How a techie and an executive coach built an edtech startup to ace communications at the workplace
In the early 2000s, techie Shammi Pant and executive coach Jenny Sarang worked together at GE India.
More than a decade later, Shammi vouches for Jenny’s detail-oriented work as a coach in identifying root causes to determine behavioural changes and helping teams and individuals to succeed.
In August 2019, the duo founded myJen.ai, an AI-powered coaching platform driven by data science and cloud computing.
"The Eureka moment for us was when we realised that we can create millions and millions of Jennies – efficient and organised. Our products are nothing but copies of ‘Jenny’ which are scalable and affordable because of technology. The idea was to marry corporate training and executive coaching that Jenny provides with AI,” Shammi says.
With the content modelled after Jenny’s style of coaching and problem-solving, the name also suggests every person can have a coach like Jenny by their side to help with communications skills at the workplace.
Jenny says, "Seventy to 80 percent of workplace mistakes are due to miscommunication, therefore communication skills play an important role in corporate training. That is the niche we wanted to solve by helping real-time for specific businesses and individuals."
Jenny explains that the AI product has been trained with more than 65,000 videos of her presentations, elevator pitches, and interviews.
These experiences are then converted to speech and emotions like joy, anger, disgust, and fear and maps Jenny’s body language, voice modulation, and pitch as well. Simultaneously, its facial recognition technology assesses the emotions every 1/60th of a second.
Based in Delhi-NCR, Shammi adds that the system is continuously learning to get more insights. Emphasising that the ultimate goal is to help users hone their communications skills, the products feature a “simple interface and human design”.
Operating on a dual model of B2B and B2C, the edtech startup caters to information technology enabled Services (ITeS), manufacturing, automotive, pharma, and healthcare sectors. Some of its clients include IIFL Securities, Maruti Suzuki, and Enthrive, among others. And because it’s subscription-based, managers can keep a tab on their employees and team’s progress as well.
In the B2C segment, it targets students, freelancers, small and medium business owners who need help in perfecting emails and meetings with stakeholders.
Shammi says the startup is keen on rolling out their services to students in engineering and management fields as they tend to face more challenges in communicating. With over 100 college students on board, the startup plans to reach a wider audience through social media and digital marketing.
A graduate from Punjab Engineering College with an MBA from National University of Singapore, Shammi has held leadership positions at various Fortune 500 companies and believes that myJen.ai can help drive productivity by leaps and bounds.
Claiming to be the first company to turn learning and development into a tangible product and function, the startup hopes to tap the international market in the future.
Communication in times of COVID-19
The founders noted that one common challenge companies face as they switch to remote working is getting people to switch on their cameras during meetings. The startup has been helping employees feel more comfortable with their video image.
The startup also conducted a survey that revealed nearly 95 percent of managers and people in leadership roles feel communication skills are extremely critical for professional success.
On women in tech
Shammi says that IT companies in India have always been a “huge men's club,” with rules of the game oriented towards them by design.
“As women rise through the ranks, it is an individual's call whether they want to continue, quit, change industries, or just stay at home. No wonder then that the attrition rate in the technology sector, women is much higher than men,” she says.
However, the entrepreneur believes automation and tech advancement are levelling the field by shifting the weight onto skills.
“If you are competent, skilled, and have a mind of your own, you can make your way up while sticking to your values and principles,” she says.