We talked to Mahiar Borhanjoo, CEO at UNI, about the diamond prices guide, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mahiar Borhanjoo: My family and I live in the UK and it has been challenging with the lockdowns we have had here. But we are thankfully healthy and have been blessed to have this time together.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined UNI.
Mahiar Borhanjoo: I have been in the technology and service industry from the beginning of my management career for more than 20 years. Prior to Joining UNI, I was an executive in DeBeers group managing their global rough diamond sales and marketing team and then the Managing Director at one of the largest polished diamond companies in the world. In both companies, my mandate and vision was to enhance our relationships and our customers’ experience with our company and our business.
How does UNI innovate?
Mahiar Borhanjoo: Our innovation is based on our customers’ needs, but more importantly our customers’ pain points. Understanding our customers’ challenges allows us to build and provide services and products that they would appreciate and can truly use.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Mahiar Borhanjoo: It was quite a challenge. As an organization, our revenues stopped and decreased for a few months whilst our costs stayed somewhat consistent. Based on this, the management team decided to take a haircut in our salaries whilst keeping the team on and managing and not changing their day-to-day salaries. This allowed us to keep the morale up and keep the team motivated whilst we focused on how to better our services, products, and the customer base we will focus on. This in turn allowed us to become more strategic and focus on the exact customer base we want to focus on.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Mahiar Borhanjoo: We are a startup and as a startup, we have a very lean organization that is focused on the tasks at hand. What we needed to do was to question ourselves, are we focusing on the right products? How can we evolve and make things better, so when we come out of this pandemic, we are stronger than ever! The difficulty was ensuring we manage our financials and our goals and forecast what we need to do to be successful in the future.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Mahiar Borhanjoo: During the few months where the entire world was shut, we actually took time to redefine our customers based on the data that we had and were able to get from the one year we were doing business. That redefinition allowed us to utilize our CRM more effectively and to develop products that will help our customers be even more successful at the end of the pandemic.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Mahiar Borhanjoo: We did not have such benefits.
Your final thoughts?
Mahiar Borhanjoo: In difficult times, we should be looking at how to make our organization lean, to minimize spending in areas that can wait… But we must also use such challenging times to see how we can make ourselves stronger. The pandemic will end. The question is – what will our company offer from that point on? The world has evolved, we as startups must evolve beyond the changes in the world to be successful.
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