Using AI to Build Relationships with Rabi GuptaDec 02, 2022
Rabi Gupta is the Co-Founder and CEO of Evabot, an AI-based corporate gifting platform that makes it super easy for businesses to send highly personalized gifts to their clients and employees, which helps them build authentic relationships that grow their companies.
They serve 1000+ businesses, including giants like Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, AT&T, Zendesk, Silicon Valley Bank, and Cigna.
Corporate gifting has proven effective, with 66% of people who received a promotional product/gift remembering the brand and 79% saying they would do business with the company again.
Before Evabot, Rabi was also a Co-Founder of iCouchapp, an Indian-based TV show recommendations and social engagement app that had 2M+ monthly active users by the time he sold the company in 2016.
After the sale, Rabi took a bold step to move to Silicon Valley to start a new company. With no relationships there, he used gifts to build his network but got frustrated by the lack of technology to make gifting easier. So, together with a few friends, he solved this problem using AI, and that's how Evabot was born.
These were my top take aways from the interview:
- Leadership is constantly changing and evolving. Surround yourself with great mentors and people who share the same values as you do. If you don't have a mentor, reach out to someone who is currently doing what you're trying to do and ask them to be your mentor for the year.
- Listen to your heart and take action - don't wait! Often we know what we want but we don't take action.
- Business is all about relationships and the power of the ecosystem. Look after the current customers you have and you can be sure they will refer you to people they know.
- Never forget the law of reciprocity. What's one thing you can do for someone else, and expect nothing in return?
Rabi Gupta, James Laughlin
James Laughlin 00:00
Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show.
Would you like to connect personally with some of my podcast guests? They are arguably some of the most influential leaders and high performers on the planet. Each month, members of my HPC, the High Performers Club, get to connect with a leadership titan in an intimate Q&A. They also get access to powerful high-performance leadership coaching, and monthly masterminds. There are only 20 seats at the leadership table. You can apply today by going to www.jjlaughlin.com/HPC.
James Laughlin 01:06
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James Laughlin 04:17
What's more important than making money? Relationships of course. Rabi Gupta grew up in India. And in fact, he was the founder of iCouchapp, an Indian-based TV show recommendation, and social engagement app that had over 2 million monthly active users. He sold it in 2016 and decided to move to Silicon Valley where he knew absolutely nobody. But he also understood that to move forward in life and to build a business, you had to have authentic trusting relationships. So, he decided he would send gifts to people he had met people he had connected with in Silicon Valley but realized there was actually a challenge, a block with sending very bespoke unique gifts that spoke to the person's heart and made them feel valued. So, he co-founded Evabot, an AI-based, corporate gifting platform that makes it super easy for businesses to send highly personalized gifts to their clients and their employees. That really helps them to build authentic relationships and grow their companies. Evabot has been used by Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, AT&T, Zendesk, and Cigna. Corporate gifting has proven effective with 66% of people who received a promotional product or gift, remembering the brand, and 79% saying they would do business with the company again. So, I think you'll find this conversation fascinating. Rabi definitely thinks outside the box. So, sit back, and enjoy the show.
James Laughlin 06:09
Rabi, a massive welcome to The Lead on Purpose Podcast.
Rabi Gupta 06:14
Thank you, thank you for having me.
James Laughlin 06:16
It's an absolute pleasure. One thing you and I have in common is relationships and appreciating how important they are in life, and also in business. So, just to get started to get the ball rolling, I'd love to know, what you think about when you think of the word leadership, what comes to mind?
Rabi Gupta 06:36
Yeah, that's a good question. So, it's a simple term, but you know, means a lot of different things for different people at different stages, right? You know, when we, for example, started with a small team leadership was all about, you know, doing everything on your own. So, so you're actually not a leader at that time. As we are growing, we are also learning that you know, leadership, you know, slowly changes its role from doing everything on your own to then, you know, teaching others how they can do those things. And then, of course, coaching your other leaders to become better leaders, right? So, I believe it's, it's a constantly changing definition. It also, you know, as you said, you know, become based on the macro factors, for example, COVID is a huge macro factor these days, in terms of defining like, who the leaders are, and how they perform their duties, right? Whatever you did, the pre-COVID era is not going to work post-COVID era, right, like most of us are doing this face to face, not face to face, but zoom to zoom meetings, and we get less chance to talk about other things and more just talking about agendas. And that doesn't build relationships, right? Relationship means you know, you get to know the other person so well, that you're then you know, using that information to be more thoughtful, right? So, what we have realized is that you know, there are so many things happening in the world right now that, you know, for leadership, it's becoming like a constant challenge of you know, how to become and remain a good leader.
James Laughlin 08:14
100%, I really appreciate you sharing that. And I really look at you as a leader in your industry, and someone who's come from India and developed something incredible scale and sold it. Now you're in the bay area on the West Coast of America, and you've built another incredible platform. So, you're a real leader in that industry. So, what has driven that creativity? What has driven that innovation? What has driven that desire to solve problems?
