5 Reasons Why Investors Might Not Want To Invest In Your Business!

No investor wants to lose money and so they’re particular about which startups they fund.  Here are some reasons why investors might not want to invest in your business. Thread #businessplaninnigeria #businessplan #funding #startup #nysc #retweet
1. You’ve approached the wrong investor. If you approach an investor who has no interest nor experience in your sector or market, then it’s very unlikely they will invest.
2. You have no coherent business plan. Without a solid business plan, the investor you approach will have no idea whether your startup is worthy of investment.
3. Your startup is not financially sound.  Investors like startup founders with some financial intelligence. If you’re spending too much money on products and strategies that do little to grow your business, this will reflect poorly on you
4. Absence of marketing strategies When you have no substantial strategies to make sure your product or service keeps reaching your target audience, investors will most likely not invest.
5. Absence of business acumen Investors recognize and respect a shrewd entrepreneur. You gain their trust when you demonstrate confidence and business skills.

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth.

Read more posts on Entrepreneurship and Leadership here. For podcasts, click here!

#StartupResources: How To Make It As A Solo Founder?
#LeadershipDevelopment: What Great Leaders Should Do (And What They Should Not!)
#StartupResources: Tips To Stay Organized And Productive!
Why You Shouldn’t Raise Too Much Capital Before Finding Your Product Market Fit?

20 Tips I wish I Could Give To My 20 Year Old Self!

Startups taught me more about life and business than I ever could imagine Thread: 20 tips I wish I could give to my 20 year old self
Startups are simple: There are good times and bad times Good times: enjoy the ride Bad times: enjoy the ride
Beware of pessimistic people Pessimism is the worst disease
Professional lies we tell ourselves: 1. Your email inbox is getting stuff done 2. A full calendar is positive 3. Big meetings are the answer You know better
FAANG give you credentials Startups give you education
Bob Dylan on the common sense behind criticism “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.” There is nothing easier than being a critic A tremendous waste of energy and bad vibe
On the life at a startup: I’ve never met a startup that has gone according to plan Buckle up
Emotional decisions kill startups, careers and your day How to avoid making emotional decisions: 1. Wait Point: If you can wait, wait
Be kind to yourself A recipe for failure: 1) Being compulsively critical 2) Being massively unforgiving Being too hard on yourself is a hindrance to growth Reminder: you are enough
The greatest productivity trick: Listening to people you respect You won’t be able to get them out of your head They will make you better Tip: the internet makes it easy to find and listen to these people
Elon Musk on what it takes to change the world “I could either watch it happen, or be part of it.” Say less, Elon
Good habits are life’s magic pill
Reading fast: defeats the point of reading Read slow to really learn
A sweet illusion: You are in control
A true sign of success: Someone who doesn’t keep track of failures
Unlearn: filling your life with possessions Learn: filling your mind with mastery Everyone could become a master Literally, everyone
Free: – Exercise – Go for a walk – Being in nature – Sharing knowledge – Learning from others – Listening to others – Asking for help – Being kind – Positive attitude – Twitter The amount of growth you can experience for free is massive
Expensive: – Spending time with the wrong people – Populating feeds with toxic content – Spending too long at a job – Spending not enough time at a job – Chasing startups for the money
Product/market fit happens when you least expect it
Realization: People don’t support your company’s vision. They support their own vision of the world
#1 behavior of successful people: Thinking clearly
I write weekly threads Follow me @gregisenberg to stay up to date

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth.

Read more posts on Entrepreneurship and Leadership here. For podcasts on startups, life and business, click here!

#StartupResources: How To Make It As A Solo Founder?
#LeadershipDevelopment: What Great Leaders Should Do (And What They Should Not!)
#StartupResources: Tips To Stay Organized And Productive!
Why You Shouldn’t Raise Too Much Capital Before Finding Your Product Market Fit?

#LeadershipDevelopment: What Great Leaders Should Do (And What They Should Not!)

Important lessons in your career can come from brief interactions with effective leaders. I had one of those interactions with Charlie Bell at Amazon 20 years years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. Here’s what happened:
I was a middle manager in Amazon’s retail business and Charlie was a vp of engineering (on his way to svp and co-founder of AWS). We were working on something urgent, I don’t even remember what it was. But I remember Jeff Bezos was not happy with me.
I ran into Charlie at the company picnic. I pulled him aside and said “we need to do something right away because Jeff is pissed.” He looked me in the eyes and said “let’s forget about Jeff for a minute, what’s the right thing to do here?”
This was an aha moment, it never occurred to me there could be a difference between what Jeff wanted and what we should do. But I knew there was a better answer. We discussed my recommendation and Charlie agreed with me. Then we talked about how to get Jeff on board.
It’s hard to push back on the CEO, they have the most context and power. But their context is wide and shallow, and sometimes they miss important nuance. The job of a senior leader is to fill in that nuance by framing decisions clearly and escalating efficiently. Not to complain.
Many years later I found myself in a situation at Facebook that reminded me of this lesson. Zuck and I disagreed about something that seemed existential to the business, and he asked me to take it to the board for their input (to his credit, he took our debate to the board).
Several weeks later I ran into FB board member Reed Hastings, and he asked me if we had made a decision. I told him it would be much easier for me to just do what Mark wanted, but I didn’t think it was the right thing for the business. Reed encouraged me to keep making my case.
At the end of the day, the CEO gets to decide. But until they make their final decision, a leader’s job is to make their case. Great CEOs encourage dissent and leave space for debate. Great leaders have the ability to discern that space, and agility to make their case effectively
Great CEOs are also stubborn, decisive, impatient and wicked smart (trust me, I worked for two of them!), which makes it difficult to push back. It’s natural to just do what they ask now and complain about it later. Effective senior leaders know to do the opposite:
They make a strong case, patiently working through the pros and cons and debating for as long as the decision is left open. And when they lose a debate with their CEO, they disagree and commit, and start selling the decision to others so there’s alignment up and down the org.
I often disagreed with Bezos and Zuck, but I trusted them. They encouraged debate, were right more than they were wrong, and they had a special knack for being really right about the big stuff. If you don’t trust the judgement of your CEO, you’re working at the wrong company.
If I couldn’t convince Jeff or Mark to follow my recommendation, I viewed it as my failure not theirs. I looked at the decision through their lens, always wider than mine even if sometimes shallower. I didn’t complain, and I never said I told you so (neither did they). Onwards!

