Blog Post

My 2023 Retrospective: a year like no other

Blog Post

Simha Sadasiva Profile Image

Simha Sadasiva

CEO & Co-Founder
Ushur
in

When the new year arrives, it is inevitably accompanied by a deluge of predictions from across the board. Rather than adding to that crowded space of educated guesswork and high-level pontificating, I’d rather reflect on Ushur’s journey over the past 12 months, and the lessons learned for the years ahead as we welcome a new fiscal year that started on Feb 1.

It would be a gross understatement if I call 2023 a dramatic, climactic, humbling, and one heck of a roller coaster of a year. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ushur kicked off 2023 with closing our $50M Series C funding round. We had ended 2022 on a very strong note, highlighted by 135% year-over-year growth, generating as much revenue in 2022 as we had in the previous four years combined. Simultaneously, I had found myself $15M short of our fundraising goal due to an investor pulling out at the 11th hour. So for me, Jan 2023 began with a mad scramble to find that money elsewhere. Thanks to Ushur’s phenomenal track record and our amazing investor network, we were able to raise the additional capital we needed in time to announce our $50M Series C round as planned. I breathed a sigh of relief, and looked forward to having a bit of time to stretch my legs and grow into this new, post-Series C leadership role. 

The universe, as it so often does, had other ideas. 

Just as we were getting ready to jump enthusiastically into planning for 2023 with QBRs, strategy sessions, sales kickoff and board meetings, news started trickling in about the troubles at the famed Silicon Valley Bank. Within 48 hours, the bank that had been the backbone of the startup world for decades, where thousands of businesses kept their daily operational funds - including Ushur - was no more.  All of the funds we’d worked so hard to raise were suddenly inaccessible, seemingly gone in the blink of an eye. 

Like many others, I was shell shocked. Pundits were talking about letting the bank fail, as if those of us who had our money there were investors who had made a bad bet rather than customers who had been let down. As a leader, it was incumbent on me to assuage those fears with near constant communication. I kept our employees and our board informed with clear and transparent messages multiple times a day to ensure we were on the same page and all in it together. It felt like ages, but then Monday arrived and thanks to a major step by the US government, we had access to all of our funds again. The entire event tested every facet of my leadership abilities, and taught me critical lessons I will take with me through the rest of my life. 

With the potential disaster firmly in our rear view mirror, we turned all efforts towards executing our mission. We continued our methodology of focusing on and proving the value of our AI-powered CX automation solutions in one vertical before entering another. In 2023, we added two new verticals - financial services and public sector - to our existing roster of healthcare and insurance, considerably increasing the reach of our CXA offerings as well as our overall TAM in the process. 

The proceeding months saw us deliver our best fiscal quarters in company history, once again. We secured our biggest ever deal, and then immediately topped that with an even bigger one. I’m especially proud of our growth in the public health sector as we added 5 of the largest California health plans to our roster, helping transform the lives of millions across the state and beyond. We also managed, very successfully, the situation of some of our customers becoming churn risks, turning them into our champions once again. 

2023 was an incredibly humbling year as unprecedented macroeconomic pressures continued to decimate the job market and especially in the tech sector, causing entire companies to disappear overnight. Our strategy and the dedication of our employees meant that Ushur continued its measured and efficient growth. We added specialist talent across the organization, significantly enhancing our ability to bring new products and solutions to market while continuing to provide the fanatical support to our customers that Ushur has come to be known for.

We made strategic investments in our platform. Vertical-focused Generative-AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) continue to be the enabler for solving critical problems. We advanced our healthcare and insurance solutions powered by Gen-AI for differentiated value creation. Our continued bet on No-Code led us to launch the best-in-class Ushur Studio for orchestrating CX Automation. We made small and large model training  accessible to citizen developers with Ushur AI Studio. These investments led to Ushur’s customers tripling their usage from the previous year. 

The soul of a company - its culture - is the hardest piece to maintain as you scale. As a team, we’ve passed our first tests with flying colors, thanks to the culture of buy-in that everyone at Ushur works so hard to create, maintain and flourish. Our growing list of accolades and awards are the testament of this strong culture and our people-first approach to innovation. 

On January 24, 2024, Ushur turned 10 years old. For Henry, my co-founder, and I, it is indeed a surreal yet supremely proud moment. We begin 2024 with an absolute clarity in terms of who we are, who we are serving and where we are going. Ushur is  an AI-first company. We have long believed that AI will transform the world and invested in a platform that helps our customers realize tremendous value. Lately, we have been drinking our own champagne as well by leveraging AI to find new efficiencies across our entire organization, from HR and IT to marketing, product and sales. For Ushur, 2024 will be a year of continued focus on value creation and realization. We don’t want to sell a dime of our product to anyone unless they find true value in what we have to offer. 2023 was a tumultuous year like no other, but as all adversity does, it made us more tenacious, more efficient and laser focused on what matters the most as we embark on an exciting 2024.

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