“When your customers are ready to pay for your product, that means you’re solving a real pain point, you’re solving something real for them.”
Manish Shara, product head, Dineout was at his candid best on September 6 at Workie in Indore as BIGShift stopped by one of the most vibrant cities in central India.
A gathering of more than 70 prominent names from the Indore startup ecosystem came together to shine a spotlight on the startup ecosystem of the city and catch up with their peers. The early-stage startups and budding entrepreneurs got to meet the leading names in the ecosystem and took their advice to ease their journey in the startup world.
Indore is a startup hub in the making, thanks to the efforts of the city’s entrepreneurs and investors, along with the measures taken by the state government. To highlight the achievements of the city so far and to help it in covering the distance to being a hub sooner, Inc42 with DigitalOcean hosted the fourth edition of BIGShift in Indore. Reaching its fourth leg in Indore, BIGShift brought many innovative and creative startups and entrepreneurs under one roof, and it was an evening full of meaningful and engaging talks.
Product Management For Early Stage Startups
Dineout has had an extraordinary journey since its launch in 2012. Today, it helps seat over 40 Mn diners a year at over 40K restaurants. The first session led by Dineout’s Shara helped early-stage startups and entrepreneurs understand how they should go about tackling the hurdles along the way in product development.
“While developing your product you have to answer a couple of questions such as what is the problem that you are trying to solve? what will it take to solve this problem? what expertise do we have? What else do we need? How can we create a moat around the solution or this product?” Shara said.
He then urged the entrepreneurs in the crowd to set the importance of relevance as a priority criteria in product development.
“Will this problem be relevant from five years or 10 years down the line? You don’t want to solve problems of the past and you also don’t want to solve the problems of today, like most valuable companies, you need to be working towards solving the problems of tomorrow,” he added.
Learnings On Scaling For Early Stage Startups
Shara’s enthusiasm was matched by Prabhakar Jayakumar, country director, India, DigitalOcean, who conducted a workshop on the key insights on building and scaling content engines; insights on product building for product owners delved into topics such as innovation in developer skilling and training.
Jayakumar’s session gave the audience a lot of tips on acquiring, retaining and increasing customers on their platform, “The best way to judge a business is not how you as a startup describe your business, but how are your customers describing it. So, what is really important is how you make them loyal advocates for your brand. Once you’ve created that, a lot of work is happening behind the scenes. Your customers are building your company up.”
Leveraging the success story of DigitalOcean, he told the audience how content, paid ads and the free trials have worked for them and other companies can make use of the same to build their brand.
He added, “We have half-million unique visitors come to our portal every month. In fact, roughly 50% of all customers that we’ve ever acquired, were introduced to the solution by reading a tutorial or some other content on a platform. The bottom line is, if customers see value they will definitely come back and use your platform.”
Building Startups In Mid-Tier Cities
If the second session focussed on product development, the next one was about building startups in mid-tier cities. The panellists in the discussion included Parveen Singhal, founder, WittyFeed and Tanutejas Saraswat, founder and CEO, ShopKirana—two of the biggest startups from the city—with Sawan Laddha, founder, Workie, taking the role of the moderator. The panel discussed the challenges, key learnings, and insights in starting up ventures in Tier 2 and 3 cities and the peculiar obstacles in these geographies.
Elaborating on the challenges they faced during their initial years, Saraswat said, “When we went to raise investment from a non-local market not a single person actually knew the concept of an investor.”
Singhal added that even though Indore has a lot of entrepreneurs and startups but they don’t have the time to meet, “You can always see the connection in tier 1 cities, but in tier 2 that was lacking. It has changed now, people are more connected and make out time to meet the other fellows from their field but back when we had started in 2014, it was hard for us to figure out the startup scene in Indore.”
Saraswat chimed in: “When people start a company, they should first get believers on board who can invest in their idea, it can be a little amount from their own pockets. And that’s what we call the angel investor donation.”
Highlighting Indore’s Innovation: BIGShift Pitch
The panel discussion was the perfect curtain-raiser for the BIGShift Pitch, which brought a few of the most innovative startups of the city to the centre stage as they presented their ideas and business models in front of a jury.
The jury for the Indore edition were Naveen Khandelwal, representing the SWAN Angels Network and Workie’s Laddha. The five startups that got the opportunity to impress this jury, were from varied sectors all with unique solutions and ideas for the challenges in Indore.
Here’s a brief of the startups:
This startup works in the agritech sector and was founded in September 2018 by Dhruv, Priyan, Kajal, Harshal and Hiral Shah, who happen to come from the same family. Its mission is to simplify the whole farming process through digitisation and solutions such as farm inspection (for pests and crop diseases etc), harvest procurement and management (helps in predicting the harvest), farm financial management (manages inventory accounts, cost of cultivation etc) and more.
The Shirt Shop
This Android app is designed to connect consumers with garment retailers spread across thousands of markets. Founded in December 2018 by Nitin Katiyar, Mayank Raghuvanshi and Navneet Katiga, it aims to solve the business issues in garment retail and manufacturing. While for retailers it solves issues such as the unorganised traditional retail, for manufacturers the focus is on issues such as liquidity crunch, lack of connect with the end customer and more.
Founded in April 2019 by Athar Ali, Sagar Chaturvedi and Bhaveen Kumar, Scool is an edtech platform, where sophisticated matchmaking algorithms play an important role in connecting mentors to mentees or interns. It ensures that mentors and mentees can meet face to face and build a relationship. While the mentor can benefit from having an intern with a real passion for the sector they are working in, the mentee will benefit by getting hands-on experience in the field they want to make a career in.
An activity kit for kids that blends traditional teaching with modern methods of learning, this edtech startup was founded in March 2016 by Vikas Kumar and Vijeet Pandey. This learning kit takes children to learning spaces that combine real-life learning experiences with curated activities and a resourceful library. It has created a three-year curriculum for young learners, which includes a physical box that has all the digital worksheets and study material.
Tetoota Skill Exchange
Tetoota is a peer-to-peer social learning platform for skill exchange founded in January 2018 by Ashwajeet Garg and Dr Megha Garg. It serves as a services barter platform for individuals to trade their services, and in return, they can learn skills or get personal assistance from subject matter experts. Countering the issues such as the lack of affordability, this app lets you barter talent for skills.
At the end of the pitches, ClassMonitor emerged as the BIGShift Pitch winner in Indore and all five participating startups bagged a direct entry into DigitalOcean’s Hatch Program which offers infrastructure credits, priority support, training and access to the startup community.
“The growth of the startup ecosystem in Indore has been amazing. Through BIGShift we aimed at bringing the startups of the Tier 2 cities under the spotlight and Indore’s participation and the turnout from startups here shows how vital such events are for emerging startup hubs and cities,” said Pooja Sareen, cofounder, Inc42.
After the success of Indore, the spotlight has now turned to Gujarat as BIGShift heads to Ahmedabad on September 20. Book your slot now, before you miss the chance to be a part of the series.
The BIGShift edition for Indore is being supported by Dineout as Associate Partner and eChai Ventures, Vruksh Ecosystem, Startup India, Swan Angel Network, TiE MP, Young Indians, Young Leaders Program, IMA, IEN, Nexus Spaces, Acculegal and Headstart as ecosystem partners.