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4 exceptional tips to build a start-up

June 07, 2014 14:30 IST

4 exceptional tips to build a start-up


Nickhil Jakatdar,

The key to building a great organisation is to develop a good employee culture. Read on to know how you can engage your employees to grow with you...

If you are an entrepreneur like me, I don’t need to tell you that there are characteristics that will help you out as a leader -- for example, needing less sleep than the average person and being able to read people as if they are sitting across the table from you in a poker game.

There are many resources for this kind of advice once you get your business moving.

But what should you keep in mind when you are just building your business and its most important asset -- its culture -- from Day One?

To help inspire you, I’ve collected four top insights for creating a winning culture from top business experts and added in my own experience with my company Vuclip and previous ventures.

1. Create a meaningful mission

Make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, has a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society -- Larry Page, Google co-Founder I agree wholeheartedly.

The best way to achieve meaningful impact is to focus on a mission that is close to your heart.

The best companies inspire people by giving them an opportunity to do work that they believe in and enjoy.

For example, I could not imagine doing anything else other than building a business that is fostering innovation at the intersection of the media and mobile technology worlds.

And in turn, the company has attracted like-minded creative, vibrant employees that inspire me on a daily basis. Find that cause that inspires you and is the spirit of your business. 

The author is a successful serial entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. His latest venture, Vuclip is the world’s largest independent mobile video company with over 120 million users globally, with over 20 million users from India.

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Image: Amazing businesses arise from exceptional work cultures.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/


2. Honour merit over tenure and ideas over hierarchy

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"When you become a leader, success is all about growing others."— Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric

Enlightened leadership teams ask employees to contribute ideas because they recognise managers and executives don’t have all the answers.

I believe in encouraging debate and action on ideas.

By way of example, at my company we have a standing weekly 'Concept-Accept' forum where anyone in the company can have an audience of all our executives.

Typically there are multiple ideas presented each week and there is healthy debate and discussion on these ideas.

Following that discussion, a concept is either green lighted to move to validation and productisation or sent back to the drawing board for additional work.

Many of our successful product capabilities have been built from ideas originating in these meetings.

This fosters innovation and allows anyone and everyone to voice their ideas freely and be heard.

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Image: It is important to encourage and appreciate idea generation among the team.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

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3. Inspire authenticity

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 "Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet -- thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing -- consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.” —Lance Secretan, leadership theorist and former CEO of a Fortune 100 company.

A business and its leaders need to inspire people to be their true selves.

I've observed that there is often a dichotomy between how people present themselves at work and their personal lives. And this is not a good use of energy.

Employees should be focused on the business, outsmarting the competition, managing time well and collaborating with others, not on an inward battle.

If you build an environment where people can have fun and connect with their creative instincts, you not only are empowering them to do their best, but in turn they are inspiring everyone around them.

Ultimately, this makes for an exceptional company culture. 

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Image: Employees should be encouraged to outsmart competition from rival players.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

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4. Embrace risk

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"In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.' -- Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and chief executive of Facebook.

The status quo is no place for an adventurous, exciting, inspiring start-up with its eye on the prize.

Here's a personal example.

When we were just getting Vuclip off the ground, not many saw the value in starting a company addressing the needs of emerging markets, the fragmentation of the mobile space was daunting, mobile networks in places like India vary with regards to reliability, not to mention that YouTube was already dominating the video market.

We had a lot going against us.

But the management team was excited by this challenge. We developed unique technology that no one else could build and went after this opportunity with everything we had.

Today, we are thrilled that this risk paid off and so are the 120 million users that use Vuclip per month.

My point is certainly not to brag. We’ve had just as many detours as we’ve had direct hits and we continue to learn from both.

I wanted to illustrate that resting comfortably is not interesting and will likely not inspire your employees or customers for very long, so try something new, fun and exciting!

In summary, I wanted to share this quote from Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter.

He said -- actually he tweeted -- "success is never accidental." And I agree.

I believe amazing businesses arise from exceptional work cultures.

If your business is a house, I see culture as the foundation.

If your house is well built on top of a solid foundation of a meaningful mission, creativity, authenticity and smart risk, then the maintenance of that home is seamless.

Being inside of it day after day is a joy.

And if you are competitive like I am, then you can be satisfied you have the best house on the block.

Image: Building a start-up has its fair share of struggles -- learn to embrace and face them.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

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