“How did you come to know about Startup Village?”

Startup Village – The kid just turned two today!

One of the questions that you almost always come across on one of those feedback questionnaires of companies is this “How did you come to know about us?” It is an attempt to further optimize the marketing activities of the company and the understanding is that the inputs to that answer will be made use of to guide further marketing decisions. It’s a different matter altogether whether companies actually do it or not.

At Startup Village, we have been fortunate to receive a constant stream of applications right from inception. While this was a really good thing to happen, we also were always curious to know how all this applications for incubation support happened and is still continuing. So, from time to time, we also resort to asking the question to people who reach out to us “How did you come to know about Startup Village?”

Rashmi Bansal visiting Anand & Co in their creative den at Startup Village

At the recent community gathering evening at Startup Village, Anand Nair of Backbench Studios (one of our startup founders) shared the story of his entrepreneurial journey to the audience. (Community gathering is a monthly informal meet up event that happens at Startup Village on the third Saturday of the month). The story in itself was really interesting and I guess Anand also ended up turning a tad emotional towards the end. But what I wanted to bring your attention here is to an incident that he narrated. The incident of how he really came to know about Startup Village.

Startup Village Community Gathering – SVCG

So he and his friend decided to start their own company and as is the case with most first time entrepreneurs from our community, was fairly clueless as to how to go about the whole thing. It’s in such a moment that they apparently came to know about Startup Village. He told the audience that he came to read an article about Startup Village in Sambadyam magazine. He also came to realize from the article that the initiative is supported by Kris Gopalakrishnan so he and his friend decided to give it a try. And that’s how he ended up in Startup Village. And any of the standard feedback forms would have captured this under the response choice of “Magazines / Newspapers”. Pretty straightforward right? Hold on to that thought; Anand wasn’t finished with his story of how he came to know about Startup Village.

Startup Village team with Chief Mentor Kris Gopalakrishnan

What Anand then went on to narrate could not have possibly been captured in any feedback form that we have designed to date. And this is where the power of conversations and connections start kicking in. Anand then went on to explain how he came across this Sambadyam article in the first place. His friend had bought home some Parippuvada’s (A Mallu tea time snack) from the nearby tea stall and apparently the paper in which it was wrapped was the Sampadyam article on Startup Village! I have only come across these sort of situations in movies. The one similar to how our dear hero always ends up seated next to a cute girl when he travels; be it train, bus or flights. Just that it almost never happens in real life that way (I have travelled quite a bit over the past 5-8 years and I can certainly vouch that it never happens! :D)

Its only about the conversations that we foster at the end of the day

Now I don’t event want to attempt to calculate the odds of that happening; both in terms of the wrapping paper being the Startup Village article and the fact that Anand actually ended up reading it. No way could I or anyone for that matter have planned that, to reach and connect with someone like Anand, who by the way was exactly the kind of talent that we are looking to support at Startup Village!

While this is an amusing story in itself, the point I want to takeaway from this narration is the fact the way people search & discover information has not been completely understood by us; we haven’t figured it out yet. But what we do know is the fact that this is primarily because of the nature of how information flows through connections and networks. And today, enabled by rapid strides in technology, we are truly in the age of a connection economy. This will further enable the true nature of information flow through networks and connections. And this will mean that, we all will need to fundamentally rethink our approaches to designing our content distribution strategy and getting the word out. Key is in enhancing our understanding of how the connection economy works. We really need to start rethinking how we can figure out the ways and means to ensure that the information reaches the person that is searching for it in this new and fundamentally different economic landscape!