On Failing Fast and Making it Count
The 2021 FIS Fintech Accelerator follows five highly successful programs produced by FIS and The Venture Center. This year’s Accelerator will be conducted entirely virtually. In our FIS Fintech Accelerator Founder Feature series, we’re peeling back some layers and getting to know the 2021 cohort founders. We hope you enjoy hearing from the cohort companies – be sure and save the date for Demo Day on August 26!
For our next Founder Feature, please meet Yamini Bhat, Co-Founder of Vymo. Vymo is an intelligent personal sales assistant.
Founder Feature Q&A for Vymo Co-Founder Yamini Bhat
Q: Where did the idea for Vymo originate?
A: Prior to Vymo, I was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey, where I specialized in Marketing and Sales strategy.
We would spend six months devising a great strategy, about six months to a year executing it and training every person on the ground, and in that time frame most of the team would have churned and even the market context would have changed. And that was so frustrating!
It was clear that to have a real, tangible impact on sales, the solution had to be mobile, contextual, and proactive. Thus, Vymo was born.
Q. What problem is Vymo solving?
A. Organizations suffer from a lack of visibility into their sales and distribution channels. And because of this lack of visibility, they’re not able to build playbooks for running their business and improving predictability.
Our vision is to help salespeople all over the world ‘do more.’ With the help of our Vymo, we want salespeople everywhere to be able to perform 10x better every year. Going forward, rote tasks like entering data into a CRM should not be something that salespeople concern themselves with. They should be able to focus on interacting with customers and building better relationships.
Q. What has been the most difficult part of building this business?
A. As we were first-time founders, the biggest hurdle to cross was the fact that everything was new. Building the product, perfecting the sales pitch, recruiting the right kind of people, all of these were fresh experiences.
And with this exposure to new experiences, came the really difficult part of saying no to things. We bet on certain areas to focus on, and said no to a lot of easy opportunities. But believing in our decisions at that point is what has brought us to where we are today.
Q. Was there ever a time when you wanted to give up? If so, how did you overcome that feeling?
A. Not really. The journey does have really intense highs and lows, and that can often be tiring. People build companies because they don’t want to work for anyone else, but can often underestimate just how hard it hits you when something doesn’t work as you planned.
It’s a part of the job however, and there is a quote I read somewhere which changed my perspective on how to overcome this feeling. “When you get tired or overwhelmed, learn to rest. Not quit.” That rest has been built into how I work and operate now.
Q. What is your philosophical approach to trying to find a work/life balance?
A. I had a child around the same time we founded Vymo. This taught me the need to push for clarity and prioritization in both places.
“What do I want to get done? Where am I important? What are the things that I need or don’t need to do? Where can I delegate?”
It taught me how to focus on something and see it through, and give complete clarity to somebody who needs to execute. Rather than just remove the immediate bottleneck.
This has really helped me manage that balance better, along with essential things like taking breaks every quarter and staying completely disconnected on weekends. I also take a couple of short vacations every year.
Q. Who is your favorite entrepreneur and why?
A. I really like Mark Benioff. The way he built Salesforce; utter clarity with which he went behind the cloud story; turned it into something mainstream; how he layered different capabilities to build a platform; how he built use cases for different product lines.
And most importantly, how he managed to convert the CRM space, which was a decent category, into the largest revenue category in software today with Salesforce being one of the highest valued companies in the space.
Q. Tell us about a time you failed (at anything!) and what you did to use that failure to learn.
A. When you are a founder, 9/10 things you try may end in failure. I think going in with the mindset that you’re going to fail fast and often, but also that you will learn quickly from each failure and rapidly scale is essential.
I don’t believe failure is something negative. I’m sure I still fail at things, but what’s important is that I learn from it and keep moving forward.
Q. What’s the best book you have ever read, and why?
A. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series. I had just decided to leave McKinsey, and was still in the planning phase in terms of what Vymo would be about.
The series is a science fiction space opera. The reason I really love this series is that all the things Asimov talks about could end up happening. We may go out and terraform new planets to make them habitable, and end up becoming an interplanetary species. We’ve always done things that, at a certain point in the past, seemed impossible.
What it made me realize is that whatever I pick today may or may not matter dramatically in the grand scheme of things. The important thing is to create value for whoever you identify as your customer, to be able to keep your promise to a team that trusts you, and to be able to enjoy your work every day.
Today is far more valuable than the theoretical future we plan to build. That change in perspective helped me get rid of a lot of the stress I had been putting on myself to get everything precisely right as I built this company.
Q. Who has been your most influential mentor?
A. This is a difficult question because I have many mentors. About 20% of the growth and learning I have experienced has been through senior professionals at McKinsey and professors from college.
But the remaining 80% has been through my team at Vymo. With every single person I have hired personally, I have looked for a skill set that I was lacking. And when they come in, they teach me how to do something 10x better than I would’ve been able to.
Q. What did you decide to apply for the FIS Fintech Accelerator, and what do you hope to gain from it?
A. We were introduced to The Venture Center through a mutual colleague and learned of their ICBA Accelerator last year. We were impressed with Daniel, his team, and the mentorship provided. As an enterprise SAAS solution, we realized our capabilities aligned more strategically with the FIS Program. Our goals are three-fold: business development, ecosystem connections, and industry knowledge.
Q. Give us your #1 piece of advice!
A. “Make it count” – I don’t believe we need to always be doing something to do good work. Somebody could be lazy 90% of the time, but if they make that remaining 10% really count in terms of effort, that is usually what matters.