How We Developed A $2M/Year AI Chatbot Platform
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Pranay Jain, and I’m the CEO and co-founder of Enterprise Bot. Headquartered in Zurich, Enterprise Bot is an AI platform that utilizes machine learning to power conversational chatbots, email, and voice bots. Our flagship product is our bots, which can be tailored to fit our client’s needs.
Currently, we offer bots in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese - with more to come. Our customers are wide-ranging, from e-commerce, HR, insurance, and financial services. I am extremely proud to have a team that has enabled us to grow 2x for the last 3 years consecutively and breach the coveted 2 million revenue mark with an ambition to double that again this year.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I founded Enterprise Bot alongside my wife, Ravina Mutha, and our CTO Sandeep Jayasankar. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs in Pune, India, and I originally planned to work in my family’s business. However, I realized very quickly that I wanted to forge my own path. I attended university in the United States, and while studying business I ended up doing an internship with the university’s web services. I was fascinated by information technology, particularly its problem-solving nature, and decided that I wanted to pursue business in tech.
I was particularly interested in AI, and my first venture was a messenger service that integrated AI into a Whatsapp-style interface. The app used AI to enhance the user experience by linking suggestions and shortcuts based on the conversation. I quickly realized that people didn’t want AI involved in their private conversations. It was a challenging time, but my work in AI had gotten attention and I used the opportunity to pivot.
With a new idea for a conversational AI service, I was accepted into Startupbootcamp London. I had a strong network in London, but Brexit led many UK businesses to pause significant decisions, and I knew we wanted to expand our base in Europe. We had the opportunity to join F10 in Switzerland, which was meant to be five weeks. We ended up fully relocating, and are now based in Zurich.
I approached Enterprise Bot’s AI software from the perspective of an outsider. Because I don't code, I wanted to make technology that was user-friendly for business clients who are unfamiliar with the most technical aspects of IT - “no-code” and “low-code” simplification. I think that is what has allowed us to connect so well with businesses interested in utilizing conversational AI.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
As with most startups, our story starts with an idea with no product and just a semblance of clarity on how to achieve it. We used online tools to generate a couple of videos to explain our vision to prospective customers and get quick initial feedback. As co-founders, we had just spent the last 12 months before this trying to build the perfect B2C product that had failed to garner the traction we wanted so we were clear we would keep things extremely lean this time around and not spend 9-12 months building a product that might not achieve traction.
We kept experimenting to understand what would be possible and what would not but with almost no UI with most of the work being done in code meant that our customers would not be able to actually use our product without us.
This in hindsight was a good and bad decision. But surprisingly, more good than bad. Because conversational AI was an extremely new field our customers were very hesitant to work directly with the product and our offer to help them end to end allowed us to sell more easily and learn about what our clients really wanted and allowed us to save a lot of time to go to market and start making revenue. This same approach meant we could not scale quickly as we committed a lot of resources to work with our customers and did slow our growth by at least 1 year in hindsight but we had an extremely strong base that allowed us to build a more scalable business.
Describe the process of launching the business.
At the start, we had no real capital. I was 26. No real savings with some experience mainly in real estate, same with my other co-founder Ravina. We did have families that could support us but we were both very clear we would not like to take any support and we wanted to build it on our own at all costs. So we applied to accelerators to get some basic capital and started the company with 15,000 Euros from Startupbootcamp in the UK. We then applied to another accelerator the F10 and got another 15,000 Franks and this was our starting capital. We had 2 employees from our past startup and we hired two more in Bangalore, India.
We were 6 resources where the two co-founders, me and my soon-to-be wife, did not draw any salary except basic expenses for rent and food and we had our other co-founder in Bangalore heading the team. Our structure to have our development in India was a big factor that helped us stay lean. We did not raise any capital until 12 months and to date have raised less than 800k with most of our money coming from revenue.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our Accelerators were the best way for us to launch and get our first few customers. We got our first 3 major customers from our accelerators. As we were clearly focused on large enterprises each client was approximately 100k ARR and this built a good profitable base.
Post this we tested and failed multiple times with Google ads, Facebook ads, Linkedin ads. All these failed miserably, unfortunately. As our focus was on Large Enterprises we saw that all these approaches did not work for us to get leads effectively and the best approach was to use our network and existing customer recommendations coupled with conferences.
This of course is not the best hyper-growth strategy so we knew we needed to fix our marketing pipeline. We hired an amazing experienced growth marketer that helped us then move from spray and pray marketing to a lot more targeted marketing coupled with content and smart SEO effort. We have a long way to go but I am confident we will be able to get approximately 100 MQL’s a month by the end of this year through our campaigns
These were some of our ads:
We’ve had a good bit of global coverage. Recently, we were featured in an article on Lifewire around the concept of the uncanny valley and how to make chatbots seem human, but not “too human”. Our PR campaign isn’t targeting one country, we’ve been featured in Swiss news, UK media as well as American publications, and my co-founder was also published in Forbes as 60 women in tech to invest in.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We would not like to share too specific numbers, but as previously mentioned, we have been consistently growing and have hit the 2 million revenue mark since the creation of Enterprise Bot. We have the ambition to double that this year.
You will find people that are smarter than you and better funded than you, but if you have the grit to keep going you will find opportunities that will allow you to grow.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use multiple tools for varying business functions and needs. We use:
- Pipedrive for our CRM
- GetResponse for Email Marketing
- Hubspot for Marketing
- Slack for collaboration
- Slite for internal knowledge management.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Books have always been a great source of learning for me. 5 books that have really helped me through my journey are:
- Lean startup
- Principles by Ray Dalio
- The Hard Things About The Hard Things
- Lost and Founder
- A History of the World by Andrew Marr
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Each one of these books has really helped me formulate an idea about vision, actions, and pitfalls that we should be aware of and try to increase our chances of success.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My recommendation to any upcoming founder is to not lose hope and never stop learning. You will find people that are smarter than you and better funded than you, but if you have the grit to keep going you will find opportunities that will allow you to grow.
Of course, it is way easier to have the ultimate idea and the perfect Blue Ocean market but the fact is 90% of us do not clearly know what that is when we start. It’s only by going deeper in the area that we understand all the pitfalls and the opportunities that enable us to reach the right summit.
Most people either do not or many times due to their family or financial situation cannot continue. Those who do generally tend to find opportunities one way or another and you just have to keep your eyes and ears open to discover them.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are looking to hire for various positions including but not limited to Head of Growth Marketing, Senior Sales Manager, Senior Full Stack Developer. We are also looking to add SDRs, technical writers, and conversational design experts to expand our team and meet the increasing demands.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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