“Believe in yourself” is one of the pieces of advice that Gaurav shares in this episode of The Revenue Engine Podcast.
Gaurav is an immigrant entrepreneur who discusses how even as a CEO and two time founder, he still sometimes experiences imposter syndrome, but also shares how he works to address it and work through it.
Gaurav has an incredibly inspirational story from humble beginnings in New Delhi, India selling pencils and pens on the street with his brother to designing his first video game at the age of 12 to starting his first company at age 16. He is currently the CEO and Co-founder of his second company, involve.ai.
Take a listen to this amazing story where Gaurav shares how to drive the revenue engine by being “product obsessed” and helping to make the world “customer-centric”.
Connect with Gaurav https://www.linkedin.com/in/bhattacharyagaurav/
Connect with Rosalyn https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosalyn-santa-elena/
Thanks to Sales IQ Global https://salesiqglobal.com/ for powering the Revenue Engine.
You ready? Let's get to it. Believe in yourself is one of the pieces of advice that Guarav Bhattacharya shares. In this episode of the revenue engine podcast, Guarav is an immigrant entrepreneur who discusses how, even as a CEO and two time founder, he still sometimes experiences impostor syndrome. But also shares how he works to address it and work through it.
Kara has an incredibly inspirational story from humble beginnings in new Delhi, India, selling pencils and pens on the street with his. To designing his first video game at the age of 12 to starting his first company at age 16, he is currently the CEO and co-founder of his second company involved.ai, a company focused on providing a single view of all of the metrics that matter.
When it comes to your customers to help retain and grow your install base. Please take a listen to this amazing story where Guarav shares so many learnings, insights and advice, including being product obsessed and helping make the world. Customer centric. So super excited to be here today with Gara by the Tara, the co-founder and CEO of involved that AI involved that AI helps to organize all customer data into a single view, providing insights to help predict customer health, reduce churn, and increase expansions.
So welcome Guarav. And thank you so much for joining me. Super excited to share your story and just learn from you.[:
[00:02:16] Rosalyn: That's great. Thank you. So, I mean, you have had such an amazing career already and you're still actually pretty early in your career.back in just:
12. So definitely already an innovator and builder at a very, very early age. Um, can you share more details about this and is this sort of what led to your first question?[:
I lost my father to cancer when I was two years old. Um, and my mother worked really hard to, uh, give me a good education. I had me and my brother. Uh, we wanted to help out. I had an older brother who was, um, very enthusiastic, energetic, and always wanted to get in, get involved in work early. So one of our first jobs was to sell pens and pencils on the streets.
Um, and we always looked for opportunities to expand our skill set, whatever. Get get us paid the most. And at that time, my brother had an article about software engineering and that being the next big boom in the industry and how software engineers are going to be the highest paid. And we started searching for opportunities to learn, you know, how to become a software engineer.
We didn't speak good English. We weren't blessed with a great background, but we were very enthusiastic learners. Um, I remember one such day, Microsoft had an opportunity as part of their corporate social responsibility. Dave would send their engineers to teach kids in the community and me and my brother had enrolled in.
We got very lucky that we got picked for it. And I got an old windows PC. I think it was a 95 windows PC. Used before, but I was just so passionate about it. If you've got the dial-up modem and we hooked it up and, and the internet was terrible, but we started to learn how to code, uh, when I was 10 years old and I just fell in love with it when I, I think C plus plus was the first language that we started.
I started learning English at the same time, too. Um, and I was hooked and I built my first video game at 12. And then, um, and that's kind of how we got started, but I feel everything I've achieved so far, I'm a lot of credit to my mother who worked really hard to give us a good education and my brother's enthusiasm and initiative taking, but also just coming across that article saying that software engine software is going to eat the eat the world.
I think that was the article by Paul. And just got us very excited and hooked on this. That's[:
[00:05:13] Gaurav: a business? It didn't become a business.
It was a pretty cool game. Um, but you know, um, it was, uh, First person shooting game. That's kind of, that's kind of what we started with. Um, and then I made some money off of it. So we were able to sell it to, uh, they used to be a game called counter strike long time ago. Um, I think that was popular in that.
Yeah. So, so I made a lot of improvements to it and added a lot of maps to it. That that's kind of how I started designing, designing things. And I've built a lot of games in my time. Some did well, some didn't do well, but I would always try to find people. Uh, to buy it and extended as part of their framework.
