Ecobillz is an innovative digitization platform using AI which captures, reads, and accumulates/collects documents and data in real-time for use as a document management system, advanced business process automation and to churn the data for generating valuable insights of your business. It is aiming to build up a way for business operations without the usage of paper and make contactless business easy. Ecobillz is founded on the dreams of saving trees and time—thus making business more responsible. While Ecobillz today is adapted for hospitality industry, the product can be assembled successfully for other industries as well.
A retail shopping spree where we bought one thing, but was given a long machine-fed bill. The length of paper set us thinking about the paper wastage occurring with every billing that happens in each shop—each industry—each country. The numbers and the wastages are mind-boggling.
We observed two important things. 1. We saw that automation was going to be a key driver of growth for large businesses. 2. Businesses, despite using the latest technology in IT, were still using paper for a lot of their day-to-day activities. This got us thinking. If we can use tech such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics to digitize everything that is on paper and be able to provide full automation of the processes, then this would be a great value add to customers.
Q1 : Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ecobillz is an innovative SaaS based real-time digitization platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to digitize, collect, aggregate data and build complex back-office automation systems. The product, connects with the existing systems and software, accessing the data and streamlining them onto Ecobillz platform to ease the document management process in large organizations. The platform aims to build the technology that can read, accumulate documents, and store data in real-time, thus leading to an efficient digital document management system. As the platform focuses on industry-wide intervention to replace paper-based transactions with customers, the artificial intelligence embedded in Ecobillz helps to read/crunch data, thus generating valuable insights for the respective businesses. Ecobillz, while currently focused on the hospitality business, also aims to foray into multiple domains such as retail, QSR, hospitals and the automotive sector.
Our first customer was one large hotel chain. It is in fact the trendsetter in the Indian hospitality industry that took a leap of faith in us and went LIVE with Ecobillz. This gave us tremendous exposure and visibility to other competing hotel chains.
Product-market fit needs continuous research and rethinking. It is not a one-stop game. During COVID, in April 2020, we were caught unaware. The entire hospitality industry was reeling under pressure. We had to rethink and do something innovative to survive this wave. Our team got to work and studied the scenario closely. Within a month’s time, we launched a new module called Contactless operations. This gave a huge boost to us as it allowed guest to check-in and check-out from a hotel from their own phone. During COVID this was a great thing to have. So many hotels got onto our platform and scaled very fast.
Today the whole world is functioning on technology. People are online. We observe, follow and take part where needed like online forums/platforms/conferences which talk about these technologies to bring in new changes. This keeps us abreast with current thoughts in tech. Once we identify an improvement, we perform a pilot with the help of one of our more tech-savvy customer to try it out and see the feasibility and business viability. Once proven, we bundle it into our offerings and take it to all customers.
Q2 : What is your USP? * What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
What we are offering is totally new in the market and no comparable competition exists.
Designed to be least intrusive of technologies that can be installed as a plug-n-play digitization module requiring no change in existing PMS/POS, Ecobillz can be integrated within the existing system for being implemented immediately. As the platform magically works with any PMS and POS software without requiring any tight integration, its implementation cost is also affordable to businesses.
Every industry uses paper and paperless technology based on AI is definitely going to be the next big thing in the market. The response to Ecobillz proposition itself has been overwhelming. With ZERO sales team, we are now live in almost all the top 3 hotels chains in India. Ecobillz platform and its products are being used by more than 200+ premium 5-star hotels across the country. The product has sold itself convincing the users of the need and has created significant demand in the market for us.
Q3 : What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
I would say that we did not face Failure exactly, but did face a lot of challenges, right from manpower shortage and the breakdown of the hospitality sector that happened as an off-shoot of COVID. But we were innovative enough to ward them off.
Challenges are natural when we are trying to capture and address a niche market. What we are offering is totally new in the market and no comparable competition exists. In the very initial stage of our company, customers found it very difficult to connect the dots and see the huge savings that we were forecasting that resulted after using our product. The journey was definitely difficult. It took us a lot of effort for the first breakthrough.
