The Making of #PNcamp3 #Hyderabad

Just came back, feeling happy, from Hyderabad after doing the #PNcamp3. The drive from the airport in the evening to Gachibowli was pleasant and I got to see lot of construction in the city. I felt like I was driving in the Silicon Valley highway with wide roads and people driving in their lanes. In the evening, when I drove back from the ISB Campus, it took me just 25 minutes to reach to the airport.

Sunset near the HYD airport

Some background about what we have done so far in the Hyderabad Ecosystem

We have managed to do around 5 playbooks so far, 3 of them have been around Products, 1 of them was by Suresh Sambandam on Nuts & Bolts selling to the US, one of them was on Selling by Aneesh Reddy of Capillary. Few months back, we did put together a playbook around Product Showcase, inspite of having 8–10 confirmations, no one showed up except for Niraj from Hiver who was facilitating the playbook.

I was little upset as I felt founders in Hyderabad did not value the playbooks. I stayed quite for few months and then recently wrote a blog post on my contribution to Chennai and how it is now positioned as a SaaS/B2B hub of India. Chaitanya of Ozonetel tweeted saying he will write a blog post on how Hyderabad is emerging as a B2B hub. I felt guilty of not making an active contribution to the city. So after SaaSx, I thought of putting together PNcamp3, it’s a light format and adds value to the Pre-Product Market Fit stage companies.

The Hyderabad Tech Eco-system

Just to give you a little brief about the Hyderabad tech eco-system, they have an awesome Incubator/co-working space called T-Hub which is truly a global facility. Some of the leading companies from Hyderabad in the B2B space are: Pramati Technologies, Zenoti, Ozonetel, AgileCrm and in B2C we have MeraEvents and NowFloats is in the SMB space. Also you have some emerging players such as ReportGarden, AppVirality, Robustest and few others. This is just a partial list to give an understanding of the tech ecosystem. There are many more which I might have missed.

The team which pulled PNcamp together

Few months back, Shekhar Kirani of Accel had connected me with Sudheer Koneru of Zenoti as Sudheer was keen to get connected to the ecosystem and contribute some of his learnings. Initially, I wasn’t even aware about them, but the more I spoke with Sudheer I found him to be someone who was keen to help the Indian eco-system, keen to do something for Hyderabad. He flew in from Hyderabad as I requested him to attend one playbook before he does any for us….that was a big commitment and he made it happen. I’m quite fortunate to have leveraged Sudheer for 2 playbooks(1 in BLR & 1 in HYD), he was a mentor at PNgrowth and shared his learnings at SaaSx4. Sudheer was the first person who agreed to host #PNcamp in Hyderabad. I then reached out to Chaitanya as he has always been there to support in any initiative that I have reached out to him for. I had been working with Laxman from AppVirality on Beyond Founders…it hasn’t taken off, but I know he was committed and very keen to contribute.

I just shared the format of PNcamp2 that we did in Pune and I said, let’s target around the 75 B2B founders in HYD and do something for startups which are in the early stages. According to Chaitanya, it was a high number, so we settled for around 35–40 as we did not have enough B2B companies in HYD. We did the first blog post announcing PNcamp and noticed that we just got 1 application in 1 week. I realised that we have to probably do little more outreach to get the 35–40 number. Then Sainath Gupta heard about the PNCamp in Hyderabad, he shared it on Facebook and I did speak to him to help us out. Without knowing what we were getting into, he agreed and I set a target for around 75 B2B startups, probably around 40 from HYD and the remaining from other parts of India. I also told him that to get to 75, we have to probably get around 130 applications as we follow a tight curation process. I did update Laxman that we were not doing too well on registrations and he did reach out to Praveen Dorna who was very active in the ecosystem. I got both Sainath & Praveen on a call and requested for help. Both of them took on the target of getting around 75 people for PNcamp. Luckily, we managed to get around 90 applications out of which around 63 were short-listed and eventually 55 showed up for the event.

The day at PNcamp3

We started at 11am sharp with a warm welcome by Sudheer. This was followed by an inspiring talk by Jay Pullur. It’s safe to call him the father of the product ecosystem for Hyderabad. He started Pramati in 1998 and was one of the leading product companies in the Middleware space. Jay shared some insights on what it takes to build a global product company from India. There were lot of questions which came and he gave his insights to the startups and I could see that maturity and the depth of product knowledge that he had gained over the last 19 years.

