SoftwareSuggest.com is India’s leading business software discovery and recommendation platform. Product Nation interviewed Ankit Dudhwewala, co-founder and CEO of the company to understand their journey thus far. Read on…
The idea of providing a software discovery platform came about on account of my own prior experiences. In my earlier stint at a mid-sized pharma company, we spent close to about 3 years and multiple iterations to finalize the right ERP software for our firm. The entire process drained us out on all fronts, and at the end, we still did not have the right software solution that met our needs. This experience of mine made me understand that lakhs of similar buyers in India face the same problems that I faced. I sensed that there was no single place where a buyer would be able to reliably understand the software offering, compare different vendor solutions and get feedback/input on best practices of deploying software solutions. On the sellers’ end too, I figured out that such a platform would help them build their sales pipeline and gain credibility in the marketplace. Hence, we started SoftwareSuggest.com in 2014.
What has been your learning thus far? What worked well for you, and what did not?
In terms of positives, our hunch that there is an unmet need related to listing, reviewing and selection of software solutions both from the buyer and the vendor side was very quickly validated. Within 2 months, we had enough traction that helped us in validation of our idea. As more and more queries came from both buyers and vendors, we were able to scale up and provide a categorized listing, review and consulting option for both parties. This has resulted in us listing over 2000 software solutions from various vendors, across business functions, and over 1500 customers using the platform to review their software needs on this platform.
I think this scale and acceptance of the platform has been achieved primarily because we have been very conscious of quality of solution offering while on boarding our vendors and at the same time, have a good customer service mechanism for prospective buyers evaluating a software solution buy. In just about a year, we have good working partnerships with key SME software vendors, for whom we have been valuable in generating qualified leads, resulting in quicker sales of their software offerings. For the customer, our free consulting services, coupled with a converged list of qualified vendors implies that overall time and effort spent in evaluation, purchase and deployment of software solution is greatly reduced. This has been the key factors aiding our success thus far.
As regards to areas we could have done better, I think during our initial months of operation, we did not do a good job in advising a few of our prospective buyers, not to proceed forward in search for a software solution. These set of prospective buyers were just trying to mimic other colleagues in their line of business, but did not fully understand how to use software solutions to their benefit. We spent enormous amount of time to make these set of customers realize that they were not yet ready for software adoption. Looking back, I now feel that we could have dealt with them better.
There are global players who offer such software discovery platform elsewhere. What do you do differently from them, and why?
I agree that there are a few known names who offer similar kind of platform in the developed countries. However, one needs to understand that what works there will not necessarily work as is, in the Indian scenario. While at a macro level, our platform and other existing platforms may appear to provide the same functionality, the differentiation is in the level of details.
India, as an emerging economy has its own nuances. The variety of small businesses in the country, the diverse range of awareness of small business owners in understanding the value of software, the approach of evaluation of vendors, and so many other aspects are very unique and different in India. Since we understand these nuances more intimately than any other existing vendor, we are able to cater to these needs, and hence get better satisfaction levels from buyers as well as sellers, who use our platform.
Great insights! As a last question, can you share with us top three things that you have learnt working with Indian customers, that other fellow product entrepreneurs could benefit from?
I cannot say if this is true for all products/services targeting Indian customers, but, in our case, we have been very clear that our business model should not look at charging the customers, when they come to evaluate different software options. All of our revenue come from our partnerships with vendors, as of now. It is our firm belief that the more and more we enable our buyers, our platform will get further strengthened and be of more value.
Secondly, I think there are lots of opportunities, similar to ours, where in many challenges faced by Indian customers can be alleviated to an extent – by streamlining the processes via platforms. We just are solving the pain points of software discovery and evaluation for the Indian customers. I believe there is scope for other product entrepreneurs to look at areas where ease of doing business can be enhanced.
Lastly, just the sheer size of the Indian market and the demographics make it worthwhile for product entrepreneurs to look at India as a market to offer products that solve local needs. There are already a few success stories here, but I believe these are just the tip of the iceberg. There is unlimited opportunity for the product entrepreneurs to make a difference!
Product Nation thanks Ankit for his time and wishes him many more successes in their venture!