Hour One. Make it Count.

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You invite someone to your house. They show up at your door step. What do you do next? Do you then run off, disappear and hide in your work/study while the visitor roams around and stumbles and figures their way out? That, would be rude, right? Yet thats what most services do.

Customer acquisitions are the same way. You are going to have to engage and make them feel welcome, just the same way you treat your guests. If they subscribe to you, by giving their email address, say hello and send a welcome email (and be creative!). Also tools like Tour My App pick it up  in the second stage where they show up at the door of your service offering, and say “Here I am, where do we start?”. Don’t disappear at that point. Just because its virtual, does not give you an excuse. Walk them through.

Customers are like guests who show up invited. Onboarding is playing host. Think of it that way, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Coming to the real world, statistics say that the experience that an “employee” would have on their first day at work, has significant impact on how long they stay with the organization and how productive they are during their tenure.

Make sure you go out of your way, not with a fake projection, but simple things as having a desk, and the paperwork ready, can make an impression.

It may sound cheesy, but make the first time, a wonderful experience – going beyond functional value, and delivering on the emotional connect as well.

 
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[Ask Vijay] What is the Best Pitch I can Make for an Angel Investor? US or India?

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Its always advisable to raise angel investment close to home. Unlike other investors who might invest and go hands-off, Angels like to active get involved – and You would want them to. It becomes difficult to get that level of association with an angel abroad, who might not get to that level of comfort in the first place – Unless you know them personally, and have had some working relationship before in some context.

Raising money will never be “Easy”, understand what they are looking for, and see if you can make it a strong enough proposition that they cant pass on it easily.

Fear and Greed, all over again.

 
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[Ask Vijay] When should a Student Startup?

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Look at it from the perspective that the entrepreneur is the product. And one of the things that will hold you back as you build a fast growing company is how fast the entrepreneur can adapt, and deliver. The one point when you know its time for you to step down and let someone take over, is when the demands of the startup overtake the learning capability of the founders – and trust me, it happens faster than you think. Too soon, and the startup dies.

Startup as early as you can, and it doesnt have to be the thing that scales. It doesnt even have to be an differentiated idea. But it should be something that teaches you something in every step. As a student, sometimes the basic equation you are trying to learn is a way to balance revenue and cost so that you take home something.

Almost every amazing entrepreneur that you hear of, has done that at some stage – be it a Richard Branson who ran a student magazine, and was trying to balance between generating revenue and keep costs down, or a Tony Hsieh building an earth worm business growing up.

Was that the empire that they finally built? Nope. But i bet they’ll tell you that the key lessons they took home on entrepreneurship, and the style they developed over the years, all pegged on the experience they started off with.

 
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The Startup Thumb-rule

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Some stats that I’ve been hearing (surprisingly from a few accountants), and seems to ring true:

Start two years before you actually start off. Build networks, relationships, and the means to grow a business. In six months you’d know whether you have a business. It will however take 1000 days to see that you have a business. Factor it all in, and starting up is a five year gig, at the least.

 
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