Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Is there really a way of failure-proofing something as a startup?

Corporates today are not worried about what the other corporates are doing. They are instead worried about what startups are building in garages and hence, after trying to do everything to keep up with their pace, are now funding them.

In the highly interactive session, Stressed on what startups should focus on and where they are going wrong.

Customer co-creation

“Instead of focusing solely on the product, startups should think about doing other fundamental things right from the idea stage. This can be summarised in six points, namely co-creation, pricing relevance, ease of use, market acceptance, identifying customer needs, and tech-friendliness.”

Startups know what they are building and desperately want to sell it but what they need to know before anything else is why they made it. Believing in why you did what you did is pivotal.

Products have rationales and customers have emotions; tap that! If you think rationally in business, you will have a hundred people doing the same thing, but if you capitalise on emotion, you will be different.

If you are building a startup, there are certain questions which you need to ask yourself. They include:

* What need are you addressing?
* Are you satisfying a REAL need?
* Is your product impacting the lives of your customers?
* What is your competition doing?


You cannot stop working, Every day is a new day.

Investor Co-creation

Most startups toil for years together, build a product, and then begin hunting for investors. This is a flawed method.

“You know how important an investor is to your startup. So, why wait for him? Involve investors from the idea stage so they know what you are doing from the start. People like to do business with who they are familiar with. Also, interacting with investors from the start gives you a lot of additional insight on what’s happening in the ecosystem and lets you understand what exactly they are looking for.

Traction: This is not about how much you have made but how much you are likely to make.

Mentor creation: People who can bridge the gap between customers and investors with their experience.

Their own passion is important, but obsession is not. Understand, if it has to be a commercial enterprise, it has to solve the problem of customers.

But what after a successful launch and a few great years of operations? How does a startup continually do well?

It’s not about getting it right at once. As long as people keep evolving, you cannot stop working. Every day is a new day.

While we are all aiming at achieving success and avoiding failure, They are both results that are not under our control. However, what we can control is our actions, and the more the precision with which we carry them out, the further we go in avoiding failure.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from YourStory

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Startups, guide your way to cloud.

Isn’t this such an exciting time, when so much is happening in the startup arena? Technology-based startups bet on their ideas and work towards giving life to their dreams over a period. Ideas which are given shape via technology and placed on the tarmac as a pilot roll-out are tested for their relevance and acceptance from the consumers and businesses. This is where the idea of a public cloud comes across as a boon for tech startups that are either testing the waters with their beta products or productionising their solutions. A public cloud offers unprecedented compute and is the perfect platform for startups to take off. It is just not about compute boxes but capitalising on unique offerings that matter the most to them from a solution standpoint.

At the time when these pilots are rolled out (with ‘beta’ or ‘trial run’ tags), there is no sense of scale or directional indicators on compute capacity. Some may invest in market studies leading up to forming an opinion on the way forward, but at best they are ballpark and based on one’s awareness of the domain. Often, the question is about the pilot creation, where the pilot travels a certain distance, but is now being challenged for it longevity while the business leaps to garner bigger deals. This is the time and phase where startups go back to the drawing board, to assess how they can stand up to the upside they are witnessing on their businesses.

Getting access to public cloud is comparable to getting access to a theme park with unlimited rides. But it all depends on how they are utilised and perceptions are formed on the basis of ones’ tryst with specific rides.  Startups look for quick ways to deploy and get their solutions/services up and running. This article presents some of the field learnings from a technology standpoint in the form of recommended practices startups should keep in mind when they begin their journey in the cloud.

* Adapt a universal component designThis is one area architects and designers need to think through. A typical approach taken by a startup is not get tied to a specific platform. Depending on factors indicated under #4 (‘Cloud credit management and cost optimisation’) below, you tend to move your workloads from one cloud platform to another. Migrations or move-overs are not easy and come with certain costs (time and effort). At times, having used native services on specific cloud platforms might make the movement harder. If you have taken a stance not to use platform native capabilities, it might work in your favour during migrations, but at the cost of not capitalising on the power of cloud beyond pure boxes (hosting workloads in VMs).

This is where the need to make your workloads universal comes in handy. What does ‘universal’ mean in this context? It is about realising the core capability (main business function) by way of using certain peripheral native services (storage, integration, and data services) to complement the core functionality. When you take this approach, the core remains independent of a cloud platform and it can only be called complete by leveraging peripheral services. So when you move from one cloud platform to another, you take the core, which is at the heart of your solution, and wire it up with required peripheral (managed) services. This is true heterogeneity in the context of public cloud. In hindsight, it is also important to establish basic know-how of at least two cloud platforms to realise this model.


DayDream Makes Your Mind's Workout, So Dream And Come To Success

Time to market — building vs buying (adopt managed services)

At times, it is fashionable to say that we have built it all in-house instead of using any readily available solutions. While it is important to demonstrate technical prowess leading to intellectual property creation, you have to balance it to address ‘time to market’ (TTM). TTM is very important for tech startups in view of competition and this is where ‘Managed Services’ or ‘PaaS’ comes in handy. Why waste time when someone has already done it the hard way? You are better off using it and moving on with stuff which is far more important to your business than going the route of reinventing the wheel.

Don’t get bogged down and stay on the trail of demonstrating technical prowess, but demonstrate agility by using proven frameworks and softwares that are out there. PaaS offering lays out services which can be readily consumed. Hence, if you are grappling with multiple ideas, you are better off realising them sooner in your efforts to test the waters.

DevOps

This is the most talked about but less adopted stream in the startup world. A sense of urgency is at the centre of any startup and an essential ingredient for them to compete. Down the line, you may realise the aspect of disciplined approach to execution, and the lack of it in your effort to release something quickly. As your business grows, you will realise that TTM is increasing and you lack agility in the process followed. This is where the need for DevOps is felt and an essential ingredient in the overall SDLC. The sooner startups bring in this culture, the better would be their road ahead when it comes to scaling their systems and being responsive to business demands.

