151st 1M/1M Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: New Year Challenge 2013
After the 150th roundtable celebration last week, we’re back to regular business! During this week’s roundtable, we had five entrepreneurs pitch.
Before I talk about them, I’d like to encourage all entrepreneurs who want to apply for the 1M/1M New Year Challenge to submit completed applications. We have received a large number of incomplete applications, and quite possibly, you are working on honing your material to present the most compelling front.
That’s fine. You have time, until December 20, 2012. In case you are looking for the application guidelines, please check the official rules for the contest. There, you will find comprehensive instructions on what questions need to be answered to qualify for the voting round that begins on December 21, 2012.
Also, please note that to get to the finals on January 10 and 17, you will need at least 50 votes. And the top 20 applications from those that make it to the voting round will be chosen by audience votes. So, depending on how your competition is gearing up, you better line up friends and colleagues to help you during the voting period (December 21 to January 7).
Most importantly, though, have fun with the contest!
Also, we’re doing a custom roundtable with IBM SmartCamp Barcelona, Spain. The recently concluded SmartCamp Barcelona drew 99 applications. At this upcoming roundtable, on Tuesday, December 11, we will be working with five entrepreneurs from that group. The session is co-hosted by IBM, Spain.
And now, back to the roundtable recap.
First up, Ashok Srinivasan from Atlanta, Georgia, pitched k12stars, an online education offering for the K-12 segment. Ashok intends to produce a lot of content and is hoping that angel investors will finance the content production phase. I simply do not believe that investors fund projects in this stage. Ashok will need to put in some work to get a MVP launched, customers to validate his value proposition, and he should not wait for investors. If he does a compelling bootstrapping phase, funding will likely be in the cards. We have many entrepreneurs that have done good bootstrapping and validation work, and have gone on to raise more money. However, the bootstrapped validation phase is absolutely critical.
Next, Satish Bora from Pune, India, pitched CADashboard, a collaborative SaaS environment for enabling Chartered Accountant firms in India catering to SMEs to manage their client communication. It’s a good value proposition, and Satish already has paying customers. His primary issue is how to build a go-to-market strategy that enables fast growth. In India, B-to-B businesses tend to have very long, high touch sales cycles, and investors do not gravitate towards those.
Then Pratiksheet Malwadkar, also from Pune, India, pitched Paneerwala, a B-to-C e-commerce concept that springs off his current business of supplying high quality paneer to hotels in Pune. Paneer, by the way, is a kind of cheese that is popular in India. Pratiksheet doesn’t really have any experience of running a B-to-C business, and it was apparent in his segmentation and customer acquisition strategy description. I asked him, which community in India is a high consumer of paneer? My guess would be the Gujaratis. Does Pune have a large Gujarati community? At a granular level, what segment are we going after with this business?
Carl Petrou from London, England, then pitched Pondera, a content business focused on the self-improvement category. He is trying to monetize the business along two primary vectors: affiliate commissions on books (5% rate) and conferences (50% rate). Well, for a content business, he hasn’t yet thought through a compelling content strategy that would bring audiences to the site. Possible ideas could be webinars with experts, speakers, etc., catering to the site’s primary audience. That, currently, seems to be professional women.
Last up, Rakesh Mondal from Kolkata, India, pitched CreativeCrowd, a 99Designs for India where instead of a minimum prize money of $800, Rakesh proposes to have a $100 minimum on prizes. That should get a lot more Indian designers working with a lot more Indian SMEs. Good concept. I believe there is an opportunity.
You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here.
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, a virtual incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.