We are publishing an interview of Mr. Devesh Chawla, Founder and CEO, Chatur Ideas
About the founders
Devesh Chawla is one of the most sought after Speaker, Mentor & Investor not only in India but even overseas. Devesh is a mentor and investor himself and has worked with hundreds of startups including Catapooolt, Strike, Orbit Marketplace, Maax Market, Market Pulse, Hubilo, Intuit Things, Cloudrino and many more. He has been awarded with “Mahatma Gandhi Samman” Award which is given to only 25 Indians all over the world. He is on the Mentor Panel of Jharkhand Government. He has been awarded with the “Youth Leadership Award” felicitated by Trade Commissioner of Canada. He has represented India in the India-Nepal Summit. He is also part of the Think Tank Series on the National IPR Policy.
Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: Miten Mehta, Subhrangshu Neogi, Shwetank Shrimal, Amit Patel, Bhavin Shah, Dewang Neralla and Umasankar Nistala.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: Mr. Devesh Chawla wanted to start a business in the field of hailing cabs and create a model similar to Ola. He had created a beautiful model and reached to prospective mentors in the industry to seek guidance but all of them told him not to pursue this business as it is meant only for people with political connects and managing unions. He was told that it is a traditional business and not meant for new age entrepreneurs. After his idea being disapproved by so many industry veterans, he thought maybe its not meant for him. He joined an organisation where he managed wealth of ultra HNIs and invested for them in India and abroad in equity, debt, real estate, etc. He was enjoying his career until 2012 where he read in the news that Ola Cabs enters 1000 crore club. He realised that there is nothing that a new age entrepreneur cannot do and its the wrong set of people he met who couldn’t guide him in the right direction. He then thought of creating an ecosystem or platform for startups where entrepreneurs get the right guidance from industry mentors and investors. The journey started that day and today his platform Chatur Ideas has worked with over 750 startups with 1500 investors from India & USA put together. There are mentors and investors from Google, JP Morgan, Religare, KPMG and many more. His platform ensures that any entrepreneur that comes to their platform is guided in the best manner to achieve excellence. Thousands of entrepreneurs have benefitted from this platform across all sectors and stages. The success stories are immense from startups and investors who have invested through their platform
Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: 1. Mentoring : Chatur Phoenix Club : After a huge demand from our startups, we have started Chatur Phoenix Club which has received overwhelming response. Due to this huge response, we have now restricted to take only 50 new members every week. Features of Chatur Phoenix Club are 1. 3-5 hours of mentoring from industry experts in the field of the entrepreneur’s choice. 2. Access to 5 of our events in a year where they get access to pitch and interact with industry mentors and investors. 3. Free Digital Marketing for 1 month and 1 free PR article. 3. Access to a curated group of 15 startups who are from different sectors. 4. Access to Chatur community to increase business and sales. 5. Access to Chatur Ideas services at subsidised rates. Because of our huge community and network of mentors and investors comprising from top brands of the world including Google, JP Morgan, KPMG, Silicon Valley accelerator, etc, we are bale to open lot of doors for our startups and at the same time ensure that these mentors spend enough time with the startups to guide them and open doors through their network.
2. Fund raising: We raise funds through our network of 1500 investors from India & US. To name a few of our startups that we have raised funds for; are Catapooolt, Hubilo, Market Pulse, Cloudrino, Strike and many more.
3. Go to Market Assistance : We have an in-house team of experts for digital marketing for generating leads, creating a brand and various go to market strategies for our clients. We have a strong team for offline and online go to market support for our startups. It also includes increasing sales and revenues of these startups with our market expertise and building a strong network. We also help with Business Negotiations, BuildingSales T eams & Client Acquisitions, Go to Market, Legal & Compliance, Pitch-deck, Valuations & Due Diligence.
4. Entrepreneurship Training Programs : We have acquired Nurture Talent Academy (NTA) which has trained over 34,000 entrepreneurs across 450 colleges. After acquiring them, today Chatur Ideas works with over 600 colleges all over India where we run our entrepreneurship training programs with senior trainers all across India. We also provide joint certification with IIT Bombay Ecell for their Illuminate series of workshops all over India. Our training programs have benefitted thousands of young talent.
Q.8: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have atleast one of them signed up?
Ans: When we entered the market, we were not sure what we were actually going to do. We were very disturbed at that point of time, but over a period of time, the market itself thaught us what is the best way and now we are able to manage our customers easily. An ideal customer for us is anyone who needs help in growing their business and we have signed many of them. We do not have a big figure of an idealistic customer. Anyone and everyone who needs help and to whom we can add value and those who feel happy by coming on-board with Chatur Ideas are an ideal customer for us and we have plenty of these.
Q.9: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Ans: The pricing of the products is completely different. Whether someone needs funding, mentoring, go-to market or only training, its different. We don’t believe in Free products because we think that we are able to add value to our customers and if they are not happy, we are always there to resolve their issues. We don’t work with trying to entice them with this, because this is more of a pull-product than a push-product.
Q.10: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: It was through a cold-call.
Q. 11: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: The big picture of our company is to take India on the Global Innovation Index in the top 5, where we are currently ranked pretty low at around 67, and we are doing it by helping more and more entrepreneurs. When we started Chatur Ideas, we had an aim of working with around 250 startups within 5 years but in less than 3 years, we have connected with 750+ startups and we have constantly been beating up our timelines and aims that we had set for ourselves.
Q. 12: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: I think we can get the pulse of the market. There are a lot of other people who want to be in the market just for the namesake, but the difference that we build is that we actually spend some quality time with our customers on the ground rather than having an aerial view, we have an on ground view of our customers’ problems and the uniqueness that we have is the willingness to work with them 24/7 and keep them as our first priority and nothing else.
Q. 14: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
Ans: Ideally speaking, everyone can be your competition in this business and everyone can be your friend. But the approach that we have taken is that we have got everyone on-board as our partner and we are working together as a team because we believe “If you want to run fast, you have to be alone but if you want to move far, you have got to be together.” Hence, we have chosen the latter path and got everyone together and we are walking ahead together. Today, we are partners with not only Indian entities but also many international entities as well.
Q. 15: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: In the next 6 months, our goal is to help another 200 startups and add a value to their life and a smile on their faces.
Q. 16: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: I feel every entrepreneur must have three things in them. First one is “Focus”. We have seen or heard about the Mahabharat where Guru Dronacharya was teaching archery to his students. He called Duryodhan and asks him what all can he see, he said he could see the bird, trees, cloud, etc. Then he calls Yudhishthir and asked him the same question, he said he could see the bird’s peak, bird’s face and other things. Dronacharya then sends him back and calls Arjun and asked him the same question, where he replied that he could see only the bird’s eye. He then shoots and as we know, he was the best archer at that time because he was very focused. That’s what is the most significant thing needed from the entrepreneurs. Second is “Discipline”. Nowadays, what happens is these entrepreneurs get easy money from venture capitalism, mutual investors, etc. They first had a very fragile life but as soon as they get investors’ money, they start spending it lavishly on various insignificant things and the discipline at which they were growing their business suddenly goes for a toss and the downturn begins. Hence its very important that the discipline has to maintained. Third is “Perseverance”. We all know that Colonel Sanders started KFC at the age of 65 and he knocked 1009 doors before he got his first customer. Thomas Edison had performed 10,000s of experiments before he invented electricity. So its very important to have perseverance in your life. If you have these three qualities, you will turn out to be agreat entrepreneur.