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.

#MadeinIndia Cloud telephony and IVRS

The market has been abuzz lately with cloud-based applications and let us admit it, there is more to come.The industry is adopting Cloud based solutions like never before and start-ups are cashing on this technology.One such cloud based technology which is fast gaining its hold in the Indian market is Cloud Telephony or IVR solutions. Now you can conveniently do away with those PBX, IVR, wires and other hassles associated with the traditional on-premise telephony applications. Cloud Telephony can conveniently be used to manage incoming calls, and as virtual receptionist.
cloud telephony ivrs madeinindia
We have done a thorough research to find out the best players in Cloud Telephony in India and here is the list in alphabetical order for you:

Big V’s YOCC
Big V is a Cloud Telephony Company based in India that offers ‘Simpler Affordable Telephony Solutions’ to small and mid-sized businesses. YOCC offers the business houses their Own Call Centre empowering them to base their entire communication system on an automated, single number.


CallHippo implements cloud computing into the world of telephony. Our platform allows deployment of a flexible telephony network, wherever an internet connection is available. We aim to replace the desk phones with soft phones, eliminating the complexity of setting up a phone system.

The software requires no setup cost or hardware cost. It offers various products like Smart Receptionist, Smart Call Center, Smart Toll free, Click to call, and Smart fax.

CloudAgent offers simple Open API for CTI, CDR and Dialer and you can integrate the software with your business systems for an end-to-end customized and optimized process performance. An added benefit offered by CloudAgent is Off-the-shelf integration with various CRM, Helpdesk, and Analytics products.

DialStreet is also a popular choice with a number of features like IVR Studio to record or upload your IVR recordings, integrated analytics, live view to see who exactly is calling you and who is talking to them from your end, large selection of numbers to choose from, API Integration, call recording, forwarding, conferencing and voice mail.

Exotel offers  modern Cloud Telephony solution with top features like IVR, Call Recording, Reporting, SMS and many more. It also provides a suite of tools to manage all your sales, marketing and customer care channels, from dashboard with price starting from just INR 1750/month.

The software offers virtual phone number, B2B lead generation, employee management system, customer lead management and verification, lead grading and lead distribution, interactive voice response and CRM/ERP solutions.

Funded by Sequoia Capital and Mayfield, the company has its presence in 65 countries. Knowlarity has its headquarters in Singapore and in India, it has offices in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore. Its flagship products, SuperReceptionist and SmartIVR, can process over a million calls an hour.

One of the leading cloud telephony company of India, LeadNxt offerscentralized, open- ended &cost-efficientcommunication system through cloud based telephony applications – IVR, Custom Flow Calls, Call Recording, Call Tracking, Voice Mail and more.  It offers varying pricing structure with its silver, gold, diamond and platinum rate cards.

MCube is a cloud based integrated communication platform that delivers an array of powerful automated call management applications such as Business Helpline, Virtual PBX, Call Tracking and telephony integrated marketing automation tools such as Lead Management and Support Management.

My operator
One of the top Call management system by VoiceTree Technologies Pvt Ltd provides IVR on cloud telephony, EPABX on Cloud& Toll free number for business with pricing starting from just 3000 per month.

Headquartered in Udaipur, Rajasthan, with presence in New Delhi and Guwahati, Niche Tech Solutions Pvt Ltd offers telecom consultancy services to both Public and Private sector organizations in India. The company specializes in providing Computer Telephone Integration (CTI), IVR Systems, Voice Portals, Hosted IVR Solutions, building dynamic database-driven custom Web sites, Web-Voice applications, E-Commerce and business Web site solutions.

Kookoo helps you to build business communication infrastructure using web languages. With an option to pay as per use, Kookoo’s monthly rental varies from Rs. 500 to Rs. 2500. The software allows you to build telecom applications, IVRs, office PBX and outbound campaigns.

Founded in the year 2002, Spark Technology Group Inc provides excellent hosted IVR and integration services. Key services offered are development of custom advanced inbound/outbound IVR, contact center solutions, natural language understanding, content management systems, data transformation, and legacy system integration.

Ziffy offers a starter plan at a monthly rental of Rs. 699 with a call rate of Rs 1.4 and a professional plan at a monthly rental of Rs. 2000 and call rate of 99 paise per minute. The software offers various features like automated welcome message, IVR, virtual number, toll free number, two way sms, call recording and forwarding and many more.

