Category Archives: startup

Who are your customers?

The central part of any business is the “customer” and all activities are directed for the customers’ satisfaction in an organization. You can see the companies competing on prime time space on television to showcase their product and seek attention of the audiences. Big companies and research institutes spend a huge sum for customers’ profiling, buying behavior, marketing and advertising to influence customers’ buying decision, selling product to him/her, assessing feedback and retain him/her for life time.

However, you have to have a clear understanding about the product which you have to sell first. Further you also need to know about the target audience or crowd and their buying behavior, sales pitch and customization etc. In this post, I have identified few questions and taking energy drinks as an example to understand your customers better:

  1. What is your product or service? Answer this question with another question….What gap your product will fill? E.g. if your product is an energy drink, it will re-energize an exhausted marathoner. It is also served in party for energizing party lovers and by youngsters to simply satisfy their thirst during their activities.
  2. Whom you are targeting to sell your product/service? A survey result of students says that 68% students use it while studying, 49% while partying and 51% occasionally. This information will lead you to the target customers.
  3. What is the USP of your Product/service? The energy drink is used as rehydrating and re-energizing drinks for sports persons. It fits with all themes of the party. It goes along with almost all the ages.
  4. Where your customer stay, work and buy? Based on our product, demographical profile and USP, now we are closer to our customer. We can find out more about their location geographically, Place of work or residence and nearby market or mode of purchase (e.g. online).
  5. How your customers buy your product/ service? Determining buying behavior i.e. pattern, frequency of your customers will be helpful to understand whether the purchase is made yearly, seasonally, monthly or weekly. It is important to know the pattern/frequency of the purchase of your customer so that you get to know him/her better. Social media play a vital role here like what an individual follows on facebook gives lot of information about his/her personality.
  6. Why your customers buy your product/ service? It is important to understand what made your customer buy your product or service and compare it with similar purchases made in the past? Sometimes endorsing celebrities as per the profile of customers’ likes and dislikes is very helpful for the business houses because many people follow the product which is used by their favorite actors.


It is possible to influence your customers’ buying decisions, if you know him/her better. Steve Jobs said “A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. This is a great saying because if you know your customers, it is helpful in designing your product/services accordingly and also very helpful to create value proposition over your competitors.


Angel Investors: Angels for Early Stage Investing

There is a reason angel investors are called just that because they are angels indeed, who see benefit in your untested products or idea and invest in your venture. They are the early-age risk-takers who bring more companies in the marketplace. It is because they want high return on their investments that they become angel investors plus, they get to work with bright individuals who are brimming with ideas and innovation.

Let us just say that it is not just a great idea or your conviction that will draw the angels to invest in your business. They are looking for some emotional connection whether it is in the form of what is to offer or how you present the overall idea. It is also a lot to do about how your business would have a sustainable growth, how it leverages technology and how it proposes to create quick landmarks. But that is not all. An entrepreneur may need to prepare themselves long and hard to be able to have an investor offer the start-up money. Having said that, not only is finding an ideal investor a fabulous breakthrough but you can ace the criteria simply auctioning on some of the basics of your business. So, the next time you pitch, these are a few things you might want to consider:

Your Team

Angels often invest in people rather than products. Having an A-team with the most credible and likeable approach to the business tends to attract the angels. You may have a great idea on hand, but if you do not have people who have the necessary expertise or skills to execute that idea then it would never work with the investors. Angel investors want to be a part of your success story and so they look for the resourcefulness and entrepreneurship that you and your team bring in tough times. They would also be interested if one of the founders has been in a startup before and has had some experience in establishment and advisory.

Rakesh Malik (Managing Director & Founder- Combine Ways) adds, “If you are not thorough with the financial terms or taxation or creating the bottom-line,in what way your venture will be profitable, how can you optimize whatever little funds you have put, it’s quite challenging. You need someone to support it, to understand. That is what team building is. It’s good to get that person on board.”

