India GameChanger recorded an energetic conversation with Amit Gupta, Founder of Ecosystm & Kampd. Ecosystm is a Digital Research and Advisory Company with its global headquarters in Singapore. Kampd is a platform for like-minded professionals to engage with each other within communities of interest anchored around relevant and curated content.
Some of the topics Amit covered:
- The importance of understanding one’s roots and appreciating ones heritage
- The effectiveness of updating, making changes, and understanding what your gaps are within the company
- How the ability to visually see spreadsheets helped Amit keep the dots connected
- The process Amit needed to go through to start Ecosystm
- How identifying the problem helped enable Ecosystm to be the first company in the last 20 years to truly take on some of the big global competitors
Some other titles we considered for this episode:
- Whatever You Do, Make Sure You Do What You Think Is Right
- Being an Entrepreneur, You Always Have to Have Many Many Plans to Fall Back On
- There’s Always a Better Way of Doing Things That Makes the Service Delivery Process More Agile
- What Drives Passion Is Emotion
- Adding Value to the Community
This episode was produced by Stephanie Ng.
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:03
Hi, this is Michael Waitze and welcome back to India GameChanger. Today we are joined by Amit Gupta, Founder of Ecosystm and a spin off of ecosystem. I like this already spinning things off Founder of Kampd. I love the way Kampd is spelled by the Amit, it’s great to have you on the show. How are you doing today?
Amit Gupta 0:20
Thank you, Michael, thanks for having me on the show now look very good. And really excited about what 2023 holds for us.
Michael Waitze 0:27
So am I I mean, God, 20 and 21..22 is less miserable 2021 We’re just so unsure and so strange, that 2023 feels like, I don’t know, in a way graduating from high school. Like, I’m out. I did it I survived kind of thing. I don’t know, I feel like I have a badge of honour that I never got COVID I tried really hard. But anyway, yeah, three should be super. Look, before we do this. And I love this, right? Because look, one of the things the listeners don’t know is what happens before we record. And I love the conversations we have. And I can tell you’re going to be a great guest because I have to stop the conversation before we start recording and just say, let’s just save that for the other stuff. So let’s get to that. First, let’s just get a little bit of your background for some context. And then let’s jump in. Yeah,
Amit Gupta 1:11
yeah. So look, let me start with, you know, my own background, where you’re from? That’s the question. I’ve always, always sort of asked myself, because I’ve had so many different places that I’ve lived in. Yes, because I’ve grown up, you know, UK, the Middle East, India, New Zealand, Singapore, I like to think of myself as a kiwi Indian. So, a kiwi very proud of that very proud of my Indian heritage. And I grew up in the UK. So a big part of my education was in the UK, and then followed by boarding school in India. Interesting, which is great, I think, which
Michael Waitze 1:46
is weird, because that’s like the reverse of what a lot of people in India do. Right? Like, okay, we’re doing well, we’re sending our kid to the UK for boarding school kind of thing. No,
Amit Gupta 1:55
yeah. And look, I think it’s quite interesting. And I actually owe a lot to my dad for where I am today, tell me really, I think everyone does to their parents. And I do specifically to both my parents, I think, academically my parents make up for the lack of intellect that my brother, my only sibling, and I have, you know, they my mom’s no more. But Mum and Dad have both been doctors and medical doctors and PhDs in their profession. So they kind of made up for any, any gaps that we might have. But my father was very particular, he felt that wherever we are, we should be global citizens. But at the same time, it was very important for us to sort of understand our roots. And he felt that, you know, spending time in boarding school in India, a would help with us both getting imbibed with Indian culture and, and having the appreciation of our heritage. And at the same time also gear us up in case they plan to move back to India, so that we’re better prepared for that. So
Michael Waitze 2:56
for me, I consider myself a third culture adult, right? So my daughter’s mom is Japanese. So by definition, she’s like a third culture kid, she grew up in Japan, but then partially in Thailand. But as an adult, I moved to Japan. So everything I know about growing up as an adult is Japanese. It’s very strange. And I think for similar to you, I’m guessing, is I don’t look like what I actually am. If that makes sense. Do you know what I mean? So when people see you, if I’m just on a train holding the thing, and I see you across the way, I’m gonna think this guy is that thing, whatever it is, right, whoever it is. And yet, I think most of us aren’t that thing anymore. Right. But I think it’s I think it’s really interesting, because it was always important for me, for my daughter to understand the Japanese cultural side of her heritage was super important, right? Because Japan’s a smaller country, India is different. But I can see your dad doing the same thing, like talking to your mom talking to your brother and talking to you and saying, Look, we don’t live in our home country. But we are Indian. And it should be important to us at some level. But on the other hand, we need to look outside to the rest of the world as well. And be a global citizen. I just think it’s super cool and super insightful for your dad, and very forward looking now,
Amit Gupta 4:07
ya know, I do give him a lot of credit for for a lot of things that I’ve accomplished in my life. And, you know, if I really think about it, I always kind of felt your identity and where you’re from, and not necessarily always intertwined. It’s about how you bring it together and how you blend the two together. Yeah, and you know, like yourself, I would say most of my adult life is between New Zealand and Singapore, right. And so, so for me, from a professional standpoint, as a grown up, I identify myself as a kiwi. And interestingly then, when you look at me and you hear my name, it’s not necessarily very straightforward to sort of relate to.
Michael Waitze 4:53
I mean, look, my name is Michael. I don’t think you can get any more generic American for somebody, you know, when I was Born, then Michael, my parents are just like, whatever. What’s the name that a boy gets this year? That’s his name. And in a way, I mean, it’s a very common in the innate rights when people see it, they just think yeah, that thing. Same with me. So I get it completely. Yeah.
Amit Gupta 5:15
Absolutely. And by the way, and Gupta is not less common isn’t a last name. So, so there’s probably about half a billion Kryptos around.
Michael Waitze 5:27
Probably. So how do we get to Ecosystm so Kampd is a spin off, right. But I want to know how we get the Ecosystm first, then we can understand why Kampd is Kampd.
