By Adarsh Manpuria WG’15
Most startup enthusiasts and experts agree that there is no single magic formula or a steady path for building a successful startup. However, my experience across being part of a large venture-funded startup and launching 2 bootstrapped ventures has made few things clear to me.
1) It’s all about ‘hustling’ – with all the right resources and the wind on your side, anyone & everyone would make it. That rarely, if ever, happens with a startup. Most success stories are built on persistence, grit & scraping through tough situations, holding on with your nails. When I first moved to a startup from my previous professions (consulting and investing), I learnt to appreciate much more the complexity of building & operating something tangible.
2) [tweetthis alt=”‘Be nimble as a cat and build like the ants’: #startup survival tip #2 from Adarsh Manpuria #WG15″ hashtag=”via @WhartonEntrep” short_url=”http://whr.tn/1HNzHW1″]”Be nimble as a cat and build like the ants”[/tweetthis] – The two big advantages that you have as a startup is that you have nothing to lose (so experiment a lot) and that you can be faster than your competition (so experiment faster). Often when presenting early ideas to investors, especially in tech, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “what if Apple/Google/Facebook copied your idea?” The reality is they probably won’t, at least not until you get 100,000s of users to validate your idea. And if you can come up with one valuable idea and build that out, then I would back you to move faster than them or do it again at least once more.
3) Learn to believe & doubt at the same time – In other words, don’t take yourself too seriously. Your ideas will change significantly, sometimes almost completely, when they hit the walls of reality. Pivoting is one of the key skills successful startups master. Yet your conviction & dedication should stem from within – building a successful startup is largely about story-telling. If you do not truly believe in it, no one else is going to buy it – and you need your employees, investors and users/customers to completely buy-in! Don’t overestimate the value of an idea. 99% of successful startups are built on speed, sweat, and toil—not on confidential, secretive recipes.
4) Measure your startup’s success in users/customers, not in the amount of money you raise – Raising a large round is meaningless if you don’t complement it with users or revenue traction. Early entrepreneurs should look at fundraising as a distraction, a necessarily evil. Few investors bring the expertise or experience that can make a difference. There are numerous stories of startups going bust or losing focus because of investor pressure. However users/customers can be your true guiding light – they are always smart and would never pay for anything that they don’t truly value. This is the only true value creation – creating something that a large number of economically rational people want and are willing to pay for, with either their time or money or both.
5) [tweetthis alt=”‘Own your mistakes as well as your successes’: #startup survival tip #5 from Adarsh Manpuria #WG15″ hashtag=”via @WhartonEntrep” short_url=”http://whr.tn/1HNzHW1″]”Own your mistakes as well as your successes”[/tweetthis] – Make sure you have the right motivation for getting into the whirlwind of building a startup, because it’s going to be a long journey and you are not going to be able to power through it if you find excuses instead of accepting mistakes. Take ownership if you want to be a founder and make things happen!
Bio: Adarsh Manpuria, WG’15, is currently cofounder & COO at Casa2 Inns, building India’s most preferred, value-for-money hospitality brand. Previously, while at school, he launched Funnel, an iOS email productivity app designed for students. He also has experience working with Rocket Internet, a leading ecommerce incubator, and with Bain Capital PE and Bain & Co.