India – A Startup Nation Dealing With COVID-19

My Kid will be an Entrepreneur!

Well this wasn’t what parents dreamt about their kids in early 1990s. They would rather dissuade them to do so. And even then, Family funds was the only option in the initial stages as the ecosystem was not mature enough to fund a venture. However, with the rise of the middle class in the country, we observed a steep rise in the number of startups as well. Risk taking no longer remained a prerogative of the rich class with deep pockets.

The transition definitely took time. Economic reforms in the nineties combined with globalization saw a change in mindset of the Indian middle class. More people working in the IT industry not only gave rise to an increase in the average income levels but also created a well-travelled global Indian. Financially secure people now not only had extra money and risk-taking abilities but were also aware of global technologies. They looked for problems in India and applied new age solutions to solve them, seeking learnings from the West, growing the startup ecosystem, though gradually.

It is this new middle-class Indian which is creating global businesses based out of India, attracting a record number of international investors in 2019. Along with this, 128 startups in India got acquired, with four getting publicly listed and nine becoming unicorns last year. Today, the ecosystem has become more favourable to start your own venture.

For startups seeking growth, there are Angel Investors, VCs and IPOs that can fund their businesses. There are platforms that help them connect with the right investors, giving their startups the much-needed fuel, Inflection Point Ventures (IPV) being one; and whenever they find themselves stuck in any business problem, such platforms become a source of solution and inspiration.

Along came Startup India, a flagship initiative of the Government of India, to build a strong ecosystem conducive to the growth of startups and to empower them through innovation and design.

As the Indian startup ecosystem was gaining pace, it got hit by one of the biggest pandemics on Earth – COVID-19.

Calling the coronavirus outbreak The Black Swan of 2020, Sequoia has warned that it may be contained only after “several quarters” and it could take “even longer for the global economy to recover its footing”.

On one hand, where Tech startups in the India raised $14.5 billion in 2019, beating their previous best of $10.6 billion in 2018, as per research firm Tracxn, the current scenario points to a completely different picture. COVID-19 has not only shaken the fundamentals of innumerable startups, but also forced many to doubt their existence. However, with platforms like IPV which were developed as a digital first organisation and focussed on nurturing start-ups, it seems business as usual.

To keep the momentum going, IPV has been closely monitoring situation with its funded startups. Additionally, the strategy is to identify sectors and startups that have the potential to grow, e.g. healthtech, edtech, online grocery deliveries, e-gaming, media and entertainment etc. The sharp focused approach of IPV has been appreciated by its investors who have reciprocated their confidence in the platform by continuing to fund and commit, resulting in over 10 startups being funded since Jan 2020.

In startup world, COVID-19 has brought to front more innovation in Crisis management and digitisation fields. Extensive work from home being the new normal, virtual meetings have become part and parcel of businesses. Consequently, Videoconferencing firms are adding many more users. Gaming, streaming and online education content providers are all reporting a significant increase in users and time spent on their platforms.

The ongoing reforms promised by the Prime Minister have brought in a ray of hope for small business. While we wait for the rest of the package, the push given by the Finance Minister to MSMEs have the potential to ease the liquidity issues. Benefits like collateral free loans, global tenders, E-Market linkage, faster refunds etc, will encourage more and more startups to incorporate as MSMEs and take benefit of the new age reforms.

It may be safe to presume that COVID-19 is a crisis that too will pass, reinstating fervour and belief in the startups in India.

 

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

 

[This article is authored by Pooja Kheterpal – (an IPV Angel Investor) – Snr. Finance Expert with 20+ years experience in various leadership roles]

Why Angel Investing

Investing is seldom about overnight “get rich quick” success stories. It is an art that requires patience to consistently and methodically grow wealth. While there are many ways to invest and grow our wealth, let us look at two popular investing options.

Before dwelling deep into these options, let us bust the myth that one needs to be super-rich to invest. What we need is awareness about our needs, goals, and risk appetite.

The first option is Stock Market Investing. It is a traditional method with a lot of history. It has seen phases of glory and gloomy days over the years. We have seen individuals transform from rags to riches and seen individuals who caused the market crash and collapse a whole economy.

 

Is the stock market the easiest way to build wealth?

