How Option3 Is Creating a Winning Strategy For Its Startup Biz
A diverse group of engineering and management professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset came together to form a customer centric company, solving business problems in SCM, Finance and Data Analytics space with our simple, smart and insightful solutions and products. That was how Option3 was formed. Payeli Ghosh, Founder and Director, Option3 has been instrumental in defining the organization roadmap from moving from a niche consulting organization to a product organization with no external funding.
In a candid conversation with CXOToday, Ghosh speaks about her entrepreneurial journey, startup challenges and opportunities in India and the company’s future plans.
A fruitful entrepreneurial journey
With nearly two decades of experience in entrepreneurship and global solution delivery, Ghosh believes her entrepreneurial instincts were shaped by the experiences which she gained while working at Tech Mahindra and then at Infosys.
“My first stint was by starting up a boutique services company way back in 2007, and this allowed me to take up different roles and gain more insights into the software consultancy space. The company was later acquired by an MNC and not being one to sit simply, I soon set about finding a new challenge,” she says.
It was a discussion with her friends one fateful evening in the park that led to the founding of Option3 in 2012. According to Ghosh, “What started off as a discussion on the challenges in the automation space which we were passionate about led to the spark to develop a solution on our own.”
Option3 began as a SCM and technology consulting firm and has now grown into a niche automation and data analytics product firm. “The profits from our first model allowed us to invest the required resources into developing the product. Competition from other leading brands and industry giants was looming in front of us, but we have successfully overcome it in bringing out a unique solution to the RPA and Automation market which has already made a mark – Option3 has many leading Fortune 100 brands as our clients in just a short span of time,” informs Ghosh.
The founders have worked in the industry for 15 years before they started Option3. The strength of the founder group was completely complimentary right from sales, engineering, implementation and R&D.
Start-up ecosystem: challenges and opportunities
Being one of the largest start-up ecosystems in the world has been a boost to the economy of the nation and also has enabled us to play to our strengths and have a footing on the world stage when matched with other economies, believes Ghosh.
“Access to capital has always been a challenge for emerging start-ups, and it is important to have a solid strategy in place to manage the operations of the venture till you receive the necessary funding. The investments have slowed down over the last couple of years, with investment firms being more cautious and exercising patience, which means entrepreneurs need to be patient as well, she remarks.
Taking shortcuts to receive funding or get acquired or even to scale and capture markets without adequately focusing on the service or the product is quite prevalent in many start-ups, and that attitude needs a significant change. It is important to let the product or offering do the marketing for you rather than the other way around.
“Culture in our region is very diverse and still bordering on being traditional with entrepreneurship being frowned upon or even being second guessed. The mind-set, lifestyles and choices of people are so varied and it has made it difficult to start, operate or penetrate markets further beyond a point. This is also seen in our reluctance to bet big and target global markets - but I believe this is slowly changing,” states Ghosh.
According to her, competition for resources – be it in investments, talent, tech, is so fierce and even more compounded with the presence of larger companies vying for the same with more pulling power. Salaries, growth opportunities all come at a cost and start-ups often struggle to attract or on-board the right resources required for growth.
At the same time, Ghosh sees enormous opportunities for Indian startups, as the country offering many unique opportunities for frugal innovation within agriculture, education, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors that can be used to provide solutions not just for the country, but also for similar emerging economies. That by itself will inject more life to the start-up ecosystem in India.
Ghosh believe exposure to emerging technology is also critical and with such a healthy ecosystem already in place, this exposure will gradually increase across the nation. “If we are able to penetrate rural areas with technology, the possibilities are endless,” she says.
The emergence of India’s start-up ecosystem has also led to opportunities coming from abroad. Recent foreign investments received by leading start-up brands in India have proven how they are valuing the market and opportunities in the region, and this will only increase in time. Such investments will make it easier in the future for start-ups to scale and diversify their offerings.
Opportunities in digital strategies
“The surge in digital transformation has seen various strategies that have come to the front with the need for automation to deliver more accuracy, compliance, cost savings and scalability – which is gaining momentum,” Ghosh says, adding that RPA is still considered as a disruptor, and early adopters have realized its strategic importance after having visible results in no time.
This is positioning RPA as a must have which will define survive or perish for industries in the coming years. Where RPA is going to be the game changer is by bringing in true automation – that is human like decision making. RPA is now treated as a tactical solution rather than being approached from a strategic angle, but it’s slowly changing with more cognitive capabilities that are evolving.
The RPA market is projected to cross $9 billion within the same period. “At Option3, we believe that our platform Jiffy is uniquely positioned to play in this space due to its cognitive capabilities – which is where automation is going to define itself. We expect to be among the top 5 players in the next 36 months. This would mean at least a 10% share on the overall market,” says Ghosh, adding that the customer acquisition strategies are through strategic alliances and partnerships with major service integrators. We have also on boarded channel partners with a focus on Europe, Middle East and APAC for RPA for Finance & Accounting, Manufacturing, Shared Services, Business Process Management and IT.
The leaders at Option3 believe that automation has to be intelligent and not just mimic mouse clicks and key strokes. Traditional rule-based automation is limited and can never move further than being a tactical solution.
“Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Neuro-Linguistic Programming expertise that we had invested in helped in the platform being able to reduce the human intervention as much as possible wherever implemented. We have also gone further by integrating our analytics platform to the automation suite – this helped in tracking and streaming data in real time, and visualizes it to generate insights to monitor and optimize the processes,” she comments.
Ghosh believes, the success of the platform has now put the company in a good position for its next stage of growth. “We are now aggressively looking to penetrate the global market with advanced cognitive capabilities being integrated into our products, and are now partnering with leading consultants and service integrators along with domain experts to explore further opportunities.”
“We are expanding our Marketing and Sales engine and we are involved in major conferences and events across different geographies, and you will be hearing about us lot in the coming days,” she concludes.
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