Imagine a start-up event where the audiences get to throw Squishy balls at the speakers (to express their love, of course!); where some doyens of Indian start-up community clash with each other to support and protect the start-ups chosen and mentored by them; where ventures are given few minutes to talk about themselves in front of the whole house and to seek team-mates - the most critical resource any start-up requires to scale up; where panelists inspire the audiences not to seek external funding and focus on boot-strapping - or which ends up with a stand-up comedian commenting on the surreal ways the world works up and having the whole house roaring in laughter!
This - and a lot more - was the debut TiE SmashUp, Mumbai - attended by more than 300 start-up enthusiasts on April 28 at IIT Mumbai. True to its spirit of being called as 'Un-Conference' - this event definitely seemed to keep formalities out and focus on real thing that could aid start-ups.
The event was spear-headed by Alok Kejriwal (Games2win); Sameer Guglani (Morpheus); Mahesh Murthy (Seedfund) and Vishal Gondal (Indiagames) - all of who kept the audiences totally engaged through their informative panel sessions and then finally, coming together and reviewing seven start-ups - who had qualified for an interesting round of presentations under the event called 'Smasher Awards'. These doyens were also joined by illustrative list of more speakers - including Alok Bajpai from iXigo; Bhavish Agarwal from Ola Cabs; Beerud Seth from SMS GupShup; Kartik Jain from Infibeam; Kunal Shah from Freecharge.in; Sahil Parekh from Deskaway and more. Here's a sneak peak into some wise words of wisdom which these speakers shared:
- Focus more on your business model and scalability - rather than just the revenues. The 'Instagram' model shows that if you have the right business approach, user stickability and strong product - someone will always find you and help you to reach to the next stage - even if your revenues are nothing great to write about!
- Launch and then keep reiterating! Most of the start-ups keep waiting for things to happen - be it raising funds, finding those co-founders, topping up the product to make a perfect launchpad - DON'T wait for all these to happen - if your conviction on the product is strong enough - launch yourself first - and then keep improving with market feedback
- Let the VC's find you - rather than the other way round! The investors also keep tracking successful start-ups - even if you are not aware of it - and once they see the proof in the pudding that you plan to offer - they will follow you.
- The chance of getting early stage funding in India is almost 1 in 300! So yes, gear yourself for those tough days of boot-strapping - and yet sustaining your focus on achieving your business objectives and creating that market differentiation - money will then follow you.
- Keep discovering interesting ways to market yourself! Venkatesh Iyer (Founder, Goli Vada Pav) talked about how they interestingly made use of announcements happening at local train stations to pull people to their vada pav stalls!
Needless to add, the event also provided immense networking opportunities to all those who attended it - it also had a large white-board - enabling the participants to talk about themselves or list what help are they looking for - including lots who were seeking co-team members.
Though it was surprising that finally - it was a Sri Lankan start-up (Medical Joyworks) and a start-up started by an India-returned American (Coupon Duniya) who walked away with TiE Smasher Awards - yet, it was an engaging day - with which TiE certainly has upped the benchmarks of successful and effective start-up events!
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