adminnTandon Group Sponsors 2017 USC Global Conference in Tokyo

Tandon Group Sponsors 2017 USC Global Conference in Tokyo

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Tandon Group Sponsors 2017 USC Global Conference in Tokyo

Conferences are one of the best ways to network and conduct business development in any industry. Tandon Group has been attending conferences for the better part of 40 years. Many of the connections and business opportunities that turned us into the company we are today were created at industry conferences.

As a way to give back, Tandon Group is sponsoring the 2017 USC Global Conference. We are sponsoring because our directors, Sandeep, Jaideep, and Sudeep Tandon, all attended USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. USC has been a leader in tech innovation for decades and has produced some of the best engineers in the world. Here’s all the information you need to know about the conference:

Who’s gonna be there?

Previous years conferences have had over 700 attendees from every industry imaginable. USC’s Global conference attracts so many world-class business, technology, education, and finance leaders because of it’s rich history as a world-renowned University.

This years conference will have many distinguished speakers including:

  • Kazuo (Kaz) Hirai- CEO of Sony Corporation
  • L. Max Nikias- President of the University of Southern California
  • David H. Petraeus (Retired General)- Chairman of the KKR Global Institute and venture capitalist
  • Midori Goto- world-renowned violinist
  • and many more…

You can see the full list of speakers here.

What’s taking place?

At this year’s conference you’ll be able to see special keynote speakers, watch multiple sit-down interviews, attend lunches, dinners, and numerous networking opportunities. There are very few places where you get so many like-minded individuals in a room together. This is an opportunity for people from every sector to get together and uncover new opportunities to expand and grow.

You can see the full schedule by visiting the schedule of events here.

Where is the conference?

At the Grand Hyatt Tokyo located in the the Roppongi district.

You can explore the surrounding area on Google Maps here.

When is the conference?

The 2017 Conference will take on September 21 – 23, 2017.

Add it to your Google Calendar here.

Why should you go?

As we said at the beginning of this blog post, conferences are one of the best places to grow your business and expand your network. This year’s USC conference will be one of the largest in history. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity that could transform your business forever. If you’ve ever wanted to mingle with high-level executives and decision makers, this is the place to be.

While you’ll still have to exercise your networking muscle, putting yourself in a position to grow is the only way you’ll meet valuable these connections. Even after factoring in conference tickets, airfare, and hotel accommodations, one valuable connection could produce an ROI far in excess of what you spend to attend.

Aside from business networking opportunities and the conference itself, you get to explore the Tokyo metropolis landscape. Tokyo is the largest city in the world with over 33 million people. For many people, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a city you rarely get to visit.

How to sign up!

If you’d like to attend, you can sign up for the event by going to the USC Global conference website and registering here.

We hope to see you there!

adminnTandon Group Sponsors 2017 USC Global Conference in Tokyo

Portfolio Company Spotlight: Connected Yard

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Portfolio Company Spotlight: Connected Yard

Imagine… your pool notifies you when it needs to be cleaned, chemicals need to be added or the temperature needs to be adjusted. It then automatically regulates itself, schedules a pool cleaning service and orders the needed chemicals… all saving you time and money on maintenance.

Imagine… beautiful green grass year-round, lower water bills and perfectly timed mowings. Now your lawn only waters itself when it needs it, thanks to smart sensors and rain data. Dead grass and over watering are a thing of the past.

Imagine… your entire yard – connected. That’s exactly what ConnectedYard is working on.

Reinventing Outdoor Home Care

ConnectedYard is the parent company to an innovative brand called pHin. pHin is reinventing pool and hot tub care with a bluetooth-smart and WiFi-enabled sensor, a mobile app and pre-measured chemicals that take away any guesswork on the part of the owner. Their product works with all types of pools and has streamlined poolcare for any and everybody.

