10 mistakes most Indian Startups make in marketing

 Forgoing Simplicity

“Building a product is like packing a suitcase: Plan out what you think you need. Then remove half.” — Jonathan Wegener, Founder, Timehop and ExitStrategy

“Young founders tend to complicate things too much, from structuring partnership agreements, financing, leases, etc. This is not a place to be creative; keep it simple, follow the norms and be transparent so everyone is on the same page.” — Jay Levy, Co-Founder, Zelkova Ventures and Uproot Wines

2. Waiting Too Long to Launch

 “The biggest mistake I see is companies waiting too long to release the product. It’s easy to let the scope of what you’re building get out of hand. But equally importantly most startups build much more than they truly need to, but this is often only realized in hindsight. Whether your product is working or not, looking back it’s easy to see that you only really needed to build a small fraction of the stuff you built. Most features/options/buttons/settings/etc. simply aren’t crucial to success or failure, and for an early stage startup that means they were wastes of time — you could have done 10x more with that same amount of time and resources.” — Jonathan Wegener, Founder, Timehop and ExitStrategy

“Don’t underestimate the importance of Minimum Viable Design. Your first product will likely be just a little bit ugly, and that’s okay — it’s part of getting to market quickly and testing your idea in front of live customers. But don’t underestimate the importance of achieving a basic threshold of “this looks good (and reputable).” In my first company, people liked our product but were embarrassed to share it because the design and presentation was so poor. When we launched The Muse, the result was the opposite — nearly 25% of the people who visited our site shared it with someone else via social media!” — Kathryn Minshew, Founder/CEO, The Muse

3. Hiring Poorly

“Make sure that new hires understand your rate of innovation. You are small and agile, which means you have a high rate of innovation and growth, and with that comes work! Often times, that work eventually goes beyond your job description. At a small company, employees need to wear many hats, and they need to be prepared to wear many hats. If you don’t manage this expectation upon hiring, you will be managing employee issues six months down the line. Those issues will eat into your time, and time is money for a new CEO.” — Kellee Khalil, Founder/CEO,Lover.ly

“Someone told me recently, ‘Any time I’m talking to someone who doesn’t work for me already, I’m evaluating if I should try and hire them.’ Whether that’s someone you want to hire tomorrow or someone you’d like to work with in five years depends on your company, but every entrepreneur should always be recruiting.” — Ally Downey, Co-Founder, WeeSpring

“Some entrepreneurs think it’s a luxury to have accounting, finance, or other support functions, but it’s important not to be afraid of spending resources early on for administrative efficiency. If you don’t have someone to do that for you, you’ll end up spending all your time on things that aren’t critical to growing your company.” — Matt Salzberg, Founder and CEO, Blue Apron

4. Not Embracing Agility

“If you sat down and wrote out a pros and cons list comparing your startup to your corporate competitors, you’d probably find the big gorilla’s list of advantages more than daunting. But on your side of that chart should be words like ‘nimble,’ ‘flexible,’ ‘speedy,’ and ‘free flowing.’ Many entrepreneurs seem to approach their startup like they would a quest to win the Super Bowl, with very defined steps leading to a pre-conceived single, solitary end goal. This doesn’t really work for a startup. While it’s vital to have goals and a clear vision, to survive and thrive you’ll have to keep an open mind and stay agile enough to follow the path where it leads.” — Jeff Jackel, CEO,BuzzMob

5. Guarding The “Big Idea”

 “How many entrepreneurs’ opening words are about how ‘stealth’ their project is, followed by a 10-page NDA to hear word one? I was totally guilty of this back in the day. For young entrepreneurs, especially non-technical founders like myself, it feels like our ‘big idea’ is all we have, and we want to guard it like a defenseless baby. We also want to believe that no one else out there in the world has thought of our little gem, and if they were to catch wind, everyone will pounce! Ha! First, whatever your idea is, rest assured it’s been thought of before. Secondly, an idea is by no means a business … it’s everything that comes next that makes a business happen. Execution. And no one else will execute the way you do. Third, you’re going to need help and guidance from people who know more and have been there before, so you better get comfortable sharing your ‘big idea.’” — Jeff Jackel, CEO, BuzzMob

6. Losing Focus

“I think many startups have difficulty finding a focus. As an entrepreneur, there’s a lot going on. You have countless decisions to make, and you have to keep moving quickly. Settling on a clear focus — your product, your audience, your strategy — is critical from day one. Of course, as you move forward, you must be willing to adapt. But remember to hold tight to that big idea as you go.” — Alexa von Tobel, Founder & CEO, LearnVest

“One thing I have learned building Grand St. is the value of intense focus. Trying to complete only a few things each week means doing an excellent job on all of them, whereas trying to do the 27 things I want to do usually results in mediocre or incomplete work. The same goes for the product itself — there’s a laundry list of features we want to add, but keeping the experience simple and uncluttered makes us really focus on what our users really want.” — Amanda Peyton, Co-Founder, Grand St.

