We talked to Sameer Nigam, founder, and CEO at Stratbeans Consulting, about AI training and this, is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sameer Nigam: By the grace of God, we are safe and doing well. My family is observing a self-imposed limited lockdown with necessary measures for social distancing.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Stratbeans Consulting.
Sameer Nigam: I started the company in 2008 as a consulting firm after working with Genpact and TCS in the USA, UK, and India. Later, Prasoon and Pradeip joined as co-founders. Prasoon had worked with Synopsys Inc and was an expert in all things technology. Pradeip had been running a successful online media business and was an expert in event management and marketing.
How does Stratbeans Consulting innovate?
Sameer Nigam: We don’t have an official mandate around innovation, but innovation is part of everything that we do at work. Sales innovation takes place through customer feedback and brainstorming sessions among co-founders and key contributors. Similarly, several process innovations have their roots in difficult problems that we face in our operations at some point. We also engage with expert consultants, especially to make our processes more efficient and effective, and scout for new business ideas.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Sameer Nigam: Right after the nationwide lockdown, our cash flow had taken a hit. However, most of our customers paid on time, and we rarely saw any defaults. Thus, thankfully, the liquidity crunch did not last too long. There was a huge relief in the form of the loan moratorium for MSMEs, announced by the Reserve Bank of India.
During all the ups and downs, we were very clear about the well-being of our employees. We did not cut even a single job due to business difficulties. Our employees also equally supported us by sincerely working from home and maintaining productivity even as they grappled with the dual responsibilities of managing home and office.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Sameer Nigam: We took a bet to expand and hired more people during COVID. We also hired highly qualified people who had lost their jobs as their previous organization. In hindsight, we played our part to help society and brought in great resources for the company.
Secondly, we took a step back and spent more creative hours refining our quality during the non-billable hours. We created systematic ideation exercises among teams to see insights on various operational aspects. This created a lot of actionable avenues. These avenues were further prioritized in the Leadership meetings and were rolled out. We were expecting that digital products which help other businesses will find demand during tough times. So we launched a new product line with the help of newly hired senior resources.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Sameer Nigam: The key value for customer relationships is to stay close to them and use trust as the only currency. During every interaction, we assured them that there would be minimal disruption to our SLA. Thankfully, we also received compassion, understanding, and support from them.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Sameer Nigam: We did not receive any government grants. However, the loan moratorium for six months given to the MSMEs was a great help.
Your final thoughts?
Sameer Nigam: The tough times are ripe with opportunities, and it is possible to land on your feet stronger when people stick together. We are thankful to our employees and customers for sticking together and keeping us strong.
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