Starting a business is the first step for any entrepreneur. Scaling up is the next milestone that everyone awaits. Many questions arise during this process –
- What is needed to scale up?
- How do you prepare for this big step?
- How to find an investor?
- Are we really ready?
The list seems endless.
We invited Gita Ramanan, the Co-Founder – Design Café to talk about scaling up. She has been instrumental in exponentially growing her business. Beginning with just a team of 2 people, today Design Café has raised funds of INR 35 million. It has 1000 + employees across 3 different cities in India with over 5000 + completed projects.
Chasing a Dream
The initial days of business make a difference. Here a few key learnings from Gita’s experience –
Schedule your days
Business is about investing your time productively. It is important to budget your time on a calendar. Every activity needs to be accounted for. When you are working day and night for your business, it’s essential that you utilize your time effectively.
Grow your network
According to Gita, with over a decade of experience working for architectural firms, it was easy to obtain smaller interior projects. For bagging bigger projects, growing the business network was essential. It is how Gita prioritized to attend business networking events. This has played an important role in spreading the word about Design Café.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Not everyone can understand your dreams and aspirations. It is common to see discouragement from close friends and relatives to pursue higher goals. That’s why, Gita and her set of like-minded friends, formed a small group called Entrepreneurial Think Tank. In this group, the members discussed openly their businesses. In her words, “we learn from our peers as much as we learn from reading or from online courses”. The support group has helped Gita and her friends to think big and gain from each other.
Preparation for Funding
According to Gita, one should answer these questions before thinking of funding-
- Do I really need funding?
- Why do I need funding?
Gita explains funding is needed when a business needs to aggressively scale up. For example, if a product with a minimum margin is viable only when it is produced in mass. Or when a tech-based company needs to reach to different sets of people in the world.
How to look for an investor?
There are thousands of investors in the business world today. It takes detailed research to know which investor suits your business. An investor with lifestyle business experience, will not be interested to invest in a B2B business.
Hence, it is important to know your investor before you approach them for funding needs. For Design Café, the investor was finalized after understanding who would show interest and understand an interior design company.
How to pitch to an investor?
Gita emphasizes on the importance of in-depth research before the pitching process. Once this process is done with precision, the major parts of a pitch shall include-
- What is your business?
- Why will the customer need your business?
- How will you make money from the business?
- How will you scale up?
- What is your team?
According to Gita, the above points contribute to a strong pitch. A well-researched pitch along with solid work experience played a vital role in bringing the funds to Design Café.
Valuable Tips for Business Growth
- Build a competent team
- Assign responsibilities
- Trust in their abilities
- Make them accountable
- Imbibe company’s vision
- Keep yourself in good health
- Build relationships with your people – Employees, Customers, and Investors.