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Strathclyde Business School

Building a positive community around your startup

By Janani Prabhakaran - Posted on 2 April 2020

Janani Prabhakaran set up her own business after graduating from Strathclyde Business School. Here, she talks about the importance of engaging with your network and having a positive outlook despite current tough challenges.

There is one class I attended during my undergraduate days which I vividly remember. My lecturer posed a question to the class asking if any of us can find a link from our own network to the then President Barack Obama. Responding to the class’s silence, he explained how each and every one of us was loosely connected to him. As a leading professor in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship he explained how he himself was loosely affiliated with Sir Tom Hunter, who endowed the Hunter Centre. In turn, Tom Hunter has met Obama in the past, thus providing a loose link to as a way to meet Barack Obama. The key takeaway was the near limitless pool of resources that lies, almost unbeknownst to us, at our disposal. Networking is indeed an essential concept element of entrepreneurship.  

The basis of networking is community and building positive and impactful relationships with the networks that we come into contact with. As a founder of a startup myself - Unbaggaged - I have come to realise no groundbreaking idea can be a success without a trusting and engaging startup community. Here are some important lessons that I have learnt so far.  

Reach out to your existing networks first  

As a Strathclyde graduate, my first point of contact is the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network. Whilst there are abundant resources and training available, it is the freedom to shape up your idea with valuable mentorship that has helped me grow. Being an entrepreneur is no impossible task and the key to meeting challenges along this rocky road is a good mindset and having a strong support system such as SEN. Having SEN’s support has made the journey that much easier.  

Know what you want out of these networks  

As you begin to grow your networks, make sure to set achievable goals and know what favourable outcome you seek from these connections. For example, if you want to scale your business, a high growth accelerator such as the RBS accelerator programme would be highly useful. Whether your goal is to validate the idea or to grow your business, startup incubators can help you out if you know what exactly you want. Woven in between informal conversation lies a ‘we mean business’ attitude!  

Positive experience  

It’s not just the customers who deserve a positive experience out of your service/product offering, but every opportunity to connect with a person or organisation should be treated like gold. Every touch point such as your presentations, the pitch, startup story and the communication between you and any followers needs to be a super positive experience. When you are building a startup, the founder becomes the brand story. One of the hardest lessons I have learnt is to have a healthy mindset no matter what happens and to treat every individual who is part of my startup journey with importance and positivity. Opportunities to connect with people is a numbers game. You never know when one of those connections happens to be in a position to help you out.  

Final words...  

It is not an overstatement to say that building a startup is a wild ride. Be it the recent Covid-19 or the recession that might follow, an entrepreneur needs to have perspective, be intuitive and have a whole lot of persistence. Building a vibrant and positive startup community helps you keep things together when things get too much and to move forward. Optimism is the key to business success and a strong sense of community will help you get going when the going gets tough. 


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University of Strathclyde
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