Founders Handbook 2019

Entrepreneurs build successful business, despite the odds

I joined TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) a global organization as a Chartered Member in the year 2005. As part of my membership obligation, I started mentoring startup founders and since then I would have met hundreds of entrepreneurs who approached me to get clarity on their uncertainty, identify the direction appropriate for their business as well as personal life and develop a definitive roadmap for their business success.

While interacting with all these entrepreneurs and also been an entrepreneur myself, we all want the same things; we want to deliver a strong customer value proposition, pursue a differentiated strategy, develop a better understanding of the market, hire and build a strong team, and raise capital. But, their approach to achieving these results are quite contrasting.

In my quest to discover the persona of these entrepreneurs, I found a verse in the Bhagavad Gita that I could relate to:
“In this world, there is a two-fold path, as I said before, O blameless One (Arjuna), the path of knowledge for men of contemplation and the path of work for men of action.” //3.3//

Let’s call them Gyanyogi and Karmyogi.

Even though they look similar, speak similarly do the things similarly, they are separate from each other in their approach to work and life.

A Gyanyogi Entrepreneur will find comfort in the path of peace, his journey will be inward to the self, knowledge will be his ammunition and attaining success through wisdom will be his goal. Most of the scientists, scholars, and researchers achieved their success working on their ideas and solving it to build a meaningful solution. Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy, Bill Gates are popular Gyani entrepreneurs.

A Karmyog Entrepreneur, on the other hand, would prefer the path of power, his journey would be to conquer the world, energy will be his ammunition and attaining success by becoming powerful will be his goal. Dhirubhai Ambani and Subhash Chandra are popular Karmyogi entrepreneurs.

There are enough pieces of evidence of all sort of people succeeding in the business leveraging their respective geniuses. I believe you can too by following these simple rules:

Spend time engaging in the provocative questions not just finding the answers. There are umpteen number of people ready to hand over the answers if you are able to ask the right questions.

Search and question what you are skipping and ask yourself why? Entrepreneurship is hard — whenever faced with the difficulties question yourself to get what is that one thing which will get you where you want to be.
Someone has done your version of success before – emulate their beliefs, habits and maximize on their strengths. Avoid their flaws and costly mistakes.
Siddhartha met a merchant. Looking at him, the merchant asked “Everyone can do something. What can you?”
Siddhartha’s replied to the merchant:
“I can think” –good decision-making and asking good questions
“I can wait” – plan long-term, be patient
“I can fast” – be able to withstand pain and be resilient
You too can think. You too can wait. You too can fast.
Just do it!

Every entrepreneur starts their business because they feel they have the ideas, inventions, creations, messages, technologies, products, services, archetypes, frameworks, platforms or communities which once launched will change the world. And you find these ideas:

Pursuing your passion for the specific interest and honing your talents, skills, and abilities to deliver better results and monetize what you love. You believe that you enjoy doing it and you will draw a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction while doing it. You draw the inspiration from the popular quote from Confucious “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”

The greatest ideas are born when you face life challenges, solve it and sell it to others who may be facing similar challenges in their life. The only caveat here is that there exists a significant number of people facing a similar problem else it becomes the problem of few and you’ll find it difficult to scale.

Fueled with the advancements in technology and the emergence of newer technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Biotechnology, robotics, etc. our future is going to be substantially different than what you see today. If you can do some future gazing and spot future opportunities, you can build a high-value business idea today.

Entrepreneurs also get their ideas while working on something side by or helping someone. When you keep doing things and constantly improve it over a period of time and that helps you build something so significant that you can build a highly successful business out of your continuous work.

Sometimes, business ideas also come when you experience things during your travel, holiday or actively participating in the events. When you apply your skills and creativity to convert such experiences, you can build a wildly successful business.

Whatever may be the source of your ideas when you convert it into a market-ready product solving a real problem of your target customer with excellent execution and passion for success, you can revolutionize an industry, create wealth and change the world.

Continue reading →

The Business Model is your product

We are living in a ‘surplus society’. Everything you need is offered by similar businesses producing similar things having access to similar resources with no remarkable difference in the pricing or quality.

You must be thinking:

  • Is there any opportunity which is worth pursuing and investing your time, money and resources?
  • How can you still create a great idea which will offer a strong value proposition that customer can’t resist?
  • How can you attract a continual stream of business leads and business opportunities?
  • How can you stay competitive to position your business so compelling that your customers continues buying it from you?
  • How can you monetize your customers by selling them more and offering them other complimentary products and services?
  • And, how can you cost-effectively and efficiently get more things done every day to remain competitive, offer better value, and maximize your profit?

Yes, you can.

The purpose of this guide is to help you find the secret formula that when applied together with the excellent execution, your entrepreneurial dream will lead you to achieve the success you deserve.

