Ash Kumra on Getting Your Startup to Start…Up.


We are here today with award-winning entrepreneur, author, and public speaker Ash Kumra. He’s been written about in articles and magazines, he’s been on talk shows, in fact, he’s made it all the way to the white house, recognized not just once but twice! We are going to pick his brain to get some insight on getting that startup to start.. up

Ash Kumra Business Innovators Interview - Tavis BucklinQ  Ash, can you tell me a little about your background?

A  I consider myself a Media Entrepreneur. What that means is that I build ventures that can elevate other people to get information and be inspired to achieve their dreams and goals. Right now, what I’m working on is an entrepreneur media company called Youngry, which stands for “The Young and Hungry.” It’s spelled Y-O-U-N-G-R-Y. is the place where you can see it. And, basically, my inspiration behind this is there are so many awesome stories out there on the young and rising kind of entrepreneurship scenes, across the globe. And, at the same time, there are all these heroes out there that can inspire young and hungry entrepreneurs.

So, I wanted to create an entrepreneur media platform to showcase the stories of our heroes and also highlight the updates that the young and hungry entrepreneurs globally are doing. My partner on this is a very well-known product entrepreneur, Ankur Garg. He’s the chief strategy officer of SHREDZ, which is an uber, uber, uber successful fitness supplement, kind of brand and lifestyle company.

Q  You have been around the block in getting projects like these funded. Is it possible for someone with a good idea for a business and no pitching experience to get funding?

A  Absolutely. And, let me tell you the number one way that you can get funding. It’s when you exude passion or you have relevant experience in something. I always use this moniker that passion… You do something based on a passion, not on a trend.

 Here’s an example.

Let’s say you want to create a tennis social network and someone’s like, “Well, why do you want to do that?” You’re like, “Well, here’s the reason. Because there’s a lot of money in tennis.” Okay, fair enough. Let’s say it’s the quality of the product tanks and the user based tanks, because you did it for the money reasons, because there’s a trend in tennis, you are like “I’m going to be out of this business. I lost.” But, if you’re passionate about tennis, you’re like, “Hey, I want to do this because I’m a former tennis player.” Or “I’ve been on a tennis team.” Or “I’ve identified the tennis market is something big and vital.” … And, you’re like, “I want to create something like this because I couldn’t find this on Facebook.” Then, you’re like, “Hey, this is my opportunity to create a movement.” And, let’s say the company doesn’t do well still. You’ll just pivot. You’ll find a way to improve it. Because you’re in it for the long run. That is the passion that I’m talking about.

Investors see that in someone, if they’re truly passionate about something. Because, they know that it’s a long term game and they know that the people they want to invest in aren’t just trying to make a quick buck. Sure, they want to make money, but the best exited, or acquired, businesses or long term ROI type plays are the ones where the passion driven entrepreneurs live, not the trend based entrepreneurs.

Q  What kind of preparation does someone need to do this? What are the essentials to a good pitch and how can they affect your odds of getting funded?

A  Okay, so we’re getting down to the funding… pitch funding fundamentals.

At the end of the day, what is a big problem and what is a solution? So, for instance, with Youngry, the problem is that there wasn’t a lot of media and promotions around this young and hungry group of entrepreneurs. Which, you know, if you look at that whole age range, it’s over … It’s, you know, across the world it’s well over a billion plus people, identified as entrepreneurs or want-to-be entrepreneurs, what not. The solution is a media platform, for instance.

Using that tennis example, what is the problem?

There isn’t any social network for the tennis players. So, therefore, you decide to create a solution that can give them that platform that can do that. If your problem solution is so compelling, it’s such a simple like, “Wow, oh my God” opportunity, then that is usually the first step. The next step is we talk about “What is it that you do differently?”

“Why you?”

Your background, your experience. Leverage… such as do you have any deals in place?

Do you have great team experience?

Do you have relevant experience to do this?

Do you have patents in place?

Of course, the revenue model. If you haven’t made money yet, do you have front?

Say, listen, we’ve been focused on growing the model. We’ve been focused on building it. But, this is how we’re going to make money based on our data and based on our experience, how it can make money. And, be realistic. And, also, you want to state your competition. Don’t ever say there’s no competition. There’s always competition. And, there’s other factors, too, but I think also you have to be very clear in what you’re asking for. Don’t say “I’m looking for ten million dollars” if you just need half a million to get the thing started to reach from Point A to Point B. There is a Point Z out there, but it’s easier to first show some traction before asking for bigger money.

Q what about kick starter type programs? That’s a good way to do right?

A  I think doing crowd funding programs, i.e. Kickstarter, IndiGoGo and other types of programs is one of the best ways to get social proof. You’re proving to an investor that you’re getting sales. Anyone purchases your products on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo or whatever crowd funding platform is going to automatically be in … is automatically a customer and they are a future product purchaser of that product. And, it also shows an investor, “Hey, I have all these amazing, loyal people. Here’s my fan base. What do you think?” So, that’s … I think it’s the greatest thing to do.

Tavis Bucklin

Tavis Bucklin is a #1 Best-selling author, and contributing iReporter for CNN covering leaders in Business, Health, and Personal Development.Tavis has been published in ABC, CNN, NBC, FOX and Forbes Magazine among other outlets.