Rameez Ansar - alumni_square.jpg

From BCG to Circles: A Journey of Entrepreneurship

Circles co-founder Rameez Ansar comes full “Circle” in his career, applying the lessons & experience he gained while at BCG, and sharing how he employs customer-centric strategies and practices to his work today.

Please tell us about your journey of co-founding Circles and what inspired you to take this path.

Some people wake up with an epiphany about what they want to do. For me, the idea of creating Circles was probably two decades in the making.

Growing up, I used to write letters to companies where their customer experience fell short. I’d end up saying, “I know you can’t fix it for me now, but I hope you can do better for the next customer.”

I also remember fondly the first mobile phones, Blackberries that connected everyone globally in an instant—wherever you were! It was a step-level innovation.

But I often wondered, How can an industry so pervasive (everyone has a mobile connection), with so much potential (it knows you, has a billing relationship), be so bad when it comes to customer experience (NPS) and new service innovation?

The irony was that even operators were unhappy with the shareholder value destruction over time. I still remember writing the first slides that talked about the telcos becoming a pipe in my first year at BCG.

Circles helps to launch, transform, and operate digital telcos at scale and for them become the first choice of consumers for connectivity and beyond while ensuring industry best margins.

For me, co-founding Circles was part of that ambitious—and some might say naïve, as well—long arc.

As a global technology company headquartered in Singapore, we have the opportunity to deliver and delight customers in 15 countries across six continents so far through our proprietary fully integrated full-stack SaaS platform: Circles X.

How did your experience at BCG shape your entrepreneurial journey and approach to tackling challenges at Circles?

BCG gave the gift of harnessing the ability to break down a complex problem and build hypotheses. It is a unique skill in the business world. I think the more you apply it, the better you get over the decades. You can apply this skill anywhere, from a company strategy level to everyday problems. I have always looked back at the most challenging situations and have come to admire this quality skill I gained.

I’m also thankful that my managers put me on some tough projects where I was forced to draw out the 4x3 boxes on an A4 and think through a story. I remember struggling with one page for an entire weekend and coming out with nothing. But eventually, with practice and exercise, that muscle got better and faster to serve me well.

What customer-centric strategies and practices have contributed to your impressive level of loyalty and advocacy?

Circles often gets awarded as the best digital service when it comes to customer service and experience in places as far as Japan. There are a lot of tactical things we do to make it happen.

For example, we have a WhatsApp group called “Drill.” Anytime even only five customers have an issue, we escalate it. I’m in that group as well. If an hour passes by, I get a call. We don’t always get it right, but we have never increased that threshold, even when we crossed the millions of customers mark.

But more importantly, we have to really believe in this. Customer obsession, or “happiness” as we call it, is embedded in our mission. It’s on our walls and in our values, and we’ve got multiple reminders through our everyday working lives of putting ourselves in the customers’ shoes. Circles X is the world’s first digital telco vertical SaaS platform. As an operator for an operator, we want to reimagine the telco industry in terms of both customer experience and technology.

I often go back to my teenage years and imagine that somewhere, someone else is writing one of those letters, just as I did. Who is that person? How can we, at Circles, constantly iterate and improve the experience for them?

Ultimately, though, you have to walk the talk.

It’s 7 p.m. on a Friday and you’re about to leave for dinner when you get an escalation. What do you do?

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders who are looking to disrupt traditional industries and create innovative solutions?

My advice is very simple. It’s a long journey and probably ten times harder than you can imagine. But, I promise, it’ll also be ten times more meaningful and rewarding if you’re clear about your “why.”

What’s your favorite memory from your time at BCG?

I found myself in my first board meeting literally just a few weeks into joining BCG. I had no idea how to act and what that even meant. Our business cards never said our titles, but I looked a bit older than what one would imagine a recently graduated consultant would look like. I assumed I would hang out in the back and do a fantastic job of taking notes. Unfortunately, the client CEO had other plans and launched into asking each BCG team member their point of view on the topic. I did a pretty average (or below average) job with my answer at the time, but at least I was never scared of a board room again!