Vodafone may be one of the largest telecommunications companies in India, but it is not out of touch with the startup ecosystem and believes in working with entrepreneurs.
From working with startups in the category of IoT, cloud, and colocation services, to mobile analytics and marketing, Vodafone has helped businesses scale up using its unique flexi kit.
At the third edition of Future of Work, a YourStory initiative that took place recently, Navnath Wadekar, the General Manager of Startup Business, Digital & Alternate Channels at Vodafone spoke about scaling up startups and touched upon areas where businesses tend to fail in the process.
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Once a business is ready with a product, it is always looking for a partner and a way to distribute. But as a business grows, technology needs tend to change.
“Earlier, we had simple anti-viruses on our desktop. However, as you grow bigger you need to have full-fledged firewalls to safeguard your data points,” Navnath said.
Further, when a business scales, complexities tend to increase, which, if one’s not careful, may render the growth of a company stagnant.
“That’s why startups and SMEs look for mentorships—experts who can come and handhold them, in terms of navigating through the roller coaster ride that is running a business,” Navnath explained, adding that startups often err by turning to funding to fuel growth. This is a mistake, Navnath believes.
How Vodafone is helping startups
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Vodafone is currently helping Startups reach out to the end customer. The first step has been to let startups figure out the right target audience for their product.
“As a teleco we have a subscriber base of around 30 crore,” Navnath said.
Vodafone also provides startups a toll-free service, which is integrated with an interactive voice response (IVR). At the back of the IVR is where you have your agents.
“What typically happens when one starts off with the launch of a product is that the company runs marketing campaigns as well as digital campaigns, following which all queries get rounded off to one single number, and from there on you can configure how you wish to route it, and where you want to route it,” Navnath explained, calling this the most effective way for a startup to reach out to its target audience and then figure out its lead management.
Telecos hold the solution for scaling
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Navnath deemed telecos necessary when it comes to scaling a business as they help startups get access to the right leads, and brings awareness about who is the right target audience for their product.
For instance, the telco helped Diabetacare, a leading diabetes speciality hospital in India, by identifying their target audience on the basis of multiple surrogates.
The two came together and Vodafone helped provide IoT solutions to Diabetacare’s devices. This helped the hospital make real-time connections with its patients.
Vodafone helps IoT companies by giving them connectivity, helping them with hardware, and providing them with a strong platform.
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“Apart from IoT companies and other market services, the other areas we help provide solutions to scale is through managing the connectivity and security," stated Navnath.
Vodafone, he said, is working on a goal of helping startups connect to employees, manage operations, and bring efficiency to the maximum as well as reach customers with zero seepage.
Finally, Navnath elaborated on the flexi kit the telco has brought out for startups.
“Here is an offer. All of you sitting in this room can get a benefit from Vodafone of up to Rs 65,000 as part of our flexi kit, a unique single recharge service option for prepaid users where they can use both data and voice in the same pack without using them separately, and have more flexibility and convenience under one plan."
Vodafone has big plans to work with startups. "We are also planning to conduct mentoring sessions with our execs who are industry leaders and will help you understand how large corporates function, specifically in the distribution vertical, HR vertical, how they manage their finances, and how to evaluate digital channels,” he said.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)
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