Entrepreneurship, like most professional journeys, gathers learnings with time. As the market and the industry grow, the founders and entrepreneurs also grow with it. Ashish Kashyap is one such person who has seen it all.
He is the Founder of Goibibo and IndWealth. His company GoIbibo was a mammoth in the travel industry, and he has now ventured into new waters of wealth management.
His professional life remains loaded with insights and experiences that can add value to budding entrepreneurs. To not miss a moment of his ideas, check out the whole video here:
Here are some of the most valuable takeaways from over a decade of entrepreneurship:
Kashyap has been the mind behind a lot of business, and it is interesting to understand what parameters he considers vital to starting a new vertical.
In the case of Ibibo Group, the company started as an incubator fund back in 2007. This was a time many people did not know or understand the roles of an incubator. It was also a more challenging time to start a scalable business since the industry lacked the talent depth it has today.
Secondly, the level of internet penetration was minimal. Today more users are in front of screens and phones. The speed of the internet is also much better and more widely accessible. When Ibibo Group entered the market, the only way to pick a strategy was through trial and error.
Kashyap compares building a company to growing and nurturing a child. There is no user manual, no formula, no tried and tested ways to master it. You will have to figure it out as you go and make changes accordingly.
“Experimentation is a very critical thing, and if one can lower the cost of experimentation, then you can get more bandwidth.”
Experimentation would be one of the best ways to make this work. When an entrepreneur starts to see any experiment bloom, it would be a sign to double down on those domains and spaces. The other critical factor is timing. The market should also be ready for the product you wish to sell.
Picking your domain also comes down to personal pain points for Kashyap. As the saying goes: “The wearer knows where the shoe pinches.” This is also the philosophy of his journey with entrepreneurship.
More than starting a business and chasing an idea, there is the need to know how long you should stretch yourself on a project. Many entrepreneurs never know when is the best time to let go.
“Reduce the cost of failure,” said Kashyap. If you want your platform to succeed, you will have to let go of features that do not work. As the cost of failure increases, it also sucks away the motivations, energy to work, and precious resources of the organization.
Sometimes this could be the wrong call or seem like a bad decision — but a good entrepreneur will have to know when to move on and not spend more on a sinking ship.
At the start of Ibibo Group, the idea of a travel company did not come naturally to Kashyap. At first, Ibibo aimed to become a meta-search engine. After facing rejections from all other travel portals for their feed — they sat to study the services already available in the market.
“There is a huge amount of structural problems in an industry which have been unsolved.”
They noticed that there are a lot of factors about these travel platforms that remained broken. For example, while booking an air ticket, the cost would spike just before confirming the payments. Kashyap saw these gaps in the industry as an opportunity to build his superior platform.
“A broken industry creates a huge opportunity.”
“Ask yourself what you can do better than the competition,” said Kashyap. For example, Ibibo decided not to invest in domains like holiday packages and call centres. They devoted themselves to building a platform that was pure-play online.
It’s about knowing what to give up; and what opportunities to chase to scale more extensively.
Being an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Kashyap has seen some very distinct changes that creators of today can leverage to their advantage. These are:
The users of today are more forthcoming with new products and innovations. The market today gives you a set of consumers on day zero. This group becomes the “alpha testing group” for your brand. The change in user behavior helps in a faster feedback loop and reduces the time to market.
“Your first set of users should love you and fall for you.”
According to Kashyap, it’s also critical that these first set of users must love the product and not just “like” it. It could be a concern to the company if the first set of users are indifferent to the features.
Be it the screen at home, work, or phones — the users today are in front of the screen and wish to see the same formats in all. The entrepreneurs of today must understand the user data from each of these and tailor-made products.
At this stage, a brand like MoEngage can help brands reduce consumer friction, analyze data, and provide robust support.
When asked what marketing mistakes businesses should avoid, Kashyap joked that the list is never-ending. However, here are two common errors to avoid:
For the customers, the product or platform is an on-and-off button. They will stay with you throughout the journey if you can add value to them. This means companies need to plan their strategies all the way.
“Business should not grow with a leaking bucket.”
Growth is significant, but companies should set goals for each step of the funnel and then ensure that they reach them at the proper stages.
There is a culture of brands trying to over-sell or over-promise to get the attention of the users. For example, a bank promising an account in three minutes or a dating app giving you the promise of a companion overnight. These are promises that could drive the user away from you over time.
Kashyap believes that a company should make reasonable and realistic marketing strategies and not try to oversell for the sake of it.
“Every business has different economics, but they cannot do well without growth.”
Each and every business must build their own matrics, and that becomes their secret sauce. While some businesses might consider the CAC (customer acquisition cost) formula; it might be suitable for someone focusing on both client and customer sides.
No company can aim for growth with a leaky bucket, that would do massive damage to the business. This means they must fix the leaks before making further investments at the top of the funnel.