So finally AAP made it big in Delhi elections. The (less than a year old) political
party startup is a classic example of a bootstrapped venture that has very little money (fraction of incumbent players), talks ethics (which isn’t an industry standard), lacks big branded names (that is needed to run in this industry) and well, is trying to survive (against all odds and media projections) in the wild world of politics.
If you are an entrepreneur, AAP’s success is definitely an inspirational moment (irrespective of your political alignment). A few lessons:
1. Bootstrapping is cool.
Success and failure doesn’t depend on how much money you have.
Focusing on key ingredients and engaging your ‘users’ helps.
While most of the political parties are heavily funded by black money, AAP went to the common man for funds.
People started depositing their savings into the AAP’s account, which has now swelled to a very impressive Rs.11.5 crore. Mail Today went through the list of donors, discovering that most people have donated Rs.500 or more. These are all common people who pay taxes to the government, and the amount is thus substantial.[source]
2. Leadership is about walking the talk.
Otherwise why would Arvind Kejriwal stand against Sheila Dixit in her constituency.
Your glorious moments are those when you, the underdog challenge the bulldog right inside their turf [tweet this].
That’s your moment. You lose and that will break your team’s confidence in you (and your vision). But if you don’t put everything at risk, you are not an entrepreneur.
3. You don’t need big names/supporters to make it big. Start Alone (Ekla Chalo Re).
To startups who go org**mic to bring ‘that famous VC firm/investor/personality’ name on board, you need to take a deep breath, pause and rethink your AAP moment.
Arvind Kejriwal is a noname in politics – and maybe, that’s what people wanted. An aam aadmi?
Plus, bringing a team that shares common vision helps. In fact, if there is one thing that you need to applaud AAP for, it will be team formation! For instance, do you remember Jarnail Singh, the man who threw shoes at P. Chidambaram? Well, he is AAP’s candidate from Tilak Nagar! I am sure, a lot of such team members share a common sentiment against the ruling party and the status of politics in the country.
But you don’t sit and wait for others to join – just start [Tweet this]
4. Answer: Why Do You Exist?
I have often asked this question to startups (and also answered Why NextBigWhat exists).
When you are focused on building a momentum (and community) around a revolution that you stand for, the key is explicitly announce ‘Why Do You Exist?’.
AAP’s biggest moment was when the world just came and supported them without expecting anything in return. Streets of Delhi was full of people voluntarily wearing AAP caps (heck! which other party has a wearable mascot)?
Ofcourse, execution of those promises is what matters, but do you even know what Congress/BJP stands for? Why do they even exist?
The BIG purpose and a vision attracts the community.
5. You lose the battle. But that doesn’t make you a loser.
To be very candid, AAP (has almost) failed to make its government in Delhi. Would you call them a failure?
It’s all about power of imagination and a dream to think big and having a mission that’s just impossible to achieve! Trust me, defeating an incumbent CM, a strong party isn’t a thing of kids.
AAP did pretty much everything against the norm and it worked. AAP got a lot of things right – Arvind Kejriwal was a lot more accessible than *CEOs* of other incumbent parties (that’s why media liked to write more/listen more from him), and the consistent communication message across ‘team members’ talks of a clear product communication strategy – but all of that is hindsight view.
But the most important lesson is that focusing a lot on media analysts will probably make you more anal than anything else.
Case in point: A lot of media surveys didn’t even have AAP as an option !
For me, AAP (irrespective of my political alignment) represents the true spirit of entrepreneurial India and is probably, one of the fastest growing startup in the country!
On a funny note:
Knock. Knock. Who is there?
AAP jaisa koi mere zindagi mein aaye to watt lag jaaye [Tweet this]