The power of storytelling!

“Kahaniyah is our address for not just what we do, but for who we really are,” states Debleena Majumdar, who co-founded the company along with Venkat Subramanian.  The  duo enjoy storytelling and started to apply it specifically in projects and strategies that they worked on. Eventually, what commenced as a project became the starting point for Kahaniyah, a company that helps people unleash the power of storytelling for business.  The co-founders set up Kahaniyah when they were working fulltime. However, encouraging feedback from their early customers gave them validation for their work and they dived deep into Kahaniyah. They now work with multiple businesses to train their people in their in-house 4-step data storytelling approach with real-time applications on customized case studies and on their projects (through workshops). They also take up consulting/strategy projects to develop better data-insight narratives for business strategy.

Applying the methodology

Storytelling is not a new concept. What is new is the increasing amount of data and technology which has made decision making a tough job.  To ease this pressure, Kahaniyah helps organisations working with data make data-driven decisions by applying its 4-step data storytelling methodology. This helps build simpler data-insight narratives, connect with the audience and ensure easier paths to decision making.

“In any data science project, we need to persuade key stakeholders to understand the insight we are presenting and take required actions. When this doesn’t happen, many projects and strategies fail,” says Debleena.  While most people think storytelling is about conveying emotion, Kayaniyah blends art and the science to bring in structured thinking and story structuring including identifying key insights. It includes effective ways of articulating, visualizing the data and understanding the audience.  “This is the key skill needed for those working with data especially as data itself is becoming democratized and universal,” says she.

Dealing with a wide range of customers

The company has three category of customers. One, those already working on data science projects, or getting an understanding of it, either while working at companies or while studying at educational institutions. They are good at machine learning, analytical tools and methods. “But there is still a need to logically break down the business problems into an analytical problem and convert an analytical solution to a business answer that can enable better decision making. That’s where we come in,” shares Debleena. 

Two, business leaders who want to communicate easily and creatively with their teams. This could be around communicating difficult messages, taking them through a change management journey or implementing new digital transformation strategies around AI/Data science. “We help them simplify and enhance the communication using storytelling techniques,” says the co-founder.

Three, startups that have a lot of data and are looking to scale further. The company’s data-driven storytelling insights help craft compelling narratives and strategic plans.

Not without challenges

Kahaniyah has worked with companies that understood its approach and were evangelists of the need for data storytelling. But, many organisations initially did not understand the advantages of storytelling while working with data. “They thought that the output of analysis with data should be enough to convince people to make decisions,” says Venkat. However, this is slowly evolving and many business leaders and entrepreneurs understand that data storytelling is not a separate skill but an integral part of any data scientist’s or data enthusiast’s job. Recently, Data Storytelling has been shown as a specialized skill under Data Science in Coursera’s eBook, Building Curricula to Career Paths. MIT Sloan, in a May 2020 article, called data storytelling the next chapter in analytics. “We look at data storytelling as really being the last mile of analytics that brings the insight home. We believe as we keep working, we will keep finding more such validations,” says Debleena.

Business Development

“We have experience in the functional and domain areas and have faced similar situations at work as our customers. This gives us insight on the most practical ways of solving their issues,” says Debleena.  This is the reason why the company works with specific applications of storytelling, namely around data storytelling, given the founders’ work in Analytics, Strategy and Marketing. This apart, the co-founders are practising creative storytellers. Venkat is a musician and ran an independent music company while Debleena is a trained Classical singer, a published author and a contributor of data-driven articles for Economic Times Prime. “Our creative storytelling pursuits ensure that we can keep improving ourselves in the art of storytelling and then bring back that knowledge in a structured and more simple and scientific way for our customers,” says Venkat.

The company’s new business development is largely through referrals from its customers. He adds, “For a small firm like ours that has been both great validation and source of new business development.” They have also seen good traction on LinkedIn and got enquiries through their website.

This apart, for Kahaniyah, Analytics Genie is solving a tremendous market need in connecting the people who need help with different aspects of analytics/data science with validated experts who can provide the right solutions. “We believe it can help us connect with more businesses who could benefit from our data storytelling approach, across sectors and geographies,” says Debleena.

Where to from here

It currently has a consulting/advisory business model where they work with businesses based on their requirements in data storytelling. In the near-term, the company is building a SaaS platform where customers can log in and get a guided journey for a do-it-yourself data-storytelling output. “Imagine like a Canva for data storytelling, where based on your goal, you can get the right design templates, content flow and structure as well as story banks to develop the final outputs you need, including workflow options to share and manage approvals and comments,” says Venkat. It can drastically reduce the time one spends on versions of to-be-presented documents and merge the art and science of storytelling, at scale.

The company has also its own storytelling podcast “knyh” with an ongoing community for its customers and well-wishers to demystify data storytelling and to look at its endless possibilities. “Our aim is to democratize data storytelling for those working with data or those who have to take decisions by looking at data,” says Debleena on a parting note.

Blurb: Blending the art and science of storytelling using data to drive business transformation, Kahaniyah is now building a SaaS platform for a guided journey for a do-it-yourself data-storytelling output. It also has a storytelling podcast “knyh” with an ongoing community for its customers.