Branding your startup – How did uTrade do it?

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Branding your Start-up So you’ve jumped across all the hurdles in your way, put in sweat and blood, and invested countless hours to kick-off your start-up. Now how do you get noticed? For startups, it’s important to “go live” and start generating revenue before running out of initial capital. This definitely drives a sense of urgency to succeed quickly. Many entrepreneurs spend most of their time on the concept and its execution, but should also translate the startup’s big idea into a brand idea. Especially as they cross 3-5 years mark and become a real business. Your brand is your identity; it defines how your customers perceive you. It is the experience you deliver to your customers. Think about the […]

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How to Avoid a Kodak Moment for your Company

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Kodak Cameras History Kodak developed the first simple, consumer camera. For over a century following this, Eastman Kodak was the biggest player in the industry. However, the years following 1994 saw the company’s demise, thanks to its unwillingness to acknowledge the growing popularity of digital cameras. Apple had just launched QuickTake, the world’s first consumer digital camera, which incidentally was manufactured by Kodak. Despite this, they did not jump onto the digital bandwagon till many years later. As digital photography destroyed its film-based counterpart, it was a downhill ride from there, and the company eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Its annual losses reached $1.38 billion in 2012. Of the roughly 200 buildings that once stood on the 1,300-acre campus […]

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Bitcoin Simplified and its Future

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Say you’re planning a cross-continental trip to three different countries. The usual hassles accompanying such a trip would be the exchange of currencies and the inevitable fee that accompanies each exchange. Say you run short of cash, and now need to head to the nearest ATM, and pay ridiculously high international transaction fees. Frustrating, right? Now imagine an alternative scenario- one where you don’t need to convert your currencies, travel with actual cash in your wallet, or pay any fees to use it. Sounds like a dream, right? Well this may very well be the future of money- thanks to a unique little invention called the Bitcoin.   What is Bitcoin? The Bitcoin has garnered a lot of international attention over […]

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What Will Make Startup India Truly ‘Stand Up’ And Be Counted!

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What a year 2016 is turning out to be from the viewpoint of India’s Startup ecosystem! The year got off to a ‘Big-Bang’ start with the Prime Minister outlining the Startup India Action Plan, indicative of the significance his government has ascribed to startups as job creators and growth stimulators. With angel and venture capital investments recording the highest ever jump to cross a new milestone in the previous year, 2016 was all set to be the year to usher in more ‘unicorns’ with access to a torrent of investor funds and to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship through government led initiatives like ‘Startup India’ and ‘Digital India’ with an objective to make the country the startup capital of the […]

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What is a Blockchain and why does it matter?

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Finance, Startups, Trading

Blockchain is likely to be the most hyped database in the current decade. It is the core technology that enabled bitcoin, which has had challenging ups and downs due to business reasons.   Blockchain has the ability to bring lot of efficiencies in how information is created, shared, accessed, secured, and relies upon crowd efforts for validating the correct information. Hence it is compared with the Internet revolution that started in late 90s. Similar to the early days of Internet revolution, Blockchain has lot of useless attempts of me-too players solving a meaningless problem. The important thing to understand is what is the core problem and can block-chain really help at all. 80% efforts should be allocated to validating the […]

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Robots: Are we creating the Superior Species that will Disrupt the World Order?

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Robots, Technology, Automation, etc. have existed since the last century; but they got smarter, relevant and widely used across most industries in the current decade. The number of movies on robots & artificial intelligence are increasing every year as the imagination of filmmakers run wild. Most of them recently have focused on the challenges Smarter Robots may create in the future, and are genuine possible concerns.   Robots 1.0 – Automation and part Intelligence Robots have picked up automation work for quite some time now, including, robotic vacuum cleaners (millions of them out there), tele-marketing software, algorithms that make financial trading decisions, health diagnosis software, automated manufacturing lines in the factories, fully automated restaurants, etc. have already become a reality. […]

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Cashflows – When Less is More

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Funding is a crucial element for any company in the world. From large companies to startups, funding can make or break a company’s existence. Ironically, Funding acts as a double edged sword. Over funding and poor use / management of funding can lead to eventual failures too. There are several examples from the recent past, Dotcom bubble was built by bankers and financiers (like VCs, PEs) investing extreme amounts into early stage tech startup companies at insane valuations without really any proof of underlying business models or technologies. It lead to a big crash in 2000/2001 Subprime crisis was accumulated by bankers creating structured products on subprime loans without validating underlying asset quality and value. It lead to Credit crisis […]