  • Though Investing in the stock market is tricky, it has fascinated people world over for over a century.
  • This market lets investors own an existing business that is well established and operating efficiently.
  • Buying stocks of a listed company is hasslefree and one can instantly buy and sell with a single phone call or with a few clicks on their phone.
  • Stock Market offers a wide choice to invest in from large-cap, mid-cap to small-cap companies.
  • Stock markets certainly offer the prospect of higher returns on investment than our run-ofthe-mill investments.

 

Is it Safe to Invest in Stock Market These Days?

  • The stock market is like a complex maze, and one requires certain skill and strategy for successful navigation. If we don’t have adequate knowledge of what we are getting into and rely on hearsay from uninformed investors, it becomes a case of the blind leading the blind. We won’t even realize that we are lost.
  • Investing in the stock market is extremely risky due to the volatility of business associated with market sentiments. A change of government, policies or a global phenomenon can affect one’s return of investment considerably.
  • Unless we buy a high stake in a company, we don’t have much control over it and cannot influence any decision making in the company.
  • The shares and stocks of a company and markets can be manipulated. Growth can be falsely projected to reap benefits. Shares can be overpriced and trading at unwarranted valuations and the reverse is also true. Intrinsically valuable stocks can continue to underperform markets unexplainably, for extended periods of time.

” Total market capitalisation of the Indian equity market stood around Rs.154 lakh Crore, or $2.2 Trillion, as on 30th December 2019.*

Therefore, only when we know what to do, how to do, and when to do, can we expect to make money in the market.

Now let us take a look at the second option, Angel Investing. The advent of technology, an explosion of the Internet, higher literacy and greater exposure to outside working has fuelled sector-based innovation. This, in turn, has given rise to startups in sectors like IT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Education, Finance, Healthcare, Consumer tech, and Logistics among others.

With such a wide plethora of opportunities available, young entrepreneurs are making a beeline to tap into it with their business ideas. And, these startups need funds to start their ventures with. In comes the Angel Investor.

In just a few years with the spike in startups and their need for early-stage financing has made angel investing a very interesting investment option. Thus, angel investors have become a safe source of funding for savvy high growth entrepreneurs.

What’s unique about Angel Investing?

  • Angel investing is just like private banking. Young entrepreneurs pitch their startup business idea and plan to get funding from rich investors. These investors provide funding in exchange for equity in the company based on percentage or profit-sharing or stock options.
  • Angels are influential wealthy entrepreneurs or past founders who look to fund young entrepreneurs with unique business ideas, who want to start a venture to pursue a dream.
  • Funding is done in the early stages of the startup (seed round or pre-series A funding).
  • In a startup, the risks are hidden, as one does not know if the business will succeed, or what kind of competition it will have. Still, the angel investor is willing to take the risk if the startup is fundamentally strong.
  • Angels not only provide financial aid, but also provide industry-specific expertise, and a wide network to tap in. Angels get to mentor the founders and guide them towards growth.
  • Angel investing provides an exciting opportunity to the investor to be a part of the next big thing if all goes well, although investing in high-risk phase if built on a right idea, with the right people, will fetch a higher rate of return than expected from traditional investments.
  • Once an angel-funded startup starts making profits, the investor can decide to sell their share and cash in on the ownership percentage.
  • With the government giving startups industry status and tax benefits, the angel investor finds it more lucrative to invest in a startup than the stock market and the certainty of a startup acquiring a Unicorn status is more visible.

 

” The startup ecosystem in the calendar year 2019 raised funding amounted to $11.1 Billion**

In the current times with the startup industry growing at a faster pace the future for young entrepreneurs looks promising and this is great news for Angel investing. Growing our wealth depends on our financial goals, business interest, financial knowledge & understanding of the domestic and global markets and industries, the challenges & risks we are ready to face.

If one is an enterprising businessman who can identify great business potential and is willing to take high risk and go through it there is no better year and no better option than Angel Investing.

Organizations such as Inflection Point Ventures (IPV) have democratized the whole process of angel investing. Investors can start their journey with a commitment of as little as INR 2.5 lakhs.

 

[This article is authored by Deepak Chandran – (an IPV Angel Investor) – CFO (International) Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting]

Five Things I Check Before Investing in a Start-up

‘If you love it, buy it. But still check it, before you buy it!’

