Akhil Suresh Nair
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Xena Intelligence by Parzenn Partners
Akhil started Xena Intelligence by Parzenn Partners in 2018. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Xena Intelligence by Parzenn Partners?
I had a couple of years of experience working for a large corporation back in India. I genuinely felt that I was just a cog in the wheel and that whatever I did had little to no impact in the real world.
> We were at a crossroads at that time – filled with constant self-doubt about the career path we wanted to take. We could have easily applied for corporate jobs in the US or in India, but we chose to follow our hearts by continuing to work in our consulting business.
I reached out to a few small businesses I had developed good relationships during my corporate career and started helping them out on developing marketing strategy to scale their businesses and also to instill robust operational efficiencies in their business processes. I realized that I was able to add considerable value to their businesses and that I felt a sense of satisfaction in being able to make their lives better. I soon started consulting for over 20 small businesses in India.
I wanted to expand my business and gain global entrepreneurial experience so as to scale my company to greater heights. I was fortunate enough to be offered a one-year MBA degree course at Babson College with full scholarship. I was well aware of the fact that Babson was the best college in the world for entrepreneurial studies and that they went above and beyond to help support entrepreneurs, especially for international students.
During my course, I came across my future co-founder Danny, who stayed in the dorm room one floor above mine. We spoke on occasion about our plans for the future and after many months towards the end of our course, we struck a chord. Both of us felt that working for a large corporation is unfulfilling and that we had a passion to improve the lives of millions of small business owners whose livelihood depends on the sustained growth of their business cash flow. Both of us also came from families who have faced tremendous obstacles in scaling their own businesses due to lack of high quality professional support which could have made their businesses much larger with way fewer sleepless nights.
Danny was highly proficient and passionate about operations and business process redesign. He too had experience working in a large corporate setup as well as a startup environment. Combined with my passion for marketing strategy, we set out to start an organization with the mission to help grow the backbone of the American economy – the small and mid-sized businesses.
We set out to contact as many family businesses in the Greater Boston area since we wanted to see if these businesses would find our consulting services valuable and if they would be willing to pay for it. We had no personal connections in the Greater Boston area business community at that time and we were doubtful if any business owner would find two relatively young entrepreneurs who have had no track record of doing business in the United States[SN1] .
We were pleasantly surprised at the receptiveness of the business owners to our value proposition and firmly believed in our vision of genuinely helping them grow their business. We were quite fortunate to have received paid projects in quick succession and were really glad that our initial clients loved our work so much that they became our initial word-of-mouth marketing angels. We had finally validated our idea when we received our first check on completion of our first project – that was a milestone indeed. Our happiness was compounded when we were featured in the local newspaper – The Wellesley Townsman – which was quite flattering and a true honor indeed.
We were at a crossroads at that time – filled with constant self-doubt about the career path we wanted to take. We could have easily applied for corporate jobs in the US or in India, but we chose to follow our hearts by continuing to work in our consulting business. Our financial situation was bleak, as with any student who has just graduated – we were just able to scrape by with the projects that we were getting during the initial few months. Slowly but steadily we knew that things would improve and that our north star of helping small businesses grow would undoubtedly lead us to a better place.
We constantly reached out to our professors, connections and industry experts for their advice and guidance on how to take our business forward. One of the most frequent inputs we heard was that our consulting business was highly manpower driven and that it would be quite a challenge to scale this business. This feedback got us thinking – which led to the inception of Project Xena Intelligence. We realized that most of the work done by consultants in data analytics and red flag generation is based on that data. We hypothesized that in this day and age, it should be possible to automate a large portion of data analytics, and if done so, would mean that millions of small business owners across the country would have instant, free and easy access to high level business intelligence analytics reports which could automatically generate recommendations based on the inputs that they give combined with the analytics engine we would build. This would be a natural progression in line with our company’s mission statement and the very reason that we chose to start the organization. We thus set out to build this platform to achieve this goal, and in the future be able to use machine learning and AI to improve the recommendation engine and be able to analyze large amounts of data more efficiently and effectively.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder of Starter Story
- Wiki Updater