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Interview with Gurudev Karanth: CEO of

Bootstrapping data startups: Creativity + Adventure spirit is the way out of the "lack of early data" desert

What's a typical conversion rate in eCommerce stores?

I didn't know this.

It is 2%—it is like setting fire to $98 of your marketing budget, and worse yet, every eCommerce company is doing it.

OutOfTheBlue: Fixing the leaky bucket of customer conversions in eCommerce companies

This problem drove Gurudev Karanth, to build, an AI-driven Pre-revenue Optimization Platform for eCommerce.

He mentions three inflection points in the journey of eCommerce stores. At the farthest end of the spectrum, companies with $250M+ in revenue realize that data is a superpower and start building data warehouses. Gurudev is trying to bring the in-house rigor and tools in these powerhouse companies to all eCommerce companies.

Impact of AI/GenAI: It will democratize data for every human in the enterprise

There are plenty of dashboards monitoring lead data. From Gurudev's perspective, only 20% of the audience can use the data meaningfully, and the rest of the enterprise depends on this 20%.

With GenAI, these dashboards will be relegated to secondary status. The primary interface will go through GenAI interfaces. Ask the tool a specific question, and the tool will bring the answer back—no more slicing or dicing data on dashboards.

Gurudev sees this as a revolutionary step where OutOfTheBlue (and others) are broadening the data reach to every individual in the enterprise.

Principles for building a startup

An adventurer mindset: He shares the story that was told to him by the legendary Kanwal Rekhi. A startup team is like a band on a journey through the desert. It has been given just enough resources to make its way through. Surviving, thriving, and finding their way out of the desert is the responsibility of this hardy bunch of adventurers.

Being Creative: Creativity is a crucial principle for startup teams. We discussed the "data bootstrap" problem for an AI/data company.

Imagine that you are dropped into the middle of the desert. You have just about enough food to make out of the desert. However, getting out of the desert is your problem because no one can help you.

This is the life of a typical entrepreneur.

Things get more challenging for an AI/data startup. You need data to build a solution for a company, but you need the company to send you their data first.

Every data company must solve this bootstrapping problem. It's like being dropped into the desert without a map; first, you must establish your bearings. The problem is that you need data to build a solution, but a customer doesn't give you the data before you have the solution.

OutOfTheBlue looked into COVID data to develop their model and solution because they realized underlying similarities.

Just solve problems: We discussed the importance of working with early design partners. His insight is not to worry about monetizing them but solving their problems.

Advice for would-be entrepreneurs: start reading up on the fundraising process.

Head on over and listen to the podcast.

— Harpreet

Entrepreneurship Unlocked: The TechFounder Guide
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Reflections in Product, AI, Startups and Meditation for tech folks & others.