Files lie strewn across, a coffee mug jostles for space with a laptop that is perched at a precarious angle on the desk; a cell phone lies hidden below a pile of papers as a guy works frantically on completing work that has to be submitted in a few hours. No, I’m not describing a teenager in his last-minute scramble to complete a school assignment; this is a likely scenario at an entrepreneur’s office. I know this from experience – been there, done that; or more precisely, been there and seen someone do it.Of course, now that a few years have passed after that initial stage, my husband has learned to be a little more organized. He even grudgingly acknowledges that keeping a tidy desk is helping him run the business with greater sanity. There are several other things he’s made part of his daily habits – some easily and some after repeated knocks. Let me share a few ideas that worked for him and you are free to modify these to suit your circumstances.
Keep your documents and workplace organized
It’s much easier to work at a desk that is not cluttered with papers that threaten to fall off and get lost when the maid sweeps the office floor. Things like invoice and VAT documents, your laptop charger, and passport-size photographs always mysteriously go missing when you need them the most. The solution – have a system of storing such stuff in a specific place and returning it there after you’re done with using it. Or – like the entrepreneur, I live with does – entrust it to the safe care of someone you know is better organized.
Prioritize – decide what you shouldn’t do
A friend of mine has a peculiar way of shopping for clothes – as she’s looking, she puts aside the ones she doesn’t want and this automatically narrows down the list of probable clothes to choose from. It is actually a way of prioritizing in the reverse direction – take away what you don’t need and you’re left with a smaller set of things to do.
Have you repeatedly checked email even when there is no urgent communication expected? Do you spend time everyday drawing up or discussing several business ideas, although they are not needed in the immediate future? Do you fret over every single word in a draft proposal? Weed out the unnecessary stuff from your daily routine and you will find a lot of time available to do the things that matter.
Keep an eye on how you use time
Draw up a weekly schedule of tasks you need to get done and sort them out by the day. Then, take a little review at the end of each day to see if you’ve used your time efficiently. Have you been busy or productive? Identify activities that drain your time and avoid those. If you find some personal activity eating into your business time, cut it out of your calendar. Time management is not just about the apps on your smartphone – any app is only as good as your resolve to use it intelligently.
Deal with unpleasant stuff – it won’t go away
When my husband had to work with a particularly demanding client, his phone would often ring unanswered and the client found this galling. The entire project became distressing, took longer than usual to complete, and my husband didn’t earn any brownie points for cordiality and promptness. But somewhere in the process, he learned that ignoring a problem will not make it go away and that the more you put off handling unpleasant stuff, the worse it gets. Everyone has an Achilles heel; the trick is to identify it and find ways of getting across the problems it causes.
A lot of this may seem like common sense; but as an entrepreneur chasing a dream it may be something that you overlook. Being disorganized can lead you to operating in a state of constant stress; if this continues for long, you could end up losing out on business because you missed something important. Mix in a little pragmatism with your passion as a founder and you will find growing your business is a smoother process.
This is an edited version of a post originally posted at yourstory.com, by Anusuya Suresh is Asst. Professor in a college in Bangalore. She is a youth counselor and volunteer with a non-profit called DISHA that conducts self-improvement workshops for college students in Bangalore. You are free to re-edit and repost this in your own blog or other use under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License terms, by giving credit with a link to www.startupcommons.org and the original post.
Every startup will have a passionate entrepreneur behind it who fell in love with an idea enough to give it his all. But to succeed, that is not enough. Others have to fall in love with your idea too. Others include investors.
Here are the top traits that emerged out of the discussions. These are 3 key questions investors will seek answers from entrepreneurs before deciding on funding the startup.
1) Do you have the guts and drive to cross the dark valley?
