Founders of uKnowva: Mr. Vicky Jain, Priyanka Jain and Abhay Talekar (L TO R)
We talked to Vicky Jain, CEO of uKnowva, a 360-degree solution for your everyday business requirements like people management, customer servicing, invoicing and corporate collaboration. Here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Vicky Jain: It is no doubt a difficult time for all of us. It can be very daunting and worrying especially coping with another lockdown. We’re sticking to our daily routines and schedules to keep control of our lives. Eating healthy, keeping a positive mindset, and engaging in physical activity has become an essential part of our lives. So far, things are going well, and the lockdown had given us a chance to go back to the days when the family time was the most important time of the day.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded uKnowva.
Vicky Jain: I completed my engineering from Shah and Anchor Kutchhi Engineering College (Mumbai University) and an MBA from ICFAI Business School (IBS). We actually started the company because of the recession in 2008 when we graduated. The world was undergoing a recession, and we had nothing to do, so to best use our time, we tried to do software and websites (mainly me and Priyanka Jain). I made software for my cousin, and Priyanka Jain did the website, and the story continued. Honestly, that software did not work that well, but the website we did for them worked very well and laid the foundation of our company. Also, I personally had learnt coding and have been practicing it since I was 16 years old. As work continued to flow, we decided to set up our company, Convergence Services. Since we started as a service company, we had to go through a multitude of challenges while developing our first flagship product, uKnowva, a cloud-based HRM software. I, along with Priyanka Jain and Abhay Talekar (also co-founder of Convergence Services), launched uKnowva back in 2012.
How does uKnowva innovate?
Vicky Jain: For a business, constantly exploring new ideas is vital as it helps to improve processes, introduce new, improved services and products to market as well as increase efficiency and profitability. To promote innovation, we make sure that we have the events and processes to capture ideas. Like for example, setting up suggestion boxes around the workplaces. Other than that, we create a supportive atmosphere where people feel free to express their ideas without the risk of criticism or ridicule. Also, we promote openness between individuals and teams. Ideas and knowledge in one part of your business should be shared with others we feel. We also constantly keep in touch with customers for their feedback and also keep an eye on the latest tech trends and accordingly try to do a match. In addition, a lot of internal activities and events are done to discuss such topics and foster innovation. Looking for imagination and creativity while recruiting new employees is a key area of focus in our organization as well.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Vicky Jain: I believe COVID-19 had a positive impact on my business. Management of crisis and planning business continuity remain crucial challenges for human resources during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges that human resources face varying with their company’s location, sector, and size, but most organizations have tightened their belts. Businesses are seeking alternative strategies like the use of technology to stay productive and assist employees with working from home. HR technology has never been so important. It is critical now, more than ever, to have the right people in place — people that will serve as essential support both in good times and uncertain times. While ensuring business continuity was the top priority, human resource departments are also struggling to prioritize flexible work arrangements, increasing awareness, reviewing salaries, addressing employee grievances, making available technical support, and more. While some companies hit pause on such investments, others have viewed the pandemic as a time to create new process efficiencies, boost productivity by updating old systems or implement new tools with an eye toward a post-COVID-19 future. Pandemic-related tech investments have been made in cloud-based collaboration and workforce management tools to help manage the burgeoning number of remote workers. As a result of this spending, we have experienced surprisingly strong financial results.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Vicky Jain: Actually, none. Since the time work from home (WFH) became the new normal, our productivity and sales have gone up. Moreover, all our team leads and managers have reported that the productivity of their team members during the pandemic has increased tremendously after solving the way of working through technology. We planned our BCP well in advance, which helped us have those controls and helped the workforce be more productive. Having a positive and motivating environment amongst the employees also helped in a big way.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Vicky Jain: As the coronavirus hit, the business disruptions caused by the pandemic and the government response to it have generated renewed interest in and underscored the crucial role of CRM technology.
There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic completely upended the way marketers, salespeople, customer service representatives, and supervisors could do their jobs. The pandemic has left salespersons with no option for site visits; corporate events are being canceled by marketers, and customer service agents are no longer able to depend on their company experts and co-workers to get answers to queries by customers. And because customer-centricity is even more crucial during this time, it becomes even more essential to maintain positive relationships with each and every existing customer.
We use a ticketing system for managing customer queries. Our CRM system helps us to manage our customer relation process right from lead management to after-sales service. We can track our leads and related metrics, create and send invoices to customers and provide seamless after-sales support—all with the help of a single app. It also helps us to track all tickets, send automatic notifications to clients, calculate our team’s average TAT and make the support process more efficient overall.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Vicky Jain: Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has recognized the operational and financial challenges faced by startups across the nation. It has been making efforts to provide aid to the affected startups by launching a scheme called COVID-19 Startups Assistance Scheme (CSAS).
SIDBI sanctioned INR 2 crores to us as a part of the Startup India Scheme as a venture debt, but they disbursed only INR 75 lacs, and then the scheme was scrapped. It did help us, but the help was lesser than expected.
Your final thoughts?
Vicky Jain: We’re experiencing the new normal right now. The long-term impact of this crisis will affect the HR industry well into the future. Right now, IT and HR are arguably the two departments most important to a company’s survival. Organizations want to ensure remote workers have the right technology and support at home to do the job, that their sensitive HR data is kept safe amid different working environments, and that they’re keeping remote workers engaged and productive.
We will continue to leverage innovation while using our technical and functional knowledge to empower companies by providing the most proficient and globally recognized business and technology solutions. Overall, we’re trying everything we can to get through these uncertain times. We all know that we are in this together, that we will have a victory at the end of this fight, and are hopeful for the future.