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Building and scaling an AI Startup in India and globally

Building and scaling an AI Startup in India and globally

In this episode of the Zista Podcast, “Building and Scaling an AI Startup in India and Globally,” we engage with Indrajeet Saikia, a veteran in harnessing AI and NLP to address complex business problems. Indrajeet’s extensive experience, spanning over 17 years across giants like Wipro, NIIT, and Dun & Bradstreet, and his current impactful role at Zeon AI, sets the stage for the AI startup ecosystem.

Together, we dissect the critical elements of launching and growing an AI startup, highlighting the journey from ideation to market penetration and beyond. Indrajeet shares valuable insights on differentiating an AI product in a competitive landscape, securing investment, and navigating the multifaceted challenges of expansion, both within India and on a global scale.

Join us for a conversation that redefines the intersection of technology and business, guided by Indrajeet’s insights and the innovative spirit of AI entrepreneurship.

In this episode of our thought-provoking series, we turn our attention to the groundbreaking field of AI startups, emphasizing the process of building and scaling these ventures in India and across the globe.

We have the pleasure of hosting Indrajeet Saikia, a seasoned professional with over 17 years of experience in B2B, sales, and business development and a deep-rooted passion for solving complex business issues through AI and natural language processing. His journey has seen impactful collaborations with industry giants like Wipro, NIIT, and Dun & Bradstreet, and his current role at Zeon AI marks a significant contribution to the field, where he leads efforts in employing machine learning and NLP to address real-world challenges.

This discussion takes a closer look at the unique aspects of making an AI startup resonate in a crowded marketplace, from the initial concept to securing funding and navigating the hurdles that come with scaling both in India and globally. Indrajeet shares his insights into the founding of Zeon AI, shedding light on the motivations, strategies, and innovations that set their product apart.

Moreover, we explore the critical steps toward securing investment for AI ventures, offering a blueprint for entrepreneurs on the brink of their own startup journey. The conversation also covers the spectrum of challenges these startups face, providing seasoned advice on how to approach and overcome these obstacles for sustained success.

This dialogue is an invitation to reshape your understanding of what it means to build in the AI space, offering a fresh perspective on the convergence of technology, business, and human ingenuity.

  • The success of Zeon AI emphasizes the importance of having a clear, transformative vision for the use of AI in addressing real-world business problems. Startups should focus on creating unique solutions that distinguish them in a competitive market.
  • It’s essential for startups to explore and identify tangible solutions that address specific business challenges. This approach, one of many possible strategies, highlights the importance of directly solving real-world problems to create value and impact.
  • Articulating a compelling narrative that demonstrates the market need for your solutions is key to attracting investment. Your startup’s story should highlight its unique value proposition and potential impact.
  • AI startups must commit to regulatory compliance and ethical practices, including data privacy and security measures, to build trust with clients and navigate the evolving regulatory landscape.
  • Entrepreneurs must cultivate resilience and adaptability to navigate the myriad challenges of startup growth, from funding and market adoption to regulatory compliance and competition.
  • Maintaining a competitive edge requires ongoing innovation and technology development. Startups should leverage their expertise to stay at the forefront of industry advancements and meet evolving market needs.



Q1: What inspired the creation of Zeon AI, and how does it distinguish itself in the competitive AI market?

A: Indrajeet recounts the journey of Zeon AI beginning with a shared vision among friends. This vision was rooted in the collective belief in the transformative potential of artificial intelligence, particularly in the fields of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, to revolutionize business operations and tackle complex issues. The formation of Zeon AI was propelled by this shared enthusiasm and a commitment to addressing inefficiencies in business processes through the application of AI.

The distinctive mission of Zeon AI was shaped by the understanding that artificial intelligence could fundamentally change the landscape of AI applied research, aiming to bridge the significant gap between advanced AI technologies and the pragmatic needs of real-world business problems. Indrajeet emphasizes the practical application of AI technologies, focusing on creating solutions that directly address the tangible challenges faced by medium to large-sized companies. This focus on solving real-world problems has guided Zeon AI to develop unique, impactful solutions.


A prime example of their work is the development of a central knowledge repository, a solution that has found application within major organizations, including a government-owned mining behemoth in India. This product exemplifies Zeon AI’s approach to solving common organizational challenges—streamlining access to information and enhancing operational efficiency. Indrajeet highlights the utility of this tool with a scenario involving an employee needing quick access to company policies on medical expenses during a trip, illustrating how their technology can significantly reduce administrative delays and improve employee experience.

