BlackBeltHelp offers business process automation; an integrated chat, voice, ticketing systems and service desk; we are pivoting to using big data and analytics to provide AI-enabled interactions for queries ranging from financial aid to IT support.
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Product / Service Offering: Business process automation pivoting to AI for educational institutions
Co-Founder Interviewed: Ravi (Ron) Bhalla, Co-Founder & CEO
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I am a result-oriented professional with 15+ years of comprehensive experience in process management, operations management, customer relationship management, team management, and leadership. I am a firm believer of execution and implementation with an appropriate vision, goals, and business strategy in mind. My mantra of life is to introduce effective practices for enabling business growth.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
The company originated in late 2011 from feedback from a number of higher education institutions. They were struggling to expand their help desk 24×7; they were receiving bad quality and cost of service from other service providers in the market.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
BlackBeltHelp not only offers business process automation, but also an integrated chat, voice, ticketing systems and service desk; we are pivoting to using big data and analytics to provide AI-enabled interactions for queries ranging from financial aid to IT support.
We provide customer satisfaction, student and faculty success, cost control and business process automation. Recently, we came up with a set of Artificial Intelligence products for higher education to address the challenges in enrollment and admissions support. We provide information starting from the application process, deadlines, and documentation to tuition. It can be addressed within seconds resulting in a high level of engagement and returning students to either find out more or enroll into a course.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
The thing that sets us apart from our competitors is our principle of creating happy customers by delivering excellent SLAs, a global delivery model, and continuous value add to the institutional processes through collaboration.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge was pivoting from a service delivery model to a product platform. We invested a lot of energy in using big data and analytics for creating AI based products with a great support from our customers.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Always involve your customers in building your business as they know where the market is going. The key to startup success is customer discovery.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We secured funding from Campus Consortium, which is the largest global education association of schools, colleges and universities. Our business model and market opportunity helped us acquire the seed funding with an opportunity to work with board members who have significant experience in the higher education market. We wouldn’t have done anything different if we had to start over.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Justifying the scalability of a service model when we had no product or innovation happening.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Handling scale and creating hyper-personalized products with limited resources; hence, we are looking to raise the next round of funding. Learn what it takes to progress through the funding life cycle.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Always look at what can be innovated within before you look out. You will find many opportunities to create more value.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We have the passion to create solutions for end-to-end student lifecycle management through our products and services. Even after being in business for over five years, we follow the startup approach to be successful.
Also, since our AI products are new, institutions that have interest in piloting Artificial Intelligence can enroll in BlackBeltHelp’s Early Adopter program. This program provides selected partner institutions up to 100% discount on Artificial Intelligence product implementation. Please contact us if you are interested!
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