Rabi Gupta 08:42
That's a good question. I mean, I remember, even when I was growing up, right, like, for me doing things differently, was always like, number one thing I wanted to do. I never wanted to do the same things that others were doing, I always felt pride in doing things in a different way. So, when we started our first company, it was, you know, back in India, when there was like, no VC investments, like, no, even Twitter was not popular at that time, you know, social smartphones were just picking up and social networks were picking up. So, we wanted to use technology to help people get recommended TV shows so that they don't miss their favorite TV shows. And then, as you know, smartphones penetrated we also built like a community of TV show enthusiasts so that whatever you're watching, you can see others who are watching the same show and can chat about it. And then we used to partner with TV channels to kind of show some of those commentaries live on screen while they were playing the shows. So, it was pretty amazing. We did that like for five years. But we also realized that it was a great learning thing. We couldn't be like 100 million or a billion-dollar company out of it. So, I always heard great things about Silicon Valley. But, you know, once we sold the company, I had the time and you know, the team that I worked with, to kind of explore new things. So, when I came here to Silicon Valley, the biggest challenge for me was relationship building, because I was coming from a new country, and I saw that it's such a competitive place. But most people, already have a network, right? Like they either work at companies like Facebook, Google, or, you know, they have spent a lot of time going to college, so you get time to build relationships. For me, the challenge was how to build relationships really, really fast. Because I didn't have much time, I was on a business visa. So that constraint also led to, you know, thinking creatively in terms of, you know, solving a problem. So, I would say, a combination of my own, you know, the internal habit of, you know, doing things differently, plus a lot of constraints, when you put on someone, you know, they tend to be more creative at that time.
James Laughlin 11:08
Yeah, under pressure, you can start to think that, hey, I've got a deadline, I've got a got to get expansive in my thinking, I love it. And that's really interesting. So, from the outside, you know, and we talk about Silicon Valley a lot, you know, whether it's here in New Zealand, or if I'm doing workshops in Ireland, or wherever Silicon Valley comes up, it's like the heart of what's going on. So often, it's easy to think in those conversations and talk about the fact that it's very individual. And people are building the software platforms and companies, but actually, what I'm hearing from you is like, no, no, no, this is a collaborative thing. And to actually succeed in this industry, and in Silicon Valley, it's not just about what you do, it's about who you're connected to.
Rabi Gupta 11:48
Yeah, exactly, I think, you know, and that is the power of the ecosystem as well, right? Like, Silicon Valley became Silicon Valley, because a lot of the people were coming out of successful companies, and then building more companies. So, they already had the network and, you know, mentorship from people who have done that, and you know, you done mistakes themselves, and then they are able to kind of create a playbook so that people are able to execute faster without making those mistakes. So, so there's definitely this ecosystem aspect. And this ecosystem has developed over a period of 25-30 years, right? So, it's very hard to kind of replace that, right? And so, when you actually land here, and you're an outsider, the first thing you have to figure out is, there is no, nothing magical in Silicon Valley, it's maybe it's just the weather, which is pretty nice. But other than that, you know, everything else, you have to become part of the ecosystem, to learn from the ecosystem, and then to be able to grow.
James Laughlin 12:50
And I would say, when you say that, like I think that applies to anything in any way that you go, whether you go into a sports team, whether you go into a new company, whether you emigrate to a new country, it's about the ecosystem and actually connecting with that. So yeah, let's talk a little bit about the different steps. So, I imagine vision is a big part of who you are and being clear on where you're headed. So, if we chat about Evabot, Let's chat a little bit about where that was born, what the vision looked like, and where it's headed.
Rabi Gupta 13:25
Yeah. So, that's really interesting, because when we, you know, I first came here that my other co-founder, came here with me, and we were just exploring things, you know, some ideas, like one of the ideas, was in video space, because we knew video before from the previous company. But then we realize that you know, the real problem we are going to face is not building a product, because we knew how to build products, right? The real problem we are going to face is, you know, how to create something more meaningful that connects with people globally. And then the second was how to sell, right How to actually go out and make everyone use the product. And then we realized that to do that, you know, we need to build relationships because we need to know people. And they need to know about us, and they need to connect with us and all of that. So, we thought why don't we do gifts as a means to again, like the idea of being different, right? Like you meet so many people every day, but you will probably remember someone who actually gave you the gift after meeting, right? And we were like that where you can cut through the noise and do all of that stuff. But the challenge was, how to actually give someone that is meaningful. Because if you give to like, you know, if you give alcohol to someone who is abstaining or you know, doesn't drink alcohol, then that's not a gift. That's basically an insult, right? So, we thought, okay, like how do we solve this problem of gifting something meaningful? And we were terrible gifters even back in India, I mean, we didn't know what to get like it's such a hard problem to solve. And it becomes harder when you're doing it in a professional context, right? Because you don't want to get it wrong. So, we thought, Okay, what if? What if I collect information on this person by acting as an assistant so that they don't feel awkward about sharing the information? And because suppose we met at an event right after the event, I'll basically text you saying, hey, I'm Robbie's assistant, and he wants to send you a thank you for the advice you gave, or whatever it is, right? And to our surprise, everyone was responding to the text. Originally, we didn't know why they were responding. But later, we figured out they were responding thinking that, you know, these guys will never have a real assistant, this is a bot, right? And as soon as you kind of figure out that it's a bot, there is no hesitation because people love chatting with machines, and then they'll share all of their data with machines, but not with another human being unless they trust that person, right? So, when you look at a real human-to-human relationship, that trust comes first. And then comes the data-sharing part, right? But when it comes to machines, there is no trust building, right, you can immediately start sharing the data, because that's why I did, right? Like, as soon as I go into Facebook, I have to share data, otherwise, it is not meaningful to me. So, the learning that we got was because we were acting as an assistant people thought we were a bot-assistant. And they were sharing all this data first because that is how they are wired to think, right? And that was magical because we were sending this text out to like 10-20 people every day, and like 90% of the people would reply. And I was like, this will never happen if I send an email or something, right? Once they replied, we used to ask them questions about their preferences, and like their address, you know, you know their calendar, so that we can show up in there that when they're free. So, I'll ask you weird questions like, hey, do you like coffee, beer, or wine? And then how do you drink your coffee? Where do you live, then I'll go find a nearby coffee shop that makes that kind of coffee and then purchase the real coffee come to you, and give it to you. Wow. And that experience was, you know, pretty amazing for people because they were like, I never thought this will actually show up. And that led to, you know, some of the great relationships we have built in the Bay Area. And you know, we did this with, like, 200 people over a period of six months during my business visa. And then very interestingly, these people said, I want to use it in my company, because even we faced this challenge of like, really not knowing people's preferences, we just throw random stuff at people. And we know that it's not ideal, but we don't have any other solution, right? So, then we started getting more into, you know, okay, can we solve this problem for companies, and you know, then we looked at the space, it was pretty big and mostly dominated by gift cards and swags. And, and we realize it's like the worst form of gifts, but still, $200 billion worth of money goes down the drain every year.
Rabi Gupta 17:55
So yeah, it was the combination of a cool insight that we had and big industry and we thought we could build something very cool here. And then over a period of time, we use this insight, you know, Bill in a more iterative way, a very deep product that uses the insight that people are sharing data about their preferences because they're going to get a cool gift. But in the process, because you now know the person through that data, you can do more thoughtful touch points in the future, right? So, now the vision that, you know, we started with a simple vision of you know, sending gifts automatically using an AI or something like that. But now it's more like AI that can help you build relationships, not just a gift, right? It starts with a gift, but it never ends. That is the pitch that we have.
James Laughlin 18:39
So incredible. I always come back to the thought that relationships, build revenue. And you know, some people really think before it, no, it's all about just revenue building. And we can do this, this, but actually everything comes back to connection, relationship value, that all comes back to that. So, before we unpack that a little bit, what do the gifts mean to you, like, why did that come to the fore for you? Like, hey, we should gift this. What was your background when you grew up? You know, what did gifts look like? Who gave those gifts? What did they mean?
Rabi Gupta 19:16
That's a good question. I didn't have a great connection with gifts before I moved to Silicon Valley, by the way. I always felt like gifts are just, you know, something people don't know how to give. They'll either give you cash, or they'll give you something random right? Maybe I got one or two gifts in my life that was memorable. But those were from like people who were really not well, right? So, for me like there was no great connection with gifts as such, but when we looked at the relationship-building problem, we realized that gifting is fundamental to human nature. And whenever you're solving a fundamental problem It's always a great problem to solve, because then you know, your company can live forever, right? Like social networking. I mean, it's a fundamental human nature. Even if Facebook doesn't exist, something else will exist, right? So same thought we had that, okay, gifting is fundamental, even though we didn't have great experience doesn't mean this doesn't work. I mean, people have known to do gifting since, you know, since ages, like maybe first gifting was done in like, some 200 BC or like BC or something. So, people always knew that if you were trading, in a way, it was also gifted, right? So even today, when we do gifts, it's basically trading, right? Like, I'm giving you something, but I don't expect anything really anything from you right now. But I expect something in return. So, there's a law of reciprocity and gifting by default, right? So, it's more like give and take, but you know, you're willing to give first.
James Laughlin 20:52
Yeah, that law of reciprocity is an interesting one. And I hope most listeners will have experienced well, they will have experienced the law of reciprocity, but that whole idea of giving and giving without any intentional expectation of anything in return, and you give but then that's the way the law works is that 99% of the time, that's going to come back to you in some form.
Rabi Gupta 21:12
Yeah, exactly. And we also realize that there is always a law of reciprocity and gifting. But people don't follow proper methods to actually get that output, right? So, if you make it a bit smarter, you will actually be able to get 10 to 20 times better results than you are getting right? Because, for example, in our case, when you send a gift Eva chats with you to get the gift, but in the chat, if it says small things like hey, do you have a testimonial for Robbie? Right? 99% of the time, people will write a testimonial because they're in the process of accepting the gift. But if you don't ask that question, right now, people will forget, like, even if they want to give a testimonial, there is no avenue to do that. You know, it's not easy. Someone is sending me emails every day, hey, write a testimonial for me, and I don't have time. But when I send you a gift, and you're already chatting with me, that means I have already captured your attention, right for my brand. And at that moment, people will write the testimonial because they have already committed themselves to finish this chat to get it again. And that small insight, you know, helped us collect four to five times more testimonials for our clients than they ever could.
James Laughlin 22:29
That's incredible. Yeah. So, when the person that's listening right now, let's say they've got a team or they've got an organization, and they want to build, you know, client testimonials. A great way to do that is here's the gift and while they're receiving the gift, give the testimonial. That's pure genius.
Rabi Gupta 22:45
Yeah. And you don't ask for the testimonial the board does, right? So, people, people don't have that connection with you that you will you only sent a gift. The bot is asking me for a testimonial. I'll give it right to the bot. So, it's yeah, it's very similar. We use a lot of psychology behind this. But yeah, it works like magic.
James Laughlin 23:06
It's incredible. And in terms of the psychology, so obviously, there's been a lot of social psychology that's gone into building lots of apps and lots of what we interact with online now. So, what psychology did you bring in? What were the different ideas that you brought to help you create this platform?
