1. Tell us about yourself
I am the CEO of Botmatrix Services, a technology start-up currently headquartered in Bengaluru, India. I am also a dual-qualified lawyer (India, England and Wales). As a solicitor in the UK, I specialise in data protection, commercial law and employment law. Now, my work as a lawyer has taken a backseat, while my full focus is on nurturing the start-up.
2. Can you tell us about your venture ‘Botmatrix Services’?
At Botmatrix, we build and operate sector-specific career portals. Each of our portals is dedicated to diverse activities such as
- recruitment (ATS (job portal), resume search, recruitment services);
- advertising of jobs, courses and events;
- providing networking facilities for individuals;
- sharing career advice and other career-related information such as scholarships, exam updates, interview tips, etc.
Our vision is to build “truly niche, sector-specific professional networks”, preferably devoid of social media noise.
Our products that are currently live include
- LegalBots.in: career portal for the Indian legal sector
- MedBots.in: career portal for the Indian healthcare and pharma sectors
- ITBots.in: career portal for the Indian IT sector
LegalBots.in and MedBots.in are currently the largest websites of their kind in India for the legal and healthcare sectors respectively.
We are looking to launch ITBots.co.uk, LegalBots.co.uk and BizBots.in (for the Indian commerce sector) in the first quarter of 2023.
3. How did the idea for your business come about?
When it comes to career, one size does not fit all! This is something that generic career portals fail to recognize. I experienced this personally too when I graduated from law school and started looking out for career opportunities and information. I found that career related data that was most relevant for me as a law graduate, was either missing or was unorganised.
Additionally, the opportunities that are available to elite colleges and universities (such as National Law Schools in the legal field), are often lost to tier 2 and tier 3 college students.
There was a need to
- centralise career opportunities and information,
- organise data based on different professional sectors,
- democratise the data and make it available to everyone and not just a privileged few,
- make career search (for candidates) and recruitment (for recruiters and employers) a pleasant experience.
What started as a pet project of mine evolved into a full-fledged company.
4. How did you raise funding for your venture?
We are lucky to be completely bootstrapped at the moment. We deliberately choose this approach for multiple reasons. Bootstrapping means that we retain complete control of the company until we reach a comfortable point. We would like to be in the driving seat, while negotiating with VCs. We would also like to be in a position to choose our VCs or angel investors who share our vision, as this will give the company the right focus and direction.
We are receiving some interest already. We are close to a point where we are nearing the escape velocity threshold. We just need to get the timing right on when to talk to VCs to help us escalate our growth.
5. What are the challenges you faced till date and presently facing?
Being bootstrapped has its drawbacks: you cannot scale as rapidly as you wish to. You have to be careful and frugal with your resources. While this limitation can be frustrating at times, it also makes sure you don’t spend your time and money mindlessly and you remain focused. However, this challenge shouldn’t be there for long, since we are likely to pick up funding mid 2023.
6. What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship was incidental. I started working on our first product, LegalBots.in, as a pet project while still working full time as a lawyer.
We launched LegalBots.in with a very small team. Having observed the traction that we were receiving at LegalBots.in, we went back to the drawing board to review our business plans. The numbers spoke for themselves. It made perfect sense to develop something similar for the healthcare (medical and pharma) sector, where nothing of this kind existed so far. With the market research done and business plans prepared, we went on to develop our other products. LegalBots.in was essentially our testing grounds to prove the idea, the product, the Company’s internal processes etc.
7. How do you build a successful customer base?
Our growth so far has been wholly organic with zero spend on paid marketing.
Right at the beginning, we set some goals and principles and stuck with it. If there was a strategy that didn’t sit well with our principles, we discarded it.
- We do not compromise on quality. We actively dissuade fake jobs and sub-standard content on our platforms. You need to think of the company from a long-term perspective. Without quality, your reputation eventually gets hit and the business is likely to fizzle out.
- We avoid cheap short-cuts like paid hits to our websites or fake users. While it may work in the short run, it will eventually hammer your SEO and credibility.
- We work with the intention of adding value to our users’ lives - this may be through our career portals, through workshops, mentorships, etc. Value is what brings people in!
8. How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
Marketing is a huge topic. The below is an over simplistic outline.
● The very first thing we did was to learn about our audience/ users:
- Who are our ideal users?
- What do they seek?
- What excites them?
- What are they missing?
- How can we add value to their lives?
- How can we reach them?
This process also helped us understand if our products/ services/ solutions are even needed in the first place. “Build and they will come” may have worked for Las Vegas. It need not work for every business idea.
● We then went on to develop a marketing strategy to target our potential users by breaking it down into two parts: online marketing and offline marketing.
- We experimented (and continue to experiment) with different channels and strategies, then stick to the ones that work for us. Example: If you are looking to target the 60-70-year age group, Instagram would not be the best channel to tap this market.
- We also constantly work on our content strategy to keep it in sync with what our audience would find interesting and useful.
- We have so far been quite conservative in terms of offline marketing, limiting ourselves to marketing through events and workshops, but we are looking to enhance our offline marketing strategies further.
One of the most effective forms of marketing for us has been through word of mouth. For example, our existing users often quote our websites on social media platforms. This not only adds to our credibility but also validates what we are doing.
9.What kind of culture exists in your organisation, and how did you establish it?
One of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes is, “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” This is exactly how we function at Botmatrix. We are all professionals and treat each other as such.
Everybody is encouraged to share ideas, try new things, learn from and uplift each other.
A few years ago, I also read this book called “Disrupted” by Dan Lyons, a tech writer. The book is based on Lyons’ own experience at a tech start-up. I highly recommend this book to anyone in a position of authority. It gives you a funny take on what not to do as a start-up in terms of culture.
10.How do you generate new ideas?
Whiteboard! Nothing helps me generate new ideas and clarify my thoughts more than whiteboarding.
11.What are your ideals?
Integrity, humility and gratitude.
13.What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Learning through experience is the best part of being an entrepreneur. I don’t think I could have learnt this much in a regular job or even through an MBA. The learning is exhilarating!
Through the process, you learn so much about life too. For example, it helps you read and understand people better. It also helps you identify your true supporters and well-wishers.
14.What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
- Do not chase perfection. Concentrate on getting things done.
- As an entrepreneur, there will be a number of things on your to-do list. Best to address each of them on a priority basis.
- Delegate work. To quote Richard Brandson, “If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.”
- Be as organised as possible. It saves you a lot of time.
15. Any message for future entrepreneur
I have three key messages:
- Knowledge is power. Keep seeking.
- Your network is your net-worth. Keep networking.
- Be dogmatic, but know when to exit. Have patience.
Lastly, listen to the “Sunscreen Song”, especially when you feel overwhelmed.
For more details visit www.legalbots.in