Start-ups “the new age turbine” have been evolving at a speed faster than expected. The biggest accelerators for these start-ups are the commandos in these spectra the “Angel Investors”. These days, angel investment is being looked at as a profession considering the high rewards associated with it, despite the high risks. Well, it’s not the space, if you are looking for your retirement stash.

So, while learning the art of angel investment every day, I thought what a better topic could be than to write about sharing 5 check-the-box points I look at, before investing in a start-up.

 

Check 1: Commander and his troops

This one carries almost 70% weightage in my decision to invest or not to invest in a start-up. Investing in an early age start-up is different than investing in any other start-up or company. It is preferred to avoid investing in a start-up with a single founder. Having more than 1 founder gets not only varied experience & expertise on the table but also a balance and stability from risk attached with dependence on a single founder.

It’s imperative to gauge the founders’ skin in the game. Founders having more than one business interests tend to defocus. Always prefer start up where it’s the only venture of the founders and they are fully invested mentally and physically in taking the start-up  to success. I believe that smart Founders can convert and flourish even an average business idea into a successful business venture. But the reverse of it can never be vouched for!

“Great ideas are weightless without unblemished execution and committed support.” As an angel investor, I resist investing in a start-up which does not have a strong team and doesn’t even intend to hire one, with all key functions being driven by founders only.

At last, it’s an X-factor which connects a founder and an investor, making investor believe in the story narrated. It’s an investment in the people driving the vision and not the company. It is important to know the founder and the strong team backing the vision & passion of the founder.

 

Check 2: Size of The Pie

With recent drastic shift to economy of apps, it is very important that product or service caters to a larger market. Large market doesn’t mean present market, but a futuristic addressable market. Whether a product or service is for everybody? Is it product or service which is good to have or must have one? An industry thrives because of its customer. Invest in a product creating a revolution.

Based on my experiences, product or services that intend to disrupt traditional way an industry works, shows immense potential. I favour start-ups which have put forth and started executing steps to achieve their marketing strategy rather than just laying out a marketing strategy plan.

It doesn’t matter how brilliant the product is, unless there is market large enough to embrace it.

 

Check 3: Revenue Riddles

It is crucial to look at a company’s monetization strategy ,to find if it has a clear path at times of storm. Its revenue model has to be strong enough to sustain in tough times. I examine how gross & net margins are sketching on the board.

It may incur loss in the short run to penetrate the market, but whether it has potential profitability of the business in a steady state environment. Also, pivotal to know the point of time, when start-up plans to achieve break-even in business, whether it has sufficient capital to meet the cash requirements of business to achieve its desired growth.

Needless to say, first gain is what really matters!

 

Check 4: Proposition and Opposition

Another aspect that stands important, is the area of operation of a start-up. Whether it has tides of competition from other players? Or is it the only player for its operation? It is one of the key decisive factors before making an investment.

If competition is a shark, it can acquire the start-up like a small fish rather than twinning their work. It’s beneficial to investigate and validate the appetite in the market.

I’d rather invest in a start-up that has the ability to demonstrate the engagement of their product and useful reviews than the ones still sitting in labs experimenting.

It is also important to verify the math; start-ups would tell you about the valuation of company. Whether it can be justified or they are just empty wishes?

 

Check 5: KYV (Know Your Vendor)

Present customer base and the potential one being targeted is something which is essential while deciding on investing. It’s equally important to be aware of vendors associated with the start-up. Think of any marketplace without proper supply-base – Be in Cab Aggregation, E-Commerce or Foodtech. It helps to gauge diligent supply in future, basis changing market conditions.

Though these might not be thumb rules for investing, they definitely give a piece of perspective of the grass on the other side of the fence. Having said that, these are the mantras I believe in. But one catchword, ‘INSTINCT’ goes much beyond all this and it is something that cannot be taught, but simply trusted.

[This article is authored by Mitesh Shah – Co Founder – IPV & CFO – Book My Show]

7 Ways How Everyone Can Grow With Startups

  • Startups are faster and more flexible than mature and traditional businesses
  • Angel investment networks are easy, convenient and time-saving channels to invest in startups
  • Startups seek the guidance of subject matter experts and are able to pay for short-term consulting

“I measure my performance in the startup ecosystem by my LOI—learning on investment”~Dr. Aniruddha Malpani, Renowned angel investor.

