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The Entrepreneurship Journey – When The Romance Ends

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Entrepreneurs are fast becoming the superstars of our era. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates are household names and command the same attention as Hollywood celebrities, while Steve Jobs has become even more of a cultural icon in the years following his death.

These entrepreneurial titans are held in high regard both for the wealth they’ve generated and the step-changes in innovation enabled by their visionary approach to technology. Moreover, their stories have helped forge the current narrative around entrepreneurship and the rich possibilities of ‘going it alone’, inspiring millions of young people to pursue the entrepreneurial path rather than the conventional corporate career. Now, with the emergence of the YOLO economy, entrepreneurship is increasingly viewed as the best way to make money, make a difference and live life to the fullest.

Unfortunately, however, this view of the entrepreneurial journey is idealized and over-simplistic. Building great companies and developing game-changing products is hard. For all the much-publicized success stories, there are many more failures as the romance of entrepreneurship gives way to reality. So, what do prospective entrepreneurs really need to know before they take the plunge?

Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone

Entrepreneurial success may eventually bring fame and fortune, but before then, most founders face many years of hard work, long hours and little recognition on the path to building a winning business.

“When someone sells their company for billions of dollars or IPOs, the way the story is told makes it sound like a walk in the park,” notes Anders Ibsen, Co-Founder of no-code website building platform Cobiro. “In reality, the spirit of an entrepreneur is defined by doing what you do and continuing to do it for a decade or more. The moment you realize you have a potential product/market fit is also the moment you realize you’re embarking on one of the most difficult challenges of your life.”

Anyone can become an entrepreneur – this is not a myth. Founders come from all walks of life, from many different backgrounds and demographics. However, successful founders tend to exhibit specific characteristics. Our research shows that traits such as ‘resilience and energy’ rank just as highly as the ‘ability to convince/sell’, while ‘self-reflection’ is up there alongside ‘ambition and motivation’ in determining whether aspiring entrepreneurs end up going the distance.

Of course, self-reflection is often aligned with experience. Many who choose the path of entrepreneurship are young, first-time founders yet to cut their teeth in the business world or build up support networks capable of providing external guidance and perspective. “Most successful founders are in their forties rather than their early twenties,” Ibsen adds. “While you might not have the same level of energy, you will be better able to navigate for the long run simply because of the experience you have from life. Successful entrepreneurship is about persistence, and knowing that tech grows exponentially. 10 years seems like an eternity when you’re in your twenties.”

Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of determination, an ongoing willingness to learn, and the recognition that sacrifices will be needed along the way. Even then, success is far from guaranteed. Luck almost always plays a part in how the journey unfolds.

Struggles are inevitable in every direction

Entrepreneurs constantly encounter new situations and circumstances, many of which they won’t have faced before. From product and market challenges to leadership and hiring issues, supplier problems and funding difficulties, being a founder involves constant ‘fire-fighting’ simply to stay in the game.

“As a founder, you are accountable for everything that happens in your business – potentially including 100s of employees,” explains Ibsen. “Investors will be calling you each quarter for an update, and you have to show up. If you don’t like the thought of this, you should probably reconsider your dream because, more often than not, this is the reality of the role.”

Many entrepreneurs choose to partner up with friends or peers to share the load. But while the right partnership at the top can certainly improve a company’s chances of success, in fact, two-thirds of startups end up failing due to conflicts between co-founders.

On the flip side, sole founders are more likely to experience loneliness, self-doubt, and a range of other wellbeing concerns. The pressure can be relentless, and there’s also the widespread problem of burnout, as entrepreneurs sacrifice their work/life balance to solve urgent customer issues, ready product updates for launch, or get funding rounds over the line.  

“Setting up a business is incredibly difficult, and the odds are stacked against you in terms of making it successful,” notes Virraj Jatania, CEO of alternative digital banking provider Pockit. “Not only that, but as a sole founder, no one has the same attachment to the business as you do. When things go wrong, no one else feels it in the same way. I rely on strong family support, a great board and an excellent management team to share the burden with me, so it is not an entirely solo experience.”

Many entrepreneurs fail for other reasons, like running out of capital. A founder’s financial skills will be put to the test from the off, and they have to make their initial investments count, as early errors in their growth strategy can quickly derail the business. According to Patrick Borre, Co-Founder of ticketing platform Billetto. “If you’re venture-backed, your job role has to be growth-oriented, first and foremost. However, many entrepreneurs try and take the quickest possible route to growth, and this can lead to premature scaling before they’ve found product/market fit. It’s a constant challenge trying to grow your organization without overreaching.”

Rising to the challenge

Whatever the nature of the latest problem, entrepreneurs need to remain calm and solutions-oriented. The ability to prioritize effectively when problems are emerging left, right and centre is an invaluable leadership skill – not just for keeping a startup on track but for reassuring employees and investors. No one wants to feel as though a few bad weeks of business might put their job in jeopardy, so founders have to support their teams in getting through tricky situations, staying pragmatic and positive, and crucially, avoiding drama.

“It’s a good idea to have other things in your life that can distract you from the stress of running the business day to day,” adds Jatania. “It might be sports, meditation, yoga, being involved with a charity or some other hobby. If it distracts you for a few hours a week, it is well worthwhile, and will help you to be a better leader.”

Above all else, founders need to know when to seek help. The entrepreneur might be the hero of the story, but every hero narrative features a cast of supporting characters – in this case, colleagues, peers, trusted advisors, investors and others – who can help them prepare for and overcome the inevitable hurdles, bottlenecks and personal challenges they’ll encounter on their journey.

For example, investors must acknowledge that the most important aspect of an investment is the founder. It’s in their interests to keep a close watch on how founders are coping and spot any warning signs early. Ultimately, the investor’s role is to enable entrepreneurs to grow and build successful companies. Today, this also needs to include training and coaching to help founders cope with the mental aspects of their job.

Coping when the music stops

Although not widely known, there are many examples of entrepreneurs who have suffered severe stress and mental issues over their careers. In some cases, such as Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, the journey has ended in tragedy.

Entrepreneurs, like sports stars, are attempting to push the limits of human potential. The stakes are incredibly high, and these are normal people – not superheroes – who are equally susceptible to the same wellbeing challenges as the rest of us. Romanticizing entrepreneurship and putting entrepreneurs on a pedestal only adds to the pressure to succeed, when in reality, all founders will experience failure at some stage.

“In my opinion there’s nothing worse than not trying,” argues Jatania. “But in the UK and Europe right now, we really don’t acknowledge and accept the idea of entrepreneurs failing in the same way that people do in the US.”

This is one area where the European startup ecosystem needs to develop. We need to communicate that the outcome of entrepreneurship is not always rosy and that it’s important that founders have a wider support network in place should the music stop.

Equally, however, it’s important to remember that failures can generate valuable learnings that can be utilized in another setting – allowing entrepreneurs to gain experience, upskill and develop an even thicker skin.

Realism over romanticism

The pandemic has stress-tested most industries and exposed frailties across all value chains that can be addressed with technology-driven solutions. There’s a pressing need for entrepreneurs with a clear vision for enacting this change.

But while anyone can be an entrepreneur, not everyone is well-suited to it. What’s more, all entrepreneurs need support and guidance on their journey to avoid ending up in a situation where they cannot continue. Even with this guidance, entrepreneurship won’t always enjoy a fairy-tale ending. It is a difficult path to follow, filled with pitfalls and uncertainties.

And yet, there has never been a better time to start a company. Startup costs continue to go down due to the availability of the cloud, ease of access to development tools and more open-source knowledge. The venture ecosystem has also matured. Investors today are attuned to the typical problems entrepreneurs face and better equipped to support them through these challenges.

Only by painting a more honest picture of entrepreneurialism can we ensure that founders truly understand the task ahead of them, and ensure commitment to their cause for the right reasons. After all, as Borre concludes, “Many entrepreneurs start with a clear mission and then get caught up in the valuation game and the pursuit of a big payoff. If you’re thinking of founding a business, it’s because you want to create something. So whatever happens on the journey, never forget why you’re doing this.”

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Here’s how technology and innovation are driving the growth of Arista Vault, India’s first smart luggage brand

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It was a crisp winter evening in October 2017 when Purvi Roy, an ace designer who studied at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, presented her high fashion fall winter collection – Warriors Alley- at India Runway Week. The collection was powerful and the show was a great success. At the after-party, she crossed paths with Colonel Krishan Kumar Singh and finance expert Atul Gupta.

After a brief conversation with Purvi, the Colonel suggested that maybe it was time for her to do something for the regular masses which would serve a larger purpose. They began brainstorming and after much deliberation, hard work, and perseverance Arista Vault was born.

Arista Vault is an innovative tech company creating concept-based products to make human life easy, simple, and safe. The company is headquartered in Delhi with offices in Gurugram, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Goa. One of their first offerings was a smart wallet with inbuilt anti-theft and anti-loss features, that would keep your most valuable belongings safe and protected while travelling.

“Arista is a Sanskrit word that means ‘unhurt’ or safest, and vault is a safe. We particularly chose a Sanskrit word for the name because while we go global it will always depict the roots which are Indian; so Arista Vault is a proud Made in India brand,” reveals Purvi.

As a D2C brand, it is also India’s first smart luggage company having filed six patents with one of them being an internationally published patent. The company is the perfect amalgamation of indigenous technology and in-house design that attempts to make customers feel the luxury as well as the safety of carrying a smart wallet.

Backed by Purvi’s years of knowledge and experience as a designer, the wallet while being the best at technology also has the slimmest silhouette which gives it a very luxurious look, making it a great gifting product. Purvi always wanted to make sure that the aesthetics of the product felt opulent, hence it has a jewel packaging with a matte-finished box.

The logo which is a power button inside a hexagon has a touch of gold to it, symbolic of a sense of pride and luxury. So you have a plush feeling when you own an Arista Vault smart wallet along with complete security of your wallet and its belongings.

Making traveller’s life hassle-free

If you had a penny for every time your heart skipped a beat while you frantically searched your pockets thinking you had lost your wallet, you’d probably beat Elon Musk’s wealth!

While that is a far-fetched reality, safeguarding your wallet is not. Arista’s Smart Wallet, with its many features, offers customers the relief to travel hassle-free even in crowded areas like trains and buses. The wallet has a power button which when pressed activates its features.

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Its main USP is the anti-loss and anti-theft features. It comes with an abundance of technologies such as an anti-theft alarm, built-in power bank, two-way tracker, remote selfie feature, RFID protection. The wallet also has a 20-meter separation alarm with two-way connectivity to your mobile phone. This way the phone can ring the wallet and vice versa. This feature especially comes in handy if your phone is either lost or stolen.

To enable such a high level of technology in a product as simple as a wallet would mean a dedicated amount of research and development.

“We are backed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and were incubated at the Electropreneur park and IIITD. We work in two world-class labs – Power lab and Fab Lab, which have state-of-the-art technology where the design, research, and technology integration are done. We also have a dedicated tannery and product design manufacturing unit where the integration of technology is done into the product after three layers of quality control,” Purvi says.

Along with technology and design, the co-founders were clear on maintaining the highest level of safety for the smart wallets. Hence all wallets are ISO certified with their privacy policy in compliance with the IT Act of the Government. As of the last quarter of this year, 6,000 smart wallets were sold amounting to Rs 2.6 crore.

Challenges along the way

It’s the trailblazing technology that makes the smart wallets of Arista Vault stand out. But this technology was not easy to develop. Purvi says that it took over a year of R&D to develop a prototype finally, but by this time all the seed fund had been exhausted.

“We knew we had a great product but for further research, innovation and product marketing more capital was needed. So all the three founders decided to put their savings and I supported the company with the earnings of my fashion venture that had initially incubated Arista Vault,” Purvi adds.

The company ran a pilot of their wallets on Amazon Launchpad and those were all sold out within three days. They used all the feedback received to further improve the product. The turning point in their entrepreneurial journey came in 2019 when the company got funding and support from the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology under Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM), with Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) & Electropreneur Park.

Using this support, Arista Vault was able to scale their venture sustainably to build world-class smart wallets that eventually got them recognition from Amazon with the Viewer’s Choice award as an Emerging Brand in 2019. In 2021, the company received the prestigious Star award for Most Innovative Brand Year. They were also able to enter the international market by exporting their products to Germany, Chile, Dubai, and other gulf countries and finally to the USA.

This year the company achieved a major milestone in its journey when it became one of the few smart luggage brands in India to raise funding from Germany-based MainStage Angel Network and UK-based Pontaq VC.

Establishing itself in a new segment

Purvi says that while the funding was a great boost both financially and morally, the true journey of the company has begun now. The capital raised is being used to scale the business and establish itself as a market leader in a fairly new segment of smart luggage.

To do this, the company has grown its distribution model and channel partners to cover various cities across the country where Arista Vault products are being sold in a brick-and-mortar model. They have forged partnerships with relevant stakeholders like the Goa government to enter the travel and tourism sector as well, with their smart products.

In October when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 5G services in India, Arista Vault was one of the few tech companies to exhibit their smart products. They are also coming up with a series of 5G-implemented products.

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Going ahead, the company wishes to build a strong presence in the smart luggage market in a B2B model. For that, they recently launched their Switch2Smart range which has a variety of smart business bags, business trolleys, laptop bags and file holders. These bags have features like GPS live and lost location which makes it almost impossible for them to be lost or stolen. They also have other features like smart charging for mobile phones, geofencing and anti-skimming.

“Nowadays from our homes to watches, everything is smart. So why should our bags be left behind? The Switch2Smart range of Arista Vault will give travellers the luxury to be free and not worry about their luggage,” Purvi says. The company has already started generating sales with B2B orders displayed in DIW 2022 Gift Expo.

In FY 2020-2021, the company generated revenue of Rs 3.59 crore and now they are well on their way to achieving Rs 12-15 crore in this financial year showing more than 4X growth in business.

Along with the sales generated on Amazon, Flipkart and their own website, this festive season Arista Vault also got into corporate gifting for occasions like Diwali and has completed bulk orders from companies such as Bharati Cement, Mitsubishi, etc. They also recently started with Amazon.com in the US and UAE.

“Going forward, both B2B and B2C have their specific areas to serve. Our products are innovative and new and require consumer awareness which is possible primarily through B2C. However at a certain level to reach a wider audience, B2B is a preferred mode of business,” Purvi adds.

Arista Vault aims to establish itself as a market leader in the smart luggage category by bringing revolutionary technology to wallets, business bags, travel backpacks and much more. In the coming year, they wish to strengthen their brand presence in India as well as abroad by launching another 15 product categories worldwide.


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Elon Musk Reveals Twitter Will Soon Release a New Feature

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Elon Musk continues to reach out directly to Twitter users to get feedback on his newly acquired platform.

In a tweet earlier today, the billionaire/Chief Twit turned his focus on lurkers who consume the content but don’t contribute. He politely encouraged these so-called ‘doom scrollers’ to get involved.

“I meet so many people who read twitter every day but almost never tweet,” he wrote. “If I may beg your indulgence, please add your voice to the public dialogue!”

Musk has reason to be concerned. According to a study done in 2021, around 25% of Twitter users in the U.S. produce around 97% of all tweets.

His plea to be more active on the platform received nearly 85,000 responses, but he honed in on one in particular from a Twitter user named Rocket_Medic who, perhaps channeling hundreds of thousands of others in the Twitterverse, wrote:

“I reply a lot…no one reads my tweets.”

Musk then asked Rocket_Medic if he was aware of Twitter Analytics, which can be surfaced by clicking on the graph icon at the bottom right of all users’ tweets. The feature lets you know how many times people have seen, Retweeted, liked, and replied to each tweet.

Musk told Medic that he shouldn’t be bothered by the low reply rate since that’s not the metric that really matters. “Those who read tweets outnumber those who reply/retweet/like tweets by over 1000%,” Musk wrote.

At this point, Musk revealed an upcoming feature that had not yet been discussed publicly.

Twitter will soon start displaying tweet reach metrics up-front on all tweets, just like they do for video views.

The reaction to Musk’s announcement seemed mostly positive, with over 15,000 likes. But one user was not convinced.

@JamieHutchens4 replied:

“My Tweets get zero reactions. I think that’s the case with most people. No reactions give a feeling of being unimportant. Avoiding that feeling is likely why lots do not tweet. Most probably don’t even realize that is why they aren’t Tweeting.”

To which Musk replied: “How many views do your tweets get?”

At press time, @JamieHutchens4 still had yet to respond to Musk’s question.

Ironically, his tweet has been liked over 10,000 times, with nearly 800 replies.

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CEO of Amazon Says Platform Won’t Stop Selling Anti-semitic Film From Kyrie Irving Tweet

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

On Wednesday, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company would not be removing the antisemitic film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America from its streaming service. Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have prodded Amazon to take down the film because it contains antisemitic tropes and allegations that, throughout history, Jews have conspired to oppress Black people.



Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

The video first received widespread attention near the end of October after Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving shared a link to it on Twitter.

Speaking at the New York Times DealBook Summit, Jassy — who is Jewish — said Amazon should allow access to controversial viewpoints. He continued: “As a retailer of content to hundreds of millions of customers with a lot of different viewpoints, we have to allow access to those viewpoints, even if they are objectionable — objectionable and they differ from our particular viewpoints.”

Jassy added that Amazon must be consistent with its policies and take care not to censor content. If the media “actively incites or promotes violence,” Jassy said, “or teaches people to do things like pedophilia,” the decision to take it down is “more straightforward.”

Amazon has “very expansive customer reviews,” according to Jassy, and where any kind of media receiving considerable public attention are concerned, “customers do a good job of warning other people.” According to the Times, Amazon has indicated that it is considering adding a disclaimer to Wake Up, but Jassy also expressed confidence in customer reviews playing a role in how the video is perceived.

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