Follow Seshu Madabushi
Tell us about yourself?
I have been an entrepreneur for the most part of my professional life – always looking for solutions for problems that I have encountered in both my personal and professional life.
I believe in hustling to make things happen – the way I did that in 2003 when I moved to Dallas – I interviewed with a startup in Dallas that said they were impressed with my Information Security background and wanted to offer me a job.
After the successful interview, there was silence for almost a month, and then I decided to get a one-way ticket to Dallas, went to the startup’s office to meet the CEO, and got an offer letter to start my professional career in Dallas.
I quickly made my name within the office and was leading development for a product that was critical to the startup’s survival.
With a penchant to start my own venture, I took a small break from my professional career to go to b-school and work for a large consulting firm for a few years.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
One must realize that entrepreneurship is a marathon, and it takes physical stamina and mental grit to stay in the game. During my time as an entrepreneur, I learned that:
1) It takes a village to raise a child, and building a company is no different. One has to have a very good ecosystem, both personally and professionally. This allows concepts to turn into successful organizations.
2) Real problems require real solutions. Furthermore, never execute these solutions in isolation. In this industry, feedback from your prospective customers, suppliers and even learning from your competitors can prove to be invaluable.
3) You do not need tons of money to build, test and develop. Try to bootstrap as much as you can so you control how you grow.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
The first piece of advice I would give myself is:
1) Sales, Sales, Sales – Sustaining a startup revolves around sales, so you MUST make your presence felt in the market.
2) Do not deviate from the core offering – even if the one-off project provides a little sustenance, this will merely prolong your go to
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
My daughter often complains that I love my work more than her, and she always has to call me multiple times to get my attention.
She always tends to find me on my Macbook or on calls, as this is what I enjoy. Entrepreneurs like me to endure the grind because we love it. With this kind of passion, we tend to allow other priorities to slide.
For me, it is my family, but every entrepreneur, in some way or another other, struggles, and this is normal. It is human. The important thing is to find some balance. The balance between work and my personal life is like a coin; it is two-sided.
1) On one hand, all entrepreneurs must understand that this profession is not a 9-5. You MUST be willing to treat entrepreneurship like a family and spend 24 hours with this just as you would with your loved ones.
2) On the other hand, you must also not take these loved ones for granted. Spend time with them, go on vacations, and enjoy. It is okay to reward yourself because that pushes you closer to success.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
My experiences, and in specific, the problems I encounter, serve as my inspiration. From starting a car leasing company at B-school to creating language teaching apps, I have immersed myself in various fields, and all of my solutions originate from my experiences.
When I first started working with mom & pop restaurants, I noticed that most restaurant owners do not have marketing strategies. This led to the birth of mKonnekt, an integrated marketing services company.
Over time we have morphed into a restaurant marketing technology company with a primary emphasis on brands engaging customers throughout the restaurant life cycle.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Our magic sauce is a comprehensive solution that enables mom-and-pop restaurants to level the playing field.
By utilizing marketing technology to its fullest extent, we are able to generate success. Additionally, we have a pricing model that is focused on results and instills confidence amongst our clientele.
Lastly, our exceptional client service allows for constant communication between restaurant managers and a marketer, with rapid response times.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Until a few months ago, our primary market strategy was referral based, but we have expanded to include direct sales and partner networks.
One lesson that I have learnt is to not shy away from making sales by yourselves, as field experience is invaluable as an entrepreneur.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
Building a dependable team has been my greatest challenge. I have overcome this by:
1) Using my network to hire key technical people
2) Giving enough freedom for employees to learn and grow. Based on this, I am able to identify prospective leaders within my company.
🤠 What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in Texas over other states in the US?
Restaurant marketing is thriving in Texas, and our integration of technology especially makes this state ideal. In my eyes, three reasons why operating our business here is excellent are:
1) Plenty of restaurants around where we are able to propose our ideas and get feedback;
2) Centrally located, which makes travel easier;
3) Access to superior and cheaper technology resources
🤠 Are there any disadvantages to operating our business in Texas?
A few things that come to my mind are the lack of a robust startup ecosystem (when compared with the bay area), availability of personnel, and investment capital are also minor disadvantages.
🤠 Texas has a pretty diverse population. How have you found the quickly changing demographics have impacted your business? Have you got new opportunities? Managed to expand your business into new areas?
Going back to the original advantage, we have seen numerous new restaurant concepts being launched to meet the ever-growing diverse population.
This enables us to attract new clientele for our business and expand into new areas. We have recently made forays into the retail sector as well.
🤠 It is often reported that in Texas, politics and business are intertwined. Have you noticed this? Has it impacted your business?
I have heard about it, and most of it might happen at medium & bigger companies. For now, mKonnekt is not impacted by this.
🤠 With rising prices across Texas (and the US as a whole), have you been impacted? Do you have a plan for dealing with inflation going forward?
With restaurants being hit by different economic factors, we are focusing on a two-pronged strategy – increasing tech adoption like introducing table-side ordering, implementing SMS club, and other features that would reduce costs of operation.
The second strategy is around our pricing model, where we are changing it from a static model to result in drive pricing.
💻 What makes your company stand out as a SaaS/Software startup/company?
We focus on three important aspects which make us unique:
1) A one-stop solution for a restaurant’s marketing needs – software paired with implementation services to appeal to our clients.
2) Our value proposition is that our accountable pricing model ensures our clients realize the RoI on their investment.
3) Exceptional client service – access to expert professionals is always available, so the intricacies of marketing are simplified.
💻 What excited you most about working in the SaaS/Software industry?
Encountering issues and opportunities that challenge me is something I actually look forward to, as it prevents stagnancy.
As a SaaS player, mKonnekt’s ability to find solutions to common problems encountered by restaurateurs and ability to scale it up with the right approach is what excites me.
💻 What are some of the biggest challenges in the SaaS/Software industry that innovators and other startups often face?
Two challenges that I see within the SaaS industry
1) Pricing Model – With a myriad of price ranges and numerous complicated factors (perceived and real), pricing is often difficult.
2) Optimum Functionality – an entrepreneur often wants to overload the functionality, but is it really required? Again this challenge drives the pricing model and vice-versa
💻 Tell us a bit about your culture. What makes your company’s culture unique?
mKonnekt started out as a remote company prior to Covid, making this concept popular.
We started as a distributed company, and our ability to hire and assimilate new talent, and moreover, to integrate them into our growth, is unique to mKonnekt.
With a distributed team, each team member has freedom on where and when to work (except for team meetings), but simultaneously, delivery is a necessity for our success.
💻 In your opinion, what are the most exciting trends in SaaS/Software right now?
In our sector, there are interesting opportunities that are playing out in the realms of both technology and business.
On the one hand, we are seeing the usage of AI & ML to understand data that restaurants & retail clients have access to.
On the other hand, in business, we are seeing trends around new concepts and ghost kitchens, which are opportune for us.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
mKonnekt’s emphasis has been on enabling restaurant & retail brands to manage customer interactions with our Awareness2Advocacy (A2A) customer engagement model.
One can find information about our approach, our platform and our resources at www.mKonnekt.com.
If anyone is interested in seeing a demo of our platform, they can email us at [email protected]