Business Plan

A convincing and completed plan is an absolute must before you pitch to an investor. This means it should have had 360 degrees view of all the aspects that involve the business model, market evaluation, financial projections, competition study, problem-solving, edge over competition and how the investor will make money from your business. Of course, it is not always true that if you have a business plan your success is guaranteed. It simply indicates that you have a clear understanding of your business standing in the market and that there is opportunity for solid return. Since the investors involve themselves in a high degree of risk, so they expect not just getting their money back but a higher return on their investment, sometimes even seven times more!


Angel investors are always looking for businesses that need a minimum viable product to reach the market space that can quickly scale and raise enough money for the operations. Businesses that have a large workforce or long sales-cycle often tend to scale slowly. Not only that, such businesses take far longer to establish their name in the market, thereby not creating the necessary escalation upwards. Let us take the example of companies like Facebook, Uber, AirBnB and Alibaba who have had minimum input from the company itself but has could implement a structure that allows the public to use their own assets, for profit. Not only are these exciting startups but they also held a promise to deliver great returns.

Smriti Chandra (Founding Partner at First League Ventures) shares, “When you’re raising a seed fund, at that point of time angel networks will want to look at some bit of traction that has happened in your business; either the product has got ready , there is some kind of alpha/beta launch that has happened , some level of progress in the project.


The investors are looking for smarts, passion and drive in an entrepreneur. But more than that, it is your integrity that will hold the collaboration between you and them. During the liaison, there could be a whole lot that can go wrong, but if the entrepreneur can build that trust with the investor, in most likelihood the bond will bear fruition. There are personal qualities like determination, resilience and passion that will make the investors trust that you are note just good at leading the team, setting goals, and managing finances but also great at rising to the occasion when the going gets tough.

Exit Strategy

Even though angel investors patiently and willingly make long-term investments, yet they need to have a clear understanding of how they are going to reap the return on their investment. Therefore, having a clear and viable exit strategy is an essential element that you may want to prepare while preparing your pitch. Of course, while forecasting the entrepreneurs must be realistic and not come up with outlandish claims that do not match the reality, because that would certainly put the investors off.

Getting the investor have eyeballs for your business, be sure to keep your business investor-ready. This simply means being ready with your business plan, restructuring your business strategy, keeping your finances clean and having a killer team to seal the deal. Once you have done this, simply tailor out a pitch by incorporating what we have discussed here. Investors are always on a look out for a pitch where their inputs are not required at all!

Good luck!!

Experiential Bootcamp; To Become Investor Ready

Not Just Mentoring BUT Real ACTION to get Early Start -Ups Investor Ready 

LeaderinU launched the “L.I.F.E. Bootcamp & Investor Day” in collaboration with leading organizations in the Startup ecosystem. The L.I.F.E. Bootcamp & Investor Day is dedicated to drive early stage start-ups to be investor ready through action based training and experience sharing discussions with industry experts and serial entrepreneurs. It brings together industry experts, investors and entrepreneurs to share the best practices, address challenges and to facilitate a great platform to invest in scalable early startups to boost their growth and nurture them.The Program included the following: 

1. L.I.F.E. program screened and selected a group of 15 entrepreneurs to join the L.I.F.E. Bootcamp & Investor Day held on 18-20 April, 2017 in New Delhi. 

2. The Program was designed specifically for early stage startups striving to achieve solid, sustainable levels of growth with the right kind of investments. 

3. The bootcamp comprised of first 2 days dedicated to action based learning where they were refining and enchanting their business model and preparing to pitch in front of the investors.

4. The bootcamp’s approach offered an action-based process where participants were continuously learning and acting throughout the entire 3 days. It helped participants to refine important strategic aspects of their business model and tactical actions to create powerful pitch decks for the investors.  

5. With 2 interactive, experience sharing round table sessions with the industry experts, serial entrepreneurs and investors. 

Niraj (Participant – Co-founder at Elderly Camp) adds, “I have been to a lot of workshops but there is more of story telling about what you have to do but how you have to do, how you really can get it done is not explained. That was the aspect, which came here, and I loved it. This workshop is perfect for startups and budding entrepreneurs.”

