth creation and giving back to the community.
Murali was born in Hindupur. His dad was a math professor in SK University in Anantapur. He did his earlier schooling from Chinmaya School in Hindupur before going to Andhra Loyola College in Vijayawada. Later, he did his Bachelor’s in Computer Science from SK University, Anantapur. Murali commented, “My uniform to college was white kurta in emulation of Rajiv Gandhi. I met him when he did “Sadbhavana Yatra”. Sarojini Pullareddy, former chief minister Marri Chenna Reddy, along with others, the who is who of Congress Party were there when Rajiv came to Hyderabad. I wanted to ensure my brother meet Rajivji. I was able to introduce my brother to
Rajivji in spite of the Z security people pinching me ensuring their role in protecting the person, I didn’t care, It didn’t bother me. I spoke to Rajiv for two minutes in Hindi, he came across to me as a very genuine politician, there was definite change in him. He wished my brother the very best. That is when Dr. M Chenna Reddy saw a spark in me, he recommended my name to the then State NSUI President to make me Anantapur district general secretary of “National Students Union of India”. The role made me people’s leader. One of classmates recently, when we were celebrating our 25th anniversary, came and thanked me for fighting for the backward class in getting them the bus passes & scholarships. He said, “You fought for us and you got all those things reserved for us. I attribute some of my today’s success to you for what you did a at that time.“. Without realizing or thinking into future, that was the intensity with which I played the role of general secretary.
Turning point in my life
Then I was involved in politics deeper and headed in a wrong direction at the cost of my grades & education. I was getting into all kinds of trouble, one day I had an opportunity to have a heart to heart conversation with my dad. I remember, he asking me to give one year of my time to him, to blindly follow his instructions. That day, fortuitous, I was in the right place, right mood, in the right time. I yielded to his suggestion. My first breakthrough was when I joined dad to attend sessions on “Mandukya Upanishad” for 21 days. I got fascinated by the vedic concept of jagrat, svapna, & susupti states. That year, I had not only cleared all my subjects but also an aggregate of 84%, high distinction.
Australia to America
I used to play cricket for my university and I had plans to go to Australia and play for the clubs there. My dad’s friend brought me to Hyderabad., late Ahmed uncle, a Hyderabadi Nawab. He asked my Dad whether he wanted his son to party or study. Then he decided USA for me instead of Australia. Dad knew Mr. C C Reddy of Visu consultants and with his help he put me on flight to USA just within three months. It was 22nd June 1993 that I landed at 501 Eye Street of Washington DC at the campus of Southeastern University, a US Congress chartered university. After 16 years in USA, I returned to India in 2009.
16 years in USA
In USA, I studied and worked as a software engineer and Systems architect, before I turned investor & entrepreneur. I started an IT services company in 2002, used to work for Siebel and switched to Siebel services in IT. I flew first class for the very first time in life because of Siebel & the vision of Tom Siebel, the founder. I had good contacts with US Senate and congressmen. I used to write checks for political contributions. Thanks to my IT Services business, used profits to invest in motels and petrol bunks, without knowing the term ‘angle investor’ I had transitioned to one!
Today, I run Volksy Technologies, a technology venture building platform. It is a technology oriented Startup builder studio. I am an idea man, observe what is happening around us, the lacunae of the system and where we can improve, these ideas I request our team to take it to market and research & filter it out. Our technology team then takes those filtered out ideas and creates the product for the business team to execute and then we put more money to take it to the market, a virtuous cycle, an iterative process. Some ideas work and some won’t.
Few of the things we are working on:
Prowidor: Prowidor is into Office Management Automation. Using our platform, small and medium enterprises can procure any office management services – for e.g. office supplies and office relevant services such as printer, paper, ink, cleaning services, coffee and tea supplies, snacks, AC Maintenance and much more.
One of the largest facilities management company is our JV partner in this venture and also our delivery partner. I travel to Chennai once in a while to meet my joint venture partner who brings the customer base. Customer acquisition and customer engagement happens through technology and digital media.
The Skilling Company: We started a 22000 SFT IT training center in Toopran, Medchal training the Blue-Collar workforce & a smaller IT training center in Somajiguda, currently training in data sciences and Full Stack, the students also act as pipeline for our technology team. it software engineering, quality assurance, beauty and wellness, facilities management and more. We trained 35,000 people from unorganized sector till now.
Veekli: Veekli is a subscription management platform. We are like “Cratejoy.com“. We let you subscribe to what you love. We can let you subscribe to your food, beauty and any thing that you order on a periodic basis.
