Webpuppies CEO Abhii Dabas shares insights and tips on what it takes to make a successful startup in the recent Ideas Jam 2021, hosted by Nanyang Technology University (NTU). The virtual event was attended by students and budding entrepreneurs who were eager to learn how to turn their big ideas into reality.
Abhii conducted a workshop called “Startup Success,” a “two-day MBA” program, in which he discussed in elaborate detail what it takes to launch your startup idea and make it succeed in the market based on his extensive experience as a CEO of digital solutions company Webpuppies and as a mentor of various startups and various sectors across the globe.
The program was divided into a discussion of four key topics: the steps involved from having an idea to turning it to massive success, finding the right co-founder, the four filters of choosing the right business idea, factors that determine the success or failure of a startup, and emerging technologies to focus on.
Abhii put an emphasis to pay full attention to every stage of your startup journey to ensure that you are always on the right track. “I’ve seen so many founders and so many startups fail over the years just because they fail at different steps. All because they had the right idea, but they cannot find the right co-founder. Or they found the right co-founder, but they chose the wrong technology platform for their startup.”
Many startup founders experience a dilemma on choosing the right co-founder to pursue their startup with. Abhii agrees that choosing the right co-founder is very difficult. In order to pick the right one, one must look for the following factors: complementary skills, similar mission and values, similar socioeconomic status, and similar stage and lifestyle.
Abhii also emphasized that aside from being passionate and being good at your startup, your business venture must also be completely scalable and must have the capacity to be institutionalized.
Is your business scalable?
Startup founders must evaluate their business model and determine if their business model has the capacity to consistently sell and generate revenue in the years to come. If the answer is no, Abhii says, then it’s time to pivot and re-evaluate the current model that you have or pick another idea that offers more potential.
One can determine their startup’s scalability by determining if it solves a problem big enough and if it has a market size that is large and consistently growing.
Can your business be institutionalized?
Abhii says that one must determine if your business venture is too individual-driven, or if it has the right resources for competent people other than the founders to allow the business to run and continuously grow.
He cited Google, Microsoft and Apple as examples of corporations that had a business structure brilliant enough that the companies managed to grow over the years, even if their original founders were not as involved anymore.
“How can it be institutionalized? You build processes and products. These processes and products should not be individual-driven, it’s about how the products and processes have to co-exist,” Abhii says.
Is it a startup or a business?
Abhii highlighted that every startup founder must know the difference if their big idea is a product offering or a business. A product is something that solves someone's problem; meanwhile, a business is something that works so well that people will pay more than it costs to produce.
“While every great business is backed by a great product, not every great product turns into a great business,” Abhii emphasized.
Your product has the full potential to be turned into a business if it has the capacity to solve someone’s problem with the following factors in mind: more efficiently than they can, at a price lower than opportunity cost, at a price lower to or equal than other competitors, in a way that appeases regulators, in an environment attractive to employees and so much more.
Choosing the right business model
Part three of the workshop included a discussion about the three most popular business models in the technology landscape right now: subscription, ad-supported, and freemium.
A subscription-based business model is divided into business-to-business and business-to-consumer types, both of which can be defined as difficult to penetrate into. However, Abhii highlighted that for B2B subscription-based models, one must entice other businesses by offering them a service or product that helps them save cost or generate more revenue. B2C subscriptions, on the other hand, rely heavily on the consumer lifestyle of the market.
Freemium was also discussed, a business model that is interesting to explore where you can give your consumers a sample test of your product in order to entice them to subscribe and pay for the more advanced features at an extra cost.
Abhii concluded the workshop by discussing emerging technologies that many startups could consider venturing into when it comes to choosing the right technology platform.