Friday 31 December 2021

How do you research properly before you start your own business?

 Here is what most people do:

  1. Read McKinsey/BCG reports
  2. Read articles on Quora/Medium
  3. Start writing code and building a product

These are all WRONG mechanisms to start your own business. Reports and articles, more often than not, are written to be read and not necessarily implemented.

The most underrated mechanism of research - talk to your customers and get their feedback.

When we started Cogno AI in 2017, we met a lot of potential customers. We wanted to target the Financial Services Industry for our Customer Experience Product. We met so many people across so many verticals:

  • AVP at YES Bank: the feedback we got was that they’re looking for solutions around AI and voice. They were looking to deploy solutions around customer authentication using voice biometrics.
  • DGM at SBI: they wanted ChatBot solutions using AI which can automate the most common customer queries.
  • SVP at HDFC Bank: they told that they are already doing a lot of stuff around AI and Bots and were also working on a human robot.
  • President at Axis Bank: they told that they are implementing a chat-based solution with another service provider.

Cogno AI’s parent entity is “AllinCall Research and Solutions Private Limited”. Guess how this name came? We wanted to build an IVR-based voice assistant that can help the customers. Hence “All-in-Call”. However, based on the customer feedback, we realized that chat is what the companies are really looking for. We took the feedback seriously and built a product around the same. Today, we have 60+ large enterprise clients in the Financial Services Space.

Here are some photos I picked up from my phone’s gallery. These are all 2017 and 2018 photos.

As an entrepreneur, your biggest role is to talk to customers and collect feedback. This isn’t only for early-stage founders. Even for late-stage founders, this is the most important thing.

Here is what DoorDash did recently:

All DoorDash employees, even the CEO, will make deliveries. At least one worker is irate
The WeDash program was created when the company was founded in 2013 as an effort to engage the company in community and philanthropic initiatives.

When Harshita and I took our first office, it was a small 7 - 8 seater space.

Today, we have a team of 100+ members working relentlessly to make the business a success.

If you were to ask me, what are 2 of the top things that we did to make it here? I’d say:

  • We collected a lot of customer feedback. I have had as many as 12 zoom meetings per day back-to-back in July last year.
  • We focused. We focused on doing a few things best rather than many things. I have written about it here.

I am proud to say that Cogno AI recently got acquired by Exotel. I have written a detailed Quora answer on my Entrepreneurship journey. You can read it here: Aman Goel's answer to What can you tell me about your entrepreneurship journey? How was/is your life as an entrepreneur?

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