6. Roundtable sessions held were covering real important matters for entrepreneurs such as: from market entry to customer segmentation, roadmap from fundraising to exit, from idea to execution challenge and how entrepreneurs can lead their companies from idea to series B. In addition to a session on experience sharing with serial entrepreneurs and how & what should early stage startups look at. 

7. On the 3-day, they pitched in front of the panel of investors – Indian Angel Network, Kae Capital, NASSCOM 10000 Startups, and Ah Ventures. Digvijay Singh (Investor Panel – VP, IndianAngelNetwork) stated, “Bootcamp was good, indeed! We shortlisted 4 deals to get into deeper due diligence at IAN.

 The objective of the bootcamp is to extend the reach of leading investment firms by providing access to high-growth early startup with growth potential. 

The event has attracted 100+ early stage entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and business leaders. 15 startups were shortlisted for the bootcamp and 12 startups were selected to pitch their business on stage in front of the investors and 4 Startups were selected for the next round of discussions for investments.

45 Amazing Business Tools for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, I have realised that a team’s productivity lies in the utilisation of its time and resources most effectively. Especially, if you are commencing a small business, it becomes highly important that time management and team management remains top of the chart for us to perform optimally and meritoriously. When I started off as an entrepreneur, I realised that a lot of responsibilities from hiring employees, managing teams, marketing the brand and dealing with finances fell on my platter to handle immediately. Having to juggle with all these responsibilities was not only daunting but stressful as well.

Working together on a schedule with the help of some useful tools, helped me manage my business better and brought the team together working on similar timelines and schedules thereby improving the productivity and saving time to deliver more.

With the diversity in the business world presently, there is an increasing change in the way that we conduct business and communicate with our teams. With the dynamic work environment, setting up an agile work and time management solution becomes necessary. By taking advantage of some the new and innovative tools, one can become a more efficient, productive and successful entrepreneur. Even though some of the tools mentioned here may have been used sparingly by me for my business, but I know for a fact that if they can work for me, they can for sure work for you as well. 

Personal Learning

  1. Startup Launch List is a simple yet resourceful tool wherein you can select what you want to learn about launching a startup and it will curate resources for you like articles and reading material written by founders, designers, investors and thought leaders.
  2. Code Academy lets you learn simple and complex coding like HTML, Javascript, PHP and more for free. For Business, it is an effective and fun way to learn the digital skills necessary for more creative and constructive work.
  3. Google Primer is a fast and easy way to learn new marketing skills. You can easily take small-sized lessons that help you either brush up on the basics or help you explore more. Each lesson at the end throws in some personalised next steps that are customised for your requirement.
  4. is a unique website that teaches you coding, designing, and marketing by using GIF courses that are merely 5 seconds and helps you learn the basic skills faster than any online course can offer.
  5. Coursera offers you courses on marketing, machine learning, entrepreneurship, etc. that has been curated by top instructors from some of the best universities. The certified courses include recorded video lectures, assignments and community discussed forums. From specialisations to online degrees, the website offers it all.

(LIFE Entrepreneur Assessment: Do you have what it takes to be an Entrepreneur?) 

Time Management

  1. Wunderlist is an excellent tool to plan for tasks to-do and assigns them to your peers. It sets reminders so you don’t miss out on an event. You can also share your lists with colleagues on the work that you are collaborating on. It can be accessed from any device and makes it easy to use for everyone. Works great for personal use too!
  2. Toggl is a time-tracking tool that is built for speed and is easy to use. It allows you to check the amount of time an individual team member spends on different projects that categorises and creates reports by project, client, week and/or day. It lets you identify sources of workplace distraction and unprofitable projects thereby offering you to focus on utilising your time better on the more profitable ones.
  3. disables internet, social media and other applications that gobble up your valuable working time by distracting. This solution allows you to schedule your time in advance so that you can produce more in the time you allot.
  4. Nutcache is an all-inclusive, collaborative project-management tool that integrates time tracking, expense management and invoicing. It helps you and your team to organise, track and deliver in a timely fashion and within the budgets allocated.
  5. Launchy is a free utility that allows you to launch your files, folders, documents and bookmarks with just a few clicks effortlessly. It indexes the programs in your start menu and launches your documents easily.
  6. Remember the Milk is an online task-management tool that helps you work effectively with the help of a to-do list. It also allows you to share tasks with your teams and assign them tasks accordingly. Evernote and Google Calendar can also be linked to this tool for better results.

