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Building The UK’s Fastest Growing AI Company

Raj Kaur Khaira


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Building The UK’s Fastest Growing AI Company

Raj Kaur Khaira



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Raj Kaur Khaira
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About Raj Kaur Khaira

The BAE HQ welcomes Raj Kaur Khaira, Co-Founder and Deputy CEO of AutogenAI

Today’s guest is Raj Kaur Khaira, who is the co-founder of AutogenAI, which is the UK's fastest growing AI company, which specialises in helping people to write tenders in minutes rather than days.

At the time of recording, Raj is the COO, who's now become the deputy CEO and then also announced her series B round of around $40 million. Raj is incredibly multi-talented and she's also published author, a lawyer and also founded the Pink Ladoo Project and South Asian Therapist.org.

In this episode, we've run through her journey, all that she has essentially learned and I'm sure it will inspire you in your own career.

Raj Kaur Khaira

Show Notes

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Raj Kaur Khaira Full Transcript

Raj Kaur Khaira: [00:00:00] they're spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year just writing bids. And so we have produced a tool that helps these companies write better bids in less time. And I was doing a bit of everything, but it was all problem solving. And it was all with a view to making the business run like a machine, figuring the system out.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And I fell in love with it. And after that, I was like, this is what I want to do. This is who I am.

Amardeep Parmar: Today's guest is Raj Kaur Khaira, who's the co founder of Autogen AI, which is the UK's fastest growing AI company. Which specializes in helping people to write tenders in minutes rather than days. At the time of recording, Raj is the COO. She's now become the deputy CEO and they've also announced a series B round of around 40 million dollars.

Amardeep Parmar: Raj is incredibly multi talented. And she's also a published author, a lawyer, and also founded the Pink [00:01:00] London Project and SouthAsianTherapists.org. In this episode, we run through her journey, all the lessons she's learned, and I'm sure it will inspire you in your own career. I'm Amar, and we're the Bae HQ.

Amardeep Parmar: And we inspire, connect, and scale British Asian entrepreneurs. And this podcast is powered by HSBC, Innovation Banking. Please help us make a bigger impact by subscribing. Enjoy the episode. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you've done so much amazing work throughout your life. Thank you. But growing up, what were your ambitions? What did you want to be?

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's funny because growing up I had multiple ambitions, so I've always wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be an actress from a very early age and I sustained at least the interest in acting by doing an A level in drama, et cetera. But in parallel, I also wanted a quote unquote serious career. And the first career I really wanted was I was desperate to be a dentist, you know, from the age of about 12 to maybe 17, I just madly wanted to be a dentist like nothing [00:02:00] else.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And then I wanted to be a doctor for a long time. So those were my like childhood ambitions. You know, acting and then in parallel, something very medical and science related. 

Amardeep Parmar: What was the  driver behind the medical side of things? Was it your own beliefs or was it people in the community? Because obviously doctor is such a prestigious job that many people listening, probably their parents, want them to become doctors.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I think it's, you know, there's multiple elements. So the first one is I've always loved science. I did science all the way through to A level. I did all science A levels. I did a science degree, you know, I've got an undergraduate in biology. I've, I absolutely love biology. So I was very interested in it.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And I don't come from an educated family. I don't, you know, I come from a blue collar background. Truth be told, I just didn't know what jobs existed. I was like, okay, well, if I want to help people and I like science. Doctor's what I can do. You know, I didn't realize that there were other options available, and I think that also heavily informed the types of decisions I made at that age.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Obviously, then as I got older [00:03:00] and went to university and realized there were lots more things that I could do, I decided I didn't want to be a doctor anymore. But yeah, that's, that's where it came from. The love of biology and also the idea of wanting to help people and make a change.

Amardeep Parmar:So you  obviously have done that throughout your life, but from biology, where did you then go to there?

Amardeep Parmar: Cause you didn't, from what I remember, you didn't then go to become a doctor, right? 

Raj Kaur Khaira: No. So I went to university in Canada and in Canada and America, you can do something called a double major, which is a bit like a dual degree. So I have always been interested in systems. and how things work. And the two systems that I feel are most relevant to me are, one is my body, so I did biology, and the second one is politics.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So that's the system of how the world works and the world that we live in. So I also did a political science degree in parallel. And it was during that degree that I was like, actually, I much prefer Language and arguing and debate and the idea of change through social reform. And again, having very limited ideas of what kinds of careers were available.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I was like, Ooh, I can [00:04:00] do that by being a lawyer. And then, you know, there's a longer story around that. It was obviously I eventually became a lawyer and I realized that if you want to influence large scale social change. There's many other ways in which you can do that. And so I obviously do that now, side of desk, through the Pink Ladoo Project and my books and other things.