At this point in time, I want you to do a bit of day dreaming. I want you to think of the day when you’ll be introducing your idea to the world. You’d be tweeting about your launch. Knowing the limitations of introducing your idea in less than 280 words, how would you like to introduce your business to the world so that when they read it, they must feel “wow”. They can’t stop visiting your website or checking it out?
Use the template below to introduce your idea.

Don’t worry too much about it. Just use the best of your creativity and imagination to write the most compelling tweet to introduce your startup.

Continue reading →

The Big Picture

A little girl was drawing in her empty book. She was fully focused and rarely looked away from the paper.
“What are you doing?” asked her father, curiously looking over her shoulder.
“I’m drawing a picture of God.”
Her father frowned, “But people don’t know what he looks like?”
“Well, they will know now”, replied the girl.

Most of us think about drawing as a way of representing something in a graphic form. Therefore, we persuade ourselves that we cannot draw well and give up the right to draw.

Drawing is a great way for capturing thoughts, exploring ideas, and then sharing those ideas with others. It gets ideas out of your head into a form that is easy to sort, share and document for your research. Drawing even a simple representation of an idea makes you think through a lot of details.

This exercise focuses on considering the aspects or bigger picture around the issue, task or need, by painting an artistic masterpiece reflecting the notable proportions of your idea and future vision. Break through to bring your concept to life early to figure out how you might take an idea further.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Get a first tangible expression of your idea
  • Increase your range of vision and establish framework to take the first step into an empty space
  • Show your dream to rest of the world and make it happen

Case Example:

Getting you inspired – below is a sketch of Uber’s user experience. Simple, right? If you don’t know how to sketch, don’t worry – draw whatever you can. The goal is to let out your thinking into the real world.

Action: Draw your Big Picture!

Allow your imagination to soar beyond context and boundaries. You can follow the below mentioned steps for drawing your Big Picture

  • Get into the settings where you find your creative best. Identify when your best creative hours are. For most people, its a few hours after they wake up
  • Brainstorm and ask questions  like –
  • What will make people feel great when they will use my product?
  • Is it going to solve the real-world problem?
  • Try to speak to an expert in the field and discuss whether your big picture is correctly conveying your business idea/ product.
  • Erase all “what ifs” and close your negative thoughts.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Draw the sketch that presents your product out in the real world.

Additional Tips:

  • Leave all your emotions and imagination on the canvas
  • Sketch it first and color later
  • If needed, ask a trusted friend for help
Continue reading →

The 5 Whys – Digging deep into the root cause of the problem

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. Answering “Why” gets you to the root cause of the problem. It allows you to go beyond the obvious answers and solve things on a deeper level. It is the key to your business.

Though this exercise might sound simple, but it requires thought and intelligent application in order to find the right Why? questions to ask, as well as the discipline and persistence to follow the method.

This exercise requires a lot of practice. But the more you use and apply it and the more you practice it, the more you’ll begin to find the real underlying (root) causes of problems. This method is extremely valuable and powerful to get you started.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Establish links between the root causes and surface problems with little required preparation
  • Gain an understanding of complex issues
  • Classify problems and solutions as either internal or external

Case Example:

Teemium is a technological platform that bridges the gap between college students and companies in terms of job opportunities. For the students, it aims to find a job as per their skills, abilities and career choice and for the companies it helps to get the right candidate for the right job.

Problem Statement: Only 20% of the candidates are hired through campus placement

Why?       Because it is difficult to connect with colleges
Why?       Poor response from colleges
Why?       Lack of placement management system
Why?      The college management cannot make the team accountable for placements
Why?       The team is not incentivize appropriately

Action: Define your 5 Whys!

Dig down deep into what the actual reasons are for a problem or what the problem actually is. You can start on the following lines to get your 5 Whys

  • Define the problem. Write down the identified problem to focus on possible solutions.
  • Ask “Why” did the problem happen? Write the possible answer
  • Again ask “Why” addressing the possible answer that you have written for the previous Why?
  • Repeat it for 5-6 times till you get to the root of the problem
  • Tip: Always write the first thing that come to you mind each time you ask “Why”

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Start with your 5 Whys using the below mentioned format.

Additional Tips:

  • Don’t jump to a solution when presented with a problem
  • Look at the big picture and improve your ability to arrive at the root cause
  • Analyze the results and form relationships between answers
Continue reading →

Getting Started: Build Right Product for Right Customers

Ask anyone, and they will tell you that the only three important factors that can drive a significant portion of business success are:

1) Making your product so interesting that you can sell
2) Making your product create significant customer interest so that customer can buy
3) Making your product so compelling that your customer is willing to pay

Start identifying your customers, their demographics, and the pain points you wish to address through your solutions. Your aim should be to also visualize whether the customer you have identified is a decision maker, buyer, influencer, user or a recommender.


