Startups should go to VCs not just for money, but for the value they can add to the business
A technology entrepreneur is one who sells the benefits and values of cutting-edge technologies to the common man. Like any other job, entrepreneurship is tough, too. As we all know, it is no bed of roses. Every entrepreneur has to go through ups and downs and as a startup, we too face challenges every day. In fact, we love challenges as we are confident of converting them into massive opportunities. Besides, challenges give us the courage and boost our confidence when we successfully address them.
As far as Unbxd is concerned, our biggest challenge has always been how we can get the user experience simplified for using a really complicated product such as Unbxd. We offer a smart engage platform that helps e-commerce sites increase sales by recommending the right products to visitors. This is useful for product managers, category managers and marketers at e-commerce companies that want a greater degree of control over their search and navigation experience, as well as a higher level of personalisation across their websites.
We know that it is a powerful tool and an intelligent Big Data system, but still it has been hard to educate e-com companies about the benefits. However, we have managed to bag a few big names so far.
Should startups raise money?
I feel that startups that need money should raise it to fund their operations. However, the best way is to get it from the customers themselves. Generally, startups should go to VCs not just for money but for the value they can add to their businesses, as investors usually have experience in helping build similar companies. They can help you connect with potential customers and influencers. So VCs are not just about money.
However, I always felt that bootstrapping is the logical first step, unless you have something that is compelling for a VC to put money in. If you do a good job adding value to your business, VCs will come to you. However, it is up to the founders to take a call whether to take VC money or to grow without it. Most startups might need money as they grow; so they can go to VCs and get their advice which will help them grow faster. If a startup adds value, it can certainly raise seed money as well as VC money.
When we felt that we needed money for growth, we went and raised $2 million from IDG Ventures India and Inventus Capital Partners.
Indian startup ecosystem
I feel our ecosystem is very young and it has just started growing. However, we are very optimistic and enthusiastic about the future. Anyway, I don't think we are in race with the Silicon Valley. As founders and investors, we need to focus on addin value to the business. As more and more startups emerge out of India and become successful, the startup scene in the country will mature faster.
Indian tech startups should look at foreign markets as well. Nothing should stop startups from adding value and having adoption of their product(s) outside India. As Unbxd, the internet and its associated technologies give us a level playing field where we can target a global audience operating from India.
(Sondur is the co-founder and CEO of Unbxd Inc, which offers a product recommendation platform for e-commerce companies. As told to our Bangalore correspondent, Sainul K Abudheen)