Representing NASSCOM product forum as Speaker | Startup Xperts

Planning for right business strategy is better than failing to plan. 

A NASSCOM report states that the Indian Startup ecosystem is likely to grow 4-fold by 2020; total number of startups is likely to grow to 11,500+ by 2020, from about 3000+ as of last year.  Though as an entrepreneur, you have the flexibility in terms of work schedules, more important is to keep your commitment levels up to ensure higher probability of success. Every one of us likes to win, but does your initiative have an effective strategy?

Goal setting is something most often startups do not do.  Few of them do set goals, but those are just unrealistic.  Choose your markets, your customers, profiles, based on the limited resources that you have.  Pick what you want to achieve.  What you crave to do, have to get captured in your goals. 

Realistic goal setting is the first step, before looking at moving forward.  Anything that does not get measured does not get done.  Simple! If you and your team do not know what to do and by when complete, then how do you plan to achieve?

Create a differentiator.  How well you are able to differentiate against your competition, matters a lot to your customer.  You don’t need to be miles ahead to win a race, but just nose ahead!  You will have to analyze, brainstorm, to figure out unique strength that your initiative possesses, and whether that strength can bring tangible benefits to your customers.

Usually for product companies it could be speed, user friendliness, features, functionality, etc. 

For services/solution companies it could be your domain knowledge, expertise, customer relationship, post services delivery support, etc. 

If there are none to start with, the same need to be created through some expert consultants/mentors/advisors, as it forms the pillar to your business build-up.

Pitch through multiple offers. If you are running a product company, showcase to your prospects/customers about good, better and best products as they can see value that you have crafted in segmenting those offerings.  Likewise in services, you can provide multiple levels of services (where applicable).  These are best practices that you usually see in airline, hotel, banking industries, etc. 

Building a team is easier said than done.  As a startup you will have less time to deliver results; you have limited resources and so attracting talent through higher compensation may not be feasible.  Decide who you want to bring to the table, and as Jim Collins rightly puts it ‘have the right person in the right seat’!  Pick people who are passionate in building your venture and compensation strategy can include a mix of salary and stocks (you need to showcase your company value and what it could deliver in a few years time if folks are to be attracted to stocks in today’s world).  You can also plan to have a long term incentives (retention bonus) for early stage employees, as that will help in retaining good talent for a longer period; it also helps employees plan their career with you with a long term in perspective.

It is equally important to ensure that your team is in sync with your vision. Having the bigger picture in their mind, will help them relate to your organizational goals, vision and aspirations.  This is one of the core ingredients, but not practiced with most organizations. Have clear actionable items identified, tasks assigned and every individual accountable for their actions.

Have a well thought on Digital Marketing Strategy for startup.  In today’s world, the boundaries established by traditional/large corporate is getting thinner with the digital entrants.  Digital strategy can be powerful if you know how to use it right, and that will help your venture create value; else you may end up losing value as well. A good Social Media Strategy will help you position your entity better in the eyes of your customers.  It’s all about customer/prospect’s mind share. 

SEO and SEM can provide strong ammunition in your battle against competition, but the Digital Marketing Strategy has to fit well to your budgets and aspirations. You might not have to be an expert in building your business digitally.  In which case you will need to decide if it is right to delegate your ‘digital agenda’ to digital marketing evangelists, or to a digital marketing specialist company? Digital marketing is very cost effective and impactful as well.

Under digital marketing strategy, you can look at doing Email marketing for your products/services.  Email marketing is very powerful and advantages, numerous.  Refer: for more interesting insights.

Define your partnership strategy.  Seek and build alliances who can sell your products or services.  Having committed alliances is multiplying your sales force that many times.  It’s a very powerful strategy and as a product company you can derive significant mileage that can build up big time, over time.

De-risking Strategy should be in place.  Strategy is not about taking big risks, but rather how well you are de-risking yourself from large opportunities, does matter.  This is very critical in valuation, especially when the investors look at how well you have de-risked your business against financial, legal and business risk factors.

Yet other key factor is your ability to change.  As a startup with limited resources, the margin of error is thin.  More importantly mistakes do happen when you are building an enterprise.  Boardroom planning is good but you will find things different especially when the rubber hits the road.  It is the ability to quickly react, being agile, have systems that will take care of those issues in future, decides whether your startup is built to last.

One common mistake most startups do is their inability to wait to see results.  You do not keep checking root of a plant by plucking it on a daily basis to check their growth.  It will not only kill the plant, but all your efforts in vain in growing that.   You need to have check points and monitor progress, but not impatient enough in not seeing through to completion.  I know of some companies who just shuts their effective business development team especially when the close is very near, just because it did not meet their anticipated timelines (many a times, unrealistic).  Awful, as a month or two could have made hell of a difference to their business outlook and opportunities!