Any homeowner knows home pools can get very gross when left unattended. Never before has it been so easy to get detailed reports of your pool or hot tub’s water chemistry. ConnectedYard’s award winning technology is truly “turn-key.”

ConnectedYard’s ultimate vision is to transform how the modern outdoor home environment is maintained. Between poolcare, lawn care, home exteriors, and lighting, ConnectedYard isn’t just building cool apps. They’re building amazing hardware too! pHin is the first product in a line of many that will transform your home forever.

If you’d like to order your own pHin device go to www.phin.co and purchase yours today!

Meet The Founders, Justin & Mark

Justin Miller is the co-founder and CEO of ConnectedYard Inc., the makers of pHin. Justin is the former CEO of Plaxo Inc and President and founder of the Comcast Innovation Center in Silicon Valley. With experience in product development/management and user experience at eBay, both in the US and in Europe, Justin also led human interface designs at Apple, designing the desktop and networking user experience for MacOS. Justin has an M.A. in Human Computer Interaction from Rice University and a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University. – LinkedIn

Mark Janes is the co-founder and COO of ConnectedYard Inc., the makers of pHin.
Mark is a leader in the interactive media, start-up and tech industries. He has a proven track record of successfully building companies, launching products internationally and managing the operations, sales and marketing teams of a wide range of successful companies. Mark has an M.A. in Interactive Media from Southampton University, UK. – LinkedIn

If you’re a startup founder and you’re interested in becoming one of Tandon Group’s investment portfolio companies, reach out to us. We’re always looking for innovative new companies that need capital to grow. We hope to hear from you soon!

adminnPortfolio Company Spotlight: Connected Yard

What to Look For In A Venture Capital Firm

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What to Look For In A Venture Capital Firm

When looking to raise funding, there are many factors you need to consider before choosing a venture capitalist partner. Many great startups have been thrown off course by choosing an investor for the money and not for the other assets they bring to the table. While capital is important, it’s only a small part of startup success.

That being said, here’s a list of things you need to consider before choosing an investor (or group of investors):

Knowledge of Industry

Almost all of venture capital firms have their area of expertise. Usually it’s a certain industry or group of industries. For example, at Tandon Group we specialize in the EMS, IT, healthcare, defense, and consumer industries. We feel that we have the highest chance of success when we stick to our domain of expertise. Other venture capitalist firms might specialize in industries like fintech, cryptocurrency, or any other number of specialized industries. While knowledge of the industry is extremely important, it’s only the starting point for finding your ideal venture capital partner.

Cultural Fit

Do you have the same values, ethics and morals as the venture capitalist you’re speaking with? If there’s a clash of fundamental beliefs between you and your funding partner(s) there will inevitably be larger problems down the road. Decisions can become extremely difficult when you put yourself in the shoes of your investor. There is a tendency for all investors to be more shortsighted than company founders. Short-term focus on ROI can sometimes mean the death of a promising startup. If Facebook had started charging customers for access or started advertising sooner, we might not be talking about them as a global superpower like we do today.

Past Performance

It’s a common saying that success breeds success. That being said, how much success has the venture capital firm you’re considering seen in the past?  Some firms prefer a widespread approach, investing in many companies, hoping for a few big successes. Other venture capitalist companies take a more exclusive approach,  working hand-in-hand with each company they invest in. Either way, these firms are going to have past successes and failures. It’s in your best interest to know about them.  At Tandon group we’re proud to say we have a large portfolio of successful investments and one of the largest mergers and acquisition deals in Indian consumer internet history.

Professional Integrity

Over the last few weeks there’s been widespread stories about sexual harassment and gender inequality in the venture capitalist community. While it’s disheartening to see this kind of behavior, it’s also a part of human nature. There are always going to the unethical and untrustworthy people conducting business in the world. It’s important that you do background research about each individual that manages a venture capitalist firm. Do they have a history of unprofessional behavior? Taking the time to do this could save your startup from an embarrassing scandal or expensive legal trouble in the future.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is harder to quantify than other factors on this list but it’s just as important as the rest. You should do your best to find out how a particular venture capitalist firm handled emotional situations in the past. Whether it’s replacing executives, firing ineffective employees, or any other event that causes high tension, a venture capitalist’s ability to communicate and understand the situation is paramount. The most effective course of action for a startup is to talk with previous company founders and get their opinion on the firm’s emotional intelligence.

