A Partnership Between SINE and Z Nation Lab

Hello, everyone!

We, at Z Nation Lab, have a great news to announce. We have partnered with the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), a Technology Business Incubator (TBI) hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IITB), Powai-Mumbai, India. SINE offers Start-to-End support to innovators and entrepreneurs which includes prototyping grants, provides incubation support to startups preferably linkage with IITB and also runs accelerator programs. It works closely with innovators, academia, Government departments, corporates, other incubators & accelerators in the eco-system, and organizations focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship.

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SINE promotes entrepreneurship among the brilliant minds at IIT Bombay. The aim of the incubator is to provide start to end support in the form of incubation and acceleration to technology based start-ups. They also partner with various corporations like Intel for programs like the Entrepreneur Fellowship Program, Cross -Border Program among others. Their incubatees include start-ups with novel ideas, such as  Geosyndicate Power, a clean, technology based venture for providing energy solutions using geothermal, and  Iken Solutions, an AI based technology solution for analytics & personalisation across businesses like telecom,media, entertainment, e-commerce etc. Since inception, SINE has catered to 120+ Start-ups, 330+ Entrepreneurs & 300+ Innovators. Its incubation support includes physical infrastructure, seed fund, access to business network and exposure to entrepreneurial ecosystem. You can click here for list of SINE incubatees from domains such as Healthcare, MedTech, Cleantech, IoT, Energy etc. They also conduct 1-year accelerated Incubation program ‘Plugin’ https://plugin.org.in in collaboration with Department of Science & Technology (DST)- Govt. of India & Intel, focussing on hardware & system based startups.

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To further their cause, Z Nation Lab has entered into a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SINE, with the promise to exchange & leverage each other’s experience and expertise. With our national and global network, we can provide the start-ups with great networking opportunities. Many of our events, such as the Silicon Valley Bootcamp, a 10 day residential program for Pre-Series A companies and above, is designed with the sole purpose to help Indian companies scale up in the US market. The program offers fundraising opportunities, corporate partnerships, clients and mentorship from top corporate leaders and networking with the best in the world in Bay Area. The Pre-Accelerator Cohort offers opportunities like seed investment pool, on going mentorship, and idea validation. Our Pre-Accelerator Bootcamp in Bengaluru also offers various opportunities to start-ups as an intensive 4 day session. Our mentors, who are the experts in their chosen fields, can advise the entrepreneurs on the feasibility of their idea, as well as designing comprehensible marketing strategies. As a part of this MoU, we will also help the start-ups in the growth stage with capital, technical expertise etc

 

We aim for a long and successful partnership, and hope to help the brilliant entrepreneurs with our combined capabilities!

Mr. Sunil S Ranka Joins the Forbes Tech Council

Z Nation Lab’s  Venture Partner – Sunil S Ranka, has been accepted into the Forbes Technology Council, an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

Sunil S. Ranka joins other Forbes Tech Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on Forbes.com.

Forbes Councils combines an innovative, high-touch approach to community management perfected by the team behind Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) with the extensive resources and global reach of Forbes. As a result, Forbes Council members get access to the people, benefits and expertise they need to grow their businesses — and a dedicated member concierge who acts as an extension of their own team, providing personalized one-on-one support.

 “I’m extremely honored and humbled to join the Forbes Technology Council,” said Sunil S. Ranka, Venture Partner Z Nation Lab. “I look forward to contributing content to the Forbes Council community , Forbes.com, and sharing my experience and advice with my fellow entrepreneurs. I am confident that our expertise and insights will be instrumental to many startup founders and companies striving to succeed in this dynamic and highly competitive space of Data Analytics and AI/ML solution Areas .”

 Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, “We are honored to welcome Sunil S. Ranka into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”

The Need for Sustainable Start-Ups

“Forests precede mankind; deserts follow.” An ominously true quote to begin this with, as in this century, the biggest problem that we are facing is the blatant destruction of  our planet. Most activities done by mankind are harming the earth in one way or another, and unknowingly, we are destroying our home planet; thus, sustainable, eco-friendly start-ups are the need of the present. The levels of pollution have become high all over the world, leading to various problems problems such as global warming, heavy smogs, and sickness. This not only affects our surroundings, but also has an affect on our own mental and physical well-being and productivity.

