India GameChanger was joined by Yamini Bhat, a co-Founder and the CEO of Vymo.  Vymo is a personal assistant app for enterprise sales / service teams. It predicts what a rep / manager should do next, detects whether this has happened and links this to downstream metrics to drive better predictions.
Some of the topics that Yamini discussed:
  • The importance of diverse business experience
  • Moving around as a child and learning how to adapt to change
  • Sales transformation, working at McKinsey and first-principles thinking
  • Building blocks and the keys to learning
  • The relationship between sales growth on sales productivity
  • The impact of the pandemic on growth and how a multiple-geography strategy helped
  • Building use-case playbooks
Some other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. Tech Is a Very Scalable Way to Solve Problems
  2. India Is a Place Where a Huge Amount of Growth is Yet to Be Unlocked
  3. I Do Think You Have to Live in the Present
  4. We Call this the Winning Behavior
  5. We Always Launch with What the Salespeople Want
  6. I Have Always Been Attracted to Unsolved, Big Problems

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:01
Now we are on. Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to India GameChanger. Today… I’m so nervous already. Today we are joined by Yamini Bhat, a co founder and the CEO of Vymo. I got both of those things, right. Thank you so much for joining the show.

Yamini Bhat 0:18
Thank you Michael. Excited to be here.

Michael Waitze 0:20
It’s great to have you here. Thank you so much. You’re very welcome. Before we get into the central part of this conversation, I’d love to get a little bit of your background for some context. So I’m a computer science graduate from BITS Pilani and then did my MBA at IIM, Bangalore post that I worked for about a little over five years with McKinsey Consulting with large enterprise lines, usually on sales transformation. I was based in India first and then moved to the US. Having done this kind of work for about 20 Plus transformation programs. It just felt like the problems were very similar and technology could solve them better. And that that’s what led us led me to start my mouth. Like what is it like getting international work experience, I can tell you what it was like for me because for me, it was frankly transformational change the way I thought about the rest of the world. I’m wondering what it was like for you.

Yamini Bhat 1:14
I think it’s extremely helpful to get as diverse an exposure as early as you can in life anyway. Right. And international work experience is one way to get it I had interned when I was an undergrad and interned in France. When I was doing my MBA, I interned with Goldman Sachs in London. And then even at McKinsey, I worked across countries, even in Asia, and then when the US too, right, so diversity helped us at any point in time. But even much before I was exposed to diversity through work, my dad worked with a bank. So we kept moving from one city to another every three to four years. And that really helped a lot in terms of being able to handle change, adapting yourself and figuring out what’s you know, what’s actually normal and not not normal, versus just sticking to biases from one region, or city your context. Right. So in general, diversity helps a lot International is one angle, but the URL you can get it in life, the better it is for you.

Michael Waitze 2:15
I could not agree with you more when your dad was moving around from city to city, was that inside of India? Or was that externally as well? No, it

Yamini Bhat 2:23
was inside of India at that point in time.

Michael Waitze 2:24
So I love talking about this. Because I was born in California, I went to middle school in Massachusetts and a little bit of middle school in New Jersey, then I went to high school to high schools actually in Connecticut. And I graduated from high school in Pennsylvania and then went to college back in Connecticut. And I always felt like that moving around, like I want to dig a little bit deeper on this, right? Because I think it gives you an adaptability. That’s hard to teach, if that makes sense. Because you’re just used to constant change. Is that fair?

Yamini Bhat 2:53
Yeah, you’re used to it helps a lot that helps. And I think in life, you go to places like McKinsey, where they throw you at a project every different contexts and different projects every six months or so on an average. So that kind of ability to handle ambiguity, etc, comes to play. And you it’s it starts becoming a little bit more natural. But I think what it allows for is a lot more tolerance, because every every micro region has its own beliefs and context. And then when you have to live across three of them, 10 of them, 15 of them, suddenly you realize that what you should tolerate as a much wider band.

Michael Waitze 3:30
I feel like I’m jumping a little bit ahead of myself, but I just want to stay on this topic a little bit if that’s okay with you. You know, a lot of people talk about building their building their business internally first and then expanding to other countries or to other regions or frankly, even to other cities. But if you’ve never worked in another place if you haven’t increased your tolerance, right, which I think is a great word in this context, right? Because it’s not like I agree with everything that you’re doing. It’s just that I’m tolerant about the fact that it’s different. Right? Yeah. Does that make it easier for you sorry, to expand overseas as well? No,

