Startup dreams are made of amazing ideas and excellent customer experience. Every startup is born with an idea. However, between the journey from that idea to its market success lies the roots of the performance of that startup.
Is there a set formula that makes startups work? What is it that drives a startup in its initial run and post its success? Is tapping a customer need the catalyst or gravitating greedily towards more sales or market share the solution. Or is it the qualitative factor of freedom at work that works in their favour?
Let’s have a look at what works for a Startup– need, greed or freedom?
Identifying A Customer Or Market Need
The successful startups are able to identify a need (latent or not) in a customer segment or a market. A need is something which when satisfied leads to a feeling of appreciation in the concerned customer segment. It could be something that makes their lives better. It is not necessary that they are aware of their own needs.
The need could be latent as in, they might not even realise that a product can ease their lives in a significant manner. Food delivery platforms like Uber or Swiggy are a good example of answering a latent need and making your customers get used to that solution.
Sometimes a need has not been identified by any company. This means that there is no existing product in the market as an answer to that need. A new startup can fulfil it and create a presence in the customer’s life. At other times, there are existing products for a need, but they are not successful in answering it well for a particular segment.
A startup can make use of that opportunity well. For example, a startup named Waze was a transportation app for city drivers. While Google maps still existed in the market back then, Waze answered the needs of a niche segment of drivers much better.
Eventually, Google acknowledged the competency of this startup and acquired Waze in 2013. A company like Apple also aligned its goals to customer needs through its products like the iPod. The iPod helped people consume music smartly and fulfilled a unique need for a customer segment. The good old Walkman was around when iPod came on the scene. But this device changed the way people listened to music.
Greed As A Driver
However, a business is not always driven by a need. Sometimes it’s greed that lures a startup or even a successful enterprise. As in the case of Apple, which after getting established, changed its approach by releasing more products without much innovation. iPhones are an example of this. They keep releasing new upgrades of the product every year consistently. All iPhones versions answer the same needs of the customer. However, there is only two basic differences between all of them, that of design and cost.
It is clear, that they have not managed to identify any new need to create products for, of late. Their only two new products post the launch of iPhones and iPads, are Apple Watch and HomePod. None of them has managed to leave an impression, let alone cast a spell like Apple’s earlier products. Both products are secondary to other brands in the same category.
They are a good example of greed leading the way. As it is quite clear, greed can help survive a big company like Apple, but it cannot create products that can break the clutter – a requirement for a startup.
Startups are innovators. They need to be creative powerhouses who don’t only see a need but also care enough about it. They should use their products to bring a change in not only their lives but that of others as well.
The Need For Freedom
If there is one thing that a startup ecosystem is driven by, it is the freedom at work. Young entrepreneurs that go beyond the normal, give up cushy jobs and get out of their comfort zones, are the ones who value fresh ideas and the freedom to act upon them. A work culture that provides employees with freedom is closely tied to employee satisfaction and startup success.
Freedom at work empowers employees and allows them to voice their opinions. It makes every employee, a CEO of his role. Sufficient authority enables faster decision making and delivery. The flexibility at work also improves work-life balance and leads to the employees gaining knowledge from their roles.
Freedom at work pushes the employees to think harder and explore their job to the full extent possible. This makes them an expert of their field. However, at a startup, freedom is not an element of the work culture, and there are bound to be issues. Employees, when not vested with sufficient authority, feel like soldiers who are fighting on the battlefield, without the right weapons. It leads to frustration and inefficiency at work, as well as the poor performance by the startup as a whole.
Depending on the stage of a startup all three elements of need, greed or freedom may play a role. But it is needless to say that answering a need is crucial to customer experience and the right work culture that supports freedom and authority at work, fuels a great customer experience as well. After all, providing the best customer experience is the holy grail of the startup ecosystem.
Gaurav Vasishta CEO, Pindersson Investments and an Angel Investor at Chandigarh Angels Network.