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5 Key Reasons why most Start-ups Fail

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Several startup failures can be categorised into few common and classic mistakes.   1. Build a product / service which is not required  Many entrepreneurs feel that they want something, and everyone else will need it too. It needs a thorough analysis and validation which entrepreneurs tend to not do well. They try to find facts that support their hypothesis and eventually their idea fails.   2. Cash flow runs out  This is the most common reason why most startups shut down. They run out of money. Sometimes it maybe attributed to the fact that their business build failed. But sometimes its also due to poor planning of cashflow and undermining the fact that customer payments, investment process, etc. takes […]

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API Economy: Why Every Tech Company needs an API Strategy

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Businesses run a variety of applications, each containing and holding data vital to the needs of an organization. These applications cannot operate in isolation and eventually; there is a need to integrate them with various other applications. This is primarily driven by complex business needs, which call for information and resources, to be shared across the boundaries of these applications. This interconnection and overlap of business applications and the information sharing across boundaries of application has led to an emergence of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which encapsulate and hide the details of one application from another and enable them to share data and information with the surrounding applications. This leads to better insights into data and showing the linkages with […]

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Future of Fintech: Beyond 2015

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  Fintech will continue to grow and stay in headlines, but it will be far from the full disruption. I do not see a Google or Facebook alike company emerging in Fintech in this decade. It will continue to be highly fragmented with various small-ish leaders driving the disruptions. Higher VC capital getting allocated to Fintech shall lead to some key leaders emerge by the end of this decade. Payments shall continue the fragmentation for now, with Paypal, Apple Pay, Banks, and various other smaller localized payment initiatives gaining traction. But it remains to be seen whether mobile, a new device (like square), or what else becomes the payment mantra of the future. Bitcoin shall face continue to face the regulatory […]

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Role of Technology in the Growth of Indian Financial Markets

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Indian financial markets have seen a major growth in the current decade in terms of technological advancements. This has enabled growth in algo trading volumes, leading to Indian exchanges featuring in the world’s largest exchanges by volumes. Technology has helped in – faster dissemination of market data and other relevant information by exchanges and trading participants – capturing and consolidation of market data from various exchanges and other sources of relevant information – making complex calculations on live and historic data, leading to trade decisions – trading and managing risk – lowering the latency and cost of trading – various post-trade processes   The exchanges started offering co-location to its members, which means that member servers can be hosted in […]

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Why we need Disruptive Start-ups focused on “Bigger than Life” Issues

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I am a Start-up entrepreneur and have learnt more doing my startup in the last 3 years than I did in the previous 30 years or my life. I enjoy the journey and the learning, but always keep wondering, what next. Whats the next big thing I would do. Few thoughts come to mind that I am gonna share. Firstly, lets re-establish why we need start-ups: Imagine the world where there were no start-ups. Only limited existing large firms were running and nobody ever started a new company. We will not have the same level of Innovation – Despite of whatever the large firms spend on RnD, they mostly never come up with the best / disruptive / efficient solutions. […]

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Idea behind Startup Pundit

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Over the last few years, I seeked advice and mentorship from various senior and kind leaders in the capital markets and technology industry. We were lucky that many super successful leaders were keen to help us in our startup journey. In the last couple of years, we noticed that several younger students who were trying to be entrepeneurs reached out to us looking for feedback and mentorship in their ventures. There issues varied from person to person and business to business, but we noticed many common themes, Is my idea good enough to become a successful business? Should I quit my job to start my own company? Can I do it part time? What if I fail? My parents and […]

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Why you should not join a Growth Stage Start-up Firm

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Having done 2000+ final round interviews (for shortlisted candidates) in the last 3 years, we have had several discussions with candidates who eventually chose not to join uTrade. We are trying to recap their reasons, and this may help anybody who is considering joining any professionally run growth stage start-up, including uTrade. 1. Life is unpredictable – we don’t do same things for too long. If you are looking for same style of  work for long periods and only glacially slow changing environment, you should not join us. We don’t stay in comfort zone for too long. 2. We don’t work on clear specifications – Unlike tons of services firms who get clear requirements from their clients; we end up […]

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Why High Internet Valuation misguides the Entrepreneur Focus