“Founders of a young company will come up with hundreds of new ideas every day (I know my co-founders and I do). While most of these ideas are sure to be good ones, we’ve learned that we need to be thoughtful and selective about which to move forward with in order not to overwhelm ourselves and our employees. We all have limited time and resources, which is why we need to focus and prioritize.” — Matt Salzberg, Founder and CEO, Blue Apron

“At times we have sat on ideas for months, before testing them and finding out that they are runaway successes. At other times, we have exhausted ourselves trying out 100 different things, when none of them work. I watched a great video with Barbara Corcoran, called “How to get more customers, step 1.” What she describes is that many businesses, when they are looking for more customers, will try 100 different things, when they already have one thing that isworking. As she puts it, this strategy leads to very few new customers and lots of exhaustion. She recommends that instead, founders look at what has been working and double or triple their efforts there.” — Adda Birnir, Co-Founder, Skillcrush

7. Assuming Virality

“A lot of new founders think, ‘If I build it, they will come.’ I have news for you: They’re not coming and you’re not going to ‘go viral.’ Services don’t spontaneously go viral. High virality is almost always the product of early and deliberate product design decisions. Spend some serious time thinking about how and why people are going to discover and share what you’re building.” —Jeremy Fisher, CEO, Days and Wander

8. Obsessing Over Funding

 “I think a lot of young startups assume that fundraising is not only a necessary component of running a business but an important marker of success. We spent six months fundraising only to walk away once we had a term sheet in hand because we realized we were making enough money to sustain and grow the business on our own terms. Ultimately that felt like a much bigger marker of success than closing a round. If your business makes money, you may well be better off not fundraising, and in doing so, retain control and ownership of your business. And if your business doesn’t make money (or have a solid plan as to how it will), then perhaps there are some bigger issues to tackle before you start pitching investors.” — Claire Mazur, Co-Founder,Of a Kind

“Many young entrepreneurs think that raising VC money is a measure of success. There is a lot of money chasing bad ideas. The only thing that matters is building a viable, growing and profitable business.” — Brian Garrett, Co-Founder, StyleSaint and Venture Capitalist

9. Chasing Investors Instead of Befriending Investees

“A common mistake startups make in trying to meet investors is, counterintuitively, focusing too much on networking with actual investors. The best way to get a meeting with a VC is not by incessantly pursuing him or her, but rather by getting an intro from a founder that the VC has already invested in. Befriend funded entrepreneurs. Every VC will tell you that they will take meetings with 100% of the companies that their existing portfolio founders recommend. Don’t spend all your energy emailing and LinkedIn-ing VCs; instead, get to know founders who have been funded and win them over because their stamp of approval is one of the most valuable data points for an investor.” — Sam Teller, Managing Director, Launchpad LA

10. Dwelling on Things

“A lot of new founders tend to over-optimize every single decision, which makes it difficult to actually move forward with anything. One of the most important lessons my co-founders and I have learned is that sometimes the best course of action is to make a call and just move forward. As a young company, nothing is ever perfect, but if you believe in an idea or strategy, you just need to move forward and manage the logistics and risks as you go.” — Matt Salzberg, Founder and CEO, Blue Apron

  • Growth through innovation/creativity:
    Rather than be constrained by ideas for new products, services and new markets coming from just a few people, a Thinking Corporation can tap into the employees.
  • Increased profits:
    The corporation will experience an increase in profits due to savings in operating costs as well as sales from new products, services and ventures.
  • Higher business values:
    The link between profits and business value means that the moment a corporation creates a new sustainable level of profit, the business value is adjusted accordingly.
  • Lower staff turnover:
    This, combined with the culture that must exist for innovation and creativity to flourish, means that new employees will be attracted to the organization.

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