“When an entrepreneur succeeds, there is so much glamour and halo attached to them. What is forgotten or undervalued is the walk through the dark valley entrepreneurs go through,” Vani Kola, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital, told us. Before she became a VC, Vani Kola had built two successful companies in Silicon Valley and exited them with billion-dollar valuation. “There are times when you can’t access capital, nobody believes in your idea, and even when you are winning or think you are winning, nobody really gives any value to the growth you are creating. Sometimes you don’t know how in the next six months you can take your business to the next level. There are so many lonely, dark spots in the growing of your business. As I have experienced those personally, I look at an entrepreneur and see, do they have the guts and drive inside them to cross that black hole? Will they get consumed by that? Will they quit or will they persevere?” This is one quality she looks for in an entrepreneur. “That elusive quality of perseverance — People who can compartmentalise these inevitable problems, which are costs every entrepreneur has to bear, and have immense faith on their product or service, and have a deep passion to pursue it — is something that I, having been an entrepreneur myself, empathise with. On the days things don’t go great, this quality will see the entrepreneur through,” she says.
2) Can you transmit your passion and faith to the investor?
At the stage of seed and series A round of funding, an entrepreneur doesn’t have the numbers to back him, and therefore investors have a tough decision before them. “You don’t know whether the business will take off or taper off; you don’t know whether the entrepreneur who delivered the business from ten thousand to five millions can actually build a business that looks like it can go to 50 millions. You don’t know whether the team is fully in place to do that. You don’t know whether the market sizing is yet niche or is it going to grow to a 20 million or is it going to cross that 100 million mark which everybody is looking for. And therefore an investor is far more hesitant,” explains Karthik Reddy, co-founder and managing partner of Blume Ventures. “The investors who eventually end up cutting the cheque are those who become equally passionate about solving all those questions. They see that spark in the entrepreneur. They see that market opportunity, just as the entrepreneur sees it. At seed, it is probably an extreme version of that shared passion and faith.”
3) How good is your team or can you build a great team?
However good your product is, however good a coder or business head you are, without a complimentary team member or without the ability to build a great organisation you are not going to survive and make it to series A, Karthik Reddy says. “The learning from three years of seed investing is that the team is more important in our evaluation matrix as we mature as a fund. Without a good team, even if you somehow make it to series A, you are probably going to falter before you get to series B, leave alone grand hundred million exit stories.” According to him, investors should walk away from the opportunity, however best the idea might be or however much they relate to the idea if the team isn’t strong enough or the entrepreneur looks unlikely to be a good team leader. “After all, an investor is not going to run the startup for the entrepreneur. So fundamentally, if they are not going to make their business work themselves, you shouldn’t invest in it.”
This is an edited version of a post originally posted at yourstory.com, by Malavika Velayanikal is Executive Editor of YourStory.com and Innovation Junkie. You are free to re-edit and repost this in your own blog or other use under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License terms, by giving credit with a link to www.startupcommons.org and the original post.
Contrary to what people say, it is actually difficult for an entrepreneur to be productive all the time than a normal professional. Why? There is so much to do, so many tweets to reply to, mails to send, blogs to read, people to message, and the result: more and more uncompleted tasks and unmet goals! And as the number of such tasks increases, the OCD (Obsessive–compulsive disorder) also increases, either that or by the weekend you reach a stage of not giving a damn.
That would have been cool if it didn’t correspond to more headaches the next working day. That reminds me to tell you what the Zeigarnik effect is: Uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one’s mind. Once the task is completed and the goal reached, however, this stream of reminders comes to a stop.
Now we can go back to evolutionary biology to discuss why it happens but I don’t want to do that, instead let’s see when does this take place? You may think that Zeigarnik effect happens till the goal is achieved, but that’s not true. Even if you note down how you are going to that particular task, or write the next actionable item somewhere the reminders stop.
Even though they hadn’t finished the task or made any palpable progress, the simple act of making a plan has cleared their minds and eliminated the Zeigarnik effect. The unconscious mind apparently nags the conscious mind to make a plan with specifics like time, place, and opportunity. Once the plan is formed, the unconscious can stop nagging the conscious mind with reminders. That’s why it becomes very important to put down to paper the next actionable items for that particular task.
Actionable items/To-do List
The one thing wrong with the current To-do lists are that they are too generic. For example, if I have to start a new marketing campaign for college students to help them with their accommodation and I put that down to my to-do list, it’s too generic and boring. My to-do list already has a hundred other items and looking at this particular task day in and day out will only give me anxiety because the WHOA marketing campaign that sounds like a big task and I will keep procrastinating. Instead a good option would be to just figure out the small next actionable item for this BIG task, for example, “Talk to three college students about the problem.” Let’s break it even down, say I know this college student Kashyap, so my task would become, “Talk to Kashyap on the problems students are facing in terms of accommodation,” now when I see that task in my list, it seems like a pretty easy task to do and once you do that, add to your list the next smallest actionable item to your BIG DAUNTING task.
