Startups

Ep18 | Creative ways to Gate Content and Get more Leads with Pamela Muldoon, The Pedowitz Group

Pamela Muldoon of The Pedowitz Group returns to our podcast series titled Sunny Side Up to discuss the future of gated content and what leading brands do to gain leads with this strategy.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. A lot of folks in B2B sales are finding it very tough to break through the noise to connect with their target accounts. Having your own podcast gives your team the unique ability and often times the ability for sales too to break in to new accounts starting with the aim of interviewing your ideal clients on your podcast.
  2. The big reason we see audio content  gaining attention is because of the nature of the way that we live and do work these days. 
  3. The timing for podcasting is really really good as we touched upon. But the thing I would encourage folks to think about is this idea of content based networking where you collaborate with your ideal clients and potential referral partners to create content.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Paroma (00:13): Hi, Pamela, Welcome back to the DemandMatrix podcast series. We are  really happy to have you here for the second time. How do you feel?

Pamela(00:21): Hello. Hello. It is so good to be back. Thank you so much for having me. 

Paroma(00:31): You’re most welcome. And this time we basically wanted to try and touch base on creative ways to make content gating an interesting venture. So that’s the main aim of this episode and the last time I think we touched base on a lot of content marketing strategies and we touched a lot about content gating as well and this time we hope to share a lot more creative ideas with our audience.

Pamela (00:56): Perfect. It’s a hot topic right.It’s one that I think every marketing team continues to have internally and kind of monitor externally what other companies are doing and what works and what doesn’t work. So I don’t know if this is ever going to become an old topic anytime soon. Right. It’s just it’s something we’re all dealing with every single week.

Paroma(1:17): Yeah let’s just discuss some of the most common and basic factors here.What are some of the hits and misses when it comes to promoting gated content assets according to you.

Pamela (1:27): I think there’s a couple of things. The whole intent here is to get your content  in front of the right person at the right time. Right. And so the challenge with that is we have a lot of platforms you know between our social media platforms and our own website and email right. Different platforms so we can get things in front of our folks. I think one of the misses we have is not taking into consideration how these different platforms play into the audience journey. I’m sure anyone listening to this feels that way. And so sometimes you know trying to find the generality is what gets us into trouble. And so really understanding if I’m putting a piece of gated content out on say Facebook or Twitter, how  I’m positioning that, how am I teeing that up in terms of the messaging, in terms of the headline, just really being cognizant and then aware that even though I might be the same buyer that comes in and touches your information through various platforms how I receive it needs to work with that platform. So I think that’s one area we could all use some improvement on. And I think one of the reasons we are challenged with that is because of resource constraint, it does take time to do that. And then I think another mess for us especially in B2B (and I hate to say it), the B2B tech space but especially in the B2B space we still see forms that are just super long, just way too much information especially when it’s from an awareness lead generation capacity.  And asking for the e-mail address, the name, the phone number, what part of the country or perhaps world, all of those questions actually tend to turn folks off initially and that’s part of the “building the trust process” to ask me those questions…. So I think there’s still some room for improvement with how we reach out and do this promotion, but at the same time one of the wonderful things we have is so many different ways to do it now versus even say five years ago.

Paroma(03:44): Absolutely that’s true. So what have you been seeing in terms of the ills when it comes to gating too many content assets? Everybody has a whole bunch of e-books and whitepapers through which they like to indirectly reach out to their target audience but oftentimes we see a lot of small and medium sized brands geared to have many assets. And you know when you’re a smaller company what we also observe is that not many of the audience base would want to share their details to see what you’ve written because there’s a lot of information that’s already free and they probably want to rely on big brands or established brands to read the information. So what are your thoughts on this aspect, the ills of gating too many of your content assets.

Pamela(04:27): You know it’s such a catch 22 scenario isn’t it when you have a small team. For example if your resources are constrained. One of the beautiful things about marketing automation and the ability to ask for gated information is really that automation process can really be almost an outsourced extra marketing team member right. And I think that’s where the danger also lies, is when we have such a reliance on the expectation that if we can get them to download this and then download the next piece and the next piece they can do this progressive profiling faster. Right. But the danger in that is that we’re doing it from a very selfish place. We were kind of being I guess controlled by our own lead management process right. If my audience is one that’s really hesitant to provide the information then you have to come back to the trust factor and this is where I do think it’s really making sure your social media presence and your content marketing presence are aligned very strongly that you know it’s kind of interesting with smaller organizations. I think they do that well or do it better because you’re just more agile. But these larger organizations, the irony is that in our ability to break down silos we actually created more silos in the marketing department. So we now have a social media person and often I’ve worked with organizations from an enterprise level where they’re not even involved in the content ideation process. They’re not involved. These areas that you would assume a social media presence would automatically be involved. You know the messaging and how it’s going to be teed up for getting them to follow through on the gated content. So I think when you’re feeling that you’re actually getting in the way it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself- How can I better build trust with the audience that I’m looking to build trust with. And what are ways we can do that. Again you have these amazing platforms. Maybe it’s an opportunity to adjust how you’re sharing your information and where you’re sharing it. So that when I am coming into something gated I feel like I do know and trust you which is so critical in today’s world.

Paroma(06:44): Right, Okay, so at this point what have you seen some of the leading brands do?

Pamela(06:50): Yeah. Since I knew we were going to be talking about this I was doing a little bit of research and it’s funny because a lot of the larger brands and you and I, we work in the marketing of a lot of technology in the B2B space right. So the challenge with that is we kinda know the brands well from our own personal selfish needs. So I say that from like some brands like say Salesforce or Oracle or these larger technology marketing brands there are so many things they do well with in terms of gating or providing valuable information and they also do a nice job. They also do a nice job of providing even something as robust as an e-book or a whitepaper like you mentioned free at certain stages so that we’re not feeling like we have to give our information for everything. However on the flip side to this sometimes the larger companies also are challenged. They might be great at getting you to come in but I think they jump on the sales conversation still too quickly right. It’s very challenging to find a large brand that is doing all aspects of this well there’s pieces they do well. They think that you know what I just downloaded a whitepaper to get information that you sent me in an email. Now you’re already calling me on a telephone. Right. I think of digital marketers and sometimes they do a really nice job of balancing the free information along with the gated information. And here’s the key to this-> when I do take in something that’s gated all the other information you share with me especially when you’re sending me additional emails, will it continue to fulfill that same level of quality? This is where I think some of the larger brands kind of fall flat. They start off really strong but then they kind of fall into their old routines. Right. And so then of course the challenges are in unsubscribing – are you going to continue to give me the quality that I expected from the first touch. And eventually if it feels like you’re gating too much that isn’t good  so we unsubscribe. So this is a never ending process right. For all of us in terms of putting out quality information not just at the initial gate but even afterwards and moving forward.

Paroma(09:45): Right. So here’s a slightly more tricky question. As a content marketer we as content marketers rather would focus on a blog primarily to get relevant traffic to the website. What do you think is better as a strategy to just have one type of content format for example like video, audio or text and continuously use that to increase volumes as well as traffic to the site. Or should they still be focused on different forms. Gated content or philosophy is something you often say will never go away.

Pamela(10:30) : It’s really a great question. I think there are certain formats that just lend itself naturally to being better unjaded. And what I’m automatically thinking of is say awareness level content for podcasting, for audio for example when you think it’s a very challenging medium to get right so it can be a wonderful medium if you’re building a nice solid audience and listenership to drive that loyalty and trust right into your website and into other information into the score in a lead score process. And part of the reason of this is because when you think about YouTube or the different podcast subscribe apps like Apple you know their Apple podcast app. There’s such a high expectation that it’s just available with one or two clicks. Right now it’s really challenging to gate it. You have to be very very cognizant that what you’re getting is truly valuable and that you can truly only find it here. So that’s where to kind of answer your question. I think we’re seeing generally some really good success with lead gen video and audio because it’s such a great trust building platform right. You see me you hear me. This is the real deal here. At the same time when you do start to drive more of a gating conversation it really comes back to what is it that I can do to provide value. And I don’t have specific statistics around like mediums like whitepaper versus e-book but I do believe that when you’re giving me something that I can truly take action on easily that becomes more valuable. So I think our checklists are resources those types of things are great lead gen gates because you’re fulfilling on an immediate promise. And then of course you need to fulfill it along the line. So it’s a really interesting question I think I would lean toward some of these more trustworthy mediums, audio-video to be great generators and necessarily not gate them until you feel that you’ve already developed some kind of rapport with them.  If we were to transcribe this and then type it all out it’s just not the same .(Some of the value would get lost ) as it does the emotion, the wow she seems to sound like a nice person. Right. Right. They all come into play and then you throw a video on top. And now I get to actually look at you and see you and know your smile and and all those little nuances on a very subconscious level. Build this trust in rapport so that when you do get something of value that might be a little more text based. I feel a sense of loyalty, I feel a sense of trust. So it’s a great question. I think it’s one of the reasons we see those mediums not gated as much especially in the awareness stages.

Paroma(13:40): Right, when it comes back to smaller and smaller companies and maybe even mid-sized companies they may not necessarily have an entire content marketing or a content team either. So when it comes to posting content regularly on their pages on their websites and when it comes to content gating, how would you divide the efforts so that is a priority for both. Or should they be dividing the effort if at all.

Pamela(14:01): It’s a really great question. I think there has to be some dividing up of efforts because as we mentioned earlier it’s still such a prevalent part to their lead management process right. I don’t know that you will ever see gating totally go away because it’s so vital to B2B, to be able to segment people right or to be able to allow your internal sales team or your sales staff to start gaining insights. And what a great way for marketing and sales. I mean we struggled for so many years for marketing and sales to align and work together. Now we’re seeing that much more today and partly in play because we’re developing content that’s gated based on what sales is telling us is important to the audience right. So it’s really kind of a delicate relationship. So if you’re on a small team I think you do need to take into consideration maybe even a 50/50 or possibly a 60/40. And what I mean by 60/40 is 60 percent free-40 percent gated. Or maybe even 70-30. I think the majority of your valuable content for free is still extremely powerful and important because it is the best awareness tool you have and that is the best differentiator you have in terms of your brand and companies value proposition and your ability to put your voice out there so you do want to make sure that you have solid content that’s in front of them whether it’s a consistent blog, a consistent podcast, a combination of these things but you still will need to consider some type of gating methodology. I believe just simply because it makes it efficient right. It makes the efficiency of our small teams to be able to provide data and information to our executive teams or to our leadership that keeps this motor running and all of those moving parts become part of a bigger whole. But I do think perhaps a little more on the free but making sure that you have something in parallel that’s working with your campaigns so you can track your data there as well for sure.

Paroma(16:06): Right. So let’s go to another another point. There’s always access to free information and if teams get their content and readers not really  interested in sharing their contact information in exchange for that content, they’ll still find a way to find what they’re looking for. You know even if it’s like reports or an old statistic or any kind of information, it’s not for certain that they’re going to share that idea because they will find what they want online. The online space is really vast. So what content marketers started doing is focusing on adding value to the content that they get in exchange for this contact information that they wanted. This is my question here. Is this enough of a strategy to draw people to exchange this valuable information, you know, like their email ids. Brett Yeah yeah yeah. Is there another way for them to maybe lock an offer behind this gated content, this gated form, or another way to create or portray this kind of content. Because it seems to be getting a little more competitive and stagnant now that we look at.

Pamela(17:14): It kind of goes to that idea too. It’s not always about more right. It’s about the quality. Kind of equates to this value right. What is the value. What is it that we really want to provide our audience that is valuable to them. And then on top of this Paroma we can put our customer journey down on paper right and we can put it in a circle we can put it in a line. It doesn’t matter. I still am going to come at my own pace based on who and what I am and what I know right. So it’s just a mess out there. And you’re absolutely right. So I think a couple things that we have to take into consideration in today’s world is this- the strength and opportunity for these content hubs. And when I say content hubs obviously there are some platforms I think of, there’s UberFlip that has a content hub methodology, these content hubs I think are going to be more of the future of where content needs to go to kind of answer your question as to how do we keep our audience engaged when they are free but can go anywhere. But also we still need to drive them to some downloads so that we can track them. I think even taking a step back and saying how do we keep them engaged for as long as possible on our site. Right. And so this requires two things. It requires 1) a platform where all of our content is very easily within one click. I can go through my own journey one click at a time through the information you provide and that’s what content hubs tend to be able to do well. So there’s that platform and then the flip side to this is in resources and this is where we always get a little hung up especially if we’re a small team. How do I develop an entire juries worth of content for the what if scenario. Right. And this is not easy but it really is doing the foundational work well on your buying journey stages as well as your personas so that you’re developing all of this great trust value content and it’s going to happen or going to  feed your audience when they want it. Keeping them there, keeping them on your space because you’re absolutely right. There is no such thing, we are all a commodity today right. Services are products that are so special and unique. They’re the only one who does it. So it’s very easy for us as searchers on the Web to find it from multiple sources. I think the other piece to this is building trust and building relationship. And we hear those words quite a bit but when you think about it once I feel like I’m very aligned to a brand or person within a brand, it changes the conversation. It changes my search and the other piece to this is as we move in to more voice controlled search right with your Alexa’s and your Siris right. We need to really understand how search is being done moving forward and creating our content so it aligns with that because unlike Google, our search and voice is the most popular, it is going to rise to the top. So it’s going to be a very interesting mix here in the coming. You know shortly in problem what two three four years to see how that plays out. But I think content hubs and keeping them on for as long as possible is where we want to start focusing to be able to handle some of these other challenges better.  

