2016 – A leap year, the year of Rio Olympics, Brexit, Elections in the US and Demonetization in India!! Now gone and have become a part of history.
The year started with a great idea, odd-even rule in Delhi. The air pollution in almost all major cities in India is a major problem and the odd-even rule was a right 1st step in curbing this. However, I was not too enthusiastic about this as I was pretty sure this alone is not enough and I always had doubts about Delhi government to do anything meaningful. Of course, the government didn’t disappoint and here we are 1 year later and the pollution problem is worse than last. In this regard, I think like all other things in India, instead of waiting for the government do something, the private sector needs to stand-up and come up with solutions to solve this massive problem. It is our responsibility to not just to ourselves, but more importantly to our kids and the future generations.
At Zenatix, we are trying to do our bit and are committed towards making a difference in building a sustainable planet, and do it at a large scale. We are now 3 years old and like any start-up at this stage, we had our ups and downs. For us, the year gone by was about finding our right place in whole energy efficiency space. At the beginning of the year, we were trying to capture a wide range of customers – large office buildings, hotels, hospitals, large retail chains and bank branches and ATMs. During the course of the year, we finally found the right product market fit and decided to focus only on large retail chains and banking sector. The focus helped us in streamlining our product offering and value proposition. We now have a strong base of almost 20 customers (more than 200 locations), each of whom have a very large presence across the country. The opportunity is now ours to lose and 2017 will be a defining year for us.
2016 was a year when the expectations from the Indian start-ups changed from “growth at any cost” to “profitable growth”. The year was quite subdued in terms of new investments and there was no new “unicorn” investment and the existing ones were left to desperately defend their “status”. We had our fair share of challenges, but I think these provided us an opportunity to focus and introspect and fortunately we have not only survived, but have come out stronger, wiser and ready to push the pedal in 2017.
In many ways, 2016 was a defining year for Indian start-up ecosystem. For many founders and investors, this was the 1st time they were seeing a slowdown and all this was very new. It taught us the value of cost control; the founders finally started to look at metrics that matter; and investors learned the hard way that simply copy pasting a successful business model from the US does not always work in India. While most founders were quick to adjust to the new reality, in my humble opinion, many VC investors are still living in the old world. There are still many for whom the 1st question is always “who is a successful counterpart in the US/China?” followed by “How and when would we get our exit?”. I wish all VCs would be more empathetic and treat the founders as equal partners.
We are very fortunate to have exactly that kind of investors in Blume Ventures and all our angel investors. Many thanks to all our angel investors, Karthik, Sanjay and the whole Blume team for their continuous support and keeping faith in us. We know you all have high expectations from us and we hope to live up to them.
We are also very proud of the team that we have at Zenatix. We have a great bunch of very talented folks, each of whom is fully committed towards our common goal. I would like to thank each one of our employees, without whom we could never have achieved what we did.
In nut shell, 2016 was a year of building a strong base, and 2017 (hopefully) will be a year when we will prove our worth – to ourselves, our peers and to the world.