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth.

Read more posts on Entrepreneurship and Leadership here. For podcasts, click here!

#StartupResources: Tips To Stay Organized And Productive!

Meeting with a founder and they asked what tools I use to keep organized. To be honest, I don’t feel very as productive as I want to be but happy to give a little #thread 🧵 on the tools / tips I use and learnings. 👇 #productivity #startup #hustle
2/ At the start of the week I spend about 30 minutes focused on what needs to get done. This is usually done by reviewing my calendar (using fantastical) and also my todo list using @todoist which has an Upcoming view. I have learned over time that there is a max amount…
3/ Of todo’s that can be done for me on a daily basis so I work really hard to only allocate that per day (which is 4 for me but might be different for you). If I have more than 4 in a day I look at those items, stack rank them, and then move the ones on the lower and if…
4/ needed inform the person(s) that could be affected by that change. In addition to this many of you have a CRAZY calendar 🗓️ where there are meetings all over the place. This is hard as with every company / work environment the rules are different…
5/ The first step is to go to your calendar and decided what time you need to block off to actually do work. Yep. go and do it now. Just block that time off. Then stay firm on it as most people will adjust. If you …
6/ Find yourself still booking meetings there find another time to block off that is less hot as with every company there are hot windows (Palmetto has more in the morning and less in the afternoons).
7/ The second item is to allocate time where you are good with “random” meetings on your calendar. I usually have 3-4 slots a week. Then go and get something like @Calendly and just allocate those spots. You can send out your personal link and people will just use those spots. 💥
8/ As always, this is just a couple quick tricks that I have learned that work for me. What things work for you as I am constantly looking to optimize things?

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth.

Read more posts on Entrepreneurship and Productivity here. For podcasts, click here!

A Story About Fundraising: How To Master It?

A story about fundraising:

I ran a Series A process at the beginning of 2021.

One of my super powers is storytelling.
Followed by script memorization. A side benefit of years of working in production.

This skill sets me apart as a founder and I lean on it. A lot.

If I pitched you, I NEVER follow my deck.

The deck is either a pre-meeting or a leave behind.

First meeting.
Second meeting.
Third meeting.
Partner pitch.

I run a script. Never pitch to deck, because I honestly think my pitch suffers when I try to follow that standard.

My script also includes interstitials where I expect questions.

Over time, you get smarter about how to weave these into your narrative and make it all seem flawless.

It’s all about running the script on “themes.”

Traction theme.
Customer theme.
Product theme.

Once you memorize each theme, you can move backwards and forwards. Highlight customers when you get a customer Q andslide in market size if you get that question.

The point is: this is a way I have stood out over time.

I got to 7 partner meetings in my A with this approach.

And here’s the craziest thing: At one of these impressive partner meetings, I received the compliment of a lifetime.

I gave “the most perfect slides free pitch” that this particular industry vet had ever seen.

Huge compliment.

Guess what?

Their fund still didn’t invest.

Yet, here’s what I know: those folks won’t forget me. They won’t forget soona.

These processes aren’t just about term sheets and investments.

They are about leaving a lasting memory of my company wherever I go – in every context.

That’s really the work of being a founder.

Founders take thousands of meetings.

Pitch hundreds and hundreds of times.

Tell our story online.

And grow our network through our business and our customers.

Putting REAL TIME and EFFORT into mastering the story is like planting a seed with each one of those opportunities.

Go practice.

Then go plant seeds of visionary hope for your business.

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth.

Read more posts on Entrepreneurship and Leadership here. For podcasts, click here!

God’s Own Hope: Meet These Covid-19 Warriors

India recorded nearly two lakh covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, and who knows how far the numbers would go in future!

But this ain’t gonna stop so soon!! 

And while people are bucking up against this deadly virus who’s reproducing new mutants every other day, they are forgetting how privileged and able they are to find so many alternatives and options to survive.

Think about those who are fighting every day to make their ends meet — from daily wage labourers to low-paying workers, more than half the country doesn’t have enough to eat every day!

Fortunately, we are blessed with some good samaritans who did not think twice and went out of their way to help these less fortunate beings and proved that you don’t need to be a trust or a foundation or Sonu Sood to help people. All you need to have is that ‘self awareness’ and a zeal to bring a difference.

Here is a quick random compilation of some of those wonderful souls who I bet would also leave a smile on your face. 

Lalit Meena

Jaipur-based Lalit was stuck in Delhi when the lockdown happened. Though he has always been helping people, he knew that the lockdown was going to be cruel. He pooled up all his savings, which by the way he saved from his freelance work, got some financial help from families/ friends and started distributing cooked food during the entire lockdown.

He eventually helped more than eight lakh people and managed to continue until he got symptoms. Even when he was quarantined, he was constantly on the phone — assisting the needy ones in every possible way.

A UPSC aspirant, Lalit never dreamed of anything else but serving society. He believes in giving back without expecting anything in return.

Ramu Dosapati

When Hyderabad-based Ramu saw a watchman, who earns hardly INR 5-6k monthly, helping migrant workers during the first phase of lockdown, it hit him hard!

He sold some of his lands, pooled money from his savings and PF and set up a Rice ATM. Since cooking was not really feasible, he decided to donate dry rations and other essential commodities which could help a family sustain for at least four to five days.

He reached more than 20,000 families so far and is still reaching out to as many needy families as he can. “I don’t intend to stop until we feed every hungry soul out there,” is what he says!

Manisha Krishnasamy

Tamil Nadu based Manisha Krishnasamy has been serving people much before the lockdown, but the pandemic made her realize what worth her acts were carrying around.

From rehabilitating the homeless to rescuing beggars, drug addicts, destitute and those afflicted with terrible diseases, Manisha never stopped even for a day. She believes that despite the financial or economic status, every human deserves a chance to live life well — and have the basics at least.

