Increasingly tech-savvy business users are turning to cloud-based workflow automation platforms to automate repetitive processes – and they’re doing it without the IT department and without writing a line of code.
KiSSFLOW delivers such “low-code” platforms to nearly 1 million users in more than 10,000 companies around the world. CEO Suresh Sambandam talks to SandHill.com about the secrets behind his five-year-old startup’s success.
SandHill.com: The workflow automation space is hot. Why now?
Suresh Sambandam: Companies around the world are buying into digital transformation at unprecedented levels. From IoT devices to cloud tech to big data, the world will spend more than $7 trillion on digital transformation by 2021. The new movement is helping digitize work processes to create more efficient organizations and empower them to compete in a global market.
Today, low-code app development in the workflow automation space is all the rage, and with very valid reasons – the end objectives are the democratization of app creation and putting the power in the hands of “citizen developers.”
SandHill.com: “Hot” markets can become crowded and can potentially be confusing for buyers. How do you make KiSSFLOW’s advantages and capabilities clear to potential customers?
Suresh: You will notice from the quadrants by Gartner and Forrester that most of the bigger players in this space are traditional enterprise software companies, who still don’t have a serious product in the low-code space. Oracle and SAP still sell enterprise licenses as they did with their ERP / CRM offerings and that doesn’t fit into the bottom-up transformation that is going on within small and medium enterprises (SMEs), automating their workflows to bring about efficiency.
That leaves the space wide open to a handful of players – and KiSSFLOW dominates the market as of now.
KiSSFLOW also invests heavily in content marketing – and a significant chunk of our customers come looking for us because they see us as someone who can solve their business problems, rather than someone selling a product at X pricing, or Y times cheaper than a bigger player.
SandHill.com: How does a founder of a global startup like KiSSFLOW effectively maintain communication and employee morale across the world?
Suresh: The global nature of KiSSFLOW comes from the fact that our customers are spread across 121 countries. When it comes to employees we are spread across only two locations – US and India. So it is not that much of a challenge for us. In spite of this, we invest considerable amounts of time, energy and money into building a company culture that fosters innovation and personal growth for each and every one of our employees. For example, every Friday the entire company across the US and India get together for an hour, for a knowledge-sharing session called “Good to Great”, where bonding and networking happen as a byproduct. We spend a disproportionate amount of time on our employees as we believe, “Happy employees lead to happy customers - not the other way around.”
SandHill.com: How has SaaS and the startup ecosystem in Chennai changed in the past five years?
Suresh: While Bangalore is still known as the Silicon Valley of India, cities like Chennai and Pune are catching up.
Chennai is the center of gravity for SaaS in India. The city generates close to $1 billion in SaaS revenues and has around 10,000 employees working in the SaaS space. In contrast, the rest of India accounts for only a fraction of this as a whole. Chennai has already evolved as the SaaS hub with companies like Zoho and Freshworks being backed by rich investors.
In India, there are not more than a hundred noticeable players in the SaaS market, and even that is a rough estimate. My guess at the total revenue, from meeting with so many SaaS founders, is around $1 billion to $1.5 billion. Roughly a billion dollars of this revenue comes from a handful of companies in Chennai such as Zoho, Freshworks, KiSSFLOW, Indix, ChargeBee, Ramco, and Cloudcherry.
SandHill.com: What advice do you have for today’s fledgling software entrepreneurs in India?
Suresh: If you are in India and you are looking for the best business opportunity, look no further than B2B SaaS. Despite what anyone else might say, the opportunity has not plateaued, and will not for at least another decade. The number of noticeable B2B SaaS companies is still quite small and the opportunities are great. Many successful companies have bootstrapped their success and are profitable within a few years. There are also many examples of founders who create niche products that have made exits by selling to larger players. (One great example of this success is BotMetric that was acquired by Nutanix.)
SaaS is not just hype – it is a serious opportunity. If an entrepreneur can identify the right product-market fit, invest in good people who can build and market a world-class product, and double down on digital marketing, then he/she will quickly find success!
Clare Christopher is editor of SandHill.com.