6 Speed Breakers That Indian Start-Ups Have To Face

Business How To’s

21 April 2017

6 Speed Breakers That Indian Start-Ups Have To Face

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

India today is a hotbed for start-ups and entrepreneurs. The scale of economic liberation that the country is witnessing is astounding.

However, and this is a big however, India is also a tough market to do business in. There are numerous cultural, political and infrastructural aspects that can result in more failures than successes. What makes India lag behind other countries in business innovation?

#1 The cost of starting is a lot!

We’re not talking about just the financial costs; the time and effort cost of starting a business in India is not for the faint-hearted. It can be disheartening for a young entrepreneur to make way through the myriad rules and regulations that have been put in place to give body to a process.

Did you know that you need to complete 12 different procedures, and spend nearly half your income per capita, just to get off the ground? Plus, it normally takes about a month to get everything in place. Compare that to the world average of just 9-12 days!

#2 We don’t have a fail-safe business culture

India operates on a wholly different plane of relationships and personal rapport. It isn’t enough to rely on facts and numbers alone to project an image of seriousness. You need to build relationships along with your business.

The same cultural outlook can also sometimes put pressure on the entrepreneur. Success is expected immediately, and not everyone views failure as a step closer to achieving one’s goal. In such an environment, start-ups might get compelled to suppress free-thinking and creativity. Swapping innovation for mediocrity could affect an enterprise’s growth. This is why a start-up must apply the lean method.

#3 Talent hunt

On one hand, there is a severe shortage of skilled talent within the country. Candidates are either seeking employment outside, with larger companies or are entrepreneurs themselves.

The other side of the problem is that having, by chance, found the right talent, a start-up cannot match the high salaries that larger companies offer. This means compromising and settling for the second-best.

#4 How do you get funding?

Unless you have an inheritance, chances are you will need capital from an outside source. VCs and private equities do help, but most entrepreneurs are often grappling to raise funds. And it gets tougher when an enterprise is looking to scale up. The market for investing in a start-up is still very small in India.

What about foreign investment? That too has its share of challenges. The government must be convinced and it must allow foreign investments in many sectors.

#5 The infrastructure doesn’t always keep pace

You are raring to go, but the infrastructure has other ideas. This might not always be the case, and not so much in larger cities. But smaller towns still reel under inefficient power supply, inferior roads, delays due to traffic, network connectivity, etc. all of which can prove expensive.

#6 Want to go international? Good luck with that!

If you want your idea to cross international borders, you will need to overcome many challenges to make it happen.

Do not get disheartened. If you have a great idea, India is a great economy to be a start-up today, despite these hurdles.

The government has launched the ‘Start-up India’ initiative that encourages and promotes the culture of entrepreneurship in India. There are benefits such as tax sops, and a special mobile app that will seamlessly connect start-ups, the government and regulatory authorities. The business of starting a business is also being simplified, with most registration processes made simpler and faster through online systems.

Moreover, mentorship programs like NASSCOM 10000, iSpirt and more are actively involved in the entrepreneurial mood of the country.

Yes, being a start-up is challenging and there will be days when nothing seems to be going your way. But it is possible to survive and flourish, provided you are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

5 Startup Branding Trends to Adopt in 2019

Business How To’s

14 August 2019

5 Startup Branding Trends to Adopt in 2019

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

It goes without saying that a strong branding game can make all the difference to your business, from helping establish a brand identity and differentiation to ensuring customer loyalty. However, in an unpredictable market and amidst cutthroat competition, branding trends keep evolving every minute and you’ve got to keep abreast of them to stay ahead. Read on to know the top five branding trends that can seal the deal for you in 2019.

Illustrate to engage

A key aspect of branding is engagement, and what better way to entice your audience than with immersive illustrations? Art is capable of humanizing and differentiating brands, while strengthening the connect you have with the customers.

As such, brands worldwide, including giants like Google and Facebook, are realizing the power of incorporating art in their communications to become more personable and easier to connect with. Be it using animation in marketing videos or partnering with artists for new product lines, art is emerging as a popular way to engage and delight audiences.

Adopt minimalism

Minimalism is yet another branding trend connected to art that is becoming popular by the day. it’s a combination of subtle design and clear intentions that come together to provide a precise yet accessible format. The USP of minimalism lies in the fact that it is perfect for mobile-first communications and enhances the experience across devices.