If you have kids, then you know that with them, you grow every day as a parent. Kids are not perfect or learned, but they still end up teaching their parents and making them a lot more mature. They can always mesmerise you with their questions and new ways of thinking. On top, kids also learn best from their peer group. We believe startups are similar.

Indian Startups have been all the rage in the past decade. This is because startups are faster and more flexible than mature and traditional businesses, and are leveraging technology to target both macro as well as micro problems more effectively.

Those that are able to tide over the initial challenges provide significant value to its stakeholders along its growth journey. These include not only the founders or employees but its investors and various business stakeholders engaging with a startup.

To be part of such an enriching, high-value generating journey with a startup, it is essential to gain exposure at various stages in its business lifecycle. While this is fairly easy for someone working full-time in this line (e.g. Venture Capital partner), a normal working professional can gain regular access only via structured engagement platforms like Angel investing networks.

Angel investment networks are easy, convenient and time-saving channels to invest in startups. They bring forth the most exciting startups and provide an early-stage investment opportunity. The network members interface at multiple touch-points with startups during its journey and get opportunities within the ecosystem.

Below mentioned 7 points highlight how everyone can grow with Startups, contributing as well as benefiting from them.

Grow Professionally

Startups are the beacon of disruptive innovation, emblematic of new-age enterprises. They are working on cutting edge technologies and with new processes, spearheading changes in our dynamically evolving world. At times, what young entrepreneurs possess in passion and technical skills, they could lack in experience of scaling people, products or processes.

Startups seek the guidance of subject matter experts and are able to pay for short-term consulting or advisory assignments. These engagements are extremely beneficial for someone with spare time at their hands and not averse to the fast-paced, unstructured work environment of a startup.

E.g. Shubhi Khurana, a pharma sector veteran received offers for part-time consulting roles with 3 health-tech startups evaluated at Inflection Point Ventures (IPV). Gracious enough to provide her time in due diligence of these startups, her interactions with the founders led them to value her expertise & industry connections and offering her hourly consulting roles.

Grow Your Knowledge Base

Being a platform for early-stage startups, here stalwarts of the Indian corporate & investment sectors converge to connect, ask questions, pool-in their knowledge and evaluate startups each week over the internet on calls, as to their investment-worthiness. Each of these 45-60 mins call is an amazing interface with the best of intellectual capital that cuts across industries & sectors, geographies, technologies, businesses & sections of society.

Eg. Manu Iyer (CEO, Blue Hill Capital) says, “Over the last year I have seen startups come from diverse areas like a retail, gaming platform, health care, ecommerce etc. So the breadth of startups that are brought, that have gone through the rigor of evaluation in this platform has been pretty amazing. When we are on these calls having interactions, we have people from each of these industries who have already worked there before who are able to ask very insightful nuanced questions to help evaluate these startups.”

Grow Your Business Or Save Company Costs

Each startup venture is attacking a problem. It might be a problem faced by an individual (B2C) or a problem being faced by a company (B2B). Startups that come forth for early-stage investment are not only looking for funds but also hungry for customers & vendor-partners for their product or service. They are more than willing to tie-up with respective members’ organisations, which serves as revenue opportunity as well as grounds for market validation of their solution.

Just to mention a few examples – 1) Many investors an early adopter of Talent Litmus (HR Tech startup) game-based psychometric assessment process, introducing it as a mandatory step in hiring and on-boarding of new employees at his portfolio Companies. 2) A leading hospital chain has done a pilot for an operations management solution with Syook (IoT startup).

Tie-up with new startups as your vendors or as customers help achieve benefits of solutions customized to your needs and higher business growth at lower costs.

Grow Your Network

An angel investor group derives its strength from the network of its members. The network includes professionals, CXOs, HNIs, successful entrepreneurs and investors from early-stage funds & Family House offices. It is an assimilation of like-minded individuals keen to learn, help each other and make investing fun and profitable for all by pooling of knowledge. Regional meet-ups provide a wonderful opportunity for members to connect & network, share knowledge and gain insights from premier angel investors, VCs or startup founders highlighting the sessions at the event.