Connections

Most startups don’t raise capital just one time. Partnering with a venture capital firm that can introduce you to future funding options is something you want to think about from the outset. Look into their funding history and see what their past funding rounds have been like. How were they structured? Who did they bring on-board for additional capital? Semi-celebrity venture capitalist might have more overall connections but a lesser-known investor might have more relevant connections in your industry. A great question to ask while meeting with investors is, “who do you think you know that can help us grow this company faster?”

Availability

Knowing how many companies a firm is currently invested in can give you a better idea of how much time they’re going to be able to devote to you and your business. Ask the venture capitalist directly how much time they anticipate devoting to your startup each month. You don’t want to get into a situation where you have either – an overbearing investor or an investor who is not involved whatsoever in the operations of the company. Most startups need to find a “happy medium” where they get the advice they need but also have the freedom to operate the business in the same manner that brought them success up until now.

Geographical Preference

It’s common practice for venture capital firms to set up funds that are specifically used for different geographical areas across the globe. Make sure you do your research to ensure you’re talking to someone who’s interested in investing where your startup is headquartered. This isn’t always a deal-breaker but many investors feel more comfortable when they invest in companies that operate where they’re familiar. As an example, the Tandon group has offices in San Jose, California and Mumbai, India. While we’re open to investment pitches from all across the globe, we put special precedent on companies that are headquartered in either of our locations. It gives us the ability to provide guidance and work directly with company founders.

If you’re a startup founder looking for funding, the Tandon group is always open to hearing promising investment opportunities. If you work in any of our areas of expertise (mentioned at the beginning of this article) you can contact us to discuss potential investments.

If you’re already apart of a successful startup and you’re looking to expand your business offerings to the Indian market we’re also interested in speaking with you. We have 38+ years of business expertise in the Indian market and are perhaps the best company to partner with if you’re looking to grow there.

adminnWhat to Look For In A Venture Capital Firm

5 Tips to Help Founders Take Compliance Seriously

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5 Tips to Help Founders Take Compliance Seriously

While time is a valuable resource that founders often prefer to use for growth, issues of non-compliance can sink that growth in an instant. Today, India has more business-friendly government policy, but regulations here and worldwide change everyday. The challenge for founders is knowing the exact steps to prevent fines, embarrassment, theft, fraud … even jail. For founders who are serious about compliance, use the following five tips to get started.

Establish Relationships With Regulators

Regulators can provide guidance and help you clarify issues so you can successfully navigate the compliance requirement relevant to your industry.

As Manohar Lal Tandon grew Tandon Magnetics, he invested significant time developing relationships with the Indian government to ensure compliance. Importing and exporting rules in India were complex at that time. For example, if the government rejected materials imported from the United States or Europe, no system existed to return those materials. If companies scrapped the materials, the government penalized them.

This was one of many regulatory challenges Manohar spent the majority of his time working with regulators to simplify, even though he would have preferred to spend that time with customers. These challenges extended globally because companies like Hitachi in Japan, for example, were hesitant to partner with Tandon Magnetics because the directors knew the Indian government took a long time to grant permission on such collaborations. Because of Manohar’s relationship with regulators, he secured permission in 45 days. Like Manohar, you may prefer to spend that time with customers, but reaching out and developing relationships with regulators will pay off in the long run.

Assemble a Dedicated Compliance Team

At a minimum, engage a certified accountant, corporate secretary and legal counsel to help you assess and address compliance vulnerabilities, formulate a compliance plan and document key compliance information such as written policies, communication with regulators and even case files.

