Discover | 3 min read | by Diva Shetty

Highlights from Beta and Beyond

Dysco hosted Beta & Beyond on 2nd of March to start a conversation among community members that surround the idea of launching a brand. We had more than 52 entrepreneurs, creators, students, and specialists to make for a very diverse peer-to-peer learning and connecting.

Our speakers Anushka Gupta of PillowTalk, Siddharth Somaiya of Organic Riot, Mikhel Rajani of Naagin Hot Sauce, Varun Goenka of Match Poker and Khrisha Shah of Dysco, were not ‘professional’ speakers. They came to tell their story, learn from others and get feedback from an honest community. With participants connected by shared empathy and frustration, it’s safe to say Beta & Beyond was a success.

Here’s what you missed…

We looked into the stages of:

  • Ideating – concept validation/proof
  • Building – branding/marketing, testing prototypes, reaching out to an audience, teasing potential customers.
  • Launch – taking a business to market, making iterations, pivots

How do you come up with an idea and where do you find inspiration for it?

What our speakers shared, was that inspiration for ideas can come from just about anywhere – most often in the most mundane moments doing day-to-day things, in conversation with your best friends, or just aimlessly watching podcasts in bed.

Mikhel came up with the idea of Naagin while watching Hot Ones. Doling out knowledge while wiping away tears is pretty entertaining – boom! Indians are pretty spicy, let’s make a hot sauce.

Siddharth is passionate about the environment and innovations in healthcare. He thought, I can’t do much about the air people breathe or the food they eat, but maybe I can do something about what they put on their skin? “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” This quote was the seed for Organic Riot.

The inspiration for PillowTalk came about when Anushka and her partners realised there were no platforms where Indians could talk about sex or felt comfortable knowing and understanding the ins and outs “ The most number of people are seeking out their sex answers from a friend, who perhaps is arguably not educated about it.  Others learn about sex for the first time through media, and often from generic queries on the internet. Dysco was created because the co-founders were facing trouble finding agencies, partners and team members in their city.

How do you find an audience or validate your idea?

Ongoing research is critical in validating business ideas. PillowTalk used Facebook targeted surveys. Organic Riot commissioned a review of ingredients. Mikhel did field research and ate chilies by the thousands. The process of gathering information and insight never really ends, it carries on throughout the process of building your product or business and helps improve and modify it in future iterations.

Understanding your audience helps in defining your brand voice, the tone of your content and in choosing a name. For Mikhel, inspiring nostalgia helped design the branding of Naagin. Anushka’s problem was more nuanced, as PillowTalk is figuring out how to relate to diverse audiences across India. Dysco gained validation by testing content on social media and through articles on their blog, using customer responses and insight to design and define the brand language and style.  

How do you persuade your audience?

“How do you convince people to buy a hot sauce online, when they need to taste it first?” Mikhel described how partnering with offline retailers, restaurants and participating in events is key to getting people to experience and feel your product so they can make purchase decisions online. Varun explained how shifting consumer perception of poker as gaming and gambling has taken (and is taking) a long time – by creating relatable advertisements for Match Poker, getting accreditation from international entities, and creating interactive experiences. Organic Riot uses their virtue of honesty and openness to help their audience know their products work. They list all their ingredients on their website; an act that’s questioned by many as ‘too transparent’ but is central to their brand values. Allow your customers to speak for themselves, as they are the best sales force you cannot hire, says Siddharth. Let people see the value you’re giving them, and then put a price on it; that’s what worked for Dysco. Once they believe in your ability to deliver, they’ll be more willing to invest in your product.

How do you know your product is ready to be launched?

“As a business owner, you never leave the building stage. There’s no possible way to have a complete product. After all this time, we still make changes, pivots and it’s all about what works and is the reason why we are always in beta mode- we should always be willing to learn as we never truly know enough,” said Varun. By putting out work in progress, you’re able to make changes much earlier in your product lifecycle. Waiting till you think it’s perfect means a much longer timeline if you want to incorporate feedback. One person said, “I had to launch this product, I spoke about it so much with my friends – they all wanted to try my dips. I wouldn’t worry about the small details. I just put it up on Scootsy and felt relieved knowing it’s on at least one platform – I had to save face.” After talking about your business for months on end, entrepreneurs often feel pressure to show what they’ve been working on. It never feels like there’s a right time, but creating your social media pages is a small and relatively ‘less scary’ step. Begin with that and keep improving and perfecting over time.

 

Some more topics that were explored:

When to change your product vs. waiting for the market to change

How do you know there is a need enough to buy your product?

How do you avoid dealing with tech problems, and others that are not in your control?

How do you create the brand for your business?

How will you ever know it will be perfect enough?

How do you decide the scale and size of your business?

What are the best monetary resources to help growth?

Is going to a VC worth it?

Is social media marketing vital? Before or after launch?

The increasing value of sharing economies

What are the costs and benefits of print advertising vs. digital

How do you build a platform?

 

What attendees said…

“I had a great time. It was so well curated and organized. Loved it.”

“I’ve been telling people that this event was perfect if you were in two minds about anything with respect to your work. The knowledge others tried to share while they were struggling themselves and the insights shared during discussions led to amazing connections. The open networking time also helped in just learning the potential of the people in the room.”

“I’m genuinely so glad I did this! it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but that’s where all the growth happens. It made me more comfortable speaking about the idea openly and was so good to chat to people and get more feedback, ideas etc.”

“An interesting event that brought together a bunch of budding entrepreneurs/young professionals that have ideas but aren’t sure of how to execute and helped them hear of first-hand experiences and struggles from people in a variety of different fields.”

“I got to meet people who aren’t exactly from the VC world. These are real entrepreneurs and I was comfortable sharing my issues with them, the people I met were not intimidating, unlike other events.”

“It was a pleasure to be there. Learned a lot. And had a blast too! Excited for part 2!”

 

The response we received was very fulfilling, we’re so grateful for those who participated, and came by to be a part of the conversation. Due to its success, we will be hosting another Beta and Beyond soon. Stay tuned for that and more upcoming events. 

 

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