India is not a big market for CRM-based products yet, but that did not prove to be a roadblock for this tech startup which is B2C in nature.
When Abinash Tripathy decided to start a customer support platform for mobile and web, he was very clear on primarily targeting the international market. He sold his previous company to Yahoo and then spent nearly two years in building a team for his next venture and then went on to raise capital for the same.
“India is not a mature market in the context of CRM-based products yet. What we are seeing is second-generation of internet companies -that are B2C focussed. India is going through what happened in the west, many years ago, where most companies invested in (Enterprise Resource Planning) ERP. CRM is going to be an important investment for businesses in future,” Abinash, Co-founder and CEO of Helpshift said.
Helpshift is a standard fast paced SaaS Tech company that provides customer support platform for retaining and engaging mobile users. Industries that have most quickly adopted Helpshift include brands focused on ecommerce, gaming, lifestyle and productivity.
Companies that count mobile as a strategic customer channel are investing to acquire these mobile users. Helpshift sits inside their client’s app to ensure new expensive customers remain engaged (through targeted push campaigns) and proactively avoid any in-app frustration through native FAQs and In-App Messaging. This helps their clients retain their customers by keeping them engaged and loyal to the app.
Focus on global business
Only 7 per cent of Helpshift’s clients are from India, where it competes with Freshdesk. Helpshift has installed in over 1.3 billion devices across the globe and has clients like Microsoft, Zynga, Target, Flipboard , Virgin Mobile and more. About 45 per cent of their business comes from the United States.
Creating a product for the global market
Companies like InMobi, Freshdesk, which have originated from India, can be counted as those who have made their mark globally. According to Abinash, for a company to embark on a global journey, the product “has to” be of really good quality. “If you are competing with global companies, having world-class technology is a must, you need to have good technology because your global peers already have the advantage of being close to the market,” he said. The second skill that Abinash emphasized on was setting up a global marketing and sales team in the B2B space.
Abinash, who has clocked close to 20 years of experience with mobile technology and products said, “If you build great products then you will attract great customers. Having big global brands on-board as customers, act as a validation of one’s product.”
Helpshift has raised $13.2 million and is backed by Intel Capital, True Ventures, Visionnaire Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners.
When the company was at an experimental stage, the company raised a half a million dollars of seed investment from Nexus Venture Partners. “For Nexus at an early stage it’s all about people and I chose to work with people like that,” he said.
What can Indian entrepreneurs learn from the Silicon Valley
According to Abinash, Indian entrepreneurs must learn the quality of "patience" from the Silicon Valley. Local entrepreneurs should also avoid themselves aping already existing, successful business models in the market. This would prevent them from becoming another copy-cat version of something that’s already big. According to Abinash, global markets are always on the lookout for innovative models and not me-too versions of existing products and ideas.