May 31, 2015

Mentors & Marketing- The Two Secret Weapons Of Successful HANA Startups


Hari Guleria has been mentoring SAP HANA startups since 2010. It is this mentoring that resulted in the world’s largest SAP HANA Social networking group and regular events at SAP Palo Alto since then. Hari Guleria is the VP for SAP HANA Business Solutions at Pridevel, bottoms up SAP HANA Services Company with unique ‘HANA Game Changers’.

“I’ve pitched my ideas to over 20 investors..” a founder recently told me. He’d met with more than 50 potential investors before closing an angel seed round after participating in one of our events in Palo Alto two years ago. This seems excessive but his experience is quite normal.

Before getting any further lets first level the playing field with three baselines:-

Baseline 1: Entrepreneurs are of two types. The first are the technocrats who know the technology and the innards of their ideas and their codes  but little on the potential business value impact it can have for a customer, or how to refine and communicate that. The second are the business solution and benefit experts who understand what the market needs and are not locked into the nitty-gritty technical details of the technology as a means to every end. All successful startups keep these two roles extremely water-tight preventing any possibility of overlaps. This is the first constant. It takes two to tango and neither partner must ever try to step into the shoes of the other for whatever reason. Our best case here is Steve Jobs and Steve Woz – the perfect symphony and operational roadmap for a startup

Benefit Factor: Make sure your GTM tasks are clearly defined for these two roles. Strategic success comes from a near-zero desire for either role to interfere with the other. Identify your GTM lead and your technical lead and let each take their respective decisions.

Baseline 2: What type of work do spend your time doing in a day, week, month or your current project

  1. Business Benefit + Value Add Work: this is focused work that delivers benchmarked and acid test business benefits or adds to the bottom line of the organization. This can include direct value work and indirect value work – but where the focus is business benefit.
  2. Necessary Work (Non-value added): This work includes meetings, email replies, defining foundations and basic business work. These may be non-value but necessary  to maintain business continuity.
  3. Unnecessary Work (Rework and all-other work): This represents work that needs to be done again, work that is still trying to deliver what was not achieved the first time or work assigned that does not, or will not deliver Business Benefit at the end. This also includes all technical development with heads deep into personal projects without any external or business/end user feedback from start to end – we call this an isolated technocratic development.
  4. Not working (breaks): This includes coffee breaks, catnaps, week-ends, holidays, blanking out moments, driving and other non-work activities we do on a daily basis. 
    Benefit Factor: Make sure your team spends their maximum time on work stream 1,2 and 4 with a goal for minimize/mitigate all possibilities of # 3.
    Baseline 3: Market penetration or awareness is a most critical part of any idea or startup. The current benchmark is 1 million. It starts with how long did it take your website take to get a million views? It then proceeds to how long it took a company to sell 1 million units? And so on.
    For SAP HANA we have a unique solution that we are releasing for mature and startup companies that will be declared on our HANA social networking group
    Benefit Factor: Identify your shortest route to your 1 million. This must be a high focus once you believe that you have a great SAP HANA ideal/solution. A solution that delivers highest quality at the lowest cost. Quality here is represents  viewers who are actually interested in your business offer. Start with how to get a million views to your idea and see how readers respond.
    Entrepreneurs spend hundreds of hours getting to raise funds from angel and venture capital investors. While these activities are important the experience of recruiting great mentors is irreplaceable. The two factors that can increase a company’s odds of success more than anything else are awareness and the right mentors. Startups can have great ideas and solutions but unless you get the market to listen to your solutions you could lie in a state of limbo and simply spend faster than you earn and end in a financial spiral of death. Decide the value of a million views to your idea and then proceed to find solutions..
    Busting some urban myths
    We studied many companies that went from 0 to 10 million and then from 10 million to 100 million exits and found a mix of myths and patterns to success.
    Some startup myths are

  1. Having a great idea is all it takes.
  2. If you build it they will come. If your product is great you do not need to market it
  3. Starting a company in college is a sure way to stellar success
  4. If you have not been at MIT or Stanford forget it
  5. If you have not made it by 30 then you’ll never do it

Startup myth busters.

