TiE Boston Charter Member Saji Nair
Tell me about your background and your path as an entrepreneur.
I grew up in Mumbai, India and was trained primarily in physics. I startedmy career as a researcher, but then at the turn of the century, I joined Wipro Technologies and implemented large scale network management systems for leading telecom OEM’s. After moving to the United States in 2005, I developed a desire to work in financial services and risk management and completed my MBA from NYIT. While consulting at large firms like State Street, EY and Citizens Bank, I understood the challenges in audits and compliance due to the lack of a unified collaboration platform. With my co-founders Ashwini Kumar Rath and Steven Bouley, I started BCube Analytics Inc. We created a secure technology platform to help audit firms and their clients to work remotely, communicate and collaborate to deliver real-time assurance.
How did you get involved with TiE Boston?
I am a Charter Member of TiE Boston. TiE provides excellent opportunities to connect with successful entrepreneurs who have gone through the process of building a successful business time and again, supports continuous learning, and is a great partner to have along the entrepreneurial journey. The members are deeply engaged and always available to connect you with the right person who would have gone through a similar challenge for experience-based advice. My friend and mentor Asha Dixit, a TiE Boston Board Member and Charter Member, referred us to the TiE ScaleUp accelerator. We got the opportunity to work with mentors like Gaugarin Oliver and Neeraj Chandra. This program helped us evolve from being engineers to focus on scaling our business.
Saji in Newport at an Innovation Conference
Can you tell us more about how BCube pivoted during 2020?
We started the year with a big note as we onboarded our first client and started the TiE ScaleUp accelerator program. Like everyone else, we had to pivot due to the pandemic. The first thing we did was to secure enough capital for us to last 12–18 months and that helped us to adapt. TiE ScaleUp task force and the cohorts were a great inspiration. After multiple refinements, we were able to transition from an audit management solution for a financial institution to a universal collaboration platform for audit firms and their clients to perform and manage any type of audit remotely. It will enable clients to deliver real-time assurance and quickly expand their internal controls consistent with the rapidly evolving operational environment. Our business model is to establish channel partnerships with audit firms and enable them to collaborate with their clients. We have already made traction with a few customers, including a Big 4 Audit firm.
What challenges or adversities have you faced?
I am the first one in my family to take up entrepreneurship. Leaving a lucrative job with a family and young children wasn’t an easy decision. But we were fully encouraged and supported by our families. Since our partner, Ashwini Kumar Rath, also a TiE Charter Member, had an already-established business that we could leverage, we took the plunge. It has been a long journey of multiple failures until we found our pre-seed investor and partner to develop and mature our solution.
The year 2020, though challenging, has been one of our most significant years. The audit process is project-based and not real-time because there is no universal solution to collaborate, communicate and share information. With BCube Analytics Audit Manager, the industry can now look to a continuous engagement model and their clients can deliver real-time assurance. With the guidance of mentors, TiE ScaleUp and MassChallenge accelerators, we were able to refine our product market fit, release the solution, onboard a client, get traction with audit firms and institute a robust enterprise sales strategy. We always kept an open mind and never shied from taking the next step because of a risk of failure.
Saji and Bindu at Kochi International Airport
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who would want to make the most of the TiE network to yield the most growth results professionally and personally?
Entrepreneurship is for the motivated individuals who solve business problems in a commercially viable manner and create value for their customers. You need to determine if you have an addressable market that needs your solution, the total cost of doing business, the sacrifices you need to achieve your goals and whether you are comfortable with the risk. If you are convinced, go for it!
You cannot do it alone. You need capital and a strong team with diverse skills to make it big. Don’t be shy to seek advice. There is a whole community of successful people at TiE who are motivated to help you succeed. It gives you access to experts who have made an impact on almost every industry. With constructive feedback and incremental improvements, your solution can tip the scale from being useful to must-have for your customers.