Strategy

Are you ready to raise money? – With infographics

If you are looking to raise capital for your startup, you’ve reached the right article. Here you will be able to calculate the probability of your startup raising capital or getting funding, basically your Funding Score (P(f)). Let’s quickly jump to a set of questions:

  • Do I have the right founding team?
  • Enough traction built over the last 5 months?
  • Well differentiated as compared to competitors?
  • 100% confidence about product road map?
  • Enough PR Buzz generated?
  • Strong valuation confirmed?
  • Investors confirmed interest and shared term sheets?

These questions should feel familiar if you are raising a round. Now if your answers to these questions are yes (and you have validated the same with top notch mentors) then you should do a massive investor reach out ASAP (trust me, you are almost on the verge of getting money)! However, if some or all of your answers are negative, then this article should help you in pin pointing areas which could mess up with your fund raising process.

Below, I’ve calculated P(f) using a scoring mechanism (based on my experience and the life cycle of companies I’ve been associated with directly or indirectly). There are two broad sections: Section A (Basics) and Section B (Wild Cards). While Section A deals with the fundamentals of business, Section B is more of “Does your business have that extra bit?”! All that you have to do is add scores for both sections to reach your P(f). So, here we go!

Section A (Basics)

This section is divided into five categories:

Founders: Experience & Pedigree (max: 25%)
  • 25%: Successful ex-founder and/or 10+ years experience in relevant field/industry
  • 20%: Unsuccessful ex-founder (irrespective of pedigree and/or experience) and Ivy League degree
  • 15%: Relevant Startup experience (held a strong position in a successful startup) and Ivy League Degree
  • 10%: Relevant Startup experience (held a strong position in an unsuccessful startup)
  • 5%: Tier 1 college degree and/or less than 5 years experience in relevant field
  • 0%: None of the above

You should not get happy/sad while looking at your score just now. There’s much more to come!

Growth/Traction: Numbers (max: 25%)
  • 25%: Strong retention and repeat customers (GMV $100K+ Monthly Run Rate and/or >25 paying customers) or No Revenue but strong user base of more than 25,000 users achieved in less than 3 months for a product with a clear monetizing plan
  • 20%: GMV $50k MRR (and/or >10 paying customers) or no revenues but more than 10,000 users (with the same filters as stated above)
  • 15%: $25k MRR (>5 paying customers) or no revenues but more than 5,000 users achieved in less than 3 months (filters above)
  • 10%: *MVP out (yet to gain traction) and [Stealth Mode or High Cost to Market Strategy (with a clear monetizing plan)]
  • 5%: Idea stage with a clear monetizing plan
  • 0%: Just idea

If your net score at this time is >30%, you are going strong! If not, don’t loose heart yet, there are startups which get funded even without traction..

Market: Size, Dynamics & Competition (max: 25%)
  • 25%: Market > $10bn, growing >25% YoY, Strong internet penetration, Not more than 3 competitors, Proven business model elsewhere, Fast sales cycle, High Margins (>20%) with little outlays (payment gateway or integration costs)
  • 20%: Market between $2bn to $5bn, growing >15% YoY, Strong internet penetration, Not more than 5 competitors, Proven business model elsewhere, Fast Sales Cycle, Average Margins (10% to 20%) with little outlays (payment gateway or integration costs)
  • 15%: Market < $1bn, First player in the market
  • 10%: Market is to be made, you believe your product is the future
  • 5%: Market size calculation dicey, No proven business model
  • 0%: Extremely high competition (more than 5 competitors, well funded)

Two more categories remaining, finish them up and see where you stand!