To scale efficiently and effectively, expansion stage companies need to focus their efforts not on a broad universe of potential customers, but rather on a specific subset of customers who are most similar to their best current customers. The key to doing so is through customer segmentation. The OpenView article Customer Segmentation: A Guide explains why customer segmentation is important.

Action: Identify Customer Segments

approach customer segmentation exercise with the aim to discover potential customers who are most most likely connect with the problem you aim to solve through your ideas

  • Identify the broad level under which you will categorise the customer. For example, undergraduate students, any family with income up to 50000 per month, etc.
  • Classify the customer demographic such as age, gender, income, nationality, etc
  • Define the pain point that you are solving for the customer segment
  • Name the customer if you can imagine anyone in your surrounding or reference
  • Answer the question why you feel the named person is your ideal customer and how you will reach out to them to validate your hypothesis.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Be as realistic as possible.
  • If you are not sure about the real customer, search the internet for the exact buyers of the similar product or services. You can consult your friends for help
Continue reading →

Seize the Market Opportunity with Competitive Landscape Analysis

You have identified your customer segments and the pain points you are going to address through your product or service for them. Now, you need to define the competitive landscape to see how your competition is addressing those points, what would be the cost and efforts they’d need to catch up for addressing the pain points better than you do.

Your aim should be to know the competitors whom you’d face when you launch your product in the marketplace:
– How quickly will the competition catch up with you in solving the problem better than you?
– How will they seize your size through pricing, positioning, and marketing?
– What else would they do to achieve better customer success?

Do the SWOT analysis to benchmark with your product offering and know where you stand against the competition. Your aim should be to derive the solution hypothesis that will keep you ahead of the competitive value curve and help you capitalize the market opportunity to move ahead of your competition.

Action: Identify three Competitors!

Prepare the line of action you need to emphasize for making your business superior to the competition

  • Research the internet to find the businesses addressing the problem
  • Go to Quora, Social Media platforms, Forums and feedback website to find out about your competition
  • Speak to people who are the users of the product to understand their pain points
  • Read the review on eCommerce website if the product is sold there

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Visit the competitor website
  • Follow your potential competitors on social media
  • Perform google search trend analysis on the keywords relevant to your business
Continue reading →

Structure a Good Product / Solution Hypothesis for your Business

Your aim is to create a meaningful impact in the lives of people when they use your product or service.
When you read a book, listen to music, use a product, service or venture, you resonate with it. You feel the power that lies in it.
Think about the solution that your product is going to offer in a way that it allows the consumer to connect with emotions, promises, and the thing that your product is going to do for them.
The question you should ask?
How can I create an experience that allows my target customer to feel my soul through my work?

Action: Frame your Solution Hypothesis

You can follow the below mentioned steps for solution hypothesis

  • You need to be your creative best to think of an nth way to solve the problem
  • Think of a potential scenario that will emerge when your solution is used by the customer
  • Look at the opportunities and challenges you are addressing and the best possible thing you can do to address it
  • Look at easy, better, comprehensive and optimum way to define your solution

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Describe all possible scenarios and contexts under which your target customer will benefit from your solution. Establish the notions
    with the facts and solutions for each scenario
  • Get an insider view of the current solutions
  • Look at adjacent industries and market segments to find complimentary hypothesis and incremental ideas
Continue reading →

Customer Validation – Looking to generate monetary transactions

Now, you have built a solid foundation of your ideas, customer segment and solution hypothesis that you believe will make a compelling offering when you’ll launch your business. It’s time that you approach your real customers for whom you are trying to solve the problem to learn enough about their pain points. You also paint the picture of the potential solution to gauge the customer’s excitement for your solution.

An excellent way to discover great insights from the customer is to not treat it as an interview, but a conversation between you and your customer to smartly gather useful ideas that can help you decide and build your ideas further.

Your aim is to build a product that generates significant customer interest and attracts the customer to buy and pay for it. Before you go any further, you should validate three things. First, whether the problem and the pain point as you have defined are correct or not. Second, whether you are able to reach out to the customer through the channels as you have described earlier. And third, whether your solution hypothesis resonates with what your customer thinks about the way you address their problem or not.

Action: Conduct Customer Interview

Your aim is to communicate the pain point to your customer and observe how they resonate with it and what kind of solution they are looking at

  • Your goal is to understand the insights to help you focus on the potential solutions and the resulting action
  • If you find that the customer you are interviewing is not the right one, change your customer segment and redo the validation exercise. Pivot until you find the right customer
  • Demonstrate to your potential customer about the factors through which you think of addressing the solution better than the current solution customer is using

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Establish an open environment for a meaningful conversation with your customer
  • Your aim is to find what customer thinks, how they think the solution should be provided, how frequently they use the solution, and whether they would be willing to use the solution that you are thinking to offer
  • Don’t put the answers in front of the customer. Observe what they feel and express. Be clear and specific in asking the actual question
Continue reading →

Define Your Company

As a founder of your business, you will need to tell your investors, customers, stakeholders, and partners about your company. You will need to tell in a way that it visually, emotionally, functionally and financially depicts the vision, values, and purpose for which you plan to build, launch and grow your company.

