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Building a foundation: How to really make your startup stand out
June 23,2015
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It's important to be the first mover but not always does a startup have that advantage. Most new ventures compete with the top three contenders in any category. Amid India's increasingly crowded startup ecosystem, where two startups are founded every day on an average, how does one truly stand out? Is it outlandish marketing tactics, killer discounts, writing angry public blogs to investors or painting the whole town with your ads? The idea is to start from the very beginning when you pick the industry you want to enter, advise successful entrepreneurs. Take on-demand tea provider Chai Point, started in 2010, which now sells 1.25 lakh cups of chai every day across four cities. Once a startup has its territory marked out, the most important factor is to build a great product. "It's not enough for it to work or be functionally complete. Does it delight in an experiential way? Do you have an extraordinary product that people love to interact with?" said Shekhar Kirani, partner at Accel India, which has backed Facebook, Flipkart, LetsVenture and TeaBox, among others. The next step in differentiation is to ensure that your product or service reaches customers seamlessly. As Talwar of Lightbox says, "Scale is critical in India, and equally crucial is scaling at the right moment." The common bottom line weaving through all the elements is the differentiation a customer perceives. "The power to decide who is going to win in India has shifted from large companies to consumers. They have much higher expectations now than they ever had," said Sid Talwar, partner at Lightbox, which has invested in one-of-a-kind companies such as InMobi, MapmyIndia, education tech startup Embibe and renewable energy company Kotak Urja. The last leg is to bring loyalty in a differentiated way than being perceived as a pushy sale. Nothing sells more than a good validation or a referral by a customer to his or her own peer network. To do this, "you have to build stickiness into the product so that customers can be re-engaged," said Gaurav Dahake, founder and CEO of price comparison site BuyHatke. Read More

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