Paroma(20:37): So I just have another question, tell me when it  comes to  smaller and medium size of companies, would you even advice them to avoid creating gated content assets, is that a better way for smaller teams to drive traffic, using free content?

Pamela(21:01): I’m probably a little on the fence here. When I think through that question because here’s the challenge when we talk about small teams we talked about lack of resources.Right or the inability to create more, we’d have to be really focused for our efficiency. And this is where I think content gating, marketing automation technology platforms are super helpful for small teams. The challenge of course is that we don’t want to feel like there isn’t the emotion behind the content. So I would still encourage. I think what it is is about streamlining really, looking at your buying, turning your personas in your content ideation as kind of a Venn diagram right and deciding where based on your business objectives, where my gaps what’s going to drive the best results for our business and start to decide there are developing perhaps a campaign or two that includes some gated content that’s very specific to those objectives so that it’s working somewhat in an automated sense that you’re still tracking and tweaking if you have to. But there’s an automated element to it so that when you have those up and running you can spend more time developing these free resources for consistency purposes and to keep some fresh content out there so I really think it still has to be a balance. But when you’re using the automation on a small team use it as smart as you possibly can and be very cognizant that you’re using it as almost an additional team member right. Not just to make your life easier but let’s have this team member actually work with you on the  business.

Paroma(22:35): I think this was an interesting take on content gating and how people can do it a little more effectively or optimally. And you as a content  marketer don’t see it going away anytime soon. Me as a content marketer, I do hope it does because you always have this. I have this opinion that there’s a lot of content out there and you know gating things is not necessarily the best way to get people out or filter leads if I can find another way to do it and find another way to engage with my audience of course by using content in creative ways. I’d rather go for something like that because what I see is people struggle to promote that gated asset as well. Yeah. Yes. And you know there’s a lag there it’s not as simple as OK I’m going to create a 10 page, 23 page e-book and I’m going to publish it here and I’m going to hope people know. No, you have to promote it and re-promote it and redistribute it. And I think what’s required in this space is creativity so so yes it’s interesting to see how fellow content marketers like you and many others do believe in how gated content will stay. What might change is the way we do it but hiding things behind a lead form is not going to go away anytime soon. Yes so I guess this conversation was interesting and I hope you return for something else.

Pamela(23:53): I’m right there with you Paroma. I hope that we can move away from this. You know I think one of the challenges we have is that it took us a long time to get our sales and marketing teams aligned and we used gating and marketing automation and tracked how content is engaged through these platforms as a way to make that alignment happen. And just as it took that long to get to this point, to your point, I would love to also see gating eventually move to the wayside because I believe there is enough quality content. We have to. It’s promotion is critical critical critical but it will take some time I think to now kind of re-educate all of those people because this moves so fast right. And then I kind of equate it to be over if you’ve ever worked inside of a really large enterprise and you have new software that’s going to be implemented throughout the entire organization. It can take like two to three years from the first computer that gets the software to the last computer right around the company. I kind of equate that with some of our marketing challenges. It changes quicker or more quickly than we can actually implement. But I’m with you. I have hope that we’ll move to less gating. I just think it will take some time. Yeah.

Paroma(25:08): I’ll see you soon and maybe next time we’ll have a video interview because I remember you mentioned the audience would probably have a better connect when they see video content so yeah.

Pamela(25:18): Yeah that would be great. That would be fantastic. Yeah I’d love that.

Paroma(25:21): So thank you so much again for participating, have an awesome day ahead.Thank you.

Pamela(25:26): You too.

Pamela Muldoon Sunny Side Up Podcast episodePamela Muldoon is a Revenue Marketing Coach with The Pedowitz Group and comes to TPG with over two decades of traditional and digital marketing experience. She specializes in campaign and content strategy with a passion for helping clients develop a content marketing culture across the organization. 

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.














 

Ep17 | Podcasts in B2B Content Marketing with Logan Lyles of Sweet Fish Media

The face of content marketing and content consumption has seen a shift, with audiences showing a rapid increase in preference for video and audio content.

We spoke with Logan Lyles of Sweet Fish Media in this episode to discuss the various ways in which B2B marketers can use podcasts to enhance their content marketing efforts. Have a quick listen!

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. A lot of folks in B2B sales are finding it very tough to break through the noise to connect with their target accounts. Having your own podcast gives your team the unique ability and often times the ability for sales too to break in to new accounts starting with the aim of interviewing your ideal clients on your podcast.
  2. The big reason we see audio content  gaining attention is because of the nature of the way that we live and do work these days. 
  3. The timing for podcasting is really really good as we touched upon. But the thing I would encourage folks to think about is this idea of content based networking where you collaborate with your ideal clients and potential referral partners to create content.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Paroma (00:13): Hi Logan, I am Paroma, welcome to DemandMatrix podcast series  titled Sunny Side-up.We are really happy to have you here today. How are you?

Logan(00:21) : I am doing fantastic Paroma,thank you so much for the opportunity to join you on your podcast.

Paroma(00:26) : It is a pleasure for all of us here and what we want to begin with is  getting the audience to know little bit about you, so could you take a moment and tell us about yourself and also what lead you to your role at Sweet Fish Media.

Logan(00:40) : Yes! Absolutely! I graduated college in 2008. It wasn’t a great time to hit the job market with a journalism degree, when that industry was going through a lot of changes. I had my eye on marketing because I felt like a marketer living in a sales person’s body because of my journalism background and with my background in creating content over the last couple of of years, James the founder of Sweet Fish Media and i struck up a friendship and it was through a mutual connection that we got connected. I saw the way Sweet Fish Media was growing as a podcasting agency and the timing was right in the last few months for me to jump on as both a co-host of our podcast and to drive partnerships for the agency.  I head up our partnerships with marketing agencies that we have. What kind of led me to it is you know, I saw the business model and this seemed to make a lot of sense. It was just a very good fit so it was a combination of things and like i said, kind of interesting right to go from journalism to sales but then a podcast agency obviously was good and this is the B2B marketing space…this is kind of how I got here. 

Paroma (02:40) : So that’s been an interesting ride for you. And could you elaborate on the core problem that your company solves? 

Logan (02:47) : Absolutely. So the way I explain podcasting is it’s really a double edged sword. We’re helping our clients both with their content marketing efforts because it takes both quantity and quality these days to stand out in a crowded market. The other side of it is from a sales perspective, a lot of folks in B2B sales are finding it very tough to break through the noise to connect with their target accounts. Having your own podcast gives your team the unique ability often times for sales to break in to new accounts with the relationship of interviewing your ideal clients on your podcast. Marketing can reap the benefits of a system that helps them produce more content that is of quality because you’re interviewing folks from your ideal target profile from within your audience that you’re trying to sell to. So we help with sales and marketing alignment and help both of them to get the benefits out of having their own podcast for their brand.

Paroma(03:52) : Okay! So that’s interesting. There also has been a rising preference for audio and video content ,you know. And the next question revolves around this. Where do you see this trend evolve over time?  So where you see entire video and audio trend move to?

Logan(04:21) : So the big reason we see audio content  gaining attention is because of the nature of the way that we live and do work these days. You know when I was a B2B sales rep for an office equipment dealership I oftentimes found myself consuming audio content whether that was podcasts or audio books because I could consume that content passively. You know I spent a lot of time driving and traveling and there are a lot of instances like that where whether you’re in sales or you’re a busy executive travelling or you’re just like all of us in Europe. You’re doing a lot of different things every day. There are a lot of opportunities where you could consume audio content, where you wouldn’t be able to watch a video or read a blog post. You know I mentioned driving, you can even listen to one while walking the dog or going for a run. And my favorite – washing the dishes as I’m trying to gain a few brownie points around the house getting some stuff done for the family but also being able to consume content that’s both good for professional and personal development at the same time.

Paroma(05:26) : Tha’ts interesting ,so when it comes  to podcasts for specially B2B companies, how would you say it helps overall content marketing efforts and goals in content marketing for any B2B sales & marketing team. How can a podcast help more. 

Logan(05:47) : Yeah so I think it’s twofold. The first is, it creates this flywheel of content. You know a podcast is an audio content oftentimes if there’s a lower barrier of entry to create that content both from a time perspective you know 30 minutes oftentimes is plenty of time to produce a podcast interview where you know creating that same amount of content in an engaging format in video would take a lot more time. It would also typically consume a lot more of the budget because you know it kind of goes back to your last question on you know where things are going with audio and video. There are a lot of folks who haven’t yet been putting out video content and now they’re kind of rushing to put video content out. But oftentimes it’s not content that’s really suited for that format. I don’t know about you but I have trouble sitting in front of a screen for 30 minutes just watching video, maybe the audio content is engaging but the video doesn’t really add anything to it. So I think there’s that trend as well. But with the podcast you know because audio interviews can be very very approachable. It allows for you to know that core piece of content that can be created quickly and easily. One thing we help our clients do as you know is repurpose that content into written content that can be distributed in channels that you own and in channels that you don’t own. You know that one conversation can be turned into a long form status update on LinkedIn. It can be turned into a 1000 word blog post both of which could link back to your podcast. Obviously sharing each episode on social. If you have an interview with someone where they break down something pretty technical or or go through some stats it’s an easy way to get that content out. And now that can become  an infographic or some other piece of content. So you kind of start in the middle with this core piece of audio content which is growing in listenership but then it can be customized into multiple different ways and morphed for different channels. The other benefit is that you know with an interview based podcast we help our clients with this idea that we call content based networking and basically we define it as collaborating with ideal clients, potential referral partners and industry influencers to build meaningful relationships by creating content together. So when you approach it this way you’re actually getting the one to many of content marketing benefits, as you mentioned there’s no B2B brand or modern marketing department or agency that isn’t doing content marketing. But when you pair that with collaborating and creating content not in a vacuum, not with your marketing department in a conference room trying to think of what is going to be relevant content for your buyers but going out to your potential buyers interviewing them on your podcast, your crowdsourcing, your content strategy, but you’re also getting a one to one relationship that you might not have had otherwise. That’s the other aspect and I think that’s a part this content based networking idea but a lot of folks aren’t necessarily thinking about that as a benefit of producing audio content as well.

Paroma(09:20) : Yeah! So you know I have a quick question right about here. So you know over time what we saw is that every brand’s started maintaining a regular blog on the Website. And that’s sort of become a given all over the world. So a quick question. Do you see podcasts taking the same route eventually?

Logan(09:58) : Well absolutely, I just saw a post someone tagged me on in on Twitter this past week that alluded to that same fact and that’s something that our founder James and I have been talking to a lot of folks about, that podcasting feels a lot like blogging did 10 years ago. You know not  everyone was doing it, HubSpot led the charge by showing you know if you put out a lot of content what can happen. Now blogging is a lot more crowded. And I think in the next 10 years maybe even in just the next five years podcasting is going to follow suit. You know some marketers say that you know we as marketers ruin everything so maybe that will happen with podcasting. There will be a podcasting overload. But that tends to be you know the case with anything anytime there’s new waters. Eventually it gets crowded but the good news for marketers right now is that the space isn’t overly crowded yet, there’s room for you to kind of tread out to those open waters and claim some space in your niche in the market that you’re trying to own. When it comes to podcasting, because it’s not crowded yet. So the timing feels really great. So that’s why we’re encouraging marketers to take advantage of that opportunity of the timing because you’re right, it is going to likely follow suit with blogging and video content. But if you look at other platforms like YouTube and content creators that were early who have gained and maintained a large following. So if you want to build and sustain an audience over the long haul, oftentimes being the first to a given platform or a given medium really gives you the leverage. So I think there’s an opportunity here for a lot of marketers.

Paroma (11:51): That’s an interesting insight. So let me ask you next what according to you should content marketers  exploring the idea of podcasting keep in mind when they are setting up their shows? And also what are some of the common falls you probably observed because you are in this space and you help to B2B brands setup a podcast channel, and you know that probably a lot of the common struggles and obstacles they are facing in terms of not only setting up the channel but how to reach out to the people they want to. So what is your take on all of this.

