By Siddhant Nag for Youth Ki Awaaz:
The ‘startup bubble’ is a topic well discussed in most circles, with special emphasis on how India has become an exceptional hub for entrepreneurial businesses.
We have always been an enterprising lot, but the Internet and social media particularly Facebook and Instagram and other open-source digital platforms, have caused a paradigm shift in the way business is conducted today. Suddenly, we find a multinational conglomerate and a small corner (kirana) store using the same platform, tools and structure to achieve their business goals. These mediums must be credited with creating equality of access and of opportunity to reach audiences. Never before could you sell to someone in New Orleans, sitting in New Delhi, in just three clicks, all over an FB page!
But engaging on a platform like FB that connects a billion people, there are always questions that need answering:
How do I amplify my impact?
What’s the right way to boost my posts? Are ads as necessary as I may think?
How should I position my business? Is there a right way to scale?
How can I establish an emotional connect with my customers?
And then some about building a holistic company and product:
What’s the best way to build my team?
How do you curate good work culture?
Should I add more features to my app?
To answer these questions and many more, YKA and Facebook decided to partner-up for a one-of-its-kind campaign – #MyStartupStory. As a part of it, entrepreneurs were invited to share their stories of starting out and creating a business, on Youth Ki Awaaz. In fact, it was almost as if we received people’s lives on a word document, such was the passion in each story that was published!
Taking the conversation offline we then invited these entrepreneurs to attend the #MyStartupStory workshop at the INNOV8 Co-working space in Delhi, which prides itself as an incubator of inspiration.
The workshop which was held on May 3rd was designed to aid the founders on making use of handy tips, best practices and relevant strategies to leverage the tools available to them. The event, conceptualised by FB and YKA, was created to help businesses engage better with their community, grow their audience and refine their internal practices. Furthermore, the idea was to work with young businesses holistically, by offering expert advice on crucial categories such as technology, product development, talent management, branding, marketing and optimizing resources for a better Return Of Investment (ROI).
Things kicked off with a panel discussion that comprised of three individuals who embodied the spirit of #MyStartupStory. Rashi, the founder of Heads Up For Tails, started her business of dog products with the idea that her dog deserved the best, the market was not providing it. Faaya.com, probably the world’s first crowdsourced fashion brand, was conceptualised by Mridang as a business where Technology meets Tailors, to provide a clothing solution for every body type; reinventing the age-old profession. We also had Bee The Baker – Bayiravi Mani, switch gears completely, to create Kol Kol Baby Carriers, an ergonomically designed comfortable baby carrier that helped her spend more time with her child. The room was filled with inspiration, and when these entrepreneurs spoke of having their resources spread too thin, dealing with established players in the market, hard-to-break stereotypes and juggling their personal lives, you could feel an instant connect.
The stage was perfectly set, we had progress and problems in equal measure, but to truly conquer the mountain, you need an expert! And so we had a Yoda each for Tech and Product Strategy, Talent Hiring and Retention, Online Marketing and Product Development take to the stage, next.
On technology and product development, Fahad Moti Khan, co-founder of organisations like BitGiving and Khana, spoke about engagement strategies and how to capitalise on pre-established interaction routes. Going against the tide, Fahad spoke of how having more than one Call-To-Action (CTA) on your first screen, can increase bounce rates significantly and ultimately lower the engagement on your app. He went on to talk about ‘Featuritis’ – how developers and founders try to load as many features as they can into their product, which leads to a reduction in user experience and finally, the efficiency of the product itself. Speaking further, he drew a strong connect between the way technology and product development go hand-in-hand, and thinking like a consumer can really improve the way your business progresses.
Ester Martinez, CEO and Editor-in-chief of People Matters- India’s leading knowledge and media platform for the Human Resource space, turned the entire talent hiring concept on its head and redefined it. “It’s not talent hiring, it’s attracting talent,” she said. Ester went on to rename, redefine and reconstruct the way the subject of human resources is approached. She spoke of how founders must be the leaders, strategists but also the cheerleaders and at times servers of the business itself. Finding the right employee is comprised of finding whether the individual adds to your team or subtracts; do they help you achieve your goals or are they just fitting in – it’s not about the right candidate, it is the candidate that is right for you. Ester took the audience through 2-3 HR frameworks, curated to help a business identify where it may lack and what it must strive to achieve in terms of bringing talent on board.
The train was fully loaded, and the team from Facebook India became its rails, as they guided the audience through all the techniques, strategies and tools through Facebook and Instagram that could be leveraged to improve any business’s prospects. Satyajeet Singh, who heads the product partnerships arm for Facebook India, spoke in-depth about the avenues that Facebook had curated specifically for small businesses to engage in business more easily. From developer tools, ad manager programs to eLearning modules on Facebook Blueprint, Satyajeet further stated that FB Start, a new program from Facebook designed to help early stage mobile app development, has helped create the ideal environment for a business to truly engage the marketplace with maximum penetration.
Ritesh Mehta, Head of Economic Initiatives at Facebook India and South Asia, took Satyajeet’s information further by giving the audience vital information that could impact their business’ reach online. “1 in 5 mins is spent on Facebook or Instagram…150 million people in India use Facebook, out of the 150, 145 million use it on their mobile…1 billion people use WhatsApp” – these numbers had the minds of the audience ticking, immediately prompting them to think of the implications, and the potential that had been ‘present, all this time.
One small bit of advice at a time, Ritesh constructed an exceptional web of tactics, that could be used to penetrate the market and help the audience engage with business products better. “Visuals lead to higher engagement…punchlines in videos must be at the 15-second mark for the best impact…the newsfeed is checked on average 14 times a day, that means 14 opportunities for an organisation to approach the consumer” and how vernacular languages helped improve traction and viral-potential of content on Facebook. With questions for Ritesh spilling over to the tea and biscuits session after, the event was a success in terms of the conversations we were hoping to start.
With that, the afternoon wholeheartedly dedicated to innovating and growing your business came to an end.
But Facebook and Youth Ki Awaaz’s mission is far from over. We have planned similar workshops across different cities, with the idea of providing rare expertise and an opportunity to receive advice straight from the horse’s mouth.
So if this interests you or you can think of a friend who would benefit from learning these tricks of the trade to grow their business, share ahead, tag ‘em and keep an eye on Youth Ki Awaaz’s FB page to know when a workshop is happening next.
Spread the love people, who knows, maybe you help a small corner store turn into a multinational conglomerate!
Featured image credit: Innov8 Coworking