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Start-ups must figure out their customers first

Start-ups must figure out their customers first
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First Published: Mon, Jul 14 2008. 11 26 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Jul 14 2008. 11 26 PM IST
Start-up Saturday
12 July, Bangalore
The July edition of Start-up Saturday in Bangalore featured two sessions. This included a product demo by Bangalore-based start-up TringMe and Bharti Jacob, a partner at Seedfund, an early-stage fund. About 75 people attended the event at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
Jacob gave insights on how venture capitalists evaluate companies and the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting out. The session was a freewheeling conversation driven by questions from the audience. According to her, to run a successful venture, entrepreneurs first need to figure out who their customers are and then customize the product for them. Entrepreneurs should not define themselves in terms of technology but try to understand the pain-points of the target customers and offer solutions. She also emphasized the importance of having the right team in place, as start-ups often change their business plans but it is very difficult to change the people in the team. This is one of the important criteria that Seedfund uses to evaluate which start-ups to fund.
During the product demo, Apul Nahata and Yusuf Motiwala of TringMe spoke about some of their offerings. One interesting product was the SMS-based callback service. A user can send an SMS to a TringMe- registered number specifying the number he wants to connect to and the time for initiating the connection, and he will get a call back as specified. This service appeals to the large percentage of low-income mobile users who have access only to non-data capable phones. TringMe also offers a flash-based push-and-talk widget that is useful for small businesses that use their websites to acquire customers.
Vinayak Hegde is co-founder of start-up support group Kickstart. He currently works as an architect with Akamai Technologies.
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First Published: Mon, Jul 14 2008. 11 26 PM IST