Logan (12:22): There are a lot of things I think we could break down there Paroma. The first is you mentioned what’s a mistake that folks make when thinking about their podcast. And I think the biggest one is you know thinking about the theme and the direction and even the branding of your podcast. And I think you are going to build an audience much more readily if you focus less on your company and less on your product and focus more on your ideal buyers and theme, a show around what’s important to them. For instance we are a podcast agency but we don’t have a podcast about podcasting. We have a podcast about the name of our show – B2B Growth. It is all about challenges that B2B marketing and sales leaders are facing in growing their companies so we kind of went one level above our service to look at the category and the buyers that we serve and what do they care about. Does podcasting come into that conversation. Sure it does sometimes but our show isn’t just about our  service. And we’ve been able to build a great audience there. Your other point about you know what what folks can do early on. I think if you, if you follow this methodology of thinking about a podcast that could be really geared toward your ideal buyers. Think about theming your show around your buyer and then you’ll be able to connect with the right audience as well as the right guests that you that you want to build relationships with.

Paroma (14:15):That’s very interesting so you know you did mention before that you also very comfortable with content marketing through linkedin as a channel. How can  one optimize the channel and do something different?

Logan (14:31): Yeah, So I think what a lot of folks do with their podcast, with their webinars, with their blogs is they go to promote it on social. Right. And LinkedIn is a big part of that because B2B buyers are there every day scrolling through that feed. And so a lot of folks are posting about this other content on LinkedIn. And what I see a lot of folks doing that they could make a small tweak that could bring a lot of a lot of benefit. Don’t just post a link to your podcast episode or post a link to your webinar and say check it out. And at best maybe tease the content. You know we interview so-and-so of this agency and they talk about these three things you can do to double your revenue in the next 12 months. A lot of times what people are trying to do is get those click-throughs as well one LinkedIn specifically doesn’t favor those posts actually post without links in in the update itself and text only posts get further reach on their algorithm because they’re favoring posts that aren’t pushing people off of their platform. And the other thing to think about is you know a lot of folks that see that post aren’t going to click through. So what we have done and what we’ve helped our clients do is actually share the value of your other assets. Be it a webinar or a podcast episode. Share the value of that in your LinkedIn post instead of just putting a link and teasing the content. If you break down these strategies, that can help double your traffic share. And some marketers will say well it will be tougher for us to get clicks if we don’t put a link in the post or if we put it in the first comment which is kind of a hack on LinkedIn that you can use. And what we found is that most people aren’t going to click through anyway. So you’re going to get more views by writing it in a way that ensures it does, in the way that people consume the content and link, you actually share the value. More people are seeing it, more people are associating that content and that value with your brand. So the long game works a lot more effectively so that’s one strategy for promoting your podcast or other asset specifically on LinkedIn that we’ve seen a lot of results with.

Paroma (16:52): Pretty interesting Logan and I think your insights were pretty useful too, especially the ones on podcasting. Is there anything else you’d want to share with our audience before we wrap up for the day?

Logan (17:10):I I think that like you said the timing for podcasting is really really good as we touched upon. But the thing I would encourage folks to think about is this idea of content based networking where you collaborate with your ideal clients and potential referral partners to create content.One- it creates better content for your audience because you’re crowdsourcing it from your ideal audience but it’s also giving you one to one relationships at the same time you know. Podcasting is a great tool for that. We’re big proponents of it obviously. But it’s something that you can work in to your content marketing whether you have a podcast or not. You can use content based networking with your blog, with webinars, with virtual summits or a video series. So think about ways that you can create content with people from your target market from your ideal customer profile to create content for more of your audience. Whether it’s a podcast, a blog, a webinar a video series there are a lot of ways that you can apply this idea of content as is. 

Paroma (18:17) :Thank you so much Logan for spending this time with us and it was great having you. I hope to catch you soon.

Logan(18:23) :Thank you so much. This has been a pleasure.

Logan Lyles is the Co-Host of B2B Growth on iTunes at Sweet Fish Media. The company helps B2B brands produce podcasts.

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

Ep16 | B2B Marketing and Data with Paroma Sen of SAP

Data drives all of marketing today. But how can marketers and companies use it optimally to plan their B2B marketing efforts? Paroma Sen, the Innovation and Industry Marketing Lead at SAP India  shares her views in this podcast episode.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. Demand is like energy, you cannot create it from zero from nothingness you can only convert it from one form to the other, like you can convert potential energy into kinetic energy if you remember you know  high school physics. Demand today exists in the world in the form of customer pain points and when we take that, harness it, articulate it and contextualize it, then we can work those pain points into demand.
  2. But marketing is ultimately any form of marketing going back to basics, it’s about putting your message where the customer eyeballs are and data helps us fine tune that approach, data tells us where to go where to make best use of our budget to put our message where.
  3. Having intent data, being able to tell what the context and the behavior of a person is…with respect to a certain product or service that you’re trying to put out there. Which is great. I mean that’s the gold mine right. That’s what we all want, we all love. But the other side of that now is GDPR, where the lines are being drawn, where we are seeing consent and privacy being a priority.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Host: (0:06) Hi Paroma, welcome to the DemandMatrix podcast series titled Sunny Side Up. We’re so happy to have you here today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Speaker: (0:23) Sure Paroma, and its a funny coincidence that we are both called Paroma Sen. But yeah. Thanks for having me here. Happy to be able to speak to your audience through this opportunity. Telling you a little bit about myself. My name is Paroma Sen. I lead Innovation and Industries Marketing at SAP in India. I’ve been in this role for about two years now. And yeah my primary responsibilities are around demand generation. We are responsible for pipeline generation so sales can take it forward, which ultimately leads to revenue.

Host: (1:00) Great! So what led you to this current position at SAP India. Can you tell us a little bit about your past experiences. Have you always been in a similar field.

Speaker: (1:08) Anything but that! My background actually was in engineering and so I did my Masters in Computer Engineering and by the time I realized that if I had to do a job writing code from 9 to 5, I might as well put a bullet in my head. So then I went ahead and did a masters in advertising and then I thought hey I have a degree in advertising, a degree in engineering. What the hell do I do from a shop front. Thankfully marketing found me or rather I found marketing and I started working in technology marketing. I’ve worked in semiconductor companies selling chips. After that I came back to India in 2013. And I worked in NDTV heading marketing and content for one of their verticals called NDTV ethnic. And then I came to SAP here. This is my first time working for an “I.T” kind of a company. I’ve always been in technology but this is the first time in information technology. And it’s been a fun journey learning everything.

Host: (2:14) So I’m going to ask you a trick question next. What did you like more, your role at NDTV or what you do at SAP?

Speaker: (2:21) Oh I love what I do at SAP, I think B2B marketing has so much depth to it. B2C was fun. That’s what I did at NDTV and I really honed my digital marketing skills there. But when it comes to strategy and really big deals, a big difference to the world, that would be B2B in a large company like this, I love it here. Yeah.

Host: (2:42) Great! So do you want to elaborate on the problem that your company or your department solves?

Speaker: (2:46) Sure, so SAP has been around for all of what 45 years now. We help companies, businesses, governments run better. We are on the side of things that runs operational efficiencies. And so on, so forth…we say that when our customers run better that’s when we feel that we’ve done our job. That’s our purpose in the world. In terms of what the core problem is that we solve here, we are looking now at making enterprises intelligent. Right. So the world is sitting on tons and tons of data. An intelligent enterprise is one that makes use of that data to generate insights. So what would they be able to do with those insights? They would be able to do more with less resources. They’ll be able to empower their employees. They’ll be able to give a best-in-class experience to their customers and they will be able to be future-proof by creating new revenue streams, new business models and so on. So that’s where we were. That’s the value we give the world.

Host: (3:45) You’ve been pretty heavily involved with demand generation activities, do you want to share some thoughts about that?

Speaker: (3:51) Sure Paroma, So you know,  Demand Generation, we use the word demand creation demand generation. But I always think that demand is like energy, you cannot create it from zero from nothingness you can only convert it from one form to the other, like you can convert potential energy into kinetic energy if you remember you know  high school physics. Demand today exists in the world in the form of customer pain points and when we take that, harness it, articulate it and contextualize it, then we can work those pain points into demand. Right. That’s the way I think about demand generation from a B2B perspective. What becomes critical then is the value proposition and how you message the story. Because unless that is there you’re constantly creating and reaching the same leads.

Host: (4:39) Right. So in this entire digital marketing spectrum and social selling space which are again functions you’ve been part of. How have you seen it evolve over the past couple of years. Also given this martech boom and of course love for data that you mentioned, everything’s data driven and we are sitting on a pile of data. 

Speaker: (4:58) I remember when I was in University pursuing Advertising- At that point we used to talk about the world of digital being pop ups and banners and very very in your face advertising. Today its much more sophisticated, we have search engine marketing, we have content syndication. We have optimization techniques of websites. And then we have social selling. So I happen to be a gold level social selling trainer. But marketing is ultimately any form of marketing going back to basics, it’s about putting your message where the customer eyeballs are and data helps us fine tune that approach, data tells us where to go where to make best use of our budget to put our message where. Where that audience of one is, I’d use the term audience of one very, very closely because ultimately every individual in the world wants a very very personalized, relevant, contextualized message which makes him or her an audience of one. The data is out there which allows us to give that very very unique experience.

Host: (6:03) So I will dig little bit deeper here, how effective do you think intent data is in all of this and in B2B marketing specifically.

Speaker: (6:09) Intent data, again there are two sides to this right. So obviously from a marketer’s point of view this is awesome. Having intent data, being able to tell what the context and the behavior of a person is…with respect to a certain product or service that you’re trying to put out there. Which is great. I mean that’s the gold mine right. That’s what we all want, we all love. But the other side of that now is GDPR, where the lines are being drawn, where we are seeing consent and privacy being a priority. And if we have a perfect way to reach out to a person but that person says hey I don’t want to be contacted by you then that falls flat. So I think that itself is evolving as well and will continue to evolve. I don’t think we’ve hit the answer by any means. We are prioritizing privacy as a community today. But there has to be a balance in there. Right. Where I mean at what point do you say that technology I want to use it for convenience and therefore if I’m in the market to buy a bed, I want to see ads for a bed. And there I will compromise on my privacy to be reached. So that balance – we are still reaching… it’s an evolving road. And I think intent data is important here. There will be changes down the road because of GDPR. But it’s certainly evolving and we are not at the motherload yet.

Host: (7:21) A lot of B2B marketers run data driven campaigns, they rely on data and  you know it’s a data driven environment today but it’s also a very Account-based Marketing inspired environment I think. Half of the B2B segment seems to support the idea of Account- based Marketing. How would you tell people to align their digital marketing and ABM efforts.

Speaker: (7:42) Great great question! ABM (Account-based marketing) is usually obviously done for the larger accounts and when you have a large account, you require a lot of depth of marketing rather than breadth. You have to think about all the levels of stakeholders in that particular organization that needs to be influenced. So I would go about thinking through an ABM strategy is how to position oneself from a thought leadership perspective and it connects toward you mentioned earlier about social selling.Right So. Rather than doing product pitches…position yourself whether you’re a salesperson or a marketing person. You’re an individual and you’re positioning yourself as a person with some expertise who can provide a customer an idea, thought about something a leadership position. So it’s very important for people who are selling to create their own social brand and to engage socially with their customer base. And build that equity in oneself. So ABM rather than  a generic one size fits all approach has to be very very specific and that thought leadership has to be an integral part of the strategy getting to that market.

Host: (8:49)  Right, So yes we all know how content and personalized content and data play a heavy role in ABM efforts. So where do you see (I think I’m sure you guys use content as a core marketing strategy SAP as well.) Right. So where do you see this changing and how do you see this changing in the next couple of years. There are changes in consumption patterns as well. So how would you tell people to align all of this together.

Speaker: (9:15) So absolutely, content consumption is changing by the day, by the second in some cases. Right. Artificial intelligence, brand intelligence we’re using a lot of these techniques to understand more on what is happening and how we make our investments more measurable. For example even in India, today people are still so heavily spending their marketing money on television which has least measurability among many many other mediums. But here people still invest in TV. So there are ways of using image recognition to see how much your logo is visible in a certain campaign and for how long it has been visible and how does that compare with competitors. So there’s a lot of that crossover happening. Another example- IoT and I talked about data. I hear IoT a shit load (excuse my language!). It will give another spin to intent data. For example if my fridge tells a marketing organization that the milk is running out or if my pollution meter is telling somebody that the pollution is high, would I want to be contacted for replenishment of milk or for air purifier, maybe yes. So, again…yeah there’s a lot happening with the data, with how data is being generated and consumed, all of that is changing and involving. We don’t know where it’s going but. The journey is ON.

Host: (10:41) Everything is a lot of more convenient for the end user.They just have to do less of everything to get more of everything. Its an interesting journey and following all of this digital marketing,content marketing,ABM as well.As a marketer who is planning a strategy what would you put most emphasis on, especially when it comes to B2B lead generation.