Rabi Gupta 23:25
Yeah, so the first thing we did was, again, like, a lot of this is not a pure genius. A lot of this is basically constraints, right? So, when we started doing physical gifts that we could ship, we realize that we cannot give coffees and beers and wines because you know, people are gifting to other cities or people in other countries, right? Because gifting is social, you cannot build it locally, right? It has to be global and international in nature. So, we thought, okay, we need, we need gifts that can go in a box, right? So, because of that constraint, we thought, you know, let's ask questions about preferences. Let's not ask a specific question about what you like, because then you have to send that thing, right? So, if you say that I like Starbucks coffee, I have to send you a Starbucks coffee, because you said so in the chat. So, we said we'll only ask about your tastes. And then we'll surprise you with a gift. Now that removes our constraint that okay, this person loves coffee. Now send him an amazing coffee from you know, New York who cares, right? I know that this person loves coffee, so he should love this coffee is a great coffee, but this person didn't ask for Starbucks coffee. So, this constraint plus the idea that you know, I can now say, surprise you with a gift actually helped us improve the experience because when you're getting a gift it ideally should be a surprise, right? And most of the gifting solutions take you to a link where you select your own gifts, right? Or the sender is selecting the gift for you. Now, either of these is not a great thing, because a surprise should match your tastes as well, right? A surprise should not be a random surprise. So, you're like, Okay, this constraint plus solution actually builds the perfect gifting solution, because although you're chatting with a person, they know a gift is coming. But they don't know what the gift is. But they know that the gift will match my tastes, because I just gave some answers, right? So, that was one of the core insights we use to build the world's first gifting platform where neither the gift sender nor the gift recipient is picking the gift, it's picked by an algorithm.
James Laughlin 25:36
It's incredible. And let's take, for example, got a client who has a finance company probably has 1000- 3000 clients. So, if he wanted to, at scale, make sure that they had a gift for Christmas to thank them for being a great client. What's the process? What does it look like for him as the business owner to make that happen? How seamless is that?
Rabi Gupta 26:01
So, I'll give you an example. Like most companies, when they come to us, especially for say holiday gifts, right? Will come to us and say that, hey, you know, we typically prepare this for this thing, you know, starting July, but we are already in November. And we have a lot of clients, we have 1000 clients, you know, how can you do this for 1000 clients? And we'll be like, I'll give you a link in a second. And then you will send it out to 1000 people and that's it, your job is done. And they're like, what is it possible? And we're like, yeah, you just get a universal link. And you just set the budget, say $100 $50 $200, whatever it is. And then you're already running a campaign, say through HubSpot, Marketo, or whatever, right? Just add this link to that campaign, and everyone will get a different gift. And they just get amazed by this, right? So. So yeah, the idea is, because it's an AI chat, you know, it can, it can do a lot of other things, including the fact that you can send just one link to everybody. And the link in itself can have a chat that is branded to your company, and all of that, right? So, it feels very natural that okay, it's coming from your company. And then once they go through the chat, they get a gift, we collect their address, we collect their preferences, any ROI that you want to get a testimonial or a meeting or whatever. We'll set it up everything in that chat automatically. And then you can also add a swag if you want right along with the gift. So yeah, I mean, it just takes maybe five minutes to send 1000 links.
James Laughlin 27:36
That's amazing. That's incredible. And, you know, in terms of building, so let's say that client decides to do that they get out of the clients, most of my client decides to get into their 1000 clients. What is the long-term benefit of that? Because they might look at that and go, oh, yeah, 1000 clients, I'm spending 100 bucks a client. Okay, that's up? What's the long-term reciprocity look like that do you think?
Rabi Gupta 28:03
Yeah, so there are a few tactical things you can do. So let me back it up. Like first of all, you know, it starts with $30, we have done a lot of experiments and realize that 30 is the minimum amount where a person feels good enough that they shared enough data and they're getting a decent job, right? They, shouldn't feel cheated, that I gave so much information, and I'm getting a $5 gift card, right? So, $30, the minimum that we have figured is great. Now, we also do yearly surveys that test how many people remember their gifts, right? So, you send a survey asking, hey, you received a gift from, and we don't say Evabot, we say that you received a gift from you know, this person at this company through us. Do you remember the gift? And then the survey says yes or no. And you know, and we also asked, do you remember any other gift you have received that is as memorable as this was right? Or something like that. And 96% of the people we send surveys to the last year survey 96% people remember both the gift they received and the company or the person that received it from. And when we ask them, do you remember any other memorable gift you received during this time? And like, again, more than 90, I think 91, 92 person people said no. So, this huge opportunity that no one is sending memorable physical stuff, right? Now you take into account that for these 1000 clients, you're probably spending more money just on Google retargeting and remarketing and prop and they still don't remember your brand, right? So here you're spending $3 per client minimum. You can spend 50 or 100, whatever you want. But first of all, the basic brand recognition is pretty amazing because you literally don't need to run any other time. have been paid because they remember your brand. Now the tactical thing you can do along with this is, you can say that I want to collect testimonials, right? Or you can say that you know, I want to collect referrals. So, we have a feature where when someone receives a gift, we ask them, hey, do you have a referral for this person? And again, it's just about staying on top of the mind, right? Most people just don't ask if you ask you will get referrals, but you forget to ask, right? So, we say that will build this referral feature inside your flow so that once they have received the gift, they can get this reminder every three months or every six months, and you can decide. But through that, you get direct referrals from your customers. And we have tons of data that show that even if people don't have a referral, they will say, I have your brand in mind. I'll refer you as soon as I get someone, right? So, that is something as you rightly pointed out, initially, that every business comes back to that, right, they eventually realize that most of your business will come from existing customers and existing relationships, not from knocking on new doors, that probably happens during the first four or five years of the company. But after that, it's all about existing relationships, existing customers, and getting more customers through existing customers, right? So, once you are that mature, you will understand the benefits of doing this.