“We collect the required data on their current status and histories and chalk out a pragmatic plan to rehabilitate them as per their wishes and needs. If they are old, we admit them to home care for senior citizens. If they are intellectually disabled, we help them get admitted to a hospital for treatment. If they have a family and wish to rejoin them, we help them there as well. We do the same if they want a job. We categorize abandoned people and admit them into various types of homes, but only with prior permission from the police,” Manisha shared.

Neha Chawla

Neha was in Jamshedpur when the lockdown happened. Like everyone, she was also understanding the seriousness and severity of the situation. 

Though a lot of NGOs, trusts and philanthropists were coming out to help people, small and local NGOs and communities were struggling to help. When Neha encountered one such NGO, she came up with the idea of launching NGOStory — to help them share their stories, talk about their initiatives and fundraising challenges.

So far, she has collaborated with more than 200 NGOs and aims to reach out to 1000+ in the next two years. She is also on a mission to empower 100,000 underprivileged children and youth through her one-of-a-kind education initiative, ‘TechJr’. Knowing that she is able to make a difference in every possible way makes her content!

Lynette D’Souza

When the Borivali-based wildlife rescuer started living in her hometown, Palghar, during the 2020 lockdown, she also started supporting the local daily wage workers. She took special permission from the Superintendent of Police to feed the strays and started delivering food kits to the needy ones. The food kit included rice, dal, oil and basic cooking spices.

Vineet Saraiwala

It would not be wrong to say that the middle class and people with different abilities suffered a lot. While the upper class were super sustained, the lower class managed to get enough help from society and government. But the people in between were stuck in jeopardy — where their ‘self respect’ didn’t allow them to ask for help from people, nor were they eligible for any government assistance.

So, when Jamshedpur-based Vineet Saraiwala realized this, he came up with the idea of launching Atypical, an online job portal that helps people with disabilities find jobs. The portal also helps PWDs in selling products made by them.

Being a partially visually impaired man, Vineet understands how hard it is for people with different abilities to come out and work — especially in the times of covid-19.

He has more than 60 volunteers from worldwide to help him, and his venture has helped many people so far.

Lokesh Sharan

This 61-year-old Bihar-based teacher started teaching underprivileged kids back in the 80s. And he never charged for more than INR 1 for every student. The ‘ek rupiya’ was also to develop accountability and a sense of responsibility in parents — so that they could be aware of what their kids were up to.

When the school he was teaching in was shut down permanently, he made the porch of his house into a makeshift classroom and continued educating children there.

When the entire world was locked down, he turned to smartphones and learned technology to keep teaching his kids without any hurdle. “I always carry my chalk, duster and pen. Even If I see a child studying along the road, I stop and try to help him in his studies,” the hero teacher says.

And the list doesn’t stop here. I and my laptop might get exhausted, but the list wouldn’t!!

I’m privileged enough to write this post from the comfort of my home, but not many people are. These are the faces that inspire me to wake up every day and reach out to at least one creature in need — oh, it could be a dog or a bird too!

Helping and impacting is not really limited to human beings. If you are changing even one life, write to us and share your experience. Inspire the world and let them know that there is much more than economy, business, funding and exits!! 🙂 #TowardsABetterWorld

SOS: Mistakes That Every Product Manager Should Avoid!

So last week, India witnessed four new unicorns — and there is always a new product getting out in the market!

There is so much competition and options to choose from. The industry is loaded with ‘kinda similar’ products with their ‘own’ USPs and offerings. Then what makes them unique? What keeps them in demand?

In the pre & post-pandemic world, product management has been constant (and yes, it’s going to remain the same way). Just that with every new day, every product demands a new change and a new variation. 

So the humans behind this, aka the product managers, ought to be efficient, focused, and smart to make the product a boom in the market.

What will it take for product managers to stop being PRD-writers and become outcome driven? Learn from the experts. Apply for NextBigWhat’s Product Workshop [Click For More Details]

Now, this could be really subjective — everyone has their own way of thinking and implementing ideas. But what remains common is their thought process — the decisions they make and the mistakes they commit.

Given below are some of the common yet ‘non-negotiable’ mistakes that product managers end up making in order to make their product BIG!

Working towards a preconceived goal 

A product manager’s job calls for a person’s ability to ask the right questions at the right time. This implies that you should be able to analyse the data provided efficiently, test it and get in touch with your customer/team for valuable insight. 

Working on a preconceived goal is great. However, sometimes it clouds the judgement of a person. As a consequence, the ideas of the product development team are bound within a box. This acts as a corrosive action against the basic idea of innovation.  

Focusing only on customers’ needs

Focusing on customer’s needs is important for every company. However, you must realise that your customer doesn’t possess the creative thinking and enhanced ability your team does. 

If you keep trying to satisfy your customer’s needs, you won’t be able to innovate a revolutionary product. This might keep your company running for now but will lead you to failure in the long run.

Misidentification of features as benefits

Every product has its features and specs. Sometimes, a company creates an amazing product that might work great for techies or the Millenials who want to keep up with modern-day technology. 

But your everyday consumer might not be amazed by the same. This is why you have to analyse your consumer groups separately and keep that in mind while creating a new product.   

Ignorance towards communication gap

One of the major reasons for any product failure is the communication gap between the different levels of the organisation. 

Any product manager should understand, an organisation is just like a bicycle, where you need to keep paddling to move forward. With proper planning and tech by your side, you can keep your team constantly informed and motivated to achieve the desired goal. 

Misidentifying the end-user and consumer as the same

This is one of the common mistakes that most product managers commit. Since their dealing is primarily with the customer or the person with the money bag, they are not able to address the pain points of the end-user. 

To cure this problem, the sales and marketing team can come in real handy. Their expertise and knowledge regarding the customer and his users can help you address the barriers to your product’s success. 

Setting unrealistic timelines

As the competition rises every day, each company wants to deliver their product as soon as possible. This forces a project manager to set unrealistic timelines for his team. This, in turn, affects the quality of the end-product. 

When you are setting up timelines, you should ensure that they are feasible and realistic. Also, don’t forget to consider the different factors that can affect your project’s timeline, for example, the number of resources, number of working hours, time-taken by different processes, etc.!