Cloud credit management and cost optimisation

Major public cloud vendors provide usage credits to help startups jumpstart. It may last for a while, and is considered a major cost saver in the startup world. However, one should be mindful of the fact that these credits have an expiry and at some point, they must shift this cost into their routine burn rate. One crucial recommendation for startups here is to leverage these credits and invest in experimentation. You have to invest time to explore ways and means to scale, secure, grow, and instil value into your overall offerings.

In addition, the experimentation should also lead you into discovering the most cost-effective way to run your solution. This is critical to address the reality when credits run out and you have to pay from your pocket, because you are assured that you have the most economical solution in place.

* Minimise tech breakdowns

 Cloud provides more than one solution to a problem. Hence choose the one that justifies the cost as well as meets your performance requirement. Be it B2B or B2C, your differentiator may eventually be ‘availability’ and ‘responsiveness’. Hence it is important to build your system considering they would fail. Transient failures are evident and ensure you know the failover or recovery path in times of crisis. Your systems should carry the tag of ‘fail safe’, since factors like ‘availability’ and ‘responsiveness’ have a direct impact on the perception your users will have of your product and the reputation.

Cloud is evolving and so should startups. Cloud platform vendors are offering innovative solutions and a great amount of effort is going into democratising the software for application developers. Startups face a plethora of challenges and have to ensure the boat sails with certain stability. Based on my observation of the field, startups need to give thought to the above described areas. It is always desirable to do it right the first time, though learning from failures gives great insights on the way to success.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from YOURSTORY

Monday, September 19, 2016

How Entrepreneurs Made A Comeback After Business Failure.

Sydney entrepreneur Laura Moore came back from disaster to launch a successful health coaching business.
Running a small business can be one of the biggest, and most rewarding, challenges you can take on.


Imagine then, pouring your heart, time and life savings into developing, launching and growing your business, only to watch it either come close to failure, or worse, go under.

How do you make it back from there?

That was the question facing Sydney entrepreneur Laura Moore, who lost her life's savings when the gym franchise she poured $400,000 into burned down last year.

She was only eight months into a five-year franchise commitment when she saw her dreams literally go up in smoke.

"The flames went up into the vents and ripped into the gym taking the entire building down," she told.

"I actually stood and watched as the roof collapsed and the building fell into the street."

She tried to salvage the business by operating out of a nearby gym, but soon realised that was not financially viable, and faced a seven-month battle to settle her franchise agreement.

But financial dramas were secondary to the toll the incident would take on her health.



A Failed Business Doesn't Mean Personal Failure

"I put on weight, was experiencing extreme fatigue, constant bloating and poor digestion, brain fog and erratic moods, which was seriously affecting my performance both personally and professionally," she said.

"To the world, it was business as usual, but behind closed doors I was battling with trying to exit the franchise, constantly worrying about my team and clients and how I could ensure they were impacted as minimally as possible, and struggling daily with my health. I now realise there was still a big part of me that felt like a failure."

Moore said she now uses what she learned during that dark time to help others through her new performance and health coaching business, Uppy.


"I learned how to manage and overcome the thoughts and behaviours that had led me to that point in the first place -- perfectionism, unrelenting standards, self-sabotage, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, procrastination, over-working," she said.

"I've always wanted to run my own business and this setback wasn't enough to kill that dream.

"The fire was kind of a blessing because it allowed me to get amazing insight very early on into my business career, so I now know the key areas I need to improve on (or delegate!) in order to make my new and future businesses run efficiently and successfully, and in a way that serves me personally too.


"I'm sick of seeing people struggle because they've been misinformed or they don't know there's another way, so I created Uppy as I believe everyone has a right to the knowledge and support that can help them live more."

Even experienced entrepreneurs can face failure. Entrepreneur Pawl Cubbin had to completely re-think his marketing plan when his Canberra nightclub started to flounder

Pawl Cubbin, serial entrepreneur and founder of advertising agency ZOO Group, also faced the burn of a failing business 12 years ago when the shine wore off his Canberra nightclub Academy 11 months after opening.

"It was a massive endeavour to get it going: Canberra's not a big place and we opened this nightclub in an underground cinema," he told HuffPost Australia.

"It had heaps of atmosphere and the novelty value was big, so it went well for the best part of 12 months -- everybody came and it was a big deal. We killed it.


"But after 12 months the novelty wore off; everybody had been multiple times and even though it was unique in Canberra, it was reduced to a certain demographic and that wasn't enough to sustain it."

Cubbin said the business floundered for three months before he could come up with a plan to save it.

"It was an expensive project ... we'd invested too much to close it," he said.

"It did too well too initially for us to close it. You've got to identify what you're doing wrong -- you've got to take some blame.


"One of the guys I worked with said 'I think this is the demographic we want, let's put that out there and promote that' and we did. And it was the right thing at the right time, so we were lucky."

Disclaimer: - Following article come from THP

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Richest Entrepreneur Under 40 in Hurun's India Rich List for 2016.

BENGALURU: Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma's wealth surged by 162% in the past one year, making him the richest entrepreneur under 40 in Hurun's India rich list for 2016.
Sharma is worth about Rs 7,300 crore, up from Rs 2,824 crore a year earlier. The rise in wealth can be attributed to Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba investment in the company and subsequent funding rounds that have raised Paytm valuation. Sharma holds about 21% stake in the company.

The Key To Success Is Not To Think, It's To Do

After Sharma, Indigo co-founder Rakesh Gangawal has seen the biggest increase in wealth of more than 150%. His wealth stood at Rs 15,900 crore, thanks to the share price performance of the airline post its IPO last year. 

Anas Rahman Junaid, MDIndia of Hurun Report, a monthly magazine that focuses on high net-worth individuals in China and India, said subdued investor interest in e-commerce and online businesses had reduced valuations of e commerce unicorns in 2016. Several mutual funds with holdings in Flipkart have lowered the valuations of those stakes in the past few months 

Bhavish Aggarwal of Ola, the youngest in the list at 30, is worth Rs 3,000 crore, up from Rs 2,385 crore in last year's list. His co-founder Ankit Bhati is no longer in the list, which looks at those with wealth of Rs 1,600 crore and more. Last year, Bhati's wealth was exactly the same as Aggarwal's. Hurun's Junaid said Bhati does not have as much stake as Aggarwal does at present.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from ET

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Business on a Budget: 5 Money Saving Tips for Every Startup Entrepreneur.

The failure rate of startup businesses is not news to anyone in the world of entrepreneurship. And it's equally sad to know that if you sift through the carcasses of these dead businesses, you will definitely find startups that were founded on great business ideas.

You may wonder why businesses built on brilliant ideas still fail. The answer is usually fairly simple. Having an idea for a business and having an idea about how to run a business are two entirely different things. The reason most startups fail centers around two things -- management skill and financial skill. A dearth of any of these two can kill your business.

I want to focus on the latter reason, financial skill. Let's say your capital base is robust enough to deal with all your business expenses. If you do not know how to be disciplined and frugal with spending, the amount of money you have in your business’s kitty will not do you any good.

If you are a startup entrepreneur, here are a few tips to help ensure that you maintain your capital base, and enhance your profit margins as soon as possible.

1. Postpone personnel rewards.
Starting and running a business is already a herculean task on its own. Think of how much worse things will be if you start dolling out exorbitant amounts of money on unnecessary employment benefits and expensive salaries. You can avoid depleting your capital by avoiding these practices. Set your employee salaries reasonably and augment it with performance bonuses.



Doing Common Thing Uncommonly Well Brings Success.


If you must have employee benefits, limit them to only those that are critical to motivating employees to achieving the set goals and objectives. Beyond helping you save money by breaking even and turning profit sooner, this practice will help you develop a culture of frugal and disciplined spending in your business.

2. Keep personal and business finances separate.
You are the founder of your business. This implies that you own the business. The problem comes up when you mistake this to mean that you are the business. No  successful business can be run with such a mindset.

Always keep your personal and your business finances separate. Money made from the business is for the purpose of maintaining and growing the business. If you do not separate these two, you will soon find yourself dipping your hands into the business’ coffers for reasons that are only of personal benefit.

It helps to have you on the payroll of the business like every other employee. This ensures that you are making money from your business while also preventing you from depleting business funds.

3. Spend cheap with coupons.
Don't ever buy stuff because you can afford to. Having enough money to make a purchase does not mean that you should make it. Develop the habit of looking around while shopping -- especially online -- to ensure that you get the best possible deal.

One way to spend cheaply is by using coupons. You will be amazed how much you can save. I have always used coupons whenever available for important business purchases. When I purchased the first set of PCs for my ecommerce startup, I was able to save a good amount of money by using the coupon codes I got through Promocode watch. The fact is, coupon codes have remained one of the main reasons some businesses have been able to start up and stay afloat.

4. Skip the real estate.
You do not need a corner office to run a successful business. Many businesses that are successful today started in awkward locations. Just ask the founders of Google.

Do not spend money on real estate that will not directly benefit the business. You can turn part of your house or any other free space you have into an office. From there, you can run your business with your small band of employees.

Let the business grow and expand organically so that when the time to spend on real estate comes, you will know about it and better still, you will be able to afford it without putting a financial strain on your business.

In essence, drop off whatever won’t be missed if they are taken out. You can start cheap, and scale up later. I started my first six figure ecommerce business on free WordPress themes. I scaled up from there.

5. Purchase key person insurance.
In every business, you will find that there are certain people who are invaluable to its success. One way to protect your business is to purchase key person insurance on such a person. As a business owner, you certainly belong in that category.

Key person insurance is a fancy way to describe life insurance on you, co-founder or key employee on whom the continued successful operation of your business depends. The business is the beneficiary under this policy. This insurance coverage is important because it ensures that if anything should happen to the key person, rendering him/her incapable of working, the business will have other options available to them besides filing for bankruptcy.

The business will be able to use the insurance payoff to cover operating costs and pay off debts until they can find a replacement for the key person.

The ability to adequately align your business with strict budget discipline is critical to its survival. Since finance is the life-wire of most businesses, every startup entrepreneur should focus on how to efficiently manage his/her business budget.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from Entrepreneur

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Investing in a Startup Isn’t as Dumb an Idea as People Say It Is.

Are you thinking about investing in startups, but are hesitant because of all the fear mongering around startup investing out there? I’m sure you know what I am talking about. There are plenty of people out there who will tell you things like:

“When you invest in startups, expect to lose all your money.”

“Your returns as an angel investor are typically negative, so don’t bother.”

“Angel investing is stupid… don’t do it (even though I made 5X returns angel investing).” And I quote this from an actual conversation.

If startup investing is so risky and so dangerous, why do you hear about so many Silicon Valley millionaire and billionaires getting rich doing it? And why are these typically the same people telling you not to bother getting involved?

The answer is simple: they have learned to do it the right way, and they don’t really want anyone else infringing on their turf. Why is that? Well, it’s because they want to keep the secret intact. The secret to investing in startups the smart way.

It’s always a risk, but there are ways to be smart about it.


If you want to get involved in startup investing and actually generate out sized returns, you need to work at it. That means taking the time to educate yourself completely about this highly complex and variable asset class. You need to get up to speed on how to perform due diligence, how to evaluate a term sheet, how to understand different deal structures, and just to have an overall awareness of current trends and developments in the startup market. It can really be a full time job. This is why venture capitalists exist and are often handsomely paid.

You need to develop relationships, help people who can do nothing for you, offer tons of free advice, make introductions, accept coffee meetings, read everything, and most importantly, get to know A LOT of people. During that time you will probably meet a few who are special. It’s almost like they vibrate at a higher frequency. Once you get used to knowing what to look for, you’ll get pretty good at spotting them right away. These are the folks you want to invest in.

So what things do we look for when selecting companies for investment on 1000 Angels, the company I co founded? Here’s a short overview:

— Stellar founder. If you don’t feel something that excites you when you get to know the founders, they are probably not the right person to invest in. The reason you have that special feeling is because this person has some really unique skill, vision, or vibe that is seriously impressive, and you are subconsciously aware of it. Listen to your heart.


— Attractive market. A market that has relatively few competitors, and in which the founder can establish some sort of competitive insulation or advantage is key. I shudder inside when I hear someone has invested in the 20th “me-too” company in a particular space. Recipe for disaster.

