Before I write the recap of today’s roundtable, I want to share with you a couple of thoughts that have been playing in my head, and I have given at least four talks on this topic over the last 30 days. One of them is: Ownership Matters. A second is: You WILL get rejected by VCs. That’s okay. I have, in fact, recorded a video to address both issues with relevant case studies, and I would appreciate it if you would take 30 minutes to listen to it. It’s important.
On to today’s roundtable, we had five businesses, all of which, I believe, can be built to become sustainable companies.
First up, Sumit Jha from New Delhi, India, presented EduMark, a real estate education program for the nascent Indian market that Sumit is already selling successfully, and wondering how to take to the next level of scale. We discussed the possibility of recruiting a couple of cofounders who can help him build out the core skill-set needed on his team right now. As for investment, one of the key elements missing for me is a concrete market sizing. Without that, I cannot gauge whether this business is fundable.
Next, Rahul Sethi, also from New Delhi, India, pitched Business Intelligenze, a SaaS BI solution catering to the call center industry in India. Rahul pitched his value proposition as social CRM analytics, but through some brisk dialog, I was able to figure out that social CRM is less than 20% of his core value proposition. The positioning of the company needs work, although I do believe Rahul has half a dozen beta customers whose feedback and engagement would give him the ammunition with which to find and validate the real pain point around in-house legacy systems at call center companies.
Then Abinasha Karana from Bangalore, India, presented 10screens, a product for translating software use cases into robust specs. The pitch was very difficult to understand and needs a tremendous amount of work still, but, conceivably, the product could be a useful one for business analysts to define software specifications.
An incubatee with Indian Angel Network, Anirudh Motwani from New Delhi, India, discussed IndiaCollegeSearch, a vertical search engine to address the problem of finding detailed information about various colleges and institutions in India. Many of these are currently not able to sell all their seats, while many students are not able to find a college program to get into. Anirudh wants to bridge this gap. There are multiple other options within this basic space, including improving the quality of students for certain colleges. However, my advice to Anirudh was to focus on the first problem as a market penetration strategy. The pricing model and related market sizing exercise needs a lot of work still.
Last up was Sanjeev Arora from Oakville, Ontario, Canada discussing Tabillo, a collaboration and content management solution for SME customers across verticals like legal, engineering, etc. We discussed Sanjeev’s go-to-market strategy, and based on the fact that there is a fair bit of meta-data management that is specific to each vertical, I felt that a vertical by vertical market penetration strategy would be the best way to go. The product is horizontal below the meta-data layer and has, conceivably, a larger opportunity. We also discussed pricing and delivery models and priorities around on-premise and dedicated installations versus SaaS.
You can select the business you like best of those discussed through a poll on the 1M/1M Facebook page.
Just before this week’s roundtable, Dan Stewart, CEO of HappyGrasshopper, made my day by calling me to say how much he has been learning from the 1M/1M Premium program. “I was looking for what you teach back in January of 2007 and couldn’t find it anywhere. We had just launched our first tech venture and would have saved countless thousands in trial and error education if 1M/1M was available,” he said. Dan spent $12,000 a year on a subscription to Vistage, a CEO mentoring program, and says, “The value of your program is amazing. For perspective, I also joined a $1,000/month CEO-roundtable group, with professional speakers and full day, once-per-month meetings. At 1/12th the cost, 1M/1M provides far more value.”
And Bill Gordon, who is working on pulling together the Stamford Innovation Center in Connecticut with Patty Meagher and Ed Petner, emailed me, saying: “We have spent a week going through your curriculum. What a great product – truly an excellent value for entrepreneurs. In fact, I think it is a great curriculum for certain angel investors too, especially those who are starting out, including angel groups that are just formed. We are anxious to start a collaboration with you that will allow us to have your curriculum as part of our menu of items we can offer to entrepreneurs here in the region.” Needless to say, we’re working on a deal as we speak.
Both Bill and Dan were present at the roundtable today, and I was delighted to see them explaining the value of 1M/1M to the audience in the public chat. Made my job infinitely easier, I must say. And audience members were suggesting local incubators that they want to bring in to the 1M/1M program, which was also great!
The recording of today’s roundtable can be found here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for upcoming roundtables here. And you can sign up for the 1M/1M premium program here.
About Sramana Mitra
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.