The Inventive Journey
What This Episode Talks About:
How To Manage Business & Self
"Don't wait. I waited many years, I always wanted to start my business. I always knew that I could create something. I already had a ton of ideas that I was working on. My two cents are if you really feel like you were made to start a business and that it is what you like then do it. Don't wait to long worrying about money or how you will actually do it. Jump in and then raising money and find customers is easy if you really like what you do. Your going to get help along the way and people will reach out to you. If you really feel that you are made for it go ahead and start right away."
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What Is The Inventive Journey?
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
ai generated transcription
is don't wait so you know like i waited many years like i always wanted to start my business i i always knew that i could create something that did not exist or i always had ideas like as possible as i was working you know if this was like this describing different and things like that so those are things um so uh my uh two cents on that is hey if you really feel like you are made to do that i mean that is what you like and that and it's it's don't try to don't wait too long to think hey how will i have money or how how will i actually do this a lot of people who will jump in and then raising money cc you know like um reaching out and finding customers is ac people are going to find you if you actually create something valuable so [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as a founder and ceo miller ip law we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat we're always here to here to help now today we've got another great guest on the podcast bajoy uh nariana and uh vajoy uh was uh originally born in india went to military school there in india and then also got a engineering degree um and then did some software engineering for a ford motor company um started in india and then ended up moving over to detroit after uh ford went over to ibm then after that went to work for a startup business and used some of ibm's watson technology for supply chain issues i'm in 2018 got a small contract with the dallas housing authority to also help them apply some of that technology and they were looking to increase the number of expect inspections they wanted to do um so realize that there was a bigger market in industry and decided to focus more on that area and that's a bit where uh bajo is at today so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast thank you david so i you're absolutely welcome and i just gave a quick introduction to a much longer journey and condensed in the 30-second version of it so let's uh go back a bit in time and tell us how your journey has started in in india okay um so i was born in india and i massively benefited from public education in india and then uh went to a military school there for my um high school and then went to an um and an engineering school school and got my undergrad degree in engineering and that landed me a job with a software company and i i ended up working as the offshore uh lead for uh ford motor company uh for a couple of years and then they brought me to the u.s in 2000 and then i i ended up working for them for some time no i'm just out of curiosity and it will show my complete ignorance but just as a question so i was not aware and again it's my ignorance that ford had a big presence of uh in india as far as for vehicles or for software programming so just out of curiosity how did you get connected up with ford or how did you originally get going doing some work for india with uh with ford i was working with one of the software majors in india that the name of the company is satyam computer systems so they were they were my employer they were a large software company who was basically out so like photos outsourcing their uh their uh software uh work to uh indian majors at that time so they had a large contract and we had hundreds of people working for them uh so that that so i was leading a small team and then i did well that there and they had some reasons to bring me on shore for managing that team or interacting closer with the customers and so on so that was the reasoning that so that's very typical like large corporations they have hundreds of people working offshore and then some of them end up coming to be with the customer and coordinate uh work with them got it no and that makes sense so he's worked with them for a bit of time over there in india then they said okay you're doing a great job we'd love to have you in the the u.s facilities they're continuing to run and manage things so you move over to the us continue to work on uh the software side for ford um and then it sounds like you know there was an opportunity that came along with ibm so how did you kind of get it or make that transition or how did you find out and decide to make the jump from ford to ibm so that was i didn't join directly to ibm so i was in dearborn heights uh like i mean that is the very first time that we had seen snow and it was it was an interesting transition into it to the us so um and i worked for many consulting a couple of consulting companies after that i worked for siemens for some time and then an axon that is the name of another consulting company that is based out of uk so that i worked for them for some years and then what joined ibm so i was on the consulting track so uh and when i joined ibm i was an associate partner for their global business services division so that is the uh consulting division of ibm and i had a focus on supply chain so i was leading that practice at gbs in ibm so that is when i decided to found the company and then started um started on my entrepreneurial journey you can say so and