Product: Stage of development (max: 15%)
  • 15%: Product Market fit achieved
  • 10%: Problem Solution fit achieved
  • 5%: Product seems unfeasible (and irrelevant to the existing market, might be a futuristic idea), there are questions around scale and primary revenue model is not in sight
  • 0%: Only Idea and no product execution till now
Hype: News & Buzz (max: 10%)
  • 10%: Awards (something worth noting) & Media Mention (some of the top news papers)
  • 5%: Media Mention
  • 0%: None

Sum up all individual scores to come to the final Section A P(f) score. Now, go to section B, it gets really interesting here:

Section B (Wild Cards)

There are two kinds of wild cards: Positive and Negative. Positive cards add to your score and negative cards reduce your score. Unlike Section A, there are no max limits on the Wild Cards. So, every time you see a card (a bullet point) that matches your business characteristics, add or deduct points from the total score. Here we go:

Positive Wild Cards! Add 5% if:
  • Your startup is a tech company and you have excellent programmers (if you are a non tech guy, you’d never know if your programmers are good or not)
  • You have been running your startup for more than 12 months, all using your own money
  • You have a strong person as your mentor (someone who’s built companies before, and who can introduce you to people who matter)
  • Your startup is already profitable (EBITDA/Sales >25% MoM)
  • The founders are from an engineering and/or sales background!
  • There’s a strong negotiator in your team (ever done a big deal and crafted it out so well that it’s beaming profit right from the day it started?)
  • You have strong patents, trade secrets, copyrights (IP) or some relevant entry barrier which can be built at scale
  • A company similar to you but in some other country was recently acquired by a larger company
Negative Wild Cards! Subtract 5% if:
  • There are more than 3 co founders (specially if the work overlaps between them)
  • You are a single Non Tech founder building a Tech company
  • Co founders don’t know each other for more than 1 year or don’t have a compelling co founder story
  • You are not located in main talent hubs (every country’s got some great startup hubs, be there, not elsewhere)
  • Yours is a tech startup and you have hired bad programmers (you got fooled into hiring the wrong guys, but good that you know now!)
  • Your startup has regulatory or legal or product liability risks

Now, sum up all the Section B P(f) scores and add them to Section A P(f) score to calculate your final P(f): Funding Score, and check the graphics below to see what your next step should be!

Finally Assess Your Startup Fund Raising Score

Startup Fund Raising Score

Few Caveats

Caveat 1: Your chances of getting funding depend on external factors such as:

  • Funding scene (bullish vs bearish)
  • A competitor raising money recently
  • Fund Size (specially relevant if they’ve raised a fund soon), historical performance, Appetite, Geo, Model relevance to the Investor

Caveat 2: While I’ve tried to pen down this article based on logic, the funding case for a few special startups will remain subjective and complex (it depends on various other variables which are difficult to comprehend at the outset and such variables are relevant to the business model or industry itself).

Caveat 3: If your scores are really low! Forget that you read this article! Startups are supposed to be revolutionary and world changing. Their impact is supposed to strike down inefficiency, vastly improve the quality of lives and bring to mankind, a beautiful future which might seem unimaginable to most. If you are someone who believes your startup is going to bring a major impact to the problems of the world, or if you can view the world as it shall be in 2050 and if you have a very strong sense of purpose (money/respect doesn’t bother you or maybe you have too much of them already), then these scores shouldn’t matter at all! You are much above these lame mathematical figures. Go, run and win the world!

Wish you all the best. God Speed.

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How to make an amazing pitch

Here’s the usual 10 slider deck that quite a few people use to make their decks.

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Traction
  • Market Size
  • Product and Technology
  • Business Model
  • Competition & Differentiation
  • Team
  • User Testimonials
  • Financials

It works. But what works BEST is an original piece of work, one that is a story rather than a bunch of slides. Now imagine if the deck was presented like this:

  • We identified a Problem that bothered us very frequently
  • That’s why we made a fix, to basically solve that damn problem
  • As we showed the fix to a few friends, they seemed to like it and so we decide to launch it as a product prototype in the market.. Interestingly, we gained traction and few users also gave us important feedback
  • To our surprise, our product did quite well and that is how we realized the problem that we are solving is a damn big one
  • So, in order to build a larger solution, we had to rethink our product, the tech stack and come up with strong UI + UX which appeals to a larger audience
  • While doing this, we also understood the need for money, specially because we were growing faster than we initially thought we would, and hence, we had to come up with a business model which is sustainable
  • What! We found that we have competition! but well.. we are already 5 times better than them.. Not only that, we are now building strong entry barriers so no one can enter our space even with infinite bank balance
  • We have been able to do all this because we have an A class team comprising Engineers, Sales guys and guys with Never Give Up attitude
  • BTW, just to brag a little, and to tell you how good our product really is, check out these awesome customer feedback
  • And here’s our financials which show how we can build a strong capitalized company, but in order to propel our super growth, we need money and we’ll spend it in hiring talent, marketing and scaling the product

