A part of TiE, Mumbai, Lavin Mirchandani was in Pune recently to be a part of Proto.in, an event showcasing India’s top entrepreneur businesses. TiE, Mumbai is part of a global network of entrepreneurs which mentors, supports and facilitates the growth of new enterprises. TiE, Mumbai took part in Proto.in as a supporting organization. Among the busy schedule of the day, Lavin took out some time for quick round of Q&A with The Viewspaper team.
VP: Could you tell us a little more about your organization?
Lavin: I am from TiE, Mumbai. Indus entrepreneurs is a non profit organization that was started with Silicon Valley with the sole idea of fostering entrepreneurs. So basically, we are entrepreneur evangelists and a forum that helps provide mentoring, knowledge sharing and collaboration among different entrepreneurs.
VP: In what capacity are you here at Proto.in?
Lavin: We are supporting Proto, acting as mentors. Mentoring is one of the key aspects we believe in. As partners of Proto, we have provided mentoring support from our partner base and here we are to promote Enterprising India which is an annual summit in Dec’09. The theme is ‘Stree Shakti’ which is a woman’s initiative in work and workshops. We are also launching a web portal very soon called Enterprising. In that will be our resource knowledge sharing and social networking base for entrepreneurs. Also, we have a couple of initiatives for school children in the conference in December.
VP: What were you looking at as mentors in the event?
Lavin: As mentors, most of us felt that as startups, one should validate their idea before going to the markets. So validate before your market strategy and sustainability of the start up. That is something every start up needs to figure out before approaching an investor. This is what we figured out as mentors.
VP: Do you think technical know-how is more or less important than the actual marketing of the product?
Lavin: At the end of the day, the business is about the customer. If your product is about an end user who is not very technology savvy then I think there is no point in boasting about the technology in front of a generic audience. You should talk about what makes a difference, how it solves the problem, what it caters to instead of how beautiful it is behind the scene. The customer needs to know the key benefit and the cost of the benefit that he will be buying.
VP: What about in regards to investors?
Lavin: It is clear that every start up who pitches should be clear about his focus. You are pitching to today’s investment, pitching to please media or pitching to customers. You cannot do all three at the same time in the six minutes you are allotted. So if you have to raise capital from an investor then you need to position your business in such a way that it makes sustainable sense to an investor concerns on for investing. So that is what you need to focus on. That is your agency.
VP: Is this your first time at Proto? How does it help start ups?
Lavin: This is the first time TiE is partnering with Proto. Proto had a good camp procedure in which a video is shown to the finalists which helps them groom their presentation skills and certain start up skills. The event also helps them get a one-on-one mentoring that will indeed go a long way in helping them. Thus these grooming and polishing sessions that Proto offers are extremely beneficial for the entrepreneurs.