Yamini Bhat 4:05
no, I completely agree. But also for I mean, naturally for any company in any context, whether it’s b2b or b2c? Typically, you start and whatever is your home base, and then you keep expanding or you pick whatever the home base could be like, you will be living your base as coming out of India, but your home base could be us or your base, ask them near like Singapore and your home base could be Australia, right? Like from the first customer that you target. That’s actually pretty okay. And then obviously, there are stages in which you do geography expansion, but I think it helps to know upfront whether you are building the story global not building this to be local, because then the boundaries of what you where you say yes and no to on product, for example, would be very different and sometimes architectural, you don’t know where to start in a place where today you’re saying yes to tons of things which are absolutely irrelevant in your larger vision or you’re saying no to a ton of things, which then block you from being able to grow that In geographically, so it’s good to be aware where you’re headed. But naturally, you will start from a point of strength or some kind of focus. I feel like my dog scratching again in two minutes, because dogs have far more they want to be they always think the grass is greener on the other side of the door.

Michael Waitze 5:21
So does your I want to understand this too? I think a lot of people misunderstand what the study of computer science is. You’re smiling. But I want to go through this a little bit. And I’ll tell you why. When I was developing software as a front office trader when I was at Goldman Sachs, and I’d love to hear your experience for your internship at Goldman as well. Well, I used to talk to the software developers about, let’s not think about what we’re developing now. But let’s think about the entire roadmap so that when we’re developing things, we know what’s coming. So we’re not hard coding things. We’re not locking ourselves into one particular architecture, but we’re locking ourselves into a flexible, build out that if we want to put new things into it, or if the business changes a little bit, there’s room inside of that for this as well. Do you think your computer science background helps you in developing other products in that way as well? Do you not I mean, this idea of understanding frameworks in architecture?

Yamini Bhat 6:14
I agree with that, you know, I think it comes down to first principles thinking to three examples that support a counter this right, in general, having a mindset of first principles thinking helps you look at the core building blocks, and helps you build around it like at first principles thinking and what McKinsey for example, is asked the five why’s Why are you doing this? Why this why exactly this way, etc, right? And that helps you build back to bring a solution to the problem. Seven, actually, it helps you get to the core need, right? In engineering, those building blocks are different. Right? I think a lot of engineering education also happens to be about languages learn C learn Java, learn Visual Basic, etc. Right? Like Long, long ago. So it was about learning this stuff. And then I think the switch mentally happened for us when, during the curriculum, there was a point when one of our professors one of the course was about how to write a language like why do you need a language? And why are there so many? And how do you actually write? What are the building blocks of writing a language, right? And you learn what lexers you learn pal? parsers. You learn what compilers and and then you understand what you’re trying to do with the language. It’s not about what language it is, but what is it that you’re actually trying to do? So those become the fundamental building blocks, right? Very similar to the five why’s of McKinsey. So I think more than anything, and I’m guessing it’s not that sciences is different from humanities, like every every format of education. Most every field of education most probably has its building blocks. If you have gone through a curriculum without having hit those, then unfortunately, that probably was not the right, you know, not the perfect way to learn something if you were just fed the outputs, not the building blocks. But in general, if you’ve been to any experience educational of workwise, where you were forced to think about the first principles was to think about what the building blocks are then naturally to you. You look at things and you find problems and you start thinking of solutions. Having that background definitely gives you the habit to go. Look for look for many nails, honestly, it’s a bias because you just feel like elections fantastic. How can you just go hard coded out, right to be able to win an election or smartseries? Fantastic. How can you just call this out? Right? So that gives you that natural bias, which I believe is good, because it is a very scalable way to solve problems.

Michael Waitze 8:43
So I built a house in Tokyo I love I love asking people about this, I bought a piece of land and I built a house in Tokyo obviously I didn’t build it. And I hired an architect who’s more of an architect, right. And I realized when I was talking to Ricardo that he had a hard time looking at like an empty piece of land and not wondering and theorizing about what he could put there. To make it better. Do you find yourself doing the same thing? Like you have all this knowledge and all this information? You said? I have the hammer and I can see a bunch of different nails? Do you look at like blank spaces or spaces where something could get built and just think I think I could build that thing too. And then I’m curious why you chose the place for Vamo to build into this space instead? Yeah.

Yamini Bhat 9:26
Yeah, completely agree. I think as a person, I’ve always been attracted to unsolved problems. When we graduated, India was not the most happening place from a job point of view, and most folks left but that it’s the fact that most most folks were leaving itself. I felt like it was like a challenge that I should take on career opportunities here. Why should our smartest people go and like go somewhere else and become CEOs of Fang,

Michael Waitze 9:54
Microsoft, stop it.