— Traction. What has the team actually accomplished? If they are just coming to you with an idea on paper or a binder-thick business plan, run for the hills. Invest-able companies are those who have proven they can acquire customers, provide value, and maybe even generate revenue. Your investment dollars are hopefully being used to fuel growth of a tested business model, not to make costly mistakes.

— Deal structure. Uncapped convertible note? Forget it. $15 million pre-money for a company that has no traction? Run the other way. There are a million reasons deal structure can torpedo a deal, and learning about all of them usually involves experience, and doing your homework. There have been plenty of cases where investors have bet on companies that resulted in multi-million dollar exits, but no return for early investors who took a ton of risk. You could write a whole book about these cases. Maybe I will…

These are just a few important tips on how to make smart startup investments that can be a great addition to your portfolio. And while I won’t tell you should should invest your child’s college funds in a startup portfolio — and you should realize you could lose all of your invested capital — if you are careful, diligent, and leverage the resources available it’s not outrageous to expect a decent return on your investment. The goal of startup investing is to build a portfolio and develop wealth over time through smart investing in people that you trust and believe in.

There are a lot of resources out there that can help you get started. Startup investment groups and platforms, blogs, webinars, and masterclasses can point you in the right direction. And don’t forget, diversification is key to this strategy. You can’t just invest in one or two companies and hope they work out. It’s really hard to pick the winners, but with some careful attention, you can try to avoid the losers. And avoiding the losers is a key part of making sure that your diversified portfolio performs well.


Disclaimer: - Following article come from FORTUNE

Monday, August 29, 2016

Indian startups lack the scale and depth to make another Silicon Valley

As I write this article, I had a chance to meet with and learn about some of the entrepreneurs shaping India’s startup ecosystem.

As I compare our entrepreneurial ecosystem with others, I am reminded of the three pillars that characterize thriving startup ecosystems: breadth, scale, and depth. By breadth, I mean how many sectors of the economy does the ecosystem span. By depth, I mean how many players in each sector. And by scale, I mean how large are the companies in each sub-sector. Thriving startup ecosystems like Silicon Valley are characterized by amazing breadth, depth, and scale.

How does India stack up?


 Small Ideas Big Opportunities


E-commerce, cab aggregators, and food delivery startups hog the limelight, perhaps leading casual observers to question the breadth of India’s startup ecosystem. But the most striking observation from my visit relates to the big breadth of sectors covered by India’s startups. Their range includes biotech companies like Mitra Biotech, software as a service (SaaS) startups like Freshdesk and Postman, medical devices companies like Forus Health, digital media companies like The Viral Fever, fintech companies like Zerodha, and many more. Whatever your sector of interest, you will likely find activity in that space.

But what the ecosystem offers in terms of breadth, it takes away in terms of scale.

Even some of the larger and more prominent companies in many sectors have barely reached around $10 million (Rs67 crore) in annual revenues after spending much more. Enterprise SaaS companies struggle to sell to Indian corporations making the domestic market virtually non-existent. Selling globally from India isn’t easy either. Similarly, in biotech, the domestic market has been a hard nut to crack. Most biotech startups are yet to achieve reasonable scale despite raising tens of millions of venture dollars. In consumer markets, there is scale in terms of number of potential users but the average revenue per user is low. Scalability remains the biggest missing piece of the Indian startup puzzle.

Moving on to depth, you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of startups in each sector. The lack of depth is partly due to the lack of scale. It is hard for a market to support lots of players unless there is scale. In addition, one doesn’t see enough specialists across multiple sub-sectors in India. If you just looked at advertising technology (ad-tech) in the US, you could break that market down into multiple large sub-sectors including ad exchanges, ad servers, demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, etc. Other sectors are no different. The market will have to mature considerably for such specialists to emerge in India.

So what can an entrepreneur do to address these scale and depth issues?

These problems are structural and innovations are needed to address the lack of widespread broadband availability and the inadequate access to digital payment platforms, for instance. The government and large corporations will have a major role to play in this. The success of services such as Reliance Jio, which seeks to roll out a pan-India 4G network, and the unified payments interface will be crucial. The tailwinds are certainly in India’s favor given the many initiatives launched in the past 12 months.

The next few years will tell us whether India can list itself alongside US and China as a startup nation.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from Quartz

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The UAE entrepreneur who draws inspiration from other female leaders

ABU DHABI // Souad Al Hosani is an exemplar of an Emirati women who is at the top of her chosen profession.

Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, her entrepreneurial outlook has taken her to the presidency of Nexus Business Services, which provides start-up and operational support for companies; the managing directorship of its Nexus Agencies element, and a member of the board of directors at Safetic International Safety and Security consultancy.

She is 28.

"Sometimes, when I work hard and feel exhausted, I feel like taking a break to refuel myself and be ready for the upcoming days, but I am a workaholic," she says. "I love people and I love business. I can never have a break."

A graduate in human resources management from the Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi, Ms Al Hosani has worked as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mubadala Development Company, the British embassy in Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Amwal Holdings.


Be Someone, That People Start Admiring To Be Like You

Having completed a training programme for women entrepreneurs, she also received a United Nationals Industrial Development Organisation certificate, while being honoured with a Young Achievers Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in Abu Dhabi. Last year, she was named best female service provider in the UAE.

"After seven years of being in business, I have learnt and enriched my knowledge a lot, with the support of my family, friends, and the community," says Ms Al Hosani.

"My different experiences in the public and private sector have helped me develop, nurture and maintain significant and valuable business and government contacts.

"These opportunities have allowed me to network with professionals around the world, giving me a clear picture of what foreign investors are aiming to achieve by relocating abroad."

Her world is a non-stop one, a whirlwind of meetings and events. But it has allowed her to become a truly global citizen as she promotes the UAE, and gauges the overtures of companies looking to invest in the country.

"I try to switch off at weekends, but I am still available when needed," she says.

The rewards, she explains, are the smiles on her clients’ faces – and the knowledge that her efforts may empower other Emirati women.

"Being a strong female entrepreneur and sharing my experience with people inspires me," she says. "Our leadership has always supported women and encouraged women development on a personal and business level.

