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Hi Dhiren, please tell us about your journey from being a consultant at Monitor to founding your own company 25 years later?

Dhiren

I was a partner at Monitor, a strategy consultancy managing the relationship with BG Group Plc back in 1999. They realized that instead of paying £0.5million a year to Monitor, it would be cheaper for them to hire me. That’s how I became Head of Strategy worldwide for an FTSE top 50, recommending where to invest £1bn annually across 26 countries, at age 33.  Consulting was far too academic. In 2000 oil hit $16 a barrel. So it was time to diversify. I went to India on behalf of BG to set up their broadband fibre business – a brand new start-up. Fifteen months later, I had got all the permits, had installed the entire network, set up the headend and infrastructure, and had a team of 120 – the fastest broadband implementation in the world at that time.  I had been bitten with the start-up bug. Since then, I have led a heated ice hockey skate blade company in Canada, mobile payments company in Sri Lanka, a charcoal chicken company in UK, gas exploration business in Canada

Can you talk about the challenges you anticipated before founding HR Clarity by Saphestera and have the things worked out as planned? 
Dhiren

The most important thing is to have a product which people want, which ideally is profitable in year 1. This is the biggest thing that I had learned from my other start-ups. It’s tough finding the right investor even if you have a great idea. Investors need to be supportive, not exploitative  – this can end up being a lottery.  The first sales are always the most tricky. So far, it’s going as I expected, only because I got it “wrong” with my seven previous start-ups. It’s inevitable that I will make mistakes, but there is no excuse to make the same mistakes.

As businesses worldwide are finally coming out of the lockdown-phase, how is your company armed to deal with what is to come next?
Dhiren

Our product is particularly suited to the post covid world. It’s an exciting time for us.

You have a plethora of experience in Marketing as well as Finance – which may seem very unusual to a lot of people. You pride yourself in being an unconventional thinker, so what has been the stickiest situation you’ve ever been in (professionally), and how did you resolve that? 
Dhiren

When I first join an organization, they love me to bits because they had hired me for a specific problem that needs an unconventional approach. Which I provide, and come up with a solution very quickly which they are pleased with. I then start looking at other problems, which are usually the result of silo thinking and lack of working together as a company – rather than individual departments. I spend ages trying to explain the issue and the solution with analysis and objective reasoning. But, more often than not, people simply don’t want to change. The result is agreeing to disagree and me leaving – as I simply can’t stand doing something that is clearly wrong. 

This is also why I prefer to have my own business rather than working for somebody else’s business. Own business also has its challenges. See my answer to question 2.

Please tell us about the tools and technologies your company currently uses for Marketing, Sales, and Revenue Generation.
Dhiren

I am using Segment, Google Analytics, Hubspot, Adwords currently at Saphestera. I plan to add hotjars or something similar, a customer survey satisfaction tool such as Usabilla. It’s critical to constantly look at your entire funnel and optimize every single touchpoint.

How has been your interaction with other Founders in the MarTech industry? What do they sound like, and has there been any exciting lesson you learned during these conversations?
Dhiren

We all face similar challenges, and we all have our fair share of mistakes. So, it’s essential to have those conversations – best to learn from someone else’s mistakes than your own.

Lastly, some parting words of wisdom for our readers who wish to take the industry by storm?
Dhiren

You can’t develop a product/service without speaking to and collaborating with your customers. It’s shocking how companies develop products and services sitting in an office without any market research. They believe that focus groups are a waste of time (they are, if you don’t know what you are doing, invaluable if you do); they do little/ no quant research.  Lots of companies don’t constantly ask for feedback from customers. There was a shocking stat that I can’t remember from a recent Hubspot survey as to how few companies do this. 

Disha Bhattacharya is a seasoned content writer prolific in engaging the customer with her content in any given realm of writing. With 6 years of Freelance Content Writing and 3 years of Marketing Management experience up her sleeve, she believes in transforming businesses with her well-researched, SEO-based, innovative content. A story-teller at heart and a perfectionist by nature, she rolls out informative content with a personal touch that provides an entertaining read to the audience.

Posted in Interviews By Disha Bhattacharya   Date March 5, 2021

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