Raj Kaur Khaira: But um, that was kind of where the ideas came from. I've always, I've always been a big believer in change and social reform and systems, and I think it comes from moving to Canada at a young age because I had the very fortunate vantage point of knowing that a different life is possible. So I grew up in the UK with an NHS and then I moved to Canada where they didn't have that kind of system and it taught me from a very young age that the world that you live in isn't a foregone conclusion.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And different systems and lives are possible, but you get there through reform and campaigning and mass social change. 

Amardeep Parmar: One of the interesting things that I saw earlier as well with somebody is that so many people who have been on this podcast [00:05:00] have either been born abroad or lived abroad for a long time.

Amardeep Parmar: And I think that really like shows that, like I said, you show, you see different systems. You see, oh, this was better in this country and this is better in this country. And it shows you those different options and really like trying to work out like, why have so many people have that experience? And it's obviously true for you too.

Amardeep Parmar: And you said how that insight was like, well, why don't we have this? And it's the idea that things can be better than they are. 

Raj Kaur Khaira: Yeah. And that they can be different, right? And I think when you're young and you, if you grew up in one place, you just. I don't know if you get exposed to that in the same way.

Raj Kaur Khaira: You probably learn it at a much later age, but I learned it very, very early. You know, through the benefit of moving abroad.

Amardeep Parmar: And you obviously said that you decided that being a lawyer wasn't the best way for kids to make an impact, but do you think still that being a lawyer taught you a lot of skills that were useful later in your life because obviously there's gonna be some people listening right now who are lawyers who are thinking, is this right for me?

Amardeep Parmar: Is this not right for me? But did you learn great skills from that or not?  

Raj Kaur Khaira: I learned a lot from my [00:06:00] years working in a corporate law firm. I can't say that being a lawyer or doing a law degree taught me much. I think the skills that I call on most heavily and called on most heavily in my legal work were all of my, the things that science taught me.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So first principles thinking, um, always reflecting on causality versus correlation, looking at, you know, uh, doing a lot of root cause analysis, being heavily analytical, that is the stuff that I draw on every single day. And that is the stuff that I drew on heavily in my legal career. It's also, it's interesting because people would say, you know, how did you learn to write like a lawyer?

Raj Kaur Khaira: Actually, legal writing and scientific writing is very similar. It has to be very direct, has to be very clear. Often it has to be very succinct, regardless of what you might feel about lawyers writing things that are longer than they need to be. And so you know, when I was writing things as a lawyer, I would often call on my training from doing lab reports, you know, as a [00:07:00] biology student in terms of when I was figuring out or deciding how to communicate a particular point or how to structure an argument or how to, you know, illustrate something.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So. I can't say that actually being a lawyer taught me all that much. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's one of the interesting points as well, because I know there's something you're passionate about too, is that that side of debating that you were able to learn from science and from law, it has made such a difference in people's careers, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And one of the big differences for some people who maybe weren't born in a privileged environment, they didn't get taught that rhetoric and how to make their arguments and their points clearly. And I know that different organizations are trying to really help that because it's a big difference maker, I think.

Amardeep Parmar: And obviously, because you've got that skill, that's opened up so many doors in your career. But you mentioned as well briefly about the Pink Ladoo Project and your books as well. So we're going to focus on Autogen AI later for a lot of this, but for the audience who aren't aware of that, what is that?

Amardeep Parmar: What is the Pink Ladoo Project?