"I am so proud about the number of Emirati female leaders we have nowadays – especially our Minister of Youth, who is 22 – and I am proud to be Emirati."

Disclaimer: Following article come from THENATIONAL

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Octopus To Raise £70m For Start-Up Venture Investments.

Conventional wisdom is that investors’ appetite for risky smaller businesses is diminished during periods of economic uncertainty and market volatility – they’re supposed to prefer safer bets. Well, tell that to Octopus Investments, the specialist smaller companies fund manager. It’s just announced a £70m fund-raising for its Titan Venture Capital Trust (VCT), with the rider that there is also an option to raise a further £50m should there be sufficient demand.

Venture capital trusts, for the uninitiated, are collective investment funds that attract a special tax status from the UK government – the idea is to cushion the risk of investing in very small businesses with a generous array of tax breaks. So investors get 30 per cent upfront tax relief on their money as long as they hold their VCT shares for five years, are entitled to tax-free dividends, and don’t have to pay any capital gains tax on profits.

Despite these perks, however, VCTs are risky – all the more so since the Government was forced to change the rules of the scheme last year in order to avoid falling foul of the European Union’s State Aid rules. At least 70 per cent of the fund must be invested in companies that are no more than seven years old, have no more than 250 employees, and have assets worth no more than £12m.

In other words, these are businesses at the riskiest end of the market – many are effectively start-up ventures.

Dreaam Big! And Make It Happen With Success

So why does Octopus think it can raise such significant sums for Titan at a time when investors are so nervous? Well, a combination of factors are in its favour. The tax breaks certainly help, particularly since the Government has recently reduced the tax incentives on offer to wealthier pension savers, who are therefore looking for other efficient ways to invest. But it’s also important to stress the attractiveness of the underlying asset class, particularly given that investors get access to it via a diversified portfolio that is professionally managed.
The reality is that in a market place where growth capital is in relatively short supply, VCTs have some great opportunities to choose from. Even talented entrepreneurs with impressive track records don’t have too many options when it comes to raising equity finance – VCT managers are well placed to pick and choose.
In fact, Titan has a good record of doing so. The portfolio consists of around 50 companies at any given time and boasts a number of success stories. This year alone, for example, Titan has sold its investment in SwiftKey to Microsoft and Twitter has bought its holding in Magic Pony Technology.
This is not to suggest that the fund is a sure thing, or that there won’t be portfolio setbacks. The nature of investing in start-up ventures means there almost certainly will be failures. Despite the risks, however, Octopus is confident investors will support its fund-raising, even in this post-Brexit era of anxiety.

As for entrepreneurs themselves, this fund-raising is good news. It suggests the market for equity capital in start-up companies remains open for business – and raises hopes that the best ventures will be able to secure the finance they need to scale up.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from FORBES

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Dubai Government Seeks Blockchain Projects for Startup Fund

A technology initiative backed by the Dubai government has launched a $275m startup investment fund (1bn AED) organizers say will likely back blockchain projects.

Announced last week, the Dubai Future Foundation officially opened the Dubai Future Accelerators initiative, a 12-week startup program based in the United Arab Emirates that will seek to encourage innovation in "strategically important" sectors.

A partnership with global investment firm Dubai Holding, the effort is centered around promoting the development of business ideas around six "challenges" in areas like transportation, law, education and public utilities.




The program is now accepting applications from companies seeking to prove a product-market fit for their ideas. Approved applicants, in turn, will spend three months developing pilot projects that are then eligible for additional funding.

Organizers said initial applications include efforts centered on smart meters, smart cities and business process improvements using blockchain.

The move is the latest that finds the Dubai Future Foundation promoting blockchain development. The agency has been among the more active government agencies globally to begin examining blockchain technology, most notably through the Global Blockchain Council (GBC) overseen by its Museum of the Future project.

Earlier this summer, the GBC unveiled seven pilot projects built by prominent area businesses and startups.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from CoinDesk

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Fortune Just Launched a Startup Edition of Its Tech Newsletter.

Today’s startups could be tomorrow’s Fortune 500 stars.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. No, you’re not hallucinating—this is an extra edition of Data Sheet.

Starting today, we’ll be publishing a Tuesday edition. In keeping with our weekend tradition, it will have a theme: startups.

Yes, startups—those fledgling companies building or using technology to create new products, services, or even categories. Startups continue to fascinate us with their ability to turn an idea into an industry. Startups can mint millionaires overnight and topple incumbents just as quickly. They can captivate an entire generation with a simple social app.





Fortune has traditionally focused on covering the world’s largest companies because of their outsized impact on industry. But readers of this newsletter know that today’s startups are tomorrow’s Fortune 500 companies.

Throughout the week we’ll continue to bring you the latest news about Apple, Google, and the rest of the mega caps—not to mention the mega unicorns. But on Tuesdays, we will use this newsletter to showcase genuine up-and-comers whose products could be the next big thing.

After all, even Apple (No. 3 on the Fortune 500) was once just a few guys tinkering with computers in a garage.

We hope you like this new Startup Tuesday edition of Data Sheet.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from FORTUNE

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Steve Cohen, Now A Venture Capitalist, Invests In Trading Start-up.

A venture capital fund seeded by Steve Cohen and his employees at Point72 Asset Management is putting up to $250 million into a new fund managed by the start-up Quantopian.

The start-up is a trading platform that uses crowdsourcing to create new algorithms for investing capital.

The deal, which involves a $2 million investment in the start-up, as well as a promise to trade up to a $250 million of Cohen's Point 72's company assets using its algorithms, is the first major public deal struck by Point72 Ventures.

Point72 Ventures is the private-company investing arm launched by Cohen and members of his team in May.

The company — which is separate from Cohen's personal venture capital company, Cohen Private Ventures — focuses on finding new technologies that cater to the financial-services industry.

"There's a tremendous amount of information in the world right now, and if you're a portfolio manager sitting there every day, trying to process all that, that is a huge challenge," said Matthew Granade, Point 72's head of market intelligence and one of the architects of the Quantopian investment.