Amit Gupta 5:35
So I guess maybe I’ll sort of ticket through a bit of a bit of a backstory go for and it does sort of link back to what we were discussing earlier. You know, one of the things that I got from my dad was, and both my brother and I, and we owe this to him, I think we’ve sort of benefited from gene pool that we’ve, we’ve had, honestly, and the biggest thing I got from my dad was he said, Hey, look, do whatever you want in life, or back you. I’m always there for you. Yeah. Just whatever you do, make sure you do what you think is right. Yeah, but do what you want to do. Right. And that freed up our thought process, we will never really be shackled by sort of the traditional career pathways that that young folk look at, right? So, you know, I became an entrepreneur at a very young age, my brother became an entrepreneur at a very young age, you know, I had an exceptional experience as an early entrepreneur. And after I exited my first venture, I would have been in my late 20s. And that was after, after having spent six years as an entrepreneur, and my first real proper corporate job was working with one of the biggest technology analyst firms. And I always, I always looked at that as a actually, there’s a backstory there. I actually wanted to work for that company. And, and I reached out to the country MD at that point at IDC. And he never responded, but serendipity. About a year later, I had a at a headhunter who reached out and offered me an opportunity with with IDC. And I started to Yeah, start to pursue it. I was I thought that was quite exciting that it seemed like, you know, my, my prayers are being answered, I looked at IBC as an opportunity for me to fast track myself into the corporate world, get a better handle on the New Zealand technology ecosystem, because then as an analyst firm, it was the best way I could, I could get a bird’s eye view of what the market was what the ecosystem looked like, and also build a very strong network. And I thought that was just the right thing for me to do. And as I gear up for my corporate career, and once I got into it and ask
Michael Waitze 7:53
you this, though, what was it like going from having your own company? Because it looks like you maybe you just graduated from university and went right into entrepreneurship. Right? Your dad? Yeah. Just do the right thing. Right. So you went out? You did the right thing? You did it. You said you had an exceptional experience. It’s rare, I think then for somebody even at what do you say 20 something years old, to then say want to go into the corporate career, but it seems like you had a plan? Well, you
Amit Gupta 8:15
always have to have a plan, right? I mean, that’s the thing about being an entrepreneur as well, you always have to have a plan. There’s always many, many plants that you fall back on. But, you know, I, I started my entrepreneur journey when I was 23. You know, I raised capital, went through lots of learnings. We scaled up the company, but then there were also a lot of things that were very challenging. And yeah, things that I learned I shouldn’t have been doing. And the biggest part of my learning was that I needed better experience in sort of managing p&l, Managing operational efficiencies, I could I understood the whole the big picture, get the business, get the capitals scale up. But how do you then build the rigour into the business? But fortunately, I had an opportunity when I was, you know, again, it’d been 28 or 29. When I got offered money for my equity in the business, and I started to it wasn’t a lot of money. I mean, it was enough for me to take some time out and, you know, take a long holiday and contemplate what I wanted to do next. And I decided to take the money, I stepped out, I considered what sort of opportunities I’d want to do. I definitely wasn’t prepared to be an entrepreneur at that point, right. It’s, you know, you you take some pretty hard knocks in that journey and while you enjoy it, you know, does it is one of those things where you need to you need to recoup recharge. And my view was that I needed I needed a job that I would enjoy, and not just for the money, and the money was important, but not as important because I still had some leftover. So IDC to me, was the place where I felt I could I could really grasp that understanding of the technology landscape. where the markets were going, what my next move could be, and getting to meet all the leaders in the tech ecosystem, because that’s what analysts do. Right. And, and I decided to pursue that. And there was no looking back from that. And interestingly, I came into the business as a sales and consulting head in New Zealand. And I realised very early on that it had so much potential it was so under monetized for a business that had been around for 20 years in New Zealand, as a global company. It had been growing, you know, the usual sort of eight 10%. Iranian just felt like, wow, I mean, you got access to this entire market, we should just be, we should take it to a different level. Yeah, we had hell on this thing, right? Yeah. And I decided to kind of be the entrepreneur with an ADC and scaled up that business, but 5x and five years. Yeah. And it was a great part of the journey, it was probably one of the most exciting times of my life, not just my professional life, my life overall, because there was just so much personal growth for me in that whole process in every way.
Michael Waitze 11:02
How do you take what you learn at IDC, though, and then build it out into the companies that you already have? I mean, look, you and I kind of did everything a little bit in reverse, right, I did a corporate life. From the moment I graduated from college, I worked at Morgan Stanley, I worked at Citigroup, I worked at Goldman Sachs. It was all corporate. And it’s weird, right? Because I don’t talk about this a lot. But when you do that, for 20 years, at companies of that calibre, you kind of feel like getting little things done is easy, right? Because you’re like, we need two more of those. And then they just show up, and you’re like, we need to have an infrastructure that does this. And the IT team just builds it, do you know what I mean? You’re not really doing the same level of resource management planning is important. But it’s not like it is when you start off with just like, you and your buddy. And you’re like, Okay, who’s gonna do that thing? Like, I don’t know, I thought you were gonna do it kind of thing. Do you really mean? So what do you take out of IDC into, again, restarting your own stuff, and, and then building it up into something big,
Amit Gupta 11:54
it’s quite interesting, I would look at it, kind of in the reverse. Good. So So, and I’ll just sort of, you know, just for context, I’m sort of in the journey with ADC as well. So, you know, from New Zealand, so long story short, 2008 financial crisis said, I’d been the MD In New Zealand, one of the smallest markets, probably Fridays, but because we had been growing at that pace, we were extremely profitable. For two years, we were the most profitable business unit per headcount, the growth had been absolutely exceptional. And at that point, I got a nudge to come in, take responsibility for the entire target for all of Asia Pacific. And that’s how I moved to Singapore. to scale up the business, yeah. And it was, it was quite ironic, because we just hit the global financial crisis when the rule is offered to me, right. And I just, you know, my wife, and I had just had twin boys. And we were told that you could get a full time nanny in Singapore, which is quite, quite easy. And I was like, Well, I’m not going to complain about that. My wife was quite happy with that decision, we thought we’d be closer to India, we’d be in the middle of Asia, it’ll be it’ll be interesting, good time to experiment with that. And the only thing was people questioned whether it was the right move to take that role during at the start of the financial crisis. And I said, Well, this could go both this could go both ways, you know, you could potentially mountain nothing. And then I could say, well, was the financial crisis, and I