BPO Talent To Be Groomed For Inside Sales In SaaS India

With ongoing expeditious advancements in communication, social media, cloud, mobility and related technologies – sales is on a continuous path for digital transformation. This is going to place inside sales teams at a strategic position in sales and marketing process, in terms of significance. A shift is being observed from field sales model to inside sales model which is attracting field sales guys towards inside sales jobs. Therefore, the Inside Sales industry is moving towards a revolution worldwide.

Inside Sales Teams to Play a Greater Role in Sales

Inside sales is quite strategic to India’s GDP growth. Indian BPO industry alone contributes 1% of India’s GDP where professionals are majorly involved in B2C processes including inside sales. IT/ITES and software companies have been early adopters of Inside Sales process for B2B leads generation. With digital sales transformation happening for the digitally dependent buyers, the inside sales teams are going to play a greater role in sales process, as more tasks of the marketing and field sales teams have come under the scope of Inside Sales teams.

SaaS India – Early Adopters of Inside Sales Technology

SaaS, Technology and Professional Services companies in the western world are the first ones to acknowledge a digitally connected buyer by adopting Inside Sales Technology. The traditional businesses like manufacturing companies in US are exploring how Inside Sales tech may add value to their sales process.

However, in the Indian market, mainly SaaS industry is at the forefront on trying their hands on advanced Inside Sales Technology for accelerated sales. The others in the technology industry are going to follow this trend in near future in India. Traditional industries are going to take some time to change their sales processes as their buyers are slowly becoming internet savvy for business purchases.

Inside Sales to Play Significant Role in SaaS India

As per Google Accel SaaS Report 2016 – SaaS India is expected to grow to $50 billion in next 10 years while Indian SMB SaaS is expected to rise from current $600 million to $10 billion in the said period.

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Source: Google Accel Report – SaaS India, Global SMB Market, $50B in 2025

SaaS industry has a strong need for inside sales professionals. As per the report, strong workforce in the BPO sector gives access to talent pool of around 6,20,000 Inside Sales professionals, out of which 1,20,000 are inside sales ready and 5,00,000 are skill ready.

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Source: Google Accel Report – SaaS India, Global SMB Market, $50B in 2025

I personally believe that 6,20,000 from the BPO sector, who are assessed as ready for SaaS as per report, need to be groomed for making them sales skill ready as only telecalling skills don’t make a professional acceptable for Sales Development Rep’s role in SaaS Sales.

Inside Sales Talent – A Key Challenge for SaaS India  

SDRs are expected to understand the Sales Processes. They should have the knack of using Inside Sales Tools like Social Media, Email, Phone, CRM and other smart selling tools. The working environment of B2B Inside Sales teams is significantly different from BPO scenario, where the reps are much more controlled, the jobs are temporary, the performance metrics are more around calls numbers and talk time, the customer engagements are very short lived, and end consumers are served with products & services.

This vast difference would require a complete psychological shift in the skills of a BPO professional who aspires to work in the SaaS sales space. They would need to be trained on Inside Sales function from scratch to be helpful, empathetic, B2B marketing and sales process oriented, B2B product/services domain expert, and digital sales intensive to successfully become an SDR. SDR will progress to become an account executive with quota around end closures and finally managing SDRs.

Aspirants looking to fill Inside Sales Talent Gap

There is a need to align the professionals by training for B2B Inside Sales function to serve the evolving SaaS industry in India.

I am associated with AA-ISP, American Association of Inside Sales Professionals as the President for India Chapter. The mission of AA-ISP is to advance the profession of Inside Sales. AA-ISP Gurgaon and Noida Chapter is supported by Inside Sales Box to create an ecosystem for Inside Sales professionals for businesses.

If you are a BPO/ Inside Sales/ Marketing and Sales professional or a Technology Entrepreneur, who is aspiring to stay abreast with best IS practices, discover digital sales tools & technologies, and explore jobs and business opportunities locally and globally – I welcome you to be a part of AA-ISP India.

A payment gateway that onboards you in less than a week: Razorpay

If you are a startup looking for payment gateway integration and the process adherence is killing you, Razorpay might save the hassle.

Founded by Shashank Kumar and Harshil Mathur in 2014, Razorpay is positioned to provide you with a payment gateway solution within a week’s time. Shashank shares that his inability to find a gateway to accept international payments and the enviable ease with which it could be done in US, drove him to start Razorpay.

Here are some interesting bits from iSPIRT’s interview with Shashank:

What triggered you to start up?

SK: “My co-founder and I know each other from college days. After we graduated, we kept working on side projects, mostly for fun. For one of our side projects, we wanted a payment gateway to accept international transactions. However, it had a bunch of requirements like we should have a proper office space, past operational record as a company, fixed deposit of over 1 lakh, and more. Even after fulfilling those requirements, it would take 1 to 3 months for activation. Overall, we had a negative experience. We went online and found that most people, mostly startups, shared a similar experience.

There were 2 issues. First, it was a technical challenge. But more importantly, it was a startup challenge. The gateways, at least at that time (2013), were not ready to serve the startups. The issue needed to be addressed with a fresh mindset. We thought we could do something about it.”

RazorpayWhat has been the role of the accelerators in shaping your journey?

SK: “We started from Jaipur to save cost and were working from home initially. Soon we started looking for co-working spaces and came across Startup Oasis, which had come up as an incubator and a co-working hub. Other startups there were also our target market. So we got a lot of first had feedback on our product as we grew. The team at the incubator also made a lot of introductions for us.

When YCombinator happened, they changed our entire thought process on how the company needs to work. They helped with our initial launch, raising money, hiring, managing ESOPs, etc. Also, people took us more seriously now since we were a YC company. We were thinking in terms of how big the space is and taking care of our core business, while the accelerator helped us with the other roles.”

What was your most prominent roadblock?

SK: “We went and talked to multiple banks for offering payments. However, since we did not have any prior experience they were averse to us. Given the failure rate of startups I think it is understandable, since they are accountable for everything. Slowly things are changing, but even now it is very difficult for banks to take early stage startups seriously.”

What would be your advice people who want to startup?

SK: “Pick up a problem that you yourself have experienced; that is the perfect place to start solving. If you become your own target market, it helps. Once you go deep into the domain, you will realize if the problem is big enough for you to solve it. It should be a problem that your network or peer group is facing so that you get your initial set of customers and are able to validate your product.

Have set timelines. It helps to know what you want to do. When we started, we had zero domain knowledge, but our vision was very clear. Once that is clear, one can define the current situation and set future timelines. It will take time to achieve whatever you aspire, but you need to put those numbers on paper first. Figure the knowledge gaps and put timelines against them. If one approach does not work, try something different and see how you get to it. The idea is to not get stuck and keep moving on instead.

It would be great if you could get a mentor at an early stage. Even otherwise, there are a lot of resources online that might help. The idea is to understand what problem exactly are you trying to solve, and then creating a framework around it. It gives a very reliable structure to be able to solve the problem.

Apply to accelerator programs. There application process itself will push you to answer questions, you thought you already had answers to.”

After having raised a round of funding, Razorpay has been aggressively growing in the market with encouraging customer response. We wish them a long and sustainable growth.

Getting loans for SMEs is now simple: Getfiscal #FinTech

Getfiscal was started in May 2015 to help SMEs manage their cash flows and simplify the process of raising loan. It already has about 100 costumers on the platform, and has helped raise loans worth over 1 crore. Before starting up, co-founders Aditya Tulsian and Baskar Ganapathy, were a part of the team responsible for launching Intuit’s accounting and tax software in India.

Here are interesting excerpts from the conversation with Co-founder and CEO, Aditya Tulsian, who shares what it takes to quit a good job and startup.

Why Getfiscal?

“When we took Intuit’s software to Indian SMEs, we found two things:

First, Indian businesses are not looking for full-fledged accounting software. They want a simple way to manage the basic cash flow – the money-in and money-out.

Second, whenever the business wants a loan, it is a big problem. In India the entire cash flow is being managed on excel sheets. It is cumbersome, time consuming. The amount of effort for a bank to underwrite a loan for 10 lakh is the same as that required for 10 crore, which made the banks completely ignore this segment. That’s where we wanted to create a simple but robust platform to help SMEs manage cash flows, and then use that data to enable an NBFC or a bank to give out a working capital loan.“

GetFiscalWhat was your inspiration behind leaving your job and starting up?

“For me, both my father and my wife have their own businesses. I was closely involved with them, right from forming their company to managing their finances. So it only seemed natural.

Second, we felt that the opportunity was so phenomenal, and both Bhaskar and I had spent enough time in this ecosystem in India, that we could quickly go in, use our knowledge and experience and create a business out of it.”

What do you look for in new hires?

“We are a team of 11 people at this point. We look for 2 things:

  1. We look for passion in the idea. The person has to believe in the idea because the journey is going to be anything but easy.
  1. We are looking for a person who is willing to learn. Though different flavors of this have been done across the globe, the approach that we have taken, where product led financing is the key, that is, we bring the small businesses on the platform and then help them get a loan; this has not happened. Therefore the team needs to constantly have a learning mindset.”

How difficult or easy is it to onboard the SMEs in India?

“Very clearly, they have a genuine problem of managing everything on excel. Excel though flexible, in the end is manual and very error prone. So we see a lot them adopting our platform, even if they do not need a loan.

We are solving for the entire value chain of financial management, for today, when one wants to create an invoice, he manages it on one excel sheet, and then tracks it on a different excel sheet, checks the status in the bank and then gives all this data to the chartered accountant who then files a tax. So there are multiple platforms that have to be touched for a single invoice. So the pain point itself is huge for them.

