Blog post authored by Vikas Raina, Oracle employee and technology mentor, Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem.
(Image: Vikas Raina in conversation with Jitesh Nagaria, Founder of doLoopTech)
“Child is the father of the man,” is an old saying. Replace child by startup and man with enterprise and you will see where I am going with this blog. Yes, there are a lot of things that an enterprise can learn from startups including the speed at which startups operate or innovation or fearlessness when it comes to looking at problems from a different perspective. Startups are also very nimble and can pivot quickly and operate mostly in a lean fashion.
Startup life feels cool and carefree, while enterprise comes across as more mature and somewhat slow and stable. Enterprises and corporates can learn a lot from startups including innovation, disruption, and speed of work but there are many tricks that they can teach a startup.
I have lived most of my life being part of an enterprise. Early last year I got the opportunity to work with startups as part of my role at Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator program, which allows me to work very closely with startups. A few days back, I was talking with Jitesh Nagaria (Founder of doLoopTech which is part of Oracle’s Mumbai cohort) about our experiences and work culture in enterprise and how we can replicate some of those in startups. This is what I figured:
It is all about the Customer: Customer is the center of the universe for every business. The customer could be an individual, or an enterprise or even a group of people. However, no business has ever succeeded by ignoring customers. Enterprise always builds upon what customers like by relying on social media, influencers, blogs, and feedback from early adopters. A positive relationship with the customer, keeping them first and not treating them as first line of beta testers, is the key here.
Competition: In the real world, competition is ruthless and there are predators ready to pounce on your weakness. Big successful enterprises fight competition by either acquisition to add more arsenal to their quiver or by developing a better product than the competition. Automakers and mobile handset makers are some good examples of how competition goes to the last-minute detail to get a leg up. Keeping an eye on what competition is doing is a must. Being oblivious to competition can cause unexpected failures.
Data is the New Gold. Value It: Data is what drives most of the major decisions in an enterprise. Any growth stage startup must value collecting data and analyzing it by the most modern tools. Tracking data from the very first day of your product launch or even a beta version is very important. Building something that the tech team loves rather than what customers want is a sure recipe for disaster.
Professional Etiquettes: Communication and personal image are what drives most of the relationships. As a startup grows, they start dealing with people like VCs, investors, customers, and mentors on a day-to-day basis. These groups expect more professional and “people like us” behavior. Team members in a startup might not be formally trained when it comes to driving conversations with the big fish in the market; whereas, enterprises invest a lot of time in formal and soft-skills training to groom their employees for leadership. This includes responding to emails promptly, returning calls, and keeping your stakeholders updated at all times. Startups should treat every lead equally and professionally. This will help to build long-lasting and fruitful relationships.
Find the Influencer: Enterprises make the sales pitch at a senior level. You may hear about business deals being closed by CEOs on golf courses. You would rarely see an enterprise sales person wasting time on someone who is not a decision maker or can’t influence the decision in a substantial way. Startups should also focus on the CXOs or top leadership of the organization who make decisions. In addition, getting recommendation from a heavyweight in the organization builds credibility for your product. Be aware of people who look and talk important but are not. Get connected with the real movers and shakers. Bottom line: Cultivate relationships with influential people.
Do Not Wait Too Long: In search of perfection, don’t let go of what is good. Many startups keep building in search of the holy grail of perfecting the product; whereas, an enterprise would release the product even if the product is not perfect as they are time bound for release. Nevertheless, gradually with customer feedback you can keep improving. Moreover, competition is always on your heels and if you are not ready to risk, someone else will. Hence, it makes sense to focus on going to the market earlier than late.
It is all about Money, Honey: In the end, every business exists to make money. When you make a pitch for your product, do not just focus on the shiny pieces. Also talk about how it is going to help the customer make or save money. This is what big businesses do. The functionality of the product is only one of the elements of the pitch. How it is relevant to finances of the organization catches everyone's attention.
Every enterprise and startup claim that they are unique. But the business of running the business is almost the same. The same laws of business apply to startups too. Product line, customers, revenue, investors and positive image of the product and brand is what would drive the business to succeed. So, get up, get going, and be noticed.
About the Author: Vikas is a startup mentor and is part of the Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem during the day. In the night, he wears the cape and fights cyber trolls.