Lesson 1: Make Sure whatever you do has a virality affect
A few days back there was a picture on Twitter, it showed a lady wearing a chura (red bangles) as newlywed Indian women would, and then there was a picture of her dancing – I saw this tweet go by, and ignored it.. suddenly in the evening this picture was being discussed on the news channels, I wondered what happened, only to catch up with the news and soon she was all over.
No one, well not many knew of her till the day these pictures came up on twitter, and what came out was that she was well established, her own set of followers and now she was trending everywhere, and everywhere you went people were talking about her.
Lesson 2: Sell to your probable customers, in less than 60 seconds
The Elevator pitch is not just for raising money, it is also for making sales. They say over years our attention span has reduced, and on twitter conversations don’t last for more than a minute. If you were to go by this, you need less than 60 seconds to make a sale, and Radhe Ma does this – whether this is by her attire, or people surrounding her and adding to the background conversation or by making sure you have heard about her (good or bad), even before she arrives on the scene. So next time you are looking at making a sale, make sure your customer has heard about you and your value proposition, if you are raising funds – make sure the Angel / VC has heard about you before you arrive there.
Lesson 3: Content is still King
Search for Radhe Ma and chances are you will come up with several hits, these hits are not just the news item from the time she became famous on twitter and was on the news channels, this includes videos on Youtube, Facebook pages that are active for long and also articles talking about how people have experienced spirituality in her sessions. No I am not recommending that you attend one or don’t attend one – i leave that choice to you, but having content out there, that explains what you do when you make a pitch, present a business card, or talk to someone about who you are and what you do is important.
Don’t skip on writing a blog, don’t skip on updating your social media network, don’t skip on creating videos – if videos is what people are looking for. Each of us has a different social media network that we follow, and who knows where people are searching for you.
Lesson 4: Have your own Tribe
Seth Godin [Wikipedia] in his book Tribes explains that there is an inherent need for us as humans to to connect with other human beings, whether this be for networking or this be for your tribe, or your followers if you were a godman / godwoman. Having a tribe of believers, early adopters, customers who buy your product because they believe in it is a great idea, and if you have a tribe that is large enough, say a 100,000 customers that buy from you on a regular basis, you have a business going. Today there is a lot of talk about Hyper Local Businesses and one of the lessons here is to ensure continual engagement, repeat buying, and having your own tribe.
If you want to know more about Tribes, I urge you to see the following TED Talk by Seth Godin.
Lesson 5: Palagarism can be a good thing, too
This brings me to my final lesson in the Radhe Ma Controversy, The Picture at the top of this article, is from a Party that had a theme of Radhe Ma – Indeed, this is not a joke – you can find this by clicking here on facebook. If people are copying your idea – that means there is something worth doing, whether you are building a mobile wallet, solving the bus ticket example, or building a travel site – there is a me too happening in that space, don’t worry about it as competition, see it as a validation of your idea, what you are doing is right, and if you follow Lesson 4 and build a tribe, if you follow Lesson 1 and build virality, if you follow Lesson 2 and are straight to the point on how you are better than the rest, your product, your service will succeed.
There are many more lessons that can be drawn out of the Radhe Ma news / controversy or from any other popular story that you see on social media, in news papers or on the television today. The world is now connected 24 x 7 and your news could be a minute long, or could be a month long, or could be an year long – what we all need is a story, a story that the world can tell about your startup. It is interesting to see how SproutBox is mentioned everytime someone talks about Coworking on Social Media, we finally have a tribe going and a virality to that effect. What do you think?
The article has been written in lighter vein, this article is not to point anything towards Radhe Ma, her followers or any one associated with her, or in the same space as she is. If you are someone who believes in her, we respect you, if you are someone who does not, we respect you for your thought there also. For us, the Viral affect and the Speed in which this news has spread, how people are now doing themed parties, to the discussions about her everywhere are great lessons that we think should happen to each startup.
The startup ecosystem has given rise to a supporting ecosystem of a whole lot of online services and gadgets for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Most devices and accessories geared towards entrepreneurs aim to help with productivity on-the-move, a characteristic that most entrepreneurs and startup folks identify with. We work out of coffeehouses, coworking spaces, at home on our couch, so on and so forth and of course meet a lot of people for pitching ideas, striking partnerships, or random ‘startup banter’.
One of the things you do most often in startups is ‘present’. Whether you need to present your product roadmap or marketing ideas to your team, or present a product or business pitch to a mentor or an investor, you’d end up using a slide deck.
It’s a shame that even the folks who present very often end up using the navigation keys on their laptop to transition between the slides. It’s disorienting, really, and a wireless presenter is all you need to change the slides in a more seamless manner without moving back and forth between your spot and where your laptop is placed.
A wireless presenter allows you to discreetly switch slides during a presentation, and offers a pretty good range. You can even keep the laptop you’re presenting from out of the sight! These ‘clickers’ are plug-and-play devices and useful for conference room presentations as well as on stage.
