What goes into making a unicorn? Comfort with uncertainty? The eye to solve problems? It’s more of a Horses-for-Courses strategy as a thought-provoking discussion in a DeepTalk series unlocks.
There’s more to a unicorn than the $1 billion mark.
Be it growth or new tech frontiers, this rare breed has refused to stop and take a rest. A recent report on future unicorns by CB Insights reveals some interesting findings.
- 30% of companies on this year’s list work on Enterprise or Big Data tools
- 20 percent of future unicorns are flocking towards the FinTech space
- Healthcare and Hardware follow with an 8 percent share each
- 4% would focus in the area of Cyber Security
That’s the global picture.
As for India, a Nasscom and Zinnov report has unraveled some intriguing data.
- 1600 tech start-ups were added to the ecosystem last year
- We also saw a record number of 12 new unicorns. This was the highest ever added in a single calendar year
- The Indian tech start-up base is galloping at a steady growth at a scale of 8-10 percent YoY
- There are also signs that a potential unicorn pipeline stays strong with 1.5X growth since 2019
- The report is aptly titled Indian Tech Start-up Ecosystem – On the March to Trillion Dollar Digital Economy; and tells that 2100 start-ups leveraged DeepTech, up from 1600 in 2019
What makes a good jockey spot?
So what could help or challenge this high momentum path? In a riveting conversation about unicorns Sudheer Koneru, Founder and CEO, Zenoti, and Dr. Santanu Paul, Founder and CEO, TalentSprint, tried to find some indicators that explain what makes unicorns who they are and what can aspiring entrepreneurs learn from them.
“My earlier experience taught me how to solve the product problem with a design mindset and how to write code – so that was a great hands-on feel for me”, reflected Koneru. But why leave the comfort and golf weekends for starting something new and unfamiliar – that must have been a radical departure, as Dr. Paul rightly asked him. Koneru spelled out his motivation and explained the mental zone behind this giant leap.
“Of course, my early stints taught me so much. But I also learned in my career that we are often just walking heads-down on a well-mapped path. We are not aligned to our personal values, our definition of well-being, etc. For me, well-being is something where we have to operate on our full potential – on all boxes of life. So I thought- how do I make everyone realize that. Because when people feel good inside, they naturally explore their true potential. That’s how I started in this space and tried to do something unconventional. We focused on being really present during an exercise or a Yoga hour.”
Dr. Paul and Koneru further discussed some key points which define star entrepreneurs from day one.
There is no way you can be a unicorn based on revenue without the future potential of a company. Gauge the big picture and overall industry direction. Sometimes, the decision to go global can pay off in a big way. Be a master at raising valuation in the right way. To create this aura of we-deserve-a-high-valuation, some differentiators really work. “Companies coming out of India have a unique advantage in building SaaS solutions. The talent pool in India helps a lot. You should have the passion for solving a product problem.” Koneru explained. He stressed, it is easier to solve simple problems, but if you know how to solve more complex issues with a discipline that makes you stick despite temptations to veer off – then you are at a good vantage point.
Go deep, race towards the future
Incidentally, Zenoti is itself a unicorn that provides a cloud-based software solution for the spa, salon, and med spa industry customers across 50 countries.
Also, TalentSprint has emerged as one of India’s leading tech-enabled education platforms for professionals. It has etched its mark in a big way as a youth career accelerator for young job seekers in the technology space. What makes it even more distinctive is its patent-pending, AI-powered, digital learning platform that assures a perfect blend of high-end academics and industry-leading practitioner experience.
DeepTalk has been covering many such issues as an interactive series on DeepTech with leaders, experts, and trendsetters in the emerging technology space like AI, ML, FinTech, IoT, etc.
The panelists covered various enablers like AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Cyber Security, and more in this episode.
“We use predictive algorithms for a very versatile berth of areas like scheduling to pricing to personalization. All that makes our product very attractive because customers stick long and well.” He added that choosing an industry right is also essential. “In our industry, when someone comes out of a gym or salon, one actually feels good. So we define this space at a large-scale level.” Koneru weighed in. And he emphasized strongly – it is eventually people who create value for any company. “Talent matters.”
Dr. Paul asked the most challenging question for sure – how can professionals make a choice for the dilemma of sticking to a corporate ladder map or starting something new.
“One should have the skill-sets to solve something. There is no point in creating a start-up even if you see a market there but lack this capability. Marketing skills or the right set of people here are also significant. That said, there is a difference between risk and uncertainty. Start-ups are not risky but uncertain. Successful entrepreneurs are good at dealing with uncertainty.” Koneru explained.
Most importantly, there is no point locking the stables when time has run out. So whether you are aiming for unicorn status or its neighborhood, be sure you are well on the 3 Ps – Passion, Product-focus, and Problem-solving.