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Building and scaling an AI Startup in India and globally – part 2

Building and scaling an AI Startup in India and globally – part 2

In “Building and Scaling AI Startups: Part 2,” we hone in on the critical aspects of AI startup success, emphasizing cash flow management, strategic budgeting, attracting skilled talent, staying relevant, and engaging customers effectively. Featuring the expertise of Indrajeet Saikia, with his extensive background at Wipro, NIIT, and Dun & Bradstreet, and current impactful work at Zeon AI, we explore practical strategies for financial robustness, team building, and innovation that keeps pace with market demands.

This conversation is a must-listen for anyone aiming to make an impact in the AI space, providing a comprehensive guide to navigating the complexities of startup growth and scalability.

Tune in to discover how to turn potential hurdles into opportunities for growth and innovation in the rapidly evolving AI startup landscape.

In our latest episode, “Building and Scaling AI Startups: Part 2” we zone in on the key elements that are fundamental to the vitality of AI startups: robust cash flow management, strategic budgeting, attracting the right talent, maintaining relevance, and engaging customers effectively. This episode unfolds against the backdrop of the dynamic AI startup landscape, offering universal insights that resonate across borders.

With Indrajeet Saikia lending his expertise to our conversation, we address the core of what makes an AI startup not just survive, but thrive. Indrajeet, with his extensive background at Wipro, NIIT, and Dun & Bradstreet, and now at Zeon AI, brings to the table a deep understanding of leveraging AI and NLP for solving pressing business challenges.

Our discussion is centered around the foundational strategies for managing an AI startup’s financial health, ensuring that cash flow and budgeting are not stumbling blocks but stepping stones to greater success. We then shift our focus to the human element—the crucial task of attracting and nurturing talent that aligns with the startup’s mission and technological aspirations.

Moreover, we uncover the essence of adaptability and the importance of listening to the market, enabling AI startups to stay ahead of the curve. Indrajeet’s narratives provide a roadmap for navigating the challenges and seizing the opportunities that come with scaling an AI business.

This dialogue is crafted for those who are eager to leave a mark in the AI startup world. It serves as an insider’s guide to overcoming hurdles, making strategic decisions, and forging a path to success in the fast-paced world of AI innovation.

Join us for an episode where ambition meets expertise, and transformative ideas come to life.


  • Startups should develop detailed and realistic financial plans to navigate the J curve effectively, ensuring they can anticipate challenges and plan for contingencies, highlighting the importance of preparation and foresight in financial management.
  • Startups must prioritize essential expenditures and avoid unnecessary expenses. Regular monitoring and swift adjustments in response to changing financial landscapes are crucial for sustainability.
  • For AI startups, technical proficiency in AI, machine learning, and natural language processing is crucial, alongside innovative problem-solving skills and the ability to apply these concepts in real-world scenarios.
  • Essential both within the team and in customer interactions, effective communication facilitates a collaborative environment and ensures that complex concepts are accessible to all stakeholders.
  • Regular evaluation and enhancement of products and services based on customer feedback, coupled with a commitment to innovation, are essential for maintaining competitive advantage and customer satisfaction.



Q1: How do AI Startups manage cash flow and budgeting challenges, and what strategies can help navigate the J curve?

A: Indrajeet explains that managing cash flow and budgeting is a critical aspect of navigating the early-stage challenges an AI startup might face. The J curve, which represents the initial dip in financial performance before a company reaches sustained growth, is a common phenomenon. To navigate these challenges, Indrajeet emphasizes the importance of thorough and fine-tuned financial planning. Developing a comprehensive and realistic financial plan, with detailed projections over months or years, is essential for anticipating challenges and planning for contingencies. This plan serves as a roadmap for the startup’s financial journey.

A conservative approach to cash flow management is crucial. Startups should prioritize essential expenditures and avoid unnecessary expenses, monitoring the cash flow regularly and preparing to make adjustments swiftly in response to changing situations. Establishing favorable terms with suppliers, aligning payment terms with cash flow cycles, and maintaining open communication with suppliers and clients about payment structures are also vital to avoid financial strain.

Lean operations are recommended to prevent overloading resources. Avoiding unnecessary expansion ensures financial stability, allowing for immediate scalability when required. Diversification of revenue streams is another strategy; for instance, Indrajeet’s startup has developed fixed products, B2C solutions, and app-based solutions, targeting not just large enterprises but also medium-scale and family businesses.

Exploring alternative funding sources such as venture capital, crowdfunding, or government grants is advised, leveraging the support many governments provide. Strategic partnerships with domain experts across industries can also offer both financial resources and industry placement. Adopting a customer-centric approach, building solutions based on customer needs rather than founders’ interests, fosters loyalty and contributes to revenue stability.

Adaptability and agility are key, with a focus on continuously monitoring KPIs and learning from data to quickly adapt to market dynamics. A resilient mindset and a focus on the long-term vision help in viewing the J curve and its challenges as learning opportunities, staying committed to achieving the startup’s goals.


Q2: What skills and qualities do AI Startups look for in employees?

A: Indrajeet emphasizes the importance of selecting team members with specific skill sets, treating the team like a close-knit family. Given the nature of an AI startup, technical proficiency in AI, machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) is paramount. A strong foundation in these areas is crucial, but Indrajeet also looks for individuals with a proven track record of applying these concepts to solve real-world problems.

Beyond technical skills, a very innovative approach to problem-solving is valued. The ability to think creatively and outside the box, devising novel solutions to complex problems, is critical in the AI field. Effective communication skills are also fundamental; team members must be able to convey technical or complex concepts to both technical and non-technical stakeholders, facilitating a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment.

Adaptability and agility are necessary qualities, as AI evolves rapidly. Employees must stay ahead of the curve, continuously updating their knowledge and applying it to emerging challenges. This requires a keen eagerness to learn and embrace new technologies.

A customer-centric mindset is another key factor for success in an AI startup. Employees often interact with customers and should exhibit a positive and proactive ownership mentality, taking responsibility for their work and its outcomes. They should seek opportunities for improvement and contribute to the overall success of the company.

Finally, ethical responsibility is paramount. Being part of a fast-growing AI company involves problem-solving under immense pressure, requiring resilience and ethical decision-making. Indrajeet seeks individuals who can handle the demands of a rapidly evolving tech environment while upholding high ethical standards.


Q3: How can entrepreneurs maximize customer satisfaction and engagement?

A: Indrajeet emphasizes the critical nature of customer satisfaction for the success of any business, advocating for the continuous nurturing of positive relationships. He underscores the necessity of understanding customers’ needs, pain points, and expectations, which involves active listening, soliciting feedback, and conducting surveys. Keeping abreast of market trends is also crucial, as it guides efforts towards meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

Responsive communication is highlighted as key; addressing customers’ issues, feedback, and inquiries promptly and transparently builds trust and affirms the commitment to customer satisfaction. Personalizing the customer experience by tailoring products and services to individual needs whenever possible is advised. Indrajeet’s approach includes making personalized recommendations while prioritizing customer choice and maintaining consistent product and service quality. He stresses the importance of AI accuracy and adheres to stringent quality standards, regularly evaluating and improving offerings based on customer feedback.

A user-friendly interface and simplified processes that minimize friction are part of their strategy. Indrajeet’s team works proactively to resolve any arising issues swiftly and rewards loyalty, going above and beyond for repeat customers. He believes transparency and trust are paramount, underpinned by continuous innovation and the cultivation of a customer-focused culture within their startup, Zeon AI, which all contribute to enhancing customer engagement and satisfaction.


Podcast Host: Amit Ahuja, Associate Director, Communications & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Guest: Indrajeet Saikia, Chief Revenue Officer, ZeonAI
Video & Audio Editing: Dhanish Shah, Communications Associate, Zista Education
Podcast Manager: Russel Aldridge, Sr. Manager, Creative & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Transcript: Tanya Kakka, Freelance Copywriter