Apart from being a popular trend, minimalism just makes sense. There’s literally no point in crowding your design with unnecessary bevels and hues, which do nothing but confuse your audience. Brands like Nike and Starbucks have long realized the power of minimalism, and it is evident in their highly creative communications that drive the point home.

Reflect social responsibility

As buying decisions continue to be influenced by consumers’ moral standards and ideologies, especially in the case of millennials, it only makes sense for businesses to reflect social responsibility in their branding efforts. In fact, a Nielsen survey revealed that over 73% millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable goods.

As such, we are witnessing a continuous shift in branding trends that resonate a responsible world view. A case in point is the recent Gillette ad, which received mixed responses for critiquing toxic masculinity – some balked the ad for being accusatory while others appreciated the brand for its bold, progressive stance. Nevertheless, the ad brought the brand to the forefront, which it direly needed. This only goes on to show the impact you can have by resonating with the millennials.

Give your brand the personal touch

The digital age has ushered robust connectivity, thereby putting personalized communications at the forefront of branding. While personalization used to signify exclusivity in the days of the yore, technology has put more power in the hands of the consumers. In fact, according to a survey by Infosys, 86% consumers say that personalization has quite an impact on their purchasing decisions.

As a result, marketers are continually striving to incorporate that personal touch in branding to leave a lasting impact in the audience’s minds. While it may entail rethinking business operations, personalization can give your brand the opportunity to create a differentiated proposition and improve conversion. The e-commerce giant Amazon comes second to none when it comes to behavioural targeting and personalization. Other companies that have nailed personalized branding are Nike, Cadbury, and Google.

Use creative online domain names

Finding a URL that matches your company’s name can prove to be tough. Did you know that Dropbox went by the URL “GetDropbox.com” in its initial days due to scarcity of exact-match domains?

However, this only opens opportunities to get creative with your domain names. The more creative and appealing your domain name is, the greater the chances of it attracting more audiences to your website. Plus, establishing a strong domain name is an important investment. Tools like Domainr, Nameboy, and Domize can come in handy for finding a creative domain name for your business.

Conclusion

Branding is all about connecting with your audience in a meaningful way for maximum brand recall. Adopt these five trends into your branding strategy to entice your customers and beat the competition. As Jeff Bezos rightly said, “Your brand is what people say about you after you leave the room”.

Facebook’s ‘Cryptocurrency’: All You Need to Know about Libra

Business How To’s

30 July 2019

Facebook’s ‘Cryptocurrency’: All You Need to Know about Libra

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Cryptocurrencies are believed to usher in the next digital wave, and why not? Their potential is undeniable when it comes to easing payment processes and making them much more secure. Add to it the fact that they are decentralized and come with near-zero processing fees, the scope of cryptocurrency is beyond general imagination.

Not someone to fall behind in emulating disruptive trends, Facebook announced its own cryptocurrency, Libra, on June 18, 2019, and is planning to publicly launch it in 2020. Read on to know more about Libra.

How stable is Libra?

Libra is a cryptocurrency that is intended to be sent instantly, and with almost no fees, anywhere in the world. It is built on the same principles as Bitcoin, but unlike Bitcoin, whose stability is followed by a huge question mark, Libra aims to have a stable value backed by trusted international currencies, such as the Dollar, Euro, and Yen. Libra will be pegged to a group of low-volatility assets, including fiat currencies, bank deposits, and government securities, which makes it extremely stable.

Is Libra a pure cryptocurrency?

This is a pretty contentious question that started making the rounds soon after Libra was announced. Let us make it clear for you. Compared to the Rupee or Dollar, Libra is definitely a cryptocurrency, since there’s no central bank that controls its minting.

However, compared to bitcoin, Libra isn’t as pure. While bitcoin is a permissionless system, meaning anyone can participate, Libra is a permissioned system, which means only a trusted few entities can keep track of its ledger (that is, mine the coin). But then, Libra will allow you to buy and transfer money under a pseudonym, which again makes it a cryptocurrency.

According to Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, Libra is indeed a cryptocurrency and the permissioned model only means it needs less computing power.

How exactly does Libra work?

Basically, you cash in a local currency to get Libra, spend it like you would spend rupees without huge transaction fees or your real name attached, and cash it out whenever you want. Every time you buy Libra, your money is deposited in a bank account where it sits untouched. This is to ensure that every Dollar’s worth of Libra is backed by a Dollar in the bank, so it can generate interest that can be used to pay back the cryptocurrency’s initial investors.

What is the Libra Association?

