How to build a community around your Startup

market 1
(Photo credit: tim caynes)

What are the reasons that some startup succeed while some fail? Why do products instantly attract a multitude of users while other still lag at user acquisition, even after considerable marketing expenses?

The answer to this can be a variety of reasons such as user interface, design, customer service, utility value and sometimes even price. But very often one feature that gets left out is the impact and support of the community around.

A vibrant community can be a magical marketing and sales tool for a startup. While it is imperative for a startup to have a great product/service, an enthusiastic community around it can aid the company in garnering more attention, providing insights and gaining critical early feedback

While in India, our ecosystem surrounding Startups is still in the nascent stage, there are communities developing in Bangalore and around the Delhi/NCR region. One of the biggest problems facing tech entrepreneurs in India is the relatively small number of early adopters. In an excellent article about the “two speed” state of Indian market adoption, Mukund Mohan writes, “The Innovators (less than 1 % of the population or 12 Million individuals) in India (entrepreneurs mostly) who conceive and develop products for the Indian market and the early adopters (less than 5% of population or approx 60 Million individuals) together make up the entire “early adopter” category. Unfortunately less than 30% of them have both the interest, and the desire to be early adopters of technology.”

If you are a technology company, how do you build a community around your company?

1.Start early; make the community an integral part of your system: Start a blog before you actually launch and let people know what you are doing. Building a community takes time. Be patient.

2.Value your initial customers: Those first few people who sign up for your product are there out of choice, they have found your product and they are sticking by it because they love it. Treat them well. Value their feedback.

3. Let your customers know they are special: Marketing dollars might get you signups but word of mouth will get you user engagement. Don’t just value customer feedback; let your customers know that you are ‘listening’ and that you value their feedback.

4.Establish a mutual relationship: Once your community starts growing, as difficult as it might be, acknowledge contributions and hold events where your customers can interact with you or your team. This can act as a cohesive force and take people beyond just a bunch of people using your product

In a day and age when online customer loyalty isn’t really high, a community around your product can not only be your loyal user-base but also your very own cheering squad.

Do share your thoughts.

Advertisements

What are the key differences in being a tech entrepreneur in US and India?

I read this question on Quora and thought of adding my perspective to it. I am going to address the point of key differences between these two countries and their eco systems.

1. In India, our ecosystem surrounding Startups is still in the Nascent stage. Most people would say that the ecosystem is absent, but I don’t think as of today (May 2012) that is the case. We have certain IIT’s(Indian Institute of Technology) running incubators, we have Accelerators and Incubators such as http://themorpheus.com( who are in their 7th batch) and we have multiple VC’s investing their money in Indiann startups.

2. Though the First wave of Tech innovations in the US came around 1997-2001, we in India were a little late to catch on and had a good run around 2002-2005. These companies either had decent exits, got acquired or went to IPO’s. Which brings me to the important point, in India we are Now seeing second generation entrepreneurs. These people have seen the ups and the downs and are willing and able to mentor the current crop of entrepreneurs. This segment would include fantastic people like Mahesh Murthy & Alok ‘Rodinhood’ Kejriwal.

3. One of the biggest differentiating factors between being a (Tech) entrepreneur in the US and in India is that, in the US, failure is celebrated. In India, that may not be the case. In India we are very particular about the importance of “Completing one’s Formal Education”. Until the turn of the millennium, if an Indian girl/boy told their parents that they were “dropping out of school” to take up entrepreneurship, life would be very difficult (not impossible, but extremely difficult) for them. This mindset is also changing and most students are already forming small companies and servicing clients well before they are done with college.

Desert Rider
Jugaad: A mix of a motorbike and a tempo (Photo credit: Meanest Indian)
 4. To conclude, Indians, by nature are extremely entrepreneurial. They always find ways to complete a task in a way that would require less time and make optimal use of resources. Hence Local innovations in Agriculture and other such sectors which Indians have been introduced to for decades see a lot of Jugaad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugaad) But technological adoption in India has been slow through the 1980’s to 2000’s. Now that Technology has made inroads into India, I definitely hope to see some path-breaking innovation coming out of India in the near future.

For more on answers on this question, you can go to this link on Quora

You can also Follow me on Quora

Let me know your thoughts.