The other thing everyone losses their sleep is for money, and we are helping them get a loan. So it is simple logic to adapt it.

Now, onboarding has 2 aspects to it: mind set and migration.

To address the mindset issue, we are targeting SMEs who are less than 4 years in business, because that is where the adopters lie.

For migration, we provide a 5 minute mapping, where you can upload your existing excels. For majority of the existing software, you will have to go out and adopt their invoicing format, but not so with us.”

What tips would you share with the people who are looking to quit their jobs and start up?

“Everyone has his or her own journey, but here is what I think it takes:

  1. You have to have passion for the idea. If you don’t believe in the idea, there is no point in working on it. The passion can be for any reason; it could be for the huge amount of money, or it could be for the pain point, or you yourself feel the need for it.
  1. Before you start off, you have to think about a team. While working on the idea, also look for a team. They will help you not only when the chips are down, but they will also complement you. Only then you can go out and create a business, knowing that even if you are not there sometimes, things will be taken care of.”

The idea and its implementation so far looks very promising. We wish Aditya and his team, all the luck in their endeavour.

List of 11 #Madeinindia Applicant Tracking Software

Applicant tracking systems are great for HR professionals and recruiters. Even though there are disputes about their effectiveness as they target keywords more than candidate skills, it greatly helps recruiters to minimize the size of talent preposition without wasting their precious time and energy. Statistically speaking, ATS has saved over 20% of companies’ precious time during the recruiting process. Moreover as per careerealism “75% of large companies uses ATSs to review a resume before a recruiter sees it”. By seeing the above stats you can easily analyze how ATS is a must for every organization in this highly competitive business scenario.Indian Applicant Tracking Systems

To simplify your talent pool acquisition, here is a list of some of the Top Indian Applicant Tracking Software (In no particular order):
Resumefox: It is an innovative and easy to use recruitment software that saves the hiring time and cost by a whopping 70%. Moreover, through its comprehensive modules an organization can simplify its recruitment process by a great deal. Here are some of its notable features.

  • It helps in building searchable resume databases with zero manual efforts.
  • Reformates multiple resumes at one go and has a strong duplicate resume detection system
  • Generates comprehensive and insightful reports in real time
  • Creates recruitment life cycle and offers detail analysis of employee until joining.

Price:

  • Lite: $699
  • Standard: $899
  • Enterprise: $1199

TalentRecruit:  TalentRecruit is an end-to-end solution that integrates and automates your entire recruitment processes. It helps your company grow by streamlining the recruitment process and reduces operational cost with increase in recruiter’s efficiency. It is highly customized so can fit in any organization. Some of its most enterprising features are:

  • Provides candidate screening and evaluation facility
  • Enrich with facilities such as candidate sourcing, resume management, tracking candidate progression, etc.
  • It provides advanced search algorithms to locate the right candidate.
  • Has an efficient and agile management of jobs and candidates in order to reduce the “Time to Hire”

Price: Rs 1000-1500/user/month

99ATS: It is a web-based recruitment system that helps organization to stream line and manage their recruitment process. Moreover it has easy migration and avoids resume duplication. Here are some perks :

  • Has built-in bulk email to reach out to maximum number of candidates.
  • Imports resumes one by one or in bulk from external resources and organizes with the applicant tracking system.
  • Has comprehensive and reliable social media integration which helps in providing jobs and requirements at one click. (Learn More: How ATS Systems Integrate with LinkedIn)
  • Provides an authentic resume extract facility which by parsing extracts accurate information about the candidate.

 Price: Contact the Website

Zoho recruit: It a Saas based online recruiting system software. Moreover it helps staffing agencies and recruiting departments to track job openings, resumes, candidates, etc. quickly and efficiently. It provides features such as:

  • Automatically captures and import resume information from email attachments, outlook inbox, etc.
  • It lets the recruiters to post job opening on popular sites such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Manages candidate activity effectively from one location inside Zoho recruit.
  • Provides facilities like event management and candidate source tracking.

Price:

  • Free edition- Rs. 0 for 1 recruiter
  • Standard edition: Rs. 1500/recruiter/month
  • Enterprise: 3000/ recruiter/month

RecruitPro 360: Highly customized, RecruitPro 360 enhances recruitment process, synchronizes workflow and increases productivity. Moreover it provides high level automaton process which makes the recruitment process burden free and less time consuming. Here are some of its notable features

  • Provides intuitive user interface and automated resume import facility
  • It has comprehensive internet search and match capabilities.
  • It has a sophisticated tracker which tracks the candidate in an unique and user friendly manner
  • Has easy to use data migration facility with zero data entry

 Price: Contact the Website

Talentpool: It helps in executing better joining ratio by quality and streamlined recruitment process. It empowers front line users with better profiles, getting real time visibility of resumes and track key metrics. Take a look at its features:

  • It helps managing multiple sourcing activities, including marketing campaigns to access more candidates.
  • Imports candidate resumes from job portals directly into its centralized database.
  • Works seamlessly with agencies to manage vendors thus reducing time spent by recruiters on candidate status update.
  • Provides effective and authentic duplicate resume detection.

Price: Contact the Website

employAstar: It’s a cloud-based applicant tracking system that gives a 360-degree view of client, candidates, requisition, etc. Its cloud-based solutions are focused shrinking efforts and time of the recruiters while the process is going on. Here are some of its most enthralling features:

  • Provides email alerts and approvals so that organization can send automated emails to their corresponding candidates.
  • Has quick and advanced resume searching technique.
  • Facilities effective vendor management system.
  • Provides easy and integrated platform to simplify the process of corporate internal hiring.

Price: Contact the Website

Adrenalin Recruitment Management: It is the most effective hiring platform which facilitates in tracking of individual skills and transforms recruitment into more simple and effective process. Moreover it effectively manages employee talent thus solves employee retention problems. Some of its noticeable features are:

  • Provides intuitive interface which requires minimal training which makes it easier for candidates and recruiters to operate.
  • Has an unique feature of marking out ideal candidates as per company requirements
  • Provides seamless integrations with job portals and consultants with a single click.
  • Has comprehensive requisition (official order) management and secure data access.

 Price: Contact the Website

TalentCube: TalentCube emphasizes on making the recruitment process simple, easier and cost-effective for organizations. Moreover with the facility of mobile apps, it completes a one-stop solutions regarding recruitment for its users. Take a look at its features:

  • Provides comprehensive sourcing of candidates which reduces the “Time to Hire” scenario by 30-40%.
  • With an extensive social media campaign feature, organizations can connect with their candidates and improve candidate experience.
  • Reduces cost of Hiring with integrations with job boards, social media, email campaign, etc.
  • Has a user centered design which provides complete analysis, user feedback, prototype structure, etc.

 Price: Contact the Website

iHIRING: It is a cloud based assessment platform with in-built applicant tracking system. Moreover with iHIRING candidate assessment can be done in all possible formats viz. code simulation, running text, video and audio. Here are some of its salient features:

  • Provides large database storage so as to maintain the records of past candidates for future referrals.
  • Has IP address blocking facility which prevents unsolicited or unwarranted candidates from accessing published assessment.
  • Provides intuitive dashboard which allows the recruiter to view the entire running process and control hiring process in real time
  • It is the best deal and a comprehensive solution for corporate or in-house HR teams

Price: Contact the Website

Talentnow: It is designed with a view to manage the entire recruitment cycle of job creation to candidate finalization with minimum human intervention. Moreover it is a boon for direct employers, staffing companies and permanent placement agencies. Some of its notable features are:

  • Automatically imports resumes from third party job portals, social networking websites, etc. with almost zero data entry
  • Reduces portal cost by building your own resume database
  • Implements different workflows for different jobs and increases workflow efficiency.
  • Provides team/user-level dashboards of activities to track performance, revenues, usage of resources, etc.

 Price: Contact the Website

For most staffing agencies and recruiting companies, analyzing optimum keywords for candidate search is been a tedious task. But with the increase in usage of comprehensive and authentic ATS systems not only candidate search but also the “Hire to join” time has come down to a great extent. Storing databases and automating the recruitment process has become easy and less time consuming. Moreover before buying any ATS Software you should check this amazing Applicant Tracking Software Buyer’s Guide by Greenhouse, Inc. If you are looking for an open source ATS Software you can find it here.

A corporate wallet to simplify business payments and expense tracking: The Happay Story

B2C wallets like Paytm and Mobikwik are known well enough. The B2B wallet story, however, is still in its nascent stage. Happay is that wallet which helps companies manage their expenses through employees, using corporate wallets.

Varun Rathi and Anshul Rai were classmates at IIT Kharagpur. They worked for 2 years before they started up. After toying with different business ideas, they zeroed in on payments, and thereafter, quit their jobs.

Happay started as a platform for splitting payments or transfer money through its wallet. However, the team, even with over 2 lakh registered users, was unable to find a good revenue model. They pivoted to address B2B payment management hassles. They have tied up with Ratnakar Bank to issue corporate cards which double as expense management system for the company. The companies can issue these cards to all their employees, and, at the back end, track, or even cap the permissible amount for each card.

Here is an excerpt from Varun’s interview with iSPIRT:

Why did you Startup?

VR: “I come from a business family and so, I think I inherited the urge to start something of own business. It was different from a typical Marwari business, because I wanted to make a technology business that was scalable”.

Why did you choose to address payments?

VR: “The payments market in itself is globally very large and scalable. So even if you solve a small problem in payments, it can go big.