James Laughlin 31:25
Yeah, I love that. When you share that I think of the recency bias, you know, sort of like people are going to be constantly seeing and hearing and feeling your brand through this gift. And so, when they come to make a decision that involves your service, they're more likely to remember you because there's that recency bias at play.
Rabi Gupta 31:43
Yeah, and they'll be like, oh, this company thought about respecting my preferences, right? So that is another thing that people don't get. People will not care if you send them something random, you feel that you spend money on them. So, they'll care but they actually feel disrespectful, right? Because if you send them something that doesn't, that doesn't take into account their preferences, that means you know, it's as good as yours, you don't care about them. But suppose they have a pet, and they have a one-year-old kid, right? So, in the gift, we take care of all these things, right? So, we'll also add something for the family, we'll also add something for the pet in the gift box. Now it's the next level, relationship building, right? You didn't send something random to me actually send me something for my family, right? So, we take care of all these small things, to make sure that people really do remember your brand. And because there are so many touch points where first is you actually chat with Eva. The second is really getting that physical box that can be branded by the way you open the box is a nice note inside the box. It's actually packed like a gift, not like a random, you know, gift box. And like Amazon box or something, it's very nice, the packaging is nice, there's a handwritten note all of that. So, you're actually able to provide like white glove service to like 1000s or even 10,000 customers right at the touch of a button.
James Laughlin 33:11
It's incredible. And for those that are listening, going, you know, that's, I've never done this before. My brand is so important. Who else has done this? Well, I've looked, and you know, companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, AT&T, Silicon Valley Bank, Cigna insurance, like so many companies have actually used this, right?
Rabi Gupta 33:31
Yeah, we have more than 1000 brands, including fortune 500 companies that have not only used it, but multiple teams within these companies are constantly using and we use our product to grow within these companies. So, they are most of them are actually growing very fast.
James Laughlin 33:49
It's amazing. And let's go for an example. So, let's say we get off this interview, and we could almost a day, but you're like, you know what? I want to send James a gift, what would my experience be like? So, what kind of questions would I be asked as a potential gift recipient?
Rabi Gupta 34:05
Yeah, so typically, of course, I'll send you a gift after this. But you will see, but typically, the experience is, you know, I can either create a new link specifically for you, or I have a universal link that I can share through an email. And we do have tons of templates within the dashboard. So even if it's for a different reason, you can have preset templates. And we also use AI to write templates for you so that you don't have to write them. But the whole idea that to be more thoughtful shouldn't be that hard, right? We just make it very, very easy for you to be thoughtful. So, you just click a few buttons, and you get this email with a link. You click the link and then we divide the chat into like three or four segments. The first segment is of course getting your name and your address. Once we get your name and address, you know, the person is already hooked into the chat. And the advantage of chat is you don't know what the next question is, right? Unlike forms where you see the form, and you're like, I'm not going to fill it. Because it's Chad, we can make it very engaging. And we have done a lot of tests to see like, you know, whether people liked this question or not when people fill this question or not, but we'll ask you a lot of questions. So, say we can collect up to 26 signals from you with just three or four questions. And because they are like, multiple choice answers are easy to fill, with some examples already written so that you know what to write. But, for example, it can be about your coffee or tea preferences, your alcohol preferences, you know, food and beverage preferences, family background, like kids and pets, your hobbies, right? Are you into music or photography, or your favorite sports team? Like none of this is mandatory. So out of 26 signals, people generally feel like 18 to 24 signals, which is pretty good. And then we use this data, along with past ratings on gifts. So, we are the only gifting company that also takes ratings on gifts, once the gift is delivered, we'll ask the recipient to rate the gift. And then we use all of this data, including the location where the gift is going some more signals to feed it to our algorithm, and then the algorithm keeps learning about what to put in the gift box. But the gift box will always take care of the budget of the gift, your preferences, and past gifts that have gone out to people with similar preferences, right, all of that? And then it will put between two products to five, six bars, depending upon what the budget of the box is. But it never has just one part, it always has more than one product in the box. So that's the overall experience, I would say.
James Laughlin 36:55
That's fascinating. It really is. And I guess if I think about it in a more in-depth way, so let's say I want to do a send it to some of my clients in New Zealand, some of my clients in New York, California Family in Ireland, and somebody in Southeast Asia, is it truly global, where I can just send it to anybody and everyone.
Rabi Gupta 37:15
It is global. But if it's going to say India and US, you pay local shipping, the only disadvantage of not being everywhere is that you have to pay international shipping, and sometimes customs as well. So, you can literally send it to everybody. And, everybody appreciates the fact that you have sent a gift because they have already chatted with you. And that is instant, right? That instant feedback you get from all of your customers, no matter where they are, where they are, like, oh, this was a cool experience. Now I'm waiting for my gift, right? Now, it's not like a critical thing that they should receive it tomorrow, right? Even if they receive it within like 14, 15 days, or 20 days, depending upon where they are, they'll still eventually get it. And that is the idea that you know, you can actually send it to everybody, wherever they are. And they might start receiving it based on you know, whether they are closer to our delivery, shipping locations or not.
James Laughlin 38:13
And I guess if we look at this from a team or a company standpoint, time is everything. And time is just so you know, constrained for many people. So, this removes they're going out to get the boxes, to get the gifts, to get the gift wrapping to take it to the courier, it removes all of these time constraints.