then um it was not focused on public housing i wasn't even aware that the public housing sector existed or or i knew it but that was not where we started i mean we were generally taking the uh some watson services like um watson was was a leading product for natural language processing and and things like that and we were trying to take those capabilities those id software capabilities and apply it on the supply chain problem so um you know like that was a domain that i i really knew well and i i knew that there were some really new capabilities emerging generally and i was taking that capability and applying it on the supply chain site that was the basic thesis of the company or that's what we were going to do and then we had a contract with the fortune 500 company that was in the food manufacturing space so we were essentially creating a bot like for them to answer supply chain questions hey how many skus of this product we have in chicago in this location and it gives an answer easily so that eliminates the need for training and for people to use a voice activated service to ask that question and then get the answer back that sort of thing so that's how we we started the company and then um i had a meeting with the ceo of dallas housing authority in october of 2018 and they had a major problem um so the thousand authorities like um is a very large housing authority in the us and they serve nine counties it's a very large area they serve and they had a wait time of about five weeks before initial inspections of a house what it means in practical terms is a landlord has to apply get a contract approved and so on so the rent is all right it's affordable for the family and it's reasonable and now he has to get an inspection then so to get that inspection then the landlord has to wait for about five weeks so this when you think about it in a tight rental market this can create all kinds of problems right people people they have to keep the house empty and the four core revenues for that period of time and while they're doing it they might actually give it to someone else to rent it to someone else so when the inspector shows up the house is again occupied by someone else so that creates a vicious cycle so he was genuinely concerned about it like no how do we so he knew that we were very small startup so then and that is not what we were doing at the time so but then he asked me hey can you solve this problem for me uh this is my real problem now and uh i kind of said yes i mean i had a real good uh um previous experience on work order optimization and i knew uh what what capabilities existed in the market that which we could uh bring to this problem like if you think about this like no he had 18 inspections they were making trips and they were coming back it's like a well-known problem in the in in the software business called a traveling salesman problem like how do you actually send a traveling salesman to like no let 10 stops he has to make and bring him back in the most efficient way so um i mean it's a variation of that so we had some ideas about how we could do it and then and we solved this problem in about three months meaning their inspections became correct so that that uh caught their attention so attention of the ceo so he was really interested in what we were doing and then then that the word got out some we were in the press for some time so that kind of started the company but we are not just focused on inspections now uh then once you are in an industry you start learning the problems and they were very generous with their time in explaining things to us and so on so we understood that there is really no marketplace that is connecting the renter and the agency the housing assistance provider it could be a housing authority it could be a coc it could be a non-profit and the um and the housing provider you know a property manager a realtor so it's a very large market where a marketplace does not exist something similar to let's say airbnb for guest rentals so um i realized that there is a there is an opportunity to create that you know like that does not exist now and that would fundamentally change this some of these problems that have lasted for about 50 years i mean there could be a software-based solution to that so that got us all excited and then we we started exiting the contracts that we had and then we started focusing on these raise money and we started coding no that's uh you know it's interesting that you started out in one one area that area led to a you know a customer client that had a completely different solution and they're saying hey we'd like to apply the technology in this area and you said well you know we haven't necessarily applied in that area but it should work there and you go out and do it and then it works and then it opens up a whole new you know opportunity is to apply the the technology in that in the new area in this case it was you know housing inspections and how you can reduce the amount of time without really having to increase budgets and having to increase them or you know staff or anything else and so now as you kind of figure out that area and say okay here's an opportunity we can uh you know we can solve this problem and now you know if they have this problem here we also have you know it's likely they have this same problem in other areas or other locations so how did you kind of continue to go about building a business to further solve that problem and to take advantage of that opportunity yeah so that's that's the crux of the issue right so uh let me also take one step back and then um generally say a few things about this assisted rental market so i think your audience would kind of have an interest in that so uh in assisted rental market we are taking public money uh and then assisting a family who otherwise might not have a house now