Venkatesh SS (COO, The Better India), a seasoned investor says, “Being part of IPV, it’s the community, the networking, the learnings which one shares with each other, that’s different. And these learnings mitigate what qualitatively and quantitatively one can see through in terms of the business plans. That’s immense in terms of the knowledge which everyone brings to the table is what I feel is different here.”

Grow Your Business Acumen

In our daily jobs, we normally dedicate our focus to a specific function or speciality. However, evaluating a startup for investment potential forces you to look at the business from all angles. One can hone their business skills and acumen even further by looking at the business & financial metrics, the market potential & competitive landscape, judging the team and many other critical aspects.

Being part of a group that takes a significant pie of the capt-table, one can also get to be on the Board of investee startups (as observers or members) and be directly involved in decision-making.

Grow Your Country

By most estimates, India is now the third-largest base to unicorn startups as well as the total number of startups in the world. However, our startup ecosystem needs a lot of development to increase the success probability of startups. By supporting new entrepreneurs one can play a major part in shaping the leaders of tomorrow. You can contribute to nation-building by providing monetary and experiential capital to startups which help create jobs, stimulate economic activity & promote innovation culture.

Best summarised by angel investor Pramod Gupta (CFO, Arvind Fashions Ltd), “To me, angel investing is contributing to society and the new India, the technology-oriented India. There is a return that is expected but that’s not a major part. I love the opportunity of being able to add value to founders, to the next generation.”

Grow Your Wealth

It is important to keep in mind that capital in angel investing is the money that you set aside and are not chasing to require immediately, in a year or two. Returns are to be expected but it is patient capital. The most obvious result for a seasoned investor by engaging-with and investing-in startups is wealth generation.

Angel investing provides diversification of a portfolio with a new asset class. It has the potential to grow wealth exponentially over mid to long-term.

 

[This article is authored by Vinay Bansal – Founder & CEO, and co-authored Madhukar Bhardwaj – Business Analyst, Inflection Point Ventures.]

SRCC Angels – An Inflection Point Ventures (IPV) Initiative

SRCC Angels – An IPV Initiative 

(Short form to join SRCC Angels – https://forms.gle/H3kJ4hxyQsa5dNjZ8

All top educational institutes around the world, like Harvard, MIT and Stanford. have alumni based angel investment groups, where the alumni join forces to invest in startups while forging deep bonds within its alumni network. If all these institutes can have such groups then why should SRCC be left behind? 

Inflection Point Ventures (IPV), India’s leading and fastest-growing Angel Network has created a specially curated group of ‘SRCC Angels’. This will provide a platform to the SRCC Alumni community to invest in start-ups with ease through our digitised platform. 

Special Benefits for SRCC Alumni

Networking beyond SRCC Alumni: Improve your bonding with not only SRCC’s Alumni but also get a chance to network with 400+ investors who are mostly CXOs and HNIs from across the globe having expertise in diverse fields. 

Leverage technology to invest in startups: Invest in startups through the comfort of your home. The member group is digitally connected and deals are evaluated online, making the group, location and region agnostic. The entire life cycle of an investment can be experienced and evaluated through our digital platforms.

Exponential returns through minimised risks: Each deal goes through deep due-diligence overseen by two vastly experienced IPV partners along with a lead analyst. Out of the 900 start-ups that approached us, we have invested in just 24 startups (3%), which shows the extent of diligence we show while investing. 

Low ticket size for first-time investors: IPV provides a platform for first-time investors by keeping a low minimum investment amount of ₹2.5 lakhs per startup. 100+ investors have made their first angel investment through IPV platform. At the same time, IPV  also advises investors/family offices who want to make bigger investments.

Experience the IPV way of investing for FREE: As per our agreement with SRCC Alumni Committee, membership to the exclusive ‘SRCC Angels’ Investing Group will be free for the first 6 months. Please fill the short form in this link to join the platform https://forms.gle/H3kJ4hxyQsa5dNjZ8.

IPV Beliefs 

Personalised Connects: The success of a startup depends on both – the idea & the ability, experience, aptitude and attitude of the co-founders. This is why IPV believes in personal interactions with the startup co-founders in which it plans in investing. 