could come back to doing something else. Or I could really make a killing. And you could actually make a difference to the business. And I chose the latter option. I came up here, we implemented lots of changes over time, not immediately, I wanted to get my feet under the desk, understand the business. I travelled around all the 14 countries that I oversaw, understood the issues looked up spoke to our customers understood how they were tackling the crisis. And then really, we we spent time on re gearing, our entire product strategy, our people strategy, we changed the way we were measuring people, we did make some changes in the teams, but effectively ended up streamlining the business to a point where we ended up having the following year, the best year ever. And I then went on for another four years in that in that role, and really enjoyed it. And then I realised that I was getting limited by you know, all the resources and capability that you were referring to earlier that you get in corporate life interesting. And I felt like it was quite interesting. The CFO of the business was very dear friend as well over the years. Every year we’d have the song and dance where I always put rigour because if you remember I mentioned one of the gaps that I had in my startup journey was operational efficiency, and a view on how to manage the p&l. So one of the things that I did with a vengeance and IDC was to really focus on letting go that aspect so I actually understood the PnL very well good for you. And I would then do a song and dance with the CFO around the targets and you know, I do a lot My product, but all the country heads, we’d work through the targets and see how it all rolled up into Asia Pacific. And then we’d go to the CFO, we’d pitch and then he would give me a number I’d be, I’d be like, Mark, if you just give me the number and save me three months of angst for me and my team putting effort into that process. Just say, yes, yeah. Cuz I said, you know that I’m not going to pull the number out of thin air. So we’ve actually gone through the process. So but all in all, in good spirit would always be a very productive discussion with him. But then I also realised that the market was changing, the world was changing, digital was changing, right? And how did it manifest
Michael Waitze 15:34
itself? Like, how did you see that? I get it, I saw it, too. But I and I can tell you how I saw it. But I’m curious how you saw this manifests itself in the domain in which you were working?
Amit Gupta 15:45
Well, to me, it was, you know, the first signs of it were that our biggest customers were starting to really struggle, because of their size and scale, they weren’t able to navigate. So those were telltale signs that something was changing in the market, that these legacy players were not able to deal with. Yeah. And the reality of it is to be the biggest shift came about in the early 2010s. And I think people don’t give enough credit to this company. But I would say, you know, AWS, Amazon Web Services, which is, which came out of Amazon has a lot to do with how the market changed since they introduced the whole concept of public cloud, hyper scale, they are enabling very new breed of these emerging tech players, they were coming in, and they were coming in fast, they were growing fast. And guess what the likes of IDC and its competitors, Gartner, Forrester, the traditional technology analyst firms were not get up to deal with them. And neither did these companies have any legacy relationships with these firms. And that’s where I saw the biggest shift in the market. It went from, you know, the market literally being owned by the top 10 technology companies in the world to now a very fragmented tech landscape. And I felt like there was there was a new breed of customers that were emerging, and the traditional firms weren’t going to be able to deal with that. And I and that’s why I felt the need, there was an opportunity for us to look at getting into something that was itself a technology based business that would solve the needs of this new emerging breed of companies, and yet also give more efficient offerings at a better price to the big traditional players,
Michael Waitze 17:40
right? Yeah. And to be fair, AWS allowed a lot of companies to do that, I don’t think we would actually be, I think we’d probably still have five venture capitalists in the United States the same way we did back in like, 2005. I’m exaggerating a little bit to make the point. But I think we’d be in the same situation, if we didn’t have a company like AWS. That said, starting your company now cost you $5,000 and not $500,000. Again, I’m making up the numbers, right, just to make the point. But the idea that, look, I worked in the machine room at Morgan Stanley. Okay, so part of my job there was setting up with a team of people, a floor of 120, Sun spark stations, running a machine room that that did all the backups. So I took tapes out of machines on the weekends and stuff, like did all this stuff. It was very expensive. And that was one of the barriers to entry of becoming Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley right was you had to be able to be able to run these massive data centres. And now it’s in a way, it’s not even necessary. I can start up my company, you can start up your company camped can run in the cloud. Whereas before, you would have had to like buy servers. And every time you got like five more customers, you’d have to be like, hey, we need another server and 10 more this and that. And now you’re just like, you just have another machine at Amazon in the background, or anybody really running this stuff. And it’s just a completely massive paradigm change in the way companies get built and run. Yeah,
Amit Gupta 18:57
yeah, absolutely. And look, I, I think, you know, from then on, of course, we’ve we’ve seen that get even more sort of democratised players like Microsoft and Google and Oracle coming into that space. So I could go on and on about this. So Michael, I’m a technology analyst. But no, I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff you want to talk about.
Michael Waitze 19:16
But I but again, see, in the same way, right, and one of the reasons why I like doing it in this format is there are things about me that you don’t know, either, right. So this idea, like, I love having these conversations about the technology and the impact that it has on business, because that’s the way I’ve always looked at this in the same way when I was at Morgan Stanley. I was the guy at the firm who was like, you know, we’ve been using Lotus 123 forever. But now that Windows is we’re using this like DOS based spreadsheet programme, when Microsoft makes Excel and you can laugh about this. And I don’t mean you but I mean, one can laugh about this part of the conversation, but like when Excel came out, I had already been using it at home, and I brought it into work. And back then you could convince you it’s easier to convince you IT departments, you can put new software in there. So we started using it in Japan, I started writing some of the scripts in Visual Basic as opposed to using the writer, I can’t remember what it’s called anymore and 123. And it was just a massive change in the efficiency. Just to give you an example, why I care about this. When I first started reporting p&l to the options desk, again, too much information, they used to get their p&l reports t plus one. And then after the market closed, I would give it to them at seven o’clock in the morning on T plus one. So it was almost like 12 hours faster. And when they saw that, they were like, Okay, this is some kind of voodoo magic that’s happening in the back office. Now. Maybe you want to work in the front office. And that changed my career. But again, it’s that insight, that seeing that digital change, that changed my entire life. And I think the same type of thing happened to you in your domain. And that’s why I asked why. That’s why also, when you explain it, it’s so fascinating to me, because I wasn’t there for that. But I saw something similar in my domain as well. Super interesting stuff.