Team collaboration

  1. Slack makes your communications with your teams very effective and right on time. No need to send lengthy e-mails and wait for a response. You can use slack live and chat/message without any waste of time. Everything that is work related is organized in one place for team members to access through the search option It is integrated with other useful tools like twitter and mailchimp to ensure you can swiftly toggle from one platform to another.
  2. Evernote creates a project to-do list or notes that saves all your notes on the cloud and syncs them across your devices. You can also record pictures and sketches to share with teams. It’s a great tool for teams because it lets you easily share work notes with your team.
  3. Freedcamp is a digital version of staying organized by writing up to-do lists or creating sticky notes. You can also create milestones or events on your calendar so you don’t miss out on a thing. Also, use this for issuing trackers, sending estimates & creating invoices, creating feature rich documents with multiple versions and turning projects into templates for future reference.
  4. Github offers a fast, flexible and collaborative software development process that allows you to work efficiently with your team and other developers. It offers secure development for small and large companies and you can easily work on code or track bugs on a single integrated platform.
  5. Dropbox is a secure file sharing and storage platform while maintaining complete control over the shared information and the activities involved. Your teams can download the required information or share it on the platform with complete ease.
  6. Streak is a simple CRM plugin for Gmail to manage and share your sales leads thereby making it simple for everyday processes to be managed in the smartest of ways.
  7. Basecamp is a simple and organised way to manage projects and communicate the same with your teams by organising it all in one place so you have a central source for all your data and details.
  8. Stormboard is a collaborating platform where ideas and discussions can be changed into digital sticky notes for remote brainstorming and workshops. Since it is real-time therefore everyone can see what is on the stormboard and easily add ideas and comments.
  9. Meldium is a team password sharing and management platform that makes it easy for everyone to access applications from one home screen.

Website Resources

  1. FreePik offers a whole range of pictures that you do not have to purchase for personal or commercial use. The designs are prepared and created by a team of designers and you can edit the vectors as per your requirement. This is simply the best thing for designing your own pictures.
  2. FlatIcon is an extension tool of Freepik where you can find thousands of free modern flat icons for your website here. Its free and easy to use. You can also go premium if designing is one of the essentials of your business.
  3. Canva is an easy-to-use online graphic designing tool. It is easy to design a logo, poster, or social media post quickly and you can even add your team to use it. With various ready templates, it is easy to create a personalized combination as well. You can create flyers, brochures, social media images and infographics all for free!
  4. Pablo. With over 15000+ images at Pablo, you can design engaging images for social media posts with design images and inspiring quotes on it. With this tool, it is easy to share it on various other social media platforms as well.
  5. Start Bootstrap has some free themes and templates for quickly building a website for your blog or your company. All the templates are responsive and free and if you are getting to experimental, they have premium templates as well.
  6. Crate lets you create a group of influencers or competitors and uses that list to compare it to the social graph so that it is easy for you to know the best links that these people use and share. You can add Twitter or Buffer account to Crate and share the best articles which are of relevance to your business and other stakeholders.

Increase Website Traffic

  1. SumoMe gives you free tools like Sharing, Heat Maps, Listbuilder, Content Analytics, and Free traffic for your website to enable you to grow more traffic, build a following and track your success. Hop on to their website and you would understand how easy it is to associate with it and get quick results.
  2. Elevio is a 24×7 concierge support for your website that promises to reduce your support tickets by educating your visitor on how to use your website. Additionally, you can integrate and connect to your existing support services as well.
  3. MailChimp is probably the most popular e-mail marketing tool that allows you to send newsletters and build your email list. It enables you to send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free. Building a newsletter is easy with their existing templates.
  4. Survey Monkey is another very popular tool to create surveys. It is an online survey development cloud-based software as a service company with over 200 survey templates you can choose from. From simple polls to extensive market surveys, it helps you cover almost everything that you need for your business. Also, you can analyze the results in the backend.
  5. UserVoice helps track and manage the feedback of users and customers thereby leveraging the best suggestions directly from the consumer of your products. This makes it easy for you to focus on what are the areas that need to be stepped up and which areas to improve on.

Online Business

  1. Virtual Assistant is a remote worker who helps you with your admin tasks that you can source either through industry referrals or through an agency called Virtual Staff Finder or Zirtual. It is an affordable way to free up time to focus on strategising and growth, along with ensuring that the main operations are getting actioned consistently.
  2. Google Docs/Google Drive is an online word processor that lets you smartly edit your documents with stylish tools and collaborate with your team on a real-time basis. Google Drive allows you to store all your Google Docs (and any other files) in the one place and syncs all devices with the cloud. It also assists in creating and storing presentations, spreadsheets, design specs and planning and procedural documents.
  3. Trello is a collaboration tool that works great if you are designing a workflow for a project. It organises your projects into tasks on boards, much like a board with post it notes, which makes tracking your progress easy. Trello informs what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process by assigning action items and inserting automated tasks. With its versatility to move tasks and items around with a minimum of fuss, it allows me to assign color coding to tasks to keep up to speed on how things are progressing.
  4. Drip is an email management tool that lets you send out marketing emails to targeted groups automatically on a schedule. Even today, it is observed that email is still highly effective in getting people to buy, so the importance of creating and building email lists cannot be underestimated and therefore Drip allows you to customise automated email sequences for specific target markets.


  1. Buffer is a social media management tool that helps you to share your content as per a schedule for you to increase your followers, engage with your audience and build your brand. You can easily identify which are the social platforms you would want your content to be shared and then add customised content accordingly.
  2. Hootsuite is a platform for managing social media marketing, all in one place, that enables you to respond and post across all your social profiles in one easy-to-use dashboard quickly. You can also use the analytics function to view how well your social media marketing is doing.
  3. Spaces is a free logo maker website where a 4-step process lets you create a logo for your company easily. Though it is not a substitute for any other editing software but a basic use logo maker
  4. Sniply is a powerful tool that allows you to attach an inbound button or call to action into a frame that the article sits inside. Thus, giving you some control of the platform and perpetuating traffic from the non-affiliated content that you share.
  5. Scraper lets you easily pull content from a web page and export it into an Excel spreadsheet. It’s a perfect way to extract contact information or competitor’s data. Once you have this data, you can use it to create cold-email lists, content topics, and other data-driven marketing tactics.
  6. Sprout Social is another social media marketing platform which allows you to establish different user roles and delegate tasks to them. It also furnishes social listening functionality that allows you to perform better content topic research and market research by plugging into your key users’ social media interactions.
  7. Zapier is an online application that allows you to share content easily and quickly across apps that do not have any inbuilt integration. You can get your automated tasks into Trello for further action. It is also easier to share your content/files with you teams for their action on Trello.

(Improve customer engagement on your website using our Social Media Guides for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


  1. Google Analytics is a free platform that suits well to any of your analytics needs. It simply gathers which sites to monitor and imply through a tracking code you can get details of all the parameters you would want your site to be analysed on.
  2. Google Keyword Planner allows you to see how many people are searching relevant terms that you are sharing or are relevant to your business. This can be a very effective tool in increasing online sales and planning for your future marketing endeavours.
  3. Facebook Ads lets you use the targeting options to compare the approximate size and location of various interests and demographics and helps you drive online sales, increase local sales, promotes your website/application and raises your brand awareness.

Using all these tools together would be tedious, but I can share from my experience that some of them work wonderfully well with my business and has been able to give a boost to my and my team’s productivity. You may want to choose what works best with the kind of startup that you are involved with and then take it forward from there. Nevertheless, it may not be wrong to mention that each of these amazing tools are bound to streamline many of your processes and that surely is a great start.

Good luck!