Barely a few months after becoming the latest Indian start-up to join the unicorn club, Freshworks’ co-founder and
CEO Girish Mathrubootham says his dream is to be “the next big product company” from India.
“We crossed USD 100 million in revenue, in mid-2018 and have been fortunate to have scale and growth,” said Mathrubootham, in an exclusive chat with CNBC-TV18, “We’re now excited about being the next big product company from India.”
Freshworks received funding of $100 million, from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners and CapitalG. This saw the company valued between approximately $1.3-1.4 billion. The latest round of investment also took Freshworks’ total funding to $250 million since inception. ‘Don’t Want To Sell To Large Enterprises’
Despite the phenomenal growth, Mathrubootham is clear that nothing will change about Freshworks’ selling strategy.
“Most companies want to sell to the Fortune 2000, we’ve always said that we want to sell to the not-so-fortunate two million,” he quips, “We don’t want to sell to the larger enterprises. We want to hunt deer and rabbits, not elephants.” But while small and medium businesses (SMBs) account for two-thirds of Freshworks’ customers, Mathrubootham reveals that the ratio is changing, even if insignificantly.
“The share of larger businesses on the Freshworks platform going up on its own,” he said, “Our focus continues to remain on making products intuitive and beautiful. It just so happens that the larger companies like us for the same reason that SMBs do: our intuitive products and affordable pricing.”
Growth and Expansion
Barely a year since Freshworks launched its first 360-degree product suite Freshworks 360, the company is kicked about the customer acquisition on the platform.
“We announced Freshworks 360 in June 2018, and the adoption has been positive,” said Mathrubootham. “We already have five percent of existing customers using Freshworks 360, which we see as the future given that all our acquisition strategies are in line with the initiative.” Another growth area for Freshworks, is its Freshsales platform — launched in June 2016 to take on Sales Force — which Girish says has already crossed “several thousand customers” in just under three years.
Ever since Freshworks’ new round of funding, the company has focused on expansion. “We have customers in 126 countries without having physical offices in each of these countries,” said Girish, “We are looking at Paris and Netherlands in Europe as new markets, while Singapore and Japan are part of our Asian expansion plans.”
Ready Availability Of Funds Is The New Normal
Exactly a month ago, co-founder and CEO of Zoho Corp,
Sridhar Vembu, said in an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18, that cloud companies run the risk of over-capacity given the large volume of capital that was being infused in these firms. Mathrubootham, however, doesn’t particularly agree.
“I’ve always maintained that we are living in a world where start-up funding is available for the Tsunami of start-ups that is upon us,” he says, “Sridhar (Vembu) is fond of economics, but I’m not an economist. I don’t know how much funding is too much. The decision to invest in a start-up depends on the founder and the product being offered.”
Funding Mantra: It’s All About Giving Back
While Mathrubootham has been investing in select start-ups of late, an investment in online travel start-up
PickYourTrail last month, made headlines.
The Freshworks co-founder joined three other tech start-up head honchos to collectively cough up USD 3 million in Series-A funding for PickYourTrail.com. “I liked Hari (Ganapathy, CEO of PickYourTrail) because he’s the typical Chennai entrepreneur — ambitious but humble,” says Mathrubootham.
“I don’t invest in start-ups for financial reasons; it’s all about giving back,” he says, explaining his go-to mantra for investing in new businesses, “If investing in a start-up gives it social credibility, I would love to help. I generally like investing in SaaS companies, but have made exceptions too.”Last year saw the Freshworks boss invest in a football club FC Madras, which he hopes will be instrumental in “
finding the next Messi from Madras”. Mathrubootham spoke at TEDxChennai on Sunday, on the need for sporting culture in school curriculum, for India to become a football powerhouse.