Digital Marketing’ New Age Mantra for SMEs

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should focus on creating their brand identity and uniqueness that can differentiate them from others to showcase in the market, said Shyam Sekar S, founder and chief mentor at Startup Xperts which is advocating digital marketing. He emphasised the need for the Startups and SMEs to pursue ‘digital marketing’ and position themselves as thought leaders in their space.

Addressing the third edition of ‘Start Manage Expand: A Knowledge-led Small Medium Business’ conference organised by Andhra Pradesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Federation (APCCF) here Wednesday, Shyam Sekar felt that SMEs and Startups could leverage through smart marketing strategies by which they can position themselves better than competition. Effective and smart branding can help win clients, increase revenue and profitability.

“While pursuing digital marketing tactics, focus should be on the customers and their need. Twin strategies need to be adopted – inbound and outbound, where a right balance between these two, is essential for companies to succeed,” he said. Inbound involves SEO, blogs, and social media posts, while the Outbound include SEM and social media ads. Depending on the industry they are in, market, customer segment, budget and other factors also should be dealt with. “With the right digital marketing evangelist and business consultants, SMEs and Startups can use this opportunity well in our marketplace,” he added.

APCCF vice-president and Sravan Shipping Services managing director G Sambasive Rao said that the SMEs were playing a very potent role in all sectors especially in automobile sector to shipping allied services like ship breaking and dry docking. APCCF Vizag chapter chairman Pydah Krishna Prasad spoke on the need for technological knowledge in the prevailing ambience.

THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS press release page link: Click here

Mr. Shyam can be contacted at

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing for Startups – 8 things to do before launching a product/service | Startup Xperts

The world is witnessing the emergence of startups that was never seen before, in this scale. The biggest question that most entrepreneurs face is that of how to launch their product or service quickly into the market place. As we all know, startups are meant to be ‘lean’. So finance is going to be one of the biggest challenges for most of them. Does digital marketing cost a lot of money? Or can be done ‘cheap’?

Answer is yes and no! Confusing?

If you get into wrong hands in pursuing your digital marketing initiatives, your money can be getting into a bottomless pit. But then yes, if you work with a digital marketing evangelist, or a digital marketing firm that understands the startup mindset well, then you could be in safe hands. Not just safe, but you are creating yourself some extra room to succeed, right at the start itself!

Can it be done cheap? Certainly no! As the saying goes, if you throw peanuts, you will get monkeys! Well, it can be done in a very cost effective way, and one that can deliver results for you.

Let’s quickly look at what are all the right steps that you need to take, to launch your product or service.

  • Get your presence online:You can do this by registering your domain name (preferably .com) and get your website up. Gone are those days when you wait for over a month to see the first cut version. Today, website can be launched in a few days or in weeks, depending on the functionality that you would like to build in. There are numerous domain and hosting companies to choose from. Check their service credentials as the big names that we have experienced have offered poor customer service. Another important point – just make sure that your site is mobile-friendly!
  • Social Media Marketing: The world is becoming more and more socially connected. Depending on whether you are a B2B, or B2C, or B2B2C, create social media accounts as need be. For B2B, you got to have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts; for B2C, have Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
    Creating accounts does not take time. But engaging through these social media platforms will demand your quality time. Here again, content is the king. You can publish, or share content (preferably original) else you can work with your digital marketing consultant to help you create those contents that are worthy to read/share.
  • Build database:You can start to build database with the help of database subscriptions, through web research, and through your website too. This will be an ongoing activity and can start anytime.
  • Email campaigns:In one of the reports that I had read some time ago, it mentioned that email campaigns have the effect of almost 40x times than Facebook and Twitter combined. If you know to use the right CRM, you will be able to track the mail opens, understand what your prospect needs/wants, their interests, etc. Email campaigns can be a very powerful strategy and so do not underestimate its power. So keep sharing interesting articles (original content) with your network constantly. This can help create your brand, and establish you as a thought leader in this space.
  • SEO:Search Engine Optimization, is usually not done as many does not know or think that it is not for them. In many of my engagements, I have made my clients realize the value and importance of doing SEO for their website. It is more a strategy, and not just an activity that can be given to someone who just knows ‘tagging and coding’. This means you are outsourcing your online brain to that lower level.
  • SEM:Search Engine Marketing is suggested to go hand-in-hand with SEO. If you have not optimized your site, then the money that you spend in SEM can go down the drain. Startups need to conserve cash and do it effectively (e.g. Google Adwords, LinkedIn ads, Twitter ads, Facebook ads, etc.) so that they get the bang for the buck. I have suggested some steps as to what to do when (pre-launch, during launch, and post-launch), while launching your product or service, in one of my earlier posts.
  • Analytics:Google analytics’ basic version is free. So get this integrated along with the Webmaster tool. These analytics can give you significant insight as to what’s working and what’s not working. It is very simple and easy to use, and you may not need an expert to get those insights if you are savvy enough.
  • Monitor, fine-tune, and build your startup to scale.