Rabi Gupta 38:34
Exactly. People just think about gifting as a logistics problem. And, so when you start thinking about gifts, you're just thinking about problems, you don't even get to the ROI point because by that time you're exhausted, right? You're like, I spent so much time on this, it better be good. And that's it, right? You just ship it out and you don't care. So, first of all, takes take all this logistics nightmare, out of your time. And then we add extra benefits, right actually getting to know your prospects and your clients and your employees, like your best friends, because Eve also collects birthdays and things like that, and it reminds you of their birthdays. So, you can not only send a gift, but we use you know AI to actually help you write a very personalized email if you want to. On the birthday. They say, you know, I want to now reconnect with you. Instead of actually sending a gift I can actually write a very thoughtful email saying hey, James, how are your kids, right? Simple things like that. changes everything. So yeah, that is the main advantage of using us where it's not just about the logistics but also getting so much data and so many insights on every customer and employee.
James Laughlin 39:51
I think the employee part we haven't really touched on that a lot yet. We are in a scenario this last few years where the employee has got the advantage, there's this great resignation, people are moving retention is at an all-time low. So how do you feel that you know gifting within your own company to your team, and your employees can really help build a better culture?
Rabi Gupta 40:16
Yeah, so we were talking to this very large company, again, like fortune 50, or something. And they use us for, you know, they started using us for employee gifting. But then they realized that the power of the data we were capturing, and the problem these people are facing is, you know, most of these are accounting, say, EAs, right? Executive assistants or Chief of Staff, and they'll have 1000s and 2000 employees under them, right? Like, minimum, say, 100 to 200 employees. Now, it's impossible for you, and you have the budget, right? So, you're responsible for spending the budget. But you don't know anything about these 100 people, right? So. So what happens is you just spend on random things. And at the end of the day, there is no connection with the employee, right? So what we offer is, you know, first of all, we'll help you plan out this budget, not just randomly spend it, right, you send the first gift, we capture data on your employees, we show you heat map on the world map where they are so that you don't have to go to your like CEUs for the data, right, you have all the data in, you know, in front of your eyes. And then you can do amazing things with the budget. For example, one feature that these people really liked I was talking about was by just picking one button, everyone can get their favorite lunches through UberEATS. No matter where they are because we know their address, we know their favorite cuisines. We know, are they allergic to any food, we know, you know, the favorite restaurant near their place. So, we know all of this, and we can actually send a real lunch not a boring gift card. And they're like, we want to do this tomorrow, right? So it's amazing what you can do, you know, when using AI, you actually get to know 100 people. So, the problem that we are really solving is using AI to get to know a lot of people on that scale, right? And then using that insight, and again, using AI to help you with that insight. Because even if I told you that, hey, you know, you know what, out of 100 people,16 are vegan. You cannot do anything with that information, right? It's nonactionable. So how do you make that data actionable also? That hey, you know, by the way, just click this button, I'll send these 16 people that we can match, right? And then it becomes actionable data. So that is what we are able to offer. Because the problem that we solve at a very deep is actually knowing the person really well. Not really a gift.
James Laughlin 42:50
And do you ever come across any challenges just around personal people's personal privacy? Or people being concerned about collecting data? What what's your experience been on that?
Rabi Gupta 43:01
Yeah, so that's interesting. See, the good thing is, the person is sharing the data, himself or herself. So, it's like, we don't go out and collect any more data than what you give us. Second of all, it's a very transparent use of data, right? Everywhere else Facebook will keep collecting your data and it will not tell you anything about where it's collecting the data, then it will not tell you anything about how it's using the data, right? So, what we say here, is we don't work with any third parties, there is no advertising model, the only model is how can we help your clients engage with you in a better way, or your employers engage with you in a better way. So, when you're sharing this data, first of all, you're getting a very personalized gift. So, there's like direct, in a way, exchange of values, right? It's not like I gave something, and I didn't get anything, right, like you gave your data, you got something amazing because of that. And then the employer or the client is able to create more like, is easily able to pamper you, in a way, right? Because of this data. And we are very clear in terms of the policy that we are not an advertising platform, or we don't sell this data to anyone else. Even if some other client comes with your email address in our system, you have to say that you accept the gift to share the data again with the new customer, right? So, it doesn't automatically create one profile and then starts sharing that data with everybody else. So, there are certain things we have done to make sure that they serve any honest and transparent way of using the data.
James Laughlin 44:38
It's incredible. And if we take it right back to a personal level, you traveled from India to Silicon Valley, zero relationships, zero people you knew. And that was a big problem because you were trying to really move forward. So that's first of all before we talk about the solution. Let's talk about courage. Now that I think of courage. Just you know, feeling fear, yet choosing to act anyway, like, let's just go. So where did that courage come from to leave safety to leave the known to leave India and go, you know and go into that crazy place called Silicon Valley where it's fast and furious? Where did the courage come from?