Look Beyond Financial and Legal Compliance

Human resources, payroll and IT are just as important as legal and financial compliance for growing startups.

Develop a Customized Compliance Plan

Your compliance program need not be expensive but should be tailored to the needs of your business. You can roll out the program over time as long as the program clearly communications expectations and potential vulnerabilities.

Foster a Compliance Culture

Put the right internal team in place to execute your compliance program so that it informs and ensures daily work and decisions.

Founders who take the time to understand the marketplace, business culture and regulatory environment wherever they do business positions their company to deal effectively with growth and maintain a competitive edge

If you’re a startup founder looking for resources to help you succeed, Tandon Group may be able to help. Tandon Group has provided numerous startups with business advice and funding support for more than 30 years. Contact us today and learn more about how we can support you.

adminn5 Tips to Help Founders Take Compliance Seriously

Portfolio Company Spotlight: Isharya & 3D Printing

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Portfolio Company Spotlight: Isharya & 3D Printing

Many people argue that the most beautiful artwork in the world comes out of India. Indian art can trace its origins back over six thousand years and it’s impacted almost every major Eastern religion including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Indian artwork is universal because it addresses many different themes of human life. Energy, mindfulness and our place in the universe are all central themes in Indian artwork.

Indian art has been so enduring because it transcends beyond just visuals. It influences other areas of life including entertainment, spirituality, health, fashion, relationships, marriage, school, work and even jewelry. In fact, “the Indian subcontinent has the longest continuous legacy of jewellery-making in the world, with a history of over 5,000 years” (source). Such a long history must mean that humans all over the globe relate with the symbolism conveyed in Indian jewelry.

Reimagining How Indian Jewelry is Made

Isharya, a company Tandon Group invested in, has become a leader in the high-end Indian fashion jewelry market. While Isharya has operated since 2004 and has achieved success, we believe it is poised to make even greater progress with the ongoing development of their 3D printed jewelry collection.

You can see actual 3D printing in action in Isharya’s short demo video here. It’s showcases lasers, gold, artwork and amazing jewelry. (If you haven’t watched it yet, watch it now! Really, it’s worth it.)

Jewelry is a great candidate for 3D printing because it can lower the cost of production and get popular pieces into the hands of everyday people. In the near future, people will be able to replicate designs they love with cheaper material constituents and, therefore, be able to afford them.

Answering the Critics

While some people worry that the overall quality of jewelry might decline, there’s no need to worry. 3D printing has come a long way in the last 10 years. It’s now finally possible to create intricate, precise and beautiful pieces of jewelry from a wide variety of materials.

Indian traditionalists may argue that handcrafting jewelry is the right way to go but there are many limitations to what is physically possible. For one, the amount of time it takes to handmake jewelry means that prices must be inherently higher. Secondly, the complex job of soldering and joining pieces is no longer an issue with 3D printing.

Isharya’s founders Radhika and Gauri Tandon say that, after learning how the printing process works and comparing handmade to 3D printed jewelry, most people are amazed and appreciate it.  The artwork is no less beautiful and, in many cases, it’s greatly enhanced by the new capabilities.

A New Market for 3D Printing

While 3D printing is widely accepted in the western world, consumers in India are still becoming accustomed to it. Right now there’s a golden opportunity to expand Indian production by adopting 3D printing methods and using them to share Indian artwork and culture with the rest of the world. Isharya is doing exactly that and we are fully convinced that they will be even more successful in the future.

If you’d like to explore the different pieces Isharya has to offer then you can check out their website here.