Houzkare: Houzkare is a platform for enabling household management services, we are workig with government in crafting the micro entrepreneurs in Housekeeping & Home management services, we support both off-line & online models for the entrepreneurs.
Bhat) What if you had an option to get your past 30 years?
Murali) Post junior College, I had taken training for IIT at “Brilliant Tutorials, Chennai”. If I had an option to redo it, I would prepare well & seriously, for the entrance exams, I spent most of my time in Chennai in watching movies and enjoying restaurants, giving me an opportunity to get into one of the IIT’s.
Bhat) What was your regret?
Murali) Growing up a child, I had developed a fancy for University of Roorkee, not sure how / why but not getting admitted into University of Roorkee was one of biggest disappointments.
I teach entrepreneurship course at IIT Hyderabad now. I feel very fortunate, I couldn’t get inside an IIT as a student but now I teach there.
Bhat) What made you return To India?
Murali) My greed, absolute Greed! Remember these were the days when the then Prime Minister Vajpayee was telling how India was shining, India this, India that. I guess I was swayed by the marketing and propaganda, growth India could offer and hence returned to India. My advice to Self is to never let greed drive your life.
Bhat) What made you expand from getdomestichelp.com?
Murali) I always feel I am under-utilized with my intellectual capabilities. I can do more than what I have on hand. After iterating GDH in several forms and my exposure to various problems made me expand from GDH to the current model. Currently, we are offering GDH in different model & geography, we figured Singapore is more structured and compliant. Regulatory & Insurance requirements enforced by Government of Singapore help us deliver our services better. We would like to go very deep within the Singapore market as 50,000 foreign domestic workers go there every year. If we can validate ourselves in Singapore, I am sure that will lead us to expand in other Asian countries.
We use bots on Facebook messenger to collect information from the maids with little information as maids are savvier with mobile phones and messaging as compared to the traditional methods.
Bhat) Which of the four portfolio companies is closest to your heart?
Murali) It’s like family members, I can’t say one is better or closer than the other.
Bhat) Did you cut the cord any time?
Murali) After acquiring two companies in the past, we un-acquired them as things didn’t work out as we had envisioned for each other. One of them was into a hyper local market play like urbanclap.com. Acquisition cost of a customer itself is Rs 4000 and hence it is highly capital-intensive business, the only way we could have sustained is by raising heavy doses of capital, which we couldn’t as the VC market had already witnessed burnout in this segment. This is true even today, if one observes, beauty and wellness segment is the ones that is generating good revenues for companies like urban clap and not the household services unit.
Bhat) What frustrates you?
Murali) My inability to attract great talent. 76:24 is the model I offer to a prospective entrepreneurial CEO who we on board. CEO can get 24% equity vested over four years with a very nominal salary. Till date I couldn’t find one individual to navigate this end-to-end as a startup.
Bhat) Describe yourself in three words.
Murali) Go-to person for my family. Continuous learner. Loyal friend.
Bhat) What is one thing you own you wish you didn’t?
Murali) Credit Card.
Bhat) What would be your lifelong dream?
Murali) To be remembered for my deeds.
Bhat) If you are stranded in an island, what two things would you want with you?
Murali) Ability to do Vipasana, practice the nature of impermanence.
Bhat) What compliments do people give you the most?
Murali) They say I am a networker. The biggest compliment I got is that: “I have heartful laughs”.
Bhat) What have you done that you are most proud of?
Murali) Nothing yet.
Bhat) Leader or follower?
Bhat) Define happiness.
Murali) The moment I realized the importance of being humble, I felt real happy. This was few years ago. Pursuit of Happiness is a quest for me.
Bhat) Four things you would change about yourself
Murali) 1) Anger 2) Bluntness. 3) Intolerance to imperfection in others. 4) High expectations of others.
Bhat) What is the first thing you think in the morning?
Murali) Golf now a days. Four years ago, I was thinking about paying bills.
Bhat) What will you never do?
Murali) Never be greedy.
Bhat) The next big thing?
Murali) Humans continue to evolve to an unthinkable level. Conquering Mars, robots and so on.
Bhat) What do you fear the most?
Murali) A little kid crossing a road unattended. I can’t bear the thought of something unwanted happening to little kids, they are the future and future needs to be tended with lots of care.
Bhat) What frustrates you?
Murali) Lack of infrastructure in India despite India’s intellectual potential.
Bhat) What made you President of TiE Hyderabad?
Murali) I used to conduct TiE socials & Member events. My ability to articulate ideas, I suppose and My ability to express my future vision for TiE.
Bhat) What lesson did you learn from leading TiE?