Raj Kaur Khaira: Well, before we move on to that, I think what you said before is really interesting about public versus state education and the idea of debate. And one of my very good friends, Dr. Emma Taylor, [00:08:00] she did a PhD at LSE and she actually did it in this concept of confidence is the differentiator.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And she did a whole sort of PhD thesis on how confidence is taught and inculcated into children in the private paid school setting versus the public setting and how that goes on to be the thing that really sets them apart. So I think, yeah, you've nailed something there. Uh, the Pink Ladoo Project is a passion project of mine.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I, I'm a firm believer in equal rights and gender equality. And again, you know, borrowing from my scientific background, I was very annoyed and frustrated by the poor treatment of women. And I did a lot of thinking around where does this come from? When I was doing my sort of root cause analysis, trees and all of that stuff, it's like, okay, women are treated badly because there's this idea that women are inferior.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Where did this idea that women are inferior take hold? I personally believe that one of the ways it [00:09:00] took hold is through sexist custom and tradition. Because sexist custom and tradition promotes the idea that women are inferior through this weird intergenerational propaganda and then they are treated poorly based on that idea.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And so I thought if I really want to improve the situation of women, we need to get to the root cause. And the first sexist custom that you will experience as a South Asian is the custom of a girl's birth being ignored while a boy's birth is celebrated. So for me, I thought, why not just start there?

Raj Kaur Khaira: Plus the call to action is very simple, right? Like it's very different if you're telling people to celebrate their daughters versus if you're saying educate your girls or give up dowry. That can feel, I'm not saying it is preachy, but it can feel preachy. And you're asking people to give something up.

Raj Kaur Khaira: They're like, why should I give up dowry? I want this money. But there's no exchange when it comes to celebrating your daughter. You're not giving anything up. You're just doing something that's very simple. And so I thought, actually, this call to action is quite potent. And there was a big element of faking it till I made it right.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I [00:10:00] was like, I know brown people. We copy each other. We've all been to the first wedding that had a nice sculpture. And then every wedding after that, I had a nice sculpture and a chocolate fountain. You're laughing because I feel like you've experienced this. So I thought if I can get one family to celebrate their daughter's birth, I bet you anything, I will put money on it, that all other Asian families will follow.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And that's kind of what happened. It was also the the advent of virality on like things like Facebook and Instagram. And I just really capitalized on that. I convinced a few families to celebrate their daughters with Pink Ladoo, shared pictures of it wildly in September 2015. And then within four months, Pink Ladoo were the best selling sweet in Indian sweet shops across Canada, US, Australia, and the UK.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So it was, it was, that was the thesis that if I can show that people are doing it. People will do it and it's funny, isn't it? Because it's chicken and egg. And that's a lot of how marketing works buf you can just tap into that element of how people think, I think you can really nudge their behavior and [00:11:00] influence their thinking and hopefully change the world.

Amardeep Parmar: Absolutely. And I just think we're passionate about as well, in terms of, because there's one element I think of what we're doing is we're showcasing great South Asian female role models, right? And that's for women to be able to see people who look like them, who do incredible things. But another big part of it as well, I think behind the scenes is it's normalizing it so that men keep seeing incredible female entrepreneurs.

Amardeep Parmar: So it's no longer a weird thing to them or no longer like, Oh, that person's done well, considering they're a woman. They just see so many examples that it doesn't even become a consideration anymore. So that's one of the ways we're trying to fight the unconscious bias by keep showcasing people like you.

Amardeep Parmar: It's like, there's actually like so many female entrepreneurs who've done incredible things. You're, if you sleep on them and you don't like pay attention to what they're doing, you're losing out. You might lose that investment. You might not be able to do what you think is right. Because you're not paying attention to what's going on in that aspect as well.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I  think female exceptionality. Oh, that's not the right word. [00:12:00] So women being exceptional was something that was never a surprise to me as a child. I grew up around exceptional women. My grandmother raised us. She was the single mother of three in India in the fifties and sixties. And she was formidable, you know, so I never grew up thinking women can't do what men can cause I saw them do it.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Plus she was like six foot tall, you know, so there was never this idea that women are meek either because she wasn't meek, she was massive. And so for me, it's never really been about capability as much as it's been about worth. There is the capability thing ‘cause I accept that whilst it wasn't an issue for me, it is for many, but for me, it was always about worth.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I always kind of grew up knowing that I might be as capable as my brother, and I might go on to do whatever he does, but I will never quite be as worthy as him. If we both die in a car accident, his death will be perceived as a bigger tragedy than mine, because he's the only son. And [00:13:00] that is something that I think never leaves you because you can deal with the capability thing quite easily.

