A Manual For Indian Start-Ups

The start-up ecosystem in India is vibrant and growing by leaps and bounds in both volume and variety. It has become a mainstream phenomenon in the country now, and perhaps the default career option for many freshers graduating out of technical and management campuses.

The different experience blend of the promoters of these start-ups and the uniqueness of Indian regulatory and business ecosystem creates a major challenge for making the business plans; leveraging various incentives offered and complying with many Central and State regulations. The available literature on start-ups regarding capturing best practices, templates and checklists are mostly aimed at the developed ecosystems of the west. Many of the Indian books on the local start-ups are more about inspirational stories about the promoters who made it big, but offer little in terms of specific advice and workbook type inputs to a new entrepreneur.

The CII Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council has made an effort to build a start-up process manual for India with focus on the first three years of operation. This is because of the established fact that many mistakes are often committed in the early stages of a start-up.

The time for guidance regarding prioritizing, s e q u e n c i n g a n d formalizing key areas of operations is critical at this juncture. The manual covers the key elements of the typical start-up process and stages for an Indian start-up. It captures the core principles, key practices, and expert views to give a good starting point to initiate the early phases in a start-up. It covers the popular templates, resources, and sector or State-wise variations regarding procedures or requirements and provides links to the specific websites or references.

The manual takes the approach of a life stage view of a start-up covering the aspects of ideation, entity creation, product development, go-to-market, fundraising, operations, etc. It captures the everyday practices and trade-offs in an Indian context when it comes to choosing an approach, and provides some key templates to help the promoter think through the critical sections under those topics.

This is not a primer on any particular subject. In other words, it does not explain what is marketing at a conceptual level, nor does it suggest any specific process models such as Agile methodologies. It provides a simple narrative for the templates and gives some popular methods used in Indian ecosystem.

Given the early stage focus of the manual, the priority is for some key templates for the most popular and critical areas requested by the promoters. The templates include founder’s agreement, seed investor agreement, key employee agreement, mentor agreement, etc. While the templates are limited to a few areas only, the narrative sections cover more.

The book follows a hub and spoke approach to provide necessary information and current practices to get started and refers to other literature for details. Hence it is a navigational view as well as an informational view for an early stage start-up. There are some references for both conceptual understanding as well as for resource finding to make the manual more of an anchor point for the promoter to explore rather than a complete scope in a single publication.

The book is authored by leaders in both Industry and Academia and will be published by Penguin this year.

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