Travel startup Stayzilla, which announced halt of its operations last month, ran into fresh trouble with its founder and chief executive Yogendra Vasupal taken into custody by commissioner of police in Chennai and locked up in Puzhal prison, a source ET spoke to confirmed.
According to an email sent by cofounder Sanchit Singhi, Sanghi asked investors of the company to help Vasupal who went ‘missing’ or out of contact after Vasupal last confirmed his location.
The company that had raised about $34 million across four rounds of funding, counts Matrix Partners India and Nexus Ventures Partners among investors.
FMCG market is tough to crack. There are hundreds of thousands of products in each category. Launching a new product and making it a star is a daunting task! But one product launches a couple of years ago has done wonders. And, its a candy!
Pulse was launched exactly two years ago by the DS Group (makers of Pass-Pass and Rajnigandha) and has crossed Rs300 Cr in sales since then. Just to put things in perspective, some of the products by much bigger and better known brands don’t even come close to what Pulse has been able to achieve. Oreo. launched in 2011 has done Rs 283 till date and Mars bars, launched in 2011 again has done only Rs 270 crore in sales till date.
I am writing a blog on identifying the factors that led to the amazing rise of the Pulse product. Keep tuned in for more.
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Snapdeal laying off 600 people and the two founders forgoing their salaries has been dominating the startup news headlines since Wednesday. Although a lot of people took the news as a surprise, but had one been following the incidents that led to yesterday’s email from the founders, this should have been expected.
Lets see what happened in last couple of months.
Jason Kothari was brought in to clean the toxic elements created during the tenure of Rahul Yadav as the Founder-CEO of Housing. To his credit, Jason de-toxified Housing to make it attractive enough for PropTiger to bite in for an ‘all stock deal’- which means peanuts.
Within a couple of days of the Housing-PropTiger deal, Jason was announced as the Chief Strategy & Investment officer at Snapdeal.
‘Strategy’ and ‘Investment’.
Snapdeal along with Flikart has been finding it tough to get the right valuation for raising the next round of funds that both of them want to raise. While Kalyan Krishnamurthy has been tasked with cleaning up Flipkart, Jason has been brought in to clean up Snapdeal of the toxins and make it attractive enough for investors. Most of the money losing initiatives have either been shut down or are in the process of being shut down. The founders, in their email also stressed on the renewed focus on ‘core’ business and strengths. The ‘core’ here being e-commerce.
SoftBank- The thread that binds Housing and Snapdeal.
SoftBank was the biggest investor in Housing. It is also a very significant investor in Alibaba too. Alibaba has been flirting with the idea of buying into or buying out Snapdeal for long now. Alibaba also has been the biggest investor in PayTM. And, to make things complex, PayTM also has an e-commerce arm. Alibaba would never like to invest in two competing companies (it might have done so in 2014-15, but today the story is different). Sometime back, PayTM did spin off its e-commerce platform into separate business from its payments business (or vice-versa).
Opportunity for Alibaba, SoftBank, PayTM & Snapdeal.
The current situation presents a ripe opportunity for all the parties involved. Snapdeal has an opportunity to set its house in order, Alibaba has a wonderful opportunity to enter one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world via PayTM investment and set up a head-on clash with Amazon for the long pending battle of ‘South-East-Asia’ between Amazon and Alibaba (Alibaba has already started digging in its heels in the SEA market with the Lazada investment).
Not an Insider News. Not even a rumour. My own views.
All the events discussed above are either factual and have led to where we are today or logical and plausible extension of the same into the future. I strongly feel the events in the future will go the way I have spelled out. If not, the involved parties might want to use this article as a food-for-thought for chalking out their strategy.
Last evening I was sitting with my team (mostly comprising of your just-out-of-college grads) at a bar near our office. One topic led to another and we started discussing on how important it is for someone in today’s world to keep updating and polishing his/her skills. The discussion reminded me of a story I heard a long time ago. Thought of sharing it here with the readers.
This is a story of a young lad who starts his career as a lumberjack. No, not the lumberjacks we have these days with chainsaws and all other machines, but with a modest axe- yes like in the good old days.
Like any another youngster, he was full of energy and bursting to seams with enthusiasm on his first day at work. He wanted to work hard, work long and make a lot of money. The lad started his first day by working 8 hours and chopping four large trees. For every tree chopped, he got $10.
“40 dollars a day are not going to take me anywhere, I need to earn much more than this” he thought.
Next day, he started early and worked till late. Working 12 hours, he chopped six trees. “60 dollars is good, but still not what I am looking for. I need to work harder and longer”.
Third day, the young lad started even before sun had risen and worked till there were stars in the sky. He managed to chop eight trees.