That's that's. That was the first time.[:
[00:06:02] Gaurav: design? Yeah, but I am a big, big game. I love gaming. I feel one of the things. Great passionate about that games have taught me is kinda that sense of healthy collaboration and competition, um, and, and sports and gaming offers that.
So, so I still play a lot of video games and I think that's a good, great stress Buster for me. I even played with all my teammates from time to time and, and that's[:
Through community opportunities. So can you tell us a bit more about the company and sort of, how did the idea for the company come about and what were you hoping to achieve?[:
So very interesting story. We were 15 years old. I still remember we were both geeks and we love learning. So we were born in a coding class that had almost 70 people, 68 guys, and only two girls. Um, and so she was one of them. We were both late to a class and we were fighting for the front desk. So in hindsight, it didn't make any one of us.
Um, but people became friends and she was, she was working on this idea, uh, that, that involved, um, patient experience, both her parents were doctors and she was really passionate about it. So that was our first company. Uh, we didn't go to college. We started to drive after high school and we ran it for several years.
I had a lot of ups and downs, but for ultimately able to sell it, we started it. As a software for radiologist and then expanded into a lot of the community hospitals. It was for individual practitioners, everything involving, um, helping doctors in hospitals and individual clinics drive better patient experience.
One of the cool things we did Rosslyn was community service and it was part of our team buildings since we were a small team and we were very young team. I think 16 when we started and 22, when we sold it. So a lot of our team, we couldn't, we could never attract expedience talent. Nobody wanted to work for your young people, especially in new galley.
So a lot of our team members were millennials and they loved going out in the community. A lot of times, day, they got together like that. And we would include our doctors and our hospitals and our customers in those journeys. That's what we were really passionate about. So for our second year, Samia. And I started involved soft, and our vision was that we're going to build something that can use technology to scale impact, and that's kind of how we started, um, uh, employee engagement platform that would be all centered around community engagement, where you could come together, different companies, employees in the same company, and could do just amazing work in the community too.[:
[00:09:10] Gaurav: Yeah. And that's an excellent question to kind of brings to our third company. Um, we involved soft fit with a big vision and our vision was to do social service and have employees feel like they work at a small startup, even if they work for big companies, that was a few things we were chasing and hoping for.
Um, we worked really hard at it. We had some amazing customers. Uh, we had almost four 50,000 users Roslyn. One of the issues that we faced was was churn, was a big issue for us, so we could never find true product market fit. We would have some amazing people from different companies sign up on the platform.
They would go and have events together. But after first or the second month or month, if you would almost lose 35% of our users. And we tried everything, we tried every growth tag. We talked to all our users. I spent time with all our initial users. I remember the first hundred users and you, everybody. Bye.
I went to each of their houses or offices. Like we tried everything that the Airbnb founders, the Uber founders to apple founders tried to do and every playbook, but we still couldn't find what is it that could keep people longer on the system. Um, so one of the things that we tried to Roslyn was being engineers.
We took a lot of our user's data. We almost had a lot of, uh, insights about how people use products, what titles joined, which companies for using it in a certain way. And we take all the use cases, auto auto segmented it, using our data and try to figure out what the stickiness of the platform is. Like. We would always, we had three or four, not shy metrics, like events created people you're inviting and we would measure it tremendously.
Being engineers. We took that data and took the backend systems and built rudimentary by conscripts. That would just put a dashboard together of all our company's users inside it. And just a prediction of which customers will stay with us next quarter, which ones will churn and versus upsell expansion potential available here.
And that was very useful for us because we would have died without it as a company who were losing users so fast. And we were running out of revenue. But that kept us in business. And that came, became the idea for involved our AI, where we felt that there was so much value that we were getting. So when COVID hit and as you know, customer centricity became extremely important.goals in:
And that was an immediate, Hey, as soon as we did that. And you know, a lot of CEOs came to us. What are you doing with this employee engagement platform? Why aren't you building involved.ai? This could be extremely useful. So almost like slack or slack was a gaming company for five years and, and built a collaboration tool.
That's, that's, that's a great product, very beloved product, vivre community and employee engagement platform for several years. And we had built something internally that we decided to launch in October of last year. So that's, that's kind of some of the lessons learned and of pivot. Yeah. Changing mindset and being adaptable in entrepreneurship.[:
So customer retention, we talked about that a little bit, um, around customer retention and customer expansion, right? So incredibly critical to revenue, right? Especially after, as we all learned last year, right. That pivot to really focusing on your install base, ensuring that your customers are, are happy, um, and are able to stay with you.