Audience at #PNcamp3

We quickly moved on to the Product Tear down sessions. I was very nervous till the last minute on how the session would be conducted….but Sudheer and his team which included Mrityunjay, Anand & Bharath did a fabulous job of shortlisting 5 companies.

They actually tested out the functionality, ordered stuff, called up the startups like a customer and availed their service. They did a thorough analysis of their website, their market, their messaging, etc. One of the key things mentioned by the team was copy…copy…copy as the basics were not in place from few companies. This was something which Shekhar had also mentioned when he did the tear down in SaaSx.

Startup going through the Tear down process

The startups who presented got some good value and appreciated the efforts put by Sudheer’s team. Product Tear down is a good format which was started at SaaSx and now we are hopeful that we will be able to take this virtual.

Apart from this, we tried a Pitch tear down session, without the VCs, the session went well and i’m glad that most of the founders were trying to help each other in the session. Kevin William David of Siftery shared some thoughts on how you should be launching your product in ProductHunt. The session was around Product Launch…but a few companies shared their learning on how they launched the product…but it was ok…as the idea was to get them talking.

We were around 5:30pm when Sudheer started his own learnings on Building a Enterprise company for Global markets. He shared his learnings and how they have been obsessed in understanding their customer business. Sudheer and his colleagues actually bought software from the competition to understand how it works and many times went to customer to learn from them….never to sell. That was a very powerful insight. Most of the folks are always in the sell mode when they meet customers…but it was so good to see someone going to meet potential customer to understand how their business works.

Sudheer Koneru from Zenoti

They exactly understood their customers’ business, only then pitched on how their product can add value to their business. Sudheer’s session was very interactive and almost every attendee in the room had a question which he answered patiently. The end time for PNcamp3 was around 6pm and as with all interesting events, it kept stretching. knew that folks were flying back in the same evening, so around 6:45pm I had to bring it to a logical conclusion. We have collected feedback and the NPS score for the event is ~78 which makes my colleague Rajan happy 🙂

Tweet from one of the attendees.

Sudheer hosted some of the folks at his house after the session and it was great to catch up with some folks informally in the evening. I had to rush around 7:45pm as I had a flight at 9pm….and somehow I made it 🙂

I feel happy after making a small contribution to the HYD eco-system and I hope to work with the team again to put together the next #PNcamp in the city. Also, thanks to ISB for allowing us to host PNcamp in their wonderful facility. Was blown away by the infrastructure that the city has.

Blown away by the commitment of folks like Sudheer Koneru, Chaitanya Reddy, Laxman, Sainath Gupta, Praveen & Ronak Samantray for putting a great show. We just pulled this off in less than 25 days, with just a few calls…and a few whatsapp messages.

Forget the Product, Obsess about Customer (Problems)

Attending a #PNCamp is like going to an amusement park. You know you are going to have a great time. But everything that happens still manages to amaze you in a way you do not expect.

Seth Godin

In this post, I will share my experience at the recently held #PNCamp3 at ISB, Hyderabad. This was the first Product Nation Camp held at Hyderabad and focused on early-stage B2B startups.

A bit about my startup, RobusTest. RobusTest is a software platform that helps enterprises test mobile apps better and release them faster at a significantly lesser cost. We are currently 2 years old and work with 2 leading enterprises. I came into #PNCamp3 with a burning question – how do I do sales? In the last few months, my understanding of sales has improved through reading and through real experience. At #PNCamp I was looking forward to understanding enterprise sales in a structured manner. I did get some answers and I hope you too get a few takeaways from this post.

Building a Global Product Business

The day started with Jay Pullur of Pramati Technologies exploring the topic of building a global product business from his experience of building multiple enterprise products and successfully exiting a few. Incidentally I worked with Pramati Technologies for 8 years and closely with Jay on an enterprise product.

Jay Pullur of Pramati talking about building a global product
Jay Pullur of Pramati talking about building a global product

Chefs would tell you that when making a dish, not only is it important to have the right ingredients, it is equally important that the ingredients be added at the right time and in the right mix. Jay explored both these facets – the appropriate constituents and appropriate team constitution – when building a product business.

