Has there ever been a better time to be a technology entrepreneur in India? Probably not.
Inspired by the recent acquisition of RedBus, startups are now dreaming bigger than ever before about creating exciting solutions for what has been dubbed the 'next 500 million' set of Internet users around the country.
When it comes to building a hot startup, the best place to look for inspiration is Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Buyers (KPCB) the world's top venture capitalists. After all, it's their job to create the next big thing. KPCB was an early investor in some of the biggest success stories of our time from Amazon to Zynga and many more.
We spoke to Sandeep Murthy, KPCB's man in India, about the challenges facing startups in the country. He's optimistic about the power of the Internet in India and believes you can learn everything you need to know about a winning strategy from King's Candy Crush Saga.
Following our chat with Sandeep, we've put together a checklist for tech entrepreneurs with a few guiding principles to keep you focused on your journey.
1. Raise eyebrows
Start with a big goal big enough that people can imagine a better life with it but simple enough that everyone gets it. A powerful vision excites not just consumers but also your team and investors. It allows you be creative in the way that you look at your venture and focuses investments where they matter most. As ambitious as mobile payments for disenfranchised India or as straightforward as a neighbourhood directory, you have to believe you want to change the world in some way.
Your product will have to tell that story.
2. Your UX is your brand
UX is bigger than UI. And when people fall in love with the UX they fall in love with your brand*. Integrating UX in discussions early in the product development cycle doesn't cost you more but helps to engage quicker. It's the foundation of a great relationship with your user -- easy to work, fun to use, part of everyday life. Mobile banking regulations in India make it difficult for brands to engage. But what if brands made the authentication process easy and fun? One click to OTP, fun on your feature free phone, push play for password.
Big ideas, small investment, massive impact.
*It's not just online brands you're competing against in India. You're also competing with retail - a phenomenon that's now exploding. You have to be better than the high street experience and give people a reason not to jet to the mall.
3. Stretch while you wait
India is a world of much tighter economics. If you can win here, you can win anywhere. Zoomin started out as a photo-sharing website in India but took its super-efficient model to the US and today competes with the likes of Shutterfly and Snapfish. It capitalises on cheaper labour and printing costs in India and isn't waiting for the big internet boom to be profitable.
It's about creating opportunities wherever you can find them.
4. Done is better than perfect
A great product is more important than the perfect one. Put your stake in the ground and iterate, iterate, iterate. Test your product in the wild, experiment fearlessly, get closer to people and build a strong community around your brand. Just look at Junglee. They started with just a handful of merchants they really liked. And today Amazon has launched as a lively marketplace in India.
Fail fast and get better it's the best part of the game.
5. Pack it with punch
Personality goes a long way. Sometimes it's the only way to convince people to try something new like a mobile money transfer. Design memorable experiences, use local languages when it makes sense and don't let engineers write all the copy! Being distinctive will differentiate you from the competition by engaging people in a special way. Think about Cleartrip vs. MakeMyTrip. Cleartrip's playful use of language, squeaky-clean navigation system and killer customer service makes it an easy favourite.
People will come back for more.
6. Made to be shared
Integrate social aspects into the products upfront. Design APIs that inherently drive traffic to the product. Don't make the product and then think about how to go social. Create new communities around you like Babajob. Or like King's Candy Crush, which allows people to get extra lives from their Facebook friends. Internet users in India share links and blog more than twice the global average! Those who get that best will win biggest.
The best things in life are made to be shared.
There's a certain informality that the tech world has brought to business. It's nice to see Tata celebrate #fotofriday. It's also set a higher bar for creativity and this applies to the name of your new venture. Pick a name that not only highlights what makes your product special but also invents a fun and fresh language with it. Think quickr vs olx or justdial vs sulekha.
A clever name gives you an edge.
Over the next decade, the most successful ventures will be the ones that create the most buzz -- the brands that people plug into for every conversation and push the most passionately on Facebook. If you follow these 7 rules, people will spread the word for you.
Invest in your brand early so that the user experience makes people happy, makes their lives easier in some way and maybe even has a stab at making the world a better place. Scale will come along and if you get most things right, the love will shortly follow.