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7 lessons from Silicon Valley for early-stage Indian startups

With already 10 unicorns early in the year in 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been indeed historic for the Indian startup ecosystem.

India is positively brimming with startups these days. Due to the vast market opportunity — also driven by the widespread adoption of the internet and smartphones — it’s one of the best times to start a company in India.

Some of the driving factors include the return of talent in the form of Indian students from foreign universities eager to explore opportunities back home in India.

In fact, many CEOs and senior executives in India considering leaving their corporate jobs to become angel investors, board members, or senior executives with Series A/B/C-backed startups has also helped the enlarging startup ecosystem in India.

The vibration is energising with hundreds of startups launching every year, even though hundreds of them fail in their first five years. Bengaluru has been dubbed as India’s Silicon Valley, but the early-stage Indian startup ecosystem can use some learnings from its western counterpart to promote more aspiring startup entrepreneurs in this hugely talented country.

Silicon Valley has long been regarded as the epicentre of innovation as this dense startup ecosystem is brimming with daring entrepreneurs and innovative ideas.

We have seen the emergence of some high-tech global giants, including Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber, Airbnb, and more — all of which began as small but eager startups. The ecosystem in the Valley is better equipped to deal with certain challenges due to a dominant community in which they start businesses, fail and restart.

New businesses emerge, and those individuals pass on their experience, which is recombined with new skills, expertise, and technology.  

There are some valuable lessons for early-stage Indian startups from Silicon Valley as it has over five to six decades of groundbreaking developments, while the Indian startup scene has started rising from 2010. 

Culture of a winning mindset

An important ingredient for success is a culture that involves a winning mindset and the courage to take chances, try new things, and fail without being judged.

The Silicon Valley paradigm is built on a mixture of cultural characteristics of transparency, sharing, diversity, perseverance, proactive networking, valuing taking risks and accepting failure, and valuing bold ideas that encourage disruption. 

Mentorship culture

Not only between people with varying levels of experience but also between peers, there is a strong mentoring community in the Valley. Being open to mentorship often entails being open to innovation and flexibility, which are important characteristics for entrepreneurs.

Intellectual modesty, knowing that you don’t know anything, is an intriguing attribute for an entrepreneur as it makes you more mature, receptive to listening, receiving input, and discovering new things. You can’t listen to everybody, but be adaptable while sticking to your goal.  

Finding investors willing to support beyond just a financial investment

Over and beyond financial investment, the majority of startup investors and venture capital firms in Silicon Valley offer an enormous amount of support, mentorship, advice, and connections to their portfolio companies. Hence, early-stage startup founders in India should align with the right investor when looking for financing options.

Emphasis on users, product development, and deep technology

Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are more focused on technology, building user-focused platforms, and processes barring people-intensive and cost-inefficient solutions. The Indian startup founders should consider deep-tech orientation for their product platforms to service users.

Helping each other

People can support one another and pass on their entrepreneurial knowledge in Silicon Valley. The tradition of mentorship and collective learning helps so many entrepreneurs excel there.

If you have an idea, you can go meet the founders who are more than happy to share their successes and failures and connect you with 100 other people who can support you.

Embrace failure and quickly adapt to be more responsive and flexible

A failed entrepreneur is a badge of honour in Silicon Valley. Failed pioneers in Silicon Valley are often able to support new potential startup founders with something they wish they had known when they were starting. All of the booms and busts in the region seem to follow a pattern of adaptation.

The common model is that those who failed, majorly started new businesses, joined new teams, and regenerated. Despite near-constant

failure, entrepreneurs in the valley have an unwavering desire to succeed on a daily basis. As a result, there is a high degree of resilience.

Importance Of incubators and accelerators

There is a vast infrastructure of incubators and accelerators in Silicon Valley that assists startup founders in developing in coaching and mentoring the startup teams to bring the product to the market, and in getting first customers and achieving traction.

Incubators and accelerators can play a distinct role in furthering India’s ambitions to become a thriving startup nation. Early-stage Indian startup founders can join incubators and accelerators in India since they empower startup teams to make their startup business sustainable by coaching startup founders on the testing of MVP to develop their product, sharpening their marketing strategy, and attracting investors funding.

Summing up

Over the last golden decade for Indian startups, India has seen the emergence of startups with a valuation of over a billion dollars, putting India on the global map for budding startups.

These successful startups have had a considerable social and economic impact in India, inspiring thousands of eager Indian entrepreneurs to follow in their footsteps.

With the learnings from Silicon Valley’s “Unique Culture of Giving,” where people give advice, time, and connections to other startups, the dynamism of the early-stage ecosystem in India could accelerate towards a framework for rapid innovation, speed-focused go-to-market strategies for new product launches, and rapid adaptation to failures.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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