Yamini Bhat 9:57
Plus, plus, plus, plus, plus So, fortune 50, let’s say roughly, right. So

Michael Waitze 10:03
almost all of them, but yeah, go ahead. Yeah,

Yamini Bhat 10:06
so the whole point was, so that’s a challenge, right? Like, why not create those opportunities here if we have the talent? And the good part about tech software or like computer science is it’s not that it’s you don’t need to have coal or dig for oil or have, you know, your your mind to be able to you’re not constrained by that. Right? All you need is smart brains, right? And we have plenty of those. So usually, I’m anyway attracted to big unsolved, tough problems. Even wine was a new category. just educating awareness for this segment itself has been the first three or four years of my journey. And now it’s a known thing that’s budgeted for. Right, it was a massive unsolved problem. Now, why did we choose this space versus many other things? At that point, I didn’t have many other ideas that I was debating, and a very wise person, my husband told me find something that, you know, you’re very good at and that people are willing to pay a lot of money for if you’re starting a business, right? Otherwise, you could start anything else. It doesn’t have to be a commercial effort, right? So and it just are not like I’ve done 20 sales transformation programs. And I knew that it was an unsolved problem. And folks, were hiring McKinsey. So it did mean that folks, were throwing a ton of money at this problem statement, I remain unsolved. Largely.

Michael Waitze 11:27
Do you think that the bid is flipped on the brain drain? In other words, do you think there are plenty of people just like you are who either have graduated, and I want to say left, but have come back, but also people that are graduating now and saying, Why would I go there when there’s a massive thing to solve here?

Yamini Bhat 11:42
India is a place where a huge amount of growth is yet to be unlocked. Yeah, right. It’s easy, very easy for us to triple from here over the next few decades. That’s a huge opportunity for anyone who is willing to take that bet and jump at it right. And it’s not like, and I’m very proud that at the same time that we were thinking of it this way, there are a lot of folks in our cohort in my generation, I would say now, who actually took the same bet, right, who came out of IITs and ions and bits and many other Institute’s and said, You know what, I’m going to stay here and I’m going to go figure out how to sell books online. And then we have a Flipkart, we have so many such massive companies that have got built out here, which helped actually fund all the talent creation that happened here. Growing up in India, it’s very easy to believe that, hey, you know what, you grow up, and then you go to college, and then you go find a job in some other country, because, you know, those are the big opportunities, it’s, but if you think about, it’s not a normal thing you grew up, it’s not like people, kids growing up in America thinking I will grow up. And then I’m gonna go to Eastern Europe for a job because the opposite. So it’s actually not normal for someone to have to leave your home country and your family and closest friends and actually go start from scratch somewhere. And it’s not normal. But it’s been so normal for us in India, that, you know, folks don’t think of it any other way. They just go on that track. Right. So but but I don’t think it’s normal anymore, folks. I’ve heard I was very happy. And that one of my closest friends, investment banker for the last 15 years that I was dabbling in all of this, she was talking about how now you can’t expect the best brains to come and join an investment bank, right, that they’re struggling with getting the best talent in London and New York and Singapore, they’re struggling to get the best talent from the schools in India. And I was smiling, because, you know, some of the best talent here is now going to the startups and probably building companies in this market, right. So I do think the story has changed. And it’s definitely not one of us who’s been an enabler. It’s 100 Such folks who made the bed about 1015 years ago, and that’s really changed the story.

Michael Waitze 14:02
So when I was graduating from college, in my generation, which is different than you. I’ll try not to make you laugh when you’re drinking water, again, but the only real places to go get great jobs was on Wall Street, or with one of the big consulting companies, right? Was your family? And was your group of friends surprised when when you left to go start your own business where they’re just like, Oh, my God, like you didn’t work this hard to get this stable to then go back into instability? You know what I mean?

Yamini Bhat 14:30
No, actually, it was quite funny because no one understood it. Now. It’s very common. Like there are 100 Black startups that have come out of that cohort of McKinsey folks from Sure. This geography, in fact, we have a WhatsApp group, and we are more than 100, I believe, at this point in time, and many are unicorns that 1000s of people now employed in these companies. Right. So it’s a very normal thing now, but I think at that point in time was probably the only second person to quit the McKinsey in their office and startup, right. So a lot If people told me in fact, it used to be very amusing as a few close friends knew I was thinking about this for more like donkey’s years, but in general, the narrative used to be Yamini. I know it’s tough, it’s either up or out, it’s okay, you’re figuring out something. Because it was just so common in my quarterly magazine join either a VC firm, or a PE firm. That was the standard track that anyone who didn’t do that probably did not cut it, and what thing could not stick around at the firm to and it’s easy to understand where that narrative would come from. Right? Because you’ve not seen this happen. And to some extent, even I wondered if this was absolutely stupid off me and something, you know, that no one is doing? Why would I? Why would I throw away such a exciting and as well as comfortable job, right, high paying job to take a complete bet on myself? But you only live once. If you’re better? You just

Michael Waitze 15:59
are you a natural risk taker, though? In other words, do you take risks like this calculated for sure in other parts of your life? Do you know what I mean?

