Scaling Revenues – PlaybookRT by Aneesh Reddy, Capillary technologies

When a startup has taken roots, validated its reason for existence, sprouted shoots to shape itself as an independent identity it needs shift phase again for next stage of growth.

At this phase it is no more called a startup but revenue making business which will eventually be profitable. Making and scaling revenue requires a lot components to work together as a system.

A system that includes your products, your values, your people, sales engine,  outside advisors, investors and more to nurture revenue and protect it as  #1 priority. A gear change where many startups trip

In some sense focus has to shift from managing uncertainty to managing complexity.

This roundtable will delve and experience and tactics that have worked or not in this where discussion about importance of setting the right sales organization or its linkage with engineering or support teams will explored and analyzed. If you are interested, please apply here

This Playbook Roundtable is scheduled for 11th March in Delhi and will be facilitated by Aneesh Reddy of Capillary Technologies. 

Scaling Revenue Roundtable

Enterprise Sales, Marketing & Inside Sales Team Build Out, First International Customers Acquisition, Enterprise Pricing etc. I understand, we have heard these topics in multiple events & conferences, so why this round table be different? The difference is gyan vs hearing from real person with real experience which sometimes exactly what you want to hear, even reading 10 books will not help compared to one line coming from a CEO who has done it over and over again and seen the success.

AiAfOYoopNK2-JpnERWxOZdUFD5vPYd5ajC8OOkJg_tPIn this Round table, Aneesh was leading and moderating the discussion. He leveraged the experience of other founders which made the most out of few hrs of interaction. The participants are founders of mid-stage startups, who have good-size customers and have decent ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue), growing and scaling.

This blog narrates the learning in the form of Q&A.

How to establish a meaningful and sustaining Partnership for your B2B enterprise business and grow your business?

  • Partner are those who have done similar product sales in medium/large scale before, so ask them for their sales targets (region wise) and their profile of B2B partnership in their existing set up. That is a good validation point for partnership. {It is like validating by their current and past experience in partnership}
  • Partners could be the companies who are into services (in your industry vertical like healthcare or retail etc) and likes to have monthly revenues.
  • If your product sit on top of other product and integrates then go for a partnership program to the base product. For instance, if your product complements or built on top of Salesforce, then you can enroll in Salesforce has AppExchange program wherein you can list your product and generate good visibility and leads. Partners, could be the product that your software compliments or built upon it.
  • Partners could be the implementation companies of the product that your product built on or compliment. Say your software built on Salesforce, then the service companies who are implementing Salesforce solution could be your partners.
  • You could also go for two-way partnership, like I push your product and you push mine, sometimes one partner performs a lot better than the other, in that case, be open and refine the terms as you go in the journey.
  • If you are enrolling in partnership programs from large companies like IBM, Salesforce etc and see if you can use their promotion events and brand your product, many gives a free offer for promotion. You might end up in getting leads worth a lot that might seems impossible to generate by the solo marketing you do on your own.  These large companies also have paid outreach which has high outreach and see if it is worth investing.
  • Incubator and Accelerator, if you are part of any incubation center or accelerator that helps a lot in getting the right partnership e.g  Microsoft accelerator
  • How to bring transparency in partnership? You might also want to try “Lead Protection Program” which creates 100% transparency in the leads generated, let your partners enter the leads in your CRM & both of you can track the status and you can also make sure that right analytics are coming out.
  • If the partners are asking for exclusivity, ask for minimum guarantee e.g 30 qualified leads per quarter per area
  • Partnership takes time to achieve, so keep experimenting, be conservative and go slow, do a some sort of pilot before you sign larger partnership contract. And ready to fail as it takes time to get into right partnership.

AtT1H_5g3UkqxqIvC6jRlOknnwXUZPnMjQ0GkhyzAymFHow to acquire customers in new international market?

  • You can go with the existing customers and if they have business overseas then you can approach them for the initial open door to international market.
  • Another suggestion is to participate in events and have a booth or something so your product gets exposure and you might end-up in getting partners or customers
  • LinkedIn is a great source to find first few pilot customers in that region.
  • Overseas partnership also you can explore using LinkedIn or Quora, but it is not that easy to find viable partnership
  • And also cold calling for opening doors also worked for few startups.
  • If your product is like B2C then publishing in appstore, Appstore marketing, google adwords would be a good start, but if you are in B2B and enterprise sales, then the steps mentioned in the beginning are the way to go.
  • Once you have handful of customers internationally, select a country where you could open a small sales team may be start with one or two guys and these guys need not be very senior like VP level, 2 yrs to 5 yrs exp and they have to work with India Sales team parallaly. You might need to travel and stay there for a while for initial years to establish a sales pattern oversees.