Start-ups are coming up in nearly every sector, be it retail or textile. These start-ups are influencing the sectors to move in certain directions, as they represent the solutions of the problem faced by the general public. Many multinational corporations and companies tend to partner with these start-ups and adopt many practices they find beneficial. Thus, the best way to introduce sustainable practices in the various industries around the globe would be to form start-ups which provide sustainable solutions to the world’s problems. By doing this, they establish that while it is necessary to use pin-pointed methods to reduce pollution, adopting green practice in solutions to common, but major issues faced by the people can also help a lSustainable Development Goals ot in doing the same.

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, at the end of time period for Millennial Development Goals, The United Nations, recognizing the rising problem of pollution, established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals, which aim to increase sustainable development throughout the world. This ensures that the current generation makes progress in such a way that the resources are conserved for the future generations as well. Thus, by adopting these SDGs, entrepreneurs can simultaneously create environmental friendly start-ups, and solve the issues they have set out to resolve.

Real Estate Technology Solutions in India

As reported by The Deccan Chronicles, Z Nation Lab organized the Innovation at Core Real Estate Accelerator Program. It was aimed at bringing together the ideas of real estate developers and tech start-ups, to solve issues faced by the real estate sector in India.

The event saw the presence of top executives from big names in the industry such as Adani Group , Runwal Group, Sunteck Realty amongst others, and start-ups like Picostone, Runtime Solutions, etc. Innovative solutions, in the form of product presentations, were explained at this meet. The networking opportunity was of great benefit to both kinds of participants, enabling them to give each other more insight on the problems and solutions. Pushpamitra Das, Venture Partner and Mentor at Z Nation Lab, was the driving force behind this initiative, and is very supportive of partnerships between real estates and tech start-ups. He hopes that such partnerships will enable the real estate sector to rise to an international platform.

You can read the story here: https://www.deccanchronicle.com/technology/in-other-news/091217/technology-solutions-for-real-estate-in-india.html

ONN Bikes raises $692,000 funding

Z Nation Lab’s portfolio company, ONN Bikes, raised about $692,000 in pre-series A investment from Z Nation Lab, as reported by The News Minute. Having Spoken to Namit Jain, the founder and CEO of the company, they gathered that he was quite quite excited about not only the funding, but also getting to tap into Z Nation Lab’s vast resource of expertise and networking opportunities. He’s confident that the mentorship will help them expand into other cities, and maybe even internationally.

ONN Bikes is a platform that allows users to book and rent two-wheeler vehicles, daily, weekly, or monthly. It has already bagged Ola, Uber and Swiggy as its customers, and plans to further expand and become a key player in the industry.

Read the whole story here

Common Myths about Start-Ups Debunked

While being an entrepreneur and starting your own business may sound like a brilliant idea. the start-up life is not simply a walk in the park. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs have heard things from family and friends who think many a false things about start-ups. So, we are now going to be debunking a few common myths regarding start-ups.

  1. Any idea will work: This is one of the most dangerous myths in question. It might so seem that innovative ideas to small problems might be a good base for start-ups, but for it to grow and attract investors, it should solve problems on a large scale. Innovative ideas are, of course, important, but they need a lot of market research to make sure that any start-up based on them will be able to stand on a global platform. F
  2. Entrepreneurs do nothing but work on their start-ups: This is of course, completely false. Start-ups are risky, and until they take off, not a lot of entrepreneurs leave their assured jobs to devote complete time to start-ups.
  3. First Products are not that important: Nowadays, even for start-ups, first impression is the key. If you want your start-up to go further, make sure that your first product is at least a moderate, if not a roaring success. Investors and customers look at the complete history of the start-up, so a bad first product will not leave a good impression
  4. You can only be an entrepreneur at a young age: This myth originates from the fact that start-ups take time and money to take off, and old, retired people might not have both. However, this is completely false. Age should not hold you back if you have a great idea; in fact, it is an indicator of the life experiences you have had.
  5. Attend as many conferences as possible: It may seem that attending many, many conferences will give you great ideas and networking opportunities, you need time to apply the knowledge of the conferences in your own start-ups. This myth may be true to a slight extent, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Image result for Start-up myths

Have you heard any such myths? Do let us know in the comments below!

Global Exposure Needed for Indian Start-Ups

The start-up culture in India has become pretty famous in the past few years. Brilliant minds are now looking to start their own companies and design products to cater to society’s problems. Unfortunately, they have not yet been able to reach out globally. This is due to the lack of knowledge of international markets, because of which the entrepreneurs are unable to customize their products for the global society.

To get their ideas to the society as a whole, it is necessary that Indian start-ups begin competing at an international level, by partnering with foreign investors and research how their product or service can be useful to people around the globe. It can range from providing certain products to connecting different parts of the world.

A Chance to Connect to the Global Market

A first of its kind event, called the Indo-German Pitch Competition, is going to be organized in Mumbai on July 7. It allows the Indian and German Start-Ups to connect by having a live-feed throughout the competition, which allows German investors, along with the Indian ones, to hear the Indian entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, and vice-versa for German Investors. This allows start-ups of both countries to evaluate and compare the markets, and partner with the other country’s investors.

Another program, the Silicon Valley Bootcamp also gives Indian start-ups a chance to evaluate the standing of their ideas on a global level. The participants pitch their ideas to mentors and investors from across the globe and are evaluated by panelists from India and Silicon Valley. The program also includes informal networking sessions, allowing the entrepreneurs to interact with each other, thGlobal Accelerator Program Silicon Valleye mentors, and the investors, thus building up connections to reach the global market.

Hey DeeDee Raises Pre-seed Funding

Hey DeeDee, one of the portfolio companies of Z  Nation Lab, has raised pre-seed funding from Metaform Ventures, as reported by B-Live.

Hey DeeDee is a Mumbai based all women logistics service start-ups, started by Revathi Roy. It provides employment and training to the women from the less privileged section of the society. As the technopreneur Nilesh Jain, the head of Metaform Ventures, says, “We need women at all levels contributing to change the dynamics on reshaping of our economy. An empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and capable beyond description.”

We wish Hey DeeDee all the best in the future!

Read the rest of the story here

How the Blockchain Technology can Revolutionize Education

You might have heard the term ‘blockchain’ being used in the same context as cryptocurrencies. However, that is not the only field where the blockchain technology finds immense use; various other fields, the newest being education, can make amazing progress using this technology.

What is Blockchain Technology?

The blockchain technology is a decentralized technology, built of digital ledgers, which allows data to be stored permanently, and not tampered and copied. By being decentralized, it ensures that the data does not reside with a single person, instead is visible for all to view. Certain operations, such as those of Smart Contracts, are also based on blockchain; Smart contracts are made of the terms agreed upon by all parties involved, and is executed immediately once the conditions are met. It is quite difficult to change the terms of the contract, and it ensures that neither party is at a loss.

 

How can Blockchain be applied to Education?

Blockchain technology can find immense use in the field of education; sites like peerbuds.com use the concept of blockchain to create an environment where knowledge is given and taken. It uses a system of token economies, where those who give knowledge can earn tokens from those who learn, and ultimately exchange the tokens for bigger rewards. The use of blockchain can also be used to take tests and keep bonafide records, and use them as proof of education as they cannot be tampered with. The concept of token economies using smart contracts and creating crypto-tokens can be used as a reward system to encourage learning.

Blockchain used in educationAdministration in schools has tremendous use of the blockchain technology. Other than being able to record the educational degrees, evaluations of various students can also be stored on digital ledgers, allowing the information to be viewed by everyone, and preventing the records from being changed.

 

While the customization of the blockchain technology in this field is in its nascent stages, the application is wide, and will be quite looked for in the near future. Do let us know how you think the blockchain technology can be used in education in the comments below!

The Emergence of Social Entrepreneurship

The fields of education, health, and environment are some of the biggest challenges faced by our country. Innovation in these fields are sorely needed, to alleviate both small scale and large scale problems. This is what social entrepreneurship is all about; doing business for a social cause. It aims to bring about a positive change in the society through novel means and ideas. Profit may be one of the goals of a social enterprise, but it is often not the main one. Most social start-ups begin as non-profit or non-governmental organizations.

Healthcare is one of the major fields where principles of social innovation are applicable. With the rise in the number of diseases, it is important to not only provide for treatments in forms of medicines and vaccines, but also have infrastructure, equipment, and the means to get these to people and raise awareness. Use of upcoming technology, such as machine learning can provide for quick diagnosis, and use of robotics can be used to perform delicate surgeries which have no room for human error. The Indian healthcare ecosystem could very well use the introduction of such technologies to further ameliorate it. Technology has tremendous potential in healthcare, as it can make various facilities accessible to everyone, and help in pinpointing the remote areas and bring them into the ecosystem as well.

At the heart of this, is of course, affordability. It is essential that the new (and old) facilities introduced are financially viable to people of every socio-economic background. Fortunately, the market for these entrepreneurial ideas is quite large, and investors are looking for start-ups which combine healthcare and technology. So for those of you reading this, comment below what you think can be various applications of technology in health care!

