Response to Questions: 1. Why are you interested in working with a start-up?Being part of start-up allowsme to be invested in the organization from the beginning, which is something Ihave always to be part of, as opposed to doing a job in a big company andsitting behind a desk all day. I can be more engaged, participate in variousaspects of the business, learn the challenges and ways of the corporate worldin a much more interesting manner and above all, convert theoretical knowledgeinto practical application. Start- ups offer more flexibility and innovationthan established businesses, which is the type of work environment in which Iperform best. When I was working with a group of marketers for a start-up aspart of a competition, I realised how difficult it was to build a business fromscratch. In the marketing aspects for which I was responsible, which wascompetition analysis and making the distribution channel, the challenges facingme were enormous and complex.
But instead of being put down by them, I foundmyself enjoying the excitement of overcoming the challenges. For example, thestart-up for which I was analysing the competition, I found that thecompetition had a huge head-start, because they had started a GoFundMe campaignand garnered a massive amount of funds, to the tune of $50,000 in a week. Thisput our clients in a disadvantage, as they had not yet sourced out financialchannels.
So, I recommended that our client start a campaign of their own assoon as they could, and start making partnership before the product was ready.This would allow them to have a customer base, through the partners beforehand,through which they could raise funds. As for the distribution channels, ourclient’s products were a bit heavy and had to be distributed in the leastexpensive way possible. Given that, I devised a route that would allow them touse air and road transport together to reduce costs. It included pickup from apre-determined location, transported to a distribution centre for collection byanother company, which would then send it via plane to the intended recipient’scity, where another company would collect from the airport and deliver it tothe customer’s door. This reduced their distribution costs by about 15% ascompared to their original plan of using only one company throughout. All thismade me want to work with a start-up, as opposed to a conventional andestablished company.
2. How would you describe your approach to developing astart-up? The most important thing inany business is the people. The product can be great, the structure of theorganization can be brilliant, but if the people are not taken care of, then itwill not matter in the end.
So, the first thing the company will have to do isset up a way to effectively manage its people. Logic would dictate that themanagement use the existing HR literature and evidence to make its HR policiesand practices. In truth, many researchers have begun to abandon these practicesin search of new and relevant practices. For example, the practice of givingemployee scores, based on which promotions, bonuses, recognition and evenfiring is done is widespread. General Electric had a practice of firing itsbottom 10% every year. But such practices prove to be counter-productive andoften result in reduced efficiency, profits, higher labour turnover and badmorale. So, the company will not follow the trend of popular practices.
It willevaluate the practices which have been proven to be effective, even if they arenot well-known. This will result in the company having practices which suittheir needs, employees, and more specifically long-term goals. According to Patrick Vermeren,over 2/3 of employees complain of not being engaged in the organisation, whichlead to many firms losing their best employees. The company can avoid this byfollowing a simple plan, designed by Simon Sinek. It can make sure itsemployees are sure of why they are there in the company and what they are doingis important. By giving them varied tasks, and building on their skills andtraining, employees will feel more invested in the company. This is long termHR functions, but the foundations can be laid from the start, especiallystarting with the founders or the management.
Another aspect of the HR that canbe looked at is the reward system. Employees receiving rewards that do notenhance their work skills or help them in their work, report that such rewardssoon lose their appeal. So, overall, employee satisfaction will have to beanalysed thoroughly to ensure, that the workforce will remain productivethroughout. After the HR functions have been drafted, the company can focus onthe marketing, distribution and selling of the product. The steps and the planto do so are detailed in the following paragraphs. The first step would be tofind sources of capital, and then finance most of the business through loans.The capital must be gathered so that the debt-equity ratio is not too offbalance, and the business has some cash-on-hand for unforeseen circumstances.Loans can be secured through bank loans, government schemes, private funding,private loans etc.
Since, each method has its pro and cons, each of them willhave be analysed and evaluated with respect to future repayment capability,cash flows, interest charges and any other facilities that come with the loansand the institution from which the loan is secured. If the company wants toissue shares, the requirements for doing so must be met, such as minimum amountof share and capital required to be put on the market, finding investors,making capital reserves etc. Financing the business early on will enable it totake decisions quickly without having to worry too much about money, and willalso hedge it against exchange rate fluctuations, external and internal marketshocks. Second, the product must bemarketed to the public to create demand, even if the product has not beenfinished at that point in time. Creating product awareness early in thebusiness will enable it to have high product turnover, and prevent unnecessaryinventory costs and charges. Advertisements on social media sites such as Facebook,YouTube etc. will help reach a larger audience without costing too much money,and the word can be spread around more easily.