Rabi Gupta 45:18
That's a very good question by the way. If I think about it, I also felt that we were able to create a very unique solution, just because we left our comfort zones, right? When I thought about it, when I came here, and this thing started working, I started thinking like, what was the challenge in India, why I wasn't able to build like a billion-dollar company, you know, from day one in India. And I realized, when you're in your comfort zone, right, you don't take that many risks. I mean, by default, entrepreneurship is a risk, but still, within that risk, how many more risks can you take, right? So, you still want to be safe. So, I was living with my parents, so I knew that I don't have those many expenses. So, it's okay to not earn revenue for some years, right? But when I came here, there was no money, like, I didn't make any money from my previous exits. So, the whole team was just like, I mean, there was no money. So, you have to figure out a quick way of generating revenue right from the product. So, I realized that because when you leave your comfort zone, the constraints are more, and also, there is no shame or hate in it, you're in a new city, no one anyways, no, you right, like, so they are not going to judge you. And that is another great thing about Silicon Valley, by the way, they like most of the new products you build, if it's interesting, people will give it a shot. And that is another thing I liked about Silicon Valley versus India, because other countries, they're typically very safe. And you know, even, the buyers and the enterprises, the consumers, they also want to have that brand recognition first, then they will buy from you, right? So that is not there in Silicon Valley, because everyone wants to try new products. So, it's a combination of those two things that basically, you know, it creates new energy within you to try out new things. And I remember when I went back to India for two months, you know, between my business visa trips, I was so bored, I was like, I need to go back there, there is so much energy and you know, every day you are on your toes because you have to find a solution to a problem. As soon as you go back to your comfort zone, you're like, life is so easy and like boring, right? So, say, I think it's a combination of a lot of things. But that's what helped me, basically.
James Laughlin 47:45
Thank you for sharing that. And so, if we think of our comfort zone as this circle, and we're inside that circle of comfort or zone of comfort, and then we go to the outer edges, and we start to dance with this comfort, and then we actually get into this discomfort, we see new problems, we come up with new solutions, all of a sudden, our comfort zone has expanded. Now, how do you determine when you're dancing in discomfort versus being in the pain zone? So, discomfort is one thing, but the pain is a totally different thing? It's a way out of the comfort zone? So how do you know what comes up for you? And how do you pivot when that happens?
Rabi Gupta 48:27
So, I'll give you a real example. I mean, in our case, you know, being like, yeah, you know, being a little uncomfortable in, you know, in this zone versus actually, you know, feeling the pain that happened to us, when we were running out of money in our company, right? So, we raised a bunch of like, seed round, and then we were exploring this, we knew that the product is working, but we didn't have a product market fit, right? So, they still had to figure out what is the right market, and how to go about it. And, we thought we will be able to easily raise money again because we had a cool product. But then we realized no one was giving us money with more traction. And at that point, like, you know, we literally went to our existing investors, and they said, and they started asking a lot of questions and tough questions. And you're like, Oh, you're my existing investor? Why are you asking these questions, they're like because you're not able to raise money from anyone else. So, it became very hard at one time, we didn't have any money. So, we stopped taking salaries for two months. And it was in Silicon Valley where you have to pay rent and everything, right? So, we didn't have much savings. So, we lost all of our savings. And then we had some 20,000 in the bank account $20,000 Just to make sure that you know, the company doesn't shut down. And within these two months, we had to figure out, you know, getting more money from either existing or new investors and my co-founder even was at the edge of booking tickets back to India right for his whole family. So that was really the pain that we felt. And then we said, Okay, as you rightly pointed out, once you have felt that pain, you actually want to create a comfort zone around it so that you don't ever feel that pain again, right? So then at that point, we said, Okay, now we got the money, we'll make sure that we never run out of money is our first goal. Everything else is secondary, right? So, so yeah, then we kind of tried to build a product and a company that can go profitable, when they when it wants. And that is that taught us a lesson that you know, it should not, you should not take for granted. Like that money will come, we can survive and all of that. Everything is basically dependent on, you know, basically, whether your company can generate money and money for yourself or not. So that was a big learning for us.
James Laughlin 50:56
Just when you share that what comes to mind is that no pressure, no diamonds. Like great things don't come from comfort zones as great things happen in adversity and in tough times. And you've taken that pressure, and you've turned it into diamonds.
Rabi Gupta 51:12
Yeah, because I remember after that point, we did like 10 to 15 iterations in the product, we launched subscription plans, we made sure that only the customers that want to use a product or are using the product, are paying the right money for it, right? So, we did a lot of changes after that in the product itself. Because we had to ask a lot of questions. There are tough questions.
James Laughlin 51:39
And where are you taking it? What are you looking forward to in the next 12 months? These next two or three years? What? Where's Evabot heading?
Rabi Gupta 51:46
Yeah, so at least, like, one good thing is, you know, first of all, we have a good product. And the concept is, you know, whoever hears about the concept, they want to try it out. So now the challenge is, of course, you know, how soon can we get in front of that many companies and customers, right? So that is the next big challenge. Okay, there is a product-market fit, there are some very large companies using the product. But now how can you take this, from this level to like next level, which is at least 10x of the revenue that we have, then we can say that, okay, we are, we are a different company now. Right? For now, it's still more about experimenting, figuring out new problems, and you know, but in terms of product, like, the real product that I talked about, which is how can we help you really build relationships, not just the gifts? So, we are very close to that we are in fact launching this platform this month itself, and we already have really good beta customers who want to try this out. So, in terms of product, we are, we are actually getting closer to our vision, which is about helping companies build relationships. And that is truer in a remote world than it was ever true before. So yeah, we are getting there in terms of product. Now the whole thing is you know how to get more and more customers to know about IT companies know about this product.
James Laughlin 53:15
It's incredible. And you talked about 10x. So, let's think about this, you mentioned way earlier in our conversation about mentorship and the importance of that and being around great people who can help you. So, if there was a relationship, or a number of relationships that you could build with a mentor who's already done 10x of what you've done, who would those people be?
