With the dawn of the e-commerce bubble and all things digital, India poses immense potential in the digital sphere. PropheSee is a big data software as a service (SaaS) that allows brands to track everything about themselves & their competitors across the digital spectrum. The platform marries cutting edge technology with industry expertise to give brands the most holistic view of where they lie in their market, how campaigns are performing and how they can be optimized for success.
Q. Tell us a little bit about Ishaan and PropheSee?
During my time at Brown University, I had the privilege to work at Nike’s World Headquarters as their Global Communications Intern – an opportunity that exposed me to the dynamic world of marketing, communications & strategy. Post college I started working at a company handling marketing analytics for leading brands in the United States and realized the unique potential for a similar service in India, of course with tweaks to make it as relevant as possible in the Indian context. It took us about 6 months to develop our prototype & we launched in October 2014.
Q. You studied at Brown University and also worked at Nike. What was the experience like?
My experience at Brown is something I will cherish for many, many years to come. I joined Brown as an intended molecular biology major but after interning at a pioneering research institution in Bangalore, I realized I did not want to pursue my career in the field.
With its open curriculum, Brown gave me the ability to take classes from a plethora of departments and find my true calling. I soon fell in love with economics and its applicability in a more creative context – hence, marketing.
Nike enabled me to gain practical knowledge of everything I learnt in school and from there on out it’s been one internship or job after another to learn the ins & outs of the rapidly changing digital & marketing landscape.
Q. Are you an accidental entrepreneur or you planned it for quite some time?
Probably somewhere in the middle. My father is an entrepreneur, and always told me to “never give in, do what I love and the rest will follow”. I guess I took that to heart at a very early age and after working with different corporates & startups in India & the US, realized that PropheSee was something I really wanted to create.
Moreover, while I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I’ve had (& learnt so much from!), PropheSee is exactly what my team & I have envisioned it to be, both at this point and in terms of where we are going. The ability to work for yourself, do something you are passionate about & in an area with immense potential motivated me to take the plunge and start PropheSee.
Q. Tell us about the initial grind when you decided to start-up?
Intense, fun, and a true mix of blood, sweat & tears, sometimes of joy and others out of frustration. I remember sitting down with a close friend, Harshil, when I moved back to India. We talked about PropheSee and given his background working for Samsung, Harshil came on board with us as Head of Product. I met Jitesh through Harshil, since they both attended college together at Manipal Institute of Technology. Jitesh was at KPMG before this and with his background in analytics & business intelligence, he was the perfect fit for the COO opening with us. Finally, after searching long and hard for a tech co-founder, we met Sambhav who connected with us both on a personal level as well as in terms of the potential we saw in PropheSee. Soon we were working on this part time: long hours and late nights became a routine. Once the prototype was ready and we launched PropheSee, we’ve never looked back. We’re now hiring, raising funds and closing clients. The roadmap ahead is a long and challenging one, but needless to say, we all wake up each morning with a drive to grow PropheSee into an industry leader in the digital space.
We’re also in a niche space. With the digital naivety of the Indian market, our services are often seen as a luxury and not a need. That is of course, once people realize that we are not another digital/social media agency. Its taken us time, but we’re slowly breaking this mould and prospective & current clients are rapidly seeing the value we bring as an analytics & insights partner.
Q. What is the most satisfying part of being an entrepreneur?
Watching our efforts translate into working insights & prove beneficial to our clients! The smiles on everyones’ face when we close a new deal or launch a new feature, the sense of relief when we’re able to solve a complex problem and of course, seeing our clients meet with even more success! Since we’re a B2B company, our success is contingent on the success of our clients and so watching them succeed serves as huge validation & motivation for all of us at PropheSee.
All this aside, the ability to wake up a litter later in the morning than when I had to before PropheSee is immensely satisfying, haha.
Q. Any particular incident that stands out in your start-up journey so far?
Haha, where do I begin? It’s been a crazy roller coaster ride thus far – from being turned away by an investor one day to signing our first client, Tarun Tahiliani, the next. Everyone was pretty demotivated after the investor pitch when we got turned away – turns out we went out seeking funding too soon and needed to streamline our own product. But the next day, we signed Tarun Tahiliani and immediately everyone had a fire in their belly to showcase the potential we all see in PropheSee – to make brands realize the value we add to their business.
It’s been full of its ups & down, but I know one thing for fact (& I speak for everyone at PropheSee when I say this) – not one of us would change anything. The bad only made us stronger & the good only pushed us harder.