Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the 2018 timeframe when you were ending the year with 20 customers in that HR use case. What happens in 2019? Help me understand how your HR business is growing and what is the next use case that you go after.
Adit Jain: We wanted to focus on HR. We didn’t want to go out of HR right now. In 2019, we started talking to customers globally. We are in the business of providing a great experience to the end-users who, without Leena AI, would have called or emailed someone and waited for a response. The second biggest ROI is that we save a lot of HR time. On the other end of the table is an HR who gets the same request 500 times a day. They’re bored and have better things to do.
There is one use case. Leena AI can handle 80% of the questions asked out of the box. For 20% of the time where Leena AI cannot answer, what do you do then? Let’s say you have a question that you don’t get an answer to. You can’t just drop the chat. We started asking our customers what to do.
One thing led to the other. We pitched the idea of using a simple ticketing tool or a case management tool for everything that Leena AI cannot do. That’s our second product. It came into being in the mid to late 2019. Leena AI answers 80% of the questions. The rest get ticketed. That’s how we completed the loop on the employee experience end of it.
Sramana Mitra: The full workflow got completed there.
Adit Jain: Exactly.
Sramana Mitra: What is the customer scale at the end of 2019? What kind of revenue?
Adit Jain: At the end of 2019, we doubled our business. We were looking at 40 customers. The price point was almost the same. The size of the customers that we were targeting were smaller. We just changed that to looking at midmarket – more than a thousand employee company.
Sramana Mitra: You didn’t raise any more money in 2019?
Adit Jain: No, we didn’t raise any money. We were still in the motion of growth and we still had enough cash. We were bleeding. We were cash positive.
Sramana Mitra: You were already over a million at this point.
Adit Jain: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: What happens in 2020?
Adit Jain: The pandemic hit. We have great retention rates. None of our customers had churn at that time. We were doing great. Suddenly, the new business pipeline vanishes. We are looking at not getting our payments on time. We decided not to raise money at that time. It was March or April. We had a good amount of cash at hand. At that time, we had around $900,000 in the bank.
Our payroll had expanded because we started growing. It was a tough time. We chose to freeze giving out appraisals. Then we waited to see what happened next. I’m very proud to say we never held back salaries even when the customers didn’t pay. Within three to four months of the pandemic hitting, we started seeing a lot of upticks.
Sramana Mitra: Exactly. One of the things that happened in your favor is that enterprises learned to close deals on Zoom.
Adit Jain: Yes. It forced organizations to adopt solutions like ours. Our business boomed in the second half of 2020. We grew 300%. We lost a bit of revenue in India. Some of those companies themselves could not survive the pandemic. Overall, it was a great year for us. We ended up raising money in November. That was $8 million led by Greycroft. Covid had its silver lining for us.