"So we're really interested in people that are helping you crunch down the information, synthesize it better, help make you more efficient in absorbing it."




Granade, who is also a board member at Quantopian, told CNBC on Tuesday that Point72 traders would begin using the start-up's trading algorithms in the coming months, as soon as both firms could get the technological "piping set up."

Quantopian already has a roster of prominent early investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Khosla Partners, and Spark Capital. Founded about five years ago, it has attracted more than 85,000 members, a developer base that includes nuclear-lab researchers, data-company workers, and even some precocious teenagers.

The designers of algorithms who use its platform, referred to by Quantopian as "authors," receive royalties from the use of their models if they're successful at generating returns. But the fact that a money manager the likes of Cohen is putting money into the platform is regarded by Quantopian officials as a key new vote of support.

"Even just the beginning of the conversation was incredibly validating to us," Quantopian John Fawcett said in an interview Tuesday, "that we were on to something and focusing on a problem in the industry."

The problem, as he described it? "Finding talent."

Disclaimer: - Following article come from CNBC

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Try Not To Fail, Come To Success!

Jeffrey Seller is Broadway royalty.

He's the producer of "Hamilton," the runaway smash hit musical about the founding of America that is expected to generate over a billion dollars in revenue.

In addition to "Hamilton," Seller is the producer of "Avenue Q," "In The Heights" and "Rent." All four shows have won Tony Awards for best musicals.

Despite his intimidating track record of success, he is not infallible.

In a podcast with Kara Swisher, executive editor of tech site Recode, Seller said that for each of his big successes he's had equally bad failures.

"I fail all the time," said Seller. "And I have to be willing to fail in order to succeed."


Indeed You Are Not Infallible, Together We Succeed



As the producer of "Hamilton," Seller is responsible for the business end of the equation. He needs to organize sales, marketing, salaries, etc. Every show he runs is like a start-up: He has investors that he needs to pay back.

So what's gone wrong when Seller failed? What mistakes did he make as an entrepreneur?

"I didn't follow my heart," Seller said of his mistakes.

He cited the musical "High Fidelity," which ran on Broadway for only a few days. "My heart said, 'This isn't working,' but my head said, 'Keep going.'" He said he didn't like the movie the play was based on, but he believed in the artists so much he charged ahead anyway.

The lesson: "Every time I don't follow my heart, that's when I am bound to get in trouble."

Disclaimer: - Following article come from CNBC

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Success Is Not A Matter Of Luck — It’s An Algorithm

How does someone like Jack Dorsey go from a 14-year-old computer science nerd to serial entrepreneur, the co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square? How does 3M consistently innovate, developing simple but iconic products like post-it notes? It's not a matter of luck. It's an algorithm.


So what exactly is ENGAGE?

ENGAGE is a six-step process for discovering what drives you and using it to succeed in your career. Many people's careers stall because they see strategic, high-level thinking, like knowing what their purpose is or what values drive them, as a "soft skill." They don't prioritize it. But that kind of thinking is exactly what enables entrepreneurs to launch successful startups, executives to get promoted and politicians to be elected. You can progress in your career without following this model, sure. But you'll eventually plateau.


If you want to be not just good, but the best, ENGAGE is for you.


E: Explore your meaning
Whether you think you can, or you think you can't — you're right. — Henry Ford

What's the first step explore your meaning? Identify your top three core values, then define steps you can do each week to embody that value. You value creativity? Set 15 minutes aside to doodle. You love adventure? Visit one new place every week.

N: Narrow your goals
Life is short, fragile and does not wait for anyone. There will NEVER be a perfect time to pursue your goals.

What's the first step to narrow your goals? Even more important than identifying your smart goals and writing them down is knowing the things that you will NOT do. Learn to say no. One key to achieving your goals is being selective with your time so that the bulk of your energy goes to what counts.

G: Generate a plan
A goal without a plan is just a wish. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What's the first step to generate a plan? Business executives spend 90 percent of their time in meetings and answering emails. Set aside time to center your efforts on the people who matter. Find the one person who can help you accomplish a goal and create a plan on how to reach out to them.

A: Anticipate roadblocks
Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth. — Mike Tyson

How do you start anticipating roadblocks? Break down your goals into steps. Want a promotion? Then you need to 1) complete an important project and 2) bring in new clients. Go over what can go wrong in the process: missed deadlines, only finding one new client, etc. Now remember that even if that happens, it's not the end of the world.





G: Gain persistence
If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done. — Thomas Jefferson 

How do you gain persistence? When you feel like giving up, switch things up instead. Do something totally out of your wheelhouse — it doesn't even have to align with your goal. Are you struggling to get recognized at work? Learn how to cook a new recipe, change the route you take on your commute, try a new sport, or simply spend your lunch break with someone you haven't met before.

E: Elevate yourself
To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. — Eleanor Roosevelt 

How do you start elevating yourself? Start by acknowledging one person who helped you get where you are or who positively shaped your life. Showing respect inspires others and builds influence.


E.N.G.A.G.E. will help you design experiences that promote "successful thinking". However, the formula doesn't work unless you do. Your potential is there waiting to be discovered!

Disclaimer: - Following article come from CNBC

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The retail entrepreneur helping over one million Brits shop the sales and get the best deals on products…

Inspiring women: Elizabetta Camilleri


Name: Elizabetta Camilleri
Co-founded: SalesGossip in June 2011 (launched November 2012)Start-up elevator pitch: Fashion marketplace bringing together discounts and deals from UK retailersIndustry: E-commerce





Inspiring women: Elizabetta Camilleri


Why is she impressive?

