Where are you from originally?
From India however, I have spent most of my life in US, so this is home.
What university did you go to?
I did my engineering at IIT in India and UCLA followed by MBA at Pepperdine University, CA.
What is the idea behind your startup?
I have seen so many companies and products fail because the team gets too close to the idea and stops seeing the reality and/or does not plan well. It’s sad to see so many good ideas and products never make it. Just imagine what it would add to our life and economy if they were done right.
We help companies to hit the bull’s-eye.
I am fortunate to have worked at large companies like Microsoft, Citicorp, and Toshiba as well as Start-ups where I learned about strategy and planning. Business is like playing chess; you have to plan ahead and make several right moves or you lose. You have to get several things right: the product, pricing, go-to market plan, channel, partners, raising money etc.
We help companies to do this right.
What need does it fulfill?
Risk management; one of the biggest and most important aspects of running a company or team is to manage the risk well. Risk management is generally associated with financial management however, even bigger contributor to risk management is having the business, product, go-to market strategy right.
Since most entrepreneurs and product leaders get too close to their idea to see the reality as it is or in case of a first time entrepreneur, he/she has never done it before and lacks the seasoning of experience. They are too close to the problem or are emotionally invested in their idea. We help them to clear the fog, sort out the issues, and zero-in on the target – to see around the corners and discover ways of solving the toughest problems.
We work very closely with the client and give them full undivided attention.
What exactly does it do?
We can think of it in two categories.
First, we help to build a sound strategy for the business, product, or go-to market. This involves one or more of the following: analyzing the market, trends, product roadmap, company data, company goals, competitive scenario and coming up with a strategy.
Second, we offer workshops in Presentation Skills, Business-to-Business Sales Skills, and Managerial Skills. Having a solid strategy or roadmap is important however having the ability to communicate and execute it is even more important.
Who is it for?
Consulting Services are for funded startups or large companies.
The workshops are for any size companies as well as individuals.
Our presentation skills workshop, The Art and Science of Presentations, is the most popular one and we have had 100% success rate with it. Communication skills are critical for everyone – if you cannot get your idea across, it has little value.
Warren Buffet once said, “If you improve your communication skills, I will guarantee you that you will earn 50% more money over your lifetime.”
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?
Giving up the comfortable corporate life. Once you decide you are going to do it, you kind of get in to the swing of things. From there on it is persistence to make it happen.
What is the next step for you and your business?
All my engagements have been by referral. I am new in Austin, so getting to know people and getting those first engagements is important. Although, I have to say, the people in Austin are just wonderful – it’s easy to talk to them and they are so willing to help.
My way of doing business is to spend at least 2-4 hours with a prospect before agreeing to take up the assignment. This allows both sides to evaluate each other. If I cannot do the job, I let them know and try to refer someone else.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Starting a company is the most exciting and fulfilling career experience one can have. It is tough and you got to be a bit crazy because it is amazingly hard work.
The most important thing is to keep it simple! Make sure the market is ready for consuming your product or service. Many times companies fail because they are far ahead of the times.
Don’t be shy to trade equity for money. Money makes money. The market gives you no points for being ultra-brave to pull it off on your own. Once you have an idea, know that there are lots of others who are also pursuing it. In that regard test the product often at interim stages to make sure you are hitting the mark? Know one thing that your products are going to be quite different than what you started with, so be ready to adjust.
Finally, investors care about only two things: (i) how much money they will make and (ii) how much risk are they taking by giving you the money. If you can address these two satisfactorily, you’ll walk away with their money.
What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?
Relationships. If you plan to start a company, get out and make friends; get yourself introduced to people in power and who can help you. This work starts way early. If you haven’t started, get started.
There are organizations like TEXNetworks and TiE that are great places to meet like minded people including investors, lawyers, bankers, potential partners and employees. I am new to Capital Factory but I attended one of their events and they seem like a great organization to join as well. Investors, lawyers, bankers, partners, future employees, etc. are the people you will need to be successful.