Raj Kaur Khaira: You know, you showcase people like me and Dimple Patel and others, and you know, there's books about these kinds of things now, but that worthiness thing is something that is much more difficult. And…. It is very intimately linked to things like not celebrating your daughters at birth, because we achieve, we celebrate women for their achievements, but men for their existence.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And that's a big thing.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's, to be honest, that's how I initially heard of you is through the Pink Ladoo Project. And I can never say that word properly. My mum always makes fun of me. So I'm not going to say that again. But it's me being whoa. I'd have been like early twenties, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And you could see this online, right? And I just saw so many people sharing it and I've got two sisters. So for me, again, it was never a thing where I'm pretty sure I'm not the favorite, but it's the idea that I grew up around strong female people as well but it's like you said, we see so many other families which don't have that

Amardeep Parmar: [00:14:00] mentality and thinking about how we can solve that problem for them and to, like you said, highlight this issue that is really important.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's not just a family issue either. This is like a big global social problem, right? I mean, we still do not have enough women in parliament. Women are sort of mistreated in the medical sphere.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Medicine, biology, law are all biased against women. Data is biased. Anybody just needs to go and read Invisible Women by Uh, Caroline Criado Perez, and you'll see that the world really is set up for men by men, right? So this is not a uniquely South Asian issue. Gender bias is not a uniquely South Asian problem.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So I think even though your sisters might not feel it in your family. I'd argue that they probably feel it everywhere else. They would have internalized messages about women's inferiority at school, you know, in literature, on TV, magazines, movies, music, science, art, like all of these things are constantly communicating this message, sometimes directly, sometimes subtly, that women are [00:15:00] inferior to men.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So even if you deal with it in your home sphere, you will still ingest that elsewhere. So that's kind of what I say to people that the world is heinous. You know, like you need to celebrate your daughters, even if everything is fine in your house, because you cannot repeat that message to women enough that they are worthy because the world is constantly trying to undo that from them and take that away.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And so, yeah, I think even though your household and your family might be equal, it'd be interesting to see the way other ways in which your sisters might have internalized these messages. 

Amardeep Parmar: Hey everyone, we hope you're enjoying this episode so far. A quick note from our sponsors who make this all possible from first time founders to the funds that back them innovation needs different.

Amardeep Parmar: HSBC Innovation banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses. Creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at HSBCinnovationbanking. [00:16:00] com. Back to the show. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned there as well, books, right?So you've obviously written a book yourself. Can you tell us about that?

Raj Kaur Khaira: So I've written two books. One is called Stories for South Asian Supergirls. It's a collection of biographies of notable South Asian women. For me, it's really important that we sort of oppose the media's narrative that South Asian women are weak and need rescuing because we are not weak and we do not need rescuing.

Raj Kaur Khaira: We all hail from, um, a lineage of very strong, capable, independent, successful, strong willed women. I think it's really important that young children have a resource like that to access so that they can access their own history in a decolonized semi unbiased way. My second book is a bit more playful.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's a children's picture book called The Night the Reindeer Saved Christmas. And that is a story with a diverse, you know, Santa team. So Mr and Mrs Claus are diverse, as are all the elves. And it teaches Children about the fact that Santa's [00:17:00] reindeer are actually female because only female reindeer have their antlers in winter.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So therefore, all the reindeer that pull Santa's sleigh

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. That's a..I didn't  know there. So that's, that's pretty cool.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's a classic example of women doing all the work and a guy getting all of it.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And the guy, the guy sitting at the back just like getting pulled along.We mentioned, if we pick up with your career there, so obviously you had the law career and then..

Amardeep Parmar: Now you're leading this massive company. There's some steps in between there and like fill us in on that journey. Like, how did you get from being a lawyer to now running this company?

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's so funny because things make sense in hindsight, don't they? Like Steve Jobs, even though I'm not a Steve Jobs fan says that the, the, the dots connect in retrospect.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Right. And I. couldn't get a legal job when I graduated. I graduated in the financial crisis. So I was like, what am I going to do? And I went and got a job at Accenture as an analyst, as most people do. And I worked there for some time until I was made an offer by a corporate law firm in London. And I think my time at [00:18:00] Accenture really taught me that what I love actually is getting shit done.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I'm a completer finisher. I'm a heavily analytical person. I love looking at problems and figuring out a way through, but I didn't really know this about myself yet because I only ever really took Accenture so that I could become a lawyer somewhere else. And it wasn't until I was at the law firm and I was doing this and I was like, I don't, this isn't my thing.