Obsession with Novelty

A large number of companies are obsessed with the term “new”. They believe that their novelty might create an irresistible temptation in the mind of their users. However, every year, only 5% of the newly launched products see the dawn of success

Quite low, huh?

This is why one should realise, sometimes innovation isn’t enough. A product must be able to add value to the life of its customer. Your everyday user relies on value, and this is what propels the engine of your organisation forward. 

While there are many points that one could share from their own learning and experiences, these are the ‘highlighted’ ones — the ones that need to be bridged. 

If you are a product manager and have got some ‘gyan’ to share with us, drop us an email or say ‘hi’ on our social media platforms. Let the world hear what you have to say! 🙂

Learn #ProductManagement from experts >>>

Exploring Bihar: Meet The 25YO Entrepreneur Revolutionizing The Rural Bihar!

“Although, it’s one of the toughest questions for me; still I would love to introduce myself as a Bihari, who is entirely dedicated to developing Bihar in most possible way,” says Ranjan Mistry, the 25YO social entrepreneur who also considers himself an educationist, journalist, researcher and thinker! Staying in Bihar, working for it and contributing to its development is one of the best things he says he’s doing, which he loves to flaunt.

Over the last one year, Ranjan worked with different organisations, entrepreneurship cells and incubation centres to develop innovation, covid-19 related activities, and enhance women-oriented jobs across the country. He worked with startups and community enablers like Hanuman, Medishala, etc., from idea to execution phase and supported startups in reviving their dead business. 

An optimist and a strong believer in dynamic smart work, Ranjan believes that moral support and entrepreneurial spirit is something that keeps the business going. NextBigWhat interviewed this young entrepreneur and discussed what the future for startups and the development sector looks like. Here’s a quick glimpse of our conversation and the insights Ranjan brought to the table.

You never really did a formal college, yet are known to so many coding languages, several skills and course curriculums. What kept you going?

It entirely depends on your passion for learning something new; if you stop learning, then your knowledge and growth will also stop at some point over time. Being from a lower-middle-class family, I always faced a financial crisis, and somehow my learning helped me in executing my startups & ventures at zero cost.

You started Campus Varta at a very young age. What was the vision behind that? How many people have you reached so far?

The vision was to connect rural schools, colleges and universities on a digital platform, and enable students to explore the outer world with the right information at the right time, especially in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, West Bengal, Assam and so on. Till now, we have directly and indirectly reached more than 3.5 million students with more than 1800+ College, 150+ Universities in more than 22 States. We have done more than 2000+ partnerships in the last four years, including several Bollywood movies.

Tell us about your other initiatives –  Patna University Incubation Hub, Womenia Chakra, Hunar Didi, & Womenia Story.

I have been working toward developing the Entrepreneurship Cell and Incubation Center at University in Bihar for the last three years. So, In 2019 Patna University finally decided to bring their own Incubation centre to their campus after doing more than 750+ meetings with students, professor, VC, etc. Patna University Incubation Hub is the first Incubation Center at any University level in Bihar. 

Womenia Chakra is a platform to empower rural women via online and offline mode by providing opportunities to influence the status of women, both economically and socially- through employment practices, sourcing, product and service development, partnerships, supplier relationships, and marketing campaigns. It has several subsidiary organisations like Hunar Didi and Women School of Entrepreneurship.

Womenia Story is a digital platform covering women stories from rural India to inspire and empower women and enable them in their branding. 

What is your idea behind WSE? How are rural women entrepreneurs taking it?

Women School of Entrepreneurship (WSE) is a section 8 non-profit company registered as Womenia Chakra Foundation, which aims to create, leverage and nurture the last mile girls and women entrepreneurial leadership talent in India’s social, entrepreneurial, and startups sector by educating them about entrepreneurship.

WSE is a non-profit learning and entrepreneurship development organisation that aims to build and strengthen last mile girls and women entrepreneurial leadership talent in India’s social and startups sector. We enable girls and women leaders from various sectors—such as schools, colleges, corporates, and government services— to make a meaningful contribution to the social and startup sector; we also offer capacity building opportunities for leaders in the social sector. We endeavour to build critical entrepreneurial and leadership skills that will allow us as a sector to create better, more innovative and sustainable solutions for greater impact at scale.

It was set up on 14th March 2020 with the aim of creating a learning and entrepreneurial leadership development organisation that will help build and strengthen last mile girls and women entrepreneurial leadership capacity for India’s social and startup sector.In November 2020, Deepti Kiran,Juhi Smita, Md. Amanullah joined it as a co-founder.

Exploring Bihar: Meet The 25YO Entrepreneur Revolutionizing The Rural Bihar!

It has namely three programs, i.e., Kanyapreneurship, Herpreneurship and Didipreneurship.

Kanyapreneurship is a Nine Days Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship for school going girls offered by Women School of Entrepreneurship. It has been designed as a Womenia Chakra Foundation initiative to fuel entrepreneurial leadership spirit among kidopreneur girls. We will cover almost 27 modules under this program in vernacular language.

Herpreneurship is a Nine Days Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship for College, University going girls and women or Women’s Founder offered by Women School of Entrepreneurship. It has been designed as a Womenia Chakra Foundation initiative to fuel entrepreneurial leadership spirit among girls and women. We will cover almost 27 modules under this program in vernacular language.

Didipreneurship is a Nine Days Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship for College, University going girls and women or Women’s Founder offered by Women School of Entrepreneurship. It has been designed as a Womenia Chakra Foundation initiative to fuel entrepreneurial leadership spirit among girls and women. We will cover almost 27 modules under this program in vernacular language.

It has three fellowships, i.e., WSE Fellowship, Womenia Fellowship, Women Innovation Fellowship.

WSE Fellowship is a 2 Month extensive fellowship for girls and women to understand the journey of startup founders and their enterprises by researching them and preparing case studies, which will be published and used as study material. It’s an opportunity for young, dynamic individuals to contribute to enhancing skill and promote entrepreneurship.

Womenia Fellowship is a one-year extensive fellowship for girls and women to learn and understand an organisation’s work culture by working in different partner organisations such as startups, small women-led ventures & enterprises, and NGOs. It’s an opportunity for young, dynamic individuals to contribute to enhancing skill and promote entrepreneurship.

