We talked to Pranay Jain on how Enterprise Bot empowers digital conversations, and this is what he had to say about it.
How are you and your family doing in these Covid-19?
Pranay Jain: Thank you for asking. We are safe and healthy and hope the world will recover soon from the clutches of Covid-19.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Enterprise Bot?
Pranay Jain: I started at the age of 14 by creating software for my father’s land data aggregation. My next venture was to create a hook between excel and a Bloomberg terminal to look at risk and probability investment on calls and puts. After starting a college consultancy, I went on to create a website with my current co-founder for aggregating prices of used textbooks to reduce the cost of purchase of books by 30-45% for students. Two years ago, we started on Enterprise Bot as our next venture. Enterprise Bot started with a simple idea about using NLP to help solve long wait times. Based on our concept, we were first invited to a banking hackathon. Based on prospective clients’ reactions, we quickly decided to form the company and have spent the last three years making a fantastic product in conversational AI.
How does Enterprise Bot innovate?
Pranay Jain: At Enterprise Bot, we empower all our colleagues to develop innovative solutions to problems. There are weekly product discussions between different teams from engineering to sales and marketing, each providing their input on what should be done as the firm’s next innovation. This allows a more holistic approach to innovation and enables us to get the best from the team truly. A top-down innovation approach never works as it does not consider multiple ground realities, so a more involved innovation approach is what we have gone for, which has worked out for us. We also have a team of 3 people who create completely experimental products that are then showcased. A call is taken whether to take the innovations into the market or add it into the roadmap for further development and production or, in many cases, even scrap it. With innovation, you must be willing to fail as you cannot innovate if you do not try new things.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Pranay Jain: When the pandemic outbreak brought the world economy to a screeching halt, we saw a rapid search on the virtual agent traffic. As the world came to a ‘shelter-in-place’ situation overnight, companies had to switch to remote work to continue their operations. As a result, the widespread adoption of conversational AI began across enterprises to manage the ‘new normal’ and function seamlessly. So far, it sounds all in our favor, but that’s half of the picture. Amid the growing demand for virtual assistants, there were huge losses that businesses already suffered as the global GDP drastically fell. There are multiple clients with whom we have been communicating for the past 6-8 months, but they cannot make a purchase decision due to deployment cost. They are hesitant to make such a significant investment when they are already on loss. This has been a considerable challenge for us this year. We are always keeping in touch with them to help them out whenever they are ready. Financially we doubled our revenue, but we do see that Corona will continue to affect budgets and decision-making in 2021.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Pranay Jain: Life is all about difficult choices, but in Hindsight, they never seem that difficult, to be honest. For, eg. I had to choose at 25 that I did not want to work for a company with good pay; instead wanted to start something on my own. There was a point where we had only GBP 1500 in our account, and then we won a hackathon allowing us to meet our payroll. We then had to choose to leave the UK and move to Switzerland due to our visa situation and easier access to the Schengen region. None of the decisions were easy, but today they all seem non-relevant. You look forward and make new ones. Every entrepreneur in their journey learns lessons based on their previous experiences, and I’m no exception. In my perspective, it all starts and ends with sales. Developing an enterprise-ready product is a tough job, no doubt, but the next-level difficulty lies in striking a chord with potential leads to convert them into your customers. As an entrepreneur, the tricky and most challenging part is pitching your product to customers, communicating with them, calling or email, etc. It will help if you fit yourself in the shoes of a sales gig to convert the interaction into a purchase decision. Networking is also vital in this context. It would be best to nurture your professional connections from time to time to make your presence feel. Remember, the right connection at the right time is one of the roadmaps to success.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Pranay Jain: It’s funny, but if you ask most entrepreneurs, we will see anxious people in our gut. We build stress and plan for the worse even before it happens, and this is never good if you want a stress free life. At the same time, I enjoy the pressure and the ups and downs of a startup. Recently I was sick with the flu, feeling low with no motivation to work, and I got a call from a key employee that they will be leaving the organization, setting us back by six months at least if not more. Weirdly enough, I just got up starting calling my HR, and the relevant team leads to create a contingency without even remembering that I had a 101 fever just an hour ago. Stress keeps life exciting, but at the same time, too much can, of course, be devastating for your mental health, and I ensure that I take a break ever so often to recharge to go back onto the battlefield.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pranay Jain: More than competitors, we prefer focusing on the agility and efficiency of our application. Multiple players are out in the market, offering chatbot applications, but most bots fail to perform at an optimum level when deployed. Companies are only paying attention to automating responses, whereas the emphasis should be on delivering real-value out of those computerized interactions. We identified the problem and designed our application with all the necessary updates to make it a game-changer in the market. Our conversational AI solutions are enabled with the power of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) that understand user intent, personalize the interactions and send solution-based responses in real-time to make the interaction value-driven. No shortcut can make you survive in this competitive business space. We dedicate our efforts to creating an engaging customer experience and improving our application based on the previous learnings. Additionally, we always keep a watch on the latest market trends and prepare the team in a way so that they can adapt to changes quickly.
Your final thoughts?
Pranay Jain: For any aspiring startup founders, I have just one piece of advice, A startup is the most fun, the intense journey you will take and has the potential to teach you more than any degree, college, or job you will ever do in your life. There is just one caveat. Give it you’re all. If you go to a half-hearted saying I will try it 20% or 50% of the time, it will probably not work, nor will it be rewarding. The biggest reward of being a startup founder is the single-minded belief that drives you and that allows you to motivate people around you if you have that the rest of the journey to success is just a question of time.