Secondly, a small team leads to a crisis of support management and we faced with the possibility of negative vibes in the industry. However, problems are mother of all solutions, and we also turned to automation to resolve the issue—thus becoming smarter in long run. We continuously work towards improving our support.
Thirdly, we found the Contactless technology to be more acceptable in post covid scenario. It gave power to the end user to perform self-check-in / checkout in a hotel. The guest will be able to browse through food menu and order on his/her own phone seamlessly. They will be able to settle the invoices from their hotel rooms without having to come to the reception. This, for the hotel, will mean less skilled resources and less queues, more efficient processes and error free operations – leading to – happy customersin the end!
Q4: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Our pricing is based on annual subscription-based licensing. We have multiple modules that the customer is able to pick and choose from. Each module is priced differently. We typical charge an amount per room per month for a hotel which is billed on an annual basis.
Q5:Please tell us about the investors
Ecobillz has raised a total funding of $175,000 from friends and family and in a seed round from 92 Angels, Ghosal Ventures and others in 2019. The company plans to soon raise another round of funding. The smart hospitality market size is projected to grow to $49.9 billion by 2027 from $13.6 billion in 2022, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 29.8% during the forecast period, according to a Research and Markets report. Meanwhile, the workflow automation market size is expected to reach $39.5 billion by 2027 from $8.1 billion in 2019, growing at a CAGR of 23.68% from 2020 to 2027, as per research and consulting firm Verified Market Research. Ecobillz identifies its growth prospect in direct relation to the automation and hospitality industry.
Q6: Is there any interesting success story of your startup? If yes, please write about it. ?
Unfortunately, due to NDAs signed with our customers we cannot discuss about specific customer success stories. However, on this journey we have been solving multiple complex problems and hurdles. We have and are continuously facing challenges from big and demanding hospitality chains. As we focus on continuously improving our offerings, we are ensuring our customer’s need are met and that they are happy. We believe we still have a long way to go.
Q 6: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in detail.
We have been growing more than 3 times with revenues doubling every year, since inception. The traction is mind-boggling. As of date there is no hospitality or hotel chain that does not know about Ecobillz, at least in India. All the top hotel chains in India are our customers.
Ecobillz recently won the Elevate 2021 start-up competition in Karnataka making it one of the top start-ups in Karnataka state. With its current wide spread usage in the premium hospitality chains in India, Ecobillz aims to become a household name in the hospitality in industry world over.
Our customers are large organizations with minimum 200Cr turnover. Today Ecobillz is LIVE in 200+ hotelsspread all across India and a household name in premium hospitality industry in India.
Q7:What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ecobillz dreams of impacting the Global Sustainability mandate by implementing this AI driven SaaS product worldwide and adding to the Made in India story. Ecobillz is currently working with 200 plus hospitality establishments across India is also planning to expand globally in Europe, Africa, Middle East, South East Asia and Dubai. Ecobillz today is adding 2-5 hospitality properties every month, to its existing list of clients and sincerely aims that they could make a foray into sustainability index of India.
Q8: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Couple of our closest competitors are NanoNet and DocMX. NanoNet is not an exact apple to apple comparison . Ecobillz believes that competition is must to bring the best innovations out in the market. We do not chase our competition and plan strategy to outdo them. Instead, we let our product speak for itself. The differentiation in the delivery and value addition provided to the customer are what will drive the acceptability of the product. We continuously pain-stakingly work towards achieving this goal.
Q9: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Entrepreneurship is a long journey and in this journey there is no success or failure. You keep going from one goal to another. You will face one challenge after another. My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to keep going, not to get demotivated with initial hurdles, keep doing good work and not to get disheartened if some things don’t work. Always focus on bringing value to the customer and no matter what never compromise on core values: honesty, trust, integrity. This will ensure you do good in the long run.