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Entrepreneurship is booming around the world. This decade will witness most start-up firms ever in the history of mankind. The balance of economy among large gigantic firms and small / growing millions of start-ups challenging them will shift dramatically and there would be winners and losers at the end. Time will tell what’s the right equilibrium of balance across the types of firms (large / small) in corporate sector as a sustainable model. The start-ups really help solve variety of problems, bring innovation and efficiencies in our lives for better; these things are generally hard to come by from large firms as they tend to be poor at innovation, very slow to move, and rarely pro-actively improve the market dynamics. […]

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Chosing Partner Clients in Start-up’s Growth Stage

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It’s a good situation for a start-up to have built a product / service and have some live / beta client(s) to work with. If proven, the offering could be expanded further to work for more clients as well as diversify into other potential growth areas. This is an interesting stage for a start-up when they have “semi-proven” product, hand full of beta clients and potentially a few more clients interested. This is a commendable position for the start-up, but a fairly challenging one as well. Its tempting to work with all clients, and try to meet all their requirements at once with a limited team size,  trying to support and scale the half baked product. Selection of clients to […]

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Managing Start-ups in Growth Phase

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It’s a brave move for entrepreneurs to move from any “comfortable” career path to start a start-up. Some of those with lot of hard work and luck move to the growth stage where there product / service / business model starts to get traction. Idea converts from idea or prototype to a real product / service. Some customers start paying for it. Investors may flock in with some small investments to keep the start-up going. Startup becomes started up. It’s a great milestone to hit as majority of start-ups never reach this stage. But the going just gets tougher here. Live clients mean there is low / no room for error. Entrepreneur’s responsibility expands from team members and investors to […]

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NSEL crisis – Mini Version of US subprime crisis in Indian capital markets

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The US subprime crisis in 2007 had shaken the foundation of US economy and eventually the global economy. Subprime loans (loans for people with not so good credit history, jobs, assets etc.) had high probability of default. These loans were structured by investment banks into Bonds and sold to various Financial Institutions around the world. The mortgage (subprime loan) issuers had the incentive to issue as many mortgages as possible. The practice became so unprofessional, that the loan applicants were asked to fill the form in pencil so that issuers could misrepresent certain details so as to meet the issuer’s lending criteria and get the loans issued. The package of such loans was not managed well from risk perspective, not […]

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First-time Entrepreneurs, Be Aware of these 50 Things

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    Business Planning Don’t make a business plan where you target to get a few percentage points of a multi-million of billion market, and you think it’s going to be easy (or “how hard can it be”). For example if you say search engine business is multi-billion dollar industry   and you can make a search engine that can achieve 1% market share in 1 year. That’s complete bs. Do try and get as much feedback on your business plan as possible, especially from potential target customers. Don’t take any criticism personally. Absorb it constructively and discard it if you don’t agree with it at all. Get few good months on evaluating your idea and all the factors around […]

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Social Benefits of HFT and Algo Trading: Regulators should Embrace them

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Finance, Trading

The tremendous growth in financial trading volumes in the last couple of decades has been made possible only with the use of technology. Technology has helped in – automating the dissemination of market data and other relevant information by exchanges and trading participants – capturing and consolidation of market data from various exchanges and other sources of relevant information – making complex calculations on live and historic data, leading to trade decisions – trading and managing risk – lowering the latency and cost of trading – various post-trade processes Technology is heavily and generally efficiently used by brokers (providing various retail and institutional investors access to financial markets), high frequency traders (who trade in huge volumes aggregating small profits in […]

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8 Reasons why Engineers can become Good Entrepreneurs

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As we know that some successful entrepreneurs are drop outs from various colleges, its definitely not a pre-requisite though. Many entrepreneurs have decent academic background, with some work experience as well. From various academic studies, Engineering provides a good framework to be an entrepreneur. For example, in entrepreneurship, you need:   1. Quick decision making  You are required to move fast and take quick decisions. Typically engineering and entrance preparation into engineering schools prepares you well for fast decision making objectively.   2. To make lots of decisions in shorter duration of time  Typically as an entrepreneur, you will need to make 10s to 100s of decisions every week. Having engineering education gives you a good training ground for that. […]

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Letting Someone Go in a Start-up

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    Good teams increase the probability of a start-up success. The start-up team includes its co-founders, employees, investors and board members. The entrepreneur needs to make tough firing decisions from time to time. It’s like breaking a marriage that can be expensive and hurtful for both parties; the CEO’s job is to minimize the damage and protect the best interests of the company.   Why and How to let someone go? General points on why you may need to fire someone and how to do it. – The team member cheats or lies and hence cannot gain your trust. In such cases, better not give a second chance – The team member does not perform close to the level […]