Let’s look at some of the examples of great companies to draw inspiration for yours:

Google: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Facebook: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

Tata Group: To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust.

Your aim should be to define your company in a way that it attracts the listener and communicates your idea in a clear and concise manner. The best way to think about defining your company is “How would you announce your company to the world on your day of launch with one tweet?”

Action: Describe your Company

Allow yourself to travel to the dream world with open eyes, a blank piece of paper and an open mind. You can follow the below mentioned steps for defining your Company

  • Define “Company/Idea” using relevant, attractive, and meaningful name. Avoid trademark violation, pronunciation and spelling difficulties
  • A “defined offering” should contain the strongest value proposition that will make a great unique selling proposition and highest recall value in the listener’s mind
  • The “target audience” should be exactly the customer segment you have identified in the earlier exercise
  • “Solve a problem” should be the exact problem that you are solving with your idea
  • The “secret sauce” is your key solution that will make it stand out in the marketplace

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Use strong verbs and adjective
  • Keep it simple, clear and understandable. Avoid jargons.
  • Focus on clearly defining your vision, mission, and purpose
Continue reading →

If You’ve All The Money and Resources

“Whatever I touch should turn into Gold.”
Sounds familiar? Most of us have heard the famous story of “The Golden Touch” of greedy King Midas who was granted a wish by a mysterious visitor to turn all things he touches to gold.

Now imagine the same happens to you – What would you have done? Yep, it’s time to discuss the cold hard subject of money. Let’s talk about getting and spending money and what it takes to be more fulfilled and successful. It’s a question most people avoid, but it will help you achieve incredible success.

This exercise will help you to expand your horizon and give a bird’s eye view point to your business. Answering this question will help you define what you are passionate about.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Prioritize what you value and what (and whom) you care about the most
  • Prepare a exhaustive list of resources required to start your business
  • Get you thinking on ways to look at the budget and further financial planning required to run your business

Action: If you have all the money and resources

Answer the above question by keeping the following things in mind:

  • Choose your focus
  1. What does this mean to you?
  2. What are the tools and resources you need?
  • Create a list

Make a list of all the resources that you need to start your business that
require both financial and non-financial help

  • Think of ways
  1. How can you increase your budget financially?
  2. How can your money and resources be re-invested?

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Use the format mentioned below.

Additional Tips:

  • Determine the value of your priorities. Re prioritize if necessary
  • Analyze your list looking at the budget you have in hand
Continue reading →

Needs, Wants and Desires

How often do you question yourself  “I need this product/ service” before purchasing any product/ service.

When you start a business it is easy to think that customers will buy our product because we are offering better features, affordable price, good after sales service, etc.

Your customers do not want to buy a product just because you make it available to them. They are trying to fulfill a need or solve a problem. Hence it is very important for you to understand the needs, wants and desires of your customers to make your product more saleable and your business profitable.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Figure out your priorities and thereby build a USP for your product
  • Tailor your products and services to better match your customer’s requirements
  • How to use this information to sell/ market your product to customers
  • Improve efficiency, effectiveness, and bottom line of your business compared to your competitors

Action: Build your USP with Needs, Wants & Desires

You can follow the below mentioned steps for building your USP

  • Prepare an exhaustive list of the all the features that you want your product to have.
  • Prepare 3 columns as Needs, Wants, Desires and classify the feature list (each item) as Needs if it is critical to the product, Wants if it is supplemental to the main product and Desire s if it is outside the main product. Reflect on your problem statement while doing this
  • Once all the features are sorted, look at each column and the features in them and verify their importance once again as High, Moderate & Low.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Classify your product features into Needs, Wants & Desires (keeping your problem statement and customers in mind).

Additional Tips:

  • Follow this “find a need and fill it” advice
  • Review your needs, wants and desires regularly
  • Speak to a few customers to understand their needs, wants and desires
Continue reading →

Customer Segmentation

“Rarely does one size fit all, and your prospects know it.”
Distinguishing your target audience in the market and designing the product offering as per your customer discovery will help prove that
your solution has been crafted keeping their pain points and situation in mind. Therefore it is very important to obtain a deeper understanding of
each segment of customer that your product/service will cater to, their buying motives and behaviour. Your promotion and marketing strategy will also be designed according to your customer segmentation.