Raj Kaur Khaira: The only thing I could see myself really doing here is litigation and they don't want me and all the other stuff doesn't interest me. So I really don't want to do this. And I actually, actually just like stumbled into my first role outside of law, working for Sean, who is incidentally, I'm the co founder now of his business.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And he, he had just started his first business, Corndel. And I just had a coffee with him and he just said, you seem smart. I need smart people. Can you just come and be a generalist, do a bit of everything. And it was amazing because one week I was working on HR stuff. Next week, I was looking at finance.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Next week, I was looking at, [00:19:00] How are we going to onboard our clients when we get them? What does our sales strategy look like? And I was doing a bit of everything, but it was all problem solving. And it was all with a view to making the business run like a machine, figuring the system out. And I fell in love with it.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And after that, I was like, this is what I want to do. This is who I am. And so I left that business after a year and I went on to do the same thing for fast growth, venture capital or private equity backed businesses in London and sort of across Europe, where I would go in and look at the business holistically and say, these are the things that I think are on fire.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And these are the reasons why I think you're not achieving whatever this target is. And come up with plans on how to fix it and then fix it. And I've done this for about 15 or 20 businesses over the last sort of five or six years. Last March, I had actually made the decision that I was going to stop. I was going to work on Pink Ladoo full time.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I, you [00:20:00] know, was going to work on South Asian therapist, which is like a side business, mental health directory. And, you know, I'd set up my life so that I could now work on my own projects and two days later, Sean Williams, uh, who's, you know, the, the founder I worked for the first startup messaged me saying, Hey, so I've sold Corndel, which is my first business, a millionaire.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Now I should be retiring, but I've got this AI thing in my head and I can't stop thinking about it. Do you want to come on board? And I'd always said of all the founders I've ever worked with, he's the only one I'd work for again. And it just felt like the universe saying to me. You've got one more in you and, um, here we are.

Amardeep Parmar: If we dive into that period a bit or for just like you going into these companies and transforming them, what are some of the things that you kept seeing that maybe some of the businesses or founders listening to this right now might be experiencing themselves? What are some of the common problems you saw that you were able to solve?

Raj Kaur Khaira: So, I mean, I, when I look at a business, I look across different functions. So, One of the main things I would see in product and engineering was a lot of [00:21:00] technical debt, where the teams had rushed things into production. They were not doing proper QA. They were not doing, you know, sort of proper testing.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And that led to a product that was very big, very inefficient, full of bugs. And, you know, just, just required a massive database just to run. So a lot of technical debt. I would also see teams not being commercial enough about how to decide what product features to try and build next. I've worked with a lot of CEOs who were very reactive and just wanted to chase the big shiny thing in front of their faces.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And the product was constantly pivoting. And then you end up with the situation that you've got this Frankenstein that you're trying to sell that just doesn't really make sense. It's kind of become too bespoke for too many big clients. And now you've ended up with five bespoke products, as opposed to one thing you can sell everybody with add ons.

Raj Kaur Khaira: That's what I would see. In the marketing function and sales, I would often see a very poor [00:22:00] marketing strategy where there just wasn't enough focus. The channels weren't being approached properly. There wasn't enough sort of analysis being done on return on investment. Nobody was really monitoring where the leads were coming from, if they're paying off, that kind of thing.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And I could talk you through every single department. But I think, you know, this would be like an hour long podcast just on that. So there are certain things. And I always say that I never worked for any exceptional startups. Like I never worked other than Corndel. I never worked for any that were like, we're the next Stripe or we're the next this.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I've worked for a lot of businesses who did things very, very badly. So it taught me what not to do. And it taught me all the mad ways in which people do it wrong. And personally, I think that's actually maybe more valuable than working for one or two startups that do it perfectly, because there is more than one way of doing things right.

Raj Kaur Khaira: But you also need to know what can happen if you do things in certain other ways that could be disastrous for the business. 

Amardeep Parmar: So tell us what AutogenAI actually does, like explain the product for us.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So I always joke now that we are a very [00:23:00] unsexy application of a very sexy technology. So we take the technology of large language models

Raj Kaur Khaira: and text producing AI and we apply it to the very real business problem of writing bids, tenders and proposals. So lots of, you know, governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on government contracts, right? If you want to change all the light bulbs in every NHS hospital, how do you do it?