Ar3dOzl_O6w-FGfJzAg_J7VarpANJbdP-uJ4bFiora6FHow is to do pricing for your product?

  • See your competitor price and product features and how much it solves the customer problem, how your product makes them dependable, this combination will help you to arrive at pricing.
  • If your product a lot better than your competitor, do not lower your price to compete, you need to stay at a price tag for the right product.
  • If your product does not have India based competitor, see the US pricing and create some kind of benchmark value to arrive your pricing.
  • You can have different packaging but not too many, max 3 to 4.
  • You kind of have to experiment with pricing, for e.g one of the enterprise product was priced it 5k for the first few customer during pilot (initial years) and when they need to sell the product in the second year to a bigger organization, they tried quoting 1L and end up in selling at 60k.  So you need to try and see how market is reacting for your new pricing, first few year keep experimenting, you will be able to arrive at pricing between 1 to 3 yrs if not before.
  • When you sell enterprise product, make the price attractive in the pilot stage and after showing the desired results, you can go for high price and the customers would not mind paying it as they have seen the results which impacted their top line.
  • The pricing could be geography based and can be different. And again, find the right pricing by seeing your competitor and demand in that market.
  • If you want to give freemium version, give it free but let the customer give you some kind of asset that you can use for your business like marketing or brand building. For e.g refer 2 friends to get the free version or share in your facebook page to get the access. Some kind of exchange of benefits for freemium version.

What is the most painful growth in the entire journey of the startup?

  • 1M to 5M growth is the most painful where you are likely to make mistakes
  • While growing fast, you need to be careful when reaching to new markets, not all regions works great for your product. US need not be the best market for all products. If you have invested in one region and seems like it is not working, then shutdown and alternate your sales strategy in overseas.
  • Please refer “acquiring customers in new international market” for more details.

How to upsell and cross-sell to your existing customers?

  • There are two ways, first upsell more apps/ additional features to the same customer
  • Second is find out other departments or other sister organization and do a cross sell
  • An customer account is usually handled by an account manager, the upsell/cross sell need be done by different person say group account manager.
  • Every group account manager handles multiple accounts, like 5 to 10 accounts, is responsible for upselling. The account manager finds opportunities for upsell. Do not mix up the account manager dealing with customer on day-to-day basis to do upsell as the negotiation will become very tricky otherwise.

How to give discounts to the customers in SaaS product?

  • The discounts needs to be distributed, do not give them at one go.
  • For instance, do a yearly subscription with 2 months off. Those two months are going to be 11th and 12th month. So incase they leave in 6 months, these discounts does not qualify.
  • Another way you could spread across 3 years like 3rd month, 6th month off, 22th month off for discounts.

How much is the typical yearly renewal increase in ARR for the Enterprise Product?

  • 8 to 10%
  • We need to say 10% increase is very common and if the customer creeps, bring down to 8%

How to get testimonials and referrals?

  • Usually testimonials are done after building a strong relationship with a customer. Usually after 1 or 2 years. Make sure that the account managers and CXO’s of the company has a good relation built with customers to ask for testimonials. Once you establish those soft links, whenever the customer delightness go very high and initiate the process. e.g Release of product feature which solves one of their pain point which the customer demanded for a while.
  • Another idea is to mention this in the subscription or contract time itself. Suppose if the customer is asking for discounts then you can tell him that you can enroll in the “Loyalty Program”  in which you might have to give testimonial & also give 2 referrals and participate in the case study within the first 2 years and you are eligible for this much discounts. This way the customer is well aware of the expectation and also enjoys discounts. Do not give discounts for free, make him have some benefits offered to us.

Does awards and recognizing important for startup?

  • This comes directly into credibility building so it is good to get some recognition
  • The important point is apply for recognition that are credible and genuine with a selection process like boot up awards by ispirit
  • Have some sort of recognition award or have an article or mention in international news & media like Techcrunch, Harvard Business Review, Gartner, Marketing Magazine, Forbes, Wall Street Journal etc.This will help both India & international brand building.
  • You can use a PR agency to reach out these media and appear for the competition or for the product review

Name some books good for Inside Sales and for Complete Sales?

  • Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross
  • Sales Acceleration formula by Mark Roberge

Is there any online tests used as a first-cut of sales roles?

AkKzIBAt4w99IJ_Uj2_8mQGs0EyU9dnA03l9hY6xQA1qHow to provide incentives for your IS(Inside sales) team?

  • Incentive are always a motivating factor for the Inside Sales team. We have laid out some numbers as a sample for you to see below.
    • 2% to 3% of Annual Recurring  Revenue(ARR) for new customer acquisition.
    • 2% to 2.5% of annual revenue for UpSell/Cross Sell or  have a fixed amount like 10k for all revenue of 3L to 5L per year, 5K for 2L to 3L etc.
    • You can also say, if you get a referral from a customer then the account manager gets 5% of revenue.
    • You can also include testimonial incentives for e.g Video testimonials 10k, Text testimonial 5k, Case Study like 10% of ARR
  • Even you can add some incentive for first go-live means successful deployment and this is applicable for enterprise products
  • Make sure these numbers are published and you make sure the check is given to him as soon as you receive them from the customer.

We would be writing another blog on a related & demanding topic “How to set up a Inside Sales Team from scratch & generates Leads?” in the upcoming week.Stay Tuned and Happy Reading!

Contributed by Asha Satapathy, DocEngage


Growth is a bitch!

Capillary Technologies is an information technology company headquartered in Bangalore, India. Established in 2008, Capillary is present in about 30 countries with over 200 enterprise customers.

In this short candid chat with Aneesh Reddy, the co-founder and CEO of Capillary Technologies, he bluntly mentions that growth is a bitch! Aneesh shares how his company spent 1.5M to reach 1/6th the current company size versus spending 24M to grow the next 5/6th.

Watch the video below and see why Aneesh thinks growth is tough.

PNgrowth is an iSPIRT initiative in collaboration with Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business to facilitate entrepreneurs to scale their business.

Please click here, to join a hangout session where members of iSPIRT, Stanford and Duke university share how the issue of scale can be addressed and how PNgrowth can facilitate the same.

Contributed by Rohith Veerajappa, Wow Labs

India B2B Software Products Industry Clocks Solid Growth from 2014 to 2015

India’s B2B software product industry has grown nicely since we published the first edition of this index in November 2014 – the top 30 companies are valued at $10.25 billion (₹65,500 crores) and employ over 21,000 people.  The index has grown 20% in USD terms and 28% in INR terms from October 30, 2014 to June 30, 2015.

There has been an acceleration since 2010 in the pace of creation of B2B companies.  Vertically-focused offerings in retail, travel, financial services, media have reached scale and we are likely to see some larger exits in terms of IPOs or M&A over the next couple of years. In parallel, we are seeing horizontal offerings targeting global markets emerge and start to breakout of India into the US and other global markets – we are starting to see not only India-based venture funds backing these companies but also Silicon Valley funds coming in once there is initial customer adoption in the US.

A new set of founders are coming into the B2B software products ecosystem. These include an increasing proportion who have worked at consumer and B2B startups that have scaled in India and who have identified problems that they can solve with software automation.  We are also seeing continued venture creation from founding teams that have backgrounds from established enterprise software companies and some from IT services companies.

In terms of target markets, fast-growth Indian companies (in sectors such as organized retail, organized healthcare services and technology startups in product commerce and services commerce i.e. online-to-offline) are starting to purchase software from Indian B2B software product startups and have globally-aligned requirements, helping these startups get closer to product-market fit before or in parallel to starting to sell globally. We are also seeing many startups go global from day-one through a desk-selling model, as evidenced by many of the companies in the index. And finally, several startups have moved founders to the US and are succeeding in direct selling models there.

Some of the numbers: 80% of companies have global customer bases, while the rest are India-focused.  67% of companies are domiciled in India, with the rest principally in Singapore and the US.  Bangalore and NCR account for half the companies’ principal city of operations with Chennai and Pune as key secondary hubs – there is a trend to newer companies starting up in Bangalore, Chennai and Pune and away from NCR.  Average enterprise value per employee is climbing toward Silicon Valley levels – the index currently nets out to $480k per employee.

The top 30 companies in alphabetical order are:

Here’s the report in its entirety:

Thanks to all the volunteers at iSPIRT who worked on this project as well as Professor Sharique Hasan of Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; Professor Rishi Krishnan of IIM-Indore; as well as Signal Hill for providing public market valuation comparables and Rakesh Mondal  for designing the document..

We will publish an updated iSPIxB2B index every year starting with the next one in June 2016 – please do click here to submit names of companies you think should make this list.

Next 20 Finalists: #InTech50 Most Innovative Products from India

After announcing the first 20 companies, we are pleased to announce the next 20 finalists for InTech50 – Most Innovative Products from India.

Picking just 50 finalists from over two hundred wonderful products was one of the most challenging jobs for our iSPIRT panel of selectors this year. We have been narrowing and narrowing the choice until we got down to 50 great products.  

Although selecting 50 was really daunting, yet it was greatly satisfying to appreciate so many innovative products from young and innovative startups. The names of the next 20 finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

  • a-mantra is a web based integrated facility management software that is developed in a modular architecture by Satnav Technologies. Asset Management controls the assets and its location. Fixed assets, IT assets and consumable assets can be managed using asset management.
  • Aujas Networks: Digital technology makes informative content easier to find, access, manipulate and remix, and to disseminate. Aujas’ Secure Digital Content Solution helps companies prevent unauthorized usage of digital content.
  • BrandIdea Enterprise Market Analytics™ is a SaaS-based, self-service, Business Intelligence enterprise tool for the FMCG vertical, aimed at the business user. It is powered with in-built granular information on Demographics, Income, Economic, Category and Micro data. It overlays the Client’s internal data to drive insights across – Market Potential, Media, Distribution & Sales for any geographical area in India.
  • Capillary Technologies suite of Intelligent Customer Engagement™ solutions enables businesses to capture and analyze data on customer behavior and shopping preferences through digital and mobile channels. Capillary’s customer engagement solutions enable merchants to provide real-time personalized recommendations to shoppers and allow merchants to offer relevant promotions across any channel of choice.
  • CloudByte offers solutions built for cloud and virtualized environments. CloudByteElastiStorTM is a full-featured storage software product that provides dynamically selectable performance to each application or tenant by continuously monitoring and adjusting key storage performance characteristics including IOPS, throughput, and latency.
  • The Ezetap solution is an end-to-end service that includes a mobile card-reader, a configurable mobile application and a flexible platform that allows Ezetap or any third party to build and turn on value-added services that are tightly integrated to its core payment service.
  • is a native advertising platform that leverages eyeballs over celebrity photographs in the content publisher websites and redirect it to the E-commerce stores. The computer vision technology fetches similar looking clothes from e-commerce stores and provides it when someone hovers over the celebrity image and encourages instant buy option.
  • iViZ is the first company in the world to take ethical hacking to the cloud. iViZ has built a unique Artificial Intelligence based technology to simulate a human hacker which shows all the permutations and combinations of possible attacks and defenses against a hacker. The technology has already received a patent in USPTO and multiple other patents are under review.
  • LocoBuzz is an award winning Social Media Analytics and engagement platform, which offers unparalleled workflows along with insightful visualization of the digital chatter. LocoBuzz is a tool for brand reputation management, Lead Generation Analytics and Infographics.
  • Nanobi Analytics is a next generation analytics platform built with a highly scalable cloud based architecture. The nanobi analytics platform enables end-to-end capabilities for delivering analytics starting from push/pull data through a variety of interfaces, through to quick/instant data visualization. Its REST architecture enables a seamless API based connect to any other cloud platform or data source, for easy integration and data interface.
  • Ozonetel Systems: CloudAgent is India’s first Multi-Channel Cloud Contact Center which enables SMEs to set up their sales/support agents on a plug & play basis. It is a browser based system which operates on PSTN Cloud and calls for zero hardware and software installation at agent side.
  • ShieldSquare: For online business (classifieds,news/content portals, Ecommerce/marketplaces, Travel Sites), scraping of content by un-authorized bots is becoming a major concern that is affecting the competitiveness of the business. ShieldSquare uses big data analytics to block bots/scrapers in real-time there by increasing the traffic, revenues of the online business as well as cut costs in terms of infrastructure, resources.
  • Stelae Technologies: It offers content transformation software, creating structured, indexed, searchable and enriched output from unstructured content in multiple formats like PDF, ASCII, Word, HTML etc. This enables customers to re-utilize the information on multiple supports like print, web, hand-held devices etc. and store in easy to retrieve archives and make it readily available to their users, cost effectively and rapidly.
  • Pawaa has built a technology platform that secures files and documents. The technology can be seamlessly integrated with any application or use case and allows exchange of files securely. The platform is unique as it overcomes the limitations of encryption on enterprise, mobile and cloud.
  • Qubole Data Service (QDS) provides a Big Data Platform in the AWS and GCE clouds. Our award-winning cloud-optimized and auto-scaling Hadoop technology allows customers to run Hadoop in a cost-effective manner in the Cloud. Its user Interface make it simple for data analysts to use big data technologies like Hive, Pig and Sqoop, Presto and Oozie to integrate and analyze data from a variety of sources.
  • Thinkflow Software: Available on-cloud and on-premise, Thinkflow apps platform is helping enterprise app developers build business applications faster. The platform has modules to create process flows, create alerts, configure business rules, design forms, digitize documents and an inbuilt module for business process analytics.
  • Thinxtream: It offers PrintJinni – Consumer Printing Apps on iOS, Android, RIM platforms offering great quality, accuracy, wireless printing to any vendor’s printer. It also supports email, photos, PDF files, Microsoft® Office docs, Webpages and more. It is available in all major languages worldwide.
  • TouchMagix: MotionMagix™ Interactive wall/floor, a gesture based tracking technology lends any wall or floor the qualities of motion-sensing. The vibrant and customizable high resolution content responds to the consumer movements and encourages further interaction. A wall/floor projected advertisement/game can react as and when customers approach the zone.
  • Unmetric: Its product offers the ability to collect, interpret and take action on information – regardless of business field. Its offering are focused on providing social media teams. This provides the ability to understand and distill insights from competitive and complementary brands that are active on social channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.
  • VoxApp is a mobile survey product used by brands and research companies to get consumer feedback and on-ground market information in real time. In India, of the data collected for brand tracking, retail audits, stock/sales tracking, the bulk are executed on paper/ laptops with issues of data quality and turnaround time that are solved by using VoxApp’s mobile data collection platform.