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An Entrepreneur’s Decision-Making Process and Next Best Alternatives

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    Arguably, time is the most important commodity in a start-up, and not Funds. You cannot raise more time. As an entrepreneur, you will need to make lots and lots of decisions. Better to include others around when you are not sure, but do make the decisions and let your sensibility drive them. You should acknowledge a few things around decision making, – You will not get all of them right, at best getting most right is quite an achievement. – It’s important to make decisions and progress; admit mistakes and make necessary corrections when required. Repeating similar mistake is a sin though. – Do evaluate the risks of any decisions not working out right. As long as you can […]

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Lessons Entrepreneurs can Learn from Kids

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    Adults are typically biased and afraid of more things than they need to be. Entrepreneurs can draw a lot of inspiration from the behavior and attitude of children. Kids are playful and are very open to trying things they have never tried before. if they see a bird they will try to chase and catch it, if they see a flower or a fruit on a tree, they try to climb it. They don’t think too much about what if they fall, how high is the tree, if they will get there or not, they just go for it. Lesson: Give it your 100% to achieve your goals, let all the positive energy flow through and don’t worry too much […]

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Entrepreneurs: Know Your Customers, and that They Don’t Know what They Want

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    It’s paramount for entrepreneurs to know and understand their customers. The customer relationship can help grow business as well as product development. Customers are typically not very helpful or open to new products, ideas, etc. Main reason is that they have their own priorities and they can be lazy. They are comfortable doing things in a certain way, dealing with existing vendors, and do not need added hassle of working with newer innovative ideas.   Typically there are 2 ways to engage them more at idea stage of a start-up:   1. Have the pressure applied to them from the top (top down approach) – for B2B products and services, this can be done by engaging potentially more […]

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Sharing a Start-up Idea

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    I have met several aspiring entrepreneurs who feel very possessive about their idea. They want to get feedback, business advice, opinion on their ideas; but they are not willing to share the idea in detail. I tell them one thing, ideas are for free, but the execution is what really matters.   Ideas can be broadly divided into two categories, – Improve the world Enhance an existing business model by solving some specific problems in it whether it’s around new features, user experience, customizations, service model, costing etc. Also it removes the myth that an idea should be new or unique in order to become a great business.  We will cover later how the improvements in various existing […]

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Open Source Technology for Financial Services

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Finance, Trading

    Financial Services play an important role in the countries’ and their economies’ functioning. Following the credit crisis (2008), and its various consequences (de-leveraging, lesser sophisticated financial products, shift towards increased regulation and transparency, reduced transaction volumes and margins, etc.) have lead to a massive shrinking of the financial services market size. This has led to a large down-sizing amongst the key participants including brokers, investment banks, exchanges, technology vendors, institutional investors (funds), etc. With the above mentioned business scenario in mind, and the fact that all these participants need technology for automation, growth and even sustenance of their  business, do we need every participant (10,000s of brokers,  100s of exchanges, 1000s of technology vendors, 100s of regulators, 100,000s […]

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The Future of Capital Markets

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Trading

Financial trading has grown from manual to electronic to automated with the use of algorithms in the last few decades. The increased adoption of technology will lead to disruptive trends in the current decade and drive exponential growth in newer business segments created within the capital markets (like additional liquidity that was generated by Algo/HFT players in the last few years) . We will possibly witness some of the following trends,     Open Source Technology Platforms  Given the fact that fundamentally most technology platforms within capital markets do very similar things (access information, manage trades and risk, comply with regulation, etc.), there could be a significant growth potential in the market to collaborate constructively.  They can leverage off latest […]

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Dark Pools

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Financial exchanges are the market places where buyers and sellers of financial securities trade (buy and sell). The exchanges have become automated and electronic over time leading to rise in trading volumes. The exchanges do three main things, 1. Match trades – i.e. create order book per financial security (with bids and offers of all buyers and sellers) and match trades when the trading conditions (financial security, price, quantity etc. is matched) 2. Distribute market data – send out the market prices and order books of all financial securities to all its members (brokers) in the market 3. Surveillance- Just ensure orderly market behaviour and meet all the regulatory requirements   Whenever an investor sends their trade in the market, […]