But as the customer’s needs, behaviours and wants change over time, it is important for you to consistently revisit and correct your customer segments with new data on real behaviours. Therefore it is crucial to keep collecting information about the benefits and features that mater to your customers and data on emerging social, economic and technological trends that may alter purchasing and usage patterns.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • distinguish your target audience in the market and design your offering as per your customer segment
  • plan your marketing strategies by focusing on most profitable customers
  • customize your product/ service for each customer segment

Case Example: Titan Raga Watch

Demographic – Ladies in age group 30-55 yrs having income between Rs. 2.5-4.0 lakhs per annum. Independent & confident women, young women professional
Geographic – Large Metro Cities
Psychographic – Fashion statement but price sensitive; Mid-premium and luxury
Behavioral – Can be worn on formal occasions, wide range of designs, strong brand loyalty towards the product

Action: Understand your Customer Segments

Segment your customers as per the action points mentioned below:

  • Gather and organize all customer-related information in one place. Obtain additional customer information if need be.
  • Divide your customers based on the following:
    1. Demographics – age, gender, family size, income, occupation, education, religion, race, nationality
    2. Geographic – World region, country, city, climate, density
    3. Psychographic – Social class, lifestyle, personality
    4. Behavioral – occasions, benefits, user status, usage rates, loyalty status, attitude towards the product
  • Segmentation cannot be done on the basis of only one criterion. It is best to divide your customers according to all 4 criteria. Start with single criteria as mentioned in point 2 and then expand to other three criteria.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Classify your customers (keeping their needs, wants and desires in mind).

Additional Tips:

  • You can reach even more specific niche customers by combining different segmentation styles
  • Look at how your competitors have segmented their customers
Continue reading →

Define your Customer Persona

You know your Customer’s Needs, Wants, and Desires…. Customer Segments… Target Audience….
But there is still something missing….???
And that is….your customer’s behaviors, their stories/ background, their emotions, expectations, concerns, etc
To get an understanding of these you have to go deep into their Personas.

Personas are composite constructs of people, representations of the different types of people who use your product/service. They may be imaginary but not fictional, as they are based on knowledge of your customer base and/or user base. Personas are less about demographic data, and more about context, attitude, and behavior.

When designing personas, the story needs to cover –

  • demographic representation of the character like age, gender;
  • general traits like occupation, interests, hobbies;
  • psychological traits like needs, motivations, aspirations, etc

This will help to get different perspective on your product offering or the services being provided by your product. It will shift your focus away from abstract demographics to the actual needs, wants and desires of real customers.

Action: Build your Customer Personas

You can make your customer personas in the following manner:

  • Start with a quick recap of the data gathered from the previous 2 exercises – Needs, Wants & Desires and Customer Segmentation
  • Categorize customer personas with some or all of the following information:
    1. Category of Persona (i.e. information seeker)
    2. Name for your persona (any fictional name, you can also use the real name of the customer you interview previously)
    3. Designation/ Job Title and key work responsibilities
    4. Backstory (demographics such as age, education, family status, social connect, lifestyle, etc.)
    5. Motivation (the goals and tasks they are trying to complete)
    6. Images (photos and images representing their user groups)
  • You can create it as per the example below and as per the template attached

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Consider your target audience also while creating your Personas.

.Additional Tips:

  • Create profile of min 5 customers to get an understanding of the target audience’s individual preferences, needs and behavior
  • Pool customers into separate segments according to the type and variables they have in common
  • Create a “workable character” that will help you keep moving towards your idea
Continue reading →

Customer Journey Mapping

After getting a clarity on the customer profiles, you’ll want to look from a holistic viewpoint at what the customers are doing before, during, and after the time they use your product. This will add context to your project and highlight opportunities you may have otherwise missed.

The technique used here is customer journey mapping which helps to document the customer’s experience from beginning to end, their
service interactions and accompanying emotions in a highly accessible manner.

A simple journey map can help you visualise your customer’s emotional landscape through storytelling – all your “what ifs” questions will be answered and your customers will always be your number one priority.

Action: Map your Customer’s Journey

Allow your imagination to soar beyond context and boundaries. You can follow the below mentioned steps for drawing your Big Picture

  • Break down the journey of each persona into different stages. Identify the touch points where the customer would interact with
    your product or service
  • Draw chart labels for each activity in their user experience, draw a chronological chart label representing their – attitude, behaviour, on-stage experience, back-stage support
  • Map it using shapes, arrows, colours and labels to show directions, paths and alternatives.
  • Point out any issues and note where you might need more

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Use whatever you think most clearly communicates your story
  • Use a designer- they will help you produce the best visuals that will grab attention
Continue reading →

How To Come Up With Tons of Highly Valuable Startup Ideas

Every business starts with an idea. As an entrepreneur, you are going to sow the seeds of your idea which will remove the barriers and make a change in the life of your customer for the better and in the process you are going to realize your geniuses to make a difference for yourself, your family, your business, or your community.

A high-quality seed is important to get higher agriculture produce, you need a solid idea greatly aligned with the needs, wants and desires of people’s lives improving their ability to solve their problem in a meaningful. Hence, it is critical to your entrepreneurial success to have a great idea and your ability to work on the idea to turn into reality to help you succeed.