Murali) How to manage the board members who are ten times more accomplished than me. People respect authority when they realize the authority is put to a proper use. They all came together to support me.
Bhat) Any regrets out of your TiE presidency?
Murali) Conducting the only election that ever happened. I am proud I stood for principles. That moment defined principles, bye-laws for TiE Hyderabad for coming years. Those changes have helped us, the organization, as we changed the By-laws of TiE, to and discover so many leaders of today.
Bhat) Proud moments at TiE?
Murali) I was the youngest ever president for any TiE chapter. I wouldn’t take up the mantle at such young age again, if I were to do it all over. When I walked in onto the stage we had approximately 70 charter members. I increased that number close to 200, few short and I left the presidency with 2 crore corpus funds laying a strong economic foundation for the organization.
Bhat) What can be done to Hyderabad?
Murali) 1. Improve its the physical infrastructure.
2.Construct government sponsored institutions similar to the way cyber towers got built in a faraway land. Say THUB 2 will come far away and build that area for growth.
3.Build entities that enable the spirit of entrepreneurship through risk awareness. As long as the recipient doesn’t cheat, let him do the mistakes and learn.
4.Bring systemic change in college students through entrepreneurial courses and courses that give them self-confidence by failing and doing any kind of job that makes them independent. Teach them to be self-sufficient.
Bhat) Talk about your newfound spiritual path.
Murali) I have always been spiritual in some way. Book named “Unto the last” by Tim Ruskin who influenced Gandhi, the Upanishads that I heard in my childhood gave me the spiritual bent. Gandhi’s “My experiment with Truth” is another inspiration for my spiritual pursuit.
My cohort made me realize my journey is lot more similar to many others. Everyone has their own challenges.
The word called ‘creativity’
Of late we hear a lot of discussions about the word ‘creativity.’ I wonder if we have started to stretch the meaning of it beyond the conventional definition of creativity. Here is the original meaning:
Creativity – the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness. It’s pretty short and straightforward. In my view, any usage beyond this definition is a stretch. The everyday job of creating objects or services, which have been in existence forever clearly do not count as creative endeavors. The operating words here are ‘original ideas.’ As a business, we are well aware of the impact of original ideas. And customers have always richly rewarded great original ideas that satisfied an innate, universal need.
This brings up the natural question, how do we create a working environment where original ideas are born from every member of the team and not just the leader. A working environment, which provides a safe, space to the team members to go above and beyond their role and allows ‘out of the box’ thinking. The more ideas there are at the table, the more creative the solution. This means that it is imperative to create a psychologically secure space – both physical and mental.
Physical space wise, we have non-conventional offices with beanbags, lazing couches and such that free the mind. The harder part is to create the mental space and freedom for the team members to actually start contributing original ideas for the betterment of the business. I googled this subject a while ago and found some exciting ways to open up those proverbial floodgates of original ideas from the team.
- Reward failure
Make room for failure
Failure is inevitable when it comes to risk-taking. Creative thinkers will produce a lot of solutions, and not many of them will lead to a successful result. Making your employees think that failure is not an option will only make them feel afraid to step out of their comfort zones and keep them from coming up with new ideas, which will stifle innovation. Instead of shunning them every time they fail, let them learn from their mistakes. Let each failure bring them a step closer to success. Let them even be measured by the number of failures which indicates the number of ideas they bring.
- Build a creative culture
Bust the myth of ‘I am not the artistic type.’
There are a lot of people who believe that they aren’t the ‘creative type.’ These are probably the same people that think creativity only comes from an artistic perspective, but the truth is, everyone can channel creative thinking when put in the right environment. Yes, some people are a little more creative than others, but either way, creative people are critical to have in your company. Creativity is as much a matter of practice and process as anything else.
- Intellectual challenge
Match your employees with problem-solving experiences that will help them think and approach situations creatively. Give the employee a specific problem or task and have them solve it in numerous ways. It is essential that your employees are challenged a little bit every day. Too small of a challenge will cause boredom, but too much will cause stress. So find that balance between both.
Individuals from diverse backgrounds can offer a selection of different talents, skills, and experiences. Some crossover of skills is beneficial when it comes to assisting each other. A variety of skills and experiences among the team means that members can learn a lot from each other. More importantly, greater diversity results in more perspectives that challenge existing ideas.
- Listen non-judgmentally
When ideas are presented, listen with full attention and seriousness and without jumping to judgments. This will help bring in more ideas. As we know, the search is for that one good idea in a hundred.
Creativity is not a God-given gift. It is a matter of bringing many perspectives and ideas, being fearless in exploring unfamiliar terrains and being compassionate to customer needs. It is a matter of practice. More importantly, in organizations, it is more to do with a learning and an empathetic culture.