Last 5-10 years have seen a lot of sourcing through wallets. So we thought this was the problem we should solve. Our solution was quite a hit between students and young professionals. However, there was no strong revenue model. Also, we had to go to all vendors and get them to accept those payments through our instrument, which was proving difficult.

On the other hand, a lot of businesses would come to us looking for payments solution. There was no product that would address their issue. So we decided to pivot.”

You decided to pivot from B2C to B2B. What were your major challenges?

VR: “First biggest challenge was to unlearn whatever we had learned and focus exclusively on talking to customers which we didn’t do with the first product.

The first product seemed more intuitive to the team, as we ourselves were the customers. This time around the team talked to over 1000 customers to understand their problems.”

As for aligning the team, Varun shares, “Our team was very young, with no one with more than 2-3 years of experience. So they were open to learn new things. Besides, it took us 9-10 months, to come up with the new product. This gave enough time to the team to align themselves.”

Next challenge was in terms of requirements of the business. “With a B2B product, we realized that businesses needed handholding at every step. Where we scaled to 2 lakh registered users with just 5 members in the team, this time around, we ended up hiring for different teams, taking the number of employees to about 100.

We hired the first person that could give a demo to the customers. Then we needed someone for lead generation, as the product does not automatically reach the target audience. Even after a customer is acquired, we needed to hire for relationship management and customer support. The customers even after signing up would not take the next steps themselves.”

What are the challenges in coming up with an expense card? Why have other expense management companies not done it?

VR: “ Getting such a card and its integration in place, is a difficult process. It requires a license, partnership with the bank, a certification with VISA, and a strong technology team to support all of it. It takes about a year to complete just the processes.

We were in the business of payments, from the start. So our initial aim was to develop applications over the payments platform. We first solved the payments problem and then later on built expense management software over it. Other players made the software and started selling it. They never had the intention of going deeper into the payments problem.”

How is scaling a B2B business different from a B2C?

VR: “There are both pros and cons. B2B is slow and time taking but steady. There are some safe landings in between, so I cannot go down all of a sudden, as is the case with B2C. I can become an overnight success in a B2C product, with maybe some good PR but that can go away in a second, as it is very fragile and there is a lot of competition. In B2B, customers don’t sign up that fast, but they give you time. Once you have their trust, even if something is not perfect, they give you a month or 2 to make it right. That gives more stability to the business.”

What are the 3 things you wish you knew before you started?

VR: “Launch soon: One mistake we made was not launching the product soon. We, like most other companies, were trying to build a perfect product. But the sooner you take it to the customer; the steeper is the learning curve.

Talk to your customers: We assumed what our customers needed and built the product around it. Customers don’t know what they need till they see it. So let them see it.

Making the team will take time: Time required in hiring and nurturing team is very high. It takes almost 50% of our time. We didn’t account for it from the start and this has come across as a major learning.

What is your advice to other people starting up right off the college?

VR: “Understand the market first. If you start fresh out of college, you can take more risk. In terms of technology, you can stretch your limits, as you don’t have any responsibilities. But scaling brings problems. Hiring, building and managing the team and responding to the market needs more finesse. Understand the market so that you have at least some idea of how to respond.”

Corporate wallets address a very crucial bottleneck in managing expenses in an organisation. We wish Varun and his team at Happay, all the success.

 

Making SMEs loans a breeze with Capital Float

Typically, choosing to finance the SMEs looking for working capital loans, is not easy. First, the SMEs have smaller ticket size. Then they expect quick service and have high operational costs associated with it. ProductNation interviewed Shashank Rijyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja who started Capital Float in early 2013, a digital finance company that serves the loan requirements of SMEs in India.

Shashank having worked with McKinsey and Bain, has a background in creating, and packaging financial instruments. Gaurav on the other hand had grown and sold his family business before they met at Stanford as classmates.

“We were looking to address financial inclusion. We observed how the fin-tech space was being disrupted in US and China, and saw the huge opportunity in India. With 48 million SMEs, second just to China, with 50 million, India needed lenders who would tailor their offering to the needs of the customers. The rate of interest by the banks was much higher than expected. Also, the loan disbursement ate up a lot of time. So this need was largely catered to by the informal sector”, says Gaurav.

Registered as an NBFC with RBI, they started with an instrument for invoice financing (building loan product against invoice of blue-chip companies). The duo gradually evolved their products to provide working capital loans for SMEs. They developed underwriting models which address the specific scenarios of the SMEs.

“There are 2 broad categories of sellers coming up on eCommerce portals. First are those who sell on platforms like Zovi and Myntra, where the sellers are also the manufacturers. Other category includes retailers who sell on sites like Snapdeal and Paytm. They generate a huge demand for loans available at short notice periods with minimum hassle. That is where we found our sweet spot”, shares Shashank.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

How did you overcome the problems of traditional lending?

SR: “Firstly, our experience came in handy. My in-depth knowldge of micro-financing, packaging and selling loan instrument meant we could build the right services. Gaurav with his experience of running a business out of India, knew how to deliver the services we wanted to build.

Secondly, we met with our customers to understand what their problems really were. To a small business owner, every hour spent off the floor is an hour wasted. We came up with innovative methods like allowing same day approvals and providing loan facility over phone and laptop. These businesses needed greater accessibility and straight-forward procedures. They wanted someone who could understand the value of their time.

Third, and definitely the most crucial point was that we adopted trial and error method. Like any startup, we didn’t know exactly how things would work. We were building our instruments in-house. So we had to fail fast and experiment quickly. With agile methodology, today, we can deliver new loan products in 2 weeks. A bank would take about an year to do the same.”

How is the policy environment evolving in India, with respect to your industry?

GH:  “The Mudra banks for refinancing are a welcome move. With 950 million Aadhar numbers issued, allowing eKYC, is it much easier to issue loans. The Digital India initiative to create better internet connectivity will help us reach a much larger customer base.”

They are leveraging the Indian stack to refine their instruments and are growing with it.

How difficult is it to get payback of loans?

SR: “SMEs are the most financially aware and responsible segment, since they always manage their finances tightly. Also, our screening process mitigates high risk customers, allowing us to cater to the needs in minimum possible time frame. So that’s not much of an hassle.”

What would be the 3 lessons you have learned from your journey?

GH: “1. Perseverance – One needs to believe that the idea would work, when no one else knows if it will. It is important to stick to that optimism and keep trying to find the exact fit.

  1. Strong fundamentals – From the first day, the business needs to know where its money will come from. The cash flow should not be dependent on where one is, in the funding cycle.
  2. Rounded team – Build a great team if you want to build a great product. A strong team stands by you to make it possible.”

What would you say to the entrepreneurs starting up fresh out of college? 

SR: “There is no right time to startup. Whenever you get passionate about a problem and see a large market for it, go for it. Here are my 3 tips:

  1. Address a big problem. If you go after a problem which is not so big, it may not be worth all the effort. India provides huge opportunities with really major problems that need to be addressed.
  2. Maintain discipline. Whatever you do, think big and build for the long term.
  3. Understand your responsibility. As you grow your team, you need to realise that families of your employees are getting dependent on you. It is essential that you take your decisions wisely.”

What are the mistakes you wish you did not make?

GH: “We were too slow in the start. We should have been aggressive, and believed in ourselves more. We thought people might not accept a technological solution. We have realized however, that technology has to lead the change in society. Invest in constantly being disruptive and you will definitely make a difference.”

We thank Shashank and Varun for sharing their insights on the FinTech sector and wish them the best for their journey.

Does Mobile Only strategy point to lack of Design Thinking?

The runaway success of Indian e-commerce show is driven by the single biggest attraction of hefty discounts available almost on all products! More than any other value proposition of e-commerce such as more choices, convenience, 24×7 availability, payment options and faster deliveries, the Indian customer was lured to e-commerce by the sheer scope for discounts she would not get elsewhere! The intense competition over market share among the e-commerce players ensured that there is always a counter offer for any blockbuster offer from one player. The eternal discount chasing customer is smart enough to sense this opportunity to compare prices of every item on offer with other vendors and settle on the maximum discount offer. While this was the modus operandi of the average online buyer, e-commerce players were sweating out on how to better their offer by attempting to do enormous scales that would only push their quest for profitability farther and farther.

Gme Changer or - Image_1As the dog fight continues to grab market share, e-commerce players are trying to outdo one another by introducing newer business models and innovations; the latest being Mobile Only format. Though there have been many successful experiments that defined the online buying culture in India such as Cash on Delivery, easy hassle free returns and EMIs, the latest experiment’s success is not pronounced yet, while many of the digital enthusiasts are upbeat about it.

Sorry, Mobile Only -Image_2Here comes the Mobile Only strategy!  While all the arguments for Mobile Only strategy evangelize the potential of the native app technology and innumerable values it promises to the marketer, an honest assessment of the anticipated compromises on the side of the customer is yet to come i.e what possibilities it takes away from the customer in order to cut short longer sales cycle.  Ironically, the deterrents for marketers to sell more are also the very value drivers for the consumers to buy more!

What is undisclosed about the real motive behind the Mobile Only strategy? Is it just Customer apathy?

During the years Indian e-commerce players took their baby steps to entice the buyers, this space also spawned innumerable deal aggregators and price comparison sites in empowering the value hunting customer to gleefully snap the best deals in the online space because of customer’s sheer capability to compare and choose across multiple vendors offering products of same specification. While online customers enjoyed this newfound freedom and capability, e-commerce players dreaded this unfettered nature of competition. This had made e-commerce players’ life a nightmare and the only possibility to woo customers was to settle for lowest price and provide faster delivery – both demanded extreme back-end efficiency and truckloads of money to operate at wafer thin margins; if not at loss.  Every e-commerce vendor had been eagerly looking for an effective way to fortify his customer from being weaned away by a better offer from competition. In these circumstances some enthusiasts find the Mobile Only format a perfect antidote for limiting customer’s newfound capability.   Lets look at how the Mobile Only format plays out!

