Editor’s note: Waybeo Technology Solutions was launched in December 2009 and was selected by Nasscom as one of the top 15 emerging, innovative companies in India in 2012. Its product, BounzD, is a global inbound communication platform enabling instant voice assistance to customers using a variety of mobile devices. In this interview, CEO Bushair AP discusses aspects of staying focused in the journey of product development. This article is brought to SandHill readers in partnership with ProductNation.
SandHill.com: What was the vision you originally had for your company?
Bushair AP: We are a young team who is a part of a movement to change how the world communicates in the new age. Our team was formed out of our never-ending passion for creativity and social contribution. We all were fascinated by the revolutions in the communication sector. Our first attempt was a global group-messaging platform, which we developed for our early European customers. This was much before we formally launched Waybeo as a company. This opportunity opened up our vision to create products that we believe will attract millions in the future.
BounzD is a stepping-stone to achieve our vision of a well-connected world without any barriers like cost and geography. Once integrated with an enterprise’s online channels, end customers would be able to connect businesses with just an Internet connection without being charged across the world.
We work with large-scale and midsize enterprises in India and abroad that have online channels as a major way of customer acquisition. We handle their voice communications with potential customers and provide business insights and analytics. Our global plan is in beta stage and releasing this month. Waybeo is based in Trivandrum with offices in Mumbai, Delhi and California.
SandHill.com: Is there a story behind your company name?
Bushair AP: The name Waybeo was derived out of our ambition of going way beyond by exploring an inspiring way of entrepreneurship.
SandHill.com: What differentiation and business value does BounzD provide to your customers?
Bushair AP: We connect business and potential customers across the world within seconds. Besides being cost free, we have made it easier to connect with a business located in any part of the world. Our product has helped our customers improve their customer acquisition, sales cycle and cost of sale.
We have helped various companies in industries such as hospitality and realty to reduce abandoned calls by 30 percent and achieve an increase in online visibility. Many of the large enterprises in India have told us that they “felt” their Web presence after taking our services. In the hospitality sector, we have reduced contact center cost-to-sales ratio in a drastic way. And the business insights we provide though our analytics has helped various realty segments to plan contact sector operations and customer support services.
SandHill.com: How did you determine the right pricing for your product?
Bushair AP: We reached out to a limited number of customers with a cost-plus-margin model. From limited early innovators, we moved to value-based pricing, which had improved profitability. The business dynamics of our customer segment had to be learned during this engagement with early innovators to have a better pricing. The key realization of how much value we create for our customers had to be quantified during this period. Value-based pricing involves understanding of business dynamics of a customer’s model, customer revenue generation checkpoints and behavior of end customers.
SandHill.com: Please describe one of your company’s lessons learned and where it occurred in the time line of your product development.
Bushair AP: It is better to develop a product with a focused area (domain as well as target sector) than a generic solution. SaaS generic products can be an exception, but for the enterprise sales model, having a target segment in hand and engaging with them can save some amount of learning cycle time in an entrepreneur’s journey. There will be a lot of mileage in marketing if we do so.
In our case, the engagement happened once we launched the product to early innovators. There was a lot of confusion whom to target initially. The product got its first fine-tuning after the live feedback from customers.
SandHill.com: Who are the advisors and investors behind your company?
Bushair AP: We are six friends from Kerala University who eventually gathered together after realizing the group as a whole can achieve much more in life than standing alone. The group did not have any experience in business domain and functions, but the journey of two years in entrepreneurship has made us learn many things. The feeling of “we don’t know” is one reason that pushed us to open up, listen and quest for opportunities. The paradox is the more we learn, we realize we are living in a world with infinite opportunities.
We also have strong mentors with entrepreneur and executive backgrounds. We honor mentoring more than anything as it gives us a reality check when we get carried away. It also opens up a new realm of thinking in our minds, which helps us to push ourselves to the next level.
SandHill.com: What is the best advice you ever received?
Bushair AP: One of my professors from Bharathidasan Institute asked me to have a mentor in life when jumping into entrepreneurship and at every stage. I believe following this has helped us a lot so far.
SandHill.com: What are some of the expectations you had at the outset that you’ve subsequently had to change?
Bushair AP: We were clearly advised not to have any expectation for the first four years in entrepreneurship by our mentors, and all co-founders were in acceptance of that. Our dream and ambition of something after five years drove us and still it continues. Because of this, most of the steps were felt as experimentation and we were able to identify whether those experimentations were a failure or not at the right time since we were not carried away by expectations. And all prayers are to be able to see things always with that kind of mindset in the future.
SandHill.com: What challenges have you encountered in recruiting/hiring/retaining the right talent?
Bushair AP: The biggest HR challenge in our stage is getting leaders for various activities. As an emerging startup, we are committed to build the next level leadership for the company, and finding this talent outside is most challenging. In a dynamic startup scenario, a person’s motive and energy cannot be just measured in an interview. So identification of talents sometimes is a costly affair as far as a startup is concerned as the identification happens over a period of time.
SandHill.com: Who is your personal software company or software executive role model?
Bushair AP: It is Mr. Bill Gates. Not only because of the business success but also the wisdom he has acquired in life as a whole. If I could spend time with a software executive to learn some insights, I would choose Bill Gates.
SandHill.com: What book (business or non-business) have you read during the past three years that most influenced you, and how did it influence your thinking?
Bushair AP: Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” has made me think in a different perspective of nature and the universe. This book has triggered various thoughts that I had accumulated in the recent past. Reading this book connected various books like “Black Swan” and texts like the Holy Quran, which inspired me a lot to take inspiration from nature and universe, be it business or non-business. The realization I got of uncertainties and mysteries has ignited a sense of urgency, a new passion and direction in my life.
SandHill.com: What do the next 12 months hold for your company?
Bushair AP: We are launching our global plan and launching another innovative application in the mobile space.
SandHill.com: What is your top advice for first-time entrepreneurs or startup CEOs?
Bushair AP: Be focused and never quit. Focus is the miracle word that shapes even the dream of a young entrepreneur. In other words, it takes courage to be focused during this “unknown period” of entrepreneurship.
Bushair is the CEO of Waybeo Technology Solutions, a unified communication solution company based in Mumbai, India. Bushair was instrumental in pivoting the company from a student startup to an IP-based integrated communication provider. Before joining hands with his college friends for a debut in entrepreneurship, he worked with Tata Consultancy Services. Under his leadership, Waybeo has grown from its location in Kerala, a tier-2 city, to multiple locations including Mumbai, Gurgaon and Bangalore and an overseas presence in London and California. Waybeo was selected as one of the top 15 emerging, innovative companies from India in 2012.
Di Freeze is editor of SandHill.com.