High Capacity USB Flash Drive
While I advise everyone to move to cloud for storage and file-sharing, you still need to keep a high-capacity USB pen drive in your backpack. It is convenient to share some files quickly with somebody sitting across the table or backup your files that you just don’t want to clutter your computer with.
The 32-128GB flash drives are pretty common and inexpensive these days, but we’ve even got higher-capacity ones now going up to 1TB! Depending on your requirements, you should really have a high-capacity USB flash drive on you all the time.
Here’s a pro tip. Make sure you buy one with a built-in cover, else you always have a chance of losing it. Also, you might want to buy one with a lanyard or string or something so that you can bunch it with your keys or attach it to your bag. If you are an outdoorsy person, pick one that can withstand rugged conditions and take the elements. These small things easily get misplaced and since you now end up having a lot of data on them, you need to take even greater care.
Back in the day, all laptops had a VGA port, and all projectors has a VGA cable for input. Easy enough. But that’s not the case now. One, you can be required to present on a regular projector or another display/television screen with HDMI port. Second, different laptops and tablets have different display ports – full HDMI, micro HDMI, or mini HDMi and the optional VGA port.
The easy way out is to always carry a set of adapters and cables – display port to HDMI and VGA. That should allow you to present from your laptop and tablet, or even phone, on any kind of external display.
Even though I fly frequently, I was holding on the purchase of a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I thought only audiophiles needed one.
However, after I started working out of coffeehouses and coworking spaces, buying one made sense. Increasingly, these places are noisy with loud music or people chatting away in nonchalance. A set of headphones allow me to cut that out, and be at peace and focus at work. You’ll only have to experience one to understand the difference between a normal pair and a noise cancelling one.
High Speed – Multi Port USB Charger
Every time I look at people working around, I find them fiddling with multiple charges or rotating devices to charge on the single charger they have on them. There used to be only smartphones till sometime back, but the devices to charge have increased manifolds. There’s your fitness band or smartwatch, headsets, tablets, power banks, and more.
I strongly recommend buying a multi-port USB charger. It allows you to charge multiple devices at once, and most recent ones adjust the current rating to charge your devices faster. Of course, the only downside is that you’ll have to carry charging cables separately.
These are my pick of gadgets that freelancers and startup guys need almost every day. There’s also power banks, a stylus, couple of USB cables, and a portable speaker that I lug around in my backpack. Which ones have I missed?
If you have met me in real life, I must have told you the sunscreen story, if I have not here it is. In 1999 Baz Luhrmann converted a hypothetical commencement speech written by columnnist Mary Schmich titled Wear Sunscreen, to a song. This song has made a great impact on me both personally and professionally. In a meeting last evening with a startup that was on a tour of SproutBox, we were discussing this song again and how Startups, Success and Sunscreen get co-related.
There are times in our life, when we loose hope, we don’t know if we will succeed, we doubt ourselves – the song is a great upliftment at that time, trust yourself, compliment yourself or as the words say “Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much. Or berate yourself either, Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s”
Listen to the advice of people who offer it, you may not like what they are saying, but respect the advice. Make sure when you are down and low, high and above – you don’t forget your siblings, you don’t forget your friends, you don’t forget to know your parents better – before you know it, time will be done – you will be old and you would only want to look back at your youth to realise what you missed.
The journey of a startup is harsh and yet fun, each day is a challenge “Do one thing every day that scares you” whether that is picking up the phone and making that sales call, or saying no to a client that may not help you build value in a company, to going against your gut feeling.
Be ready for trouble, real trouble “Remember there could be real trouble that will blind side you on an idle Tuesday evening”
In the song there is a line “Don’t read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel fat” – I believe a lot of us get in a rush of why we are not getting private equity, why are the angels missing from my business – my idea and my implantation is great – stop reading the news – it will only make you feel bad. Build your product, resolve a problem, build your team, grow – the money will follow.
To me and Rajeev ji, Wear Sunscreen words are our mantra at SproutBox.
At SproutBox we believe that a community of like minded people, a network of startups, coworking with them, spending time with them allows you to get advice, run your ideas with others – collaborate, create and grow. It also gets you friends you will look back in 20 years and say you had fun with, some will stay with you, some will be memory, but an experience of working with diverse set of individuals can never be replaced by working from your own office.
To me as I said, I can go on and on about the song, and if there is a mantra for growth that I can give any startup, this song it is. So read the lyrics, see the video, build a product, a service, a company just like the sunscreen – that is relevant to all dark or light, black or white – and yes do trust me on it.
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it
The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
Than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth
Until they’ve faded but trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back
At photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now
How much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked
You are not as fat as you imagine
Don’t worry about the future
Or know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing every day that scares you
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours
Don’t waste your time on jealousy
Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself
Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults, if you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life.
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to your knees
You’ll miss them when they’re gone
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the ‘Funky Chicken’
On your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room
Read the directions even if you don’t follow them
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings, they’re your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go
But a precious few, who should hold on
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young
Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard
Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you soft
Accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you, too, will get old
And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
And children respected their elders
Respect your elders
Don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you never know when either one might run out
Don’t mess too much with your hair
Or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85
Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past
From the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
And recycling it for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen