India SaaS Survey 2016 – Decoding our SaaS industry

Strength of a industry is not just judged by how much it contributes to the economy. There are a number of factors to consider and surveys play a major role in painting a clear picture.

The India SaaS Survey is all about getting the pulse of the burgeoning SaaS ecosystem in our country. A survey of this kind is indispensable in drawing an insightful analysis and in getting credible benchmarking data about how the industry is shaping out. Though nascent, the SaaS industry has a lot of potential. The data from the survey is useful not only to help entrepreneurs and investors but also showcases the prospect of the industry to technically sound aspirants looking to step into the industry.

Signal Hill, India’s largest software investment banking advisory practice in partnership with iSPIRT, the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table decided to conduct the India SaaS Survey last year. In their commitment to refreshing results of the survey annually, the second edition took shape. The learnings of the first edition has made the second iteration a better fit to the cause.

iSPIRT puts the number of respondents who took the survey at 10% of the entire SaaS ecosystem in India!

This sizable sample size with variation ranging from bootstrapping startups to the biggest names in the industry is what sets it apart from the rest. As the SaaS ecosystem in India continues to grow, participation is bound to further increase and India SaaS survey would be the benchmark.

Image credits to The Economic times

Here are the 7 key takeaways of the India SaaS Survey 2016:

  1. NCR has moved up three places to the second position and established itself as the latest hotspot for SaaS companies
  2. Vertical focussed SaaS players occupy majority share of the scaled and funded respondent pie
  3. Enterprise focussed clients have reported higher median growth rates compared to SMB/SME focussed players
  4. Though inside sales is by far the most preferred and effective sales channel, post the $1Mn ARR mark respondents do report an increased usage of feet on street (which is still #2 after inside sales)
  5. ‘Try and Buy’ is the most preferred sales model (vs. sales channel)
  6. Horizontal and Vertical SaaS players report similar median growth rates, however companies that focus on the US as their primary market (as against India or Asia) reported distinctively higher median growth rates
  7. The median CAC payback period (for >$1Mn ARR) is 6-12 months

Do have a look at all the data we dissect with the survey:

We are open to your suggestions to make this survey better with time. Please do let us know what else you would love to see us cover next time. Write to us at indiasaassurvey(at)

On behalf of Signal Hill & iSPIRT Team

Nishant & Varun(SignalHill), Krish(ChargeBee) & Suresh(KiSSFlow)

Survival is not enough if you are a SaaS founder in India

In an explosive SaaS market with entries from all over the world, survival is not enough. “Survival is not Enough” is the theme of #SaaSx4, scheduled for 17th March in Chennai, and like last time we are heading to the beach. 🙂

SaaSx is a community for SaaS founders by SaaS founders, so if you are just contemplating starting a SaaS business, this event is not for you. This is the 4th edition of the event where all the SaaS founders come together to share notes, network and go back with a lot of lessons.

SaaSx4 home

Take a look at the previous editions here where founders have shared their learnings and also had lots of fun.

Here’s a sneak peek into what’s in store for you (some of these are subject to change):

  • We’ll start with an Unconference session on “Getting the basics right: Right problem, Right market”. This session will help those on the quest for the right product-market fit, and how to get there quickly and efficiently. Experts who have been there will share their stories of how they set the right foundation for their growth. This is meant for folks who are in the early stages of their SaaS journey.
  • For SaaS founders who have crossed $1MN in ARR, we have a Org/Growth teardown for 5-8 growth stage startups. This is a closed door session and you will need to get an invite after your registration is confirmed. If you don’t hear from us then please assume we couldn’t accommodate you.
  • If there is enough interest and companies in the range of $300k-1M, we might run a Metrics workshop on the cards.
  • Like last time, we will have Product Tear Down sessions where 3 founders will get an opportunity to talk about their product and get feedback. Take a look at the previous edition to see what it is like. This is a great opportunity for new startups to have their product analysed by an expert panel from various angles such as opportunity, UI/UX, funding, etc.
  • If you are wondering “How do I make Biryani, i.e. building a differentiated product?”, we are also planning a session to list popular examples and tear them down by “aspects of differentiation and moat”. We’ll discuss the “Aha” factors of your SaaS product and will also do a Biryani teardown for startups that have crossed $300k ARR.
  • We will have a dedicated session on “What is the right org/model that needs to be put together for diff types of SaaS biz”…Our community has been buzzing with many such questions lately and SaaSx3 might be a great way to address some of the questions here.


Apart from these sessions, you will have ample opportunities to network with some of the leading SaaS founders from India. If you are coming from Bangalore, the sessions start right from the bus!

