It all started with an e-mail to us from Smart CEO team that we have been selected as one of the winners in their annual Startup 50 Awards 2018 and that very moment was a cocktail of many emotions like sense of proud, accomplishment, and being acknowledged by one of biggest ventures of India. We packed our bag and flew to Banglore to attend the event in hotel Taj West.
The time we entered the venue, we could sense the vibes of enthusiasm and entrepreneurial passion all over the place.
After the registration process, we entered the venue and our first encounter was with Dr. Justin PL, CEO of Winstar Training and Consulting, Bangalore and we had a great talk. Dr. Justin was quite amused that a team of such young talents was able to score this big among all the top startups. We took a picture together and then went straight to the conference hall.
We were welcomed by a great introductory speech by Prem Sivakumaran, Founder & Director, SmartCEO and one of the minds behind Smart CEO Startup 50 Awards and he enlightened us with 8 unique tactics adopted by highly successful entrepreneurs.
And right after that, What could be more interesting and inspirational than the story of an entrepreneurial journey of the Rajiv Srivatsa, co-founder of Urban Ladder, one of India’s leading online furniture and home decor brands narrated by Rajiv himself. While explaining how the “growth can be done right” he focussed on the huge importance of “Net Promoter Score” in any of the emerging business.
He also mentioned about his plan of going offline too since they have already made it big online, about which, during the QNA session, Vinay asked him “ Since many businesses usually go from offline to online, how do you look forward to go in reverse direction?” to which Rajiv responded “ Since we already have a huge amount of data related to the customer choices and selections of Urban Ladder, it won’t be an issue going offline and selling our products, our customers can easily refer to the product catalogue online and can come to our offline store to experience look and feel of the product”
Then came a Fireside chat shedding light upon how and when one should scale his business and the panel members Harsh Shah, Co-founder and CEO of Fynd, Ramakant Sharma, co-founder & COO, Livspace.com, Ankit Vora COO at Bombay Shirt Company, India’s first online custom shirt brand with a growing retail presence and Tushar Vashisht, Co-founder & CEO, HealthifyMe shared their experiences with us.
One of the memorable moment was when during QNA session, a young entrepreneur who happens to be in a same business as Tushar (Health and nutrition) asked if he could succeed like him in future, to which he responded “Yes, you can succeed in any business, all you need to do is maintain the quality factor and if you manage to do so, We will work harder work harder or will end up acquiring you 🙂 ” and the audience burst with laughter.
Ramakant, founder and COO, livespace.com who was recently named as one of GQ’s 50 Most Influential Young Indians for 2018 and holds the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award, 2018, also shared a very wise thought “Nothing could be more dangerous for a business than a “Good marketing of a poor product” hence one should always focus on his product quality.
We then had a coffee break which provided us with an opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs and network with them. After having a quick chat with a guy who is looking forward to having his family business online, we had a chance of one to one interaction with Tushaar Vashist, Founder Healthifyme.com. When we asked him about how his company manages to keep his customers motivated for a diet and exercise through just an app, he unfolds the mystery and told us that customized and personalized notifications have tremendous power and it can be used as an ultimate tool for customer engagement.
We also had a chance to have a conversation with Mr. Amit Raje Vice President at IDA Ireland and he told about how India is emerging as a land of upcoming entrepreneurs and the huge potential in each and every one of them. Just before we were heading to conference hall again, we met Eric Rossi, a young marketing consultant @mventive told us about how he is able to continue his entrepreneurial journey in past 3 years in India despite being OPC.
The coffee break got over and then we had a TED-Style Talks by 4 of India’s most interesting Venture Capital Investors, Ganapathy Venugopal (VG) is Co-founder and CEO of Axilor Ventures. Naganand Doraswamy is the Managing Director and Founder of Ideaspring Capital, Pranav Pai, Founding Partner & Chief Investment Officer,3one4 Capital, and Samir Kumar, Managing Director of Inventus (India) Advisors. They shared the perspective of the VCs and discussed the emerging market in India. Pranav shared his view about how the marketing of products plays a crucial role and should never be underestimated, he also presented a presentation which was packed with a lot of crucial data and statistics of 26 Unicorn startups of India.
After that, In going global with IDA Ireland session, Tanaz Buhariwalla, Director for IDA Ireland in India, put forward few questions to Suresh Elangovan, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Mindlogicx group and asked about the secret of his success and dedication of his employees to which Suresh responded by saying that CEOs should get involved with their employees not only professionally but personally too. He also mentioned the sacrifice needed being an entrepreneur and how this journey is not a piece of cake. We had a lunch after that and during our lunchtime, we interacted with many other entrepreneurs as well.
After our lunch, the “Healthcare Business” session started and all the panelists, Anand Anandkumar, co-founder & CEO, BugWorks, Leo Mavely, founder & CEO, Axio Biosolutions; Dr. R. VL Ramprasad, Chief Operating Officer, MedGenome, spoke about designing a healthcare business for scale. We also came to know about their inspirations and how they are playing a really vital role in the society from working on a cure of cancer to quick blood clotting medicines for soldiers in the war.
Then came a TED-Style talk by Amit Ramani of Awfis followed by a brainstorming session on building scale in the Fintech segment by 3 FinTech/Financial Services entrepreneurs who’re leading 3 extremely exciting businesses, Anuj Kacker, COO & Co-founder, MoneyTap believes in providing a quick loan of few thousands to customers in need and Puneet, Co-Founder, Kaleidofina, a Fintech platform that propels under-banked customers towards meeting their real-life goals by providing intuitive and tailored financial solutions.
We then had a Coffee Break, while the conference Room got rejigged for the Awards Night & Gala Dinner. During the coffee break, Mr. TV Mohandas Pai arrived in the venue, he is one of India’s most exciting business leaders, venture capital investor, angel investor, and a major catalyst for the India entrepreneurship ecosystem. Then, Mr. TV Mohandas Pai inaugurated the awards night and delivered a keynote about “You’ve had a wonderful start to your entrepreneurial journey. what next?” He showed his concern about the Indian investors not investing much in Indian startups like Foreign startups and guided the entrepreneurs how they should always lead by example, for their employees.
He also shared an incident where on his last day of work, he submitted the work report at 3:00 AM with over 99 percent accuracy and that Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys used to appreciate this behavior and hence it reflects how one should hustle with full dedication.
After that, we had an “Idea to Exit” session by K. Ganesh, Growth Story, the venture building platform that has promoted BigBasket, Portea Medical, FreshMenu with whom we also had the opportunity to talk in person later on.
Right before the awards ceremony, we had a great talk by Mr. Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah Business Head – Technology, Telecom, Automotive and Health Tech, Facebook India about how one can build brands by minimizing friction and maximizing efficiency. He also emphasized how the visual content is more efficient than a written one and the importance of mobile devices in the business and marketing sector.
Finally, the most awaited award ceremony started and many equally deserving companies got the awards in their respective categories. We were called on stage and were awarded in the category “Enterprise Tech” by none other than Mr. Mohandas Pai himself. After which, we headed for the dinner and had a great conversation with Mr. Mohandas Pai in person and after having dinner we left for our Hotel. Next day, we flew back to Delhi with a great learning experience and a proud feeling which has always motivated us to do better than the best in our work.