Speaker: (11:03) So yes. So it depends on which market segment we’re going after. what is our (Targeting) base. You’re right. No market is complete, your marketing strategy cannot even start without the First basic market segmentation. If I have to segment my customer base by size of customer, there’s a very simplistic way of doing it. Largest customer and midsize customers and smaller customers obviously, you’ll have a pyramid shape there with the largest customers fewest in number would be on top, for them I would do more Account-based marketing, more in-depth reaching out to as many stakeholders as possible then by the time I get to the bottom of the pyramid there are hundreds and thousands of customers at the bottom. Maybe tens and hundreds of thousands of customers as well. I would have a much more digital presence there because they are the ones looking for information. They’re the ones hungry out there looking for information. They don’t have sales and accounting  teams knocking at their door with  full fledged plans, but they’re looking at using the right keywords. Being able to pull in their search search is to our benefit. That would be the core of the strategy. Right.

Host: (12:04) So I think you’ve shared some pretty interesting insights and I thank you for spending this time with us today. Are there any other key takeaways you’d like to share with our audience?

Speaker: (12:12) Sure. I think if I had to take a step back, why is it that all of us do what we do in marketing. I think I was attracted to marketing. Given my background because it is the one field I see which is such a beautiful blend of art and science. I mean we use data so much, that’s the science part of it. But then there comes the art part of it where you have to create a unique, delightful experience for a customer, for an audience of one. And that beautiful balance is why I do marketing right. People are afraid of artificial intelligence coming and taking away their jobs. Through my career I’ve seen that I have evolved from every job I’ve never held two jobs that have been similar. And there’s been constant learning. I mean I personally see one of my biggest flaws in me is that I get bored very very easily. It’s my job and my work that keep me mentally stimulated, active and striving to learn. That learning, that constant upskilling, that constant desire, that hunger for knowledge is what will keep an individual out there from losing their job or from losing their job to an AI or bots. So that’s my takeaway for myself, for everyone out there. Learn, keep yourself on the edge  because that spot will make sure that you stay unique as someone who will continue to deliver value for an organization.

Host:   That’s great that’s a wonderful a piece of advice! Thank you so much Paroma for spending this time with us and I look forward to speaking with you again!

Paroma Sen is the innovation & Industry Marketing Lead at SAP India. As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 404,000 business and public-sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably.

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

Ep10- Startup series | It’s about people

Amaresh Shirsat, COO at Qualitia Software share his experience of founding startups and what it takes to build products that are really useful. He also share his thoughts around building the best teams and the culture from very early on.

 

Key takeaways from the episode

  1. Product market fit in my opinion is the most important aspects of building the product.
  2. For Product market fit it’s essential to do a real Competitive Analysis in terms of what are the other players doing in the market and what are the looking case need to build first.
  3. How do you sell the visions and how you make people equally passionate about the mission is how you are attempting to achieve the kind of culture.
  4. About MVP, it’s not a compromised quality product it could be less in terms of the features and definitely needs to solve particular use case really well. So, that customers start using your product, it may not have all the appeal, it may not have the different crucial but it solves the particular use case into the end and which is a pain point for customers they will hatch on it.
  5. A company is not just about the products it’s about the people that are giving along. How do you sell the visions and how you make people equally passionate about the mission is where you are attempting to achieve the kind of culture that you build along the way and values that you inculcate into teams.
  6. The founding members play a huge role in the success or failure of the company. It’s not just about the technical ability but the diversity that you can bring to the team in terms of technical skills in the product management to sell the particular product, diversity in terms of skills values.
  7. My belief is people get attracted to you even though you are startup and are ready to compromise on other aspects of compensation, working hours about facilities as long as you able to send them that vision.
 

Some important questions covered in the interview

  • Do’s and don’t to build a successful startup.
  • The importance of knowing and finding the product market fit early on.
  • What is the ideal MVP you should enter the market with?
  • How to build the right team with the right skill sets?
  • When should you start focusing on building the right culture in your startup?
 

Here’s the full transcript

Meetul(00:48): As a serial entrepreneur somebody more A knows a technical band this kind of startup podcast. Can you help us understand that? You know what got you started you know on a journey and what has been the learning’s that you have discovered along the way as to the do’s and don’ts of the successful startup

Amaresh(01:01): Startup journey is really exciting in the sense that when you look around we see a lot of problems, what really excites you if you are an entrepreneur in nature, is that the way you would like to solve these problems. I come from a technical background alternate enough work with many strong technical companies like Symantec, BMC which were working solve some specific crucial problem for the enterprises and in the process what I figured out lot needed to be done and which was not done.So, that where entrepreneur bug was looking me and a drove me in starting a couple of companies

Meetul(02:00): During the day the conversation you kind of mentioned that starting is just probably the easier part of it. But starting right away is probably really crucial. How did you kind of discover that some of the states and what are the things that are needed to make it successful?

Amaresh(02:19): Right, as a technical person myself what all was said what you could quickly and very easily build the product without really focusing on the product market fit.And that’s the biggest mistake mostly entrepreneur especially come from the technical background they commit, initially they build the product which they feel is really fit in solving customer problem but what is extremely crucial is to validate the product in the market as quickly as possible even it’s not perfect the validation is extremely crucial. So, product market fit in my opinion for the most important aspects of building the product and which is we are there to talk about MVP early to marketing getting early validation very fast so all that comes building the product.

Meetul(03:19): As a technical founder said the building product is very natural to you but in general what I’ve seen is either people are too early or they are too late in the market because talking to people and getting validation is harder than building a product. What’s your recommendation as to what’s the optimal MVP that essentially can help you do this product market fit?

Amaresh(03:47): So, that’s right many of times product is too early for a market where the market doesn’t the tool or they are too late in the sense that it’s enough competition the differentiation doesn’t stand out.Where one has to really with the golden name is to identify the real problem that they are trying to solve, do a really good competitive analysis in terms of what are the other players in the market and what is it. What is that in this case that leads to building first? So that you get that attention you deserve while bringing the product out in the market then we talk about MVP. It’s not a compromised quality product it could be less in terms of the features and definitely needs to solve particular use case really well so, that customers start using your product it may not have all the appeal, it may not have the different crucial but it solves the particular use case into the  end and which is pain point for customers they will hatch on it. You can always add the other additional features enhancement later, that one which you have to get it right.

Meetul(05:03): So as a technical founder what can say natural is okay to build a product you know hopefully the product has a good product-market fit. And that you’re able to attract some customers and the journey starts. But the startup is just not about the products. There are a lot of soft skills and very some hard skills that aren’t quite according to you what are some of the important skills you are acquired even for engineering leaders to make a company successful.

Amaresh(05:35): That’s a very good point for Meetul because a company is not just about the products it’s about the people that are giving along right. How do you sell the visions how you make people equally passionate about the mission that you are attempting to achieve the kind of culture that you build along the way and values that you inculcate into teams especially the founding members all of that play a huge role in the success or failure of the company. It’s not just about the technical know-how technical ability but the diversity that you can bring to the team in terms of technical skills in the product management,  to sell the particular product, diversity in terms of skills, values that founding members of the founding engineers be suitable also make a huge difference.

Meetul(06:42): So, you talked about hiring the best in the right talent and then the importance of culture. Let’s tackle the first part of it like you know building the right team in general you know in India huge amount of talent available but the suitable talent for a startup and finding that talent has been a challenge pretty much across the globe but it seems like that is a little bit more of a progressive challenge. In India is that a correct statement, what I’m hearing from people and you know I would love thought how do you found it.

Amaresh(07:25): So finding a specific skill set can be challenging especially in India. So, when I initially started back in 2007. There weren’t a lot of product companies coming out of India. So, the product-specific skills are somebody who can understand the Invent development of product was a huge challenge and in many cases, you had to bring a real parts young developer on board very attached fresh out of college and groomed them and train them to like have the best engineer to you can have. Ready talent during those days is really skilled were a challenge. But talent is always there so as long as you have a very strong which is really trying to solve any interesting problem my belief is people get attracted to you even though you are startup right people are ready to compromise on other aspects like compensation, working hours about facilities as long as you able to send them the vision.

Meetul(08:47): Was there a particular source or particular accessibility that you had that thought that you know kind of work for you, where they were when you were building the company.

Amaresh(08:58): So, what I found was that if we are trying to solve real technical problems. Many technical solve engineers will be able to attract as long as problem statement is good enough you can attract that kind of people in terms of building teams not during startup but even in large companies where we have worked, we always mix the express level where we hired a lot of freshers where we get our talent and high energy and we are mixing it with experienced leaders. So that combination works very well for us.

Meetul(09:48): The other point you kind of brought up that was that was actually the music to my ears, not sure how many founders actively think about it, the importance of culture and making sure that is kind of talked about and from the very beginning and it can be like an afterthought. So would love to understand that what is the importance of culture and how you use how the established culture when you are such a small organization and you running fast.

Amaresh(10:22): That’s a very good question Meetul so, culture plays in my mind beneficial role in the terms of growth of organizations are an alignment of the team. And cultures are pretty much defined by the founding team. So, as long as you get your founding team right with all of them are aligned with the common goal it becomes easy to set the culture for a lot size of 10’s or even 100 herd big team.If you don’t get it right the first place maybe then you under 10 it becomes very difficult to manage if they do become 100. So, unless you have the focus right from the beginning it very difficult to manage later.

Meetul(11:16): So in general it is we talking right. I mean not even many companies or startup probably think about it from the onset. Is this something that you could fix later? Is culture something that is fixable later once potentially realized it because you may not be aware of it in the beginning but you know when you do. Is this something that can be fixed.

Amaresh(11:45): I think it can be fixed, can be a painful process fixing it, Maybe even once you grow you should be able to align most of your stuff with not all but then either you’re in or out. So, it becomes painful process but you really want to fix it, I believe that it can be fixed it just time-consuming of all Costly one.

Meetul(12:24): I think this has been an exciting conversation and I learned a lot out of the conversation that we had and as a parting thought do you have any recommendations for listeners regarding any source, any books that you get inspiration from, that you know other people should listen to read or get inspired from.

Amaresh(12:49): There are a lot of resources, personally I have benefitted a lot from books, Reading or listening to the great speakers. I would certainly recommend Podcast like a ‘Masters of skill’ I will recommend books from Zero to one by Peter Thiel.

 

Amar is Chief Operating Officer at Qualitia Software and is responsible for driving growth strategy for new markets, marketing, product and technology roadmap and engineering. Amar brings over 20 years of industry experience in bringing many enterprise products to market in areas like Data Centre Security, IT Security Threat & Intelligence and IT GRC. Prior to joining Qualitia he co-founded Palatable Technologies, which created a completely new way of bringing people together over food and drinks. Amar has worked in a variety of technical leadership roles in startups as well as MNCs.

 

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts which shares concentrated analysis and advice from startup founders, B2B marketers, sales and product leaders. We welcome your ideas for future topics. If you know someone who would like to be on the show, give us a shout.

Ep09- Startup series | Create challenges for yourself

Nishit Jain, Technical Leader at Media magic technologies shares his experience of moving to a startup after working with large companies and why it turned out to be a good decision for him.

Key takeaways from the episode

  1. My journey started from big company and well-known brands so when I decided to join a startup the second time I was a bit skeptical. But when I joined my company, I was like wow!
  2. I can wait for the right candidate instead of jumping to hire someone who is not a good fit as one bad fish can spoil the entire pond.
  3. The most important thing is ‘communication’ and I not only communicate with my team members, but also with other employees in the company.
  4. I am motivated by challenges. When at times I don’t have any challenges, I create them myself to keep me motivated.

Some important questions convered in the interview

  • How did Nishit make a move from a large organization to a startup at the peak of his career?(01:21)
  • How to find and retain the right candidate for his startup?(12:27)
  • Was changing his platform based on the available resources?(11:07)
  • How does Nishit contribute towards building the right culture in his organization?(12:27)
  • How Nishit kept himself and his team motivated?(14:33)
  

Here’s the full transcript

Meetul(00:34): Sometimes the attempt towards going to a startup is deliberate some time you know you stumble upon that and seems like your journey was later you know type as opposed to the previous one. Do you want to tell us deliberate about the journey and how did you get started and how did you come about to join the startup?

Nishit(00:53): Yes so, My journey started with bigger companies well-known brands. But I was kind of forced to shift, I got an upon the bad opportunity to join a startup and that was the first time I was forced but second, was calculated decision to join a startup again.

Meetul(01:21): But what is interesting for me was that you know that you start to know larger companies and there were layoffs so the division got shut down and that essentially you know kind of forced into looking into a different opportunity and you started with a startup. So, many people in general would  way move more risk averse in that situation but you chose to take even bigger risk with that shut down into an opportunity to join a startup.

Nishit(01:52): So, the first thing was I wanted to shift in the technology space itself and that point I was somehow done with the multimedia background that I was coming in , I wanted to expand myself I was getting that opportunity And secondly I got to see that it’s a startup but it is almost hundred around people out there, It’s kind of big enough company, It’s not that small and  as well as it is surviving. It’s since last five years. So, I got little more confident it was not so difficult for me to really be scared of joining his small company as well as was motivated by some of my relatives as well who have their own startups in Pune. I was motivated by them as well. At that point, I was the little bit, at the back of mind I was a little bit skeptical but then as soon as I got into the company and got to understand base at which they were working I was wow! It was good to wow seriously.