We only have seats for 150 founders, and we’ll have to give a heavy-hearted “no” to lots of disappointed people!
If you would like to be part of this, reserve your slot right away!

Register now if you would like to be a part of this fun-filled, unconference!

See you in Chennai soon and let’s get high on SaaS!

Nuts & Bolts of Marketing & Selling in US for First Timers: A crash course playbook!!

After releasing recently SoftALM and SoftAgile (Agile Project & ALM Tools), we at JamBuster were trying to decide on how to sell these tools in US.  We had sold software services in US earlier, but selling software product to US from India is new to us. So we were looking for some help!

They say- we start seeing things, when we start looking for them.  I noticed an email from Avinash Raghava, the co-founder of iSPIRT Foundation, about a PlayBook on Nuts & Bolts of Marketing & Selling in US for First Timers, in Hyderabad on 27th February. It was to be led by Suresh Sambandam of KiSSFLOW.

Playbook Roundtables are the small, intimate and intense experiential learning sessions that iSPIRT have pioneered.  Suresh is a iSPIRT maven, meaning trusted expert who pass knowledge to others in a pay-forward model. Suresh is a kind of celebrity in selling products or productize services in US from India! He led KiSSFLOW to have more than 10,000+ customers across the globe, in less than 3.5 years. That is absolutely phenomenal success in SaaS world, doing it from India!

Looking at these credentials, I registered for the event and got a quick reply from Chaitanya Chokkareddy of Ozonetel.  Ozonetel was to host the event. Ozonetel offers CloudAgent -a Cloud Call Center Solution that was already successful in India and was also starting on their US go-to-market strategy.  On Saturday morning I met with Vikas & Aditya from FirstHive, who have recently introduced a customer engagement SaaS offering.  I could see this was going to be informative.

Suresh’s presentation was logical, down to earth, like him. He started with timing or relevance of this phase (after Product-Market Fit), followed by knowing your customer through B2B Customers Characterization.  Next focus was on Product, inversion of selling model, freemium vs free trial, and the price.  This is then followed by digital marketing toolset, such as website, SEO, Adwords, Content writing and email marketing. Similarly, Suresh went through step by step in sales, founders and each and every aspect, as available on following presentation:

Few quick take aways:

  1. SaaS is a tough business, even when done correct.That is evidenced from the fact that 1st $1MM in revenues is almost impossible, while first $10MM is improbable, but if you do pass $10MM, then $50MM is almost inevitable. Hence the lure.
  2. SaaS models lends itself to simpler applications and focus is on
    SOHO / VSB  : no touch
    SMB & Midmarket : low touch
    Enterprise : high touch
  3. For SaaS, traditional model of marketing, sales and products gets inverted. The marketing’s job is to bring horse to pond, the product is the water and sales is understanding what the horse did with water.

I think the success of Playbook was in small size (8-12 companies), along with focus on making it relevant to your business.  While some topics may feel dry on slide, Suresh made them very interactive by first sharing his experience and then asking participants to chip in their experience.  Suresh used these chip-in opportunities for people to get honest feedback. He suggested to Sainath Gupta of AnythingAI to who go through Product Market Fit analysis for his offerings of AI Platform along with Data Science Team as service. In our case, SaaS turns out to be not a path for now, as our solution focuses on end-to-end Agile Application Development platform for teams of 25-2500.

An interesting contribution here comes from Avinash Raghava, who is walking encyclopedia of Indian Software Product ecosystem, its history.  He is focussed on making this even successful from back end, but during the event, he is the source of amazing information on who’s who, what and when!

While registering, I had asked for payment getaway, Chaitanya mentioned that it was a free event. He was surprised that someone from Pune was traveling to Hyderabad for essentially a six hours long workshop.  For me the timing of it and Suresh’s experience was an immense draw.  Turned out the open discussion with fellow product or productize services companies on their way to sell in US and Suresh guiding with refreshing openness really made it icing on the top.

Thank you Suresh for sharing the blue print, that took you 1-2 years to discover through sheer hard work. Thank you Avinash for the event and the fellow product entrepreneurs for such a debates. Thank you iSPIRIT for building this wonderful ecosystem!

I highly recommend all entrepreneurs, whether you are about to or already started or even successful selling in US to attend this and other Playbook Roundtable. I thought these 6 hours saved me at least 100 hours of discovery work. Even more importantly, it is making Indian Product Ecosystem come alive!!!

Guest post by Satish Kamat, Jambuster Technologies

#SaaSx2 is here – The premier event for SaaS companies looking to scale

When SaaS was discovered by India, a group of young people saw its potential and built incredible businesses around it.

These were the originals, the first SaaS hackers.