  • In a Mobile Only format, the ease and speed of operation make the customer blind to the loss of the market options- i.e. to compare and weigh the market offers and to arrive at his maximum discounted vendor decision!
  • Deprived of option to compare the customer would be less confused about product choices with other competing products – the bliss every marketer longs for.
  • Customer decision cycle will be relatively short and quick compared to an open market situation like many players offering competing and comparable products as in the case of web.

Thus, effectively marketers are trying to cage customers to the controlled environment of their app and subtly cut off customer from the open market and invisibly condition and constrict his buying behavior for the benefit of the marketer, hoping that customer would fall in place as per their design!

However, what boggles the mind is the unpredictability as to how the customer would react to this stealth move by marketers!

The Mobile Only format yet to sink into the customer mind!

Hostile UX- Image_3
The inevitability of Mobile Only customer experience

Despite all hype around personalized content spiced with data analytics, the user experience remains the single largest bottleneck for going Mobile Only format. A large section of online users, especially those who have access to PC still consider viewing the products on large screens and doing one’s own market study before placing orders. A lot of online buying is driven by such consumer behavior born out of web format capability, but this turns out to be a huge challenge in Mobile Only format as SEOs are still at nascent levels in indexing app pages effectively to provide actionable comparison. Moreover for the user it becomes quite tricky to compare different sites considering the smaller screen of mobile device, while for the marketer app based approach opens up plethora of possibilities. That brings us to the cross roads in deciding how to navigate between marketer opportunities versus customer centricity?

The behavioral profile of online buyer and the Mobile Only format – a case of mismatch?

  • One of the main characteristics of online buyer is his appetite for best deals with maximum discounts available across vendors.
  • He also derives satisfaction that the deal is actually the best by comparing it with other offers. Therefore he is a value hunter and much less brand loyal.
  • Similarly, the app only promotions may not entice the buyer as buyer may feel the buying experience to be incomplete without going through this essential buying process or may remain non impulsive to respond to a targeted notification in the app.
  • The idea of enhancing personalized buying experience and brand building may be misplaced here, as there is a mismatch between vendor offering and customer expectation.
  • Majority of the mobile Internet users have been using online buying just recently and are yet to realize the compromises they have to make while on a Mobile Only format. Eventually they would conclude that the benefits of web may outweigh those of the Mobile format.
  • When the buyer realizes that marketers are effectively limiting the possibilities of the buyer, the disenchantment may lead to a lot of anguish in the minds of customer and eventually she may look beyond Mobile format.

While we have so much pointers to customers’ buying process already on the table, a complete disregard to customer behavior and expectation will have serious implications in winning a pie from the increasingly discretionary customer participation. On the one hand all the leading e-commerce players claim that 70% to 80% of their total orders come through their mobile platform; on the other hand they admit that 25% of these orders are originally discovered in PC platform and the mobile platform was used only at the clinching stage of order execution. Hence ignoring this huge market will be destroying the value they have hopefully awaited over the years.

Thus, only time will unfold whether Mobile Only format is a game changer in delivering value or a big value destroyer? The early reports suggest that Myntra had mixed response to their app only strategy. Interestingly Myntra’s parent Flipkart has put on hold Flipkart’s app only format originally scheduled from 1 September 2015. In the just concluded Big Billion Day sale in October 2015, Flipkart continued the web format and was heavily promoting the app platform by offering app exclusive launches and additional discounts on app based purchases indicating that despite all the best efforts to push consumers to app only format there is considerable volume coming from web format and marketers cannot ignore consumer preferences.

Going by Flipkart’s main competitor Snapdeal’s founder & CEO Kunal Bahl’s admission, Myntra’s app only strategy has greatly helped Snapdeal’s fashion business ever since Myntra shut down the website from May 15, 2015.   Is Myntra’s case a straw in the wind vis-a-vis the Mobile Only strategy? Industry is watching this space very keenly for more signals!

If Mobile Only is overkill, what is the right balance?

Given the growth of Indian Internet users at YoY growth rate of 32%, the 375 million users (as per IAMAI November 2015) augur well for e-commerce players. More than 60% of these 375 million users are mobile Internet users and the share of mobile Internet users are set to grow at faster rate given the continuous reduction in smart phone prices and more and more 3G & 4G network availability. Apparently, this paradigm shift in net access point very much endorses the idea of going Mobile First strategy. However the Mobile Only strategy is self-inflicting to all categories of products especially for high involvement category products. Categories those are low involvement and completely transaction based and used frequently such as taxi hailing services, bill payment services, travel booking sites, event ticket booking and restaurant services may have a case to go Mobile Only at the risk of losing a small portion of their business, as even those category demands multi channel access points simply because of heterogeneous customer behavior.

Mobile Only, does it sound lack of Design Thinking?

According to IDEO’s President and CEO; “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Where does Mobile Only falls short in integrating needs of consumer and requirements of business with possibilities of technology?

Understand your customer really well: There are many reasons cited for going Mobile Only such as better maintainability, cost savings, huge data mining capability which in turn can power data analytics driven marketing functions like greater segmentation, contextual targeting, user engagement and rapid personalization at scale. While all these are the possibilities for the marketer to embrace the new format, the same possibilities turns out to negate the possibilities of the consumer that is essential for a sustainable growth of ecommerce category. Mobile Only enthusiasts seems to be missing the plot by ignoring customer decision journeys to understand what motivates people and what puts them off and apparently loses opportunities for creating delightful experiences.

Empathize your customer with customer advocacy: While more and more businesses are waking up to the real world business need of ‘empathy’ mapping by putting the customer at the center of problem solving equation, the Mobile Only format looks highly skewed towards the marketer. Apparently we are still not finding a holistic reason for Mobile Only format apart from the ulterior motive of customer confinement, rather born out of customer apathy or total disregard for customer preferences. Building this wide gap requires rallying customer advocacy and customer centric empathy across all functions of business to deliver value and keep customer experience as the most important metric.

Device Option- Image 4Design to delight: Instead of Mobile only format, to fully capitalize rapidly growing net users the e-commerce players should repurpose all the touch points rather than limiting to only mobile touch points. Marketers should offer all options of net access points including web along with mobile, with all screen options and continuously reexamine the new touch points of value creation.

It is very important to explore all the digital channels for effective customer outreach when we are talking about bringing in all the 375 million net users to meaningful online purchases. A deep understanding of customer experience across all channels is just the starting block of the long process. To assume that customer’s interaction with a brand can be effectively managed only through an app (in an app only ecosystem as envisioned by Mobile Only enthusiasts) seems like an incomprehensive view as customers preference to multiple digital channels such as web & mobile advertising, email, search engines, social media and video are increasingly playing a decisive role in customers decision journey.   To capture the multiple touch points of customer interactions every e-commerce company should aspire to capture a comprehensive view of its customers, by implementing mature systems for collecting and organizing those deep insights. It is all the more important for ecommerce vendors of high involvement categories to provide a feel of the product through multiple and large visual interactions that is closer to actual physical experience to reassure the expectations of the product to user. Such affirmative and inclusive measures would increase the adoption of ecommerce at even faster rate.

The need is to remain attuned to customer decision journeys and understand how to use new capabilities to serve customers better. This is possible when marketers prioritize to understand each step of customer’s purchasing journey and design and deliver best experience across all formats. Every marketer’s goal should be to continuously discover efficient frontiers of value delivery without undermining superior user experience essential for occupying the numero uno position in customers’ mind space.

How coming to Valley fast forwarded us 10x

Noida/India, March 2015:

Typical startup scene. Cash running out, existing product not scaling fast enough to excite Series A investors and the worse part, need to let go some awesome employees who believed in our vision & promises. For a few nights I couldn’t sleep properly in the hope of getting that “one” idea which could give us a new direction and the enthusiasm to keep going.

During all this time what fuelled me was the support of my co-founder & the core team, blessings of family & friends and most importantly, my mentor & a few friends who I could call anytime to discuss all of my silly ideas. Finally, one day, after tons of calls and brainstorming sessions, it happened! The idea of the new product was finally clear in my head, so clear that I could visualise it. Even though it was 3AM, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up, made myself a cup of cappuccino and started drawing the wireframes. I was done by 4AM but still could not sleep. The thought of discussing the new direction with the team and wondering what their reaction would be, made my brain explode with excitement!

Fast forward 2 weeks, the team had loved the idea and started working on the first MVP (for non startup folks that means minimum viable product)). The idea was to build a curated YouTube videos app with the possibility of creating memes and doodles to help discover the best online videos. We launched the MVP on Android and got fairly good user traction, keeping us excited about the opportunity-

Growth chart for our first MVP

Apr 2015:

Though the investors were excited about our new idea, the hitch was users were not sticking to the app (see the downward trend on graph). We knew that the video space is promising but somehow the trigger to use our app everyday was not strong enough. We had two options at that point- keep pursuing the investors and burning money in acquiring new users or go back to the whiteboard (again) and build something which users would truly love. We didn’t have much cash left and since investors were showing interest it was hard to let go & get back to the drawing board.

However after an internal discussion we decided that we would build again. It was a difficult decision given that ‘getting funded’ sounds a lot sexier than ‘let’s take a crack again’. But for us the choice was easy, because we always wanted to build something which millions of people would want to use everyday. So I went back to my mentors & they helped us quickly raise a small round from some awesome investors. That gave us enough bandwidth to focus on building the right product.