Mentoring startups: IPV doesn’t believe in just funding startups. Through its vast investor group of 400+ members, coming from rich experiences in diverse backgrounds, IPV believes in mentoring startups towards their growth. 

Detailed Due-Diligence: IPV believes in detailed due-diligence to avoid reacting to artificial scarcity/demand created by the founders/other angel networks.

Transparency: IPV maintains complete transparency around valuation, personal interest (if any), findings of the due diligence process. 

Sunny Girdhar from SRCC Alum network is leading this initiative with IPV. Please call him for any further information at +91-9999678057 or mail him at sunnygrdhr007@gmail.com

For any assistance from the IPV team, please reach out to Chaitanya (+91-9417886105 or chaitanya@ipventures.in)

Bridging Shortage Of Doctors In India Through Technology

The rise of non-communicable disease in India is not helped by fact that doctor to patient ratio in India is less than global average. Most doctors prefer to work in metros and tier 1 cities, where paying capacity of patients’ is better, to recoup cost of their long education. Rural community health centres are 81% short of specialist doctors.

Startups are toying with cost effective ways to connect doctors to patients and help optimize doctors’ time. And identifying the huge opportunity, there are enough backers for these startups now in the Indian startup ecosystem. Continue Reading

When Angels Meet Lawyers

Akshat Pande – Founder and Managing Partner, Alpha Partners (Author)

&

Shreya Solenkey – Associate, Alpha Partners (Co-Author)

An investment made by an angel investor, usually before the company has earned any revenue or profits, can be called as an ‘angel investment’. An angel investor is usually an individual with high net worth, who provides financial support for start-ups, small companies or entrepreneurs, usually in return for equity in the company. Such individual investors may either be a friend or family member of the founder, a close business associate or in some cases, the angel investors are organized as a formal group wherein the group founders or leaders guide the individual investors for making investments in startups (such as Inflection Point Ventures “IPV”) etc…

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7 Reasons Why It’s The Right Time To Become An Angel Investor In Startups

– Angel investing is NO more a territory of only the super-rich

– Increased startup liquidity and infrastructure and tax implications for investing have been removed

– 95% of the gain is made by the time companies get listed for public

The world is evolving faster than ever with technology entering into each aspect of life. And in increasingly favourable access to capital, it is the new-age lean companies that are likely to shape the future.

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Startup’s pruned journey to IPO

Startups are evolving like never before; but they often struggle to get listed and go public. In 2015, they were recognized and considered under the guidelines of SEBI to facilitate their listing. But despite such measures, Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) failed to encourage startups due to its stringent requirements.

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How do Angel Investors make money in India

At Inflection Point Ventures (IPV), as we are trying to democratize ‘Angel Investing’ in India, we get to meet a lot of first-time investors. They are super keen to be part of the start-up world but don’t have much idea on how early-stage investing really works. That motivated me to put down my learnings and readings till date which might help many who are waiting on the edge to start their start-up investment journey. Starting with the basics….

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Dos and Don’ts of Angel Investing

Inflection Point recognizes some of our members are first-time angel investors. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly. This blog is dedicated to all our members who are entering the wonderful, exciting, financially rewarding, yet an extremely uncertain world of angel investing through our platform.  We interviewed some individuals who have been able to achieve success through angel investing and tried to understand what motivated them towards angel investing and what are the key lessons they learned that can be helpful to the new investors.  We have tried to capture their thoughts in a mix of DOs and DONTs. It may not lead to 100% success, but we hope it answers some of the questions that you always wanted to ask. As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said – “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself”.

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All one should know about NRIs investing in Start-ups in India

Compliances and Procedures for NRI Investment in India

FOR NRIS INVESTING IN INDIA –

Under Foreign Investment in India guidelines, all NRI investments can be invested in Repatriable or Non-Repatriable basis.  3 major differences of the same are highlighted for understanding the concept –

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How to build a healthy startup?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. So is any startup. It’s a carefully mixed concoction of an innovative idea, a the hand-picked team, well-thought-out strategy, and marketing blended together with a hunger for success. But to ensure that this healthy mix has a long shelf life, there are few tips that you need to follow. From a carefully drafted mission statement to aim for more than just the capital, building a healthy startup is an art that fortunately can be understood and adopted without much investment.
So let’s get started.

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