It is not about doing all things right; It is about doing right things.

Happy launching!

Startup Xperts is a management consulting firm with an objective to transform companies into the next level of growth. Our mission is to help companies to steeply accelerate their growth. Be it family run business, small or medium enterprise or a boutique firm, Startup Xperts have all the right answers to step up their growth. Startup Xperts help clients in a range of service areas including business consulting, strategic consulting, sales and marketing consulting, digital marketing, HR, Operations and leadership training.

To know more about Startup Xperts, visit us at or write to us at

The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and Startup Xperts is not responsible for this content. In case of any objection in content, IP violation, incorrect or inappropriate information, please inform us at We will do our best to act on it at the earliest.

Startups – how to get your digital marketing approach right?

Startups typically have two major challenges to overcome – Time and money. Though time is money by the old age saying, here we are considering the importance of both separately.

  • In a short period of time, startups have to create the impact, grow their business as it is a question of survival. Either grow or perish seems to be the order of the day.
  • At the same time, most startups do have limited resources (money and people) to create that impact in that short period of time. So the question unfolds as to how this can be effectively achieved in today’s world?

Doing things right Vs doing right things

You cannot do everything right. We are not in a perfect world, so you need to take right steps; doing right things are more important.

  1. Do you really know who your customer is and their need?
    Focus on your customer and their need. Rather than creating a product or service, trying to spend your resources and energy into selling it (I am not referring to blue ocean strategy here) do understand your prospective customer’s pain and/or gain. If you are not solving a big problem (like Uber, booking a taxi with a click of a button rather than waiting on the streets), or not able to demonstrate a big gain (like Apple iPhone, that created a bigger impact through rich user experience) then you may have to seriously relook at your offerings. Else create a ‘differentiator’ that stands apart. Bear in mind, you don’t need to be miles ahead to win a race, but just nose ahead!
  2. Create and expand your brand identity digitally
    It is a no brainer that startups need to create their brand identity, and not think that the brand building initiative is only for established or large enterprises. It is all about creating differentiation, building trust; and digital will be an easy and cost-effective way to build your brand. The first step is to create a website that resounds well with your business. With good dot-com names virtually not available, this might need a lot of searches to arrive at the right name that can strike a chord with your customers as well.
  3. Cheap digital marketing Vs cost-effective digital marketing
    I do keep receiving mailers that say that they can get website page rank in top search results; and that too at very cheap rates. I do wonder how this may even cover the cost of such resources if it has to be done in the right way it is supposed to be. To top it all I get zapped when they list out strategies that were used a few years ago, that’s not going to work in today’s scenario. Of course, how many do really know Google’s new algorithm released this year? Many startups have come back to us after experiencing these cheaper options, as they realized it is just a drain of money and time. Here the important aspect to note is that, time loss is a precious loss; and you have already burnt sufficient amount of your limited resources (funds) hoping that digital is going to create that impact. If it didn’t work, don’t blame digital; just that you didn’t do it right! So go for cost-effective digital marketing that has a well thought out strategy and execution planned, with clear timelines.
  4. Pick the right strategy
    You all very well know that no one size fits all. Digital is beautiful in that way, because custom strategy can be carved for every one of you – be it a boutique, services firm, product startup, retail outlet, etc. I have stressed the need of SEO many a times in my earlier articles; a balanced approach to SEO, SEM, and SMM is important for you to succeed in this business. There are strategies (pre-launch, during launch, post-launch) that you need to pick depending upon the stage of your startup.
  5. Do not put all eggs on one basket (Rephrased: Do not spend all your money on just one strategy)
    It is always advisable to go for A/B testing. Create two or more sets of messages (needless to mention across social channels, Adwords, etc.) to see which one works best. Fine tune and try to see if improvement in performance is seen. Result is always a moving target and so constant fine tuning is essential to get the overall momentum and impact right. I do notice, many make the mistake of spending their precious funds on a particular message, and come to a conclusion that digital hasn’t worked. I was not surprised because the messages were not right, or the audience was not chosen right, or probably wrong timing. Be it LinkedIn, or Twitter, or PPC, you need to take a balanced call as to which combination can maximize your visibility and achieve your set objectives and goals.

