‘I want you to mentor our food start-up‘ said Madeeha, who had interned with us at Lumière. This hotel management graduate interned with us for two months before she went to Singapore to get a degree in finance management. We spent time with Madeeha, helping her think through her start-up idea. We gave her a business plan format and then helped her with details. We met with her distribution partner and listened in awe at how she rode a beverage delivery truck to map outlets where she could stock her brand. She always came to us for feedback. Never for co-creation. We tested her breakfast menu, her kebabs and gave reactions to her activation ideas, her concept and her packaging. It was spontaneous and most of all we asked her questions. When Madeeha’s father came back to India to help her with her business, she did not reach out again. She had found an in-house mentor in him.
We were visiting our friend Vinita when we met with her nephew who was visiting. He had a VR tool and he and his two co-founders based in Hyderabad wanted advice on their venture. We jumped into action. By then we had learned the value of the strengths based approach. The three co-founders were in our office to use the Gallup StrengthFinder and undergo coaching. We discovered their team configuration and gave them inputs as to their core talents, basements and balconies, where they might clash and who is the best person to manage sales and who should manage design and who should look after development. We ideated with them on the target market and got them to work on their business plan.
My friend Vijaya called me once saying, ‘I want my daughter and son-in-law to meet with you and Milind. They are working on a start-up alongside their jobs. Both had big jobs in a technology major in Pune. They had built an on-ground pilot for their business in the area of delivery of home services. They wanted help with visioning, with branding including logo and nomenclature, and with the business plan document. We had many calls including mentoring discussions on who should quit and who should do the start-up full time. We had a workshop where we invited our design associate, Omendu of Seed Consulting to be a part of the brainstorm. The ideation lead to the creation of a brand print, the brand name and a logo. It was a very productive six hours with specific outcomes. Our last meeting was a late evening catchup on the weekend in our home a day before the meeting with the funders.
We bring our Lumière expertise working with innovation funnels of our clients, from idea to concept, product to market launch to the table. We bring our experience as leadership coaches to handhold start-ups in their new journey.
A careful and candid assessment of the idea or product prototype, and facilitated discussions provide pointers on the way forward. It leads to discussion on partnerships, collaboration and individuals. Brainstorming, evaluating strategic options and making the requisite connects helps provide the way forward to the business prospect.
Every start-up needs a caring helping hand, before securing funds and after getting funded. Founders have to get along. Key talent needs to be encouraged to join. And stay. The customer needs to be understood with great clarity. And a robust business plan has to emerge, not only on paper but in vigorous action. And the product needs to come out just right, before the funding runs out.
This led us to design ‘Light the Start-ups’. Here we bring our customer-centric innovation approach of over 21 years in the service of the potential enterprise.
Our vision is to help improve the probability of success of the start-up. ‘Entrepreneurial India’ by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics found that 90% of Indian startups fail within the first five years. And the most common reason for failure is lack of innovation – 77% of venture capitalists surveyed believe that Indian startups lack new technologies or unique business model.
In March 2017 Milind and I visited Israel and met up with start-ups, venture capitalists, co-working spaces and incubators. We came back with an insight that we could leverage our expertise in marketing research, technology consulting, leadership coaching and our networks and affiliations to extend the Lumière platform to help startups participate.
- To work as strategic partners, offering coaching, mentoring, and an advisory to pre-start-ups and start-ups.
- To connect knowledge and best practices in customer-centric innovation with the proposition or prototype.
- To develop a customer-centric mindset of flexibility, can-do, compliance and win-win.
- To enable and challenge within a nurturing environment to learn and grow.
- To excite and inspire with life lessons to play, thrive and win.
- To provide access to market opportunities.
- To provide financial, commercial & legal advisory access.
Interesting that a majority of Indian startups fail because of a lack of innovation. Their strengths are obviously self confidence, where they believe that even without an original idea they can win, and high risk appetite. One would have thought that innovation went with personality characteristics like confidence and risk taking unshadowed by fear of failure. I wonder about that contradiction. What it also means is that there is perhaps an opportunity to teach or cultivate creative thinking.
Ah… there’s an interesting perspective on risk mitigation as a mindset among successful startups…we must chat about this… glad you read and enjoyed the piece, Priya.