“Damn! 80 dollars are day are good, but not for me. I definitely want more!”
So, to achieve more, next day he started even earlier and worked 16 hours straight. To his surprise and shock, he could chop no more than eight trees! Next day he tried even harder, but was again stuck at eight. He tried even harder the next day, his number was still stuck at 8!
Dejected and confused the young lumberjack was walking his way home. On the way he met an older lumberjack who had been in the trade since last 25 years. On asking what the matter was, the young lad told his story. “I am working so hard, working really long hours, still not able to increase the number of trees cut beyond 8”.
“So, you work for 14-16 hours straight, still stuck at 8 trees a day. Ever thought of taking an hour’s time to grind your axe?” said the experienced lumberjack and walked away.
End of the story.
Almost every one from my team looked at smiled at me. Hope, now they understand the importance of continuously upgrading, sharpening and polishing their skills. Every one, including me should!
Jeff Stroope had been a fireman for 15 years before he invented a revolutionary fire hose connection that saves a lot of time and trouble for connecting the hose to the water pipeline in the time of a fire tragedy when every second counts.
Jeff came on Shark Tank and did a demo for his product. Not only did the Sharks like the product but he got an offer from Mark Cuban to sell off his whole company for $1.25 million plus a three year job contract at $100,000 per year and a royalty on every product sold by the company.
Here is the amazing pitch.
Two years ago, everyone wanted to become a ‘Unicorn’ (the term that is used to refer to a rare mythical creature in general and to a billion dollar company in the startup world). Every morning there was news of one more startup raising a few or a few hundred million dollars in funding at a valuation, which you would have never heard of earlier. Fast-forward to 2016, the funding freeze has set in and there are people advising on how to become a cockroach startup. Scores of articles have been written on how to survive the funding winter till the sun rises again and investors start showering you with millions- not sure if that is going to happen anytime soon.
As a founder of two ventures earlier where I did not have any funding and then having led a venture of where I had a few million dollars at my disposal from Rocket Internet and now again when I am building a seed-funded startup, I have been through the grind. These few years spent in building startups have given me a perspective of how important it is to create a business out of an idea.
There would be millions of businesses across the globe. The range of size of these businesses in terms of revenues and employees would be astonishing. There are businesses run by the single-man show of a roadside street-food vendor and then there are the likes of Coca Cola and Boeing. How many of them have raised funds? The answer is – A negligible minority. One thing they all have in common is that they focused on creating sustainable businesses. I consider an idea to transform into a business when there are people willing to pay for your service or product and this number, at a certain size, can help run the business profitably.
As I mentioned earlier, I am currently running a venture that is seed funded since January 2016. At the outset, with my previous experience, I was clear to create a business and not a unicorn or a cockroach. Since last six months we have customers who pay form the service we provide and although we are small, we will turn operationally profitable I next two to three months. This does not mean that we do not want to become a hundred million or a billion dollar company- we do want to, but in a planned manner. Now that we have converted out idea into a business, there is confidence in the team, the seed investor and also the prospective investors on the growth path of the venture.
My advice to fellow startup enthusiasts and entrepreneurs is to have a plan to convert the idea in to business, focus on execution and then utilize funding to scale the operations. Do not startup just with the sole aim of raising funds. In the past many have done so, have even succeeded in raising millions but failed to survive- just because they could not turn into a business even after raising millions.
Forget the unicorns and cockroaches, let’s build businesses and enjoy the exciting journey as we do it!
[The writer is the co-founder and CEO of Feelance Co. and has been involved with the Indian StartUp ecosystem since 2009. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ]
CNN has acquired Beme, the social app co-founded by YouTuber Casey Neistat. As part of the deal, Neistat will lead the Beme team as a new standalone media sub-brand operating under CNN’s umbrella as executive producer, and all 11 members of the Beme team will join CNN.
Beme’s had an interesting history, with a founding vision of providing a means for users to share quick, short clips of video without edits, as a means of bridging the gap between live streaming and more polished YouTube-style creator production.
The social app actually launched in summer of 2015, but despite early success claims including half a million downloads and one million videos uploaded within its first few days of availability, things went quiet about the app following its debut – so much so that Neistat even posted an explainer video on YouTube a year after launch explaining “what the hell happened” to the app. This preceded a May relaunch as the app exited beta with many bug fixes and functional adjustments in tow.
Beme still never really found its footing, at least not with anywhere near the success of comparable social video apps like Snapchat or Musical.ly. Still, CNN is acquiring it with the intent of investing in the team and the product in order to create a new brand focused on a millennial audience, according to Variety.
Neistat had previously announced he would be ending his long-running daily vlog to focus on other projects, and now it’s clear he was talking about this tie-up with CNN.