It is easy to say ‘go digital’. But digital is not just a technique; it is a tactic (strategy). Digital certainly can be done in a cost effective way, and more importantly measurable. You will be able to see where your dollars go, with reference to your spends on various buckets. So, starting this New Year 2016, are you ready to go digital more effectively?

Startup Xperts is a business accelerator supporting startups, small medium enterprises, boutique firms, by driving their go-to-market strategies, digital marketing, smart sales initiatives, to accelerate their revenue growth.

To know more about Startup Xperts, visit us at or write to us at

The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and Startup Xperts is not responsible for this content. In case of any objection in content, IP violation, incorrect or inappropriate information, please inform us at We will do our best to act on it at the earliest.

7 ways to build your small business as successful brand | Startup Xperts

How to make your company, a brand?

by Shyam Sekar S

From about a century ago where we called it the ‘age of manufacturing’, to a decade back we termed it as the age of information, today we are at the ‘age of the customer’.

In some of my conferences, as a speaker, I have highlighted this – many entrepreneurs feel that branding is only for large companies; branding is a big budget exercise; branding involves huge time and effort and we cannot afford both.

But ‘why branding’ has become a no-brainer today. Why? Branding is essential to position you and your company in the right space/right perspective; branding helps to win clients; branding helps to beat your competition; and simply put, if you aren’t creating a ‘brand’ you are losing opportunities.

Well, most consider branding as ‘marketing activities’ that big brands pursue today – be it Coca Cola, Merc, Amazon, Flipkart, Nestle, to just name a few. But the key point that I would like to suggest you is that you don’t do what they are doing today. Do what they did when they were a startup like you; replicate or improvise what they did when they were a small business like yours.

With this important take, let’s move swiftly to how and where we can start. Branding can be done in a traditional and/or digital way. Today, in a connected world, branding can be done at a far higher pace and reach, and can shake established/traditional enterprises. Look at Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Google, or Uber, or Flipkart. All these brands moved into the billion dollar club in quick time. Unlike traditional industries that took decades to reach that mark. So leverage the power of digital to build your brand.

Branding is a continuous journey. It doesn’t happen by one activity, or one action, or one time. You have to build your company, your brand, through all of the available resources, both internal and external.

It all starts with a focus – focus on customer and customer’s need. All your actions, your mission, need to be centered on this. I understand that when Amazon tries to launch a product, or enhancement, the managers need to come up with a convincing answer to a basic question – how does this benefit or positively impact our customers? If not convincing, the idea gets dropped.

Get to work with a smart digital marketing company/consultant, if you do not have a specialist in your firm. Getting to identify them is tough, but worth your pain, as we are talking long term here.

• Build a robust digital marketing strategy.

• Balance your inbound and outbound strategies, depending on how and what your business is (B2B or B2C or both).

• Use analytics to power your business decisions.

• Email marketing can be used effectively (note, I am not referring to sales mailers here) to build reputation, position yourself as a thought leader, and more importantly helps to build ‘trust’ (an essential ingredient to build your company, your brand).

• SEO, SEM, SMM to be executed in perfect sync, as you do not want to throw your money, your precious resource, in a bottomless pit.

• Brand awareness leads to engagement; engagement leads to trust; trust helps you win customers and grow your businesses.

• Finally, build the right DNA across all stakeholders – your employees, customers, vendors, partners, investors, etc. Build your brand brick by brick through all of these stakeholders; understand that this is a long drawn, continuous and consistent, effort. Your aspiration and passion has to be communicated to all stakeholders and there can be no deviation between what you believe and what you do.

Happy branding!

Happy branding!

About the author:

Shyam Sekar S, is the Founder, Chief Mentor and Strategist at Startup Xperts Business Consulting Pvt. Ltd. , a business growth consulting firm. Shyam is a serial entrepreneur and helps many entrepreneurs in building up their enterprises, thereby building our entrepreneurship ecosystem. He passionately involves by giving shape to an idea and idea to execution; helps build startup and small medium enterprises by accelerating their revenue growth. Supports them through developing and most importantly, implementing smart business strategies, digital marketing, smart sales, brand building, mentoring, coaching, and leadership development. He can be reached at

or his mobile +91 99401 36667.

Startup Xperts is a management consulting firm with an objective to transform companies into the next level of growth. Our mission is to help companies to steeply accelerate their growth. Be it family run business, small or medium enterprise or a boutique firm, Startup Xperts have all the right answers to step up their growth. Startup Xperts help clients in a range of service areas including business consulting, strategic consulting, sales and marketing consulting, digital marketing, HR, Operations and leadership training.

To know more about Startup Xperts, visit us at or write to us at

The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and Startup Xperts is not responsible for this content. In case of any objection in content, IP violation, incorrect or inappropriate information, please inform us at We will do our best to act on it at the earliest.