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Bootstrapping a $7 Million Company in Houston: Gaurav Khandelwal, CEO of ChaiOne (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Mar 23rd 2014

Sramana: Let’s talk about oil and gas as an industry and how it consumes IT. You have talked about the application you are now taking to this industry. What other use cases can you see in that space?

Gaurav Khandelwal: First of all, it is very difficult to get into these companies. The older workforce is retiring and a younger force is coming into play. They are not going to work for a firm that does not have more advanced technologies. As you look at the cross section of needs, a lot of them have business processes that were built in the 1980’s and 1990’s. They have processes in place that were developed in that era. A lot of companies will come in and mobilize those existing processes. We re-engineer the process into a streamlined process. That is where my experience in consulting comes into play. We send designers out into the field and they come back with an experience map. Our team then engineers a solution that is streamlined for the customer.

Sramana: I imagine that there must be more product opportunities coming up. If you engineer a solution for one client then there are likely others in the industry that will also be interested in the same type of solution.

Gaurav Khandelwal: You are exactly right. That is where we have to pick and choose what we want to work on. It is not necessarily easy to find the perfect intersection point. We have to invest a lot of time and money to find opportunities where we can develop a product that will go deep into the market and not just skim the surface.

Sramana: It seems like you would want to construct building blocks and essentially create a modular toolkit.

Gaurav Khandelwal: That is exactly what we have done. We have built a platform and we are piloting that platform internally with a few customers. We can focus on three of four key areas. We want that platform to be common enough to be used across other verticals, and then we can put building blocks on top of that platform that allow us to focus on market verticals. We have even had discussions about splitting that platform off into its own company that could make a very broad market play. The other option of course is to go very deep into this one market vertical.

One of the key things that we have to remember is that what we have built integrates very well with the sensors that are in the field. In the consumer space there are things like NEST, which are gaining a lot of traction. There are similar sensors in the oil and gas space for industrial controls. We are calling our platform a context aware platform.

Sramana: In my opinion, it seems that you have an opportunity to build our your work in the oil and gas market and use that as a chance to refine your platform. From there, could you open another vertical and then go very deep into that vertical as well? I would go sector by sector as opposed to going horizontal as a platform. That is a very competitive market right now.

Gaurav Khandelwal: We have identified four verticals. Oil and gas, logistics, retail and healthcare. We have some contracts with large logistics companies right now. Those are all industries that have very specific needs for mobile business processes. We can go very deep in each of those verticals.

Sramana: This has been a very interesting discussion. Great work so far and good luck as you continue!

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping a $7 Million Company in Houston: Gaurav Khandelwal, CEO of ChaiOne
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