Amit Gupta 21:01
Yeah, no, that’s fascinating. I, you know, just just listening to, you know, what sort of prompted that for you, it’s really about, it does really come down to just that one thing you can spot, and the opportunities that you spot, right, and the ability to connect the dots. It’s so important. And I think any journey can be successful if you’re able to pick those opportunities and connect the dots.
Michael Waitze 21:27
Yeah, I agree. And that’s a skill, you never, you never, you never lose. And to be fair, like you said you, you have to thank your parents for the genetics, but but because you have good genetics, you don’t ever let that skill die. And the more you work, the longer you work, the more experience you have, the more you the easier actually becomes to connect the dots, because you can get the same feeling that you had back then when you saw AWS much earlier now, because you know what that feeling is? Is that fair?
Amit Gupta 21:55
Yeah, absolutely. And also about understanding what your gaps are, if you remember, I mentioned my gaps around developing stronger understandings of p&l. And as I said, I took that on with a vengeance. And literally one of the skills that I developed over time was I can actually see spreadsheets in my head. So if there’s a number that’s given to me, or there’s a number that I’ve seen, or if you know, one of our country leaders shared their number of their forecast, I would never forget that because that’s the spreadsheet in my head. So it was that ability to be able to visually see spreadsheets that I think really helped me keep the dots connected. Do you do
Michael Waitze 22:39
this as well, let’s say somebody tells you a number in a spreadsheet. Let’s just say it’s I don’t know CAGR, whatever it is right, you’re like, okay, but if that’s that number, then there’s got to be the other number that leads into that has to be x. And if that’s true, then your month on month has to be this. And if that’s true, you need to do this in the warehouse. It’s something you can do. I think, now that maybe you couldn’t do 15 years ago, you know what I mean? or 20 years ago, whatever it is, yeah,
Amit Gupta 23:03
probably, but not as good as you, Michael, because you’ve obviously you’ve you’ve been a Morgan Stanley investment banker.
Michael Waitze 23:11
That wasn’t the point. It wasn’t, I’m not nearly as smart as you are. About a chance. Neither one of my parents had a PhD for sure.
Amit Gupta 23:20
Look, it’s, you know, as they say, it generally skips a generation anyway. I did have something to share. So when I got my master’s degree, and actually, I’m quite proud of it, not that I was aiming for it, but I came up top of class and Auckland, New use student. And when I shared that my dad, and you know, he kind of joked with me and he said, he said, Great, I’m really happy to see you finally decided to get an education. Master’s degree. You. And interestingly, I actually got a got a letter from the Dean inviting me to join the Ph. D. programme right. Now. She then sent that letter to my dad, saying, Hey, I could do it. But I have decided not to pursue this, but just letting him know that I could be a PhD as well.
Michael Waitze 24:16
It’s really interesting. Yeah, I mean, I think we could spend hours talking about the impact that our parents have on in our extended families have on the lives that we ended up leading. Absolutely. It sounds like your extended family is pretty, pretty fascinating. And pretty wonderful as well, which is a great, it’s a great start, right?
Amit Gupta 24:32
Yeah, I mean, I love them. So fair, and I’m not embarrassed to say that on radio, no.
Michael Waitze 24:39
loving your family is definitely not something anybody should be embarrassed about. That’s for sure. Let’s spend a little time talking about Ecosystm. And then let’s talk a little about how it led to the spin off of Captain. Sure. Go for it. What is Ecosystmand what does it do? And then what was it building that actually said wait a second, this other thing also should get spun out? Because that’s interesting, too. Yeah,
Amit Gupta 24:59
yeah. So as I mentioned to you, part of the learning for me was that the market would change a young and we felt that there was a better way that research can be delivered. Now she was it was interesting, the more I thought about it. And and also you have to bear in mind, Michael, that I always, always looked at the world as an entrepreneur. And for me to actually exit a company like IDC, also required some sort of a
Michael Waitze 25:25
courage. It’s like an insane amount of courage. It just does. You don’t need to say it, but also an awakening. Yeah. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you why I think and again, I’m interrupting, because I’m excited. But here’s the thing. Nobody succeeds alone. But also nobody exists alone. Do you know what I mean? Like when my brother graduated from medical school, I don’t know who was happier him? Or my dad? Right? Do you know what I mean? And I’m the same way that when the Dean came to you and said, We want to invite you into the Ph. D. programme, which is a huge accomplishment. I’m sure internally you’re like, yeah. But now you can share the pride with the family and make them think like, Yeah, I know, you joke about me sometimes. But actually, I’m doing good kind of thing.
Amit Gupta 26:06
Yeah. No, go ahead. Absolutely. And, and for me, there were a few few factors. So one was the awakening that how much ever I valued the company. Yeah, it wasn’t my company, right? Because I came in as an entrepreneur. So for me, I always treated my work like it was my work. And to me, took a lot of time, detach yourself emotionally from the process. So that was step number one. Step number two was, I did feel that there was a better way to do it. And that’s how we started Ecosystm. It was, it was a process to go through that you get to start that journey. But I felt that it was a little bit ironic that when I looked at the company that I work for, and its core global competitors factor, this is the industry that actually helped companies, enterprises, evolve their business model using technology. I always found it very ironic that their business model was to archive itself. Right. So how does the traditional analyst business work? So the run surveys, however, sir, surveys run through phone based call centres, right, or online surveys, and then someone has to collate that data in spreadsheets, or SPSS or whatever. It’s a lot of human intervention. And then the research. The subscription researchers delivered through PDF documents, and F now is that not completely counterintuitive to what we’re telling the market on how they should be aligning their business? Yeah. And I just felt that with the tools available, but the technology available, the process could be a lot more streamlined and made more efficient, where you can actually service segment mark, to the existing customer base, you can actually start to service them in a way that’s much more efficient, both from a cost and time perspective. And that’s, that was the genesis of Ecosystm. So we put the data at its core. So we built a technology led platform that allowed enterprises to consume research. And as part of that whole process, they have to input their data to get the benchmarks. And it allows us to keep building the anonymous research around different segments of the market. And so that was really the data journey at its core. And then we built the efficiencies around that once we got that piece sorted. Once that got automated, what it did for us is, it not only reduced the friction, the need for human intervention reduced, which meant that the costs came down, potential errors came down. And most importantly, it made the data available on a real time basis. So customers could get market syncing on real time basis, as opposed to as you if you if you remember, Michael, you were talking about how you were sending the update, t plus one. Yep. And if you think about how the current process had been working in that research industry, you’re collecting all that data, it’s been cleaned up, someone has to then manipulate that put it into buckets. And all of that takes time, which meant that all the data that customers were getting was from three or four months ago, right, as opposed to real time. So we solved that problem. So that gave us a great entry point. Now our business model in terms of the way we deliver the services is very different. And that enabled us to actually, you know, I, I’d like to think, become the first company in the last 20 or 30 years, they’ll actually truly touch on some of the big global competitors in the technology analysts industry and service some of the biggest customers.
