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Varun Chandra

Varun Chandra is the director at the Founder Institute, the world's largest startup launch program (http://fi.co). Founder Institute operate in over 100 cities worldwide with over 4,000 CEO Mentors and have launched over 1,500 technology companies through our program. He is also working on his startup called Wishonary-An Online Startup Ecosystem.

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Unscalable Idea to Create Scalable Venture

There are two reasons founders resist going out and selling. They are combination of shyness and laziness. The founder would rather sit at home writing code then go out and talk to a bunch of stranger and probably be rejected by most of them. But for start-up to succeed at least one founder will have to spend all his time on sales and marketing.

Photo Credit : okcv.ro,

Many founders believe that start-ups either take off or they don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you made a better mousetrap, people will beat your doors. Like airplanes every start-ups needs a pilot to drive it. They take off because the founder make them take off. There might be handful that just grew by themselves, but usually it takes some sort of push for start-ups to get going. There are few things that start-up founders needs to do to take off, which in my view are the following:

1. Sell, Sell, Sell:

The most common unscalable things that founders have to do at the start is to sell their start-ups to people, whether they are advisors, mentors, first few product users, employees or investors. Nearly all start-ups have to. You cannot afford people to come to you. You have to go out and sell to them.

There are two reasons founders resist going out and selling. They are combination of shyness and laziness. The founder would rather sit at home writing code then go out and talk to a bunch of stranger and probably be rejected by most of them. But for start-up to succeed at least one founder will have to spend all his time on sales and marketing.

The other reason that founder ignore this path is that they thing hiring experts and use of social media is more scalable and gives a better ROI than going on sales calls. The absolute number of people that they can reach looks so small. Start-Ups that understand the effect compounding growth in sales are generally more successful than start-ups who understand compounding only in finance.

The vital thing for a start-up is to get few people to believe in them, Get their feedback, Use it to improve product and then switch to less manual methods.

2. Solve Your Pain First:

The second most unscalable thing is to build start-ups that provides a medicine to your pain. When you build somethings to solve your own problem, you know the nerve of the problem. In case you can’t find any problem, then find a founding member who understand the nerve of some pain that you would solve under his leadership. Understanding the root cause of pain will give you an intuitive sense of target customers and your first few clients.

3. Avoid Hit Wickets:

The third most unscalable thing is not to dismiss your own venture, when the same is dismissed by few perspective advisors, customers and 3F (Family, Friends and Fools). People tends to always get this wrong and investors are known to change their colour every time they hear growth.

I always think that start-ups should not measure performance - “by how is the world getting chanced because of us”, instead they should focus on “the impact that we can create if we make right moves and fulfil milestones”. The shift to right moves helps in identify small measurable steps to evaluate our success. You would then realise that success is a function of small steps which seem laborious and inconsequential today.

4. Embrace your evangelists:


Another unscalable idea is to focus on small group of Evangelists. These are the people who love you and your company and they want to see your venture as successful as you do. Why would you not do everything possible to embrace and empower these special first movers?

5. Focus on Small Markets:

Sometimes the right unscalable trick is to focus on a deliberately narrow market. Its like keeping a fire contained at first to get it really hot before adding more logs. You build something for yourself and your friends, who happen to be the early adopters, and only realise later that these could be offered it to the broader market. The strategy works just as well if you do it consciously.

6. Sell to other Start-Ups:

The last of the unscalable idea is to focus on other start-ups, They are best early adopters, more open to new things both by nature and because, having just been started, they haven’t made all their choices yet. Plus when they succeed they grow fast, and so do you.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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