Women Innovation Fellowship is a one-year extensive fellowship for girls and women to learn and understand innovation in entrepreneurship for empowering women by directly working on the Womenia Chakra Foundation Program. It’s an opportunity for young, dynamic individuals to contribute to enhancing skill and promote entrepreneurship.

Exploring Bihar: Meet The 25YO Entrepreneur Revolutionizing The Rural Bihar!

It has three campaigns, i.e., Stri, Antrik and Sarthi.

Stri: Women Entrepreneurship Awareness Program: It’s a regular campaign to make entrepreneurship awareness among last-mile girls and women through articles, audio, video and several modes in collaboration with startups, government, NGOs and organisations.

Antrik: Intrapreneurship Awareness Program: It’s a regular campaign to make Intrapreneurship awareness among last-mile girls and women through articles, audio, video and several modes in collaboration with startups, government, NGO and organisation to support their founder in the best possible way.

Sarthi: Entrepreneurship Enabler Awareness Program: It’s a regular campaign to make entrepreneurship awareness among last-mile girls’ and women’s family, friends and colleagues through articles, audio, video and several modes in collaboration with startups, government, NGO and organisation to support them in their entrepreneurial journey.

Ranjan, you’ve worked with people from rural areas on a grassroots level & have brought education to Naxal affected areas. Please share your experience and thoughts regarding the present condition of women & children in rural India.

Somehow, after running several government programs and after several decades, the conditions of women and children in Rural India are the same, as we all knew that it’s huge, so we need more organisation in this field for upgrading the conditions of rural women and children. Of the approximately 432 million working-age women in India, about 343 million are not in paid formal work, and 324 million of these women are not in the labour forces, and another 19 million are in the labour force but not employed. Despite being the third-largest startup nation and having over 27,000 startups, India still has only 5% of women startups founders. Gender disparity across the Indian startups’ ecosystem increased in 2020, with nearly 77% of firms having less than 20 % women in leadership roles, compared to 69 % in 2019.

Let me tell you another hidden story of an Indian women-owned business, and it will give you clear pictures of women’s conditions. India has 13.5-15.7 million women-owned enterprises, representing 20% of all enterprises. These are overwhelmingly single-person enterprises, which provides direct employment for an estimated 22 to 27 million people. 

Further, a number of enterprises reported as women-owned are not in fact controlled or run by women. A combination of financial and administrative reasons leads to women being “On Paper” owners with a little role to play. I hope you have watched the recent web series Panchayat; the condition of the Lady Mukhiya portrayed is similar across rural India.

Similarly, rural children have the same case as accessing education in the lack of financial help and accessibility.

Please share your working process – how do you identify the pain points and how exactly the work gets started? How many people/organisations/ villages have you worked with so far?

As I always believed to stay grounded for identifying the pain points, no one can pick the pain points within a day; it takes time to understand that’s why we need to be among the people and somehow be part of that community. Once we identify the pain point, then we start thinking to bring the solution, and after that, we execute it. Let’s take the example of Women School of Entrepreneurship; I have been working on this for three years as a pilot project silently to identify the real problem and solutions, and I have executed several things with rural women. Till now, I have worked with more than 20K women across Bihar and Jharkhand.

Exploring Bihar: Meet The 25YO Entrepreneur Revolutionizing The Rural Bihar!

Given the time you have been operating till now, what are the drawbacks or fallbacks you have found in the startup ecosystem & development sector?

The biggest drawback of the startup ecosystem & development sector is the ignorance of Bureaucrats. We can’t develop a healthy ecosystem without government support, and government schemes, plans, programs have been implemented and run by Bureaucrats, and somehow they didn’t support the startup ecosystem. Let’s take an example of Jeevika, one of the biggest organisations of Govt. of Bihar, several startups write down mails for support or new ideas for collaboration, but they didn’t get any response in the last two years, even they didn’t get any receiving mail. Similarly, the condition of Industry Dept. The Government of Bihar is worse if I talk about support. Somehow, We need to solve it rather than hiding things.

The rural sector is still unexplored; what are your further plans to help the people from the remotest areas?

Yeah! It’s true, and I have been trying to bring more startups that will focus on rural India, and I always believe that bringing startups focused on rural issues is the fastest and best way to help the people from the remotest areas.

What would you suggest to entrepreneurs thinking to enter this domain? 

Getting satisfaction after completing the work is the real success, whether you are awarded for the work or not; each & every time you will get some learning &, most importantly, internal satisfaction with peace in mind and heart. Entrepreneurship is just like engineering; it’s not about spoon-feeding; if you have the guts, then you only become an entrepreneur; similarly, if you have the passion, then you only become a true engineer by heart.

Stay tuned with NextBigWhat for more such inspiring and informative stories! #TowardsABetterWorld

Meet the Inspiring Rural Women Entrepreneurs: The Atmanirbhar Naris Of India

The contribution of rural women entrepreneurs that were earlier neglected in the Indian economy is certainly gaining praise these days. The rural women of India have not only established their businesses but are also empowering other women along the way. The women these days are hungry for learning, getting trained, and gaining formal skills to articulate their ideas. Out of approximately 60 million entrepreneurs, 8 million entrepreneurs are women. This proves to be an effective strategy for fixing rural and urban poverty in India.

A recent research study by McKinsey Global Institute suggests that by 2025, India’s GDP may increase up to 18% over the business front just by providing equal work opportunities for women. 

Even though it is an average number, with successful women entrepreneurs even in the rural areas of India, a higher percentage can be expected. Whether it is a patriarchal societal norm, lack of motivation, education, or funds, women entrepreneurs from rural India are breaking all the societal barriers and continuing to prosper.

Here are some of the successful rural women entrepreneurs who have been changing mindset, breaking stereotypes, and empowering other women.

Ruma Devi

Ruma Devi

Ruma Devi,  the President of the ‘Gramin Vikas Evam Chetna Sansthan’ has been responsible for making 22,000 women across 75 villages of Rajasthan financially independent by providing them training in embroidery, patchwork, and mirror work. Her NGO organises artisan awareness programs where they explain fair trade, wages, and women’s rights and also focuses on social issues, including child marriage, domestic violence, malnutrition, and girl child education. She was also honoured with “Nari Shakti Puraskar 2018.

