Home >Companies >News >Reverse pitch | Large opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs to build BPO 2.0: Harshjit Sethi
Harshjit Sethi, vice-president, Sequoia Capital
Harshjit Sethi, vice-president, Sequoia Capital

Reverse pitch | Large opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs to build BPO 2.0: Harshjit Sethi

Robotic process automation firms are among the fastest growing firms in the enterprise sector globally and the market is poised to grow to $3billion in 2021 from $250 million in 2016

The 2000s saw the business process outsourcing (BPO) boom in India. Many young graduates flocked to the relatively well-paying jobs at call centres and back offices of multinationals. While the industry growth has slowed over the past few years, following increasing competition from countries such as the Philippines, the BPO sector in India is still estimated to be $20-30 billion. However, with the advancement in automation and, more recently, in artificial intelligence, the sector is at a crossroads. The labour arbitrage that favoured India is diminishing with the rise of software “bots" that can replace workers to perform repetitive tasks at cheaper rates. Robotic process automation firms are among the fastest growing firms in the enterprise sector globally and the market is poised to grow to $3 billion in 2021 from $250 million in 2016, an increase of 12 times! I believe there is a large opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs to build the next iteration of the BPO industry through software that automates many back-office operations and increases productivity of employees in the space: Think offerings such as automation of data transfer between systems, automating quality assurance, or improving time to serve client requests by automating responses or auto-suggesting responses to agents. One challenge that Indian enterprise software firms targeting global markets face is the physical distance between the founders and their first few customers. This slows down the product building process in the early years and is a major structural disadvantage for Indian firms vis-à-vis their Silicon Valley counterparts. However, in the case of back office automation, Indian founders are on a strong footing. End users are around them, as are customers. This should enable new teams to have a much richer understanding of the underlying issues and build a world-class solution.

Reverse Pitch is like a normal investors pitch, but the roles are reversed; that means the start-up doesn’t present its business to investors, but investors and companies pitch their business concept, challenges and the like to start-ups.

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