Yamini Bhat 16:08
I do think you have to live in the present. And if you feel like you will not complete until you do this one thing and it could be maybe you want to learn music, and maybe every day you need to play otherwise, you won’t find peace, or maybe you need to meditate or maybe you need to track and you need to hike. And if you don’t do that, every weekend, you do not feel complete. So I do people have these things that they need to do. And I just think you should do it. If you feel like doing it sounds like you’re gonna get I mean, you will get many chances. But you might as well just do it. So yeah, maybe in retrospect, as I’m a risk taker, as you can see,

Michael Waitze 16:45
but you didn’t feel but it’s tempting, because you didn’t feel at least it doesn’t sound like taking a

Yamini Bhat 16:49
risk. So I didn’t feel like I was taking out a second as a Twitter thread where I posted this, I was reading psychology of money. And that’s when I started seeing what might have happened. I remember my dad when he retired after working in a very, very secure job, which which was not the case with his dad, right? His dad was at my dad’s dad was a tailor. And they will not have a secure childhood, you would have money one day, and you wouldn’t have money one day, stability was the biggest thing for my parents generation. And therefore public sector jobs, jobs were a big thing. Therefore working with the bank was a very big thing. He worked with the same bank for bank for about 30 years grew up there. And Estonia like the like number three, number four, becoming the number three number four person there when he retired. And I remember he told me when he was retiring that he had x in his bank, like X dollars, whatever that was, it was secure. And just that number x stuck in my mind. And five, six years into McKinsey plus with a few international internships plus having worked with McKinsey, US etc. There was x in my bank or close to that,

Michael Waitze 17:52
yes, close enough. Yeah.

Yamini Bhat 17:54
And then the moment I realized I was getting closer that wow, they just five years and six years into a career, you feel the same sense of security that your dad at that point is feeling, which pretty much means that if he’s ready to retire, you should be ready to do what you want to do really want to do, right? And I and it’s not that I don’t really love what I was doing at that point. But it just felt like no, if I have no boundaries, here is what I would really want to do. Right. And I took the leap. Do

Michael Waitze 18:21
you think that McKinsey and companies like McKinsey are great training grounds for startup founders?

Yamini Bhat 18:27
It’s a fantastic finishing school. In fact, it just shows, just with the number of sites, I saw that every you have to go to a place like this to be a founder, general, you have to be a risk loving, curious first principles person in general, ready for challenges and, you know, you fall 100 times you get up and you move on, right? Don’t let it get to you that in general, all of that is needed. So this is not neither. But it’s it. If you get the chance. Yes, it’s a fantastic finishing school to go through. I

Michael Waitze 18:57
feel like sometimes people in the startup world believe that companies have to get built really quickly. Yeah, but you’ve been at this for a while. And I believe and I’ll tell you why I asked this. But I think that if you build something slowly and methodically that you’re then building this really powerful base underneath it. And then even if things change, that the base is there to help support the other things that you want to build on top of it, are you do you think there are benefits to building things in a methodical way?

Yamini Bhat 19:26
In general, I would say yes, there is no reason why you will you will probably stumble less if you’re being more thoughtful about it, but I don’t think are like I don’t think in general that’s the primary axis. Depending on there is a time and place for everything. There is a time when a certain tech is needed a sensor and solution is needed to try building other Uber now, at that moment in time, it was fantastic. It was great. The Zoom happened before COVID happened because look what COVID does short. Right. So I think those were post facto great timings. But in general, I think there is a time when something is extremely important for new categories that takes time to build them, because they never exist exist. It’s not like you go to someone and you’re replacing a 30 decade, like a three decade old solution, you are competing with very New Age tech and really changing the way things are done right. And then there are things that need to get built overnight, probably because at that moment in time, that’s a pressing problem. Right. And it probably has, like, for example, if someone is building something for lending in Asia, sure, they better be in the game now. And they do it really, really fast. Because now is when it’s exploding, right, three years from now, maybe not lending for a would practically probably be at its end of its hype curve. And things that are built off a great lending economy would be taking off, right. So you need to be at the right place at the right time. And different technologies have different life cycles that I saw, I think it’s more dependent on that. I know fantastic companies, which were ahead of their time, right companies, which actually helped, for example, odd streaming, video streaming, which had existed for two decades, and we’re never a big deal. And we’re way ahead of their time, because who was streaming on the internet. This actively right and look like in the last three, four years, they have become massive, they grew from like five 10 million as a company 200 200 million, million in revenue as a as within two, three years, right. So it’s a matter of that, the need the timing, and that defines the lifecycle of when you would pick,

Michael Waitze 21:29
let’s explain to people what sales transformation really means from a technology standpoint.