they could be homeless or and and we are spending that money so there is a general consensus in the developed world that uh hey when if your school spend public money to assist someone to find a house then they should have uh some they should have some skin in the game meaning they should pay some amount of money towards uh they should have a contribution towards rent and utilities so uh so um since uh the we are talking about people with really low lower income so that's where that's why the utilities are also an important factor so someone might not actually have money to pay for gas or electricity and things like that so um so the idea is that hey let's let's make sure that if their income is if they have no income then they pay nothing but if they have let's say thirty thousand dollars then you know about nine thousand dollars is um spent on uh paying for rent and utilities you know like let's let's provide the assistance in such a way that they pay 30 okay uh then at the same time i mean it's not an exact number so they are they have defined they range you know like um it's it's a fairly complicated calculation so then the the then there is then let's absolutely make sure that no one pays more than 40 of them uh regardless of all these nuances involved let's make sure that no one pays more than 40 of their uh income towards in in our example let's make let's absolutely make sure it's never more than twelve thousand so they have to they have to pay this family has to pay something nine thousand twelve thousand in that range so meaning that you have to then estimate the utility costs which is depends on whether it's a single family uh house an independent house or it's a multi-family house is it is it in the middle or is it in the top floor is it so it this heating and cooling costs and all can vary significantly based on the type of construction and things like that so we have to be able to estimate that and then we have to get this income and then calculate this so that is a hard problem us like in every city collecting this data and all that so our idea as i was telling you david was we would create a marketplace right where this would work for everyone uh meaning um we don't need to know someone from west virginia a property manager a landlord or a realtor would come in put his address in and software will tell them okay this is the a this is the maximum rent you can get here or you know if you have this rent if this you have this rent in mind oh this is viable but this is not viable and these other people that you can run to so to create this marketplace uh it's very it's relatively easy to solve this problem for one agency but it's a much harder to solve it for everyone together uh so uh i mean uh that is the challenge like you can go to uh dallas or austin and then tell them okay hey what is your uh what is what are your payment standards what are your utility allowances you know like that is an estimate of how how much utilities will cost you give it to us and then we'll do all this and then then to create it for one agency it's relatively easy but to create for the entire country with uh in our country you know there are some places where this is based on based on the zip code because they are in the city in some places like new york where it's a densely populated city this could be based on the census tract and the large areas of the country this could be based on the county because it's not like like one uh agency might cover a county which is very large and you know like so there are nuances there which which makes the data collection and the creation of the software uh fairly complicated so it took us some time to actually build it out for like so that it would work for everyone so we can only go to market effectively when it's working for everyone because then you can pool all the housing providers they can work for any agency so they have a big benefit like if you are a property manager working with nine agencies and then of this area you don't need to deal with nine different forms nine different case managers you just go to bob dot ai and then you can you can get your rent adjustment done or create a new contract for a new renter and so on so you can just just go to one place but if would if only works for three then it is a difficult messaging problem that we have a these three would work but the other six it won't work so that's harder to create so um so we had a tough time for some period we did have early adopters like some some housing authorities were extremely responsive so they were they knew fully well maybe and just to dive in just a little bit because i think that you know that gets they're very they're very insightful and also probably gets a bit into the weeds as to how you might go do all that so as you're you know it sounds like you're part of maybe summarize just a bit you know when you're looking at trying to break into the marketplace you know some 280 degree you had to figure out how to apply it to different applications but you also didn't always have to reinvent the wheel and then you could cross or use it across different areas and there was there's commonalities is that a fair fair summary yeah it is it is it is a good yeah it is a fair summary yes so once you solve this problem from a programming point of view everyone is the same they all follow this 30 rule they all follow this 40 percent rule there are some new some configuration things that you can do so then it creates a instead of creating one local market where one housing authority or one continuum of care provider is working with a set of landlords you've created a marketplace for the entire us where any landlord anywhere can go and list their unit and find the right agency the right program and understand how much rent they can get and that's a different uh i mean that's that's the creativity