If you’d like to become one of Tandon Group’s spotlight companies in the future, contact us.  We are always interested in finding and meeting innovative startup founders. Reach out and let’s see if we can build something amazing together!

adminnPortfolio Company Spotlight: Isharya & 3D Printing

What To Look For In An Angel Investor

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What To Look For In An Angel Investor

There are important differences between an angel investor and a venture capitalist. For starters, the typical investment size for angels is smaller than that of a venture capitalist. In general, an angel will invest between ~$20,000 and ~$250,000 (of their own money) in exchange for a private equity position. VC’s pool together resources and invest on behalf of a “fund” in most cases. Venture capitalist (VC’s) don’t usually have a cap on the amount they’ll invest but they have a range they prefer.

Angel investors are more common for early stage startups because these companies (usually) have less of a track record and are still validating their business idea. Angels like investing in early stage startups because they get in “on the ground floor” and receive a higher equity position.

While the term “angel” might conjure up images of a business savior and someone who whisk companies on to success, the reality is most angel investments fail. Startup founders need to take certain things into consideration before bringing on an angel investor. Remember, this person will be with the company for the foreseeable future.

In this post we’ll look at the most important things you need to consider before taking on an angel:

High Risk Tolerance

Perhaps the most important thing startup founders need to consider when looking at angel investors is their level of risk tolerance. Startups are inherently risky because it’s almost impossible to know whether or not a company will succeed. There can be indicators of success but only time will tell. Angel investors that don’t have high risk tolerance can cause all sorts of problems for startup founders.  In general, you need to make sure your potential angel is in a position to lose their entire investment. While your goal is to make the company a huge success, you can’t risk having an angel investor breathing down your neck, asking when they’re going to get their money back.

Long-Time Perspective

If an angel investor expects to get their money back in 6 months or less, you need to take that as an indicator they’re not the right investor for you. Professional angel investors know that it can take multiple years before a startup provides a return on investment. Having a long-time perspective means that an angel investor’s willing to wait years before even anticipating a return. Be upfront with any potential angels and let them know that you’re in this for the long-haul. It can even scare off potential angels if you tell them that you’re going to pay them back in an unrealistically short time frame.

Control

One common theme seen in successful entrepreneurs is that they almost always have regrets about equity and control. While you have to be willing to give up some amount of control to raise capital, you also don’t want to give up  too much control before you know where your company is heading. If an angel investor is overbearing on the amount of control they want, sometimes it’s best to simply pass on that angel.  Before ever going into any investment negotiations, make sure that your startup co-founders are clear on the amount of control you’re willing to give up.

Network

A less quantifiable benefit to bringing on an angel investor is the professional connections they’re able to provide to an early-stage startup. Startup founders should reach out to angels who have specific industry connections in the field that their company operates in. An angel who has 10 years of experience in your field is far more valuable than an angel who has 30 years of experience in a completely unrelated field.  Do background research on any angels you’re speaking with and figure out who they know and how long they’ve known them. Tools like LinkedIn, Google, and good old-fashioned telephone calls are your best bet here.

If you’re a startup founder looking to find potential angel investors for your company, Tandon Group might be able to help. Tandon Group has invested in many startups over the last 30+ years and is always interested in meeting new startup founders (even if we don’t invest ourselves). We have one of the strongest networks of Indian and American entrepreneurs in the world. If you want to find out how we can help, reach out to us and let us know what you’re working on!

adminnWhat To Look For In An Angel Investor

Portfolio Company Spotlight: Fictiv

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Portfolio Company Spotlight: Fictiv

Reinventing How Hardware Is Built

Fictiv is a distributed manufacturing company based in San Francisco, California. What exactly is distributed manufacturing? According to Wikipedia,”Distributed manufacturing, also known as distributed production, cloud producing and local manufacturing, is a form of decentralized manufacturing practiced by enterprises using a network of geographically dispersed manufacturing facilities that are coordinated using information technology.” Basically, it’s resourceful manufacturing.

Fictiv offers 3D printing, urethane casting and CNC machining services to companies all across the United States. One major benefit of distributed manufacturing is the fact that you can get machined parts in as little as a few hours/days as opposed to waiting weeks/months for overseas manufacturers.