Given that, most of the time,people are buried in their phones, such advertisements are more likely to catchtheir eye than billboard advertisements. Electronics fair, and such variousfairs can be used to demonstrate the product to the public, giving them a clearidea of its uses and benefits. For the company in question, some of themarketing points are explained below. The advantages of the productare that it provides a cheap alternative to fuel, which is expected to becomemore expensive, even though the prices dropped this year. It is expected tocost around $2.36 per litre, up from $2.25 per litre. Consequently, a gallonwould cost around $10 to $11 dollars, whereas recharging with the machine wouldcost them around $4 to $5 dollars.
This would appeal to businesses who arelooking to reduce fuel costs for their fleet. Another example would be theQueensland Super Highway, which is being built with EV in mind. It is reportedto have 18 charging stations and would stretch from Gold Coast to Cairns.
Setting up a service centre over there could be advantageous, as cars couldavail of our service if, for example, a station was too full or notoperational. Also, another marketing point could be the horror of running outof charge on the highways between cities. Tesla reports that a 10 to 80 percentcharge is enough to get from one station to another, and the car can travelaround 270 km on this much charge. This could be a problem if one is travelingfrom Canberra to Sydney, over 330 km. Any miscalculation of charge could leavethe individual stranded on the highway, with no charging station in sight. Another point would be that homeand office charging stations cost about $2500, not including maintenance.
Someof these even need special cables to be used or else the car will not getcharged. This adds up to about $5000 just to charge a single car. Buying suchmachines for a fleet of cars would require the business to purchase multipleunits, as well as take out maintenance and insurance contracts, which adds tothe expense.
Compared to that, the company’s portable charging machines cost afraction of that. The machine not only saves expenses, and encourages EV, itcan also negate the hassle of maintaining the machines, as there is no usereffort apart from booking the machine. Government departments dedicated to theadoption of EV in the economy, can be contacted to inform them of the company’sproducts, and ask for help in getting into the mainstream. Such contracts wouldgive the company good standing and are a safe option for generating capital. Third, after marketing theproduct, customer orders will have to be received in a systematic manner sothat any complaints or returns can be tracked and logged. Online sites can beused to receive orders and then the orders can be dispatched from a warehouseor retailer.
At the start, the least expensive option will have to be chosen andsome compromise will have to made on distance and/or time. Tracking orders isimportant as the business wants to promote loyalty and build a repeating clientbase. Following up and offering after sales services will help them to do so,and allow them to gauge customer satisfaction with the product and service. Ifthe app is up and running, the orders will be catalogued and keptsystematically, so that if any customer regularly avails of the service, thecompany can offer him/her a discount or some special offer to promote loyaltyand build a base. Fourth, the method ofdistribution of the product must be planned. As a start-up, availing of schemeslarge logistics companies such as DHL, FedEx have can help in moving theproduct at low costs. The route options, i.
e., road, rail, air, or ship optionswill be evaluated with respect to cost and speed. The size of the product willalso make a difference, because some companies have size limitations on some oftheir air and road options. International deliveries will cost more butcompanies like DHL have different options with variation in time and cost,which can be used to reduce distribution expenses. After this, a distributioncentre can be set up to enable faster movement to different locations andelimination of middlemen along the logistics chain.
In this case, the machinewill have to be kept on the move so that it can be sent to any location quicklyand the customer will not have to wait for long. For this, a van can be used asthe machines weighs 50 kg and is bulky. The above plan will havevariations and changes, depending on the situations that present itself to thecompany. Drafting a foundation for a start-up will have gaps in it as manyproblems do not present itself until the later stages of operation, such changein laws or employee turnover problems due to some external or internal issue.
The above plan for a start-up is a basic plan that can be built upon andimproved to suit the company’s needs. 3. Where do see yourself in 3 years? In 3 years, I want to get an eithera marketing or logistics job in a company which allows me to freely explore thecorporate world, and learn new methods of business. I want to use theopportunity of working with the company to learn new ways to develop my ownskills and keep moving up the corporate ladder, working for the some of theleading companies that excel in these fields. The objective in doing so is tosee how companies that move the world, operate, and function on day to daybasis. For this reason, I studied at ANU to get a glimpse into the suchcompanies’ workings.
After doing so, one of goalsis to perhaps further my education and take on research into HR, marketing, orlogistics, to expand my understanding of such industries. This can be donethrough the job, but researching through university offers more freedom andoften less constraints. This is a secondary goal of mine, the first beingworking in one of the top companies of the industry. So to conclude, in 3years, I see myself working up the corporate ladder to achieve my primary goal,which is to learn and explore the corporate world to the fullest.