Raj Kaur Khaira: You put out a tender. You ask people to respond to your tender and tell you why you should buy all your light bulbs from them. And so companies will respond to these tenders and they spend like hundreds of millions of pounds a year producing these bids with the hope that they might win one of these contracts.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's very, very boring, but it's very, very lucrative. So companies like KPMG, Capita, Wait, they're spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year. just writing bids. And so we have produced a tool that helps these companies write better bids in less [00:24:00] time. So obviously that means that you win more work and you win more work more efficiently.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And the idea is that that will revolutionize your business. And we're already seeing this in some of our clients who've like doubled their revenue. They've been writing their bids with AutoGenAI and it's allowed them to, you know, double or triple what they bid for and then double what they actually win.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And, you know, it's having serious impact on their revenues. So that's what we do. Like I said, it's a very unsexy application of a very sexy tech, but look, bids are the most technical piece of business writing. And when we looked at text producing AI, we were like, businesses will pay for this, but businesses will only pay for this

Raj Kaur Khaira: if it's solving an expensive problem. And if it's, if you can apply it to a piece of writing that is absolutely business critical. So bid writing is business critical because it is writing that actually produces revenue. And it is very, very expensive to write [00:25:00] a bid because the human hours that are required are insane.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So that's what we do. Uh, we raised our Series A in July. We didn't need it, but VCs came a knocking and I guess you don't say no when that happens, but we are the fastest growing AI business in the UK. We are working with enterprise level customers across the U. S., Australia and Europe. We've just opened a U.S. office

Raj Kaur Khaira: with a U. S. CEO and an Australian office with an Australian CEO. So it's going gangbusters really. 

Amardeep Parmar: When you got that call, right? So to get those kinds of clients must be, I would expect, really difficult, right? Because you've got to convince somebody like KPMG, these huge organizations, to use the software by a startup, somebody right at the beginning.

Amardeep Parmar: How do you go about that? What were the first steps you took once you got that call to start everything up and to get to where you are today? 

Raj Kaur Khaira: So bid  writing is really interesting. So Sean, who's the founder of the business, he comes from a bid writing background. One of his previous careers, he was a bid writer and then he [00:26:00] won these bids and then he was like the MD and, you know, he's delivering these contracts and everybody knows everybody in public procurement, you know, it, it seems like a big world to us, but it's actually very small.

Raj Kaur Khaira: So they all know each other. They all trust each other. They've all got little black books with everybody's details in them. So I think it's who, you know, so all, a lot of our early Australian clients came through word of mouth, actually, where I was literally sat with Sean and his phone rang and someone said, I've heard you're selling this tool to such and such.

Raj Kaur Khaira: We want a demo. And I was like, Sean. What? And he was like, yeah, it's just word of mouth. Like, cause they all talk. They all want to know what their competitors are up to. I think with selling an enterprise level AI tool to somebody like KPMG, security is paramount. So one thing is that our tool is secure.

Raj Kaur Khaira: Privacy and security is one of our biggest priorities. And the second thing is. We have built a tool that intimately understands and relates to the problem that they have. We're not a generic marketing tool that you can also spin into bid writing. Bid writing is heavily [00:27:00] technical. It's very scientific.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It has, you know, everything that you say has to be evidenced. And we have built a tool that specifically allows you to do all of those things. So we believe that by solving for the most complicated writing problem, you capture all the business cases underneath it. So like marketing, HR, law, you can't go the other way around.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And we've seen this play out with some of our clients who were working with some big providers on bespoke AI products, and they, you know, they just come back to us and say, actually yours is better. I mean, some of the first people that we hired in the business were bid writers and they were sat in a room telling us what product development should look like.

Raj Kaur Khaira: We weren't just, you know, sort of developing this product in a silo, developing the product we wanted. We were developing the product that bid writers wanted. And that's why it's been easy for us to sell. We've never demoed the product to anyone who didn't understand the value of it straight away. 

Amardeep Parmar: So I don't know if you know this.

Amardeep Parmar: We've got a job board on the website. So I see all of the AutogenAI jobs that come in. So it's in [00:28:00] every newsletter we send. It's got, cause like you said, it's one of the ones which we've seen where you've always got jobs available and it's part of the reason of you growing as fast as you are. So it's funny for me cause I can, I see that every week I'm like, oh, they've been nuts another job.

Amardeep Parmar: Oh, they're hiring for this now. Well, if that approach is like, which is the bit that you enjoy the most? ‘Cause like you said, you've had these different roles at different organizations now in this like massively growing company. Which part of it are you loving the most? 

Raj Kaur Khaira: Oh, that's such a good question. I..

