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This Entrepreneur Sold His Business for $1.25 Million in 10 Minutes!

February 3, 2017 1 comment

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.

 

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F*ck The Unicorns and Cockroaches, become a Business First!

December 2, 2016 Leave a comment

 

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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 harshdeep.rapal@feelance.co or harshdeep.singh.rapal@gmail.com ]

Casey Neistat’s Beme app in CNN basket, brings the YouTuber in-house

November 29, 2016 Leave a comment

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.

Why You Should Never Round Off The Invoice Amount for Your Client

November 21, 2016 Leave a comment

 

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Top keep for our consulting businesses running, we need to get work, execute that work and then invoice the clients. One of the biggest mistake that consultants make while preparing an invoice for their clients is to ‘round off’ the amount. Say the total amount comes to $1,847, we tend to round it off to $1,800 or $1,850. My advice is, don’t do that.

Let’s agree that most of the clients are always going to be suspicious. They have had consultants who would have ditched them- did not perform to the expected level and felt cheated. Now, for every assignment they want bang for their buck. May be the business guy is friendly with you, the finance guy would love to look at the invoice figures more than the business benefits you brought to the organization- and, he is always suspicious of round figures. So, don’t give him round figures.

Sending an invoice of $1,847 rather than $1,850 gives an indication that you have worked out the perfect math and not thrown an arbitrary amount. An odd figure suggests that you have worked hard and know your trade well. So, next time, you have to send an invoice, keep the numbers odd, don’ t round them off.

About The Author: The writer, Mr. Harshdeep Rapal is the co-founder and CEO of Feelance Co.– an online platform for clients to discover and engage with senior independent consultants and consulting firms for short-term projects and interim roles

2 Companies Who Will Hit the Most from WhatsApp Video Calling

November 20, 2016 Leave a comment

 

Many users of Whats App were surprised yesterday when they could update the app and start video calling their contacts. With a lot of people using WhatsApp for texting and calling video calling was the next logical extension of the app that has taken the world of communication by storm (I am not talking about Line, WeChat and China for a reason here).

Everyone know who will benefit the most from this new feature- Yes! You guessed it right. WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook.

But who will get ht the most? 1. Apple (FaceTime) 2. Skype

Most of the time when I have to video-call my wife or take interviews of candidates, I generally use either Skype of Face Time. For that matter if e have to slit the two between business and personal use of the video feature, I use Skype for Business and Face Time for Personal (family and friends) use.

WhatsApp has been till now the medium of choice for many of us for texting, sending images, voice message and various other attachments. I have seen people of all ages using WhatsApp for one to one messages, group messages, coordinating for executing various events- parties, birthdays surprises, delivery of packages etc. Now with the video call option on the same application, there is no need to open Skype or FaceTime.

Since the time WhatsApp has rolled out video calling feature, I have stopped using FaceTime or Skype for at least personal communication. Skype is still my medium of choice when it comes to professional/business communication. I know a lot of people around me who have made the same move- from Skype & Face Time to WhatsApp Video Calls. Having said that, most of my views are based on observing the behaviour of people around me rather than surveys and data. This, similarly, is my personal view. It might take a few months or even a year to see who actually benefits and who loses. For now, its a Thumbs Up to WhatsApp!

 

 

Why Snapdeal merging with Flipkart or Amazon will not make sense? Or might.


 

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Last couple of days have been ripe with rumors of Snapdeal reaching out to Flipkart and Amazon for a merger/buyout. YEstreday Kunal Bahl poked fun at these rumors with a tweet on the name that the merged venture will have. Fun aside, lets see is this kind of acquisition/merger would actually make sense or not.

On the face of it, acquiring Snapdeal will not make any sense for Flipkart or Amazon. Take the case of Amazon’s attempt of acquiring Jabong in late 2014. Rocket Internet (at that time I was leading one of Rocket Internet’s ventures in South East Asia) was looking at a valuation of $1.2b whereas Amazon was in no mood to pay more than $700m. Within weeks of the talks falling through, Amazon launched Amazon Fashion to counter Jabong. Later Jabong bled to its on death and was acquired by Myntra (a Flipkart group company) for $70m. That’s peanuts.

Jabong acquisition actually made some sense as Amazon was not very strong in the Fashion category. Snapdeal on the otherhand is a smaller Amazon. Learning from the Jabong experience, I don’t think amazon would even consider bidding for Snapdeal.

Now for the same reason, it does not make sense to acquire Snapdeal. Why would either of them not wait for Snapdeal to bleed weak till it dies or can be bought at a much lower valuation (just for the brand) as in the case of Jabong-Myntra deal.

Now, can it make sense as well? Remember when Ola acquired Taxi for Sure a couple of years ago for $200m? That deal not only helped Ola become the undisputed champion of ride-hailing space in India, but also removed an irritating competitor who was forcing to burn much more cash than what Ola would have liked to. Is Snapdeal that kind of rival for Amazon and Flipkart? The answer is- Yes. Do they want to remove Snapdeal from the competition? The answer is- definitely Yes. But do they want to right now? The answer is- No. Paying $200m for Taxi for Sure was peanuts as compared to the benefits it brought. Snapdeal is a unicorn. I don’t think either Amazon or Flikpart’s investors would ever agree to shell that kind of money ever. Even buying a small stake in Snapdeal would be equal to a billion dollar funding round for the two larger rivals.

So, let the rumors be rumors. I am not sure if anything is going to happen on this beyond being just rumors.

Learnings From AskMeBazaar Shut Down


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Today morning I woke up to the news of AskMe shutting down its services leaving thousands of its employees and lakhs of its vendors and partners in quandary. It is not unusual for startups to stumble and fail. Globally more than 95% of the startups shut down.

AskMe was a different care altogether. The startup had raised $119m from Astro Holdings and other investors and were in talks to raise another $200m at a valuation of $1b. But then Astro decided not to participate in the next round. Things came to a dead end when Astro skipped the last Board meeting and AskMe wrote a letter to Registrar of Companies not to let Astro wind up their operations before clearing their dues (Approx Rs300 Cr).

I was surprised why it came to such a situation that the company had to shut overnight and lay off all its employees. The reason I found out was that Astro Holdings owned a whooping 98.5 % stake in the company. Let that sink in.

I am not sure what the founder were thinking while raising funds, but this is an insane amount of stake to be offered to a single investor. It does not leave room for other investors to have their say. In this case Astro did not want to participate in the next round of funding and I am sure the legal formalities would have got messed up for bringing in new investors of raising funds from other minority investors (if any).

The biggest learnings that the other entrepreneurs should learn from this incident are:

  1. Never have one single investor own an insanely large chunk of your company. 98.5%….never!
  2. When you get money in the bank, try working out the unit economics rather than burning the money at an insane rate. AskMe spend a large chunk of money hiring Bollywood brand ambassadors for TVCs. The same would have given much better ROI had the amount been spent on online marketing.
  3. In case such a situation arises, take care of your people. They trusted the startup ecosystem and toiled for your venture day in and day out. Never leave them high and dray by wrapping up operations overnight. I am sure the founders would have known the situations months ago. They should have told the truth to the employees and held them in faith to turn around things. Now the employees will not only lose the faith in the founders, but also the Indian startup ecosystem.