Further showcasing Zeon AI’s versatility and innovative spirit, Indrajeet mentions their ongoing collaborations with defense majors, hinting at the broad applicability and potential of their AI solutions in sensitive and classified projects. This aspect, although not fully disclosed, speaks to the depth of Zeon AI’s technological prowess and its ability to contribute to national security and defense.

In essence, Zeon AI’s differentiation in the market lies in its foundational belief in AI’s power to transform businesses, its focus on addressing practical, real-world problems, and its successful deployment of solutions across diverse sectors, from corporate to defense. Their story is one of innovation, collaboration, and a steadfast commitment to leveraging AI for practical impact.


Q2: What was Zeon AI’s strategy for fundraising, and what guidance do you offer to aspiring AI startup founders?
A: Indrajeet emphasizes that fundraising is a pivotal aspect of a startup’s growth. He highlights the necessity of securing funding for operational expansion, innovation, and research beyond the immediate revenue from client projects. For Zeon AI, articulating a compelling and unique narrative was key to attracting investment. This narrative not only showcased their vision but also demonstrated the market need for their AI solutions, particularly in NLP and machine learning, to address specific challenges faced by businesses.

A critical part of their fundraising approach involved clear communication of their ambitions and achievable goals to potential investors, ensuring that these investors understood they were investing in both the team’s vision and its growth potential. Demonstrating a proven track record, strategic networking within the industry, and continuously refining their pitch to meet the diverse demands of investors across different regions were also integral to their strategy.

For those looking to start their own AI ventures, Indrajeet advises building a solid foundation of expertise and a strong, compelling narrative that clearly shows the value and potential impact of their solutions. He stresses the importance of demonstrating tangible milestones and traction to investors. Moreover, resilience and persistence are vital qualities; facing rejections from investors is part of the journey, but perseverance can lead to eventual success. Building relationships within the startup ecosystem, where there is a culture of mutual support, can also be beneficial.

In summary, a successful fundraising campaign for an AI startup hinges on a unique value proposition, clear communication of achievable goals, strategic networking, continuous pitch refinement, and, importantly, resilience in the face of challenges.


Q3: What common challenges do startups face, and what strategies can help entrepreneurs navigate these hurdles?A: Indrajeet outlines that startups universally grapple with several challenges, notably in talent acquisition and retention, navigating regulatory and ethical landscapes, achieving market adoption, and securing necessary funding. Each of these areas presents unique hurdles but also opportunities for strategic innovation.

Talent Acquisition and Retention: The competition to attract and keep the best talent is fierce. Startups offer a learning-rich environment where employees can work on a variety of tasks, making them highly valuable. Indrajeet tackled this by engaging with academic institutions and AI research communities, creating partnerships that ensure a steady flow of talent. Offering competitive compensation packages and cultivating a vibrant work culture were also key strategies, making employees feel both valued and challenged.

Regulatory and Ethical Considerations: The advancement of AI technologies brings forth concerns regarding ethics and data privacy. To address this, Zeon AI committed to staying abreast of regulatory compliance, implementing robust security measures like end-to-end encryption, and offering solutions tailored to clients who are wary of cloud-based data storage. This proactive approach to ethics and compliance not only mitigated risks but also built trust with their clientele.

Market Adoption: Introducing innovative solutions to the market requires educating potential clients about the benefits and capabilities of AI technologies. Zeon AI differentiated themselves by customizing their solutions to meet specific client needs, a flexibility that larger companies might not offer. This strategy helped overcome initial resistance and fostered market adoption by clearly demonstrating the value and potential impact of their AI solutions.

Access to Funding: Essential for growth, innovation, and research, securing funding was a pivotal challenge. Zeon AI actively pursued venture capital and funding opportunities, emphasizing the importance of showcasing a compelling vision and proven track record to potential investors. Their efforts in strategic networking and pitch refinement were crucial in attracting the necessary investment to fuel their growth.

Competition and Technology Infrastructure: Despite minimal competition due to their niche product, maintaining an edge required continuous innovation and technology development. Indrajeet’s team focused on leveraging their expertise in AI and established themselves before AI became a buzzword, ensuring they remained at the forefront of the industry.

For young entrepreneurs, Indrajeet’s advice is to cultivate resilience, flexibility, and adaptability. The journey of a startup is fraught with challenges, but with a strategic approach to talent management, regulatory compliance, market education, and fundraising, these hurdles can be overcome. Being prompt and adaptable in response to client needs and market changes is also critical for sustaining growth and success in the dynamic startup ecosystem.


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