By Girish Mathrubootham
The needs of startups are never far from my mind. Even though the company I founded 11 years ago is now publicly traded, I haven’t forgotten the energy and enthusiasm of running a garage business.
That’s why recently, I was thinking of the essential tools for almost all startups: CRM. Studies show that one of the most expensive apps that a pre-seeded or seeded startup buys is software for managing customer relationships. It makes sense. In a flourishing startup, its clientele must evolve with the company.
Yet the flip side is the cost and headaches of many software as a service products, including CRM. The promise of cloud software when it first appeared two decades ago was flexibility and low cost. However, older CRM and other SaaS products now require even small businesses to sign contracts of three years or more, and these tools often require considerable staff resources and time to integrate and manage them.
In other words, too often startups watch their CRM stack when they should be focusing on growing their core business.
Since the founding of Freshworks in 2010, I have been obsessed with the idea of offering simpler, more flexible and affordable alternatives to the first generation of CRM, as well as other cloud software solutions that every business needs in the world. today’s hyper-competitive business environment. Our goal is to delight customers, as we like to say in the Freshworks offices, with scalable, easy-to-use products that can be deployed and managed without also committing a huge IT team to keep everything running. Users can test our products free of charge and then pay as they go to a credit card without signing a contract.
We continued to move forward on this proposal when, in November, we unveiled Freshstack, a software solution that we built around the specific needs of any fast-growing startup. He understands Freshdesk, our omnichannel customer support product that unifies support, sales and marketing teams to resolve issues faster, whether they arrive via email, chat, social media, or phone call. Also included (1) Fresh sales for business intelligence, contextual forecasts and the management of current prospects; (2) Freshmarketer, automation software that enables AI-driven lead generation, email personalization, and other features; and (3) access to Marlet, where users have access to hundreds of applications to better personalize our offer. Freshstack provides all the tools startups need to grow their business quickly.
If creating affordable and easy-to-use SaaS tools has been my obsession for the past ten years, startups are my passion. Like most founders, I have my own take on the classic origin tale. In fact, a terrible customer experience prompted me to create Freshdesk, our flagship customer support product. It was then that I saw that there was an opportunity to create a “new” approach to failing customer support to better serve businesses and their customers. Hence the initial name of the product Freshdesk.
Since launching Freshworks, I have invested in over 60 startups and have served as a guide and mentor to as many people as possible. I am a member of SaaSBOOMi, an informal group of SaaS founders who first came together in 2015 to network and help develop the SaaS market in India.
Earlier this year, four of us came together to create the Ensemble Fund, a venture capital firm founded first that hopes to partner with India’s top entrepreneurs. With an initial fundraising of $ 85 million, we aim to be a long-term partner, from seed to scale. We have brought together a network of more than 150 founders and operators in India and Silicon Valley to actively oversee the fund’s portfolio of startups.
And one of my favorite contributions to startups has been the Freshworks for startups program that we launched in 2019, which was born out of a desire to be more proactive in supporting startups with 0 to 200 employees. We contacted incubators, accelerators and VCs. We recruited mentors and created a network to connect companies with clients, potential investors and other resources. Employees were tasked with helping startups find the right tools they needed and where they could find advice and support. Our Freshworks Academy offers courses in everything from customer service training to the latest trends in venture capital.
For too long, India has been seen as a nation the world looks to for its services. But when Freshworks was listed on NASDAQ in september, we proved that there is much more to the indian tech community than big consulting firms and rooms of “outsourced” programmers. Look no further than the 10 India-based SaaS startups which, according to a recent McKinsey report, generated up to $ 3 billion in annual subscription revenue. Together we are all proving that India is capable of producing world class software. In September, when I had the honor of ringing the NASDAQ opening bell, it was a victory for all of us who built Freshworks, and it ushered in a new era for the startup ecosystem in India.
Despite my humble past, I have been fortunate to work with great investors, leaders and employees who have helped me achieve my ambitions. Because of this, I believe in paying it forward and helping the next generation of founders. Few things in life are as exhilarating and rewarding as mentoring and supporting promising founders, to watch them grow and reach their full potential.
Now, with Freshstack, we’re bringing it all together for startups. Having started with six people in a garage in Chennai, I know what startups need and am excited to provide them with the tools to thrive. Our message to startups is simple: grow with us. Together we will change the world!