Yamini Bhat 21:34
Very simply put, when you’re a small sales team, or when as a founder selling for example, when you are a one man team, you have massive amounts of productivity. The first two three salespeople, when hired right are closing massive amounts and helping you with the initial lift, right. But as you add to your team, when you get 200 salespeople than 1000 than 5000. With every headcount, you’re bringing in you’re taking on a huge cause, but also your productivity steeply, steeply declining because managing such a massive diverse workforce is not easy. Sales is believed to be an art, though it is extremely scientific and how it happens. There is a lot of on the job learning that is required on the job managing and coaching because sales also happen because you’re present at the right time with the customer having the right conversation, right. So being able to orchestrate that across an army of 5000. Sellers is just not easy for any organization. So what happens is some like the fortune 50, hundreds finders of the world struggle with growth, especially when it’s very sales driven, like financial institutions, because as you are investing in capacity to grow, you’re losing productivity massively. Right. So the cost of incremental sales is so much higher sales productivity effectively is address trying to address this problem, which is how do we make your team make your existing team do much, much more. And it’s done by being able to invite most case, we do it by being the assistant and their coach, on a real time basis, we’re not depending on 500 managers to train 5000 Folks, by most present on the phone and device of every single salesperson is very contextually aware and gives them not just an expert actions on the go. So they can really adapt on a like a daily hourly basis to what they’re doing, prioritize the most important things and get in front of their customers have the right conversations and push this to closure.

Michael Waitze 23:28
Let me just give you an equivalency right. So when I was at Goldman Sachs, and also when I was at UBS, we built this technology that we called something called Smart sail straight or something like that, right? So that all the information that we were receiving in real time made us smarter, because if they were triggers in it, or if there were particular stock holdings that a particular client had, it would remind us in on a real time basis. So then we can make an outgoing call if the stock was up a certain percentage or some limit price were that the customer wanted to sell it or pay whatever it was, we had all this information, it made us look like geniuses, right? And the clients will always react with how did you remember that? Or how did you know that? What is your FICO doing in real time? Like what are the real things that it’s doing so that people can get a sense for how it actually works and how they would interact with

Yamini Bhat 24:09
it? Yeah, so a lot of what exists today. And even the examples that you shared are very similar to what a CRM tries to do, which is basically try to pull all the information about that customer into one place and surface that to you. Now what that’s counting on is 5000 sellers at the same like on a on a continuous basis, using information like that contextually right and it’s not just when you’re in front of a customer, you’re pulling up some information which is passive, right can you go from there to actually being able to suggest Michael You handle 300 customers here is the different life stages they’re going through. Based on that if you have three hours on your calendar, here are seven things you could do with these five customers that are most in need of something at this point in time therefore, in a way the lowest hanging fruit for you right so we try to bring context across customer needs a whole host of portfolio information. In different triggers that we are seeing from elsewhere, and try to convert that into what’s most important for you. In addition to that, there is since there are probably 5000, similar sellers from the same org, using the solution, what we are able to see is what is it that the top 10 person is doing that the others are not We call this the winning behavior track, right? So whatever these winning behaviors are like, how many days before renewal do get in touch with a customer? How. So these are traditionally what enterprises would call sales playbooks, except that there’ll be handbooks, which would say, hey, you know, what, if it’s a platinum account, meet them at least thrice a quarter, right? But that that’s just anecdotally written is just trying to say, do something’s more do more of something? What we are doing is, hey, this is really what is driving successful, Michael. And then others like him, who are really the top performers. And in our guidance, we can actually translate those behaviors into next best actions for every individual to be able to mimic these behaviors, right. So we, we call that the winning behavior cycle, right. And we translate that into nudges. So now everyone is mimicking very similar engagement behaviors that actually leads to much better outcomes for them.

Michael Waitze 26:11
Can we get back to part of the conversation we’re having at the beginning? And that is this idea that in different regions in different countries, and sometimes just in different cities, the behavior is really different? What is it like then expanding outside? And then gathering all this data and cross referencing all this different data and the relationships between that data and the winning What did you call it? The winning behavior? Yeah. In in different places? And then sending that out? Like, are there learnings you can get from India that are appropriate in the US and vice versa? Or is it very specific culturally and country wise, it makes it really different.