The goal of this article is to help you with following:
– Find a business idea
– Know the worthiness of the idea
– Validate your idea

How Ideas strike us

Our mind keeps working at all time. We primarily observe it through experiences and our desire to convert our experiences to make it better than what you have experienced it. You may call it a problem, opportunity or improvement.

If you start writing down all the ideas that have come to you over the last few years, you may be able to fill the notebook. They didn’t convert it into a meaningful opportunity because you allowed it to pass because you could not take action. You’d have felt the need of better experiences in food, health, housing, society, transportation, financial services, education, government, entertainment, travel, and many other areas. It is thinkers and doers like you who have been the catalyst to convert these experiences into inventions that shaped our world. Entrepreneurs challenge the obvious and disrupt the paradigm to create a new way for us to live, and work and this constant way of making today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today are what you as an entrepreneur can signify yourself with.

How to come up with tons of great ideas?

Our mind is constantly creating ideas as our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and intellect is constantly feeding the experiences to it. For some people, like poets, writers, innovators, etc. the ideas are constantly coming to it. They are called the idea men. For some people, it is a focused thinking or forced event that generates the idea.

In the book “Where Good Ideas Come From” and a must-see TED Talk by the author of the book, Steve Johnson, you are more likely to develop great ideas when:
– When you explore different avenues and experiences of everyday living
– You are in constant contact with the people in your community and network
– You allow yourself to experience or experiment over a period of time and allow yourself to evolve your thinking
– You open yourself to explore serendipitous connections
– You make mistakes and improve your learning
– You look at the old things to invent newer way to approach it
– You build enhancements to existing platforms to make it better and useful

You can watch the video here:

What are the emerging technology-driven ideas

Technology is eating our world – the computing abilities are getting enforced in everything that we do which is radically increasing the power, decreasing the cost and all of these are happening at an exponential rate. If you look around, these are the emerging technology opportunities which will continue to rule the market paradigm in coming years:

1/ Blockchain

Beyond the hype of Bitcoin, blockchain is a fantastic evolution of a platform that allows us to securely manage access and information on a trust-based platform as it distributes and power and risk equitably across the players participating on the platform.

The blockchain is opening umpteen opportunity to be adopted as a platform to establish a global platform to conduct business providing you trust, data security, contracts and an ecosystem for seamless business relationships.

2/ Internet of things

You’d have already experienced IoT in many of the devices that you use every day. Sensors, Bluetooth connected devices, smart home appliances. IoT promises us the ability to optimize, automate, and eliminate inefficiencies with over $6 trillion opportunities available to us for a grab.

3/ Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

You’d have seen how the adoption of Pokemon is 2016 made people go crazy. The ecosystem for VR/AR is improving by every passing moment and it is gathering the momentum by attracting startups as well as large enterprises to invest their resources into creating AR/VR driven experiences for their customers.

4/ Conversational Web Technologies

Fueled by the popular chatbot platforms like Facebook Messanger, WhatsApp, Slack, etc. bots have already gained tangible impact on the software space. Instead of building publishing oriented boring applications, enterprises are adopting the chatbot to enhance their interaction and engagement with customers leveraging artificial intelligence.

5/ ECommerce

Ecommerce is on the verge of overtaking conventional retail format soon. While mega players are busy building large and globally ecommerce play, there exists an opportunity to build a niche ecommerce platform or align with large players to build a focused market for the customer. Also, facilitating ecommerce service providers are another big opportunity to be tapped.

Now, you know how the ideas are generated. I would like you to use the idea generation card to note down the ideas that have come to your mind. I would suggest start building your idea bank now. Take the print of the attached idea card and fill all of the blank fields. In the next article in this series, we will go through the tools and methods to help you filter out the noises and discover the signals to decide whether you have a worthy idea to pursue it further or you need another idea.


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How to Decide the Worthiness of Startup Ideas

The guide is based on we have learned, experimented and experienced while building over 100s of products in the past 2 decades. Use the templates and guidelines to discover the worthiness of your ideas, discover customer needs and wants and how you can offer a significant value proposition to your customer when you will launch your business.

Our experience has it confirmed that every successful business has a strategic focus on innovation and marketing. We will be looking at these two aspects throughout the series and provide the strategies, templates, and tactics you can use to innovate and market your business adequately.

If you have not read our earlier articles you can do so here:

If you are not sure about whether becoming an entrepreneur is the right thing for you or not, you can go through this article:


Every business starts with an idea. You need to have an idea that you can sow over a period of time to get the result you desire to achieve leveraging your geniuses. This article will help you know how to get a good idea to build the business.


I am sure you have got an idea. Before you start thinking about launching it, you need to know whether it has the signals to become a successful one or not. Every successful business solves the unique problem of their target customer in a better way.

In this article, our aim is to provide you a series of tools you can use to filter out the noises, strengthen the signals and decide whether it is worthwhile to build your business on the idea or not.

1/ Take the printout of the form below and fill it in if you haven’t done it already. Follow the instructions and define your idea/startup in a way that makes people understand your business and find it interesting.

2/ Customer Segmentation and Pain point analysis

For your business to become massively successful, you will need to have a product which is interesting enough to sell. A successful product solves the customer problem better than how the customer currently gets their problem solved.
Segmentation allows you to develop a deeper understanding of your customers and discover the way to provide them the product to attract them to buy and use your product. Instead of a generic approach, you need to get into the specifics and identify a niche group for which your product will be more useful. Identify the following key information about your customer:
Spending patterns
Geographic location
Age group
Socio-economic status

Pain Point – Fill in the pain point that the customer segment has based on your own gut feeling or the research finding going through the experiences.

3/ Identify and name customers to validate the pain points

You described the customer pain point earlier. It is better to validate these pain points with chosen customer segments to understand whether they really have pain points as you described or is it something else.

The best way to understand others feeling is to standing in their shoes or seeing the things through the eyes of another. Your goal for this exercise should be to understand and empathize with your customer pain points better:
– Name the customers based on the segment you have provided.
– To describe their pain points try to hypothesize what they would say, think, feel and do.
– Based on your observation, give the reason why you think the named customer is an ideal profile for validating your idea.
– How would you reach out to these customers? If you have their contact details, please do mention here.

4/ Identify Competitors who provide the solution to the customer problem

The only way for you to have an edge over the current competition is to offer irresistible value to your customer than the existing competitors. It is not enough to just offer exactly what they do but to create an edge over them.

– Search online directories, e-commerce websites, googles and any other way through which you can identify and name 3 competitors. More will be better.
– Identify the features, benefits, pricing and other aspects of your competition.
– Identify the areas of improvements of lack of features which make it difficult for the customer to solve their problem easily.

5/ Define the solution hypothesis

Now, you have in your had the blueprint of your idea and you know well about the customer segments, you have identified the pain points, and you know the current competitions and how they are solving customer problems.

Using the template below, start identifying the solutions that will provide the maximum value, ease of use and connect the customer with your product at the highest level of satisfaction. Your aim should not be to get trapped in what you describe here but to get an idea of what features and benefits will attract and convert your customers. Your solution hypothesis should firm up as a starting point to discuss the problem when you start interacting with your customer during the idea validation phase described in the next step.

6/ Conduct Customer Interview

“There are no facts inside your building.” So, you need to get out and talk to customers. Steve Blank

Instead of building something that no one wants, it is better for you to spot your customer’s pain point and their view on solutions that would appropriately address their pain points. Your aim during the customer interview should not be to present the solution that you have described above but to cleverly get to know the customer pain points, match them with your hypothesis, discover any new problem and find out how customer address their pain point.

7/ Define Your Idea

At this point in time, you should look into your idea, the customer pain points, competitions, and your learning during the customer interview.

Do you think you still have a highly valuable idea for which you would like to invest your time, reputation, money to realize your dream? Do you need to go further or you need to find another business idea?

Look at the idea definition you did earlier and if you need to revisit it and refine it further, use the sheet again to rewrite your idea definition.

Over to you. If you have worked on your ideas using the process and template provided in this, did you find it valuable to you?

Your feedback will help us build better content for others.

See you soon with the next series of the article…

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Storyboard your ideas

Have you ever tried making a business video?

You probably should do. It helps to visual your ideas to life for people to understand and give constructive feedback.

One of the key tools of sharing your business vision is a storyboard. A storyboard is a comic book version of your script. It will help you identify the resources you’ll need to complete the story and even find problems and solutions that you might’ve completely missed before.

So grab some paper and a pen and start storyboarding!

Case Example:

Getting you inspired – below is a storyboard example of movie booking app.

Action: Prepare your storyboard

A storyboard is a test to your vision of the brand

  • Create blank slides – Leave space to write notes and lines from the script for each frame
  • Establish a timeline – How long will it take to produce this video?
  • Identify key scenes – Describe and sketch your frame. Determine action and dialogue
  • Draft a script – Refine it until it’s clear and concise
  • Get Feedback – Use it to brainstorm ideas or evaluate a proposed solution

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • If the storyboard gets too long, break it into smaller sequences
  • Pick a theme. Use video infographic
  • Ensure that it is visually consistent from beginning to end
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Your ideas should be modelled in a tangible way such that it functions properly, conveys the right message and is suitable for the
target audience. This is where prototyping plays an important role to ensure that your product is serving its purpose. If there are any errors or problems then the prototype is improved and tested again before it is fully functional and launched in the market.

Prototyping can range from paper to service prototypes. Wireframes are majorly used in the creation of web and mobile application
solutions. The details of wireframe depend completely on the creator and their idea of website/ mobile app and its elements.
Now let’s get started!