To start with, in the building phase, you need to get the technology and the product right. Once your product is ready, you will be selling and for that you need to identify your market and your customers. In the third phase, you will be looking at scaling for which you need to focus on people and capital. It is important to remember that as a startup grows through these phases, the focus on relevant ingredients increases but it does not imply the absence of other ingredients e.g. you will need people even when you are scaling, you will need the technology even when you are selling – just that when selling your focus should be on identifying the right market and customers and when scaling your focus should be on getting the right people and having enough capital.

Jay also touched upon the different types of exits startups may have – an exit at the build stage is most probably an acquihire, an acquisition at the sell stage is most probably for the acquirer to get a foothold in the market that the product caters to. When you exit at scale, it is for the acquirer to gain a position in the market.

Product Teardown

Product Teardown is always a much awaited session because of the open and forthright feedback given by experts on existing startups and their working. Hats off to every startup which chooses to participate in this exercise. It is an acknowledgement of their willingness to confront their shortcomings and work on them.

Participants presenting at the Product Teardown
Participants presenting at the Product Teardown

5 startups presented their product – UrbanPiper, EngineerBabu, Vaave, KnightTracker, DataKatalyst  – while a crack team which spent considerable time and effort in researching the startup – right from its market space down to the minutest detail – gave feedback. As I heard the feedback given to each startup, I could see many mistakes/oversights in our own marketing and selling strategy. Following are some highlights from the product teardown.

Are customers clear about what you are offering?

Does your website clearly communicate what you are offering – to put it the right way which problem of theirs are you solving, how can a customer sign up or get more information, what they will need to pay, and many other such questions that go into “converting” a customer.

Wait, are you clear about what you are offering?

As engineers and technical geeks, most product startup founders have immense clarity about what they are building. However, most of the times we are found wanting when it comes to clarity on “which problem are we solving”, “whose problem are we solving” & “how are we solving it”. It goes without saying, that a product without customers is a hobby project at best.

Is your website communicating your value proposition or confusing your potential customer?

A rookie mistake most founders make when creating their website (or any other marketing channel) is to explain all features of their products with painstaking detail forgetting the one important part – the customer and how we intend to make his/her life better. In fact, it is not at all a bad idea to look at websites of the competition and learn a few things from them (or even copy the entire site, of course in a smart manner).

Are you selecting your customer(s) or are you catering to everyone?

When we are starting up, there is a great desire to include everyone in our customer set. This propensity, of course, ends up confusing every potential customer. It is, therefore, important to put in some thought into which customer segment to address.As is often recommended, identify your least resistant customers and go after them.

One example that was cited was nature of business ownership. As a startup when the challenge is to close a deal as fast as possible, it makes sense to target businesses which are still run by the owner rather than corporates where decision making is spread out across teams and is, shall we say, bureaucratic.

When identifying the target customer segment, it is helpful to pick as narrow a segment as possible. This helps a startup focus its efforts which is very essential considering that startups need to be very judicious with their resources.

Selling to Enterprise Customers Globally

While Jay’s session focussed on building global enterprise products, Zenoti’s Sudheer Koneru delved into selling to enterprise customers across the globe. Zenoti is a cloud-based software for spas and salons and is a successful SaaS product from India.

Sudheer Koneru talking about selling to enterprise customers globally
Sudheer Koneru talking about selling to enterprise customers globally

One of the first things that Sudheer emphasised on is that if we are targeting the global market (and we better know if we are), then all the messaging including website, language, photographs & product demos should be geared towards creating the impression that we are an international player.

On the topic of Customer Development, Sudheer narrated an impressive anecdote on how he and his team went about studying their customers’ problems. They literally got themselves massaged and manicured into customer development! They took services from different spas and salons and simulated multiple real-life scenarios. This exercise provided important insights into issues that the current offerings posed. It empowered them to talk to their customers in a language they spoke and hence, connected instantly with the customer.

An important piece of advice that Sudheer gave was to avoid selling to customers and rather focus on asking the right questions to understand their problems. Of course, it is important to ask the right questions. So instead of asking “would you like a product which does this and this”, one could ask “how do you currently do ….”, “how much times does … take ”, “how often do you create reports”, “how do you decide if you need to ….”. The answers to these questions will help one understand how to solve the customer’s problems.

The one thing

If there was one thing that I took back from #PNCamp3, it would be

forget about your product, rather obsess over your customer – rather obsess over the customer’s problems

Thanks

Last but not the least, I am grateful to the entire team behind #PNCamp3.