Raj Kaur Khaira: Look, I go where the fires go, that's naturally who I am. I think chief operating officers, we are the people in the organization wielding the fire extinguisher, right? And we sit across the business. So the thing that I love the most is finding problem and then solving it. And that's really where my sweet spot is.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And I often joke with Sean that ultimately for me, this is my corner shop and we're selling potatoes and I need to make sure we're doing that well, we're doing it properly that we're doing the accounts properly that, you know, all the potato sellers are happy and all of that. And so to [00:29:00] me, that's the best part of it.

Raj Kaur Khaira: No two days are the same, you know. It's just a continually evolving beast. My husband often laughs that, you know, he, he sort of sat with me one day, I was working in the kitchen and he just heard all the calls that I was doing. He's like, today you have solved a payroll fire. You have figured out how to deliver training, uh, for a unique enterprise level client and come up with a completely new training plan and you have,

Raj Kaur Khaira: you know, devised, um, different marketing strategy for a, you know, a different subset of potential prospects. Like that's literally what every day is like. It's completely different every single day. And I love that. I, I'm not the type of person that would have been very good doing one role in one department, in one part of a big business.

Raj Kaur Khaira: I need to be helicopter across. And I just, you know, describe myself a bit like, bit like an emergency room doctor slash paramedic is that I..

Amardeep Parmar:  Have to go full circle. 

Raj Kaur Khaira: Yeah, right. And that I have to go where the [00:30:00] problems are and fix them with a view to an immediate solution, but also one eye on the long term future.

Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned before, some of the business you worked for before, they weren't necessarily the next stripe or something like that. From what you, how it's going so far, potentially this is the business that's going to be that next stripe or be that next Google, whatever it is. How, what are the problems you're facing at this company that you didn't face the other ones because of that sheer scale and how fast you're growing?

Raj Kaur Khaira: So we don't want to be the next strike. We want to be Excel for words and that's how we see it. Nobody in this world does numbers without Excel. Nobody in this world will do Autogen AI. for competitive, sorry, nobody in this world will do words for competitive business pros without Autogen AI. That's how we see it.

Raj Kaur Khaira: The challenges that we face today are, you know, the usual ones that you face when you have grown a business from like 30 people to 80 in six months. Culture, you know, retaining culture and delivering a good culture is a big [00:31:00] challenge. You have to be very deliberate about culture because culture builds itself in the absence of, you know, deliberate effort hiring and retaining

Raj Kaur Khaira: good, strong talent is, is difficult. And I think one thing that I think is not a challenge for us, but something that I keep my eye on is making sure people don't get too excited about fundraising. I have very cynical views about fundraising. I think it's cool. It's nice, but it's akin to getting a loan.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's not success in and of itself. Right. VCs allow you to execute against a much bigger vision that you might've had. You wanted to turn a dilapidated house on the street into a boutique hotel and a VC comes along and says, no, buy the whole street, turn it into a 300 bedroom thing, but the fact that they've given you money to turn it into a 300 bedroom thing, doesn't mean that you haven't got to go out and build the 300 bedrooms.

Raj Kaur Khaira: There's still a business to be delivered. There are still targets that you have to hit. There is still a whole journey to go on. And so for me, I think one of the [00:32:00] challenges is making sure that whilst the excitement about us in the press, sort of is fine and accepting that, making sure that the people in the business understand we still have a business to deliver and having 40 VC is very different to having 40 million in revenue, revenue and VC funding are not the same thing.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And, you know, you're given that money to build something, not just to make founders rich or go and have a big party and get loads of poop, you know, pool tables. And I think that is, it's very important to make sure that people don't get lost in the tech bro jargon. So that's one of the challenges now, but it's all fun and games.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's all part of the journey. 

Amardeep Parmar: So before we go into quick fire questions, you said there about the excitement isn't about the fundraising, right? And it completely agrees. It should be a means to an end, right? You're using it for a reason, but what does excite you? What is the thing that's exciting you now about the future?

Amardeep Parmar: 

Raj Kaur Khaira: Look, I've always been really excited about the idea of how do you get people to do what you want? And I don't mean on a one to [00:33:00] one level, I'm not interested in like one to one manipulation or negotiation, but I mean in a mass adoption sense, right? And so that's what I'm really excited by next is how do we get the world to open its eyes to what Autogen AI can do for its business and then take them on that journey?

Raj Kaur Khaira: I'm really fascinated by, you know, the attention economy. I'm really fascinated by how you persuade people to do things, you know, ads, marketing, all of that. And I think that's the one common thread through sort of all of my work is how do you influence people to do what you want? And that's what's really exciting me right now.