Michael Waitze 29:38
Yeah, so this is the key question. All right. In other words, you could easily not easily but you could go back to your old customers and say, look, we’ve we’ve cracked this nut and we’ve figured out a way to make our side of the business more technologically advanced in the same way that we’ve been telling you to and what that’s done to us is it made us way more efficient. That’s great. So now you can go back to the same clients and just say we can do this for you. Better, faster, cheaper. But what it also did, I think, and again, tell me where I’m wrong here is that it expanded the number of clients that you could deal with, because your whole process was now automated and in real time, so not only could they see the impact of it immediately, but you could serve as a company with, I’m guessing right with five or 10 people in it the same way you could deal with a company to 500,000 people in it, because everything that they were doing was tech based. Is that right?
Amit Gupta 30:24
Yeah, that was, I couldn’t have said it better. That was absolutely, absolutely the objective. And that’s why, you know, the whole concept of democratisation. And you know, I’ve had some friends say to me, Hey, democratise is not necessarily a very positive word, I said, for me, it is, all I’m talking about is a level playing field for everyone. It should be no different dealing with that five man outfit, right versus dealing with the 300,000, employee, technology giant. So they should all be able to get the same experience, the same level of service, of course, the way they would pay for it would be different just based on the scale of sure service they need. But it, it doesn’t put anyone at a disadvantage. And it’s quite interesting, one of our biggest customers. And I’d like to think of them, as you know, one of the three biggest technology companies in the world, the head of market intelligence, global market intelligence, actually, the place might not be appropriate. We both came out of the washroom, and we were walking back to the meeting room together. And he said, hey, hey, I just wanted to say something to you. We’re truly inspired by what folks like you and your companies do. Right? I said, it just shows us that there’s always a better way of doing things that’s that makes the service delivery process so much more nimble and agile. And that was a that was a great sort of validation. And this was, bear in mind, this was in the first year of our journey. Right. So that meant a lot to me at that point. Because, you know, we were still in the process of getting our product up getting some early beta customers. And I think it did help us that our customers who were nology companies themselves or enterprises adopting technology looked at us and when they actually get technology, because they’re not be used efficiently for themselves.
Michael Waitze 32:21
Right, right, right. Yeah. I mean, there’s nothing worse than having somebody talked to you about not putting in quotes for a digital transformation. And you go into their office, and it looks like a Japanese company out of the 1970s. Right, like they have a steel desk, and you know, the printers are not connected and all this other stuff. You’re like, you’re telling me what to do.
Amit Gupta 32:36
That doesn’t feel right. Yeah. Yeah,
Michael Waitze 32:38
I think all of these big companies, right, you mentioned IDC garden. Also, if they were started, who knows when like in the 50s, or 60s, right? I mean, I think IDC would probably call it IDC probably naming themselves after IBM, it must have been a thing to call yourself like international something company. Right? Yeah. So probably, yes, I get that. But you went right toEcosystm. So it wasn’t International. This or that Gartner obviously named after a person, but you didn’t name it like, you know, Gupta Corporation either. What was the idea around? Because every company’s name actually matters? At least it does at the beginning, like what are we going to do? What do we want to let people know about us? And you know, like, so one of my companies called undercover media. And the reason why we called it under covers, because we think every company should be their own media company. But we don’t think we should be the people that are known. We think the company should be known. So we want to do a kind of undercover, right? We thought about this a lot. So it’s the same thing. What’s the idea around Ecosystm? It seems like a dumb question, like, that’s BS thing just to take time. But I’m really curious about the thought process around why that mattered so much.
Amit Gupta 33:38
There’s a practical response to that. And I’ll give you that version. And I’ll give you the actual emotional, philosophical reason for the name as well. Because I do believe and I always say this to a number of other entrepreneurs I speak to and Michael, you know, that I’m very involved in in tip is the world’s largest entrepreneur organisation. It’s a not for profit, and it’s really about, it’s really that ecosystem that brings that ability to give the support structure to, to other founders and entrepreneurs, right. It’s a community of entrepreneurs and investors. And I’ve been, I’ve benefited from that. I’ve been very deeply involved in that. In fact, I’m the current president for the Singapore chapter. And I’m also on the global Board of Trustees of Thai. And one of the things that I always say, is entrepreneurship, people talk about passion. Entrepreneurship comes from passion, yes. But what drives passion, what drives passion is emotion and as an entrepreneur, that’s why, for me that story around the name, there’s the practical reason and the, and the philosophical, emotional reason. So the practical reason is the business model is based on being able to service the needs of our customers by bringing the entire technology ecosystem together, which is the technology providers, the technology, consumers, the enterprise and the analysts. Yeah. And to us, it was very, very simple. If we If we did a true ecosystem play, one would feed off the other, and would make the whole process more efficient and be able to service the entire ecosystem and give something back to them. And, to me, that’s what represented who we were. And it was about bringing the ecosystem together on a philosophical note, or is a little bit different. I was in it was in Kuala Lumpur on work, and I didn’t my wife and my, my twin boys along and I had to straddle the weekend. And we were staying at the Westin in Kuala Lumpur. And I thought, you know, Saturday morning, I thought I’d go and spend some time in the lounge, you know, when you got twin boys, young twin boys, you do need some time out as well. And so while my wife and I were having, you know, enjoying our coffee, and I just felt like, there were so many people that had impacted life and wanted to, personally have the opportunity at some stage to thank them whenever I spoke to them, or proactively find the opportunity, and I started to write down all these names. And I didn’t realise that that list was so long, I needed to then ask the, the staff there for an A three size of sheet of paper, and paper, and I started to write down the names there. And then I realised that, you know, Bob knew Graham Graham knows Steve, Steve knows X, and they also it was all criss crossing the names. You remember, you remember that game used to play when your kids we’d all be doing well in school? Like match the words? Yep. And that’s how I started matching people. And that became sort of my network. And then I wrote in the middle of that sheet, um, it’s ecosystem. Yeah. And when I decided to set up the company, I decided to call it ecosystem. And actually one of the people on that list, Steve Scott was very dear friend from New Zealand, Steve was like, Yeah, it’s really cool name. But I’d suggest you drop the E sounds a little bit more cooler. So that’s how we came up with the ecosystem without the
Michael Waitze 37:08
because that was the foul one has to be right. It’s like, is this just an internet? You know, Domain Name Server problem where like, somebody had already owned it, and you’re like, Screw them, I’m just going to drop the or No, it wasn’t actually somebody just said, it looks cooler. Without it. I like it.