Meetul(03:18): In India, it’s a phenomenal place in a way that everybody’s entrepreneur but nobody wants to take a risk and especially like your domain which is so specialized hardware in embedded systems, there are fewer number of companies that are essentially doing that and there are fewer number of opportunities exist in that. How you did even decided that you know this is the company I want to go and work for. This is the area I want to take a chance and I’m sure there was a lot of pressure from families you know close as well as long-distance family, everybody wants to participate in that.

Nishit(04:02): Yes there was some pressure from the family. But then for me, it was like I want to try at that point. I was thinking maybe it doesn’t work out will go back Pune or Bangalore, at least I will get some job there also and there were a little bit immediate concerns from family but I was able to convince them.

Meetul (04:47): The startup that you join the particular startup and for personal reasons, you had to come back and take care of the reason the personal reasons and then you choose to even join a smaller startup that not because you were taking the larger risk than that. So, progressively you have done to simulate journey from a very large company to a large company two largest startups to very emerging startup.

Nishit(05:16): In this case, it was like the emerging startup as such, it was again working since last three years and by the employee, size was very small. So, there were a couple of factors for me to decide. The first thing was the domain, I was coming back to my own domain that I was very comfortable for the second was that kind of roles and responsibilities was offered, I was supposed to be on my own, given free hand and the kind of challenges that I saw because I was in the domain for some many year. This is not going to be easy. So, I could force those challenges.

When I was on my own I could fairly see that it there’s is nobody to hold my hand. I have to be on my own. I have to be more and it’s a serious business .Thirdly I look at the business side of the company operations and I was fairly satisfied the way the model they were adapting to survive was amused by that as well. So there was an important factor like I consider seriously was vicinity to my home in Pune. So I have my flat in Aundh and my company is also in Aundh, it’s hardly two kilometers from my place. I said Wow! I don’t want to waste my time in commuting. So, even if I’m compromising a little bit here and there on any other thing it will be Compensate already for saving my time which I can spend with family or company, it’s all in my hobby. It was a very calculated decision.

Meetul(07:30): You were employee number one, there was nobody else and then you just build this from scratch which is not easy for any company. But of course, it’s not easy for four startups in general. How did you end up doing that? how did you end up building the team and finding that what works and what doesn’t work when the time is a luxury you cannot afford.

Nishit(07:56): Well, Of course, I had to take little extra affords to interview a lot of people, a short listing lot of profile, interacting with my HR on regular basis driving them on to get a correct profile. Of course, there were a lot of technical discussions which we had, one on one interview everybody, there were multiple rounds of interviews we had, it is a tricky thing to get right people. We sat and decided on what is a priority, what are the most important things and lesser things. The first thing that we must have is a very technical background; the technical background which I need for my kind of work was kind of different from the others. So, I need this thing. That’s fair enough, and we get you through these things. We hardly use to get one off for next round and out of one were not sure that they will turn up. So slowly and steadily I understood how my seniors are rejecting and my manager was this criterion. Now I already incorporated those things into my interview process. So, we slowly decide to hire fresher and some good response from them, as in term of working energy.

Meetul(09:59): You have to go through what getting 180  interviews or something to find three candidates. And the reason for by no stretch of the imagination and going 280 candidates will find 3 leads. It’s crazy. But the reason you invested so much time effort and energy and money I’m sure is that you want to have the initial founding team to be the best possible as a foundation.

Nishit(10:26): True, so, unless we have that we can’t functions, we are someone, we may survive 3 months or 6 months but beyond that point what, we can’t really afford to lose our resources cheap.

Meetul(10:43): But on the other side as we are talking about you know like time is a luxury you don’t have and if it takes six months for you to find out two candidates.

Nishit:(10:53)It’s okay for me, see one bad fish can destroy the complete pond I don’t want that bad fish in my pond.

Meetul(11:07): The other approach that in general end up seeing is that people tend to change the platform you know based on the resources they’re finding. We have done that and I think that we find a good resource and we’ll change our platform decisions based on that. Have you thought about doing that, are you stuck to your guns and this is what it is and if I find it great if not I will wait.

Nishit(11:38): We don’t need to do that because fortunately, we have enough resources to figures out things on whatever platform we are supporting. In a time of crisis, I can wait. It come down to business and have to pay him , whoever I’m bringing in and it’s serious business and so can’t just keep saying to my client that I have lost my resource and I’m hiring a new one and I can’t go infinitely to that process I need my person to be died shot for my work.

Meetul(12:27): So, there’s one thing about hiring the best candidate, another thing is about retaining back. The other major challenge how do you go about making sure that you know you’re retaining these people and building the culture as part of core team right.

Nishit(12:45): Well, Culture calls in from greater effort from HR. Of course, we are there, we are always apart. Well, I’m not saying that I’m not building the culture. But the policies and the ideas from there primarily, they do a lot of team building activities. We have a gong which we hit, if somebody does a good thing, he needs to hit the gong and everybody clap then and we share it but it brings in like ‘next time we have to hit the gong’, People are starving just to hit the gong and working hard. , we have the built upon us of those appreciations everybody doesn’t there we all want to appreciate other guys. So if somebody helps somebody he is immediately appreciating it and those are small things, I believe the biggest thing is communicating, the more you communicate with the team or in general with everyone else. It’s not just about communicating with my team but with all members of the team, whether they are affecting or not. Why because I do it, the culture is set, the other team members are motivated to talk to others.

Meetul(14:33): So, while our conversation you told me this interesting story about how you keep yourself motivated.

Nishit(14:45): To me it is like as Long I have challenges I’m motivated, I have something to do I wake every morning just to get solutions to my problems, where I’m sleeping if I have not solved the problem, It keeps me on  in morning, when I wake it’s there in my head how I gone solve this problem what should I do? Sometimes, I can’t sleep why because I have not solved the problem. So, as long as I have challenged it to keep me motivated. Secondly, of course,  you have to be in your domain, I have defined an area where I need to be excel as long as I’m working toward that target, As long as I’m working toward that target I’m setting those target and I know where I have to reach five years’ timeline. You cannot be motivated unless you have your aim, your objective, short-term as well as long-term in all term, what I have to do in one month, 6 months and in a year, 5 years down line and 10-year down line. I have to set up the target.

Meetul(16:04): And apart from that as you said you create challenges for yourself to keep yourself motivated.

Nishit(16:07): True. So, at times industry is such that today I may have enough of challenges but tomorrow I may not. In that situation how do I keep myself motivated and propose things? I squeeze out time so, I know that I can finish off certain work in six hours and I finish off and generate ideas. And how do utilize ideas in my domain so I do propose a lot of things and create ideas? For examples, we have IT admin in our company, but then I just poke my nose there what are doing? How are you doing this? I eventually set up entire Wi-Fi space, he was struggling to do that but we did it! .So, Creating challenges Yes it is necessary. ‘To keep motivated, it necessary at times to create our own problems.

Nishit Jain with 12 years of strong industry experience in Multimedia domain (Audio, Video codecs, Multimedia Frameworks), Embedded systems, Wearables, IoT and Home entertainment domains, his experience is gathered from both Industry biggies of the likes of Samsung and Imagination, to the small startup companies. Having completed his M.Tech. from IIT Guwahati in a niche domain of Signal Processing, with above experience, along with a highly focused, self-motivated and performance-driven attitude, very strong programming, technical, communication and leadership skills, he puts himself forward at the center of this fast-paced industry.

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts which shares concentrated analysis and advice from startup founders, B2B marketers, sales and product leaders. We welcome your ideas for future topics. If you know someone who would like to be on the show, give us a shout.

Ep08- Startup series | Dealing with Bureaucrats

Young founders of Aadharapi.com, Vijay Chuttani and Ritesh Kothari explain how they recognized a huge gap in market and their experience overcoming the obstacles of dealing with bureaucrats to build a business around a government initiative.

Key takeaways from the episode

  1. So, first you need to figure out that the problem is big enough and you have the resources to solve it.
  2. From pilot to real stats we have started selling products so rather running behind the funding we started running behind customers.
  3. We started getting traction very well which showed us that Funding is not bigger task than traction.
  4. If you solve the problem and solve it good and you get customers and everyone listens to you.
  5. We made sure that we get paying customers even it’s not profitable at least we have customers that are willing to buy the product, It’s just not a product which came to our mind that how the investors think and because they need some kind of validation at that point.

Some important questions covered in the interview

  • What made them change the focus from large telecoms to smaller companies for their product?(01:44)
  • How did they handle the problem of constantly changing government laws?(03:42)
  • How did they get their first paid pilot customer?(04:51)
  • Why did they choose to focus on customers first?(06:00)
  • How did they approach and pitch the first investor they met?(11:58)

Here’s the full transcipt

Meetul(00:19): Today I’m joined by two co-founders of the company called Aadhaarapi.com.Vijay and Ritesh Welcome to the show. Yeah, I have done few series so far and I think you tackling very hard problems either companies are B2C or B2B I think you guys are dealing with B2 bureaucrats. You know if I can call that type of problem, walk us through the journey I mean how did you guys come about tackling this problem and thinking about starting a company around that?

Vijay(05:55): So, initially we started with an idea that was more focused on telecom. So if you have seen that about Jio thing where you get the sim card with just your fingerprint and Aadhaar number that was the problem where we were trying to solve before even Jio came in. But then we realized that telecom is not the game for us and we found that a lot of companies are there who can use this Aadhaar as onboarding system applications for their businesses. So instead of going to telecom let’s build up the product that can be used for other companies also that where we thought instead of removing their hassle taking license and doing everything we started this company and started with the whole idea was, a being with Jio thought.

Meetul (01:44):So in a sense that in startup because in general, because the ideas have does and doesn’t mean everybody is I guess but trying to figure out how to build a company around that and validating it especially in this whole ecosystem is new, the whole Aadhaar is new and I’m sure infrastructure is new. You’re dealing with bureaucracy. Laws are changing potentially daily if not hourly basis and trying to build the company around that and making sure that yes this is a viable company. How did you guys figure that out from trying to go to the telco route to this whole other Aadhaarapi.com?

Vijay(02:24): I think instead of the idea that one should focus on the problem. How big is the problem? Because the problem is not big you’re solving the small chunk of business. So, first you need to figure out that the problem is big enough and secondly you have the resources to solve it or if you can go to courage to build on those sources and solve the problems than initially also we thought that we can solve that problem by the telecom and that was a mistake on our part because we did not have the resources required to solve that problem.  

Meetul(03:00): But how did you pivot to like if I can call pivot you know this Aadhaar problem.

Ritesh(03:05): So, I mean being team size of 03-60 but you are not able to survive the telecom industry for sure. When you targeting India A segment, telecom needs the big team and big liability that. So from that point we understood that telecom is not cup of our tea, we should focus on small companies which they can’t take the Aadhaar services to capital but they want to solve the problems of customer onboarding, customer compliance, KYC and so and so for and from that point we pivoted our model to telecom to small companies.

Meetul(03:42): So once you guys figured out your MVP or maybe you thought that you know this is great, this is an area we are moving to. How did you guys move into dealing with government and bureaucrats was that a difficult fiefdom, was that a problem?

Ritesh(04:00): Well, to be honest, I mean we didn’t focus on the government we focused on the problem of customer primarily. We have got the motivation that huge market which is where we can sell the product to the customer. But having said that start up a business, the problem going to be there even if its government or its business and we were ready to solve the problem .so, rather than directly going to government we parted with companies how to have government license of the UID.We told that we would like to provide customers to you through our platforms we could have advantage technologies and marketing. Through that, we solve the problem and we don’t interact with government body directly but now we do that.

Meetul(04:51): So once when you could forget out the MVP and you guys figured out Okay there’s a business you know to be had on top of that. What was the next step?did you guys you know wanted to build the right team as the next thing was with the funding the next course of action you guys thought about you know doing it all that it was more of a customer to get a customer pay for it and then we will build the business on top of it.

Ritesh(05:17): So, you won’t believe that the MVP which we have built on, a complete smaller sage beginning, we sold. We had paid so, we have paid pilot customer which we got it, which given the confidence that the product is a huge demand in the market, we can solve the problem and top of that we focused adding more and more customer.From pilot to real stats we have started selling products so rather running behind the funding we started running behind customers and how we can solve the problem of customers. And somehow we got the attraction very well and the moment we got attraction then the funding was not a bigger task.

Meetul(06:00): That’s such an important statement trade because the majority of the startups are many startups are run after funding first and then they will try to go after customers. You guys went after customers first and used customer’s money kind of funding growth and funding just came because of that. You know it just kind of by-product per say because of it. So coming back to customers a lot of startups don’t know even how didn’t find those customers right. Who is going to buy my product? And you know you were telling me some amazing story of a kind of pitching to really large companies and CEOs to whom you try to get meetings within past it was very difficult and now you were getting the invitation from them to come talk to you, can you talk to a little bit about that to our listeners.

Ritesh(06:50): Well I think thou, I mean when we launch MVP, think of going for any startup of product you should look after segmentation what’s your target customers rather than taking to everybody you should target to the customers which are going to buy your product. So, the first moment you should do target segmentation like who is going to buy my product and are they really gone pay me or not. That really important part and we have done that. So, other than running behind everybody, we have packed our customers we have to try to pack how do see this problem and can we solve this problem altogether. So running behind customer from beginning time then from that point we understood that the problem is already there so we are in KYC segment which is the custom onboarding process of KYC which is like ‘know your customers’ so we are running small brand and small company we need KYC from on operator even if they are paying 1000 rupees to me it’s fine for me. He is paying me and buying my product it’s very wonderful for me. It’s a strong validation. We segmented that customer first and then after that, we approach this customer

Meetul: You know that some Telco would have some companies you know can benefit from you know your product. How do you know how did you get got your first customer right? Who wanted to bet on us as a startup right? Because that’s the most difficult part that somebody knowing or at least understanding that you are an emerging company and betting on you guys and placing that bet usually that’s a very hard thing to convince .(07:55)

Ritesh(08:23): Lucky it was not, to be honest, I will tell intentional what happened considering that the company was in the problem and nobody trying to solve the problem rather than looking you my other startup and you’re looking my solution that very interesting thing happening with us startup my solution. So, when we trying to pitch up or they were not looking for our startup they were looking that these guys are solving the problem.

Meetul(08:45):  The problem was so large enough or at least it was a big enough problem nobody was solving it and hence they’re willing to take a chance on anybody who is catering to this market.

Vijay(09:00): So, that was a lucky thing that happened to us, so when one on customer came to us, It was a startup only. So they trusted us we also building something new and you are also building something new and let’s go together to see how it’s gone they loved our product.from then I think a lot of small company started coming up and then we score some big names and once you have big names on your websites, and then people trust you more.So you just need to see one or two good customers if you’re catering them then you can cater ate to us.

Meetul(09:43): So that is another aspect at least you know going from MVP to maybe even getting few customers but when you go to raise around investors have a very different mindset towards because they’re looking at 5-10x returns for their money and so forth. How was it? how was that approach? how did you guys decide to go after that?

Ritesh.(10:01): So, I have done the mistake in funding and I will advise the entrepreneur not to do that mistake.So, I think in India investor look for attractions it’s very genuinely understood very well. In the month of last year, 2016 when I’m interacting for the startup that time we just building MVP not selling the product we were trying for proposal for investment nobody was ready for that everybody was asking about attractions so and so far. We understand that we let run behind the customer and build attractions.And then once you have attraction we will see how funding rounds go up. Every investor was saying the same thing. And you will not believe that in the month of  April and may we have made the business of more than 12 lakh rupees and everybody start to listen to us.So, completely it was 180-degree change, and they started saying that we want to invest in your company, we meet three company who came say that we want to invest in your company, we were thinking to choose which company, Very lucky to have such scenario.

Meetul(11:18): So, you guys again that the attraction trumps everything.

Vijay(11:23): I think if you solve the problem and solve it good and you get customers everyone listen to you. If you are solving the problem and build the product and not getting the customers, investors at least in India will not listen to you. So, make sure that at least you get paying customers even it’s not profit at least you need to have kind of  paying customers so, that they know someone willing to buy your product, It’s just not product which came to your mind that how the investors think and because they need some kind of validation at that point .

Meetul (11:58): So in value just saying that that reference from some everything. And as far as investors are concerned. How was your experience raising around India and even finding these three investors you’re talking about in Mumbai, they get pitched whatever by 100 entrepreneurs on a daily basis? How did you reach out to these people and figured out that these are the right investors for you guys?

Ritesh(12:20): I think while dealing We were not sure who’s gonna cost extra in falls, but there are a couple of platforms there, the online platform is there like F6s among them.And luckily again another side we were operating from Nasscom, So Nasscom startup only investor meeting and 20 investors came for that came for that program, and all the  Pune and Mumbai startup came for that and where roundtable discussion happens there and we got connects there.There we met the CEO of Angel group ‘Sanjay Mehta’ for the idea and interaction has been done.

Vijay(13:17): One thing I would like to add here is the investors only gave us advice if someone is not willing to invest in you “No is no never.” So, keep them updated, keep them updated on the purpose. Maybe that was the time they were willing to but maybe since you have some attraction, since you have good business approval your point they may be interested don’t take that No as No, don’t irritate them but yes keep them updated on your monthly basis.We kept updating Sanjay and then we met him 4 -5 month back and kept updating him and we have got some customer now and have some revenue now and then finally things start for us.

Meetul(14:07): So going from MVP to finding a good customer to raising a round of funding I think the next challenge you know and we’ve heard this from all the entrepreneurs is the ‘Recruiting’. I building the team making sure now have crossed the first Chasm now you’re the second part of it now you’ve got to scale now because now there’s more scrutiny. You took some money and now there is more scrutiny on you to deliver. And so the team becomes very important in that situation. How are you guys solving that?

Vijay(14:41): Okay. So, I think this was one of the biggest problems that we also had because the one mistake that we made was we started hiring too late.So, planned a little bit ahead. That’s what I think planning to build the pipeline that what?When are we going build the what product, when are we going to market with the product, What is the number of resources we will need for it and when should we start hiring for so that by the time we start that product we have resources ready with us. So, that is one thing and startup I think ‘Angellist’ was one of the best platforms, people come with the mindset of joining the startup.Since you are trying another platform may be Nakri or something else you don’t know if even they willing to interest this. So, I think the willingness to join a startup is one thing that matters because you don’t have all work of MNC’s. So, I think it’s a problem also but you need to filter out people in such way thinking that they should have a mindset work in a startup otherwise they will leave.

Meetul(16:00): As a parting thought I always ask my fellow entrepreneurs you know are there anyone resource, any book, any blogs or anything inspirational you guys think other entrepreneurs should read or focus on or learn from.

Ritesh(16:18): So, yeah I have done one-course udacity.com which is by “Steve blank’ how to build a startup It’s one of wonderful course which you can have. pretty easy freely available which gives problems statement the complete idea to the slight canvas model which is very important like when you want to start something up new, we should have canvas, who’s gonna be your resource, what activities you have done so and so and other aspects are there.

Vijay(16:55): So my I think I’ve been watching ‘Tag’ for a long time now. So that has been a big inspiration for me and once into some space, I think if you’re thinking of some ideas I think reading about the engine out of the whole market is one of the best things that you can do because firstly you need to understand everything though. I will not say specific book but yeah find out the articles on entrepreneurship, how to build the business, finding out what are the tricks and tips on building a business or any kind of business campus, follow them.And the best thing is to ‘Stop thinking and start doing.’

Vijay Chhuttani is overlooking the technology at AadhaarAPI.com as the CTO at Quagga Tech Pvt Ltd. With various innovation awards in the previous company and multiple hackathons win, he sure likes to build products that are helpful in solving problems at scale. After building products for Telecom On-boarding for US clients, he decided to help solve the problem of customer on-boarding for Indian organizations. He enjoys traveling, photography, and food blogging whenever he is not working.

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts which shares concentrated analysis and advice from startup founders, B2B marketers, sales and product leaders. We welcome your ideas for future topics. If you know someone who would like to be on the show, give us a shout.

Ep07- Startup series | Paying off the tech debt

Mahesh Gawali, the Head of engineering at IntouchApp shares his motivation behind joining a startup and how in order to change something you need to make changes yourself for others to follow.

Key takeaways from the episode

  1. A smaller company or a startup basically is related to having more freedom and responsibilities, also have that really exciting way of working rather than just being bogged down into a huge long painful process at the end of delivering products just like clockwork.
  2. At the same time living up to the quality expectations was much easier in startup especially having our own checks on the quality made much more of difference because we cannot have a big team which is just doing quality analysis.
  3. You have to not only embrace the product that you are building with you. You have to motivate yourself. At the same time you have to build your own brand. So, that’s why I say that you have to be your own product.
  4. In recruiting, it’s much better to have actual assignments and evaluations which helps in understanding the candidate,not only his or her tech capabilities but even the personality and the culture fit is  much easier to understand.
  5. Portals like ‘Hacker rank’ or other places which let you float out tests and do certain preliminary evaluations on top which make easier to test the candidate.
  6. It is important to create culture fit at the beginning than later, because once you are at a bigger size then a certain amount of processes can take off and risky.
  7. I think having a culture fit early makes a difference because it’s about understanding each other at the same time because it’s a difficult time when the startup is trying to build a product

Some important questions covered in the interview

  • Why did Mahesh think of joining a startup?(00:33)
  • The tackling problem of the increasing tech debt.(03:33)
  • Finding the blend of a good developer and a good manager.(4:38)
  • How to find the right people and building the best team in a startup?(09:00)
  • How to bring a change you wish to make in a startup?(07:50)
  • When is the right time to start building a culture?(11:07)

 

Here’s the full transcript for the episode

Meetul(00:30): You were telling me about your interesting journey from large companies to small companies. You know there was a deliberate attempt join the startup.You can walk us through that thinking a process that would be phenomenal.

Mahesh(00:45): So, the thing about making the shift to a smaller company or a startup basically is related to having more freedom. At the same time more responsibilities and having that really exciting way of working rather than just being bogged down into a huge long painful process at the end of which you are delivering products just like clockwork. Having exciting and what do you say fruitful journey while creating the product. Is what I was looking for. That’s where the startups come in.

Meetul(01:22): So, you know while doing conversation you mention something that was so insightful that “In a small company if you want to make a change you have to be there.” Can you expand a little bit about that? What was the thought process rationale you had it?

Mahesh(01:45): So, in a small company there is the teams are pretty streamlined so getting a change is easier because there’s less friction but for getting people motivated or justifying the change you still have to do it yourself first. So, if you had to move from get up and get lab you go and do it first and you have to justify why this both of tools were same but you have justified like this is more easier to use. There’s much easier Ci pipeline this much easier on other aspects of the products. So being with the change obviously makes it easier. And it’s one of their emphasis I would say if you want to work successfully in the startup always be in that mindset where you have to lead by example rather than. So if you have to even use new Python library in the work you had you might as well just go ahead and integrate it and show with James voters or something that hey this is much easier it’s making it easier to work with dictionaries rather than just going in and doing square basis and darn good methods. So yeah that’s how it works.

Meetul(03:33): There was so interesting been change that how you guys implemented the TDD,  trying to plug the holes because you guys just got frustrated without that things would never be addressed or fixed. It just started when you’re trying to run a thousand miles an hour. It is very hard kinda stop, reflect and look back and see if, you can stop collecting technical debts.

Mahesh (03:37): Yeah, the tech debt gets on accumulating over the time. And the problem we use two faces used to see similar issues cropping up now and then. So, that’s when we decided to, we had heard about tester and development and tried it out a little but there came a time and we just put our foot down and said Let’s just do it this way because it’s much easier and having a tangible approach to what has been developed because now just justified because it passes a test you know that this thing can go out and chip in the product. So that made accessing things and making them manageable were easier. At the same time living up to the quality expectations was much easier in startup especially having our own checks on the quality made much more of difference because we cannot have a big team which is just doing the quality analysis.

Meetul(04:38): So, the Hands on leaders ,somebody who is pretty hand who coach, trying to manage the team and still trying to be hands-on ,it’s bit of acquired taste right either good developer or good manager finding the blends is difficult, What are the important skills for Tech founders or emerging founders you know who is getting into this that they need to be aware of that you be cognizant of that. Otherwise, it’s going to hit you from the left side.

Mahesh( 05:15): I’d say reading is the most important of the screen and listening. So, reading is with the printed mediums reading comes very you assimilating information consuming all of the knowledge you have to keep yourself updated about the technologies that you are already working with the potential technologies that you are evaluating keeping an eye on. Maybe there was a tech which was not suitable for months on the line but now it seems like a really exciting thing. So, keeping your eyes out all the time and the management aspect I would say the most important skill is to listen to people and think about why they are doing things the way they are doing it rather than just imposing ‘hey you have to do this.’ And this is the way that is one of the things I was not really it was something that I did not like particularly because it had been a big company so that that part is really easy to deal with because you get to talk to people directly. But think about what problems they are having and how to solve them. And at the same time you’re also dealing with lot of tech. The most important thing I would say is getting up early in the morning that  is actually the first thing. But if you get just hardcore tech I would say even I like to stay awake at night and squash all those bugs. But people have to be in the office next time in the morning and you had to have a head start before people start arriving. So, that’s getting up early in the morning helps in the people management aspect of things, getting insights about yeah this team was done may be a pull request did not match your expectations but rather than you obviously write a comment on it but you should still have a one time conversation with someone about it. So, the contributors know about Yes, you should have this kind of design rather than just taking a shortcut at something like that.