The article has been created with the help of Cloud Telephony and Virtual IVR Analysts at SoftwareSuggest.  The list is not comprehensive and you can mention as comments the software missed by us.

Want to get our attention? Talk to the founders of our portfolio companies! – Blume Ventures #ThinkInvestor

ThinkInvestor is iSPIRT and ProductNation’s new initiative to serve as a catalyst between Venture Capital firms, Angels, Angel Networks and Entrepreneurs. It is to go beyond brochure ware and dig deeper into the whole life cycle of a typical investment; from introductions, funding, styles of on-going engagement, to exits. And in the process, capture their views on global and local trends, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India.

ThinkInvestor-BlumeVBlume Ventures is an early-stage seed & pre-series A venture fund based out of Mumbai, India. They provide seed funding in the range of $50K – $300K to early-stage tech-focused and tech-enabled ventures. They are proponents of a collaborative approach and like to co-invest with like-minded angels and seed funds. They then provide follow-on investments to stellar portfolio companies, ranging from $500K – $1.5 million.

ProductNation sat down with Karthik Reddy, Managing Partner, Blume Ventures for this interview. Here ‘s what we heard:

What made you focus on early stage investing in India? And your observations of this market?

Karthik Reddy - Blume VenturesAdoption of innovative technologies has always been a challenge in India. Early on we realized that growth has to come from other global markets like the US or Europe. We also realized that there was a huge gap in the venture market in India for investments between $150K and $3M. Our intention in our first fund was to bridge these gaps. They proved to be larger than what we thought initially. The venture market at the top of the funnel (late stage) was very wide, the middle had also widened but the lower end offered opportunities for us. But this market has its own problems – bridging the gap between this level of funding and the next stage. Series A funding of companies has been a continuing problem but we have found ways to bridge these gaps. However, with our next fund to be raised next year, we plan to stick to the same strategy, but with a larger fund.

What has been the effect of exits like redBus.In on the Indian ecosystem? Do you think that this improves the outlook for more early stage investing?

Yes. Exits like are good for various things in the Indian ecosystem. If not for the individual exit, more examples like redBus are needed sorely. Typically, companies like those take around 8 years to enter, and exit. The public markets are not good options as yet for exits. We do not as yet have a culture of acquisitions within India. Indian companies don’t do them. Companies like Naukri should really consider acquisitions and grow inorganically. Large companies in the US are beginning to take notice of possible acquisitions in India and have started doing some cross-border transactions.  This kind of ecosystem did not exist but things are beginning to change. We still have a huge need for innovative ideas. Ideas that can get built into $40M to $50M companies and get exits are key to putting the ecosystem into higher gear.

How does an entrepreneur get your attention? What kinds of start-ups interest you? How does an entrepreneur get in touch with you?

We are driven by themes. We are not reactive investors. We are interested in Smartphone/Mobile plays and are not interested in web applications. If we see a plan first addressing a web version of an application we are not interested, but those that go straight to a mobile app will get our attention. Our themes are chosen so that they can grow fast and get to a Series A comfortably. The entrepreneur needs to think like a VC and ensure that whatever they are working on is capable of such growth. Founders of our portfolio companies know our themes best. Get in touch with them, see if there is a mapping between what you do, and what we are interested in. Get one of the founders to introduce you to us after this initial filtering. This way, you won’t waste your time and you will get our attention! We do get cold referrals that go through our associates and it will be a long winded process. If you come through the founders of our portfolio companies it will be faster and it can also make sure that there is a mapping between what you are thinking and what our investment themes are. We get 60 to 70% of the introductions like this, with 125+ founders in our portfolio network.

Let’s say there is a mapping between a start-up company and your VC firm. What happens next? What are your typical due diligence efforts? How long does it take for an investment?

