In an exclusive chat with Thinking Aloud, Lalit Mangal – Co-founder & CTO, Commonfloor shares light on the startup ecosystem
TA: Amongst the legal registration hassles, funding & resources, what are the perceptions that matter the most to kick off a startup?
LM: To kick-off a startup successfully, founding team should be full-time on to that. Better to register a private limited company from the very start. One must be clear about the equity share and expectations among the founding team. Regarding funding, it is easier to get an angel round today. Investors at all stage would love traction and customer loyalty. At the formative stage, it would be very helpful if founders can approach investors with a beta / POC with some consumer data on how they liked/loved the service.
TA: Startup guidance is all about encouraging the urge of budding entrepreneurs & channeling their startup aspirations. Share your kind thoughts about capturing the attention of the investors.
LM: If you can build a recommendable product, take it to your alpha set of customers; investors will come flocking to you. There is no secret formula. Focus on the word “recommendable”.
TA: We believe that Startups are all about building habit-forming products & services. What’s your take on it?
LM: Could not agree more, but it is little more relevant for consumer facing businesses. An anti-virus software startup need not focus forming a habit. If a product is catering a frequent and reasonably felt need, it must aim to becoming habit forming. I would recommend Nir Eyal’s “Hooked” for reading up more on that.
TA: How would you address the ways to gain market share, enhance brand recognition & differentiating a brand in the startup ecosystem? Any valuable points would you like to add?
LM: I would highly advise the founders to define a mission for their startup. A mission that matters to the world, for example, if you are starting a food delivery business, your mission could be “saving humans world-wide from the discontent out of hunger”. Such a mission is relatable and inspiring. It suddenly puts a different lens to how outsiders and insiders look at your business. Once you have figured out a mission that matters, figure out a unique positioning for your product or service. A tip on how to do this is trying to answer this question, “People should love your service because….”. An answer to this question is the positioning of your startup. Continue to deliver 10X on this and you will become highly recommendable. This will trigger the word of mouth marketing for you. Once you reach a critical mass of happy customer, only then consider advertising your product.
TA: New-age Indian Startups are on a path of revolutionizing the industry. Any entrepreneurial clichés that you would want them to get beyond?
LM: This is arguably the best time to do business in India. There is enough advice and mentorship accessible to entrepreneurs, they must make an effort to tap into this and avoid foreseeable pit-falls. Things around valuations and market size of the opportunity might distract entrepreneurs away from a worthy enough problem to be solved. The most important ingredient in the recipe of success is your passion for the problem you are setting out to solve, everything else will follow. India is a very big market and every problem will be worth solving, if I look back from a future view point.
TA: Established bigwigs in the industry still prefer traditional spends rather than digital spends. How big a role would digital play in the success of Indian startups?
LM: If we can understand the life cycle of a startup in stages, these are Product discovery stage, Product distribution stage and then the scale-up stage. Digital marketing has very different potential at each of these stages. How digital can help in the product discovery stage, we have inspirations like dropbox and how they nailed the initial product definition by creating a video, letting it spread on social channels and getting user interest. Today, it is easier than ever before to reach out to your exact TG and engage in a conversation to understand their problem which you’re passionate about solving. Once a startup discovers a recommendable shape of their product, digital comes back again as a mega weapon to crack distribution channels for that product. At this stage, the knowledge of what keywords your users are search for which are relevant for your product; the knowledge of real life trigger which prompt them to use your product can immensely help you in guiding your communications strategy, make your ads very relevant and performing. At the scale-up stage, where I assume the startup should also invest in traditional media to broaden its reach of audience, digital helps establishing a recall and ensures a retained usage and rate of trials for your product.
TA: Recently, Commonfloor entered into a technological partnership with Zippr. Kindly, shed light on the development.
LM: At Commonfloor, our mission is to organize the real estate industry through tech and data. Crucial part of this mission is to map every possible address and profile each and every property. Zippr came across as a very relevant partner in this objective. Today, if you are a zippr user, you can post your property for rent or sale in just single tap.