Arvind Kejriwal : An analogy to a successful startup venture


Arvind Kejriwal the youngest CM of Delhi, The AAM Aadmi of India, Second IITian to take an oath… these are few most trending words for “Aam Aadmi”.

I was searching for a question “What were the most ridiculous startup ideas that eventually became successful?”. What I found; an answer on Quora. This answer compares Arvind’s strategy in business terms.

This answer is given by Neha Jha and have got 5000+ votes. The one vote is from India’s biggest e-com’s CEO, Mr. Sachin Bansal.

Lets get amazed by this aanalogy.

– Often poked fun at by politicians, the 45-year-old former IITian turned civil servant, also a Ramon Magsaysay award winner (for activating India’s Right to Information movement at the grassroots level) was challenged by the ruling party in the government  — not to criticize the political system as an outsider but join it and cleanse it from within. The IITian was reluctant to get into the dirty “business” of politics.

– After the government rejected the Lokpal bill draft that he and his team had worked on, Congress and other market players challenged them to join politics, win elections and come to Parliament to get what they wanted i.e root out corruption and get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed. In business terms it would roughly translate to: The monopoly in the market by an established powerful business that refuses to cater to the needs of the masses because it is not profitable.

– The idea was mocked at and ridiculed as getting into politics was something that people thought won’t find many takers and experts speculated that it would be difficult for AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) to capture significant market share, for the Indian politics being dominated by two established businesses (political parties): BJP and Congress.

– To top it, they didn’t have funds for the operations. But the CEO and founder Arvind Kejriwal believed that a good market segment exists whose needs were not being satisfied by the current players in the political market.

– It was an alternate politics (business idea) and they were trying to break the norms, AAP couldn’t have used the conventional methods of generating funds i.e use funding from the corporates (the black money that usually funds the rest of the political parties in India, the major factor that inbreeds corruption).
Since, it was more of a social entrepreneurial idea, the seedfund was provided by a few wealthy NRI supporters. But the scale at which the elections are contested in India, the money wasn’t enough to cover even the marketing costs (campaign costs).

– The party finds a solution to that. Calls for crowd funding from the Indian citizens. The aggressive hunt for funds started with mass emails to over five thousand people every day, convincing people to be a stakeholder in the “politics of change. The idea was still strange to the spectators in the market.

The product AAP offered what rest of the businesses in the market didn’t, transparency and honesty became a USP!

– Delhi was chosen as the test market because it is quite close to culturally and geographically representing India. Symbolically, since the parliament is in Delhi, the change had to begin from the capital.

Already a smart brand name, the brand logo of a “broom” was adopted  — that symbolized their business Objective, Vision and Mission: clean dirt from the Indian politics.

– To ensure the trust of the people and transparency they listed the source of funds on their website. It even awarded certificates as proof of donation. The moment one made a contribution the details become online. This gave an edge and a moral upper hand to the product AAP, the fact that anybody can see the details of its contributors on its website. Business values and ethics were followed.

From the day it was formed, the party managed to mobilise over Rs.10.49 crore. As much as 67 per cent of the fund was collected online.
After they had enough money to cover their campaign costs they appealed to the investors to stop as they had generated enough funds.

– The field work was made possible with the team work of thousands of volunteers who came together for one common Organisational goal. The CEO did a good job in keeping the team motivated to deliver the desired results!

– The regional managers were recruited under strict scrutiny and evaluation i.e ticket to contest elections was given to only those who could fit in the brand AAP,  social workers, soldiers, journalists, Delhi University professors and people who have fought against the system, the everyday usual people with clean image. I would call this smart efficient Human resource management (or talent acquisition).

– The marketing of the brand was done with a budget far less than the established businesses. The effective means of marketing were deployed, and unconventional means were used. From Direct marketing (door to door campaign), to social media and the PR that was generated through word of mouth which in turn generated immense goodwill that ultimately helped the CEO and founder Kejriwal in snapping the 15-year rule of its “competitor” and incumbent Chief Minister Sheila Dixit. Adding to her misery was the defeat in her own turf — New Delhi constituency — by a huge margin of 25,864 votes. AAP established itself as the most promising startup in the political market.

Market research was valuable. Positive results in the test market will now facilitate the roll out of the brand AAP on a National level.

– Ms. Dixit, who once termed Kejriwal’s political party as a nonsense idea (business) and that people who would vote (invest and support) for his party would be wasting their valuable vote (resource). The startup that went ahead and

  • Successfully uprooted the existing (political) domination of the established businesses
  • Created a new market share for unconventional politics.
  • Exploited the untapped potential of the common man (usually dormant in politics) and the youth.
  • Ended the two party monopoly by giving people an option other than the conventional brands in the market.
  • Established a brand that gave hope to millions.
  • Proved right the most risky rule in business of  Bigger the risk, the bigger the profit.
  • Gave an interesting case study to the business students that not only how one man can make a difference but make a brand from scratch.
  • Inspire next gen Social entrepreneurs.
  • Proved that the Indian consumer is a smart one who is unbiased towards the segmentation of the market based on caste, religion, geography and other factors. A good product is what it demands.
  • Taught a good lesson to the established powerful businesses that anyone (common man) who is determined, persistent and has vision can change the rules of the market.
  • Most importantly, a kick ass brand positioning for the founder Mr. Kejriwal and his brand AAP that will facilitate its further expansion: Never ever mess with a badass engineer, he will not necessarily move to Silicon Valley.



Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

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