Yamini Bhat 26:46
There are definitely nuances even beyond country wise, right within the same country, depending on the product you’re selling, depending on like whether it’s banking product, or a lending product, or a commercial product or an insurance product, the cycle times are different the customer’s buying nature is that engagement triggers need to be different, retreated, etc. So we have what we call use case playbooks which are nuanced to this. In fact, insurance in retail insurance in US might be similar to retail insurance in for example, Japan, on certain contexts versus commercial liking Japan might be that much more dramatically different from, like retail insurance in Japan. So even across geographies, there are some similarities and some massive differences even within geographies. What is similar, though, is the only reason someone gets into sales is because they want to make that commission meeting their goals. Right. So a lot of, you know, performance management track converted to activity converted to nudges, that user experience that we generate, shockingly, has been reasonably, you know, relevant across geographies, which was a huge shock for us like we have daily active usage of 75%. Plus on our tool, which is that 75% plus of our quarter million users come every day to buy more to use it. In comparison, slacks is about 50%,

Michael Waitze 28:04
which must mean like, I’m wondering what the timeframe to impact is for a salesperson, how long does it take them to figure out? Oh, wait a second. If I do, if I do what vi most telling me, I get back to meeting my goals and making more commits. You know what I mean? Like, what is that timeframe to impact on that?

Yamini Bhat 28:20
Typically, between the six to eight week period is when we hit about 70 to 90% daily active users, which means most folks have recognized that this is useful, and I’ve started coming back every single day to why Wow, right? And folks are using vi more for our users are using bio for 60 minutes a day. They’re coming in 10 different sessions or five minutes each. So they come look at the next best actions, then go do that and then come back again, right? Contrast that with Instagrams daily engaged users, they spend 30 minutes a day on Instagram on an average. So why was highly we call why more habit? So what was the habit? Because you’re coming back again and again. So why was the habit more than like a tool or any such? Right? That’s how we think of it. So we think of what are the habits salespeople will value for themselves? Right? Not because then managers want them to use this? And how can we make more of a habit?

Michael Waitze 29:14
I was gonna say the big difference is that when you’re done using Instagram, you’ve had a dopamine hit or a serotonin hit. And when you’re done using Vimal, hopefully you’ve had a commission. I don’t want to hit but a commission rate. So it’s a big difference in what the outcome is, right?

Yamini Bhat 29:26
You’re spending money, you’re making money. Let’s look at it that way, or wasting

Michael Waitze 29:29
time or making money right. I think it’s really an interesting way to look at it. What I’m really curious because you’ve been at this since 2013, when the pandemic came right at the end of 2019, beginning in 2020. Were you just sitting there thinking, Oh no. What is the impact of this going to be? Or are you just thinking this is a massive opportunity, like what happened through the pandemic and you you also raised money, sort of at the tail end of the pandemic too. I’m curious how old that

Yamini Bhat 29:54
was before the pandemic.

Michael Waitze 29:56
Congratulations both times, by the way, at the

Yamini Bhat 29:59
beginning About the RBC there was 15. So shocked because pandemic hit us around mid March, early March and March was a financial year closure so that those two weeks everyone went into just confusion on what it could mean or not mean for them right all the major and prices. Within within two, three weeks we understood this could be really good for us because it’s going to accelerate digitization, right. But also the fact that in the first three to six months of the pandemic, driving sales, productivity was not top of mind driving customer operations and customer service was top of mind because you likely have lost your usual ways to stay in touch with your customers, including people are working from home and you don’t have, you know, a way to access secure email. Right, or many of your core systems were not accessible from home. So for large enterprises, and why most serves the number one banks and insurers in each of the countries that we exist in, right. So for these massive behemoths driven by compliance and regulation, providing access to fundamental stuff like email, from people’s home offices, or even core systems was a very, very big deal. So that became the first six months agenda. And therefore, for us new logo acquisition definitely came to a much much like went down to a hugely slower pace. But the customers who had already adopted why more over the time period of the pandemic, like grew three or four times with us there was rapid digitization in these organizations. And why am I actually was became the backbone of how that was done, including their own employee engagement, because now we have a workforce of fight and 1000 Walmart for the first time ever. And these are salespeople, many of them are a very young force, who now need to be remotely right. And everything that I was talking about how to be on the go digital coach came fully to us during the pandemic for these organizations. What was it

Michael Waitze 31:55
like they’re trying to build from India, into some of the biggest markets in the world. During a pandemic,

Yamini Bhat 32:05
it was not easy. Because if Weimer was a SaaS company that was targeting SMB, or mid market, or like any of those segments, with probably like, $100, to a 5000 10,000 20,000, ticket size, yep, our entire engine would be have been built to be able to sell remotely anyway. Right. But I didn’t know, ideal values are, you know, our average customer contract value is half a million dollars. And these are with some of the most regulated institutions, which are financial institutions, right. So usually, we have local presence. And that’s what our go to market and world. Like I said, we just raise money before the pandemic. So we had put field on ground in seven different countries. To make headlines, we use it as an opportunity to test just do rapid experimentation, the market and what would would not work there were the multiple geography game helped us in a way because yeah, for sure, if you remember how the waves were, you know, the waves were very, they were not at the same time across geographies. So able to leverage the recovery periods in different markets for momentum and those markets actually, so in some ways it played out, okay, was placing on one two locations, which would have been very deeply traveled at the same time, right. So that helped. In general, we used it for experimentation with the shock was when we actually broke into like the number one, number two, number three insurers or banks in these places, financial institutions in these places during the pandemic, and these are highly conservative enterprises were actually signed up for a company, which was not otherwise locally present, right? Turned out to be our first customers. And that includes Berkshire, for example, in the US. And that was, yeah, that was extremely huge, huge kudos to the team that managed to do it. So you