Case Example:

Getting you inspired – below is the mobile app wireframe for shipping goods.

Action: Create your prototype

Get actively involved in creating your first version of the product by prototyping in the correct way

  • Discuss tools – which tools do you need for prototype/ wireframe
  • Think about your business – What are the most important aspects and information you want to illustrate? Detail only what
    is necessary
  • Try to create a model from as few parts as possible, assembling smaller sections
  • Identify the ways users would discover, understand and engage with it
  • Refine the prototype based on user feedback and try different versions to see how people react

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Have an outsider try to use an aspect of your service with your prototype
  • Think through how you could make it before jumping in. Do little experiments to see if the approach would work
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Customer Validation and Interview

So, you’ve created a new product and you want to share it with the world? It’s now the time to test it with your potential customers.

Interviewing your potential customers is a good way to get an insight into their thoughts, emotions and motivations for you to determine how you can innovate for him or her and thereby arrive at your USP. You can learn so much about a person’s mindset, behaviour, and lifestyle by talking with them where they live or work.

This validation by your potential customer will help you make the concept better by shaping it in response. You just need to hear them. You don’t need to agree or disagree.

Action: Design Customer Validation

Follow the below mentioned steps of interviewing customers for the purpose of new venture creation

  • Start by building your question guide – brainstorm themes you want to learn about in your conversation with your customers
  • Formulate questions that explore these topics. Frame them as open-ended questions, such as:
    1. “Tell me about an experience…”
    2. “What are the best/worst parts about….?
    3. “Can you help me understand more about…?
    4. Encourage people to tell you their whole story and avoid yes/no questions
  • Organise your question like:
    1. Begin with questions your customers are comfortable answering
    2. Then go broad – ask more profound questions about their hopes, fears and ambitions
    3. Probe deep- consider prompting thoughts with “what ifs” scenarios
  • Gather the data. Compare notes and analyse what you need to fix and what is working
  • Customer interviews are of various kinds like: In-person interview, Focus Group Discussions and Survey Questionnaire method

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

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Feedback and Review

You have developed your idea/concept, created the first prototype of your product/ service, shown it to your potential customers and
understood what they think about it. It’s now time to integrate their feedback into your work, review your prototype in the best way to
refine your idea until it’s something that’s sure to be adapted and embraced.

However remember that this is just a method for refining your idea. Not for getting the ultimate solution for the first time. You’d
probably do it a few times to work out the tricks to get the fight solution.

Action: Review your progress

It is important to go through this process systematically to avoid errors. Explicitness about how decisions were made enables others to assess how well the process protected against errors.

  • Sit with your design team and share the feedback that you have collected from the potential customers
  • You can also brainstorm around your idea once again as it may change based on your feedback received
  • Incorporate the reviews and start building the next version of your prototype
  • You may repeat the same customer validation techniques for the new prototype

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Try different versions of prototype to see how users react
  • Ensure that your users give you an honest and constructive feedback
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Pitch your Business Idea

“That’s a good idea!” What next……
Well, giving a structure to your idea is the first step towards launching your business/ company. Many a time entrepreneurs have good or even great ideas, but the message doesn’t come across correctly and the investors don’t understand it right.

Defining your business idea is very important to open your gateway to a new business.  Whether it is for profit or not for profit, all ideas have to state “why are you doing it” and “what is unique about it”.

Imagine that you are in an elevator with the best investor. You have maximum 60 seconds to sell your idea before you reach the ground floor and your opportunity is over. You just have this one chance. What will you say? How will you summarize your idea in less than 150 characters?

Alternatively, are you ready to tell your idea to the world in your first tweet (80 characters): Try Out!

The story does not end here….
You have to get him/her thinking on your idea to get that appointment to explain your idea in detail. Therefore apart from being ready with your idea definition, it is also needed to describe your idea in order to make him understand it and get on board.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Get a first cut draft of your idea definition and description
  • Announce your idea to the world using your “first tweet”
  • Get a name for your idea/ product or even a tagline, logo, etc.

Case Example:

The case examples are mentioned in the formats attached in the below section.

Action: Your First Tweet!

Announce your idea to the world. Make your first tweet. Keep the below points in mind:

  • Who are the people you will be addressing.
  • Define needs that are currently lacking.
  • Keep it short and simple.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Prepare drafts announcing your idea to the world in your first tweet.

Action: Describe your Idea

Keep it short. Your explanation should not be longer than a few sentences. Describe your idea by answering the following questions:

  • What is the problem you want to solve
  • Who experiences that problem
  • How you want to solve that problem
  • Why is this a better solution

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Prepare rough draft on paper and a refined copy on computer.

Additional Tips:

  • Note down the ideas that you come up with and then structure the sentences
  • Explain your idea to someone and see if they can guess what you’re talking about
  • Find someone who knows nothing about your business and someone who knows something about it
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