This is how a “Vid” looks like. It also plays a 10 sec voiceover.Back to the whiteboards. Back to basics. We spent lot of time discussing how can we really solve video discovery problem. I also read Nir Eyal’s “Hooked” and we built the product chapter by chapter, brainstorming on key concepts like “Trigger, Action, Reward and Investment”. By June 15th we had an iOS version ready, I felt that the trigger to open the app everyday was still kind of weak but in the process we had invented a new way to quickly discover videos, we called our invention a “Vid”. The app looked neat and concept of Vid gave the app a visually attractive & differentiated feel. With the new app I started meeting friends who could give us feedback.

Jun 2015:

I met Ashish Tulsian of Posist who had visited Valley recently and showed him the product. He loved the concept but he advised me to visit valley and try to get early adopters there. We both knew that for social products & apps, India is a “follower” market. Although there are few exceptions like Whatsapp but in a price sensitive country where SMS/MMS were not free, Whatsapp came in as a Messiah and gave unlimited messaging for free (or at least at a fraction of cost). So for us the logical thing was to try finding influencers in Valley rather than trying to ride against the tide in India.

The decision was made. I was coming to Silicon Valley. Thanks to Wipro (my only employer till date) I had a Business Visa ready & was ready to fly any day. If it was not that meeting with Ashish, I might have still been procrastinating the US trip.

San Francisco (Bay area), 20th June 2015:

When I came to valley I literally had nothing apart from my old iPhone 5 and one among many apps installed in it, named “Vidzy” (that’s our app). Two of the other important apps were “Meetup” and “Eventbrite”. My first concern was to check if people here will find the idea unique and useful. What if they say, “Oh we use this and this app for this. Why should I use Vidzy”?

But that did not happen. In fact people loved the concept and started giving me their email IDs (because the app was still in beta and not live on App store). In a month I collected about 100 email IDs. I started going to more events and started meeting lot more people, one such event was at InMobi’s office (the unicorn startup from India). Guys at InMobi loved the app and asked us to present as a potential partner in their Miip launch event.

There you go, within a month of coming to US, I was talking about Vidzy at Fort Mason center (the same place where Facebook’s F8 developer conference happened) among hundreds of industry veterans from mobile and advertising industry. I couldn’t have thought about all this exposure within a month, if I was not in Silicon Valley.

Presenting Vidzy at Fort Mason during Miip Launch event

July/Aug 2015:

We started getting interest from some investors (some of who got in touch after the InMobi event), but for us key was to find out the right product market fit. We still did not have a strong trigger remember? Our beta users loved the concept but not so much the use case- few of them got back to me saying, “when will you enable personal video sharing?”. I was not sure about personal video sharing because we still believed that YouTube video discovery is a big enough problem to solve.

One day during some event I got an opportunity to pitch to Rick Marini. I had only 2 minutes. Rick being a pioneer in social consumer startups who has invested in companies like Reditt and Snapchat, his point of view mattered a lot. His reaction- “well the app and concept is good, but building on top of YouTube means they can shut you down any day and also this to me looks like a Vitamin not a Pain killer”. Those words got stuck in my head. I knew that something has to change, but what was that? How can we make this a pain killer?

August 2015:

After my meeting with Rick, I started looking for answers and connecting dots. Is personal video sharing a bigger problem? I starting thinking about it from the perspective of someone who record lot of videos everyday. Who is that user? And suddenly it occur to me that my brother makes lot of videos (of his daughter) and sends them over Whatsapp everyday. I decided to speak to him about the new use case.

To give a little background my brother is not a heavy app user, he owns a Windows phone and keeps a low profile on Facebook. The only way for him to share his daughter’s video is Whatsapp and that too reaches a limited list of his friends and family members. When I asked him whether he would like to use an app where he could share his daughter’s video with anyone who would like to watch, he immediately said “Yes”.

This gave me a huge boost, I called up my co-founders in India and we had a good 2 hour discussion on the use-case. We all agreed that it made lot of sense. We were still not too sure whether it was “the” pain which needed a pain killer. There was only one way to find it out- ask people! I started checking out important events on Meetup that week and found a “mobile innovation” related event in Mountain View. I still did not have the app with the feature built but the concept was there with YouTube videos, I decided to test the new hypothesis.

I showed the app to the first guy I met in the event, and told him the use case. He started staring at me and stared at me for good 10 seconds, I felt as if I had stolen his idea (that’s typical valley, I thought). It turned out that indeed I had stolen his idea, but he was glad that a solution for his problem was now out there. This guy said he has tons of videos of his kid but couldn’t find a decent app which could take those videos to interested people. Suddenly I felt like I was dreaming, for me that was like being closest to see a “product market fit”. During next half hour of the event, I didn’t talk about my product, instead that gentleman did all the talking on my behalf 😀.

Past few weeks:

Once the idea sank in, we discussed the opportunity and realised that the potential was huge. One key insight that emerged from these discussions was that the people could relate to the problem of videos sitting in the gallery and later getting deleted because of low storage space. We did a simple math: 1 Billion smartphones= at least a billion videos waiting to come out, multiply that by videos which will be recorded in future! Does it sound like a billion dollar opportunity? Hell ya 😍!

We got so excited that by 3rd week of August the test app was ready (we had to add the “record+upload” feature). Now an important decision was whether to keep both YouTube and personal videos in the app or focus sorely on the personal video space. We discussed & chose to avoid ambiguity about the core objective of the app & removed YouTube video sharing.

I’m staying at an Airbnb place in Valley, so I get to meet new visitors every other day. I used the opportunity and got some of them as beta users. They immediately related to our new proposition of sharing personal videos. All of them had a couple videos sitting on their phones that they had not done anything about and they promptly uploaded & shared them via Vidzy. This was a big confidence boost. Their reaction told us that maybe we finally had the ‘Pain Killer’ we had been wanting to make.

House where I stayed during first two months in Valley- Foundersbase

Surprisingly, no one owns the “video” trigger yet. YouTube is for professionals, Facebook/Twitter focus on brand/viral videos (to make money) while Instagram and Vine videos are too short to appeal to consumers beyond professional bloggers & artists. We realised that with our app we can own that trigger- i) Record/upload and share videos instantly (main trigger).

ii) Make video sharing fun through “Vid” concept (external trigger).

iii) Capture & share a video instead of a photo because, well… now you can! (ability).

To understand above terminologies do check out Nir Eyal’s awesome Slidesharedeck.

What next?

Our app went live last week and some of my friends and our beta users have started uploading and sharing their videos. Our idea is to grow the app organically through word of mouth and see if the network effect kicks in. We are working on few ideas like launching it on Product Hunt, showing it to the tech community during Techcrunch disrupt (21st Sep) and an offline event for students at UC, Berkeley. The idea is to meet our first 100 users face to face and learn from each other during these activities. Will keep on updating the results and learnings on Medium (please follow me if you are interested).

How Vidzy App looks (GIF)

For startups outside valley (be in US, India or elsewhere) who are contemplating their visit to valley, I would like to share a few pointers:

  1. If you have a global consumer product, don’t even think twice. Come as soon as possible. The learnings which I got here in 2 months, are worth more than my whole startup life’s experience (3 years). In addition to tech savvy consumers, the other thing which helps is extremely high living cost which pushes you out of your comfort zone 🙂 There is no option here, but to move fast or… die!
  2. Do not worry about leads or network. If you have a good product, people are more than willing to listen. DO NOT come without a prototype as people are bored of listening to ideas (every Tom, Dick and Harry here claims to be an entrepreneur). You need something to differentiate yourself, jump the queue and get noticed.
  3. Getting investors just on the basis of an idea and product is next to impossible. This is a mature market and an innovator’s market, so you can not really say that we are “Uber or Airbnb for India 😛”. To raise funds you must show a real product-market fit with real traction unless you have a well connected network (which I’m assuming you won’t have if you are reading this).

I will keep on writing more stuff as things progress, including our app experiment results, user response & off course funding status 😀.. You can ask me any specific questions on the comment section (if you have). I will try to answer them.

You can find Vidzy on AppStore. If you are interested in reaching out to me, please email rabi(at)vidzy.io.

How SignEasy got featured in an Apple campaign (and almost screwed it up!)

SignEasy was a two person operation in 2010, the year we launched. And bootstrapping meant a lot of pressure first on gaining and then on maintaining traction; there was, and still is, no safety jacket. If we have no money to pay salaries and run operations, there is no company or product, period. But we have been lucky, and successful enough to be profitable.

Today we have grown into a 15 member team, and SignEasy is now among the most successful apps on iOS and Android.

As more and more paperwork moves to the cloud, we are extremely well placed to help individuals and SMBs use eSignatures, and in turn, save paper and a lot of time and money in the process.

What we think about a lot

Innovation and customer happiness, that’s our mantra. An app like SignEasy is passing through a quality check every time a customer uses it. Which means any and all feedback is in real time, giving us the data we need to keep innovating and to keep the customer happy.

Our almost continuous updates and fixes to leverage Apple’s iOS strengths (such as our iOS extension and Touch-ID support), and to bring more capabilities to customers is due to this ruthless focus on user experience.

The mail from Apple

These priorities are what I believe got us noticed by Apple.

