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 excitement of running a garage business.
That’s why recently, I was thinking about a tool essential to almost all startups: the CRM. Studies show that one of the most expensive applications purchased by a pre-seed or seeded startup is customer relationship management software. It makes sense. In a thriving startup, its customer base must grow with the business.
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 typically require even small businesses to sign contracts of three years or more – and these tools often require significant staff resources and time to integrate and maintain.
In other words, too often startups keep their CRM stack when they should be focusing on developing their core business.
Since founding Freshworks in 2010, I’ve been obsessed with providing simpler, more flexible, and affordable alternatives to first-generation CRM, and other cloud-based software solutions that every business needs in the world. today’s hypercompetitive business environment. Our goal is to delight customers, as we like to say at Freshworks offices, with easy-to-use, scalable products that can be deployed and managed without hiring a huge IT team to keep it all running. Users can test our products free of charge and then pay as they go with a credit card and without signing a contract.
We continued to move forward on this proposal when, in November, we unveiled fresh pile, a software solution we’ve 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 by email, chat, social media or phone call. Also included (1) Fresh sales for business intelligence, contextual forecasting, and lead management in the pipeline; (2) Fresh produce merchant, an automation software that enables AI-powered 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 building affordable, easy-to-use SaaS tools has been my obsession for the past decade, startups have been my passion. Like most founders, I have my own take on the classic origin tale. In fact, a bad customer experience prompted me to create Freshdesk, our flagship customer support product. It was then that I realized there was an opportunity to create a “new” approach to failing customer support service to better serve businesses and their customers. Hence the initial product name Freshdesk.
Since the beginning of Freshworks, I have invested in more than 60 startups and served as a guide and mentor to many. I am a member of SaaSBOOMi, an informal group of SaaS founders who first came together in 2015 to network and help grow the SaaS market in India.
Earlier this year, four of us came together to create the Together Fund, an early founding venture capital firm that hopes to partner with India’s top entrepreneurs. With an initial raise of $85 million, we aim to be a long-term partner, from seed to scale. We have assembled a network of over 150 founders and operators in India and Silicon Valley to actively mentor 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, born of a desire to be more proactive in supporting startups with 0 to 200 employees. We contacted incubators, accelerators and VCs. We have recruited mentors and created a network to connect companies with customers, potential investors and other resources. Employees were tasked with helping startups find the right tools they need and where to find advice and help. 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 that the world looks to for services. But when Freshworks was listed on NASDAQ in September, we proved that the Indian tech community is much more than big consulting firms and rooms of “outsourced” programmers. Look no further than the 10 India-based SaaS startups that, according to a recent McKinsey report, have generated up to $3 billion in annual subscription revenue. Together, we all prove 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 heralded a new era for India’s startup ecosystem.
Despite my humble origins, I have been fortunate to work with excellent investors, managers and employees who have helped me achieve my ambitions. Because of this, I believe in giving back 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 bring everything together for startups. Having started with six people in a garage in Chennai, I know what startups need and am happy to provide them with the tools to thrive. Our message to startups is simple: grow with us. Together we will change the world!