Two-minute Maggi Rule
If there is a task that will just take two minutes to finish, DO NOT PUT IT ON THE LIST, finish it right away. As a small rule, I see all the tasks on my list and just guess the amount of time it will take to finish that particular task, if that is only going to take a few minutes I instantly finish it and mark it off my list. Then my list, which was earlier filled with so many tasks like “Call Sales team” “Send a mail to Sumit” etc. is shortened by 100% within an hour. So as a rule, never ever put something on the to-do list if it can be done in a few minutes. And Maggi takes more than 2 minutes to cook! Period.
Do you have your own hacks of being productive? Tell us about them in your comments.
This is an edited version of a post originally posted at yourstory.com, by Gaurav Munjal (Entrepreneur who started Flat.to after facing accommodation problem during his college years. It was acquired by CommonFloor.com recently. Previously a developer at Directi, Gaurav also runs Unacademy, a growing educational YouTube channel). You are free to re-edit and repost this in your own blog or other use under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License terms, by giving credit with a link to www.startupcommons.org and the original post.
Singapore has been ranked as one of the best places for startups in Asia and around the world. It is well-positioned geographically, offers great infrastructure and logistics, as well as diverse, well-educated talent pool. Singapore is strategically located within hours from fast growing economies such as China and India and consistently attracts the best and brightest minds from different parts of the world. Venture funding, government support and developed startup ecosystem, together with features mentioned above makes Singapore an attractive place for entrepreneurs. more than 50. Let’s have a closer look at some incubators and accelerators in Singapore.
1. Golden Gate Ventures
It is an early stage incubator helping internet startups build and launch successful companies across Southeast Asia. Golden Gates Venture’s founding partners share a rich background building successful Silicon Valley startups and managing investments in Silicon Valley and Asia.
What is interesting: For startups at their Ideation and Concepting stages, Golden Gate Venture offers 100 Day Bootcamp Program, which is run once or twice per year. Since March 2012, Golden Gate Ventures has been accredited as a Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS) incubator by Singapore’s National Research Foundation.
Results: Last year Golden Gate Ventures invested $10 million into startups in their first year. The portfolio includes RedMart.com (online grocery), Coda Payments (mobile payments), and Nitrous.io (web dev tools in the cloud).
2. The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator
The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator is recognized as the most successful in Southeast Asia. It is also the oldest among the pack, which should highlight why the company has the most comprehensive, systematic and consistent programs for a wide range of startup companies. The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator piloted its startup accelerator programme in 2012. Over two years JFDI startups raised over $ 7.2 million in seed funding.
What is interesting: consistently achieving 60%+ success taking startups to investment in 100 days. Typical startups raise around $ 550 000. In exchange for a minority stake every team, who has been selected for the program is offered a package including cash investment, mentoring, working space.
Results: 38 startups have graduated, out of those 34 are still active.
3. Jungle Ventures
Jungle makes seed to early Series A investments across Asia Pacific and also operates an early stage accelerator in Singapore. Founded in 2011 with focus is on early stage investments into Singapore, India, South East Asia and other regional hotbeds of innovation.
What is interesting: Startups through the seed fund accelerator can look to get: S$50-500K in startup funding, co-investment by 500 Startups, a leading SV based fund, and more.
Results: Current portfolio companies include micro-lending platform Milaap, mobile commerce app ShopSpot, and vacations rental site Travelmob which was acquired by Homeaway last year. So far 27 investments has been made, 24 startups still active and 3 successful exits.
At Startup Commons we always seek new ways to be of service to our customers and enhance startup ecosystems around the world. “Think globally, Act locally” - the famous phrase, which has been proven to be true for any business, regardless industries and countries. Ambassadors Programme is one of a series of initiatives by Startup Commons aiming to bring local knowledge to the global level.
We at Startup Commons believe that with the help of our Ambassadors we are able to directly impact local startup communities ecosystems, assist the growth of those communities, support and encourage entrepreneurial minded individuals. In a long - term we aim to become the driving force behind new emerging startup communities.
Who are Startup Commons’ Ambassadors? Ambassadors are our friends, who are located around the world. They are individuals who have shown their commitment to the startup ecosystem development in one form or another.
Our Ambassadors help you to meet and discover local startup communities from all over the world. Through the Ambassadors’ Network, Startup Commons ensures startup community stakeholders can easily access the most relevant and first - hand updates about evolving talents, unique ideas, innovative startups and much more.
If you are an active startup ecosystem builder in your city or region, Ambassador Program this is a great opportunity to be the main contact person for Startup Commons in your community and get global visibility. As part of our ambassador network you will be one of the lucky people outside Startup Commons team that receive updates, good information and knowledge about what we are cooking for the whole globe regarding startups world.
Being an ambassador is a fantastic opportunity to network with other like-minded people that are supporting or launching startups (founders, incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, universities, investors, mentors) and at the same time it is an amazing journey to build your own way as a startup ecosystem builder.
Are you ready for the journey? Do you want to impact your own local startup community?
Join Startup Commons Ambassador’s Network now and BRING YOUR LOCAL STARTUP COMMUNITY TO THE GLOBAL LEVEL.
Do you know someone who is passionate about startups and is eager to push your local community. Share the information about our Ambassadors Program.
Start-up ecosystems around the world are scaling new heights. Startups raising millions of dollars and numbers are growing. Here are 9 things to consider before raising funds for a start-up:
1. Never have more than 3 founders
Too many cooks spoil the broth. Having 2-3 founders is an ideal choice. In case you need more experts, you can always hire them. In rare cases more than 3 founders stick together; if the number is more, ultimately, it boils down to 2 or 3. Having one founder is also a bad option. Having different perspectives and divided risks is always a favourable position to be in.
2. Analyse the market; the idea may be good, but the market may not be ready
It is primarily important to interpret the existing market scenario in terms of your idea. Broadcasting your idea at the right time is where most of the startups fail. Therefore, first analyse the market and then take a call. If needed keep patience and wait for the market to develop according to your perspective.
3. Pick the right mentors
Having the right mentors to guide you and help you manage risk is a blessing in disguise. Even though there are no hard-and-fast rules of choosing a mentor, make sure that your frequency and belief matches. A mentor should believe in your idea and ambition, as a result, making your journey easy and a learning experience.
4. Maintain your accounts
A list of expenses of the previous and the upcoming months should always be maintained. This helps you keep track of where the money is going and how much money will be needed. As a result, while going to an investor, you can always show them the accounts and logistically present the amount of funds required.
5. Ensure financial stability in your personal life
Giving up an existing job to start a venture is quite a challenging task. Knowing well that the risk may or may not bear fruit, it is of utmost importance to ensure that all the debts are cleared. Also, make sure that the medical insurance, family savings and credit cards are in place. Alongside, keep a minimum runway of 9-12 months. Once all the basic things are taken care of, it will become easier for the risk taker to concentrate on his venture.
6. Family money
Keeping personal reputation at stake is riskier. Considering that most startups fail, ideally, family money should not be more that 5-10% of the total investment.
7. Consider funds as a bonus
Planning a startup on the basis of bootstrapping is considered to be an ideal one. This helps you concentrate on your business completely rather than hunting for an investor. Also, this will help you control the company completely without any pressure from outside investors.
8. Go to 3-4 investors see what they are asking for
Meeting an investor can be a learning experience. Listen to all the questions he asks for after you give your presentation and make a note. Remember, those are the areas the investor is not comfortable with. The more you meet investors, the more you will be able to understand the loop holes in your venture.
9. When a startup does not work, it is good to accept it
The bitter truth is that approximately 80-90% of start-ups fail. It is good to make your call and move on if things don’t fall into place. Of course, this should be the last resort but as a risk taker, remember that at times you need to let things go.
This is an edited version of a post originally posted at yourstory.com, by Richa Maheshwari (reporter from Yourstory.com). You are free to re-edit and repost this in your own blog or other use under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License terms, by giving credit with a link to www.startupcommons.org and the original post.
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