Sachin is hard working individual with great business insights and awesome team management skills. He has a knack of becoming an ideal leader and never loses his cool even under tremendous stress. He often surprises everyone with his acumen to take good decision, which is crucial for the business. He has an expertise in business management, competitive analysis and developing strategies. He has a B.Tech in electrical engineering from IIT, Kharagpur. He came into limelight with his startup called Niki.ai.
It is an Artificial Intelligence powered bot that you can chat with – it will guide you along with recommendations to reach the right service and then goes to the last mile to make that transaction for you.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
We want to revolutionize the way people do commerce. We at Niki feel that conversations can be a much more intuitive and natural way of transacting. In addition, we want to provide users with a product that can deliver an unparalleled conversational commerce experience. Expanding across services and bringing in advanced technology features so that Niki becomes the Go To platform for commerce is something that we are striving for.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
Some challenges that we faced in the beginning were: Building language understanding, which effectively caters to the messaging style of Indian users; and getting the right technology talent in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML).
Please provide a brief overview of your product / service?
Niki provides a single chat interface to perform mobile prepaid recharges, cab bookings, electricity, postpaid, landline, gas, dth and datacard bill payments, food ordering, laundry services, bus and hotel bookings. We are working on expanding her portfolio of services in the months to come. Services such as movie and event ticketing will soon follow. Niki aspires to be a one-stop solution for all of your ordering needs. Niki is a very light app (less than 4mb) and works seamlessly on even 2g networks. She converses with the consumers in the most natural and optimal way and helps them place orders online.
What is your life mantra?
Keep analyzing your work and keep improving.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We raised seed round from Unilazer Ventures in October 2015. Post which there was a follow up round in May 2016 by our existing investors Unilazer Ventures and Mr. Ratan Tata.
How did you overcome initial mindset challenges?
Since conversations are a new mode of doing commerce, we have worked extensively on user engagement. For example: before our launch, we had a beta program where we worked with a Set of users on improving the product. We have an extensive feedback mechanism in place, which further helps improving the customer experience.
This has helped us ensure that maximum users who come on to Niki, are referred from our existing users, which builds more trust and helps to overcome the mindset challenges of adapting to a new platform.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
Regardless of the outcome, I feel persistence and hard work is the key. There will always be questions when you try to do something new, important thing is to believe in yourself and keep on moving with a positive outlook.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
If you are starting up, then I would suggest you to be aware that ‘Pre-Mature Scaling can be fatal to your business idea’. Go out and achieve product market fit before scaling massively.
One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
In the span of over a year and a half, we have learnt that every decision we take should be based on strong research and data. Customer feedback will help you grow, learn from it and iterate until you find the best solution.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
Our vision is to make Niki the Go to person for commerce. We are working aggressively on expanding Niki’s reach. Niki is going to be platform independent, plugged and used on any interface, whether iOS, Messaging, Mobile OS, Wearables or otherwise. Hence an instance of Niki will be available (in form of SDK – Software Development Kit) for any brand to integrate and use. For brands, it’s much simple since we will replicate the entire transactional experience for multiple services and provide them in form of a SDK which will be a great value add for their business.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
The one by Steve Jobs on Business inspires me the most -
“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four people who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”