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Thinking of launching a startup in India? Here’s the best place for advice

By Ananya Bhattacharya

Everyone knows Twitter as the hotbed for political hate and abuse. But a lesser-known facet about the micro-blogging platform is that it’s a goldmine for startup advice.

In a young startup ecosystem like India, not every entrepreneur finds a helpful mentor easily. But on Twitter, free guidance from angel investors, veteran entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists (VCs) is just a click away. Many revered industry professionals such as Sequoia Capital’s Shailendra Singh and Kalaari’s Vani Kola frequently take to Twitter to talk about all-things-startups, from funding to talent hunting to failure.

Here are seven handy tips from the best in the business:

Use equity wisely

One of the most critical questions for an entrepreneur to answer is when to raise VC funding and how much money to ask for. Singh of Sequoia, who has been an investor for two decades, believes startups should be conservative in such decisions.

Pick the right investor

For a startup to succeed, it’s very important that the vision of the founders and the investors align, according to Hemant Mohapatra, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. The IIT graduate spent 15 years at Google’s venture capital arm and VC firms before joining Lightspeed.

Let go

Founders need to loosen their grip on the reins if they want their ventures to flourish, as per Dev Khare, also a partner at Lightspeed India.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, investors also need to take a backseat to let startups bloom, according to Kunal Shah, founder of financial services platform CRED. Shah, a serial entrepreneur, sold his earlier venture Freecharge to Snapdeal for $400 million (Rs2,850 crore) in 2015.

Aim for profitability

For a while, startups in India were throwing around window dressing metrics like gross merchandise value (GMV), which did little to shed light on the health of a business. Prominent entrepreneurs, like e-commerce giant Flipkart’s founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, claimed that profitability was just a “strategic decision” and could be achieved “today.” So, it’s been a norm to celebrate ventures that raise massive funding rounds even as they continue to bleed.

Of all Indian unicorns–private startups worth over $1 billion—just two are profitable.

But Anupam Mittal, founder of People Group, which runs portals such as Shaadi.com and Makaan.com, believes profitability should be a prime focus for young firms.

Beware of the flakes

On the startup side, and the VC side, reliability is not a surefire guarantee.

Dreams≠business plans

There are things that startups can learn from big business conglomerates and their mistakes, reminds Alok Kejriwal, CEO and co-founder of Games2Win, citing the example of the Tato Nano.

It’s okay to fail

No matter what the outcome, it’s all a lesson learnt.