The Importance of Pitching

Believe it or not, pitching is one of the areas where most start-ups tend to fall short. A start-up with a brilliant idea may lose out on the funding required because their pitch was not one which could be remembered. The members of the panel which decides which start-ups to fund read and listen to proposals of thousands of start-ups; what is important that the pitch stays in the memory of the panel (made of potential investors, or founders of accelerators) members for long after, ensuring that the start-up is selected to be taken forward.

Another reason why pitching is important is because it shows clarity. The foundation on which the start-up is built should be clear within the mind of the person pitching the idea. This shows the panel that the individual is convinced of the idea, and has a good idea on how to take it forward, which in turn, makes them more confident that the start-up will be a good investment
The most dreaded part of the pitch is when the potential investor asks, “What kind of work do you do?” While the idea may be clear in one’s head, when asked to explain in a way which decides future funding, people tend to get scared and stammer, or begin beating around the bush. This only displays confusion and incoherent thoughts, which result in the start-up being dismissed.

Despite how frightening all this may sound, pitching is not that difficult. A calm and collected mind, along with the other pointers given below, can help grab the attention of the investors and get the funding needed.

    1. Write down your pitch: Before saying it, make sure you have written the points in the order in which you want to speak. No need to write down full sentences; just jot down the pointers, so you are clear with what to speak.
      Practice well: Make sure that before you speak in front of the panel, you have practiced your pitch in front of the mirror.
      Be clear with the idea: Make sure you are clear with the idea on which your start-up is based on, so you can easily answer any questions.
      Keep calm before the show: Do not overeat or drink too much out of nervousness before the pitch. This only results in being uncomfortable in front of the panel, which can be mistaken as under-confidence.
  • From all of us here at Z Nation Lab, happy pitching!

    The Mastery of Machine Learning

    Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a machine to learn, replicate, and predict actions and responses. The twenty first century has seen the rise of the use Artificial Intelligence in almost all aspects of life. Self-sustaining machines capable of making decisions with little input have increased efficiency and encouraged progress. Almost in all fields, usage of machine learning can help ameliorate the technology used in that area. Human input, and ultimately human error, would decrease, ensuring more correct records.

    The term Artificial Intelligence was coined by John Mcarthy in 1956. Ever since then, the application and need of artificial intelligence has much increased.AI in healthcare is one of the major applications of the technology, and allows for quicker and more efficient diagnoses of patients. In the agricultural industry, start-ups which make use of clouds and applications which are able to advise the farmers about their crops are much in demand, and are promoted by the Department of Biotechnology

    The use of AI also extends to the education industry, where it can be used for grading or for tutoring students to help them learn at their own. In fields of law and finance, AI can be used to sift through various documents and collect the ones required by the user. Many universities now offer grants on AI research, and it has become a popular choice for the basis of start-ups all over the world.
    We, at Z Nation Lab, encourage entrepreneurs to come to us with ideas involving the use of machine learning, so we can bring India forward with this new technology.

    Do let us know what you think AI can be used in the comments below.

    Neha Jain’s Interview on Yourstory

    Neha Jain, Z Nation Lab’s co-founder, was interviewed by Your Story, an online magazine which brings into the eyes of the world the stories of Indian entrepreneurs and Start-ups. As one of the founders of Z Nation Lab, a start-up accelerator which has helped many Indian start-ups achieve their dreams, Neha Jain had some wonderful insights on the the entrepreneurial culture of India. In the interview, Ms. Jain talks about the various challenges faced by an entrepreneur, the must-haves for a successful start-up, and what qualities Z Nation Lab looks for during the selection of a start-up to take them further.

    In particular, she tells the people that it is the best time to be an entrepreneur in India, as they can work on finding unique solutions problems faced by the country. She also highlights that acceptance and support for innovation are few of the major problems faced by a young entrepreneur.

    Most importantly, Ms. Jain talks about Z Nation Lab’s past rule in promoting new start-ups. She specifies the qualities the accelerator looks for in an upcoming start-up, and tells us how Indian accelerators are different from those in countries such as USA or China.

    Read the interview here

    What are Start-ups?

    The word Start-Up has become exceedingly widespread. People with passion and innovative ideas to even the smallest issues we face are now willing to invest time, money, and most importantly, expertise, in bringing their ideas to the world. A hunger for developing your idea further forms the foundation of the beginning of a start-up.
    At the core of the start-up is an innovative idea. Working in the core team of a start-up ensures development of a unique approach to problem solving, as you are not only developing your idea, but also continuously researching and modifying existing plans. However, one important thing to keep in mind is that not all innovative ideas result in a start-up. It takes intensive research to ensure that the application of the said idea is viable practically. To get the start-up to a point where it can be financially viable requires that you have made a realistic plan which can be applied real-time.