Michael Waitze 33:53
may or may not know this, but I have probably, if not the largest one of the largest insurance and insure tech podcasts in the world. Oh, nice. Yeah. So I’ve spent the last three or so years talking to hundreds of insurer Tech’s and also incompetent insurance companies all over the world, really. So I get what you’re saying. It must have been I’m really curious about what that sales process was like. Because one of the things that they’ve all told me is that, yeah, they wanted to sort of do digital transformation, maybe, but then it got all I mean, I can tell by your facial expression, you’re like, Yeah, but once the pandemic hit, acceleration is probably the wrong word. It was just like turbocharged, right. So what was the sales process like, for your teams, particularly because it was remote right, again, if you’re selling to somebody from Bangalore, to Delhi a little bit easier, but from wherever, where are you based right now? Right on Bangalore, you’re in Bangalore? Yes. So selling from there. Obviously, you have boots on the ground somewhere else. But like just having that whole process into Berkshire into some of the big insurance companies and big banks in the United States must have been really hard? No.

Yamini Bhat 35:01
Yeah, there was one year that during the pandemic time when I had a 24 hour job because Japan would wake up and then West Coast would go to sleep at a certain time. So there was nearly an hour job for me. But it was great that folks were open to meeting, you know, that these large enterprises were open to meeting vendors remotely, etc. So life, we also learned a lot of things about our world market model, which, you know, we could still play remotely and could strengthen thanks to the, you know, the experience during the shutdown time. But in general, for these financial institutions, the first three to six months were a shocker, because they needed to figure out their own business models. They needed to figure out basic customer service stuff that there they were right, compliance wise obliged to do first, and the basic advice support in a remote context. But once they went through the P zeros, which is all of this, instantly, they had, they started recognizing that they have a massively distributed workforce, that sometimes couldn’t sell for compliance reasons sometimes couldn’t support for compliance reasons, and now needs to be cross purposed. And customers, you know, now, you cannot just keep calling on customers, because, like, everyone is on Zoom calls all day, so you need to get their mind share. And when you get their mind share, the same relationship manager needs to have a much more comprehensive discussion than ever before. So you needed to upskill your talent you needed to make the seller, the relationship manager, you needed to help the relationship manager position three, four different products, contextually. So you needed to make sure that they could remotely learn and grow as individuals on the team, etc, right. So there was a lot of pressure, then suddenly recognition of the fact that these sellers, who used to probably visit the branches earlier to acquire customers now need to remotely handle the book of business, become way more aware of the entire product suite, and figure out, you know, much more how to have much more elegant conversations with the little time that they get from their customers, right? So upskilling, productivity enablement, all of this became suddenly a very, very big priority for these institutions. So the data for the second half of the pandemic actually was very, very good from, you know, adoption of technologies like MIMO, etc. Therefore, for us,

Michael Waitze 37:18
so did they connect to Vibo is like an API connection to it, right? Because you got to connect all of their data, all of their products, all of their salespeople, it’s got to be easy for them to do this. Otherwise, I’m not gonna do it, right.

Yamini Bhat 37:29
Yeah, yeah, given how long I mean, I’ve heard of stories of CRMs, which were born in these places five, six years ago, and still are being rolled out still with only 20% of the features, etc. So there are some definite trauma stories with respect to large digital transformations. But with most of our clients, we on an average go live between four to six weeks. And we figured out that playbook, it’s it was important that we figured out that playbook in the context of some of the most conservative enterprises, right on how to be able to launch fast enough for them. Because when a sales leader in these organizations, decides that they need to fix sales, then they want to fix this very, very fast. And then your momentum, and then you better figure out how to launch drive adoption and success and ROI for these folks fairly quickly. So that’s something that we take extreme pride on pride about the fact that we can go live within four to eight weeks usually. And that adoption within six weeks of that can be 70, to 80%. And therefore ROI, you will start seeing sometimes as quickly as four weeks, and sometimes, but most definitely within the first one year of deploying YMO,

Michael Waitze 38:37
did you see a sort of a generational difference in the acceptance of this product? Because, you know, I know, at least from when I was at Goldman Sachs, every time we’d roll out a new piece of technology that people, the salespeople, even the sales traders that have been around for a while would just be like, I’m doing okay, without this thing, whatever this new thing was, but the new salespeople and the new sales trainers would be like, just give me any piece of technology, I’ll use it, because it’s always going to make me better, you know what I mean?

