This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Satyajit OnionKnight Roy. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

10 Ways In Which You Can Ensure Your Start-Up’s Success

Entrepreneurship requires you to be many opposing things, simultaneously and consistently. We at EGK Foods, stand on the cusp of raising our first real round of funds so, I would love to share what I have learnt so far.

I was once an amateur online poker player, therefore, I can broadly describe my journey in terms of an online tournament. When you start a game of online poker, the stakes are much lower. The case is similar with a start-up. So, it’s important to play fast and delay gathering as much information as possible. Experiment as much as you can because it will cost much less. If you lose make, sure you lose small. As a long term strategy, it’s important to lose small and win big. It becomes difficult to play carelessly when the stakes are much higher, deep in the tournament, and it’s the same once your company has scaled up.

From employee to employer, the things that I have learnt have been different at every stage. These are my thoughts on a few topics that I feel are important.

Always Be A Learner

Being a college dropout, I always assumed that I knew less than the person I was dealing with. This very basic premise set me off on the path of extensive fact and data backed research. I try to apply whatever I learn to test whether it holds true for me. I am flexible enough to change my opinion if I am proved wrong. Learning often requires experimentation and failure. Failure is something that is still stigmatised in our society. As an entrepreneur, failure is the most important tool for success. It is a critical part of learning and success.

Execution Beats Mere Ideas Every Time

Even a mediocre idea that has been executed, is a million times better than one that sits in your head forever.

A many time failed serial entrepreneur myself, I know how hard it is to start up, especially for the first time. A lot of people have great ideas, but are too comfortable in their space or afraid of failure or are just not able to take that final step. These are the people who say that they had the same idea when someone else has already executed it. If you don’t execute it, that idea isn’t yours anymore. Even a mediocre idea that has been executed, is a million times better than one that sits in your head forever. There is no point of an idea without execution!

Test Your Assumptions

Entrepreneurs often start by believing that the assumption that they have made is correct. I started off with the same attitude. Over time, I have made a subtle change to the way I look at things. I now look at things with the perspective that I am probably wrong in my assumption. I test my assumption in the real world and then decide if it is correct or incorrect. I find that it is much easier to accept that your assumption was incorrect if your initial premise was the same. While running a startup, this is often one of the factors that will decide your failure or success. Being able to iterate for optimal product market fit with the least amount of time and resources is what will set you apart.

Dedication

Lots of entrepreneurs are extremely dedicated and hardworking but the honest truth is that just being those things is often not enough. When you are working for a company, the rules are completely different as compared to when you are running one. It’s easy for your peers to ask you to take that Friday night off or go on a weekend getaway. When you’re an employee your free time is your own. If you’re an entrepreneur, all your time belongs to your company. Any time away, is the time you have consciously chosen to spend away, and should be used to freshen the mind and body. It is best if this is done in as less amount of time as possible. Your competitor, I can guarantee you, is not taking any time off. I barely take any time off as I always feel I’m catching up with the companies that have existed way before EGK did.

Momentum

It is very important to keep a steady momentum when you start-up your own venture.

Just as in sports, momentum is a very important concept in business. If you are lucky enough to get some momentum in terms of sales andgrowth, its important to keep growing. Momentum once lost, is extremely difficult to get back.

Leverage

As an entrepreneur, you have to learn to let go off all that is holding you back, especially in terms of sales. There is no one who can sell your idea with greater passion and belief than you! If you cannot get comfortable with this concept, the way forward is going to be very hard. As an entrepreneur, you are required to sell your vision to different people at different times. Clients, vendors, bankers, employees and basically anyone else who is involved with your business. I use every resource available to me just for the possibility of taking the company forward. That’s what I feel is required when starting up.

Domestic Markets

India is a very traditional market. Internet penetration is still very low. Also there are business that have worked very well in the offline world. Often this is completely disregarded and leads to disastrous consequences. The easiest example is the so called ‘Food Tech’ startups, who completely ignored the existing database of buyers at home (anyone who cooks in the house), and instead put fresh MBA graduates in charge of their purchasing. If the existing database was monetized at 1/10th the cost, the result, in my opinion, would be that the startups would still be alive. It’s important to take into consideration the domestic consumer and their habits, as that is probably who you are selling to.

Traditional Mindsets

Traditional and conservative mindsets are something you, as an entrepreneur, are bound to come across. These are the people who tell you that things have always been done a certain way, and that there’s no need to “fix” an already working system. The truth is if there is a system that can be made more efficient then there is every need to change that existing system. People get comfortable with how things work and then they don’t want to upset the processes and systems that are set. Expert opinion is often taken for fact. It is not fact and history has proved that, more often than not, experts are wrong because they are unable to consider all factors. Don’t let these so called experts discourage you from changing things.

Friends / Haters

When looking for feedback, your friends and family are obligated to give you supportive feedback. It is difficult to be blunt and completely honest with your close friends and family. This is common human nature. On the other hand, we live in a world, with vocal haters, and this is one of the best resources you have as an entrepreneur. Listen to them, prove them wrong. Every sale we make at EGK is proving each and every one of our haters wrong. Look for criticism more than compliments. That is what will help you grow your business.

Ego And Temper

Ego and temper is something that I personally struggle with. It is not easy for me to admit that I am wrong. Nor is it easy for me to admit failure. I am infamous for having a temper. I have found that when any of these two interfered with my decision making, whatever I was trying to build, broke. There is no place for any of this if you want your startup to succeed.

All of this, is of course, my humble opinion gathered from 12 years of professional experience. Being an employer in a business has a lot of unprecedented stress and pressures involved. Startups nowadays are considered to be very sexy to work with and seem to be trending, but the truth is that often the hard work and sacrifices that are required of you are inhuman. There is a very real dark side to entrepreneurship that is not often talked about. It is important that during the inevitable tough times, you learn to stay positive. When our sales were down earlier in our journey, that’s when we learnt what ‘audacity of hope’ really meant.

I try to learn as much as I can from the people that I consider much smarter than me. I read a lot of books and watch a lot of videos. I highly recommend videos of Elon Musk, Jack Ma and Vinod Khosla.

If you’ve made it this far into the article, thank you and I welcome any feedback or comments that you may have. Even if you think I’m wrong please feel free to tell me.

Signing Off : #OnionKnight

#StartupStories #EGKFoods

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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