If you love shopping the sales but hate having to trawl various sites to find the best deals then Elizabetta Camilleri is your new bff. She has co-created SalesGossip; the burgeoning site that lets consumers get first-look access to all the best fashion and beauty product sales from the likes of ASOS, Ted Baker, Debenhams, NET-A-PORTER and many other major industry names. The site works by collating promotions from across the UK in real time. Since launching the business in November 2012, the start-up has secured over one million registered members and around £1m from investors such as high-profile Dale Murray, and Andrew Graham of Mr & Mrs Smith. Not only that, but Camilleri has managed to combine four different revenue models in her start-up strategy including data mining, online advertising, custom marketing campaigns and affiliate store commissions.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

3 youngsters from IIT-KGP are taking on the biggies in the online product discovery space

The story started when a young man named Gaurav Dahake had to buy an iPod for his friend whose birthday was arriving. He turned on his computer and three frustrating hours later, he had bought an iPod which ironically was delivered after the birthday. Gaurav also realized that he could have had a better deal if he had bought the gift from a different source. This experience kept nagging him and he got together with friend and developer Prashant Singh to solve this customer pain-point. And thus was born BuyHatke, an online product and price discovery service. They soon got their UI UX expert in Srikanth Sethumadhavan as well, and the ball was set rolling.


Problem being solved and the revenue model
eCommerce saw an huge upward swing in 2011 and we at YourStory have seen more than 800 eCommerce companies take birth (eSparks 2011 and 2013). With these, we saw the adjoining need for eCommerce enablers and this is where BuyHatke fits in. BuyHatke scans close to 50 credible websites (Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Shopperstop, etc.) and fetches the consumer the best deal.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Entrepreneur from Aurangabad - A startup story

Sachin Kate is the founder of Clear Car Rental and I had no clue about the magnitude of impact this 28 year old had created when he walked into our office at YourStory.in. Yes, Clear Car is just another car rental company in India but there are a few points that justify as to why he needs an ovation.

The man has a story to tell
Sachin Kate hails from the small city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra where the concept of starting up is pretty much alien (yes, setting up a shop is also starting up but we’re talking in conventional terms of starting up). The region where Sachin resided doesn’t have schooling available after grade 4 but Sachin’s parents were firm on providing him with all the needed education and hence sent him to a friends place in a nearby region from where a school was more accessible. Sachin started selling newspapers since money was always a challenge and luckily for him, he got a job of an office boy in 11th grade at a computer institute.
Always fascinated by computers, Sachin took advantage of the situation and progressed to become a computer instructor in one year. After 12th, Sachin shifted to Aurangabad for higher studies along with a part time job in a travel agency. “This job gave me my initial exposure in travel business. On a part time salary I started working full time because slowly I started getting access to computer and could show my computer skills,” says Sachin. He was pursuing his BSc. in computers and he had an inclination towards how SEO worked. This came in handy for the travel agency he was working for.
Gaining in confidence, Sachin tried moving out of his zone in terms of location but his family wasn’t very comfortable. He decided to come back and take up web development assignments. He focused on the travel and hotel segment and has developed more than 600 websites till now along with his team. This is how InfoGird and NetMantle had come into existence.
And then came in the big break.
Sachin was always associated with the travel and hospitality industry and was aware of the needs of the industry. “The technology was being developed for airlines, hotels booking etc., but last mile connectivity which is mostly road travel in tourism sector was in a way neglected,” says Sachin. And thus was launched Clear Car Rental in July 2010. This was the time when the Meru Radio cab service and a couple of others had settled in.

Clear Car Rental provides both local (packages for full day, half day and transfer) and outstation travel (packages for round trip, one way drop and multi city travels) solutions. CCR provide car rental services to 150+ cities within India and has a home grown team of about 100 that manages the operations.
And all this without a penny of funding
We’ve seen the car rental companies getting funded at will and the justification for the need of huge funds for a business like this. Surprisingly enough, Sachin has been able to scale the company to 150+ cities without raising a single penny of institutional funding. CCR holds inventory of 14000+ cars with a 1000+ vendors on board. Apart from the domestic, foreign tourists and corporates, OTAs like Makemytrip, Cox & Kings and Thomas Cook have also partnered with CCR. “We’ve focused a lot on Tier 2/3 cities. The average purchasing power has gone up and even people from smaller cities are hiring cabs now,” says Sachin. They have a strong share in the metros as well but they’re banking on the smaller cities for growth.
And building a company from Aurangabad
We’ve seen companies being built from small towns and this is yet another success story from a place you’d not expect a startup to scale from- Aurangabad. As always there are pros and cons,
Sachin believed in what he was doing and his grit to be successful opened up doors for him. Local newspapers have written about it and a blog post he wrote- “Aurangabad Calling” encouraged many youngsters who were studying outside to come back home and find employment.
A local hero in Aurangabad, Sachin Kate has been hidden from the bigger picture and we hope this post gives the man his due.
Website: Clear Car Rental

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GITEX 2016 launches new startup movement.

GITEX Technology Week will launch and host GITEX Startup Movement, a startup gathering which will host over companies from 30 countries, bringing together entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, mentors and buyers for the first time in Dubai.

The GITEX Startup Movement will convene over 400 startups and more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and mentors from the global startup ecosystem. The exclusive set-up will highlight the most innovative startups around the world and provide them a platform to sell, form partnerships and attract investors. Participants will also be able to pitch for prizes, attend an interactive conference to address challenges faced by entrepreneurs and meet leading industry figures. The initiative has already garnered interest and momentum from supporters across the globe including Business France, Cross Trade agency in Singapore, Digi Robotics in the UAE, Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Japan’s Jetro agency, Marco Trade Export in Morocco, Star Systems agency in Iran and STC from KSA.

Amjad Shacker, Corporate Communication GM, STC, said, “InspireU is an STC initiative to promote, support and develop digital startups and nurture and consolidate the startup ecosystem in the MENA region and create sustainable value. We believe that “to inspire is to empower” and we do that by providing the directions and tools to budding entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. STC strongly supports the launch of the GITEX Startup Movement and is proud to co-present the top tier prize of the event to the best global startup.”

“The need for local and regional startup ecosystem consolidation, learning from global best practices, and exposure to global investment network, is imminently evident. STC considers GITEX Startup Movement addressing this need; it will help regional players to learn and mature as well as expose them to the global buyers and investors. STC will showcase the achievements of InspireU by showcasing its incubatees, connect them to the broader network, attract future deal flow and share the roadmap for the future. STC is participating in the Global Startup Movement to inspire and be inspired,” said Shacker.