    Working in a Start-Up
    Working in, or as a part of the core team of a start-up can have several benefits. Apart from promoting out of the box thinking, it also promotes important skills such as reliability, ability to remain calm, leadership skills, and various other organizational skills. You also get the opportunity to connect to several incubators and accelerators or meet mentors with their own successful businesses which started as start-ups.

    The first step towards the creation of a viable start-up is to research the application of your idea. Do not be disheartened if it seems that the idea will have no result-you can always tweak your idea, ensuring that while the foundation of it remains the same, it is adaptable to the situation. Flexibility is important in this field, since the environment may require you to adjust your idea.
    Once you have researched and implemented your idea, the next step is finding finances. Seed investors can give you an initial boost, but it is the accelerators which establish you in the market. They are also an important link between the start-ups and the venture capitalists, and who ultimately are the ones who invest when the company starts to go global.

    As you can see, the ever-growing star-up culture has become the seat of innovation. We, at Z Nation Lab, encourage the novelty of thought, and invite you to revolutionize the world.

    Investor panel @ 42

    42 recently hosted entrepreneurs from India, part of Z Nation Lab, Silicon Valley Bootcamp for a 3-day extensive workshop to build on their investor pitch and go-to-market strategy. As part of the program, students and startups at 42 along with mentors at Z Nation Lab, Silicon Valley worked together with Indian startups for this span of 3 days. The aim was to build their elevator pitch, 90 seconds pitch, one line message, differentiator, and value proposition.

    Startups also got the opportunity to get valuable feedback from investors on their Startup Pitch during the panel discussion. So, here are few of the most significant learnings stated during the Investor panel are :

    1. One can’t build the startup in a silo, you need to cross-pollinate, an entrepreneur can’t carry the burden on himself, it’s all about collaboration, exchange, and networking.
    2. If you go to seek funding you will get an advice, if you will go to get an advice, often you might get funding.
    3. VC’s in Silicon Valley are more likely to fund startups having no revenue then anywhere else in the world. Key is to have the right team and problem that can be solved.
    4. If your startup falls under one of the below categories, it is better to explore the US opportunities sooner than later-
    • Enterprise startups having an ultimate goal of having customers in the USA
    • B to C startups having users across the globe

    In the end, the focus is the key, make only what customers want and regular feedback from customers at the early stage will help you build the right product which can be scaled big.

    About 42

    42 Silicon Valley is an innovative engineering college in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the leading college for software engineering, coding, and programming, 42 is disrupting engineering education and tech talent pipelines in the Silicon Valley. Think tech is just for nerds? Think again.

    Investor panel @ 42

    Entrepreneurs from India part of Z Nation Lab, Silicon Valley bootcamp were hosted at 42 for a 3 day extensive workshop to build on their investor pitch and go to market strategy. As part of the program students and startups at 42 along with mentors at Z Nation Lab, Silicon Valley worked together with Indian startups to build their elevator pitch, 90 seconds pitch, one line message, differentiator and value proposition.

    Startups also got the opportunity to get valuable feedback from Investors on their startup Pitch during the panel discussion. Some of the important remarks made during the Investor panel are :

    1. One can’t build the startup in silo, you need to cross pollinate, entrepreneur can’t carry the burden on himself, it’s all about collaboration, exchange and networking.
    2. If you go to seek funding you will get an advice, if you will go to get an advice, often you might get funding.
    3. VC’s in Silicon Valley are more likely to fund startups having no revenue then anywhere else in the world. Key is to have the right team and problem that can be solved.
    4. If your startup falls under one of the below category, it is better to explore the US opportunities sooner than later
    • Enterprise startups having ultimate goal of having customers in USA
    • B to C startups having users across the globe.

    At the end, focus is the key, make only what customers wants and regular feedback from customers at the early stage will help you build the right product which can be scaled big.

    About 42

    42 Silicon Valley is an innovative engineering college in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the leading college for software engineering, coding, and programming, 42 is disrupting engineering education and tech talent pipelines in the Silicon Valley. Think tech is just for nerds? Think again.

