Ujwal Makhija, Founder, Phonon.inTeam YS
“High-tech core values”
Our world has grown smaller thanks to man’s relentless innovations in the field of technology. Yet some core values like customer interaction remain unchanged. Ujwal Makhija is a young entrepreneur who blends these core values with a righteous mix of high-tech to give his customers what they need. He is the founder of Phonon.in that offers innovative, automated and business focused applications.Yourstory learnt more about Phonon.in in a conversation with its creator Ujwal Makhija.
How will your company improve customer interaction?
In a world of instant information, Phonon offers innovative, automated and business focused applications that help large enterprises and SMEs optimize their customer interaction. Our computer telephony integration (CTI) and interactive voice response (IVR) systems provide customers with quick, friendly and immediate access to information they require and hence gets them the world at their fingertips...
Our product-line of CT solutions includes: outbound dialers, flight delay information systems, click-to-call services, credit card payment acceptance IVRs and customized Inbound IVR systems such as feedback IVRS, customer self-service systems etc. These solutions are available as quick-to-deploy hosted solutions with flexible pricing plans for SMEs, and also as turnkey IVR solutions for larger enterprises requiring dedicated servers.
What services do you offer and who can use them best?
We offer solutions that can automate repetitive customer service interactions. Be those for outbound dialing (including promotions, customer servicing etc.) or for inbound customer services such as self-service solutions. Our target beneficiaries are:
Service oriented enterprises for attaining operational efficiencies by automating repeated customer contact processes (inward or proactive outward).
Consumers of services who can attain information at their fingertips and use telecom technologies not just to talk but to quickly and efficiently obtain the exact information they want to.Some case examples of those who benefit from our services include:
Websites that use our click-to-call services – we make 1000s of calls every day to connect website visitors on portals with advertisers or owners of those web portals.
Outbound dialers that are used by service enterprises for calling and selling or informing customers of important service related updates or up-sell / cross-sell opportunities. For example, our Outbound Dialers used by leading airlines (3+) of the country would by now have saved millions of man-hours of top-executives and business people traveling by those airlines and whose flights would have been rescheduled.
Credit card payment acceptance systems that allow companies to securely accept credit card details from their customers on the phone and get instant authorization of those payments.
What is the principle behind your business model and market niche?
One: Product-innovations. We were the first ones in the market to offer several of our services. Two: We keep our promises. Three: Our ethics; we never compromise on them.
These make our customers feel internally secure doing business with us, and are our major differentiators of business.
For example, most companies today need to buy expensive IVR equipment. Since IVR applications are specialized products, these equipment are nothing but servers kept in the server rooms of customers, maintained offsite by the IVR manufacturer itself. Adding to cap-ex and op-exes of the customer and also reducing deployment of innovation. We are amongst the first (probably still the only company) in India to offer hosted IVR services across the board – including inbound and outbound systems.
Which area of the business will you focus on in the coming year?
Our focus so far has been to set-up a strong infrastructure of technology for our hosted solutions, with redundancy for each component, and on quickly customizable applications. We have built case studies through live deployments in various domains. With the technology framework ready and a feel of the market, we are already begun scaling up through a thrust on business sales and delivery.
What were the biggest attractions for you to become an entrepreneur?
Full accountability for whatever I did, from 9-to-9. And who says jobs these days are from 9-to-5? Stresses in a job are often externally created, while those in one’s own business are self-manageable, True, the recognition and perks are less than in a job, but owning and running a business is exciting. Learning value is undoubtedly more. And if one plays one’s cards right and with patience, the returns are also likely to be far more.
What has been your most poignant learning experience?
Neglecting the business for almost a year in order to manage a problem at personal level; whereas actually both could have been managed simultaneously.
When running your own business, each day is a challenge. Each day provides two options – either to take the easier way out or stick to the fundamentals and learn from our experiences. Sticking to the latter is the biggest challenge.
What sort of growth has your company experienced so far?
Starting with a single employee, we are now ten at Phonon. Our 2nd year turnover witnessed a 600% increase and the 3rd year 300% increase. The 4th year saw a drop of 33%. This one year of neglect has set us back by two years. I am now back in full charge and building a second level. Our thrust on boosting sales has already begun by opening business operations from Delhi, besides from our head office at Baroda.
What made you realize that your idea was a success?
Being a small company, based away from the metros, we have still managed to successfully deliver services to leading enterprises of the country. We have built strong relationships and not let the location affect delivery of our services. It was earlier a challenge convincing people, but we let our work do the talking. Location away from the business hubs of the country, besides allows us to keep the overheads low, saved us valuable time: business gets finalized on phone rather than through time-guzzling travel and waits for meetings with clients.
India’s top-business school, IIM Ahmedabad invited us for hiring summer interns as a part of their internship process in 2009. Being invited at such an esteemed institution was the biggest delight we’ve had so far.
Several articles carried by leading papers of the country including the Economic Times, Hindustan Times Mint etc.
What is your plan of conquest for the coming 2 years?
We have a strong telephony network in India. This core infrastructure is now to be leveraged as a means to get more and more information to the fingertips of users. Providing automated, value adding information disbursal systems that are used efficiently and widely by enterprises in India continues to be our vision.
What resolutions should Indian entrepreneurs learn to make?
Securing Data and intellectual property …Be decisive, stick to your core values and ensure that you deliver at the minimum what you promise.
Yourstory wishes Ujwal Makhija, all the success that he deserves and hopes that his work grows successfully in the coming years.