A path-finder for start-ups

Jessu John | Updated on January 23, 2018

Aftab Malhotra

Rajeev Banduni

GrowthEnabler’s online platform shows entrepreneurs the ropes

For all of India’s potential as a growing start-up economy, there are stories that pose discomfort. It seems not enough is written about ‘failures’ in the start-up sector.

Going by a conversation with founders of a new advisory firm, the global average failure rate in the first 12 months of a business being set up is 85 per cent. In India, nearly 95 per cent of new businesses fail.

Scary figures aside, in a country that has come to think of ‘failure’ as that bad word, what’s vital is not to shy away from bald facts. A while ago in Start-Up Island we said: ‘Entrepreneurs do not fail, enterprises do’. What seems to be at the bottom of the uncomfortable scenario is just lack of good advice.

Eye on that 95%

India has some strong accelerator networks. Everybody’s heard of them; they’re brands by themselves, and not one of them is doing a less praiseworthy job. In spite of all this, something’s amiss.

Aftab Malhotra, co-founder, GrowthEnabler, says on the global average failure rate among start-ups, “They fail for a thousand different reasons. But really, they fail because they haven’t got the right strategy and plan, and they cannot execute. To be able to do all of this, you need experience.”

To be fair, India, or any other country keen on a strong entrepreneurial story, seems to expect ‘experience’ from very young people who are brave enough to have big ideas. But they need coaching and education on coming up with the right financial strategy to people management to hiring, among other things.

“The kind of people we meet are 21-31 years old with two-eight years of work experience. They have no knowledge of the nitty-gritty of running a company. Ask them to describe the value proposition of their business and they aren’t able to confidently articulate that,” shares Rajeev Banduni, co-founder, GrowthEnabler.

Banduni, Malhotra and their partner Lars Villebaek are former executives from Gartner. They set up GrowthEnabler to “democratise advice”, as Malhotra puts it.

“You need hunger, drive, right mindset to succeed. But often, many entrepreneurs who do succeed also come out of great universities.

“In that sense, there is a ‘privileged’ lot that makes it into the funnel (around 5 per cent) that are received by well known accelerator networks. But we want more of the ‘other 95 per cent’ to succeed as well,” Malhotra explains.

Good advice for everyone

GrowthEnabler likes to see itself as a first-of-its-kind platform providing a combination of advisory and mentoring services to start-ups across the world, using a unique technology mix. Its clients are ‘wantreprenuers’, start-ups and established small businesses.

“We wanted to marry our leadership strengths and our industry expertise with something we wanted to fix in the world – that is giving entrepreneurs access to world-leading advice at affordable rates in a relevant, practical way,” Malhotra says.

The GrowthEnabler platform is online and mobile and uses “smart online collaboration and e-mentoring tools, making mentors available and accessible 24/7, anywhere across the world, and delivering on its promise of being affordable, depending on the category of entrepreneur seeking advice. Banduni has held leadership roles in a variety of big-name technology firms. He was last Regional Vice-President at Gartner. Malhotra has held senior business leadership and management roles too and has experience in building and implementing 'disruptive business models’.

Along with Villebaek, who has launched and exited several technology ventures in diverse sectors, the start-up is out to help other start-ups.

When it comes to helping small businesses survive, every effort in all its positive diversity must have its way. And every such effort is laudable.

Published on April 20, 2015

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