Keep Calm
And
Get Your
Startup
On


The Arab world has a burgeoning youth demographic. More than 60 per cent of the 350 million population is under the age of 25. Young millennial Arabs are online, mobile, using technology and becoming entrepreneurs with the strong support of government initiatives.  The UAE leads the way in the region on revolutionary smart cities transformation and diversification of economies. Across Middle East and Africa, entrepreneurs are at the heart of the digital revolution as ICT spending increases across the region.

“Startups from all over the globe, women, youth and Arab entrepreneurs are a very real force of change that is making a positive impact in our society. They need supportive ecosystems to nurture and enable their growth and success. GITEX Technology Week has a strong legacy as one of the leading international tech events and is uniquely positioned to turn the spotlight on startups. With a force of 146,000 technology professionals and 22,000 C-suite executives at GITEX, Startups gain immediate access to a powerful industry network and massive technology marketplace, entry into growth markets in Middle East & Africa, and can future-proof their business plans, products and services.” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice-President, Exhibitions and Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre.

“The Tesla Foundation is proud to be a part of the GITEX Startup Movement. The foundation is focused on building the bridge between private and public organizations to create new technologies and companies and the Middle East & Africa presents a unique opportunity. We have been graced with the strength of government support and the burgeoning entrepreneur scene that is in the region. As a science and technology Foundation focused on robotics and automation, “Cyber-Physical Systems,” GITEX enables us to expand our network by connecting with innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies to include in the Tesla STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Farm System,” said Keith Kaplan, CEO Tesla Foundation.

The public sector in the UAE is already committed to facilitating a conducive environment for entrepreneurship through its AED 2 billion knowledge fund, which is part of the country’s National Innovation Strategy, and aims to accelerate the startup movement towards a sustainable knowledge-based economy.

Further positive announcements such as the establishment of venture firm 500 Startups’ $30 million fund in the Middle East and North Africa, Uber’s $250 million investment in the region and home grown UAE startup, Souq.com who recently secured $275 million investment to be the highest valued internet company in the Middle East, are testaments to rising MENA entrepreneurship scene where vibrant and growing economies present untapped and unchartered opportunities.

Delegates at the event, will also have the opportunity to visit country zones and showcase pods that will feature the most exciting startups offering drones & robotics; IoT, AR, VR & AI; finance; retail; healthcare; education; energy; travel & hospitality; media & marketing; and transport & logistics, to name a few.

GITEX Technology Week is expected to attract more than 146,000 visitors from over 140 countries, including 22,000 C-suite executives and 3,500 exhibitors from 55 countries.

GITEX Technology Week will be held on 16th to 20th October 2016 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

Disclaimer: Following article come from CNME

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Soon You Won't Have To Be Rich To Back A Startup.

New crowdfunding rules taking effect Monday will let anyone—not just the wealthy— invest in startups. But don't bet on the "99 percent" finding the next Uber overnight. 

The change overrides a longstanding Securities and Exchange Commission requirement that investors backing private companies be "accredited," meaning they make at least $200,000 a year and have a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding their home).

Now startups raising money through online crowdfunding portals will be able to sell shares to people regardless of their wealth or income so long as the founders have submitted annual financial reports to the SEC. In exchange, companies can raise up to $1 million. 

The rules, implemented as part of Title III of the JOBS Act, were four years in the making and the result of industry lobbying to make the process more democratic. The big question is how much the change will transform crowdfunding, which has typically rewarded backers with T-shirts, events tickets and early iterations of gadgets.

While some startups are keen to sell shares to small investors, others are hanging back because they find the rules too onerous and the fundraising limit too low. Meanwhile, Kickstarter, the biggest and best-known crowdfunding site, has no plans to join the party.

It's early days but non-tech entrepreneurs who have trouble attracting venture capital are considered the most likely to take advantage of the option. People like Tom Lix, who's keen to raise $1 million on the Wefunder portal so he can expand his Cleveland liquor startup.

"I would love for my customers to be my shareholders," says Lix, whose Cleveland Whiskey LLC says it can age whiskey in 24 hours.  "I couldn't ask for better fans."


The Successful Person Makes A Habit Of Doing.


Richard Swart, a founding board member of the Crowdfunding Professional Association, says the new fundraising rules could especially appeal to companies outside venture-capital rich California and New York. He says entrepreneurs in theater, food production and energy have expressed the most interest so far, along with minority-led businesses.

"We're hoping crowdfunding can start to equalize the distribution of funding," says Swart, who also serves as chief strategy officer at NextGen Crowdfunding LLC,  a year-old startup that provides information about funding portals, individual companies and crowdfunding regulations.
Still, he and others acknowledge that new funding option could have limited appeal. Jim Fulton, an attorney at Cooley LLP who specializes in corporate and securities law for emerging companies, says many companies, especially in tech, consider the $1 million limit too low and the costs to register and submit annual results too high. He says fewer than a dozen clients have asked about the option. Another potential turnoff: a requirement that companies communicate with investors as individuals rather than as a group.

"If you're not going to raise $5 million," Fulton says, "I don't know why you'd subject yourself to this burden."

The costs vary depending on a company's complexity and how much it wants to raise. Cleveland Whiskey expects to pay between $40,000 and $50,000 to raise $1 million while Anikona Farm, which operates a coffee plantation in Hawaii, expects to pay between $1,000 and $20,000 to raise roughly $100,000, according to owners at each company.

As of Thursday, five crowdfunding portals had been approved: Wefunder Portal LLC, SI Portal LLC. dba Seedinvest.com, CFS LLC. dba CrowdFundingSTAR.com, NextSeed US LLC. and StartEngine Capital LLC. Three dozen more are awaiting approval.

A spokesman for Kickstarter said the company has no intention of adding equity investing to its platform. But rival crowdfunding portal Indiegogo does.

"It was the original goal of the founders when we launched in 2008 and it still is," says Indiegogo Chief Executive David Mandelbrot, adding the company is working out details with attorneys now and expects to launch something later this year. "Limiting venture financing to accredited investors and treating people differently according to their wealth feels very undemocratic. It's sad it's taken this long to change that, but at least these are steps in the right direction."

Disclaimer: Following article come from Bloomberg