We brought a few of them together in March this year, under the banner of SaaSx1, so other SaaS entrepreneurs could learn from them, and don’t have to commit the same mistakes all over again. The idea was that the learning would allow the new, driven breed to leverage experience when building innovative companies. As we said then, the knowledge needed to grow SaaS business from zero to $10k to $100k to $1m in MRR is rare, and the only people who can tell you something about it are the people who have done so already.

The super successful event ensured that we kept getting mails asking us to do another, and soon.

But the quality of the first event ensured that we had to wait and work to put together speakers of the same calibre again, so SaaSx could become a premier event in the ecosystem.

And so here we are.

saaSxWith #SaaSx2, and in the same place where it began – the newest kid of the startup ecosystem, Chennai. The event now returns with a leaner, meaner program that aims at ensuring that people ask the questions they want answers to, and take away specific action items they can immediately implement. This season will also debut an extended networking session, thus ensuring that everyone’s ideas have equal space in the ether, and the information shared and gained benefits everyone in the ecosystem.

Each one of the elements of the program has been tweaked keeping in mind last year’s experience, and the several Playbook RTs and meetups we have facilitated over the last few years. The speakers this year include Girish(Freshdesk), Aneesh Reddy(Capillary), Few SaaS startups and the tentative program is as follows.

Time Session Title
1030 to 1300hrs Pre-Event Playbook – “What it takes to Fund SaaS companies”
1030 to 1300hrs Pre-Event Playbook – “Are you ready to hit the growth pedal’ MVP”
1300-1400hrs Registrations & Lunch Networking
1400-1415hrs Introduce & Welcome #SaaSx2
1415-1515hrs Fireside Chat – “Assembling a Commando Team in the early days”
1515-1535hrs 3 SaaS Founders talks about “One Thing” talk for 5 min each
1535-1635hrs Fireside Chat – “The Nuances of Enterprise SaaS”
1635-1700hrs 3 SaaS Founders talks about “One Thing” talk for 5 min each
1700-1830hrs Group Event
1830-1850hrs SaaS Landscape report to be launched by Signalhill/iSPIRT
1850-1905hrs SaaS Guide to be launched
1905-2000hrs Keynote Address
2000hrs onwards Entertainment – Standup comedy, Networking Cocktails & Dinner

We will keep you updated over this as and when we have information, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need any sort of assistance or have questions you need answered.

Jump Start Your SaaS Business by Selling to US Market: Learn the Nuts and Bolts from Whodunnit

jumpstart-guid-1Are you a first time SaaS entrepreneur targeting the US market? Learn it from the masters through the Jump Start Guide to Desk Marketing and Selling for SaaS put together by Krish Subramaniam (Chargebee), Niraj Ranjan Rout (GrexIt), Sahil Parikh (Brightpod), and Suresh Sambandam (KiSSFLOW). Aaron Ross launched the guide during the first SaaSx event in Chennai put together by iSPIRT, attended by more than 100 SaaS entrepreneurs.

The following are the take-aways. Use the guide to understand in-depth and develop your strategy to hit $100 million in sales. All the very best!


  • There are four different strategies employed by Indian entrepreneurs for customer acquisition: Learn from Wingify, KiSSFLOW, GrexIt, Freshdesk.
  • Free trials don’t work for higher sales value. And prices are not listed publicly by most companies.
  • What is the right pricing? There is no one sutra to it. But get it right before you push your sales pitch. Learn strategies from the hackers who did it before.
  • Have a team in place to handle marketing efforts with clear segmentation of the team: marketing/product/sales. Have clear-cut roles as they often blur.
  • Understand the 10 recommended activities before you start marketing.
  • Focus on building the trust of the customer visiting your product website for the first time. To make it attractive, for example, think of a “Benefits” page instead of listing “Features.”
  • Learn how to build content around long tail keywords for effective SEO.
  • Marketing based on content generation (content marketing) has many dimensions to it. Use all of them for maximum benefits.
  • Social channels ensure better outreach. Make your presence felt on social pages.
  • Retarget your customers who just dropped by your website.
  • You can innovatively market using your product itself.
  • Get a marketing team in place.
  • There are some sales channels you must ignore before starting the SaaS company.


  • Learn what catching, coaching, and closing mean.
  • Winning the first few customers is the founder’s job.
  • Learn what tools to use for customer development.
  • Develop an effective funnel.
  • Facilitate self-selection and build engagement with the customers.
  • Collect key information during the engagement process.
  • Post-trial offers work for closing the customer.
  • Learn the customer closure techniques to use.
  • Structure your sales team clearly.
  • Doing a great customer service after sales is essential to retaining the customers. Learn the tips.

Download the guide here{link}.