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Electronic trading

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Trading process has evolved over time. An individual or an institution needs to trade through a broker who is a member of the exchange. Couple of decades ago, here is how the trading workflow looked. The client would physically go to the broker’s office, or call the broker to know the estimate price of a financial security. The broker would get its representative in the stock exchange to inquire and / or execute the trade in on the exchange’s trading floor.   The trading order / message from the client to the broker and from the broker to the exchange was transmitted physically earlier on, and telephonically over time. The exchange was matching orders through open outcry markets  shown in an […]

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Algo Trading: The 1-O-1

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Electronic trading in the last decade has laid the foundation for increased use of technology in the financial markets. If a trader’s mind can be coded into an algorithm (step by step procedure used for calculations and decision making), we can automate a lot of what the trader does. And using an algorithm , the trading can be more disciplined, faster and can process lots of complex data. Algorithmic trading means an algorithm decides when to buy or sell a financial security at which price, and how will the order be executed and risk managed. This helps replace mundane tasks a trader was doing, and even leading to some complex data processing that an algorithm (with the use of computing […]

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Basics of Financial Trading

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In finance, trade is typically an exchange of a financial security (share, bond, etc.) with cash. (To understand more around how financial securities are created by discounting cash-flows, please read more on securitisation at the following link www.kunalonfintech.com/securitisation-1-o-1/) Trading financial securities has been a genuine profession for at least a few centuries. Broadly , trading can be classified into:   Speculation One may buy a security in speculation that in future its prices will go up and then the person can make money by selling it at a higher price. Most of the trading in the financial markets is driven by speculators. This can be further classified into 2 categories, – Fundamental You may chose to buy or sell a […]

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Pivoting in a Start-up

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The business plan in a start-up evolves very frequently. Mostly the market, customers, product requirements would move in an ever changing world during execution of your business plan. Good entrepreneurs must have a good view at the ground level reality, as well as a high level view into how the marketplace is emerging so they could adapt their business plan accordingly. Visionary leaders are mostly able to foresee the opportunities and threats around the corner and react accordingly. Several investors even look at pivoting opportunities in a start-up before investing. Not just start-ups, even large well established corporations need to evolve with time as well.  Some chose to pivot when they visualize certain interesting newer opportunities. Pivoting can be defined […]

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Failure in a Start-up

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Every start-up has some objectives. Success, though subjective, is one of the core reasons why many start-ups come into existence. While it is useful to have well defined targets as success factors, it’s hard to actually achieve them. It typically takes year(s) to build a start-up, and in most likelihood its plan / course of action / targets change quite a bit over that period of time. Whatever the result, an entrepreneur should focus on enjoying the challenging journey; with lots of hard work, strong skills and some luck, one gets closer to his objectives. Failure is a frequent result in case of start-ups. Being willing to fail can take the fear of failure out of your mind and you […]

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Inspiring the Start-up team

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A start-up’s success is mostly directly linked to the combined performance of its team. Hiring a good  team is important,  but how they collaborate and deliver is also crucial.   Managing the team No entrepreneur should be managing the team. Management is an over-rated term that does  not work in the start-up culture. Actually management does not even belong to the today’s corporate world either. No managers like to manage, no employees like to be managed.  The carrots and sticks  (incentives and punishments) are completely outdated in today’s professional environments. The team should work together in a flat structure with roles of each individual defined to some extent, and leaving room for everybody to step up along the way and […]

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Questions you can ask a Start-up before Joining

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If you have worked in larger organizations for some time, you would realize how much political it gets and how your growth gets limited by the bureaucracy of the organization. More likely than not, a well run start-up can really help you get away from that and grow fast with greater authority and responsibility, and have a strong impact on the company’s growth as well. If you buy this idea, and find a good start-up to work for, how do you ensure it is indeed the right start-up with experienced management / founders, good organizational culture, and a good place where you can come, perform, deliver and grow. You may want to evaluate your decision about joining a particular start-up […]

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Administrative Challenges of Running a Start-up in India

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Challenges of running a start-up in India: India ranks around 130th in the world bank rankings of world bank’s ease of doing business Index. It makes India one of the hardest places to do business. It’s shocking but true. The rules and regulations in India are very subjective, non-transparent, old, and involve lot of unnecessary paperwork. This makes an entrepreneur’s job harder; when it’s difficult to run a new business as it is. You must get reasonably good lawyers, accountant, company secretary, consultant etc. for various administrative processes. I am recapping some administrative work you may need to go through in setting up your company and on an ongoing basis:   1. You need to choose the company setup structure. Firm, […]

