Aruna Kappagantula Co-founded Bamboo House India, a social enterprise that promotes the use of bamboo products to provide sustainable livelihoods to rural and tribal people. The market is estimated to grow to Rs 26,000 crore by 2015.
We thought things were slowing down in this country. Then we found these 30 companies set up by young entrepreneurs for under Rs 5 lakh each. We caught up with them to find out how they did it and how you can too
The businesses we looked at, what they started with, their perceived strengths, how they spread the word and, most vitally, why they think their idea would work today
Talent Equity: A year ago, Indrojit D. Chaudhuri and Manish Raghuvanshi started talent equity solutions in Noida, a forum for employees to voice their opinions about their workplace and salaries. users can log on and read and write anonymously
Mogo’s Food: Sid Khullar and friends launched it two months ago, to deliver fusion food at economical prices in noida. their reasoning: good food is recession-proof. their usp: easy to order and healthy food
Evam Entertainment: Karthik Kumar teamed with Sunil Vishnu K. to create live entertainment and workshops in Chennai. revenue comes from ticket sales, corporate clientele and brand partnerships. they ride on their creativity and the scope of what they consider an unrecognised field
Bamboo house india: Aruna Kappagantula and Prashant Lingam of Hyderabad try to use bamboo to provide livelihood to rural and tribal people. bamboo, they say, is a viable alternative to wood and plastic
Thunk in india: Suren Vikash U. is a ‘best out of waste’ type of ideator. his brainchild provides waste management solutions to companies in Bangalore, creates products from waste raw materials and sells them. a viable opportunity, he says, if the final product is of good quality
The questions that shape a business plan
Sec 1.0 an introduction When was the company formed and by whom? Where is it based? What does the company uniquely offer?
Sec 2.0 Market opportunity What is the opportunity, need or problems in the market? Who is experiencing the need? How big is the opportunity? How fast is the opportunity growing?
Sec 3.0 Offering What is being offered to address the need? What are the different components of the offer?
Sec 4.0 The competition Why and how is the offering unique? How will it successfully compete?
Sec 5.0 Market Who are the customers? How will they use it? How is the market segmented? What does this offer mean to them?
Sec 6.0 Business model How will the offering be delivered to customers? What does the delivery chain look like? How will the support process work? How will revenue and costs flow across the chain?
Sec 7.0 Sales and marketing plan How will customers be acquired? What are the different modules or components to be sold? What are the price points?
Sec 8.0 Development plan What are the timelines and technologies? What is the strategy for product development?
Sec 9.0 Roadmap Over the next 24 months, what will be the sales and marketing objectives? What will be the company’s objectives? What are the product development objectives? What is the exit strategy?
Sec 10.0 Current situation What is the present status of the offer? Are any customers testing or using it? How much money has been invested? How many employees are there?
Sec 11.0 Financials How much money do you need? When, how and at what levels will you break even? What is the monthly outlook for the next 12-18 months?
Tips: Keep the business plan about 20-25 pages in length. Number the pages, check spellings, and make sure the document is logically consistent.
Source: Sanjay Anandaram, managing director, JumpStart.
Do You Have It In You?
There is no single sure-shot recipe that makes an entrepreneur, but if you answer a confident ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then you have high chances of making it
1. Can you bear great financial risk?
Willingness to take risk is one thing, being able to bear it is another. Do you have enough savings stacked up to pay your bills in case the business does not take off? Does your spouse have an income you can fall back on?
2. Do you have a unique service or product?
What you offer need not be ‘new’, but it should have a value proposition in terms of time, money, or quality over existing products. In other words, even an improvement over previous products can be successful.
3. Are you passionate enough?
If you don’t believe in what you are doing, chances are you will never make it. Self-belief and faith in your idea are among the key factors that make a difference to a business. Many real-world case studies confirm the power of passion.
4. Do you have adequate resources?
Can you sustain yourself till profits start rolling in? Make an estimate of probable costs and worst-case scenarios and see whether you can handle them. If you do not have the money, can you borrow it?
5. Do you have the necessary experience?
You should start your business in an area where you have experience. This isn’t mandatory, but crucial if you are starting on a small budget and cannot hire external help. Else, get someone with the required experience.
6. Are you willing to sacrifice your lifestyle?
Any business usually takes a while to succeed. You must be prepared to lead an extremely frugal life for at least a few years. This might mean few vacations, little eating out and even spending less time with the family.
7. Do you like all aspects of running a business?
Running a business means doing all the unglamorous work—from paying utility bills to running around and negotiating with people who might not be particularly excited about your idea. Are you ready to go?\
8. Are you comfortable making decisions on the spot?
With a new business, you call all the shots—and there are a lot of decisions to be made without any guidance. This instant decision-making ability is vital for success.
9. What’s your track record of executing your ideas?
Examine your past objectively to see whether you have assumed leadership roles or initiated solo projects. This will give you a clear idea of where you stand when it comes to taking initiative.
How Much Money Do I Need?
Start-up capital means money needed till your business starts earning revenues. Assume expenses would be incurred under these heads for between six months to a year. Add 15-20 per cent for unplanned expenses.
1. Preliminary expenses Expenses incurred on initial surveys or for setting up a website
2. Professional expenses To hire professionals like chartered accountants
3. Cost of goods sold To develop a product or service or total income earned minus the profit
4. Selling and distribution expenses Expenses during the sales process
5. Marketing expenses Mainly advertisements or promotions
6. Cost of technology On mobile phones, computer hardware and software, Internet
7. Administration expenses Postage, stationery, rent, telephone and insurance
8. Salary and bonus Founders usually go without salaries for the first few years
9. One-time expenditure Permits, licenses, starting inventory, housing, among others
10. Monthly expenses Telephone bills, rent, wages and salaries and cost of advertisements
The Tight Fist
When you have a small budget, you have to make each penny count. Here is how
Running Your Office
- Work out of home, use existing infrastructure like laptops and phones—don’t buy new ones.
- Buy cheap PCs and try for good deals on laptops. Don’t fall for expensive warranties.
- Look for cheaper hosting and domain plans.
- Use Skype to save on phone bills.
- Take your time while selecting cell phone and Internet plans, review them on a monthly basis.
- Watch your utility bills—switch off the lights, AC, fans and other appliances when you leave.
- Print double-sided and in economy mode with lower tones to save toner; use cheaper paper.
- Rent your non-critical office equipment like ACs, photocopiers, coffee machine.
- Instal an electric hand dryer in your toilet to save on more expensive paper towels.
- Watch stationery costs—take free stationery from conferences or vendor (but don’t steal!).
- Recycle scrap—keep pins, rubber bands and clips that you get in the mail.
- Instal open-source operating systems or use free cloud computing software.
- Stay with friends or relatives. If you must stay in a hotel, look for cheap options close to meeting locations. Share rooms with colleagues.
- Use air-miles if you have any.
- Take afternoon flights: they are cheaper.
- If you can, get a hotel industry association discount card. You can then get discounts.
- Plan travel in advance: look for deals. Try to club meetings in a particular city or part of a city.
- Hire people at less than market rates. Hire only if work can’t be done by existing employees.
- Hire interns, freshers and train them.
- Find contacts to assist you with legal work, finances etc., instead of outsourcing such work.
- Don’t outsource. Founders should have the core skill-sets to build and sell products. If not, get a person with the skill-set on board.
- Don’t invest too much for future needs: think up to one year ahead.
- Change lifestyle to match cash flows.
- Create monthly budgets for expenses. Document all expenses.
- Analyse expenses on a 1-2 week basis and see what can be reduced further.
- Negotiate deals with vendors or customers to give you discounts for later benefit.
- Use the Internet extensively for advertising.
Source: pluGGd.in , Morpheus Ventures Partners