Foundations for building successful Start-Ups

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Having invested in over 60+ start-ups and participating in 20+ follow-on rounds, I am sure each one of you must have built your own framework but still thought of sharing my thoughts

I am sharing below some key elements that I believe should be defined by founders for building successful start-ups.

  • Higher Purpose (Soul)
  • Core Human Values (Heart)
  • Core Business Values (Brain)
  • Operating Philosophy (Body)
    • People Centricity
    • Customer Centricity
    • Investors Aligment
    • Risk and Financial Framework
    • Value Chain Partners
    • Responsible Corporate Citizen

I am sharing my thoughts on each of the above-mentioned elements. The explanations are only illustrative to initiate a dialogue amongst the founders and these should be based on the DilSe connect which can be internalised and they can walk the talk:

Higher Purpose

  • To inspire and energise the whole ecosystem of stakeholders with the company
  • Devotion towards a higher purpose is key to align stakeholders  
  • Create a Moonshot

Core human Values

These are important for any interaction both external and internal to build a transparent and respectful culture

  • Humility and gratitude
  • Trust and respect
  • Fairness and transparency
  • Forgiveness and acceptance
  • Patience

Core Business Values

These values define the philosophy of how and what is important to build and scale the business

  • Hunger, curiosity, creativity and agility
  • Win-Win
  • Passion, pride and owners’ mindset
  • Enjoy the journey
  • Grit and hard work
  • Outcome driven
  • Learning and fail fast
  • Family culture with all stakeholders
  • Conviction and belief in the story
  • Continue to disrupt and adapt to newer technologies
  • Pride in association with the company

Operating Philosophy

Operating Philosophy defines how the business will be built and the way plans will be executed

People Centricity

  • Leverage power of teams
  • Performance and values driven culture
  • Execution Focus
  • Priority and respect for time
  • Use next practices instead of best practices to scale exponentially
  • Succession and growth planning for team members and treating them as family

Customer Centricity

  • Outside in and inside out view
  • Be the benchmark in customer experience and compete against yourself
  • Build use cases to leverage on loyalty and synergies
  • Align brand and customer persona

Investors Alignment

  • As far as possible ensure DNA, aspiration and culture alignment with investors
  • Investors should believe in the story and be a partner, more so in times of stress
  • Company should under-commit and over-deliver

Risk and Financial framework

  • Maintain focus on predictable, sustainable, profitable de-risked model to ensure growth and business continuity
  • Define parameters to align with prudent financial philosophy including a framework of capital and resource allocation, profitability, cash flows
  • Create a risk management framework, to be prepared for any eventuality by minimizing the adverse impact on the business
  • As far as possible focus on the approach of access vs ownership by minimizing fixed investment and leverage the power of networks and value chain partners

Value Chain partners

  • Create win-win
  • Build long term partnerships
  • Treat them as insiders and leverage the power of We
  • Work jointly on value creation, opportunities and finding solutions

Responsible Corporate Citizen

  • Ensure owning a couple of Sustainable Development Goals and internalise these in business thinking and execution
  • Respect and follow the spirit of the law
  • Play a role in Policy making and nation building, be a thought leader

December 2022