Early April this year, something popped up in my inbox. It was a mail from Apple’s marketing agency about featuring SignEasy on their upcoming iPad summer campaign. Needless to say, we were overjoyed. Though branding with an Apple ad was one reason for our excitement, there was a significant business angle as well — iOS accounts for 85% of our paying users, and Apple’s early adopters, the people who appreciate a well designed product, had always been our own champions. Apple wanted secrecy, they specified that no major changes should be introduced to the UI and product screens throughout the campaign, which would have made the ad rendering dated.

We agreed, and complied within a 48 hour window. We couldn’t control our excitement. After all, this was the ecosystem we had been nurturing for some time. This recognition was the ultimate feather in our cap. It was all about that important word we kept hearing about in startup conferences and funding events all around the world — validation. Then we went back to our work mode with fingers crossed, looking forward to hear back from them in the near future.

Until it all went wrong.

It was the 4th of May. A routine update for iOS went wrong and our users were unable to sign documents. We were devastated. We apologized to our customers immediately, and by May 6, had expedited a fix that went live that very night, restoring full service back to our users. It had taken a day and a night of non-stop work, but we had fixed the issue, and we heaved a sigh of relief.

SignEasy1

Several users were happy with the way we handled this

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Little did our users know that we were running against time, as May 7 was the day the iPad campaign went live. A lot of interest would be heading in our direction and needless to say, it wouldn’t have been very impressive if the app had been down on that very day.

Behind the scenes

The point I want to make here is that this experience again underlined to us the uniqueness of the lean, nimble startup model that we follow, despite being a five year old bootstrapped company. Our users have never had a reason not to trust us, and neither did Apple. As partners and owners of the ecosystem we are part of, it was imperative not to disappoint them, and we are proud we did not. The work that we put in to get the app working for our users again, the small colors and buttons we test and change to enhance usability, the late night frustrations with pizza delivery — these are things our users will never see, and that is by design.

It makes us proud that all this behind the scenes work reflects on the little screen in our users’ hands, and that they enjoy it enough to say that they love it.

Head over to this Youtube video where SignEasy’s ease of eSignature is being showcased by Apple

and other apps listed in the small business section by Apple:www.apple.com/ipad/change-everything/.

1-PIQFLWGxQ3VOu82GyIdFkQPart 2 of this post will talk about the actual gains that we had by being part of the Apple campaign. There are going to be metrics, and a lot of takeaways for app store citizens like us. So stay tuned!

Guest Post by Sunil Patro, Founder & CEO, SignEasy

Should experts be limited to an organization?

Expert01

 I am a great fan of analogy, and one of the things I have been pondering for past year or so is comparing our software industry with that of medical and film industry.

In this post, I plan to share some thoughts on how our software industry can consider the evolution of medical and film industry, and probably evolve in that direction.

Expert0 Expert2

In Medical industry, the ecosystem contains Doctors, Surgeons, Physicians, Specialists, Hospitals, Clinics, Life Science companies, research labs and further other associated entities to serve the patients.

In film industry, the ecosystem is made up of producers, directors, actors, cameraman, music director, editor, choreographer, stunt master,other specialized technicians.

Similarly in our software industry, the ecosystem is made up of VCs, founders, techies, designers, product managers, and sales/marketing folks.

Specialization

Expert3

One of the striking aspects of the whole evolution is the Specialization part, where medical industry has evolved and recognized the need for deep specialization, and doctors and the ecosystem surrounding have focused on specialization. While you still see some general physicians, we all know who are in more demand – the specialist.

In the film industry, specialization has become very key. Whether you are a screen play writer of dramas, you are specializing in romantic comedies, you are an action director etc. Offcourse there are few folks who are versatile especially in acting, but every film needs a bunch of specialist.

Similarly in our industry, specialization has taken off and it’s a great sign of the industry maturing. We see specialists in design, Ux vs backend techies, architects, B2B vs B2C product managers, industry experts such banking, government, healthcare who bridge industry knowledge with technology, we see further more big data, cloud, database, IoT, mobile etc experts.

 

Should Specialist be limited to an organization or department?

With the above background, the key thought I had for writing this post is how our industry can evolve to leverage the specialist expertise, to go beyond just one organization.

Take the case of medical industry, an important attribute is that the specialist are usually not associated to one hospital but consult in multiple different places. There also exists several communities where specialist come together to discuss the challenges, problems, solutions and experiences in their area of specialization. We have seen several doctors consult with others to get second opinions. The ecosystem is well setup in such a way that its not just honorary service, but it’s a win win for everyone, and takes care of “what’s in it for me ?” very well

In case of film industry, most of the people work independently and come together for a specific film. Over the period of time, many work together in multiple such film projects over several years. There are specialist and actors (not the main heros) who work on multiple projects. Its left to the potential, interest and capability of individual on how much he or she can leverage their time, how they want to pace their career, and how they really are on the toes to differentiate or find their winning formula, as individual or as a team. One of the nice talk you should watch to understand it is when our versatile actor Kamal Hassan spoke at NASSCHOM event, sharing some of the interesting aspects of film industry.

The above 2 industry are a great example for us to consider as we evolve our industry. We have several experts and specialist out there in our industry, but their talents are often not leveraged to full potential for lack of the right setup – they are bound by their employment contracts, or merely don’t have avenues to share, engage, contribute and gain. Most of the folks in our industry land up into mundane jobs, standard career path, leading to becoming some people managers or stop reinventing ourselves.

The boundary laid out for experts is not just being able to do with multiple projects outside, but even within the company many of the experts do not have an opportunity to showcase their potential as they are bound by their departments and hierarchies.

Here are my thoughts on how our industry can evolve around better leveraging specialist:

  • Expert clubs that can bring together specialist by different areas of specialization e.g. by specific functional areas, deployment expertise, industry expertise, cultural expertise, skills – product management /design/architecture, GTM expertise etc.
  • Answering the ‘whats in it for me ?’ question – not to expect specialist to come and engage always for free
  • Employment contracts have clauses that allows experts to do other pursuits beyond their employment e.g. like a doctor who can consult beyond the hospital he is assigned to, experts should be able to consult for other products /projects
  • Creating an environment where its safe for experts to be sharing and working independently to take risks
  • Entrepreneurs to recognize the need for experts /specialization for rolling out products that excel, instead of relying on do it all jack of all – this will drive towards the products that excel
  • An environment or community that facilitates experts to be easily accessible and able to work on a product/project for a given time, including possibility for them to engage in multiple projects based on their appetite …think of the movie analogy here
  • Crowd sourcing for expert skills would be a great way to enable experts to be fully engaged, leverage potential and create more products
  • Mentor programs are a stepping stone in this direction for many experts, we see lot of mentor programs already run…but this needs to get to the next level where these experts contribute more rigorously

 

List of Experts that we would like to see in our product industry being part of expert club, not exhaustive:

  • Ux Designers – Interation /visual design
  • Mobile designers
  • Internet Security experts
  • Product Managers for B2C
  • Product Managers for B2B
  • Product marketers
  • Industry Specialist
  • SaaS Pricing experts
  • Growth Hacking experts
  • Technical writers /Product Documentation writers
  • Intellectual Property Experts
  • Social Media Marketers
  • Solution Architects
  • Performance Optimization Experts
  • Scalability Experts

What are your views on this… can our software industry switch gears to enable experts to contribute more…and get awesome products that excel  …working beyond organization boundaries like a doctor or cinema artiste ?

CanvasFlip – The fastest and most awesome way to design an interactive prototype for Mobile Apps

We got to hangout with Vipul Mishra, Co-Founder of CanvasFlip – the fastest and most awesome way to design an interactive prototype. If you are a business that needs to design an app, read on…

What prompted the idea for CanvasFlip and who is your main target audience?

As a start up in the user experience domain, we get many requests inquiring about the standard practice in mobile app UX. Most queries relate to challenges faced in visualizing application flow among product managers, app designers and app developers. To address this challenge, CanvasFlip, a SaaS based mobile apps prototyping platform that aids in the designing process and allows multiple stakeholders to collaborate, was conceived. Our TG is any business that needs to design an app that gives an awesome experience to their customers.

Tell us about the main team at CanvasFlip and what keeps you all motivated and inspired to improvise and innovate?

CanvasFlip is ​our most recent venture which I co-founded with Manish. Manish takes care of the product development and operation, while I take responsibilities of business development and marketing. ​Me and Manish started our professional career together at Mahindra Satyam ​​and launched Yougle.in, FbViralVideos, Slurrp and few mobile games as a hobby projec​​t​s.

In earlier days, our motivation was to challenge ourselves if (and how efficiently) we can solve a particular problem. If there was something that could be done better, we took at shot at it. But now, feeling of making life easier for our clients while building a sustainable and profitable business is what keeps us improving and innovating.

How does CanvasFlip’s subscription work? Is it a free app? What are the available subscription plans?

We offer a 30 day trial period at the end of which users are given the option to subscribe to a monthly or annual plan. As a practice we don’t charge subscribers for a normal overage usage, charges are levied when the overage is consistent.

Describe the features of the app? How does it work? What sets it apart from the competition?

The very reason we founded CanvasFlip was to enable Mobile UX Flow visualization for all the stakeholders (Product Managers, App Designers and Dev team) rather than focusing only on app designers.To realize our vision we introduced few unique and disruptive offerings:

Automatic UX Sitemap generation
(When you create the prototype of your mobile app, a UX site map is created enabling a top level view of your project)

Canvasflip1

 

Real time Collaboration with team
(You can communicate with your team in real time. Suggest changes and track them)

Canvasflip2 

How has the journey been so far? What have been the best rewards? What have been the major challenges? What is the biggest learning you got so far?

