If I were a Cobbler it would be my pride..
The best of all Cobblers to be..
If I were a Tinker, no Tinker beside
Should mend an old kettle like me..
The above poem defines vertical SaaS to a T!
When I got an invite from iSPIRT that there was going to be a roundtable on Vertical SaaS, I jumped from my chair with joy!
First of all I discovered only recently via iSPIRT that there’s a buzzing ecosystem of SaaS startups in India! Not SaaS enabled Marketplaces, but SaaS products that are built worldclass and sell to the world.
So when I discovered that within that little ecosystem, we can go further narrow into sharing knowledge specific to vertical SaaS, I could have given iSPIRT a bear hug!
So last Saturday, in the cosy n energetic office of Hotelogix, few of us vertical SaaS folks gathered around Sudheer Koneru – cofounder of Zenoti.
As with the iSPIRT roundtables this one was also a treasure-trove of experiences shared, founder dilemmas discussed, the unavoidable pain points bantered about.
The 2 main takeaways from Sudheer’s session were
1) Narrow Focus
So when you are starting a business you want everyone to buy your product right? Especially if your product is an Online Software that needs least feet-on-street selling.
Now you have chosen a vertical as your karmabhoomi, at least in that vertical, you want everyone, right? In case of Sudheer who builds a kickass product that makes wellness service/spa owners’ life easy, one would expect him to want every Spa, Massage Parlor and Beauty Parlor to use his product. There are at least 5 Beauty Parlors in any 1KM radius of any metro/tier-1 city!
The answer is a resounding No. Sudheer chose to focus further narrow on that – upon Customers whose pain point is the most acute. Those are the multiple outlet chains. Now that Zenoti has an established market, it is exploring expanding the customer segment.
Apart from the customer segment Zenoti also sets an example in going narrow on geography. Sudheer started Zenoti from Seattle, worked on winning the Seattle market and then looking elsewhere.
Reminded me very much how we limited ADDA to Whitefield in Bangalore before spreading wide to rest of India.
Sudheer highlighted how employees in a StartUp may miss out on the Empathy factor in our dealings with the Customer.
To the Cofounder of a Vertical SaaS product Empathy would come naturally. If you are a cobbler all you care about are the feet of customers. When your customer mentions a stitch was sticking out in the shoe, you grimace, you know how annoying it must be to the Customer. Not only you know how it feels you makes sure your Customer knows that you feel her pain. And then of course you fix it
But, how do you pass on that Empathy to your employees!
Interesting inputs flowed in from all present.
Overall, this roundtable set us few steps forward on the path of overall Wellness and Growth!
Of course the final credits goes to Natwar who moderated the session like the pro he is!