SSON Presents a Startup to Watch: qBoticaAdd bookmark
Shortlisted for the SSON “Startup Zone” Award 2020 (Europe)
qBotica joined SSON’s inaugural Startup Zone to pitch its solution to the thousands of attendees at SSO Week Live Europe, earlier this year. Delegates voted on their favorite pitches, and qBotica emerged as one of the two runners-up for the Award (the winner was Talent Alpha).
SSON’s editor, Barbara Hodge, sat down with Mahesh Vinayagam, founder and CEO (pictured), to find out what makes this business so impressive.
Barbara Hodge: Can you share your background and how the idea for qBotica came about?
Mahesh Vinayagam: Well, it has been quite the journey! My background is typical in that I followed a traditional engineering path and studied computer science. My early experience was in Chennai just as the technology revolution was starting in the 1990’s. It was all about preparing for Y2K and worrying about borrowing terminals! I was in the beginning of my 20-year career with Syntel and spent significant time in the UK and the US, predominantly on the back end (technology) side of the business. Our head of sales happened to be delayed in traffic and through a fortuitous accident, I found myself stepping into a client meeting alongside our CEO and having to take the lead from a sales perspective. I discovered at that moment the conversation was incredibly relatable, and as a result found myself unexpectedly promoted to sales!
That experience was eye-opening because at that time we had to navigate the 2008 recession and determined to take an aggressive approach through that crisis, hiring extensively. We doubled our revenue in 18 months so that was certainly a valuable lesson in how to manage a crisis.
Around 2015 and living in the USA, I started researching and reading more about RPA and the evolution of automation. I was excited by these prospects and took a lead in introducing Syntel’s Bots technology into various clients’ operations. In 2017, realizing the value of this technology could be expanded exponentially beyond one proprietary platform, I envisioned an ecosystem with other major products at that time. I believed so strongly in this concept that it led me to set up my own operation. From there the qBotica mission and vision was born.
Initially we started with process discovery but then pivoted to services as we began to realize that the bigger gap lay in the actual integration of applications. Today, we are again offering products and proud to say we have one of the top 10 banks in the world, the largest auto parts manufacturer in the world, and the world’s largest public sector agency as our customers, along with a phenomenal and growing culture. We are quite proud of what we have achieved.
Barbara Hodge: The pandemic has driven a sense of urgency in driving efficiencies through automation, but has also highlighted barriers to implementation. How are you addressing these?
Mahesh Vinayagam: Integration is where so many implementation efforts fall short. We have seen this happen even more through the pandemic, and at an alarming rate. We address this directly by providing an automation ecosystem for enterprises to leverage their current investments. In its simplest form, it is a plug and play environment that offers complete agility to overcome these barriers, step by step.
Furthermore, part of qBotica’s solutions is an e2e document processing engine that operates at a quarter of the cost of its peers, with low up-front development and training requirements, and without the need to build templates for different vendors. We saw that customers require bespoke solutions that fit their business processes and recognized the need to connect ingestion and fulfilment seamlessly. Through this methodology we have successfully addressed several barriers with clients.
Barbara Hodge: What is your value proposition based on?
Mahesh Vinayagam: Our value proposition is based on three different trends. The first is that customers are struggling to manage documents, so we support them through our Doqument solution, which ingests documents and processes them automatically. The second is that customers are struggling to identify appropriate processes to automate, so we help them through a process discovery tool. And the third is that cost is key, so we have focused on being a lower cost alternative while continuing to provide excellence in service and quality.
Our primary goal is to remove almost all friction across the automation development process. Inefficiencies manifest themselves naturally through friction. So, our approach and focus are about accelerating the potential for document management, automation, and processing.
Barbara Hodge: You’ve launched at an interesting time. How do you find managing a remote team in the current environment?
Mahesh Vinayagam: We’ve really embraced remote as a way of doing business. We are currently about 50 people, and while 15 are in our Phoenix HQ, we have 15 in India and the rest scattered across the US, from Alaska to Boston. The pandemic very much influenced our hiring strategy in that we quickly realized location was irrelevant. We were able to tap the talent we need wherever it happens to be based. On top of this we have focused heavily on building a culture of high performing individuals and maintaining a family like culture to keep us closer without boundaries.
Barbara Hodge: What would you say defines your corporate culture?
Mahesh Vinayagam: I would have to say: tenacity and passion. We faced so many challenges in the early years and never had a problem in reassessing and pivoting. As I mentioned earlier, we started with product, shifted to integration, and found more success, and then added product back in. We’ve faced challenges with members of the team getting sick or their families being impacted by Covid-19. We stepped in for each other easily and ensured colleagues can take time off when they need it.
We have also fostered a strong culture of diversity starting with gender. When we first built the team we fixed on a 50:50 gender ratio, which has now become normal. We then extended this approach to age, race, disabilities, etc. Despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, I was determined not to lose any of our staff. We have all stuck together and I am proud of our tenacity and passion to work together during a crisis.
Barbara: How was the experience of taking part in SSON’s Startup Zone?
Mahesh Vinayagam: Honestly, it’s been invaluable. Of course it’s also been very timely for us and for the market in general. I found the exercise of condensing our value proposition to a four-minute pitch really interesting. It really focused me personally on honing our message, and on sharpening our go-to-market approach and focus, and it truly lifted our spirits to be short-listed!
In fact, looking back it was a real catalyst for us. We’ve had a lot of interest since and have had some great conversations. So, it has been a fantastic experience for our team and for me personally.
If you are interested in finding out about the 2021 Startup Zone, or taking part, please email Naomi.email@example.com.
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