Fictiv works wonderfully for smaller organizations because without the purchasing power of a large corporation its nearly impossible to find affordable manufacturers (or manufacturers that are willing to work on your project at all). By creating one of the strongest network of distributed manufacturers in America, Fictiv is able to offer its service to not only large enterprises but to startups and small/medium-sized businesses as well.

Fictiv is poised to help create the next generation of great American companies. New companies can now rapidly prototype, test and redesign parts for virtually unlimited products. If you’re a startup looking to manufacturer physical products, check out Fictiv today. It’s easy to get a free quote and you have nothing to lose. The cost of manufacturing your dream product may be less than you think.

Meet The Founders

Dave Evans

“As the co-founder and CEO of Fictiv, Dave Evans has been working to democratize manufacturing and give people better access to tools for building hardware. Whether you’re creating an automated food dispenser for your four-legged pal or making airfoils to send humans to Mars, Dave believes everyone should be empowered to build better hardware.” – LinkedIn

Nathan Evans

“Nate Evans is a designer, artist, and entrepreneur. As co-founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at Fictiv he’s responsible for motivating and helping a talented team of creatives working to democratize manufacturing. When he’s not in a design review, kickoff meeting, or flipping pancakes for the team, you can find him backpacking with friends and studying the landscape for the perfect black and white shot with his film cameras.” – LinkedIn

If you’re a startup founder and you’d like to become one of Tandon Group’s investment portfolio companies, reach out to us. Tandon Group is always looking for innovative new companies that need capital to grow. While we focus on the EMS, IT, wireless, defense and consumer industries, we are open to hearing any promising company’s pitch. We hope to hear from you soon!

adminnPortfolio Company Spotlight: Fictiv

Why Founders Should Focus on People Just As Much As Technology

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Why Founders Should Focus on People Just As Much As Technology

Tandon Magnetics used to host an annual exhibition featuring art created by employees. One year, a female employee made a picture of a sick man lying on a cot. He was surrounded by three children sitting on the floor with an empty platter. The words on the picture said “I wish I had a son,” implying that a son could probably earn some money by doing odd jobs. The employee displayed another picture next to it that showed the man and children happy and with plenty of food. The words on the second picture said “I don’t need a son because my daughter works at Tandon.”

Tandon became the largest employer of women in India’s tech sector from 1984 to 2000 after founder, M.L. Tandon, lobbied the Indian High Court to allow women in the technology industry the right to work at night. He says that seeing his employee’s artwork and knowing that his companies have been able to change people’s lives deeply impacts him to this day.

Respect Every Employee

“Respect for the individual” has been the cornerstone of Tandon since its origins. It is a philosophy M.L. Tandon adopted from his time with IBM and implemented when Tandon Magnetics opened its first plant in the 1970s. This simple idea was uncommon in India at the time. With the British system in India, workers were treated differently than managers. For example, some companies had three canteens — one for workers, one for managers and one for directors.

“I learned from IBM that no matter how big or small the job is, the individual is important because she is making her contribution,” Tandon says. “It is not what your job is, it is how you do your job.”

Tandon has always had an open door policy where any employee with any problem could speak directly with him and get his help.

Communication and Collaboration

“For me, quality means continuous improvement and the best way to accomplish that is to instill a sense of empowerment and respect at all levels,” he says. “I want my workers to feel like Tandon is just as much their company as it is mine.”

For today’s startup founders, social innovation is not just the right thing to do, it is a key marker of success. Developing technology is no longer enough in today’s marketplace. The founders who foster communication, collaboration and respect for individuals, in addition to creating technical innovations that improve people’s lives, are the ones whose companies will have the greatest potential to grow.

adminnWhy Founders Should Focus on People Just As Much As Technology

Most Common Issues We See In Startups Today

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Most Common Issues We See In Startups Today

At the Tandon Group we’ve heard at least two startup investment pitches a week over the course of the last 40+ years. We’ve invested in promising startups and passed on countless pitches that didn’t convince us of likely success. In that time we’ve come to recognize common issues that many companies face. Our hope is that by divulging these issues future startup founders can avoid them.

