Aditya Jaishankar
Guest Article

Why investors are the best consumers

While we constantly look at the investors as a breed, who need to be convinced and persuaded, perhaps, we should look at them from another perspective.

The pitching process to the investors has been glorified within the start-up ecosystem. The end objective is, of course, winning and convincing the investors to invest in the business. While we constantly look at the investors as a breed, who need to be convinced and persuaded, it is time to, perhaps, look at them from another perspective.

Aditya Jaishankar
Aditya Jaishankar

Maybe a more simple human perspective. A perspective that will make the time spent on the investment process even more fruitful and fulfilling, irrespective of the result. Perhaps, broaden the vision beyond just winning and losing.

Here are a few points that can be considered:

It's about persuading not just an investor, but also a consumer.

An investor is the best Devil's Advocate

In certain product categories, especially the B2C ones, the investor can step into the shoes of not just one consumer, but several types of consumer and play the Devil’s Advocate. The investor will ask questions, like why should a parent pay a certain price for your app? What is it so unique? Can you make it more flexible for the parent and kid to gain entry into your product, or service?

This is rich feedback with suggestions that, perhaps, no amount of consumer research may give you. The reason is that the investor has tapped into the personal connection that he has with your product as a parent. The investor has imagined how other parents, who are his immediate connections, would have reacted to the product, its convenience, price, the value it offers in a kid's life, etc.

By virtue of evaluating products and services across categories, the investor can quickly think across categories and provide a multidimensional consumer perspective.

For example, an investor’s questions led us to ensure that we have top safety regulations in place for a platform for children below 13, where they could share their creativity with other kids across the country. By ensuring these regulations are in place, the investor has ensured that the parents can now sign into our app with confidence and allow their children to freely express their natural creativity.

An investor can be the most creative consumer

We all know how user-generated ideas have captured the imagination of today's marketers. Many consumers, when allowed to wear a creative hat, can come up with ideas that leave even marketing and advertising folks in awe.

When an investor is evaluating your brand and its potential to scale up, he sometimes puts on the lateral thinking hat. He thinks of the angles from a consumer's perspective that can, perhaps, bring out a consumer opportunity that lies untapped.

Gone is the age of just a USP (unique single-minded proposition) that was enough to make the product's owner happy. Being constantly ahead of the curve is the name of the game. The only way to achieve this is to keep thinking of new opportunities, rather than rest on the laurels of one big idea. Investors ask the right questions that sometimes naturally open up a new discovery, or an untapped product opportunity for your brand.

An investor advised a storytelling app on how it could bring certain elements of learning, like vocabulary improvements, in a fun and subtle manner, without taking away from the primary objective of storytelling. Weaving language fluency in a natural manner was a good value addition and acted as an additional incentive for parents to use the app.

A rigorous evaluator of the product experience

Once an investor joins hands with you, there is an objective feedback that goes into ensuring that over a period of time, the product that is being built has a superlative experience, as nothing less than the best will do. Objective feedback on each dimension of the product can significantly impact the business.

There are innumerable stories of investors testing products with the consumer tech space, and even in the FMCG space. They test it themselves rigorously and are able to spot certain gaps in the experience, which even the brand custodians may miss. When it comes to consumer tech products, like apps, they have an unusual eye for detail and come up with the so-called minor flaws, which can have a major impact on the product experience.

So, let us look at every investor start-up meet as an opportunity to dig up a goldmine of insights and strategies that can help a start-up pivot to its maximum potential in the future. Remember, an investor can represent millions of consumers out there, when he or she is talking to you. By listening to the voice of the investor, you are, perhaps, soaking in the diverse perspectives of consumers.

(Hero Image Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels)

(The writer is founder of kids storytelling app MaPa and former VP, planning, JWT. He has also authored 'Beyond the comfort zone' - a book about the tears, fears and cheers in the life of a single migrant)