We are primarily looking for leadership in these companies that can survive the long haul of entrepreneurship. Can they survive the first year of marriage, primarily between the co-founders? Do they have 2 to 3 layers of leadership in the start-up, not just a single layer with the co-founders! And are the co-founders super-compatible with each other? We have seen too many founder breakups! We are not looking for problem solvers – people who solve a problem with a technical solution. We are looking for business builders. Can they build a business around it? They are not the same! In 1 or 2 meetings (in 2 or 3 weeks) you can get an idea of whether we want to proceed ahead with due diligence or let you know that the fit between our themes and your business is not there. If you can find co-investors on your own is a positive thing in your favor. The ability to excite other investors is key to us. The ability to line up other clients or customers during this period is important to us. We look for some red flags during the due diligence period – like being very casual about relationships or client opportunities. The fastest investments have been made in 4 to 5 months from introductions. The slowest ones have taken 12 to 18 months. The latter ones are usually because of syndicated investments.

Let’s say a start-up gets funded by you. How hands-on or hands-off are you with your portfolio company? What’s your style of engagement with a portfolio company?

Portfolio companies should consider us a Super-Concierge on Demand. They should be comfortable with knowing exactly when we are needed and come to us. In the early stages they come to us with quite a few problems for advice and guidance. Luckily our founder network usually has many of the answers.  We have a Google group for our portfolio company, sort of a private Quora. This helps solve 70 to 80% of the problems our start-ups face. Someone has come across most of the problems any new portfolio company is facing.  Typically these will be questions like whether to incorporate in the US or not. We are more like a platform than a VC firm in that sense, an 18-24 month accelerator program. We are as hands-on or hands-off with companies as needed. We do take a board seat as a seed investor and invariably meet with each portfolio company in person, at least every couple of months.

Let’s talk about going beyond the early stage funding and getting to the next level of funding and growth.

Series A funding  is becoming more difficult with the bar being set higher and higher. There are only 10 to 12 active Series A investors in India doing 1 or 2 investments a year. With such a thin ecosystem for Series A investing, pitching the wrong partner may mean not getting funded. The other problem is making these businesses 10X propositions for Series A (they are not interested in 5X business plans)  that require these companies to become $200M companies. We do bridge rounds that can get start-ups to get the growth necessary to qualify for a Series A funding. We are planning to raise a larger fund next time so that we can make these kinds of deeper investments.

Do you think it is possible to build a $200M company focused on the Indian market?

Yes. There are some promising areas in India that has that potential – travel or taxi services. Technology solutions like Knowlarity, NowFloats, and Exotel have that potential. The Enterprise market in India is too slow but the SME market in India has the potential to build some $200M companies. That market will also explode only when the smartphone/mobile market in India leapfrogs. The SaaS market, especially when built for a global market could grow a few $200M companies.  We are optimistic overall and feel that lots of opportunities are yet to come.

Now, let’s talk about Exits. What do you see coming in this area?

The subject of realistic venture exits is the one that somewhat dictates what the focus of a start-up should have been. Hoping to get acquired by a company in India is somewhat unrealistic. However, there are a number of companies in the US that have started coming to India to acquire Indian companies and grow inorganically. Autodesk is hiring a person in India to look for such companies, They have done a number of acquisitions already. Unfortunately, the Indian arms of Google and Yahoo are not empowered to make acquisitions.There are some companies like WebEngage and OrangeScape that are focused on foreign markets that could make good acquisition targets for companies outside India.

What about some parting advice for entrepreneurs?

Go outside India for markets. You cannot grow fast enough to raise funding and grow focusing on Indian markets currently. This is true especially if you are a technology play. Someone in Silicon Valley could start 2 years later than a company in India and beat them to it if a company is growing only in India. Grow fast and get acquired!


Insights from the Sales Playbook RoundTable Led by Ambarish, Knowlarity in Gurgaon

The second Sales Playbook RoundTable in Delhi-NCR was held at EKO office in Gurgaon, led by Ambarish Gupta– CEO/Founder, Knowlarity Communications. About 10 companies attended the meet such as EKO, Easework, Busy, Yippster, Conixevus and few more. The format was quite engaging and action oriented as participants were asked to come with their own set of sales challenges for the RT. The session started with a brief introduction and the specific challenges participants were facing.  There was a good degree of overlap among sales challenges of different organizations. The common theme emerging out of the challenges can be divided into three categories – Profit margin, Velocity of Sales & Scaling up. I’m listing down few of the actionable learning discussed

Improving Profit margin:- 

There was unanimous agreement over the core purpose of business among participants i.e to make profit which is a very elementary mathematical equation i.e difference between revenue from a unit customer & cost of serving a unit customer. Even if somebody is making revenue, he may choose to leave a particular customer if cost of serving customer is more than revenue. Exceptions are always there if the unprofitable customer is a source of bringing other profitable customers. Organizations should have real time view of profitability of different customer segments and may focus on segments with maximum profitability. While formulating any pricing strategy, the above mentioned formula should be kept in mind.