Pabiben Rabari

Pabiben Rabari

Pabiben Rabari invented the first of its kind all- women artisan enterprise called pabiben.com with her unique discovery of embroidery art form called ‘Hari Jari’. Her vision was to develop a powerful, viable business standard for the tribal women of her village; as of 2020, she has been responsible for employing 120 families of her community. Pabiben.com designs have been recognised worldwide, including US-based Smithsonian Institution, Bollywood and Hollywood. 

Kalpana Saroj 

Kalpana Saroj

Kalpana Saroj established an NGO to provide knowledge about the various government loans and schemes available to underprivileged people. Soon after a few years of struggle, she built up a real estate business, opened her film production company, and then was on board as the chairman of Kamani tubes after she bought the company’s distressed assets and turned them into profits.

Gunavathy Chandrasekaran

Gunavathy Chandrasekaran

Gunavathy Chandrasekaran is the owner of a quilling brand called Guna’s quilling. She has tutored more than 2,000 artisans with the workshops, which included women, homemakers, students, and children in orphanages. As a quilling expert, she has been awarded the Woman of Excellence Award by the Lions Club of Thirunagar and the District Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu and felicitated by The British Council. 

Godavari Satpute

Godavari Satpute

Godavari Satpute established her business called Godavari Akashkandil company, which turns waste material into decorative paper lamps with a motive to enable women from underprivileged backgrounds to become financially independent.  Within four years, she achieved the label of YBI Woman Entrepreneur of The year 2013 and was honoured by Barclays at the YBI Young Entrepreneur Awards in London.

Anita Devi

Anita Devi

Anita Devi established an organic mushroom cultivation business called the Madhopur Farmers Producers Company, changing the fortunes of hundreds of women from neighbouring villages of Nalanda district of Bihar by persuading them into mushroom farming. Due to her accomplishments, the state agriculture department declared her village Anantpur as Mushroom Village. 

Anita Gupta

Anita Gupta

Anita Gupta is the founder of the Bhojpur Mahila Kala Kendra that provides education and employment training to women from rural areas. She has been responsible for training more than 25,000 women in almost 400 skills. She also created approx 300 women self-help groups in Bihar, which produce and sell jewellery at government-organised fairs, and many Indian metropolitan cities. 

Sobita Tamuli

Sobita Tamuli

Sobita Tamuli established an organic manure brand called Seuji. She created an all-women self-help group that manufactures and sells organic manure, as well as traditional Assamese japis. Her main motive is to persuade visitors to smaller markets such as her village in Assam and improve the rural economy.

These women, however, are not the only women who have fast emerged as potential entrepreneurs and are working towards women’s advancements. There are many more such women from remote areas of India who are shedding traditional moulds and trying to popularise the practice of using organic and sustainable products globally. This move has led to significant social and economic changes bringing them opportunities for growth and remarkable success. 

Unequivocally, the fact that Indian women are considered as Shakti (power) is evident by the efforts they have been putting in to make the optimum use of resources and learnings available to them. The initiative to explore more, to discover and prove their talent is getting them direct corporate exposure. They are yet to embark on a long journey, but we can still say that there is greater acceptance and recognition on the doorsteps of women.

Featured Image

Also read:

Meet The Trio Disrupting The New Age Edtech & Fintech Industry!

2020 was a unique year in itself ― a lot of technology-based start-ups saw a surge in business ― while those that did not take the leverage of technology saw a fall too. A major reason behind it was the pandemic that made people sit at home, eventually forcing them to go digital. This resulted in a spike in the fintech and edtech sector as a lot of people started trading and learning new skills/ tools. 

Entrepreneurs who knew what the pandemic was bringing to the table didn’t fail to take advantage of both the industries ― fintech and edtech ― eventually tapping on to a whole new set of opportunities.

One such trio from the city of joy, Kolkata, did exactly the same. When the whole world was locked down, their ventures StockEdge and Elearnmarkets, were exploring the new ‘normal’!

StockEdge and Elearnmarkets have been co-founded by Vivek Bajaj, Vineet Patawari and Vinay Pagaria. Both Vivek and Vineet are Chartered Accountant and IIM Indore graduate, while Vinay is a Chartered Accountant by qualification but a hard-core techie by profession.

Their cumulative experiences and expertise in the field of financial markets, learning management systems, visualisation of learning tools and most importantly, their passion for spreading financial market education makes them the perfect team to take their product and service to the global scale.

The beginning 

In 2014 they realised that the financial market education industry in India is very unstructured and fragmented. This made them launch Elearnmarkets to streamline and structure the journey for individuals who want to make a career in the financial markets.

Elearnmarkets is a unique interactive online education platform committed to taking practically oriented finance training to the next level. “Here we use technology to spread knowledge; our courses make use of high-end and interactive learning management systems. We also provide a platform to market experts and enable practical experience sharing with the learners. This helps us create a large pool of learners who are well trained, skilled and a perfect fit to fill the manpower requirement of the industry,” says the founders.

[Also read: From QA to Product Management: How do I make that transition?]

In 2016, the trip came up with their second venture, StockEdge (SE), which started as a sidekick to help learners get structured data of listed companies along with cutting edge analytics.

StockEdge has now turned into full-fledged equity and mutual fund research tool. With the app garnering over 2 million downloads, it has become the growth driver for the organisation. For an enhanced learning experience, the analytics, data, financial statements from StockEdge are integrated with the respective course modules in Elearnmarkets.

Simplifying finance for all

StockEdge is a niche player concentrating on the finance sector, which intends to meet lifetime needs of learning finance, tracking financial markets, earning & managing money. No other existing platform combines all the requirements of a learner & practitioner of finance in such a compact and simple manner. It works with a single objective of ‘simplifying finance for all’.  

 “In the financial market education ecosystem, we have a lot of traders and investors who have vast hands-on experience and conduct their own training programs. Then there are well-renowned courses in the field of finance, tax, audits such as CA, CFA and CS. However, there was no structured way of making a career in the financial market. 

Elearnmarkets managed to streamline and structure the journey for individuals who want to make a career in the financial market. Our courses are certified by the National Stock Exchange (NSE), Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) and National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX), which gives credibility and helps individuals to achieve their career goals,” they further added.