Amit Gupta 37:22
Yeah, and it did not help with the internet domain, because someone, someone is scoring on that Ecosystm. Without the we’ve been trying to get ahold of it for some time. If you’re listening in, please help us give us that. But which is why our URL is Ecosystm, three sixty.com, because we give a 360 view of the Ecosystm. But that also comes to bite us because it irks me when people refer to us as Ecosystm 360 Rather than ecosystem. And I’m like, oh, no, we’re not Ecosystm 360. We have changed that now. Because as you know, the multiple options now with the internet naming your own naming, because we now have ecosystem.io. So which which helps.
Michael Waitze 38:08
Good. I’ll use that one from now on. I see. You’ve also done the same thing with camped, there’s no E, there’s no cedar as well. So I think you got really, you just want a little bit nutty. With the naming of this what is camped,
Amit Gupta 38:20
we have fun, but we have fun with that sort of stuff. I always like to say whatever you do, you’ve got to have you got to have fun doing it. And you got to have small wins along the way. So yeah, so Kampd, Chris Kampd, written the Ecosystm. Today, as you were looking at our next growth journey Ecosystm, we realised that there were periods where we were able to solve the needs of our customers. But there were also areas that we had started to realise were emerging as very evident, we even we couldn’t solve it. And I’ll give you some give you some background context, please. If you look at technology analysts business, like the competitors that I named, and like ourselves at ecosystem, we it’s not just research that you offer for consumption in terms of planning and strategy. So obviously, we give research services, which are either in subscription format or specific project where, you know, companies have specific needs, either as a technology provider to get into new markets, that they want to launch the products, they want to understand the adoption by behaviour and that sort of stuff, a competitive landscape, or you’re an enterprise and you want to understand and build your technology roadmap. That’s your traditional view of what research is. But if you go beyond that, there’s there actually there’s a bucket there that the market doesn’t realise but actually contributes to a big part of the revenue base of research firms and whether it’s an IDC Gartner, Forrester or ourselves that ecosystem that is really supporting technology providers, with their go to market and to talk to you To ship content through marketing engagement. And if you think about it, when was the last time you saw an enterprise software company? Advertise? You would never really see them advertise it? Yeah, right. And most of the marketing spend from a, from an advertising perspective, if you can call it that really goes into content lead thought leadership. And that’s where they would work with analysts brands, and influential analysts, to have them write or talk about a particular industry pinpoint a solution that aligns well with their messaging. Right, right. Right, right. And that’s what they use to build their brand and reach and influence their customer segment, or their target customer segment. So so that was that’s, that’s a big part of our business as well. And as we were doing more and more of that, what started to bother me was, while we had solved the problem around making the whole research and data piece a lot more efficient, more robust, and solving that pain point for the market, I started to think about how do you solve this? Because, you know, companies spent hundreds of 1000s, millions of dollars on content, lead marketing, where does all that content go? I mean, they run a campaign, they’ll put it up on social media, they’ll send it through, you know, an email blast using a CRM tool. What do they actually get from that? Apart from actually, maybe if you’re using a tool like HubSpot, or Salesforce, you’ll get to see how many people opened it and viewed it. But do you even know what they did with it? They like it. But no, yeah. So I just felt that there was a better way that we could create some efficiency around all of this marketing waste. And the more I thought about it, as well, could there not be a platform where you can bring communities together, where people can engage with like minded people. And then brands can benefit by then targeting their messaging to those communities in a way that’s not advertising, but that they’re adding value to that community by actually sharing really good quality content, to drive engagement. And so one thing led to another. We realised then that as we started to work through shaping the business plan, shipping the product roadmap, we realised that the journey that this business would traverse would be very different from ecosystem. And I wanted to make sure that first of all, I didn’t want to impact our first bond just because of our ambition. Yeah, so So I wanted to make sure that we de risked ecosystem, it wasn’t a, we had worked really hard to turn it into a profitable high growth business very quickly in its journey. And I didn’t want to impact that piece. And I also felt that the business that we were trying to build the new evolution of it had a different journey had to traverse both in terms of the business roadmap, the investment roadmap, so we decided to spin it off as a separate company. And that’s how Kampd was born. AndKampd is short for knowledge amplified. And we wanted to, as we went through the whole thought process, my own thought process changed. My own purpose changed. We switched it from ESP eventually want to solve the problems of these customers that we are serving an ecosystem. But the purpose became a lot bigger than that. And I started to realise that there are so many in the knowledge economy, everything is moving so fast, but it is the pace of change is so rapid, that people are really struggling to keep up. I mean, even as an analyst I struggled to keep up with this web three, Metaverse, ESG, sustainability and climate tick, oh, all of these pieces that are all of these terms that are being thrown at people and professionals are really struggling to figure out how does that sort of fit in with with their world and what they’re doing? Yeah. And the best way I felt for people to continue to grow journey and learn is to engage with like minded people. And then I started to think about where are like minded people engaging at the moment. It’s really missing apps. And messaging apps are again, very fleeting moment. You know, there’s there’s no real threat of conversations because Michael, you could actually share your perspectives on say, the metaverse on Whatsapp group, and then do messages or two responses later, I could be saying Hey, happy birthday, Bob. Yeah. And the whole conversation was derailed, and
Michael Waitze 44:28
you can’t search it. There’s no way to itemise it. There’s no way to get the data from and you can’t meet a target like there’s nothing you can do. It’s really frustrating, actually. Because you know, what’s there? Absolutely.