Thanks a lot to the team at iSPIRT – Avinash, Chaitanya and Sainath, to Sudheer and his team from Zenoti (Mrityunjay, Anand, Bharath) which was present in full force and helped organize the camp,  to Jay Pullur & Raunak (Now Floats) for their presence and guidance. Of course, thanks to ISB for being an amazing venue.

Guest Post by Aishwarya Mishra, RobusTest

“Vertical SaaS” Deep Dive #PlaybookRT in Bangalore

If I were a Cobbler it would be my pride..

The best of all Cobblers to be..
If I were a Tinker, no Tinker beside
Should mend an old kettle like me..


The above poem defines vertical SaaS to a T!

When I got an invite from iSPIRT that there was going to be a roundtable on Vertical SaaS, I jumped from my chair with joy!

First of all I discovered only recently via iSPIRT that there’s a buzzing ecosystem of SaaS startups in India! Not SaaS enabled Marketplaces, but SaaS products that are built worldclass and sell to the world.

So when I discovered that within that little ecosystem, we can go further narrow into sharing knowledge specific to vertical SaaS, I could have given iSPIRT a bear hug!

So last Saturday, in the cosy n energetic office of Hotelogix, few of us vertical SaaS folks gathered around Sudheer Koneru – cofounder of Zenoti.

As with the iSPIRT roundtables this one was also a treasure-trove of experiences shared, founder dilemmas discussed, the unavoidable pain points bantered about.

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-05 at 12.36.07 PM

The 2 main takeaways from Sudheer’s session were

1) Narrow Focus

So when you are starting a business you want everyone to buy your product right? Especially if your product is an Online Software that needs least feet-on-street selling.
 
Now you have chosen a vertical as your karmabhoomi, at least in that vertical, you want everyone, right? In case of Sudheer who builds a kickass product that makes wellness service/spa owners’ life easy, one would expect him to want every Spa, Massage Parlor and Beauty Parlor to use his product. There are at least 5 Beauty Parlors in any 1KM radius of any metro/tier-1 city!
 
The answer is a resounding No. Sudheer chose to focus further narrow on that – upon Customers whose pain point is the most acute. Those are the multiple outlet chains. Now that Zenoti has an established market, it is exploring expanding the customer segment.
 
Apart from the customer segment Zenoti also sets an example in going narrow on geography. Sudheer started Zenoti from Seattle, worked on winning the Seattle market and then looking elsewhere.
 
Reminded me very much how we limited ADDA to Whitefield in Bangalore before spreading wide to rest of India.

2) Empathy

Sudheer highlighted how employees in a StartUp may miss out on the Empathy factor in our dealings with the Customer.
 
To the Cofounder of a Vertical SaaS product Empathy would come naturally. If you are a cobbler all you care about are the feet of customers. When your customer mentions a stitch was sticking out in the shoe, you grimace, you know how annoying it must be to the Customer. Not only you know how it feels you makes sure your Customer knows that you feel her pain. And then of course you fix it
 
But, how do you pass on that Empathy to your employees!
 
Interesting inputs flowed in from all present.
 
Overall, this roundtable set us few steps forward  on the path of overall Wellness and Growth!
 
Of course the final credits goes to Natwar who moderated the session like the pro he is!
 
Guest Post by San Banerjee, ApartmentAdda

“Vertical SaaS” Deep Dive #PlaybookRT in Bangalore

Playbook-RoundTable is one of the most sought after community events of iSPIRT. It’s a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups who are beyond the early stage. RoundTables are facilitated by an iSPIRT maven who is an accomplished practitioner of that Round-Table theme.

The Playbook Roundtable (#PlaybookRT) on Vertical SaaS is scheduled for 4th March in Bangalore and will be led by Sudheer Koneru, CEO at Zenoti will describe how based out of India they started a vertical SaaS company and built a solid business in India and proceeded to expand into Middle East, South East Asia and eventually to the United States.

Majority of Zenoti revenues and business today is based out of North America. Although today Zenoti focuses on the broader wellness market of Spas, Salons, Fitness – see how they actually selected markets to evolve over time. A well entrenched vertical SaaS company becomes a material business leader in its industry and Zenoti is a good example of how to leverage business benchmark data of an industry to help the overall industry grow at large.

