In our regular series, we interview members at Sussex Innovation about their business, why they joined and their plans for growth. Today Catalyst team member, Kelly chats with Baskar Sundaram from Baachu.
Tell me a bit about Baachu…
Baachu is my nickname, it means little boy. So that is why the mascot is a little boy with glasses. The idea is how the little boy thinks, he’s curious, he’s fearless so that’s the approach we take on in business.
My background is in government services. I’ll use an analogy to describe what we do: by the time you leave the office and get the train to London, and by the time you reach London, you would have seen about 50 different services, from cleaning, traffic lights, road management, speed cameras, trains and the platforms, and all of these services are being outsourced.
So, what Baachu does is specialise in outsourced public services, which means you hardly see who’s running them. From schools, hospitals, roads, rails, prisons, immigration, defence, welfare, you name it. We advise large corporates on how to secure government contracts. We also advise a few selected buyers on how to outsource properly. Baachu as a company is a trusted advisor to government service suppliers.
I used to be with Serco PLC, as a Commercial Business Development Leader. Serco PLC was leading and managing over 40 bids in the UK, Europe and ASPAC specialised Defence, Prisons, Hospitals, Schools, Rails, ICT and Facilities Services to maintaining key government assets and London bikes. My experience and background involved dealing with public services that are very sensitive and behind these services, there are so many unsung heroes and we work with those unsung heroes. I feel very privileged to be part of this sector.
What are you currently working on?
As I mentioned, we work with large corporate enterprise clients, so many of the projects are strategic but we are gearing up to support mid-tier companies with our accelerator programmes and recent launch of two digital assets – Rain and Scribble. We are diversifying from large corporate clients to SMEs and tech companies to enable them to secure government and commercial contracts. We plan to help bring the intelligence, the strategy, and the learning to SMEs and technology companies to help solve public problems.
Baachu Scribble is a learning platform, where we train people to be full stack bidders – framing strategy, building pipelines, writing and pricing proposals, mobilising the contract, operating and renewing them. With Scribble, I am keen to help reduce the trust deficit by helping the public sector learn from the private sector and the private sector learn about the public sector. At the same time, we are positioning Scribble as a government technology or an educational platform so we can reach out to people to build up the scale. At the moment it is still very simple. It does the job, but we want to scale it so it can solve much bigger problems.
Roughly 80% of public service transformations fail. So I built our other database tool, RAIN, which has the UK's largest list of outsourced opportunities. If you want to know who’s running your train from Brighton to London we know, if you want to know who’s running the cleaning for your local council or parking to a hospital, we know. We are going to share that database to smaller companies, so we can help them grow into the market. We give them a strategy tool through RAIN and a learning tool through Scribble, so with the data plus training plus overall support through mentoring and coaching we believe we can build an ecosystem.
In the next quarter we are speaking at Sussex Innovation and it will be first of the talks that we are holding this quarter. We are moving away from but still working and supporting corporate clients because that is where we can bring big changes. The thing is, how can we go to the next level and help build up the next one of those big companies?
So, as you said, Baachu is helping smaller companies access knowledge of government tools, is this what you’ll be doing at the upcoming Knowledge Hub at Sussex Innovation?
Most smaller companies tend to rely on digital marketing: Google ads, Facebook and writing hundreds of articles and telemarketing. Large companies don’t do these things to win government and commercial contracts. They know exactly what’s coming and when, so they know who they need to get on board to win and those are the things that I will be discussing at Sussex Innovation. I will be talking about the market; how big is it, what opportunities are coming up in the future, and what are the next steps? We want to bring corporate thinking into SMEs so that they can think big. First of all, we will be defining what government technology is because there is a lot of noise about GovTech and I will help demystify what GovTech is.
What do you hope to get out of being part of the Sussex Innovation community?
I have been here for two years now and this is the first time I am actually trying to reach out to what Sussex Innovation really does! The Community Manager, Saffron is always very supportive, she is my go-to person. I am speaking to Helena, the sales and marketing advisor, Simon, the student enterprise manager and Joseph, the PR and communications advisor. I hardly know or work with any of the other members or log into Slack, but this is a starting point for me.
I had always thought that my clients were not here, because I work with corporate clients and Sussex Innovation doesn’t have any, so that’s how I left it, but I’m hearing more and more and I want to be part of all the initiatives. I’m working with Helena as part of the BRAIN network, and Joseph is also helping me with advice on how to position our PR, such as the podcast we are launching.
What are your plans for the future?
I am quite excited for the future. In the next few months, we are going to launch our apprenticeship programme.
At the same time, we will be going heavy on media - we are launching podcasts, Brexit Readiness workshops, webinars and events which means we will be serving different types of clients who will experience the wider capabilities of Baachu. We will also be raising funding to scale Scribble as well. Currently, we have 200 members with very little marketing, so the plan is to make Scribble the largest platform for government suppliers globally.
I am also writing a third book, coming out in April. No one really knows that I am a published author, my first book was a journal for bid & proposal professionals, second book was about best practices in proposal writing, my third book is about Core sales concepts and my fourth is a little biography about me – Walking without Slippers.
The biggest switch for Baachu is that we are moving into a campaign-driven enterprise, so we are going to launch a lot of campaigns in different markets, to onboard NEW clients. The plan is to position Baachu as an authority in the market, so the shift will be us moving into a campaign-based entity. You will be tired of seeing us everywhere…
Interested in learning more about the market and GovTech? Find out more about Baachu's Knowledge Hub event here.