From the chai walas at the corner of almost every street, to major tech startups emerging from small cities and going global, Indians display an entrepreneurial streak. In 2021-22 alone, over 14,000 new startups were recognised in India (only five years ago, this number was 733). And today, we have over 61,000 startups, making India the third-largest startup ecosystem globally, after the US and China.
First, it's easier for entrepreneurs today to convert ideas into products and services due to increased access to software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms. Instead of having to create from scratch, leveraging existing platforms that enable low-code and pro-code development reduces time-to-market from years to days.
Secondly, digitalisation - accelerated due to the pandemic - has also made it possible for home-grown startups to address the international markets without having to actually have a presence in them.
Thirdly, a shift in societal mindset from job security to experimentation has done away with the taboo of working at a company that has failed - in fact, an individual who has survived such a setback is believed to be an asset, given the lessons they would have learned.
Last but not least, a huge inflow of foreign investment in startups has contributed to more talent finding meaningful and well-paying roles at startups. The flow of investment pouring in reaffirms the uniqueness of India’s startup ecosystem. Indian startups in 2021 raised $42 billion compared to $11.5 billion in 2020.
It is reported that around 90% of Indian startups fail within the first five years of inception. However, there's seldom one reason for it.
A lack of groundwork and market research - which leads to a disconnect in product-market fit - was one of the top reasons for the failure of 35% of startups. Another major reason is not using automation to its full advantage, which translates into a lot of manual time and effort being devoted to operational tasks - diluting the focus that should be given to core activities.
One reason, ironically enough, could be the abundance of funding available to startups, which leads to an obsession with raising capital and keeping stakeholders happy, even at the cost of delaying the creation and evolution of products that the customers actually need.
So, what are some steps to take to avoid these pitfalls?
Here are some tips that can help startups survive and thrive:
1. Know your purpose.
It is the intersection of these three questions that will help you identify the areas of focus for your company. A thorough market analysis, done at regular intervals, will enable you to distinguish your offering from the others in the marketplace, and continually provide value to customers. Remember, startups aren’t always about meeting new needs. Often, the need is to offer new solutions for existing challenges.
Deploy your highly trained resources to focus on product development and innovation, rather than diverting their attention to operational tasks that are necessary to run the business, but do not contribute to building your core competency. The investment made in tools and platforms that can automate manual tasks will be worth it when your team's productivity increases and your talent has the time and space to be agile and responsive to changing market needs.
Especially for the employees who join the team early, make sure to invest in their growth. Make their job meaningful by sharing your vision with them, and empowering them with the tools they need to do their best, always ensuring they are regularly upskilled. This instills a sense of ownership in your star players, ensuring they can become trusted lieutenants who serve as custodians of your work culture and work ethic, even as the company grows.
Find the right forums to interact with industry veterans and investors. Attending regular gatherings hosted under accelerator programs helps develop an understanding of the help, resources, and tools available. The more you know about what and who exists in the market, the better you can distinguish your own offerings, and find the right support to scale at speed. You can also leverage your network to find people scouting for their next big investment—angel investors and venture capitalists. Once you identify investors who fit your startup's focus and working style, you can ask them to connect you to potential buyers, as well as seek their advice on market and marketing strategies.
The Salesforce Startup Program was launched as a unified approach to help startups access the right resources and expertise to scale, as well as to connect them to relevant entities within Salesforce. This program acts as a conduit to bring startups into the Salesforce ecosystem in a very structured manner and offers a range of solutions to the most common problems startups face to scale.
The program offers:
Salesforce Accelerate: a three-month virtual program designed to provide the insights, learning, and support for a startup to strategically align with Salesforce and accelerate their time-to-market with AppExchange.
The Salesforce AppExchange Partner Program: helps build on the Salesforce platform, sell on AppExchange, and grow with world-class partner technology designed to help startups do business faster.
Salesforce Ventures: offers portfolio companies access to Salesforce innovators, veterans, and executives to ensure success. They leverage the expertise of Salesforce leadership in cloud computing to help startups build credibility and accelerate growth.
Salesforce products: help startups grow to become customer-focused companies. From prototype to exit, startups’ requirements change, which Salesforce products address for agility, customer focus, and growth.
Salesforce offers a rock-solid platform for product development—low-code, drag and drop. Entrepreneurs can develop products on the robust platform on which all Salesforce technologies are built. Startups can leverage this platform to reduce go-to-market and drive growth.
Salesforce, with it's trustworthy culture, is also highly regarded by many entrepreneurs for their new ventures. As a trailblazer, Salesforce has the reputation of a powerhouse that can truly help any business find success on the back of technology.