Knowing what not to do can sometimes be just as important as knowing what to do. The issues we’re going to discuss are a major enemy to any startup’s success. In his classic The Art of War, Sun Tzu remarked, “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” As a startup founder you’ll be forced to face hundreds of “battles” in the pursuit of growing your company. Remember this fact before you start and it will save you a lot of stress over the course of your career.

If you can avoid the common issues outlined below, you too might build the next million (or billion) dollar company…

Issue #1: Doesn’t solve a problem or address a real need

By far, the number one mistake startups make is building a product or service nobody needs or wants. “Cool” and “quirky” ideas may be fun and even attract notoriety but if that same idea doesn’t solve a problem or make someone’s life better, the novelty will eventually wear off. All successful businesses either solve a problem, improve an existing solution, or create a new market all by themselves.

Issue #2: Lack of sales

Some startup founders think that a large user base is all they need to be successful. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. While a large, million person user base can result in a large startup valuation, it isn’t until the company finds a way to extract money out of users that the company produces a profit. Great startups always have an end-goal for producing revenue from their users. If you have an awesome product or service you deserve to charge for it in some way.

Issue #3: Under capitalization

This point is tied directly to the previous issue. A startup being under capitalized (not enough money) is the direct result of not enough sales. If a company is always producing sales in excess of their lost customers they would never go out of business. Most startups need to solidify their revenue generation strategy before they try to expand further. We see this problem even in popular services like Soundcloud which, according to recent reports, only has enough cash to survive 50 days.

Issue #4: No true leader

When multiple co-foundes are involved in a startup things can get tricky. Miscommunications, disagreements and large egos can all get in the way of running a successful business. Defining a single leader and true CEO is the only way to structure a company so that decisions (and progress) can be made. This can be one of the hardest conversations you need to have but it can also be the most beneficial.

Issue #5: “Copycat” business

“We’re the Uber of…”, “We’re the next Facebook…” , “We have the same business model as…” are phrases used all too often in the startup world. If you define your business in terms of how it relates to another business, you don’t have a unique selling proposition. Why is your business different? Why are you unique? You need to be able to answer these questions without even thinking about it. The live streaming app Meerkat was a perfect example of a company that raised a lot of money, was not truly unique and ultimately went out of business.

Issue #6: Poor customer service

The customer is not always right… but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. The purpose of a business is to gain and keep paying customers. Some startup founders believe that customer service is somehow beneath them when, in fact, it’s one of the most important things they could be doing. Upset customers will tell you everything you need to fix, what they don’t like, and what you could improve in your product or service. Happy customers can provide invaluable testimonials that help sell your product to more people. Either way, you can’t ignore feedback.

If you’re able to successfully avoid these major pitfalls within your startup, your chances of success will dramatically increase. The Tandon Group is always interested in helping growing companies get to the next level. If you’re looking to raise capital for your business or expand your offerings within the Indian market please reach out to us. We’d love to learn more about your company and see how we can help.

adminnMost Common Issues We See In Startups Today

7 Enterprising Lessons from Tandon Group on Tackling Staffing Woes

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7 Enterprising Lessons from Tandon Group on Tackling Staffing Woes

Before Tandon could become the preferred supplier for IBM’s floppy disk drives, M.L. Tandon had to solve an urgent problem.

Finding reliable workers.

When M.L. opened Tandon’s first plant in 1978, he faced three significant staffing challenges:

  1. Indian engineers and workers at the time had no knowledge of the technology standards to manufacture floppy recording heads and drives
  2. Because the men who typically filled assembly positions in India could find jobs anywhere, they weren’t loyal to one company
  3. Training this existing labor pool proved costly due to the high turnover and the workers’ lack of experience with international production standards

In a bold move, M.L. Tandon decided to create a skilled workforce from scratch.

