'Think Inside The Box' To Create An 'Out Of This World' Startup

Vimal Pillai, Head ­ Marketing, SlonkitHeadquartered in Mumbai, Slonkit is an early stage fintech startup that develops solutions that helps younger generations of today spend smart, learn how to save, and also help them develop & practise good money management skills.

Startups by nature are disruptive. They thrive in the lacunae between rigid existing business models and a customer waiting to embrace a better choice. Startups have played a transformational role in ensuring on-demand services to the customer. What have they done differently?

Startups are all about identifying a pressing need, providing a solution which is better than existing options and then driving innovations to improve the solution. They have also followed the customer to the point of their interaction and usage with the products or services available to them. It is becoming increasingly clear that the interaction and usage by customers is through the mobile device in their hands. Hence, startups that have thought inside the box have aligned themselves with the customer and are reaping dividends.

What is 'Thinking Inside the Box'?
As per a recent report by Vserv, the average Indian smartphone user spends 169 minutes per day on his mobile devices. The number of mobile internet users in India is expected to cross 300 million by 2017. It is not difficult to understand where the customer's mindshare is. Smart marketers and startups have realized that they need to `think inside the box' that perpetually adorns the customers palm and enjoys his undivided attention.

Why Do We Need This Approach?
Startups are characterised by a constant state of flux. They have a basic product and then a virtuous cycle of research, product innovations, marketing, customer feedback and newer versions. `Time' is invaluable and limited; so startups must accelerate growth to stay afloat. While they must be operationally agile, they must also have an efficient mechanism to gauge customer's response to enhancements in realtime. This leaves the startup with the smartphone as the best option to elicit these responses, learn, rebuild, grow and accelerate.
The 'Think Inside the Box' Process
Each startup would have customers who range from outstanding to very poor in terms of understanding a UI and offering the desired response. Hence, thinking about the customer when he sees you (the startup brand) in that box becomes very important. The first and most importance part of the process becomes creating a well thought customer journey and allied UI and UX. Once the startup becomes good at the art of walking the customer seamlessly through the mobile app and garnering a response, it would be important to ensure that the data, especially the transactional data, from the customer is stored efficiently and analysed. The third element in this process is constant communication through in-app means such as notifications, polls, contests and many more.

The unicorn startups of today have leveraged this approach to create immense value for their customers and stakeholders.

Reduced Turnaround Time for Innovations & New Marketing Strategies
Traditionally, marketing would rely on a smart creative campaign and a robust media plan to gain mindshare of the customer. Now, with data coming into the picture and technology enabling the last echelon reach, marketers can tweak plans realtime. Hence, the turnaround time for innovations and for new marketing strategies has reduced, resulting in obvious benefits and loyalty for a startup's product or service.

Expanding their Repertoire of Offerings
Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber said that if Uber could bring transport to you in five minutes, the possibilities were unimaginable. By thinking about the customer and the interactions within the box, startups can expand their repertoire of services and accelerate growth. The more you make the customer interact in the box, the better it is in terms of taking datadriven decisions to drive app usage, engagement and growth. It also ensures that new offerings are backed with some serious customer insights, thus enhancing the probability of its success.

Augmenting Contextual Factors
Startups that have a robust SEO, SEM and social media strategy can ensure that their brand is seen by the customer when they need it the most. This leads to a definite increase in downloads of the mobile app and often, converts a prospect into a customer. I am sure you would have installed an app from a link on Facebook or Instagram only because it was creative and seemed to address a need for you.

Enhancing Convenience
If startups can visualize how the customer interacts in the box, they will find cues to enhance convenience for the customer and thus ensure that he sticks to the product. Slonkit, being India's favourite money management app for youngsters and children, has a 3 click mobile recharge feature. By understanding the pattern of recharge and payments, the customer is now given a one-click option to populate all details such as name of operator, bill amount and make the payment. The reduction of two clicks enhances convenience for the user and drives them back to the app, each time they need this service.

The Game of Startups Thrones
There are many startups which are trying to address the same problem in different ways. It leads to healthy and exciting competition, with customer being the centre of all attention and affection. It is inevitable that they must stay relevant by reinventing themselves every day. In this game of thrones, the one that will sit on the iron throne will be an 'Out of this World' startup with a 'Think inside the box' DNA.