Yamini Bhat 39:01
So in general, there’s skepticism among sales teams to use something because the history of enabling salespeople has mostly been about monitoring salespeople, right? And they need it right, go off in your CRM, I need to see you doing three meetings. What like, what is enough for them versus, you know, I need to know what you’re up to has been the usual tone of any kind of sales productivity initiative. Right. So usually, there’s a lot of skepticism about one more tool. And the challenge was also, you know, like I said, five years at McKinsey, I’ve done 20 of these sales transformation programs. So clearly, for a decade before mine existed. Folks, were trying to solve this problem building something in house, like you give two examples of companies you work with when they build something in house, right? So folks are trying to build something in house and the basic stuff, they’re building houses, why don’t you report your staff? I’ll show you a few things about your customer, but why don’t you tell me what you did during the day? Right? So it was such fast reporting that folks usually felt burdened by this and therefore there was skepticism on Okay, well I’m more, right. But we need therefore new walking in that that would be the big like adoption would be a big challenge. And we needed to crack adoption because it is meant to drive bottom up transformation. So in all our transformation programs, customer success manager comes first. And they usually draft out to like usually what the CXOs want is very different from what the salespeople want sure on the ground. And we always launch with what the salespeople want. And nearly for four to six months, we run with that because they get to solve their problems, or option counts, and then one of the managers want automatically happens, you don’t even need to force it. If you’re giving them guidance on your on seven calls, you should make their click and call. So you know that seven calls are made, you don’t need to get them to report it to you, you know, you have to first focus on being useful to the seller. And that’s the biggest difference between the previous generation of solutions, which includes the CRM versus what we’re trying to do

Michael Waitze 40:58
now, do you get a lot of feedback from your customers in the salespeople that are using FIFO that then turn into products that in the sense that everybody could probably benefit from this thing? You don’t I mean? Yeah, so like you’re out there, you’re if you’re interacting in this first four to six months with the people and you want to give the salespeople what they want, you’re getting feedback from them that then turn into products, and you can roll out to a whole suite of people that are using it.

Yamini Bhat 41:23
So typically, one is weak. So some of the largest enterprises, so why more has 60s etc, 70 customers, again, we usually only deal with market leaders. So the first early adopters of Wi Fi, usually the earliest adopters of technology within those countries and industries, right. So usually, you know, it’d be number one, bank number two, like number one, number two insurer, etc. Because we serve such a niche set of clients, right, and some of the market leaders, it is important that a lot. And also it’s a new category. So an academy that’s existed, there are three other companies like mine, right? Because of this, like there is a thing we say in that team, right? There’s a mantra in the team that focus less on competition, or what is perceived as competition and focus more on your customer. So listen to your customer, understand their problems, because sales is a moving choke point. First you want to ramp your sales team, then you want to coach them, then you want to send them cross recommendations, then you want to see fit to train them how to do good calls, then you want to train them how to cross the Nubra. But every time you solve a problem, the chocolate mousse, it’s not like, you know, you’re done, and the things automatically sell themselves. That doesn’t happen. Right. So the chocolate mousse So we’ve learned that our roadmap is basically about addressing what the next choke point is from a sales productivity point of view. Ultimately, we are trying to help sales teams sell more. Ultimately, we are trying to help financial institutions get to more customers and go deeper with their customers right, which means there is always a choke point. Therefore, you have these tiers and editions what is now editions of MIMO, where you start by solving what is like an existential problem to you, like fundamentally, your leads are not converting you need to shut down your program or use in order to convert leads, these are existential issues, right? You solve those, then you get to the next set of issues. And then you get to a next set of transformation, which is more around skill, improvement within your workforce, etc. then digitally digitizing a lot of these journeys. So you’re not that much dependent on workforce for very mundane stuff, you focus them on very high quality relationship building and so right so transformation is endless, honestly, in this space. Therefore, there are editions of WIPO that you can journey across. And some of our customers, our longest customers who have been with us for seven plus years, probably have gone through three such upgrades to be able to better address their, you know, latest choke points.

Michael Waitze 43:47
I always let the guests title the episodes by just letting them talk. And I think that transformation is endless is what this is going to be. I can talk to you literally for another hour. But I want to let you go. I really appreciate you doing this. Yamini Baht, a co founder and the CEO of Vymo, thank you so much. I really appreciate it for taking the time to do this today.

Yamini Bhat 44:11
Thank you so much, Michael. It was wonderful talking to you.


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