“I wouldn’t hire men,” he says. “Women on the other hand were an untapped pool of industrial talent. They have a strong work ethic, loyalty and superior manual dexterity for high-precision electronics.”

Tandon also recruited high school graduates and dropouts. Since they did not have prior experience, they were easier to train and eager to learn higher production standards from the outset.

While today’s startup ecosystem in India is dramatically different from Tandon’s early days, hiring the right talent and staff for your business is still one of the biggest challenges founders face today. Whether you’re recruiting workers or acquiring talent, the people you bring in can make or break your business. To ensure you’re building a solid foundation, consider taking a page from the Tandon Group when it comes to hiring employees.

  1. Don’t compromise
    Like many startup founders, Tandon needed workers fast. M.L. was able to hire the former IBM India employees when he took over the plant after IBM was forced to close in 1977. It would have been fast and easy for Tandon to hire the men who were already filling entry-level assembly positions at the time, but in the long-term it would’ve cost the company significantly in terms of time, money, energy and morale.
  2. Search for employees beyond the usual sources
    In today’s world we have no shortage of sources to find people — career portals, job boards, recruiter websites. But you may find the best people where you least expect it. While technology, recruiters and staffing firms make it easier to connect with candidates, be open to workforce or cultural trends and look for opportunities to tap into different talent pools.
  3. Hire for trainability, passion and positivity in addition to skill
    Not only were the young women that Tandon hired open and eager to learn, they too valued the opportunity and took pride in their work. During one of Tandon’s annual employee art exhibitions, a female employee displayed a picture of a sick man lying on a cot, surrounded by three starving children and the words “I wish I had a son” (to earn money for the family) on the portrait. She made another picture that showed the same man and children, this time happy and with a platter full of food. The words on her second picture said “I don’t need a son because my daughter works at Tandon.”
  4. Have a set of cultural values to hire for
    Some people are so set in their ways, they won’t get behind your values. So be clear about what your values are so you can evaluate candidates for a cultural fit in addition to their skills and expertise. Respect for individuals was a guiding value that M.L. Tandon took away from IBM and integrated into his own company culture. It was also quite uncommon in India at that time since many of the companies treated workers differently than managers. India also had a reputation for producing poor quality goods. Not in Tandon’s plant though. M.L. saw first-hand how corporate efficiency and flawless quality put IBM at the top of the global market and he wanted that for Tandon too. Instead of the typical “chalta hai” philosophy of “good enough”, M.L. would tell workers “chalta hai, nehi” — chalta hai is not okay — whenever he walked the production floor.
  5. Hire people you like, but who aren’t necessarily like you
    Hiring people you like to work with goes along way toward creating the right kind of company culture. But many business owners make the mistake of hiring their clone. When you’re growing a business, keeping conflict to a minimum is a logical instinct. However, hiring people with different but  complimentary skills, strengths, perceptions and even personality will be better for your business in the long run.
  6. Be accessible
    For M.L., quality means continuous improvement. He believes the best way to accomplish that is to instill a sense of empowerment and respect at all levels. By instituting an open door policy for any employee and working in collaboration with employees to solve problems together, M.L. has made it clear that everyone at Tandon is important.“I want my workers to feel like Tandon is just as much their company as mine,” he says.
  7. Foster opportunities for creative and critical thinking
    Hire resourceful people who enjoy tackling tricky problems, then give them the opportunity to do so. Critical and creative thinking forces employees and managers to look at situations in different ways, evaluate solutions that may not have been thought of by an individual alone and come up with the best solution. By fostering opportunities for creativity and critical thinking, Tandon has been inventing, innovating and finding solutions to problems since its inception. Encouraging entrepreneurship among its employees and mentoring talent for the future remains Tandon Group’s passion.
adminn7 Enterprising Lessons from Tandon Group on Tackling Staffing Woes