Kinesh Doshi holds on to Accion Labs’ startup roots, while adding processes

 

Kinesh Doshi, co-founder and CEO of Accion Labs, is a 2018 Pittsburgh Smart 50 honoree and Innovation award winner.

Accion Labs has more than doubled in size since 2016; it now has close to 2,000 employees, including 450 onboarded in the fourth quarter of 2018.

“It’s been significant growth all around the globe for us,” says CEO Kinesh Doshi. “Part of this is just the opportunity in the innovation space and emerging tech space. Everyone wants to apply machine learning to their business problems. Everyone wants to move to cloud. Everyone seems to have something going on around digital transformation.”

The technology group provides professional staff, does project work and engages in an extended fashion with software companies or enterprises that are largely digital, such as banks and insurance companies.

Accion also set up a Canadian operation, and will invest in further IT development and innovation thanks to a $25 million funding round — which closed in November — from an Asian private equity firm,

Adding without subtracting

Doshi, who helped found the company in 2011, wants Accion to keep its startup mindset and emphasis on speed and purpose. He believes that efficiency equals work-life balance.

“When a phone call can do the job, don’t write an email. When an email can do the job, don’t set up a meeting. When a meeting can do the job, don’t travel,” he says.

To keep those connections strong, he’s hired a COO and created a global head of HR position.

“When you’re a startup, you’re trying to move fast, and you don’t have as much time to think strategically about things like diversity. You don’t have time to think about codifying the culture of the organization, creating consistency across the company, streamlining operations,” he says.

To keep longer tenured employees from feeling lost, Doshi has focused on quarterly updates, town hall meetings and other things to maintain connections.

A moving target

Being able to retrain and retool as the industry changes is critical. Accion breaks innovation into leading edge (cloud, mobility, machine learning) and emerging (augmented reality, drones, Internet of Things) technologies.

“We have to keep up, that’s how we are differentiating ourselves,” Doshi says. “Because innovation is a moving target, that’s a big opportunity for an agile company like us.”

The company hosts an annual innovation summit, hackathons and external trainers. Its innovation center includes educational material, such as weekly employee demonstrations, and is a portal for questions about new technology.

Accion, however, has yet to reach the point where every employee is engaged in the process of learning and innovation, Doshi says. It’s an ongoing journey.