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Business Transformation

Tech for bootstrapped startups

Hari T N
.
Jun 9
.
5-6 mins

Table of contents

Key takeawaysCollaboration platforms are essential to the new way of workingEmployees prefer engati over emailEmployees play a growing part in software purchasing decisionsThe future of work is collaborativeMethodology

Introduction

"Execute, perform, and make things happen" is Big Basket's head of HR's slogan. Here is Hari T.N on how to use tech for bootstrapped startups.

Hari, aka the start-up HR guy, is the Co-author of the book "Saying No to Jugaad - The Making of Bigbasket." He is also BigBasket’s current head of HR.

This IITian and IIM graduate, has spent years at Tata Steel, first as an engineer and then in HR. Hari’s been a part of the Management Team at multiple start-ups/scale-ups and helped shape four successful exits in different industries.

He believes that in start-ups, jargons don’t count because one has to execute, perform, and make things happen in real-time.

He is extremely passionate about solving problems and building organizations for scale through clear & uncluttered thinking and relentless execution.

Interview with Hari T.N

The following section is a summary of our interview with Hari. But if you’d like to listen to the full interview, there’s a link to the Spotify podcast below. 

The funding cycle seems to be dying and high growth startups are laying off people in the thousands.

1

What is your perspective of businesses established with sound business practices versus the feel that startups today are bereft of any sense of business fundamentals?


“The funding cycle mirrors the eternal cycle of hope and despair,” according to Hari. There’s the top of the funding cycle, and the bottom. 

  • Fantasy abandoned by reasonThis is the peak of the cycle. Where we see a lot of positivity and encouragement. On the positives, we see a lot of entrepreneurs being courageous and pursuing audacious ideas. But on the other hand, this is where we see the creation of impossible monsters and irrational exuberance. At around 2015-2017, the cycle was at its peak. We saw a lot of banks funding many startups, giving hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses that weren’t sustainable.
  • Fear abandoned by reasonThis is the trough of the cycle. Where we see a lot of pessimism and stagnancy. There’s not a lot of movement at this stage because of the fear. This is where the funded startups from the peak of the cycle are the ones who are laying people off. And where businesses get their reality checks and when they induce responsible behaviour. But while the reality check is the downside, there’s a light in realizing the importance of building a sustainable business.Smart investors are ones that recognize the cycle and embrace the positives. But are aware of the negative sentiments that each phase creates and therefore wary of them, thus investing wisely.

2

How can AI and tech be the game-changer for startups?


There is currently a lot of hype about artificial intelligence. Whether they’re a game-changer or not is up to the business. We can broadly classify these technologies into three buckets.

  • Genuine and rapid progressThis is where technology is thriving, where we’re saying genuine and rapid progress. Examples could be facial recognition, a diagnosis from medical scans, speech-to-text, reverse image searching, etc. AI is making great strides and is impacting this area immensely.
  • Partially imperfect and improvingThis is where the technology is imperfect but will continue to improve. Examples being spam detection, detection of hate speech, conversational AI, chatbots, etc.
  • The fundamentally dubiousThis is the area that is completely flawed and dubious; there’s no scope in this area, according to Hari. and it’s not because of technology. It’s because these areas are fundamentally impossible to solve. Examples being predicting job success, or if a person will succeed in a job, predicting behaviours in general. It is impossible for technology to predict human behaviour, it’s fundamentally dubious.

3

Do you think Conversational AI can be a critical customer support tool in the e-commerce industry?


Conversational AI falls into the second bucket- it’s imperfect but it will get better over time. It’s going to continue improving. Conversational AI and chatbots serve as an excellent first point-of-contact. While it is difficult to expect a bot to carry out a complex conversation, it certainly is an excellent starting point. Besides, many customers are not serious about carrying out such conversations with a chatbot. It’s mainly transactional simple questions, for now. Hari predicts it’s going to get better.

And that companies will benefit from using an AI-powered chatbot for customer interaction.

Check out the 200 CX Thought Leaders to follow in 2021!

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Hari T N

Hari, aka the start-up HR guy, is the Co-author of the book "Saying No to Jugaad - The Making of Bigbasket." He is also BigBasket’s current head of HR.

This IITian and IIM graduate, has spent years at Tata Steel, first as an engineer and then in HR. Hari’s been a part of the Management Team at multiple start-ups/scale-ups and helped shape four successful exits in different industries.

He believes that in start-ups, jargons don’t count because one has to execute, perform, and make things happen in real-time. He is extremely passionate about solving problems and building organizations for scale through clear & uncluttered thinking and relentless execution.

Andy is the Co-Founder and CIO of SwissCognitive - The Global AI Hub. He’s also the President of the Swiss IT Leadership Forum.

Andy is a digital enterprise leader and is transforming business strategies keeping the best interests of shareholders, customers, and employees in mind.

Follow him for your daily dose of AI news and thoughts on using AI to improve your business.

Catch our interview with Andy on AI in daily life

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