'Wowing' Users Since 2010 CEO Girish Mathrubootham's Freshworks became first-ever Indian SaaS startup to have been listed on the prestigious Nasdaq

By Shrabona Ghosh

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It all started with a dream to see India win as a product nation. Armed with authoritative qualities, Girish Mathrubootham was once a marketing person and was spotted by his boss for his leadership skills. He was given the opportunity to be a product manager and there was no looking back! He is the CEO of Freshworks and his company is valued at $13 billion in just over a decade.

Bowled over with an overwhelming response from the entire startup ecosystem after the historic win at Nasdaq, he says, "It was a dream come true moment. Pressure is a privilege and we have to live up to it and start delivering."

The CEO has often been questioned for doing multiple things: juggling SaaSBOOMi, Together Fund and Freshworks. However, for him it was always the same. In his mind, it was the connecting thread to see India emerge as a product nation.

He says learning on the field has been the best teacher. With his eye on helping the young entrepreneurs, the CEO is catering to their needs by sharing his recipe of success. Giving insight into SaaSBOOMi and Together Fund, he says, "SaaSBOOMi is finding ways to share the knowledge with young founders so they accomplish sooner and together funding is finding emerging startups from India and helping them grow globally, not only with money but also with required guidance."

In a competitive market what helped Freshworks stand out is its willingness to understand the online buyer and curate a platform where the customer can easily use the software. "Basically, making it fast and easy. The core inspiration was to design software products for the users that will delight them and create a wow factor."

Sharing his secret he says the prime focus should be on designing the product for the end user in a way that the customer gets the value quickly. Instant gratification is important. "You buy a product today, you want to use it immediately and not wait for some one year or so."

For him a reality check is important and he gets the kick by talking to his customers. "I love talking to the customers. The more I talk to them I understand the problem domain well and that helps me give a better solution." Taking cues from his experience, he leaves a message for all the product managers, "Respect the customer problem but ignore the suggested solutions."

When it comes to enjoying life, he is an ardent believer of work life integration. "Work and life both should be fun."

He firmly believes that curiosity to learn should never die. As a doting father he tells his two sons to pick and choose their likes and be the best at it

For him family is not just limited to home. Freshworks operates as a "Kudumba' meaning family. He says the culture quo can be explained through CHAT (C: craftsmanship; H: happy work environment; A: agility and accountability; and T: true friend of the customer).

"Once a customer of a SMB company came forward and defended Freshworks in a forum saying that our customer service is always a call away and whenever contacted we have provided solutions. For us customers are family and catering to their needs is our utmost duty," says Mathrubootham.

Being a gadget freak, he still gets excited whenever he comes across a good design. He says the attention to details is very important and craftsmanship is all about detailing. "Sometimes, after a few uses a product may disappoint, but that does not take away the excitement. Any gadget freak like me can relate to this."

Not growing up in a family that had dogs did not deter this CEO's compassion for them. The CEO has a dog called Neo. The name is inspired from the movie Matrix which means the chosen one. "Our lives changed completely after Neo came. Having a pet is a great stress buster."

Not only pets but sports too have an impact on him. He says sports teach life lessons. It is a great educator as it teaches team spirit, problem solution, agility, and strategy among others. "I would always love to hire anybody who has been a team player. Gone are the days of an individual being a company star. Now it is all about good teamwork."

Not everyone can learn from classroom settlement. "We are failing our champions by simply pushing them into one venue. In India apart from cricket we need good infrastructural investments in all types of sports."

Even after tasting success over a short period of time, he says he is still learning and will be a student for life. "Learning is a continuous process and this whole journey of Freshworks has helped me learn by taking up matters on the field."

Wavy Line
Shrabona Ghosh


A journalist with a cosmopolitan mindset. I lead a project called 'Corporate Innovations' wherein I cover corporates across verticals and try to tell stories on innovations. Apart from this, I write industry pieces on FMCGs, auto, aviation, 5G and defense. 

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