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Financial Institutions

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Understanding the Investment Landscape Other than Investment Banks, there are other financial institutions in the market that play a big role. Below is a possible representation of Investors, Investment Intermediaries and Financial Markets as the Investment Landscape. It’s not perfect but a good way of looking at how the value chain typically operates. The purpose of this illustration is to provide a high level understanding and the awareness of different kinds of players in the markets, how they mostly interact with each other and how they are similar or different from each other. Please also note that it is not a theoretical or text-book representation of the investment landscape, it’s more of a representation I am choosing to make things […]

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Securitisation: The 1-O-1

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Securitisation has been a key factor in the rise of financial services businesses and it poorly managed sub-prime loans distributed across the world through securitisation led to the subprime crisis in 2008. In this article, lets look at the details of securitisation. Securitisation is the process of creating financial securities, that can be traded by the investors. Investment banks are sometimes referred to as Securities houses, as they are responsible for creating and trading of these financial securities by bringing and buyers and sellers together.   Securitisation Explained Imagine that an Investment Bank could originate 3 loans for example as shown below, $100,000 each, and then issue 2 bonds worth $150,000 each. The monthly interest paid by A, B and […]

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The Rise of Investment Banking in the Last 3 Decades

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The Rise of Investment Banking Investment Banking has offered one of the best paid jobs and it’s questionable whether the Bankers did enough for the kind of money they got. Since the beginning of civilization, there have been borrowers and lenders going to intermediaries who operated as individuals, family business to bring together the borrowers and lenders. It used to be more local region-centric operation. Then Commercial Banks started as bigger organizations taking deposits and offering loans. Investment Banks came into existence in 18th / 19th century. The Investment Banking business grew with continuous financial innovation (notably derivatives and securitisation in the last 3-4 decades), geographical expansion and establishment of capital markets (stock markets for example). By some estimates, the […]

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Board of Directors/Advisors for a Start-up

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As a start-up, you may chose to have a Board of Advisors and Directors. It’s not a necessity but definitely adds credibility and experience in your company. Lets first look at the key reasons why it’s useful to have a Board, – As a start-up you need to do multiple challenging things like building your team, raising funds, signing up clients, etc. If you know what challenges you have in various functions, you may chose to bring in some experienced people who can guide you in running those functions better, as well as do the appropriate introductions for you, or just using their name maybe very useful for you. For example, you may know a senior banker or finance person […]

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Creating a Team of Software Engineers in India

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Hiring software engineers in Indian start-ups: India has millions of software engineers from good educational background and with reasonable work experience. This headline is well sold across the world. However the truth when you scratch the surface is not very pretty. The software jobs in India have grown faster than the availability of software engineers. The jobs have come from large Indian services companies, outsourced software setups of foreign companies, foreign multinational software companies, Indian corporations, and Indian product and service based companies. If you try and setup a software company in India, you will have to compete for hiring against all the above mentioned companies. Above all, the main issues while hiring software engineers would include:   1.Most fresh candidates […]

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Root of Sub-Prime/Credit Crisis of 2008

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  What caused the sub-prime problem will be discussed and debated for long time. Many blame the Sub-Prime crisis upon Greedy Wall Street Investment bankers, or on “Risky” Hedge Funds, or on Incompetent Regulators. But the fact is, such a massive problem can be hardly attributed to only one participant in the market. I believe it’s the whole marketplace (including regulators, investment banks, mortgage houses, credit agencies, as well as investors) that should share the blame. Securitisation took off in the early 80s, and was an efficient tool to spread risk, and reduce costs of financing. Since the mid 1990s, mortgage issuers were encouraged to offer home loans to all Americans including the ones without a good credit history or […]

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How does an Investment Bank differ from a Retail Bank?

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  A bank is a financial institution with the purpose of lending and borrowing money. Retail banks are banks with retail customers (most individuals and smaller institutions / businesses) where the customers typically deposit money (their savings, earnings, etc.) and where other retail customers would go to borrow money. These banks are better understood by most of us as we do have a savings account, and some of us do have loans with the banks too. Retails Banks are typically regulated by National Governments or their appointed agencies, and they are supported in their day-day operations and Cash management by a supervisory National Bank. The next thing to consider is that how do these retail banks make profits. These banks […]

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What is Investment Banking?