It’s been great and with CanvasFlip being judged as the winner of the first edition of Hot100 Technology Awards, 2014, I can say it has been rewarding as well. Shortage of skilled people is one of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs in this field face. Finding people with above par programming skills was a major hurdle. Everyday has been a learning experience for us. Some of the most important things that we’ve learnt in the process of setting up canvas Flip are – commitment is the main differentiator between dreamers and achievers; overcoming the fear of taking risks is important for success and achieving your vision; and most importantly your product must add value to the client, otherwise it is of no use.

What are the future plans for CanvasFlip? How do you envision the company taking shape in the coming years? Are there any new offerings that customers should be looking forward to?

We started to make life easier for all stakeholders in an app development process and I believe we have just scratched the surface. We interview 20-25 Product Managers, designers and app developers every week to identify the user behavior. Based on their feedback and usage pattern, we are constantly improving to offer the best in class experience of prototyping and collaboration.

We are soon coming up with ready-to-use App UX templates in various category to save hours of research time for ​budding entrepreneurs​.​ ​Also, very soon users will be able to change their flow directly from UX Site maps/flow-charts. Every Sunday, we make a minor release ​and ​new features ​are ​communicated over the email​. So, register at CanvasFlip.com and we’ll keep you posted about new updates.​​

After the interview with Vishal, we just wished we were hired and paid well by a company to create apps. We would be rocking the scene !! On a serious note, it is heartening to note that we are racing ahead, pace by pace, to be the ‘product nation’ of the world. And the ‘wind beneath our wings’ is disruption and innovation. And the team at CanvasFlip seemed to have aced that.

Wishing them luck…

With inputs from Ritika Singh

Business Software Discovery made easier by SoftwareSuggest.com!

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…

SoftwaresuggestHow did you hit upon the idea of SoftwareSuggest?

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!

List of ISVs (Individual Software Vendor) for Hotel Industry from India

The Hospitality Industry is marked by intense competition. Hospitality industry provides intangible services that attract customers and prompt them to provide feedback and recommend it to others. To ensure flawless guest experience, the latest technology upgrades that keeps track of visitor room booking, banquet services, reservation, bill processing, and inventory management, comes in handy.

Below are some of the hotel management software (in no particular order)that helps hoteliers to manage their hotels efficiently and thus enhancing their hotel operations & customer experience.

hotel management software from india

HotelSimply

HotelSimply is a SaaS based software by Bitla solutions (Bangalore based company) that provides complete software application to cover all needs of a hotel from front office to POS operations. It helps hoteliers to access their hotel functions from anywhere at any time and on any device. It simplifies the operations and manage the hotel very effectively and efficiently.

Innkey PMS

Innkey PMS is a leading Saas-based software by Innkey Infosystems Pvt. Ltd. located at Ahmedabad. It is an integrated software that includes reservation, POS, front desk, housekeeping, store & inventory that supports multiple currencies manageable from multiple locations.

Mycloud Hospitality

Mycloud hospitality is a cloud based hotel management software by Prologic First. It is easy to configure with little or no training and offers 24*7 online support.Its key features include rooms and rate management, web booking engine,reservations,channel management, front desk, housekeeping, night audit and report management.The price starts around Rs 6000 per month.

DLS PMS

DLS PMS is powerful and full featured software by Innosoft DataLinks Pvt. Ltd. It incorporates friendly graphical user interfaces and integrates all key departments in the industry. It comes up with needful features of data security, scalable architecture, flexibility and affordability.

Ezee Front-desk

Ezee Front-desk hotel reservation software is an installation based software which is extremely easy to use. It is a modern solution that provides a whole range of integrated modules to cover every aspect of hotel management.

MCubic PMS

MCS PMS is a multi-faceted software by Mcubic Software Pvt. Ltd. It includes various modules that integrates all the services that a customer look for from hoteliers. Its key features include integrated payroll management system, multi-featured menu screens, interface to POS terminals, multi-currency support and mobile POS.

CogHMS

CogHMSis a web based HMS software consisting various modules covering almost every aspect of hotel management. Some of its important modules are Hotel reception, hotel reservation and hotel accounting. Application design is quite user friendly that helps in gaining expertise hands in very less time.

Athithi

Athithi is a full-featured software for hotel management developed by Ryancom Infotech Pvt. Ltd. located at Bangalore since 1999. It is an integrated business process automation for hotel industry that integrates various modules of front office, reservation, F&B Management, housekeeping & laundry management, sales & catering management and more. A complete reservation module is designed in a way that guest can use it on their own phone.

QuantumR Hotel Management Software

QuantumR is a fully integrated with front office management. It is user-friendly with GUI interface that manages all rooms and their operations such as room service, guest search, laundry etc. With the help of this software hotel staff can quickly see their task and will be able to do it effectively.

WINHMS Enterprise

WINHMS is an installation based hotel management software by Winsar Infosoft located at Chennai. It is helpful for large chain hotels to manage sales, bookings, inventory and payroll. It is highly configurable system that comes up with various in-built modules for front office, POS, House Keeping, inventory, Payroll, Purchase and banquet. It support multi-property and consequently be hosted centrally at various areas.

True Hotel

True Hotel provides a complete hotel management software solution to hoteliers. It can be used at multi locations & multi segments such as hotels, resorts, motels, and large chain hotels. It is an installation based software that contains number of modules of front office, F & B management, housekeeping, payroll, banquet, inventory, back office, report, and special billing service management.

FortuneNext 6i

FortuneNext 6i is an all-in-one hotel PMS software by IDS Next Ltd.With its centralized data integration, it provides complete solution for front office, sales & marketing, point-of-sale, F & B management, SMS alerts and much more. It is easier to use and provides efficient property management to increase hotel’s productivity & performance.

Lucid PMS

Lucid PMS Suite offers is located at Bangalore. Its key features include centralised data integration, highly configurable, reliable and secured system. It is robust and built on latest technology that make it simple and easier to use. Along with its several features it is also cost effective and claims to provide “value for money” to its potential customers.

Shawman PMS

Shawman PMS is an efficient tool to manage rooms, guest preferences and front office management. Its PMS reservations are linked to online base central system. Its room blocking feature helps in billing and housekeeping operations.

Winceron

Winceron hotel management software manages the daily operations of restaurant,pub etc. It is beneficial with its easy accounting, uniform pricing, customizable bills etc. Its key feature is KOT billing facility and Peg System. It is multi user and makes its operation efficient that is simple to use and more user friendly.

Checkin

Checkin is a user friendly software that can be used on Stand-Alone or by multi user. It tracks the working of the entire hotel staff. It is simple to use and generates multiple reports to ensure productivity. It operates systematically and help in reducing the work load of every department.

WBS PMS

WBS PMS is a SaaS based PMS software. A very simple and easy to use software for hotels. It is a rich system that improves reservation management efficiencies and increase real time online bookings via seamless channel management integration.

Experts IN HMS

Experts in HMS is an installation based software developed by Experts Solutions. It includes various modules like Reception, front desk, housekeeping, inventory, room service that seamlessly integrates to suit the needs of hoteliers.

Oyasys HMS

Oyasys HMS is a web based application that provides an ERP solution for hotel management. It includes features like hotel reservation, automatic/manually bill generation, searching and sorting facility,multi user access level and many more.

Fiesta

Fiesta Hotel management software includes various modules to make POS, hotel reservation system, front desk operations, housekeeping, material management, finance and accounting, sales and marketing, report management etc. The financial module is the heart of Fiesta. It generates multiple reports with summaries and detailed formats.

Know Cloud

Know Cloud is a web based hotel management software that helps as a tool to enhance guest experience. It is globally used by big hotels. It includes various suite of products that improvise the guest services and enhances team productivity by its effective management.

IManageMyHotel

IManageMyHotel is a Saas-based multiple hotel management software developed by Crystal planet solutions. It includes modules like front office, restaurant management system, central reservations, online payment gateway integration, inventory and travel agency management. It costs Rs 25000 for license upto 3 hotels.

Cloud18 HMS

Cloud18 HMS is an installation based software that integrates various modules to cover every aspect of property management. It is easier to install, configure and comes with user friendly interface. The important optional modules include laundry management, payroll, housekeeping, banquet management and guest relationship management.

Binix Guest Plus

Binix Guest Plus is a comprehensive system that empowers and improve productivity and entire performance for hotel operations. It integrates the entire operations using contemporary & modern technologies.

MGH World PMS

MGH World is a cloud based hotel management software that enables hoteliers to manage their entire operations online from anywhere. It includes reservation system, inventory manager, point of sales, complete rate control, accounting solution, employee activity tracker and more using just one login. It is simple, user friendly and easy to use.

Hotel Manager

Hotel manager is an installation based application by Menson. It helps in day to day operations of hotel right from room bookings, reservations, check-in and checkout. It is easier to use and helps operator to track all checkin check out status only in just one click.

Champagne:

Champagne provides end-to-end features of hospitality management into a single seamless comprehensive system. It is completely user friendly with graphical user interface that allows users to work quickly and efficiently. It can be customized with scalability and openness feature that is mainly designed for client/server architecture.

The article has been created with Hotel Management system analyst at SoftwareSuggest. The list is not comprehensive and you can mention as comments the software missed by us.

The software eco-system in India is still influenced by the services model. Product companies require a completely different mindset, especially when it comes to the programming workforce.

Infinite Analytics is a predictive marketing and analytics company set up in 2012, by two MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) graduates, Akash Bhatia and Purushotham Botla. The company has built a real-time personalization platform that learns and predicts by utilizing all available data to match a customer to a product or service. In an interview with ProductNation.com, co-founder Akash Bhatia talks about his innovative offering and predicts “there will be a big shake out in the data analytics space”. 

