The Idea Issue
The SmartCEO|January - February 2018

5 Rapidly Scaleable Business Ideas for the Entrepreneur in You

Prem Sivakumaran

Over the years, at Smart CEO, we have narrated for our readers an undiluted, nuanced, first-account of the journeys of India’s most exciting entrepreneurs. When our content team sat down for a discussion to plan our calendar for 2018, we wanted to rejig a few things.

Most importantly, we wanted to reinvent our approach to content creation with a ‘reader-first’ approach. I would admit that over the last few years we went for a ‘founder-first’ approach, wherein the focus of a story was on the person we interviewed. Of course, we shared some brilliant anecdotes and learnings experiences from their startup journeys, but we didn’t design a story with a reader-centric mindset.

With the cover story this edition, the focus is entirely that. For the record, we haven’t interviewed any specific person for this article; Instead we mulled through several of our interviews, and captured insights from venture capital data in the US, Europe and Asia. The outcome is a collection of 5 Startup Ideas – ones if strategized and implemented well can evolve into potentially billion dollar ideas. At least, that’s what we think.

Here’s how we went about the process of picking these 5 Ideas.

We started off with a Master List of 100 Startup Ideas for the Indian Entrepreneur. We followed a simple approach; We simply listed 100 or so problems we see around us as consumers and business owners, and then explored creative solutions to these problems.

From the Master List, we picked 60 Ideas we really loved. Of course, this process was run driven by the gut of our content team rather than being datadriven.

We first thought of presenting all 60 ideas into this edition, but that wouldn’t be smart. At a price point of Rs. 200 per magazine, it wouldn’t make sense to give away billion dollar ideas for almost free, exclaimed our marketing head. So, we decided to give out 5 ideas for now and then based on feedback from our readers, we would figure out a way to monetize the 60 Ideas List.

Each of the 5 Ideas we present here fits the following criteria:

The first, can the idea rapidly scale? If the team at the helm is good, we believe venture capital investors will love backing these ideas. The goal is certainly not to suggest ideas to build lifestyle businesses or solve small problems.

The second criteria revolved around a question we tried to answer: Is the market ready? Meaning, we shouldn’t be too early or too late.

The third filter was – Can we build a Big Brand with this idea? Can it become like an Under Armour taking on Nike? Can it become a Chobani taking on Dannon? Can it become a BigBasket that can take on and beat a Big Bazaar? Can it become a BuzzFeed that would compete with NewsCorp?

Needless to say, any idea is as good as its implementation. Our job as idea generators is an easy one. Implementation – building a team, raising capital, building a brand, selling, marketing, sustaining the business over the long term – are all extremely hard. Warren Buffet famously said, “I’d any day back a great team working on a mediocre idea rather than a mediocre team working on a terrific idea.”

Also, tens if not hundreds of people will approach solving the same problem with variations to the same idea. The differentiation will come from what the entrepreneur can bring to the table. You may think Flipkart and Amazon (or Flipkart and Alibaba) are pursuing similar ideas. But, that would be just looking at it on the surface. As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to peel layers and layers into an idea to build something truly differentiated. As a consumer, you may think Flipkart and Amazon are two highly capitalized e-commerce firms, but ask the Bansals or Bezos and they would argue that Flipkart and Amazon are totally different businesses. The point is the implementer of an idea has to bring a deep personal touch and viewpoint into the process of building a company.

And now that we have given enough of a buildup… presenting to you our first cover story for the year: 5 Startups Ideas for India that VCs will love. Thank us as you rake in the big bucks and don’t hate us if you lose big!

And, read this next line really fast like in a mutual fund ad: Any startup idea is subject to market risk and entrepreneur risk.

IDEA #1

CAR-AS-A-SUBSCRIPTION

The idea we’re proposing here is to build a venture that would offer consumers the ability to “rent cars on a monthly basis”, replacing the need to own a car. We believe there is tremendous opportunity to disrupt the future of car ownership in India. We know there are ventures like Zoomcar that operate in the weekend/short-term rental segment. Our idea is to build a company that would allow people to rent for 3-months, 6-months, 12-months or more. Basically, long-term rentals for durations less than a lease.

The Opportunity

Two big expenditures people often indulge in after landing a good job is buying a car and buying a home. While the latter makes financial sense, simply because the underlying asset appreciates over the long run, owning a car is a lifestyle decision. The opportunity for this ‘CaaS startup’ is to deliver a better product (giving consumers the equivalent of owning a variety of cars) while at the same time offering better financial terms (lesser than EMIs for owning or leasing)

Value Proposition

Deliver cost savings: Give people the same or better experience of car ownership at a much lower cost

Deliver better customer experience: The consumer can easily, with a simple mobile app, upgrade and downgrade cars at will and experience ‘ownership’ for multiple cars.

Silicon Valley Inspiration

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