From University to Unicorn – Uniphore’s Journey & Key Lesson for Malaysian Start-Ups

Ravi Saraogi, Co-founder and President of Uniphore APAC

“To the new crops of entrepreneurs who are really focused on building their companies, a couple of bits of quick advice – it’s not easy, it’s a tough path to choose to start your own company. It’s exciting, it’s fun, but at the same time very painful, and one needs to be extremely prudent and persistent with laser focus on what they want to achieve”, said Ravi Saraogi, Co-founder and President of Uniphore APAC, in an exclusive interview with BusinessToday.

Uniphore is a Conversational Automation Platform that can deliver the most sophisticated, accurate, personalized, and automated customer experiences on the planet. A natural conversation. No frustration, just true understanding – including emotion and intent in real-time.

What are the benefits of having mentorship and coaching?

“As we started the journey, our mentorship and coaching came through some of the professors where we incubated the company and the learning that came from them was largely around how to set up the organisation, how to really think about the business, and what kind of business models we can really work on.”

From there on, a lot of mentorship and coaching came from their end customers. They end up teaching them and asking them different kinds of things, which forced them to learn and execute new ideas.

“I think of young entrepreneurs who are really building up their own companies, it is extremely important to look around, find mentors from different industries and verticals, people who have experienced this, executed their businesses in the past and learn from their experiences and shorten your cycle of building up your own enterprise.”

Why should start-ups aim to scale regionally or globally?

“First of all, one has to really understand what their product or service is all about and who is the end benefactor or beneficiary of that particular service or product. Based on that, organisations can then define if they want to remain regional, or do they want to really grow globally”, Ravi told BusinessToday.

“For example, let’s say Grab is expanding into the US market, they can possibly do that but there is already Lyft and Uber out there. It is already competitive in that particular market, so is it a good bet to go to a country like USA compared to another market where there is no cab-hailing services at this point in time?

Thus, it is important that start-ups really first focus regionally with the aim to also have a global presence, to ensure that they are always keeping scalability as a key preference.”

How does a start-up become a unicorn?

If a company really wants to grow their business, their aim should not be to become a Unicorn. Their aim should be to really focus on the team, which can really make them big.

Second, focus on the customers and ensure that they are serviced in the best possible way, so that they are successful in terms of their own needs and requirements.

The third would be to ensure that whatever company you’re building, you’re building it up for scale, so there is repeatability, predictability, and scalability in motion for them to really grow as an organisation. So, every process being defined, every piece of code being written, every proposal being sent out to a customer should be made in a way where it can be applied globally, and that it is repeatable in nature.

“Other aspects would be to ensure that you have the right tools in place. As a company grows, people join the organisation and there are different people in different geographies. One should have the right tools to onboard them, to help them carry out their business on a day-to-day basis,” added Ravi.

“Yes, you see a lot of entrepreneurs calling out their companies, becoming unicorns etc, but it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. There will be hurdles every day, and every day is a roller coaster ride but as long as you are having fun, it’s good.

Don’t think of this being a one-or-two-year show. If you want to really build a successful company, then you have to think long-term.”

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