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BW Businessworld

"Lay Offs In Big Firms Open Opportunities For MSMEs"

If top 10 IT companies are laying off employees, there is a huge potential in mid-sized and small scale enterprises. The smaller enterprises can also leverage the experience of those who have been laid off from big firms.

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From a bootstrap company, Solutions Infini has become a global leader in mobile messaging with a net worth of over 200 crores. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Aniketh Jain, co-founder of the company speaks about cloud technology, layoffs in IT sector, recent cyber-attacks and much more. Edited excepts:

How does your company help Indian businesses grow?

We help businesses to communicate with their customers in a more efficient manner. In simple terms, say you do a transaction and then you get a message saying thank you for your order or thank you for your time spent with us; all that communication is done through our platform. So the businesses connect with us and then we connect them to their customers or potential customers. We also use voice calls through cloud technology where everything gets recorded. Let’s say that you book a taxi, your number will invariably go the driver. That’s where we come into the picture. The call is first connected to us and then we connect them to the driver, so this way your number is safe.

Since you mentioned the cloud technology, how do you think this technology is making a difference in the Indian businesses?

There are few reasons why cloud technology is changing the dynamics of businesses. Firstly, it reduces the cost, and then they are on 'pay as you go' model. Earlier, they used to buy software which was a huge capex investment and the success of it was also not certain. The other thing is scalability. Previously, either you were a small or a big company; you had to go for huge investments. Today, you can scale because of cloud; if you scale up you pay more if you don’t then you pay accordingly.

Today, when all the companies are switching to social media marketing, how relevant is promotion through text messages?

While the market for digital marketing has been growing there is also an invariable need for personalized marketing. Social media marketing can cover only digital platform but for more attention to individual customers, you have to come to us. Further, the digital marketing and our way of marketing go hand in hand. For instance, if you display a digital advertisement and then add the advertiser’s number, which is basically a cloud number, it helps you track the ‘return of investment’. So, digital media with our way of communication is more effective. Digital is for mass marketing but this is more customer-centric.

What’s your take on the widespread layoffs in the Information Technology (IT) sector?

There are a couple of reasons for this. In my understanding, many companies in order to grow rapidly hired a lot of people, but now there is more automation in their processes which is why they don’t need that number of employees now. In a way, it’s good for smaller companies because now they are able to higher some tech talents. So, if top 10 IT companies are laying off employees, there is a huge potential in mid-sized and small scale enterprises. The smaller enterprises can leverage the experience of those who have been laid off from big firms. This keeps on happening in the IT ecosystem; with increasing automation, the need for manpower decreases.

As we talked about automation, how crucial is innovation to your business. The promotional messages have also evolved from emails to text messages. How integral is evolving in this business?

There is a shelf-life for everything. As of now, there is no alternative to the text messages. If one withdraws money out of his/her account, they don't want to check some app notification; text messages suit their purpose in the best way. Coming to the innovation part, we are adding a universal resource locator called 'textly'. Earlier, we could only know that the message is delivered to the customer but now with textly, we can find out if the customer has read the message or not. This helps us in target audience segmentation and then we can do re-targeting as well.

In the wake of recent cyber-attacks, I would like to ask you, how do you ensure the security of your platform?

In terms of security, we are very much prepared and have taken a lot of measures. Basically, the protocol which we work on and the platform that we have deployed are not open. In terms of security, if you keep a lot of your servers open, then it becomes accessible to unknown users, then it becomes a worry point for any company, but our platform is completely safe. We also do third party testing from certified companies for any snag and then ensure that all the loopholes are fixed. So, that makes our platform really tough to crack. We have a network and a security team as well. Our customers trust us for data security.

How do you see the current Indian IT start-up ecosystem?

We see and hear about a lot of start-ups, but some lack in the business model, then, some are completely dependent on investors’ money; so many start-ups fail to grow or stop growing beyond a certain point. I believe start-ups should ideally focus on profits rather than scale and growth and profit will only come when you have a right business model. Many start-ups only focus on funding and more customers through freebies, which is not the right way.

How has this journey been for you and what are the challenges that you faced in it?

We are an organically grown business. We are a bootstrap company that has been in the game for more than eight years. For the start, we just infused about eight lakh rupees and this year we are witnessing a turnout of over 230 crores. It has been profitable for year one, day one. Earlier, we were a service based company but now we are a product based company. This happened because we had the focus and the right business model. We started small operations in Mumbai and then expanded geographically as well. Today, we have offices in Singapore and Dubai. As for the challenges part, hiring talent has always been a challenge, we got no exposure from media as we were not funded by anyone but a bootstrap company. The first question that media asks me is- are you guys funded? Then, there have been regulatory challenges as well.

Since, you talked about hiring challenges, do you believe that many technical graduates of India lack the required skill?

We face a lot of this. In fact, many engineers that we hired are working for customer service as they are not at all fit for the engineering background itself. So, the skills that they acquire in their college are not relevant these days. Maybe, the education system has to change a bit.

How would you like to contribute to Prime Minister (PM) Modi’s Digital India campaign?

We keep working around the ideas of digitalization. In fact, PM Modi has used the voice service through ‘Mann Ki Baat’ as it is a cloud-based service. So, all the end customers call on a single number and then they can listen to the whole programme. So, we want to support him more and more in his initiatives. We want to support start-ups by providing them our service for free so, they could adapt to our technology.

Where do you see your company in the next five years?

The straightforward plan is to grow to 2000 crores, go public, create new ideas in the communication space, add more value to the customers, and provide more employment.