And really realizing that value. So what are some of the things that you think organizations are really getting right when it comes to customer revenue and retention and what are some of the things that you're seeing that they're getting[:
These companies are trading at 50 extra revenue. Men multiples. Tesla is at 1 65 X. There's a lot of examples like that, that where they've really understood the importance. Taking your revenue base and being able to constantly expand them, reduce churn, increase expansion, delight your customers, and have multiple products that you can sell to your customer base and really keep them happy.
There's direct implication to companies valuations in the public market and also in private markets. There are companies, um, gong recently raised at 125% NDR. I could be wrong, but last I read, they were around that at a 70 X valuation at 7 billion at a hundred million in ARR. There's a lot of these trends that are in public markets are translating into private markets.
There's also other companies where the growth rates have stalled primarily because Sharon is so high there's companies that are software as a service companies, but also other industries where there's maybe a hundred percent net dollar attention. But the gross is. 30% or 20% every year or even 40% every year, those companies are primarily trading in public markets only at a three X to four X, their revenue multiples every year.
So, so as an example, a company that has 140% net dollar attention might be at a billion in annual right. They might be trading at 50 billion in the public markets. Whereas the company with 70% net on detention every year or 80% net retention every year at a billion in revenue is only trading at three XR or, or 4 billion, 3 billion or 4 billion.
So the compassions are huge. I think that's something I would say the companies. Yeah. They're best in class, the top 10 percentile of fast growing big valuations and companies that are creating big value. They understand that customer retention and understanding customer experience really, truly understanding it with data.
And then I think that's kind of where revenue operations comes in. Really looking at your data, understanding what is true value for your customers, getting, delivering the value quickly, and then focusing on customer attention, net retention, churn, and expansion. Um, I think those companies are venting in, in my opinion and the, and the data that we've been seeing over the past couple of years.
Yeah, but you[:
To becoming customer centric, understanding churn, reducing churn, increasing expansions, improving customer experience. In order for us to do that, one of the things our core team wanted to do was be able to build a great product, a great platform that can do that for them. And we wanted to make it so simple and user, and we were user obsessed, not buyer obsessed.
We know that a lot of people, very few people in the company pay bills. Focused on a few things, but we wanted that our users that use the system every day just are delighted and are equipped with being able to make that their company's customer centric. So one of our core values is being product obsessed and we interview for this.
So every, every person we hire, whether it's a sales rep, it could be a BDR. It could be a marketing development manager, a good B all the way to product engineers, to full stack engineers. We ask people. These questions to understand, are they truly product obsessed? Have they have the word products that they're delighted by that they truly understand how it works and what value does it serve for your customers?
And we want that quality to be represented inside our company. So that was our number one core value. And, and we have a lot, and we had a lot of debates internally, right? Setting this together with our team last year, uh, we went back and forth with what should be our, the biggest value that we have is it one of our, the other values that we are very proud of is having that growth mindset and continuous learning, being able to learn every day.
And we have people who have worked in the industry for 30 years and 40 years they'll come and try to learn new techniques and new skills every day. But we still feel that being product obsessed with something that we all wanted to be as a company. And, and hopefully we can. You know, we scaled from six people three months ago to now we are 40 people.
And our goal is to get to a hundred by Q1 of next year. So we're growing very fast. So hopefully we can make sure that every person we onboard and train and ramp has product obsession. Built into them. Wow.[:
Um, Let's shift gears a little bit and talk about your experience as sort of, you know, touched on it a little bit early on, around being an immigrant CEO and founder, you know, from India now, I believe you're residing in California. Um, you have such an incredible and inspiring story. What I guess, what advice would you give to others, right.
Who are looking to kind of follow in your footsteps and really looking to start a business of their own.[:
For myself, I come from a blue collar family. They didn't understand anything about businesses. Even today. My mother is more excited for me being on a podcast and being on, you know, she's like, oh, are you going to be on TV? Can you send it to me then? A founder and the CEO you see, regardless of that, I have a health insurance, uh, then, then be doing this, I think just from a tradition coming from a traditional background, um, entrepreneurship is not taught.
Um, some of the things that are taught are just being very gritty. I think. Yeah. Coming from a different background or, or working really hard and failing at so many things, kind of makes inculcates that grit in you. Um, so to answer your questions, there's just been a lot of lessons learned, but I'm going to pick just two big ones that, that I believe in, and, and maybe I can share those.
With other immigrant entrepreneurs. Um, one of the story is about believing in yourself. Um, I remember this conversation, uh, when I was having my first board meeting, we had just raised some money for involved soft and mark Mullin was my board member. He's the, he's the founder at bonfire ventures in Los Angeles.