Who are the audience?

The targeted audience for both StockEdge and Elearnmarkets is primarily youngsters who are new to the stock market, job seekers, young earners, and retirees. Technically, anyone who is interested in the stock market but lacks proper knowledge and mentorship. 

On asking why the trio chose Kolkata and not any other startup-focused city like Bangalore or Delhi, they say, “Kolkata has the advantage of having the right manpower and quality manpower in terms of dedication to work. At Elearnmarkets and StockEdge, we have a workforce of over 150 employees, and we feel that each one of them is highly dedicated to whatever role they play in the company. So, that is the advantage of a city like Kolkata, and that’s the culture of this beautiful city that brings that kind of advantage to a workplace.”

Building a nex-gen company

“Ours is a young, vibrant company established with the vision of taking online financial education to a new level, both in India and abroad. Guided by our mission of spreading financial literacy, we constantly experiment with new education methodologies and technologies to make financial education convenient, effective, and accessible to all.

The employees here are diverse but at the same time united by a common motto which is ‘simplifying finance’. Our culture encourages, supports, and celebrates our diversification and looks to expand and build it constantly,” they further continue.

One of the challenges they recently faced was the sudden inflow of new participants into the stock market as they had to quickly scale up their operations to provide a high-quality service to users. They hired more than 70 people in various roles to facilitate this. At the same time, they also started new initiatives such as the Face2Face series and ELM school to help first-time participants learn about stock markets.

[Also read: How to unlearn.. after tasting massive wins?]

Vineet had earlier launched his own venture, Fireup, an online platform to help students & professionals in preparing for CAT. However, it did not work since the online learning industry wasn’t really big back in 2008. He eventually joined Vivek to launch Elearnmarkets later.

“Some of the major things I’ve learned is never to be afraid to try and experiment ― not to worry about the outcome or end result. Focus more on the process and your passion for it. The whole idea is to know that there are areas where people have friction points, and we as an entrepreneur should aim to reduce those friction points,” Vineet shares.

In the market

Operationally both the ventures are breakeven now, and the combined yearly turnover (ARR) is INR 14 crores. They further plan to expand both in and outside India. 

Currently, Elearnmarkets has over 2.2M monthly website views. The app has been downloaded over 320K times. On the other hand, StockEdge has over 2 million app downloads with over 505K monthly active users and a 4.4 ― the highest-rated finance app in this category in India. On a combined level, SE & Elearnmarkets saw a 3x jump in their monthly users during COVID-19. 

The trio wishes to become an integrated solution provider for individual investors in India in the domain of personal financial management. They aim to turn retail participants into independent decision-makers by incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the next 18-24 months, they plan to expand our roots in the tier-2 & tier-3 cities as well as abroad and aim to increase their current combined user base of 1.8 million to 5 million. 

The ‘piece’ of advice

“We believe that it is ‘perseverance’! Once you are into something, you need to stick out your neck and be there for some time because building anything valuable takes time. Don’t get blinded by the glamour or the fundraising news. For some, it happens faster, and for some, it takes more time but if you are there, know that it will happen to you too. 

Also, never stop learning! You will be able to sustain until your learning curve is steeper than your organisation’s growth curve,” they end with sharing the golden rule they follow.

[Featured Image: (L-R) Vinay Pagaria, Vineet Patawari, Vivek Bajaj]

Listen: How do I build a global sales team for my SAAS startup? Raviteja of MoEngage shares his playbook!

Annie Duke’s Great Lessons For Ambitious Founders

Very grateful to @AnnieDuke for her guest appearance on #StartingGreatness. She offers many great lessons for ambitious founders. Summarizing in the below thread…
1/ There are different types of “games” in business and in life. Some are based almost entirely on skill, like chess. Garry Kasparov will beat me 100 times in a row. Luck won’t rescue me. Some Games involve lots of chance and uncertainty. More like poker.
2/ If I play the world champion for an entire night, I likely lose my money. But in one hand, I might have a 40% chance of winning. Startups are more like poker than chess. They involve skill combined with uncertainty and chance across thousands of decisions, big and small.
3/ What will customers want most? Is this the right price? Will there be a recession next year? etc. Too many leaders think of decisions as all-or-nothing. They say “I assert this will happen.” Annie Duke’s books, “How to Decide” and “Thinking in Bets”, show a better way.
4/ First takeaway: Think in bets When someone asks your opinion about something where there’s high uncertainties, the correct response is “I’m not certain, but here is how I am thinking about it.”
5/ When we express our level of confidence by saying “I’m x% sure,” rather than as an all or nothing, we open the door for others to collaborate with us better, tell us what they know, and act like scientists in our shared quest for the truth.
6/ Acknowledging that decisions are bets based on our beliefs, getting comfortable with uncertainty, and redefining right and wrong are key first principles to good decision-making in uncertainty.
7/ Second Takeaway: Don’t assume a good outcome means you made a good decision; and vice versa. If you ask most people, “what were the best decisions you made in 2020?” more times than not they will answer with the things that went well. “I’m glad I bought Bitcoin in 2020.”
8/ But it’s important to avoid the mistake that Annie calls RESULTING, which is confusing the quality of an outcome with the quality of a decision. The reason is that there are way more possible futures than the one that actually happens.
9/ When you are dealing with high uncertainty, you need to consider a matrix of potential outcomes. On one dimension you have a good decision vs a bad decision. On the other dimension, you have a good outcome vs a bad outcome.
10/ Imagine I play a single hand of poker with Annie Duke and I get lucky and win. If she assumed I was better than her just because she lost a single hand, she would miss the opportunity to separate me from my money before the night is over.
11/ Or, imagine I gained false confidence after winning the first hand against Annie. I might lose all of my money even faster because it might cause me to take foolish risks.
12/ Making matters worse, we tend to let “memory creep” cause us to remember things differently from how they actually happened. We tend to think we knew it all along, especially when things go well. It seems like it was due more to our decisions and foresight than it really was.
13/ Which brings us to the final takeaway: Document your thoughts and learnings constantly In “How to Decide”, Annie tools such as a Knowledge Tracker, Decision Tree, and Premortems for every key decision.
14/ When you create a knowledge tracker, you document what you knew and when you knew it. The first thing you capture is stuff you knew or assumed before the decision. Then you focus on the new stuff you learned after making the decision and the precise time you learned.
15/ By tracking what you thought you knew and when you knew it, it helps you resist the temptation to have hindsight bias based on the outcome. It also lets you look back in time and see what factors you might have overlooked.
16/ The second tool is a Decision Tree. For every decision, you identify the reasonable set of outcomes, including the range of bad outcomes and horrible ones as well as expected outcomes and better than expected outcomes.
17/ Then, you identify your level of preference or dislike for each outcome. If one of the potential outcomes could ruin you, make sure you call that out. Next you estimate the likelihood of each outcome.
18/ You look at your options and decide which probability weighted option best matches your preferences. A decision tree also helps you understand if you framed the decision well. If an outcome is highly unexpected, maybe you can frame the possible outcomes better next time.
19/ The last important tool is a Pre-Mortem. You identify the goal you are trying to achieve or the decision you are considering. Then you figure out a time in the reasonable future. You imagine it’s the day after and things have not worked out.
20/ List up to five reasons you failed due to things within your control and list five reasons you failed due to things you can’t control. This is far better as a team exercise where everyone lists the reasons separately and then compares notes.
21/ Or, you can approach a glass half full perspective. You imagine a time in the future, but you achieved the goal. You list the five reasons you succeeded due to things in your control and five reasons you succeeded outside of your control.
22/ Startup life, like poker, is a long game, and there are going to be a lot of losses, even when you make the best possible bets. You will be happier and perform better when you realize we’ll never be sure of the future.
23/ This mindset shift changes our task from trying to be right every time to navigating through the uncertainty. By framing decision-making and leadership as a quest for truth in the face of uncertainty, you can reduce personal conflicts and counterproductive beliefs.