About InTech:  InTech50, a joint initiative by iSPIRT and Terrene Global Leadership Network that recognizes most promising software products by India’s entrepreneurs.

The elected products that represent inspirational and pioneering concepts in software will be showcased at InTech50, a two-day event to be held at Bangalore from April 9 -10, 2014, where global CIOs and transformation leaders will be present.

(Check out the First 20 Finalists: #InTech50 Most Innovative Products from India. Stay tuned for the last 10 companies which we plan to announce shortly.)

Key Takeaways from the 25th #PlaybookRT at Bangalore – Sales for Startups

The 25th playbook roundtable held last week (01 March 2014) brought together about 14 startup practitioners to discuss and gain insights on some of the challenging aspects of Sales in product companies. This roundtable was hosted at Accel Partners office in Bangalore, and was led by Aneesh Reddy, from Capillary Technologies. In a span of about 5 hours, a diverse set of topics were discussed. Prominent takeaways from the roundtable were insights on approaches to pricing, decision making during sales cycles, dealing with resellers and partners, setting up a sales team for the first time, how to plan for your Sales team when you are scaling up and dealing with Sales in new geographies. The following paragraphs detail the key learning from each of these above aspects.

When to setup your first sales team?

Entrepreneurs should be selling themselves till they achieve repeatable revenue streams, irrespective of the sector and nature of the offering. One should start looking at a dedicated sales team only when the founding team cannot anymore respond to leads / queries in a time bound manner.

If the founding team does not have deep skills in selling, it may be useful to involve a consultant to setup the team and the processes and learn on the way. Firms such as Gosonix have helped setup the sales processes for startups as they began to address increasing customer interest.

There are also organizations that provide inside sales services to startups. A few startups such as Freshdesk have benefited by use of such extended inside sales teams.

Inside Sales Operations and Management

Based on the target geography that you are working on, one should use the qualification criteria to build a sales pipeline. Macro parameters such as number of employees or revenue of the enterprise in the segment and country that you are targeting to sell provide good starting points to develop the qualification criterion.

Inside sales activities have yielded good results in English speaking countries such as US and Europe, however, has been very difficult and non-efficient in UAE, South Asia and non English speaking parts of Africa.

Accent training is a must if you are reaching out to customers outside India. Training partners are available to help you with accent training needs of your sales team.

For markets such as South Asia, cold calling does not work – since language barriers and culture is not very assimilative. Field business development operations are cheaper than inside sales operations if the target market of focus is on South Asian countries.

Sales Best Practices

A 30 second script consisting of factoids describing who you are, what you do, which customers have you dealt with, how has it helped them is a must for any startup Sales – irrespective of whether you set shop just today, or if you are scaling your startup.
Have a clear separation of duties amongst your lead generators and deal closers. Usual practice is to hire a deal closing guy for about 5 lead generators.

Ensure efficiency in your Sales operation by tracking the conversion of calls to meetings to actual leads and finally to conversions or drop-outs. Expect about 1 lead to come for qualification from about 10 calls on an average.

Once you have a lead, qualify the lead using the B.A.N.T or the more comprehensive S.C.O.T.S.M.A.N technique to ensure you spend the optimal time on that lead.

Differentiate and track marketing generated leads and inside sales generated leads. Provide visibility to the Field Sales personnel on the source of the lead to ensure they have the right context to qualify and initiate a discussion with the prospect.

Indian customers – especially in the SMB segment take a lot of time to decide to buy. Keep them engaged continuously with good marketing content after initial contact. They will get in touch with you and buy when they decide to go ahead.


Pricing is the trickiest aspect in Selling. For offerings where the value added by your offering / solution can be calculated directly or indirectly, pricing conversations is a lot easier – since you have data to back your discussion. However, in other cases, one has to use all available information and work on a range to begin with.

For startups that are in their early stages, back calculate based on your expenses to decide on pricing. Another approach for SaaS based early stage startups is to price based on the CAC (Customer Acquisition Costs). General agreement is that a CAC of about 5-6 months is ideal, and a CAC of upto 1 year is tolerable for early stage startups.

A barebones calculation of pricing should be based on the product of revenues, gross margin you want to derive and customer lifespan for your offering. David Skok has good articles on these topics.

Complement your Sales efforts by your Marketing efforts

Use marketing as complementary aspect to sales – apart from leveraging it for various aspects of building your brand and communication etc. Nurture your customers by segmenting them based on the previous interaction by your company and send relevant content that could be of use to them.

For startups targeting global customers, ensure that you generate adequate content by means of customer acquisition stories, case studies, announcement of new customer wins, participation in events etc. This will help build the initial set of opportunities from the marketing side.

Use the rental lists of magazines that are widely read in the field of your offerings to increase mindshare. Blog or write regularly on Industry trends in some of these magazines to offer a good discount. Engaging with a PR agency based on the geography in the early stages of market entry also can pay off.

Scale Hacking at #PNCamp: What To Expect on Day 2 (Dec 5)

It’s a conference….it’s a summit….it’s a camp! Being a startup ourselves, we constantly listen to  our customers (who are startups as well!) and try and come up with initiatives that solve their problems and address their pain points.

In that regard, the genesis and the program design of the ProductNation Camp has come from what we’ve been hearing from you – the Indian product startup community. Sandeep has very nicely elucidated the need for a Product Bootcamp for Product entrepreneurs and laid out the broad agenda of the #PNCamp.

#PNCamp is expected to be a very intense, highly curated and focused two-day event with two tracks – Discovery Hacking (on Dec 4) and Scale Hacking (on Dec 5). For a product entrepreneur, getting the first set of customers is mighty important from multiple perspectives – validating the need for the product in the market, generating the first rupees (or dollars!) in revenue  and grow the startup from a buzz in the head to a live organism. While 2013 is expected to end with a Dhoom for Bollywood fans, it’s the same for product entrepreneurs attending #PNCamp. Rather than an ending, we hope it’ll be a new beginning for them to grow their startups to greater heights in the coming year. One of the producers of the product startup community’s Dhoom, Sai unveiled the first look of #PNCamp and gave us a glimpse of what’s in store for attendees of the Discovery Hacking track on Day 1.

It is said that well begun is half done. Let’s stay the tough part, that of beginning well has been taken care of and you are now staring at the tougher part – of growing your startup across multiple dimensions. That is when the startup is in the happy-confused state and there are a lot of questions on your mind.  Sales cures most ills, but how do you sell? This will be the primary thrust of the morning sessions which is mandatory. Here, we will have separate tracks for those who are selling to a global audience and those who are selling domestically. The challenges, hiring, operations, etc are completely different. In the afternoon, we have various exciting sessions on how to understand and communicate with customers and how to pick the right product direction when you have scarce resources to spread amongst several promising ones. Choice in an uncertain world is not easy and while we promise no silver bullets for your problems, we do promise to ignite enough fire in the belly (and in the heads!) for you to go back and navigate your way into scaling your startup. We also have specific “Oh, Oh, How do I do that?” sessions on specific topisc you’ve always wanted to know..

So specifically, what do we have to offer to you on the Scale Hacking Day:

We will have around 75 chosen participants for the Scale Hacking Day divided into cohorts of 15-20 people each. There are mandatory sessions which all participants will attend and then the cohorts will attend the optional sessions depending on the stage of the company and their interest.

The Mandatory Sessions

Great Indian Street Fight or Selling In India”

No wonder most of the selling in India happens through ‘feet on street’. And when you’re out there on the streets, it’s always a fight. Fight against time to sign-up customers, fight against a thousand other things to get the customers’ attention, fight for receiving payments on time and just fight for survival!

You have probably got your first set of customers, but you want to scale now. What are the different ways to do that? Does the Channel Partner route work and what are the pros and cons of taking that approach? How do you reach out to your next set of potential customers in an effective manner? Should you now start considering mainstream media for advertising or scale up your digital marketing efforts? More importantly, how do you plan for scale and put together the right team to execute your plans? How to hire the right people and fire the ones that don’t work out well?

Dhiraj Kacker, who has built Cavera into the leading destination for customized printed merchandize and an e-commerce solutions provider for photographers, will facilitate this session. Dhiraj along with Canvera’s Co-Founder Peeyush was recognized as amongst the top-10 Most Influential People in Photography in India by Asian Photography magazine. So he surely knows what clicks with his customers!

“Dancing with Elephant/Winging in the new flat world or Selling to Global Customers”

If IT services companies made the world flat, Saas product companies have made it even flatter!

While Zoho remains the pioneer, we have seen many SaaS companies FreshDesk, WebEngage, Wingify, Capillary Technologies, ChargeBee among others whose products are proudly Indian and that are selling to customers from across the globe. What does it take to build a global SaaS company out of India? More importantly, what does it take to sell to customers you haven’t met or even spoken to? How do you price your product so that customers from across geographies can buy it? How do you take care of the differences in the customers expectations, time zones, languages, even customs and culture across different regions? After all, every product has a personality. What about providing support to global customers?

Samir Palnitkar (ShopSocially, AirTight Networks) & Girish Mathrubootham (FreshDesk, Zoho) will facilitate this session. You wouldn’t want to miss this session unless you want to see your dollar dreams go sour!

The Optional Sessions

“Customers Buy Features, Not Benefits or How To Think Customer First?”

Here’s a quick question – which is the Indian brand that has grown the fastest in recent times and its identity (hint, hint!) transcends all barriers of language, region and religion? What’s more, it is very much an Indian tech startup! Yes, you guessed it right. It is Aadhar. Meet Shankar Maruwada, who gave the Aadhar its brand name and developed its identity and made it into the household brand it is today. Get to know how to place yourself inside the customers’ heads, try and understand what factors play in their decision-making and how you can approach your customers better by anticipating what’s possibly on their minds.

If you want to get a sense of what’s in store for you, watch this video

Well, you wouldn’t want to be that fish which can’t understand how people live without water!

“How to get featured in TechCrunch, spending $0”

It’s true that media coverage alone isn’t the true barometer of success of a startup. But hey, when has positive media attention, especially from a top global publication like TechCrunch hurt any startup? That is of course, assuming that the product is a good one!

For a lot of product entrepreneurs, getting featured on TechCrunch is a dream and considered as a good means to be visible in front of a lot of people – customers, investors, partners among others. So what does it take to get featured in TechCrunch? Considering they’d be getting hundreds of requests each day, do the writers and editors there even read such emails? Do you need to hire a high-profile PR agency and spend a lot of money?  Or should you just build something meaningful and the coverage will happen by itself?

Valorie Wagoner, Founder of ZipDial, has done that and been there (on TechCrunch). ZipDial is one of the fastest growing global startups emerging from India and Valerie will share her experiences of getting covered in global tech blogs and tell you how your startup can also get featured with no money spent!

“Positioning for Getting Acquired”

So you think acquisition only when you have reached a certain level and scale of business? Well, that’s what a lot of entrepreneurs in Bangalore thought before they attended this round table. How do you know if the time is ripe for your company getting acquired? How do you choose between multiple suitors you may have? What are some of the key things one should keep in mind so that all the stakeholders have a favourable outcome? While an acquisition is a regular business transaction in the US, do we Indians get (needlessly?) emotional about it?

Jay Pullur, Founder and CEO of Pramati Technologies and Sanat Rao, Director, Corporate Business Development (Emerging Markets) at Intel will facilitate this session. iSPIRT has a very active M&A initiative with Jay and Sanat actively leading the M&A Connect. You’d surely not want to miss this opportunity to understand how you can set yourself up for a nice acquisition.

“The Forum or Where You Can Bring Out Your Worst Fears!”

Every CEO needs somewhere to turn for the insight and perspective only trusted peers can provide. When such peers meet together in a setting where there is an atmosphere of confidentiality, respect and trust, it can become a supreme sounding board. We will call such a setting a “Forum”. Such a forum can become most valued asset for the members, because the maxim holds true: it can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be.

At #PNCamp, we want to experiment, for the first time, with building such a Forum by forming a small group of peers who meet regularly to exchange ideas, thoughts and experiences on the issues that matter most to them. During the first meeting at the PNCamp, this group will be taught effective forum techniques, a set of protocols and a shared language that creates immediate and meaningful connections among members.

We expect that once created, the Forum group will periodically meet either in person or online with the following agenda:

1- Update each other by looking back since the last meeting and looking forward

2- Identify, discuss and park business issues that are typically Important but not Urgent

3- Make presentations around these issues and get non-judgmental feedback from the fellow members

I’ll end this post with a quote from the very inspirational movie, The Shawshank Redemption.

Dear Red, If you’re reading this, you’ve gotten out. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don’t you?

Of course, you remember the name of the town. It’s Pune and we look forward to see you in Pune on Dec 4 and Dec 5 for #PNCamp.

PS. After all this if you haven’t still applied for #PNCamp yet, we’re afraid you may be a little late. Apply Now here!


120+ companies in 120 days – Come join the movement to revolutionize India’s Software Product Landscape

iSPIRT’s roundtables create a buzz in the Indian software product community. Shehjar Tikoo doesn’t like conferences and seminars. The entrepreneur of e-commerce enabler Unbxd finds them boring and one sided. But all that changed when he attended the iSPIRT roundtable on Product Management in Bangalore. Says Shehjar, “I liked the fact that the audience was very carefully chosen as were the facilitators. The discussion was very healthy and I came away with some great learning. In fact, I still refer to my notes and each time it has something new to say to me.”

iSPIRT is known for bucking the trend. At the heart of the iSPIRT movement is the spirit of democracy. So just like decisions are made collectively and jointly, roundtables are whiteboarded and collaborative. It’s a joint learning exercise for both facilitators (note they are not speakers) and participants (not delegates).

Says Aneesh Reddy, Capillary Technologies, “It took couple of calls to talk about the challenges of product companies and the team defined three problem areas  – Product Management, Sales & Positioning & Messaging. The format was very clear in the minds of everyone – peer learning where founders come and do a deep dive, the objective was to create a cancer survivor network model for product start-ups.”

The first playbook Roundtable went on for around 260 minutes and attendees spent another 30 minutes outside the office networking.

“Round tables are a great way for teams, entrepreneurs to cross learn about the best things that worked in their scenarios and some of it can be implemented and experimented by other startups too, cross learning from startups is essential for this ecosystem to build and am glad iSPIRT round tables do exactly that.”, said Vijay Sharma of Exotel.

Since the first program on April 4, iSPIRT  has covered more than 120+ product companies (up to August 3). While the impact of the programs is slowly percolating the software product initiatives of different companies, what has proven an instantaneous hit is the format of community learning – for founders, by founders – little wonder it’s called a [Playbook] roundtable!

How Capillary Technologies Became a Top Provider of Retail End-to-End Customer Engagement Solutions

Editor’s Note: Launched in 2008, Capillary Technologies is India’s largest provider of end-to-end customer engagement solutions for retailers. Co-founder and CEO Aneesh Reddy discusses the company strategy, tradeoffs in the race to market, and the advice he follows. Please describe your company’s product and differentiation.

Aneesh Reddy: Capillary provides end-to-end customer engagement solutions powered by cloud + mobile + social technology to retailers and consumer-facing businesses. Our focus is on high-quality data capture, actionable analytics, instant cross-sell solutions, and instant gratification to generate a far higher ROI on customer engagement for retailers.

Our flagship product is called !nTouch, a cloud-based CRM solution, which is integrated with billing and point-of-sale outlets of retail chains. Using !nTouch, SMEs can access and use purchase data to entice buyers with loyalty programs and discounts. Last year we launched another product, TruTouch, which is an easy-to-use, self-serve style product for SME retailers.

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