10 Startup lessons from the Bollywood movie “Band Baaja Baraat”

My young entrepreneur friends will really enjoy watching the movie “Band Baaja Baraat”, and there are 10 reasons to like it. First of all, I must confess I had a choice between Tees Maar Khan (TMK) and BBB, and I am happy I took right choice. The story is simple, a guy and a girl are young, ambitious and want to do something in life. Like every other love story in Indian cinema, boy meets girl, they fight, then start liking each other, start a business together, again fight, separate and then with some twists and turn, come together for a happy ending.

I am listing down 10 lessons every startup should learn from the movie:

1. You do not need a degree to be an entrepreneur – but need passion

The hero and heroine do not have a MBA or any fancy degree. The heroine has the passion to be a wedding planner and the hero chooses to partner her to avoid going back to his father’s business. With this initial enthusiasm, they go about meeting the customers. A degree can help you to a certain extent, but this should not stop you from going ahead to start your venture.

2. TEAM matters

Right from the beginning, the hero/heroine work towards making a good team. They divide responsibilities, work together, share profits, and enjoy what they do. The heroine is clearly the CEO and decision maker – an important aspect of any team is that there is a clear leader rather than a mix up of who does what. In BBB, the hero is an instinctive person, while heroine is well-balanced and methodical. In a scene in the movie, Shahrukh Khan who was supposed to dance in a wedding is unavailable at the last moment. Then the hero and heroine team up to put up a grand dance show!

3. There is always a first time when you start

In a scene in the film, a rich businessman questions the young company why they should get a contract as it is their first time. The hero convinces him by telling him the story of a young person who started tyre manufacturing 44 years back and is now the “tyre king” – happens to this same rich businessman. So there is always a first time when you start. When you meet a customer, be sure to showcase your confidence.

4. Size does not matter

When any startup begins its venture, it has to compete with large entrenched players. The startup company in the movie “Shaadi Mubarak”, competes against large players by providing personalized service and creativity. They do not cut prices, they simply innovate (bring their college friends to do DJ, use a new caterer, add “DHINCHAK” feel to marriages)

5. Competition does not matter

When you do the right thing, competition does not matter. The young team do their own thing, they are customer-focused, and most importantly, they do not imitate the competition. When you start a venture, you will have a very easy choice to copy your competition but that will not take you far.

6. Treat your vendors as partners

The BBB team treats their vendors (DJ/caterer/flower-person/decorator) as their partners. They share joyous moments with them, as well as profits! They treat them like family, and during a downtime in business, these same vendors support the BBB team. Make sure you treat your vendors as partners in business, and not treat them as if you are the boss.

Remember – when you behave like boss, you get employees but when you behave like a leader, you get committed soldiers who will lay their life for you.

7. Ethics are the foundation of business

When the BBB team starts business, the hero tries to steal power to save money, but the heroine reminds him that this is not the foundation they will build their business on. This spirit continues in the future when they grow big and leads to further success. When you are small and starting your business, there will be several moments when you want/can be unethical like avoiding taxes, not paying employees etc. but if you start weak, you become weaker.

8. Start small but dream big

The BBB company dreams to be the best wedding planner in India but do not mind starting with Janakpuri (a small locality in Delhi). After gaining experience and establishing their brand, they move on to Sainik Farms (a high-end locality in Delhi)! When you start a business, you need customers to establish your credentials and gain momentum so it does not matter if you get small or large business, as long as you are moving in the right direction.

9. Know your customer

In a scene in BBB, the company wins a large contract by knowing their customers (connecting with them on facebook, and finding out their personal preferences, history etc.). Marketing is not about advertising in Star or Sony; it is about knowing your customer and using that knowledge!

10. Entrepreneurship is better than job

This is my personal preference – I believe every individual should try starting their ventures at least once without fear of failure. Hero’s friend goes in for MBA while the hero starts his venture and becomes hugely successful! Just follow your dreams and you will enjoy the process.

Last but not the least, please put all your lessons in action. Idea does not make a business, execution does!

How to start an Incubation center?