If you are interested in attending the Playbook, please apply here before 25th Feb 2017.

Building successful SAAS startups – product tear-down and peer feedback

This PlaybookRT will focus on “Getting traction for SaaS Startups“.  The PlaybookRT is facilitated by Sudheer Koneru(Zenoti) & Niraj Ranjan Rout(Hiver). Apply to get your slot here

SaaS is awesome – you can build a real business with a small team sitting in India serving customers all over the world, turning in real profits and growing real fast.

To get your SAAS revenue and growth engine running, you need to find a product fit with a good market, and make sure your website and marketing convey the right message. With a few things like integrations, marketplaces and email marketing figured out, you can hit an awesome growth rate without having to spend tonnes of money on hiring an army of sales-people.

In this playbook, we look at the things that a SaaS company with less than 100 customers needs to get right early on. This would include working on the product market fit, getting your messaging right, and building a website and signup/on-boarding flow that converts with very little human intervention. The format of the playbook is built around quick 5 minute demos, followed by peer-feedback moderated by two SAAS founders who have already built successful SAAS businesses.

Playbook-RoundTable is one of the most sought after community events of iSPIRT. It’s a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups who are beyond the early stage. RoundTables are facilitated by an iSPIRT maven who is an accomplished practitioner of that Round-Table theme.

Registration and Pricing
If you are keen to attend this RoundTable, do let us know by filling in your details here. We will confirm your seat subject to availability.

All RoundTables are conducted pro-bono. They only payment you have to make is to provide your undivided attention and active involvement in the process. Playbook-RoundTables are a dialogue and there’s no monologue. None.

Behind the scenes of $2 billion Indian startup movie #PNgrowth

Last month, for the first time, I witnessed something really special. Even for someone like me, whose very job and calling is to evangelise this nascent software ecosystem of ours, this was something extraordinary.

I’ve been doing this a while, and what happened last month was one of the best feelings I’ve had in this journey.

This is what happened: Some of the leading B2B enterprise startups in the country, including FreshdeskEka SoftwareCapillaryZenotiFusionChartsKiSSFlow, etc all got together under a single roof.

This is what they got together for: To help 52 other, smaller B2B startups in achieving scale, like they have.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the founders of these companies are some of the most important product leaders we have.

In the first session itself, Shekar Kirani pointed out that a platform like this will not be easily available, and the assembled startups needed to leverage the best from the network and from the folks who had arrived with the the express intention of helping them. And the product leaders who also made an important point – that they did not want the new age startups to go through the same grind, or make the same mistakes they had made in their years of scaling.

I was amazed. It is almost never that you see such accomplished professionals come together towards helping and nurturing young startups from their own learnings.

And what was this? What was happening?

This was the 2nd edition of #PNgrowth.

The first one had been in Jan 2016 at the Infosys Campus in Mysore where we had assembled around 186 founders to help companies think about Category Leadership. It went really, really well, but the feedback was that that perhaps keeping it focussed for fewer founders would help the cause better.

Many heated discussions were conducted over breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beer (especially beer) on the program for the 2nd edition and on how we can add value to the content.

These conversations were typically 4-6 hours long, which meant that the entire program/content took us over 200 hours with 12 founders brainstorming for the past 3-4 months.

It really did take us that long.

And those deep discussions based on the 1st edition’s feedback was what the program for November was based on.

And now that #PNgrowth 2016 is over, I decided to take a look back and share some of the learnings in organising this, and on how we pulled this together. 

This year, the program was designed to help companies chase ‘Good Scale’, that is, to achieve high growth without compromising on quality. There were 52 founders with us, from all over India, and a few from outside as well.

Before we get into the details, a larger question must be addressed again, largely because it keeps getting brought up. This time, I’m trying to use a different approach to explain this. Bear with me.

WHY IS iSPIRT DOING THIS ‘MOVIE’ CALLED PNGROWTH?

iSPIRT’s mission is to make India a ProductNation. We have many initiatives like Playbook RoundtablesPNcamp, etc which are focussed around building products and helping companies achieve good scale. Although there are many accelerators in our country, very few offer value to the founders/companies. Keeping this in mind, iSPIRT wanted to do something unique and create a platform which would help companies think about growth in an effective manner. More importantly, we want to make ongoing mentorship accessible to the founders.