    Making Life of an Entrepreneur Easier

    ‘Oh, you run your own business? It must be really nice’. This is what an entrepreneur gets to hear every now and then. But, does this ‘nice’ comes as easy? Certainly not. Being an entrepreneur implies donning several hats simultaneously. If you are an entrepreneur, you are responsible for everything literally. Right from sales to maintaining finances, to managing HR role, it is all your job (for the initial stage). So, it is a nice but difficult life indeed. Now, we will discuss few ways in which this can be made easier.

    1. Find out what are not-so-essential tasks

    As a one-man army during the founding days of your startup, you are required to treat everything as a priority. But, gradually you will realize that there are things that there will be a mix emerging. There will be some critical things that only you must have a grip on, some others which can be handed over to others. It is significant to make this distinction as early as possible. This will help you not only to save time but also to maintain a healthy work-life balance. So, examine things at hand and make a list now.

    2.  Be true to yourself and accept what you do not excel at

    It is a fact that no one can excel at everything that they do. For your startup, there may be vital tasks for which you might not be the right person. All you need to do is a little self-check. Identify the tasks you lack the aptitude or skill for. Once you have the list of such things at your disposal, you can prioritize your tasks accordingly. Focus and give your maximum time to the ones you are best at.

    3. Have you hired or collaborated with people? Put them to use

    No matter what amount of resources you might have, human resources are a must. These could be the employees – full time, part time or work from home. Use them for the tasks that you do not have time for or may not excel at. Give them a chance to perform these tasks and you will see the amount of time and energy you can save.

    For you as an entrepreneur, time is money so invest it cautiously.

     

    Do let us know in comments how you felt about this blog.

     

    Startup 02: Next Quintessential Elements of Starting Up

    As a continuation of our previous piece on laying the foundation of a startupwe bring to you the next steps. After the first few quintessential elements of starting up, let us discuss for more. Excited? Read ahead to find out.
    Intellectual Property: Get it secured
    Intellectual property (IP) basically refers to the intangible property as a result of creativity. It includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc. For instance, while starting up you have created a new technology or product, it becomes an intellectual property. As the cut-throat competition prevails in the market today, securing your IP is significant. It gives a differentiating factor to your business.
    Decide your business incorporation
    No matter what industry you are entering into, incorporating is a must. It is the process of converting your business into a legal entity. For this, there are majorly three designs – LLC, a C corporation or an S corporation. Both LLC and S corporation may have some tax exemptions, whereas C corporation is a taxable entity. Apart from differences in taxation, other issues also need to be well thought of. For instance, equity compensation, personal liability, paperwork, regulations depend upon the type of legal business structures. So, discuss it with your legal and tax consultants to decide the best option.
    Writing an effective business plan
    ‘Quality is the best business plan’. – John Lasseter (Chief creative officer at Pixar)
    It is of utmost importance to have an effective business plan. A written business plan tells you various aspects of your business idea. Once your concept or idea is in place, you can see how feasible it is, what direction you want to take it ahead. Likewise, it also gives you a clear idea of what next step to take on. For an effective business plan, think and use research in a proper way to design the roadmap ahead.
    By using these quintessential steps for starting up, you can ensure a good start of converting your business idea into a startup.

    Startup 01 : Quintessential Elements for Starting Up

    Starting up on your own sounds wonderful to everyone. But ever thought what is the first challenge? It is the ability to take 100 decisions all at once. Not all decisions are equally significant, yet for laying the foundation for a startup few decisions are a must. So, let us now discuss quintessential elements of starting up.
    1. A Brilliant idea
    Wayne Chirisa rightly says, ‘Innovative ideas are the golden wealth of a growing business’. A great idea is the first seed in planting any business. In today’s cut-throat competition, a unique idea has become a necessity. Business can run without a great idea, but if you want to leave a legacy behind, you must have an impeccable idea. Not just in starting up, this idea will form a basis for all your decisions. The development and direction of growth depend heavily on the business idea. So, always choose it wisely.

    2. Idea Validation 
    Ideas may come easily, but giving ideas the shape of a business is a deal. For this, validation of an idea is of utmost importance. With firms starting up in every nook and corner of the country, your idea really needs to stand out. Look for an idea that solves an existing problem. How relevant is your idea? How does it solve or makes something easier? Who is it meant for? Find convincing answers for all these by pitching your business idea to right mentors.

    3. Market research
    The idea or product you think of, invest a lot upon, what if it already exists in the market? What kind of customers will buy your product? Who are you offering to? What is the scope of your product? Is the marketplace for them saturated or booming?
    These are few essential questions you need to find valid answers for. Before starting up, market research is a must, it will validate your investment well.