Rabi Gupta 53:40
That's a good question. So, yeah, I mean, you always need mentors. And, you know, leaders always need really good coaches, right? So yeah, we do have people like that, either. They are either investors or their customers, right? So, first of all, you have to be very thoughtful that you know, and you should ask for people's help because they also feel appreciated like that. And then, you know, talking to a lot of people you also start figuring out, you know, who you align with, you know, who thinks like you, and then are they the right mentors or not. And then you can take different help from different types of people, depending upon what their strengths are. But I don't believe it's all it's one or two mentors. It's like, it's again, like a community of people, right? Like advisors, investors, and mentors. One challenge that I have seen it's a good point because you know when we got like when we recently did our Series A so there's money in the bank, and again like you start getting into that comfort zone, right? Whenever you start getting into that comfort zone, you stop asking for help. And that becomes a huge problem. So again, as the same happened with us, like four or five months, you know, we just forgot about talking to mentors and stuff. And then we realized, oh my god, there are so many things that we are doing wrong at this point that we need to go back to our roots, you know, start talking to more people to understand what mistakes we are making. See, I mean, it's always that cycle of, you know, getting into the comfort zone and figuring out that, okay, it doesn't work like this, then you go back to your roots of yeah, ask yeah, getting into that pain zone, right, and then start asking questions again. So yeah, I mean, I would say that multiple mentors, always ask for help and have different mentors for different things. But yeah, in general, always have a coach that really helps.
James Laughlin 55:41
That's great. And in terms of thinking, so we can have this thinking, which helps us grow, and we have this linear growth. But then we want this abundant growth, this idea of, you know, abundant thinking of new paradigm shifts, what do you do, to think differently, to think more exponentially to ask those better questions so that you can get the 10x growth?
Rabi Gupta 56:06
Yeah, I mean, it's always tough. But so, there are certain things we did in the past six months, including having values and a vision that is very long-term. So, we said, okay, like, if we are solving a fundamental problem, we should not worry about competition, right? Because we should believe in, you know, that we are solving the fundamental problem and will solve it the best way possible. And you have to stay in touch with your customers for that, and all of that. So, let's think that we are building this company, at least for the next 30 years, not five years, or 10 years that we cease to make you think of, right? When you do that, then you start asking a lot of fundamental questions, right? That means you have the light right leadership in the company because then you cannot run the company yourself, right? So, you start thinking about all those things, if you, if you think very long term and all these successful companies like Amazon and Google of the world, they always have that thinking very long-term mindset, solving very fundamental problems using new technologies, right? So, we do that a lot. That kind of helps us. Build the right solutions, right? Think of the right values, all of that. So, so yeah, I think just thinking long term and thinking from like, again, the first principle, thinking more like, you know what Elon Musk says that, you know, keep asking the fundamental questions. It's not easy, by the way, we make so many mistakes, but we try to do things like that.
James Laughlin 57:47
And in terms of leadership, you bring that up, I love that. So, I firmly believe that everything rises or falls with leadership, and it raises with good leadership, and companies fall with poor leadership. So, what do you do to grow your own leadership?
Rabi Gupta 58:05
Yeah, read books. First of all, you know, again, as I said, like, you know, go to good, talk to good coaches and mentors. But also, when we hire, you know, our leaders, we try to learn from them, because they have more experience than us. So, we try to see what they are doing, which is better than us. So, there's a lot of this. Yeah, a lot of this learning is coming from a peer group. And then books and podcasts, YouTube videos, right? Yeah, there are a lot of things I do to kind of just keep learning, right? And I realized that its leadership, when you're CEO is such a constantly changing thing, right? It's like this no one's advice that will work forever, I have to just keep switching and keep trying new things. That's why it's so challenging, and it's so exciting as well.
James Laughlin 59:08
Now, I really, really appreciate you sharing that. And one last question before we wrap up, I'd love you to kind of fast forward way into the future. And it's your last day on earth. In fact, it should last five minutes, and you know what, your last five minutes. And somebody really young, whether it's a child or grandchild comes up and says, hey, I want to know how to lead my life on purpose. What advice do you have for me? What would you say to them?
Rabi Gupta 59:39
Yeah, there are a few things I believe that always work one is you know, travel a lot. So, if you travel, you see new people. Again, you're in a different comfort zone travel solo if you can. That in itself teaches a lot of things right. So just travel the world alone and you will be Uh, you know, 10x more experienced people automatically. So that will be my first advice. The second would be, you know, always listen to your heart, it's, it's very easy to not do that. But once you do that once you find your passion, right, for example, then life has a meaning and purpose. Otherwise, I've seen people even in their 40s, you know, who come to me and say that, oh, this is the last year I'm working after this, I'll start something on my own. And I say like, the right answer was 20 years ago, not right now, right? So. So basically, if you listen to your heart and you feel that you're doing something wrong, then take action immediately. Like, don't wait. You know, otherwise, you will never be able to do things that you're passionate about.
James Laughlin 1:00:48
Such great advice. Rabi, I'm excited to see what happens with Evabot's incredible growth, I have no doubt that it's going to go wild here in New Zealand, and Australia. For all our listeners globally, just know that you can go and actually access this right now and run with it. So, where's the best place for them to check it out?
Rabi Gupta 1:01:08
Our website is evabot.com. And yeah, so on the website, you can also see different use cases like customer examples and employee experiences. And yeah, if you're interested directly connect with me on LinkedIn, and I'll be happy to give you more information.
James Laughlin 1:01:25
Fantastic. We'll be sure to put all of that in the show notes. And Rabi, I look forward to connecting with you again soon.
Rabi Gupta 1:01:32
Yeah, same here. Thank you.
James Laughlin 1:01:50
Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's that time to get out there and lead your life on purpose.