Um, very sophisticated VC. He's been doing this. Uh, 20 years, he's invested in several hundreds of startups that have gone on to become billion dollar companies. Um, the first board meeting we had, he found out I was, I was saying, using a lot of language about, um, how we don't know how to do this, but we can figure it out.
We can ask other people, we can get feedback. A lot of times we, we say, you know, if you're not as smart, but we are going to work hard. That's the line. I was using in board meetings and he caught the key caught on that. And he gave me this one advice that I've been following ever since, but it was it's as it comes down to a simple as believe in yourself.
And I think as immigrants, we have a lot of imposter syndrome and. You've seen this with tons of immigrants, but it could also be women in leadership positions. It's just like some something that's not natural. You don't see a lot of people like you, um, around you. And then you question yourself and you question whether you could do this or not.
And that just one piece of advice has been so fundamentally, uh, changed, you know, has helped change the direction of our company. Um, as an example, majority of our engineering team are primarily women and we were just having this conversation yesterday. Of this, having this belief in ourselves that we can do this, we can achieve hard things.
We can do this on our own, and even our ability to learn and ask for feedback and advice and learn from others is okay. You know, is core to us believing in ourselves. So I think that's one thing that doesn't come naturally for immigrants. I feel cause a lot of time for you always feel that there's a better CEO out there.
There's a better founder. Uh, do we deserve this? Do we deserve this hire? Do we deserve this customer? Uh, can we provide value for them? I think those are fundamental questions that should be answered by just saying, you know, I believe in myself and I'll give it my a hundred percent to make this happen.
Um, the second thing I would say that, that I have noticed, and I'll give you another story a long time ago. When I was really young, we would always walk, um, a lot of miles to my school. Uh, but coming back there would be the national flag and it would all be some days it would be flying and, and with the wind it's always flowing and on other days there's no vein.
So it's down. So, so I remember one of, I used to play cricket as a, as a kid. It's one of the famous Indian sports. Um, my coach. Told me that, you know, in life, you should be, uh, the wind and not the flag. And I take that away, um, as basically saying that, you know, instead of being, uh, th that could always be considered into being more proactive, you know, being the person who is dictating the terms and saying, this is how I want my life to be, this is what I want our, you know, the company's destiny to be, or my destiny to be instead of being.
You know, someone like the flag, who's just being flown around with the wind and, and on the terms of the wind. Um, and that kind of made me very entrepreneurial because that gave me an inspiration of, you know, I feel like I should never work for anyone. I am going to listen to what my coach says and his name was John.
I said, whatever code John says, I'm going to do what code John says. So that those are the two core beliefs and learnings that I've carried, uh, that are, that hopefully are helpful for immigrant entrepreneurs, because I feel it comes naturally for people. Born here. Um, or, you know, if you have entrepreneurial parents, this is something that you're born with and you're taught from the beginning, but it doesn't come naturally for immigrant entrepreneurs.
And I think as we start to kind of move up in the ranks, as you move up in leadership, there's fewer and fewer, um, people that look similar. So I love that. Um, so let's talk a little bit more about revenue engine, right? So as I think about the revenue engine, this podcast, right? I always hope that others will be able to really learn how to, you know, accelerate revenue growth and literally power the revenue engine.
So what are the top, I guess, maybe two or three things that you think all CEOs or maybe revenue leaders should be thinking about today to really drive revenue growth?[:
You know, internal AEs inside E's outside, AEs caught up her app. There's everything spiffs. And now there's a lot of revenue management and how people should be compensated. I think every aspect has been looked at. Um, what hasn't been looked at is the biggest aspect in the best cheerleaders that you have is your, are your customers some of the world's best companies that.
Grow, purely on board of mud. They grow from just customers being so happy with the product that they're so excited about. It I'll just give a simple example. When Netflix started, I think they were getting two new users for every one person that they were adding. And that's kind of, they were the first creators of a freemium model because they created the first month free and they were the pioneers.
And then, but because they knew that for every user. You get two new users. So even if you have churn, we'll have a lot of people who would come expand, expand through it. So, um, and also it was this reading this study about how it's hard, it's 25 times more expensive to, um, add a new customer than to keep one and almost 16 times new expensive to add a new customer by completely cold outbound process versus getting a referral from another customer.