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  What is the role of an Investment Bank? Different Investment Banks would have a variant of the following generic business structure. Investment Banks in simplest terms help match investors and institutions who need capital, and then help bring together buyers and sellers in the financial markets. They typically would have a Research division providing analysis of companies, their financial situations etc. to all the internal businesses as well as to the external clients. Corporate Advisory business also known as Investment Banking would basically help companies raise and spend money. This is done through primary issuance of Debt (loan), Equity (shares) and other related securities, and Mergers and Acquisition activities. The Capital Markets business of Investment Bank helps investors buy […]

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Role of the CEO in a Start-up

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  If you are one of the main founders of a company, you may become the CEO. It is always a good position to have, but a very challenging one too. You will need to constantly perform well in order to retain that position and grow the company. Your multi-tasking skills along with hard work, common sense and execution oriented attitude will take you a long way. You should possess the domain expertise, great people skills, ability to sell, telescopic and microscopic view (high level view of the ecosystem along with attention to detail), and unlimited strength to execute the plan.   Know Why you are Doing it You should evaluate why you want to run a start-up. There may-be […]

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Co-founders in a Start-up

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  If you are the first person to think of an idea and truly feel passionate about executing it, you may chose to bring in other co-founders along with you. A few points I want to mention from observations in other start-ups and my own experience.   1.Firstly it’s a debatable point whether you should have the co-founders or not. Why you may not have co-founders  You might have sufficient funds, and all the required skills to be able to execute the business plan by yourself and only by hiring the team members – You may want to control the organization by yourself, as well as retain most / all shareholding Why you may chose to have co-founders  You may […]

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Building a Start-up Team

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  In most scenarios, the success of a Start-up depends upon the quality of its team. From co-founders to management and its employees, everyone should be efficient. There  should be a  blend of great and excellent people, as there is no room for mediocre people.    Get Co-founder  You should try to have co-founder(s). You need someone to share the burden and lead the way in case of your absence for a while. One co-founder is a minimum, maybe 2 or 3 would suffice. Having co-founders with complementary skills could be ideal.      Create a Dream As an entrepreneur, you never stop selling. Selling to the people you hire is an important part of your job.  It requires creating […]

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Importance of an Entrepreneur’s Selling Skills in a Start-up

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  Selling is a constant job that an Entrepreneur has to do. It is a very key skill within a start-up. you will need to sell your company to investors, your products to clients, your projects to employees, your business to board members etc. An entrepreneur should be a good salesman. While selling, you should not say what you know, but what others want to hear. Example, you may sell a concept rather than a product to your client. Or you may sell the solutions to customer problems, or ways to grow client business, rather than your services.   Selling to Investors You will need to sell your business plan and the team to the investors so they chose to […]

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Keys to Success in a Start-up

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  Why is it that very few start-ups succeed, whereas 99% or more fail? Firstly, the success and failure are subjective terms, and the partial success and partial failure is also part of the game. I strongly believe success depends on 2 factors, hard work  and luck. We obviously do not control the luck, but we control our efforts. We can maximize the probability of success by focusing on a few key items within a start-up.   1. Great team A good team can make a below average business succeed, but a bad time cannot even make a good business plan succeed. It’s all about people, if you have a great bunch of people in your start-up who work coherently […]

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How to start a Start-up

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  Presumably you have an idea with which you are considering to start a company. It’s going to be an incredibly challenging and exciting journey. Here are some points you may like to consider,   1. Idea might be good, but Evaluate if you can make it into a Sustainable Business  This is called market research, customer survey, business feasibility analysis. There are ways to approach this – maybe you are trying to create a completely new market segment that does not exist today. Probability of you succeeding is well below 1%. But it should not discourage you from trying. Here you must really get down to the details of the problem the new product / market segment will solve […]

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Funding for Start-ups

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The funding process is a very critical component in the survival and success of a startup and deserves good knowledge and experience of this domain. I will try to cover some high level points which any startup founder or entrepreneur should be aware of,   1. Funding is the Lifeline of a Company Any business can go bankrupt if it does not have enough funds to keep paying it’s bills. Securing appropriate funding is the foremost job of a CEO. And normally in the life of a startup, this funding could be 25%-50% of 1 experienced person’s job. It entails, dealing with various investors, getting references and introductions, cold calling, creating investor profiles and finding the suitable ones, pitching, working […]

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