  1. The most important point in improving profitability is to understand the sustainable value coming out from the different customer segments & know associated risks. For example- startups as a major customer base are not good for companies because most of them die in a year so average cost of acquisition & serving is always going to be more than the average revenue for these customers. Similarly, up gradation to the existing customer may enhance profit margin significantly.
  2. Ask the customers to pay for the product you are providing, you will be getting right kind of feedback about product & business model, if majority is not willing to pay, it’s a red flag and one may need to modify the business model & product
  3. The pricing model should be taking care of mind set of customers so if the target customers are not in a position to shell out big amount of money, the pay as you go model may be applied with known risk that churning of customers is going to be high risk for the company.
  4. Payment term is also quite important, For example – Even in SaaS model once can ask for yearly payment rather than collecting on monthly basis. It has got several advantages-a) Advance cash flow b) reduced tension & effort of collecting money c) you have got a time in which you can make customers use the product and take benefit out of product.
  5. Make customers’ use the product so that they can feel the business benefit. A happy customer’s life time value is quite high for the company. The companies need to make as many happy customers as possible as a brand ambassador so after getting word of mouth publicity /referrals the cost of acquiring customers reduces significantly resulting in better profit margin for the company in long run.

Enhancing Velocity of Sales:-

A lot of participants expressed their concern about increased sales cycle and discussed the ways to reduce the cycle time & find a right process for reaching out to prospects.

  1. Network is very important in finding first few customers; it was observed that most of the companies got first few clients from personal network which resulted in an early traction for products.  So build a network of mutually beneficial relationship much before you try to reap the benefits.
  2. For reducing the time cycle, team should focus on finding the person in the target companies who is feeling the maximum pain for the problems you are going to solve and identify the decision maker such as CEO/CMO.
  3. For finding the relevant personal details such as mobile no. /email id internal to an organization, various tactics may be employed such as finding details from LinkedIn & Naukri profile, calling the board member as a journalist for interview etc.
  4. It is always advisable for going through a referral route if available so that the prospects would be in a frame of mind to hear. Moreover, while interacting on phone for the first time, you have just first 30 seconds to impress, be precise to what you are going to deliver in terms of benefits not about details of products. You will be getting enough time and a meeting with all the key executives if you can hold call for first 30 seconds.  The benefits should be clearly leading to either increasing the revenue or reducing the cost in direct or indirect ways such as, “I will help you in making additional money from existing customers” or “I will reduce the cost of serving to your existing customers”.
  5. If your product is new in market, one needs to identify the early adopters who are willing to take chances for launching the product with assessment of the probable competition, barrier to entry, market potential & preferred business/ revenue model in different markets.
  6. If the product is a replacement of the existing product then value from the replacement product should be of at least 10x more value than that of the existing product. The product companies need to understand & answer the key questions- why people should be replacing existing system/products? The mindset of a customer is always going to maximize the value per unit cost. One needs to find a solution of this puzzle for individual prospects before reaching them so one needs to concentrate on understanding the pain points with existing product and how to help prospects with those pain points while still providing the others as usual benefits to the customers.
  7. Both tangible and intangible value should be taken into consideration while evaluating overall value to the customer. One needs to be very careful if you are changing the path of doing business as usual for the prospects as there would be a degree of difficulty in doing something new for the customers. This is going to create negative value to the prospects.
  8. Keep customers / prospects engaged in a personalized way such as sending some information that may or may not be relevant to the product but may help prospect. Always keep a updated social profiling of the prospects from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and find an excuse to follow up such as Congratulations for getting award etc. One need to understand that we are dealing with human beings not machines so clubbing of trust and emotions is extremely important to reduce sales cycle.
  9. The first point of interaction with customer is what you are going to provide. Talk to the customers in a language they can understand rather than focusing on product and features, it comes later in answering to the question how you are going to provide. For example- Our product will reduce the serving cost per customer in call center from 50 paisa to 10 paisa or our product is going to help in your business conversion by x% that is going to increase your revenue by y%.
  10. Even from the same target customer segment, different prospects are at the different stage of the sales cycle so marketing pitch should be in line with different stages in a sales cycle i.e Awareness – attract – Engage- Convert – Happy customer – Referral / word of mouth – new customers and so on.

Scaling up:-

  1. Product companies should connect to prospects to understand the pain points of the customers rather than building a perfect product with no market requirements. They should start talking with customers even if the product is not ready to receive valuable feedback.
  2. Time to make entry in the market is quite important as  it decides the opportunity windows of a company to tap maximum benefits in minimum time & effort
  3. The system & processes during the early stage of startup should be highly flexible. After a certain period the same flexible system should be converted into process driven system to run the show. Therefore, one should evaluate & understand the system / processes / resource that are needed to drive the expected sales after scaling up & manage the changes from the existing level to the future level smoothly.
  4. One needs to find the sales model that is highly effective and scalable after market test and multiple iterations. Once you have found the right kind of value proposition and target set of customers for that value proposition with effective sales channels, you can scale up same model exponentially.
  5. The choice of domestic vs. international market is quite tricky. In developing market competition is less, quality expectation is less, market potential is high but customers are not willing to pay so ticket size is small. One of the biggest obstacles is the mind-set of customers in developing market. However in developed market ticket size is high, less hurdles with mind-set but competition is intense with very high expectations on front of quality. So considering these two facts one can take domestic market as a test market for testing and enhancing the product. Once it reaches the level of international standard, one can make international markets as the primary source of revenue. Jumping to international market without having a tested product may block all the future chances in that market forever.
  6. The selection of appropriate sales channel may be explored after trying established model such as telesales, channel, face to face & enterprise sales. Only after market testing, one can determine the right way to get more profitable customer at lower costs.
  7. The product companies need to create a sustainable source of inbound leads rather than outbound leads to improve efficiency of the sales system. Sales people should not be engage with every potential customer, they should be getting filtered list of potential customer for engaging & converting
  8. Another basic question is how customers are going to discover you? One needs to see the whole picture from the lens of customers for scaling up. Depending upon the computer literacy of the targeted customer offline or online or combination of marketing tactics may be deployed. For example- if customers are searching heavily over internet for the keywords associated with the products- Google organic and paid search could be good idea to hook the prospects. However if the search volume is less then display tactics may be needed to create the awareness among targets & later for hooking.
  9. The product companies need to understand the mindset of channel partners and dynamics that is happening in the channel partner industry. As profitability is going down, existing good partners may be looking out for new streams of revenue. So, they would be happy to work on a more profitable venture for taking a new product to the market. Apart from that capability, influence into target market and willingness to sell must be evaluated for potential partners.
  10. The big channel partner may not be a good partner unless the new product can create immediate good streams of revenue for them, so small partners would a preferred set of partners because they would be devoting dedicated time even for small revenue however the impact on company’s revenue per partner would be limited so number of such working partners come into picture for getting maximum revenue in a given time.

These insights were the result of the sales round table meet. The round table meet ends with a promise of meeting again for discussing and sharing experience again in coming month. Thanks to  iSPIRT ProductNation in being instrumental for building core competence in product organizations.

Guest Post by Manoj Kumar, a volunteer for ProductNation

Catching small fish can pay big.

For sure big fish can get you more meat but there also less number of those in that deep blue sea. Pound for pound, the fisherman still prefers to cast the net with small holes – getting easy food in copious amount. 

Unfortunately the fisherman logic is somewhat lost to a vast majority of the enterprise companies in the world. India is home of a vast and complex array of small business. If you could catch them – the results will be equally copious.  Let’s look closely at the small business owners: 

Bigger businesses have more power. You may be able to get more revenue from them but making real bottom line – the profits will not be easy. Look at the example of telecom operator dealings with Mobile VAS companies. For every rupee received from the customers, mobile operators were able to keep 80 paisa while giving only 20 paisa to the original creators of the product. 

Small businesses are actually big business before they actually became big. You catch them young if you can get them. And they will be loyal to you as they grow because you are so deeply ingrained with them. 

With small business you have access to unpaid product managers. Think about the amount and quality of the feedback directly from CEO and founders of the small business you get. Those feedbacks are incredibly useful and can form the basis of amazing leaps in the value of your product. The best of all – it is all free. 

Now that you happy and all gung-ho on reaching to cast the net, let me also talk about a bit about the stumbling blocks. Like everything in life, the benefits do not come easy. You have be careful about multiple when you are trying to sell to small business: 

Selling to small business is the deal between you and the director of the company. It requires face to face meetings and real conversations. The trust does not come easy. This means, you have to spend your own personal time with the sales. 

Small businesses today are on social media. Social media is very inexpensive way to reach to your target markets. You got to learn how to use it for your advantage. If you are a new age entrepreneur you probably already have mastered the art. If not, find your “Always-on-Twitter-and-Facebook buddy” and get some tips. Be very nimble because your customers are nimble now. For big companies, the sales cycle is typically in months. For small business, the sales cycle is in weeks. You have to match their speed with your own to close the deal.

If you are careful with these, I am sure you will have large diversified and loyal customer base – the best quality customer base any company can desire.

Geeks with Dilli Wallas

Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) is an invite-only tour for startups, investors, and executives to learn about burgeoning technology markets worldwide. #GOAP is headed to India and after visiting Bangalore & Mumbai the geeks will be visiting Delhi from 27th to 2nd March ’13. We (91Springboard, ProductNation & Moonlighting) are hosting #GOAP while they are in Delhi. Come join us to meet the #GOAP team, most awesome startups & entrepreneurs in Delhi-NCR and other cool folks accompanied with a light lunch on 28th Feb ’13 from 11am to 2pm.

Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) is program initiated by 500 Startups, a startup accelerator from Silicon Valley. Through this initiative, founders Dave McClure and Christen O’Brien travel to technology markets with geeks and startup enthusiasts. The participants come from companies like GE, Wahooly, XG Ventures, SoftLayer, JESS3, Qualcomm Ventures, SendGrid, Google and more.

Tentative agenda:
1100 – 1115 hrs – Welcome & Introductions
1115 – 1130 hrs – Talk by Dave McClure – Go Local or Go Global (or both)
1130 – 1145 hrs – Talk by Sharad Sharma, Co-Founder, iSPIRT – Surfing the Innovation Wave
1145 – 1245 hrs – Lessons Learnt from Product Startups in Emerging Economies – Ambarish Gupta (Knowlarity), Aloke Bajpai (iXIGO), Kavin Bharti Mittal (Hike) Ketan Kapoor (Mettl), Paras Chopra (Visual Website Optimiser), Rajat Garg(SocialAppsHQ); Moderated by Kunal Bajaj – Advisor, iSPIRT Founder Circle
1245 – 1400 hrs – Networking Over Light Lunch with the Geeks

Venue: 91springboard

Entry free: Rs 500. Register OnlineWe have very limited seats, please do register online by filling up the form and we will confirm your participation. Here is an opportunity to meet and interact with the geeks. Register now to avoid disappointment. No on-site registrations will be allowed.

Getting business to use technology and improve productivity – Knowlarity Communications

Inspired by the vision to help small businesses make better use of technology, Ambarish Gupta gets talking about how his Cloud Telephony product Knowlarity, fills a crucial gap in business struggling to use costly and cumbersome technology to improve productivity. In a world gone all mobile and integrated, Knowlarity’s hardware free, web based solution, frees you from the traditional PBX machine and lets you communicate seamlessly on the move, even integrating with your CRM and ERP systems, thereby fetching you prospects, business and the extremely crucial customer analysis information.

Getting business to use technology and improve productivity

Q.  What was your vision that inspired you to launch Knowlarity?
I wanted the regular mom-and-pop businesses in India to become better by using technology. These mid-size business form the bed-rock of Indian economy contributing to more than 10% of Indian GDP and employing millions of people.  I have a degree from one of the IITs. If these business could use technology and improve their productivity by even 10%, our vision will be fulfilled.

The problem with technology adoption however is that the Indian business owner is not very tech savvy and does not always feel very comfortable about using complex software. We solved the problem by designing all our products to be accessible over telephone. With close to universal telephony penetration in the business sector, this is a very powerful solution. Our virtual office product – SuperReceptionist makes office phone super intelligent and powerful. Another product – SuperFax allows business owners to receive faxes as PDF documents on email and not worry about owning a fax machine. 

Q. What is Knowlarity’s product positioning?
We are a Cloud Telephony company targeting SME in emerging markets. We want to be super hassle free. We want to be simple and intuitive. We want to remain inexpensive so that a large number of SME can use our products. Above all, we want to use technology to help Indian SME improve their revenues and decrease cost, thus improving their bottom line.

Q.  What problem did Knowlarity help solve for its customers? What were the existing products lacking?
At the most basic level, our products replace office PBX system. You remember the big black machine that a receptionist in any office has? Somehow hooked to a telephone? That is called a PBX machine. When someone calls to the office, the phone rings, she can pick and route the call to employees inside. If you open an office, you need one such machine.

This is a very cumbersome hardware to handle. It is very difficult to configure. It is expensive with cost approaching to 1 lac for a regular offices. It also ties you down – the calls are forwarded to your desk phone when employees are increasingly becoming mobile. It also has no integration with your enterprise softwares. Your office phone is where every single one of your new prospect and customer calls. All the logs should go to your CRM or ERP system for very important customer analysis. It can never get done with such systems. SuperReceptionist  solves the problem. It does not require any hardware. You come to our website and get a phone number that you can configure on the web. You can upload an mp3 greeting saying “Welcome to your company. Press 1 for sales and press 2 for support” for example. You can configure it over web to forward the calls to your mobile number when people press 1. 

You can avoid fixed expense by using it as per-use system – paying every year of use. It also integrates with your CRM system – or freshdesk or sugarCRM come pre-integrated. It makes telephony super intelligent and useful for your business. 

Q. How different is it from its competing products, if any?
We get competition from companies that have built their products over Asterisk – an open source system. These are on-premise systems that have problem with stability, scalability and are really expensive when you calculate the total cost over a period of a year. We differentiate by providing advanced telephony applications that are hassle free, pre-integrated and are really inexpensive to use. 

Q.What was your biggest struggle with bringing Knowlarity to market?
Indian business are difficult to sell to and the technology adoption is pretty slow. We struggled in maturing our processes to sell at scale. It took time but we are able to do so now.  

Q. What was experience of the core team that worked on the product?
The core team is composed of people with deep experience in technology in general and in products in particular. Bipul – the CTO – worked in technology industry in Silicon Valley designing embedded device products. He is IITK CS 1999 batch. I started out my career with a product company in Valley named Electronics for Imaging after graduating from IITK in CS in 2000. Pallav – the other founder – also an IITK EE 2000 batch worked from NVDIA chip manufacturing company in valley.

We wanted to build a product that Indian businesses can derive real value from and use with ease. We developed the technology in-house to make sure that the product remain really easy to use. I am happy to say that we seem to have had reasonable success in achieving that 

Q.  How does the product help start-ups/companies?
Cloud technologies are god-sent for status companies. Our products scale as the companies scale, do not require up-front investment and are usable from a simple browser. SuperReceptionist gives startups an office number that they can print on their business cards. It is really important for startups to keep track of customer inquiry and publishing mobile number as your customer care number can really hurt  there credibility. With an office number, the startups can look like a big and established company. Also, with a log of every call going into their CRM system, startup companies can kick-start their customer engagement processes right from the beginning.

We love startups and provide them free services as well. For example, you can have a free conferencing service from us by giving a missed call to +91 9650 235522. You will receive your conference ID and PIN in SMS. We want startup companies to get started with least possible hassle. 

Q. What are your learnings in doing business in the SMB market in India and would advice would you want to share with startups?
SMB markets are not easy markets to build large revenues quickly but at the same time these are really un-penetrated markets. There are huge opportunities available. I think startups should build SaaS products for such un-penetrated markets. They should take it to the customers quickly – even when it is not fully cooked. When there is real pain and real need even a half-baked product will be taken with open arms by the customers.

Q. What are the future plans for Knowlarity?
Knowlarity wants the enterprises in the emerging markets to be able to use the advantages of cloud telephony to the fullest. We are looking to consolidate our position in India and grow in the international markets.