Entrepreneurship in India is on the verge of explosive growth. This also throws new opportunities for the eco-system to take shape. Angel investors, venture capital, media, startup clubs, service providers, mentors and training companies are going to grow. And one important cog in the wheel is the incubator – the place where startups are born. When a baby is born, he/she is kept in the incubator for first few hours and maybe days – this gives them a chance to adjust to outside environment, and grow stronger before they face the outside world! In a similar way, a startup is incubated in Incubation Center, which gives them a chance to bring their business in shape, before they reach out to the world.

In India, most incubation centers are hosted by an academic institute, and funded by DST (Department of Science and Technology), which gives them access to government agencies, as well as easy reach to professors and students in the college. Some of the well-known ones are IIM A and IIT Bombay. There are other incubators too, like Technopark (Kerala) and IKP Knowledge Park(Hyderabad), with focus on certain specific sectors like technology and biotech. Overall, there are more than 50 incubation centers across India.

With this basic background, let us come to the mechanics of starting an incubation center:

1. Assess the market conditions and entrepreneurs requirements

There are some top quality incubation centers in the country, where there is always a queue to get in. While there are others, who have a tough time ensuring 100% occupancy of their premises. Be aware of the market conditions while thinking of starting the incubation center – and answer questions like whether there is a demand for incubators, where will incubatees come from, what are the capital costs and operating costs of setting up an incubator. One important thing to keep in mind is what do entrepreneurs really want from an incubator – is it access to cheap office space, internet, electricity (the tangible benefits of an incubator) or the spirit to work along with fellow entrepreneurs, chance to meet investors, get access to quality manpower and experienced advisors (the intangible benefits of an incubator). This will help you identify the real pain point of your customers (the entrepreneurs) and address their needs most effectively. It is very important to ask the question – why do we want to setup an incubation center?

2. Identify team and service providers

While it may sound great to have an incubator which connects the entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, trainers, students and faculty – the real test comes in execution. The team that manages the incubator has to be A-class, as they are the ones who will drive the incubator, while the incubatees will drive their individual businesses. It is also good to identify a set of advisors – preferably a mix of industry veterans, faculty and investors, which always guides the incubation managers on strategic issues.

3. Arrange for resources

An incubation center needs resources during setup and operations. Few of them are listed below:

a. Space

b. Connectivity – internet/telephone/electricity

c. Data center

d. Services – maintenance, security

e. Furnishing – chair, table, cubicles

f. IT Infra and Support – software, LAN, leased lines, wi-fi, printer, scanner, copier, Access control system

g. Others – board rooms, meeting rooms, coffee machines, restaurants etc.

All this comes at a cost, and the incubation center management needs to generate to resources for the same – in terms of capital, manpower and time. For an individual or an institute, it is prudent to setup a project team to take up the task in a systematic manner. Government support provides some subsidy towards this, but comes with its own costs.

3. Establish industry linkages

Once the incubation center is setup, it is very important to establish industry linkages – maybe even before the first company starts operations. This maybe contact with local entrepreneurs, lawyers, CAs, industry associations like CII, FICCI, Nasscom etc. or media (TV, print etc.), and other parts of the eco-system like investors. Many incubators are not able to perform well for themselves or for their portfolio companies because of being too internally focused.

4. Draw out a calendar of activities

It is important to draw out a calendar of activities, which keeps the incubator always charged. Conducting training programs, mentor meets, talks from experts, job fair, product showcases, technology demonstrations etc. from time to time helps the community to grow and brings in a great network effect!

5. Attract, select, retain and manage startups

Last, but not the least, an incubators’ primary reason of existence is entrepreneurs! The team needs to think about ways to attracting, selecting, retaining and managing startups that inhabit their planets. A clearly conceived and stated criterion for selection is important – for example, most college based incubators do not allow anyone else other than their own alumni/students to get incubated. So it is important to communicate the same in advance to avoid disappointment. Another benefit of a government supported incubator is that the portfolio companies get service tax rebate – which again is a way to attract startup entrepreneurs!

The success of any incubator is in the success of its portfolio companies. I hope that all of you, who are planning to support entrepreneurs through incubation, will keep the startups requirements in mind while doing so. Please contribute your inputs and feedback to amit.grover@nurturetalent.com.
This article was originally published on: