He based OrangeScape in 2003, which matches as Platform as A Service(PaaS) to construct a modelling pushed visible improvement surroundings for developing business applications and may be deployed as cloud apps, SaaS, or on-premise applications. The idea, Suresh famous, changed into always to build a multi-brand product platform in the software program area.
But it's miles OrangeScape’s second product and Suresh’s latest child that has caught the eye of buyers and customers international – KiSSFlow. KiSSFlow is often used for simplifying commercial enterprise and operations workflow for firms. And a smart play on the time period – Keep It Simple Stupid. Like maximum SaaS offerings in this decade, KiSSFlow too is a cloud-first utility.
KiSSFlow changed into first released at Google.Io in 2012 as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to test product marketplace fit. It changed into at first placed as a workflow answer for the Google Suite – which include Gmail, G-chat (now rebranded to Hangout), Google Docs, Calendar etc. “Google, which is used by hundreds of thousands of organizations internationally did not have the capacity to construct enterprise process for Suite customers. Customers wanted easy functionalities such as approving go away, filing taxes, constructing coverage claims and we built out KiSSFlow to automate these processes,” starts offevolved Suresh.
In different phrases, the platform have become a quarter-agnostic device for any business operating in any vertical to integrate commercial enterprise ops with Google Suite. Interestingly, OrangeScape had raised funding best once earlier than to the tune of $1 Mn in 2012 from Indian Angel Network for another product Visual – platform-as-a-provider.
Gaining The First one hundred Paying Customers
KiSSFlow become in beta for the primary 12 months and began accepting paying customers in the SME/SMB vertical, simplest in May 2013. The product too changed into fairly priced, $3 in keeping with month/in step with person. But the journey to gaining those first few clients changed into something however smooth. But due to the early trying out at Google.Io KiSSFlow was set up as a pull product designed to remedy an present pain factor and customers got here calling early on.
“My non-public schedule become hugely different lower back then,” Suresh chuckles. “My day began at 6 PM and ended at three AM, as I desired to be absolutely concerned with knowledge how the MVP could develop into a product that clients would pay for. I didn’t need any filters between me and the consumer or beneath role the corporation in any manner and this will only be completed, by constantly taking feedback from the initial, interested customers.”
The preliminary 20-member group become primarily involved in engineering, product aid with a -person advertising group spearheaded by way of Suresh himself. The manner he tells it become that Bobby, the other advertising and marketing govt, might set up conferences with US customers (hence accounting for Suresh’s the wrong way up agenda) and Suresh would then individually pitch the product over telephone and video to the consumer.
The thinking behind this kind of personalised conversation changed into to have deep engagement with clients – apprehend their pain factors and iterate the product for that reason with appreciate to pricing, hiring the right form of roles, income discounts and extra. But the ulterior motive behind these chats became to essentially determine ‘patron discovery.’
Leveraging Inbound Marketing For Marquee Customers
Suresh was ensuring patron satisfaction for you to sport up the product and to discover, refine and slim down the locations where customers could discover the product – aka patron discovery. “We are a pull product and so the first aspect we determined on changed into to have an inbound advertising gadget in place, now not field or occasion marketing. We aren't looking to promote to our clients, we fulfil their desires.”
The founder defines KiSSFlow’s form of internal sales as a combination of telephone, electronic mail, and video. With the primary form of conversation starting with email, proceeding to a customer service name (both phone/video) and ending with a demo of the product if asked. “All the customers that we have these days, the world over, we never met them face-to-face. We sit down in an workplace in Chennai and conduct all our transactions via product demos, conversations. And with assisting documentation, both on our website online or personally supplied by us.”
The first few months of completely speaking to clients helped the corporation incrementally optimise this inbound advertising system, proper down to advertising their presence in the space in which their customer may want to locate them.
“With inbound advertising and marketing, the cost of doing commercial enterprise goes down by way of an order of significance. On-premise income are pricey and time-consuming. It received’t paintings for a bootstrapped SaaS startup like us.” This debts for the organic growth the employer reviews to this today – starting from onboarding 2-three clients in keeping with week to tens of customers every day.
The enterprise counts Domino’s, Motorola, Danone, The Telegraph, Pepsi, Michelin, Flipkart, HubSpot, Comcast as marquee customers and operates in approximately 120 nations across 5 continents. Suresh presents the breakdown of the customer demographic as having 50% clients from america, 20% in Europe, 20% in South East Asia, and seven% in India. He defines this precise metric with: “SaaS founders who are in charge of sales/advertising and marketing want to live close to the clients – their rationale, tips need to be heard to make certain repeat business.”
Leaving Google, Integrating Google Material Design In UX
2015 was an essential 12 months for KiSSFlow.
Firstly, the group determined to release the product out of doors of Google Apps, getting out in their consolation quarter. When requested if they have been fearful of dropping customers, Suresh replies with, “We form of went the opposite manner. We integrated KiSSFlow with Office 365, that's Google’s competitor when it comes to workplace suite programmes. So the choice paid off.”
The team also progressed at the UI/UX of the platform after cautious attention, the use of Google Material Design. “The basis of Material Design or design thinking is largely that presentation is as vital, if no longer more, than functions being furnished on an app or a internet site. So it made feel to trouble-resolve for higher functionality and presentation.”
The new version changed into constructed in 2016 and doubled the pricing – $6 per month/in line with consumer. The customers nonetheless stored coming in due to the 2x-3x functionality being presented by means of the product. “Our nearest competition are running at $15-$20,” adds Suresh with a snort.
A key motive for the low pricing is satisfying consumer call for, however Suresh does be counted selling SaaS from India as a aspect-gain. “Chennai is ideal for SaaS,” Suresh opines. “The get admission to to SaaS talent in India is higher in Chennai than say a Pune, Delhi NCR or Bengaluru. Companies like Zoho that is 3,000 employee robust, Freshdesk, ChargeBee are right here populating the atmosphere with professional, less expensive expertise.”
Which brings us to cause quantity three. “A massive benefit of promoting from India is the price of expertise acquisition is drastically decrease.” According to the currently released Startup Genome record, an engineer in Bengaluru is paid lesser than a person further skilled in Silicon Valley. “The value of hiring is one-5th and one-eighth of a US worker, this does play into our capex and opex.”
Creating The Perfect Workflow For Any Organisation
The KiSSFlow suite of merchandise now works in the following manner.
After signing up at the platform, a person can set up up to 50 apps into their day by day workflow operations. These apps might be for anything from journey compensation to employee onboarding, focussing at the diverse contact points required by way of any business (large, medium or small).
This results in growing the best glide for the enterprise. “The platform also permits to pre-set sure triggers so one can bypass unneeded steps a good way to reduce efficiency and productivity. And if you have multiple group working at the equal task or mission, you can even create complicated workflows with parallel branches who're privy to other techniques and cozy in their own.”
The next step would be for the number one consumer to outline permissions (who receives to get admission to which a part of the process, can view what) through editable, study-most effective, and look at hidden responsibilities for every operation. These techniques can start with a single click of the number one person and any requests/inputting of obligations/of entirety of duties can be dealt with on any smart device.
Where KiSSFlow enables in growing efficiency and productiveness is by using permitting the tracking of manner in an effort to help eliminate bottlenecks for destiny responsibilities. And ultimately, the dashboard helps with viewing KPIs, getting ready advert hoc reviews and examine dynamically generated data inside the platform the use of a combination of large data analytics.
“It’s a 5-step method. Takes minutes to be installation and works intuitively in line with what you, as an enterprise wishes – be it huge or small scale.”
Battling Global Competition – With Quality Pricing
KiSSFlow is one of the businesses which boasts of just about a completely overseas consumer listing so its opposition is likewise global. The employer counts businesses which include PEGA, Apian as competition. These companies traditionally fee $500K-$1 Mn annually for the use of their merchandise. The pricing is on the employer stage with the number of customers, running into the heaps. In stark evaluation, KiSSFlow prices about $100K-$250K as annual prices to their biggest corporation clients. Perhaps, this debts for the business enterprise putting forward about $5 Mn in revenues, this year, as in keeping with the founder.
“Our margins are low and this enables in differentiating KiSSFlow as a product as some distance as price is concerned. Also, the way we have cracked inbound advertising and marketing is instrumental in distinguishing us.” Therefore adding to the employer’s upward growth graph, growing 2x-2.5x each yr since 2013.
But it isn’t always smooth promoting SaaS from India to Indians or otherwise. When requested to talk about the challenges of being a SaaS entrepreneur with a international client listing, Suresh says,
“The primary trouble right here is founder education or founder recognition. The everyday commercial enterprise curve is going like this: 6-12 months for growing the product, the following 9 months go in setting up PMF and getting the first few paid clients. If you’re lucky, the VCs will then spend money on that PMF.”
But, in line with Suresh, marketers get into the game contemplating this large-game fundraise, instead of focussing on constructing a sustainable business version.
He also mentions the lack of design capabilities and product management capability this is also missing in Indian software expertise as well as an incomplete grasp of ways advertising and marketing works. “For our customers, all the records is to be had on the internet site. SaaS companies do not deliver brochures, we've an FAQ web page. So it is all about assisting those customers come on board easily. This manner calls for refining.”
Betting On Indian SaaS And Advice For Founders
He remains bullish about the Indian market even though, speaking about fellow marketers ‘constructing billion-greenback businesses.’ “For example, Signup, a corporation based totally in Chennai. They achieved $1 Mn in revenues in nine months, recently. In my time of taking off, this turned into now not heard of.” He chuckles.
When caused to invest on the future of SaaS inside the next 5 years, he may be very assured on, “There could be no such element as B2B software. Everything could be about software program. Niche corporations which might be completely non-SaaS (non-reliant on software program) may be negligible.”
Suresh has seen all of it and achieved it frequently with the aid of himself. So it behoves fellow SaaS founders to pay attention while he stresses on the maximum crucial metric to construct a successful enterprise.
“Ensure product market fit on a self-carrier version. The client symptoms up, chats with you and is happy enough to put down their credit score card for your carrier.”
He additionally emphasises on getting the advertising model right and, eventually, he talks approximately the market. “If you are constructing, construct for a $500 Mn valuation, a minimum of. Know the market size of your vertical or your product and make sure it is large sufficient that, while you cross for VC investment, they may be certainly impressed to signal that cheque you need.”