In a recent interaction with People Matters, Adit Jain, Co Founder & CEO, Leena AI and Sarthak Saini, CPO & Business Head - India, Leena AI shared the journey of Leena AI - the HR chatbot that is making millions of employees around the world more productive.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
What’s the story behind the foundation of Leena AI?
Sarthak Saini: Leena AI started as Chatteron, a company founded by Adit Jain, Anand Prajapati, and Mayank Goyal immediately after their graduation from IIT-Delhi. The initial idea was to allow anyone to create bots without having to write a single line of code and democratize the process by making it more accessible.
However, after interacting with several business leaders, the founders realized that existing solutions were not addressing the critical HR needs. Then in 2017, when I joined the core team as the Chief Product Officer, Leena AI was verticalized with a singular focus on how to help employees interact seamlessly with HR. Little did we know that we were just scratching the surface of an extremely relevant problem in the workplace.
What talent challenges were you trying to solve then at the time of ideation? How has your approach changed over the years?
Sarthak Saini: As we went deeper to identify and understand the talent challenges HR leaders deal with, we realized that employees are facing trouble finding answers to simple questions like how many vacation days were left or information on their insurance policies.
But, none of the team members at Leena AI were well-versed with the domain of HR. Hence, we interacted with several leaders, CHROs, and employees to fully understand the existing pain-points and gain insights to ensure that we create the most relevant solution for our end-users.
Equipped with more knowledge and understanding of the needs of HR, the Leena AI team identified that a majority of the queries raised by employees revolve around the topics of vacation, leaves, expense filing, scheduling shifts, etc.
Thus, Leena AI was built to help employees save time by quickly accessing company information related to policies and rules. The chatbot was also taught to identify different terminology using natural language processing to help answer the most relevant response.
The core team members divided critical roles among themselves to work together in unison. So, while Adit drives business development and investor relations, Mayank is the brain behind Leena AI’s NLP and machine learning projects. Similarly, Anand drives Leena AI’s architecture to scale it sustainably and securely, and I strategize sales, marketing, delivery, and deployment.
What were some of the challenges that you faced in your initial years? What were some of the learnings from this phase that helped you build a better and a more relevant solution?
Sarthak Saini: Initially, it was challenging to navigate an industry where none of us had any experience. But we were committed to the idea and underwent a steep learning curve to grasp some of the most common challenges that HR leaders and employees faced.
How much venture funding have you raised till now? How has the traction been so far for you?
Sarthak Saini: The fact that the company had more than a dozen paying customers within a year of its launch shows that there was a dire need for an effective solution in the market. We became a part of the Y Combinator 2018 summer class and went onto raise funds from investors like Elad Gil and Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal. We also partnered with Haptik to improve its bot and features and went onto acquihire the capabilities of VadR, a VR analytics firm, to improve its products and services.
We are beyond happy and humbled to have gotten the response that we did. I joined the organization because I saw value in improving the way people work and have donned several hats in the last couple of years to understand the impact of our work fully.
To highlight some successful cases, the platform has helped Coca-Cola Vietnam reduce the time and effort in approving pending employee requests by 60 percent and halved the time taken in accessing company information by employees. Similarly, KEC International has witnessed a 9x ROI in one quarter by reducing the time to resolve employee queries by 80 percent and saving more than 5000 HR hours in the process.
There are many emergings startups and established companies providing talent management solutions. Amidst such competition, how do you ensure that Leens AI stays ahead of the curve?
Adit Jain: Leena AI’s story proves that the right mix of passion, dedication, talent, and vision can help organizations provide innovative and contemporary solutions to some of the most pressing business challenges today.
To budding entrepreneurs, we say that it is possible to achieve success in today’s disruptive and unpredictable business environment if the focus remains on the end-user. The core team has been very clear on their goal and vision, and fully realizes the importance of the work they are doing.
There are many gaps when you compare the applications in the consumer and the corporate world. We are trying to bridge that gap and provide a unified experience to employees to increase their productivity.
What are your future plans as far as product innovation and business expansion are concerned?
Sarthak Saini: Leena AI already has big names like Coca-Cola, Sony, AirAsia, Lafarge, Vodafone Idea, Kohler, Piramal, KEC International, and more than 50+ enterprises across the globe as its clients.
The chatbot can be integrated with Slack, Workplace by Facebook, and Skype and also be used with SAP, Oracle, and NetSuite, which makes it one of the few out-of-the-box solutions in the market. Now that our idea and product has been validated, the team has set its sights on global markets, specifically, the USA.
We already have operational teams in New York and California working on expanding our presence in the market.