Tuesday 21 January 2020

What you need to know before bootstrapping your company?

- By Apoorva Verma

Starting a firm is one of the most planned decisions that one can make in their lifetime. In fact, the founder(s) have so much on stake that they look at all sorts of possibilities - including that of failure. Thus, building something on their own requires practicality, technical expertise and management knowledge in addition to the funds. 

Here are some tips on bootstrapping your own business by co-founders of Integration Wizards Solutions, an Indian startup that’s purely bootstrapped and profitable since its first day! Founded by Kunal Kislay, Saquib Khan, and Kumar Raman in 2014, its unique products are deployed by a global clientele including eight Fortune 500 companies. 

1. Learning to Balance 
According to research published in the Entrepreneur, business knowledge with necessary technical expertise in product development is very important for starting any business. However, "The best approach to achieve this is to get the right co-founders," says Kunal. He further adds, "As your partners, they play a key role in taking the organisation in the right direction by bringing their expertise, be it management or technical as well as contributing on various aspects of work and finances as and when necessary, especially if you are self-funded." 

2. Financial Planning
“While the lessons learnt along the way are priceless, one of the key lessons this journey teaches is the financial planning,” says Saquib. He adds that one needs to evaluate their revenue sources, plan a clear burn out strategy as well as resource management.   

3. Client Acquisition
It’s not just about starting out with an idea, it’s about researching the need for it and developing the product accordingly. If you carefully carry out this research, it has the potential to develop a product that could make your profits break-even within a short span.  

4. Creativity in promotions 
Bootstrapped start-ups need to be creative in their PR and promotional activities too. While they should be proactive in attending events and conferences to build personal contacts, it’s important to manage the funds in the right direction, and they need to decide when to spend and where. 

5. Risk Assessment 
Although, most entrepreneurs are confident, “One should have an exit plan in mind too” says Kunal. This is crucial as you need a plan in case things go south. Risk assessment is very important to save you from bankruptcy. It gives an overview of the business model, the revenue sources, market research, and management strategy et al. 

It's all about balancing the pros and cons

While the sense of responsibility increases as you run an organisation, the freedom to play by your own rules is a breather. As a bootstrapped firm, you will not have venture capitalists or investors breathing down your neck for every decision you make. 

Since the decision resides with the founders, the start-up growth is mature as it is free from outside influences that could push the company in various directions. Thus, ‘the company focuses on producing flagship products while retaining their company culture,’ says Saquib. 

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention – especially when your own pocket is on the line. Thus, you tend to innovate, invent, and reinvent on various aspects of businesses. In fact, sometimes you might find yourself working or making decisions on aspects of management that you haven’t done before. 

However, one disadvantage of a bootstrapped start-up is undoubtedly “the Cash Crunch.” It’s a perpetual reality and affects many decisions. One of these include hiring the right talent. As with all good things, hiring the right candidate comes with a price too. Moreover, if you haven’t taken interviews before, decision making becomes even more difficult.

Note: This is also published in YourStory.

Monday 13 January 2020

Looking Back: The best of 2019

“If you are not prepared to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary” – Jon Rohn

This year saw substantial growth in artificial intelligence and computer vision adaptation as well as the demand to keep up with the technology and innovation in businesses. These were the key drivers that kept us going, and also continue to motivate us for the upcoming decade.

We completed six years and successfully graduated from the start-up club to become an enterprise. From receiving ISO certification and Nasscom membership to getting recognised by Google amongst a handful MDM providers, it was a year to be proud of.

Our revenue has propelled eight times and we have on-boarded about twenty clients in the last six years. Working with our strategic partners Nvidia & Microsoft, we cracked the code on machine learning and many from our team up-skilled. We developed algorithms to control automated drones and upgraded for our client goals.

Our product is being used by 20,000 users across the globe and we actively participated in global conferences in the US, Spain and India. We grew not only in talent, but numbers too. A start-up that began with five now has about 65 members and a 7000sq. Ft of state of the art development centre in India.

Another feather to our cap came with the addition of seven Fortune 500 companies such as PostNord, Dover, Heineken, Xerox to name a few. Moreover, our AI-powered computer vision product, IRIS is now the synthetic intelligent eye for some corporate giants that include one of India’s largest solar plants, automobile manufacturer, chemical manufacturer, jewellery retail chain, construction corporate, heavy engineering, as well as FMCG. Last but not least, we also made some great improvements to our website – that’s right, we had a revamp of our website.

And we are not stopping here. We are striving to achieve more associations, more growth in 2020. 

#2020goals #yearendreview #sixyears #anniversary

Friday 3 January 2020

Moving towards an AI-enabled future

McKinsey Global Institute claims that artificial intelligence is contributing to a transformation of society 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3000 times the impact of the Industrial Revolution.

This is observed by the upsurge in artificial intelligence and computer vision adaptation as well as the demand to keep up with the technology and innovation in businesses in the last few years. According to a report by IDC, aggressive investments have been made in cognitive and AI solutions and in fact, global investments are expected to reach $57.6 billion by 2021.

Such investments are catalysed by the advent of modern computer vision and image processing techniques. AI-powered computer vision coupled with hardware-based accelerators have opened up the possibilities of analysing images in real-time to identify objects and activities. 

Since, a typical CCTV image is more than 100,000 Bytes, in this context, it might be quite apt to surmise that a picture is worth hundred-thousand words! 

At present, there are over 500 million CCTV cameras installed and the number is expected to rise to over a Billion by 2021. While these cameras cover everything from manufacturing, yards, warehouses, retail outlets to several parts of modern cities, so far they have been used retrospectively for monitoring and forensic analysis.

However, there is substantial growth in their usage in various verticals. For instance, retail outlets are getting equipped with the capability of knowing their customer demographics, dwell time and even emotions. Even the government is contemplating their use in smart city initiatives as they could prove beneficial if suspect activities are filtered from the live CCTV footages. Likewise, manufacturing premises bolster their safety parameters by ensuring any hazardous non-compliance is actively analysed and reported. 

In fact, stepping up occupational health & safety for people at all levels is the new benchmark that some of the companies are trying to work towards. If this becomes a norm, it could make a sustainable difference in global OSH challenges and promise a brighter future. 

Thus, an AI-enabled future lies in the best use of distributed vision technologies while delving into the deeper end of machine learning and deep learning to explore and understand the potential of these technologies better.

If you are looking to explore how computer vision technology can be useful in your enterprise, check out IRIS AI by Integration Wizards Solutions.