    4. Funding and budgeting
    After validating the idea, the next step is the capital arrangement. Businesses are founded on ideas but are built through the capital. Rather than being clueless later, it is better than before starting up you know your pockets. You should have a clear idea of sources of investment or funding for the business. This facilitates to run the business till it starts making profits. Also, the budget should be well defined and maintained in the initial phase.

    In the first of this series, these are the quintessential elements for starting up. Other elements are coming up in the next blog. Stay tuned.

    Z Nation Lab at Startup India Yatra

    As part of our ongoing initiatives to discover great ideas across India, Z Nation Lab in partnership with Invest India and StartupIndia was delighted to be part of Startup India Yatra – Uttarakhand Edition.

    Organized under the Startup India initiative, the Yatra aimed to identify entrepreneurial talent within the State of Uttarakhand. Shashank Randev and Pushpamitra Das spent two days in Dehradun as part of the Startup India Yatra team. They evaluated more than 120 startups and the 10 finalists were awarded by Manisha Panwar – Principal Secretary, State Government of Uttarakhand.

    “Pleasantly surprised by the number of great ideas and MVPs we evaluated in Dehradun. The enthusiasm and energy were palpable! The state of Uttarakhand has initiated a successful drive for growth through innovation. Z Nation Lab would be engaging with at least 5 startups from the State. We look forward to sourcing great ideas, products, solutions and nurturing budding entrepreneurs across India.”

    #InnovationAtCore #StartupIndia #ZNationLab #InvestIndia #Yatra

    What does Disruptive Innovation Implies for a Business?

    “I could either watch it happen or be a part of it”. – Elon Musk on disruptive innovation. He is genius behind one of the most innovative companies like SpaceX and Tesla.

    In the present scenario, every industry is going through a major business model and technology-oriented disruption. So, let us first decode the term ‘disruptive innovation’.

    Decoding the term

    In the simplest words, it can be understood as an application of a technology that changes the way a firm or market or an industry functions. Now, what makes a technology disruptive? For instance, the internet is a disruptive innovation since it was a unique creation used for generating money that never existed before. So, any technology that is uniquely built and causes a fundamental change in the way of functioning of a firm or industry is ‘disruptive innovation’. Now, let us discuss why it is here to stay.

    The significance of Disruptive Innovation

    Whenever a disruption comes to market, for a business it becomes essential to adopt it or else it shall be left behind. Let us see into the case of spectacular demise of Nokia. It was the world’s largest mobile phone makers having a magnificent global market share of 40%. From witnessing such heights of success, it also had to witness the fire sale of its entire business to Microsoft. Why? The inability to identify the disruptive innovation being carried out by competitors in the market and later failing to adapt it. Thus, disruptive innovation is not just another term, it has the power to make or break businesses.

    Disruptive Innovation is the need of the hour

    In today’s ever-competitive market, disruptive innovation is the key to keep succeeding at what you do. If you don’t initiate it, someone else will. As rightly pointed by Facebook’s Guiding Principle, “If we don’t invent the thing that will kill Facebook, someone else will.” Every business needs to keep reinventing itself to stay on the top of their game. This understanding has developed since business value the fact that disruptive innovation is here to stay. For doing so, they become disruptive rather than adopting the disruption created by someone else. Hence, the key is to embrace disruption and change early because you cannot fight innovation.

     

     

    Accelerators: Making A Startup Journey Easier

    Gone are the days when it took a huge amount of money to start a business. Today, we live in an era where anyone having a great business idea can start on their own. All you need is a website/page/channel to begin with. But, what next? How is the journey covered from here to grow a successful startup? Well, we are going to shed light on this journey today.
    According to NASSCOM, India stands today as the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. Interestingly, startups in fintech, healthcare, e-commerce, and aggregators are rapidly on the rise. In such a scenario, with a new business idea taking birth in every nook and corner of the ecosystem, right mentoring is becoming a necessity. As Raman Roy (Chairman, NASSCOM) rightly said, “Today, Indian ecosystem is flooded with innovative ideas and needs the right channel and guidance in terms of acceleration, scaling up and funding”.
    Thus, startup incubators and accelerators are need of the hour. Now, we shall understand the role played by both in this journey of starting, scaling up the business. Generally, they are perceived to be same but they are certainly not. For this, let us begin by defining the incubators first.
    Starting up: Incubators Are Your Savior!
    Incubators support the startups in their initial stages in expanding their operations, decision making, etc. They do not pour in any money physically but become a guiding light for budding entrepreneurs. So, they are an efficient way to help in the beginning stage of a startup.
    Scaling up: Accelerators Have Your Back!
    Accelerators are different from incubators in various aspects. Unlike incubators, accelerators do not shy away from investing in the startup. Now, let us see some core features of startup accelerators –
    1. They focus on a specific domain of expertise and choose startups accordingly.
    2. They have a competitive selection process for funding startups.
    3. They invest for an equity stake in participating startups.
    Unlike incubators, startup accelerators have a pre-defined time-frame for every startup they invest for next stage of expansion. The accelerators also provide right mentoring to startups helping them to scale up in a targeted time-frame.
    Thus, choosing the right kind of accelerators is of utmost importance. The right kind of collaboration goes a long way in shaping up the long-term outlook for startups. Also, research about the accelerators before approaching them helps immensely in choosing the right one.
    So, choose wisely to grow organically.

