Last week I was invited to lead a day long workshop with about 50 Young Indians (YI Group of CII). Young Indians are a sub group of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). They have chapters around the country and I was happy to be invited to spend a day with such an inspired group at Coimbatore. The fact that it was Coimbatore made it even more exciting for me. Having grown up in Tamil Nadu and heard about the entrepreneurial activities of the Coimbatore-Tirupur belt and the success they have enjoyed over the last few decades, I always look to interactions from this place.
This time the topic was ‘Getting to Market’ and the entire audience comprised of entrepreneurs who seemed to be developing interesting and new businesses. Some were 2nd / 3rd generation entrepreneurs who wanted to fork out of the foundation that their parents / grandparents had already created. They had come to learn how to look at taking a start-up to market.
We discussed the importance of looking at the question of marketing differently. We looked for ways to reach markets. We acknowledged the limitations within which start-ups function and looked for ways to effectively find customers, reach markets, inform potential buyers and convince them to try the products / services. As in most of my earlier workshops I had people getting excited at the worksheets and asking a whole lot of questions. All our class discussions were based on the cases of entrepreneurs in class. It provided the much needed debates, critical analysis and divergent inputs, so as to look at problems differently. Overall the participants went back happy, having spent a day thinking about their marketing and also with a bunch of homework to be done. They also exposed themselves to the tool called SME Toolkit that IBM has created and is maintaining. The tool has a variety of resources to enable the small business ecosystem to sustain and grow. I will write about it in a separate post but for the time being, you may have a look at it here: www.smetoolkit.org
I learned from them a lot of new questions. They asked me how they should price, how they should seek fresh channels, how they can groom their sales and marketing staff, how they can make their messaging creative, how they can improve their packaging, how they can create experiences even in mundane products, and so on. I came away rich – with a repository of questions. Interestingly I also came away with many of them asking me to come back for a review when I visit Coimbatore in about 10 days. I now sit with these questions and with the hope that I will be able to go back and give them more useful pointers to finding answers. As I always let my entrepreneurs and mentees know, the answers are for them to find. My job is to refine their questions and also provide them different views to look at their challenges. After all they are entrepreneurs – isn’t it? They can go well beyond where we can take them. So let us not limit them in any way.
Young Indians in Coimbatore is an exciting group and an energized group. They are all young, interesting, energetic, inspired and motivated. They have ideas, a supportive ecosystem and fair amount of resources. But they need to be inspired to think about their businesses more. They need to be fed with fresh tools and frameworks to re-look at their business, the Indian way. I hope to keep going back and see if I can enable the growth of these young enterprises, which have potential and promise.
In my attempt to create indigenous frameworks for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial firms, ‘Getting to Market’ frameworks and tools have been my first area. I have created and shared my finding and creation with close to 200 entrepreneurs so far and the results have been encouraging. A few have already seen direction for their enterprises, some have changed their target markets and many of them have already changed their go to market plans. I have received a few enterprises see results in less than 90 days and they are in the right direction. I will attempt to share these ideas a lot more of the entrepreneur ecosystem in India soon. Look forward to share some more results and developments as I work with such enterprising groups across India.
Thanks to NEN, IBM, YI and CII for making such a day possible. Thanks to all the attendees for making sure we had a lovely day together, professionally. I look forward to meet more of them and their growing enterprises soon.