Amit Gupta 44:38
Absolutely. You can’t you can’t you described it, you describe the pain points. And the conversations are not centred on point because they keep moving. And I felt that if there was a better way to bring in that ability for communities for like minded people to engage in communities, but you still need something to anchor that engagement and that’s where content comes in. Yeah. So that’s, that was the genesis of camp. And we felt, if we could solve this problem for for professionals by virtue of bringing in communities that are anchored by exceptional content, and then you start to then bring in the whole leverage around the Creator economy, you then start to bring in all of these thought leaders and experts were able to come and shape the thought process and then eventually be able to monetize. Right? So that was, that was really it. Those were the three C’s for us communities, content and creators.
Michael Waitze 45:31
I love it. And what’s the status of camp right now? Like, how long ago? Did you spin that out? And how big is that? How fastest hacker like what’s going on there? Obviously, you can see why it’s interesting to me, because I mean, you heard me say it earlier, I think everybody should be their own media company. And that aligns almost completely with what you’re saying, right? This idea of you should be able to tell your own story. And I always go back to the same experience I had when I was 19, or 20 years old, my girlfriend’s dad said to me, you can either live life or let life live you. And in the same way I feel about storytelling, you can either tell the story or let somebody tell the story for you. And the idea is, you know, the story better than everybody else and barring you, you know, lying and just like devolving into propaganda, it’s better for you to tell that story than for waiting to somebody else to tell that story for you. Is that does that makes sense?
Amit Gupta 46:13
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, to tell the story, you’ve got to make sure that there is a way to keep continuity of those stories. Yeah, exactly. Because it can’t be one off no way. And it was interesting. I had someone on my team mentioned that we are the world’s first community, professional community platform. And I said, I said, Great. So that’s the statement that you’re gonna put out on LinkedIn to say we are world’s first professional community platform. I said, Isn’t that ironic putting it on the world’s first largest community platform, which is LinkedIn. But but that is one professional community, we are all one professional community of 900 million people. Right?
Michael Waitze 46:54
So that’s the thing though, and this gets back to one of my other theories. And this is another one of the reasons why I want to talk to you, let’s just go through this really quickly, right? When I was a kid, and when you were a kid, and definitely when my parents were kids, there was a small shopping street in their town. And it had a butcher on it had a baker on it had a guy that made suits next to them was a leather goods guy, and he made shoes and belts and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, you had these gigantic department stores come in and just go yeah, we’re just going to disambiguate that, actually, we know we’re going to consolidate all that stuff. And they can get everything in the same place. And at the beginning, it was a revelation, because you could just go to one place, you could pay for it all at once. He was just simpler, right? In a way, it was almost like an offline Amazon. But then just like Amazon, to be fair, Discovery became impossible and service was upside down, because nobody could know all the products. So what happened was, you had this reverse process of fragmentation take place where people went back out and said, I’m just going to take my shoe store out of the department store and put it back on Madison Avenue. And I’ve always thought that as LinkedIn, just as an example, and Facebook is the same thing grows and grows and grows and grows and grows, the discovery just becomes impossible, and the experience is terrible. So what happens is, people split off, and you get these smaller communities where it’s really impactful, really important. So if I want to talk to you about media and about business and about technology, I know exactly where to go and have to sift through 1000 different things to get there. And if that’s what camped is, at least at some level, you’re saying, Yeah, I get the professional connection super necessary. I get the fact that we want to share things with each other, I get the fact that we want to have the same conversations. But what I don’t want to do it is under a circus tent. I want to do it in a conference room. And that’s what this seems like, to me. It’s a conference room, at some level with really great contents inside as well. And in my close,
Amit Gupta 48:40
yeah, yeah, very close. And if I put it in my word, you know, I would say it is pleased to discover professional communities, creators and content.
Michael Waitze 48:48
Yeah. The Big Bucks is you’re better at that than I am.
Amit Gupta 48:52
And then, and then once you’ve discovered those communities, then you can engage with like minded people within those communities. So it’s just a different way. It’s about it’s about removing that friction of discovery. Yeah. So you know, the starting point on campus, it enables you to discover those communities discover those creators that you want to follow and engage. And then once you’re in those communities, then the conversations are a lot more relevant. And the second idea is a community has to be a place where everyone has a voice, right? So it is a place where you’re able to share your perspectives and thoughts within that community that you’re interested in, or that you’re part of. And it’s also a plate camp is also a place where you can actually share content from and your perspective on that content from from anywhere.
Michael Waitze 49:37
Is there like a plug in or something or an API that somebody can connect to it? Here’s the thing, right? So I have this podcast about India, the podcast about tech. I have a podcast about insurance. I’d love to be more interactive with the people that listen to it. Again, just so you know, the Asia tech podcast says listeners in 170 countries so a lot of people are paying attention, but they don’t know who the other person is. So how do you Take the platform, get the content on it, and then allow people to go, Hey, I listen to that, too. And this is what I thought. That’s what you thought when we’re building that. How can we work together? Because that’s the real power. No, I’m simplifying to understand.
Amit Gupta 50:12
Yeah, absolutely. And look, let me ask you this, your cumulative audience, Michael, across all your podcasts, what would that look like? Are we talking about millions of viewers? Yeah,
Michael Waitze 50:20
hundreds of 1000s. Yeah, I don’t know if you get into the millions of viewers but hundreds of 1000s? For sure.
