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Entrepreneurship

July 15th, 2011

Ultimate guide to getting started up in India

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Written by: Balaji
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startup
So you want to build your startup in India? Entrepreneurship is not rocket science and neither is it just luck. With proper approach and plenty of patience you can build a great startup. Some of these steps are India-specific and others apply to startups all over the world.

Pre- idea

  • Get educated and read up a lot about startups and entrepreneurship. Here is a list of some great startup books and blog posts to help you get a feel. A startup is not an easy place and learn these survival skills.
  • Get a Twitter account and start following people in the startup space and engage conversations with them. Here is the list of top Indian startup guys on Twitter. Build a brand for yourselves and then use that for your company. Learn these twitter tips for engaging customers.
  • Use Quora to ask questions and answer questions to build knowledge and reputation.
  • Follow the startup blogs and understand what is going on in the market – apart from us there are pluggd.in, startupcentral.in and yourstory.in Another resource is hackernews – news.ycombinator.com
  • Attend startup events and keep networking – understand who is influential and form power networks. Here are the list of startup related events in India.
  • Dust up your Linked In account – complete your profile, get recos from your ex-colleagues, classmates etc and get a vanity url. You need this for building your team.
  • Find a cofounder and try to build a killer team – use your network (college friends, colleagues) to find your cofounder or if it doesn’t work – use sites like these.

Identifying the Idea

  • Read up on these posts on finding startup ideas from gurus like Matt Cutts, Chris Dixon and Paul Graham
  • From the previous step, build a list of ideas and try to brainstorm to find the idea that you are passionate about and have some associated skill sets.
  • Use events like Startup garage to discover new ideas with others and work on a single weekend to try and implement part of it
  • Find a list of potential customers and go and talk to them. See if the idea has got legs.
  • Write up a good business plan. Here is a good resource from Indian government’s portal.
  • Find a good name for your company (make sure you have domain availability) and try to find something that is unique sounding. Ideally the name should be easy to pronounce, 5-7 characters. Use this excellent tool - namelist to make a search of domain availabilities, and google search results for your potential brand name.

Execution

Time to get your hands dirty.

Setup your website and IT

  • Register your domain. Use domai.nr for name search and use gandi.net for domain registration.
  • If you are a tech startup use Rackspace cloud or Amazon to setup your hosting. If you are non-tech startup, you could start with a shared hosting. Here is a list of good ones.
  • Build a splash page with your idea. This will be a single page about what your idea is about and getting beta users to sign up. You could use services like Launch rock to do this.
  • Kick start your IT without poking hole in your budget. Read up on these list of 60 awesome tools for startups – from accounting to project management.
  • Once you build your content make your website as fast as possible. Use these 21 tips to speed up your site.

Get started with marketing

  • List your startup in free listing places like Crunchbase
  • Get a good logo for your company. If you have designers you could design in-house or you could purchase one from 99designs for about $100.
  • Print your business card that really stands out. Here are some creative designs. Use the back of your card to make a two line pitch about your startup.
  • If you make consumer products/services your facebook presence. Use this tutorial to create your facebook fan page. Read this on how to get more fans on facebook.
  • Put your website and facebook page in all your communications –  letter head, email signature etc.
  • Get started with blogging for your business. Here are some tips.
  • If you are selling products or services to consumers or SMEs in India, consider listing for a premium service at Justdial. It would cost you about Rs. 2000/month.
  • If you are a web company targeting customers worldwide you could launch your app in these 36 places. You could also contact us if you need help in creating buzz for your product.

Setup your administration

  • You could startup initially as a sole proprietorship/partnership (with little paperwork) and plan to move to a Private Limited once revenues start coming in.
  • You could start operating from your home or a coffee shop, but if you want to grow you could consider using these incubators and startup accelerators based in India.
  • Get a company seal with your company name (you find these guys in all major towns or call Justdial if you find trouble). It will cost you about Rs. 200
  • Find a lawyer and an account who will help you with incorporation and filing other forms. Read this post and Contact us if you need help on this.
  • Get an accountant from your local contacts or you could use services like Paperklips for this.
  • Get a PAN card and open up a bank account
  • Print your letterpad at a local press.
  • Once you have a few customers or have spent 6 months & going good, try to incorporate as a private limited. Read up on this introduction and here is a great resource explaining you all the processes.
  • Get an admin assistant as your first hire.

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About the Author

Balaji
+Balaji heads a consultancy firm - Agni Innovation Labs - that helps small businesses, law firms and political campaigners launch their brand successfully. The services include blogging, press releases, social media strategy development and email campaigning. Contact the author: balaji [at] theagni [dot] com for more details.




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