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Nov 30, 2023
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The curiosity surrounding new Al developments and the utilization of this technology to address global-level issues and enhance efficiency keeps us going

-Rajit Bhattacharya, Co-Founder and CEO, Data Sutram

 

Rajit Bhattacharya, Co-Founder and CEO, Data Sutram

shares his startup journey from idea and execution to overcoming challenges, in an interview with the 100X.VC team

 

Q1. How did the idea of Data Sutram come about?

Enterprises need answers from their customers at every point of their journey in the customer lifecycle. When we were working for one of the leading financial institutions in the country, I remember one interaction that I had with the CEO of the company. He asked me, “Rajit, can you tell me if this borrower is going to default tomorrow?” This was during the peak COVID pandemic and the company did not have enough financial data of the customer to arrive at a conclusion. 

So, at that time, we put our heads together and looked at how many people were walking into the store every day as the borrower was a Kirana store. We observed whether the area is open or closed i.e. whether the store is accessible, and using smartphones, payment data, etc. We were able to put a picture together that depicted this Kirana store doing business in that area and we gave an answer on whether this borrower will default tomorrow or not. 

This opened up our minds and this made us realize that more often than not the information that is needed to make a decision lies outside the database of an organization. This information is also often unstructured and not accessible to people inside the organization and hence this was presented as a market opportunity that we need to build a platform that enables enterprises to tap into these sources to get answers.

Q2. What prompted you to start working on Data Sutram and execute this idea?

I entered the journey of being a data scientist by listening to Harvard’s Business Review that said. “Data science is the sexiest job of the 21st century!” But soon I realized that the ground reality is very different because as data scientists, we do not have enough information to be able to create solutions. To enable myself, millions of people who aspired to go into this field, and for enterprises to take decisions, we realized that this is something to start with and hence our journey started. We wanted to build something, we wanted to solve a problem and this was a problem that we faced as data scientists so we wanted to solve it for everyone.

Q3. When did you realise the need to raise Venture Capital - Seed funding?

In any product company, where we need to build a product i.e. in our case, we needed to build a platform that enabled the collection of data from raw sources and create intelligence. Till this platform was created, we couldn’t have approached clients to pay us money. This was a typical chicken and egg problem. Did the chicken come first or did the egg come first? As a result, for any product company, it’s very important to have the financial backing to continue on a journey where you build till a point the customer revenue comes in. Hence we realized the need for Venture Capital. We did not have enough money for ourselves to put in so we went for it.

Q4. How has 100X helped you at the beginning of your journey?

100X wrote us a check in five minutes when all we had was a PowerPoint Presentation. Now, today when I look back, whatever we have built til now is because someone believed us for the presentation in five minutes. Now that’s the real value of an investor. The belief and trust that 100X has put in us is today the reason why Data Sutram has come up.

Q5. Has your startup pivoted? If so, what has the pivot been?

Most companies pivot when they are going from an idea to an MVP because ideas are not bulletproof. To reach a minimum viable product, you need the market to test your idea, give you feedback, and enable it. At Data Sutram, we entered with a data platform but the journey has been understanding and working in multiple sectors. We realized that financial services needed data to take decisions on NTC and NTB customers. That’s a market fit that we got. So, the question is “Did we pivot or did we find our niche?”

Q6. What stage is Data Sutram at present?

Currently, Data Sutram is at a Series A stage in its early growth journey.

Q7. As founders, what are your goals for the next 1-2 years?

As a founder, the aspiration is to build for the world, from India. So, the next couple of years are about scaling the business in India but more importantly, exploring the international go-to-market, where we can replicate our Indian success stories in countries beyond India.

Q8. What keeps you motivated & keeps you going?

For me, motivation is about people. I have always believed that I want to build a mafia, a set of people that goes and does crazy things. As long as I enter the office every day and I have the mafia around me, it keeps me motivated.

Q9. Your message for Startup founders building in the same sector?

For any entrepreneur, the journey from zero to one is the most crucial. In that journey, the most important aspect is finding a problem statement. More often than not, as founders, we focus on solutions, products, and stories but what it all starts with is the problem. I think my message and my biggest learning in this journey has been that in your initial days when you are building from zero to one focus on the problem statement and try to validate it as much because once the problem is decoded, you will find the solution too.

 

About Rajit Bhattacharya:

Rajit first got curious about the world of data at a very young age. By the time he turned 19, he was already involved in building various data-driven solutions for MNCs & enterprises.

He believes that the actual impact of AI & machine learning to empower businesses and people is something that the industry is not ready to believe. 

Naturally good at organization and leadership, with a desire to create a change through AI, Rajit belongs to the larger group of millennials ready to fix the world.

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