  1. Everyone has ideas very few can execute them. Less than 3 % of ideas get into an Alpha phase. Out of these less than 5% get noticed. Out of these less than 3% get a million views and/or get funded. So if there are  10,000 people with  ideas then only 300 of these will be productized and a website created. Even if each of these ideas is exceptional only 15 will be noticed. Out of this only 9 will get over a million views that puts you into the game
  2. Just because you have built a great solution is no guarantee that people will come. There is a whole world of marketing, awareness and getting those first 6 to 10 paying customers that are willing to say good things about you. Remember 9 out of 10,000 will get here
  3. There are enough examples to prove that if you missed building a great solution in college does not mean you missed the starting gun. According to reports 95% of successful startups are by people not still in college.
  4. It is people and their passion that make the greatest startups and not necessarily great institutions. Institutions help but are not the only Launchpad’s. Statistics of successful startups only from premier institutions is contrary to reality. Over 96% successful companies that either exited at over $100 million or operate at over $1 billion do not have a startup background from any great well heard of university. Some folks may have later taken a short course in a big institution but that is all. Steve Jobs the greatest startup of today was from Homestead High and Reed College. Steve Woz also from from Apple, once again was from Homestead High school, De Anza college and Berkley – both  representing  one of the  greatest technical startup partner standing. Elon Musk was from Pretoria Boys high, Queens University with one year at Stanford and some at Wharton.
  5. Same as # c).


Our analysis indicated that most of the successful startup companies had strong personal connections with founders of other companies and network influencers.

Most of the successful companies had been either mentored by top-performing founders and or top thought leaders in their respective business areas. More than 33%  of founders who were mentored by successful entrepreneurs and business mentors went on to become top performers. This factor had a 300% positive impact when compared to other companies without a strong mentor. When Steve Jobs passed away, Mark Zuckerburg noted that the Apple founder had been an invaluable mentor.

 Proven Scientific Mentoring process

Here are some lessons learned:

  1. Quality matters: Simply having a mentor is not enough. If you want to lead you need to be associated with leaders. Successful Tech mentors are able to help younger startups outperform their peers by a factor of three. The benefits from lower quality mentors were far, far lower. The disadvantages of no mentors or trusting partners constantly blew companies into oblivion.
  2. Continued co-innovation: Top performing startups met with their mentors three to four times a quarter. Constant contact and re-alignment is critical to overall success. In fact most proactive mentors get assigned to three or four mentors each an expert in their own areas who meet at least two times every quarter.
  3. Critical Business Benefit Focus: It is important to utilize your mentor’s talent to the fullest. Top performing mentors identify key issues that are faced by protégée companies. Your best mentors are very busy individuals. Founders must use their time prudently and where it will do the most good.

Get your HANA page a million views

Trying to sell without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark. No one except you knows what you are doing’ was an example our marketing professor told us in our MBA class a long time ago. However, it is as true today as it was then.

So check your website and review when you launched it and what your count is. Check how much it costs to get 1 million views in your direction – not as a rogue spam generated number but from actual focused group that are interested in your business. You can pay for Google priority and bid for it which can run into tens of thousands of dollars, or you can market in the media which can go into thousands of dollars. If interested in a getting your idea to a milliuon views- send an email to and you could be the winner for a $500 free spot that will guarantee 1 million views of your logo and site details within 24 months. The site will be launched on August 1st 2015.

About the Author: Hari Guleria is VP HANA Business Solutions at PrideVel Inc in Santa Clara, CA, in the heart of silicon valley.  Prior to this Hari was Director for SAP HANA Solutions at HP services responsible for the Americas. Before that he was the Director for SAP HANA with HCL-Axon and before that he worked with SAP in their Value Realization Group.
Hari is the author of ‘BI Valuenomics- The story of meeting business expectation sin BI’ a book far more relevant today than it was in 2010 when it was published.
PrideVel is a global Cisco services partner and a global SAP HANA partner, sitting in an ultra-sweet intersection between Big-Data, Networking, IoT and SAP HANA. Pridevel is North Americas leading HANA TDI build and support partner. Hari leads the HANA4IoT events at SAP.
Hari routinely works with customers as their Business Solutions layer between business owners and vendor partners assuring SAP and SAP HANA Business Value Attainment or BVA.  Hari has over 35,000 hours of BI, an outlier score of 3.5 and he comes with a platinum level background of SAP BW, BWA and SAP HANA. He also consulted in SAP SD and MM. Prior to SAP he comes with over 9 years of Sr. Business Management experience with major European multinationals. Hari may be contacted at


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