Lateral Sparks, the weekly quiz from YourStory, tests your domain knowledge, business acumen, and lateral thinking skills (see the previous edition here). In this 50th edition of the quiz, we present issues tackled by real-life entrepreneurs in their startup journeys.
What would you do if you were in their shoes? At the end of the quiz, you will find out what the entrepreneurs and innovators themselves actually did. Would you do things differently?
Q1: The incubator advantage
Startup incubators at academic institutes or government labs play an important role for founders. They help move from idea to implementation, provide infrastructural support, and connect to investors. What is another gap that incubators can fill?
Q2: Customer analytics and beyond
Customer analytics helps develop detailed and longitudinal profiles of behaviour and aspirations. Such profiles can be consistently built across channels of interactions. What is the next step after profiling, in terms of tech-enabled engagement and transaction?
Q3: Leadership, knowledge and success
It is important for leaders to master knowledge and skills in their domain, and stay the course even during tough times of change. They should consistently share tips for success as well. However, there are many twists and turns in the leadership journey—what mindsets and practices are required here?
Q4: Inclusion, investment, impact
Having more women in the workforce, especially at leadership levels, sets an effective tone for diversity and inclusion in an organisation. It also helps develop better offerings for customers, particularly for those who are women. How can such business impacts be amplified by women investors?
Q5: CSR and change
Corporate social responsibility is one way for the business sector to increase its contribution to socio-economic impact and environmental protection. This must go beyond lip service to genuine concern and extended commitment. But there is more to social change than CSR—what else needs to be transformed?
Congratulations on having come this far! But there’s more to come—answers to these five questions (below), as well as links to articles with more details on the entrepreneurs’ solutions. Happy reading, happy learning—and happy creating!
A1: The incubator advantage
“I think the biggest challenge that startups face in India is getting access to the right mentors. A collaborative ecosystem with tech and business mentorship, along with access to explore markets outside the country, is not easy to find,” observes Saumya Kumar, Director, I-Venture @ ISB.
Read more here about how this incubator at the Indian School of Business is targeting these gaps. This includes getting its 13,000+ alums across 60 countries to act as mentors, investors and co-founders.
A2: Customer analytics and beyond
“When ‘Conversational AI’ is complemented with omnichannel analytics, it helps any industry sector to provide detailed, unambiguous, and ratified information,” explains Tanmay Ayare, Global Head-Marketing and Communications, Route Mobile.
Customer analytics offer valuable business intelligence to optimise workflows and improve business communications. Read more here about how technology can help customers gravitate towards brands that show interest in them, listen to them, and customise communications and products.
A3: Leadership, knowledge and success
“You never know it all, you can never know it all, and understanding how to adapt to change is a key trait that leaders should surely learn,” advises Megha Tata, former Managing Director of Discovery Communications India.
“It’s a moral responsibility of women who are in a position of power to speak up and share their stories. It is critical that they share their failures and struggles, both in the personal and professional space, so that others take cues from them,” she affirms. Find more leadership tips on learning and resilience here.
A4: Inclusion, investment, impact
“Every woman investor inspires many more women to become entrepreneurs and create their own success path,” observes Padmaja Ruparel, Co-founder, Indian Angel Network. “When women invest, they tend to have a better average annual return from their investments than men,” adds Marci McGregor, Managing Director and Senior Investment Strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Gender disparity on the investor side adversely affects what kind of startups get funded, according to Shrishti Sahu, Managing Partner/Angel Investor, SSV. “Women VCs can offer a nuanced understanding of the demographic and make a difference by adding a deeper perspective,” explains Vineeta Singh, Founder and CEO of SUGAR Cosmetics. Read more here about how women angels are playing a growing role in the startup ecosystem.
A5: CSR and change
“We do not believe that CSR alone will be able to make the cut. Two percent of profit is all they need to spend as part of CSR. But that alone cannot change or create an impact in the world. For it to happen, the core business has to change, new business models need to be created, which can help gain profit as well as create value to the society,” explains Rishi Agarwal, Managing Director and Head, Asia FSG.
More such strategies are discussed in the book, Being an Impact Champion: Enacting Corporate Social Consciousness, by Priya Nair Rajeev and Simy Joy. See our book review here.
YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).