TheShareStory.in is an initiative to build a community of Entrepreneurs, Founders, Startups & Industry Stalwarts to celebrate success & to learn from shortfalls, and to Contribute, Inspire & Embellish Entrepreneurship by sharing their exciting Stories!
And as a part of our initiative, we invited yet another passionate Entrepreneur Mr. Ankit Kimtee for an interview with us to understand more about his entrepreneurial journey. He is the Founder At GenieTalk.ai. Let’s learn more about his exciting journey, his background and his advice for our growing community!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey, please;
I was born and raised in Indore and completed my graduation here as well. Thereafter, I went to Antwerp in Belgium to pursue my further Courses for Diamonds . My family has been in the business of Jewellery for the past four decades, which is why going to Antwerp for the specialized diamond courses was ideal. I was expected to carry the legacy forward and took it up with great pride and joy. However, the business was quite established and did not feed my hunger for innovation.
So, I set up an all-new boutique hotel property in Indore to diversify new line in business. Soon, the startup wave hit India and it was all people were talking about. I, too, was fascinated and closely watched the startup scene to find a window for myself.
I got attracted by some of the upcoming AI assistants and wanted to do something in the industry. It was a huge challenge for me because starting a conversation about AI in my Tier-2 city was completely unprecedented. Nevertheless, we took the leap and started GenieTalk!
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
I love challenges and the sheer thrill of envisioning something and making it a reality from scratch. It is the very reason that motivated me to pivot from my diamond business and set up a boutique hotel and establish a hospitality business. This further paved the way for a more advanced undertaking of GenieTalk, and every day is fuelled by challenges and innovation.
What are some of the most rewarding aspects of the job?
We love what we do at GenieTalk and believe that we are creating the future! Trying to put India parallel to the global economy is a hard task, but it never bores us. Every day we have new challenges, brainstorming sessions, and extensive research. We study people and make a Product Bible defining how things should ideally work. It is a very interesting job to have!
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I believe in doing a lot of things by myself. Being a successful entrepreneur is about getting in the deep water to catch the big fish. I’ve learned to not indulge my team in menial tasks and walk side-by-side with them on our constant pursuit of excellence.
Tell us about GenieTalk.ai. How did the idea come about?
This is a very interesting journey, actually. It first started in 2016, when I used to visit my brother in the UK, who was handling the other half of our ancestral diamond business there. I came across a very premium mobile brand called Vertu there, which is very exclusively available. Being a gadget-freak, I managed to buy one Vertu Signature Mobile for myself. The concierge services offered by them were exemplary – from getting a private charter to getting in any Michelin Star Restaurant , everything was a call away.
During a discussion about the same with my brother in law Santosh and family friend Vivek , the idea of starting a similar service for the common Indian folks came . Most AI platforms in India are discovery platforms, and we wanted to disrupt the market by introducing conversational AI that could finish transactions for people.
After a lot of brainstorming, we settled on the travel vertical to kickstart this amazing journey. We spent months making the Bible on the architecture of the product. We eliminated the discrepancies of our competitors and made a product that would make lives easier, also getting Angel investor Mr. Jai Singh Jain by Investing $7,50,000 into our business gives us confidence to take it to the next level all together .
How did you land on the name ‘GenieTalk?’
Ah, this is my favorite part. Getting an app to book your flight tickets for you is like having a Genie, right? And all you have to do is ‘talk’ to it. Hence, GenieTalk! 🙂
Why do you think the current market needs the products/services you offer?
We believe in technology and technology should learn the human way, not the other way around. If we use technology, it should be as easy as a voice command – imagine the enormous impact it will have on the global population. Imagine there is no language or tech-literacy barrier in using technology. Imagine how powerful rural India would be if they could book their cylinders, buy ration, or get an education by just talking to their phones? This is the magic of Conversational AI – which is the future!
What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?
We have a very open culture and very defined HR policies. We believe that foundation is very important for us, and we implement it with an open door policy in a flat organizational structure. We believe in an agile approach, effective leadership, and owning up to one’s responsibilities. Overall, it is a very open and vibrant culture, and we look forward to work every morning.
What business-related book is sitting on your nightstand?
I’ve shifted to ebooks now. The Hard Things about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz and Zero to One by Peter Theil would always top my list.
What do you look for in an employee while expanding your team?
We like to maintain a lean team, but we normally look for a zeal to experiment. The senior desk of our team are all ex-co founders of their own and various startups with entrepreneurial experience. At GenieTalk, we believe that our team is our biggest asset and we are a proud bunch of very motivated go-getters.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs (or students) to invest their time in?
I always recommend looking for opportunities in every downfall, because once you’ve hit bottom, you will only go up. The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected most startups, but we tried to navigate our way through, standing tall.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Pivoting our normal business practices to cope with the new normal. We shifted from a B2C to a B2B model, which was a difficult decision, but worked well for us.
Has the pandemic affected your organization negatively?
Yes, definitely. The initial few months were difficult in finding working coordination and dealing with the chaos. But, our team was wonderful. We take pride in being a tech startup and improving our efficiency using tech tools. Zoom, Google Calendar, and Slack made our lives very, very easy.
A growing start-up in India that you would love to be a part of?
I consider GenieTalk a growing startup and am very happy to be a part of it. For now, I’m looking for people to be a part of this first 🙂
What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?
I would urge you to dream big and make it happen. You don’t need a degree to get great ideas or be from a top tier college to be an asset to any team. You should have a good vision, and the determination to focus on it. Build a great team and work on a simple idea, and there’s nothing to stop you from becoming the next Elon Musk.