In this insightful interview, we explore the entrepreneurial journey of Bhavin Shah, CEO and Founder of Moveworks. Bhavin delves into his Silicon Valley roots, detailing how early experiences, including a memorable encounter with Steve Wozniak, set him on the path to founding Moveworks. The conversation traverses through various stages of his career, from initial ventures in the gaming and toy industry to overcoming challenges in scaling an AI-centric enterprise. He shares his perspectives on fostering innovation, the importance of strategic partnerships, and the integration of AI into traditional business sectors. This interview offers a unique glimpse into the journey of a visionary leader shaping the future of enterprise AI solutions.
Hi Bhavin, could you share a moment early in your career that steered you towards entrepreneurship?
Certainly. Reflecting on my early career, I remember growing up in Silicon Valley, where foundational companies like Intel and Apple were emerging. This environment, especially with technology giants like Apple just a short distance from my home, instilled in me the belief that technology would be central to my career. The concept of starting a company seemed almost natural. An influential moment was when, in sixth grade, I had breakfast with Steve Wozniak at Apple. At that time, the significance of such an opportunity didn’t fully register with me. Initially, I didn’t begin my career by founding a company, but rather started in the toy industry. However, as I developed my own ideas, the path towards entrepreneurship in the B2B space became clear.
When you started developing these ideas, was there a specific process or approach that helped?
In my experience, having started three companies, the process becomes more structured and disciplined over time. You set higher standards for yourself and your ideas, leading to extensive research, market testing, and discussions with investors and potential users. This level of rigor is essential, though it can sometimes be a hindrance, as it makes you keenly aware of potential failures. But it’s necessary for ensuring the viability of your ideas.
With your background in toys and video games, how do you see these influencing the future of enterprise solutions?
My background in the gaming and toy industry has given me a profound understanding of user engagement and the importance of usability in software. Many enterprise solutions suffer from underutilization of features. At my company, Moveworks, we aim to transform traditional help desk models through enhanced interactivity and efficiency, focusing on user-friendly interfaces like chat. Our goal is to significantly reduce response times and increase productivity.
Could you discuss a major challenge you faced while scaling Moveworks and how you navigated it?
One of the primary challenges was the rapid advancement in AI technology and tools. Initially, we had to develop our own tools and systems for tasks like data annotation, which are now more readily available through third-party services. Another recent challenge is engaging with newly formed AI Councils in large enterprises, which can sometimes slow down the adoption of AI software. We’ve adapted by training our sales team to effectively communicate with these councils and align with their objectives.
In transitioning from Refresh to Moveworks, how did you ensure the lessons learned were integrated into the new venture?
The experience of building and selling a company is immensely educational. It teaches you about team management, product development, capital raising, and board management. These lessons become a part of your decision-making process in future ventures, guiding your strategies and interactions with investors and team members.
How do you foster innovation within your team at Moveworks?
We follow a philosophy where decision-making is delegated to those closest to the data or the customer. This approach allows for quicker innovation, as it empowers our engineers and product teams to act on insights without excessive hierarchical procedures. It’s about granting autonomy and trusting in the direct connection our team has with the product and the market.
Regarding partnerships, what do you look for in a partner, and could you share a success story?
In the context of Moveworks, our customers are akin to partners. They provide valuable feedback, helping us improve our product. We also have partnerships with technology firms and consulting agencies. A key partnership is with Microsoft, where our product integrates with Microsoft Teams. We provide them feedback, influencing their product features, while they support us with their platform.
What advice would you offer young entrepreneurs integrating AI into traditional business sectors?
Entrepreneurs should leverage AI’s current appeal to gain access to potential partners or customers. However, it’s crucial to focus on the tangible business value of AI innovations. We have a dedicated team that works with customers to articulate the business impact of our AI-driven automation, ensuring that our clients understand and can measure the benefits of our solution.
Is the task of demonstrating business value primarily the responsibility of your business service team, or is it integrated into the product?
It’s a combination of both. Our product includes dashboards and analytics that showcase its impact, such as workload management and issue resolution statistics. These insights are then used in our business presentations to further demonstrate the product’s value.
Could you discuss a time when a failure or a challenge provided significant insights or led to an unexpected opportunity?
Our expansion into international markets presented regulatory challenges, requiring us to invest heavily in security and compliance. This included obtaining certifications and setting up regional data centers to meet local data sovereignty requirements. These challenges were initially obstacles, but they have strengthened our security posture and broadened our market access.
What has been the most surprising lesson about user interaction with AI systems at Moveworks?
Human behavior in relation to technology can be unpredictable. We’ve observed that users may not always turn to our AI solution initially, despite previous successful interactions. However, over time, we see a pattern of increasing reliance on our AI bot, as users become more accustomed to its capabilities and convenience
How do you see Moveworks evolving in the next five years, particularly regarding conversational interfaces in the enterprise ecosystem?
Our vision for the next several years is to expand Moveworks as a central, company-level AI copilot. We’re enhancing our core products with large language models and other tools to enable more comprehensive and conversational interactions. Our goal is to become a platform where employees can find solutions across various functions and systems, making our AI bot a go-to resource for enterprise needs.