On a digital mission to do things right

On a digital mission to do things right
Amol Kadam and Devesh Mistry, co-founders of RBBi.

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Mon 12 Jun 2017, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Jun 2017, 10:09 PM

Amol Kadam's childhood superhero had always been Superman. A chance meeting with Devesh Mistry, a fellow Superman fan, at his previous job would lead to the two of them coming up with the idea for RBBi - a new age digital experience consultancy firm.
"In 2009, we met at our previous jobs with one of the biggest advertising firms in the Middle East," recalls Kadam. "I come from a design background, and Devesh comes from a technology background. During our interactions we used to discuss the lack of clarity/transparency in digital in the region, quality of work and lack of real UX and user-centric approach to digital."
The two ultimately decided to fill that gap and started on their mission as co-founders of RBBi to improve the digital experience for users in the region. In fact, the name RBBi itself is derived from Superman's 'Red Blue Blur', and the superhero's mission to 'Do Things Right' serves as their inspiration. Established in Dubai in 2011, RBBi has been helping organisations to elevate their business performance by transforming how they engage, attract, and enhance their customers' experience across digital touchpoints. The company offers UX, Usability, SEO, performance marketing and data consultancy services primarily across the GCC.
Kadam explains that the public's reception to the launch in 2011 was "lukewarm" at best.
"Many would get excited to hear words such as user interaction, user behaviour, analytics, usability patterns and all what we had to say about UX and Usability and the user-centric approach towards digital. However, most of them were used to stock standard ways set by other digital agencies. The larger part of our initial two years went in educating people we met about these concepts and trying to stick to our core offerings," Kadam revealed.
There were times when both Kadam and Mistry wondered if they should give-in and do what every other 'digital agency' was doing. However, they soon started seeing that clients and the market were actually warming up to the new concepts. Since then, it has been a fruitful journey, they say.
The results of their services also speak for themselves, Kadam notes. A UX overhaul to a hotel booking engine that they worked on increased booking revenue by eight per cent; while a digital transformation of a real estate brand increased leads by 38 per cent and reduced call centre call volumes by 24 per cent.
"The biggest challenge we had was ourselves and our approach," Kadam reveals. "We wanted to be different and wanted to bring in practices and services that the region was just still warming up to. So in that sense, it was a hurdle we had to cross by educating and constantly sticking to what we wanted to do - bringing in a user-centric approach to overall digital offerings."
Challenges also arose when it came to hiring talent. Rather than hiring talent from outside the region, RBBi chose to scout talent in the region. "With our experience in the region, we knew that set methodologies that may work everywhere may not work without being adapted relevantly; so we groomed fresh talent here right on the job," Kadam says.
Another hurdle was funding. "We raised a seed round in 2013 at a valuation of $1.5 million, by simply looking at the digital potential in the UAE," Kadam says. "But this was four years back, and the business reality today is different. For now, we are not looking at divesting our stakes, however we are open to any discussions which are more strategic in nature."
He added: "We considered investment looking at the increasing demand for measurable user centric digital services in the market, our need to grow the team and infrastructure and the planned expansion of the service portfolio. Our track record, our position of being the only UX and Usability firm and a well rounded future strategy were the main points of consideration for our investors."
Devesh Mistry, co-founder of RBBi, looks back on how the startup went from just two friends working together to a company that now boasts 45 of the top digital professionals working together. "The biggest learning that we have got in our journey is the courage to say no to things you don't believe in. Things you think are going to divert you from your core path and your values. It's very easy to get distracted, but I feel we should stick to our core and what we do best."
Cultivate talent, stay ahead of your competition
A good work culture that allows for a proper work-life balance is invaluable, notes Devesh Mistry, co-founder of RBBi.
"We never tried to force a culture on ourselves. We let the fusion of different cultures, mindsets and people form this culture on its own and all we did was to nurture it with our core values," he reveals. "We believe in creating leaders, and our next level of leadership is being brewed from within. For our key business pillars, we are harnessing our talent pool with strategic leadership growth."
Staying ahead in a highly competitive market should also be a goal for any firm. "The market is growing rapidly in digital and we want to grow as a digital consultancy firm that is always aligned to this growth."
- rohma@khaleejtimes.com

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