Raj Kaur Khaira: We've got this amazing opportunity ahead of us. Brilliant amount of resources to really run at it. And I just want to make sure that we convince as many people as possible to do the right thing, which is to buy Autogen AI. 

Amardeep Parmar: So  quick fire questions now. Really enjoyed this so far. Who are free British Asians you love to spotlight, you think you're doing  incredible work?

Raj Kaur Khaira:I love [00:34:00] Dimple Patel, I love, uh, Nav, is it Sawhney? 

Amardeep Parmar: Sawhney. Yeah.

Raj Kaur Khaira Sawhney.

Amardeep Parmar:  Um. I love if I said that wrong as well then. He'll be listening to this like. 

Raj Kaur Khaira: Um, and the third one, Satnam Sanghera. 

Amardeep Parmar: So can you explain for the audience who don't know who they are? What they do? 

Raj Kaur Khaira: 

Raj Kaur Khaira: Yep. So Dimple is a serial entrepreneur. She's probably one of the most entrepreneurial people I've ever met. She grew up on a council estate, worked in investment banking, then purchased a distressed coffee chain business. And through sheer genius, marketing, turned it around into a chain of like boutique coffee shops and sold it on.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And then I think she was the CEO of Trouva and now she's moved on also, but she's just brilliant. And she just really understands that idea of how can I give people what they want, like figuring out what do people want, figuring out how to give them that, but then also influencing what people want and those three things I find absolutely fascinating.

Raj Kaur Khaira: And she's exceptional at them. So [00:35:00] Nav runs the washing machine project, which is, um, he used to work for Engineers Without Borders and the washing machine project is a way of figuring out how to provide like. scalable, sustainable sanitation facilities for people around the world. So he basically has built, and this is such a reductive and horrible explanation, but it's, it's, it's a reflection of my poor understanding of the tech, not of, you know, the tech itself.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's like a barrel hand spun washing machine, uh, uses very little water, but he really believes in the idea of like people deserve to have dignity and a large part of having dignity is being able to live cleanly. And I really, I just really respect that. And he's been all around the world and taken, you know, uh, prototypes and also working versions of his technology to like refugee camps around the world.

Raj Kaur Khaira: It's life changing stuff. And then Satnam Sanghera is a Time's best selling author. He wrote the best selling book called Empire Land. He's just come out with Empire World. He's a columnist for the Times as well. [00:36:00] He wrote The Boy with the Topknot and I just love him because I think he's done such groundbreaking work on helping South Asians understand empire, but also helping British people understand why Britain is diverse and really driving home that point that we're here here because you were there and really helping people understand that Britain is only diverse because of all the colonies that it was in and you brought us here to do work and do other kinds of labor and I I just feel like he's fundamentally changed the conversation on Empire and imperialism and I just think he's brilliant.

Amardeep Parmar: Had the first one here and they're lovely. So I don't know Sathnam but I'm sure he's lovely too. So people listening right now want to Learn more about you, learn more about Autogen. ai, where should they go  to? 

Raj Kaur Khaira:If you want to learn more about Autogen. ai, you can follow us on Autogen. ai. on LinkedIn or visit the website autogen.ai. com

Raj Kaur Khaira:. If you want to learn more about the Pink Ladoo project, you can visit Pink Ladoo on Instagram. So that's P I N K L A D O O. If you want to learn about the books, you can visit southasiansupergirls. com [00:37:00] and have a look at the books.

Amardeep Parmar: So if people listening right now could potentially help you, is there anything that you need help with?

Raj Kaur Khaira: 

Raj Kaur Khaira: I'm hiring. I'm hiring. So good people know good people. So we always say, you know, apply yourself or encourage the good people that you know to apply. If you are a bid writer, if you work, you know, writing tenders and proposals or grants, get in touch. We can do a demo for you. Um, that's it really. That's what I need help with.

Amardeep Parmar: So  thanks so much for coming on today. Thanks. Have you got it? Any final words for the audience? 

Raj Kaur Khaira: No. 

Amardeep Parmar:  That's fine. You don't need to. 

Amardeep Parmar: Hello, hello, everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It means a huge amount to us. And we don't think you realize how important you are. Because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes a world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here, to inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asians, if you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission.

Amardeep Parmar: And you can help us make a bigger [00:38:00] impact. And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

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