side of things like that's also that creates a market yeah in nationals yeah known very interesting and insightful how you went about creating the market and then how that occurred and then there took place so but with that now as we kind of catch up to a bit of where you know now you've created the market you guys are continuing to expand and to grow and we've kind of reached the present point of your journey always love to ask you questions about the journey um so we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what'd you learn from it worst business decision i have made this i named the company it's a funny one like i named the company boots capper it's an african's word i mean i i i just knew the word i i just picked it up and say there is a bootscaper.com domain available so let's name the company that and and then none of our clients could spell it or no they they had i mean i've been on calls where the spellingbootscapper.com my own name is difficult and it takes two minutes to spell that and then to say oh the name of the company is bootscapper and you have to go to bootscaper.com and then the register that was a funny experience so i mean yeah so i had to change it to something that no we work with people who are older and people who are you know may not have really good eyesight and things like that and it's a critical thing for them like no they have to sign a document for them to be house and they all that so bob dot ai is something everyone can remember like it's not that hard and you know like it's uh so i i actually saw a need you know like even it is it is important that people can easily uh easily download an app you know easily search for it and and you expect people in their 80s or you know people elderly and disabled people by definition right to actually use our app to sign a document so that they can get in or schedule an inspection reschedule it and things like that so we ask people who are who did not grow up in this uh in this with computers and mobile phones etc to use this and uh so yeah so that i mean it's not it's it was not a horrible decision but it had an impact so we had to go through the name change and all that oh and i think that you know it is one where sometimes it's a fun or unique name or you have something that you know you think is catchy and yet you know you come to find out it's hard for people to spell or they can't quite remember it or it's not as catchy as you might have thought and it's one of those where it can be simple and you know then but then you have to go through the rebranding you have to adjust it you have to get different urls and different logos and everything else and so it definitely makes sense as you're going through um to have or where that's easy to stumble but also where it makes sense that the rebranding and the way you learn from it so now what the second question i always ask is if you're talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you'd give them so what i would say is don't wait so you know like i waited many years like i always wanted to start my business i always knew that i could create something that did not exist or i always had ideas like as well possible as i was working you know if this was like this this could have been different and things like that so those are things um so uh my two cents on that is hey if you really feel like you are made to do that i mean that is what you like and that and it's it's don't try to don't wait too long to think hey how will i have money or how how will i actually do this a lot of people who will jump in and then raising money cc you know like um reaching out and finding customers is easy people are going to find you if you actually create something valuable so along the way without like you're going to help get some kind of help that you did not anticipate people people reaching out to you and if you really feel that you are made for it then go ahead and start right away that's that with without like waiting to figure out every single step along the way that kind of planning may not work and that meant kind of planning may actually not be necessary either oh and i think that that's a definitely a great insight and a good takeaway well as we wrap up the podcast if people want to reach out to you they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend and you're all the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you or find out more so they can come to bob dot ai like if if you want to be a customer if you want to be pro if you have properties that you want to rent to um assisted rental programs please list your unit let's we look for that and if you're an applicant if you're looking for houses come to bob dot ai and if you want to reach out to me personally it's bijoyed.ai so it's my first name bijoy spelled as it is pronounced and at bubble.ai and you can also connect me on linkedin awesome well definitely a lot of great ways to connect up the uh find out more and otherwise uh user service that people are in need so definitely encourage people to reach out and connect well with that um thank you again for coming on the the podcast with joy uh it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell you'd like to be a guest on the podcast we'd love to have you just go to inventiveguest.com or inventiveguest.com apply to be on the show a couple more things as listeners make sure to click subscribe share leave us a review because we want to make sure that everyone finds out about all these awesome episodes and last but not least if you ever need help with your patents your trademarks or anything else with your startup of your small business go to strategymeeting.com you can grab some time with us to chat thank you again bajoy and what's the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you davin
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