Amit Gupta 50:25
Yeah. And that’s a very, very large number for any kind of a media subscription. But they’re intentional. Right? Yeah. So now imagine if there was a place where all of them can share their perspectives on what they’re learning of your podcast, sharing their point of views, and they all bring their point of view to life. And you’re able to see how people are using, what they’re learning from your podcast, and what are they actually taking away from it. Now, you could actually build your own community on Kampd, you can actually natively put up the content on camera in any format, whether it’s video, whether it’s audio, whether it’s textual, or you could leave it wherever it is, at the moment. And you could just share the link and give you a quick snippet of what the content is, and still be able to lead traffic back to where you want to keep it right. But at the same time, in your community, everyone. And by virtue of being in the community on campus, your content becomes discoverable on campus which will bring in more people to come and can come and join your community and your own community within your campaign that’s very original we call community at Kampd and on Kampd so on your Miko light scamp you could actually have people sharing their perspectives I could, I could share my thoughts on your podcast that I’m viewing, right. And that would then drive more traffic. And you know, my audience base to that. Yeah,
Michael Waitze 51:52
so we’re gonna have to test that knowledge amplified, I liked it. And I also liked this idea of this disambiguation, right, the fragmentation of something that was consolidated, it’s something that I think about a lot, I spend a lot of time thinking about platforms versus products, right. And this is obviously a platform, not a product. It has its own products and stuff like that. But I spent a lot of time thinking about this, too. So this is, this is why this is really interesting, beyond
Amit Gupta 52:13
you know what I do, especially at ecosystem, and now it camped, I think there’s this this few things I want to just share as an entrepreneur, because I’m very passionate about entrepreneurship, because my firm belief is that entrepreneurship solves some of the biggest challenges in the world. Yeah, I don’t disagree with you at all. And that includes everything from some of the biggest issues that we’re grappling with, like climate change, wealth and equity. I mean, we live in Asia, we know what that’s like, digital is the equaliser. And I think entrepreneurship is on fast track, and in most parts of Asia, and I think a lot of the change that we’re seeing is is a result of entrepreneurship.
Michael Waitze 52:55
And this goes back to AWS, you couldn’t be an entrepreneur at scale, when I was a kid, because it was just prohibitively expensive. Now it’s not sorry, go ahead.
Amit Gupta 53:06
Yeah. But it also goes back to the point you made when you were talking about AWS, the the competitive example you shared, Michael was, and no, it was, it was more to exemplify. But there were five VCs, yeah, yeah. Right. But look at look at the VC Ecosystm today. I mean, let’s put aside all the flack they’re getting it, I get it. But without them, the Ecosystm is incomplete. Right. So I just have a very innate desire that there is a lot more that can be done when you bring communities together. And it’s not just about the plug for camp, I think, in general, because I’ve seen the value of communities, what isn’t mentioned. I mean, that’s what that is. Yeah, absolutely. It is the largest global community of entrepreneurs and investors, so not for profit, we’re actually a give back community. So to be a charter member of Thai, you have to be invited. It’s by invitation only. And one of the biggest criterias is not just based on how successful you’ve been. But what is your appetite to give back. And when I say goodbye, when it’s not about money, but entrepreneurs. So I do feel that just building on that piece around entrepreneurship, I do feel that communities will play a big role to help steer the transformation, you know, in this knowledge economy, towards what I like to term as the purpose economy, where, you know, if you think about the younger generation, that’s getting into the workforce, and that’s a big target audience for us at camp as well. They’re very driven by purpose. And they’re very aware of the issues that we weren’t aware of. I mean, like, we didn’t really care about leaving the aircon on 24 hours. I mean, I remember when we lived in the Middle East. Yeah, truly. Water was more expensive than oil literally was. Yeah, for sure. Yep. And a few fortunate ones actually had drinking water come in, come in at apps right in the kitchen, right? But some people still had to go and buy water or fill them up in big jerrycans. But the reality was that you didn’t care you just left your because there was no cost to power you left your aircon on all the time. I can’t think of kids doing that today. No, I wouldn’t do it. It’s embarrassing to
Michael Waitze 55:19
say this. But like when I was expatriated, from New York to Tokyo. You know, one of the things that these big financial services companies did was they paid all your expenses this is what’s being a expatriate it is like you you must know this a little bit. And I lived alone in a two story a boat and you know, in the summer times in Tokyo is insanely hot, like insanely hot. And I will leave my air conditioning on when I was at work so that I when I came home after my 15 minute walk from the train station in a wool suit, I was walking into a cooled home. I would never do that today. And my daughter would if I if she knew that I did that. She’d shoot me kind of thing. No way.
Amit Gupta 55:55
I know. But here’s the thing. I’m sure there’s some entrepreneur out there. Because I know it’s very feasible from a technology standpoint, that in today’s world, because of the awareness, you can still have your aircon turned on exactly as you reach your home and Tokyo. And that’s probably that’s probably happening. Knowing Japan, it’s probably already happening. And yeah.
Michael Waitze 56:16
You connect to it over the internet, you’re done. It’s simple.
Amit Gupta 56:18
Exactly. Exactly. So. So by only putting view on this piece, Michael is that I do think that there is immense potential for the next generation in terms of what they can help us achieve and solve a lot of these problems. And I just want people to consider the possibilities through digital that are solved by entrepreneurship. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 56:45
What’s the best way for people to get in touch with the right person? At PTI is my process right? It’s tip. Yeah,
Amit Gupta 56:53
yeah. Well, I mean, they could reach out to me, okay, I’d be happy to connect them, you know, depending on where they’re based, you know, we have about 57 chapters around the world super. And they should just go online and you know, Ty dot orgy and find the relevant chapter and I’m sure there’ll be contact, there’ll be contacts and that they can reach out to but otherwise they can reach out, they can certainly reach out to me,
Michael Waitze 57:18
perfect Amit Gupta, Founder of Ecosystm and Kampd and so much more. Thank you so much for doing this today. I really appreciate your time. Really, really appreciate it.
Amit Gupta 57:26
Man. Thank you, Michael. Really appreciate it. Wish you a great 2023 great way to kick this off. Thank you. Thank you.