Why Startup Entrepreneurs in India Are Crazy About Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

Kalyani Shah
April 22, 2014

The elections are just around the corner and we've been hearing patrons from the startup world give a loud cheer to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Businessmen from Mahesh Murthy of Pinstorm to Sameer Guglani of The Morpheus have been very vocal about their support for AAP. New-age entrepreneurs hailing from different corners of the industry happen to consistently hold up the same flag when asked about their political preference. This is surely beyond mere co-incidence.

Startup Entrepreneurs AAP

We at sumHR probed in deeper to uncover the reason for this relentless support and what we found solved the mystery. Entrepreneurs nestling their startups relate to the Aam Aadmi Party and its success on many counts. The newly hatched party has been a source of much inspiration for our young businesses.Read on to find out how…

1. Achieving virality

The recognition AAP has gained in its year and a half of existence has made young entrepreneurs gape in wonder. The reason for AAP's virality has more to it than the predominant need for it in the Indian political scenario. If you look closely, each of AAP’s marketing strategies is majorly scalable. This support structure proved to be a huge asset when word of the party's existence spread. It has helped them reach not only a nationwide audience, but also Indian citizens residing overseas. Also, AAP makes its audience speak for the party. Startups take a clue!

2. Brand it

AAP made many heads nod in humour and appreciation when it chose the broom as the party symbol. And it isn’t just the symbol; the way they have named the party is also plausible. AAP was the first political party to use the khadi topi as innovatively, with slogans saying “Mein hu aam aadmi”, connecting people back to its policy of honesty, simplicity and togetherness. The result? They’ve made themselves a niche in the voters' mind. Startups need to brand themselves witty and surprise its audience to squeeze itself a big place on the customer’s mind.

3. Building a kickass team

AAP has built itself a pretty diversified, strong team in the small time it has been around. A clean ideology and clarity of vision is half work done when building a core team. It helps attract the right talent towards you. A tight filtering also helps to keep a check on the quality of members coming in. AAP has built itself a team of people belonging to different industries: Bollywood celebs like Gul Panag, corporate bankers like Meera Saniyal, Infosys co-founder V Balakrishnan and social activists like Medha Patkar.

4. Crack the crowdsourcing

AAP has used a democratic approach when it comes to crowdsourcing. The party has been clear and precise about its ultimate goal - eradicating corruption from the Indian economy. Any citizen of India can join the party as a volunteer, thus filling the party with the common man’s own kind. The party has also made clever use of its people, involving them in everything the party does, from organising campaigns to raising funds. The recent campaign involving a bunch of TV and film celebs holding up slogans at traffic signal and that of volunteers creating videos of themselves to promote the party, are all examples of making the crowd work for you without having to spend a dime.

5. Brilliant execution

There are the blabbers, and then there are the doers. AAP has always been part of the latter. The party’s clear focus on its principals sets the structure for the all of its procedures. All the processes implemented are adhered to without making any exceptions regardless of the seniority of the people involved, be it inducting a member to the collection of funds to tracking the activities of each and every member. It has also given the audience a strong idea about its potential as an executionary in its 49 days of governance in Delhi. In the two years of its existence, it has achieved more than any party has achieved in the past multiple decades.

6. Know thy competitors

Well, this is a skill AAP knows well. Seen those posts showing how many of its competitors have criminal convicts in their party? And how it demanded audits of power distribution companies to make its competitors squirm in their seats? It’s important for a startup to know who it is up against, and to know them well. This helps identify your competitor’s weaknesses and gives you the opportunity to capsize on them.

7. Making optimum use of limited resources

While the old players are blowing up thousands of crores campaigning for the forthcoming elections, our pretty newbie has spent a mere 2 percent of that amount and created quite a wave for itself. This has given hope to startups entering giant markets and has proved that it’s possible to make a huge bang with a small fistful of funds if you play it smart. If your product or offering is good, you can bootstrap your way to reach the masses.

8. "Nothing to lose" attitude

Startups and AAP have this in common - rubbing shoulders with competitors who have been around for a while. The joy of competing in the same league as other well established players is that you can afford to go all out. There is no burden of a legacy or level of expectation pulling you down. Such an environment helps bring the best out of you.

9. Determination perfected

AAP hasn’t walked on a rose bed all the time. Competitors have tried to pull it down with all their strength (all their collective strength even), but the party keeps getting back up, dusting itself off, filling in its people about the truth of what happened and moving on. Take the number of instances AAP members have been slapped, thrown ink at, and humiliated. The journey of building a startup from scratch is eerily similar, you have to get through the detractors and keep at what you’re doing.

10. Social media uprising

Everything that is hot is on the internet. Social media arms you with an amazing reach and exposure, but a weapon is only as good as the warrior who wields it. Amidst the blitz and chaos of all things fancy on social media, AAP stuck its head out with its anything-but-meek online campaigns and mobile apps. Many of our fellow startups have businesses based on the internet and have much to learn for the political party’s digital presence.

11. The grass-root level connect

Startups and AAP, both represent the common man trying to make a difference. The people involved in both have been a face in the crowd for a while before deciding to slide into the driver’s seat. They understand their audience’s needs intimately, thus building a more empathetic connect with them. They hit the right nail when members of AAP chose to travel using public transport and on-foot commute over the luxury of bodyguards, big cars, and jets.

12. Transparency

AAP hides nothing. Their website has in depth information about the funds collected, the party’s nominated candidates, as well as the party’s processes. Their social media profiles are updated to the last detail of the latest happenings. This has served them well and built their reputation as a clean, knowledgeable political party. Newly emerging businesses understand that the trick to keeping its audience together is letting them in on everything you’re doing. The more they feel a part of the process, the longer they will stick around for.

At last count, AAP had fielded 434 candidates, emerging as the single largest party, that too without any alliances, to flaunt such an impressive number. It takes much more than guts and glory to achieve this kind of feat.

AAP is not only similar to a startup, it also sets a brilliant example for one. If you’re an entrepreneur and want to add to this list, let us know in the comments section! We’ll be happy to update it :-)

Note: The reasons have been listed out in an alphabetical order and do not follow any hierarchy.

Disclaimer:  The article is based on an analysis of the current scenario. It does not indicate at any political preference on our side.

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