In an attempt to spur Libra’s adoption and make it more stable, Facebook recruited the founding members of the Libra Association, a not-for-profit that will oversee the development of the cryptocurrency. The association will also monitor the reserve of real-world assets that gives Libra its value so as to avoid any untoward incidents that might nudge the cryptocurrency to crash.

For now, there are 28 founding members of the Libra Association, including giants like Visa, Uber, and MasterCard, which have invested at least $10 million each into the project’s operations. Facebook hopes to reach 100 founding members before the official Libra launch.

How will Libra be governed?

The Libra Association will be responsible for recruiting more founding members. Facebook claims that every member of the association will only get up to one vote or 1% of the total vote (whichever is larger) in the Libra Association Council. This is to provide a level of decentralization that will protect against Facebook or any other player attempting to hijack Libra for their own gains.

Plus, the association will also be responsible for protecting your privacy by never mingling your Libra payments with your Facebook data. Your real identity will not be revealed at any point, so Libra can’t be used for ad targeting.

Conclusion

Despite all the controversy that’s been going around the announcement of Libra, Facebook got one thing right for sure. Traditional money isn’t really accessible to everyone; you’d need a bank account at least. Facebook hopes to create a global currency that can be accessed by anyone with a simple internet connection, sans the concerns of theft, misuse, and heavy transaction fees. If Libra successfully gains universal traction, the world will become a much smaller place than all the News Feed Likes combined.

Is Your Company AI Ready?

Business How To’s

24 July 2019

Is Your Company AI Ready?

  • Posted by aurindam ghosal

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to transform businesses across industries by streamlining operations and increasing efficiency. While large corporations have already jumped on to the AI bandwagon, only 8% of startups and small businesses have adopted AI into their processes. This percentage would be even less if we look at India-based startups alone. This is largely due to the common perception that AI comes with a huge appetite for costs and resources.

However, this isn’t entirely true. Inexpensive AI applications have a lot to offer in terms of creating value for small businesses as well – from highly effective customer service to smart marketing solutions. Moreover, a responsive AI solution can extract crucial market insights that can help you stay ahead of competition.

Read on to find out 4 ways your startup or business can leverage AI to its full potential.

  1. Start small

Rushing into AI enablement without considering the business-specific areas of application serves no purpose. It’s better to start slow and small, especially for SMEs. Begin by defining clear expectations as to what you’d want AI to do for your business. You need to figure out a specific business need (for example, sentiment analysis) where AI can come in handy. Then, integrate multiple AI apps to aid this requirement and augment your team’s productivity. You can then gradually move on to adopting open source AI platforms, cloud systems, and scalable AI frameworks, based on your business requirements.

  1. Leverage AI-powered tools

Developing an AI solution from scratch is, of course, complex and resource-intensive. Thankfully, there are several AI-powered tools available in the market that can give you the AI advantage with minimal human interference. Tools like X.ai, Import.io, and Uberflip are some examples of scheduling and marketing tools that can be leveraged across domains, including retail, finance, sales, and strategy.

These tools are easy-to-use, requiring minimal AI expertise at your end, and are also dead cheap with the subscription for X.ai starting at just Rs. 600 per month.

  1. Implement AI for analysis

If you’re looking for safe ways to implement AI in your business, leveraging it for analytics and recruitment would be the best way to go. Analytics is something that most startups find difficult to do because of lack of resources. Recruitment is another dire challenge, with 74% startups finding it difficult to hire good talent.

Hootsuite Insights and Sendible are some effective AI tools that you can leverage for market and sentiment analytics, while CVViZ and Arya are AI-powered recruitment tools that make candidate screening a breeze. The tools are easy to use and require no AI expertise at your end, and you can avail them for as low as Rs. 750 per month.

  1. Deploy chatbots

If you’re skeptical about implementing AI in your backend operations, one of the best ways to achieve measurable results from AI would be to implement it with frontend processes like customer service. Chatbots are an affordable means of providing a great customer experience, while also helping generate leads and converting customers.

Developing chatbots is easy and surprisingly cheap. In fact, you can opt for readymade chatbots at a minimal price. All you have to do is visit chatbot marketplaces like Botlist and choose a chatbot closest to your business needs. You barely need a couple of hours to get a readymade chatbot up and running.

Conclusion

AI’s applications in businesses, small or large, cannot be undermined, given the immense benefits it offers in terms of optimizing operations and improving ROIs. It is especially an efficient technology to  keep abreast of the ever-evolving market conditions and to stay ahead of competition.