 

Each business will have its own special story. Present that story to your investors. Make it sound like an experience rather than a boring slide deck with the same monotonous stuff! BTW, you know who’s the most powerful person in the world?

“The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come and Disney has a monopoly on the storyteller business. You know what? I am tired of that bullshit, I am going to be the next storyteller.” Steve Jobs

 

Few other things to keep in mind:

  • Use real photos (Users, Reviews, Products, Problem)
  • Keep things extremely simple (explain the most simplest of things on your deck very well), build a thorough appendix!
  • Show awesome slides before bad slides (most decks are a fair mix)
  • Flaunt a hockey stick curve (if you’ve got one)
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5 Tested Strategies to Grow Your Blog or Website Traffic to 100,000 Visits a Month

Looking to how to build a massive traffic to your blog or website? Look no further. Follow the steps below, and you should hit 100,000 visits a month to your blog or website in no time!

The infographic below shows a quick summary of the steps you need to take to expand your blog traffic quickly.

 

1) Focus on Content – Quality + Quantity

It won’t be wrong to say that in the world of blog writing, content is king. It is a good idea to try to publish good quality relevant content on your blog at least 3 to 5 times a week. However, when posting in high frequency, make sure you are still maintaining the quality of your content.

How do you build content for your blog?

To get direction on what content to write, you can use tools like Social Crawlytics to see information on content that has done well on competing blogs. Just type in the URL of the competing blog and see all of the popular blog posts and their headlines. You can also focus your content on relevant trending topics. If you are interested in covering trending topics, you can use Google Trends to see what is trending. 

It’s also important that you write in a conversational tone. By making your blog posts sound like a conversation, instead of a boring essay, you’ll invite more interest. Some easy tactics to achieve a conversational tone include using the words “you” and “I” within your content, asking questions throughout your blog post, making sure anyone can understand your content and keeping your paragraphs short and to the point.

2) Infographics

The simplest way to increase your traffic is through infographics, such as the one above in this blog post. Try to publish at least one infographic per week.

How to create attention-grabbing infographics for your blog?

You can use tools like Canva to create infographics for free.

3) Write headlines for both people and search engines

You need to write blog headlines that appeal to both people and search engines.

How to write interesting headlines for your blog?

Check out Buzzfeed for catchy, descriptive headlines that work well.

4) Collect emails through offers and opt-ins

No doubt, email is one of the biggest sources of traffic. Through WordPress plugins like Popup Domination and Modal Dialog, you can create a pop-up that plugs into your current email solution provider. In addition to that, you can also collect emails by placing offers within your sidebar and below your blog posts. Once you have the emails, make sure you notify your readers every time you publish a blog post.

When using such pop-ups, note that the color that you use matters – tests have found that red, green, orange and yellow tend to be the highest converting call- to-action colors. The colors black, brown and purple were the lowest converting call-to-action colors. Make sure you test these colors on your blog to see which ones work for you. Also, ask for limited information which is quick and easy for the visitor to provide. For instance, asking ONLY for e-mail addresses instead of e-mail addresses AND name, could provide better opt-in rates.

5) Build up your social media profile and Partnerships

It is important to build your social media profile on major social media sites as well as niche ones which have the potential of directing traffic to your website or blog. Additionally, consider leveraging on blog networks and other blogs – you can share your content with other blogs in exchange for them driving traffic back to your blog. For instance, popular blogs like Business Insider are looking for more content. If you provide it to them, they won’t have an issue linking back to your site and driving thousands of visits to you. To get these partnerships, you have to continually reach out to popular blogs in your space. 

We hope that the above blog post gives you an idea about how to increase traffic to your blog or website. Do let us know what other methods you have used or come across to increase blog traffic in the comments section below.

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What is Psychographic Profile

How to use Psychographic Profiling for your Growth Strategy

How to use Psychographic Profiling for your Growth Strategy

When working on a business idea, you can only effectively reach your target audience when you understand them thoroughly. This insight can be provided by both their demographic and psychographic information about the buyers. The combination of both sets of data starts to form your buyer persona – a detailed picture of your target customers.

So what are demographic and psychographic profiling?

Demographic information includes gender, age, income, marital status – the basic facts explaining WHO the buyer is. On the other hand, psychographic information is information about the customers’ psychology. This might be your buyer’s habits, hobbies, spending habits, values, challenges, goals, needs explaining WHY the buyer buys i.e. presents their underlying motives/ motivations, thereby providing you with deeper insights regarding buyer behavior. It is essential for businesses to leverage on the buyers’ psychographic information to tailor the marketing strategy and elevate the customer experience to a personalized and effective one.

How to obtain Psychographic information or perform Target Market Research to develop Personas?

Customer data should be collected by means of qualitative and quantitative research. Traditional or quantitative research is useful in B2B segmentation and for planning broad marketing strategies. On the other hand, qualitative research is useful for identifying the profile of your early adopters and lead users.

There are broadly two major methods to obtain psychographics in relation to your buyers: interviewing your current clients and investigating your website analytics.

Interviewing Existing Clients

One way would be a one-on-one conversation with your typical client. When you talk to them, try to understand what their lifestyle is, what their challenges, motivations and needs are, what social media are they active on and what are their information sources, what their goals and objectives are, etc. Insights from real interviews are powerful – direct or face to face interaction, for instance through phone calls or video chats, with your customers can be a very effective tool towards understanding them.

If you would like to draw scientific conclusions based on large datasets, then using customer surveys/ questionnaire based interviews to identify customer needs and motivations would be the way to go.

Investigating Website or Social Media Analytics

A good way to understand your customer motivations is to observe user behavior on your website or Facebook page – what drove visitors to click, call or buy? This enables the development and understanding of the customers’ digital persona.

A relevant tool is Facebook’s Audience Insights (accessed via Ads) which can be used to do an analysis of the audience of a particular page. You can use filters to analyze what are the audience’ interests, what other pages they like. It can also be used to define possible launch (or growth) segments and deploy tests to compare Click through Rates etc.

These methods help us find patterns in customer groups and develop personas that can be used to guide marketing strategies. Customers’ motivations, needs, and goals can be used as part of the marketing message.

Assuming we used a combination of the above two methods to create a buyer persona for a weight loss program. Following is an illustrative buyer persona based upon the demographic and psychographic information of the ideal customer so obtained:

Demographic Information:

  • Female
  • Aged 35-60
  • Married
  • Dealing with issues of appearance insecurities, weight gain, diabetes
  • Household income $70K+

Psychographic Information:

  • Concerned with health and appearance
  • Wants a healthy lifestyle
  • Balances career and family
  • Has disposable income and a degree of decision-making authority
  • Values quality and results over discounts
  • Prefers to use Instagram over other social media and is a regular subscriber to fashion and lifestyle magazines

How do we use psychographic information to formulate our growth and marketing strategy?

Once you understand who your customer is and what is important to her, you’ll know where to find her and how to motivate her.

In the example above, you would focus your marketing efforts on platforms such as Instagram and fashion and lifestyle magazines. It is unlikely that a price reduction would have a significant impact on demand, rather exposing her to user reviews about the benefits of using the program, endorsement by a credible source, referral by a friend would have a greater chance of influencing the customer. You may also want to ensure that your marketing message emphasizes the relationship between good health and job performance and family life.

We will explore these ideas in more detail in our subsequent posts.

Do let us know your thoughts on this post and what you would like us to cover in our next posts, in the comments section below.

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