Running a startup is nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. Leading founders can attest that beyond an innovative idea, it takes grit and persistence to help their startup attain the necessary growth to drive meaningful change.
To know what it takes to start, grow, scale and, at times, reinvent a startup, YourStory presented the ‘Go Beyond Boundaries’ episode, powered by OPPO Reno4 Pro. Leading tech startup CEOs spoke about their journeys, the role of technology in helping them go beyond boundaries and how they pushed the needle of innovation to create successful brands, and a host of other topics.
Moderated by Vishal Krishna, Business Editor, YourStory, the panel was attended by Satish Kannan, co-founder and CEO, DocsApp; Varun Agarwal, founder, Mento and co-founder, Alma Mater and Aravind Sanka, co-founder and CEO of Rapido.
OPPO has launched a refreshing new campaign #GoBeyondBoundaries to inspire people to push their own limits, break free from norms and make their own destiny by getting on the path of infinite success. The campaign draws inspiration from the brand’s own pioneering spirit, and people have been participating to share their inspiring stories of how they have gone above and beyond to achieve their dreams.
Capturing new growth opportunities in the new normal
When asked about the strategies to achieve new levels of growth in the new normal, Varun said that Mento focused on its content style so that users remain engaged enough to complete the courses.
“The idea is to build a Netflix for learning,” he said, so that users can enjoy finishing the content and learn something along the way— a strategy which has seen significant traction.
Rapido’s Aravind explained that the mobility platform pivoted to the logistics business. It launched the Rapido local, an intra city delivery feature on its customer app to expand its services beyond food delivery from restaurants, and enabling groceries and kirana stores to provide home delivery.
“As a result, our captains are making 60 to 70 percent of their earnings before the new normal set in.”
It also released an app for small businesses to avail the service.
Given that customers, doctors and even large hospitals have had to adopt digital platforms for healthcare in some form or the other, Satish said that DocsApp is now seeing many new use cases. Taking the example of surgery, he noted that earlier, customers would only seek second opinions online. However, customers are now also carrying out pre-surgical consultations, while doctors are conducting postoperative follow ups online.
”It is a learning process for doctors to divide what can be done online, and carry out the rest offline.”
Understanding customer’s needs essential to acquisition
For Satish, knowledge about customers, their needs, and the platforms to communicate with them are key to drive successful customer acquisition. He explained that in the new normal, certain cases saw more traction for the platform, like pediatrics, and thus they learned to attract customers such as new and pregnant mothers and those with children from ages 0-5 years.
According to Varun, those looking to start a consumer internet business should look at three basic things in marketing.
“First: Get your SEOs sorted. Second, make sure you regularly post on social media platforms. This does not generate revenues, but it is purely for branding purposes. Finally, Facebook ads and Google ads are the only sources of revenue for a consumer internet company. If you can figure out your audience, run ads on them,” he said.
As Rapido is a utility-based startup, Aravind said that retention was an important factor to justify market spends. He also highlighted that offline and partnership-based marketing were highly effective. “Between 2018 and 2020, we grew 60 times in terms of visits,” he said, attributing it to such marketing efforts. Aravind also cautioned about being overly reliant on social media platforms as it becomes increasingly expensive to acquire customers after a certain level of growth, and that businesses must find multiple ways to scale.
Enabling the organisation of finance through company culture
Having a sound understanding of technology and the financial aspect of every operation will go a long way for founders in managing finances, according to Aravind.
“We have never taken the approach of scaling at all costs,” he said, adding it was part of Rapido’s DNA to run at optimal costs.
He also shared how the company operates on two years of runway at hand, a decision taken from the hard experience of running a company with no capital.
Varun too said hiring people with a frugal nature was one way to optimise costs.
“Understanding how a cash flow statement works is essential to entrepreneurship,” he said, given that cost optimisation cannot happen unless an entrepreneur does not understand where the money is flowing.
Pushing beyond boundaries
Satish recounted getting the product to be market-fit and the push for its monetisation in the initial days as some of the most memorable moments were when he went beyond the boundaries on his growth journey.
“I personally visited 40 doctors on a bike to get them on board,” he said.
A strong belief in their idea and perseverance helped Aravind and the Rapido team go beyond boundaries, including having a dual B2C and B2B model, exploring a customer base beyond metro cities, and sustaining operations on a fleet of mostly part-time captains. “The difference between an organisation that grew and one that didn’t is often simply because one did not give up.”
For Varun, his moment to go beyond boundaries was when he realised it was to take time out for one’s self, pursue activities and meet people beyond the entrepreneur’s circle.
“I think when that stops, your real growth stops.”
He also agreed with Aravind that persistence pays when it comes facing obstacles while running a startup, and investors also take note of such a mindset, which often works in favour of the founder.
Don’t miss out to check this beyond boundaries video that explores the inspiring journey of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guneet Monga here
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