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Thought Leaders in Artificial Intelligence: Raj Koneru, CEO of (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 30th 2020

Sramana Mitra: What is your strategy? Are you, at some point, going to open up the platform to third-party developers to build software solutions for the use cases that you do not cover?

Raj Koneru: It’s already an open platform. All of our documentation is online. You can sign up for our training academy. The platform is accessible right there. You can create an account, start building virtual assistants, and build whatever you like. 

Sramana Mitra: Do you have ISVs developing?

Raj Koneru: Yes, we have several in the healthcare, financial, and utilities vertical. Then we share the revenue with them. 

Sramana Mitra: How many ISVs are in that ecosystem? 

Raj Koneru: As of right now, it’s a small number. It’s about 10 or 12. We are increasing that over a period of time. Our go-to market has been focused on large enterprise customers as opposed to ISVs.

We have over a hundred Global 2000 customers now. People like Deutsche Bank, Verizon, AT&T, and Pfizer. Our focus has been to cater to these large enterprise customers. We do have a plan to engage the ISVs. We’ve just released a plan to engage with MSPs and have them engage with the smaller customers. 

Sramana Mitra: I’m watching the PaaS trend very closely. I think some of the most powerful companies that will leapfrog in the cloud space are going to be the ones who do both solutions and platforms. It sounds like your positioning gives you an opportunity to do that.

Raj Koneru: We are following almost the same model as Salesforce. Our focus is not applications; our focus is automating interactions. It’s both an automation and an application play in that regard. 

Sramana Mitra: It’s a matter of semantics. Automation or application in different sectors have different workflows, vocabularies, and knowledge bases. There are different things happening in banking or healthcare.

There are a whole lot of other segments where segment-specific logic will need to be built. It’s usually not possible for one platform player to build all of them. If you want to cover the gamut, you would want to get a suite of ISVs to implement those.

Raj Koneru: I agree. That’s the approach we are taking. If you take people like Salesforce or SAP, their primary goal is to provide functional applications as opposed to our goal, which is to look for interactions.

Sramana Mitra: I understand what you’re saying. You want to automate an interaction. 

Raj Koneru: Correct. 

Sramana Mitra: Interactions vary in different contexts, and you need the workflow and vocabulary of that segment to be able to automate that. What are some of those segments or interactions where you would like new entrepreneurs to come on to your platform and build those automations?

Raj Koneru: You can look at it from a vertical or horizontal standpoint. There are various verticals that we have not focused on and may not focus on. For example, if you look at the customer support experience area, we are not focused on retail or CPG as a solution provider. We are not focused on travel. We may focus on insurance.

Sramana Mitra: So you want entrepreneurs to come and build for retail and travel.

Raj Koneru: Yes. Also horizontal areas. We have decided to focus on IT and HR, which are enterprise-wide deployments. There are use cases that we have seen our customers implement for procurement, supply chain, legal, and manufacturing.

Those are areas that we may neither have the domain expertise nor the bandwidth to implement. We would love to have entrepreneurs go do that, and we’ll support them.

Sramana Mitra: How big is the company now?

Raj Koneru: We have 350 employees. We’re adding a hundred more this year.

Sramana Mitra: Any guidance on revenue?

Raj Koneru: That I cannot say being a private company. We grew 150% last year.

Sramana Mitra: When did you start the company?

Raj Koneru: 2014. 

Sramana Mitra: So it’s been a while. 

Raj Koneru: We grow by two to three times each year.

Sramana Mitra: Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Artificial Intelligence: Raj Koneru, CEO of
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