In this interview, Shailendra Singh, Founder and CEO of Samya.ai, discusses the motivation behind the company, CPG trends and challenges, and how we need to re-define demand-supply interactions. Prior to Samya.ai, Shailendra held board and senior management positions at companies such as Daksh, IBM, Markets and Markets, Mu Sigma, Golden Apple Foundation and advisory roles at Innovaccer and Sigmoid.

 

Could you tell us about your journey into the CPG market and Samya.ai? What galvanized you to start Samya.ai?

As an avid company builder, I was immediately struck by a business challenge and opportunity presented by Deepinder Dhingra, one of the co-founders: CPG companies are facing a perfect storm as they strive to anticipate demand in the face of increased complexity and volatility of their operations. To validate this premise and understand the key determining factors, we conducted in-depth interviews with over 100 CPG professionals, investors and large supply chain companies.

It’s estimated that CPG companies lose revenue growth potential of 8% to 10% and carry excess inventory of 10% to 15% due to operational complexities and inefficiencies. The inability to plan around increased complexity and volatility is costing the CPG industry over 150 billion US dollars every year. Traditional ERP, planning and forecasting systems have their strengths, but because these systems don’t learn, they can’t respond to all the demand factors they encounter. They simply weren’t designed to adapt to the complexity and volatility in today’s environment.

So, what if we could look at the demand-supply equilibrium differently? By applying advanced AI and machine learning methods at the intersection of demand and supply operations, we can create a common operating picture among sales, distribution, promotions and inventory. This enables the agility and demand anticipation CPG companies need to operate in an ever-changing demand landscape.

This what Samya.ai is all about. We’re creating interconnected, aware intelligence to give CPG companies the agility, speed and accuracy they need to recapture revenue growth opportunities at the intersection of demand and supply.

 

Tell us about your co-founders and initial team. What experience do they bring to Samya.ai?

In my experience, a successful co-founding team needs to have complete trust, enormous complementary capabilities, a shared sense of purpose and great chemistry. We have all that and more. There are three co-founders at Samya.ai and all of us bring complementary skills to the table.

Deepinder Dhingra, COO and CPO, comes with a strong software-as-a-service product background. He’s the best product leader, with in-depth experience in building innovative and successful companies. He’s also a long-term friend and colleague.

Pavan Palety, CCO is a former colleague of 10 years and family friend. He’s the best GTM leader that I’ve worked with or seen in my career, with a successful track record of sales leadership and operational excellence.

Because the co-founding team is very close, we’re able to keep each other in check. We have many healthy arguments which results in continued improvement and diversity of perspective. We were also lucky to hire a world class team and have a great deal of gratitude to them for trusting us as an early stage venture. Our early team comes from best in class technology, AI/ML and Fortune 100 companies and are not only best talent, but also very open in expressing their views and opinions.

We’re creating a very exciting culture at Samya.ai where we’re all learning from each other and are shareholders in the company. I feel personally responsible for building a world-class company not only for clients, investors and founders but also for this exceptional team. We’re creating something unique and purposeful. For us, having the opportunity to help customers generate revenue while contributing towards making the world better has been well worth leaving our previous roles.

 

What are some of the challenges that CPG companies face today, and how is Samya.ai uniquely placed to overcome them?

I mentioned earlier that we interviewed over 100 CPG professionals, investors and large supply chain companies to better understand the market challenges. CPG professionals cited that isolating the impact of promotions, price, and external factors such as weather, and pandemics as the greatest challenges they face today. Poor demand anticipation and forecasting translates to as much as 2.5 percent in lost revenue, and as much as 15 percent more in excess inventory. For individual CPG companies, that means tens of millions of dollars left on the table; for the industry, it adds up to billions of dollars in foregone revenue and stranded products.

In the face of this complexity, CPG companies are losing revenue growth opportunities and are highly dependent on traditional ERP, planning and forecasting systems, which as we discussed, are not designed to adapt to the complexity and volatility in today’s environment.

Samya delivers a new kind of AI, not just better demand forecasting. With an interconnected approach, we leverage external demand signals as well as signals from the core operational functions – sales and distribution, pricing and promotions, inventory and more – to understand the key levers and influencers of demand movement. Our AI-based system layers predictive and agile intelligence on top of planning functions. This enables the ability to continuously learn where plans are going wrong and to recommend actions that proactively adjust plans and forecasts.

This CPG purpose-built AI approach provides agile, forward-looking intelligence to anticipate the risks and opportunities that drive success.

 

Samya.ai has an impressive group of advisors and investment from Sequoia. How are you using this experience to develop an innovative and successful company?

Samya.ai is Sequoia’s lead investment in revenue growth AI for the CPG industry. As trusted advisors and mentors, they continue to invest in us while using their vast experience to help us push the boundaries of what’s possible.

We’ve also built an Advisory Board which includes distinguished CPG industry leaders and investors whose focus will be to shape and guide the strategy and go-to-market priorities of Samya, working closely with the leadership team. We’ve worked with many of these advisors on previous projects, which is a strong testament to the trust and belief they have in us, and their commitment to the success of our customers.

 

Tell us more about your vision of growing AI-driven revenue growth opportunities for CPG. How do you see Samya.ai growing and expanding in the future?

We’ve embarked on a bold vision to unlock revenue growth of 8-10 percent for CPG companies. To do this, we’ve built a Revenue Growth.ai engine and Dynamic Demand.ai application which will be released publicly this month. In the coming months, we will add Sales & Distribution.ai, Inventory.ai and Pricing & Promotions.ai – all operating on a common base of interconnected data and AI models for tangible, quantifiable benefits.

We will continue to leverage AI, machine learning and deep learning to address the challenges CPG companies face holistically. Our software anticipates potential sales, inventory and pricing risks, and funnels insights on supply and demand into one place to prevent loss in revenue and increase efficiency.

We’re currently running selective “proof of value” pilots with Fortune 500 companies and are seeing really promising results. In the long term we want to build a large and diverse ecosystem of partners and advisors who can help us drive customer success globally. Samya is full of opportunities for customers, employees and investors and we’ve been overwhelmed with the engagement from customers to date.  I look forward to our continued success as we scale to become one of the world’s largest CPG AI companies.

 

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