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth. Read more posts on Entrepreneurship and Leadership here!

Leadership 101: Be a Practitioner, Not Just a Manager!

I learned about leadership & scaling from Sheryl Sandberg. My direct manager for 10+ yrs, we spent countless hours together in weekly 1x1s (she attended religiously), meetings, offsites, dinners, travel, etc. Here are some of the most important lessons I took away from Sheryl:
In one of our early M-team offsites, everyone shared their mission in life. Sheryl described her passion for scaling organizations. She was single-mindedly focused on this purpose and loved everything about scaling. It’s a huge strength to know what you were put on earth to do.
Sheryl implemented critical systems to help us scale – eg 360 perf reviews, calibrations, promotions, refresh grants, PIPs. She brought structure to our management team and board meetings, hired senior people across the company, and streamlined communications up and down the org.
Sheryl told Mark the things he didn’t want to hear. As companies grow, people don’t want to give the CEO bad news. Mark knew Sheryl would never worry about losing her job or falling out of favor. And over time Sheryl taught me and others how to be truth-tellers for her and Mark.
Sheryl refused to participate in late night meetings. She had the confidence to admit she went to bed at 10pm and told Mark she’d be happy to meet when she woke up at 5am if he still hadn’t gone to bed yet. Her vulnerability was inspiring and signaled strength not weakness.
A few months after she joined the company, Sheryl told me she was planning to give me more responsibility (yay!). But first she wanted to make sure others were seeing what she saw in me. This was my first 360 performance review and it changed my life. I shared the story here:
Every 6 months for the next 10 yrs I received a detailed perf review from Sheryl, and she always sat with me to deliver it. She also insisted on receiving specific feedback for her. She took feedback incredibly seriously, in both directions. Her poster read: “Feedback Is A Gift”
Occasionally people would ask to meet with me after getting tough feedback from Sheryl. I would always share the story of my very first performance review and explain Sheryl’s philosophy of constant, real-time, direct feedback. It wasn’t always easy to hear, but it made us better
I frequently received emails from Sheryl with subject “You!” It might be a note (cc Mark) praising me for something. More often it was a note (cc me) to someone on my team (often deep in my org) praising them for something. Those little notes meant the world to their recipients.
Sheryl responded to all of her email. Many companies have a culture where execs respond selectively, but this makes people feel small. If Sheryl didn’t have something to say, she would still respond “thanks I’ll think about it” or cc someone else asking them to look into it.
I remember after Sheryl wrote Lean In, she lamented to me that she could no longer personally respond to every fan email because she was overwhelmed. Rather than ignore them, she implemented a system to ensure they always received a response from her team (and often from her).
Execs often fall into the trap of only managing rather than doing. Sheryl insisted everyone on M-team do “real work.” She never stopped taking sales meetings and she praised me for personally negotiating big deals. She encouraged all of us to be practitioners not just managers.
Sheryl & I disagreed early on about a decision. I thought Mark would agree with me so I went around her to make my case. She sat me down and explained that if we were going to work together she needed to be able to trust me. She invited escalation but insisted on transparency.
We faced a tough situation with a partner and one of their board members asked Sheryl to meet. She invited me to join but I demurred, I knew this would be a contentious mtg. She told me about one of her colleagues in DC who testified when nobody else wanted to – “step up, own it”
Sheryl organized trips for M-team to visit other companies we admired (she has incredible CEO relationships). We visited Walmart, Samsung, P&G. We did a mini bootcamp at Quantico Marine Officer Training Center. There was countless lessons and lots of bonding on those trips.
Sheryl was a demanding boss who held me to a high standard. She got upset when I failed & pushed me to step up my game. And she celebrated my successes. She always had my back, I knew she would fight to the death for me, and I could always trust her. She taught me to be a leader.

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth. Read more posts on Leadership and Product Management here!

How Jeff Bezos Makes (Tough) Decisions

Amazon is now a trillion dollar company – achieved by a series of great decisions and some mistakes.

How does Jeff Bezos makes decisions? 

As a company, Amazon is known for making tough decisions – preferring growth over profitability (without giving in to shareholder’s demands), exiting a few businesses (like phone), launching mind blowing infrastructure business (AWS) which has nothing to do with the core business..and many more.

Here is what you can learn from Jeff Bezos’ decision making style.