An Interview with Salma Moosa, founder of Startups Club

Startups Club is a huge community of entrepreneurs where they come together to learn, share and grow. Startups Club was founded in 2013. The objective of the Club is to ensure that startups and those who support the startup ecosystem can converge and engage with one another resulting in the benefit of both.  Startups Club is a platform for startups from napkin stage to growth stage which enable connection, collaboration, funding and networking. Startups Club has a strong association with its members, as well as alliance with Angels such as Nagaraja Prakasam, Naru Narayanan and entities such as Indian Angel Networks, Technology Business Incubator – Vellore and many others.

Startups Club is present in 20 cities across India, including Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.   Startups Club conducts Indian widest startup challenge called DemoDay every year. Startups Club also conducts weekly Meetups for startups to engage, interact and share ideas across different locations apart from organising meetings in all of these cities every month. Their meetups are focused on early stage startups and help them learn the essentials for building and growing their businesses.

We Interviewed Salma Moosa, founder of Startups Club to learn more about Startups Club and and to know more about the Startup ecosystem in India.

What are some of the most important reasons why Startups fail?

The assumption is that startups tend to fail due to lack of funds. But, funding is among the last reasons for a startup to fail.  The primary reason is Timing. Startups need to work ahead of the time and ensure their activities are inclined with the time. Startups need to race with time and guarantee that their product or service is reaching the market at the right time. The second is people. Most of the startups these days have issues with people. There are issues between a founder and cofounder, or within the teams. It is essential for startups to find the right team to work and support. Also, at many occasions, startups ignore to look at the very crucial part of growth that is getting the correct product in the market. The biggest challenge is bringing in the culture of self-motivation among entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs lack the courage to encourage themselves. And there is a high expectation on the communities, family and even investors to push or motivate them. Also, startups don’t create their products for the masses but only for one sectorial business solution. Hence, it becomes crucial to realize them about it.

How do you equate the Indian Startup ecosystem with the European and the US Startup ecosystem.

US startup ecosystem is the oldest ecosystem and has the highest risk capital. Language is no barrier as English is widely spoken. From the talent perspective as well, Silicon Valley stands first in the order. On the other hand, European ecosystem has a lot of governmental support. The major issue in the European ecosystem has the linguistic barrier as each and every country has its separate language. For a product to expand in Europe, it needs a lot of localization in terms of language. On the counter, Indian Ecosystem is completely different than that of Europe and US. Indian ecosystem is growing and there are no many serious entrepreneurs in comparison to US and Europe. Indian market is more service oriented than product driven. There are a lot of startups emerging now in India ecosystem to solve the ground level issues and will take time to reach at par with US and European ecosystems.

How Startups Club provide ideal breeding ground for new Startups in their incubators.

Startups Club is an open, inclusive and collaborative platform for 0-3 year old startups.Startups Club launched an incubator platform to accelerate early stage startups called SC Incurator or SCIN. SCIN incubates, invests and accelerates early stage startups over 12 month period. During this time period, focused attention is provided to the startups from the perspective of product, business model, finance, strategy, operations, recruitment, marketing, sales and etc. 


How important do you think mentors and meetups are for entrepreneurs?

Mentors and meetups are equally important for entrepreneurs. Meetups are a discovery platform for an entrepreneur. It opens them to plethora of people and opportunities to cash upon.

Mentorship provides the framework to think. Mentors enhance the thinking process of the entrepreneurs and provide them the right channel to move forward.

How has the journey of Startups club been so far and do you have any plans to take this initiative to small cities?

Startups Club is already present in small cities like Coimbatore, Shimla, Mysore, and Vijayawada to name a few. Startups Club didn’t start as a company, but as a hobby. Before Startups Club, Vivek & I, (co-founder at Startups Cub) were running a consulting company. We used to consult SMEs and held them during their launch and growth phase. It was about building business plans and assisting their clients in execution of those business plans. Our goal was to create an ecosystem within an ecosystem. It was a very lean firm throughout its existence, with only both of us. We worked with around 100+ small business owners.

In early 2013, we decided to create a meetup group with the mission to encourage, enable and invest on emerging entrepreneurs. Today, many entrepreneurs use Startups Club as a growth hacking platform for their startups and Startups Club use Meetup for its growth and will continue to have meetups to make people know about our history and create a legacy going forward. In the initial stage, we conducted 18 months of monthly meetings in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Coimbatore, strong associations with members attending the meetings, alliances with Angels such as Nagaraja Prakasam, Naru Narayanan and with entities such as Indian Angel Networks, Technology Business Incubator – Vellore and many others, Startups Club had a strong 5000+ entrepreneurs as their members and were able to assist around 100+ startups closely on an ongoing basis through one-on-one mentoring support, connecting them with potential investors and supporting them in structuring marketing and sales strategy.

When we needed to approach investors with two of its member startups approached an investor, looking for investments for their members, the interest was shown on funding Startups Club and not more than 40 days, Startups Club, a brand until then was now a funded startup itself, Startups Club Services Pvt. Ltd. with national and international Angel Investors on board, all looking to seriously invest in Indian Startups. Startups Club, until now reaching out to various funding entities for the investment support for its members, now has its own angels, who knew exactly what it takes to making startup successful and had the right connections and mindset to build some of the unicorns in the Indian ecosystem.

More About the Founders:

Vivek Srinivisan

vivek srinivasan

He is the co-founder Startups Club. He has over 15 years of experience in helping startups from the perspective of customers, funding and mentoring. He has been engaged in mentoring startups and helping them in the area of strategy and finance. He has also played a role in setting up the Startups Club Incurator which offers a 12 months program to early stage startups along with seed investment.He has co-authored the book – A Thought to a Million Dollars with his co-founder Salma Moosa.He is currently serving the boards of three companies. Along with that he is also engaged with many incubators and accelerators as a mentor.

He has also been closely related with educational institutions to help develop startups within their campuses. Currently he is working extremely closely with VIT University, Vellore and helping many startups out of that campus.


Salma Moosa

Salma Moosa is the Founder and Managing Director at Startups Club. She has over 20 years of experience in mentoring startups and providing them business solutions.  She is now a Speaker who addresses aspiring, budding & established entrepreneurs from across the world on Execution & Sales in all stages. She has built companies and ensured growth and sustainability. She is found hand holding and mentoring startups all round the clock and helping them in the area of strategy and business growth. She has co-authored the book – A Thought to a Million Dollars with her co-founder Vivek Srinivisan.


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