_mg_0662The goal was to create 8-10 companies every year which would eventually go on to become $10mn revenue companies in the next 3 years.

WHO ARE THE DIRECTORS OF THE MOVIE? 

These are the co-chairs.

The first edition of PNgrowth had just finished and I was looking for someone to be the architect for the second edition. I met Shankar Maruwada for lunch at Muffets & Tuffets and was having a completely different  conversation. But, as we touched upon the PNgrowth topic, Shankar had lots of suggestions on how we could do this better. I immediately requested him to help in designing the program and helping me organise it better.. He accepted graciously, and was keen to help.

_a5a7389My next request was to get Pallav Nadhani involved again. There is a reason for this. Pallav, in many ways, was the person who forced us to think around Category Leadership. The first meeting took place at Pallav’s place which went on till 2:30 am.

By then, I had had several interactions with Aneesh Reddy, and the early playbook roundtables on Product Management had been done by him. I reached out to him and he was very keen to be part of the program and help us.

With Shankar, Pallav and Aneesh on-board, the pillars of the event were erected.

WHERE DID I FIND THE STAR CAST FOR THE MOVIE?

These, of course, were the facilitators.

Around 4-6 months in advance, we started working on the content for the event. Various topics were discussed. One thing was clear to me: Every founder had immense passion and commitment to add value to a certain topic. The format we had in mind was to make very interactive session. All of us had had enough of the ‘sage on stage’ approach. The founders were to lead sessions and work along with the participating entrepreneurs to help them extract maximum benefit.

Many discussions later, Pallav & Shankar actually started with using the frameworks & mindflips and were later joined by Girish & AneeshManav & Shekhar also used the same in their session. 

_mg_7722It was great to see that all the facilitators did an outstanding job of delivery of the frameworks and ensured that they shared real life stories and lots of data and numbers from their companies. What was more important was that they made sure they spent time with all the attendees and ensured they received personalised attention. They were able to build a personal connect and trust within the startup community by sharing internal information even though they didn’t have to, thereby making the discussion even more credible.

WHO CAME TO WATCH THE MOVIE?

Oh, that. We had huge demand for tickets from the audience, the founders of India’s growing startup community.

_mg_9870HOW DID WE THEN SELECT WHO ACTUALLY GOT TO SEE THE MOVIE?

This time, right from Day 1, we only wanted to get select founders to be part of PNgrowth.

To begin this selection process, we laid out which stage of startups would benefit from PNgrowth. We then went on and created a list of founders and reached out to them. Apart from this, we reached out to folks from within the eco-system and got them to recommend companies to us.

Each company was recommended by atleast 2-3 founders from the PNgrowth curation team. We did zero marketing for PNgrowth except for a video, which we used to communicate to potential participants. We received overwhelming response for the event thus putting me in a fix at several situations where I had to inform founders that they have been rejected for a program/event. It was difficult, but in the interest of the event, it had to be done.

_mg_8362
We finally had 54 founders who confirmed their participation, out of which 52 showed up for the bootcamp. These companies were divided into groups of 6 based on the type of customer/geography they were catering to.

WHERE DID WE HIRE THE SUPPORTING ACTORS?

These were the mentors, and we were able to get around 14 founders as mentors and were simply amazed by their commitment for the two and a half days of the event. Mentors were involved in all facets of the event – from intense board room discussions to the dance floor. Let me go little more deeper on the role that they played. In every session, the founders got access to few frameworks, mindflips which they had to fill and discuss with their peers + mentors. Lot of learnings were shared by mentors and it became very valuable to the founders. Very few of them tweeted from the program as everyone was busy interacting, engaging, absorbing content, but here is one of the tweets which acknowledges the mentors.

_mg_9832WHAT ABOUT THE CREW?

Getting to them, the volunteers.

In my work, I get to interact with many volunteers in many initiatives, but this time the commitment and the passion with which the volunteers worked was unimaginable. Folks would go to sleep at 5am and be ready next day at 8am. They would ensure that mentors/founders have had breakfast, etc and would go an extra mile to take care that founders are focussed on their work and don’t get distracted.

Volunteers also interacted with the founders to understand if the pace/level of the sessions suited them. Lot of planning was done in advance that each and every person who is part of PNgrowth goes back with a WOW experience. I still wonder where they get so much of inspiration from.

_mg_8120I don’t know if i would ever be able to do something like that. Hats off to all the volunteers who put together an awesome experience for the PNgrowth family.

SO, WHAT WAS THE MOVIE ALL ABOUT, THEN?

Day 1

The Founders started with a cricket match between the cohorts itself. 

Sharad Sharma, our guiding light, kick started the event with his words of wisdom for all the founders.

And then it began with Pallav’s session on Who are you? As founders, entrepreneurs have to pitch or sell their ideas constantly, so as to inspire the listener to believe in their dream to either fund the idea, join the team, tie up with the startup, or write about the startup. Is there a method to this? Can this be an acquired skill? 

In this session, founders learnt and practiced a simple framework that enables them to improve their ability to pitch their ideas in the shortest time, to the desired target audience – VCs, journalists, co-founders, customers, business partners, and employees.

The next session was focussed on how to maximise the value of your product. If you as a founder were to increase the perceived value of your offering (Increase average MRR by 1.5X and/or reduce churn to 0.5X),how would your economics change? How would it change your CAC, margins? What would you as a founder then do differently with your product strategy, go to market strategy (positioning, marketing, channel, pricing), team/organization structure, to increase pricing by 1.5X, in the scenarios below as relevant to you. This was followed by an interactive session with the mentors. 

This was end of Day 1 and then we had networking dinner, drinks, some dance and lots of conversations led by Vinod & Ashish.

Day 2

The second day was a more power packed with two sessions. To their credit, the founders were highly engrossed in their sessions, sans their mobile phones and laptops which helped in making these sessions successful.

During the first half, Girish and Aneesh engaged in an extremely fruitful session on product-market how to scale 10X with emphasis on how to establish your sales funnel and building a repeatable sales cycle. This session covered on selling processes from SMBs (by Girish) and enterprises (by Aneesh). They also shed some light on how pricing, positioning and selling varies from one geography to another.

Apart from this, Suresh also gave his insights on selling global products out of India.

_mg_7993The complete session went on till almost tea break after which the candidates came back in for the third and final session by Shekhar and Manav.

This session was meant to give a befitting end to the two rigorous days of activity.

While Manav spoke about how to choose your niche category and expand to other similar industries and geographies, Shekhar’s session was centred around what a VC looks for a in a startup. In the session,

Shekhar did a Q&A round with Nags and Girish on what it takes to build a successful organisation.

He also delved a bit deeper on aspects like how to choose the right market and how to intelligently figure a way out of a market and move into one that is expanding by extracting maximum business value.

Here Raghu also added his thoughts on what it takes to raise venture capital and how one should structure an organisation for a CEO to utilise his time in the most efficient manner.

Though the mentors tried to cover as much ground as possible over the two days, they took questions from audiences on anything they still might have a doubt about.

After this was a complete group photograph since some of the mentors had to leave that night. The energy of the picture speaks for itself. Before calling it a day, the founders were given tasks/homework for them to present on the final day.

Day 3

The third day, we had some inspirational stories from Sanjay Anandaram(Seedfund), Mohit Dubey (CarWale),  Phanindra Sama(RedBus), Raghunandan G(TaxiForSure), Sanjay Deshpande(FortyTwo Labs). We had actually planned for only Sanjay to talk about “entrepreneurial mindset” and then we thought about inviting all of the above folks to share their energy.

Something which we had planned for 20-30 minutes went on for around 90 mins and it was an absolute pleasure to hear some of the learnings/failures from all these founders. Below is the NPS score of 89 for PNgrowth 🙂 

nps-score-pngrowthAfter this, all founders were made to do this exercise on “Getting to 3X Growth in 12 Months”. All mentors with their cohorts spent time with the founders and helped them on what they should be thinking about this. Six Founders got an opportunity to share with the whole group.

Finally Shankar invited all volunteers to share few words on why they volunteered for PNgrowth. With it, a spectacular three days came to end, with some photographs and a lot of hugs, cheers, and greetings.

For me, it was a great feeling to see all of this happen, and at this scale. This probably capped off the year of 2016 for me and iSPIRT as a year in which we were actually able to make the ecosystem function as a cohesive, united entity. Lots of work is ahead of us, but as I write this, I acknowledge a task well begun.

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Many thanks to Sairam for editing & Shruti for filling the blanks.