Meetul(07:50): The other aspect is discussing so something about the insights full comment you made, in a startup, we talked about ‘you want to change, you gotta be the change but also you got me a product.You have to drive yourself as a product. That was I was curious just gonna understand your view on that, what do you mean by that?

Mahesh(08:16): So you have to not only embrace the product that you’re building with you. You have to motivate yourself. At the same time, you have to build your own brand. So, that’s why I say that you have to be your own product because if I’m working on Inter chap have to envision myself as the as Interchap so that people who are using Intershop will be able to  understand them better because you yourself are the user first and if you are finding it difficult, to begin with, users are obviously going to face the same difficulties. So, having your own mind trained into thinking yourself as a product helps a lot.

Meetul(09:00): Let’s go back to I guess the one the biggest bane for any startup, ‘Recruiting’ finding the right people, building the team or more team. What’s has been your insights from that other people can glean or learn from it.

Mahesh(09:20): I think there is a lot of confusion and lot of trial and error. There’s no magic bullet. People in startups go through the process of finding out one after the exploding one option after the other. Like recruiters, online sites and portals.One thing that I have in my personal opinion seen work much better is having actual assignments and evaluations which follow that helps in understanding the candidate. Not only his tech capabilities but even the personality and the culture fit it is much easier to understand that being said it’s no easy to do that because it needs substantial effort on your end to get people to the assignment. Not many people even do the assignments and that’s another issue.Portals like ‘Hacker rank’ or other places which let you float out tests and do certain preliminary evaluations on top of that much of help.

But we used to do it initially but now I just feel having assignments which mimic the kind of work you’re doing. Like you know are in data science project, giving out the science assignment which is very close to what you ’re doing rather than well which still does not give out any IP or idea.Gives the candidate a feel for what it would be like to work for this company. And at the same time test, his technical skills is a much better way of getting a good and fruitful recruitment.

Meetul(11:07): So this culture fits you know every entrepreneur, tech or business leader I have spoken with they all have kindly mentioned that culture fit is very-very important And you also brought up the culture fit is very paramount. Is this Something you think about it from the very beginning. This is something that you should worry about early on, worry about it when you get to some scale.

Mahesh(11:38): I think it’s rather more important in the beginning than later because once you’re at a bigger size then a certain amount of processes can take off and that risk from you. But in the initial days, it’s especially more important because you need to have more and more like-minded people around. I’m not saying people should not be critic each other. That should obviously be happening that’s how to start a group. But I still think having a culture fit early on makes a difference because it’s about understanding each other as the same time because it’s a difficult time when the startup is trying to build a product. It’s extremely difficult because there is a lot of pressure. So here is very fast feature train which is going on.  And if you don’t have people who are working as one unit it becomes very difficult because of no matter if I mean you’ve seen the movie the movie 300, a small unit can still take on a big task if they are aligned properly.

Meetul(12:50): Are there any books, any resources, you recommend to entrepreneurs, to people who are on this journey and are getting started on this journey?

Mahesh(13:04): I’ve read a lot of books but I like ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell, much because of talks much of what makes people successful apart from what you think are the obvious factors.And that’s what teaches you about thinking from a different point of view. Also, I do read a lot of medium blogs I follow almost all the tech that I use have their own Twitter handle some Django, python and whatever database I’m using.  So I follow them on Twitter. It’s much easier because Twitter is like a sounding board where people announce big things. So, you get to know all the new things when they come away than just stumbling upon a blog somewhere. Well, that’s one thing. Yeah you should still have your own,What you see on the people who you aspire like I like Sanders Miss blog and that’s most related to C++ but I still follow it because at end of the day that’s still core and that tool and python and other communities people are pretty eager to share new things. But I still feel that is the best medium and place where I have seen people share a lot of good content.  the pretty big community of Python developers who meet up every month. So, is the community about ElasticSearch forks and there’s a Pune developers group as well which is still upcoming and visiting these communities and interacting personally helps a lot in understanding what kind of work the other startup’s are doing. What kind of tech stats they’re using. And lots of them there are common problems that you will be faced with somebody else has also faced and maybe they have found a better solution to it. So that kind of knowledge, as well as interaction, happens in these groups and I’m really thankful to the Pune Python community for continuing their efforts with making the community what it is and keeping it alive.

Mahesh Gawali is an Engineer at heart, always interested in what makes things work. Currently heads the full stack team at InTouchApp. Believes in getting every ounce of performance from the stack. Likes to solve problems in the world of travelling bottlenecks where running a stack is like an orchestra and everything has to perform in a proper rhythm.  You can always access the data quickly if you modelled it properly, so think before you ‘create’. Believe in leading by example with the team and learning new things everyday. Loves python. Oh, and its spaces over tabs

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts which shares concentrated analysis and advice from startup founders, B2B marketers, sales and product leaders. We welcome your ideas for future topics. Know someone who would like to be on the show, give us a shout.

Ep06- Startup series | Fire your relatives

In this episode Aquid Shahwar takes us through his experience of working with startups and the things one should consider before joining one.

 

Key takeaways from the episode

  1. Successful entrepreneurs are persistent even though they have gone through several stages of failures without giving up.
  2. I always try to learn and commit to something every day before leaving the office and that’s what what makes and motivated.
  3. Self-motivation, ownership and passion are three important skills he engineering leaders should possess.
  4. You should be capable enough to handle the work in case you are left with no team to help you.
  5. It’s not the founder who makes a successful company, it’s the entire team’s effort.
  6. I never looked for happiness in monetary things. I always try to learn and commit to do something every day before leaving the office which makes me happy and self-motivated.
  7. You should hire people according to the organizational structure. I believe in a flat structure as I’m not a big fan of policy and terms and conditions.

Some important questions covered in the interview

  • How did Aquid make his way into the startups (02:31)
  • How to keep yourself motivated towards work (05:24)
  • How to find the best people to work for your startup (09:19)
  • Importance of culture- How to create and maintain one (11:23)
  • Must have skills to be a good engineering leader (06:55)
  • How and where to find the right technical talent (09:19)

Here’s the full transcript

Meetul (00:47): The series as we discussed the entrepreneurs in India, where I think there are a huge amount of startups come out of India. But rarely do they get the right level of funding; this is an effort to essentially help these entrepreneurs. Do you want to quickly introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your journey of starting till becoming the V.P of Shoppinpal?

Aquid(01:18): Started all from like doing internships from the college and going through working under ways and very high skill mentors and people. From their understanding the business how a startup works, how the culture works, what is the right set mindset for people where should I go and what kind of things I should look for in a startup before joining this kind of things which I learned from all of these internships and people I met and the recommendations they made in this kind of things, made me come to the right platform and made me take right decisions at the right time. So, this was the other thing and after college, I worked in three startups till date out of which two were acquired. And this has been the third startup that I’m working as the V.P. of engineering. And each startup, it has always been like you get one step ahead. So, I started as a junior level guy then senior and suddenly it was VP.

Meetul (02:23): In India startup is still bit stigma I don’t think culturally many people really understand what it takes to start from that aspect to figure out ,you want to join the startup and try to figure out these characteristics you talking about? How did you end up discovering that these are the characteristics I should look for in joining a startup because this was very deliberate and very intentional attempt? You didn’t stumble upon Startup you did deliberate attempt toward that?

Aquid(02:53): When I started I obviously didn’t know about thing but  luckily I got a guy who is right now in MIT. And he just said that he actually wrote the whole Linux operating system in Bangla. So, I got really inspired with that thing and from there I got the knowledge that if you want to learn and do things at that time in like 2010. It was the best place to be a startup. So, that came into my mind and said okay I need to be there and I need to go in a startup and then do these things but then eventually we’ll working I figured out that not all startups are good. There are places where you will go and you’ll get retreat. You will not be improving you’ll be going down so you need to choose how you want to go ahead with your life. I wanted to be a technical person and I wanted to be a leader in the technical development and technical area. So, I choose people where I figured out what are the right set of things and the mindset of people that promote what I want to learn. I wanted to learn something where my exposure is out. That mean I need to be in company where open source should be promoted. So, that became criteria for me. I wanted to sit next to the founder and ask him a question. So, I searched for the place where the founder sits next to me and whenever there is a need I can go to him approach him and ask him. And this kind of small things leads me to away where I was clear about these five things I want in a company and I want to be compromising these factors and that has been the point of my success. These things helped me to reach where I wanted to be. So it’s all about understanding what you want to do? Where you want to go? And very typical question that you will hear in HR, where do you see after five years but that is very important. You need to know where you see after yourself after five years. Not because you want to sit someplace and earn money but actually in a practical life if you are given five years’ time where you do think and what we want to achieve and act on that thing.

Meetul(05:03): As senior entrepreneur there are more up than down, startup is package it might look glamorous and sexy sometimes from outside, when people get such said back then people start giving up, they tend to give up, How did you figure out ?how do you keep yourself motivated?. How do make sure that resiliency which is not common in India?

Aquid(05:38): So, the point that you made it’s very true that people tend to give up in India very soon. If you see the big names what they’ve done they have been persistent all of their life they’ve gone through several phases of failures but they didn’t give up. They said I’m going to do this and I’m going to achieve this. So this has been the key to the success and for me, I never looked for happiness in monetary things. I never said I need a big salary to be happy. I don’t need big bungalow to be happy. All I need to be happy is a need to learn something and every day when I leave office I need to make a commitment and I need to do something and I need to say that okay today I have done something and this makes me happy and let’s make myself motivated. For me, this has been the steps or the points of success. This has been the point where I keep myself self-motivated. And a small-small thing even if I fail my company is going to shut down or there have been phases where the product I built was not good. But my take away from that thing was I wrote a beautiful code which can be reused in any other project and that project can be live in hour And time and amount of my energy spent on writing a project even though it was not successful. I know I can take this and build something else so that was the motivation. That was the reward for me and I was happy for things.

Meetul (06:58): As engineer leader, the product which is building is core to your success, what are the 3 important skill set required for good engineering leader?

Aquid(07:07): So, the first thing that I think is important is self-learning you should be able to learn you by yourself. And if, I need to learn something I need to hit hard. Even though I am not able to understand it I need to again go back there again learn things. So this is like one point where I think it’s like top most quality for being a good developer. Second thing obvious is ownership you need to own the product you need to take the product as this is what I want to build not this what someone else’s won’t build. If you are building it just because you were said to build it then you will never become a good developer I will sit down in my room and when I’m sitting alone I won’t watch a movie or something. I will think about it how we can improve the UX and UI of this app, what magical thing I can do in this thing. Passion is very important .Ownership’s so you own that thing just you. You’re doing it to learn something. You’re doing it because this is your product And obviously being independent I think you can go to a stack overflow website and you can see things and you can write something but doing that independently finding the right keyword finding where the right places blocks right Method ,right channels to go. I think this is what differentiates between good and bad developer a good developer can go to a specific place a specific site a specific tutorial and he know he’ll know that what I need to write and how to learn So you need to be independent you need not if you’re too dependent on one else and someone is spoon feeding you. I think you will never be able to become a good developer. So for me these three things ownership, being entrepreneurial and self-learning.

Meetul(09:10): India is such an entrepreneur country where everybody have five ideas, but still the question is I can’t find people, I can’t find right people or technical talents, where to look for it? Do have any advice for that?

Aquid(09:40): People who have been successful have been the experts of what they wanted to do, they gain the knowledge they had a passion to build that thing. They understood that this problem is there and this is how I can solve it, for a person to come and say “I have an idea but I don’t know how to solve this thing. I don’t know how to write code or maybe I don’t know how to build these solutions so, that people can benefit.” I think that is not the right way to go. If I need to start something I’ll make sure that I have 60 to 70 percent of what it takes me to build something otherwise it’s always going to be a failure. You don’t know how to write a code and you’re going for a tech startup .You need to know how to write a code. Definitely you are going to need the team but see you need to be prepared for the best and the worst, you might get a team which rocks solid and who can do wonders for you. But there are days where you will see everyone gone from the company and you are staying alone and that time if, you don’t know how to handle things and if you will definitely be failing and going away from this thing. Practically for me is like you one criterion to become entrepreneur is to understand the problem and know the problem that this is what I’m going to do to solve it. And 80 percent of the solution you should know at least not from the technical point of view but from other aspects also. What do you need to do; these things need to be clear with you as founder right because that will motivate you to never give up even. So, I think that’s what my point of view.

Meetul(11:27): You brought up the importance of culture, why culture is important – Sometimes people may or may not realize it the importance of it but I love you to talk about culture and its importance.

Aquid(11:50): Culture is the top most priority for any given company. If a company doesn’t have a goal culture he will never have a trusted employee, for a company to succeed. If a person can come and see that okay he’s the founder, he’s the co-founder and he made this company what it is today. I don’t think I agreed to that thing because it’s always a team behind the founders and this kind of teams is there where who will support you in the good and bad right. So, to build this team you need to earn the respect you need to on their 100 percent. What they want to give right. And if you don’t build this thing over time you’ll never be able to complete or be a successful entrepreneur. So how will you sustain that team? How will you build a team? How will you make your team respect you in good and bad? In that time it becomes a very important point to bring the right set of culture. People hire people, and that’s not like some people say I want to build a culture where I should be hierarchy approach and some people say I want to cultivate where there should be a flat hierarchy. If you have the intention of having a hierarchical approach then hire people with that mindset hire people who love being mentored who want their hierarchy to be there who want the level of the powers and hire those kind of people. And if you are a fan of that flat structure then hiring people will always be there on the flat side right who will say I don’t want a hierarchy. I’m not a boss. Call me a friend or something and always be there. So, the culture is also about having or hiring the right set of people that I am going ahead with this kind of culture. I want to build a company like this and I’ll be hiring people with this mindset only.

Meetul(13:40): What are your recommendations for local entrepreneur people who are starting up or even doing this for a while. Resource to learn from or check out for resources

Aquid(13:47) So, for me I think every entrepreneur whichever sector which was domain they are, different kind of products there. I have been in the logistics and travel and all these things so I always kept me focused on the B2B side. I used to read a lot of blogs and there some very good news apps that were there I cannot see myself as a good reader and I don’t read too many books. But I have always been active on social media and forums and places where the right set of news can come to me and the knowledge come to me. So, for example, there was a very new app called ‘In shorts’ and I found this app and loved it. I used to get hundred short messages every day and I can just scroll through them and I can see that what kind of message, what’s happening in the foreign affairs and where is the right business. And then update for example B2B Facebook started something recently for manufacturer’s stores. I came to know about these six months before. So it’s more about being active on various platforms but not saying that it shouldn’t be like you don’t go for books or proper but yeah good apps for me my part of knowledge was always through people through social media through personal contacts. And discovering new tools like apps, all these things which helped me become a good B2B fan.

Aquid Shahwar is a startup enthusiast, a technical leader and an open-source fan. Presently he is the Vice President, Engineering at Shoppinpal and has been a part of many other successful startups (mostly B2B) by being one of the core members of the initial team. He loves technology and his vision and mission revolves around solving big problems like education and rural development in India using “technology” which he believes is an enabler, and not a complete solution. He is a also firm believer of flat and open culture in company and is gradually aiming towards building the same.

About the show

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts which shares concentrated analysis and advice from startup founders, B2B marketers, sales and product leaders. We welcome your ideas for future topics. If you know someone who would like to be on the show, give us a shout.

Ep05- Startup series | Be open about your failures

Darryl Zuzarte, a Regional Leader who runs one of the most ambitious startup programs in India shares his insights for entrepreneurs, including the skills, dedication and the resiliency required to succeed with your startup.

 

Key takeaways from the episode

  1. The successful traits for an entrepreneur is the leadership skills , great team working, product idea and knowledge and a hunger. The hunger is a very important aspect because if that dies over the early stage, that’s the end.
  2. There are almost 200 corporate Accelerators opened up in India putting their money into startups which is a big increase in conventional incubators. So this is the best time to startup in India.
  3. There are many kind of resources available at India startup website and even there is program freely available  for early stage of entrepreneur in association with UpGrad (upgrad.com).
  4. Good resources for an entrepreneurs-Peter Thiel’s ‘Zero to one’ and ‘Losing my virginity’ by Richard Branson are must reads.

Some important questions covered in the interview

  • What are the traits of a successful entrepreneur and what kinds of efforts do you need to put to create a successful startup?(02:39)
  • Darryl’s recommendations for entrepreneurs on how to keep going after failures.(05:21)
  • How to plug yourself into the startup ecosystem?(10:45)
  • Useful resources for anyone planning to startup.(14:27)

Here’s the full transcipt

Meetul(00:42): So, in general, you know the podcast series is as I mentioned you know it’s designed you know towards entrepreneurs and helping entrepreneurs in India to help them with this whole journey which you know has lots of ups and downs many time more downs than ups. But somebody such as yourself who actually works with a lot of entrepreneurs I think you’ll be great for our listeners to understand a little bit about your background what you do and then we can carry forward is to know some of the traits of successful entrepreneurs.

Darryl(01:12):Sure.So just to begin, Meetul I have no background or founder and never tried to startup .Maybe that’s something look forward in future good because you work with so many entrepreneur and founders that also think that okay you’ve got something going here . Yeah so I’m more of a business guy. I have done my MBA and I’ve been Nasscom in the last seven years and more overworked a lot with enterprises and in terms of delivering the program to these guys over the last couple of years. When I moved to startups when I say startups I mean in terms of creating programs for startups in Pune. And trying to impact in any form, any measure because of the whole objective is to impact them in terms of connections and terms of customers, in terms of investments. Maybe the help terms of or mentoring workshops anyway possible because of each of these touch points. Yes. Just to give a background that goes out of sight in 2012 with the intention of the big startups because primarily the Nasscom as trade body was so founded for IT companies. Then when the switch happened and everyone started talking about innovation in the way 2010 and 2011. That is like okay now we have created different for startup, that’s how we started with Bangalore and now we have are our centers in association with all the state governments across the country.

Meetul(2:39): So as I mentioned you know somebody works with entrepreneurs in India one thing is amazing where the entrepreneurial spirit is super alive and very very vibrant. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. But I think entrepreneurship takes a lot more than just an idea and somebody who works with entrepreneurs on a daily basis as either a mentor as a friend as a customer as an advisor or maybe a shoulder to cry on. What are the successful traits you know of an entrepreneur is that you have seen you know in India or at least what it takes to be successful?

Darryl(03:13): Yeah.So, you are rightly said we have different kinds of a entrepreneur. For example, you know those who experienced going from the industry. And you have a new wave of entrepreneurs coming in from colleges and students. They both have a different set of issues they both are coming with different leadership style is different traits what we notice is that you know while you have entrepreneur with experience and non-experience. They all have similar struggles individually when they have product. We have various stories where our one of startups had a lot of customers for starters but there were no funds in and there was a source for them to actually cater to them. So that is a very different form of a problem to have why the majority of sites are actually looking for a lot of customers. So, VC would kill for, VC will kill for that. And that’s something which the Indian Startup foundership actually look for because in the end that form of leadership And configure it takes for that particular founder to keep cool and loses stuff during that particular situation. Being resilient, while you will not see it is coming with the extremely early stage of entrepreneurs. This is something very important because if you look at everyone starting up right now. And so many startups sort of good jobs as a result of so filling the gaps left by other startups.But at the end of most of it doesn’t work out for some another reason. That’s general statistics even if you look at all the startups are funded probably 7 or 10 still not getting success in the future, right? So, again it needs leadership skills,great team working on it, a great product idea and knowledge. In the end, I think the determination of the hunger, the hunger is a very important aspect because if that dies at the early age, that’s the end.

Meetul(05:21): So, that’s going to be a very interesting question. Right. I mean in the sense that India, in general, has a culture and its design in such a way that you know you go study the reason you go study because you can get a good job if you get a good job you will make money and hopefully they will help even find your bride and groom. I have had people asking me what is going to be my title. Can you put a manager in my title so I can find a good bride or groom with it? Well, the resiliency that is required to build a successful startup culture much time we know may or may not force foster that right. Have pressures from your relatives or your friends or whoever else to do it. Why are you doing this? And you know even if the first one fails or the second one fails they tend to give up after that. So again coming back to the treats. How would your recommendation to the entrepreneur to make sure that  they can keep going? As opposed to giving up after seeing maybe the first or second failure this is not something for me?

Darryl(06:26): So, that one thing Indian culture is not very used to hearing his failure right? Yes, In our culture we see failure as very bad, there is no way to understand what went wrong? Or what it did not go right? And not everyone is talking about failures.I mean if you, I failed in my startup I will probably talk about it why I failed because I want answers right.A lot of time cultures also play a very important role as you said but that’s changed now because families are realizing that starting over is not going to be the same game. How to study? you have to get job 9 to 6 and you have to work in the industry. Things are changing right now, all this come as a roadblock, I think again you know talking about been open about what went wrong on understanding what went wrong and why you fall along the way any cultural differences I think that should probably take ahead for these guys.

Meetul(08:05): Especially for millennials right there are just getting started that the time is on their side. In addition, I think it is just very important to realize that that age plays a role especially in a startup as far as the millennial are concerned we are coming out and thinking about again building the startups where they may or may not have some of the baggage which others you know that we have her age on their side might have access to resources right. I mean like here accessibility is such a huge area I see that it has not very well known that what another resource that available to startups. What would be your recommendation for these entrepreneurs? Moreover, as far as resources are concerned they can lean on or they can essentially go tap into.

Darryll(08:59): My recommendations for this side that they have to see visible and more explosion to works as an ecosystem.A lot this guy being constrained from their own four walls and at the end didn’t know what’s happening outside in their own mind at space. A lot of the problems that these guys face answers are in ecosystems they should be visible, you need to understand who is contributing to ecosystems in terms of, what are their strong points? I think the stage right now in Pune or particular in India is pretty much we have all the required stakeholders in ecosystem contributing own their equal way. So, even there is a shortage in terms of resources or any form that somebody on other will provide help. For example, if we come across the startup and find ‘hey this guy lacks in design, this guy lack in UI’, we will plug you with somebody who can really help with that.The point is that it’s all available out there it’s just that startup needs to bit more visible, bit more talking, need explore the each and every angle of an ecosystem. Right now it’s right time if, you compare 2018 and 2012 there’s a big difference in terms of support, infrastructure everything. Right now it’s much easier to startup but it’s very difficult to take your product in excel because everyone is doing something very different.

Meetul(10:45): So, somebody such as yourself you know was working with governments trying to help these startups and help them get to the next level or at least figure out the right things how can they plug into your ecosystem where somebody is thinking about it. They are doing a startup. They want essentially to be plugged in into your initiative. How can they do that?

Darryl(11:04): So it’s very simple. You know we have an online application process where they have to plug in but what we trying to capture is what help they require.  what part of the sector they have done you know you know if you reach out to the government or if you need to reach out to the industry or connects with our customers based on that is how we plug these guys you know for example if you want to contrast with transport department, we do have, we are working with transport department I will just give an example of we are doing a hackathon right now with transport department of Maharashtra, With the soul idea of creating awareness on road safety. So, you are running this across India process and these are games are made, even serious game or even you know gamified in learning.So, when we reach out the public like that we take this and we it to government And then, in the end, this becomes something which they work for the startup for.Governments are opening up to Startups you know corporates are opening up for startups if you are looking at the recent statistics there are 200 more corporate Accelerators opened up in India they are now putting their money into startups which are a big increase in conventional incubators like conventional accelerators corporates playing major role So, there is progressive incremental involvement from each and every stakeholder toward startup now and I’m bouncing back to my previous point it’s a much better time to startup because the helping hands extended by each and every, What do you say that institution.it’s great. It’s phenomenal.

Meetul(12:43): Are there any resources you would mention. You know I mean like you mentioned like that 200 corporate companies providing insight. There are accelerators such as yourself or incubator such as yourself who are providing help to the startups. If somebody is just starting on the spot or somebody on the journey and trying to figure out where do I start mine I mean are they any place where these resources are available, mention, or they have access to that they can figure out okay. These resources are available to us.

Darryl(13:13): So, just to just to step back a bit if you look at the startup India on the website. The entire list of accelerators and incubators across the country are mentioned there. There is even a program for early-stage entrepreneurs which is free in association of UpGrad in terms of if it’s a student and if doesn’t know about entrepreneurship, maybe he has an idea for that product there is course available for that particular person on website and they can go through it’s not getting into much structure manner. If I was like 2013 still will be confused where to put my hand and what would I grab but right now it’s all structured take-up look at startups India website everything details there comment scheme is put in place funds are put ten in place. Union bank one of the bank which giving away the funds up to like 2-3 CR without any collateral now provided that you have to certified with a TIPP, that is another things. But these are step by step processes you know if one knows about all these would be a much better position to actually what say extract it and make good use of the advantage.

Meetul(14:27): Okay, fantastic. Well, this has been a great insightful interview I am sure we are going to put more information into the blog post regarding you know the discussions that we have. As a parting thought, you know any books, any resource any recommendation you can provide.

Darryl(14:43): Yes, Peter Thiel ‘Zero to one’ and my all-time favorite Richard Branson this is my bit more tradition businessman ‘losing my virginity ‘by Richard Branson the beautiful book.Peter Thiel ‘Zero to one’ even whose aspiring to be an entrepreneur please take a look at ‘Zero to one ‘eye, it just changes the perspective.‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz that’s another great book and resources.

Darryl Zuzarte is managing a Startup Warehouse in Pune which is part of 10000 startups, an initiative of NASSCOM, which is one of India’s most ambitious startup program with Google as prime sponsor. It is aimed at incubating, funding and supporting 10,000 technology startups in India over the next ten years. The program is supported by Google, Microsoft, Intel, Verisign, Kotak Bank and almost every other Accelerator, Incubator, Angel Network, Venture Capital Fund from India and Abroad.

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