So I think those are some of the engines. We haven't looked at or optimize or tried to over-optimize is understanding what could call could be do to reduce churn, increase expansions, and just simply increase lifetime value for customer by understanding their data, Julie, visualizing, spending time on it, um, and utilizing customer success, customer service, and post-sales to be their avenue leaders and revenue generating functions, training them, really training them on how to be good closers because they're naturally.
Good at empathy and they have such great relations with customers. Can they become your best closures as well? I think there's a lot of work that can be done there and focusing on customer dollar net dollar attention to become the next growth engine is something, something that I'm really Polish about.[:
[00:28:25] Gaurav: That's a, that's a, that's a really good, um, thing. Uh, Roslyn, I think about that a lot. Um, and recently I've been, um, I think one of the things that, you know, as, as people, uh, irrespective of revenue leaders are not, we always have regrets of the past.
Um, and we have already for the future today, think we always think about the past and have. About, Hey, we could have done this better. We could have done this differently. And looking in the future, we always think about, oh no, what can happen with their future? One of the things that I've been, um, really focusing on doing is mistakes that we made in the past.
Um, but not being. Not being harsh on ourselves, but just saying that, okay, we won't make these mistakes again. Um, so fundamentally, I would say as a leader, one of the things that I have, um, have made mistakes in the past is hiring the wrong fit. People who are not good culture fits for the company. I think that's something that I've had deep progress for because we have let them down.
We've let ourselves down. You've let our team down doing that. So, um, one of the things that we have done. Now do is really figure out people who could be great culture fits in stage fits and just find passionate people who, uh, may fit into a role in respect of the experience. Have the drive motivation can fit the culture of the team and give them the opportunity to lead and give them the opportunity to showcase their talents.
Um, I think that's one of the mistakes that I have personally made in the past as leader, as a leader, um, is. Either trying to be attracted by, uh, you know, been there, done that, or being attracted by all the wrong reasons. And, and it's, and that's something that I feel is, is, uh, is a mistake that I made that I could have done better.
But moving forward, we are trying to, trying to focus on it. Um, th the second I would say is, I think I'm, I'm a big believer in remote work, as, as much as, you know, we all talk about hybrid work or, uh, you know, staying at home long time. We had this opportunity, vivre. We were running out of money for our first company and it, it feels like it's like every company close to running out of money at some point.
So for our first company, we were running out of money and it office space was very expensive and it's about $8,000 a month. Cause we were young. We were stupid. We had the best equipment, the best furniture. The best laptops and machines for everybody. And that was expensive. And, and I remember that we were doing cashflow analysis at one point.
And my finance director of finance said, look, we can just go and work remotely. It's everyone was almost engineers anyways at that time. And I was just so bullish about that. Being in the office and comradery and we have to be next to each other. Um, and I feel like we lost, we had to sell because, because they didn't have, if he kept going, we would have run out of money.
So I feel, I, wasn't a huge believer of remote work to begin with. Um, and, and that's something I could have changed early on, but I view a hundred percent in mode now and it's okay. That's great collaborating and being productive. Just[:
Um, but as we kind of wrap up and before I let you go, I always ask guests kind of two things. One, what is the one thing about you that others would be really surprised to learn? Um, and to what is the one thing that you really want everyone to know about?[:
I'm very late on trends and all the latest trends. So this is something very funny. My team always makes fun of me because I'm the last person to do anything that's trendy, even though I'm a technology entrepreneur. So I am, as an example, I am not on Tik TOK. I don't have an Instagram account yet. I don't.
So I'm late. I was laid on crypto. And, and even though I'm on top of these trends, some something in me always wants me to, um, uh, you know, prove, have others prove it out before, before I jumped on it. And this is something people were very surprised by it and they don't know about, but when they do, they make fun of me, especially my team.
And, and I, I think the second thing I would talk about, and I think we touched on this Roslyn, um, and this is something that I learned very recently is, um, everybody feels imposter syndrome and every, all my team members and my investors or customers always feel because of my optimism, that every day I am crushing it or feeling good and feeling excited.
And I think, I think this is something that, uh, people are surprised to know. About me is, is, um, I get, I have a lot of imposter syndrome that I work towards and have been working on for decades now. And I feel everyone does in some way, shape or form everyone has imposter syndrome. Um, and just acknowledging that and being at peace with it and understanding what you're feeling at certain points is so important.
And that's something that. You know, like to like people to know that I feel the same way. A lot of times, you know, before a difficult customer call before this podcast, as an example, I feel nervous and, and all those things still carry. And the optimism is just a bravado that I've put together or that as for being a great team.[:
So thank you for being on this.[: