All of us are spending more time than ever in school, at university or in other educational programs. Thus acquiring a massive amount of information and knowledge, which is later used for work within companies. But how do you manage this knowledge and make sure that all employees are on the same page?
In the current batch we have a startup focusing on knowledge management. We have asked COO Aurelio Jiménez from ZAPIENS to give us an insight into how companies can put the knowledge of all employees to better use.
weX: Hi Aurelio, thanks for your time for this interview. So how did the Zapiens’ story start?
Aurelio: Hi, my pleasure. Well, we became interested in the topic and then founded Zapiens as one of our customers from the consultancy company we worked for had a great problem with knowledge transfer within his company. We had the assumption that companies have a great need for knowledge management and it turned out to be true. We asked the employees working there to write on post-its ten things they know about their work that they believed other people didn’t know. At the end we had a huge number of post-its and could thereby show that for most questions the answers can be given from someone working there.
weX: The technology you use is also built on this assumption?
Aurelio: Yes, exactly. Our app has two areas. There is the push part, where the information from the company is delivered throughout the organization towards their employees. But there is also a pull part, where employees actively search for answers to their questions. For this they use the chatbot function, “Zap”. This tool is well developed and cannot only answer questions, but in case it does not have the answer to a question, Zap can also find the right person for you within the company, who can answer this particular question. Zap is based on artificial intelligence. The chatbot remembers what he has been asked and the next time the same question occurs, he automatically gives the answer back.
weX: Wow, that sounds amazing. I have had a look on your website and I gather that you have quite many customers already. Did it help you at all to take part in the weXelerate Accelerator?
Aurelio: Yes, meanwhile we have quite many customers using our technology, some of which are international players. As I see it, we were pretty lucky from the beginning. After the first customer, famous companies such as Unilever and Nespresso wanted to work with us.
Taking part in the Accelerator was helpful to us as well. We have met many interesting people and could build quite an interesting network. Being part of the program also got us in contact with a great number of corporate partners, with 5 of them we are moving on to projects starting soon. Most mentors have also been very helpful. For me a true mentor is someone who has been in your place or nearly in your place before. Then you can get great advice and might be able to solve one or the other problem. Furthermore, you have to be open-minded, open for ideas and willing to talk to people. Then you can really profit from a program like the weXelerate Accelerator. What’s more, don’t be shy with the corporates, have meetings, ask for the right business units and the decision makers. We have talked to one corporate innovation team. After the first meeting they told us that they will connect us with the HR team as they are the business unit responsible for knowledge management there. When we met it was soon decided that yes they need a solution for knowledge management, but now was not the right time for them. This means “no” for the present, but most of the time companies call back at a later time and we find a way to realize a project.
weX: What would you say is important for becoming a successful startup?
Aurelio: You need to focus and have a strategy in mind. We had a customer asking for a feature in our product that we had not yet developed, but it was on our roadmap. So we just went ahead and put the feature in our product. Had it not been on the roadmap, we would have said no to the customer. It is also important that you solve one problem at a time. And of course, as with everything there is a learning curve. For us this year was learning how to deal with investors. The first few months were hard, in some meetings I felt really stupid and was quite frustrated. But after a few months we got the hang of it and when we finally sent out an investor’s pitch deck, investors started calling us. You also have assumptions like when we started, we thought that people could do it all themselves when being given the technology. It turned out that they need help with detecting the problems within the company. They furthermore need support and on-going consulting. We will focus on maintenance and development of the technology and there will be a network of partners for consultancy.
weX: What about the team. How important is that?
Aurelio: Definitely very important. There were 4 of us who founded Zapiens 3 years ago. We knew each other before and are still very close and work pretty well together. From the start we have been constantly growing. Meanwhile we are a team of 26 people and still growing. Today, we have offices in Spain and we expect to open in Vienna – thanks to WeXelerate – and San Francisco in 2019.
weX: That’s a great achievement. Congratulations. I hope we’ll hear more success stories from your end.
Aurelio: Thanks, yes definitely, I plan to come back to Vienna now and then to keep in touch with the corporates and partners we have come to know throughout the 4 months Accelerator program.