    Pitch @ ZGC Innovation center, Silicon Valley

    When it comes to Silicon Valley, people speak only one language “Technology”. Chinese community and investors at the ZGC Innovation center, Silicon Valley welcomed the Indian startups to pitch their business ideas. They were keen to understand how can the Indian Startups use ZGC platform to venture into the Chinese market and how can they help. Among the startups that attended the event, few got immediate connect into the Chinese ecosystem.

    Follow us on Twitter for such updates.

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    # Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship lessons by Bret Waters, Stanford lecturer

    Startup at Silicon Valley bootcamp with Bret Waters, Stanford University lecturer on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Bret gave some great insights into entrepreneurship.

    1. The number one reason why startups often fail is when their long term value from customers is less than the cost of acquiring a customer.

    2. Exclusivity works – not many companies (except few outliers like amazon) were successful with early product release for all.

    3. Reaching the tipping point is critical – Finding the most influential customer category for your product is very crucial in a startup lifecycle. Quoting the example of 3M’s product PostIT, when the product was about to fail, the company decided to send a free sample to all the secretaries in corporate offices, who were the most influential customers, today PostIT is present in day to day life of the masses.

    4. Build what your customers want – stating the example of Instagram where the company deleted all its other product features to keep only 2 features that the customers wanted, helped it become a unicorn.

    5. For BtoB startups – cost reduction or increasing the sales are the only two most important reasons why customers buy product as their decision are more rational than individuals who may buy the product for variety of other reasons. B2B startups should approach the corporates not for sale call but to ask for help in building the product as corporate executives have the experience.

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    Here’s Why You Must Invest in Content Marketing!

    Being an entrepreneur with limited funds or savings to begin your venture, you are often forced to choose among the array of things that need to be invested in. Content marketing is one thing that gets sidelined.  At the very onset of this discussion, ask yourself- what is the topmost priority? The answers would be in the range of conversions or sales or generating leads. Now, among various ways to generate the leads, one proven method is ‘content marketing’. Now, let us discuss this in detail.

    Before delving into why content marketing is crucial to startups and businesses alike, let us first define

    What is content marketing?

    Content marketing is one of the pillars of digital marketing. Unlike ads, it mainly focuses on establishing a long-term, constant engagement with the audience. The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’, stands true for online platforms. The customer or audience is flooded with a plethora of content flowing every now and then. Hence, need for constant engagement becomes significant.  Now comes the question-

    Why should a startup consider content marketing?

    Today’s customers are not only looking for products online but also many of them seek solutions. For solving their problems, increasing their productivity, creativity, etc. they resort to reading things online. So, content not only helps give insightful information to them but also describes your offering in the most credible way.

    First information about your business for potential customers must be an informative one. That is where content will come into the picture. It produces free and informative pieces in form of blogs, news or full-fledged articles. This generates awareness about the existence of your business to the target audience. An informed customer will be more willing to take up the first service from you rather than a hesitant one.

    After the first interaction, if the content is valuable, the audience will be curious to get updates from your website/channel. This is how a relationship would be built over time.

    Now comes the difficult part, how to ensure the content marketing is effective enough to bring results?

    This is where guidance from your startup mentors is much needed. So, start the first step towards content marketing now.

     

    Pitch to investors @ Y Combinator Startup Investor School

    Indian startups at Z nation lab Silicon Valley Startup bootcamp pitching to investors @ Y Combinator Startup Investor School. This group of investors is a closed knit bunch of active investors. They have invested in more than 100 plus YC startups in the past.

    Pitching to these investors was a unique experience as it is an art to communicate your message in 90 seconds and articulate your responses to some very smart Investor questions.

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