Tell us about Infinite Analytics. How and when it was started and its mission?

logo-1The mission of Infinite Analytics is to “Make Sense of Data”. Infinite Analytics was started by my co-founder, Puru Botla and I, at MIT, in a class taught by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. We were working on one of the best projects in the class, and we decided to take it from a class project to a startup.

After graduating in 2012 we pursued this earnestly. Puru left his day job at Fidelity to focus full time on the start up, and I never took up a job or went back to my earlier start up – KyaZoonga.

Infinite Analytics has now evolved from our beach-head market of e-commerce to even offline retail. We are only an 11 people strong company – lean, efficient, and extremely committed to our mission. We have a very strong advisory team in Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Deb Roy – Chief Media Scientist at Twitter and Erik Brynjolfsson, the guru of Big Data Analytics.

What are the emerging trends in big data and social data analytics worldwide, and in India?

Analytics is going to drive decision-making in every organization and function. With so much data being generated every single day, organizations are already beginning to understand the enormity of being able to use this data effectively – to use clustering, predictive analytics and even AI to improve CRM, increase revenues, optimize supply chain and inventory planning, etc. And this is just in retail/e-commerce. We haven’t even begun talking about how big data analytics is being useful in healthcare applications.

There will be a big shake out in the data analytics space. Companies that pretend to be Big Data Analytics firms, but in reality are nothing more than listening tools are in for a reality check.

“Startup of the Year” at the etales 2015 awards in partnership with Ernst & Young

Infinite Analytics recently won the “Startup of the Year” Award at the eTales 2015, which was organized by eTailing India.

This award recognizes innovative start-ups which offer an innovative product or service, or those that are using an exciting new approach to improving or disrupt a traditional market. The jury included the Managing Director of Facebook India and CMOs of eminent firms in Retail & e-Commerce.

About Social Data Analytics, much has been said about its usefulness. Eventually, that’s one place online where a lot of people let down their guards and interact with people. If you consider traditional market research, surveys are generally the way research is done. A sample set of people are asked a bunch of questions and their responses are then extrapolated to reflect a larger audience.

Akash-Bhatia_profile_picAlso, in a country like India, how can a small sample set represent the vast and diverse nation that we are? And it’s only now that this data exists digitally. Social Data Analytics is the ability to analyze this data, both at a macro and micro level, to uncover trends and patterns that traditional market research does not. But that does not mean just listening to conversations in social media constitutes Social Data Analytics. Just using packaged sentiment analysis toolkits to understand positive or negative conversations does not constitute Social Data Analytics.

Infinite Analytics is at the cutting edge of analyzing social data, amongst other data sources. We use the latest NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques, Semantic Technologies and Predictive Modeling to come up with various inferences about consumers.

Using predictive analytics, how effectively does this help transform e-commerce business performance?

For example, if you can understand what colors the user likes, what patterns the user prefers, or what her / his spending potential is –imagine what that knowledge in real time can unleash for you as an e-commerce site. You will be able to personalize the experience for each and every consumer, allowing them to discover products or even nudging them to products they might like, just like someone at a shop might be able to do.

Predictive Analytics does just that. It helps e-commerce sites unleash the power of their customer data to increase Average Order Value, Conversions, improve product discovery and even get back lost customers.

What are the core features of your analytics offering? Do you offer it as a software product or service?

Our product is more like Predictive Analytics-as-a-service. The core features of our analytics offering are:

  • Semantic Ontology –The Infinite Analytics team has developed a proprietary semantic ontology that allows us to understand relationships between various data points. We are able to process Product Catalogs where none exist, to come up with relationships between products.
  • Predictive Analytics – Our predictive algorithms are constantly updated with newer and newer models, as and when we update new data sources. This allows constantly refreshing and relooking the way we predict and optimize our models.
  • Data Sources – We are data hogs. We consume data like a Hummer consumes Gasoline. We will take in data from any intelligent source. For example, we will use Macroeconomic data, Stock Indexes, Social Data, Electoral Rolls, along with the traditional sources of data like transactional data and clickstream data to predict and personalize the user experience for both, an online user and also an offline customer
  • Extensibility – Our product is extremely extensible.

For media and content – Let’s take the example of Netflix. Netflix first started using customer media habits to recommend top movies and shows. That led them to declare that almost 70% of their revenues came from these recommendations.

For travel – Uber and its Surge Pricing is an example of how predictive analytics can be used to effectively price a service according to supply and demand, in real time, thus increasing profitability of the company.

For enterprise businesses – If using macro economic data along with user behavior, businesses are able to predict buying patterns; they will be able to better manage their inventory. For example, in most businesses, there is a 80/20 rule – 20% of products do 80% of their business.

What kind of investment have you made so far and how was your project funded?

We were semi-finalists in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, the most coveted business plan competition in the world; a part of the inaugural MIT Founders’ Skills Accelerator (now GFSA), and even Startup Chile. We were able to get some funds from these accelerators to keep pushing product development.

Then in 2014, we raised a seed round of $1.1 Million from various investors across Australia, Taiwan, India, US and the UK.

What are the market opportunities for you in India?

India is a growing market, and the data revolution is just beginning here. Our product puts us in a very unique position vis-à-vis competitors. We are the only company to actually bridge online and offline retail. We have competitors doing solely online or offline work – no one does both. Hence, it won’t be an apple-to-apple comparison.

Have you attained profitability yet? If not, when do you hope to?

We have not achieved profitability yet, but with our current run rate and burn rate, we should be expecting to break even in the next couple of years.

How would you describe the eco-system for software product development in India? 

The software eco-system in India is still influenced by the services model. Product companies require a completely different mindset, especially when it comes to the programming workforce. 

Any plans to sell out or go public?

We have been really focused on building the company and the product, and haven’t focused on the exit. At the same time, we have had companies approach us for buying us out. We continue to keep our options open. 

Tell us about some of your customers in India and internationally.

Our clients in India include Croma Retail, a Tata Company, Trendin – an Aditya Birla Group company; Indianroots, an NDTV company and the Future Group, the world’s biggest media company, and one of USA’s largest retail giant are our customers.

What advice would you give to others about what you did right?

Perseverance and Just Do It. If you do not persevere through the storms, you will never be an entrepreneur. You will forever be a Wantrepeneur.

#MadeinIndia Personal Finance Software

Personal finance software helps understand your spending and saving patterns and take appropriate decisions to optimize them. However, choosing the right personal finance software can be a difficult and confusing task.

madeininda personal finance software - ProductNation

Our team has done an extensive research on the subject and here we list below some of the most popular Personal Finance software from India (in no particular order):

MProfit

MProfit is a leading portfolio management and accounting management software for investors, advisors, traders, corporates, family offices and CAs to manage the stocks, MFs & other assets. It manages multiple individual and group portfolios, simplifies integrated accounting and import contract notes, mutual fund statements from over 900 sources. It is an installation based software which cost starts from Rs 2500.

ManageMe        

ManageMe is an easy to use personal finance software that can track and categorize all your transactions and also manage your personal budget. With scores of intelligent features, it fulfills all your money management requirements and take care of your finance 24/7. It is very simple to use, safe, affordable and have logical interface.

MyUniverse

MyUniverse is a cloud based personal finance software of Aditya Birla Money. With Myuniverse all your financial information is stored safely. It is designed to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of your personal information during storage and transmission of your information. MyUniverse is a smarter, easier and quicker way to make your financial universe at one place.

ClearTax

ClearTax is a personal finance & tax management software built by ClearSharp technology pvt ltd. It is the easiest and simpler way to e-file your income tax returns. With Cleartax individual can prepare and file their income tax returns in very less time along with maximizing their tax deductions. It is simple and accurate to use that provides fantastic support 24*7. Beside all this amazing services Clear tax is free for e-filing.

Arthayantra

Arthayantra is a cloud based financial planning firm that makes unbiased,holistic and high quality financial advice accessible to everyone.It connects all aspects of financial planning and helps individuals take holistic and merit based financial decisions to achieve their life goals.

InvestPlus

InvestPlus is a cloud based personal finance management software by ideas infotech. It helps in managing all the accounting, investments, and income tax related requirements. It also helps in record keeping from basic to more complex personal and family account management needs. Its key features include daily entry, accounting reports, annual statements, asset management, investment management, income tax preparation, personal organizer etc.

Perfios

Perfios is one of the best web based personal finance software that provides a complete view of your financial status. It can compute your income tax, see your shopping, dining, store financial documents and other spending patterns. Perfios provides a 360 degree view of your personal finance by consolidating all account types like bank, credit cards, equity, loan, insurance, bonds, real estate, gold etc.

Aditi Easy Life

Easy Life Professional is by AditMicrosys Pvt Ltd located in Ahmedabad since last 20 years. It is an installation based software that provides good financial software solutions to maintain life insurance records and very easy to keep personal information like lockers, land and other assets. It helps in comprehensive financial management software for your entire family. Personal Finance enter all exchanges identified with income, expenses, non-life insurance payments, borrowed loans and so forth.

Vault

VAULT is a progressive Personal Finance Management Tool, appropriated on a Pen Drive (Hard disk version also available) that lets you maintain your personal financial details easily & securely. It joins the features of On-line portfolio management software, Accounting packages and spreadsheet analytical capabilities. Vault allows all the financial transactions to record easily without worrying about complex accounting terms or complicated data entry screens.

The article has been created with the help of Personal Finance Software analyst at SoftwareSuggest. The list is not comprehensive and you can mention as comments the software missed by us.