Winning B2B Customers
As a startup founder, it’s your job to bring in those first B2B accounts. First of all, most of us don’t have the resources to hire a sales team when we’re starting out. Second, we learn a lot by talking to our potential customers face-to-face—how they think, the language they use, what their tough points are, and what makes them agree or disagree to our offer. Third, it’s only once we understand a process thoroughly that we can teach other people how to do it. Finally, the process tells us whom to hire for our sales team.
The TiE Mentorshop held in June, was about these startup winning B2B sales. The speaker of this topic was none other than the Managing Director of Great Sports Infra, Mr. Anil Kumar.
He is an entrepreneur with Engineering and a MBA degree along with Executive Development Program at Kellogg. He worked in the Business Development function at Wipro InfoTech and Ramco Systems – both in India and USA. He gained significant experience there in Business Management as a P&L Head.
He is a regular speaker in various forums like FICCI, CII, TiE on sports and entrepreneurship, etc. He is a Life Member of TiE, Hyderabad and also mentors startups through “MentorEdge” of the CIIE (IIM-A).
Great Sports Infra is one of the South’s leading turnkey solutions for sports infrastructure. They develop the necessary facilities to increase the productivity of the sports assets.
Indeed Mr. Anil Kumar was the apt guest to the TiE Mentorshop to speak about the Startup B2B sales. Mainly, the key points for any B2B sales are:
- Determine Your Value Proposition
- Identify Your Targets
- Set up a CRM
- Generate Leads
- Qualify Your Leads
- Take the Meeting
- Close the Deal
- Iterate Your Product
- Don’t Give Up
Anil Kumar has shared his experience of initiating and executing B2B sales for his company. Of course, one of our country’s aspects of pride is sport. The government never steps back in terms of spending on its infrastructure and providing other facilities. Like Anil Kumar said in an interview, “The government is the biggest spender on sports infrastructure in India.”
The main and the crucial target for any B2B sales is to spot out where the growth of the respective business lies. By hitting this bulls eye, it the puzzle of the B2B sales strategies becomes much more simpler.
TYE Summer Finals 2018
TiE Hyderabad launched first edition of TYE Summer that aims at teaching entrepreneurship to high school students and helping them discover the rewards and challenges of becoming an entrepreneur. During the program, the students form teams, go through classroom session modules focused on different aspects of business and entrepreneurship, then write and present a business plan on their own idea. Students will get an opportunity to spend an interesting and enlightening day with a CEO to observe and learn at first hand. All along, they are taught and mentored by renowned entrepreneurs of Hyderabad.
These experiences will be one the best insights for the students to start their entrepreneurial journey.
MyFo – My Food My Choice – an aggregator of food service companies – declared as the winner of TYE Summer 2018
Mentorshop: Winning B2B Customers
The TiE Mentorshop held in June, was about startup winning B2B sales. The speaker of this topic was none other than the Managing Director of Great Sports Infra, Mr. Anil Kumar.
TiE Marketing And Communications Meeting – 28 th June 2018
Meeting was called to review and revise the marketing and communications of TiE Hyderabad.
TYE SUMMER 2018
Across the world, a growing movement is teaching kids to become entrepreneurs– or at least how to think like entrepreneurs. While some of these programs are extracurricular ways for enterprising kids to explore business, others are actually shaping students’ core school lessons around entrepreneurship. The big idea underpinning all of them: Nature of work has changed, and no matter which career kids ultimately pursue, they’re having to constantly adapt to the dynamic changes, ideate & innovate in order to succeed– just like how entrepreneurs do.
TiE Hyderabad conducted The Yo
The classes started from 7th May and ended on 10th June.
The TYE program primarily aims to imbibe the following process in students:
This program is initiated not only to serve knowledge about the business world, but it also focuses on how to change the PERSPECTIVE of the younger generation towards facing the current issues in the country. The mentoring in this program is done by some of the successful established entrepreneurs themselves. They take time out to provide guidance to the teams.
Post TYE program, the children would be encouraged to take part in the grand finale, a business plan or prototype display competition, where they are made to present their innovative ideas and creative business plan.
The winners would be given whopping PRIZE MONEY!
The TYE Summer helps children to:
- Aim higher
- Make a difference in the society
- Get a career recognition
- Get mentoring from the renowned entrepreneurs of India.
- Winners get an opportunity to spend an interesting and enlightening day with a CEO to observe and learn at first hand.
Experience matters. Especially with the programs like TYE, students achieve the best insights to begin their entrepreneurial journey.
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